£5 charge to jump queues ‘they keep long’

Airports are cashing in on the queues at their security gates by charging passengers to use fast-track priority lanes.
At least eight have introduced the system and are charging travellers up to £5 to beat the queues.
A whistleblower security guard at Luton Airport, which adopted the system last year, claimed there is a deliberate policy to let the queues grow to encourage people to pay for the express lane.

Queueing: The security process is so time-consuming that passengers are paying to use a 'priority lane' at the airport
Queueing: The security process is so time-consuming that passengers are paying to use a ‘priority lane’ at the airport

 The claim was made as travellers were warned to expect more stringent checks in the wake of the cargo plane terror plot emanating from Yemen.
With the checks involving the removal of shoes and belts, body scans and patdown searches, the process is so time-consuming that passengers are arriving at airports up to three hours before departure to make sure they catch their flights.

Luton introduced a fee of £3 in March last year, allowing travellers to skip the queue by using a ‘priority lane’ to reach the security checkpoint.
Bristol and Aberdeen have £5 charges. Leeds Bradford, East Midlands, Liverpool John Lennon and Newcastle have £3 charges. Manchester has a fast-track security lane for travellers who book expensive VIP Valet parking.

The Luton security guard told the Daily Mail: ‘Before the priority lane was introduced we had to keep queues down. Now the lane is there staff are told to create queues, which forces passengers to pay for the priority lane.’

The claim was denied by Luton Airport.

The Air Transport Users Council, the official consumer body for passengers, described the claims as ‘worrying’. Its chief executive, Simon Evans, said the ATUC was monitoring the situation. He added: ‘Going through security is not a service, not a perk, it is something that people have to do.

‘The issue is, if they provide this service badly, people feel encouraged or pressurised to pay to jump the queue.’

He added: ‘Our concern with Luton charging for an extra service was: Does that mean an inferior service for those who are not paying? They have assured us the new system does not mean longer queues for those who don’t pay.’

Earlier this week, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary joined other airport industry leaders in condemning the current level of security screening. He said: ‘What happens, particularly in the coverage of the Yemeni issues of recent days, is that we have another huge lurch by the securicrats into making travel an even more tedious ordeal for the travelling public.
‘In actual fact we already have ludicrously over-the-top and, sadly, totally ineffective security measures.’

However, Mr Evans said budget airlines have put such pressure on airports to cut landing fees that the owners have had little option but to introduce new passenger charges. He added: ‘The reality is that this is revenue raising.

‘Some passengers are paying next to nothing for their flights. One of the reasons for this is that the airlines have beaten down the airports on what they pay them in charges.’
Mr Evans said it might be possible to establish league tables showing which airports have the longest queues, to give them an incentive to improve.

A spokesman for Luton Airport said it had ‘definitely not’ allowed security queues to grow in order to encourage people to pay for the priority lane.

He added: ‘The introduction of a priority lane does not impact overall waiting times. Data we have collected since the opening has clearly shown this.

‘This is all about choice. Some passengers will choose to buy priority lane in the same way as they would buy valet parking or executive lounge access.’

A Time to Act: Jail the Financial Fraudsters

November 10th, 2010 by Danny Schechter

A TIME TO ACT: A CAMPAIGN TO JAIL FINANCIAL FRAUDSTERS

“I’ll have the Chateau Mouton-Rothschild from 1982,” a Wall Street investment banker recently told his waiter at the latest and greatest shi-shi restaurant in Greenwich Village.

“Yes sir, but I want you to know, the cost is $$3,950,” according to the New York Times.

“No Problem”

And so it goes at The Lion, where no extravagance is too costly for today’s banksters and Lion Kings.

The men they call the Big Swinging Dicks are back.  In the words of the New York Times, Wall Street is getting its “groove back,” anticipating their latest round of bonuses while gloating about how their strategic and undisclosed campaign donations assured that the overdue regulations they fear will be put on hold.

For them, buying the 2010 election was a small price to pay. Read  Economist James Galbraith’s  column in how they did it. (http://www.newdeal20.org/2010/11/05/obamas-problem-simply-defined-it-was-the-banks-26159)

Oh, happy day.

Meanwhile the rest of us cling to our “jobless recovery” while the prospect of inflation engineered by the Federal Reserve Bank threatens what purchasing power we have.

Increasingly, economists in the know are saying that unless financial fraud is prosecuted, there can be no recovery, as Washington’s Blog reports:

“As economists such as William Black and James Galbraith have repeatedly said, we cannot solve the economic crisis unless we throw the criminals who committed fraud in jail.

And Nobel prize winning economist George Akerlof has demonstrated that failure to punish white collar criminals – and instead bailing them out- creates incentives for more economic crimes and further destruction of the economy in the future.

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz just agreed. As Stiglitz told Yahoo’s Daily Finance on October 20th:

“The legal system is supposed to be the codification of our norms and beliefs, things that we need to make our system work. If the legal system is seen as exploitative, then confidence in our whole system starts eroding. And that’s really the problem that’s going on.”

OUR RESPONSE:  We Don’t Need More Bailouts. We need a Jailout

Support the JAILOUT Economic Justice Campaign by signing the petition at newsdissector.com/blog

We pledge allegiance to Justice for all.  Not to those who steal and defraud us.  Not to those who wrecked our economy.

We need laws enforced, not winked at with financial settlements that allow those that enriched themselves at our expense, and destroyed the lives of so many, to get off scot-free, often with obscene bonuses and promotions.

Now, it is time for all of us to speak out and demand that something is done, to stop foreclosures and create jobs.

We can start with a petition to the President, Attorney General, and political, labor and youth leaders not in the bag to Wall Street.  We can call on the media to do more to cover this story instead of blaming the victims for the crime.

Will you stand up with us and call for action now?

Will you sign this simple appeal to the President, Leaders of Congress of both parties and the Attorney General?

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

1. Investigate fraudsters and financial criminals.

2. Indict those responsible.

3. Prosecute using RICO laws that target criminal enterprises spawned by three industries working together: finance, insurance and real estate.

4. Incarcerate the guilty.

All of this has been done before. More than 1500 bankers went to jail after the S&L Crisis.

Why not today?

We demand a criminal investigation.

We demand to see the guilty parties indicted. Their illegal gains should be seized and distributed to their victims.

We demand the federal and state governments prosecute these crimes, using RICO laws when possible, not cut deals that allow these crooks to walk free.

We want a national moratorium on foreclosures until all the shady legal issues are sorted out — and not just by the banks

We want our government to be on our side, to stand up for Main Street, not Wall Street.

Please tell us: I am with you. I agree with this call to action,

NAME:

ADDRESS:

CITY, STATE and ZIP CODE

EMAIL:

Educate yourself by ordering a copy of PLUNDER [DVD} and THE CRIME OF OUR TIME [book].  Also available on iTunes, Netflix and Amazon.

Visit the web site: Plunder The Crime Of Our Time

SPEAK UP. DEMAND FAIRNESS. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

If you committed these crimes, you would be doing time.

So should they!

News Dissector Danny Schechter directed the DVD “Plunder The Crime Of Our Time” and wrote the companion book, ‘The Crime Of Our Time.’

If you can help, write: [email protected]

Documents Leak from Notorious US-Backed Unit as Obama Lands in Indonesia Secret Files Show Kopassus, Indonesia’s Special Forces, Targets Papuan Churches, Civilians

JAKARTA – Secret documents have leaked from inside Kopassus, Indonesia’s red berets, which say that Indonesia’s US-backed security forces engage in “murder [and] abduction” and show that Kopassus targets churches in West Papua and defines civilian dissidents as the “enemy.” The documents include a Kopassus enemies list headed by Papua’s top Baptist minister and describe a covert network of surveillance, infiltration and disruption of Papuan institutions

Secret documents have leaked from inside Kopassus, Indonesia’s red berets, which say that Indonesia’s US-backed security forces engage in “murder [andThe disclosure comes as US President Barack Obama is touching down in Indonesia. His administration recently announced the restoration of US aid to Kopassus.

Kopassus is the most notorious unit of Indonesia’s armed forces, TNI, which along with POLRI, the national police, have killed civilians by the hundreds of thousands.

The leaked cache of secret Kopassus documents includes operational, intelligence and field reports as well as personnel records which list the names and details of Kopassus “agents.”

The documents are classified “SECRET” (“RAHASIA”) and include extensive background reports on Kopassus civilian targets — reports that are apparently of uneven accuracy.

The authenticity of the documents has been verified by Kopassus personnel who have seen them and by external evidence regarding the authors and the internal characteristics of the documents.

Some of the Kopassus documents will be released in the days to come, in part via this website.

Those being released with this article are about West Papua, where tens of thousands of civilians have been murdered and where Kopassus is most active. Jakarta has attempted to largely seal off Papua to visits by non-approved outsiders.

When the US restored Kopassus aid last July the rationale was fighting terrorism, but the documents show that Kopassus in fact systematically targets civilians.

A detailed 25-page secret report by a Kopassus task force in Kotaraja, Papua defines Kopassus’ number-one “enemy” as unarmed civilians. It calls them the “separatist political movement” “GSP/P, ” lists what they say are the top 15 leaders and discusses the “enemy order of battle.”

All of those listed are civilians, starting with the head of the Baptist Synod of Papua. The others include evangelical ministers, activists, traditional leaders, legislators, students and intellectuals as well as local establishment figures and the head of the Papua Muslim Youth organization.

The secret Kopassus study says that in their 400,000 – person area of operations the civilians they target as being political are “much more dangerous than” any armed opposition since the armed groups “hardly do anything” but the civilians — with popular support — have “reached the outside world” with their “obsession” with “merdeka” (independence/ freedom) and persist in “propagating the issue of severe human rights violations in Papua,” ie. “murders and abductions that are done by the security forces.”

(See SATGAS BAN – 5 KOPASSUS, LAPORAN TRIWULAN I POS KOTARAJA, DANPOS NUR WAHYUDI, LETTU INF, AGUSTUS 2007, p. 8, 12, 9, 6, 5, )

http://www.scribd.com/doc/41522587/Satgas-Ban-5-Kopassus-Triw

Given that the Kopassus report states as settled fact that security forces do “murder, abduction,” those who they define as being the enemy can be presumed to be in some danger.

In its’ discussion of “State of the enemy” Kopassus identifies the enemy with two kinds of actions: “the holding of press conferences” where they “always criticize the government and the work being done by the security forces” and the holding of private meetings where they engage in the same kind of prohibited speech. (LAPORAN TRIWULAN p. 9)

The Kopassus “enemies” list — the “leaders” of the “separatist political movement” includes fifteen civic leaders. In the order listed by Kopassus they are:

Reverend Socrates Sofyan Yoman, chair of the Papua Baptist Synod Markus Haluk head of the Association of Indonesian Middle Mountains Students (AMPTI) and an outspoken critic of the security forces and the US mining giant Freeport McMoRan Buchtar Tabuni, an activist who, after appearing on the Kopassus list, was sentenced to three years prison for speech and for waving Papuan flags and was beaten bloody by three soldiers, a guard, and a policeman because he had a cell phone Aloysius Renwarin, a lawyer who heads a local human rights foundation Dr. Willy Mandowen, Mediator of PDP, the Papua Presidium Council, a broad group including local business people, former politcal prisoners, women’s and youth organizations, and Papuan traditional leaders. His most prominent predecessor, Theys Eluay, had his throat slit by Kopassus in 2001. Yance Kayame, a committee chair in the Papuan provincial legislature Lodewyk Betawi Drs. Don Agustinus Lamaech Flassy of the Papua Presidium Council staff Drs. Agustinus Alue Alua, head of the MRP, the Papuan People’s Council, which formally represents Papuan traditional leaders and was convened and recognized by the Jakarta government Thaha Al Hamid, Secretary General of the Papua Presidium Council Sayid Fadal Al Hamid, head of the Papua Muslim Youth Drs. Frans Kapisa, head of Papua National Student Solidarity Leonard Jery Imbiri, public secretary of DAP, the Papuan Customary Council, which organizes an annual plenary of indigenous groups, has staged Papua’s largest peaceful demonstrations, and has seen its offices targeted for clandestine arson attacks Reverend Dr. Beny Giay, minister of the Protestant evangelical KINGMI Tent of Scripture church of Papua Selfius Bobby, student at the Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology (LAPORAN TRIWULAN p. 6) Reached for comment, Reverend Socrates Sofyan Yoman of the Baptist Synod laughed when told he headed the Kopassus list. He said that churches were targeted by TNI/ Kopassus because “We can’t condone torture, kidnapping or killing.” He said that he has received anonymous death threats “all the time, everywhere,” but that as a church leader he must endure it . He said the real problem was for Papua’s poor who “live daily in pressure and fear.”

Markus Haluk said that he is constantly followed on foot and by motorcycle, has been the subject of apparent attempts to kill him, and receives so many sms text death threats that he has difficulty keeping current with the death-threat archive he tries to maintain for historical and safety purposes.

One threat, written months after his name appeared as a target in the Kopassus documents promised to decapitate him and bury his head — 200 meters deep, while another imagined his head as a succulent fruit to be devoured and swallowed by security forces.

But as a famous figure in Papua, Haluk enjoys, he thinks, a certain kind of protection since when security forces have actually arrested him it has at times touched off street uprisings.

Village Papuans, he said, enjoy no such advantage. For them, being targeted by Kopassus “can get you killed. If there’s a report against you, you can die.”

Contacted in prison, Buctar Tabuni, the number three enemy on the Kopassus list, told of getting a death threat with a rat cadaver, described living with round-the-clock surveillance, and said the threats to him repeatedly stated that “you will be killed unless you stop your human rights activities.”

Three days ago, writing from his prison cell, Buctar Tabuni called on President Obama to cut off aid to TNI and back a democratic vote on Papuan independence. He told me that Indonesia follows the US lead and that the US was complicit since, as he wrote Obama, US-trained “troops in cities and villages all over West Papua treat the people like terrorists that must be exterminated.”

Anti-terrorism was indeed Obama’s main argument for restoring US aid to Kopassus, but the documents make clear that Kopassus mainly targets unarmed civilians, not killers.

In fact, the main unit that wrote the secret documents, SATGAS BAN – 5 KOPASSUS, is ostensibly doing anti-terrorism, with the Kopassus Unit 81, Gultor.

Obama justified the Kopassus aid restoration to Congress by saying that the initial US training would be given not to Kopassus as a whole but only to its’ anti-terror forces. The White House and Pentagon suggested that these forces were less criminal than the rest of Kopassus and of TNI/POLRI, but the documents establish that they, like the rest, go after civilians like the Papuan reverends and activists.

Reverend Giay said, when reached for comment that TNI, Kopassus and POLRI were making the case that “it’s OK to kill pastors and burn churches since the churches are separatist.”

Among Giay’s collection of anonymous sms death threats was a political missive demanding that “the reverend stop using the platform of the church to spread the ideology of free Papua.”

Giay said that “they need ideological and moral support from the Indonesian majority and the media” so they use Kopassus and others to attack the churches as constituting security threats.

He compared TNI/Kopassus actions in Papua now to those earlier in East Timor and the Malukus where “they created this conflict between Muslims and Christians” to expand their presence and get more money and power.

Reverend Giay said that “local pastors have been targeted. They kill them off and report them as separatists.”

The Kopassus documents boast that “in carrying out the operational mission of intelligence in the kotaraja area, we apportion work in order to cover all places and avenues of kotaraja society…” (LAPORAN TRIWULAN p. 11).

The files show that Kopassus indeed penetrates most every part of popular life. In addition to plainclothes Kopassus officers who go undercover in multiple roles, Kopassus fields a small army of non-TNI “agents” — real people with real lives and identities, who are bought, coerced or recruited into working covertly.

Kopassus Kotaraja area agents discussed in the secret personnel files include reporters for a local newspaper and for a national TV news channel, students, hotel staff, a court employee, a senior civil servant who works on art and culture, a 14 year old child, a broke, “emotional, drunken” farmer who needs money and “believes” that Kopassus will “take care of his safety,” a “hardworking” “emotionally stable” farmer who also is a need of funds, a worker who “likes to drink hard liquor,” is poor and “likes to believe things,” a motorcycle taxi driver, a cellphone kiosk clerk who watches people who buy SIM card numbers, and a driver for a car rental company who “frequently informs on whether there are elements from the Separatist Political Movement who hire rental cars and speak regarding independence/freedom (merdeka)” (SATGAS BAN – 5 KOPASSUS, POS I KOTARAJA, BIODATA AGEN, RAHASIA).

In the file, though, the word “merdeka” is not spelled out. In accord with Kopassus practice, only an initial is written, in quotation marks: “‘M’”, the unwritable, unspeakable M-word.

The documents support the longtime word on the street: you rarely know who is Kopassus. So best watch what you say if you care for safety, especially if what you say is “freedom.”

Will G20 take collective stand on capital controls?

November 10th, 2010 by Kavaljit Singh

Leaders of the G20 will meet in Seoul on Nov. 11 and 12 to discuss a myriad of issues concerning global financial stability and economic recovery. In many ways, the G20 Seoul Summit is significant because for the first time it is hosted by a non-G8 nation and one in Asia too.

The two-day Seoul summit covers an expansive agenda, ranging from global safety nets to new rules on bank capital and liquidity requirements to reforming the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

It remains to be seen how much of this agenda could be accomplished given the sharp differences among G20 member countries on key issues.

The summit is likely to be overshadowed by the ongoing “currency war.” Despite an initial understanding reached at G20 finance ministers’ meeting at Gyeongju, disagreements on currencies have widened among members with the announcement of a $600 billion injection plan by the U.S. Federal Reserve on Nov. 3.

It appears that the U.S. has either underestimated or ignored the potential impact of $600 billion plan of buying government long-term bonds on the exchange rates globally.

Several G20 nations including China, Brazil and South Korea have expressed serious concerns that this move may flood their financial markets with new money leading to asset price bubbles and higher inflation.

With interest rates near-zero in several developed economies such as U.S. and Japan, investors have started pumping money into emerging markets in search of higher yields.

The potential costs associated with putting new liquidity into the global economy should not be underestimated and therefore emerging markets should adopt a cautious approach toward such capital inflows.

In the absence of any international agreement or coordination, emerging markets will have to resort to capital controls to regulate potentially destabilizing capital inflows which could pose a threat to their economies and financial systems.

Post-crisis, there is a renewed interest in capital controls as a policy response to curb “hot money” inflows. It is increasingly being accepted in policy circles that due to the limited effectiveness of other measures (such as higher international reserves) capital controls could insulate the domestic economy from volatile capital flows.

In June, South Korea announced a series of currency controls to limit the risks arising out of sharp reversals in capital flows. Indonesia quickly followed suit when its central bank deployed measures to control short-term capital inflows.

In October, Brazil raised the tax on foreign purchases of fixed income securities to 6 percent. Thailand imposed a 15 percent withholding tax on foreign purchases of Thai bonds in the same month.

South Korea is also contemplating the reintroduction of tax on foreign purchases of Korean bonds. In the coming months, more and more countries may opt for capital controls to protect their economies from volatile flows.

Contrary to popular perception, capital controls have been extensively used by both the developed and developing countries in the past.

Capital controls were regarded as a solution to the global chaos in the 1930s. They were extensively used in the inter-war years and immediately after World War II.

Although most mainstream economic theories suggest that capital controls are distortionary, rent-seeking and ineffective, several successful economies (from South Korea to Brazil) have used them in the past.

China and India, two recent “success stories” of economic globalization, still use capital controls today. A restricted capital account has protected both economies from financial crises.

An overarching objective of capital controls is to bring both domestic and global finance under regulation and some degree of social control.

Even the IMF these days endorses the use of capital controls, albeit temporarily, and subject to exceptional circumstances.

In the present uncertain times, imposition of capital controls becomes imperative since the regulatory mechanisms to deal with capital flows are national whereas the capital flows operate on a global scale.

Yet, capital controls alone cannot fix all the ills plaguing the present-day global financial system. Rather they should be used in conjunction with other regulatory measures to maintain financial and macroeconomic stability.

Surprisingly, the issue of capital controls has never been under discussion at G20 despite many member countries (from South Korea to India to Brazil) currently using a variety of such controls.

Given its long history of successfully using capital controls in conjunction with other policy measures, South Korea should take a lead in putting this substantive issue on the agenda of G20. Other member nations such as China, India and Brazil could support this policy initiative.

Kavaljit Singh is the author of “Fixing Global Finance.” This book is available for free download at www.madhyam.org.in.

Israeli warplanes over Lebanon

November 10th, 2010 by Global Research

Six Israeli warplanes have penetrated the Lebanese airspace again and flew over parts of the country in flagrant violation of a UN Security Council resolution.
The Israeli aircrafts crossed into Lebanese airspace over the southern border village of Kfar Kila at 9:30 a.m. local time (0630 GMT) on Tuesday and conducted several unwarranted flights above southern Lebanon as well as the capital Beirut, a Press TV correspondent in Beirut cited a statement released by the Lebanese military.

The jets left the Lebanese airspace at 11:05 a.m. local time (0805 GMT) while flying over Alma al-Shaab – a town in southern Lebanon.

On Tuesday, an Israeli reconnaissance aircraft violated Lebanon’s airspace and patrolled the skies above several areas in southern Lebanon, including the village of al-Naqoura and West Bekaa region, located 73 km (45 miles) from the Lebanese capital.

Israel violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming they serve surveillance purposes.

Lebanon’s government, the Hezbollah resistance movement and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, have repeatedly cited Israel’s aerial surveillance flights over Lebanon as a clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 and the country’s sovereignty.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in the war Israel launched against Lebanon in 2006, calls on the Tel Aviv regime to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In 2009, Beirut complained to the United Nations about Israeli aircraft violating the airspace over the south of the country.

Obama on “60 Minutes”: A Servant of Big Business

November 10th, 2010 by Patrick Martin

US President Barack Obama was interviewed for nearly half an hour on the CBS News program “60 Minutes,” broadcast Sunday night. The discussion with correspondent Steve Kroft was conducted on Thursday, November 4, and was the only extended public interview with Obama since the rout of the Democrats in last Tuesday’s congressional election.

These circumstances make the content of the discussion that much more remarkable. Obama has given no accounting of the debacle for the Democrats. He has not explained how his administration managed to restore the political standing of an ultra-right Republican Party that was totally discredited only two years ago. Nor has he warned his former supporters of the dangers to jobs, living standards and democratic rights from a newly empowered right-wing majority in the House of Representatives.

Instead, he went on national television to conciliate big business and embrace the concerns of the Tea Party right wing, declaring them politically legitimate.

To describe Obama as chastened by defeat would be an exaggeration, since it might suggest that before the election he had been engaged in an aggressive campaign against his opponents. He was low-key, conciliatory and, above all, prostrate before corporate America, whose servant he is.

While liberal apologists for Obama like the Nation magazine treat him as a “progressive” who has unaccountably gone astray, or lost his voice, the man interviewed on “60 Minutes” was a deeply conventional, conservative politician without a trace of radicalism in his thinking.

Right at the start, Obama was at pains to disavow any connection between his political philosophy and traditional 20th century liberalism. He had been forced to bail out the banks and the auto companies, he said, not because he wanted to expand the role of government in the economy, but because of the Wall Street crash of September 2008 and the ensuing plunge in the US and world economy.

These were forced responses to an economic emergency, he argued, but as a result, “Republicans were able to paint my governing philosophy as a classic, traditional, big government liberal. And that’s not something that the American people want. I mean, you know, particularly independents in this country.”

Given public opinion polls that strongly favor government spending to create jobs and to sustain programs like Social Security and Medicare, Obama’s claims about what “the American people want” are rather dubious. But he was appealing to a ruling class audience, as well as seeking to appease the right-wing elements mobilized in the successful Republican election campaign.

He continued, “I think it is fair to say that, you know, the American people don’t want to see some massive expansion of government. And I think the good thing is that having gotten through this emergency, I think what people will see over the next two years is probably a better reflection of the kinds of long-term priorities that I want to set for the country.”

In other words, Obama is committed to slashing spending on social programs along the lines demanded by the incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

He also explained that his health care reform program was not an expansion of “big government,” but an effort to reduce government spending in the long run. “Medical care across the board,” he said, “that is the single thing that is going to be driving the expansion of the federal government over the next several years.”

He continued, “I started looking at the budget and it turned out that if we continued on the same trajectory in terms of Medicare costs going up, that there was no possibility of ever balancing this budget without massive tax hikes. Because the population’s getting older. We use more and more medical services. And we were going to have to control those costs.”

This spells out the reactionary nature of the entire health care reform enterprise, which was fundamentally an effort to cut costs, using the supposed expansion of insurance to the uninsured as a fig leaf. Millions of elderly people saw the health care legislation as a threat to Medicare―understandably, since the Obama administration proposed to finance half the $1 trillion cost through cost savings in that program.

Obama claimed that the bank bailout and the stimulus package had forestalled “the danger of us tipping into a great depression,” although the world economy is more disordered today than even in the midst of the financial crisis of September 2008.

Asked about the ultra-right Tea Party movement, Obama was conciliatory, claiming that their “concern that government spends too much money” was “as American as apple pie.” He added that the real test would be whether Tea Party supporters would be for cutting spending on “things that people really think are important,” like Social Security and Medicare. “We’re going to have to tackle some big issues like entitlements,” he said.

Less than a month from now the bipartisan commission appointed by Obama is to report back to the White House and Congress with plans to cut the federal deficit, primarily by slashing spending on Social Security and Medicare. This will be the central domestic project of the next two years of the Obama administration.

In a final olive branch to big business, Obama noted that his administration wanted to work with Wall Street on implementing the financial reform bill, and with the health care industry on health care reform.

“I think that it is entirely legitimate that in the banking sector, it’s very important for us to write these rules in collaboration with interested parties so that they can start knowing how things are going to work. When it comes to health care, we need to be consulting with the insurance industry to make sure they know how things are going to work.”

In other words, the financial swindlers who wrecked the US and world economy and have suffered no penalty―on the contrary, profits and bonuses are back to record levels on Wall Street―will get to write the regulations for the banks and money markets.

The insurance companies, perhaps the most hated corporations in America, responsible for denying coverage, not only to 50 million uninsured, but to millions more who pay premiums and lose coverage when they get sick, will write the regulations for health care.

These extraordinary declarations confirm the assessment of Obama made by the World Socialist Web Site even before he entered the White House. Obama was selected and packaged by a section of the financial aristocracy to continue the bailout of the banks begun by Bush, and he has conducted himself throughout his two years in office as a loyal defender of the profit system.

The statement by former U.S. President George W. Bush in his 497 – page memoir of “Decision Points” that a secret peace deal was worked out between the then-prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, and Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, which “we devised a process to turn .. into a public agreement” had not Olmert been ousted by a scandal to be replaced in the following elections by Binyamin Netanyahu, who reneged on his predecessor’s commitments, is a piece of history which highlights the fact that peace making in the Arab – Israeli conflict and the peace process have been hostages to the rotating U.S. and Israeli elections since the Madrid peace conference of 1991.

Of course Bush had a different point of view. In his Rose Garden speech on Israel – Palestine two-state solution on June 24, 2002, he said that “for too long .. the citizens of the Middle East” and “the hopes of many” have been held “hostage” to “the hatred of a few (and) the forces of extremism and terror,” a misjudgement that led his administration to strike a deal with the former Israeli premier, now comatose, Ariel Sharon to engineer a “regime change” in the self-ruled Palestinian Authority that resulted – according to Sharon’s terminology – in the “removal” of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader who made peace possible in the first place for the first time in the past one hundred years and for that deserved to be a Nobel Peace Laureate, to be replaced by the incumbent Palestinian leadership of Abbas who, despite being almost identical of both men’s image of a peace maker, is again victimized by the same rotating U.S. and Israeli elections, much more than by what Bush termed as “forces of extremism and terror.”

Ironically, Bush’s own Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, some three years ago, had to admit that there is no consensus among U.S. officials on a clear-cut definition of “extremism and terror” when she said, referring to acts of Palestinian anti-Israeli military occupation, that, “The prolonged experience of deprivation and humiliation can radicalize even normal people.” Even Olmert’s care-taker successor and the opposition leader now, Tzipporah Malkah “Tzipi” Livni, became the first ever Israeli cabinet minister to strike a line between an “enemy” and a “terrorist” when she told U.S. TV show “Nightline” on March 28, 2006: “Somebody who is fighting against Israeli soldiers is an enemy .. I believe that this is not under the definition of terrorism.”

However, judging from the incumbent Barak Obama administration’s adoption of Bush’s perspectives on the issue, as vindicated by Obama’s similar stance vis-à-vis the Palestinian anti-Israeli military resistance, in particular from the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli captive corporal Gilad Shalit, the U.S. successive administrations – whether Democrats or Republicans is irrelevant – are still insistent on shooting their Middle East peace efforts in the feet by giving the priority in peace making to fighting “extremism and terror” rather than to make peace as the prerequisite to ruling out the root causes of both evils.

Once and again, then again and again, U.S. and Israeli elections bring about new players and governments that renege on the commitments, pledges and promises of their predecessors vis – a –vis the Arab – Israeli conflict in general and the Palestinian – Israeli peace process in particular, with an overall effect of being much more harmful to peace making than any forces of ‘extremism.”

This overall effect is devastating. First and foremost it creates the vicious circle of unfulfilled promises and hopes, which in turn, secondly, undermines what little confidence might still be there to believe in the same pledges of the newcomers, which their predecessors reneged on. Third, the repeatedly aborted endeavors for a breakthrough renders the “peace process” less an honest attempt on conflict resolution and more a crisis management effort, which is the last thing the Palestinian and Arab “peace partners” would like to put on their agenda. The ensuing environment of these and other factors is, fourth, the ideal setting for opening a new “window of opportunity” as soon as an old one is closed for “the forces of extremism” to exploit the political vacuum thus created. By default or by decision extremists in the Arab – Israeli conflict are U.S. and Israeli made as well as they are a legitimate byproduct of a failed process where the mission of peace making has been moving on from an old administration to a new one, each with a new plan that hardly takes off before another is offered by new players.

The outcome of the latest U.S. mid-term elections was not an exception. Both Palestinian and Israeli protagonists were on edge “waiting” for a new equation that would change the balance of power between the incumbent administration and the Congress to serve their respective goals and expectations, and a change did occur that will curtail the ability of President Obama to follow up on his pledges to deliver on his promises of peace making. The Palestinian disappointment is on the verge of despair to consider alternatives to the U.S. sponsorship of peace making, let alone continuing a peace process that has been counterproductive all along. The Israeli jubilation is on the verge of declaring an Israeli victory in a non-Israeli U.S. Congress over a U.S president who never even thought of compromising the U.S. – Israeli strategic alliance or the decades old commitment of successive administrations to the security of Israel, but only pondered a non-binding plan to bring the protagonists together to decide for themselves through strictly bilateral direct negotiations that rule beforehand any external intervention.

Obama’s plan, to all practical reasons, is thus aborted in the bud and its file is about to be archived on top of the pile of the older files of the earlier plans of presidents Reagan, Bush senior, Clinton and Bush junior, which were swept away to the dustbin of history by the rotating U.S. or Israeli elections, while holding the Palestinian negotiator hostage to a process that nothing indicates it will ever end, waiting for the U.S. Godot.

Holding the Palestinian negotiator hostage to this open-ended U.S.-sponsored process is now and has been always the only game in town for the Israelis, the only beneficiaries of the ever explosive status quo of the Arab – Israeli conflict, who have been exploiting the peace process as a playground to win more time to create more facts on the ground that will sooner or later render the temporary status quo created by their military occupation of 1967 into a permanent regional arrangement.

Netanyahu’s anti-Oslo campaign was interpreted to create the political environment that contributed to the assassination of Yitzhaq Rabin on November 4, 1995, two years after signing the Oslo agreement (Declaration of Principles) with Arafat – who was suspiciously poisoned to death on November 11, 2004 – and Netanyahu’s election to the premiership immediately thereafter was interpreted as an anti-peace coup d’etat. When the 1999 elections brought back to power the so-called “peace camp” led by Labor, PM Ehud Barak did not bring the “peace process” back to Rabin track, but reneged on the signed agreements, refused to implement the imminent and final withdrawal from the West Bank and succeeded, with U.S. help, in dragging the Palestinian side to jump to the intractable final status issues. The following elections followed the collapse of the Camp David trilateral summit and the ensuing violence, which led the new premier, Ariel Sharon, to declare the death of Oslo accord. Sharon succeeded in recruiting the support of George W. Bush to put the change of the Palestinian Authority (PA) regime of Arafat as the only item on the agenda of the “peace process” as a precondition to its resumption and convinced Bush to delay the official launch of the “Road Map” until after the Israeli elections. All that done already, and a new PA regime of their liking is already in place, but the Map has yet to be implemented. Two years ago, Obama had a plan to negotiate how to renegotiate the Road Map, but the latest Israeli elections brought to power Netanyahu who seems determined to negotiate only on how to implement his own unilateral plans.

No surprise then Palestinian negotiators are almost concluding that enough is enough, that they are left with no options but to get rid of this rotating electoral vicious circle and let come whatever, it would not be worse than the current status of being captives to a waiting game for a Godot that will never come.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

In the run-up to the G20 summit of leading economies, to be held Thursday and Friday in Seoul, the president of the World Bank has published a column in the Financial Times calling for a fundamental revamping of the global currency system involving a lesser role for the US dollar and a modified gold standard. The Financial Times underscored the significance of the column by making it the subject of its front-page lead article on Monday.

In his column, World Bank chief Robert Zoellick, a former US Treasury official, points to the crisis conditions prompting his proposal. He begins by observing: “With talk of currency wars and disagreements over the US Federal Reserve’s policy of quantitative easing, the summit of the Group of 20 leading economies in Seoul this week is shaping up as the latest test of international cooperation.”

Here Zoellick is referring to the announcement by the US Federal Reserve last week of a second round of “quantitative easing”—the printing of hundreds of billions of dollars to buy US Treasury securities—and the sharp criticisms of this move by major US trade competitors including China, Germany, South Africa and Brazil. The US move is seen correctly as an intensification of a deliberate policy to cheapen the dollar in order to make exports less expensive and foreign imports more expensive.

The Obama administration is focusing its economic attack on China. It wants to line up Europe, Japan, India and other Asian countries at the G20 summit behind its demand that China allow its currency to appreciate more rapidly.

However, its cheap dollar policy is roiling relations with other export-oriented, surplus nations, most notably Germany. In unusually bellicose language, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble denounced the US in an interview this week with Spiegel magazine. Saying the American “growth model” is in “deep crisis,” he added, “The United States lived on borrowed money for too long, inflating its financial sector and neglecting its small and mid-sized industrial companies.”

He went on to declare: “The Fed’s decisions bring more uncertainty to the global economy… It’s inconsistent for the Americans to accuse the Chinese of manipulating exchange rates and then to artificially depress the dollar exchange rate by printing money.”

The US—the world’s biggest debtor nation—is exploiting the privileged position of the dollar as the primary world reserve and trading currency to drive up the exchange rates of its rivals, in essence a trade war measure. It is unleashing a flood of speculative capital into so-called emerging economies in Asia, Latin America and Africa, pushing their currencies even higher and creating the danger of speculative bubbles and inflation.

This aggressive and unilateralist policy on the part of the United States is exacerbating global tensions and destabilizing the world monetary and financial system. It is heightening the likelihood of a breakdown of international relations and the outbreak of the type of uncontrolled currency and trade warfare that characterized the Great Depression and led ultimately to World War II.

In his column, Zoellick urges the G20 to “build a cooperative monetary system that reflects emerging economic conditions.” He continues: “This new system is likely to need to involve the dollar, the euro, the yen, the pound and a [Chinese] renminbi that moves towards internationalization and then an open capital account.”

The new system, he writes, “should also consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values. Although text books may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative money asset today.”

This is a tacit acknowledgment that the monetary system that has existed since 1971 and is rooted in the system established at the end of World War II—and which is anchored by the US dollar—is no longer viable. It is furthermore an admission that there is no other national currency that can replace the dollar as the basis of global currency relations.

One expression of eroding confidence in the US dollar—and the monetary system based on the dollar—is the spectacular surge in gold prices. On Monday, gold for December delivery set new records, closing above $1,400 an ounce.

Zoellick argues that the “scope of changes since 1971” justifies the erection of a new monetary system. However, he is silent on the most important of these changes—the vast decline in the global economic position of the United States and the decay of American capitalism.

The United States emerged from the wreckage of World War II as the unchallenged global economic hegemon. Its industry dominated world markets. The US share of world auto production in 1950 was 79 percent. In 1955, it accounted for nearly 40 percent of world steel production. At the same time, the vast bulk of the world supply of gold was in Fort Knox.

The US engineered the postwar recovery of world capitalism, ensuring that the monetary and trade architecture was favorable to its interests. Key to the postwar recovery and expansion was the establishment of a new monetary system, the Bretton Woods system, under which exchange rates were fixed and pegged to the dollar. The dollar served as the world reserve and trading currency, but it was backed by gold at the rate of $35 per ounce.

However, this arrangement contained a fundamental contradiction—the attempt to use a national currency as a world currency. Even the massive economic wealth and power of the United States could not override the basic contradiction between the global economy and the nation-state system of capitalism.

By the late 1960s, the quantity of dollars held overseas far outstripped US gold reserves, and the US was facing growing competition from resurgent Germany and Japan. The Bretton Woods system collapsed in August of 1971 when the Nixon administration, facing a run on the dollar, removed the gold backing from the US currency.

That ushered in so-called Bretton Woods II, a system of floating exchange rates tied to the dollar—an arrangement that was even more dependent on international confidence in the strength of American capitalism. That confidence has progressively eroded as the US has built up ever-greater debts and its industrial base has withered, leaving its economy increasingly dependent on financial speculation.

The financial crash of September 2008, which was centered on Wall Street, has fatally undermined confidence in the dollar. The fact that the financial crisis takes the form of a currency war and breakdown in the system of exchange rates—what had been the pillar of the postwar recovery of world capitalism—underscores the fact that the current crisis is not merely a conjunctural downturn, but rather a systemic breakdown of the system.

Zoellick’s proposal for a return to some form of gold standard is both utopian and reactionary. There is no possibility that the dramatic shift in economic weight between the older imperialist powers—first and foremost, the US—and emerging economies such as China and India can peacefully produce a new international economic equilibrium based on a reduced role for the US dollar. As in the twentieth century, so in the twenty first, the declining powers will not willingly accept a lesser position and the struggle for control of markets, raw materials and sources of cheap labor inevitably leads toward world war.

Were the proposal for a new gold standard to be carried out, moreover, it would result in a catastrophic contraction of credit, plunging the world into a depression exceeding that of the 1930s.

The breakdown of the currency system is an expression of an insoluble crisis of the capitalist system that can be resolved in a progressive manner only through the international revolutionary movement of the working class and the establishment of world socialism.

World’s Sole Military Superpower Extends Its Reach

November 9th, 2010 by Rick Rozoff

U.S. Banks Failing At Fastest Pace In 2 Decades

November 9th, 2010 by Global Research

WASHINGTON — Regulators shut down four more banks Friday, bringing the 2010 total to 143, topping the 140 shuttered last year and the most in a year since the savings-and-loan crisis two decades ago.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over K Bank, based in Randallstown, Maryland, with $538.3 million in assets, and Pierce Commercial Bank, based in Tacoma, Washington, with $221.1 million in assets. The FDIC also seized two California banks: Western Commercial Bank in Woodland Hills, with $98.6 million in assets, and First Vietnamese American Bank in Westminster, with assets of $48 million.

M&T Bank, based in Buffalo, N.Y., agreed to assume the deposits and $410.8 million of the assets of K Bank. First California Bank, based in Westlake Village, Calif., is acquiring the assets and deposits of Western Commercial Bank. Heritage Bank, based in Olympia, Wash., is taking the assets and deposits of Pierce Commercial Bank, while Los Angeles-based Grandpoint Bank is assuming the assets and deposits of First Vietnamese American Bank.

In addition, the FDIC and M&T Bank agreed to share losses on $289 million of K Bank’s loans and other assets. The FDIC and First California Bank are sharing losses on $83.9 million of Western Commercial Bank’s assets.

The failure of K Bank is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $198.4 million. That of Western Commercial Bank is expected to cost $25.2 million; Pierce Commercial Bank, $21.3 million, and First Vietnamese American Bank, $9.6 million.

Like these four financial institutions, the banks that have failed this year are smaller, on average, than those that succumbed in 2009. That has meant the deposit insurance fund has suffered a milder loss, which has reached about $21 billion so far this year, compared with $36 billion in 2009.

Still, banks, especially small community institutions, are falling as soured loans have mounted and the economy has sputtered. The wave of closings points to the lingering power of the recession more than a year after its official end.

Florida, Georgia, Illinois and California have each seen bank failures in the double digits this year. Some communities in those states are still reeling from the financial meltdown that brought an avalanche of bad loans, especially for commercial real estate.

The closures have compounded the problems in areas already straining under high unemployment, foreclosed homes and vacant malls and office buildings.

The pace of failures has accelerated as banks’ losses on loans for commercial property and development have mounted. Many companies have shut down in the recession, vacating shopping malls and office buildings financed by the loans. That has brought delinquent loan payments and defaults by commercial developers.

The 2009 total of bank failures had been the highest annual toll since 1992, at the height of the savings and loan crisis. More than 1,000 banks went under in the savings-and-loan crisis of 1987-1992.

Twenty-five banks failed in 2008, the year the financial crisis struck with force; only three succumbed in 2007.

The growing bank failures have sapped billions of dollars out of the FDIC’s deposit insurance fund. It fell into the red last year, and its deficit stood at $15.2 billion as of June 30. The FDIC expects the cost of resolving failed banks to total around $52 billion from 2010 through 2014.

Depositors’ money — insured up to $250,000 per account — is not at risk, with the FDIC backed by the government. That insurance cap was made permanent in the financial overhaul law enacted in July.

Is China’s Renminbi Already The New Reserve Currency?

November 9th, 2010 by Tyler Durden

With the dollar tumbling overnight, many were scratching their heads as to what caused the move in the dollar. Citi’s Stephen Englander provides a useful explanation, which fits perfectly with the commentary from PBoC advisor Li’s earlier that the dollar’s position as a reserve currency is now “absurd”: namely that more and more in the world are starting to look at the CNY as the new reserve currency. And as we pointed out earlier, its fixing surge of over 0.5% overnight caused many to blink. Is China finally pushing to aggressively force the dollar out?

From Steve Englander’s note today:

Why CNY?

We have cited but not explained the phenomenon of CNY leading G10 currencies. That was very clear overnight with the sharp downward move in USDCNY very clearly leading the move in EUR and AUD (and equity markets for that matter.) Investors appear to be viewing CNY gains as broadly bearish USD and bullish risk. The response to CNY can be partially explained if we assume that investors see CNY as setting the effective limit for how much other currencies can appreciate. It is less clear why global risk should be driven by CNY, except if investors see more global cooperation as a positive signal.

To be sure, Englander has had it in for the dollar for a long-time. He follows up in his note that in his view the USD sell signal has been triggered. While we don’t disagree, we ask – what will said reserve managers buy: EURs? GBPs? JPYs? After all, all of them are just as bad. Oh wait, gold?

Reserve Manager USD sell signal triggered

Last week we published our analysis of reserve manager behaviour and presented a trading rule based on the following conditions:

1) The USD fell in the prior calendar month;
2) The (currency valuation adjusted) increase in reserves in our subset of reserve managers is positive; and
3) Higher than in the previous month

Our subset of reserve managers consists of a sample of reserve managers who report reserves soon after month end. We adjust nominal reserve accumulation to remove currency valuation effects. For proprietary reasons, we do not disclose the reserve managers in our subset (all data is publicly available on Bloomberg) and we only use the subset aggregate in our analysis.

If conditions 1 through 3 are met, the rule says buy EUR/USD on the seventh business day of the month (by which time the early reporting central banks in our sample will have reported their reserve levels), and hold the short USD position through the seventh day of the next month.

These conditions were met in November with valuation adjusted reserves in our sub-sample growing by 1%, and the dollar having dropped sharply in October.

The intuition is that we think that reserve managers are a latent USD selling force because of the size of their portfolios and concentrated holdings of USD. The immediate response is likely to be aggressive efforts to avoid being left holding an ever expanding USD bag.

Nearly three years after he was appointed to investigate the destruction of at least 92 interrogation videotapes, a dozen of which showed two high-value detainees being subjected to waterboarding and various other torture techniques by CIA interrogators, Special Prosecutor John Durham has determined that he does not have enough evidence to secure an indictment against anyone responsible for the purge.

Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement Tuesday that Durham, a US Attorney from Connecticut, has “concluded that he will not pursue criminal charges for the destruction of interrogation videotapes.”

The statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges related to the destruction of the tapes ran out Tuesday. Truthout contacted Durham’s spokesman, Tom Carson, late Monday evening raising questions about whether Durham’s investigation was ongoing in light of the statute of limitations expiring or whether he had concluded his probe. Carson, in an email sent to Truthout hours before Miller issued a statement, said Durham’s investigation is still an “open matter.” 

In response to additional queries requesting clarification of his statement, Carson said, the investigation is “still an open matter, but DOJ will not pursue criminal charges for the destruction of the tapes.”

Two people close to the probe told Truthout they were told that means there is a possibility Durham could pursue other charges, such as false statements, the targets of the probe made during the course of the investigation, but they doubted Durham would do that.

Jose Rodriguez, the head of the CIA’s clandestine division, who had been one of the primary targets of Durham’s criminal investigation, ordered the destruction of the videotapes in November 2005, shortly after The Washington Post published a front-page article exposing the CIA’s use of so-called “black site” prisons overseas to interrogate alleged “war on terror” suspects using torture techniques that were not legal on US soil. Rodriguez said he received clearance from agency attorneys.

One witness in the case who worked with Rodriguez said, “I can’t believe Rodriguez got away with it” upon learning that Durham would not prosecute his former colleague.

In a statement, Robert Bennett, Rodriguez’s Washington, DC-based attorney, said “we are pleased that the DOJ has decided not go forward against Mr. Rodriguez.”

“This is the right decision because of the facts and the law,” Bennett said. “Jose Rodriguez is an American hero, a true patriot who only wanted to protect his people and his country.”

Rodriguez, however, according to people familiar with the investigation, was never called by Durham to testify before his grand jury.

The DOJ’s announcement was made on the same day George W. Bush published his memoir, “Decision Points,” where he defended the efficacy of torture and falsely claimed that it resulted in actionable intelligence that helped thwart pending terrorist plots. Bush also admitted that he personally authorized the CIA to waterboard self-professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and signed off on ten brutal torture methods CIA interrogators used against 33 detainees.

The announcement was also made less than a week after State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh told a delegation gathered in Geneva, Switzerland for the United Nations Human Rights Council, which scrutinized the United States’ human rights record, that inquiries into the Bush administration’s use of torture were still under investigation by Durham.

“Those investigations are ongoing,” Koh said. “The question is not whether they would consider it – those discussions are going on right now.”

Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said Durham’s decision “is stunning.”

“There is ample evidence of a cover up regarding the destruction of the tapes,” Romero said. “The Bush administration was instructed by a court of law not to destroy evidence of torture, but that’s exactly what it did. The destruction of these tapes showed complete disdain for the rule of law…We cannot say that we live under the rule of law unless we are clear that no one is above the law.”

It is widely believed that the videotapes were destroyed to cover up illegal acts. It is also believed that the tapes were destroyed because Democratic members of Congress who were briefed about the tapes began asking questions about whether the interrogations were illegal, according to Jane Mayer, author of the book, “The Dark Side” and a reporter for The New Yorker magazine.

“Further rattling the CIA was a request in May 2005 from Sen. Jay Rockefeller, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, to see over a hundred documents referred to in the earlier Inspector General’s report on detention inside the black prison sites,” Mayer wrote in her book. “Among the items Rockefeller specifically sought was a legal analysis of the CIA’s interrogation videotapes.

“Rockefeller wanted to know if the intelligence agency’s top lawyer believed that the waterboarding of [alleged al-Qaeda operative Abu] Zubayda and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as captured on the secret videotapes, was entirely legal. The CIA refused to provide the requested documents to Rockefeller.

“But the Democratic senator’s mention of the videotapes undoubtedly sent a shiver through the Agency, as did a second request he made for these documents to [former CIA Director Porter] Goss in September 2005.”

The CIA began videotaping interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the attack on the USS Cole, in April 2002, four months before Bush administration attorneys issued a memo clearing the way for CIA interrogators to use “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the DOJ had disclosed in court documents.

As Truthout previously reported, Some of the interrogation sessions captured on the videotapes showed Zubaydah being subjected to torture methods not yet approved by an August 2002 Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo written by attorneys John Yoo and Jay Bybee.

Specifically, these sources said, Zubaydah was subjected to repeated sessions of “water dousing,” a method that at the time interrogators used it on Zubaydah was described as spraying him with extremely cold water from a hose while he was naked and shackled by chains attached to a ceiling in the cell he was kept in at the black site prison.

The OLC did not approve the use of water dousing as an interrogation technique until August 2004. Use of the method is believed to have played a part in the November 2002 death of Gul Rahman, a detainee who was held at an Afghanistan prison known as The Salt Pit and died of hypothermia hours after being doused with water and left in a cold prison cell.

Other videotapes showed Zubaydah being subjected to extended hours of sleep deprivation before the interrogation method was approved by OLC, which one current and three former CIA officials said was part of a larger experiment to determine how long a detainee could endure the technique.

In December 2007, the timeframe when the New York Times first revealed that the videotapes were destroyed, American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion to hold the CIA in contempt for its destruction of the tapes in violation of a court order requiring the agency to produce or identify all records requested by the ACLU in September 2004 related to the CIA’s interrogation of “war on terror” detainees.

The videotapes were also withheld from attorneys and the 9/11 Commission, which requested records related to the CIA’s interrogations of detainees.

Durham was appointed special prosecutor by Attorney General Michael Mukasey in January 2008 to lead a criminal inquiry into the tapes’ destruction based on a recommendation by the DOJ’s National Security Division and the CIA Office of the Inspector General.

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Since that time, DOJ spokesman Miller said Tuesday, “a team of prosecutors and FBI agents led by Mr. Durham has conducted an exhaustive investigation into the matter.”

Mukasey did not give Durham the authority to investigate whether any of the torture techniques depicted on the videotapes violated anti-torture laws. Last year, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers proposed expanding the scope of Durham’s investigation to include a broader review of the Bush administration’s interrogation policies.

Conyers was rebuffed and he did not pursue the matter further. But last August, after the CIA Inspector General John Helgerson’s report on the CIA’s torture program was publicly released, Attorney General Eric Holder expanded Durham’s mandate and authorized him to conduct a “preliminary review” of about a dozen cases of torture involving “war on terror” detainees, including al-Nashiri. Those cases had been previously closed by DOJ attorneys for unknown reasons.

That review is ongoing and no decision has been made about launching a full-scale criminal inquiry.

Dixon Obsurn of Human Rights First said while his organization is “disappointed that the Justice Department has chosen not to pursue charges in this case” he remains “hopeful that the still pending Durham investigation into the actions of CIA interrogators and contractors involved in abusive interrogations will ultimately provide a full, fair and objective review of allegations of illegal conduct.”

That prospect seems unlikely given the lack of accountability to date and President Obama’s pledge to “look forward.”

Global Research Editor’s Note

In the light of recent statements by both President Obama and Secretary  of State Hillary Clinton, namely that “all options are on the table” with regard to the use of nuclear weapons against Iran and that these weapons are “harmless to civilians”, we are publishing excerpts from Carl Sagan’s indepth 1983 investigation on the implications of a nuclear war, including his pathbreaking analysis of Nuclear Winter.

In “The Nuclear Winter” (1983), Sagan explored the unforeseen and devastating physical and chemical effects of even a small-scale nuclear war on the earth’s biosphere and life on earth.

Nuclear war is not front page news, compared to the H1N1 virus or the routine Al Qaeda terror alerts.

Be advised that the US-NATO-Israel military alliance plans to use nuclear weapons and the corporate media has been instructed not to discuss the devastating consequences. 
 
 
Michel Chossudovsky, November 9, 2010  


Except for fools and madmen, everyone knows that nuclear war would he an unprecedented human catastrophe. A more or less typical strategic warhead has a yield of 2 megatons, the explosive equivalent of 2 million tons of TNT. But 2 million tons of TNT is about the same as all the bombs exploded in World War II — a single bomb with the explosive power of the entire Second World War but compressed into a few seconds of time and an area 30 or 40 miles across …

In a 2-megaton explosion over a fairly large city, buildings would be vaporized, people reduced to atoms and shadows, outlying structures blown down like matchsticks and raging fires ignited. And if the bomb were exploded on the ground, an enormous crater, like those that can be seen through a telescope on the surface of the Moon, would be all that remained where midtown once had been. There are now more than 50,000 nuclear weapons, more than 13,000 megatons of yield, deployed in the arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union — enough to obliterate a million Hiroshimas.

But there are fewer than 3000 cities on the Earth with populations of 100,000 or more. You cannot find anything like a million Hiroshimas to obliterate. Prime military and industrial targets that are far from cities are comparatively rare. Thus, there are vastly more nuclear weapons than are needed for any plausible deterrence of a potential adversary.

Nobody knows, of course, how many megatons would be exploded in a real nuclear war. There are some who think that a nuclear war can be “contained,” bottled up before it runs away to involve much of the world’s arsenals. But a number of detailed analyses, war games run by the U.S. Department of Defense, and official Soviet pronouncements all indicate that this containment may be too much to hope for: Once the bombs begin exploding, communications failures, disorganization, fear, the necessity of making in minutes decisions affecting the fates of millions, and the immense psychological burden of knowing that your own loved ones may already have been destroyed are likely to result in a nuclear paroxysm. Many investigations, including a number of studies for the U.S. government, envision the explosion of 5,000 to 10,000 megatons — the detonation of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons that now sit quietly, inconspicuously, in missile silos, submarines and long-range bombers, faithful servants awaiting orders.

The World Health Organization, in a recent detailed study chaired by Sune K. Bergstrom (the 1982 Nobel laureate in physiology and medicine), concludes that 1.1 billion people would be killed outright in such a nuclear war, mainly in the United States, the Soviet Union, Europe, China and Japan. An additional 1.1 billion people would suffer serious injufles and radiation sickness, for which medical help would be unavailable. It thus seems possible that more than 2 billion people-almost half of all the humans on Earth-would be destroyed in the immediate aftermath of a global thermonuclear war. This would represent by far the greatest disaster in the history of the human species and, with no other adverse effects, would probably be enough to reduce at least the Northern Hemisphere to a state of prolonged agony and barbarism. Unfortunately, the real situation would be much worse. In technical studies of the consequences of nuclear weapons explosions, there has been a dangerous tendency to underestimate the results. This is partly due to a tradition of conservatism which generally works well in science but which is of more dubious applicability when the lives of billions of people are at stake. In the Bravo test of March 1, 1954, a 15-megaton thermonuclear bomb was exploded on Bikini Atoll. It had about double the yield expected, and there was an unanticipated last-minute shift in the wind direction. As a result, deadly radioactive fallout came down on Rongelap in the Marshall Islands, more than 200 kilometers away. Most all the children on Rongelap subsequently developed thyroid nodules and lesions, and other long-term medical problems, due to the radioactive fallout.

Likewise, in 1973, it was discovered that high-yield airbursts will chemically burn the nitrogen in the upper air, converting it into oxides of nitrogen; these, in turn, combine with and destroy the protective ozone in the Earth’s stratosphere. The surface of the Earth is shielded from deadly solar ultraviolet radiation by a layer of ozone so tenuous that, were it brought down to sea level, it would be only 3 millimeters thick. Partial destruction of this ozone layer can have serious consequences for the biology of the entire planet.

These discoveries, and others like them, were made by chance. They were largely unexpected. And now another consequence — by far the most dire — has been uncovered, again more or less by accident.

The U.S. Mariner 9 spacecraft, the first vehicle to orbit another planet, arrived at Mars in late 1971. The planet was enveloped in a global dust storm. As the fine particles slowly fell out, we were able to measure temperature changes in the atmosphere and on the surface. Soon it became clear what had happened:

The dust, lofted by high winds off the desert into the upper Martian atmosphere, had absorbed the incoming sunlight and prevented much of it from reaching the ground. Heated by the sunlight, the dust warmed the adjacent air. But the surface, enveloped in partial darkness, became much chillier than usual. Months later, after the dust fell out of the atmosphere, the upper air cooled and the surface warmed, both returning to their normal conditions. We were able to calculate accurately, from how much dust there was in the atmosphere, how cool the Martian surface ought to have been.

Afterwards, I and my colleagues, James B. Pollack and Brian Toon of NASA’s Ames Research Center, were eager to apply these insights to the Earth. In a volcanic explosion, dust aerosols are lofted into the high atmosphere. We calculated by how much the Earth’s global temperature should decline after a major volcanic explosion and found that our results (generally a fraction of a degree) were in good accor4 with actual measurements. Joining forces with Richard Turco, who has studied the effects of nuclear weapons for many years, we then began to turn our attention to the climatic effects of nuclear war. [The scientific paper, "Global Atmospheric Consequences of Nuclear War," was written by R. P. Turco, 0. B. Toon, T. P. Ackerman, J. B. Pollack and Carl Sagan. From the last names of the authors, this work is generally referred to as "TTAPS."]

We knew that nuclear explosions, particularly groundbursts, would lift an enormous quantity of fine soil particles into the atmosphere (more than 100,000 tons of fine dust for every megaton exploded in a surface burst). Our work was further spurred by Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, West Germany, and by John Birks of the University of Colorado, who pointed out that huge quantities of smoke would be generated in the burning of cities and forests following a nuclear war.

Croundburst — at hardened missile silos, for example — generate fine dust. Airbursts — over cities and unhardened military installations — make fires and therefore smoke. The amount of dust and soot generated depends on the conduct of the war, the yields of the weapons employed and the ratio of groundbursts to airbursts. So we ran computer models for several dozen different nuclear war scenarios. Our baseline case, as in many other studies, was a 5000-megaton war with only a modest fraction of the yield (20 percent) expended on urban or industrial targets. Our job, for each case, was to follow the dust and smoke generated, see how much sunlight was absorbed and by how much the temperatures changed, figure out how the particles spread in longitude and latitude, and calculate how long before it all fell out in the air back onto the surface. Since the radioactivity would be attached to these same fine particles, our calculations also revealed the extent and timing of the subsequent radioactive fallout.

Some of what I am about to describe is horrifying. I know, because it horrifies me. There is a tendency — psychiatrists call it “denial” — to put it out of our minds, not to think about it. But if we are to deal intelligently, wisely, with the nuclear arms race, then we must steel ourselves to contemplate the horrors of nuclear war.

The results of our calculations astonished us. In the baseline case, the amount of sunlight at the ground was reduced to a few percent of normal-much darker, in daylight, than in a heavy overcast and too dark for plants to make a living from photosynthesis. At least in the Northern Hemisphere, where the great preponderance of strategic targets lies, an unbroken and deadly gloom would persist for weeks.

Even more unexpected were the temperatures calculated. In the baseline case, land temperatures, except for narrow strips of coastline, dropped to minus 25 Celsius (minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit) and stayed below freezing for months — even for a summer war. (Because the atmospheric structure becomes much more stable as the upper atmosphere is heated and the low air is cooled, we may have severely underestimated how long the cold and the dark would last.) The oceans, a significant heat reservoir, would not freeze, however, and a major ice age would probably not be triggered. But because the temperatures would drop so catastrophically, virtually all crops and farm animals, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, would be destroyed, as would most varieties of uncultivated or domesticated food supplies. Most of the human survivors would starve.

In addition, the amount of radioactive fallout is much more than expected. Many previous calculations simply ignored the intermediate time-scale fallout. That is, calculations were made for the prompt fallout — the plumes of radioactive debris blown downwind from each target-and for the long-term fallout, the fine radioactive particles lofted into the stratosphere that would descend about a year later, after most of the radioactivity had decayed. However, the radioactivity carried into the upper atmosphere (but not as high as the stratosphere) seems to have been largely forgotten. We found for the baseline case that roughly 30 percent of the land at northern midlatitudes could receive a radioactive dose greater than 250 rads, and that about 50 percent of northern midlatitudes could receive a dose greater than 100 rads. A 100-rad dose is the equivalent of about 1000 medical X-rays. A 400-rad dose will, more likely than not, kill you.

The cold, the dark and the intense radioactivity, together lasting for months, represent a severe assault on our civilization and our species. Civil and sanitary services would be wiped out. Medical facilities, drugs, the most rudimentary means for relieving the vast human suffering, would be unavailable. Any but the most elaborate shelters would be useless, quite apart from the question of what good it might be to emerge a few months later. Synthetics burned in the destruction of the cities would produce a wide variety of toxic gases, including carbon monoxide, cyanides, dioxins and furans. After the dust and soot settled out, the solar ultraviolet flux would be much larger than its present value. Immunity to disease would decline. Epidemics and pandemics would be rampant, especially after the billion or so unburied bodies began to thaw. Moreover, the combined influence of these severe and simultaneous stresses on life are likely to produce even more adverse consequences — biologists call them synergisms — that we are not yet wise enough to foresee.

So far, we have talked only of the Northern Hemisphere. But it now seems – unlike the case of a single nuclear weapons test — that in a real nuclear war, the heating of the vast quantities of atmospheric dust and soot in northern midlatitudes will transport these fine particles toward and across the Equator. We see just this happening in Martian dust storms. The Southern Hemisphere would experience effects that, while less severe than in the Northern Hemisphere, are nevertheless extremely ominous. The illusion with which some people in the Northern Hemisphere reassure themselves — catching an Air New Zealand flight in a time of serious international crisis, or the like — is now much less tenable, even on the narrow issue of personal survival for those with the price of a ticket.

But what if nuclear wars can be contained, and much less than 5000 megatons is detonated? Perhaps the greatest surprise in our work was that even small nuclear wars can have devastating climatic effects. We considered a war in which a mere 100 megatons were exploded, less than one percent of the world arsenals, and only in low-yield airbursts over cities. This scenario, we found, would ignite thousands of fires, and the smoke from these fires alone would be enough to generate an epoch of cold and dark almost as severe as in the 5000 megaton case. The threshold for what Richard Turco has called The Nuclear Winter is very low.

Could we have overlooked some important effect? The carrying of dust and soot from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere (as well as more local atmospheric circulation) will certainly thin the clouds out over the Northern Hemisphere. But, in many cases, this thinning would be insufficient to render the climatic consequences tolerable — and every time it got better in the Northern Hemisphere, it would get worse in the Southern.

Our results have been carefully scrutinized by more than 100 scientists in the United States, Europe and the Soviet Union. There are still arguments on points of detail. But the overall conclusion seems to be agreed upon: There are severe and previously unanticipated global consequences of nuclear war-subfreezing temperatures in a twilit radioactive gloom lasting for months or longer.

Scientists initially underestimated the effects of fallout, were amazed that nuclear explosions in space disabled distant satellites, had no idea that the fireballs from high-yield thermonuclear explosions could deplete the ozone layer and missed altogether the possible climatic effects of nuclear dust and smoke. What else have we overlooked?

Nuclear war is a problem that can be treated only theoretically. It is not amenable to experimentation. Conceivably, we have left something important out of our analysis, and the effects are more modest than we calculate. On the other hand, it is also possible-and, from previous experience, even likely-that there are further adverse effects that no one has yet been wise enough to recognize. With billions of lives at stake, where does conservatism lie-in assuming that the results will be better than we calculate, or worse?

Many biologists, considering the nuclear winter that these calculations describe, believe they carry somber implications for life on Earth. Many species of plants and animals would become extinct. Vast numbers of surviving humans would starve to death. The delicate ecological relations that bind together organisms on Earth in a fabric of mutual dependency would be torn, perhaps irreparably. There is little question that our global civilization would be destroyed. The human population would be reduced to prehistoric levels, or less. Life for any survivors would be extremely hard. And there seems to be a real possibility of the extinction of the human species.

It is now almost 40 years since the invention of nuclear weapons. We have not yet experienced a global thermonuclear war — although on more than one occasion we have come tremulously close. I do not think our luck can hold forever. Men and machines are fallible, as recent events remind us. Fools and madmen do exist, and sometimes rise to power. Concentrating always on the near future, we have ignored the long-term consequences of our actions. We have placed our civilization and our species in jeopardy.

Fortunately, it is not yet too late. We can safeguard the planetary civilization and the human family if we so choose. There is no more important or more urgent issue.

Carl Sagan was born in 1934 in New York. After graduating with both a B.A. and a B.S. degree from the University of Chicago, Sagan completed his M.S. in physics and earned a Ph.D. in astronomy and astro-physics in 1960. Sagan then taught astronomy at Harvard until 1968, when he became profossor of astronomy and space sciences at Cornell University. He was then appointed director of the laboratory for Planetary Studies. His works include The Cosmic Connection (1973), which received the Campbell Award for best science book; the Pulitzer-prize winning Dragons of Eden (1977); Broca’s Brain (1979), on developments in neurophysiology; and Cosmos (1980), which accompanied his widety-acclaimed television series. In “The Nuclear Winter” (1983), Sagan explored the unforeseen and devastating physical and chemical effects of even a small-scale nuclear war on the earth’s biosphere and life on earth.

The Fraudulent Frame-Up of Iraqi Human Rights Activist and MP Al Dainy

November 9th, 2010 by Inter-Parliamentary Union

INTER-PARLIAMENTARY UNION

CHEMIN DU POMMIER 5
1218 LE GRAND-SACONNEX / GENEVA (SWITZERLAND)

TELEPHONE + 41 22 – 919 41 50 - FAX + 41 22 – 919 41 60 - E-MAIL postbox@mai/.ipu.org

CASE No. IQ/59 – MOHAMMED AL-DAINY – IRAQ

Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 187th session

(Geneva, 6 October 2010)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Mohammed Al- Dainy, a member of the Council of Representatives of Iraq at the time of the submission of the communication, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/187/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 185th session (October 2009),

Considering the following information on file,

- Mr. Al- Dainy, a member of the National Dialogue Front, was elected in March 2006 to the Council of Representatives of Iraq (legislative period 2006-2010); as an MP, he concentrated on human rights issues, investigating in particular conditions of detention in Iraq and the existence of secret detention facilities; in October 2008, he shared the information he had gathered with competent United Nations human rights bodies in Geneva;

- On 22 February 2009, the spokesperson for Baghdad’s military security command accused Mr. Al- Dainy of masterminding the 12 April 2007 suicide bombing in parliament, which killed a member of parliament; on 25 February 2009, parliament lifted his immunity; earlier the same day (25 February), a plane bound for Jordan with Mr. Al- Dainy and other members of parliament on board had been returned and an attempt made to arrest Mr. Al- Dainy; however, failing an arrest warrant and the lifting of immunity, no arrest took place; Mr. Al- Dainy subsequently left the airport in the company of another member of parliament and disappeared; fears that he might have been the victim of an enforced disappearance proved to be unsubstantiated when Mr. Al- Dainy himself declared in an interview with a private TV channel that he had gone abroad for fear of his life;

- Ten members of Mr. Al- Dainy’s family and another nine members of his staff (mainly escorts) were arrested in different stages during February 2009, and detailed information has been provided by the source about the circumstances of their arrest without warrants, their ill-treatment and the ransacking of their homes;

- Mr. Al- Dainy was accused of the following crimes:

(a) bombing of the Parliament;

(b) launching mortar shells into the international zone during the visit of the Iranian President and murdering one of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood from where the shells were launched;

(c) detonating car bombs;

(d) using his convoy of vehicles to carry the weapons that were used for crimes;

(e) murdering two jewellery store owners in the Al-Mansour area;

(f) killing 115 people from Al-Tahweela village who were buried alive;

(g) fabricating arrest warrants;

(h) murdering seven persons in the Al Yarmuk area;

(i) murdering Captain Ismail Haqi Al-Shamary; on 24 January 2010, Mr. Al- Dainy was sentenced to death in absentia; the verdict, a copy of which was provided to the Committee, consists of a little more than one page (French translation), contains two paragraphs dealing with the suicide bombing in parliament and one with the bombing of the Green Zone, six lines on storing of weapons, the founding of a terrorist organization linked to the Baath party, and to prove that Mr. Al- Dainy committed these crimes, it relies heavily on the testimonies of Riadh Ibrahim, Alaa Kherallah, Haydar Abdallah and a secret informant; it does not refer to any of the other accusations,

Considering in this respect the following:

- On 22 February 2009, Mr. Al- Dainy’s nephew and secretary, Ryad Ibrahim Jasem, and the head of his security detail, Mr. Alaa Kherallah Al Maliki, appeared on the public TV channel Al Iraqia and confessed to belonging to a terrorist organization set up by Mr. Al- Dainy; they appeared to be tired and drugged and visibly under duress; on 14 September 2009, they were reportedly given a life sentence at the closure of a hearing which reportedly lasted just a few minutes; an appeal is reportedly still pending;
- On 22 June 2009, Mr. Mahmoud Karim Farhan, a relative of Mr. Al- Dainy arrested on 22 February 2009, was released; he had been held in incommunicado detention in Baghdad Brigade Prison in the city’s Green Zone; in July 2009 he publicly testified to the circumstances of his arrest and that of other bodyguards and the torture inflicted on them to testify against Mr. Al- Dainy;
- On 10 May 2010, Baghdad Juvenile Court released Mr. Omar Ibrahim Jasem on grounds of insufficient evidence; on his release, he testified that he and others had been tortured while in detention to make them testify against Mr. Al- Dainy; he attributes responsibility for his arrest, detention and torture to Prime Minister Al-Maliki; a medical certificate attesting his torture has been provided;
- On 4 August 2009, the Mayor and notables of Kanaan district certified that Army Captain Haqi Ismael Al-Shamary, whom Mr. Al- Dainy is accused of having killed, was in fact alive and working normally,
 

Considering that reports published in April 2010 by the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry reveal the existence of secret detention centres, some at the time under the direct control of Prime Minister Al-Maliki, and the routine practice of torture in those secret prisons,

Considering that the joint study on global practices in relation to secret detention in the context of countering terrorism of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and the Working Group on Arbitrary or Involuntary Disappearances (A/HRC/13/42), presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council at its 13th session, has a chapter on secret detention centres in Iraq and mentions explicitly the group of people arrested in connection with accusations against Mr. Al- Dainy and held in secret detention in a prison in the Green Zone run by the Baghdad Brigade; it describes the torture inflicted on them (beating with cables, suspension from the ceiling by either the feet or the hands for up to two days at a time, electroshocks, black bags being put over the head to suffocate them, plastic sticks introduced into the rectum, threat of rape of family members) and their being forced to sign and fingerprint pre-prepared confessions,

Bearing in mind that the 2005 Constitution of Iraq contains a human rights catalogue guaranteeing the following fundamental rights: Article 15: right to life, security and liberty, Article 17 (para. 2): sanctity of the home; homes may not be entered, searched or put in danger except by a judicial decision and in accordance with the law; Article 19 (para. 12): prohibition of unlawful detention and detention in places not designed for it,

Bearing in mind also that Iraq is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which it ratified in 1971; that the Covenant guarantees the right to life and security, prohibits torture, arbitrary arrest and detention and stipulates fair trial guarantees; noting in this respect the concerns which the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers has voiced on many occasions regarding the observance of those rights in Iraq,

1. Considers that, in the light of the above, there can be no doubt that Mr. Al- Dainy was sentenced to death at the closure of a procedure which can only be termed a travesty of justice;

2. Calls on the authorities to quash this iniquitous judgment forthwith and to fully rehabilitate Mr. Al- Dainy;

3. Calls on the newly elected authorities, in particular the parliament, to ensure the rehabilitation of their former colleague who was punished for having revealed the existence of those secret detention centres and to make every effort to eradicate the practice of torture in Iraq;

4. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the parliamentary authorities and the competent governmental authorities,

5. Requests the Committee to continue to examine this case and to report to it at its next session, to be held during the 124th IPU Assembly (April 2011).

Mysterious US missile launch off Southern California

November 9th, 2010 by Global Research

http://www.760kfmb.com/Global/story.asp?S=13468118

[Video at URL above]

 November 9, 2010

-”It could be a test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine underwater submarine, to demonstrate mainly to Asia, that we can do that.”

 
Pacific Ocean: A mysterious missile launch off the southern California coast was caught on video Monday evening by a KCBS news helicopter.

The spectacular contrail could easily be seen up in Los Angeles, but who launched this missile and why, remain a mystery for now.

The magnificent images were captured from the KCBS chopper around 5pm. The location of the missile was described as west of Los Angeles, north of Catalina Island, and approximately 35 miles out to sea.

A Navy spokesperson tells News 8, this wasn’t its missile. He said there was no Navy activity reported in that part of the region.

On Friday, November 5, Vandenberg Air Force Base launched a Delta II rocket, carrying the Thales Alenia Space-Italia COSMO SkyMed satellite, but a sergeant at the base tells News 8, there have been no launches since then.
 
News 8 showed the video to Robert Ellsworth, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and a former Deputy Secretary of Defense.
 
He said it didn’t appear to be a Tomahawk missile and said it would be safest to wait for definitive answers to come from the military.
 
Based on pure speculation, however, Ambassador Ellsworth said, with President Obama in Asia, perhaps this could have been a show of our military muscle.
 
“It could be a test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine underwater submarine, to demonstrate mainly to Asia, that we can do that,” he said, stressing that it was just a theory.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/11/09/national/main7036716.shtml

CBS News
November 9, 2010

Mystery Missile Launch Seen off Calif. Coast

A mysterious missile launch off the southern California coast was caught by CBS affiliate KCBS’s cameras Monday night, and officials are staying tight-lipped over the nature of the projectile.

CBS station KFMB put in calls to the Navy and Air Force Monday night about the striking launch off the coast of Los Angeles, which was easily visible from the coast, but the military has said nothing about the launch.

KFMB showed video of the apparent missile to former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Robert Ellsworth, who is also a former Deputy Secretary of Defense, to get his thoughts.

“It’s spectacular… It takes people’s breath away,” said Ellsworth, calling the projectile, “a big missile”.

Magnificent images were captured by the KCBS news helicopter in L.A. around sunset Monday evening. The location of the missile was about 35 miles out to sea, west of L.A. and north of Catalina Island.

A Navy spokesperson told KFMB it wasn’t their missile. He said there was no Navy activity reported in the area Monday evening.

On Friday night, Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, launched a Delta II rocket, carrying an Italian satellite into orbit, but a sergeant at the base told KFMB there had been no launches since then.

Ellsworth urged American to wait for definitive answers to come from the military.

When asked, however, what he thought it might be, the former ambassador said it could possibly have been a missile test timed as a demonstration of American military might as President Obama tours Asia.

“It could be a test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine … to demonstrate, mainly to Asia, that we can do that,” speculated Ellsworth.

Ellsworth said such tests were carried out in the Atlantic to demonstrate America’s power to the Soviets, when there was a Soviet Union, but he doesn’t believe an ICBM has previously been tested by the U.S. over the Pacific.

Officially, at least, the projectile remains a mystery missile.

-[M]any military and political experts in Russia come to the conclusion that by building such a system the United States seeks to offset the missile potential of Russia by deploying missile defense bases along the entire length of the Russian territory. Washington is aiming for a global missile defense shield, elements of which are already being built in the Far East, in the Indian Ocean and in the northern seas.

Turkey’s decision to allow the United States and NATO to deploy elements of the European missile defense system on its territory has triggered a negative response across the region and in the rest of the world.

The negative response from Iran and Israel is easy to explain. Turkey, Iran’s regional rival in many areas, is also a US ally and Washington’s main target, as it says, is to use the future missile defense system to protect Europe and America against a nuclear threat from Iran. As for Israel, it is regarded as one of Turkey’s “foes”.

Should Turkey join the US and NATO missile defense plans, few will harbor doubts about Washington building a large-scale, far-reaching multi-echelon missile defense system. Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania have already voiced readiness to become part of it. Undoubtedly, a powerful “anti-missile umbrella” of this kind is unwarranted for repulsing an imaginary threat from Iran. As it happens, Iran has not come into possession of any ballistic missiles yet.

Given the situation, many military and political experts in Russia come to the conclusion that by building such a system the United States seeks to offset the missile potential of Russia by deploying missile defense bases along the entire length of the Russian territory. Washington is aiming for a global missile defense shield, elements of which are already being built in the Far East, in the Indian Ocean and in the northern seas. Reports of the so-called “Turkish factor” have become particularly frequent ahead of NATO and Russia-NATO summits in Lisbon on November 19th and 20th.

The NATO summit is to approve a new strategy for a missile defense system in Europe, and the Russia-NATO summit is to focus on the possibility of Moscow’s participation in the missile defense project on a parity basis. NATO representatives claim that they welcome Russia to join in. However, there are fears that the so-called “Turkish factor” is being used to pressure Moscow on the missile defense issue, by demonstrating that the US and NATO will pursue the plans all the same, with or without Russia. Hopefully, these fears will prove groundless.

Iraq : Destroying a Country: War Crimes and Atrocities

November 8th, 2010 by Felicity Arbuthnot

“The abused are only Iraqis”, a US General to General Antonio Taguba.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the latest, vast cache of documents from Wikileaks, is that anyone was surprised at the revelations. For Iraqis, Afghans and the region, and Iraq and Afghanistan watchers across the globe, countless millions of words have been written and eye witness reports sent since day one of the highly questionable legality of the Afghan invasion the absolute illegality of that of Iraq.

Soldiers have put “trophy” photographs of the dead, mutilated, tortured on the internet. In August the BBC’s documentary: “The Wounded Platoon”, aired interviews with soldiers who admitted shooting Iraqi civilians and “keeping scores.” (1) Abu Ghraib’s particular testimony to freedom, democracy and liberation’s bounties, will likely remain the mental monument to the U.S., military in Iraq, which will ring down the generations.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tareq Aziz and his colleagues await an Inquistitional, mediaeval end on a hangman’s noose, under America’s watch (with the U.K., since still in coalition.) Charges include crimes against humanity. Yet the perpetrators of nearly seven years of near indescribable crimes against humanity in Iraq – and near a decade in Afghanistan, return home to heroes’ welcomes.

Reaction in Iraq to the woeful litany of crimes documented in some 400,000 U.S., files is encapsulated by Baghdad Political Science Professor Saadi Kareem, who commented: ” Iraqis know all about the findings in these documents. The brutality of American and Iraqi forces was hidden from Americans and Europeans, but not for Iraqis … Iraqis are totally aware of what happened to them.”

President of the London-based Arab Law Association, Sabah al-Mukhtar, told Al Jazeera that: “Frankly there is no surprise ..” The Middle East knew from day one.

The Independent’s Robert Fisk (“The Shaming of America”, 24th October 2010) commented: “As usual, the Arabs knew. They knew all about the mass torture, the promiscuous shooting of civilians, the outrageous use of air power against family homes, the vicious American and British mercenaries, the cemeteries of the innocent dead. All of Iraq knew. Because they were the victims.”

The U.S., soldiers knew too of the illegalities they were committing, at every level. These were not aberrations that needed a crash course in international law, or the laws of war, they were crimes, which would have been just that, anywhere on earth.

Former Private Ross Caputi, formerly of the U.S., Marines, has offered testimony on some of these crimes, to the 15th Session of the Human Rights council of the U.N., (13th., September – 1st., October 2010.) He was in the second assault on Fallujah, in November 2004. The city’s residents had been ordered to leave. Seemingly about two thirds fled, allowed to take little or nothing, leaving a lot of unguarded homes. The soldiers went: “from house to house” through the city. “… there were often possessions left behind … looting became very commonplace (of) anything that seemed valuable – silverware, teapots, knives and clothing.”

“People in my Unit were searching the pockets of the dead … for money.” The Platoon Commanders and Company Commander: ” … were aware of what was happening …” Why Caputi stole a “black winter ski mask”, is unexplained. Daylight robbery, likely being emulated across Iraq, a country where, until the embargo’s strangulation took grip, and with it desperation, even in cities, people left their doors unlocked, when out.

Theft was seemingly a way of life for soldiers from early on, recorded in a litany of reports and numerous documents.

So far, this publication has not found records of moneys and goods being ordered returned, by senior officers. With looting and the collapse of the banks, money, by virtually all, was kept at home.

One report to the Human Rights Council is of the raid on the home of, and arrest of, Mohammed Khamis Saleh Ali al-Halbusi, in Fallujah, during the night of 2nd November 2003. Beaten in front of his family, he alleges that thirty seven thousand U.S., dollars were stolen, with a quantity of gold – an important cultural possession, passed down from generation to generation.

Caputi also recounts that during November 2004, a tactic know as “reconnaissance by fire”, was used. Areas and buildings are fired into: “If you hear silence after your firing, then there are no people in the area or building …” Surely dead by “reconnaissance”, is also a likely possibility? The tactic is “always indiscriminate.”

He also confirms the use of white phosphorous. (The use of depleted uranium with its residual genetic, carcinogenic and toxic implications, is now undisputed.)

Another indiscriminate tactic was using: ” … bulldozers to clear houses. If there were suspected resistance fighters in a house, we would bulldoze it, incase … I watched a battalion bulldozing an entire neighbourhood …” Another instance involved three people in a house including: “a young boy, roughly ten years old.” Grenades were fired in to the house until it: “collapsed on top of all three of them”, killing them. “In every instance .. (of killings) I am unaware of any action taken to report their deaths. We always just moved on.” Thus, it seems, even the upper estimates of Iraqi deaths may well be underestimated.

Disfiguring burns, attacks and torture leading to blindness, deformities and limb loss, become a sickening norm is this town, where at least – in spite of all efforts to prevent them – such extensive records of its brutalization do exist.

Mr Caputi had considerable courage to come forward. But, it has to be asked, did he and his colleagues, rifling through family homes, momentos, most personal belongings, inheritance, helping themselves and stealing cash, question: “What are we doing? Can this be right?”

One Iraqi who “knew” only too well what happened in Fallujah, was Dr Salam Ismael. He had worked as a doctor in Fallujah during the April 2004 siege. He finally gained entry with aid in January 2005, two months after the November assault. (2) He records:

“It was the smell that first hit me, a smell that is difficult to describe, and one that will never leave me. It was the smell of death. Hundreds of corpses were decomposing in the houses, gardens and streets of Fallujah. Bodies were rotting where they had fallen, bodies of men, women and children, many half-eaten by wild dogs.

“A wave of hate had wiped out two-thirds of the town, destroying houses and mosques, schools and clinics. This was the terrible and frightening power of the US military assault. The accounts I heard over the next few days will live with me forever. You may think you know what happened in Fallujah. But the truth is worse than you could possibly have imagined.”

Dr Ismael found Hudda Issawi (17) in a nearby makeshift refugee camp. She said that on 9th., November, American marines came to her home. Her father and a neighbour went to the door: “We were not fighters, we had nothing to fear”, she ran to the kitchen to cover her hair. She and her brother (13) heard the shots that killed her father and his friend – they hid behind the fridge. Her older sister was caught, beaten and shot. Troops left with the two undiscovered, but: “(they) destroyed our furniture and stole the money from my father’s pocket.”

Trapped, Hudda tried to comfort her gravely wounded sister, who died a few hours later. For three days she and her brother stayed in the house with their dead father, sister and friend.

Fearing discovery, they finally decided to try to escape. A sniper shot her in the leg, she recounted. When her little brother ran, he was shot in the back, dying instantly. In a seemingly rare act of human decency, a female U.S., soldier found her and took her to hospital. It is possible to speculate that her bleak, near emotionless recounting, indicated a young person still in near catatonic shock.

On the same day, it transpired, in the same district, people had been ordered to leave their homes, carrying white flags, bringing only essential belongings with them, and gather near the Jamah al Furkan Mosque in the town centre of the famed, ancient “City of Mosques.”

Eyad Latif described how, with eight member of his family, including a baby of six months, they walked in single file, to the Mosque: “U.S., soldiers appeared on the roofs of surrounding houses and opened fire.” Eyad’s father and mother “died instantly.” Two brothers were hit, one in the head and one in the neck, one woman in the hand, one in the leg.

The wife of one brother was killed: “When she fell, her five year old son ran and stood over her body. They shot him dead too.”

Dr Ismael recounts : “Survivors made desperate appeals to the troops to stop firing. But Eyad told me that whenever one of them tried to raise a white flag they were shot. After several hours he tried to raise his arm with the flag. But they shot him in the arm. Finally he tried to raise his hand. So they shot him in the hand.” (Emphasis mine.)

The five survivors, including the six-month-old child, and the brother shot in the neck, after hours lying injured, finally crawled to the nearest home, which was empty, to find shelter. They survived there for eight days: “… living on roots and with just one cup of water for the baby”, said Eyad.

They were finally found by members of the Iraq National Guard and taken to hospital, again fleeing, sick and wounded, when they heard the U.S., forces were arresting all men. It is unclear what happened to the others assembled, on instruction by the Mosque, but Eyad described : “the street awash with blood.”

Dr Ismael: ” … heard the accounts of families killed in their houses, of wounded people dragged into the streets and run over by tanks, of a container with the bodies of 481 civilians inside, of premeditated murder, looting and acts of savagery and cruelty that beggar belief.

“We found people wandering like ghosts through the ruins … looking for the bodies of relatives .. trying to recover some of their possessions from destroyed homes … We moved from house to house, discovering families dead in their beds, or cut down in living rooms or in the kitchen … It became clear that we were witnessing the aftermath of a massacre, the cold-blooded butchery of helpless and defenceless civilians.”

He concluded: “Nobody knows how many died. The occupation forces are now bulldozing the neighbourhoods to cover up their crime.(See also *) What happened in Fallujah was an act of barbarity. The whole world must be told the truth.”

Such accounts might be dismissed as “fog of war” propaganda, were they not so consistent across Iraq, from the day of the invasion, the majority from totally unconnected families or individuals – corroborated, little by little, by coalition soldiers.

Numerous survivors were swept up to be tortured in a U.S., base camp which had been set up in a former tourist village, bound, bags over their heads and out in small “cages”, with now familiar stories of being stripped, made to hold stress positions for hours and deprived of sleep water and food. Others were incarcerated under Abu Ghraib’s specialist form of horror.

In the tranquil setting of the White House Rose Garden, on 30th., April 2004, President Bush, had stated that due to U.S., intervention: “There are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq.” This was said as images from Abu Ghraib were being beamed around the world.

Four days later, General Taguba released his minutely detailed and referenced seventy two page Report on the realities, which belied President Bush’s sunny over-view of the benefits the invasion had bestowed upon Iraq. In Abu Ghraib alone, they included:

“…that the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel included the following acts:
a. (S) Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet;
b. (S) Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees;
c. (S) Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing;
d. (S) Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time;
e. (S) Forcing naked male detainees to wear women’s underwear;
f. (S) Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped;
g. (S) Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them;
h. (S) Positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture;
i. (S) Writing “I am a Rapest” (sic) on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked;
j. (S) Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee’s neck and having a female Soldier pose for a picture;
k. (S) A male MP guard having sex with a female detainee;
l. (S) Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee;
m. (S) Taking photographs of dead Iraqi detainees. (ANNEXES 25 and 26)”

General Taquba also accused the Bush administration of war crimes, calling for the prosecution of those responsible. He wrote: “There is no longer any doubt that the current Administration committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account.”

Between Wikileaks, Bush’s memoirs, and mounting swathes of documentation, legal accountability is looking to be increasingly possible. (Ironically, Bush’s memoirs are to be released on November 9th., the anniversary of a chillingly historically parallel crime to Fallujah, and across Iraq, Kristellnacht, in 1938. The terrorising, rounding up of, and destruction and theft of property and places of worship of swathes of the Jewish population of Germany and Austria.)

William Hague, Britain’s newish, follicly-challenged Foreign Secretary, is seeking to withdraw the U.K., from its obligations towards prosecuting war crimes under Universal Jurisdiction. It is an embarrassment, he says, that various Israeli political figures have cancelled visits, should they be arrested.

Such a sleight of hand, would also extend the welcome mat to George W. Bush, recently alleged another kind of U.S., embarrassment, seemingly reluctant to travel for the same reason. Of course, it would also mean that Tony Blair, the co-conspirator in the invasion, would be free to visit any of his seven U.K., homes, without fear of the hand of the law – or that of a concerned citizen – on his collar.

In spite of Hague’s efforts, there may be many countries and air carriers, that they and former colleagues may soon be considering avoiding.

Notes

* Part I of this article at http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21545

1. http://www.abolishwar.org.uk
2. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8093

Re: Depleted uranium, see also:
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/Apps2/business/motions/Default.aspx?motionid=20127
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/Apps2/business/motions/Default.aspx?motionid=19813 

Felicity Arbuthnot is  Global Research’s Human Rights Correspondent based in London

Data on US profits for the second quarter of this year are well worth studying, not only for what they say about the health of the corporate sector, but also for what they reveal about the structure of our economic system and the priorities of our policy makers.

Commerce Department figures show that after-tax profits rose 3.9% from the first quarter and a staggering 26.5% from the same quarter in 2009. This year-to-year percentage growth is the highest ever recorded by the Commerce Department without factoring for inflation. (The figure is even more impressive given that virtually none of the growth is due to inflation over the last year!)

Perhaps even more telling is the percentage of national income accounted for by profits. Well over 9% of national income in the second quarter of 2010 counted as profits, the 3rd highest portion since 1947. Interestingly, the percentage of national income was only marginally higher in two quarters of 2006 when the unemployment rate was 4.6% at the peak of the last economic expansion.

Analyzing the data, The Wall Street Journal (10-4-10) concluded that those corporations making up the Standard and Poor’s top 500 corporations – the core of monopoly capital – actually grew by 38%, returning $189 billion or 15.6% of all after-tax profit.

WSJ analysts underline the profit trends by noting that profits are up 10% over 2008 though revenues are down 6%. Monopoly corporations now make 8.4 cents on every dollar of revenue, when they made only 7 cents on every dollar in 2008.

The Winners’ Circle

For corporations, the numbers are spectacular. They indicate a complete recovery of the profit momentum lost in 2008 and 2009. Since the early 1980’s, after-tax profits – as a percentage of total national income – have marched upward and onward, indicating that more of the wealth created in the US has been distributed to the corporate sector. At the beginning of the 1980’s, less than 5% of national income found its way to corporations as profits. Today, that percentage appropriated by corporations, especially monopoly corporations, has increased to nearly 10%.

Several interrelated factors have contributed to this shift of wealth to corporations from the rest of us.

First, the rate of exploitation – the relation between the share of wealth appropriated by the ownership class and the share left to the workers – has increased dramatically. Labor’s bargaining power has diminished with the decline of both union density and militancy. Hourly wages in the US have been stagnant or declining throughout most of the last thirty years while productivity has increased consistently. The average hourly wage (adjusted for inflation) for production and non-supervisory employees has hardly budged since 1978. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of ALL workers average hourly wages have stagnated since 1978. At the same time, benefits have been cut, shifted or eliminated for most workers. Given the growth of the national income in this period, it follows that more of society’s wealth is available to the corporate sector, its managers, investors, and parasitic minions.

Secondly, the growing significance of financial instruments and the financial sector has prodded corporate profits to new heights. With the stagnation of mass purchasing power brought on by rapacious exploitation, the financial sector has established borrowed money as the vehicle for improved living standards for most US citizens, given that capitalists have the money and the rest of us do not. Consumer debt – mortgages, credit cards, student loans, home equity loans, etc. – has replaced wages as the means to a better life for the vast majority of those outside of the ownership class. Consequently, more and more of corporate profits were represented by deferred, projected, or even hypothetical wealth – the wealth that would be accumulated when all debt is eventually cleared. The financial sector went even further and through the creation of financial exotica (instruments derived from the real-world contracting of debt) claimed further profits from the buying and selling of these artificial creatures. Of course it was the collapse of this debt house-of-cards that brought the world economy to its knees in 2008 and 2009. And yet the share of total corporate profit attributable to the financial sector remains over 40% despite this destruction of deferred, projected, and hypothetical profit.

Thirdly, the actions of policymakers – lawmakers of both parties and their technocratic vassals – have aided and abetted the corporate drive for profits. By privatizing and commodifying many public assets, they have widened the arena of profit taking. By turning a blind eye to corporate migration to low-wage labor markets, they have pressured wages to the level of the lowest competitive nation. And through removing socially responsible restrictions on corporate activity, they have allowed corporations to escape the costs of compliance, even at enormous social costs born by the majority.

The creation of public-private partnerships by lawmakers and enthusiastic administrators has transferred enterprise risks to the public while subsidizing private profit taking. Likewise, tax policies have shifted to remove nearly all burdens from corporations. Conversely, policymakers have weakly submitted to an extortionate con game of credits and infrastructure subsidies to keep old businesses or attract new plants, warehouses, or other private investors. Local, state and regional authorities are caught in a vicious competitive spiral of ever more generous bids to retain or attain a business. The game ends when the last competitor falls exhausted. And often the winner lives to regret the enormous costs of success.

And, of course, the government has embarked on a massive and unprecedented bailout of financial institutions and other major industries over the last two years, a bailout that brought these corporations from their knees to new heights of profitability. Likewise, the widely heralded stimulus program channeled vast sums to private firms – unlike the public works programs of the New Deal – further propping up profits with little impact upon employment.

These three processes – intense exploitation of labor, the dominant role of the financial sector and the subservience of policy to the interests of capital – combine to explain the explosive growth of that share of US national income flowing to corporate coffers. They also explain the cracking of the foundations of our economy over the last few years.

Conjuring Consensus

The explosive growth of after-tax profits as a share of national income over the last three decades was hardly a secret; it was not a closely held conspiratorial plot; nor were the events and policies that enabled this development out of sight of the public. Nonetheless, the corporate onslaught met feeble resistance.

Thanks to a corporate-friendly media, a compliant punditry, and a public diverted by entertainments besting the most elaborate Roman circus, the profit gouging agenda became the widely accepted road to general prosperity.

Sure, the early Reaganite slogan of “trickle down” growth – the notion that the success of the wealthy would seep down into the lower classes – was met with significant skepticism, even derision. But by the time of the Clinton administration, this idea was deeply embedded in mass consciousness. Captured by the more colorful metaphor that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” the idea that the success of the most favored, the most advantaged, would bring a general rise of social good planted deep roots in the public psyche. For most US citizens, it became an obvious truth that corporate success – growth, increasing profits, and stock appreciation – led to employment and rising living standards. We might express this “truth” with the simple formula: corporate profits→growth→jobs→general welfare.

It was this thinking that bolstered the notion in the labor movement that workers should support “their” corporations – US-based corporations – against “foreign” corporations, despite the fact that the modern monopoly corporation knows no borders. Similarly, people came to believe that government should guarantee the health and profitability of their employers in order to secure and create jobs and, in due course, generate a rising standard of living for employees. In turn, if profitability is accepted as the sole, decisive factor in social progress, then employee concessions often become a necessary evil that smooths the road to further progress.

The triumph of the sovereignty of profits left little room for alternative thinking that might cast corporate profits in a different light. This identification of profits and general prosperity smothered considerations of public ownership and the operation of socially beneficial enterprises, redistributive policies, democratic governance of corporate activity, or even an open discussion of the biblical notion of a “fair profit.”

The Chain is Broken

Despite the brutal economic facts of the last decade, few have shown the vision or courage to admit that the key links between profits and prosperity have been shattered. Economists acknowledge that the upturn after the recession of 2001 was decidedly a “jobless recovery,” a recovery with little to offer the majority of working people other than more debt. Moreover, the profit recovery since the 2009 economic nadir has accompanied a stubborn, unmoving near-depression level of unemployment. The volcanic rise in profits (206% for the S&P 500 in the last quarter of 2009 against the same quarter in 2008) stands in sharp contrast to an equally dramatic change in the misery indices: declining incomes, greater inequality, rising poverty rates.

Even those deafened by the constant media babble or blinded by political flimflam should now see through the humbuggery of placing human advancement in the hands of profiteers. The old argument that corporate avarice, through the unbiased operation of the market, will benefit us all must surely be retired.

Economists concede that the next decade – called by some, a “lost decade” – promises, at best, a feeble recovery with likely persistent unemployment, greater impoverishment, a retreat of social securities, and ominous uncertainties for most outside of the ownership class. Thus, the first two decades of the twenty-first century will have featured a decided retreat from the prosperity promised by a profit-driven market economy. Many, if not most of the people will have experienced the better part of their adult life in the shadow of these tribulations. The hopeful notion that the next generation will do better is severely threatened, maybe shattered. Indeed, it is now apparent that few boats are lifted with a rising tide driven by profits.

The responsibility for exposing the failure of profit-centric economic policy falls squarely on the US left. While the US left is small and with a narrow circle of influence, it alone can begin to project and popularize an alternative economy that reduces or eliminates the decisive role of profits. It alone can offer a road apart from the path paved by corporate self-interest.

Some falsely counter pose organizing and agitating for a just, democratic alternative economy – to my mind, socialism – with political work on the margins of mainstream politics. For decades, this argument has surfaced time and again with every election cycle or legislative session. The struggle for socialism, the argument goes, is distant and difficult, while we – the left – might have an impact on the immediate issues and options at play in the two-party charade. This is, I believe, a dangerous brew of egomania and complacency. The reality is that the left has neither the bucks nor the bodies to shift the balance in the big show (nor is engagement welcome, except at the price of any left identity). And when left engagement does threaten to upset the political trajectory (for example, the Nader campaigns), these same “soft” left advocates roundly condemn the effort.

But in the end, it is possible to do both: one can, if one likes, participate energetically in the big game – primaries, legislative lobbies, etc. – with the hope of moving the ball incrementally forward. And one must fervently engage our foes on every level, whether it be in the neighborhood or around individual issues. At the same time, one can and must organize and agitate for an alternative to the profit-centric dogma. Without a determined effort to spark and fan the embers of extraordinary, fundamental change, we are doomed to see our future sink in the face of corporate power and greed.  

On May 6, 1935, with the country in the midst of the Great Depression, and with indirect efforts to create jobs having not moved the needle of unemployment rates, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7034 and appropriated $4.8 billion for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA put millions of Americans to work constructing buildings, painting murals to decorate them, and performing plays for audiences that had never before seen a dramatic production. In the process, many were saved from poverty and starvation and the economy began to revive.

Although Congress, as part of the New Deal, had appropriated money specifically for relief, FDR decided to use the money for a direct jobs program by issuing a Presidential executive order. This Executive Order described the agencies to be involved in the program, its structure and procedure for application and allocation of jobs.

The WPA was quickly implemented. By March 1936, 3.4 million people were employed and an average of 2.3 million people worked monthly until the program ended in June 1943. During its existence the WPA employed more than 8,500,000 different persons on 1,410,000 individual projects, and spent about $11 billion. The average yearly salary was $1,100, a living wage at the time. During its 8-year history, the WPA built 651,087 miles of highways, roads, and streets. It constructed, repaired, or improved 124,031 bridges, 125,110 public buildings, 8,192 parks, and 853 airport landing fields.

Today our infrastructure is crumbling, and loss of revenue is forcing many cities and states to cut basic services. About 15 million people have become unemployed since the crisis hit in late 2008; a million and a half of them are construction workers. The need for a direct jobs program is either as great, or even greater than during the Depression.

But, in light of the election results, is such a program possible? Can the President directly create jobs by executive order? The answer is a resounding yes. Remember when the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which created the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) was passed, one of the purposes was to preserve homeownership, and promote jobs and economic growth.

Much of the TARP money has been repaid and the administration refers to the profit on the payments. If one assumes an average cost of one job is $50,000, 6 million jobs could be immediately created for $300 billion. 12 million jobs could be created for $600 billion. Because this is already appropriated money, Congressional Republicans could not block it.

This direct job creation would be bold. It would also be highly stimulative. It would not add to the deficit because it is already appropriated money. Furthermore, one third of it would come back immediately in taxes, and more importantly, the growth in demand from this number of added jobs would expand private sector job growth and grow the overall economy.

This bold program would contrast markedly with prior stimulus bills, which were indirect and whose effects have been too slow to manifest themselves. The posture of the Republicans during the last two years has been to prevent the President and Congress from taking bold steps to intervene in the economy to directly create jobs. Then they used the Administration’s failure to take bold steps to create jobs to say the “stimulus did not work.” They turned the very TARP bailouts they supported into a rallying cry against government intervention in the economy to help people and they characterized as “socialism” any government initiatives such as health care. They decried deficits and opposed any sane tax policies to get the deficit going in the other direction.

By keeping progress in job creation slow and blaming the administration for lack of jobs, the high expectations for the Obama administration became deflated. The loss of jobs exacerbated the mortgage crisis, and banks have been encouraged to foreclose rather than restructure mortgages despite the opposite being explicitly called for the Emergency Stabilization Act.

The people who voted for Obama in 2008 voted for the promised hope and change. Many developed buyer’s remorse when what they got a set of policies which protected Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, big business at the expense of workers, and made unnecessary compromises with the right. The so called “enthusiasm gap” created by Republican obstruction and Administration timidity, produced such a deflation in people’s morale that it acted as an effective form of voter suppression. The election results can be explained in this fashion.

Some have said that it makes no sense that the voters would go in a more rightward direction because the Obama administration was not “left” enough. But the fact is the Obama administration failed to deliver change and also failed to make the case for progressive policies. The election of Democratic incumbents meant only more of the same. And only 9 million of the 23 million young people who voted in 2008, came out in 2010. This undervote made the difference.

Abraham Lincoln once said: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” What happened in this election was the right wing was able to fool enough of the people enough of the time to make independents join with rabid right wingers, while at the same time suppressing the progressive electorate.

This country has a lot to do to get its economic house in order. It is heavily dependent on the financial services industry which only promotes speculation and unregulated bubbles. It is largely controlled by the defense industries which have promoted two and possibly more wars. It is beholden to the extractive energy industries, whose owners are funding the “tea party,” thus putting environmental amelioration on indefinite hold. And it is more and more influenced by the prison industrial complex which promotes hostility to immigrants, and takes resources from education and other vital areas. For the last 30 years it has relied on anti-union and anti-worker policies, which has forced the hemorrhaging of high paid manufacturing jobs to low cost countries and driven down wages for U.S. workers which can no longer be papered over with unsustainable debt.

The President cannot solve all these problems overnight, but with a stroke of a pen he can use already appropriated money to create millions of good green jobs, and move down the road to recovery much faster. Any opposition to this from the Republicans will expose their hostility to anyone but the richest members of society, and give the progressive movement ammunition to take the offensive.

Jeanne Mirer, who practices labor and employment law in New York, is president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild.

The freedom of navigation which the US claims to protect is actually the freedom of the US military to threaten other countries…. In advocating that free and safe navigation in South China Sea is threatened, the US is creating a false impression of a worrying situation of South China Sea to the international community. It boosts the “China threat theory” claimed by some Western politicians, distances the relations between China and Southeast Asian countries and creates new leverage to contain China’s development.

Since July, US politicians such as President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have frequently mentioned on various public occasions the issue of free and safe navigation in South China Sea.
They claim that maintaining free navigation in the South China Sea is in the US national interest and oppose any actions obstructive to free navigation. If one listens to them, the South China Sea no longer seems calm and tranquil.

But there is no threat to free navigation in the South China Sea. Maintaining free navigation and ensuring a smooth trade flow is in line with the globalization era, which has already become an international consensus.

Those who act against free navigation, such as pirates and maritime terrorists, have become the enemy of all, as the traditional legal description of pirates goes, and are opposed by every nation.

The South China Sea is one of the world’s busiest shipping channels with more than 40,000 vessels per year passing through.

If there were really problems, how could so many ships sail through the South China Sea frequently, safely and smoothly?

The answer is self-evident. The US is beating the drum on an issue which doesn’t really exist.

Behind its high-sounding words, what exactly are US intentions?

The first aim is to maintain US military hegemony in Asia-Pacific region.

The US has been sending a variety of military surveillance ships, observation boats and survey ships to launch probes and collect national information in the South China Sea for years. It seriously threatens the security and interests of surrounding countries and undermines regional peace and stability.

Facing international opposition, the US deliberately altered the concept and then created the pseudo-proposition of free navigation in the South China Sea, trying to shape international public opinion and force littoral countries and regions to accept its increasing military detection activities.

The freedom of navigation which the US claims to protect is actually the freedom of the US military to threaten other countries.

The US is also seeking a fulcrum for its new Asia-Pacific strategy. The US government is pursuing a return to Asia. If it intends to return with a mutually beneficial attitude and open mind, this is fair enough. If it is self-conceited, intolerant to others and trapped in a Cold War mentality, it inevitably will start forming cliques.

The US is also trying to contain China through the use of the South China Sea issue.

The US has acquired many benefits from friendly cooperation with China. But China’s goodwill has not received good returns from the US.

Based on a Cold War zero-sum mind-set, the US cannot tolerate the reasonable growth of China’s national strength and regional influence.

It falsely claims that China will challenge US global hegemony in the future and believes that China will implement an “Asian Monroe Doctrine” while the US is too busy to look after East Asia.

In advocating that free and safe navigation in South China Sea is threatened, the US is creating a false impression of a worrying situation of South China Sea to the international community. It boosts the “China threat theory” claimed by some Western politicians, distances the relations between China and Southeast Asian countries and creates new leverage to contain China’s development.

Thus, the speculation of the US over the issue of free navigation in South China Sea is in the name of a public good but for the sake of private interests. The US has no justifiable reasons to interfere the South China Sea by simply using the free navigation issue.

The author is a member of the China Institute of International Studies.

Mumia Abu Jamal is Innocent

November 8th, 2010 by Global Research

Comrades of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal are rallying supporters as they trek down to the City of Brotherly Love on Tuesday, November 9 for a critical 2 p.m. hearing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court (601 N. Market) regarding his death sentence.

Having exhausted numerous appeals over the course of almost three decades, the Mumia contingent say it is imperative that the Black Panther penman receive mass support this Tuesday in order to again avert execution. Arguments will be made before a three-judge panel.

At stake is whether Jamal will spend the rest of his natural life in the Pennsylvania penitentiary system or if his death sentence will again be reinstated.

Recent revelations by Mumia’s defense team uncovered more crucial evidence that they say will help further prove his innocence.

Last month, during the eighth annual World Day Against the Death Penalty forum in Philly, investigative reporter Linn Washington shared video footage of himself conducting forensic tests demonstrating the amount of damage done to a similar slab of sidewalk as the one that Dan Faulkner was shot on, on the morning of December 9, 1981.

Washington displayed the marks made by similar grade bullets fired from the exact caliber gun at about the same distance that it is assumed that Faulkner was shot from. This was very important information because prosecutors claim that while the cop lay wounded on the ground after being shot in the back, Mumia stood over him and fired four rounds, executioner-style, yet only struck him once.

Therefore, the three other bullets would’ve considerably marked up the underlying concrete.

This, along with the failure by police to produce the gunpowder residue results, which are always administered to suspects who are arrested at or near the scene in murder cases, also brings into question the mishandling of their investigation, whether intentionally or not.Washington laid out the possibility of another man, Ken Freeman, who was a passenger in Mumia’s brother’s car when the journalist arrived at the scene, where his brother was being beaten by Faulkner. According to reports, the trajectory of the bullet that killed Faulkner suggests that it was fired from the proximity of the passenger side, where Freeman sat.

Freeman was mysteriously murdered on May 13, 1985, the same day Philadelphia police firebombed the MOVE Organization’s home on Ossage Avenue.

He was found dead in a parking lot, handcuffed and naked with a hypodermic needle stuck in him.

Michael Schiffman, author of “Race Against Death, Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Black Revolutionary in White America,” stated, “If Freeman was indeed killed by cops, the killing was probably part of a general vendetta of the Philadelphia cops against their ‘enemies’ and the cops killed him because they knew or suspected he had something to do with the killing of Faulkner.

The cops saw the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.”

Visit freemumia.com for more information.

For bus info, call (212) 330-8029

http://amsterdamnews.com/articles/2010/11/03/news/doc4cd1cf844b04c077663365.txt

In statements and interviews over the weekend, Democratic President Barack Obama and leading congressional Republicans voiced support for significant cuts in domestic social spending and an extension of Bush administration tax breaks for the wealthy.

Obama embraced both deficit reduction and an extension of the tax cuts in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday and in a long interview on the CBS television program “60 Minutes” broadcast Sunday evening.

“The campaign season is over,” Obama said in his radio address, offering an olive branch to the incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives. “It’s time to focus on our shared responsibilities and work together.”

While the radio speech reiterated his campaign posture that the tax cuts should be extended only for families making less than $250,000 a year, he signaled his willingness to yield to Republican demands that upper-income families receive the full tax cut as well. “I believe there’s room for us to compromise and get it done together,” he said.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, correspondent Steve Kroft raised with Obama a proposal by John Boehner, the House Republican leader, that would combine a two-year extension of the tax breaks for the wealthy and a rollback of domestic social spending to the level of 2008, the last year of the Bush administration. “Is that something that you could live with?” he asked.

Obama replied: “I think that when we start getting specific like that, there’s a basis for a conversation. I think that what that means is that—we can look at what the budget projections are. We can think about what the economy needs right now, given that it’s still weak. And, hopefully, we can agree on a set of facts that leads to a compromise.”

He added that he had invited Boehner, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and other leading congressional Republicans and Democrats to a White House meeting on November 18, after his ten-day Asian trip.

At his first stop on the tour, in New Delhi, Obama told an Indian audience that the sweeping Republican victory in the November 2 congressional elections “requires me to make some midcourse corrections and adjustments.”

Republican congressmen have flatly rejected a proposal to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy for two years but make the tax cuts for middle-income families permanent because this “decoupling” would make permanent renewal of the bonanza for the wealthy more politically difficult.

A spokesman for Senate Minority Leader McConnell said he would be amenable to a two-year extension of all the tax cuts, which would put off the issue of a permanent extension until after the next presidential election. Republican Congressman Dave Camp of Michigan, the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, called the professed willingness of Obama to negotiate on the tax cut extension “a good sign.”

Republican leaders dominated the airwaves on the Sunday television talk shows, pressing for even more concessions on both taxes and spending cuts. The number two House Republican, Eric Cantor of Virginia, hailed the prospect of extending tax cuts for the wealthy, which he described as assistance for “job creators.” He reiterated a call for the lame-duck session of the outgoing Congress, which assembles November 15, to enact a permanent extension immediately.

Two ultra-right Republican senators called for major cuts in wages and jobs of federal government workers. Senator-elect Rand Paul of Kentucky called for a 10 percent across-the-board cut in wages for government workers and a 10 percent cut in the total number of federal jobs.

Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina joined Paul in claiming that the “average” federal employee makes $120,000 a year, double the average of private-sector employees (a figure concocted by right-wing think tanks that has no relation to what postal workers, clerks and other federal employees actually make). He also voiced his support for a plan to phase in the privatization of Medicare and Social Security for those under 40 years old.

Boehner and Cantor have proposed a combined total of $260 billion in cuts from the current year’s $1.1 trillion budget for government operations—excluding the military and entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. The reduction of 25 percent would be the largest one-year cutback since the end of World War II.

While legislation to enforce such cuts would have to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate and be signed into law by Obama, the Republican-controlled House could force a showdown on budget-cutting by the spring, when Congress must approve a rise in the federal debt ceiling, currently set at $14.3 trillion.

Without legislation to raise the debt ceiling, the Treasury would be unable to borrow and the US government would default on its debt obligations, with incalculable consequences for global financial markets. Many Republican candidates for both the House and Senate have pledged to oppose any increase in the debt ceiling, which could be blocked either by a filibuster in the Senate or a majority vote in the House.

Both McConnell and Boehner have indicated that the debt ceiling could be used to extract further concessions on taxes and spending from the White House. “We’re discussing various things that might accompany the decision to raise the debt ceiling,” McConnell told the New York Times.

The congressional Democrats who appeared on Sunday interview programs offered no opposition to massive budget cuts and no defense of the jobs or salaries of federal workers. Instead, they pressed the Republicans to name specific programs that they favored cutting or eliminating, in an effort to demonstrate that the Republicans were not truly serious about deficit reduction.

There is no question that the cuts which the next Congress will impose—enabled by the capitulation of the Democratic Party and the Obama administration—will dwarf those imposed under the Reagan administration in the 1980s and under the Republican Congress led by Newt Gingrich in the 1990s.

The full dimensions are suggested by proposals coming from the state of Texas, where Republican Governor Rick Perry has proposed allowing states to opt out of the Social Security system, and where Republican state legislators have proposed to end the state’s participation in the Medicaid program, which is financed as a joint federal-state program to pay for healthcare for the poor, with the federal government picking up 90 percent of the cost.

The state could save $60 billion over the next six years by eliminating the program, which currently pays for medical care for 3.6 million children, disabled people and low-income adults.

Mounting US war threats against Iran

November 8th, 2010 by Bill Van Auken

Leading Republican Senator Lindsey Graham signaled a turn following the midterm elections toward an escalation of US threats against Iran, publicly calling for an all-out war that would “neuter” Tehran and leave it incapable of resistance.

Graham made the statement Saturday at a conference on international security in Halifax, Canada. “Containment is off the table,” he declared in relation to Iran’s nuclear program.

Washington and its allies have accused Tehran of developing its nuclear program for the purpose of building a weapon. The Iranian government has consistently denied this charge, insisting that its program is solely for peaceful, civilian purposes.

Employing the kind of total-war rhetoric that was heard from Germany in the 1930s, the South Carolina Republican vowed that a US attack would be carried out “not to just neutralize their nuclear program, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard. In other words, neuter that regime. Destroy their ability to fight back.”

Graham added that, despite the Democrats’ defeat at the polls last week, if President Barack Obama “decides to be tough with Iran beyond sanctions, I think he is going to feel a lot of Republican support for the idea that we cannot let Iran develop a nuclear weapon.”

Joining Graham in addressing a forum at the Halifax conference was Senator Mark Udall (Democrat, Colorado), who advocated a continuation of the sanctions regime against Iran but added that “every option is on the table,” a euphemism for US military aggression.

Speaking at the same conference, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak described Iran as “a major, major threat to any conceivable world order.” He charged that Tehran is “determined to reach military nuclear capability,” which he said would be “the end of any conceivable nonproliferation regime.”

Israel, which has defied the UN’s nonproliferation efforts and is the only nuclear-armed power in the region, has repeatedly threatened military strikes against Iran. Last month, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz advocated a naval blockade of Iran—an act of war—if Tehran fails to bow to Washington’s demands.

These latest threats come barely a week before the next round of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, which includes the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—Britain, China, France, Russia and the US—plus Germany. The talks are slated to take place in Vienna.

The Republican triumph in the midterm elections will drive US foreign policy even further to the right and intensify the threat of a war against Iran. Taking the chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in January is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican, Florida). She has opposed diplomacy with Iran, advocating the kind of economic embargo that she has vociferously supported against Cuba.

Ros-Lehtinen is also a fervent backer of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), which has claimed credit for terrorist attacks inside Iran and has been designated by the US State Department as a “foreign terrorist organization.”

Nearly a third of House Republicans backed a resolution last July providing explicit support for Israel carrying out military strikes against Iran.

The Obama administration and congressional Democrats have already been ratcheting up threats against Iran. After ramming another round of anti-Iranian sanctions through the United Nations Security Council, the administration last July signed into law a new set of unilateral US sanctions aimed at crippling the Iranian economy and creating increased misery for the country’s population so as to destabilize the government.

These sanctions penalize foreign banks and corporations that invest in or trade with Iran, restricting their access to American markets and denying them opportunities for US government contracts. The sanctions particularly target Iran’s key energy sector.

According to a New York Times article last week by David Sanger, even if Iran does come to the talks in Vienna next week, Washington will merely go through the motions of negotiating. Its main aim in participating in the talks will be to gauge “whether a new and surprisingly broad set of economic sanctions is changing Iran’s nuclear calculus.”

The article states that the new proposal from the US is “even more onerous than a deal that the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameni, rejected last year.” It would require that Iran halt nuclear fuel production and give up more than two-thirds more uranium than was stipulated in a tentative agreement reached in talks a year ago.

The Times article states that Washington believes it has “little to show for” the sanctions thus far, “which has prompted a discussion inside the White House about whether it would be helpful, or counterproductive, to have him [Obama] talk more openly about military options.”

Dennis Ross, Obama’s senior Middle East advisor, sounded a similar note in an October 25 address to a conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the principal US pro-Israel lobby.

After bragging that US sanctions had produced mounting economic crisis, inflation and unemployment in Iran, Ross raised the implicit threat of war: “Ultimately, we hope that the severe pressure Iran faces today will compel a change in behavior. The door for diplomacy is still open and we certainly seek a peaceful resolution to our conflict with Iran. But should Iran continue its defiance, despite its growing isolation and the damage to its economy, its leaders should listen carefully to President Obama, who has said many times, ‘we are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.’”

Perhaps the most chilling call for an escalation of the military threat against Iran came in a column entitled “The War Recovery?”, written on the eve of the midterm elections by Washington Post columnist David Broder, the so-called “dean of the Washington press corps.”

Complaining that the deepening economic crisis was creating a “daunting situation” for Obama to win a second term in 2012, Broder, an unabashed supporter of the Democratic president, spelled out two scenarios through which this challenge could be overcome. The first is the vain hope that the economic crisis will be overcome by a turn in the business cycle. Broder concludes that “the market will go where it is going to go” and that such an outcome is unreliable.

He suggests another solution based on the tumultuous history of the 20th century.

“Look back at FDR and the Great Depression,” he writes. “What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.

“Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.”

There one has it: a modest proposal for economic revival and a successful reelection campaign prepared through the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people.

Underlying such bloodthirsty proposals are not merely the cynical political calculations of one or the other of America’s two right-wing, pro-imperialist parties, but rather the historic decline of American capitalism and the deepest crisis of the world capitalist system since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Militarism is embraced by both parties. This reflects the consensus within the ruling elite that American capitalism can offset its economic decline through the use of military force to establish US hegemony in the energy-rich and geostrategically critical regions of the Middle East and Central Asia.

The words of Broder and the Republicans, together with the actions of the Obama administration, underscore the threat of a new and far bloodier war that would carry with it the danger of a global conflagration.

Indian boots in Afghanistan?

November 8th, 2010 by Ali K Chishti

-“The almost 9,000 Indian troops deployed on UN peacekeeping missions could easily be re-deployed in Afghanistan,” confirmed Bharat Singh, an Indian defence analyst….Daily Times has been told that Lt Gen RK Loomba, the Indian Army’s Military Intelligence DG, was…in Afghanistan to assess Afghan military’s capabilities, and India is keen on taking the new role in Afghanistan.

-[T]he NATO and ISAF command, which sees Pakistan as an “enemy” because of Pakistan’s security doctrine of “strategic depth” and the analogy of “good Taliban and bad Taliban”, also wants Indian boots in Afghanistan since 2006 and would still welcome them.


US President Barack Obama has already begun his 10-day trip to Asia where he would be visiting Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and India. Obama’s trip to Japan, South Korea and Indonesia is seen as a “continuing policy” to further strategic cooperation between the US against growing Chinese influence and North Korea. However, it is his trip to India, which is being seen as “agenda-driven” and somewhat a strategic shift by the US.

Obama’s trip to India, which the Indian media is playing up as an “extra-ordinary trip”, is being seen with very high hopes domestically where various agreements and issues such as civil nuclear cooperation, economics, counter-terrorism, Pakistan and China will be discussed in great detail. The real agenda of Obama’s trip to India is “Afghanistan” where there’s “an absolute breakdown of relations”. While both the US and India wish to avoid re-emergence of terrorism sanctuaries capable of carrying out international terrorism, it is the “US giving all cards to the Pakistanis in Afghanistan, which is a real problem. We have investments, assets and recent history which prove that Afghanistan is abused and used against carrying out attacks inside India”, confirmed Zahid Hussain, an Indian defence analyst.

“Afghanistan has become a major source of tension between the US and India for the primary reason that India does not believe that we will stay until the job is done,” McCain said in a speech before leaving for a trip to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. While President Obama will be in India signing deals and will give a strong statement supporting India, McCain will be on a “Mission Pakistan” to make sure “no egos are hurt” in Islamabad.

While Obama will be singing praises for New Delhi, Daily Times had been told by many American analysts close to the US Defence Department that finally, the US has made up it’s mind up to formally ask India to send troops to Afghanistan due to shortage of manpower in Afghanistan, to satisfy non-Pakhtuns, and to satisfy the concerns of India and other regional powers, including Russia regarding a possible Taliban take-over. It should be noted that Pakistan’s all-powerful army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, in Washington DC, publically called for “minimising Indian role” in Afghanistan for an exchange of stability in Afghanistan.

The US, according to Harvey Caroll, a US defence analyst, “is thinking broadly and keeping all its options open and while there had been talks with the Taliban, the US also wants to keep the Northern Alliance and “non-Pakhtuns” happy or give some sense of security for the long term. Pakistan needs to get out of its India-centric attitude and stop the blackmail”.

“The almost 9,000 Indian troops deployed on UN peacekeeping missions could easily be re-deployed in Afghanistan,” confirmed Bharat Singh, an Indian defence analyst. While it should be noted that India has other interests in Afghanistan too, it primarily wants to end Pakistan’s monopoly as a gateway to Afghanistan and had even financed an alternate corridor of strategic importance that connects Afghanistan with the Iranian port of Chahbahar. The 280km road from Delaram on the Kandahar-Herat highway to Zananj is India’s own ‘Silk Road’, which it wants to protect at any cost with the Iranians, who play along.

India, which traditionally has been supporting the Northern Alliance against the Taliban, has many defence officials and even a serving brigadier inside Afghanistan to look after Indian interests. Daily Times has been told that Lt Gen RK Loomba, the Indian Army’s Military Intelligence DG, was also in Afghanistan to assess Afghan military’s capabilities, and India is keen on taking the new role in Afghanistan.

It should be remembered that the Afghan Defence Ministry, which is mostly headed by old leftists, denied Pakistan’s offer to train the Afghan army, while General Caldwell, the head of NATO training mission, during an interview previously published in Daily Times, also denied Pakistan’s role in training the Afghan army. Meanwhile, the NATO and ISAF command, which sees Pakistan as an “enemy” because of Pakistan’s security doctrine of “strategic depth” and the analogy of “good Taliban and bad Taliban”, also wants Indian boots in Afghanistan since 2006 and would still welcome them.

In a conference call with reporters this week, Robert D Blackwill, who served as an ambassador to India during the George W Bush administration, said India is extremely anxious that the US would forge a deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan. McCain described the emergence of a strategic partnership with India as “one of the most consequential, bipartisan successes of recent US foreign policy”. While it should be remembered that India has taken Russia, France, the UK and now even the Americans on board for their permanent membership in the UN Security Council.

On the Pakistani side, the country has taken a central role in Afghanistan policy by assuring the Americans earlier this year that “we will help you stabilise Afghanistan only when you reduce Indian influence in Afghanistan”. The offer to India from the US to actually bring in uniformed Indian soldiers to Afghanistan would be seen as a serious security threat and an anti-thesis to Pakistani security doctrine of strategic depth.

Could this be all bluff? The US actually pressurising Pakistan? “Maybe, but it would certainly take skeletons out of the Pakistanis, plus the possibility is real. We can’t get blackmailed anymore,” Daily Times was told

Another massive egg recall, another tie to scofflaw Jack DeCoster.

Nearly 300,000 eggs have been recalled, affecting eight states, after Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. got word on Friday from the FDA that eggs from one of its suppliers, Ohio Fresh Eggs, tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis (SE). Cal-Maine processed and packaged 24,000 dozen eggs in its Green Forest, Arkansas facility under the Sunny Meadow, Springfield Grocer, Sun Valley and James Farm labels.

Cartons bearing plant number P1457 with Julian dates of 282, 284 and 285 are being recalled. The Julian date follows the plant number, for example: P1457-282.

The eggs involved, which were not produced from Cal-Maine flocks, were distributed to food wholesalers and retailers in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. There have been no confirmed SE illnesses related to the purchased eggs, reports Cal-Maine.

The FDA released the information this morning, three days after notifying Cal-Maine.

According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Jack DeCoster invested in Ohio Fresh Eggs, reported The Iowa Independent:

“Ohio Fresh Eggs has had ties with both Orland Bethel and Austin “Jack” DeCoster, the two men behind Iowa egg production companies at the center of a recent massive egg recall….

“In December 2006, the Ohio Department of Agriculture ordered Ohio Fresh Eggs to shut down on grounds that its operators, Bethel and Don Hershey, neglected to report that an anonymous investor with an option to purchase the company was DeCoster, who had already been labeled as a chronic and habitual violator of environmental laws in Iowa.

“DeCoster’s name did not appear on the documents, according to Ohio authorities, because his previous run-ins with state and federal regulators would have made it more difficult for the company to operate in Ohio under a state Livestock Environmental Permitting Program.”

The revocation was later overturned.

Jack DeCoster, owner of Wright County Egg, involved in this year’s half-billion egg recall after 1,600 people were sickened by salmonella poisoning, has a decades-long history of environmental and labor law violations.

Providing a timeline of infractions covering decades, The Atlantic said, “[Wright County Egg owner, Jack] DeCoster has left a trail of illness, injury, mistreatment, and death in his wake for decades. That he has been left to police himself for so long is a stunning testament to the failure of federal regulators.”

The AP reported that “his facilities tested positive for salmonella contamination hundreds of times in the two years before this summer’s outbreak.”

Congressman Henry Waxman told the New York Times that for decades, “DeCoster farms have had warning after warning. Yet they continue to raise chickens in slovenly conditions and to make millions of dollars by selling contaminated eggs.”

Cal-Maine advises:

“Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis or arthritis.

“Consumers who believe they may have purchased potentially affected shell eggs should not eat them but should return them to the store where they were purchased for a full refund. Questions and concerns may also be directed to Cal-Maine’s corporate office at 1-866-276-6299 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CDT.

“Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. is primarily engaged in the production, grading, packing and sale of fresh shell eggs. The Company, which is headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, currently is the largest producer and distributor of fresh shell eggs in the United States and sells the majority of its shell eggs in approximately 29 states across the southwestern, southeastern, mid-western and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.”

Concentrated animal feeding operations promote infection and contamination of the food supply, a direct threat to food security. Two massive recalls in a single year bolster the move toward small, free range operations.  Many urbanites would benefit by raising their own flock, as Leah Zerbe points out in 5 Reasons Why Chickens Belong in Your City, Town, or Neighborhood.

NATO to keep its Nuclear Arsenal

November 8th, 2010 by Global Research

Commander of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT) General Stephane Abrial says the Western military alliance has to keep its tactical nuclear arsenal.

“As long as the world is nuclear, the (NATO) alliance has to keep nuclear weapons,” Abrial said in a security conference in Halifax, Canada on Saturday, AFP reported.

NATO leaders are scheduled to meet in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon later this month to map out the future of the Western alliance.

NATO’s nuclear arsenal in Europe is a source of friction within the organization. Germany, Poland, Belgium and Sweden want a greater NATO commitment to nuclear disarmament.

In May 2009, Senior Belgian and German officials called for prompt withdrawal of the US atomic arms and pullouts by Russia, saying that the Cold War deployments had outlived their military or political value, Global Security Newswire reported in late October.

According to the report, an estimated 200 nuclear-armed B-61 gravity bombs are stored at six bases in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Russia has roughly 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons at bases inside its own borders. Moscow says it regards NATO nuclear arms in Europe as a threat to its security.

But the US and France oppose the alliance’s nuclear disarmament, fearing it could heighten pressure on Paris to relinquish its own arsenal.

French forces have roughly 300 nukes, while the continent’s other nuclear power, the United Kingdom, has its own stockpile of 225 nuclear warheads.

“There are only two nuclear powers in Europe, and neither Britain nor France are going to give them up at this present [time],” Julian Lindley-French, a scholar at the Netherlands Defense Academy, said in September.

In April 2010, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared to rule out early withdrawal of its nuclear warheads deployed across Europe.

A new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) negotiated earlier this year cuts Russia and the United States limits in deployed nuclear warheads from a figure agreed on in 2002, allowing them a maximum of 1,550 warheads each.

Sweden accuses US of spying

November 8th, 2010 by Global Research

Swedish government officials have accused the US Embassy in Stockholm of conducting unauthorized surveillance activities in the country, shortly after similar charges were made in Norway and Denmark.

The surveillance, performed by people “assigned by the [US] embassy to undertake the measures,” has been in place since 2000 and its extent is still unknown, Swedish Justice Minister Beatrice Ask said on Saturday.

“It seems as though we haven’t been fully informed and that’s not good,” AP quoted her as saying.

Ask called on US officials to cooperate in the investigation into the matter.

She did not disclose the targets of the surveillance but pointed out that the activities “seem to be similar” to those uncovered in Norway earlier this week.

“We welcome that those countries that have a heightened threat risk apply their own measures to reduce the risk for attacks, but of course it has to be done in line of what the Swedish law says and permits,” Ask noted.

Denmark’s TV-2 Denmark disclosed on Saturday that the US Embassy in Copenhagen has also conducted secret surveillance activities in the Danish capital.

The report says a unit of 14 agents attached to the US Embassy kept tabs on Danish citizens by adding their personal data to a special computer database.

Also on Wednesday, Norway’s TV-2 News channel revealed that the US Embassy in Oslo has hired 15 to 20 people to monitor local residents.

Following the disclosure, Oslo asked US officials to provide an explanation.

Israel: Racism in Upper Galilee

November 8th, 2010 by Jonathan Cook

The tranquility of Safed, a small Israeli city nestled high in the hills of the Upper Galilee close to the Lebanese border, is not usually disturbed except by the occasional pilgrimage by Madonna or other famous devotees of the Jewish mystical teachings of Kabbalah.
 
But in the past few weeks, Safed — one of Judaism’s four holy cities — has been making headlines of a very different kind. Gideon Levy, a columnist for the Israeli daily Haaretz, last week declared it “the most racist city in the country”.
 
The unflattering, and hotly contested, epithet follows an edict from Safed’s senior rabbis ordering residents not to sell or rent homes to “non-Jews” – a reference to the country’s Palestinian Arab citizens, who comprise a fifth of Israel’s population.
 
At an emergency meeting, called last month to discuss the dangers of “assimilation” caused by Arab men dating Jewish women, the 18 rabbis warned that Safed was facing an “Arab takeover”. Jewish residents were told to inform on neighbours who try to sell or rent to Arabs.
 
The number of Arabs in the city, though low, has been steadily rising as Safed Academic College has expanded. There are now some 1,300 Arab students enrolled at the school.
 
The rabbis’ statements have provoked a series of riots by local religious Jews, in which several Arab homes have been attacked to chants of “Death to the Arabs”. In one recent incident, three Arab students were beaten as shots were fired.
 
So far three Jewish youths, including an off-duty policeman, have been charged with participating in the violence. The policeman is accused of firing his gun.
 
The anti-Arab campaign escalated last week as posters were plastered across the city threatening to burn down the home of an elderly Jew if he did not stop renting to Arab students.
 
The owner, 89-year-old Eli Zvieli, said the posters appeared after he received phone threats and visits from several rabbis warning him to change his mind.
 
Jamil Khalaili, 20, a physiotherapy student at the college who rents an apartment with a friend in a Jewish neighbourhood, said the atmosphere in Safed was rapidly deteriorating.
 
“We’re being treated like criminals, like we’re trying to steal their homes,” he said. “It’s got the point where many of my friends are wondering whether to leave. I want to study here but not if it costs me my life.”
 
Leading the opposition to the presence of Arab students in the city is Safed’s chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, who is employed by the municipality as head of its religious council.
 
“When a non-Jew moves in, residents begin to worry about their children, about their daughters. Many Arab students have been known to date Jewish girls,” he told Israel National News, the main news agency of the settlement movement.
 
The 18 rabbis issued their joint statement after learning of the city’s plan to build a medical school, which is expected to draw Arab students from across the Galilee.
 
They urged Jewish residents to shun a “neighbour or acquaintance” who rents to Arabs. “Refrain from doing business with him, deny him the right to read from the Torah, and similarly ostracize him until he renounces this harmful deed,” it read.
 
They have been given backing by a former chief rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, who used a recent sermon to tell his followers that “selling to [non-Jews], even for a lot of money, is not allowed. We won’t let them take control of us here.”
 
Similar anti-Arab sentiments have been heard in two other Jewish cities in the Galilee, Karmiel and Upper Nazareth. Both were established decades ago as part of a government “Judaisation” programme to settle more Jews in the country’s most heavily Arab-populated region.
 
In Karmiel, 30km west of Safed, ads in local newspapers have been promoting a special email address for residents to inform on neighbours planning to sell homes to Arabs. According to Ynet, a popular news website, the email account is overseen by officials for Oren Milstein, the city’s deputy mayor until he was fired last week.
 
Adi Eldar, the mayor, said Mr Milstein had “damaged the city’s image” after he gave a newspaper interview in which he boasted that he had prevented the sale of 30 homes to Arab families.
 
Mr Milstein’s replacement as deputy mayor, Rina Greenberg, is a member of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party of Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, who advocates ridding the country of many of its Arab citizens.
 
Meanwhile, the mayor of Upper Nazareth, Shimon Gapso, who is also allied Yisrael Beiteinu, has announced plans to build a new neighbourhood for 3,000 religious Jews to halt what he called the city’s “demographic deterioration”.
 
Hundreds of Arab families from neighbouring Nazareth have relocated to the Jewish city to escape overcrowding. Today, one in eight of Upper Nazareth’s 42,000-strong population is Arab.
 
In August, Mr Gapso said he felt “as happy as if I had a new baby” at the news that 15 extremist families from the former Gaza settlement of Gush Katif were establishing a Jewish seminary in his city.
 
Hatia Chomsky-Porat, who leads Galilee activists for Sikkuy, a group advocating better relations between Jews and Arabs, said: “The political atmosphere is growing darker all the time. Racism among Jews is entirely mainstream now.”
 
In Safed, the Arab student body, heavily outnumbered by nearly 40,000 Jewish residents, has tried to keep a low profile. However, one small act of defiance appears to have further contributed to Jewish residents’ fears of a “takeover”.
 
Inhabitants awoke recently to find a Palestinian flag draped on the top of a renovated mosque — one of the many old stone buildings in Safed that attest to the city’s habitation long before Israel’s establishment.
 
In 1948, when Jewish forces captured the town, Safed was a mixed city of 10,000 Palestinians and 2,000 Jews. All the Palestinian inhabitants were expelled, including a 13-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, now the president of the Palestinian Authority.
 
Mr Khaliali said the city’s history appeared still to haunt many of its Jewish residents, who expressed fears that Arab students were there to reclaim refugee property as the vanguard of a movement for the Palestinian right of return.
 
It is not the first time Mr Eliyahu, the son of a former chief rabbi of Israel, has been accused of inciting against the city’s Arab population.
 
In 2002, during a wave of suicide attacks at the start of the second intifada, he called on Safed college to expel all Arab students.
 
Two years later he launched a campaign against intermarriage, accusing Arab men of waging “another form of war” against Jewish women by “seducing” them.
 
He narrowly avoided prosecution for incitement in 2006 after he agreed to retract his earlier statements.
 
The Religious Action Centre, a group of Reform movement Jews, and several Arab MPs have demanded that Yehuda Weinstein, the attorney-general, investigate Mr Eliyahu and the other rabbis for incitement to violence.

 
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.
 
A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.
 

 

US to build super base on Pacific island of Guam

November 8th, 2010 by Global Research

The USA is building an 8 billion super military base on the Island of Guam in the western part of the Pacific Ocean in response to China’s strengthening of its defence potential, “The Daily Telegraph” reports. The work is currently being done on the U.S. Air Force Base in Guam to build docks for aircraft carriers and test ranges there, in addition to the existing facilities, and also to develop a national missile defence system there. The head of the New Eurasia Foundation Andrei Kortunov says: 

Naturally, Americans do not say officially that this base is being created to contain China’s military build-up. But if we look at the map and compare the military potential of the countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean, it won’t be difficult for us to understand that, most likely, China is exactly the key factor which is taken into consideration here.

The point is that there’re no Sino-American agreements which could limit in one way or another such projects on the U.S. side. Moreover, Guam is a U.S. territory. Therefore, legally, China can make no objections on that score. However, there’s reason to believe that China’s answer to the on-going construction will be a new increase in assignments for the development of its navy. Because the Chinese fear that U.S. domination of the northern part of the Pacific Ocean may hamper China’s efforts in the settlement of the Taiwan issue.     

If we compare the military might of China and the USA, we’ll see that China has to work much to catch up with the USA, the Russian expert says.

We can say nothing about China’s parity or its ability to resist the USA on the high seas either. However, the dynamism of the development of the Chinese naval forces is an object of concern for Pentagon strategists.

There are many American military facilities in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean, Kortunov says. They are scattered over a large territory north of Alaska across Okinawa and as far as the Hawaiian Islands, where, traditionally, the U.S. Navy has a stronghold. Which means that there are many U.S. military facilities there, which form an arc and which must guarantee America’s hegemony in the Pacific Ocean.

As Americans say, these facilities have been set up to guarantee the security of commercial communications in the region, including the security of oil supplies from the Persian Gulf area to the western coast of the USA. But taking into account current tendencies, this infrastructure is regarded by many people in Beijing as one that is aimed against China.

Asked whether the new super base will infringe on Russia’s interests, the head of the New Eurasia Foundation said that, as it appears, it would be beneficial for Russia to distance itself from the current arms race.

However, one circumstance should be taken into account here – that fanning tensions in the Pacific Ocean region will not be beneficial strategically  for the countries situated in that part of the world.

Exposición de introducción a un taller sobre deuda publica durante la Conferencia Nacional de Comités Locales (CNCL) ATTAC Francia, 16 y 17 de octubre 2010, Universidad de Saint-Denis, Paris VIII

I. Algunos datos sobre la deuda externa de los países en desarrollo (PED) y de los países mas industrializados

Volumen de las deudas:

Deuda pública externa de todos los PED[1]. 1,5 billones de dólares (1 500 000 000 000 dólares)

Deuda pública externa del África subsahariana: 100.000 millones de dólares.

Deuda pública externa de América latina: 406.000 millones de dólares (406 000 000 000 dólares)

Deuda pública externa de Francia: 1,2 billones de dólares (1 200 000 000 000 dólares) -esta cifra incluye solamente la deuda del gobierno central-[2]

Deuda pública externa de España: 318.000 millones de dólares.

Deuda pública externa de Estados Unidos: 3,5 billones de dólares (la deuda total interna y externa de todas las administraciones públicas de Estados Unidos es de unos 15 billones de dólares).

Otro concepto a tener en cuenta: la deuda total externa es la suma de la deuda pública y de la deuda privada, y se compara con el PIB (producto interior bruto).

Deuda externa de América Latina: cerca del 40 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Irlanda: 1.100 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de España: 169 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Portugal: 233 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Grecia: 162 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Estados Unidos: 100 % del PIB.

Deuda externa de Reino Unido: 400 % del PIB.

II. La deuda en el Sur

El contexto actual es favorable en muchos aspectos a los PED, debido a tres factores que producen un peligroso sentimiento de despreocupación, cuando no de euforia en sus jefes de gobierno, ya sean éstos de derecha, de centro o de izquierda.

- En lo que concierne a la deuda pública:

1) Los bajos tipos de interés (0 % en Japón, 0,25 % en Estados Unidos, etc.) permiten a los PED refinanciar en el Norte su deuda externa, además con una reducción en las primas de riesgo vinculadas a cada país. Por otro lado, para algunos países pobres muy endeudados, los efectos de la anulación de deuda por el Club de París, el Banco Mundial, el FMI, etc. comienzan a aliviar realmente el servicio de la deuda. Los problemas subsisten pero el peso del reembolso de la deuda es menor. Pero, atención, este alivio es la contrapartida de la prosecución de las políticas neoliberales dictadas por el FMI y el BM que afectan mucho a las condiciones de vida de la mayoría de la población.

2) El alza de los precios de los productos primarios (a partir de 2004) aumenta los ingresos de los países que los exportan y, al mismo tiempo, aumenta sus reservas en divisas fuertes. Al tener estas reservas se facilita el reembolso de sus deudas exteriores (que se deben pagar en divisas).

3) Debido a la enorme masa de liquidez que se mueve a través del mundo, existen flujos de capitales que van, temporalmente, a las bolsas de los países emergentes.

► De manera general, la deuda externa pública de los PED baja, y esta evolución concierne a casi todos estos países, incluso a los más pobres. Pero de nuevo atención: hasta aquí hemos tenido en cuenta que la deuda pública externa disminuye. Sin embargo, la situación se complica claramente si se toma en cuenta la deuda pública total, ya que la deuda interna va en aumento. En consecuencia, el peso del servicio de la deuda pública con respecto al presupuesto del Estado es, en muchos casos, idéntico al de hace unos años.

No obstante, como los gobiernos del Sur, el Banco Mundial y el FMI ponen énfasis en la deuda externa, la situación parece a primera vista totalmente controlada. Sin embargo, esta coyuntura es frágil, puesto que depende de factores que los PED no controlan:

1.- La evolución de uno de ellos tiene y tendrá un papel determinante, se trata de China. Este país —el taller del mundo— es el mayor importador de bienes primarios. El mantenimiento de un nivel elevado de importación de estos bienes por China provoca la elevación del nivel de precios de estos productos. Si los pedidos chinos bajaran de manera significativa, se correría un fuerte riesgo de que su precio se redujeran o se desplomaran. Varios factores pueden fragilizar el crecimiento actual chino, que podrían conducir a una reducción de la demanda: la especulación en la bolsa, con unas fluctuaciones considerables; el desarrollo de una burbuja inmobiliaria que alcanza proporciones realmente preocupantes. Todo esto en un marco de endeudamiento exponencial dentro sus fronteras[3] puede producir la explosión de unas acreencias más que dudosas, provocando la fragilización de un sistema bancario principalmente público. Podemos temer el estallido de varias burbujas en China —llamadas en particular crisis gemelas: crisis de la bolsa y crisis inmobiliaria, que pueden producir el crash bancario, como ocurrió en Estados Unidos en 2007-2008, y en Japón en 1990—, y sin embargo, no se hace una valoración seria de cuáles serán las consecuencias en el resto del planeta, incluidos los PED. Lo que es probable, y es lo que debemos tener presente, es que en caso de desaceleración del crecimiento de la economía china existe un riesgo importante de descenso del precio de los productos primarios.

2.- Los tipos de interés algún día aumentarán. En el Norte, los bancos privados tienen acceso en los Bancos Centrales (la Fed, el Banco Central Europeo, el Banco de Ingletera, el Banco de Japon,…) a un recurso financiero muy poco costoso, o sea, con un interés bajo. Con esta enorme liquidez, los bancos prestan, pero en cantidades limitadas, a las empresas que invierten en producción y a las familias que consumen. El resto, grandísimo, les sirve para especular con las materias primas, con los títulos de la deuda pública, o para prestar a terceros (por ejemplo a empresas industriales, que con ese dinero a su vez especulan en lugar de invertirlo en producción). Los Bancos Centrales de los países más industrializados saben que se están formando nuevas burbujas y en consecuencia tendrían que aumentar los tipos de interés para disminuir la liquidez en circulación. Pero dudan, puesto que si se resuelven a hacerlo existe de nuevo un riesgo de quiebras bancarias. Es como la elección ente la peste y el cólera: si los tipos permanecen bajos, se formarán nuevas burbujas y pueden llegar a un volumen realmente inquietante; si los tipos aumentan, las burbujas que ya existen podrían estallar rápidamente.

            Si los tipos de interés aumentan, la especulación con las materias primas debería disminuir (ya que la liquidez disponible para esas actividades se agotará), lo que producirá una disminución en su precio.

            Resumiendo, si los tipos de interés acaban aumentando, los PED pueden acabar estrangulados: encarecimiento del servicio de la deuda, unido a un descenso en la entrada de divisas por la fuerte reducción en el precio de los bienes primarios (véase el punto precedente). Los PED corren el riesgo en este caso de encontrarse de nuevo en la situación de los años ochenta: el alza del tipo de interés decidido por la Reserva Federal estadounidense a fines de 1979 —decisión seguida por otros Bancos Centrales de los países más industrializados—que provocó el aumento brutal de los reembolsos de las deudas que debían efectuar los PED, que, al mismo tiempo, se vieron confrontados a una caída del precio de los productos primarios (recordemos que el precio de las materias primas mantuvo una tendencia a la baja de 1981 a 2003).

3.- Finalmente, los flujos de capitales que van hacia las bolsas de los países emergentes pueden cambiar su rumbo bruscamente, desestabilizando la economía de estos países.

III. La deuda en el Norte

Sobre esta parte, Eric Toussaint toma como referencia un informe de economistas de la Universidad de Londres, en especial Costas Lapvitsas, donde se trata, entre otras, la cuestión de la deuda de Grecia, Portugal y España. Este estudio de 72 páginas, que merece ser traducido al español, es una mina de informaciones y de ideas.[4] También se hace referencia a un trabajo de 4 páginas sobre el tema del la deuda en el Norte del CADTM.[5]

Referencia histórica: La deuda comenzó a tener en el Norte niveles elevados en los años ochenta del siglo pasado. En efecto, después del primer shock petrolero y de la crisis económica de 1973-1975, los gobiernos trataron de relanzar la economía con empréstitos públicos. La deuda explotó cuando la Reserva Federal estadounidense aumentó sin previo aviso los tipos de interés a partir de octubre de 1979 (véase más arriba).

Seguidamente, a partir de fines de los años ochenta, la situación de las finanzas públicas se agravó de nuevo. Su causa: la «contrarreforma fiscal » llevada a cabo a favor de las empresas y de las personas de altos ingresos, que tuvo como consecuencia una reducción de la recaudación fiscal, compensada por una parte por el aumento de los impuestos indirectos (el IVA), y por la otra por el recurso al endeudamiento.

La crisis que comenzó en 2007 y sobre todo la manera con que los gobiernos rescataron a los bancos privados degradaron aún más la situación de las finanzas públicas.

En los países como el Reino Unido, Bélgica, Alemania, los Países bajos, Irlanda, los gobiernos gastaron sumas considerables de dinero público para salvar a los bancos. En un futuro próximo, el gobierno español decidirá seguramente hacer lo mismo con las cajas de ahorro regionales, en quiebra virtual debido a la crisis del sector inmobiliario. Irlanda está literalmente hundida bajo las deudas provenientes de los grandes bancos privados que el gobierno ha nacionalizado, sin recuperar el costo del salvataje, con los recursos de los accionistas.

Por otra parte, con la enorme liquidez puesta a su disposición por los Bancos Centrales en 2007-2009, los bancos del Oeste europeo (sobre todo los alemanes y franceses) concedieron un gran volumen de créditos (principalmente al sector privado pero también a los poderes públicos) a los países de la «periferia de la Unión Europea», como España, Portugal y Grecia, ya que los banqueros consideraban que no existía ningún peligro. La consecuencia de esta política de préstamos fue un fuerte aumento de la deuda de estos países, en particular el de la deuda privada (la relación deuda privada/deuda total externa es del 83 % en España, 74 % en Portugal y 47 % en Grecia)[6]. Los banqueros alemanes y franceses tienen entre ambos el 48 % de los títulos de la deuda española (los bancos franceses el 24 %); también el 48 % de los títulos de la deuda portuguesa (los franceses, ellos solos, el 30 %); el 41 % de los títulos de la deuda griega (los franceses el 26 %)[7].

A pesar de que los gastos sociales de los Estados no son en absoluto responsables del aumento de la deuda pública, están en el punto de mira de los planes de austeridad.

El aumento de la deuda pública es utilizada por los gobiernos como argumento para justificar la adopción de nuevos planes de austeridad.

Por otro lado, se dice en el Norte que El Problema es la deuda pública, cuando, en la mayor parte de países es la deuda privada la que plantea problemas. Esta enorme deuda de las empresas privadas corre el riesgo, si no se toman medidas adecuadas, de transformarse en poco tiempo en deuda pública.

La crisis griega:

Gran parte de los préstamos fueron concedidos a Grecia para financiar la compra de material militar a Francia y a Alemania, aumentar el consumo a crédito de las familias y para favorecer el endeudamiento de las empresas privadas. Después del estallido de la crisis, el lobby militar-industrial logró que el presupuesto de defensa fuera apenas tocado, mientras el gobierno del PASOK recortaba brutalmente los gastos sociales. Sin embargo, en plena crisis griega, a comienzos de año, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, el primer ministro de Turquía, país que mantiene tensas relaciones con su vecino griego, fue a Atenas a proponer una reducción del 20 % en los presupuestos militares de ambos países. Pero el gobierno griego no cogió el cable que le había tendido Turquía. Se encontraba bajo la presión de las autoridades francesas y alemanas, que querían promover sus exportaciones de armas. A eso hay que agregar los numerosos préstamos de los bancos, principalmente alemanes y franceses, a empresas privadas y a las autoridades griegas en 2008-2009. Estos bancos habían recibido préstamos del Banco Central Europeo a tipos de interés bajos y ese dinero, así obtenido, lo prestaron a Grecia con tipos de interés más altos. Como resultado, un buen negocio, que les permitió obtener en un corto plazo jugosos beneficios. Los banqueros no se preocuparon de la capacidad de los deudores para reembolsar el capital prestado a medio plazo. Por lo tanto, los bancos privados tienen una gran responsabilidad en este endeudamiento excesivo. Los préstamos de los países miembros de la Unión Europea y del FMI a Grecia no respetan los intereses de la población griega, sólo sirven para el pago a los bancos alemanes y franceses en peligro por una arriesgada política de préstamos. Además, están unidos a políticas que atentan contra los derechos sociales de la población griega. Y bajo este aspecto, constituyen préstamos odiosos.

Nota bene: ver la ponencia que hizo Claudio Katz en Atenas el 16 de octubre 2010 comparando Grecia 2010 y Argentina 2001- …  http://www.cadtm.org/Grecia-2010-Argentina-2001

IV. Las alternativas

1.- El CADTM ha propuesto 8 medidas que conciernen a la deuda pública (véase las 4 páginas mencionadas más arriba en http://www.cadtm.org/Juntos-para-imponer-otra-logica ), en el que el elemento central es la moratoria unilateral de la deuda, sostenida por una auditoría de la deuda pública efectuada bajo control ciudadano. Cuando el CADTM recomienda una cesación de pagos sabe de qué habla, pues participó en la comisión de la auditoría de la deuda de Ecuador, creada en julio de 2007. Comprobamos que numerosos préstamos habían sido concedidos violando las reglas más elementales. En noviembre de 2008, el nuevo gobierno se basó en nuestro informe para suspender el reembolso de bonos de la deuda que vencían, algunos en 2012 y otros en 2030. Finalmente, el gobierno de este pequeño país de Latinoamérica salió vencedor del pulso mantenido con los banqueros norteamericanos tenedores de los bonos de la deuda ecuatoriana. El gobierno compró por 1.000 millones de dólares títulos que valían 3.200 millones, ahorrando así el tesoro público ecuatoriano cerca de 2.200 millones de dólares del stock de la deuda, a lo que hay que sumar los 300 millones de dólares de interés por año, que desde 2008 no se pagan. Esto le dio al gobierno ecuatoriano nuevos medios financieros para poder aumentar los gastos sociales en sanidad, educación, ayuda a los pobres.

La cuestión es poner en evidencia el carácter legítimo o ilegítimo de la deuda (concepto histórico de «deuda odiosa», precedentes históricos como la anulación de la deuda iraquí en 2004, a pedido de Estados Unidos).

2.- Recurso de los Estados a efectuar «actos soberanos». Habitualmente se piensa a Estados Unidos o a Israel cuando se citan.

Sin embargo hay ejemplos recientes, en particular en Latinoamérica, de actos soberanos para resistir a la dominación de las IFI, de acreedores privados o de países dominantes:

• El ejemplo de la suspensión unilateral del pago de la deuda por Ecuador, mencionado más arriba.

• El ejemplo de Argentina, que rechazó el pago de su deuda entre 2001 y 2005, poniendo por delante la responsabilidad de los acreedores. Argentina, después de haber suspendido el reembolso de su deuda, finalmente la renegoció en febrero-marzo de 2005 al 45 % de su valor. Gracias a esta moratoria unilateral sobre los títulos de la deuda por un monto de cerca de 100.000 millones de dólares, el país pudo invertir sus recursos y reanudar su crecimiento (8 % de crecimiento anual en el período 2003-2007). Argentina todavía tiene una cuenta pendiente con miembros del Club de París. Desde diciembre de 2001 no hace ningún reembolso a los países miembros del Club y lo lleva muy bien. El Club de París representa los intereses de los países industrializados y no quiere publicidad acerca del no pago de la deuda argentina, ya que teme que otros gobiernos puedan seguir el ejemplo. Hay que destacar que Argentina forma parte actualmente del G20 y que, por lo tanto, no está en absoluto marginada a pesar de sus actos unilaterales soberanos.

Se puede agregar que, condenados por los órganos de las IFI, algunos países notifican a estas mismas organizaciones que han dejado de reconocer sus decisiones o arbitrajes, y eso está muy bien. Así, en 2009, Ecuador denunció 21 tratados bilaterales de inversiones y notificó al Banco Mundial que dejaba de reconocer al CIADI, el tribunal de Banco Mundial en materia de litigios sobre inversiones. Ya Bolivia había tomado la delantera en 2007.

3.- El Banco del Sur, lanzado en 2007 por 7 países de América del Sur (Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela), aunque todavía no ha comenzado sus actividades (véase la entrevista a Eric Toussaint publicada en el diario suizo Le Courrier, el 16 de octubre de 2010, http://www.cadtm.org/Senales-preocupantes-en-America  )  

Perspectivas de trabajo para ATTAC

Después de este taller, podemos sugerir varias pistas de trabajo: – Hacer difusión, mediante un material apropiado, las «gestiones soberanas» de resistencia realizadas por algunos países (Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, etc.), los actos efectuados y sus consecuencias.

• Impugnación de la deuda: condiciones de aplicación de una gestión análoga a la de Ecuador en el marco de la Unión Europea o de la zona Euro, con la identificación de los márgenes de maniobra que podrían disponer los países frente a los diktats de la Unión Europea, del FMI y a las presiones de los acreedores, etc.

• Integrar la reivindicación de la auditoría de la deuda en las proposiciones realizadas por ATTAC.

- Proponer una información accesible sobre los respectivos papeles de la deuda pública y de la deuda privada en la situación actual, sobre la responsabilidad de los bancos en la formación de las burbujas financieras y por lo tanto en el aumento de la deuda pública.

Traducido por Griselda Pinero.

[1] Los países llamados PED por los organismos internacionales (FMI, BM, OCDE) son los de América Latina, África, Oriente Medio, Asia —salvo Japón y Corea del Sur— y Europa del Este.

[2] OCDE, Dette de l’Administration centrale, Annuaire statistique 2000-2009, p. 31.

[3] Ojo! Nos referimos al endeudamiento interno preocupante en China. No confundir la situación de la China respecto a su deuda interna con la posición del país asiático frente al exterior. China es el mayor acreedor internacional.   

[4] C. Lapavitsas, A. Kaltenbrunner, C. Lambrinides, D. Lindo, J. Meadway, J. Michell, J. P. Painceira, E. Pires, J. Powell, A. Stenfors, N. Teles «THE EUROZONE BETWEEN AUSTERITY AND DEFAULT», SEPTEMBER 2010 http://www.researchonmoneyandfinance.org/media/reports/RMF-Eurozone-Austerity-and-Default.pdf

[5] http://www.cadtm.org/Juntos-para-imponer-otra-logica  

[6] C. Lapavitsas y … p. 8.

[7] C. Lapavitsas y … p. 10.

 
Eric Toussaint es presidente del CADTM Bélgica (www.cadtm.org ) y miembro del Consejo Científico de ATTAC Francia.

BP blamed for toxification

November 8th, 2010 by Dahr Jamail

James Miller, a commercial shrimper, lifelong fisherman in Mississippi and former BP oil response worker, is horribly sick.

“I’ve been vomiting, my head feels like it’s going to explode, diarrhoea, and I keep passing out,” Miller, who worked in BP’s so-called Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) oil response programme, said from his bed at Biloxi Regional Hospital on November 5.

Four days earlier, Miller, his wife and dog were boating on the Gulf of Mexico near one of Mississippi’s barrier islands when all three of them fell ill.
 
“My wife and I felt the chemicals immediately and my dog even started hacking like he was trying to cough up a bone,” Miller explained.

Later that day he began vomiting and experiencing a severe headache and diarrhoea. Then on November 4 he passed out in the shower. Concerned by his uncontrollable nausea and bleeding in his esophagus, his wife took him to the emergency room.

“The doctor just told me I have acid reflux,” Miller, who has been experiencing many of his symptoms since joining the VOO programme, said. “They don’t even know what this is. I told him I needed to be tested for toxic chemicals. I’m in a major hospital and they are telling me they don’t know what this is.”

Miller’s friend, Chris Balius, also a former VOO worker, was in a boat near Miller’s on that same day out on the Gulf.

“I was hit by it too,” Balius explained. “Headache, nausea, diarrhoea, and now my eyesight is failing. When I was in the VOO programme, I had to let someone else run my boat after 30 days because I got so sick. Every time I go on the water I get sick, so I no longer go, and don’t allow my family to go anymore.”

Joseph Yerkes, who lives on Okaloosa Island, Florida, was in BP’s VOO programme for more than two months, during which time he was exposed to oil and dispersants on a regular basis.

“I worsened progressively,” Yerkes said. “Mid-September I caught a cold that worsened until I went to a doctor, who gave me two rounds of antibiotics for the pneumonia-like symptoms, and he did blood tests and found high levels of toxic substances in my blood that he told me came from the oil and dispersants.”

Increasing numbers of people across the Gulf Coast are suffering from symptoms that doctors and toxicologists are linking to chemicals from the BP oil disaster that began last summer when the blowout of the Macondo well gushed at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.

BP responded by using at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic dispersant to sink the oil.

Widespread toxic exposure

Fisherman James Miller on his boat in Mississippi
[Erika Blumenfeld]

“The dispersants used in BP’s draconian experiment contain solvents such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol,” Dr. Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor, said. “People are being made sick in the Gulf because of the unprecedented release of oil and toxic chemicals from this past summer in response to BP’s disaster.”

Ott is frank in her assessment of the ongoing health crisis residents are facing in the Gulf.

“It’s clear to me there are four to five million people, from Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana, through the big bend of Florida, who are being exposed to dangerous levels of dangerous chemicals,” she said.

“Oil and dispersants are in the air and water, that are at levels that exceeded the acute or intermediate threshold that federal agencies have declared to be safe. Just speaking of air exposure, and there are scientific papers on this, if you release one molecule of toluene, at three metres above the ground, into a six kilometre wind, that molecule, uninterrupted, will travel 34 kilometres.”

Charter plane pilots who have conducted Gulf over-flights have reported having to wipe an oily, orange film from their plane afterwards. Following this, the skin on their hands peeled off. “The oil and dispersants are in the air and in the rain and are making people sick,” Ott said. “These Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are there, and at dangerous levels.”

Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin and eye contact. Health impacts include headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system (CNS) depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. The chemicals are also teratogenic, mutagenic and carcinogenic.

“People experiencing these symptoms, that is their body trying to tell them they are in a dangerous situation,” explained Ott. “Exposure to dispersants makes everything worse because they affect the CNS more. They act as an oil delivery system, bringing the oil deeper into the body.”

Wilma Subra, a chemist in Louisiana, tested the blood of eight BP cleanup workers and residents in Alabama and Florida. “Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and Hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP crude oil,” Subra said. “The blood of all three females and five males had chemicals that are found in the BP crude oil. So the presence of these chemicals in the blood indicates exposure.”

The BP workers and community members had shockingly high levels of toxic chemicals like Ethylbenzene and Hexanes in their bodies, with one 48-year-old male showing the highest concentrations.

“I’m that 48-year-old male,” Gregg Hall, from Pensacola, Florida, said. “I’ve been nauseas and had headaches, burning eyes and numb feet for months. The bays here are now toxic. It’s all around us, yet the government keeps telling us everything is fine.”

According to Ott, doctors along the Gulf coast are treating the symptoms of the widespread exposure to BP’s toxic chemicals with antibiotics.

“You can’t take antibiotics and expect to get better,” she explained. “Environmental medicine is what these people need, but it is hard to find that in the Gulf, where the oil and petrochemical industry reign supreme and medical doctors there are reluctant to call a spade a spade.”

Getting treatment

Dr. William Rea, the founder of the Environmental Health Center in Texas [Erika Blumenfeld]

Dr. William Rea is a thoratic and cardiovascular surgeon who specialises in the environmental aspects of health and disease. He founded the Environmental Health Center in Dallas, Texas in 1974 and has been treating people who have been exposed to toxic chemicals in crude oil and dispersants for years.

“We first try to eliminate people’s symptoms, and that is organ specific,” Rea explained at his clinic, which is one of the oldest and most advanced centres in the world for addressing health as it relates to the environment. “We try to lower their toxic load by giving them intravenous nutrients, oral nutrients, sauna, and have them live in quarters that are less polluted, eat organic food and have them get safe drinking water.”

Rea has treated many people from the Gulf that have been made sick by BP’s toxic chemicals.

“I have multiple concerns now about people in the Gulf being affected by these chemicals,” he said. “First, they are all fatigued and not able to work. When your muscles are all fatigued and tired, it’s hard to function. People are getting cloudy brains, others are having heart problems because of the chemicals. Others have broncho-spasm and asthma from this. Others bloat and get sleepy after eating, diarrhoea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal problems.”

Donny and Angel Matsler, from Dauphin Island, Alabama, recently arrived at Rea’s centre for treatment. Donny has been suffering symptoms he attributes to BP’s toxic chemicals for months.

“I started to vomit brown, and my pee was brown also,” Donny said. “Sometimes I kept that up all day. Then I had a night of sweating and non-stop diarrhoea unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”

Donny, a Vietnam veteran who had pre-existing health issues before the BP disaster began, believes his condition has worsened exponentially because of ongoing exposure to BP’s chemicals as a result of living on the coast.

“We have many friends breaking out in rashes, having severe breathing problems and other symptoms,” Angel explained.

“It would help if they had some doctors on the coast that knew about all of this, so they could do some preventive work and maybe head some of this off,” Rea said of what he sees as a lack of expertise among doctors in the Gulf. “And folks who are heavily affected, like Donny and Angel, you have to get them out of the area to treat them.”

Leaving the Gulf Coast

Donny and Angel Matsler obtaining treatment at the Environmental Health Center in Texas [Erika Blumenfeld]

Lynn Ferguson lived in Palatka, Florida, with her husband Rod Norman until July, when they decided to move to Montana after suffering symptoms they attribute to the BP oil disaster.

“I lost my voice in June and my breathing got much worse,” said Ferguson. “I was having heart palpitations, coughing, painful lungs, shortness of breath, lethargy, and it all kept worsening. Rod flew to Montana in June and was there 10 days, and had immediate relief. But when he came back to Florida he got sick again.”

Ferguson said that after learning that her symptoms were being reported by others across the Gulf, “I took money out of my retirement and we moved to Butte, Montana. My breathing is much better and 90 per cent of my voice has come back”.

“Sinus infections, ear infections, chest congestion, burning eyes, I kept going to the doctor for these, and he put me on all kinds of antibiotics and it didn’t clear anything up,” Norman said. “He kept trying different antibiotics but it never really worked. I got well as soon as I got out of the state.”

Yerkes, the former VOO worker, said that his doctor, a general physician with a background in toxicology, instructed him to begin a nutritional detoxification programme in order to “lower the levels of pollution in the blood”. The doctor also told Yerkes to move away from the Gulf Coast.

“He was very clear about his diagnosis, explaining how dangerous and damaging these chemicals can be to our bodies, and concluded that all of my symptoms are due to the elevated, abnormal levels of chemicals present in my system from the Gulf oil spill,” Yerkes said. “The doctor who did my blood work said that the results showed that I have oil in my blood. I have the solvents in my bloodstream.”

Yerkes is looking for somewhere to move to as he continues his detoxification programme at his home in Florida.

“Every morning I wake up with nausea, I have blurred vision, a low grade fever comes and goes, and now I’m having anxiety attacks, which I’ve never experienced before,” he said. “I’m having symptoms unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, and some of them scare me to death.”

Yerkes is struggling with the prospect of leaving the Gulf Coast, even though he feels that it is the only way he can regain his health.

“It deeply saddens me after living on or around the Gulf my whole life, making a living from it, and experiencing the serenity and contentedness it has always brought to me,” he said.

“But now I have to leave and start my life over. I know I am not the only one, and there are many much worse off than me, and I pray for everyone on the Gulf Coast to be oil and dispersant free. Nobody deserves this poisoning of our bodies, it is hell feeling like you’re being destroyed from the inside out from exposure every day.”

The Olbermann Expulsion: The Man, The Media, The Back Story

November 7th, 2010 by Danny Schechter

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141). Cassius, a nobleman, is speaking…

Alex Gibney’s new film The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer” shows how the former Governor’s indictments and criticisms of many Wall Street firm’s led to counter attacks and pushback from powerful people. It shows how he became targeted and exposes the role of the FBI, the Bush appointed US Attorney, rich players on Wall Street, corrupt politicians in Albany, a professional former Nixon boosting political provocateur/hit-man and Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post. They all went after him with a vengeance. He was, in fact, outed by the dirty tricksters.

In the end, though, Spitzer blamed himself for his own ego, arrogance and hubris. He says he brought himself down.

There is no doubt that Keith Olbermann had many pols and powercrats gunning for him for his outspoken commentaries and political impact.  He is a partisan, yes, but also a commentator who takes wacks at his own party. He pointed to the deep biases and superficiality in TV News. But then, he violated a firm rule governing TV journalists barring political donations to people they are covering. He apparently flouted his own contract although I am sure there is ambiguity there

In doing so, Keith put himself at risk and opened the door to being suspended.

A few years ago I wrote a magazine profile on Olbermann (who NBC blocked me from speaking to.)  It does show his history of confronting broadcasters and bosses. I admire his work, even as I find it sometimes pedantic and predictable, He  knew, or should have known, that he would be outed for a blatant transgression, and that does not excuse the others who do it, including his company and competitors.

(I do not make partisan political donations for this very reason, (as well as my disgust for most politicians) but I also do not disguise my viewpoints with the blather of phony “objectivity.”)

Yes, I would like to see him back on the air.

Is there hypocrisy here? Of course! That goes without saying. TV is a minefield, and to survive, you need an internal radar and realization that perception often trumps reality. You need relationships with colleagues and managers too, or you can isolate yourself. Who had his back? Did he believe his own hype?

MY PROFILE OF KEITH OLBERMANN IN 2007 (NBC would not let me speak to him) http://www.larryflynt.com/mycms/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=63&cntnt01returnid=15

The most upsetting thing about watching Good Night, and Good Luck—George Clooney’s cinematic tribute to media legend Edward R. Murrow—was realizing there aren’t any journalists of his stature in the hyper-commercialized, dumbed-down “wasteland” of contemporary network TV news. An intrepid war correspondent and broadcaster, Murrow dared expose tyrannical Senator Joseph McCarthy on CBS in the 1950s. Who among today’s blow-dried anchors and reporters would have had the cajones to take on blustering blowhard McCarthy?

In the wake of Clooney’s 2005 biopic, one candidate has emerged from the media pack to reinvigorate the fourth estate. “Keith Olberman is, quite simply, the Edward R. Murrow of our time,” asserts liberal radio host Stephanie Miller, whose program has been heard on Sirius Satellite Radio and other broadcast outlets.

The sportscaster-turned-political analyst anchors MSNBC’s evening newscast, Countdown With Keith Olbermann. If you haven’t been paying attention to his rising influence and popularity, you may be alone—Countdown’s viewership rose 21% in a year, and the perpetually third-place cable-news network edged out its CNN competitor during Olbermann’s time slot. Countdown is MSNBC’s highest-rated program.

Olbermann has always stood out, and not just because he stands 6-3 and wears size 13 shoes. Born in New York City in 1959, he was a gifted child who, at age 14, wrote the book The Major League Coaches: 1921-1973 (published by Card Memorabilia Associates). He was also a play-by-play announcer for his high school’s hockey team on WHTR. Chris Berman, now an ESPN mainstay, was the station’s sports director.

Keith entered Cornell University at age 16, and while an undergraduate, covered sports for WVBR, a student-run  radio station. Graduating at 20, Olbermann paid his dues on local news at Boston and Los Angeles TV stations before landing a berth at ESPN. He won awards for a witty and distinctive reportorial style that was also criticized for having “too much backbone.” It was literally true because the oversized Olbermann has six lumbar vertebrae, while the rest of us have only five. He refers to himself as a “spinal mutant,” quipping, “I do have too much backbone.”

Olbermann has had to overcome some physical problems, including celiac disease, which requires a gluten-free diet. In 1980 he hit his head on a New York City subway door and lost depth perception. Olbermann also has had some problems containing his emotions. When Keith left ESPN in June 1997, colleague Mike Soltys said, “He didn’t burn bridges here. He napalmed them.” One issue was an appearance on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show that ESPN did not authorize.

On November 17, 2002, Olbermann published what he called a “mea culpa” on Salon.com, in which he mused about his motivations, emotional vulnerability and willingness to talk about doubts and concerns most public figures avoid.

“It feels as if I’ve been coming out of a huge fog bank,” Olbermann wrote, acknowledging there had been problems and screwups on his show. “On top of everything else about it that can destabilize the soul, television is fraught with a million commonplace things that can go wrong.

“I have lived much of my life assuming much of the responsibility around me and developing a dread of being blamed for things going wrong,” Keith candidly confessed. “Moreover, deep down inside I’ve always believed that everybody around me was qualified and competent, and I wasn’t, and that someday I’d be found out. If you think that way, when somebody messes up, you can’t imagine that it just ‘happened.’ Since they’re so much better than you are, how could they not complete a task successfully? They have to be not trying hard enough—and when they don’t try and the show goes to hell, who gets blamed? You do.”

Olbermann’s backbone surfaced again when MSNBC hired him to cover politics. He quickly discovered he couldn’t stand cable’s marathon-like obsession with repetitive Monica Lewinsky news-a-thons. On January 21, 1998, MSNBC reoriented Olbermann’s program, The Big Show, to focus on “what we euphemistically call ‘The Clinton-Lewinsky investigations,’” Keith said.

The story began to get to him. He later explained why at the Cornell University commencement address that June: “Virtually every night, for an hour, sometimes two, I have presided over discussions about this stuff, so intricate, so repetitive, that it has assumed the characteristics of the medieval religious scholars arguing for months and even years over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

“Then my network starts covering this story 28 hours out of every 24.” He confessed it led him to “having dry heaves in the bathroom” and “days…when my line of work makes me ashamed, makes me depressed, makes me want to cry.” Later that spring, “I awakened from my stupor and told my employers that I simply could not continue doing this.” He then urged the graduates to do the right thing.

After 17 months at MSNBC, Olbermann returned to sports, this time at Fox, for another short stint as anchor. He went freelance, turning up on CNN, then radio, also writing for Salon.com, until bouncing back to MSNBC.

Olbermann really took off after he debuted his current MSNBC show, Countdown, on March 31, 2003. The program originates at MSNBC’s Secaucus, New Jersey, headquarters. One of its most-talked-about segments, called “Oddball,” features wacky footage from around the world illustrating Keith’s eclectic interests and idiosyncratic passions. (An oddball fact about Caucasian Keith is that he’s related by marriage to boxer Mike Tyson. The niece of Tyson’s adoptive father, longtime trainer Gus D’Amato, married Olbermann’s father’s brother, making Keith—who is single and childless—a Tyson cousin. How appropriate—considering his initials are K.O.)

Playgirl magazine voted Olbermann its number one sexiest male newscaster in 2004. GQ recently branded him a “renegade” and named him one of the publication’s “Men of the Year.” Keith has also won an Edward R. Murrow Award for reporting, which may explain why he signs off Countdown with Murrow’s signature farewell, “Good night, and good luck.” The CBS broadcaster, renowned for speaking truth to power, is Olbermann’s role model.

The MSNBC anchorman took on his Fox competition directly and personally by skewering its “reportage,” repeatedly labeling Fox bullyboy Bill O’Reilly “The Worst Person in the World.” Last summer, Olbermann wore an O’Reilly mask to a meeting of TV critics, giving them the Nazi “Sieg Heil” salute. The demagogic O’Reilly blasted back, cutting off callers to his radio program for using the K or O words. He even sicced Fox security on one caller who managed to bleat out the offending name.

After Olbermann started detailing the charges lodged by a former producer in a sexual harassment suit against The O’Reilly Factor’s führer, the New York Post—which, like Fox, is owned by conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp—reported on accusations posted to a gossip Web site that Olbermann was a lousy lover. The feud soon deteriorated into a very personal tit-for-tat.

Olbermann moved from taking on people like O’Reilly to frontally challenging the Bush regime, and then Dubya himself. For the first time, left-leaning and Democratic viewers had a voice that resonated with them in a medium dominated by right-wing pundits and opinion makers.

His “special comments” segment, centering on pressing issues, spontaneously began after Hurricane Katrina so that Olbermann could express his outrage at the federal government’s disastrous bungling. The special comments—the best soliloquies since Hamlet—are spread virally on sites like YouTube and Google and linked throughout the blogosphere. Keith used his own “Bloggerman” blog to make sure his words could be read as well as heard.

Suddenly, Olbermann’s ratings rocketed, as did his status as a fearless and articulate force in media. When Keith teamed up with Hardball’s Chris Matthews to cover the 2006 midterm elections, MSNBC doubled the size of the audience that had watched it during 2002’s midterms. Overall, MSNBC’s viewership rose from 15% of the cable news audience in 2002 to 25% in 2006. Meanwhile, the ratings of MSNBC’s competitors have declined.

TV critics such as the Washington Post’s/CNN’s Howard Kurtz credit Olbermann with helping to swing the 2006 election to the Democrats.

“Keith is a powerhouse—a pundit/journalist with brains and guts, and a fundamental sense of decency,” adds Mark Crispin Miller, an NYU media professor and author. “I think it’s telling that his background is not news but sports, because the U.S. news establishment would never have produced a voice so brave and honest.”

What audiences seem to like most is that Keith does not genuflect or pull punches vis-à-vis the powers-that-be. He goes right for the jugular; no other contemporary newsman would chastise the commander in chief with impertinent words like: “The President of the United States owes this country an apology. It will not be offered, of course. He does not realize its necessity. There are now none around him who would tell him or could. There needs to be an apology from the President. … And more than one.”

Olbermann went further in responding to Donald Rumsfeld, when he compared his critics to appeasers of Nazis. Keith denounced the then-Defense Secretary for “demonizing disagreement,” and compared Rumsfeld to Murrow’s old archenemy, Red-baiter Joseph McCarthy. The anchorman concluded with a clear reference to Rummy & Company: “This country faces a new type of fascism. Indeed!”

Olbermann’s outspoken rants—which are punched up with humor, historic quotes and an undeniable sincerity—differentiate him from his colleagues and even fictional newsy characters, notably the deranged ex-anchor Howard Beale from the 1976 movie Network. Thirty years after its release, the satire trashing television feels more and more like a documentary.

And yet Olbermann is up against the same industry forces that brought Beale down and pushed Murrow out—an anxious, profit-driven executive bureaucracy terrified of rocking the boat. Olbermann has already been warned not to have too many “liberal” guests, a rationale used to end Phil Donahue’s program, MSNBC’s highest-rated show in 2003. On Al Franken’s Air America radio show, Olbermann defiantly revealed, “I got called into a vice-president’s office…and [was] told, ‘Hey, we don’t mind you interviewing these guys, but should you really have put liberals on on consecutive nights?’”
Jeff Cohen, a former Donahue producer, finds this alarming. The author of the insider book Cable News Confidential discloses: “What Olbermann has done in the recent era was specifically banned by NBC management when I was at MSNBC with Phil Donahue four years ago.”

Cohen, who co-founded the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and who also worked at Fox and CNN, adds: “Setting oneself apart from what the others are selling can bring customers. Olbermann is a beneficiary of the shifting political environment that resulted from Bush disasters and years of brave activism and advocacy by progressives in Congress, civil liberties lawyers, MoveOn[.org] and thousands of hard-core activists who turned the tide—not to mention [Comedy Central’s Jon] Stewart and [Stephen] Colbert.”

Can Bloggermann survive at General Electric-owned MSNBC if he is identified as a voice of the Left? It’s not a topic he was allowed to speak to this reporter about. MSNBC press liaison Jeremy Gaines finally responded to three e-mails requesting an Olbermann interview with a terse “The answer is ‘No.’”

I spoke informally to a former MSNBC president who thinks the anchorman’s days are numbered in the cautiously conservative NBC environment. But an NBC News V.P., who spoke off the record and is personally bullish on Olbermann, told me it has taken years for the newscaster to establish himself and that the network wants him to stay. Keith’s contract was due to expire in March 2007.

I asked the veep about the attitude of NBC President Bob Wright, who reportedly kowtows to GE, a defense contractor credited with building Ronald Reagan’s career. “Bob Wright is content agnostic, but financially religious” was the response, suggesting that as long as Countdown’s numbers are good, and the revenues are up, there will be no pressure on Olbermann to follow the party line.

FAIR’s Peter Hart contends that Olbermann is helping MSNBC, which has generally trailed Fox and CNN in the ratings. “Those of us on the outside have been saying for years that the best way for the cable news channels to compete with Fox would be to counterprogram by featuring hosts and guests who represent the Left/progressive end of the political spectrum, since those voices are nearly silent on national television.”

The media observer adds: “Olbermann represents a tentative step in that direction, and folks are watching. It’s also worth noting that they’re not watching a typical cable-news shoutfest—Olbermann is delivering passionate, articulate critiques of the powerful. The conventional wisdom…would have probably told you that was a horrible idea, but viewers seem to disagree,” Hart points out.

According to Dan Abrams, who runs (RAN)  MSNBC, “[Olbermann’s] program could become a model for the newscast of the future. It’s a mix of straight news…with lighter fare and occasionally with some opinion.”

Although it was hard to find outspoken critics outside the Fox orbit and its echo chamber, Olbermann has attracted enemies and at least one death threat. On Fox’s media observer program News Watch, Christian conservative columnist Cal Thomas bestowed the “Turkey Award” on Keith last November for claiming 65-year-old Thomas dyed his jet-black hair.

On a more serious note, in October 2006 Olbermann received a letter at his New York home with an unidentified white powder in it. He immediately called police and was told not to go public, as this could tip off the sender. But when Murdoch’s New York Post published an account of the incident, the journalist went ballistic, in part because he insisted the newspaper’s story was wrong. Keith claims he did not ask for a medical checkup, as reported in the Post, and then spoke about what happened on the air:

“My first inclination was to wait until the start of the next workday to notify authorities. But the remote possibility that any delay might have endangered others led me to reverse my decision. … The officer in charge of the 18 or so police officers who responded asked that I follow their protocol: a decontamination shower at the scene, the bagging and sealing of the clothes I was wearing at the time of the incident, and my transportation to an emergency room. I mean, not to overdo this, but they had to melt my keys and my wallet.”

Californian Chad Castagana was arrested in November 2006 by the FBI and charged with mailing threatening letters, along with white powder, to Olbermann, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, David Letterman, Jon Stewart and other high-profile figures. The 39-year-old suspect is a conservative blogger.

Being a target of right-wing wrath hasn’t deterred Olbermann from confronting the status quo and speaking up for others threatened by reactionary wingnuts. After talk radio’s Stephanie Miller received a letter that threatened her and antiwar mom Cindy Sheehan, Keith gallantly rose to their defense in a riveting rant championing the right to dissent. This earned him a tongue-in-cheek marriage proposal from the single and attractive radio hostess.

“The fact that I routinely refer to Keith as my future husband has more to do with my delusional nature than anything to do with his personal taste, which, I’m sure, is much more evolved,” jokes Miller, whose father, William Miller, was Barry Goldwater’s GOP running mate in 1964’s Presidential race.

In any case, Olbermann faces a daunting minefield at MSNBC, a part of the larger big media battleground where backstabbing, oversized egos and bottom-line pressures clash every day with journalistic values.
Keith Olbermann’s role model, Edward R. Murrow, was an early victim of these pressures, despite his renown and success. Can the gutsy TV host known as “Bloggerman” survive and prosper? Stay tuned, and as Murrow would say, “Good night, and good luck.”

Danny Schechter is the blogger-in-chief of MediaChannel.org, the world’s largest online media issues network. A former CNN and ABC News producer with a short stint at CNBC, Schechter has directed many independent documentaries, including WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception and a new film, In Debt We Trust: America Before the Bubble Bursts, dealing with the credit trap that has already ensnared six out of ten Americans. (See Globalvision.org to order and for more info.) Besides penning eight books—including When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War (SelectBooks) and The Death of Media and the Fight for Democracy (Melville House Publishing)—Schechter writes regularly for leading Web sites and media outlets worldwide. His latest film is Plunderthecrimeofourtime. (Plunderthecrimeofourtime.com)

If we cannot trust what the government tells us about weapons of mass destruction, terrorist events, and the reasons for its wars and bailouts, can we trust the government’s statement last Friday that the US economy gained 151,000 payroll jobs during October?

Apparently not. After examining the government’s report, statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com) reported that the jobs were “phantom jobs” created by “concurrent seasonal factor adjustments.” In other words, the 151,000 jobs cannot be found in the unadjusted underlying data. The jobs were the product of seasonal adjustments concocted by the BLS.

As usual, the financial press did no investigation and simply reported the number handed to the media by the government.

The relevant information, the information that you need to know, is that the level of payroll employment today is below the level of 10 years ago. A smaller number of Americans are employed right now than were employed a decade ago.

Think about what that means. We have had a decade of work force growth from youngsters reaching working age and from immigration, legal and illegal, but there are fewer jobs available to accommodate a decade of work force entrants than before the decade began.

During two years from December 2007 – December 2009, the US economy lost 8,363,000 jobs, according to the payroll jobs data. As of October 2010, payroll jobs purportedly have increased by 874,000, an insufficient amount to keep up with labor force growth. However, John Williams reports that 874,000 is an overestimate of jobs as a result of the faulty “birth-death model,” which overestimates new business start-ups during recessions and underestimates business failures. Williams says that the next benchmark revision due out next February will show a reduction in current employment by almost 600,000 jobs. This assumes, of course, that the BLS does not gimmick the benchmark revision. If Williams is correct, it is more evidence that the hyped recovery is non-existent.

Discounting the war production shutdown at the end of World War II, which was not a recession in the usual sense, Williams reports that “the current annual decline [in employment] remains the worst since the Great Depression, and should deepen further.”

In short, there is no employment data, and none in the works, unless gimmicked, that supports the recovery myth. The US rate of unemployment, if measured according to the methodology used in 1980, is 22.5%. Even the government’s broader measure of unemployment stands at 17%. The 9.6% reported rate is a concocted measure that does not include discouraged workers who have been unable to find a job after 6 months and workers who who want full time jobs but can only find part-time work.

Another fact that is seldom, if ever, reported, is that the payroll jobs data reports the number of jobs, not the number of people with jobs. Some people hold two jobs; thus, the payroll report does not give the number of employed people.

The BLS household survey measures the number of people with jobs. The same October that reported 151,000 new payroll jobs reported, according to the household survey, a loss of 330,000 jobs.

The American working class has been destroyed. The American middle class is in its final stages of destruction. Soon the bottom rungs of the rich themselves will be destroyed.

The entire way through this process the government will lie and the media will lie.

The United States of America has become the country of the Big Lie. Those who facilitate government and corporate lies are well rewarded, but anyone who tells any truth or expresses an impermissible opinion is excoriated and driven away.

But we “have freedom and democracy.” We are the virtuous, indispensable nation, the salt of the earth, the light unto the world.

L’imperialismo non può più sopportare la rivoluzione bolivariana, perché questa costituisce una minaccia reale alle sue ambizioni di dominio e di espansione non solo in America latina, ma in tutti i paesi “oppressi e rivoluzionari”, come ha dichiarato il presidente venezuelano in visita a Teheran la settimana scorsa.

Le grandi potenze si vedono obbligate ad attaccarlo su tutti i fronti e quello della manipolazione dell’opinione pubblica mondiale sembra sempre più il mezzo preferito da loro.

Questa”crociata mondiale “ anti-Chavez che è iniziata in Colombia fa parte di questo movimento.

Le grandi potenze voglio trasformare l’immagine di Hugo Chavez in quella di un nemico comune e cercano di richiamare in questa direzione la percezione della maggior parte della popolazione mondiale.

Hanno perseguito i medesimi stratagemmi con Mouammar Gheddafi,Slobodan Milosevic,Saddam Hussein,Osama Bin Laden,i Talibani e con il presidente Ahmadinejad in Iran.Quello che loro vogliono creare non è solo la “sindrome del nemico” ma anche la costituzione di una piattaforma sulla quale installare i fondamenti per un’invasione armata del Venezuela.

Dopo il fallito colpo di Stato dell’aprile 2002 che mirava al rovesciamento del presidente Chavez, è stata messa a punto una strategia con gli Stati Uniti con lo scopo di radunare i paesi dell’America Latina contro i membri dell’Alleanza bolivariana di Las Americas (ALBA) e di contrastare la grande influenza che questa esercita sull’insieme delle società non solo in America latina, ma anche in un gran numero di paesi in via di sviluppo.Questo raggruppamento non solo non si è concretizzato ma è sfociato nell’emergenza di una presa di coscienza ancora più profonda sulle nefaste conseguenze dell’asservimento dei popoli agli interessi primari dell’impero così come l’adesione di altre nazioni alla rivoluzione bolivariana.Questa rivoluzione ora è arrivata e rappresenta il passaggio che dovranno iniziare senza tardare tutti i popoli del mondo.E’ la lotta contro l’Imperialismo sotto tutte le sue forme.E’ l’instaurazione dei regimi politici democratici e popolari che rispondono ai bisogni essenziali dell’umanità per quel che riguarda l’educazione e la sanità preservando allo stesso tempo i fondamenti delle diversità biologiche terrestre e marina che risultano di cruciale importanza nel fornire come priorità, alimenti di base per miliardi di abitanti che ne sono privi.

I Aumentare le tensioni tra i membri di ALBA e la Colombia

La strategia degli Stati Uniti è quella di aumentare le tensioni tra i membri di ALBA da un lato e la Colombia dall’altro e farne scaturire cosi un movimento d’appoggio a favore di un’invasione armata del Venezuela, generando così un movimento di accerchiamento o di isolamento dei membri di questa alleanza per poter neutralizzare le loro azioni nell’insieme del sub continente.

La messa in opera della Zona di Libero Scambio delle Americhe(Z.L.E.A.) non si è realizzata e questo fatto ha provocato una cocente delusione per le forze imperialiste ed in particolare , per gli Stati Uniti.

D’altro canto, sotto l’impulso del presidente Chavez, la recente creazione di istituzioni votate principalmente agli interessi dei paesi latino-americani come il Banco del Sud, Telesud e l’Unione delle nazioni sud-americane(UNASURI) sono venute ad esacerbare le frustrazioni degli Stati Uniti incitandoli a spiegare nuovamente le sue forze in modo a riprendersi il terreno perduto. 

II Piazzare dei dispositivi di provocazione e di aggressione

Il ritorno della Quinta Flotta nel luglio 2008 nel mar dei Carabi e negli Oceani che bagnano il Sud America, il rovesciamento del governo in Honduras,le dichiarazioni di cooperazione tra Caracas e le Forze armate rivoluzionarie della Colombia(FARC) e il recente accordo firmato tra gli Stati Uniti e la Colombia per l’utilizzo da parte dell’esercito americano di sette basi militari colombiane, sono altrettanti fattori considerati come atti di aggressione diretta contro i popoli latino-americani che vogliono prendere pienamente a carico il loro destino.

Questi elementi contribuiscono a creare un clima d’instabilità il cui scopo è quello di preparare lo scenario per un rovesciamento del presidente del Venezuela sia attraverso la creazione di agitazioni interne al paese stesso, sia attraverso lo sviluppo di un movimento massivo nell’opinione pubblica colombiana in favore di una invasione armata terrestre da parte dei suoi vicini che sono l’Equador e il Venezuela. 

Conclusione

Contro la disinformazione e per promuovere l’espansione di ALBA e delle sue iniziative. 

Questa “crociata mondiale” anti-Chavez dev’essere contrastata dalla diffusione di notizie sui membri di ALBA e sui risultati dei programmi politici , economici e sociali che questa associazione ha sviluppato negli ultimi anni così come attraverso quelle informazioni sui considerevoli progressi sociali che sono stati ottenuti.

Dev’essere lanciato un appello su scala mondiale affinché tutti gli organismi non governativi(Ong) operanti per la pace e la giustizia diffondano un messaggio per il prosieguo e lo sviluppo dei popoli oppressi di questo pianeta.

La riuscita delle esperienze effettuate dai membri di ALBA sarà anche quella di tutti coloro che lavorano all’impresa del disarmo e all’instaurazione di una pace duratura attraverso un equo sviluppo economico e sociale.

 

http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=15095

Traduzione a cura di Stella Bianchi

06/10/2009

La muerte de Baitullah Meshud, líder de los talibanes pakistaníes, sería un gran éxito para Washington e Islamabad». Este comunicado que, una vez más, anuncia la muerte de un ser humano causada por la guerra, es lógico que alegre a los estrategas de los países occidentales que ocupan ilegalmente un país soberano de Asia central desde 2001. Esta noticia permite a los que llevan a cabo esta guerra de conquista manifestar, durante algunos instantes, su alegría y demostrar la eficacia de sus mortíferas intervenciones sobre el terreno. Pero conviene añadir otra interpretación a este suceso.

La desaparición del líder de los talibanes pakistaníes vendría a sumarse a los elementos que justifican la extensión de la guerra de ocupación que arrasa Afganistán al vecino Pakistán. Y contribuiría a legitimar una vez más, ante la opinión pública mundial, los actos de guerra perpetrados por Washington y el ejército nacional de Pakistán sobre el territorio pakistaní propiamente dicho, aunque convencer de la utilidad de la guerra contra los talibanes se ha convertido en una tarea muy fácil para Washington después de tantos años fabricando al «enemigo» encarnado actualmente por los talibanes a los ojos de la población mundial.

En este contexto es importante ser consciente de que el auténtico motivo de esas guerras no es la erradicación de los talibanes, sino más bien el establecimiento de las infraestructuras e instituciones necesarias para una ocupación permanente de la región por parte de Washington y las demás potencias occidentales. Esas guerras sólo acabarán cuando el régimen de Kabul sea capaz de asegurar un control militar total del territorio afgano, y eso sólo será posible con la ayuda del ejército nacional pakistaní, para el control de las zonas tribales fronterizas con Afganistán como el Waziristan, la Provincia de la Frontera del Noroeste, incluido el distrito de Swat.

 Las acciones guerreras pakistaníes aparecen como parte de la «guerra contra el terrorismo» decretada por la ex administración de G. W. Bush y vinculadas a la guerra de Afganistán. El valle del Swat cayó bajo el dominio de los talibanes en diciembre de 2008 y después ha sido objeto de operaciones militares con el fin de desalojarlos o simplemente «hacerlos desaparecer»

Esta guerra dirigida por el ejército nacional pakistaní con la ayuda del ejército estadounidense no se ha declarado oficialmente. Se desarrolla en el marco de la denominada «guerra preventiva» contra el terrorismo y permite a las potencias occidentales aumentar su control en todas las regiones de Pakistán, lo que no consiguieron hacer durante la presidencia de Pervez Musharraf, entre junio de 2001 y agosto de 2008.

El balance de la guerra en 2009

Varios informes recientes han dado cuenta de los repetidos ataques en la región contra los talibanes y los insurgentes procedentes de Afganistán, lo que ha acarreado un éxodo masivo de las poblaciones hacia el interior del país. La utilización de «drones» (aviones teledirigidos sin piloto, N. de T.) por parte de Estados Unidos para eliminar los presuntos focos de refugios de los terroristas ha causado un número de víctimas considerable.

Según los datos recientes, esos ataques y otras intervenciones habrían causado más de 1.500 muertos entre los talibanes. En el conjunto de las regiones afectadas por la guerra se observó el desplazamiento de dos millones de personas. «Hasta ahora, los costes son muy elevados; dos mil muertos y más de dos millones de personas desplazadas a causa de los combates en el valle de Swat y otros lugares». Según el Pakistan Body Count con fecha del mes de agosto de 2009, las bombas y los ataques de los drones han causado casi 10.000 víctimas; entre dichas víctimas se contarían más de 3.300 muertos. La web añade la observación de que «Tanto si se trata de un atentado con bomba o del ataque de un drone, el resultado es el mismo, un pakistaní muerto».

 Así, la web proporciona la historia completa y la cronología de los atentados con bomba y de los ataques de los drones. Los datos proceden de los informes de los medios de comunicación, hospitales y sitios de Internet. Todos los datos están disponibles para el gran público y ninguno es confidencial. Lo que permite dar una idea de la intensidad de los atentados con combas y los ataques perpetrados por los drones.

Según Bill Van Auken, es importante que recordemos que el pasado mes de mayo «El gobierno de Obama estaba considerando cada vez más aumentar su intervención en Pakistán como una guerra específica contra la insurrección, y para la que pedía el mismo tipo de poderes militares que ya obtuvo Bush para Afganistán e Iraq». Esos poderes podrían permitir al Pentágono, entre otras cosas, suministrar una ayuda militar a Pakistán del orden de 400 millones de dólares.

Mapa: Las provincias pakistaníes fronterizas con Afganistán. Fuente : http://argoul.blog.lemonde.fr/category/fugues-au-pakistan/  

Referencias:

AFP y AP 2009. «La mort du chef des talibans pakistanais semble se confirmer», Le Devoir, 8 y 9 de agosto de 2009: http://www.ledevoir.com/2009/08/08/262081.html

CTV.CA News Staff. 2009. «As deaths rise, Pakistan struggles against Taliban» 28 de junio de 2009: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090628/Taliban_Pakistan_09062820090628?hub=TopStories

Durfour, Jules, 2008 «Les guerres d’occupation de l’Afghanistan et de l’Irak: un bilan horrifiant de portée mundiales». 22 de julio de 2008. Montreal, Centro de Investigación sobre la globalización (CRM). http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9645

Lind, William S. y L. Rockwell. 2008. «Pakistan. Une victime collatérale des guerres américaines». Alternatives Internationale. 17 de enero de 2008: http://www.alterinter.org/article1623.html?lang=fr

Operaciones militares contra los talibanes en Pakistán: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guerre_au_Waziristan

Pakistan Body Count: http://www.pakistanbodycount.org/

Pervez Musharraf: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pervez_Musharraf

Tisdall and Saeed Shaa. 2008. «Reported US attack pushes Afghanistan war into Pakistan. Up to 20 die in attack by commandoes on village near known Taliban and al-Qaida stronghold», guardian.co.uk, 3 de septiembre de 2008: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/03/pakistan.afghanistan1

Van Auken, Bill. 2009. «Le gouvernement d’Obama cherche à obtenir des pouvoirs militaires extraordinaires au Pakistan». 7 de mayo de 2009. Montreal, Centro de Investigación sobre la globalización (CRM). http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13528

Waziristan: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wazirist%C3%A1n

Texto original en francés: http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14719

Traducido para Rebelión por Caty R.

Jules Dufour, geógrafo, es presidente de la Asociación Canadiense para las Naciones Unidas (ACNU)/Sección Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, profesor emérito de la Universidad de Québec en Chicoutimi, miembro del Círculo Universal de los Embajadores de la Paz y caballero de la Orden Nacional de Québec.

Esta importante fecha en la historia de Argelia firmó el acta de nacimiento de una revolución ejemplar en los anales de los movimientos de liberación de los pueblos. Fue obra del pueblo argelino contra el abyecto e inhumano orden colonial que en nombre de las grandes potencias borrachas de poder y de conquistas hacía estragos entre los pueblos para acaparar sus tierras y sus riquezas. Éste fue el sino de tantos países africanos, entre ellos Argelia, a la que codiciaba el imperio colonial francés.

Sometido por la brutalidad de las armas y encadenado por el odioso Código del Indígena (*) que le despojaba de sus derechos y de sus bienes, el pueblo argelino ha padecido desde la invasión francesa de 1830 los peores abusos del despiadado sistema colonial. Todas sus revueltas de resistencia contra la ocupación fueron aplastadas en sangre. Pueblos enteros fueron extermiando y los combatienes argelinos fueron asesinados o deportados a islas lejanas, a Nueva Caledonia, sin esperanza de poder volver. El viaje se hacía en condiciones atroces, similares a las de los africanos a los que se transformaba en esclavos al servicio de los conquistadores de la “Nueva América”. Pocos de ellos sobrevivirían.

Mientras que se calculaba en unos tres millones de individuos la población argelina antes de la invasión del ocupante francés, en menos de veinte años el ejército colonial la redujo a un tercio. El ejército colonial multiplicó metódicamente carnicerías y masacres con el objetivo de diezmar a las poblaciones autóctonas y permitir a los colonos franceses instalarse en los territorios vaciados así de sus habitantes.

El infierno colonial prosiguió para varias generaciones de argelinos que vivieron secuestrados y martirizados en su propio país hasta la independencia en 1962. Sin embargo, obligada por el nuevo contexto internacional de la postguerra y los Acuerdos de Ginebra que prohibían toda forma de trabajos forzados, Francia había tenido que abolir en 1946 el Código del Indígena en vigor en sus colonias, pero no lo abolió en Argelia, donde el pueblo no debía acariciar en absoluto el sueño de la libertad. Para lograrlo y en nombre de la Argelia francesa, se desplegaron unos colosales medios de guerra sobre el suelo argelino y las filas del ejército colonial llegaron a alcanzar los 500.000 soldados para acabar con la revolución argelina, mientras que antes de que ésta se desencadenara había 40.000 soldados. Francia era muy consciente de que el destino del imperio colonial se jugaba en tierra argelina y se dotaba de los medios para quebrar esta Revolución e impedir que se lograra la independencia de esta colonia. Pero a pesar de todo su sofisticado arsenal militar, Francia no logrará detener el curso de la historia decidido por un pueblo ávido de libertad y el 5 de julio de 1962 Argelia celebró su independencia.

Y si se habla de Revolución ejemplar es simplemente porque la resistencia y el combate del pueblo argelino desbordaron rápidamente las fronteras del país para extenderse como ejemplo a otros pueblos colonizados, en particular sus vecinos africanos que sobrevivían bajo la dominación de los Imperios francés y británico. Se puede decir que la guerra de liberación llevada a cabo por el pueblo argelino contra la potencia armada francesa fue un elemento fundamental en el desmoronamiento del edificio colonial francés, cuya crueldad se mostraba al fin a ojos del mundo entero. Esta guerra duró siete años y causó más de un millón de víctimas argelinas. Fue una de las guerras más atroces a las que se entregó el ejército colonial francés, un ejército tanto más frustrado en cuanto que acababa de sufrir una amarga derrota en Indochina y, por lo tanto, estaba decidido a rehacerse sobre el cadáver argelino para que viviera el mito de la “Argelia francesa” (**) a costa de cualquier precio y de cualquier medio. Y entre estos medios hubo un amplio abanico de prácticas y de crímenes de guerra que iban desde quemar pueblos enteros con sus habitantes dentro, lo que dio la gloria a los generales franceses desde los primeros años de la colonización (el apogeo del imperio), hasta el sistema de la tortura metódica y bárbara de la década de 1960 que salpicó a los generales que tomaron el relevo y contribuyó al declive del imperio colonial (***). Sin embargo, toda esta cronología de crímenes no impidió a los padrinos del colonialismo rehabilitarlo por la vía oficial en Francia adoptando una ley (23 de febrero de 2005) que reconocía sus aspectos positivos, mientras que sus millones de víctimas siguen luchando para lograr que sea reconocido como un crimen contra la humanidad al mismo título que la esclavitud.

Tras 132 años de crueldad colonial el pueblo argelino podía impregnarse de la luz de la libertad. Por fin es amo de sí mismo y puede decidir su destino, al menos eso creía, ingenuamente. Desgraciadamente, las cosas se presentan de manera muy diferente y muy pronto los argelinos se verán confrontados a la adversidad del neocolonialismo. Incluso vencidas políticamente las potencias coloniales conservan una capacidad de hacer daño que resulta igual de fatal para las nuevas y frágiles independencias africanas. Su sistema colonial se transformó rápidamente en neocolnial y se desplegó como un pulpo, inflitrando sus tentáculos en las diversas esferas de los recién nacidos Estados y parasitando todos los proyectos de emancipación real. En el plano económico es donde las potencias coloniales decidieron causar estragos sobre todo creando el negocio de una cooperación completamente específica destinada esencialmente a garantizar sus intereses despojando poco a poco a las antiguas colonias de su soberanía. La evolución de la situación, tanto en Argelia como en el resto de África durante estos últimos cincuenta años “de independencia”, da testimonio de esta voluntad de las grandes potencias de conservar bajo su control las riquezas de estos países, sobre todo creando disensiones entre los grupos de la sociedad, favoreciendo tanto la inestabilidad y/o la mala gobernanza como la emergencia de dictaduras que garanticen sus intereses en detrimento de su pueblo. No hay más que pensar en estos dictadores criminales que reprimen a sus pueblos y los matan de hambre, particulamente en África, saquean sus países para edificar colosales fortunas personales y se pavonean por el mundo bajo las alas protectoras de las “madres patria” de antaño.

Sin embargo, este injusto statu quo que sustituyó al protectorado de hecho por las independencias no podía sobrevivir a las aspiraciones de las jóvenes generaciones de africanos que tienen sed de libertad y de democracia. Y en Argelia brama cada vez más fuerte la revuelta del pueblo al que se ha expoliado de los logros de su Revolución. En adelante la democracia ya no será un engaño en tierra argelina. Se hace posible gracias a la voluntad del pueblo y al contexto internacional que ha destituido el monopolio de las grandes potencias sobre los asuntos africanos y argelinos. La globalización ha permitido la emergencia de otras fuerzas económicas que favorecen de hecho el advenimiento de un nuevo orden mundial que dará paso al diálogo y la solidaridad entre los pueblos. Diversificando sus intercambios, sobre todo haciendo negocios con nuevos socios económicos como, por ejemplo, China, Brasil y otros, Argelia y varios países africanos podrán librarse del dominio de los padrinos del neocolonialismo y construir una cooperación sana que benefice por fin a su país. Sólo de este modo la independencia argelina, tal como la quiso su ejemplar Revolución, podrá levantar el vuelo y permitir al pueblo argelino vivir en democracia en un Estado de derecho conforme al espíritu de la Declaración del 1 de Noviembre de 1954 que refleja sus aspiraciones.

Zehira Houfani Berfas es escritora.

Notas de la traductora:

(*) El Código del Indígena (publicado 28 de junio de 1881) distinguía a los “ciudadanos” franceses (con orígenes europeos) de los “sujetos” franceses (los indígenas). Estos últimos estaban privados de la mayoría de sus derechos políticos.

(**) Según este mito, entre franceses y argelinos regiría una justicia imparcial.

(***) En relación a las torturas del ejército francés, véase la receinte publicacion en castellano de Henri Alleg, La Question, Hiru, 2010, libro en el que se relatan las torturas que padeció el periodista H. Alleg. El libro se publicó en Francia inmediatamente después de éstas y causó una verdadera conmoción en este país y en Europa.Ver también: http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=115862

Texto original en francés : http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21625

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Europa, indagar sin descanso para tratar de comprender…

November 7th, 2010 by Daniel Vanhove

“Los días pasan y se parecen”, se oye a veces. Y a escala de la Historia, las semanas, los meses y los pocos años que pasamos en ella no parecen representar gran cosa, si no nada… Así, podíamos preguntarnos cuánto pesa una vida frente a la humanidad, frente al mundo y frente a la eternidad. Sin embargo, a la escala humana que es nuestra medida (y que debe seguir siéndolo) cada día cuenta. Y tener proyectos sólo a muy largo plazo no equivale a nada si no somos capaces de asegurar lo cotidiano. Quizá también sea útil recordarnos este adagio: “Si tú no te ocupas de la política, que sepas que ella se ocupa de ti…”

Ahora bien, ¿a qué estamos asistiendo desde hace varios años si no es a una deriva lenta pero inexorable de una sociedad occidental cuyos políticos giran a la derecha cuando no es directamente y de manera cada vez más acusada a la extrema derecha?

Los últimos acontecimientos lo ilustran bien: en los Países Bajos la coalición que dirige el país se ha aliado con un partido profundamente racista y este país, citado como ejemplo por su tolerancia y apertura durante décadas, parace volver la espalada a su pasado; en Austria, feudo del ardor xenófobo de Jörg Haider, la extrema derecha obtiene cerca del 30% de los votos en las últimas elecciones en Viena; en Francia se imponen por la fuerza las medidas antisociales entre expulsiones de gitanos, declaraciones racistas de algunos ministros y apoyo a la política israelí de apartheid; en Italia Berlusconi, aliado con la Liga del Norte, impulsa las peores derivas a la derecha hasta llegar a cambiar las leyes para prevenirse de la justica; en Suiza el partido xenófobo UDC muestra su estigmatización sin complejos de los minaretes y de todo lo que se refiere al Islam; en los países nórdicos, que tienen, sin embargo, fama de estar bien orientados en sus políticas sociales, se ha abierto una brecha desde el escándalo de las caricaturas del profeta [Mahoma] en Dinamarca hasta las recientes elecciones en Suecia; en Alemania uno de los dirigentes del SPD (izquierda alemana, de la que después ha hecho que le expulsaran), Thilo Sarrazin, ha publicado un libro racista a propósito de la inmigración en el país y la canciller A. Merkel acaba de declarar que “ha fracasado totalmente el modelo multicultural”; sin olvidar Bélgica, cuyos vagabundeos nacionalistas flamencos podrían llevar al país a la implosión… Todos estos países tienen en común (y no es casual) la utilización de métodos policiales cuyas derivas en contra de sus propios ciudadanos, inaceptables para unas democracias dignas de tal nombre, podemos ver casi a diario.

Para aquellas personas que han sabido conservar la memoria del pasado el cuadro es cada vez más inquietante. Y conviene preguntarse por las razones de este fenómeno antes de encontrar las posibles respuestas. La primera constatación que me parece esencial recordar en esta reflexión es que en Europa del norte y del este una gran mayoría de la población había llegado a un nivel desahogo nunca alcanzado en la historia de nuestros países, hasta el punto de conocer, lo cual es de lo más normal, un fenómeno de inmigración intensiva ya que los habitantes de los países pobres estaban tan informados de nuestro nivel de vida por los medios de comunicación modernos que soñaban con escapar de sus precarias condiciones de vida para tener su parte de la tarta. Y que, lejos de responsabilizarnos, este mullido bienestar nos ha adormecido, unos demasiado ocupados en aumentar nuestro propio bienestar y otros en preservarlo. Basta con echar una mirada atrás para recrodar de dónde partieron nuestros padres y ver el camino recorrido…

Pero detengámonos en el ejemplo francés donde la respuesta popular ha adquirido en estos últimos meses un nuevo giro. ¿Qué no se ve, no se lee, no se oye hoy a propósito del presidente francés, autoproclamado monarca ilustrado, en una Francia que bajo su dirección parece, sin embargo, sumirse en las tinieblas? La euforia de la elección “people” de 2007 parece ya muy lejana y el pueblo francés parace despertar, por fin, con una fuerte resaca. ¿Cómo se ha podido producir esto si no es por un desinterés generalizado de la “cosa politica” que permitió acto seguido la elección de este insolente mundano? Durante años su principal preocupación de ciudadano ha sido la búsqueda de su pequeña felicidad personal en detrimento de todo espíritu de solidaridad, alimentado en ello por los medios de comunicación que no han dejado de promover una vida soñada, fantasiosa, al alcance de la mano y de cualquiera siempre que se extenúe para acceder a ella… El milagro de esta impostura quedaba resumido en el eslogan presidencial: ¡Trabajar más para ganar más! Y la manada se precipitó a ello, como los terneros a los que se lleva al matadero. El “cada uno a lo suyo” en una sociedad hedonista se ha convertido en modelo en detrimento de todo espíritu de solidaridad, de reconocimiento mutuo, de fraternidad… a excepción de algún telemaratón sobremediatizado, nuevo egocentrismo colectivo de libro, para hacer olvidar durante 24 horas el egoísmo que prevalece los demás 364 días del año… Y hoy, ¡catapum!, una derecha aliada al gran capital recorta los logros duramente adquiridos por nuestros mayores y estos logros son incluso discutidos por un poder al que ya no preocupa mentir, hacer trampa, camuflar y ocultar las realidades para que emerja el fruto de su ideología detestablemente fascista.

¿Debemos sorprendernos? Desgraciadamente creo que no. Y me doy cuenta de lo previsible que era todo esto desde el momento en que en vez de informar, de educar, de llevar al ciudadano a “la cosa politica”, nuestra sociedad del placer apoyada por los medios de comunicación al servicio del poder se afana en distraerla, en aturdirla y en contarle historias, unas veces bonitas, otras feas, pero historias. Se dice que al pueblo le encantan las historias. Y cada noche se le cuentan en la tele y cada semana en el cine. No hay más que ver lo indecentes que son los sueldos de las estrellas y el acontecimiento planetario que constituyen los festivales en los que les despliegan las alfombras rojas y se les distribuyen Oscars y Césars para darse cuenta de los sueños que para muchos hacen las veces de realidades… Lo mismo ocurre con el éxito de las religiones que se mantienen: unas historias para dormir despierto, tomadas no sólo por reales sino por La Verdad, preferentemente con L mayúscua y V mayúscula.

Y así, la información no es sino la sombra de sí misma y se desvía, se pervierte y se tergiversa en beneficio de las anécdotas, de las sagas y de los sucesos generalmente muy lejos de las realidades pero cercanos a la engañifa. Y ficción y realidad se mezclan para unos cerebros que se pueden malear a voluntad, alineados a los mitos, a los cuentos, a los fantasmas y no formados. La razón pierde sus derechos en beneficio de la emoción. En adelante todo se enuncia según la fibra emocional, con ayuda de una tecnología cada vez más eficiente, puntera en efectos especiales, y con el miedo como telón de fondo, para hacernos reaccionar con las tripas en vez de llevarnos a reflexionar. Y entonces, las consecuencias que debían cantar según unas promesas renovadas regularmente, suenan falsas y son tanto más difíciles de vivir…

Francia eligió a un nuevo rico despreciable, a un vulgar egocéntrico, pero que supo hacer vibrar a la nación por medio de sus discursos demagógicos y populistas. Y he aquí que ésta se despierta (pero un poco tarde, diría La Fontaine) y constata el resultado… Lejos de velar por el bienestar de la población, este Narciso engreido no tiene más preocupaciones que las que se refieren a su pequeña persona y a algunos periodicuchos que le siguen como su sombra tratando aquí y allá de limpiar sus torpezas.

Mientras tanto, la población ve multiplicarse cada día las disparidades y las injusticias. Y finalmente la revuelta a propósito de las pensiones no es sino la gota que colma el vaso. Cuantos intervienen en la cuestión reconocen que la edad media de los individuos aumenta con el tiempo y los progresos de la medicina. Y aceptan el hecho de que, al fin y al cabo, trabajar unos meses más no sería el problema. En cambio, lo que rechazan es la manera como se ha articulado la reforma de las pensiones, porque una vez más, en vez de borrar las injusticias, esta reforma mal gestionada (algo que ha reconocido hasta el gobierno, que anuncia ya que se deberían volver a discutir algunos puntos), las alimenta. Por consiguiente, los ciudadanos tienen razón en protestar y luchar contra esta enésima deriva de un poder que los desprecia en masa a beneficio de un puñado de personas. Y no es difícil comprender que ha sido la acumulación de los “excesos” del presidente y de sus vasallos lo que ha terminado por provocar el hartazgo al que estamos asistiendo. Las pancartas de las manifestaciones hablan por sí mismas. E incluso resulta extraño que no se haya manifestado antes esta ira porque no le faltan razones a no ser que se repita que se debe sin duda a una falta de conciencia política…

Para acabar, hay que decir también que nuestros países han llegado a este punto porque las actuales izquierdas se han mostrado incapaces de proponer alternativas verdaderamente creíbles. En su mayoría sólo tienen un discurso o bien radical, o bien utópico o incluso que se diferencia poco del de la derecha… Y esto debe enseñarnos lo siguiente: una cosa es cuestionar el sistema que no queremos y otra es tener la capacidad de sustituirlo por otro que sea suficientemente convincente y que se sostenga…

Así pues, sólo queda esta conclusión, que no deberíamos seguir volviendo la espalda a la cosa política sino, bien al contrario, es necesario que vuelva a ser asunto de cada ciudadano y ciudadana. Sólo en ese caso el sistema político que no nos conviene se podrá cambiar y volverse participativo y ya no representativo. Ya no tendremos que padecer las decisiones, podremos participar en ellas, activamente. Y se verá que, efectivamente, el futuro está en nuestras manos y que somos los artesanos de nuestro propio destino.

 

Texto original en francés: http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21658

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos


Daniel Vanhove
es observador civil y escritor. Su último libro es La Démocratie Mensonge, Ed. Marco Pietteur, colección
Oser Dire, 2008.

Lindsey Graham Makes The Case For Strike On Iran

November 7th, 2010 by Global Research

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — A leading U.S. senator on defense issues says any military strike on Iran to stop its nuclear program must also strive to take out Iran’s military capability.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who sits on the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, said Saturday the U.S. should consider sinking the Iranian navy, destroying its air force and delivering a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard.

He says they should neuter the regime, destroy its ability to fight back and hope Iranians will take a chance to take back their government.

His remarks stunned many in the audience at the Halifax International Security forum.

Graham told the audience that newly elected conservatives would back “bold” action against Iran, reports Agence France Presse:

If President Barack Obama “decides to be tough with Iran beyond sanctions, I think he is going to feel a lot of Republican support for the idea that we cannot let Iran develop a nuclear weapon,” he told the Halifax International Security Forum.

“The last thing America wants is another military conflict, but the last thing the world needs is a nuclear-armed Iran… Containment is off the table.”

The Obama administration, through top military officials, has made it clear that all options are on the table.

Even Alan Greenspan is confirming what William Black, James Galbraith, Joseph Stiglitz, George Akerlof and many other economists and financial experts have been saying for a long time: the economy cannot recover if fraud is not prosecuted and if the big banks know that government will bail them out every time they get in trouble.

Specifically, Greenspan said today in a panel discussion at a Fed conference in Jekyll Island, Georgia (where the plans to form the Fed were originally hatched):

Banks operated with less capital because of an assumption they would be rescued by the government, he said. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. wouldn’t have failed with adequate capital, he said. “Rampant fraud” was also an issue, he said.

Lack of Trust

“Fraud creates very considerable instability in competitive markets,” Greenspan said. “If you cannot trust your counterparties, it would not work.”

Greenspan is right.

As leading economist Anna Schwartz, co-author of the leading book on the Great Depression with Milton Friedman, told the Wall Street journal in 2008:

“The Fed … has gone about as if the problem is a shortage of liquidity. That is not the basic problem. The basic problem for the markets is that [uncertainty] that the balance sheets of financial firms are credible.”

So even though the Fed has flooded the credit markets with cash, spreads haven’t budged because banks don’t know who is still solvent and who is not. This uncertainty, says Ms. Schwartz, is “the basic problem in the credit market. Lending freezes up when lenders are uncertain that would-be borrowers have the resources to repay them. So to assume that the whole problem is inadequate liquidity bypasses the real issue.”

***

Today, the banks have a problem on the asset side of their ledgers — “all these exotic securities that the market does not know how to value.”

“Why are they ‘toxic’?” Ms. Schwartz asks. “They’re toxic because you cannot sell them, you don’t know what they’re worth, your balance sheet is not credible and the whole market freezes up. We don’t know whom to lend to because we don’t know who is sound. So if you could get rid of them, that would be an improvement.”

Similarly, Robert Reich wrote in 2008:

The underlying problem isn’t a liquidity problem. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the problem is that lenders and investors don’t trust they’ll get their money back because no one trusts that the numbers that purport to value securities are anything but wishful thinking. The trouble, in a nutshell, is that the financial entrepreneurship of recent years — the derivatives, credit default swaps, collateralized debt instruments, and so on — has undermined all notion of true value.

Many of these fancy instruments became popular over recent years precisely because they circumvented financial regulations, especially rules on banks’ capital adequacy. Big banks created all these off-balance-sheet vehicles because they allowed the big banks to carry less capital.

Nothing has changed since 2008 … the problem is still exactly the same.

The fraud committed by the giant banks – including mortgage fraud, encouraging appraisal fraud, fraud in representing the soundness of mortgages packaged together into mortgage backed securities, the rating of financial instruments, the numerous types of accounting fraud (repo 105s being just one example) – have continued. No big fish have been prosecuted.

No wonder no one trusts anyone else.

And the government has rewarded the looting by bailing out the bad actors again and again, either directly or through various backdoor schemes. ( And many economic writers believe that quantitative easing itself is just another bailout).

Even Alan Greenspan is calling out fraud and moral hazard. As I noted in April, Greenspan has been a a die-hard neoclassical or “free market” economist:

Alan Greenspan didn’t think regulators should even pay any attention to fraud:

He didn’t believe that fraud was something that needed to be enforced or was something that regulators should worry about, and he assumed she [Brooksley Born] probably did. And of course she did. I’ve never met a financial regulator who didn’t feel that fraud was part of their mission, but that was her introduction to Alan Greenspan.”

Indeed, as Born pointed out last year, Greenspan told her:

I don’t think there is any need for a law against fraud.

However, Greenspan started changing his tune somewhat in April, and his remarks today reinforce his apparent change of philosophy (a change which is as dramatic as the recantation by Judge Richard Posner – one of the leading proponents over the course of many decades for removing the reach of the law from the economy – of his anti-regulatory stance).

Admittedly, talk is cheap, and I’m not sure how much influence former Fed chairs like Greenspan and Volcker have on Bernanke or other sitting officials.

As I asked in April: “Fraud [is] finally being discussed in polite company … now where are the prosecutions?”

President Barack Obama arrived in Mumbai, India on November 6 and announced $10 billion in business deals with his host country which he claimed will contribute to 50,000 new American jobs. By some accounts half the transactions will be for India’s purchase of U.S. military equipment and half the new jobs will be created in the defense sector.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is completing a nearly two-week tour of the Asia-Pacific region which will culminate in meeting up with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen in Australia on November 8 to among other matters secure the use of the country’s military bases.

Gates will then visit Malaysia, “amid concern in the region over China’s growing economic and naval power” [1], to solidify military ties with the Southeast Asian nation as Obama moves to Indonesia, South Korea and Japan after his first visit to India on what will be his longest trip abroad since assuming the presidency.

Obama styles himself “America’s first Pacific president,” having been born in Hawaii and spending part of his childhood in Indonesia, and his administration has targeted Asia for the expansion of U.S. military influence and presence.

Several months ago a Chinese report warned that his visit to India was designed in large part to “secure $5 billion worth of arms sales,” a deal that “would make the US replace Russia as India’s biggest arms supplier” and “help India curb China’s rise.” [2]   

What he has accomplished is “a $5 billion sale for 10 of Boeing’s C-17 cargo planes” which represents “the sixth biggest arms deal in U.S. history.”

“This and the pending $60 billion deal with Saudi Arabia will certainly help to jump-start the economy, as they [arms sales] have for the past fifty years.” [3]

Job creation in the U.S. is an abysmal failure except in the military sector.

“Boeing said the C-17 deal with India will support 650 suppliers in 44 U.S. states and support the company’s own C-17 production facility in Long Beach, California, for an entire year.” [4]

Other deals included an $822 million contract for General Electric to provide 107 F414 engines for the Tejas lightweight multirole jet fighter being developed by India.

Rahul Bedi, Indian-based correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly, recently revealed that since U.S. sanctions enforced after India’s 1998 nuclear tests were lifted in 2001 “India has concluded and signed arms contract worth $12 billion. This includes maritime reconnaissance aircraft (Boeing P-81), missiles, artillery guns, radars and transport aircraft.

“India is also buying heavy lift transport for the air force (C-17s). An artillery radar contract was the first of its kind worth $142 million. Over the next years, India is going to go for repeat orders of C-17s [Globemaster IIIs], C-130J Super Hercules [military transport aircraft], etc.” and “these contracts are worth another 7 to 8 billion dollars.” [5]

The projected purchase of 126 multirole combat aircraft will account for another $10 billion and other contracts for assorted military helicopters are also being pursued by Washington. What is in question is $15 billion in weapons deals.

With already concluded and potential contracts, “we are talking about very, very big business. We are talking about the shifting of Indian military hardware, completely.

“Shifting from Russian components to American ones is a big shift. In the mid-90s, the Pentagon had assessed that by 2015 [it] would like India to source it’s 25 per cent of hardware. They seem to be well on their way in meeting their target.

“The profile of Indian military hardware is becoming US-oriented. This will bring definitive change in Indian military doctrine because it’s dependent on [imported] equipment.”

The U.S. is also pressuring the Indian government to sign several military-related agreements, including a Logistics Support Agreement which could prove “dangerous because the use of US ports by Indians will be zero while the US can or may use Indian bases frequently because of their presence in the region. So, technically speaking, if the US should have problem[s] with Iran or Pakistan they, under the agreement, may use our bases. Indian soil can become a lunching pad for refuelling or servicing.” [6]

Addressing the U.S.-India Business Council in Mumbai on November 6, Obama said: “There is no reason why India cannot be our top trading partner (from 12th position now)….I’m absolutely sure that the relationship between India and the US is going to be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century.” [7] That is, one of the decisive political-military alliances of the century.

In the words of Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, “The simple truth is that India’s rise, and its strength and progress on the global stage, is deeply in the strategic interest of the United States.” [8]
   
Obama will leave India on November 8, when Clinton, Gates and Mullen gather in Australia, and head to Indonesia where he will exploit his childhood history and then to the G-20 meeting in South Korea and the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Japan.

Indian troops are currently participating with U.S. airborne forces in this year’s annual Yudh Abhyas joint military exercises “involving airborne specialist operations in sub-zero temperatures in Alaska” of a sort that could be put to use along India’s Himalayan border with China in the event of an armed conflict like that which occurred in 1962.   

“The exercise will test the mettle of the Indian Army men in performing
operations in extreme cold conditions in Alaska where the temperature hovers around minus 20 degree Celsius.

“The exercise is designed to promote cooperation between the two militaries to promote interoperability through the combined military decision-making process, through battle tracking and manoeuvring forces, and exchange of tactics, techniques and procedures.” [9] Last year’s Yudh Abhyas, held in India, was the largest U.S.-Indian military exercise to date. [10]

From September 29-October 4 personnel from the Indian army, air force and navy trained with the U.S.’s 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit at the latter’s base in Okinawa in the East China Sea during the Habu Nag 2010 “bilateral amphibious training exercise between India and the United States, designed to increase interoperability during amphibious operations,” the first time “the Indian military had the chance to work alongside Marines in this situation.” [11]

“Okinawa is located close to China and has a significant US presence where several military bases are concentrated.” [12]

Clinton began her six-nation tour of the Asia-Pacific region on October 27 by visiting a military base in Hawaii, meeting with the head of U.S. Pacific Command and assuring the foreign minister of Japan that the U.S. is prepared to honor its military commitments under terms of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty in the event of further clashes between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. [13]

The next day U.S. and Japanese warships participated in an advanced ballistic missile interception test off the coast of Hawaii and on November 2 the U.S. launched the two-week Orient Shield 11 (XI) military exercise with 400 U.S. National Guard and 200 Japanese troops in the latter’s nation.

“Since World War II concluded, the United States has worked to build a better relationship with Japan. In 1960, the U.S. and Japan signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, a binding agreement for both countries to support each other from enemy attack.” As such, “United States Army Japan facilitates a two-week Orient Shield exercise in Japan each fall….”

In the words of the commander of the Japanese forces involved this year, “Our main goal is to enhance the interoperability between the U.S. and Japan.” [14]

Since Hillary Clinton spoke this July of U.S. intentions to intervene in territorial disputes in the South China Sea between China and its neighbors, the Pentagon has conducted three joint military exercises with South Korea, including in the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan/East Sea, and one with Vietnam in the South China Sea.

Last month the U.S. led a 14-nation Proliferation Security Initiative [15] naval exercise off the southern port city of Busan, “marking the first time for South Korea to host such a drill.” [16] In addition to the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Lassen and two South Korean destroyers, a Japanese ship and personnel from Australia, Canada and France participated.

In late September China’s Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo warned that “A series of military drills initiated by the US and China’s neighboring countries showed that the US wants to increase its military presence in Asia.”

“The purpose of these military drills launched by the US is to target multiple countries including China, Russia and North Korea and to build up strategic ties with its allied countries like Japan and South Korea.” [17]

Secretary of State Clinton arrived in New Zealand on November 4. Like South Korea, Australia, Malaysia and now Japan (which has announced plans to deploy Self-Defense Forces medical personnel), New Zealand has troops serving in Afghanistan.

“New Zealand has participated in the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan, with 140 personnel carrying out reconstruction work in Bamiyan and 70 special forces troops in the country believed to be operating in Kabul.”

Her visit revived and expanded military ties between the U.S and New Zealand that had been dormant since 1986, “mark[ing] the end of a row over nuclear weapons dating back almost 25 years,” according to Prime Minister John Key. 

“U.S. and New Zealand troops could train together” again, the press reported, and two days before Clinton’s arrival the New Zealand government published a 100-page defense white paper, the first in 13 years, detailing “closer military relations with the United States, Australia, Britain and Canada, as well as enhanced front-line capabilities.

“On the ground the army will get more front-line soldiers and Special Air Service elite troops, while on the seas the Anzac frigates will be upgraded….Hillary Clinton arrived in New Zealand for a three-day visit, prompting one newspaper to suggest it was a perfect gift for her.” [18]

Though not of the same scope, the New Zealand white paper follows one by Australia last year that calls for a post-World War Two record $72 billion arms build-up. [19]

Clinton’s next stop was Australia, where Pentagon chief Gates had also arrived to “reinforce the U.S. commitment to the region with a longstanding U.S. ally and an increasingly close partner,” according to Defense Department Press Secretary Geoff Morrell.

Clinton, Gates and U.S. military chief Admiral Mullen will meet with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Defense Minister John Faulkner on November 8 for the 25th anniversary Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) meeting.

The Pentagon spokesman added that “This year’s talks will cover a broad range of foreign policy, defense and strategic issues, including ongoing military operations in Afghanistan,” noting that “Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to the International Security Assistance Force” in Afghanistan. [20]

Morrell emphasized the meeting would strengthen the U.S.’s alliance with Australia and would contribute to increased collaboration with regional partners to ensure “maritime security” in Asia. As a news source put it, “US officials often employ the phrase ‘maritime security’ to refer to concerns about China’s assertive stance over territorial rights in the Pacific, particularly in the South China Sea.” [21]

A local news report recently divulged that “Australia has agreed to a major escalation of military co-operation with the US,” including “more visits by American ships, aircraft and troops and their forces exercising here regularly….”

“Access to Australian Defence Force facilities will allow the US to step up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region…as concern grows about China’s military expansion.”

Three “big announcements” on military cooperation will be made after the Australia-United States Ministerial consultations and “Increased numbers of US personnel in Australian facilities are expected within months, and the tempo of military exercises will be stepped up as that happens.” [22]

The military installations that the Pentagon will gain access to are expected to include army and air force bases at Townsville, the new Coonawarra naval base in Darwin, the Stirling naval base on Garden Island and the Bradshaw Field Training Area. 

“The Australian development is part of a new US strategy to step up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region after reviews of strategic policy concluded that the Bush government’s attempts to project power from North America were not working.” [23]

When Clinton arrived in Melbourne on November 6 she “signalled increased military cooperation with Australia.”

“Easier use of Australian bases, more joint training programmes and more visits by ships, planes and troops are proposed. There could also be stockpiling of US military equipment and supplies at local bases, and a joint space tracking facility that would monitor missiles, satellites and space junk.”

In her own words: “I think it’s going to be an issue of discussion at AUSMIN (Australia-US ministerial level talks Monday) about the cooperation on a range of matters, including space, cyber-security and so much else.”

New Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard confirmed that her administration would “welcome the United States making greater use of our ports and our training facilities, our test-firing ranges.” [24]

The focus of U.S. military strategy has shifted from Europe, subjugated through NATO expansion, and Africa, subordinated under U.S. Africa Command, to Asia. An Asia-Pacific analogue of NATO and AFRICOM is being expanded by the day.

Notes

1) Radio Netherlands, November 4, 2010
2) Global Times, July 13, 2010
   http://world.globaltimes.cn/asia-pacific/2010-07/550830.html
3) Anika Anand, The Real Reason For Obama’s Trip To India: The Sixth Biggest
   Arms Deal In U.S. History
   Business Insider, November 6, 2010
   http://www.businessinsider.com/top-10-us-arms-deals-in-history-2010-11
4) CNN, November 6, 2010
5) Sheela Bhatt, As Obama arrives, US bids for heavy arms business
   Rediff News, November 5, 2010
   http://news.rediff.com/special/2010/nov/05/obama-visit-special-as-arrives-us-bids-for-heavy-arms-business.htm
6) Ibid
7) Press Trust of India, November 6, 2010
8) CNN, November 6, 2010
9) Press Trust of India, November 4, 2010
10) India: U.S. Completes Global Military Structure
    Stop NATO, September 10, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/india-u-s-completes-global-military-structure
11) United States Marine Corps, October 5, 2010
12) Indian Express, September 22, 2010
13) U.S. Supports Japan, Confronts China And Russia Over Island Disputes
    Stop NATO, November 4, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/u-s-supports-japan-confronts-china-and-russia-over-island-disputes
14) U.S. Army Japan, November 2, 2010
15) Proliferation Security Initiative And U.S. 1,000-Ship Navy: Control Of
    World’s Oceans, Prelude To War
    Stop NATO, January 29, 2009
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/proliferation-security-initiative-and-us-1000-ship-navy-control-of-worlds-oceans-prelude-to-war
16) Korea Herald, October 13, 2010
17) Global Times, September 26, 2010
18) United Press International, November 4, 2010
19) Australian Military Buildup And The Rise Of Asian NATO
    Stop NATO, May 6, 2009
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/28/australian-military-buildup-and-the-rise-of-asian-nato
20) U.S. Department of Defense, November 4, 2010
21) Radio Netherlands, November 4, 2010
22) Australian Associated Press, November 6, 2010
23) Ibid
    U.S. Marshals Military Might To Challenge Asian Century
    Stop NATO, August 21, 2010
    http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/u-s-marshals-military-might-to-challenge-asian-century
24) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, November 6, 2010

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Al Qaeda in Yemen is “Western-made”

November 7th, 2010 by Global Research

Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Muhammed al-Mujawar said Saturday that al-Qaida was originally a Western-made group and was never created by his country, Xinhua reported according to the state-run Saba news agency.

The prime minister’s remarks were made during a meeting in the capital Sanaa with ambassadors of Asian and African countries to Yemen to clarify Yemen’s stance against those who propagated negative impacts on Yemen over the bomb parcels shipped to the United States last week.

“Al-Qaida was essentially a Western-made group and was never created by Yemen, it is alleged by those who seek to propagate this view internationally about Yemen,” Saba quoted Mujawar as saying.

The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on Friday claimed responsibility for the bomb parcels that targeted the United States.

It also said it was behind downing a UPS cargo plane by exploding one of its experimental bomb packages aboard the plane immediately after it took off from Dubai International Airport on Sep. 3, 2010.

According to Saba, Mujawar called on the international community to support his government’s continuing efforts to fight al-Qaida regional wing.

Yemen has been exerting efforts to curb terrorist groups, which raised international security concerns again after two parcel bombs were found on U.S.-bound cargo flights from the Arabian peninsula country last week.

US deploys Predator drones in Yemen: report

November 7th, 2010 by Global Research

The administration of President Barack Obama has deployed unmanned Predator drones in Yemen to hunt for Al-Qaeda operatives who are becoming increasingly active in that Arab country, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

But citing unnamed senior US officials, the newspaper said US military and intelligence operatives have not fired missiles from these aircraft because they lack solid intelligence on the militants’ whereabouts.
….
US officials said the Predators have been patrolling the skies over Yemen for several months in search of leaders and operatives of Al-Qaeda, the report said.

But after a series of attacks by Yemeni forces and US cruise missiles earlier this year, Yemeni Al-Qaeda leaders “went to ground,” The Post quotes a senior Obama administration official as saying.

Yemeni officials said they had deep reservations about weapons they said could prove counterproductive, the paper noted.

“Why gain enemies right now?” The Post quotes Mohammed Abdulahoum, a senior Yemeni official, as saying. “Americans are not rejected in Yemen; the West is respected. Why waste all this for one or two strikes when you don’t know who you’re striking?”

Instead, Yemen has asked the United States to speed up shipment of promised helicopters and other military equipment, the report said.

A US defense official said plans were being made to nearly double military aid, to 250 million dollars, in 2011, The Post noted.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in Australia Saturday that the US military was looking at how to bolster Yemen’s security forces amid growing concern over Al-Qaeda’s foothold in the country.

“I think in terms of training and so on there are things that we can do to help the Yemenis and strengthen their capabilities,” Gates told reporters on his plane before flying in to Melbourne.

“I think it’s fair to say we’re exploring with them a variety of possibilities along those lines,” he said.

Gates offered no details about what kind of assistance was on the horizon, but said: “The primary focus would be on training.”

“Under a paper money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation.”Ben Bernanke, future Fed Chairman (in 2002)

 “My thesis here is that cooperation between the monetary and fiscal authorities in Japan could help solve the problems that each policymaker faces on its own. Consider for example a tax cut for households and businesses that is explicitly coupled with incremental BOJ purchases of government debt – so that the tax cut is in effect financed by money creation. Moreover, assume that the Bank of Japan has made a commitment, by announcing a price-level target, to reflate the economy, so that much or all of the increase in the money stock is viewed as permanent.”Ben Bernanke, future Fed Chairman (in 2002)

 “The Fed, in effect, is telling the markets not to worry about our fiscal deficits, it will be the buyer of first and perhaps last resort. There is no need – as with Charles Ponzi – to find an increasing amount of future gullibles, they will just write the check themselves. I ask you: Has there ever been a Ponzi scheme so brazen? There has not.” Bill Gross, PIMCO’s managing director

On Wednesday, November 3rd, the Bernanke Fed announced that it stands ready to resume money printing to stimulate the economy through quantitative money easing, an euphemism for printing more dollars. Indeed, it intends to buy $600-billion of longer-term Treasury securities until the end of the second quarter of 2011, plus some $300 billion of reinvestments, on top of the some $1.75 trillion of various types of securities, many of which were mortgage backed securities, that it has added in 2009 to its balance sheet, currently standing at a total of $2.3 trillion. There could even be additional increases in newly printed money as the Fed intends to “regularly review and adjust the program as needed to best foster maximum employment and price stability.”

After the election of fiscal conservatives on November 2nd, it seems that printing money is the only instrument left for the Obama administration to stimulate the economy. I fail to see, however, what is “conservative” about that. Actively debasing a currency to stimulate an economy used to be a Third-World economic recipe, —A recipe for disaster. Now, the United States government feels that is the only way to get out of the economic doldrums.

But U.S. economic problems are essentially structural in nature, and are due to a bad housing mortgage policy, a bad industrial policy, a bad financial policy, a bad fiscal policy, a bad foreign investment policy, too much entitlement debt, severe demographic problems related to the aging baby-boomers, and to very costly wars abroad. Relying exclusively on monetary quick fixes to correct them misses the mark and may have serious unintended negative consequences down the road.

In fact, it is likely that in the long run, this extreme monetary policy risks exacerbating rather than correcting the problems. Economic structural problems cannot be corrected with monetary means. They rather require real economic solutions. That means correcting the housing mortgage mess and devising an industrial strategy, a fiscal strategy, and an investment strategy that can put the economy back on its tracks of economic growth.

But, for better or worse, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) seems to be the only branch of the U.S. government left that can still function properly, i.e. that is not caught in a permanent political gridlock. As a consequence, for the time being at least, bankers are in charge of the U.S. economy. Since they are the ones who created many of the current problems, this is not very reassuring.

Let’s remind ourselves that the Fed is a semi-public, semi-private organization that has a long history of creating financial asset price bubbles in the U.S and around the world, essentially because the U.S. dollar is an international key-currency widely used around the world and is an important part of other central banks’ official reserves.

Thus, the real danger is that the Fed will again overdo it and create unmanageable financial and monetary bubbles in the coming years. —It did it in the past. It did it in the late 1960′s and early ’70s, and we witnessed the same scenario unfolding with the Greenspan Fed in the late 1990s, when excessive easy money helped inflate the Internet and tech stock market bubble. We saw this again in the early 2000s, when easy Fed money helped inflate the housing bubble. And now, we’re seeing it again with the Bernanke Fed. As a general rule, a central bank should not push the monetary gas pedal to the floor and be obliged to slam on the monetary brakes later, thus placing the real economy on a roller-coaster of booms and busts. That is not the way to run a large economy.

But because of the circumstances, the Fed may be at it again. This time it is busy creating a massive bond bubble, some important currency misalignments and a massive gold and commodity price bubble. We should also not forget that abnormally low interest rates and lower bond yields increase the present value of pension liabilities of most defined benefit pension plans.

Therefore, I would not be surprised to see a pension crisis developing in the coming years under the current Fed monetary policy. Of course, all of these bubbles are interrelated but when they come crashing down, four or five years down the road, maybe sooner, the economy may then be in worse shape than it is today. My most likely scenario is for the Fed to keep the monetary gas pedal way down until the 2012 election, and then slam on the monetary brakes thereafter to salvage what will be left of the imperial dollar.

If so, this could be a partial repeat of Japan’s experience in mismanaging its economy in the early 1990′s until 2000, a period known as the lost decade.

The current Fed’s monetary policy is to flood financial markets with liquidity, i.e. newly created dollars, and, in the process, devalue the U.S. dollar, spur American exports and prevent deflationary expectations from taking hold and from making already high debt loads even heavier. For this, the Fed has been engaged since 2009 in round after round of money creation and interest rate reductions to the point of pushing short-term monetary rates close to zero and keeping short-term real rates negative. But if the economy is in a liquidity trap, as it is fair to assume it is, although a central bank can print all the money it wants, this is unlikely to stimulate the real economy for very long. —This is like pushing on a string. Printing money, if it is an emergency temporary measure, can help mitigate the effect of having too much debt and debt-service costs relative to income, as is the case today with many debtors in a debt liquidation mode. However, if this becomes a feature of monetary policy for too long, it can have disastrous consequences.

In general, it can be said that the Fed can manipulate short term interest rates by artificially increasing demand for short term securities, but inflation expectations are a big component of long term interest rates and are much less influenced by the Fed. Therefore, if the Fed’s intention of printing large amounts of new money raises fears of future inflation, long term interest rates may rise rather than fall, and this is bound to hurt long-term productive investments.

Moreover, make no mistake, with globalized financial markets, a large chunk of the newly created dollars is flowing out of the United States and is invested in higher interest rate countries, pushing the dollar further down and these countries’ currencies further up. Of course, some of the newly created money will immediately find its way in the stock market, but there is no certainty that this will induce already stretched banks to increase their banking loans to businesses.

Another consequence is this: The current outflow of U.S. dollars helps keep the dollar exchange rate low, but when the Fed is forced to aggressively raise interest rates, as it will inevitably be forced to do later on, the reverse will happen and the U.S. dollar will likely overshoot and then become overvalued. This is the case today with the Japanese yen which became unduly strong when the Japanese carry trade (too much cheap money invested abroad returns home) collapsed.

What counts for most people, however, is that the Fed’s zero-interest rate policy has not cured the structural housing mortgage crisis, since home foreclosures are still very high. The Fed now places most of its hopes on a currency devaluation, which is the old trick of the “beggar thy neighbor” policy, i.e. trying to export one country’s unemployment to its trading partners by devaluating the currency. This was a form of protectionism much relied upon during the 1929-39 Great Depression. This may work for a while, at least as long as other countries can absorb American exports without launching their own money printing process in order to prevent an appreciation of their currencies.

Indeed, is it likely that countries which see their currencies being revalued by the Fed will remain passive? The Fed is implicitly making the bet that these countries will not retaliate, and that the international dollar-based currency system will remain intact. But for how long? Sooner or later, some central banks around the world will have no choice but to impose capital controls in order to slow down the inflow of unwanted outside money and the onslaught of imported inflation, and prevent their exchanges rates from rising too high too fast. If they do, the entire process of economic globalization may begin to unravel.

Meanwhile, foreign central banks, for example, could accelerate their rush to dump the U.S dollar and to accumulate gold and other more stable currencies such as the euro, the Swiss franc, the British pound, the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar. China has already begun to do just that. The share of dollar official reserves would then decline from about 60 percent presently to perhaps less than 50 percent. That may signal the beginning of the end for the “imperial dollar” which has dominated the international monetary system since the Bretton Woods conference of 1944.

This is to be followed closely.

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at [email protected]. He is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics” at: www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com/

The book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, by Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay, prefaced by Dr. Paul Kurtz, has just been released by Prometheus Books.:
www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com/

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The French version of the book is also now available. See:
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Documents whose existence were denied by the Israeli government for over a year have been released after a legal battle led by Israeli human rights group Gisha. The documents reveal a deliberate policy by the Israeli government in which the dietary needs for the population of Gaza are chillingly calculated, and the amounts of food let in by the Israeli government measured to remain just enough to keep the population alive at a near-starvation level. This documents the statement made by a number of Israeli officials that they are “putting the people of Gaza on a diet”.

Calculation sheet from newly-released documents (image from Gisha)
Calculation sheet from newly-released documents (image from Gisha)
 

In 2007, when Israel began its full siege on Gaza, Dov Weisglass, adviser to then Prime-Minister Ehud Olmert, stated clearly, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” The documents now released contain equations used by the Israeli government to calculate the exact amounts of food, fuel and other necessities needed to do exactly that.

The documents are even more disturbing, say human rights activists, when one considers the fact that close to half of the people of Gaza are children under the age of eighteen. This means that Israel has deliberately forced the undernourishment of hundreds of thousands of children in direct violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

This release of documents also severely undermines Israel’s oft-made claim that the siege is “for security reasons”, as it documents a deliberate and systematic policy of collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza.

Gisha’s director said, in relation to the release of documents, “Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place.”

In its statement accompanying the release of the documents, Gisha wrote:

The documents reveal that the state approved “a policy of deliberate reduction” for basic goods in the Gaza Strip (section h.4, page 5*). Thus, for example, Israel restricted the supply of fuel needed for the power plant, disrupting the supply of electricity and water. The state set a “lower warning line” (section g.2, page 5) to give advance warning of expected shortages in a particular item, but at the same time approved ignoring that warning, if the good in question was subject to a policy of “deliberate reduction”. Moreover, the state set an “upper red line” above which even basic humanitarian items could be blocked, even if they were in demand (section g.1, page 5). The state claimed in a cover letter to Gisha that in practice, it had not authorized reduction of “basic goods” below the “lower warning line”, but it did not define what these “basic goods” were.

Commentator Richard Silverstein wrote: “In reviewing the list of permitted items for import, you come to realize that these are the only items allowed. In other words, if an item is not on the list, it’s prohibited. So, for example, here is the list of permitted spices: Black pepper, soup powder, hyssop, sesame. cinnamon, anise, babuna (chamomile), sage. Sorry, cumin, basil, bay leaf, allspice, carraway, cardamon, chiles, chives, cilantro, cloves, garlic, sesame, tamarind, thyme, oregano, cayenne. Not on the list. You’re not a spice Palestinians need according to some IDF dunderhead. And tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, toys, glassware, paint, and shoes? You can forget about them too. Luxuries all, or else security threats.”

Despite the disturbing nature of the documents, which show a calculated policy of deliberate undernourishment of an entire population, no major media organizations have reported the story.

The full text of the released documents, and the original Freedom of Information Act request filed by Gisha, can be found on Gisha’s website. See below for the Gisha Report

Due to Gisha’s Petition: Israel Reveals Documents related to the Gaza Closure Policy

Legal Center for Freedom of Movement

http://www.gisha.org/index.php?intLanguage=2&intItemId=1904&intSiteSN=113

Thursday, October 21, 2010: After one and a half years in which Israel at first denied their existence and then claimed that revealing them would harm “state security”, the State of Israel released three documents that outline its policy for permitting transfer of goods into the Gaza Strip prior to the May 31 flotilla incident. The documents were released due to a Freedom of Information Act petition submitted by Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement in the Tel Aviv District Court, in which Gisha demanded transparency regarding the Gaza closure policy. Israel still refuses to release the current documents governing the closure policy as amended after the flotilla incident.

“Policy of Deliberate Reduction” The documents reveal that the state approved “a policy of deliberate reduction” for basic goods in the Gaza Strip (section h.4, page 5*). Thus, for example, Israel restricted the supply of fuel needed for the power plant, disrupting the supply of electricity and water. The state set a “lower warning line” (section g.2, page 5) to give advance warning of expected shortages in a particular item, but at the same time approved ignoring that warning, if the good in question was subject to a policy of “deliberate reduction”. Moreover, the state set an “upper red line” above which even basic humanitarian items could be blocked, even if they were in demand (section g.1, page 5). The state claimed in a cover letter to Gisha that in practice, it had not authorized reduction of “basic goods” below the “lower warning line”, but it did not define what these “basic goods” were (page 2).

“Luxuries” denied for Gaza Strip residents In violation of international law, which allows Israel to restrict the passage of goods only for concrete security reasons, the decision whether to permit or prohibit an item was also based on “the good’s public perception” and “whether it is viewed as a luxury” (section c.b, page 16). In other words, items characterized as “luxury” items would be banned – even if they posed no security threat, and even if they were needed. Thus, items such as chocolate and paper were not on the “permitted” list. In addition, officials were to consider “sensitivity to the needs of the international community”.

Ban on Reconstructing Gaza Although government officials have claimed that they will permit the rehabilitation of Gaza, the documents reveal that Israel treated rehabilitation and development of the Gaza Strip as a negative factor in determining whether to allow an item to enter; goods “of a rehabilitative character” required special permission (section g, page 16). Thus, international organizations and Western governments did not receive permits to transfer building materials into Gaza for schools and homes.

Secret List of Goods The procedures determine that the list of permitted goods “will not be released to those not specified!!” (emphasis in original) (section j, page 17), ignoring the fact that without transparency, merchants in Gaza could not know what they were permitted to purchase. The list itemized permitted goods only. Items not on the list – cumin, for example – would require a special procedure for approval, irrespective of any security consideration, at the end of which it would be decided whether to let it in or not.

Calculation of product inventory The documents contain a series of formulas created by the Defense Ministry to compute product inventory (pages 8-10). The calculations are presumed to allow COGAT to measure what is called the “length of breath” (section i, page 8). The formula states that if you divide the inventory in the Strip by the daily consumption needs of residents, you will get the number of days it will take for residents of Gaza to run out of that basic product, or in other words, until their “length of breath” will run out.

According to Gisha Director Sari Bashi: “Instead of considering security concerns, on the one hand, and the rights and needs of civilians living in Gaza, on the other, Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place”.

*Pagination is counted in the order the documents were received by the Ministry of Defense.

For translated excerpts of the state’s response initially refusing to reveal the documents for “security reasons”, click here.
 
To view the documents revealed by the state (translated from the original Hebrew into English), click here.
 
To view the FOIA petition submitted by Gisha (in Hebrew), click here.

In one of the most striking political comebacks in U.S. history, the Republican Party marched in lockstep to victory in the midterm elections and seized control of the House of Representatives and state houses across the nation. Republicans made a battle plan, they disciplined their troops, and the corporations paid for the ammunition.

Unless the Democrats do something drastically differently during the next two years, the rich and powerful will cement their victory around the body of democracy and dump the barrel of freedom into the deep dark waters of cash politics where it will be lost forever.

Looking across the piles of dead and wounded on the political battlefield at the vast hoard of mercenaries gathering to administer the coup de gra e to representative democracy, paid for by unlimited secret corporate financing, there is only one reserve force with the motivation, power and loyalty to defeat the army of fascism – those who have most to lose – the youth of America.

Pumped Up in 2008

The elections of 2004, 2006 and 2008 introduced the Millennial Generation, those born between 1977 and 1998, to the U.S. political arena. The concentrated votes of these confident and mostly liberal young people helped the Democrats achieve a Congressional majority in 2006 and lifted Barack Obama over the top in 2008.

Fueled by aggressive efforts to increase the turnout of young voters from historic lows, more than half, as many as 24 million, Millennials cast their ballots in the 2008 election, and more than two out of three voted for Obama. With older Americans splitting their votes between the two candidates, the youth vote made a significant political difference in those states where the popular vote was close.
Believing in a progressive domestic social agenda and sharing a deep concern for the environment, the Millennials had high hopes for the future of their country under an Obama administration. Unfortunately, the “change we can believe in” and the “change we need” turned out to be chump change in the currency of political deal making.

Ignored in 2009

Watching as the government continued to bail out Wall Street, suppress constitutional rights, and encourage deep ocean oil drilling, young people couldn’t help but notice the compromises made by their president that favored the rich and powerful over the interests of students and entry-level workers.

The economy sucked, jobs evaporated, college tuition increased, coal slurry continued to spill into mountain streams, and oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Youthful enthusiasm was dampened by the repeated failures of President Obama and the Democratic Party to “change the way Washington works.” Although more than half of Millennials placed the blame on special interests and Obama’s political opponents, one third of the young people came to blame Obama himself for failing to deliver on his promises.

The effects of their disappointment was quickly felt as young people reduced their political participation. Youth voting in the 2009 gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey was only 17 and 19%, and only 15% of Massachusetts young people turned out to vote in the special senatorial election in January 2010, resulting in the defeat of Democrat Martha Coakley.

Disenchanted in 2010

During the year following his inauguration, President Obama’s approval rates fell from 73 to 57% among young people, and a July 2010 poll found him trailing a “generic Republican” among 18- to 34-year-olds.

Young people have been especially hard hit by the failing economy, yet they were generally ignored by most Congressional candidates in the 2010 election cycle. As Heather Smith of Rock the Vote said, “These young people are willing to participate and be active by nature, but they are not going to show up unless they are invited.”

Leading up to last week’s election, an October McClatchy-Marist Poll found that only 11% of registered voters under 30 were “very enthusiastic” about voting, compared to 48% of voters over 60 years of age. An earlier Rock the Vote poll in September found 34% of young voters favoring Democrats, 28% wanting a Republican takeover, but significantly, 36% believed it did not matter which party controls Congress.

An estimated 20.4% of young people voted on November 2, which is about a million fewer than in 2006 and was less than half of those who voted in the 2008 presidential election. However, there was an increase in voting from 2006 levels in those states targeted by the Vote Again 2010 coalition, which facilitated voter outreach and targeted advertising to young people.

Although there were some desertions, the young people who did vote demonstrated far greater loyalty than other categories with only +5% switching their party vote to Republicans.

Motivated in 2011

Concerned about their progressive domestic social agenda and worried for the well being of themselves, their families, and their friends, the Millennials have good reason to fear the 112th Congress.

The corporate artillery is lined up, and the guns are locked and loaded with high explosive shells. Here are the announced targets: campaign finance reform; consumer protection laws, expiration of tax cuts for the wealthy; environmental controls on businesses; worker’s ability to organize unions; health care reform; unemployment insurance; social security and Medicare.

As Samuel Johnson famously said, “Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging.” The young people of America are being hung out to dry politically and they will continue to flap in the wind as the new Congress rolls back even the modest gains of the Obama administration.

Mobilized in 2012

First, an understanding and then a plan.

The progressive attitudes of the Millennials are more representative of the American people than the election indicates. For nearly two decades, prior to 2008, “Voters have become more supportive of government spending and more sympathetic toward the poor. They were increasingly secular and increasingly likely to favor gay marriage. They were more worried about climate change and more inclined to support universal health care. And not surprisingly, they were more and more likely to identify as Democrats.”

Since 2008, fear of economic collapse has caused people to become more conservative; however, the 2010 election does not mean that the majority of the people have changed their political attitudes. Instead, the Tea Party movement demonstrates that “the entire political system has become disconnected from the practical needs and values of Americans, suggesting that its voting power stemmed as much from a populist sense of outrage in a tough economic moment as it did from ideology.”

Many of the “Blue Dog Democrats” were just voted out of office and replaced with Republicans, which means that the Democratic caucus of the new Congress will be more liberal than the current one. It does not mean that the Democrats have suddenly grown a spine; it only means that, if they can find the courage to stand firm and not give in to pressure, the American public will respect and support their efforts.

A recent poll found that most voters do not support a freeze on all government spending, only on the part going to national security, and a majority do not want to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts on incomes greater than $250,000 a year.

Another poll revealed that a majority of voters do not want to raise the social security retirement age or reduce benefits for future retirees, nor do they want to repeal the new health care law.
So, what should President Obama and the Democratic Party do?

First, the President should stop running for reelection. It is not all about him! Obama is further ahead in the polls than Reagan was at the same point. He should just chill out and do what is right and good for workers, the middle class and small business owners, rather than for the rich and powerful. If the President is incapable of such leadership, it will be no great loss if he is defeated in 2008. He will have been just another elephant trying to fit into a donkey suit.

In the meantime, Congressional Democrats should avoid compromising the principles of their constituencies and aggressively represent those who placed them in office. If they can’t do that, they do not warrant the trust placed in them and they too deserve to be defeated in 2008.

Finally, the Democratic Party should recognize that young voters are the best hope for the future of democracy. Democrats should take the advice of Rock the Vote’s Heather Smith and “invite young people to the party.”
The Millennials are loyal, progressive and inclusive, and they are prepared to work for what they believe in.

Most important, with their ability to instantly communicate with each other using the Internet, text messaging and social networks, young people are less vulnerable to being manipulated by the corporate media.

Corporations and the wealthy will continue to secretly pour millions of dollars into negative campaigns for the next election to cement their power. The Democratic Party and the institutions and foundations that support the progressive agenda must respond with a powerful positive campaign that not only motivates and turns out the youth vote, but one that makes use of their abilities to connect with others.

The reserve force of young voters is ready and willing to engage in the battle for freedom and their weapons of modern communication are in place; all they need is leadership.

A failure to provide them direction, here and now, will mean the death of democracy – not just here in the United States, but everywhere political power is dedicated to greed rather than need.

William John Cox is a retired prosecutor and public interest lawyer, author and political activist. His efforts to promote a peaceful political evolution can be found at VotersEvolt.com, his writings are collected at WilliamJohnCox.com and he can be contacted at [email protected].

Global Research Editor’s Note

Dr. Stephen Frost contacted Global Research and informed us regarding The British media’s coverup pertaining to the details of Dr. David Kelly’s death.

We are publishing below the letter which the Sunday Telegraph refused to publish. This letter was written in response to an article by Andrew Gilligan.

Who is Andrew Gilligan, the Sunday Telegraph journalist who states that “the case is closed” and that “the details of Dr David Kelly’s death, made public last week, should provide a final answer to the conspiracy theorists”.

Is Andrew Gilligan in a conflict of interest?  He is reporting on a case in which he was personally implicated.

It was Gilligan’s 2003 report on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme which triggered the David Kelly affair.

In this report Gilligan quotes “a source”  “who believes Downing Street wanted the September intelligence dossier ‘sexed up’” to provide a justification for waging war on Iraq. That “source” was Dr. David Kelly, as confirmed by Kelly himself in a written note to his manager Bryan Wells, admitting he met Andrew Gilligan on 22 May 2003.

A Ministry of Defence statement subsequently refered to Kelly as “an unnamed official”, who met Andrew Gilligan.

“On 9 July 2003 Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, writes to Gavyn Davies, then BBC chairman, asking him to confirm whether Kelly is the ‘source’. The BBC refuses. MoD confirms to journalists that Kelly is the official involved.

On 17 July at 3pm, Kelly leaves home, telling his wife he is going for a walk. When he fails to return home by 11.45pm, his family contacts the police. He is found dead in the woods near his home the following morning. 20 July The BBC issues a statement after talking to Kelly’s family, naming him as the source of Gilligan’s report.” ( Will Lee, The Guardian, 2004).

When the Hutton report was published, the government of Tony Blair was exonerated, while the BBC was heavily criticised, implying the involvement of Andrew Gilligan, the author of the October 24, 2010 article in Annex Part I below entitled: David Kelly: case closed.


Michel Chossudovsky, November 5, 2010

A letter (see below) was submitted to the Sunday Telegraph in response to Andrew Gilligan’s article re Dr David Kelly published on 24 October 2010 in the same newspaper (see ANNEX 1).  After much prompting and discussion, the Sunday Telegraph finally agreed to publish a decimated version of our letter (see ANNEX 2).  This in our view constitutes refusal or neglect to publish a reasonable and accurate response to Andrew Gilligan’s article.  The right of reply, enshrined in editorial guidelines, has been denied to us.   

Dr. Stephen Frost, November 5, 2010

Dear Sir,

Andrew Gilligan’s article of 24 October has as its headline “David Kelly inquest: Case closed” followed by “The details of Dr David Kelly’s death, made public last week, should provide a final answer to the conspiracy theorists, says Andrew Gilligan”

The truth is that the case is far from closed, not least perhaps because no inquest has taken place.  The continued refusal or neglect to hold an inquest into this important death, which is required by the laws of this country and of Europe, constitutes a blatant subversion of due process of the law.

In January of this year the well known London lawyers Leigh Day & Co., representing five doctors, formally requested that the Ministry of Justice allow the doctors and lawyers sight of all the medical and scientific documents/evidence relating to Dr David Kelly’s death which had been secretly classified (at some time unknown in 2004/2005) for 70 years following the publication of the Hutton Report.  Despite repeated questions, both before and after the General Election, the Ministry of Justice has been unable to tell us the exact date on which the documents were classified, nor indeed to enlighten us as to the legal basis for classifying the documents, nor for continuing to keep them secret.  It is strongly suspected that no such legal basis exists.

On 22 October 2010 our lawyers finally received a reply from Ken Clarke, Secretary of State for Justice, in which he sought to justify not granting our request for sight of all the medical and scientific documents relating to the death.  He also informed us that he intended to publish the post-mortem report and the toxicology report on the Internet that very same day.  In a long rambling letter he attempted to justify his failure to comply with our lawyers’ request by quoting exemptions to disclosure allowed under the Freedom of Information Act.  But, we did not seek disclosure under the terms of that Act and that had been made very clear by our lawyers in January of this year.  Further, it seemed extraordinary to us that medical in confidence documents should be published on the Internet for all to see, particularly the post mortem report and the toxicology report, especially in view of the previous government’s and this government’s oft claimed desire to avoid unnecessary upset to the Kelly family.

It seems to us that this Government, by publishing these two highly sensitive reports, hoped to draw a line under the whole affair.  However, it will do no such thing.  Some weeks ago a 35 page legal document, known as the Memorial, was submitted to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve by our lawyers outlining the formal legal reasons why we think an inquest should take place.  Under Section 13 of the 1988 Coroners Act the Attorney General can grant us permission to apply to the High Court (or he can apply himself) for an inquest to be ordered.  In order to do this he has only to be satisfied that, were an inquest to take place, the verdict MIGHT be different NOT that it WOULD be different.  Section 13 requires that any ONE of six reasons be satisfied for the Attorney General to allow a formal application to the High Court for an inquest into a death.  The six reasons are:

1) insufficiency of inquiry

2) irregularity of proceedings

3) rejection of evidence

4) new facts or evidence

5) fraud (in this context deception)

6) refusal or neglect by a coroner to hold an inquest which ought to be held

We need to provide evidence to satisfy ONE reason but the Memorial contains convincing evidence for ALL SIX reasons.

Notwithstanding the extremely strong case for an inquest which has been submitted to the Attorney General in the form of the Memorial, we intend as a matter of urgency to set up a fund so that we are in a position to contest vigorously any refusal by the Attorney General for us to proceed to the High Court by judicially reviewing any such decision.

It is essential in any democracy that due process of law is followed with the utmost rigour.

Yours faithfully,

Dr. Stephen Frost           

ANNEX Part 1

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8083520/David-Kelly-case-closed.html

David Kelly: case closed

The details of Dr David Kelly’s death, made public last week, should provide a final answer to the conspiracy theorists

Andrew Gilligan

24 October 2010

There was, said the pathology report, a band of vomit running from Dr David Kelly’s mouth, covering part of his head and staining his green waxed jacket. His body was soiled with dirt from the process of undressing it at the scene and moving it into a bag. And it seems that, contrary to most of what we have read in the past, there was a great deal of blood.

“There was bloodstaining and a pool of blood in an area running from the left arm of the deceased for a total distance in the order of two to three feet,” said Dr Nicholas Hunt, the pathologist. “There was heavy bloodstaining over the left arm.” There was blood on the front right side of his shirt beneath the left hand, the palm of which was bloodstained.

There were bloodstains over the groin area and the tops of both thighs, the right knee, the right elbow, the right shoulder, the back of the right knee. There was blood on the left arm, the left elbow, the back of the left elbow, the back of the fingers and palm of the right hand, blood on the lining of his Barbour cap, blood on Dr Kelly’s wristwatch, which he’d taken off, blood on the handles of the knife, blood smeared on the bottle of water with which he had taken 29 co-proxamol pills.

I, too, felt a bit soiled when I read the intimate details of Dr Kelly’s death. There is no dignity in a pathology report. But all this, and a good deal more that I’ve spared you, was last week published officially online, for ever, for the whole world to see. Happy now, conspiracy theorists?

The other reason why this document makes unpleasant reading is precisely that it does say what happened. There were, it says, multiple knife wounds over a 40 sq cm area of Dr Kelly’s left wrist, one of them up to a centimetre and a half deep. Some of them, it says, looked like “tentative or hesitation marks”. There was “extensive reddening around the whole injury complex, indicating that they had been inflicted while the victim was alive”. There was also a small abrasion “consistent with the biting of the lips”.

I don’t know about you, but when I read those words I wished I hadn’t. An instant picture of Dr Kelly in his last moments sprang into my head. The only other wounds visible at all were superficial abrasions to the head and minor bruising to the limbs – consistent, says the report, with scraping against rough undergrowth (presumably as his body was removed).

The report describes the various, necessarily intrusive procedures performed on Dr Kelly’s body to discover any less visible signs of foul play. None was found. The brain showed no knocks to the head. The lungs gave no sign of being “overpowered by a volatile chemical”. No mysterious drugs were detected in the bloodstream. Subcutaneous dissection of the arms and legs showed no “restraint-type injury”.

There was no evidence of “compression of the neck, such as by manual strangulation, ligature strangulation or the use of an arm hold”. There was no evidence from the post-mortem, or observations at the scene, to “indicate that the deceased had been dragged or otherwise transported to the location at which his body was found”. Another conspiracist claim dashed.

There was, said Dr Hunt, “a total lack of classical ‘defence’ wounds against a sharp weapon attack”, such wounds being typically to the palms or forearms. When somebody is murdered with a knife, the bloodstains left on the ground and clothing are often jagged and jerky, and spread all over the place, because the victim has been fighting for his life. But at the scene of Dr Kelly’s death, the blood, though extensive, was “relatively passive” in distribution. There was no obvious trampling to the undergrowth, no damage to his clothing.

The bloodstains on the removed wristwatch are significant, says the pathologist: “The fact that the watch appears to have been removed while blood was already flowing suggests that it has been removed deliberately in order to facilitate access to the wrist.” The water bottle and its top, also bloodstained, were placed neatly on the ground.

Dr Hunt spent seven and a quarter hours at the scene of death, then just under three hours carrying out the post-mortem. His conclusion is clear: the orientation and arrangement of the wounds on the left wrist “are typical of self-inflicted injury”, as is the rest of the layout of the death scene, and there is no evidence whatever to support any other finding.

As this previously “secret” pathology report is released, I’m in an unusual position. Contrary to various claims, this report was never quite “suppressed”. As one of those at the centre of the David Kelly affair, and a party to the Hutton Inquiry, it was shared with my lawyers back in 2003. I could have seen it if I’d wanted to – but I never wanted to.

Because even without the crushing detail supplied by Dr Hunt, I had very little doubt that Dr Kelly committed suicide. Even if you believe that the British government goes round bumping off its own employees in cold blood – which I do not – what motive could they possibly have had for killing Dr Kelly? How could it possibly have been in their interest to murder him?

By the time he died, Dr Kelly was no longer an obscure official. He had been at the centre of a national row. His death plunged the last government into the greatest crisis in its history, a crisis from which it never fully recovered. Killing him was guaranteed to create such a crisis, as anyone with an iota of sense would have known.

Yes, I was both appalled – and surprised – when I first heard he’d died. He hadn’t struck me as the suicidal type, if there is such a thing. He was well used to confrontation and pressure: he’d been a weapons inspector in Iraq, for goodness’ sake. And by the day of his death, the worst of the pressure was essentially over: the battle between Downing Street and the BBC over my sexed-up dossier story, for which Dr Kelly was the source, had reached stalemate.

But on the day of his dying, I knew nothing of how badly Dr Kelly had been treated. After learning what he went through at the hands of his employers, it is easier to understand the road that led him to that Oxfordshire hillside.

Alastair Campbell’s determination to use Dr Kelly to, in his words, “f—” me saw him placed under great pressure. Having come forward to his bosses under a promise that his identity would be kept secret, he was effectively surrendered to the world – after Campbell decided that “the biggest thing needed was the source out”. Ministry of Defence press officers gave journalists a series of clues which enabled anyone with Google to guess who he was. They kindly confirmed Dr Kelly’s name to anyone who guessed right. One newspaper was allowed to put more than 20 names to the MoD before it got to Dr Kelly’s.

Once outed, Dr Kelly was openly belittled by Jack Straw. He was intensively interviewed, forced into televised interrogation, coached in what to say, then blurted an untruth in the blaze of publicity – an untruth which, on the morning of his death, his bosses told him they would investigate. Dr Kelly defined himself by his work and his reputation for integrity. The fear of losing that work, and that reputation, must have been terrifying to him, even if it was almost certainly unfounded.

What this week’s report does do, however, is show the murder theory to be even more absurd and fantastic than it already was. For Dr Kelly to be killed, it would have needed someone to force 29 pills down his throat, making him swallow them without protest. Then they would have had to get him to sit on the ground without any restraint, making no attempt to defend himself, while they sawed away at his wrist with a knife. That knife, by the way, came from the desk drawer in Dr Kelly’s study, so they would also have had to burgle his house to get it.

This week’s publication has also demolished several of the Kelly conspiracy theory’s most treasured pillars: the “lack” of blood, the “movement” of the body, and the “suppression” of the report itself. Will it silence the conspiracy theorists? I rather doubt it. Several of them were still in full flow yesterday.

There are, to be fair, a number of questions the report does not address. Dr Hunt himself subsequently changed one of the conclusions shown in it. The cause of death was rare – Dr Kelly was reportedly the only person in England to die in that way the whole of that year. Operation Mason, the police investigation into his death, started nine hours before he was even reported missing.

Yet most of these facts, too, turn out to have seemingly plausible explanations. The pathologist did change his view of the precise cause of Dr Kelly’s death, but still ruled out the possibility that foul play was involved. Thames Valley police have said that the start time of Op Mason was chosen in retrospect to reflect the period of interest.

The fact that a cause of death is rare does not mean that it is unheard of, or impossible. Various doctors have questioned whether Dr Kelly could have bled to death from cutting the ulnar, one of the smaller arteries. But the actual cause of death is the combination of the severed artery with two other things: Dr Kelly’s long-standing heart condition of coronary artery atherosclerosis, and his swallowing of the tablets. There are just as many, if not more, experts who state that this cause is entirely plausible.

The conspiracy wants Dr Kelly to have been murdered – but the reality, his suicide, is more than scandal enough. And if you seek the hand of the British government in deliberate killing, the deaths of 150,000 Iraqis would seem, to me, rather more to the point than the death of one scientist.

Too often, as perhaps last week, Dr Kelly has been used by those wanting to fit him into their cause. Could we all please now leave him in peace?

ANNEX Part 2 [the “abridged” version of Dr. Frost’s letter published by the Sunday Telegraph

SIR –

The David Kelly case is far from closed (News Review, October 24), not least because no inquest has taken place.

The Government, by publishing the highly-sensitive post-mortem and toxicology reports, hoped to draw a line under the whole affair. It will do no such thing.

The continued refusal to hold an inquest into his death, which is required by the laws of this country and of Europe, constitutes a blatant subversion of due process of the law.

Dr Stephen Frost

Colwyn Bay, Conwy

If the CIA routinely lies to the American people, maybe that’s because its got so much to lie about, like killing millions of innocent human beings around the world. As far back as December, 1968, the CIA’s own Covert Operations Study Group gave a secret report to president-elect Richard Nixon that conceded, “The impression of many Americans, especially in the intellectual community and among the youth, that the United States is engaging in ‘dirty tricks’ tends to alienate them from their government.” According to Time Weiner’s book “Legacy of Ashes”(Anchor), the report went on to say, “Our credibility and our effectiveness in this role is necessarily damaged to the extent that it becomes known that we are secretly intervening in what may be (or appear to be) the internal affairs of others.”

President Bill Clinton, who first gave the CIA the green light to launch its illegal “renditions” (kidnappings,) told the nation on the occasion of the Agency’s 50th birthday (1997), “By necessity, the American people will never know the full story of your courage.” (Courage? For 22 agents to grab one Muslim cleric off the streets of Milan, Italy, and ship him abroad to be tortured?) Anyway, presidents who authorize criminal acts by the CIA, as virtually all have done since its founding in 1947, don’t want the truth out, either, lest knowledge of those “dirty tricks” sicken and revolt the American people when they find out what crimes the Agency is perpetrating with their tax dollars. As former CIA agent Philip Agee once put it, “The CIA is the President’s secret army.” This point was underscored at a luncheon by President Gerald Ford himself, which he hosted for New York Times top editors on Jan. 16, 1975. According to Weiner, Ford told them the reputation of every President since Truman could be ruined if the secrets became public. Asked by an editor, like what? Ford replied “like assassinations.”

One reason the Agency seeks to hide its operations is that it sadly is often guilty as charged. For example, take its complicity in the murders of American missionaries in Peru. As Reuters reported Nov. 21, 2008:

“The CIA obstructed inquiries into its role in the shooting down of an aircraft carrying a family of U.S. missionaries in Peru in 2001, the agency’s inspector general(IG) has concluded. The (IG’s) report said a CIA-backed program in Peru targeting drug runners was so poorly run that many suspect aircraft were shot down by Peruvian air force jets without proper checks being made first.” A small plane carrying Veronica Bowers, her husband Jim, their son Cory and infant daughter Charity was shot down by a Peruvian jet on April 20, 2001, after it was tracked by a CIA surveillance plane that suspected it was carrying drugs. Veronica and Charity Bowers were killed, while their pilot, Kevin Donaldson, who crash-landed the bullet-riddled plane into the Amazon River, was badly injured. The IG’s report said that in the aftermath of the 2001 incident the CIA sought to characterize it as a one-time mistake in an otherwise well-run program. “In fact this was not the case. The routine disregard of the required intercept procedures … led to the rapid shooting down of target aircraft without adequate safeguards to protect against the loss of innocent life,” the report from the Agency’s own IG said. (One might ask why the CIA didn’t wait for the plane to land to interrogate the passengers?)

The kicker in the Reuters account is “The IG said the CIA found ‘sustained and significant’ violations of procedure in its own internal investigation but had denied Congress, the National Security Council and the Justice Department access to its findings.” This raises the question of whether the CIA has become so powerful it can withhold findings even from the Justice Department and Congress? The answer is that it can, has, and likely continues to do so, because it is indeed both powerful and influential. After all, with the exception of President Clinton, who abetted the CIA’s crimes, presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush Jr., and Barrack Obama all have been directly on the CIA payroll as employees at one time or another. Bush Sr., of course, headed the Agency during 1976-77. Bush Jr. worked for a CIA front in Alaska, and President Obama worked for CIA front Business International Corporation after he got out of college.

The CIA’s influence is such that it can successfully forbid other agencies of government to conceal its crimes if they find out about them. Example: “The Drug Enforcement Administration(DEA) knew about and helped cover up the CIA’s involvement in Guatemala’s drug war murders, a former DEA agent said,” the AP reported on July 23, 1996. Although the DEA denied the allegations, Celerino Castillo, who was a special DEA agent assigned to Guatemala, said he and other DEA agents there “were aware of specific murders committed by the Guatemala military with CIA involvement and were ordered to lie to keep the crimes secret.” AP said the Intelligence Oversight Board issued a report stating CIA agents in Guatemala “were credibly alleged” to have ordered, planned or participated in human rights violations such as murder, torture and kidnapping.” (I.e., Castillo’s charges were true.) So it has long since gotten to the point that officials of other U.S. agents cannot report the CIA’s crimes either, as if they were under a Mafia oath of secrecy.

CIA employees themselves are forbidden by secrecy agreements (under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act passed under President Ronald Reagan) to write anything about the Agency without first clearing it with a CIA publications review board. Accordingly, the CIA recently cracked down on a former officer who wrote under the pseudonym “Ishmael Jones.” His “crime” was to publish two years ago “The Human Factor: Inside the CIA’s Dysfunctional Intelligence Culture.” The Associated Press quotes Jones as saying, “CIA censors attack this book because it exposes the CIA as a place to get rich, with billions of taxpayer dollars wasted or stolen in espionage programs that produce nothing.” Denying the truth, however, is a long established CIA practice. John Stockwell, for 13 years a CIA station chief in Angola or a top man in Viet Nam, said in a lecture, “What I ran into…was a corruption in the CIA and the intelligence business…what I found was that the CIA, us, the case officers, were not permitted to report about the corruption in the South Vietnamese army.”

Whether the Agency’s John Stockwell, Ishmael Jones or DEA’s Celerino Castillo, we note that many of the CIA’s critics are former American intelligence officers who have seen too much, men apparently with a conscience and respect for human rights. Stockwell, a former Marine who held high posts in the field for the CIA was in a position to know when he charged that over the years the CIA has killed “millions” of innocents. He says the victims were largely “people of the Third World…that have the misfortune of being born in the Metumba mountains of the Congo, in the jungles of Southeast Asia…in the hills of northern Nicaragua…most of (whom) couldn’t give you an intelligent definition of communism or of capitalism.” Stockwell estimated the CIA has perpetrated “10 to 20 thousand covert actions” between 1961, about the time of its Cuban Bay of Pigs fiasco, and 1987.

Stockwell concludes “We are responsible for doing these things on a massive basis to people of the world…we create a CIA, a secret police, we give them a vast budget, and we let them go and run these (covert) programs in our name and we pretend like we don’t know it’s going on…And we’re just as responsible for these 1 to 3 million people we’ve slaughtered and for all the people we’ve tortured and made miserable, as the Gestapo was of the people that they slaughtered and killed. Genocide is genocide.”

Is it? The Obama administration apparently has no plans to expose and bring to trial past CIA killers and torturers, much less those who obstructed justice by destroying tapes of their torture or lying to Congress about it. This is the same country—which is now waging war in three Middle East nations and has been responsible for the violent and bloody overthrow of dozens of foreign governments—that keeps a quarter of a million pot smokers in prison who have never hurt another person in their lives. Pardon me if I ask whether my native land has not, in fact, become a lunatic asylum run by the criminally insane? #

Sherwood Ross is director of the Anti-War News Service. He formerly worked for major dailies and wire services. To contribute to his news service or comment, reach him at [email protected]  

Introduction:

The November 2, 2010 electoral debacle of the Democratic Party in the US cannot be solely ascribed to the failed policies of President Obama, the Congressional leadership or their senior economic advisers. Nor is the demise of what passes for the American “center-left” confined to the US – it is a world-wide pattern, expressed in countries as diverse as Greece, Portugal, Spain, Great Britain and Japan.

The central question is why the left-center left governing parties are everywhere in crisis and will be for the foreseeable future?

The Left-Center Left: Past Winners, Present Losers

In the past leftist parties had been the beneficiaries of capitalist crises: Incumbent conservative regimes, which had presided over economic recessions or had been held responsible for military debacles, were ousted from power by leftist parties prepared to make large-scale, long-term public investments, funded by progressive taxes on wealth and capital, and to impose austerity programs on the rich and wealthy.

In contrast, today the left/center-left (L-CL) regimes preside over crisis-ridden capitalist economies and administer regressive socio-economic policies designed to promote the recovery of the biggest financial and corporate enterprises while rolling back wages, social programs, pensions and unemployment benefits.

As a result, the L-CL has become the prime political loser in the current economic crisis, reaping hostility and rejection from the great mass of its former working class and salaried supporters.

Wherever the Left has been elected in recent years, a deep polarization developed between its electoral base and the governing party leadership. Nowhere has the Left dared to infringe on the power and prerogatives of the very capitalist class of bankers and investors, who caused the crisis. Instead with perverse and reactionary logic the Left- Center Left parties have wielded stated power through the treasury to refinance capital, through the police and judiciary to repress labor and through the mass media to justify its regressive policies (especially via anti-‘chaos’ hysteria).

In Greece, the Pan-Hellenic Socialist regime (PASOK) has fired tens of thousands of public employees and its tight fiscal policies have raised unemployment from 8% to 14%. It has increased the age of retirement, reduced pensions and welfare provisions and raised fees for public services, while foreign and domestic bankers, ship owners and overseas investors have benefited by accumulating property and distressed enterprises on the cheap.

Similar polices have been adopted in Spain and Portugal where public employees’ salaries and jobs have been slashed, pensions and welfare payments have been reduced, job security has been deregulated and employers are free to hire and fire as never before.
Prior to the British Labor Party’s defeat, after more than a decade of promoting wild unregulated financial and real-estate speculation leading to the economic crash, the Labor leadership was planning massive layoffs and cuts in social programs.

In the United States, Obama and the Democrats were elected, on the basis of their promises to redress the grievances of the workers and salaried employees, who had been battered by the collapse of Wall Street. Instead, the White House poured trillions of tax dollars to rescue the major banking, financial and speculative institutions responsible for the collapse while unemployment and underemployment has climbed to over 20% and 10 million homeowners lost their homes through mortgage foreclosures.

Why the L-CL Deepens the Crises

Over the past 30 years the L-CL parties, which were once identified with working class interests and welfare reforms, have become deeply embedded in managing the capitalist system – going so far as to promote the most parasitic and volatile forms of speculative capital. As long as capitalist profits grew and speculative investments grew, the L-CL regimes believed that sufficient tax revenue would accrue to allow for a degree of social spending to pacify their popular voting constituency. The L-CL parties systematically eliminated the last traces of a socialist, social welfare or redistributive alternative.

The L-LC political leadership was unwilling to envision an alternative to their promotion of the policies of big corporate and banking interests as they led to financial crisis. When the big crash of 2007-2010 took place, the entire leadership of the L-CL was so deeply embedded in the institutions, policies and practices of the leading private financial structures, that the only solution they were capable of proposing was to sacrifice the public treasury in order to restore capitalist leaders and speculative institution to profitability. In other words, the U.S and European L-CL parties were prepared to jettison over 50 years of social advances. The past ties to their working-class voters, trade union allies, public employees and pensioners were severed, none were spared. The only interest that mattered to the L-CL parties was to restore conditions for profitability to benefit big overseas and domestic investors.

This economic recession has forced the L-CL parties to give up any pretext that they could satisfy bankers and public employees, corporations and workers, investors and pensioners. The crisis revealed the profound distance separating the working class from the political leaders of the L-CL.

The savage class austerity measures, repeatedly imposed on the working class every 3-6 months, in contrast to the vast and repeated subsidies to capital, reveal the true vocation of the current L-CL regimes. There was never a question of choice: From their entry into the government and from their leading economic appointments, to their subsequent agreements with the world’s leading banks, it has become obvious that the Papandreous (Greece), Socrates (Portugal), Zapatero (Spain) and Obama (USA) regimes were prepared to use the full power of the state to sacrifice labor to save capital.

Consequences of L-CL Policies and Practices

From the start, the L-CL parties decided there was everything to negotiate (and concede) with the bankers and nothing to negotiate and compromise with Labor. The recession was too profound, capitalist interests and institutions were “too big to fail”, and labor was, in the eyes of the L-CL parties, too expendable: ‘Let them march and yell in the streets’. Unemployment and under-employment climbed to double digits everywhere. The old arrangements of accommodation between the trade unions and the L-CL parties came under intense pressure everywhere (except in the US and UK) from the workers in factory assemblies, the offices of the public employees, and among the pensioners in the senior centers.

Repeated general strikes broke out in France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy. The L-CL regimes absolutely refused to make any concession to the workers. The crises and austerity policies became the base for a real class war: The Left-Center Left regimes were determined to roll back over 50 years of working class advances. The general strikes were defensive battles to protect hard won advances in decent living standards. Workers everywhere in Europe recognized the abominable working and welfare conditions in the US, where trade unions have become doormats and the millionaire trade union bosses continue to use union funds to bankroll the Democrats and protect the bureaucracy’s privileges and wealth.

Conclusion

The Left-Center Left regimes are paying a high electoral price for sacrificing the working class in order to save the bankers: Obama’s recent electoral defeat is only a forerunner of future losses for the Spanish, Greek, Portuguese Socialists and other L-CL regimes. Their austerity policies have led them to ‘fall between two chairs’: They alienate workers and strengthen the capitalist class, which already has its own “natural” conservative capitalist parties. The “hard right” everywhere is advancing, sensing the debacle of the center-left as an opportunity to deepen and widen the frontal assault on labor rights, social welfare and any semblance of legal protection.

Faced with this assault, the main defense of militant workers in Southern Europe is the general strike, (totally absent for over a century in the US). But even so, given the ferocious backing of all of Europe’s (and the US) ruling classes for the regressive austerity policies, it is becoming clear that the positive experience of massive class solidarity is not enough. Greece has had half dozen general strikes. France has been shut down by a nationwide strike. Spain has more to come. But their L-CL rulers continue slashing and burning workers rights and living standards now and for years to come.

What will it take to stop and reverse this capitalist juggernaut? It is clear, that the L-CL parties, as we know them, are part of the problem and not the solution. Will new working class parties and movements emerge that can combine mass general strikes with challenges for state power? Will the rising power of the electoral right lead to a parallel rise of the left?

As of today, little or nothing of a left-right political polarization appears on the horizon in the United States where most of the union and social movement leaders are tied to the Democratic Party. In contrast, in Europe, particularly in France, Greece, Portugal and Spain, extra-parliamentary mass struggles will continue and perhaps intensify, raising the specter of possible popular uprisings as conditions continue to deteriorate.

The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace, and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption will follow and the money power of the country will endeavor and prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until the wealth is aggregated into a few hands and the republic is destroyed. — Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21, 1864  http://www.campaignforliberty.com/profile.php?member=Jason_Mazzy

Foreclosuregate will soon again dominate the financial news along with the three class action lawsuits – one is a RICO suit, entered against JPMorgan Chase and HSBC for rigging the silver markets.

Irrespective of what Wall Street tells you, but in Foreclosuregate we are taking about 2 trillion in securitizations, plus $500 billion in second mortgages. These bonds were all rated AAA by S&P, Moody’s and Fitch, but were in fact BBB. We have written over and over again questioning why the buyers were stupid enough to be buyers, or why no civil suits or criminal actions were filed for three years. our synopsis tells us the buyers, particularly the Europeans, who purchased 60% of this toxic paper, were either collectively grossly incompetent, or they had the bonds secretly guaranteed by the Fed. Hundreds of lawyers cannot be that stupid, so we believe the latter. The losses for lenders will be somewhere north of $500 billion. This kind of payout will take down Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi Group and Deutsche Bank, and a number of others will suffer large losses. We have yet to see large class action suits and they could compound the losses. As you have already seen Fannie, Freddie, PIMCO and the NY Fed have already banded together to protect their positions. What we are seeing is intercine fighting to see who will lose the most money among the elitists. This internal warfare is good for us because it puts them off balance and other issues dear to their hearts, such as world government are pushed to the side at least temporarily. The only way these banks can stay in business is to be nationalized, so that you the taxpayer will have the privilege of paying for their losses. Anyone who owns stock in these banks and HSBC should have their heads’ examined. When it comes to legal action the court system is a sham. Countrywide’s Mazillo was fined and BofA paid the fine. Mozilo should be doing 25 years for criminal fraud. Stand by we are only at the beginning of this fraud extravaganza.

The tentacles and the depth of this scandal has only been recognized by elitists behind the scenes in NYC and Washington.

Foreclosuregate could put a real damper on house sales and that will be compounded by a Congress and Senate that will be frozen in its tracks. All Wall Street and banking, which control the Fed, ever think of us shirt-term expediency. QE2, which, as we predicted, will over the next two years, cost $5 trillion. This will continually depreciate the value of the dollar. That will bring about a more intensive currency war and that will lead to tariffs, which is exactly what the US needs to economically survive. Speculative capital flows are meeting barriers already from Brazil and other will follow. Other nations are seeing inflation pressures intensify and they don’t want more dollar inflation. Brazil is being followed by China, Australia and India. The Fed is unprepared to deal with this as it tries to hold the US economy together, as it slowly spirals into a repeat of the last 20 years in Japan. You might call it a lost decade. Japan had 5% unemployment; the US has 22-3/4%. The Japanese government borrowed from Japanese savers. The US has to borrow from international markets or monetize. That means monetization by the Fed and higher unemployment and inflation, not to mention the ever-growing debt. Is it any wonder gold and silver is becoming the investments of choice.

Housing is going to be frozen as the backlog of housing inventory deepens. There are about two million houses for sale. Then there is the phantom inventory being held by lenders, that they cannot prove they own, of some four million more units. The rate of home ownership continues to fall. If that continues who will ever buy these homes?

These problems stand to the side as the stock market approaches new highs on a combination of QE2 and share buybacks by transnational corporations. At the same time gold, silver and commodities boom. The $600 bill QE2, or $75 billion a month, is what the Fed did the last time around and that was only successful for 5 quarters of 3% growth, half of which came from the increase in money and credit. Monetary creation of $2.5 trillion will increase GDP by 1% to 1-1/2% taking it to 2% this time. This time the reflation of asserts is not going to be as easy and won’t work as well. Most of the funds will end up in banks and on Wall Street, which will use the money to speculate with again. Banks have been trying to lend more since June and borrowers are generally not interested. They want to see what medical reform will cost the, whether the Bush tax cuts will be extended and what will new regulations mean to them. On the consumer side, only the government will lend to poor credit risks. Some 25% of mortgage holders are in trouble via negative equity and we believe that will worsen. In the face of growing unemployment it will be difficult to stay better than even.

The dollar’s countertrend rally is over. It could be called technical and flaccid at best. That is probably because that is the way Messrs. Bernanke and Geithner want it to be. It cheapens exports and restrains buying of foreign goods due to their higher costs.

We can expect more government debt as 5 million jobless get an extension on unemployment. It is either that or the possibility of revolution.

Will tax cuts be extended costing another $40 billion? Will a 1% financial transaction tax be passed, or will a grab for $6 trillion in retirement benefits become reality? Then there is the administration’s $650 billion stimulus package, which may well be a dead issue.

This week in gold and silver has certainly been spectacular in spite of continued US government manipulation. The professionals and big hitters just lie in wait for the cartel to push prices down, so they can take them back up again. After almost 20 years of price suppression the government, Fed and other central banks are getting another taste of their own medicine. Gold and silver are not the hard sells they once were with a crumbling financial foundati8on that underpins the dollar. The fact that many corporations, particularly in the financial sector, are carrying two sets of books doesn’t help much either. We see Foreclosuregate, which is just really getting underway, with three class action lawsuits, one RICO, versus JPMorgan Chase and HSBC for rigging the silver market, a falling dollar, and currency war, which will become trade war. Not to speak of a massive change in congress and deficits that worsen daily. Least we also not forget the fall coming in the municipal bond market as AMBAC goes bankrupt and all those bogus overrated bonds return to their real rating and as a consequence they fall in value. Just think what they’ll have to pay for interest in the future, not an inviting future.

That is why we say gold and silver related assets are the place to be. It has been that way for ten years over which we have recommended such assets and we see five or more good years ahead. The upward momentum in gold and silver will accelerate as funds escape from other asset groups. Less than 1% of investors own gold and silver shares and less than 2% own coins and bullion. Thus, plenty of players are yet to enter the game.

ForeclosureGate Could Force Bank Nationalization

November 6th, 2010 by Ellen Brown

For two years, politicians have danced around the nationalization issue, but ForeclosureGate may be the last straw.  The megabanks are too big to fail, but they aren’t too big to reorganize as federal institutions serving the public interest.

In January 2009, only a week into Obama’s presidency, David Sanger reported in The New York Times that nationalizing the banks was being discussed.  Privately, the Obama economic team was conceding that more taxpayer money was going to be needed to shore up the banks.  When asked whether nationalization was a good idea, House speaker Nancy Pelosi replied:

“Well, whatever you want to call it . . . . If we are strengthening them, then the American people should get some of the upside of that strengthening. Some people call that nationalization.

“I’m not talking about total ownership,” she quickly cautioned — stopping herself by posing a question: “Would we have ever thought we would see the day when we’d be using that terminology? ‘Nationalization of the banks?’ ”

Noted Matthew Rothschild in a March 2009 editorial:

[T]hat’s the problem today. The word “nationalization” shuts off the debate. Never mind that Britain, facing the same crisis we are, just nationalized the Bank of Scotland. Never mind that Ronald Reagan himself considered such an option during a global banking crisis in the early 1980s.

Although nationalization sounds like socialism, it is actually what is supposed to happen under our capitalist system when a major bank goes bankrupt.  The bank is put into receivership under the FDIC, which takes it over. 

What fits the socialist label more, in fact, is the TARP bank bailout, sometimes called “welfare for the rich.”  The banks’ losses and risks have been socialized but the profits have not.  The bankers have been feasting on our dime without sharing the spread.  

And that was before ForeclosureGate – the uncovering of massive fraud in the foreclosure process.  Investors are now suing to put defective loans back on bank balance sheets.  If they win, the banks will be hopelessly under water. 

“The unraveling of the ‘foreclosure-gate’ could mean banking crisis 2.0,” warned economist Dian Chu on October 21, 2010.     

Banking Crisis 2.0 Means TARP II

The significance of ForeclosureGate is being downplayed in the media, but independent analysts warn that it could be the tsunami that takes the big players down. 

John Lekas, senior portfolio manager of the Leader Short Term Bond Fund, said on The Street on November 2, 2010, that the banks will prevail in the lawsuits brought by investors.  The paperwork issues, he said, are just “technical mumbo jumbo;” there is no way to unwind years of complex paperwork and securitizations.  

But Yves Smith, writing in The New York Times on October 30, says it’s not that easy: 

 The banks and other players in the securitization industry now seem to be looking to Congress to snap its fingers to make the whole problem go away, preferably with a law that relieves them of liability for their bad behavior. But any such legislative fiat would bulldoze regions of state laws on real estate and trusts, not to mention the Uniform Commercial Code. A challenge on constitutional grounds would be inevitable.

Asking for Congress’s help would also require the banks to tacitly admit that they routinely broke their own contracts and made misrepresentations to investors in their Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Would Congress dare shield them from well-deserved litigation when the banks themselves use every minor customer deviation from incomprehensible contracts as an excuse to charge a fee?

Chris Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics told Fox Business News on October 1 that the government needs to restructure the largest banks.  “Restructuring” in this context means bankruptcy receivership.  “You can’t prevent it,” said Whalen.  “We’ve wasted two years, and haven’t restructured the top banks, but for Citi.  Bank of America will need to be restructured; this isn’t about the documentation problem, this is because [of the high] cost of servicing the property.”

 
Profs. William Black and Randall Wray are calling for receivership for another reason — the industry has engaged in flagrant, widespread fraud.  “There was fraud at every step in the home finance food chain,” they wrote in the Huffington Post on October 25:

[T]he appraisers were paid to overvalue real estate; mortgage brokers were paid to induce borrowers to accept loan terms they could not possibly afford; loan applications overstated the borrowers’ incomes; speculators lied when they claimed that six different homes were their principal dwelling; mortgage securitizers made false reps and warranties about the quality of the packaged loans; credit ratings agencies were overpaid to overrate the securities sold on to investors; and investment banks stuffed collateralized debt obligations with toxic securities that were handpicked by hedge fund managers to ensure they would self destruct.

Players all down the line were able to game the system, suggesting there is something radically wrong not just with the players but with the system itself.  Would it be sufficient just to throw the culprits in jail?  And which culprits?  One reason there have been so few arrests to date is that “everyone was doing it.”  Virtually the whole securitized mortgage industry might have to be put behind bars.

The Need for Permanent Reform

The Kanjorski amendment to the Banking Reform Bill passed in July allows federal regulators to preemptively break up large financial institutions that pose a threat to U.S. financial or economic stability.  In the financial crises of the 1930s and 1980s, the banks were purged of their toxic miscreations and delivered back to private owners, who proceeded to engage in the same sorts of chicanery all over again.  It could be time to take the next logical step and nationalize not just the losses but the banks themselves, and not just temporarily but permanently. 

The logic of that sort of reform was addressed by Willem Buiter, chief economist of Citigroup and formerly a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, in The Financial Times following the bailout of AIG in September 2008.  He wrote:

If financial behemoths like AIG are too large and/or too interconnected to fail but not too smart to get themselves into situations where they need to be bailed out, then what is the case for letting private firms engage in such kinds of activities in the first place?

Is the reality of the modern, transactions-oriented model of financial capitalism indeed that large private firms make enormous private profits when the going is good and get bailed out and taken into temporary public ownership when the going gets bad, with the tax payer taking the risk and the losses?

If so, then why not keep these activities in permanent public ownership? There is a long-standing argument that there is no real case for private ownership of deposit-taking banking institutions, because these cannot exist safely without a deposit guarantee and/or lender of last resort facilities, that are ultimately underwritten by the taxpayer.

Even where private deposit insurance exists, this is only sufficient to handle bank runs on a subset of the banks in the system. Private banks collectively cannot self-insure against a generalised run on the banks. Once the state underwrites the deposits or makes alternative funding available as lender of last resort, deposit-based banking is a license to print money.  [Emphasis added.]

Nearly all money today is created as bank credit or debt.  (That includes the money created by the Federal Reserve, a bank, and lent to the federal government when it buys federal securities.)  Credit or debt is simply a legal agreements to pay in the future.  Legal agreements are properly overseen by the judiciary, a branch of government.  Perhaps it is time to make banking a fourth branch of government. 

That probably won’t happen any time soon, but in the meantime we can try a few experiments in public banking, beginning with the Bank of America, predicted to be the first of the behemoths to be put into receivership.

Leo Panitch, Canada Research Chair in comparative political economy at York University, wrote in The Globe and Mail in December 2009 that “there has long been a strong case for turning the banks into a public utility, given that they can’t exist in complex modern society without states guaranteeing their deposits and central banks constantly acting as lenders of last resort.”

Nationalization Is Looking Better

David Sanger wrote in The New York Times in January 2009:

Mr. Obama’s advisers say they are acutely aware that if the government is perceived as running the banks, the administration would come under enormous political pressure to halt foreclosures or lend money to ailing projects in cities or states with powerful constituencies, which could imperil the effort to steer the banks away from the cliff.  “The nightmare scenarios are endless,” one of the administration’s senior officials said.

Today, that scenario is looking less like a nightmare and more like relief.  Calls have been made for a national moratorium on foreclosures.  If the banks were nationalized, the government could move to restructure the mortgages, perhaps at subsidized rates. 

Lending money to ailing projects in cities and states is also sounding rather promising.  Despite massive bailouts by the taxpayers and the Fed, the banks are still not lending to local governments, local businesses or consumers.  Matthew Rothschild, writing in March 2009, quoted Robert Pollin, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst:

“Relative to a year ago, lending in the U.S. economy is down an astonishing 90 percent.  The government needs to take over the banks now, and force them to start lending.”       

When the private sector fails, the public sector needs to step in.  Under public ownership, wrote Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz in January 2009, “the incentives of the banks can be aligned better with those of the country.  And it is in the national interest that prudent lending be restarted.”

For a model, Congress can look to the nation’s only state-owned bank, the Bank of North Dakota.  The 91-year-old BND has served its community well.  As of March 2010, North Dakota was the only state boasting a budget surplus; it had the lowest default rate in the country; it had the lowest unemployment rate in the country; and it had received a 2009 dividend from the BND of $58.1 million, quite a large sum for a sparsely populated state. 

For our newly-elected Congress, the only alternative may be to start budgeting for TARP II.

Ellen Brown is an attorney and the author of eleven books. In Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free, she shows how the Federal Reserve and “the money trust” have usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are webofdebt.com, ellenbrown.com, and public-banking.com.

-The Australian development is part of a new US strategy to step up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region after reviews of strategic policy concluded that the Bush government’s attempts to project power from North America were not working.

Australia has agreed to a major escalation of military co-operation with the US.

This will include more visits by American ships, aircraft and troops and their forces exercising here regularly, The Weekend Australian says.

Access to Australian Defence Force facilities will allow the US to step up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region as it comes under pressure to wind down its key bases, such as Okinawa, as concern grows about China’s military expansion.

Increased numbers of US personnel in Australian facilities are expected within months, and the tempo of military exercises will be stepped up as that happens.

Likely early sites are Townsville, as the primary base for army operations, the port of Darwin, the Bradshaw Field Training Area in the Northern Territory and HMAS Stirling naval base in Western Australia.

Three big announcements on military and security co-operation will be made after Monday’s AUSMIN defence and foreign policy talks in Melbourne involving delegations headed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Australia’s Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defence Minister Stephen Smith.

Sources close to the talks say US forces will not establish new bases on Australian soil but they will be welcomed into existing facilities.

The Australian development is part of a new US strategy to step up its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region after reviews of strategic policy concluded that the Bush government’s attempts to project power from North America were not working.

Japan refers to the four islands of the southern Kuril archipelago as the “Northern Territories.” The Japanese government designated Feb. 7 as “Northern Territories Day” to mark its claimed ownership of the islands. This is different from “Takeshima Day,” which was designated by only one Japanese province to mark Japan’s claim to Korea’s Dokdo islets.

But the four southernmost Kuril Islands are under Russian control, unlike the Senkaku Islands, which are under Japanese jurisdiction and which China calls Diaoyutai. Japan has taken a noisy approach in its dispute over the Kuril Islands and a silent approach in dealing with the Senkaku Islands.

Tokyo’s strategy has been to present areas under foreign control as being disputed and areas under its control unquestionably so. In dealing with Dokdo, it has taken the clever approach of annoying Korea so that it protests loudly against Tokyo’s claim. The approach did not stem from a belief that Dokdo and Kuril Islands are different. It merely places lower priority on Dokdo because of Korea’s strong alliance with the U.S, which also plays a key role in Japan’s national security.

Tokyo applies one principle to all of these territories — that there are no historical problems that could undermine its territorial claims. In other words, it claims it never controlled those territories against the will of other countries during the colonial period. But China and Russia see the territorial disputes as historical issues. China says Japan occupied the Senkaku Islands in the late 19th century when China was in turmoil, while Russia believes it merely won back the four islands in its World War II victory.

Dokdo cannot be seen from the same perspective, but the common factor is Japan’s persistent denials of history. It writes off anti-Japanese protests in China as internal disputes stemming from a widening income gap, high unemployment among the young and political chaos, almost as if it is chiding China for being politically underdeveloped. There is no soul-searching whatsoever among Japanese officials asking themselves why there is anti-Japanese sentiment among the Chinese.

The same goes for Korea. When anti-Japanese sentiment flared in Korea after Tokyo identified Dokdo as part of its own territory in school texts in 2008, Japanese officials and experts wrote it off as a ploy by the Korean government to unite a public divided over beef imports. And when the global financial crisis erupted, a Japanese newspaper even featured a column saying Korea will most likely end up begging Japan for money.

On Monday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited the Kuril Islands, rubbing salt on a highly sensitive spot for Japan as its territorial dispute with China rages on over the Senkaku Islands. Now it is Japan that is accusing its regional neighbors of reigniting imperialism. It says China and Russia, which have grown economically powerful, are flexing their muscle. But if China and Russia are guilty of imperialism, Japan is equally guilty of denying its imperialist past. This is clearly demonstrated in the anti-Japanese sentiments flaring up among the Chinese and Russian public, which are fueling China and Russia’s territorial challenges against Japan.

China and Russia are no longer former communist countries lagging behind in economic power. The more Japan denies its history, the greater the challenge it will face, and this will hurt stability in Northeast Asia. Japan has finally met its match.

‘George, I’m asking you to bomb the compound,’ Olmert told Bush according to former U.S. president’s memoirs; Israel eventually reportedly destroyed the facility. By Reuters Tags: Israel news Ehud Olmert Syria George Bush US Former United States President George W. Bush wrote in his recently published memoirs that he considered ordering a U.S. military strike against a suspected Syrian nuclear facility at Israel’s request in 2007, but ultimately opted against it, Reuters revealed on Friday.

Israel eventually destroyed the facility, which Syria denied was aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

In his memoir, “Decision Points,” to hit bookstores Tuesday, Bush says that shortly after he received an intelligence report about a “suspicious, well-hidden facility in the eastern desert of Syria,” he spoke by phone with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

“George, I’m asking you to bomb the compound,” Olmert told Bush, according to the book, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

Bush says he discussed options with his national security team. A bombing mission was considered “but bombing a sovereign country with no warning or announced justification would create severe blowback,” he writes.

A covert raid was discussed but it was considered too risky to slip a team in and out of Syria undetected.

Bush received an intelligence assessment from then-CIA Director Mike Hayden, who reported that analysts had high confidence the plant housed a nuclear reactor, but low confidence of a Syrian nuclear weapons program.

Bush writes that he told Olmert, “I cannot justify an attack on a sovereign nation unless my intelligence agencies stand up and say it’s a weapons program.”

Bush had ordered the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 based on intelligence that said Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, which were never found.

Olmert was disappointed with Bush’s decision to recommend a strategy of using diplomacy backed up by the threat of force to deal with Syria over the facility.

“Your strategy is very disturbing to me,” Olmert told Bush, according to the book.

Bush denies charges that arose at the time that he had given a “green light” for Israel to attack the installation.

“Prime Minister Olmert hadn’t asked for a green light, and I hadn’t given one. He had done what he believed was necessary to protect Israel,” Bush writes.

Bush writes that Olmert’s “execution of the strike” against the Syrian compound made up for the confidence he had lost in the Israelis during their 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, which Bush feels was bungled. 

World Geopolitics and The Battle for the Mediterranean

November 5th, 2010 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya


PART III
The Mediterranean Union: The Emergence of a New Order and the Battle for the Mediterranean

In PART I  of this study, the long-term plans for creating a Mediterranean Union, which predate Nicolas Sarkozy by many years, were revealed as were U.S. and E.U. efforts to turn the Middle East and North Africa into free-trade zones and economic territories. The implementation of what is now called the “Union of the Mediterranean” was a project planned through the 1995 Barcelona Process and the U.S. Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA).  

Also discussed were Franco-German plans for extending the borders of the European Union in synchronization with the “Global War on Terror.” The case of Libya was also discussed to expose the economic agendas of the E.U. and America. Finally the earlier portion of this text also confirmed the roles of Germany and the European Union as a whole in establishing the Mediterranean Union.

In PART II of the text, NATO expansion in the Mediterranean Basin was discussed through NATO’s “Mediterranean Dialogue” and its “Mediterranean Initiative” as a means of paving the way for E.U. expansion and control. The process follows the same steps as NATO and E.U. expansion in Eastern Europe. The projection for the inclusion of Israel in the E.U. and NATO were also addressed, as well as the role of securing energy resources and markets in the Middle East and North Africa.


 

The Barcelona Process and the Informal 1995 Declaration of a Mediterranean Union

On February 10, 2008 the E.U. Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Viviane Reding reacted to scepticism about the Mediterranean Union on Deutsche Welle Television (DW-TV). Commissioner Reding was told by her interviewer that sceptics in the E.U. fear that the Mediterranean Union will tear the E.U. apart. Reding, a Luxembourger, responded that the Mediterranean Union was already put in place in 1995 through the Barcelona Process and that at the time, in 2008, the entity was merely being fine-tuned: “We already have a Mediterranean Union with the [creation of the] Barcelona Process, where the E.U. formed a solidarity treaty with the countries of the Southern Mediterranean. The correct action [for the E.U.] is to build on that.” [1]

The three main stated objectives of the Barcelona Process or the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership that was established in Spain are stated through the Barcelona Declaration;

(1) The definition of a common area of peace and stability through the reinforcement of political and security dialogue.

(2) The construction of a zone of shared prosperity through an economic and financial partnership and the gradual establishment of a free-trade area.

(3) The rapprochement between peoples through a social, cultural, and human partnership aimed at encouraging understanding between cultures and exchanges between civil societies.

These principles are clearly tied to the creation of joint economic, political, and military-security spheres; the same ties that parallel the principles behind the formation of the European Union. Yet, the motives and agenda behind these principles are not as benign as they are presented. Actions speak louder than words. There is a great deal more to the larger picture of this supranational project.

One should ask, if the objectives behind this process were benign, why all the secrecy and why the deceit? Why the gradual brinkmanship of the project over time? Most importantly, why the use of threats, such as in the cases of Libya and Syria? Or military means, using violence and murder, such as in the cases of the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon, to bring about the materialization of the process?

The answer is simply that this process will benefit a select few circles in both the E.U. and the Mediterranean region and not the majority of citizens. The Mediterranean Union, along with the system of global governance that is being weaved into place, will bring about inescapable poverty and under its framework economic class will go down a road where it will virtually be fixed like a caste in the future.

Union of Inequity: Cheap Labour, Worker Immobility, Guest Workers, and the Mediterranean Union

“Even the so-called Democracy of Athens and the Platonic Utopia were based on domestic and industrial slavery.”

-Sir Halford J. Mackinder (Democratic Ideals and Reality, 1919)

The Mediterranean Union at its roots is not designed as an equal partnership for all its future members. Nor is it about serving the citizens of these countries. The citizens of Turkey, the Balkans, and the Southern Mediterranean will be treated as second-class and third-class citizens.

Under the current framework of the E.U. it is not in the European Union’s economic interests to admit Turkey as a full E.U. member. States like Germany in the Western European half of the E.U. benefit from the cheap migrant labour forces from Turkey that are called “guest workers.” If Turkey were to become a full E.U. member these Turkish workers and Turkey will gain equal rights that the E.U. does not want to grant them. This would include the right of Turkish workers to be treated in the same manner as nationals of the host countries in every way, including having equal wage levels and being able to benefit from the host nations public services. This would also give Turks mobility rights in the European Union: free movement, the right to look for other employers (the right of choice), and the right to be accompanied by their families. [2]

The same concept would apply to the Arab nations of the Southern Mediterranean, like Egypt with its large work force. The E.U. has no intention on granting these countries any equal status in a relationship of peers. This is why there is a rush to change migration laws in the European Union. The basis of a “special relationship” or “special partnership” is in reality a subordinate position.

It should also be noted that the E.U. is not a union of fair treatment and equity either: Eastern European members of the European Union, called the “European Union-Eight” and the “European Union-Eight plus Two” are also legally subordinated within the frameworks of the E.U. in regards to their relationships with the original fifteen members of the E.U., the “European Union-Fifteen.” [3] E.U. prosperity is also for a few and gross differences, which in many cases have been amplified, remain between Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

Aside from securing energy supplies and natural resources, another design of the Mediterranean Union is to harness the substantially large work forces in the Southern Mediterranean, while reducing dependency on cheap-labour from China and other Asian countries. The Southern Mediterranean is also the “near abroad” of the European Union and the establishment of a formal cheap-labour market in the Southern Mediterranean that is deeply tied to the E.U. would cut geographic distance, wait time, transportation costs, fuel consumption, and dependence on China in regards to products manufactured by cheap-labour.

To a certain extent, Chinese leverage over the E.U. would also be dealt a strategic blow. The E.U., like the U.S., is also looking for a means to reduce its dependence on the Chinese before Beijing can be challenged any further over global resources and raw materials. The Mediterranean Union provides a partial answer to this quest against China and other nations with substantially large populations, such as India and Brazil. Once dependence on the Chinese is reduced then energy supplies to China can be challenged with greater effort and possibly cut.

Preparations for Amalgamation: Changing E.U. migratory laws in anticipation for the Mediterranean Union? 

The underlying economic motives for the Mediterranean Union are the reasons why the E.U. is making a mad dash to change its migratory laws. The new regulations and laws will touch immigrants, emigrants, migrant workers, tourists, and other visitors. Fingerprinting, scanning, and collecting information on anyone crossing into or outside of the borders of the E.U. will become standard procedure. This process is also linked to the European Security Strategy, which is an E.U. replication of the strategic doctrine of post-September 11, 2001 America.

Also, the E.U. has announced that it plans on setting up an American-style visa regime for qualified foreign workers seeking entrance into the bloc. Along these lines an E.U. “blue card” that would be similar to the American “green card” would be unveiled as a pass for special residency in the European Union. Biometric identity management security systems are being upgraded and introduced within the European Union. One such system is BioDev II, which uses fingerprinting technology linked to E.U. entrance visas. The system has been developed by Motorola and is in us in France, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Belgium, and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg under the supervision of the executive branch of the E.U., the European Commission.

The changes to migratory laws in the E.U. are being brought about as a means to obstruct the free flow of migrant workers from the Southern Mediterranean countries that are expected to gravitate towards the countries of the Northern Mediterranean in search of better wages and jobs as soon as the Mediterranean Union is formalized. A neo-liberal paradigm of imparity is being strengthened and reinforced within the Mediterranean Union between capital and labour. Capital will be free to move within the Mediterranean with little regulation, whereas labour forces and individuals from the South Mediterranean will be restricted in their movements and rendered immobile.

E.U. border security and frontier control with non-E.U. countries in the Balkans, North Africa, the Middle East, and the former U.S.S.R. have been defined as major priorities for the European Union. Foreigners, including migrant or guest workers, will have to start routinely carrying identity cards and documents on them. The European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR) is being set up to monitor all E.U. border points using high resolution satellites and unmanned aircraft for migrant movements.

Frontex, a border intelligence agency with its headquarters in Warsaw, the Polish capital, has also been created by the E.U. to monitor all E.U. borders and frontiers. The Warsaw-based agency became operational on October 3, 2005. Additional emphasis has been placed on Ceuta and Melilla as frontier points, which include radar detection and sensory systems and an entire network of cameras to monitor migrant movements into the European Union. Ceuta and Melilla are tiny Spanish territorial positions in North Africa which Spain gained in 1912 as part of Spanish Morocco and has since refused to return to Morocco.

Fortress Europe and the Economic Motivations hiding behind a Global “Security Agenda”

The so-called reforms being brought about in the E.U. are conveniently justified to combat three elements: terrorism, illegal migratory movements, and crime. The dawning of the Mediterranean Union, in league with the global terrorism scare, will however also bring about greater control over E.U. citizens. Despite the creation of the Schengen Zone the passengers that will travel between different E.U. states or those travelling on domestic flights will also have to hand over a large amount of personal information. In Britain this includes credit card numbers and cellular phone numbers. [4] The information will be stored for thirteen years and could be used to profile any individual, including profiling their purchases through credit card records and their private network of relationships through a log of telephone contacts.

Biometrics has been undraped as a major cornerstone of the European Union. Mandatory fingerprinting of all travellers has also been unveiled in 2008 by the European Commission as a new procedure to be introduced throughout the bloc. All visitors crossing E.U. borders will also be monitored. All non-citizens, including those from countries like Canada which are allowed to travel to the E.U. without visas, would be forced to submit biometric data to gain entrance into or to even travel through the European Union. On February 13, 2008 Brussels announced a scheme to collect large amounts of personal information on every traveller entering or departing the European Union. This figure could be up to about nineteen pieces of personal information. [5] In 2007 an agreement was also reached by the E.U. and the U.S. to supply the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with nineteen pieces of information about individuals travelling from the E.U. to the United States. [6]

By mid-2009, all E.U. members declared they will issue passports with electronically archived fingerprints. E.U. member states, like Germany, also plan to start sharing fingerprint and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) data with the U.S. government through an automated exchange system modelled on the outlines of the European Union’s 2005 Prüm (Pruem) Treaty. [7] The Treaty of Prüm outlines the creation of a massive fingerprint information and DNA date exchange bank in the E.U. that has been nicknamed “Big Brother Europe” by its opponents inside the European Parliament (Europarl).

The new E.U. security measures would also reduce the rights guaranteed by U.N. agreements to asylum seekers trying to attain refugee status. Individuals trying to escape state persecution in North Africa or the Middle East for advocating greater freedom and for labour rights will now be put in a dangerous situation. The European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) has protested that the sweeping changes in the E.U. will make it more difficult to stay within the E.U. for asylum seekers while their requests are being reviewed. The E.U. is tactilely helping crush dissent in the Middle East and North Africa towards autocratic rulers and absolute monarchs. A safe haven for opposition movements will be systematically eliminated. In no uncertain terms it is clear that the E.U. is not seeking to nurture freedom or democratic values, but is strengthening the stranglehold of its autocratic allies that rule the Middle East and North Africa.

The changes that are expected by the European Commission to be ingrained within the E.U. between the years 2010 and 2015 are not about terrorism or fighting crime, but about the control of wages, labour markets, and labour supply. Behind the security and crime fighting agendas sits the real agenda of controlling migratory movements of people and wages. The control of labour forces — both domestic and foreign — is the main purpose of the new migratory reforms in the European Union. Knowing this it is of little wonder that the first joint summit of the Arab League and the E.U. held in Malta was the scene of not only major free-trade talks, but also major talks on migration control between the E.U. and the Arab World. According to Franco Frattini, the E.U. Justice Commissioner, the prime motive for the new regulations and laws is to control the flow of migrant workers into the European Union. According to Commissioner Frattini more than half the illegal immigrants entering the E.U. do so with valid documents, but stay past the expiration date of their permits.

If one were to live in a city where the only form of employment was a coal mine and there was no means to leave the city then one would have no choice but to work at the coal mine. Control of labour movement is a cornerstone to the socio-economic objectives of the U.S., the E.U., the World Bank, and a league of associated international financial institutions (IFIs). By rendering work forces immobile in any given geographic locality the rights of employment choice and occupational alternatives are removed and a new form of monopoly is established — a forced acceptance of work on whole pools of individuals. Rising fuel prices are also adding to the erosion of mobility rights.

The security agenda behind controlling movements is heavily tied to economic objectives, as are the international disease scares like avian influenza (bird flu) and the swine flue that lock up human movement. Control of mobility in the oceans and international waters of the world is also part of this objective. The internationally illegal Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) was initiated by the U.S. government, with the support of the E.U., in 2003 as part of the “Global War on Terror.” The Proliferation Security Initiative is presented as a means to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), however it can be applied to bring about a hold over global maritime mobility. The strategy is a threat to international movement on the high seas and maritime trade. There is good reason why it is illegal under international law and the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Industrial De-location in the European Union and the Global Economic Crisis

This process of industrial de-location has already been underway in the E.U. for years, under which industries have been relocated to Eastern Europe and other global regions. Under this neo-liberal paradigm jobs and industries can gradually be removed from wealthier E.U. states to Southern Mediterranean nations, where cheap and immobile labour forces will be awaiting.

This relationship is analogous to the events that occurred in North America during the 1990s when jobs and whole industrial sectors where relocated from Canada and the U.S. to Mexico where cheap-labour forces were waiting. In North America this process unfolded under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and resulted in a decline in living standards or the quality of life. Costs of living went up, wages experienced a decline, and a gap emerged between costs of living and wages which started to eat away at the middle class.

The global economic crisis is the ultimate form of shock therapy for industrial de-location and reconfiguration. The global economic crisis has helped advance the industrial de-location that had started decades earlier. In these terms, the global economic crisis is not about financial errors by the banking sector, but about pushing industrial de-location and re-engineering the socio-economic order of the globe under the guise of state austerity measures.

Triggering a Decline of Wages in both the E.U. and the Mediterranean: Challenging China and displacing Asian labour markets?

The wages of the cheap-labour market in China can also be further lowered by opening a cheap-labour market in the European Union’s “near abroad.” This is part of the global “race to the bottom” where regulatory standards in regards to labour wages are being increasingly dismantled. This process in effect facilitates a state of cannibalism or economic decomposition within the effected labour markets and ultimately brings about a decline in living standards.

If major cheap-labour markets like the Chinese market start to lower their wages to stay competitive with a reconfigured cheap-labour market controlled by the E.U. that would emerge in the Southern Mediterranean, then this could eventually result in much lower wages in other global labour markets. Other labour markets would lower their wages as part of an effort to keep their respective markets open or in neo-liberal terms as “a means of staying competitive.” Ultimately the results would have worldwide ramifications for lowering global wages that would also affect the citizens of the E.U., Japan, and North America. This is one aspect of the “race to the bottom” and it is part of a cycle that fuels itself into a downward spiral.

With the backdrop of the global economic crises, what is unwinding itself is a global levelling of wages. Wage levels within the E.U. are progressively experiencing a decline and being brought downwards. The labour laws protecting the wages and standards of E.U. citizens are being de-railed too. De-regulation and degeneration are the orders of the day. Before the “race to the bottom” and these measures were justified by E.U. officials through neo-liberal assertions that wages need to be lowered because of the need for “competitiveness.” Now austerity measures are being used as justification for reform and exploitation, because of the convenience of the global economic crisis.

Aside from exploitation of the work force and surplus labour in the Southern Mediterranean the remaining national assets in these countries, like in Eastern Europe after the end of the Cold War, will be privatized further and privately owned. This process will go hand-in-hand with the gradual entrenchment of higher costs of living that will further marginalize local populations to sell private property, private assets, or any other means of income out of desperation — decisions that will lock them into a neo-liberal induced state of poverty.

Expanding the European Union: The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)

Even in an era of globalisation, geography is still important.”

-A Secure Europe in a Better World: The European Security Strategy (December 12, 2003)

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is a means to expanding the European Union or creating additional layers or satellites to the E.U., like the Mediterranean Union. The European Commission subtly elucidates on these expansionist intentions when describing the ENP: “The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) was developed in 2004, with the objective of avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged [European Union] and our neighbours and instead strengthening the prosperity, stability and security of all concerned.” [8] Special attention should be given to the European Commission’s stated “objective of avoiding the emergence of new dividing lines between the enlarged [European Union]” and its neighbours in the Balkans, the former U.S.S.R., the Middle East, and North Africa. [9] When removing fine lines, meaning borders (which are not necessarily physical), of separation what is left but some form of harmonization or assimilation?

The ENP also provides funding through so-called “financial instruments” such as the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) for macro-economic reforms and economic restructuring that includes the privatization of the national economies of the countries participating in the program. After the 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon the Lebanese government agreed through the European Union-Lebanon ENP Action Plan and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) to accelerate the privatization of the Lebanese economy through international assistance, which means through the directorship of the U.S. and the European Union. The ENPI are categorized into those ENPI covering the “East” (Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union) and those ENPI covering the “South” (the countries of the Mediterranean Basin, specifically Israel and the Arab countries of North Africa and the Middle East).

The process has resounding resemblances to World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) programs. The ENP funding has been administered to all of the European Union’s frontiers in Eastern Europe, the former U.S.S.R, North Africa, and the Middle East through so-called democratization programs, stabilization initiatives, and humanitarian programs that include food aid. Recipients of ENP funding include Serbia, Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, Georgia, and the Arab countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. In the Balkans the Stabilization and Association Process (SAP) has also been at work, which includes so-called stabilization of national economies through action plans drawn by the E.U. involving country reports. E.U. assistance and aid is tied to conditionalities that are drawn up by the European Commission in Brussels, which include the privatization of state infrastructure that is bought by British, French, German, Dutch, Italian, and American companies amongst others. 

In 2007 the executive arm of the E.U. also formed the Neighbourhood Investment Fund. The purpose of the Neighbourhood Investment Fund, which will be active until 2013, is to support international financial institution (IFI) lending from such organizations as the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in ENP partner countries. Amongst the Arab countries of the Mediterranean, since 2002, the European Investment bank is also heavily involved in this process under the mandate of the ENP and the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). This further cultivates the chains of privatization.

The Barcelona Process is also linked to the ENP. Under the Barcelona Process from the years 2007 to 2010 the Kingdom of Morocco is to receive 654 million euros, Algeria is to receive 220 million euros, Tunisia 300 million euros, Egypt 558 million euros, the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas is to receive in 632 euros, Syria is to receive 130 million euros, and Israel is to collect 8 million euros.

 

Betrayal on the European Union’s Frontiers: The Disloyal Establishments of the Mediterranean 

The continuum of Franco-German policy cuts across the lines of political parties and government administrations. Nicolas Sarkozy’s remarks about Turkey’s future in regards to the E.U. are almost similar to those of members of the federal administration of Gerhard Schröder (Schroeder) in Germany. The full inclusion of Turkey in the E.U. is tentative in nature. France has repeatedly said that Turkey will not be admitted into the E.U., but will enjoy a “special relationship” with the European Union. [10]

The relationships that are planned for Turkey and the Arab states of the Mediterranean Sea with the E.U. are essentially those of E.U. territories or economic dependencies with secondary privileges. The Mediterranean Union is destined to be a second-class periphery for the E.U. that will be subservient in nature. Through such an arrangement the nations of the Middle East and North Africa will be reduced to economic colonies.

At the same time Turkey is integrating itself with the economies of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, and Libya in various ways and through free-trade agreements. Many analysts believe that this, along with Turkish agreements with the Russian Federation, constitutes a shift in the Turkish position. This shift appears as being one that is against Turkey’s NATO allies and Israel. Tehran and Damascus also give the impression that they believe that a regional bloc and common market is being established by them in alliance with Ankara and with the Iranian-Syrian Awliyaa (Alliance) as its nucleus. Tehran is also moving closer to Georgia, even though Tbilisi is a staunch ally of the E.U. and America. 

Yet, what Turkey is doing is precisely what American geo-strategists have outlined for decades to rein in Iran and Syria through economic integration. For example, Zbigniew Brzezinski has stated: “American long-range interests in Eurasia would be better served by abandoning existing U.S. objections to closer Turkish-Iranian economic cooperation, especially in the construction of new pipelines, and also to the construction of other links between Iran, [the Republic of] Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan.” [11]

In Lebanon, where the country is tittering between the so-called West and the Iranian-Syrian Awliyaaa, social change is being instituted through austerity measures tied to the national debt of Lebanon. Lebanon ranks as one of the most heavily indebted countries on the planet. The Lebanese debt to foreign lenders has been accumulated by what is the March 14 Alliance portion of the government in Beirut and their predecessors. Control over natural gas fields off the Lebanese coast,  in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, could also be traded off as a means of servicing the Lebanese national debt.

The debt being accumulated by Lebanon and the nations of the littoral of the Mediterranean is a strategy to bypass popular sentiment through economical means. At the end of the day making bread is an important factor for the decisions of most people. All around the Mediterranean social change is being brought about through economic change.

The European Security Strategy: An Anglo-American and Franco-German Compact for Eurasia
 
Looking beyond the diplomatic jargon and the noise it is clear that expanding the borders of the European Union is the force behind the ENP. The ENP tackles the directives of the European Security Strategy, an E.U. document that was put together through Paris and Berlin that emerged in Brussels on December 12, 2003 after a series of meeting between the Anglo-American alliance and the Franco-German entente. It was at this time on December 16, 2003 that President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder cancelled Iraqi financial debts to France and Germany after making arrangements with Washington, D.C. and London. This was the start of the rapprochement between the Franco-German and Anglo-American sides that resulted in an agreement to share the spoils of war in the Middle East and North Africa. The European Security Strategy is a product of the Franco-German and Anglo-American agreement to carve up the world into spheres of management.

Brzezinski has described the E.U. as the American bridgehead in Eurasia. All signs seem to indicate that France and Germany, as Anglo-American partners, have agreed to become the Anglo-American bridgehead in Eurasia. The European Security Strategy is the source for redefining the European Union security borders in concert with both Franco-German and Anglo-American interests. E.U. expansion is fully supported by America. The E.U. security document in fact states: “The United States has played a critical role in European integration and European security, in particular through NATO. The end of the Cold War has left the United States in a dominant position as a military actor. However, no single country is able to tackle today’s complex problems on its own.” [12]

To add to this, the Anglo-American and Franco-German sides have been in the process of merging as a means to end their rivalry. An example of this merger is the outcomes of the 2010 Anglo-French Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty. Under the treaty both Paris and London will share their aircraft carriers, pool their military resources, have joint military forces, have closer arms industry cooperation, have joint defence equipment projects, have joint military facilities, have integrated nuclear weapons programs, jointly develop nuclear submarines, assess cooperation on developing military satellites, and jointly developing unmanned aerial drones. [13]

In the European Security Strategy emphases is placed on the central importance of NATO as the embodiment of America and the E.U. and the objective of establishing a “rule-based international order” through international regional bodies such as the E.U., the U.N. Security Council, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), MERCOSUR, and the African Union. [14]

What is written about the Mediterranean is as follows: “The Mediterranean area generally continues to undergo serious problems of economic stagnation, social unrest and unresolved conflicts. The European Union’s interests require a continued engagement with Mediterranean partners, through more effective economic, security and cultural cooperation in the framework of the Barcelona Process. A broader engagement with the Arab World should also be considered.” [15] What is meant is that a project in the Mediterranean should be engaged as a broader engagement of the entire Arab World in economic and socio-political terms, as referenced by the Barcelona Process.

In no uncertain terms the E.U. security document goes on to declare the global ambitions of the European Union: “As a union of 25 states with over 450 million producing over a quarter of the world’s [gross national product] (GNP), and with a wide range of instruments at its disposal, the European Union is inevitably a global player. In the last decade European forces have been deployed abroad to places as distant as Afghanistan, East Timor, and the [Democratic Republic of the Congo].” [16] 

The security document replicates Anglo-American dogma, but in a very vague way. Even pre-emptively tackling threats abroad, in what has come to be known by political scientists as the Bush Doctrine, is also mentioned. [17] “Good governance” for the countries to the “East” of the European Union, which means the Balkans and the post-Soviet space, and the countries in the Mediterranean is also mentioned in line with what is ultimately an expansionist supranational economic project. [18] The document ultimately calls for “[h]igher defence spending upgrading the military and aligning the E.U. and NATO” in what will one day amount to integration. [19] 

The Mediterranean Union is merely a linking piece. This project is clearly engaged in brinkmanship towards global integration and the streamlining of supranational political, economic, and military organizations.  It is part of a compact between the elites of America and the major European powers.

An Embryonic Order is starting to emerge in the Mediterranean

 

The E.U. is moving beyond the Barcelona Process of 1995. The signs are appearing everywhere. The Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) was established after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq on December 3, 2003. The Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly is an institution that has been sanctioned through the Barcelona Process. It is no coincidence that this body was brought about in 2003 because the Mediterranean Union is linked to the forced globalization that is being waged through the “Global War on Terror.”

The E.U. Commissioner for Information Society and Media has also given strong suggestions and foreshadowed what the E.U. intends to do in regards to the Mediterranean Union. Viviane Reding told Christian F. Trippe, the head of Deutsche Welle’s Brussels studio, during an interview that the E.U. should look beyond the Mediterranean and further eastward (e.g., the former U.S.S.R. and the non-Mediterranean areas of the Middle East like Iraq and the Persian Gulf) for expansion: “But we shouldn’t just look at the Mediterranean. We also need to look to the east. We have many new neighbors [sic.; neighbours]. And that’s why it’s so important to have the right policies to engage with them.” [20]
 
On November 22, 2007 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) established its official headquarters in Spinola Palace, which is located in the Maltese city of St. Julian’s. Malta is an island-state and an E.U. member located in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea. [21] The roots of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean extend to an inter-parliamentary conference held in 1983 by Cyprus, but it was in 2005 and through security discussions held in Amman, Jordon that the green light was given for the establishment of the Mediterranean body.

On January 22, 2008 Reuters, quoting E.U. External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, reported that the E.U. “wants to push ties with Morocco to a higher level within a year, rewarding Rabat for progress in opening markets and pressing economic and social reforms,” and has elaborated that Morocco will take part in a shared border security, policing, and legal system with the E.U., amongst other things. [22] The Kingdom of Morocco had made a bid to join the E.U. in 1986, but was rejected.

It should come as no surprise that two inter-linked conferences on free-trade between the Arab World, the U.S., and the E.U. were made and held consecutively. The first of the meetings was in Amman, Jordon (February 10-11, 2008) and discussed establishing the U.S. Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) by 2013. The second was an Arab League-European Union foreign ministers conference held in Malta (February 11-12, 2008) that discuss “political engagement” between the E.U. and the Arab League along the lines of the European Union Mediterranean Free Trade Area (EMFTA).

The U.S. MEFTA venture started in 2003, the same year as the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Oman, Jordan, Bahrain, Israel, and Morocco already had bilateral free-trade agreements with the United States. All the U.S. MEFTA members are also member states of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), which is the project of establishing an Arab common market. Such a project to establish a common market and customs union is not new amongst the Arabs. This Arab free-trade agreement, however, was adopted in the Arab League Summit of Amman in 1998, with 17 Arab League members signing the pact, it is supervised and run by the Arab Economic Council in the Arab League, but officially came into existence as of January 1, 2005. [23]

GAFTA objectives that are notable are as follows;

(1) The formation of a bigger and more homogenous market.

(2) Allowing foreign direct investment to work with a homogenous market with standardized regulations.

(3) Increase economic inter-dependence between the Arab states.

According to the Gulf Daily News of Bahrain, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, Kent Patton, while visiting the U.A.E., Kuwait, and Bahrain for free-trade talks has said that the MEFTA will be put in place in the Middle East and North Africa by 2014; “There is a 2014 deadline for this but we hope it could be achieved sooner. There are no official discussions on but the process is very much in place.” [24] The MEFTA process is a step-by-step project, similar to the step-by-step formation of the European Union.

In 2010, interestingly enough, the Arab League meet in the Libyan city of Sirte and discussed establishing an Arab Neighbourhood. [25] The proposed Arab Neighbourhood could also include the non-Arab states of Turkey, Ethiopia, Chad, and Iran. This took place while Iran, Turkey, and Syria were talking about and taking steps to establish a common market and bloc in the Middle East that would also include Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordon.

Annapolis and the Economic Integration of Israel with the Arab World

Both the American-Arab and European Union-Arab League conferences, respectively in Jordon and in Malta, discussed economical integration, trade in the Mediterranean, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Both conferences were also coordinated with one another and planned during the end of 2007 in close proximity to the Annapolis Conference. The reason that Annapolis is linked to the timing of these two conferences is because the Annapolis Conference promoted the Saudi-proposed Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and the Agreement of Principles between Mahmoud Abbas and Ehud Olmert, which both call for the economic integration of Israel with the Arab World. These proposals by Riyadh, Ehud Olmert, and Mahmoud Abbas are part of the blue prints for establishing the fertile grounds for the emergence of the Mediterranean Union.

Understanding the link between all these events and objectives and realizing their age will allow one to also understand why The Washington Post published a front-page article on February 9, 2003 that declared that both Israeli and American policy had become perfectly aligned in the Middle East: “For the first time a U.S. administration and a Likud [Israeli] government are pursuing nearly identical policies.” [26] The wars against Iraq and Taliban-controlled Afghanistan were about globalization under the helm of military might.

Wars of Integration: from the Balkans to Iraq

In order to move forward with the Mediterranean Union and the restructuring of the Middle East the people of the region must all be subdued so that the “New Middle East” can be brought about. Furthermore, this is why NATO/E.U. troops and ships are in Lebanon and the Eastern Mediterranean. This project is part of the emerging “New World Order” that George H. W. Bush Sr. was talking about when Baathist Iraq was defeated in 1991 and it is this new order that is beginning to lift up its head into the limelight for the whole earth to see. This endeavour is also the underlying reason for the “Global War on Terror” and why America and the E.U. were partners from the start of the so-called “long war.”

According to Lieutenant-General James J. Lovelace, the force known as U.S. Army Central (USARCENT/ARCENT) was establishing a permanent platform for “full spectrum operations” in the twenty-seven countries that form the boundaries of what use to be U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in the Middle East, Central Asia, East Africa, and Pakistan.[27] This was before all the African states, except for Egypt, that fell into the borders of CENTCOM were transferred to the watch of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM, USAFICOM). 

Lieutenant-General Lovelace’s acknowledgement about the operational expansion of the capabilities of the U.S. Army in the Middle East, Central Asia, East Africa, and Pakistan only confirms what many experts and analysts predicted from the onslaught of the “Global War on Terror” in 2001: the U.S. intended to stay permanently in the Middle East and Central Asia under the cloak of fighting terrorism. Lieutenant-General Lovelace also confirmed that the process was part of a worldwide transformation of the U.S. military with the ability to conduct offensive, defensive, and stability operations.

Lieutenant-General Lovelace has moreover confirmed that the U.S. military has set its mind on staying permanently in the Middle East and its surrounding regions: “These commands now have a permanent responsibility to this theater. They’ll have a permanent presence here. The personnel will change; the commands will remain.” [28] This process became apparent when Lieutenant-General Paul T. Mikolsdhrk relocated from ARCENT headquarters from Fort McPherson, Georgia to Kuwait in the Persian Gulf in November 11, 2001.

The Stabilization and Association Process (SAP): Supranational Expansionism

The SAP is part of the modus operandi of the E.U. and U.S. for moving into conflict zones. Along with similar agreements and devices, the SAP is a form of neo-colonialism and imperial expansion. Countries are either smashed or eroded and then swallowed through incorporation into a much larger entity.

The words conflict, post-conflict, and stabilization all go together. Where war brings instability, the economic and political tutelage of the U.S. and E.U. has been presented as bringing stability. Both are systematic steps of the same formula. Stability operations is a vague word used to beautify occupation, economic restructuring of nation-states under occupational administrations similar to the ones in Iraq and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and nation-building.

The Stabilization and Association Process (SAP) has been part of the expansion formula of the European Union. It has been applied in the war-torn republics of the former Yugoslavia. It has proceeded by encouraging SAP candidates to quickly open up their economies, integrate themselves, and eventually to enter the E.U. as members. The process establishes a contractual relationship between the E.U. and the SAP candidate nations, which imposes legal obligations on the SAP candidate to open up its economy and to privatize its state infrastructure. State loans and economic arrangements are also made by the E.U. for the SAP candidate state, which further put it under the economic control of the main E.U. powers. Currently Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are SAP candidates.

A Grand Hoax: From the Mediterranean Union to the “Union of the Mediterranean”

A public relations campaign trying to hide the long-standing objectives of creating the Mediterranean Union as an additional layer to the European Union, which itself is a piece of a much larger emerging polity, has been underway. Public deception has been at play. The Mediterranean Union is costumed neo-colonialism, economic imperialism, and servitude. The supranational project is being orchestrated under the cover of a patient decades-long public relations campaign.

Germany has been pretending to oppose the supposedly solitary French idea of creating a Mediterranean Union. Chancellor Angela Merkel even claimed that the project risked splitting the E.U. with Paris establishing a sphere of influence in North Africa and the Middle East and Berlin a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. A false compromise has been drawn between Paris and Berlin where the whole project has become a project that will involve Germany and the rest of the European Union.

The Mediterranean Unions name has been changed to the “Union of the Mediterranean” (UfM) as part of an effort to give the impression that a genuine compromise has been made over supposed concerns and oppositions towards it; when in fact the compromise is false and there were no disagreements between Paris and Berlin. In an omission about the true nature of the Mediterranean Union as a project of the entire E.U., President Nicolas Sarkozy told reporters that “I never had the idea of excluding any [E.U.] states [from the Union of the Mediterranean]…I never regarded it as a rival to the [European Union].” [29] According to Ingrid Melander the Mediterranean Union “concept has shrunk from an international forum grouping only states with a Mediterranean coastline and involving nine new agencies and a bank, to a mere regular summit of [E.U.] and [non-E.U.] Mediterranean countries with a joint presidency — which may yet be dropped — and a small secretariat.” [30]

After the so-called German objections, it was also widely reported that Nicolas Sarkozy has given the assurance of the French government to Chancellor Merkel and Germany that the Mediterranean Union will be a project for the entire European Union. Yet, on the opposite shores of the Mediterranean Sea there were voices refuting this. Colonel Qaddafi, the leader of Libya, expressed his opposition to the so-called diluted version of the Mediterranean Union that Paris and Berlin agreed upon and demanded a full union. The Jamahiriya News Agency of Libya quoted Colonel Qaddafi as saying: “The idea of true cooperation between the countries located around one sea on the lines of President Sarkozy’s initiative deserves support…” [31] Later Colonel Qaddafi would publicly make a reversal, voicing his opposition to the Mediterranean Union. Qaddafi would boycott a summit co-chaired by Egypt and France (the co-presidents nations of the Union of the Mediterranean) in July, 2008. [32]

Before its official acceptance in 2008, the proposal for a Union of the Mediterranean was presented as a joint Franco-German initiative to the rest of the E.U. bloc. [33] The Franco-German proposals, like many other political documents, are deliberately vague. The French government distributed a paper to other E.U. countries earlier in January of the same year outlining joint initiatives in agriculture, energy, the environment, migration, transport and ten other areas. Yet, none of this was mentioned in the less than two-page Franco-German paper. Paris and Berlin will chair the E.U. involvement in the Mediterranean Union. [34] The Mediterranean Union will also be managed by two directors or co-presidents, one from a non-E.U. Mediterranean nation and the other from an E.U. member state.

In 2008, during an E.U. summit, held from March 13 to March 14, 2008, the project was approved unanimous by the entire E.U. and was handed over to the European Commission for implementation with no public consolations with E.U. citizens. The project from its beginnings in 1995 as part of the Barcelona Process was part of a united E.U. endeavour to control the Mediterranean. Paris has pretended that it originally wanted the project to only include the nations of the Mediterranean littoral as members, while Berlin argued that the E.U. would be divided amongst its northern and southern members because of the project.

From the outset the project was funded by the entire European Union as a part of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The whole project is based on the foundations of establishing a free-tree zone between the E.U. and the nations of the Mediterranean and the Arab World. There are clear indications that Berlin and the E.U. are being untruthful about the whole process including claims that Germany opposed French economic ties with Libya. [35]

The E.U. has stage-managed the whole project by creating false opposition or  a counter-discourse within the E.U. to the Mediterranean Union. Additionally, there is a deliberate attempt to downplay the whole process and its ramifications. The European Commission has claimed that the process of trade between the E.U. and the Mediterranean has merely generated substandard results because of  the inefficient governments of the nations of both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Southern Mediterranean. Brussels and E.U. officials have also downplayed the Mediterranean Union as a reinvigorated Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The mainstream media and journalists in the E.U. have merely repeated these claims verbatim. Little is said, however, about the European Union’s geo-strategic aims of securing the vast natural resources and energy reserves of North Africa and the Middle East.

The Role of Corporations in the Union of the Mediterranean

An additional dimension to this deceit is the role of multinational corporations. In a stage-managed event, Berlin was presented to the public as prevailing in demands not to allow further E.U. funds to be allocated to the Barcelona Process and the Mediterranean Union. This has actually opened the door for the corporate private sector, which is one of the main forces behind the whole project. As part of the false compromise France requested for approximately 14 billion euros from multinational corporations. [36]

In fact on May 27, 2010 financial institutions and private investors were invited to the Marseille Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss financing and investment in the Southern Mediterranean and Eastern Mediterranean countries, specifically in the energy, water, transport, and urban development sectors. [37] The Secretary-General of the Union of the Mediterranean, Ahmed Masadeh, was present. Also present at the meeting was the E.U. Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, and the Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, Philippe de Fontaine Vive. [38]

Since 2002, the European Investment Bank has also been involved in this as part of the ENP through what are called Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) programs. These FEMIP programs are extended to Algeria, the Palestinian Territories, Israel, Jordon, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, and Tunisia and encouragethe opening-up of the economies of Mediterranean partner countries.” [3] In the words of the European Investment bank, this is done through focusing “on two priority areas: support for the private sector and creating an investment-friendly environment.” [40]

The globe will be divided into poor and rich. People are not only being alienated and estranged from the products of their labour, but they are on the path of ultimately being alienated and estranged to the system of governance that controls their lives through unaccountable supranational organizations. The global economic crisis has resulted in an induced anomic state in Europe and other regions, which provides the perfect order for re-organizing the social and economic order. In this aspect the Mediterranean Union is one phase within a global roadmap towards re-institutionalizing feudalism under a global elitist compact. Yet, all global elites will not be equal in this compact. From the Eurasian Heartland a challenge is rising from the elites of the triple entente of Moscow, Tehran, and Beijing, who have watched uneasily as the U.S. and E.U. inch closer in different ways towards their domains.

PART IVThe Mediterranean Union: The Geo-Strategic Challenge from Russia and Iran

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).


NOTES
  
[1] Viviane Reding, February 10, 2008 Interview about the Treaty of Lisbon and the E.U.”, interview by Christian F. Trippe, Journal, February 10, 2008.

[2] European  Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. Do you want to work in another EU Member State?” (Belgium: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2006), pp.5, 7-9, 11-14, 15-25, 33.

[3] Ibid., pp.9, 27-29; The European Union-Eight (E.U.-8) are the nations, aside from Malta and Cyprus, that joined the E.U. on May 1, 2004: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Slovenia; The European Union-Eight Plus Two (E.U.-8 +2) is a grouping of the E.U.-8 with the addition of Bulgaria and Romania, which both joined on January 1, 2007.

[4] Ian Traynor, Government wants personal details of every traveller”, The Guardian (U.K.), February 23, 2008.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Germany, US deepen anti-terror cooperation”, Agence France-Presse (AFP), March 11, 2008.

[8] European Commission, The Policy: What is the European Neighbourhood Policy?” Accessed March 12, 2007: <http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/policy_en.htm>.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Fulya Özerkan, Mediterranean project vs. EU: An illusion or reality for Turkey?” Turkish Daily News, May 30, 2007.

[11] Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and the Geostrategic Imperatives (N.Y.C., New York HarperCollins Publishers, 1997), p.204.

[12] Council of the European Union, A Secure Europe in a Better World: The European Security Strategy, (Brussels: Consilium, December 12, 2003), p.1.

[13] Prime Minister’s Office (10 Downing Street), UK–France Summit 2010 Declaration on Defence and Security Co-operation, November 2, 2010:
<http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/statements-and-articles/2010/11/uk%E2%80%93france-summit-2010-declaration-on-defence-and-security-co-operation-56519>.

[14] European Union, A Secure Europe, Op. cit., p.9.

[15] Ibid., p.8.

[16] Ibid., p.1.

[17] Ibid., p.7.

[18] Ibid., pp.7-8.

[19] Ibid., p.12.

[20] February 10, 2008 Interview”, Op. cit. 

[21] Fiona Galea Debono, Malta determined in its Med. vocation – President”, Times of Malta, November 23, 2007.

[22] Tom Pfeiffer, ed. Ralph Boulton, EU wants Morocco ties within a year”, Reuters, January 22, 2008.

[23] European Institute for Research on Mediterranean and Euro-Arab Cooperation (MEDEA), Arab Free Trade Area (AFTA)”, Accessed January 22, 2008: <http://www.medea.be/index.html?page=2&lang=en&doc=286>.

[24] Trade Deal”, Gulf Daily News, vol. 30, no. 344, February 27, 2008 p.1; Mandeep Singh, New push for Mideast free trade deal”, Gulf Daily News, vol. 30, no. 344, February 27, 2008, p.32.

[25] Arab League silent on Middle East peace process”, Agence France-Presse (AFP), October 9, 2010.

[26] Robert G. Kaiser, Bush and Sharon Nearly Identical On Mideast Policy”, The Washington Post, February 9, 2003, p.A01.

[27] Vince Little, Permanent U.S. Army command taking shape in Kuwait”, Stars and Stripes, February 19, 2008.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ingrid Melander et al., EU leaders to endorse Mediterranean Union: draft”, ed. Philippa Fletcher, Reuters, March 14, 2008.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Gaddafi says Med Union risks running into sand”, Reuters, March 15, 2008.

[32] Mediterranean Union is launched”, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), July 13, 2008.

[33] Stephen Castle, Sarkozy and Merkel draft agreement detailing role of nations on EU’s southern border”, International Herald Tribune, March 12, 2008.

[34] Germany and France present proposal for chairing Mediterranean Union”, IRNA, March 12, 2008

[35] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The Mediterranean Union: Dividing the Middle East and North Africa”, Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), February 19, 2008.

[36] Melander, EU leaders”, Op. cit.

[37] European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) Info Centre, UfM projects in the spotlight at Marseille investors’ forum”, May 14, 2010:
<http://www.enpi-info.eu/mainmed.php?id=21566&id_type=1&lang_id=450>.

[38] Ibid.

[39] European Investment Bank, “Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP)”, Accessed September 13, 2010:
<http://www.eib.org/projects/regions/med/>.

[40] Ibid.
 

Related Global Research articles 
 
 The Mediterranean Union: Dividing the Middle East and North Africa
 
 NATO and Israel: Instruments of America’s Wars in the Middle East
 
 America’s “Divide and Rule” Strategies in the Middle East
 
 The “Great Game” Eurasia and the History of War
 
 The “Great Game” Enters the Mediterranean: Gas, Oil, War, and Geo-Politics
 
 The Sino-Russian Alliance: Challenging America’s Ambitions in Eurasia
 
 Europe and America: Sharing the Spoils of War

The Democrats Prepare to Move Right

November 5th, 2010 by Shamus Cooke

On the eve of the Republican-dominated mid-term election, working people were told to vote Democrat to prevent a “truly dangerous” Republican party from taking power. There is an element of truth in this:  the Republican Party has been sprinting to the far right for decades, to the point where they are incapable of speaking sensibly about political issues.

 But in a close second place in this rightward scramble are the Democrats, who’ve spent decades racing into the arms of the corporations that dominate both political parties unchallenged. 

This mad dash to the right did not stop at the midterm election; the Democrats are preparing to unleash their hidden second wind, kept from public view until after the elections. 

The first step to the right occurred in the commentary over the lost elections. The Democrat’s fake analysis about why they lost will push them to “correct their mistakes.” 

Contrary to all evidence or common sense, the Democrats now claim that their agenda was “too progressive” while in power, to be fixed by shifting even further to the right. In effect, the Democrats are now agreeing with the Tea Party’s analysis of the Obama Administration.  

Democratic Senator from Indiana Evan Bayh explained this false narrative in The New York Times, in his op-ed entitled Where Do Democrats Go Next?  His answer could only be interpreted as to the right:

“It is clear that Democrats over-interpreted our [progressive] mandate. Talk of a ‘political realignment’ and a ‘new progressive era’ proved wishful thinking.” (November 3, 2010). 

Bayh suggests that the Democrats adopt numerous Republican policies to compensate, such as cuts to both corporate taxes and Social Security. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/03/opinion/03bayh.html

Obama wasted no time in agreeing with the Tea Party in his concession speech. He had “lost contact” with the American people, meaning, that he had acted too progressively. To compensate, Obama implied a move to the right, by serving corporations even more obediently: 

“I’ve got to take responsibility in terms of making sure that I make clear to the business community [Wall Street and corporate America], as well as to the country, that the most important thing we can do is to boost and encourage our business sector…,”

Obama also promised to “negotiate” with Republicans over the Bush tax cuts, energy, and education policies.
 
Social Security is an additional area that Obama has agreed to negotiate with the Republicans. Obama’s bipartisan Deficit Reduction Commission purposely waited for the midterm elections to end before it announced its recommendations, which will reportedly include cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  

Both Republicans and Democrats are set to unite in attacking Social Security, in the same way they have united over the Bush/Obama wars; the Bush/Obama bank bailouts;  the Bush/Obama destruction of civil liberties; the Bush/Obama education policy; and the Bush/Obama general favoritism of corporations over working people. 

Both parties agree that the U.S. deficit is a more severe problem than creating jobs. They will thus unite to reduce the deficit by cutting or destroying valuable social services to working people, including Social Security, Medicare, public education, and other federally funded programs.   This is their only option, since both parties agree that raising taxes on the rich and corporations or cutting military spending are “off the table”.

These bi-partisan, anti-worker policies will further expose the Democrats as being extensions of the very wealthy and the corporations.  Working people will refuse to vote for this “lesser evil” in the future and demand that their labor and community groups move towards political independence.

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

The “New Anti-Semitism”

November 5th, 2010 by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Canada’s Governor General, others lend names to conference alleging “new anti-Semitism”  
 
For Immediate Release 

Montreal, November 5, 2010 – The Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Anti-Semitism (ICCA) will be holding its second international conference Nov. 7-9 in Ottawa at the Parliament Buildings. Currently posted documents at the ICCA website reveal that Canada’s Governor General David Johnston, the House and Senate Speakers, Official Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff and Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae will speak at the conference.

ICCA’s Ottawa conference is a follow-up to its February 2009 inaugural conference in London England at which it issued a declaration warning of a “dramatic increase in recorded anti-Semitic hate crimes,” but provided no evidence to substantiate that claim. The London declaration also implied that the intensifying criticism of Israel – abundant during and after Israel’s lethal 22-day assault on Gaza just prior to the London conference – was itself a new form of anti-Semitism.

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is disappointed that the Governor General and Messrs Ignatieff and Rae are lending their names – and Canada’s – to a closed event orchestrated to shield Israel from criticism.  CJPME notes that criticism rightly falls on nations – like Israel – which repeatedly violate international law and basic human rights. CJPME President Thomas Woodley notes, “The presence on ICCA’s steering committee of hardliner Israeli minister Yuli Edelstein -who not only opposes any moves to scale back the Occupation but also seeks to intensify Israeli presence in Palestinian territory – is indicative of ICCA’s orientation and underlying purpose.” CJPME is firmly opposed to anti-Semitism, a historical problem of tragic proportions, and is concerned about a growing movement to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

Israel has recently come under criticism for various policies – chief among them the colonization (a.k.a. “settlement”) of the occupied Palestinian territories by Jewish Israelis.  This policy violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and has derailed current peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Despite international condemnation, Israel also continues to impose an illegal blockade on Gaza and its people.
  

For more information, please contact:
Patricia Jean
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Telephone: 450-812-7781 or 438-380-5410
CJPME Email - CJPME Website

The United Nation’s Human Rights Council in Geneva reviews the human rights record of the United States on the 5th of November 2010, on the occasion of the Ninth Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), 1 to 12 November 2010. The following is a presentation given by Dirk Adriaensens in Geneva on 3 November.

Just days after the devastating attacks of 9/11 Deputy Defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz declared that a major focus of US foreign policy would be: “ending states that sponsor terrorism”.

Iraq was labelled a “terrorist state” and targeted for ending.

President Bush went on to declare Iraq the major front of the global war on terror. US forces invaded illegally with the express aim to dismantling the Iraqi state. After WWII focus of social sciences was on state-building and development model. Little has been written on state-destruction and de-development. We can now, after 7 years of war and occupation, state for certain that state-ending was a deliberate policy objective.

The consequences in human and cultural terms of the destruction of the Iraqi state have been enormous: notably the death of over 1,3 million civilians; the degradation in social infrastructure, including electricity, potable water and sewage systems; over eight million Iraqis are in need of humanitarian assistance; abject poverty: the UN Human rights report for the 1st quarter of 2007 found that 54% of Iraqis were living on less than $1 a day; the displacement of minimum 2.5 million refugees and 2.764.000 internally displaced people as to end 2009. One in six Iraqis is displaced. Ethnic & religious minorities are on the verge of extinction. UN-HABITAT, an agency of the United Nations, published a 218-page report entitled State of the World’s Cities, 2010-2011. Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the percentage of the urban population living in slums in Iraq hovered just below 20 percent. Today, that percentage has risen to 53 percent: 11 million of the 19 million total urban dwellers.

Destroying Iraqi education

The UNESCO report “Education Under Attack 2010 – Iraq”, dated 10 February 2010, concludes that “Although overall security in Iraq had improved, the situation faced by schools, students, teachers and academics remained dangerous”. The director of the United Nations University International Leadership Institute published a report on 27 April 2005 detailing that since the start of the war of 2003 some 84% of Iraq’s higher education institutions have been burnt, looted or destroyed. Ongoing violence has destroyed school buildings and around a quarter of all Iraq’s primary schools need major rehabilitation. Since March 2003, more than 700 primary schools have been bombed, 200 have been burnt and over 3,000 looted. Populations of teachers in Baghdad have fallen by 80%. Between March 2003 and October 2008, 31,598 violent attacks against educational institutions were reported in Iraq, according to the Ministry of Education (MoE). Since 2007 bombings at Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad have killed or maimed more than 335 students and staff members, according to a 19 Oct 2009 NYT article, and a 12-foot-high blast wall has been built around the campus. MNF-I, the Iraqi Army and Iraqi police units occupied more than 70 school buildings for military purposes in the Diyala governorate alone, in clear violation of The Hague Conventions. The UNESCO report is very clear: “Attacks on education targets continued throughout 2007 and 2008 at a lower rate – but one that would cause serious concern in any other country.” Why didn’t it cause serious concern when it comes to Iraq? And the attacks are on the rise again, an increase of 50%, as these statistics show:
 

Murdered Academics (source: BRussells Tribunal)

Date unknown

115

killed in 2003-2005

2003

16

2004

36

2005

65

2006

113

2007

63

2008

19

2009

10

2010

16

(Until 15 October 2010)

Murdered Media-professionals (source: BRussells Tribunal)

2003

26

6 Iraqis

2004

59

53 Iraqis

2005

59

58 Iraqis

2006

90

88 Iraqis

2007

82

81 Iraqis

2008

19

19 Iraqis

2009

8

8 Iraqis

2010

12

 12 Iraqis (Until 15 October 2010)

(On the 20th of March 2008, Reporters Without Borders reported that hundreds of journalists were forced into exile since the start of US-led invasion.)

Eliminating the Iraqi middle class

Running parallel with the destruction of Iraq’s educational infrastructure, this repression led to the mass forced displacement of the bulk of Iraq’s educated middle class — the main engine of progress and development in modern states. Iraq’s intellectual and technical class has been subject to a systematic and ongoing campaign of intimidation, abduction, extortion, random killings and targeted assassinations. The decimation of professional ranks took place in the context of a generalized assault on Iraq’s professional middle class, including doctors, engineers, lawyers, judges as well as political and religious leaders. Roughly 40 percent of Iraq’s middle class is believed to have fled by the end of 2006. Few have returned. Up to 75 percent of Iraq’s doctors, pharmacists and nurses have left their jobs since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. More than half of those have emigrated. Twenty thousand of Iraq’s 34,000 registered physicians left Iraq after the U.S. invasion. As of April 2009, fewer than 2,000 returned, the same as the number who were killed during the course of the war.

To this date, there has been no systematic investigation of this phenomenon by the occupation authorities. Not a single arrest has been reported in regard to this terrorization of the intellectuals. The inclination to treat this systematic assault on Iraqi professionals as somehow inconsequential is consistent with the occupation powers’ more general role in the decapitation of Iraqi society.

Destroying the Iraqi culture and erasing collective memory

All these terrible losses are compounded by unprecedented levels of cultural devastation, attacks on national archives and monuments that represent the historical identity of the Iraqi people. On America’s watch we now know that thousands of cultural artefacts disappeared during “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. These objects included no less that 15.000 invaluable Mesopotamian artefacts from the National Museum in Baghdad, and many others from the 12.000 archaeological sites that the occupation forces left unguarded. While the Museum was robbed of its historical collection, the National Library that preserved the continuity and pride of Iraqi history was deliberately destroyed. Occupation authorities took no effective measures to protect important cultural sites, despite warnings of international specialists. According to a recent update on the number of stolen artefacts by Francis Deblauwe, an expert archaeologist on Iraq, it appears that no less than 8.500 objects are still truly missing, in addition to 4.000 artefacts said to be recovered abroad but not yet returned to Iraq. The smuggling and trade of Iraqi antiquities has become one of the most profitable businesses in contemporary Iraq.

The attitude of the US-led forces to this pillage has been, at best, indifference and worse. The failure of the US to carry out its responsibilities under international law to take positive and protective actions was compounded by egregious direct actions taken that severely damaged the Iraqi cultural heritage. Since the invasion in March 2003, the US-led forces have transformed at least seven historical sites into bases or camps for the military, including UR, one of the most ancient cities of the world and birthplace of Abraham, including the mythical Babylon where a US military camp has irreparably damaged the ancient city.

Destroying the Iraqi state

Rampant chaos and violence hamper efforts at reconstruction, leaving the foundations of the Iraqi state in ruins. The majority of Western journalists, academics and political figures have refused to recognise the loss of life on such a massive scale and the cultural destruction that accompanied it as the fully predictable consequences of American occupation policy. The very idea is considered unthinkable, despite the openness with which this objective was pursued.

It is time to think the unthinkable. The American-led assault on Iraq forces us to consider the meaning and consequences of state-destruction as a policy objective. The architects of the Iraq policy never made explicit what deconstructing and reconstructing the Iraqi state would entail; their actions, however, make the meaning clear. From those actions in Iraq, a fairly precise definition of state-ending can be read. The campaign to destroy the state of Iraq involved first the removal and execution of the legal head of state Saddam Hussein and the capture and expulsion of Baath figures. However, state destruction went beyond regime change. It also entailed the purposeful dismantling of major state institutions and the launching of a prolonged process of political reshaping.

Bremer’s 100 orders turned Iraq into a giant free-market paradise, but a hellish nightmare for Iraqis. They colonized the country for capital – pillage on the grandest scale. New economic laws instituted low taxes, 100% foreign investor ownership of Iraqi assets, the right to expropriate all profits, unrestricted imports, and long-term 30-40 year deals and leases, dispossessing Iraqis of their own resources.

This desecration of the past and undermining of contemporary social gains is now giving way in occupied Iraq to the destruction of a meaningful future. Iraq is being handed over to the disintegrative forces of sectarianism and regionalism. Iraqis, stripped of their shared heritage and living today in the ruins of contemporary social institutions that sustained a coherent and unified society, are now bombarded by the forces of civil war, social and religious atavism and widespread criminality. Iraqi nationalism that had emerged through a prolonged process of state-building and social interaction is now routinely disparaged. The regime installed by occupation forces in Iraq reshaped the country along divisive sectarian lines, dissolving the hard-won unity of a long state-building project. Dominant narratives now falsely claim that sectarianism and ethnic chauvinism have always been the basis of Iraqi society, recycling yet again the persistent and destructive myth of age-old conflicts with no resolution and for which the conquerors bear no responsibility. Contemporary Iraq represents a fragmented pastiche of sectarian forces with the formal trappings of liberal democracy and neo-liberal economic structures. We call this the divide and rule technique, used to fracture and subdue culturally cohesive regions. This reshaping of the Iraqi state resulted in a policy of ethnic cleansing, partially revealed by the Wikileaks files.

The Wikileaks documents

The Wikileaks documents, first made public on 22 October 2010, show how the US military gave a secret order not to investigate torture by Iraqi authorities discovered by American troops.

The data also reveal how hundreds of civilians were killed by coalition forces in unreported events, how hundreds of Iraqi civilians: pregnant women, elderly people and children, were shot at checkpoints.

There are numerous claims of prison abuse by coalition forces even after the Abu Ghraib scandal. The files also paint a grim picture of widespread torture in Iraqi detention facilities. Two revelations await the reader of the Wikileaks section dealing with civilian deaths in the Iraq War: Iraqis are responsible for most of these deaths, and the number of total civilian casualties is substantially higher than has been previously reported.

The documents record a descent into chaos and horror as the country plunged into so-called “civil war”. The logs also record thousands of bodies, many brutally tortured, dumped on the streets of Iraq.

Through the Wikileaks files we can see the impact the war had on Iraqi men, women and children. The sheer scale of the deaths, detentions and violence is here officially acknowledged for the first time.

A thorough research of these documents will give us a further insight into the atrocities committed in Iraq. The Wikileaks logs can serve as evidence in courts. They are important material for lawyers to file charges against the US for negligence and responsibility for the killing of thousands. A fair compensation for the families of the victims and the recognition of their suffering can help to heal the wounds. In the first official US State Department response to the massive WikiLeaks release of these classified Iraq War documents, spokesman P.J. Crowley shrugged off the evidence that US troops were ordered to cover up detainee abuse by the Iraqi government, insisting the abuse wasn’t America’s problem. This response is infuriating. The perpetrators of this violence and those who ordered the soldiers to turn a blind eye when being confronted with torture and extra-judicial killings should be convicted for war crimes. The US and UK forces and Governments clearly refused to fulfil their obligations under international law as a de facto occupying power.

However, these logs reveal only the ‘SIGACT’s or Significant Actions in the war “as told by soldiers in the United States Army”: the reports of the “regular” US troops. The logs contain nothing new, they merely confirm and officialize what the Iraqis and un-embedded Western observers have been trying to convey to the public for years. While all of the press is now reporting the Wikileaks story, few media outlets are going back to their own coverage and acknowledging how they have failed to honestly report about the crimes.

What these 400.000 documents do not reveal is the US involvement of “irregular troops” in Special Operations, counter-insurgency war and death squads activities. When will the documents of the “dirty war” be revealed? The BRussells Tribunal, monitoring this horrendous invasion and occupation since 2003, is convinced that the leaked logs only scratch the surface of the catastrophic war in Iraq. What we can extract from the Wikileaks documents is only the tip of the iceberg. It is time to take a dive into the troubled waters of the Iraq war and try to explore the hidden part of the iceberg.

Ethnic cleansing

It became clear after the invasion in 2003 that the Iraqi exile groups were to play an important role in the violent response to dissent in occupied Iraq. Already on January 1st 2004, it was reported that the US government planned to create paramilitary units comprised of militiamen from Iraqi Kurdish and exile groups including the Badr brigades, the Iraqi National Congress and the Iraqi National Accord to wage a campaign of terror and extra-judicial killing, similar to the Phoenix program in Vietnam: the terror and assassination campaign that killed tens of thousands of civilians.

The $87 billion supplemental appropriation for the war in November 2003 included $3 billion for a classified program, funds that would be used for the paramilitaries for the next 3 years. Over that period, the news from Iraq gradually came to be dominated by reports of death squads and ethnic cleansing, described in the press as “sectarian violence” that was used as the new central narrative of the war and the principal justification for continued occupation. Some of the violence may have been spontaneous, but there is overwhelming evidence that most of it was the result of the plans described by several American experts in December 2003.

Despite subsequent American efforts to distance US policy from the horrific results of this campaign, it was launched with the full support of conservative opinion-makers in the USA, even declaring that “The Kurds and the INC have excellent intelligence operations that we should allow them to exploit… especially to conduct counterinsurgency in the Sunny Triangle” as a Wall Street Journal editorial stated.

The Salvador Option

In January 2005, more than a year after the first reports about the Pentagon’s planning for assassinations and paramilitary operations emerged, the “Salvador Option” hit the pages of Newsweek and other major news-outlets. The outsourcing of state terrorism to local proxy forces was regarded as a key component of a policy that had succeeded in preventing the total defeat of the US-backed government in El Salvador. Pentagon-hired mercenaries, like Dyncorp, helped form the sectarian militias that were used to terrorize and kill Iraqis and to provoke Iraq into civil war.

In 2004 two senior US Army officers published a favourable review of the American proxy war in Colombia: “Presidents Reagan and Bush supported a small, limited war while trying to keep US military involvement a secret from the American public and media. Present US policy toward Colombia appears to follow this same disguised, quiet, media-free approach.”

It reveals the fundamental nature of “dirty war”, like in Latin America and the worst excesses of the Vietnam War. The purpose of dirty war is not to identify and then detain or kill actual resistance fighters. The target of dirty war is the civilian population. It is a strategy of state terrorism and collective punishment against an entire population with the objective to terrorizing it into submission. The same tactics used in Central America and Colombia were exported to Iraq. Even the architects of these dirty wars in El Salvador (Ambassador John Negroponte and James Steele) and in Colombia (Steven Casteel) were transferred to Iraq to do the same dirty work. They recruited, trained and deployed the notorious “Special Police Commandos”, in which later, in 2006, death squads like the Badr Brigades and other militias were incorporated. US forces set up a high-tech operations centre for the Special Police Commandos at an “undisclosed location” in Iraq. American technicians installed satellite telephones and computers with uplinks to the Internet and US forces Networks. The command centre had direct connections to the Iraqi Interior Ministry and to every US forward operating base in the country.

As news of atrocities by these forces in Iraq hit the newsstands in 2005, Casteel would play a critical role in blaming extrajudicial killings on “insurgents” with stolen police uniforms, vehicles and weapons. He also claimed that torture centres were run by rogue elements of the Interior Ministry, even as accounts came to light of torture taking place inside the ministry headquarters where he and other Americans worked. US advisers to the Interior Ministry had their offices on the 8th floor, directly above a jail on the 7th floor where torture was taking place.

The uncritical attitude of the Western media to American officials like Steven Casteel prevented a worldwide popular and diplomatic outcry over the massive escalation of the dirty war in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, consistent with the “disguised, quiet, media-free approach” mentioned before. As the Newsweek story broke in January 2005, General Downing, the former head of US Special Forces, appeared on NBC. He said: “This is under control of the US forces, of the current Interim Iraqi government. There’s no need to think that we’re going to have any kind of killing campaign that’s going to maim innocent civilians.” Within months, Iraq was swept by exactly that kind of a killing campaign. This campaign has led to arbitrary detention, torture, extra-judicial executions and the mass exodus and internal displacement of millions. Thousands of Iraqis disappeared during the worst days of this dirty war between 2005 and 2007. Some were seen picked up by uniformed militias and piled into lorries, others simply seemed to vanish. Iraq’s minister of human rights Wijdan Mikhail said that her ministry had received more than 9,000 complaints in 2005 and 2006 alone from Iraqis who said a relative had disappeared. Human rights groups put the total number much higher. The fate of many missing Iraqis remains unknown. Many are languishing in one of Iraq’s notoriously secretive prisons.

Journalist Dr. Yasser Salihee was killed on June 24th 2005 by an American sniper, so-called “accidentally”. Three days after his death Knight Ridder published a report on his investigation into the Special Police Commandos and their links to torture, extra-judicial killings and disappearances in Baghdad. Salihee and his colleagues investigated at least 30 separate cases of abductions leading to torture and death. In every case witnesses gave consistent accounts of raids by large numbers of police commandos in uniform, in clearly marked police vehicles, with police weapons and bullet-proof vests. And in every case the detained were later found dead, with almost identical signs of torture and they were usually killed by a single gunshot to the head.

The effect of simply not pointing out the connection between the US and the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade militia, the US-backed Wolf Brigade and other Special Police Commando units, or the extent of American recruitment, training, command, and control of these units, was far-reaching. It distorted perceptions of events in Iraq throughout the ensuing escalation of the war, creating the impression of senseless violence initiated by the Iraqis themselves and concealing the American hand in the planning and execution of the most savage forms of violence. By providing cover for the crimes committed by the US government, news editors played a significant role in avoiding the public outrage that might have discouraged the further escalation of this campaign.

The precise extent of US complicity in different aspects and phases of death squad operations, torture and disappearances, deserves thorough investigation. It is not credible that American officials were simply innocent bystanders to thousands of these incidents. As frequently pointed out by Iraqi observers, Interior Ministry death squads moved unhindered through American as well as Iraqi checkpoints as they detained, tortured and killed thousands of people.

As in other countries where US forces have engaged in what they refer to as “counter-insurgency”, American military and intelligence officials recruited, trained, equipped and directed local forces which engaged in a campaign of state-sponsored terror against the overwhelming proportion of the local population who continued to reject and oppose the invasion and occupation of their country.

The degree of US initiative in the recruitment, training, equipping, deployment, command and control of the Special Police Commandos made it clear that American trainers and commanders established the parameters within which these forces operated. Many Iraqis and Iranians were certainly guilty of terrible crimes in the conduct of this campaign. But the prime responsibility for this policy, and for the crimes it involved, rests with the individuals in the civilian and military command structure of the US Department of Defense, the CIA and the White House who devised, approved and implemented the “Phoenix” or “Salvador” terror policy in Iraq.

The report of the Human Rights Office of UNAMI, issued on September 8th 2005, written by John Pace was very explicit, linking the campaign of detentions, torture and extra-judicial executions directly to the Interior Ministry and indirectly to the US-led Multi-National Forces.

The final UN Human Rights Report of 2006 described the consequences of these policies for the people of Baghdad, while downplaying their institutional roots in American policy. The “sectarian violence” that engulfed Iraq in 2006 was not an unintended consequence of the US invasion and occupation but an integral part of it. The United States did not just fail to restore stability and security to Iraq. It deliberately undermined them in a desperate effort to “divide and rule” the country and to fabricate new justifications for unlimited violence against Iraqis who continued to reject the illegal invasion and occupation of their country.

The nature and extent of involvement of different individuals and groups within the US occupation structure has remained a dirty, dark secret, but there are many leads that could be followed by any serious inquiry.

The Surge

In January 2007, the US government announced a new strategy, the “surge” of US combat troops in Baghdad and Al-Anbar province. Most Iraqis reported that this escalation of violence made living conditions even worse than before, as its effects were added to the accumulated devastation of 4 years of war and occupation. The UN Human Rights report for the 1st quarter of 2007 gave a description of the dire conditions of the Iraqi people. The violence of the “surge” resulted i.e. in a further 22% reduction of the number of doctors, leaving only 15.500 out of an original 34.000 by September 2008. The number of refugees and internally displaced has risen sharply during the period 2007-2008.

Since Interior Ministry forces under US command were responsible for a large part of the extra-judicial killings, the occupation authorities had the power to reduce or increase the scale of these atrocities more or less on command. So a reduction in the killings with the launch of the “security plan” should not have been difficult to achieve. In fact, a small reduction in violence seems to have served an important propaganda role for a period until the death squads got back to work, supported by the new American offensive.

The escalation of American firepower in 2007, including a five-fold increase in air strikes and the use of Spectre gun-ships and artillery in addition to the “surge” was intended as a devastating climax to the past 4 years of war and collective punishment inflicted upon the Iraqi people. All resistance-held areas would be targeted with overwhelming fire-power, mainly from the air, until the US ground forces could build walls around what remained of each neighbourhood and isolate each district. It’s worth mentioning that General Petraeus compared the hostilities in Ramadi with the Battle of Stalingrad without qualms about adopting the role of the German invaders in this analogy. Ramadi was completely destroyed as was Fallujah in November 2004.

The UN Human Rights reports of 2007 mentioned the indiscriminate and illegal attacks against civilians and civilian areas and asked for investigations. Air strikes continued on an almost daily basis until August 2008 even as the so-called “sectarian violence” and US casualties declined. In all the reported incidents where civilians, women and children were killed, Centcom press office declared that the people killed were “terrorists”, “Al Qaeda militants” or “involuntary human shields”. Of course, when military forces are illegally ordered to attack civilian areas, many people will try to defend themselves, especially if they know that the failure to do so may result in arbitrary detention, abuse, torture, or summary execution for themselves or their relatives.

Forces involved in “Special Operations”:

Another aspect of the “surge” or escalation appears to have been an increase in the use of the American Special Forces assassination teams. In april 2008 i.e. President Bush declared: ”As we speak, US Special Forces are launching multiple operations every night to capture or kill Al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq”. The NYT reported on 13 May 2009: “When General Stanley McChrystal took over the Joint Special Operations Command in 2003, he inherited an insular, shadowy commando force with a reputation for spurning partnerships with other military and intelligence organizations. But over the next five years he worked hard, his colleagues say, to build close relationships with the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. (…) In Iraq, where he oversaw secret commando operations for five years, former intelligence officials say that he had an encyclopaedic, even obsessive, knowledge about the lives of terrorists, and that he pushed his ranks aggressively to kill as many of them as possible. (…) Most of what General McChrystal has done over a 33-year career remains classified, including service between 2003 and 2008 as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, an elite unit so clandestine that the Pentagon for years refused to acknowledge its existence.” The secrecy surrounding these operations prevented more widespread reporting, but as with earlier US covert operations in Vietnam and Latin America, we will learn more about these operations over time.

- An article in the Sunday Telegraph in February 2007 pointed towards clear evidence British Special Forces recruited and trained terrorists in the Green Zone to heighten ethnic tensions. An elite SAS wing, called “Task Force Black”, with bloody past in Northern Ireland operates with immunity and provides advanced explosives. Some attacks are being blamed on Iranians, Sunni insurgents or shadowy terrorist cells such as Al Qaeda.

- the SWAT teams (Special Weapons and Tactics), extensively used in counter-insurgency operations. The mission of SWAT is to conduct high-risk operations that fall outside the abilities of regular patrol officers to prevent, deter and respond to terrorism and insurgent activities. It was reported that “The foreign internal defense partnership with Coalition Soldiers establishes a professional relationship between the Iraqi Security and Coalition forces where the training builds capable forces. Coalition soldiers working side-by-side with the SWAT teams, both in training and on missions.” On 7 October 2010 the Official website of US Forces in Iraq reported that “The Basrah SWAT team has trained with various Special Forces units, including the Navy SEALs and the British SAS. The 1st Bn., 68th Arm. Regt., currently under the operational control of United States Division-South and the 1st Infantry Division, has taken up the task of teaching the SWAT team.”

- the Facilities Protection Services, where the “private contractors” or mercenaries, like Blackwater, are incorporated, are also used in counter-insurgency operations.

- the Iraq Special Operations Forces (ISOF), probably the largest special forces outfit ever built by the United States, free of many of the controls that most governments employ to rein in such lethal forces. The project started in Jordan just after the Americans conquered Baghdad in April 2003, to create a deadly, elite, covert unit, fully fitted with American equipment, which would operate for years under US command and be unaccountable to Iraqi ministries and the normal political process. According to Congressional records, the ISOF has grown into nine battalions, which extend to four regional “commando bases” across Iraq. By December 2009 they were fully operational, each with its own “intelligence infusion cell,” which will operate independently of Iraq’s other intelligence networks. The ISOF is at least 4,564 operatives strong, making it approximately the size of the US Army’s own Special Forces in Iraq. Congressional records indicate that there are plans to double the ISOF over the next “several years.”

Conclusion: the “dirty war” in Iraq continues. Even as President Barack Obama was announcing the end of combat in Iraq, U.S. forces were still in fight alongside their Iraqi colleagues. The tasks of the 50,000 remaining US troops, 5,800 of them airmen, are “advising” and training the Iraqi army, “providing security” and carrying out “counter-terrorism” missions.

According to the UN Human Rights report, upon a request for clarification by UNAMI, the MNF confirmed that “the US government continued to regard the conflict in Iraq as an international armed conflict, with procedures currently in force consistent with the 4th Geneva Convention” and not that the civil rights of Iraqis should be governed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights laws, because this would have strengthened the rights of Iraqis detained by US or Iraqi forces to speedy and fair trials. The admission that the US was still legally engaged in an “international armed conflict” against Iraq at the end of 2007 also raises serious questions regarding the legality of constitutional and political changes made in Iraq by the occupation forces and their installed government during the war and occupation.

Legitimizing torture

When the public revelations of abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib prison created a brief furor in the world, the ICRC, Human Rights First, AI, HRW and other Human Rights groups documented far more widespread and systematic crimes committed by US forces against people they extra-judicially detained in Iraq. In numerous human rights reports they established that command responsibility for these crimes extended to the highest levels of the US government and its armed forces.

The forms of torture documented in these reports included death threats, mock executions, water-boarding, stress positions, including excruciating and sometimes deadly forms of hanging, hypothermia, sleep deprivation, starvation and thirst, withholding medical treatment, electric shocks, various forms of rape and sodomy, endless beatings, burning, cutting with knives, injurious use of flexicuffs, suffocation, sensory assault and/or deprivation and more psychological forms of torture such as sexual humiliation and the detention and torture of family members. The ICRC established that the violations of international humanitarian law that it recorded were systematic and widespread. Military officers told the ICRC that “between 70% and 90% of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake”.

All these facts are well known, but only the lower ranks in the Army were mildly punished. The “Command’s Responsibility” report revealed that the failure to charge higher ranking officers was the direct result of the “key role” that some same officers played “in undermining chances for full accountability”. By delaying and undermining investigations of deaths in their custody, senior officers compounded their own criminal responsibility in a common pattern of torture, murder and obstruction of justice. Senior officers abused the enormous power they wield in the military command structure to place themselves beyond the reach of law, even as they gave orders to commit terrible crimes. It was in recognition of the terrible potential for exactly this type of criminal behaviour that the Geneva Conventions were drafted and signed in the first place, and that is why they are just as vital today.
Nevertheless, the responsibility for these crimes is not limited to the US army. The public record also includes documents in which senior civilian officials of the US government approved violations of the Geneva Conventions, the 1994 Convention against Torture and the 1996 US War Crimes act. The United States government should thus be held accountable for this terrible tragedy it inflicted upon millions of Iraqi citizens and should be forced to pay appropriate compensations to the victims of its criminal policy in Iraq.

RECOMMENDATIONS

We learned that on Tuesday the 26th of October the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged Iraq and the United States to investigate allegations of torture and unlawful killings in the Iraq conflict revealed in the Wikileaks documents. We are very surprised by this statement. Does the High Commissioner think it is appropriate for criminals to investigate their own crimes? Wijdan Mikhail, the Iraqi Minister of Human Rights in Iraq has called for putting Julian Assange on trial instead of investigating the crimes. And since the Obama administration has shown no desire to expose any of the crimes committed by US officials in Iraq, an international investigation under the auspices of the High Commissioner of Human Rights is necessary. Different Special Rapporteurs should be involved: i.e. the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. A Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iraq should be urgently appointed.

Although the U.N. did not authorize the invasion of Iraq, it did “legalize” the occupation a posteriori in UNSC resolution 1483 (22 May 2003), against the will of the overwhelming majority of the world community, that didn’t accept the legality or the legitimacy of that UN resolution. And it was during the occupation that the war crimes brought to light by WikiLeaks took place. As should the U.S., the U.N. has the moral and legal duty to respond.

The world community has the right to know the complete and unbiased truth about the extent and responsibilities of American involvement in Iraq’s Killing Fields and demands justice for the Iraqi people.

We appeal to all states to ask the US about all these crimes against the Iraqi people during the UPR on the 5th of November.

We also demand that procedures be set up to compensate the Iraqi people and Iraq as a nation for all the losses, human and material destruction and damages caused by the illegal war and the occupation of the country lead by the US/UK forces.

Dirk Adriaensens is Member of the BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee

Note: this presentation contains information available in the public domain, it is compiled wirh reference to several official reports, press articles, BRussells Tribunal witness accounts, Max Fuller’s articles on the counter-insurgency war (http://www.brusselstribunal.org/FullerKillings.htm ) and two books: “Cultural Cleansing in Iraq”, of which Dirk Adriaensens is co-author (Pluto Press, London, and “Blood On Our Hands, The American Invasion And Destruction Of Iraq”, by Nicolas J.S. Davies. (Nimble Books LLC)

CIA advisor: Extraordinary rendition legal

November 5th, 2010 by Global Research

The notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq exposed the US military practice of torturing detainees. A top lawyer for the CIA has claimed that the practice of extraordinary rendition is legal, even in cases that lead to the torture of a suspect.

Daniel Pines, an assistant general counsel at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), has claimed that the practice of abducting terror suspects overseas and sending them to a third country for interrogation is legal under US law.

Writing in the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Pines stated, “There are virtually no legal restrictions on these types of operations… Indeed, US law does not even preclude [the] rendering [of] individuals to a third country in instances where the third country may subject the rendered individual to torture.”

“The only restrictions that do exist under US law preclude US officials from themselves torturing or inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on individuals during rendition operations,” he added.

The American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU), however, says that Pines failed to disclose the most extreme cases of renditions that involved torture.

The ACLU also points out that Washington has carried out renditions in the past where Americans were the jailers and torturers.

“The article does not even address the most extreme form of rendition carried out under the Bush administration: renditions to US run ‘black-site’ prisons, where Americans, not foreign intelligence services, were the jailers and the torturers,” Ben Wizner, litigation director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, told SpyTalk.

Moreover, the issue’s legality has never been tried in US courts.

“Every case to date brought by a victim of the Bush administration’s rendition policies has been dismissed by US courts, but none of those courts addressed the legality of the challenged practices. Rather, the cases were dismissed on the basis of overbroad secrecy and immunity claims,” Wizner noted.

War Crimes: ‘US targets civilians in Kandahar’

November 5th, 2010 by Global Research

US-led forces in Afghanistan US-led foreign forces have once again been criticized for military operations that have led to death and destruction in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

A human rights group says civilian casualties have spiked since operations started in Kandahar province in early September.

The Afghan Rights Monitor (ARM) says the US-led campaign in Kandahar has destroyed or damaged hundreds of houses.

It says US-led NATO forces have used aerial bombings, hidden booby traps and mines in private homes.

According to the rights group, most of the attacks have been carried out in areas that hold about one-third of Kandahar province’s population.

Tens of thousands of Afghan and foreign troops have been fighting the Taliban in Kandahar province to flush militants out of the region.

The developments come as the US and its allies step up a bombing campaign in the troubled southern Afghanistan.

US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan are currently continuing with their massive military operation in the volatile region.

Witnesses have recently told Press TV that NATO forces have dropped more bombs on villages they assume Taliban militants are hiding in, inflicting extensive damage to civilian properties.

The Western military alliance says it is experimenting with a new powerful bomb during the operation.

More than one-hundred thousand Afghans have been killed since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

The loss of civilian lives at the hand of foreign forces has led to a dramatic increase in anti-American sentiments in Afghanistan.

There are currently more than 150,000 US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan.

US-led forces have stepped up attacks in Afghanistan under Washington’s new war strategy that aims to reduce its military presence next year.

Financial Fraud in Germany. The Wall Street Model Backfires

November 5th, 2010 by F. William Engdahl

The earlier filing of fraud charges against Wall Street banking titan Goldman Sachs by the US Government Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was only the tip of a huge fraud iceberg. Now a US mortgage insurer has charged one of the most aggressive banks involved in the US subprime mortgage scam of fraud. The bank is none other than Deutsche Bank. This case is also likely to be just the “tip of a very big iceberg.”

Since he left his post as president of the Swiss-US Credit Suisse bank to go to Deutsche Bank, Swiss banker Josef Ackermann has focused on making the premier German bank into an imitation of the major Wall Street banks. It seems he has succeeded only too well.

Assured Guaranty Ltd., owner of Assured Guaranty Mortgage Insurance Company of New York has sued affiliates of Deutsche Bank AG for over $312 million of mortgage-backed securities (MBS), the controversial bonds that the bond insurer guaranteed and says were “plagued by rampant fraud and misrepresentations.” Assured Guaranty is asking a judge to force Deutsche Bank to repurchase the loans, on which the insurer has already paid almost $60 million in loss claims with potential for tens of millions of dollars more. The suit was filed in New York State Supreme Court against DB Structured Products Inc. and ACE Securities Corp. The bond insurer, backed by billionaire Wilbur Ross, is also seeking reimbursement for the claims paid and for future losses. This is major.

When asked by the press, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank in New York declined to comment.

“The entire pools of loans that Deutsche Bank securitized and to a large degree originated in the transactions are plagued by rampant fraud and misrepresentations and an abdication of sound origination and underwriting practices,” Assured stated in its New York court filing. They declared, “more than 83 percent of 1,306 defaulted loans examined in one of the transactions…breached Deutsche Bank’s representations and warranties.” In other plain language, they claim Deutsche Bank lied. In the second deal, Home Equity Loan Trust, 86 percent of the 1,774 loans breached the agreements, Assured said.[1]

The Wall Street model backfires

According to members of the Frankfurt financial community, Joe Ackermann came to Deutsche Bank with the clear goal of making the traditional German bank a competitor to the most successful Wall Street investment banks.

The only problem, as began to emerge with the explosion of the US Financial Tsunami in 2007 around Wall Street’s securitization of bundles of thousands of individual low quality, high-risk home mortgages, dubbed “sub-prime” as in below best quality, is that the success “model” of Wall Street was based on fraud to begin with. That’s the model for mega-profits and giga-bonuses that Ackermann’s Deutsche Bank is apparently building its business on.

In recent weeks it has emerged that perhaps millions of US homeowners had been fraudulently tricked into signing mortgages in which their true costs were hidden only to explode some years after they signed the loan agreement with the lender, forcing them to default and the banks to repossess the homes, so-called bank foreclosure. Now legal action is also hitting Germany’s esteemed Deutsche Bank.  

‘Stupid Germans…’

According to Bloomberg financial writer and author, Michael Lewis, under Ackermann’s leadership at Deutsche Bank, the bank, through its New York offices, set out to outdo Goldman Sachs in the home mortgage securitization bonanza of the past decade. Lewis documents the fact that Deutsche Bank in New York was selling what it knew were toxic waste or junk mortgage bonds on US subprime mortgages to “stupid German investors in Duesseldorf” as one Deutsche Bank New York bond trader told Lewis.[2]

The “stupid German investors in Duesseldorf” it turns out, were IKB, the daughter of the German state Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau. The interesting point is that Ackermann’s DB sold what were allegedly fraudulently-constructed “AAA” CDO’s or Collateralized Debt Obligations, some of the highest risk fraudulent derivatives from Wall Street mortgages to IKB at a time Deutsche Bank knew or should have known that the US mortgage default crisis was beginning to explode. In effect it appears that the DB dumped its toxic waste onto IKB. At the same time Deutsche Bank was selling exotic US real estate collateralized debt obligations too the “stupid German investors” at IKB, it was aggressively organizing other Wall Street banks and hedge fund managers to bet on the crash of that same mortgage bubble. No one at Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt seemed to mind so long as the profits rolled in from all parties. [3]

To add injury to insult, or even more injury to injury, Deutsche Bank’s Ackermann personally sent a notice to the head of the German bank regulator, BaFin-Chef Jochen Sanio, on July 27, 2007, kindly alerting the German regulators that IKB held a pile of toxic bonds and that the bank could be in trouble. Ackermann even went public to the press and admitted he knew because Deutsche Bank had sold the toxic financial securities to IKB.[4]

That announcement by Ackermann is credited with bringing IKB to the brink of bankruptcy and necessitating a state taxpayer rescue of billions. What the charitable Herr Ackermann did not divulge is how much profit his bank  might have made in the collapse of IKB. The collapse of IKB, as I detail in my Der Untergang des Dollar Imperiums (((PLEASE hyperlink))), was the catalyst to explode the multi-trillion Euro US financial bubble worldwide, a bubble which today is far from deflated.

Notable as well is the fact that two days after being sued for fraud in New York court, Deutsche Bank announced that it had set aside more in compensation for employees of its corporate and investment bank in the first nine months of 2010 than Goldman Sachs. Deutsche Bank reserved enough money to pay a bonus of 285,352 euros to each of the 16,194 workers at the division, which includes transaction banking, company data show. But that money goes only to a handful of top traders whose bonus is likely in the tens of millions. “The market continues to be very competitive and top talent has its value and its price and we cannot ignore that fact,” Deutsche Bank Chief Financial Officer Stefan Krause said according to a report in Business Week magazine. “And the beat goes on, and the beat goes on, on, on…” as the pop song goes. 

Notes

[1] Shannon D. Harrington and Karen Freifeld, Assured Guaranty Sues Deutsche Bank Over Mortgages, Bloomberg, October 25, 2010. T The case is Assured Guaranty Corp. v. DB Structured Products Inc., 651824/2010, New York state Supreme Court (Manhattan)., accessed in http://noir.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=ada1QmQYr_BI

[2] Michael Lewis, The Big Short, London, Penguin Group, 2010,  p.93

 

[3] Anne Seith , Ackermann im IKB-Prozess: Der Teflon-Zeuge, Spiegel Online, http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/0,1518,694403,00.html

 

[4] Ibid.