This short documentary features a number of individuals who have participated in a conference on Syria and the Middle East in Ecuador while the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students was also taking place in Ecuador. The director took the opportunity to talk about the crisis in Syria with participants from both events being held in Ecuador.

TRANSCRIPT

Narration: Ecuador is a country in South America, covered with tropical trees and full of many volcanoes. Its official name, Republica del Ecuador, means the republic of the equator, which is an imaginary line drawn around the middle of the Earth to divide it into two hemispheres. If you stand on it, one side of you is the North and the other is the South.

The inhabitants of this land started their first uprising against Spanish colonialism, when Spain was a superpower and possessed the strongest warships in the world, in order to achieve an original concept called freedom which is not imaginary or does not know directions like the north or the south.

Currently, Ecuador is in peace. It is a bounteous land, which has rain at night and sunlight at day, with happy and loveable people.

In the last days of fall, which does not mean much in the moderate climate of Ecuador, the capital city of Quito hosted the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students. It is ceremony which is held every three or four years in anti-imperialist or anti-capitalist countries. The youths and students from over a hundred countries take part in this festival. The thousands of youths in the festival are from various cultures, races, and languages but they have, of course, one thing in common. They are all anti-imperialists.

 

Narrator: In their opinion, imperialism is an economic, political, and military system which intends to seize all world resources and gain the most benefits at any cost. They know America as the symbol of this system. And now, Ecuador, which has been under the yoke of America, is hosting more than ten thousand anti-American [anti-imperialist] youths.

I went to Ecuador to participate in the festival and make a program about it. On the first day of the festival, a flag grabbed my attention. The flag of Syria! Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, a major part of my professional activities has been about Syria. I travelled to Syria several times and played a role in many events there. I had had many interviews with prominent figures. Syrian issues were interesting to me. However, there, on the other corner of the world, I was surprised when I saw the Syrian flag.

Syrian activist: We are here to say to the whole world that Syria will stand in front against the imperialist attack and the Zionist attack against Syria.

Narrator: Ecuador is one of the farthest inlands to Syria. Syrian and Ecuadorian people do not have any common cultural or religious background, or they even don’t have any trade with each other. However, the Syrian groups have been welcomed warmly. All participants took photographs with them and gave good wishes for them. That is why I went among the participants to know more, and this time, to film Syria from the viewpoint of the people on this side of the world.

VOXPOP [English]: “Where are you from?

Russian activist: Russia.

VOXPOP [English]: Can you speak English?

Russian activist:  Yes

VOXPOP [English]: What is you is idea about Syria?

Russian activist: Syria is our friend, we want that our government of our country help to your country [Syria] because we feel that we are brothers, we want peace on your country and we want good relationship between good countries.”

Third Activist: Based on the bad conflict in Syria, I think it is a very hard strategic by Zionism, by United States, by imperialism. And they are trying to destabilize and they are trying to stop the sovereignty of Syria, the president Bashar Al–Assad because they don’t like Bashar Al–Assad. Why? Because he is not a puppet. He is not a friend of Israel, he is not a friend of United States.”

Fourth Activist: I believe that the Syrian people have the right to defend themselves for many any invading force, terrorist force. Obviously we know the fact that that the US is aiding terrorist extremist.

Third Activist: What they trying to do there is getting terrorist people from Qatar, from Saudi Arabia, from Turkey, Al-Qaeda. I mean I can’t understand why United States are fighting against Al-Qaeda but now they are giving them the guns to come to Syria to fight for freedom. Oh my God, [it is] incredible!

Fifth Activist: Al-Qaeda for example is considered by the United States as a terrorist group, but it is kind of funny I could say or kind of contradictory that the United States joins a terrorist group qualified by the same United State as a terrorist group — that is Al-Qaeda, right? —- to fight against a legitimate government in Syria.

Third Activist: I think that it is conflict that they are doing to stop Bashar Al-Assad. They don’t like that Bashar Al-Assad is not a puppet. He is fighting against Zionism. He helps our brothers in Palestine. He helps our brothers in Lebanon. He is a good man I think and they are trying to stop that regime to get a puppet government like every country that they have invaded in the world.

Second Russian Activist: So I am not really well known in international relations, [but] of course when like some other government support the people who killed somebody and eat their inner things, so it is for us, for Russian people and I think for any human being is not understandable thing.

Narration: A conference on Middle East was held on the sideline of the festival by the Institute of [Advanced] Studies affiliated to Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I seized the opportunity and talk with some prominent figures about international issues in order to ask them about Syria.

SOUNDBITE [English], Norman Finkelstein: My name is Norman Finkelstein and I am a writer and lecturer.

SOUNDBITE [English], Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: My name is Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya I am a sociologist from Canada.

SOUNDBITE [English], Nagham Salman: My name is Nagham Salman and I am originally from Syria.

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Conversation between a prisoner in hand of Al-Qaeda and his Dad: 

Syrian Son: Dad … they are slaughtering me now … you and Mom! Forgive me.

Syrian Dad: May God forgive you! In this world and hereafter …

Syrian Son: Dad! Dad! Don’t wait for me anymore. They are slaughtering me now … they have just taken me here, to this slaughterhouse …

Syrian Dad: Don’t be afraid, my son! God is with you…

Syrian Son: Dad … Dad …

SOUNDBITE [English], Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: No its not a revolution. Anybody who thinks that it is a revolution right now in the year 2013 is deluded and lying to themselves. That is not a revolution, killing innocent people, destroying market places…

SOUNDBITE [English], Norman Finkelstein: …and so the aspect of a civil war was much smaller and the proxy war was the much bigger picture…

SOUNDBITE [English], Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: First of all a lot of these revolutionaries supposedly — so-called revolutionaries — that are doing this [revolution] in the name of Islam, I don’t think that they have read the Quran or know anything about the Quran. For starters it says that Muslims are not supposed to have alliances of non-Muslims where the Muslims — it is very specific from Quran, they [Muslims] cannot have an alliance with non-Muslims, if they [Muslims] are subordinate.These guys are subordinate to non-Muslims against Syria. Is this the revolution where people are being paid to fight for foreign interest [against Syria]?

SOUNDBITE [Arabic], Terrorists in Syria speaking.

SOUNDBITE [English], Nagham Salman: Syria as I said has a very important geo-political situation in the Middle East because of the geographical location, because of the political culture of the government or the regime, because of its strong alliance with Iran and Russia.

Narrator: Human rights, democracy, and the right to determine your destiny, from the viewpoint of European officials, are important somewhere, like Syria, and are unimportant somewhere, like Bahrain. They are repetitive terms. I asked experts about the real motives of the West and why Syria has become so important for them.

SOUNDBITE [English], Nagham Salman: Besides that this government supports a lot the resistance in Lebanon and in Palestine, it is the only Arabic government that fights for the Palestinian case until now. So this does not suit United States of America, not even Israel, and some other countries.

SOUNDBITE [English], Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Reform in Syria does and democracy in Syria does not mean reform and democracy for the Americans, it means bow down to us [the United States] and listen to us for your foreign policies and cut the Iranians out.

SOUNDBITE [English], Nagham Salman: The role of [the] United States and Israel is to get rid of the only enemy in the Arab governments, the only presidents that says “no” to the United States in the region.

…well, Syria has different situation from the other [Arab] countries. I think that years ago something was getting prepared for Syria years ago…

SOUNDBITE [English], Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: …of course regime change! The story of regime change starts in 1991, it starts with the Iraq War [Persian Gulf War]. Mr. [Paul] Wolfowitz, when he was undersecretary of defense, said now that the Soviets have collapsed look at what we are doing in Afghanistan, it’s time to war out against the rest of the Middle East. This was a neo-con project which was endorsed by the Likudniks in Israel. The Israelis are very much tide to this. [They] had a long term plan of regime change throughout the entire Greater Middle East, from North Africa to Central Asia, and it just took some time to kick the war machine, to put it into play.

…in 2001, I know you know a hundred percent that General Clark mentioned a list [of countries that would be attacked] … the war in Lebanon in 2006 was really against Syria, it was a demonstration. It was obviously at the end against Iran, but it was against Syria. Even [US Vice-President] Dick Cheney’s Middle East advisor, his wife, who helped write the document A Clean Break [about destroying Syria for Israel], admits that Syria was the main target of the [2006] war. The French general who was in charge of UNIFIL [for the UN in Lebanon] in his book that he printed after he retired  said that the Americans were going to send the Marines into Lebanon, they were planning on fighting Hezbollah and then going into Syria. They just wanted to make sure that Iran would not get involved. They don’t want to fight [the entire Axis of Resistance] at the same time, they want to fight one [member at a time] and then go after the other ones.

SOUNDBITE [English], Nagham Salman: …And I think they had the idea that if they can get rid of this government [in Syria], then they can attack Iran so Iran will not have this big alliance with Syria and in this case Hezbollah will stand alone in Lebanon and it will be easy for Israel to attack Hezbollah.

SOUNDBITE [English], Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: You know these groups, who are they? You know some of them come from Iraq, they were part of the Awakening Councils. Who were the Awakening Councils? They were groups the Americans started paying basically to be under American control. That is even [acknowledged] in the American media about the Awakening Councils. They were paying them basically to fight for them [the US] in Iraq, and now these guys have become the seeds of what we are seeing in Syria.

…and of course Saudi Arabia had a big hand to play in this and Prince Bandar Bush, who has been pivotal with creating the Taliban, and who was pivotal in creating creating Fatal Al-Islam in Lebanon. Remember after the Israelis lost the war in Lebanon [in 2006], that all of a sudden these groups the are the seeds of what we are seeing in Syria starting coming to Lebanon. They [the US] wanted to use them against Hezbollah and eventually these are the same groups we have seen them using in Syria.

SOUNDBITE [English], Nagham Salman: It is also economic because Syria has petrol, has gas, and this is something very attractive for investment and I think Qatar has future from projects in Syria and that is why they pushed a lot the rebels to destroy more and more in Syria so they can be able to into the market and invest…

Narration: At the heart of South America, at the foothills of Ecuador’s volcanic mountains, and in the middle of rain forests, talking about the Middle East had a strange feeling. It was like looking at a chess board from far away, whose pawns were alive, and whose rooks were real. They talked about Damascus, which is the oldest capital in the world. It has been known as “the Eastern Gate” for two thousand years.

SOUNDBITE [English], Norman Finkelstein: The United States has only one interest and that is Iran. They want to weaken Iran and that is their interest in Syria. Remember the United States got got along quite well with Syria. Syria join the coalition in 1991 to force Iraq to leave Kuwait, they quite along well. Someone was just reminding me in the car today that when Hafez Al-Assad passed away, the United States sent a very large delegation. It was headed by [US Secretary of State] Madeline Albright. It has nothing to do with Syria, it’s Iran. They want to weaken Iran.

SOUNDBITE [English], Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: … to cut the Iranians out. The road to Damascus is through Beirut, but Damascus is the road to Tehran.

SOUNDBITE [English], Norman Finkelstein: In a civil war each side has a finite amount of resources. So at a certain point, when each side realizes that it can’t win, they decide on some political compromise. The problem now is that it is no longer a civil war [in Syria], it’s  a proxy war [in Syria] and each of the great powers has unlimited resources. They can go on and on and on and on because they have so much power, so much wealth. Will the Saudis stop? No, they will not stop. Will the Americans stop? No. It’s the Syrian people who are paying a terrible, terrible, terrible price.

SOUNDBITE [English], Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: …they lost. The Americans lost in Syria. They lost the war. They know it. Everyone should know it by now.

There are some stubborn people in Saudi Arabia who are afraid that regime change will happen in Riyadh. They saw that the New York Times in September [2013] published that article saying Saudi Arabia is going to be broken up into several little states. They see the writing on the wall. Saudi Arabia is just a book note, it is a little footnote in a book. It is not an important player. The real players are countries like Iran, China, Russia. These are the ones that matter. Saudi Arabia, it’s time is done. The House of Saud is a fossil. They [the House of Saud] think that if we leave things in Syria that eventually it [our end] will come our way and, of course, the Americans don’t mind them continuing to make Syria bleed and the Israelis don’t mind either. They want a weak Syria. It benefits them to have weak countries in the region.

Narration: Our short days at Ecuador finished, but the war in Syria still continues. The war which has become part of Syrian people’s everyday life… the war, with which Syrian children sleep at dusk, and wake up in the morning… the war in which all world powers are involved and all good and evil are confronting one another… and the war which may alter the world’s destiny and change its order.

Riconversione armata per Finmeccanica

March 5th, 2015 by Manlio Dinucci

Un vec­chio vizio della sini­stra e dei movi­menti è tenere sepa­rate la lotta per il lavoro e quella con­tro la guerra, men­tre invece sono due facce della stessa meda­glia. Emble­ma­tico il fatto che, quando Fin­mec­ca­nica ha annun­ciato la ven­dita alla giap­po­nese Hita­chi di Ansaldo Sts e Ansaldo Breda, l’attenzione poli­tica e sin­da­cale si è con­cen­trata sulla difesa dell’occupazione, lasciando in ombra la por­tata stra­te­gica della deci­sione: ridurre la pro­du­zione civile per accre­scere quella militare.

Nella clas­si­fica delle 100 mag­giori indu­strie pro­dut­trici di armi redatta dal Sipri, Fin­mec­ca­nica si col­loca al nono posto mon­diale, pre­ce­duta da sei sta­tu­ni­tensi (Lockheed-Martin. Boeing, Ray­theon, Nor­th­rop Grum­man, Gene­ral Dyna­mics, Uni­ted Tech­no­lo­gies), una bri­tan­nica (Bae Systems) e una franco-tedesca-spagnola (Air­bus Group, già Eads). Con la ven­dità di armi, Fin­mec­ca­nica rea­lizza il 50% del suo fat­tu­rato: ciò signi­fica che, accre­scendo tale pro­du­zione, salirà di rango tra le mag­giori indu­strie bel­li­che mondiali.

Tale ope­ra­zione viene effet­tuata ven­dendo a Hita­chi l’Ansaldo Sts, azienda lea­der nei sistemi di segna­la­mento per tra­sporto fer­ro­via­rio e urbano, e Ansaldo Breda, lea­der nella pro­du­zione di mate­riale rota­bile per sistemi fer­ro­viari (com­presi treni ad alta velo­cità) e per tra­sporto urbano (già oltre 1000 con­vo­gli per le metro­po­li­tane di Washing­ton, Los Ange­les, San Fran­ci­sco, Miami e altre grandi città, Milano com­presa). Anche se Hita­chi pro­mette di man­te­nere i livelli occu­pa­zio­nali di que­ste indu­strie (le cui atti­vità pro­dut­tive, pro­ba­bil­mente, saranno in futuro delo­ca­liz­zate in paesi dove il costo del lavoro è infe­riore), resta il fatto che l’Italia dovrà acqui­stare dalla giap­po­nese Hita­chi sistemi di segna­la­mento e mate­riale rota­bile, spen­dendo (con denaro pub­blico) molto di più per i trasporti.

In com­penso Fin­mec­ca­nica accre­scerà fat­tu­rato e pro­fitti pun­tando su indu­strie come la Oto Melara, pro­dut­trice di sistemi d’arma ter­re­stri e navali (tra cui il vei­colo blin­dato Cen­tauro, con potenza di fuoco di un car­rar­mato, e can­noni con muni­zioni gui­date Vul­cano ven­duti a più di 55 marine nel mondo); la Wass, lea­der mon­diale nella pro­du­zione di siluri (tra cui il Black Shark a lunga git­tata); la Mbda, lea­der mon­diale nella pro­du­zione di mis­sili (tra cui quello anti-nave Marte e quello aria-aria Meteor); l’Alenia Aer­mac­chi che, oltre a pro­durre aerei da guerra (come il cac­cia da adde­stra­mento avan­zato M-346 for­nito a Israele), gesti­sce l’impianto Faco di Cameri scelto dal Pen­ta­gono quale polo di manu­ten­zione dei cac­cia F-35 schie­rati in Europa.

La ricon­ver­sione di Fin­mec­ca­nica dal civile al mili­tare, che riduce i posti di lavoro dato che le indu­strie bel­li­che high-tech richie­dono meno addetti, è stata inco­rag­giata dall’attuale e dai pre­ce­denti governi: lo scorso otto­bre, la mini­stra della difesa Pinotti ha pre­sen­ziato alla firma dell’accordo di col­la­bo­ra­zione tra Fin­mec­ca­nica e Fin­can­tieri per la costru­zione di navi da guerra con «l’obiettivo di aumen­tare la com­pe­ti­ti­vità sui mer­cati nazio­nali ed esteri».

Sul mer­cato ita­liano ci pensa il governo ad assi­cu­rare la «com­pe­ti­ti­vità»: la «Legge di sta­bi­lità» stan­zia 6 miliardi di euro per la costru­zione di altre navi da guerra e il Mini­stero dello svi­luppo eco­no­mico ha già finan­ziato 8 delle 10 fre­gate lan­cia­mis­sili Fremm. Altro denaro pub­blico che si aggiunge alla spesa mili­tare: 52 milioni di euro al giorno secondo la Nato, 67 secondo il Sipri. Sem­pre il governo pro­muove l’export mili­tare, die­tro il para­vento del «Trat­tato sul com­mer­cio di arma­menti» che l’Italia ha solen­ne­mente firmato.

Manlio Dinucci

Congress Cheers Netanyahu’s Hatred of Iran

March 5th, 2015 by Robert Parry

Addressing Congress in the style of a State of the Union speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won 41 rounds of applause as U.S. lawmakers eagerly enlisted in the Israeli-Saudi conflict against Iran and its allies – an enthusiasm that may well entangle the U.S. military in more wars in the Middle East.

Speaking to a joint session of Congress for the third time – tying British Prime Minister Winston Churchill for the record – Netanyahu went far beyond excoriating President Barack Obama’s negotiations with Iran to restrict but not eliminate its nuclear program. He portrayed Iran as a dangerous enemy whose regional influence must be stopped and reversed, a position shared by Israel’s new ally, Saudi Arabia.

Netanyahu declared:

“In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations. We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3, 2015. (Screen shot from CNN broadcast)

Netanyahu’s reference to “Iran’s aggression” was curious since Iran has not invaded another country for centuries. In 1980, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – at the urging of Saudi Arabia – invaded Iran. During that bloody eight-year war, Israel – far from being an enemy of Iran – became Iran’s principal arms supplier. Israel drew in the Reagan administration, which approved some of the Israeli-brokered arms deals, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal in 1986.

In other words, Israel was aiding Iran after the Islamic revolution overthrew the Shah in 1979 and during the time when Netanyahu blamed Iran for the attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and various acts of terrorism allegedly committed by Hezbollah, a Shiite militia in Lebanon. Israel only shifted toward hostility against Shiite-ruled Iran in the 1990s as Israel gradually developed a de facto alliance with Sunni-ruled and oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which views Iran as its chief regional rival.

Netanyahu’s choice of Arab cities supposedly conquered by Iran was strange, too. Baghdad is the capital of Iraq where the U.S. military invaded in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated government — on Netanyahu’s recommendation. After the invasion, President George W. Bush installed a Shiite-dominated government. So, whatever influence Iran has in Baghdad is the result of a U.S. invasion that Netanyahu personally encouraged.

More recently, Iran has supported the embattled Iraqi government in its struggle against the murderous Islamic State militants who seized large swaths of Iraqi territory last summer. Indeed, Iraqi officials have credited Iran with playing a crucial role in blunting the Islamic State, the terrorists whom President Obama has identified as one of the top security threats facing the United States.

Netanyahu cited Damascus, too, where Iran has helped the Syrian government in its struggle against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. In other words, Iran is assisting the internationally recognized government of Syria hold off two major terrorist organizations. But Netanyahu portrays that as Iran “gobbling up” a nation.

The Israeli prime minister also mentioned Beirut, Lebanon, and Sanaa, Yemen, but those were rather bizarre references, too, since Lebanon is governed by a multi-ethnic arrangement that includes a number of religious and political factions. Hezbollah is one and it has close ties to Iran, but it is stretching the truth to say that Iran “dominates” Beirut or Lebanon.

Similarly, in Sanaa, the Houthis, a Shiite-related sect, have taken control of Yemen’s capital and have reportedly received some help from Iran, but the Houthis deny those reports and are clearly far from under Iranian control. The Houthis also have vowed to work with the Americans to carry on the fight against Yemen’s Al-Qaeda affiliate.

Leading the Battle

Indeed, Iran and these various Shiite-linked movements have been among the most effective in battling Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, while Israel’s Saudi friends have been repeatedly linked to funding and supporting these Sunni terrorist organizations. In effect, what Netanyahu asked the Congress to do – and apparently successfully – was to join Saudi Arabia and Israel in identifying Iran, not Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, as America’s chief enemy in the Middle East.

That would put the U.S.-Iranian cooperation in combating Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in jeopardy. It could lead to victories by these Sunni terrorists in Syria and possibly even Iraq, a situation that almost surely would force the U.S. military to return in force to the region. No U.S. president could politically accept Damascus or Baghdad in the hands of openly terrorist organizations vowing to carry the fight to Europe and the United States.

Yet, that was the logic — or lack thereof — in Netanyahu’s appeal to Congress. As he put it, “when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.” He also argued that Iran was a greater threat than the Islamic State, a position that Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren has expressed, too.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime [in Syria] as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in a 2013 interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran” – even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.

In June 2014, then speaking as a former ambassador at an Aspen Institute conference, Oren expanded on his position, saying Israel would even prefer a victory by the brutal Islamic State over continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria. “From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.

Netanyahu made a similar point: “The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.”

Of course, Iran has disavowed any interest in developing a nuclear bomb — and both the U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities agree that Iran has not been working on a bomb. Further, the negotiated agreement between Iran and leading world powers would impose strict oversight on Iran’s civilian nuclear program, leaving little opportunity to cheat.

Instead, Netanyahu wants the United States to lead an aggressive campaign to further strangle Iran’s economy with the goal of forcing some future “regime change.” The principal beneficiary of that strategy would likely be Saudi Arabia, which has served as the proselytizing center for the reactionary Wahabbi version of Sunni Islam, which inspired Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.

Elements of the Saudi royal family also have long been known to support Islamist militants, including forces associated with bin Laden. Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that convicted al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui identified leading members of the Saudi government as financiers of the terrorist network.

According to the story, Moussaoui said in a prison deposition that he was directed in 1998 or 1999 by Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan to create a digital database of the group’s donors and that the list included Prince Turki al-Faisal, then Saudi intelligence chief; Prince Bandar bin Sultan, longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States; Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a prominent billionaire investor; and many leading clerics.

Moussaoui also said he discussed a plan to shoot down President George W. Bush’s Air Force One with a Stinger missile with a staff member at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, at a time when Bandar was the ambassador to the United States and considered so close to the Bush family that his nickname was “Bandar Bush.”

Moussaoui claimed, too, that he passed letters between Osama bin Laden and then Crown Prince Salman, who recently became king upon the death of his brother King Abdullah.

While the Saudi government denied Moussaoui’s accusations, Saudi and other Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms have been identified in recent years as financial backers of Sunni militants fighting in Syria to overthrow Assad’s largely secular regime, with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front the major rebel force benefiting from this support.

Shared Israeli Interests

The Israelis also have found themselves on the side of these Sunni militants in Syria because the Israelis share the Saudi view that Iran and the so-called “Shiite crescent” – reaching from Tehran to Beirut – is the greatest threat to their interests.

That attitude of favoring Sunni militants over Assad has taken a tactical form with Israeli forces launching attacks inside Syria that benefit Nusra Front. For instance, on Jan. 18, 2015, Israel attacked Lebanese-Iranian advisers assisting Assad’s government in Syria, killing several members of Hezbollah and an Iranian general. These military advisers were engaged in operations against Nusra Front.

Meanwhile, Israel has refrained from attacking Nusra militants who have seized Syrian territory near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. One source familiar with U.S. intelligence information on Syria told me that Israel has a “non-aggression pact” with Nusra forces, who have even received medical treatment at Israeli hospitals.

Israel and Saudi Arabia have found themselves on the same side in other regional struggles, including support for the military’s ouster of the elected Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, but most importantly they have joined forces in their hostility toward Shiite-ruled Iran.

I first reported on the growing relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia in August 2013 in an article entitled “The Saudi-Israeli Superpower,” noting that the complementary strengths of the two countries made their alliance a potentially powerful influence in the world. Israel wields enormous political and media clout — and possesses nuclear weapons — while the Saudis use their oil, money and investments. [For more details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Saudis Said to Aid Israeli Plan to Bomb Iran.”]

What the world saw in Netanyahu’s bravura performance on Tuesday before the wildly applauding members of the U.S. Congress was him proving his value to his Saudi cohorts, demonstrating how he can make some of America’s most powerful politicians behave like trained seals, bouncing up and down to cheer him even when he openly seeks to undermine the sitting U.S. President.

Some of the loudest applause came when Netanyahu told the Congress, “My friends, for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.”

Netanyahu’s enthusiastic reception signaled to President Obama that he has little political support for a negotiated agreement with Iran and signaled to Iran that all their concessions are unlikely to lead to any meaningful easing of sanctions from the U.S. Congress.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon andbarnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Former top general and CIA chief David Petraeus passed classified secret information to his lover, including details of ongoing covert operations and names of undercover agents, and subsequently lied about these actions to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Petraeus transferred the notebooks to Paula Broadwell in August 2011 while he was head of the CIA. The books contained a range of state secrets including US war plans, intelligence capabilities, and minutes from National Security Council meetings and private one-on-one discussions between the general and President Barack Obama, according to the Washington Post.

Broadwell requested the information as part of her research for a biography of Petraeus, published as All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. The evidence makes clear that Petraeus knew he was passing extremely sensitive information to his mistress.

“Umm, well, they’re really, I mean they are highly classified,” Petraeus can be heard telling Broadwell on an audio recording from 2011.

Less than a month before his affair with Broadwell became public, Petraeus lied to US government investigators, saying that he never transferred any secret information to her. An FBI team seized the notebooks from Petraeus’ residence in Virginia in April 2013, nearly half a year after the retired general signed an FBI statement declaring that he no longer possessed documents containing classified information.

The FBI had ordered Petraeus questioned after discovering emails between Broadwell and Jill Kelley, a wealthy socialite known for hosting lavish parties for top Pentagon officials at her residence in the Tampa, Florida area.

Senator John McCain, a leading congressional representative of the military-intelligence apparatus, voiced his unshaken solidarity with Petraeus, saying that he had already “expressed deep regret” and that “it is time to consider this matter closed.”

“Petraeus will continue to provide his outstanding service and leadership to our nation, as he has throughout his distinguished career,” McCain said.

While Edward Snowden and numerous other whistleblowers have been threatened with death and subject to extensive vilification in the media for revealing grave crimes by the government, Petraeus will pay a fine of $40,000 and will not face any jail time, according to federal attorneys.

The former general’s treatment is in sharp contrast to the savage penalties imposed on Private Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, who exposed some of the crimes of American imperialism in Afghanistan and Iraq by downloading classified material and sending it to WikiLeaks for publication.

Manning is serving a 35-year prison term, while Julian Assange of WikiLeaks has been locked up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London where he sought asylum three years ago.

Far from being prosecuted for war crimes, for which Manning, Assange and others have provided ample evidence, Petraeus has enjoyed a well-publicized career in the upper echelons of the American military-intelligence apparatus.

Prior to his downfall, Petraeus rose steadily through the military, culminating in the command of multinational forces in Iraq during 2007-08, then command of CENTCOM and of occupation forces in Afghanistan. Petraeus assumed leadership of the CIA in September 2011, and ran the top US intelligence agency for more than a year before the Broadwell relationship became public.

Since leaving the CIA in November 2012, Petraeus has been welcomed with open arms by the financial and academic establishment, working as a globe-trotting consultant for New York investment house Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP (KKR) and been appointed to professorships at the City University of New York (CUNY), the University of Southern California, and the University of Exeter.

Petraeus apparently fell afoul of political currents in Washington, under circumstances that remain murky even today. He was kicked upstairs from Afghanistan to the CIA in the summer of 2011, at a time when Republican Party circles were seriously discussing him as a possible presidential or vice presidential candidate against the Obama-Biden reelection ticket.

His ouster from the CIA was also politically timely. Petraeus handed in his resignation within days of Obama’s reelection, paving the way for John Brennan, Obama’s top national security aide and the overseer of the drone missile assassination program, to return to the CIA and become its director.

His resignation came only two months after the events in Benghazi, Libya, when a US diplomatic post and a CIA annex were attacked by Islamists who had been working with the agency as part of its efforts, first to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, then to attack the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Since then, the Republican hue and cry over Benghazi, itself motivated by an effort to discredit then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, has served to divert attention from the primary role of the CIA in the events in Libya, which remain uninvestigated to this day.

The federal trial of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev got under way Wednesday amid extraordinary security surrounding the Boston courtroom, which was packed with reporters and victims of the April 15, 2013 bombings.

Boston police closed off streets that, even during major trials, are normally kept open. Barricades kept the public at a distance, while K-9 units guarded the building, a helicopter hovered overhead, and police boats stood by in Boston Harbor.

Even before the jurors were seated, Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. issued a ruling limiting the ability of lawyers for the 21-year-old defendant to discuss the role of his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, in the planning and execution of the terrorist attack that killed three people and wounded another 264. The judge granted a prosecution motion to largely exclude evidence concerning the relationship between Tamerlan and Dzhokhar until the sentencing phase of the trial.

The ruling indicates the government’s intention to tightly control the information emerging from the proceedings so as to marginalize or exclude questions relating to extensive contacts over a period of years between the FBI and Tamerlan, who is believed to have organized the attack. The older Tsarnaev brother was killed in a shootout with police on April 19, 2013, four days after two pressure cooker bombs packed with nails and shrapnel were detonated near the downtown Boston finish line of the marathon.

In their opening statements to the jury, neither the prosecution nor defense lawyer referred to the still unexplained failure of federal agencies such as the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security Department to prevent the bombings, even though the FBI and CIA had been warned multiple times by the Russian security service of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s Islamist terrorist sympathies, the FBI had questioned the older brother and his parents, and Tamerlan had been placed on US terror watch lists.

Last year, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense team filed papers with the court alleging that the FBI had attempted to recruit Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an informant. The defense has requested all information relating to the FBI’s investigation of the older brother, but the government has objected to the release of such documents.

The defendant is charged with more than 30 counts relating to the bombings, many of which carry the death penalty. The charges include the killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology policeman on the evening of April 18, three days after the bombings.

In 2013, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In her opening statement, however, lead defense counsel Judy Clarke acknowledged that her client was involved in the terror attack. “It was him,” she told the jury. She called the bombings a “series of senseless, horribly misguided acts carried out by the two brothers,” and said Dzhokhar should be held accountable for his crime.

But she argued that her client had been lured and bullied into participating in the attack by his older brother, who was the author and chief protagonist of the crime. Clarke, who has represented defendants in a number of high-profile capital cases, is clearly seeking to convince the jury to spare her client’s life and instead sentence him to life imprisonment, the only alternative sentence if he is found guilty.

Prosecutor William Weinreb focused on the horror of the bombings and the terrible physical and emotional toll they took on innocent bystanders, including an eight-year-old child who was one of the three fatalities. He insisted that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was an independent actor, motivated by an Islamist extremist ideology and outrage over the US government’s treatment of Muslims around the world. His statement made clear that the government intends to seek the death penalty.

The Boston bombings became the occasion for the police-military lockdown of Boston and its environs, an area with over one million residents, on April 19, 2013, following the killing of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and escape of Dzhokhar. Boston and its surrounding communities were flooded with thousands of heavily armed police and National Guard troops. They occupied the streets, supported by machine-gun-mounted armored vehicles, Humvees and Black Hawk helicopters.

Residents were ordered to “shelter in place” while police, with automatic weapons drawn, carried out warrantless house-to-house searches. The mass transit system was shut down, passenger train service was halted, and businesses, schools, universities and other public facilities were closed.

It was an unprecedented police-state operation. As the World Socialist Web Site noted at the time, the scene resembled the American occupation of Baghdad. This massive mobilization of police power was deployed, supposedly, to track down one 19-year-old suspect.

Just as there was virtually no expression of opposition to this dry run for dictatorship by any section of the media or political establishment at the time, the lockdown of Boston has been omitted from current commentary on the opening of the trial. This makes all the more important the posing of some of the unanswered questions regarding the events of April 2013, which are likely to be excluded from the court proceedings as well as the media coverage of the trial.

These include:

· Why did the FBI and CIA fail to respond to warnings from Russia’s security agency FSB in 2011 and 2012 concerning Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s support for Islamist separatist and terrorist organizations in Russia’s North Caucasian regions of Chechnya and Dagestan? Why did they ignore Russia’s request that Tsarnaev be prevented from traveling to these regions?

· Why did the FBI clear Tamerlan Tsarnaev of harboring terrorist sympathies in 2011 after supposedly carrying out an intensive investigation? Why did the agency claim there was no “derogatory” information against him, even though it suspected him of having participated in the Waltham, Massachusetts murder of three Jewish men, including a “best friend,” on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks?

· Why was he allowed to travel to Dagestan in January of 2012, without even being questioned at the airport? He remained there for six months and reportedly made contact with Islamist groups that have carried out terror attacks against Russian targets. Why was he allowed to return to the US without even being stopped at the airport and questioned on his return?

· Why did the FBI, CIA and Homeland Security Department fail to inform their state and local counterparts on the Boston joint terrorism task force of their contacts with Tamerlan Tsarnaev prior to the Boston Marathon?

These unanswered questions strongly suggest that US intelligence was seeking to use Tamerlan Tsarnaev to further its covert anti-Russian operations among Chechen and Dagestan separatists. These regions also supplied many of the foreign fighters recruited by the CIA for its proxy war for regime change against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

This connection is underscored by another critical fact ignored by the US media—the role of Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers. In the 1990s, Tsarni ran a US group called the Congress of Chechen International Organizations, which helped supply anti-Russian insurgents in Chechnya with military equipment. The organization was registered at the home of his father-in-law, Graham Fuller.

Fuller had been vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA under President Reagan, and had worked for the agency in a number of countries, including serving as CIA station chief in Kabul.

A phone video of a homeless man who goes by the name Africa being shot and killed by the LAPD went viral Sunday night. The video was raw, the outrage on display from those watching the killing unfold in real time, palpable.

On cue, the LAPD and its compliant local media went into damage-control mode. Without irony, the police would insist time and time again the public not pass judgment–while they would do just that. From an initial report in LA Weekly (3/1/15):

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents rank-and-file city officers, tonight urged “everyone to reserve their judgment” until investigations are completed.

In a statement the union said that audio “clearly suggests that the officers felt that they were in life-threatening danger.”

This block quote was not edited for effect, those two statements actually follow on another. Let’s take a closer look:

…urged “everyone to reserve their judgment” until investigations are completed.

…”clearly suggests that the officers felt that they were in life-threatening danger.”

From Nicholas Dahmann on Vimeo.

The LAPD police union urges people not to judge while proceeding to literallydo just that–casually asserting Africa (originally misidentified as Charley Saturmin Robinet) was at fault. In a sane universe, the obvious, glaring hypocrisy of these two statements would be challenged, or at least noted. But to a friendly local media whose default position is to simply repeat “official” accounts, no matter how illogical they may be, this type of spin goes entirely unquestioned.

This cognitive dissonance would be on display again in the LA Times initial report (3/2/15), quoting Police Commission President Steve Soboroff:

Soboroff said a key issue would be whether the man did try to grab the officer’s gun. Otherwise, he said, it’s unclear what might have prompted the use of deadly force.

“To me, that would be the only explanation that something would happen that quickly,” Soboroff said. “It escalated right in front of our eyes.”

Soboroff said the LAPD, the independent inspector general and the district attorney’s office would each investigate the shooting “very, very carefully.”

“Of course, I would encourage people not to rush to judgment. It’s not fair to anybody. It’s not fair to the family of the victim or the victim or the officers,” he said. “We’ll find out what happened.

Once again, let’s isolate these comments:

Soboroff said a key issue would be whether the man did try to grab the officer’s gun….

“To me, that would be the only explanation”

These statements are, in no uncertain terms, a judgment of the events in question.

“Of course, I would encourage people not to rush to judgment.”

But that’s what Soboroff just did. He literally just rushed to judgment. Saying that Africa reaching for an officer’s gun is “the only explanation” is, in every sense of the word, a judgment. And given Soboroff’s total lack of new or exculpatory information, entirely rushed. But again, this PR sleight-of-hand is allowed to be floated without any examination.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck with photos of a gun that may or may not have been grabbed.

As a reward for its stenography, the LA Times  was allowed a private screening of “enhanced” footage the police insist shows Africa reaching for an officer’s gun:

An enhanced version of a video recording of LA police officers fatally shooting a homeless man on skid row Sunday appears to show the man’s hand reaching in the direction of an officer’s waistband.

Times review of the video shows the officer quickly pulling away at that moment. Then, three of his colleagues open fire on the man.

It was difficult to determine whether the man’s hand actually touched the officer’s weapon.

Firstly, the Times allows the goal post to move without question. The chief of police is insisting the video shows Africa reaching for the officer’s gun, but now the criteria is “reaching in the direction of an officer’s waistband”? The lead, therefore, should be “Chief Beck’s claim that Africa was reaching for the officer’s gun not supported by new video evidence.” Instead, the goal post is subtly moved to a heretofore unknown criteria of “reaching in the direction of a waistband,” as if this is somehow meaningful. Buried a few paragraphs down, the Times concedes as much:

It was difficult to determine whether the man’s hand actually touched the officer’s weapon.

Secondly, the whole premise is bizarre. The whole practice of treating the press like a clergy class who must interpret video evidence like some inscrutable ancient text, rather than just publishing it online for all to see, is inherently prejudicial. Why is the Times allowed to see this “enhanced footage” while no one else is? If the LAPD is so confident it shows he reached for a gun, then why not just release it to the public?

The boilerplate excuse about an “on-going investigation”–despite not really making any sense–would suffice to the media. And why wouldn’t it? After all, this information asymmetry works entirely to their advantage, and the LAPD knows this. Information, to them, is currency. And since the city–from the LAPD to the mayor’s office to the DA–hold all the information, it knows it can selectively leak it to paint a picture to their liking–working to the advantage of government and media alike, while leaving a grieving public totally in the dark.

This arrangement would become even sleazier yesterday when city authorities–and thus the LA Times–went into full on character assassination mode, withback-to-back smear pieces about Africa’s totally irrelevant criminal past. This screencap of the LA Times‘ Kate Mather’s bio page sums it up nicely:

 

Her jolly face contrasted with the scary, entirely non sequitur mugshot of Africa raises the question: Why? What does whether he robbed a bank 15 years ago have to do with anything? How is it relevant? How can it do anything but serve to posthumously try and convict him on unrelated charges of being poor and mentally ill?

But we’ve seen this before: Michael Brown was “no angel.” Eric Garner was a“career criminal.” We’ve seen before the “leaked” information about a criminal past, the one-sided framing of a person’s entire life, reducing them to someone worthy–if not deserving–of the incidental death they suffered at the hands of police.

Indeed, we know the routine by heart. Police shoot an unarmed black man and the question is not, What drove the cops to do that? What motivated the police to respond with such disproportionate force? Not, What is the criminal past of the police involved or the police department as a whole? The burden, and thus the media’s focus, is on the one person who can’t defend himself.

h/t @Olaasm, who’s been keeping the LAPD honest for years.

Adam Johnson is a freelance journalist; formerly he was a founder of the hardware startup Brightbox. You can follow him on Twitter at@adamjohnsonnyc. A version of this post appeared on his blog Citations Needed (3/4/15).

Oriel Jean and his wife Bettina.

In what many suspect is a political assassination, Oriel Jean, 50, the former security chief of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from 2001 to 2003, was shot to death by gunmen on motorcycles shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Mon., Mar. 2 near Delmas 30, not far from the offices of Claudy Construction in Parc Mirdoré on Delmas 33 where he worked.

According to his assistant Kenny Faustin, Oriel had just finished taking out US$10,800 for payroll from the Sogebank at Delmas 30 and was driving a grey Toyota pick-up with a Dominican co-worker named Maldonado with the money in a bag on the back seat when the car was struck from behind by a motorcycle. When Oriel got out of the vehicle to see what had happened, assailants shot him twice in the stomach and heart, took the money as well as a bag which contained his gun, and fled in the direction of the Simon Pélé neighborhood. Oriel died at the scene, face down on the pavement.

The assailants were six men on two motorcycles, according to witnesses. Mr. Maldonado, who fled the vehicle when the attack began, was not harmed but was apprehended by the police. According to some press reports, the police have stated that no money was stolen from the vehicle.

Oriel, who was known to his friends as “Roro,” had returned to Haiti in September 2013 after spending about seven years working as a parking lot attendant at the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport following his release from prison in September 2006. He spent two and a half years jailed, with a year on probation, after accepting a plea bargain for “Conspiracy to Commit Money-Laundering,” the same charge and sentence given to other high-ranking Lavalas government officials swept up in a politically-motivated legal campaign by Washington against Aristide following the U.S.-backed Feb. 29, 2004 coup d’état.

“In my first meeting with U.S. prosecutors after I was extradited from Canada [in March 2004], they said I wouldn’t have to spend a day in jail, they’d give me money, a new identity, witness protection and so forth if I would only testify against Aristide,” he told Haïti Liberté in a series of interviews in 2007. “I refused the offer, telling them that Aristide was not involved.” Oriel did however testify against drug trafficker Serge Edouard, alias Sergot Persévérance, who was convicted in U.S. Federal Court in Miami to a life sentence in September 2005.

Although Oriel never testified against Aristide, the Miami Herald ran several articles implying just the opposite, like one on May 25, 2004, that called Oriel “a U.S. government informant” who was providing “information about Aristide’s inner circle.” Oriel only testified to convict kingpin Serge Edouard.

Misinformation and disinformation about Oriel continued in news reports this week about his death. The Miami Herald, for instance, reported on Mar. 2 that “[a]fter running into President Michel Martelly while he was campaigning, Jean decided to move back to Haiti where he had hoped to get a job in the administration,” citing an anonymous “friend.”

“That assertion is a complete lie,” said Alix Sainphor, one of Oriel’s closest friends since childhood, who spoke to him weekly. “Oriel didn’t want anything to do with Martelly. He was a partisan of Aristide. But he wanted to keep a low profile and stay out of politics.”

Another close friend, Harry Guignard, who helped Oriel get his job manning a parking booth at the airport, agreed. “He had progressive views, but he was not at all interested to get back into politics. He wanted to take care of his family and go back to school to finish getting his law degree.”

Oriel was born Jan. 1, 1965 in Port-au-Prince to an Adventist pastor, Odiyel Jean, who now lives in Cazale, and his mother, who was from Port-de-Paix. After the fall of the Duvalier regime in 1986, Oriel became politically involved, militating for three years with the National Popular Assembly (APN) popular organization before moving to Canada for three years from 1989 to 1991. He returned to become a part of President Aristide’s security detail in 1991 and lived through the Sep. 30, 1991 coup d’état, which he described in graphic detail to huge audiences which greeted the Brooklyn premiere of the PBS documentary film “Killing the Dream” at Medgar Evers College in 1992. After getting additional training from Swiss policemen while in exile, Oriel continued to work with Aristide’s security corps in Washington, DC until October 1994, when he returned with Aristide to Haiti.

After President René Préval came to power in 1996, Oriel and his friend Nesly Lucien became respectively the assistant director and director of National Palace security. When Aristide returned to the presidency in 2001, Oriel became chief of Palace security while Nesly became the chief of police.

When the George W. Bush administration launched its destabilization campaign against Aristide in 2001, it began focused its propaganda assault on the various officials around Aristide, including Oriel and Nesly.

“That’s how the political struggle is,” he told Haïti Liberté in a 2007 interview. “You try to corner the enemy as much as you can until you can destroy him. So to weaken Aristide, they began to attack all the people around him. And myself, as security chief, you try to make me look like a scoundrel, a drug-dealer, a criminal, a mob leader, then you take all those things and you throw that on Aristide too, you smear Aristide too.”

With Haiti under intense surveillance, the U.S. began accusing the Aristide government of coddling drug traffickers as a means of political destabilization. “I remember Oriel exclaiming to me how the U.S., with all its satellites, boats, aircraft, and technology, can’t stop the flow of illegal drugs into its borders, but somehow it wants Haiti to act as its border patrol and stop the traffickers,” said Oriel’s friend Harry Guignard. “They were under real pressure. Oriel got a call when he became security chief from someone who told him: ‘your son is getting really big. He looks good going to school.’ The Haitian authorities like Oriel, who were being politically demonized and economically strangled by the U.S., were too weak to confront the traffickers and stop them. It would mean getting killed. So they were forced to accommodate. And then the U.S. pounced on them.”

To be continued

The evidence for the abominable toxicity of Round Up chemicals like glyphosate is already overwhelming, yet there seems to be a never-ending stream of research and evidence pointing toward their dangers. A new study has just been published showing that farmers in Sri Lanka exposed to glyphosate through drinking water are 5 times more likely to develop chronic kidney failure than those who don’t drink herbicide-polluted water.

Farmers in this part of the world often wear scant protection when spraying glyphosate on their rice fields, but it seems that this protection is not enough. The fact that Round Up has contaminated their drinking water is an example of how multi-tiered the problem of herbicidal toxicity truly is.

Big Ag chemicals, more specifically, biotech’s chemicals (since their GM rice, soy, corn, and other genetically altered seeds are meant to withstand copious amounts of spaying) are detrimental to humans and the environment from the moment they are sprayed to years later. In this case, the toxicity is felt when residents of small rural villages drink from wells that have contaminated ground water due to spraying.

The research abstract concludes:

“The current study strongly favors the hypothesis that CKDu epidemic among farmers in dry zone of Sri Lanka is associated with, history of drinking water from a well that was abandoned. In addition, it is associated with spraying glyphosate and other pesticides in paddy fields.”

To summarize the study, Dr. Channa Jayasumana states:

“Drinking well water and occupational exposure to Herbicides is associated with chronic kidney disease, in Padavi-Sripura, Sri Lanka.”

Simply put – but apparently not so simply solved.

Concentrations of glyphosate and metals are much higher in these abandoned wells, increasing the risk of deadly chronic kidney disease (CKDu) by up to 5-fold.

The Center for Public Integrity says fatal chronic kidney disease of unknown origin, or CKDu, has killed more people in El Salvador and Nicaragua than AIDS, diabetes, and leukemia combined over the past five years. This wave of CKDu affecting numerous poor farming countries around the world simply didn’t exist prior to 1990.

Another study published in the Journal of Organic Systems also found a link between glyphosate and the enormous increase in chronic diseases across the United States.

It has already been established, through groundbreaking research that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s broad-spectrum herbicide Round Up, might be “a crucially important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions.”

This is just more confirmation that the world should ban GMOs and their chemicals as fast as possible.

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Canadian military intelligence knew that NATO’s March 2011 intervention in Libya would aid militant theocratic Islamists aligned with al-Qaeda and could create long-term chaos in the country, according to David Pugliese, a reporter with The Ottawa Citizen, who obtained Canadian intelligence documents.

At the time, NATO military leader, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, denied that opposition to the secular leftist Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi was dominated by rightwing Islamist theocrats, calling the bulk of the opposition forces “responsible men and women.”

But Canadian intelligence was clear-eyed about the nature of the Libyan opposition.

Pugliese revealed that “A Canadian intelligence report written in late 2009 described the anti-Gadhafi stronghold of eastern Libya,” from which the uprising against Gaddafi erupted, “as an epicentre of Islamist extremism.”

And Canadian pilots joked privately that they were part of al-Qaeda’s air force, “since their bombing runs helped to pave the way for rebels aligned with the terrorist group.”

Pugliese reports that just days before NATO’s intervention in Libya,

Canadian intelligence specialists sent a briefing report shared with senior officers. ‘There is the increasing possibility that the situation in Libya will transform into a long-term tribal/civil war,’ they wrote in their March 15, 2011 assessment. ‘This is particularly probable if opposition forces receive military assistance from foreign militaries.’

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper later denied that NATO’s intervention created the chaos that has paralyzed Libya, despite his own military’s warning that there was a good chance it would.

This reveals a dishonest attempt to manipulate public opinion through outright deception, in line with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s efforts to mobilize support for military intervention in Iran by warning in 2012 that Iran was only a year away from making a nuclear bomb when his own intelligence agency had concluded that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons”.

Pugliese’s report can be read here.

Police Killings Grossly Underreported

We previously reported that Americans are 9 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist.

But it turns out that our numbers were incorrect …

This isn’t surprising, given that:

Reliable estimates of the number of justifiable homicides committed by police officers in the United States do not exist.” A study of killings by police from 1999 to 2002 in the Central Florida region found that the national databases included (in Florida) only one-fourth of the number of persons killed by police as reported in the local news media.

The Guardian reports today:

An average of 545 people killed by local and state law enforcement officers in the US went uncounted in the country’s most authoritative crime statistics every year for almost a decade, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The first-ever attempt by US record-keepers to estimate the number of uncounted “law enforcement homicides” exposed previous official tallies as capturing less than half of the real picture. The new estimate – an average of 928 people killed by police annually over eight recent years, compared to 383 in published FBI data – amounted to a more glaring admission than ever before of the government’s failure to track how many people police kill.

The revelation called into particular question the FBI practice of publishing annual totals of “justifiable homicides by law enforcement” – tallies that are widely cited in the media and elsewhere as the most accurate official count of police homicides.

As shown below, that means that you’re 55 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist.

You’re Much More Likely to Be Killed By Brain-Eating Parasites, Texting While Driving, Toddlers, Lightning, Falling Out of Bed, Alcoholism, Food Poisoning, Choking On Food, a Financial Crash, Obesity, Medical Errors or “Autoerotic Asphyxiation” than by Terrorists

Daniel Benjamin – the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the United States Department of State from 2009 to 2012 – noted last month (at 10:22):

The total number of deaths from terrorism in recent years has been extremely small in the West. And the threat itself has been considerably reduced. Given all the headlines people don’t have that perception; but if you look at the statistics that is the case.

Time Magazine noted in 2013 that the chance of dying in a terrorist attack in the United States from 2007 to 2011, according to Richard Barrett – coordinator of the United Nations al Qaeda/Taliban Monitoring Team – was 1 in 20 million.

Let’s look at specific numbers …

The U.S. Department of State reports that only 17 U.S. citizens were killed worldwide as a result of terrorism in 2011.* That figure includes deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and all other theaters of war.

In contrast, the American agency which tracks health-related issues – the U.S. Centers for Disease Control – rounds up the most prevalent causes of death in the United States:

Click to enlarge

Comparing the CDC numbers to terrorism deaths means:

– You are 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

– You are 33,842 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

(Keep in mind when reading this entire piece that we are consistently and substantially understating the risk of other causes of death as compared to terrorism, because we are comparing deaths from various causes within the United States against deaths from terrorism worldwide.)

Wikipedia notes that obesity is a a contributing factor in 100,000–400,000 deaths in the United States per year. That makes obesity 5,882 to 23,528 times more likely to kill you than a terrorist.

The annual number of deaths in the U.S. due to avoidable medical errors is as high as 100,000. Indeed, one of the world’s leading medical journals – Lancet – reported in 2011:

A November, 2010, document from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services reported that, when in hospital, one in seven beneficiaries of Medicare (the government-sponsored health-care programme for those aged 65 years and older) have complications from medical errors, which contribute to about 180 000 deaths of patients per year.

That’s just Medicare beneficiaries, not the entire American public. Scientific American noted in 2009:

Preventable medical mistakes and infections are responsible for about 200,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to an investigation by the Hearst media corporation.

And a new study in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety says the numbers may be up to 440,000 each year.

But let’s use the lower – 100,000 – figure. That still means that you are 5,882 times more likely to die from medical error than terrorism.

The CDC says that some 80,000 deaths each year are attributable to excessive alcohol use. So you’re 4,706 times more likely to drink yourself to death than die from terrorism.

Wikipedia notes that there were 32,367 automobile accidents in 2011, which means that you are 1,904 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack. As CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria wrote last year:

“Since 9/11, foreign-inspired terrorism has claimed about two dozen lives in the United States. (Meanwhile, more than 100,000 have been killed in gun homicides and more than 400,000 in motor-vehicle accidents.) “

President Obama agreed.

According to a 2011 CDC report, poisoning from prescription drugs is even more likely to kill you than a car crash. Indeed, the CDC stated in 2011 that – in the majority of states – your prescription meds are more likely to kill you than any other source of injury. So your meds are thousands of times more likely to kill you than Al Qaeda.

The financial crisis has also caused quite a few early deaths. The Guardian reported in 2008:

High-income countries such as the UK and US could see a 6.4% surge in deaths from heart disease, while low-income countries could experience a 26% rise in mortality rates.

Since there were 596,339 deaths from heart disease in the U.S. in 2011 (see CDC table above), that means that there are approximately 38, 165 additional deaths a year from the financial crisis … and Americans are 2,245 times more likely to die from a financial crisis that a terrorist attack.

Financial crises cause deaths in other ways, as well. For example, the poverty rate has skyrocketed in the U.S. since the 2008 crash. For example, the poverty rate in 2010 was the highest in 17 years, and more Americans numerically were in poverty as of 2011 than for more than 50 years. Poverty causes increased deaths from hunger, inability to pay for heat and shelter, and other causes. (And – as mentioned below – suicides have skyrocketed recently; many connect the increase in suicides to the downturn in the economy.)

The number of deaths by suicide has also surpassed car crashes. Around 35,000 Americans kill themselves each year (and more American soldiers die by suicide than combat; the number of veterans committing suicide is astronomical and under-reported). So you’re 2,059 times more likely to kill yourself than die at the hand of a terrorist.

The CDC notes that there were 7,638 deaths from HIV and 45 from syphilis, so you’re 452 times more likely to die from risky sexual behavior than terrorism. (That doesn’t include death by autoerotic asphyxiation … discussed below.)

The National Safety Council reports that more than 6,000 Americans die a year from falls … most of them involve people falling off their roof or ladder trying to clean their gutters, put up Christmas lights and the like. That means that you’re 353 times more likely to fall to your death doing something idiotic than die in a terrorist attack.

The same number – 6,000 – die annually from texting or talking on the cellphone while driving. So you’re 353 times more likely to meet your maker while lol’ing than by terrorism.

The agency in charge of workplace safety – the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration – reports that 4,609 workers were killed on the job in 2011 within the U.S. homeland. In other words, you are 271 times more likely to die from a workplace accident than terrorism.

The CDC notes that 3,177 people died of “nutritional deficiencies” in 2011, which means you are 187 times more likely to starve to death in American than be killed by terrorism.

Approximately 1,000 Americans die each year from autoerotic asphyxiation. So you’re 59 times more likely to kill yourself doing weird, kinky things than at the hands of a terrorist.

As noted above, there were an average of 928 Americans killed by police officers in the United States each year in “justifiable homicides”. That means that you were more than 55 times more likely to be killed by a law enforcement officer than by a terrorist. That number does not include unjustifiable homicides.

Nearly 400 Americans die each year due to drug allergies from penicillin. More than 200 deaths occur each year due to food allergies. Nearly 100 Americans die due to insect allergies. And 10 deaths each year are due to severe reactions to latex. See this. There are many other types of allergies, but that totals 710 deaths each year from just those four types of allergies alone … making it 42 times more likely that you’ll die from an allergic reaction than from a terror attack.

Some 450 Americans die each year when they fall out of bed, 26 times more than are killed by terrorists.

Scientific American notes:

You might have toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by the microscopic parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which the CDC estimates has infected about 22.5 percent of Americans older than 12 years old

Toxoplasmosis is a brain-parasite. The CDC reports that more than 375 Americans die annually due to toxoplasmosis. In addition, 3 Americans died in 2011 after being exposed to a brain-eating amoeba. So you’re about 22 times more likely to die from a brain-eating zombie parasite than a terrorist.

Around 34 Americans a year are killed by dog bites … around twice as many as by terrorists.

The 2011 Report on Terrorism from the National Counter Terrorism Center notes that Americans are just as likely to be “crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year” as they are to be killed by terrorists.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that Americans are 110 times more likely to die from contaminated food than terrorism. And see this.

The Jewish Daily Forward noted in May that – even including the people killed in the Boston bombing – you are more likely to be killed by a toddler than a terrorist. And see these statistics from CNN.

Reason notes:

[The risk of being killed by terrorism] compares annual risk of dying in a car accident of 1 in 19,000; drowning in a bathtub at 1 in 800,000; dying in a building fire at 1 in 99,000; or being struck by lightning at 1 in 5,500,000. In other words, in the last five years you were four times more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist.

The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has just published, Background Report: 9/11, Ten Years Later [PDF]. The report notes, excluding the 9/11 atrocities, that fewer than 500 people died in the U.S. from terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2010.

Scientific American reported in 2011:

John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University, and Mark Stewart, a civil engineer and authority on risk assessment at University of Newcastle in Australia … contended, “a great deal of money appears to have been misspent and would have been far more productive—saved far more lives—if it had been expended in other ways.”

Mueller and Stewart noted that, in general, government regulators around the world view fatality risks—say, from nuclear power, industrial toxins or commercial aviation—above one person per million per year as “acceptable.” Between 1970 and 2007 Mueller and Stewart asserted in a separate paper published last year in Foreign Affairs that a total of 3,292 Americans (not counting those in war zones) were killed by terrorists resulting in an annual risk of one in 3.5 million. Americans were more likely to die in an accident involving a bathtub (one in 950,000), a home appliance (one in 1.5 million), a deer (one in two million) or on a commercial airliner (one in 2.9 million). [Let’s throw a couple more fun facts into the mix … The risk of choking to death on food is 1 in 4,404, and the risk of dying by falling out of furniture (including couches, chairs and beds) is 1 in 4,238. So you’re almost a thousand times more likely to die from one of these rare causes of death than terrorism.]

The global mortality rate of death by terrorism is even lower. Worldwide, terrorism killed 13,971 people between 1975 and 2003, an annual rate of one in 12.5 million. Since 9/11 acts of terrorism carried out by Muslim militants outside of war zones have killed about 300 people per year worldwide. This tally includes attacks not only by al Qaeda but also by “imitators, enthusiasts, look-alikes and wannabes,” according to Mueller and Stewart.

Defenders of U.S. counterterrorism efforts might argue that they have kept casualties low by thwarting attacks. But investigations by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies suggest that 9/11 may have been an outlier—an aberration—rather than a harbinger of future attacks. Muslim terrorists are for the most part “short on know-how, prone to make mistakes, poor at planning” and small in number, Mueller and Stewart stated. Although still potentially dangerous, terrorists hardly represent an “existential” threat on a par with those posed by Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.

In fact, Mueller and Stewart suggested in Homeland Security Affairs, U.S. counterterrorism procedures may indirectly imperil more lives than they preserve: “Increased delays and added costs at U.S. airports due to new security procedures provide incentive for many short-haul passengers to drive to their destination rather than flying, and, since driving is far riskier than air travel, the extra automobile traffic generated has been estimated to result in 500 or more extra road fatalities per year.”

The funds that the U.S. spends on counterterrorism should perhaps be diverted to other more significant perils, such as industrial accidents (one in 53,000), violent crime (one in 22,000), automobile accidents (one in 8,000) and cancer (one in 540). “Overall,” Mueller and Stewart wrote, “vastly more lives could have been saved if counterterrorism funds had instead been spent on combating hazards that present unacceptable risks.” In an e-mail to me, Mueller elaborated:

“The key question, never asked of course, is what would the likelihood be if the added security measures had not been put in place? And, if the chances without the security measures might have been, say, one in 2.5 million per year, were the trillions of dollars in investment (including overseas policing which may have played a major role) worth that gain in security—to move from being unbelievably safe to being unbelievably unbelievably safe? Given that al Qaeda and al Qaeda types have managed to kill some 200 to 400 people throughout the entire world each year outside of war zones since 9/11—including in areas that are far less secure than the U.S.—there is no reason to anticipate that the measures have deterred, foiled or protected against massive casualties in the United States. If the domestic (we leave out overseas) enhanced security measures put into place after 9/11 have saved 100 lives per year in the United States, they would have done so at a cost of $1 billion per saved life. That same money, if invested in a measure that saves lives at a cost of $1 million each—like passive restraints for buses and trucks—would have saved 1,000 times more lives.”

Mueller and Stewart’s analysis is conservative, because it excludes the most lethal and expensive U.S. responses to 9/11. Al Qaeda’s attacks also provoked the U.S. into invading and occupying two countries, at an estimated cost of several trillion dollars. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have resulted in the deaths of more than 6,000 Americans so far—more than twice as many as were killed on September 11, 2001—as well as tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans.

***

In 2007 New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that people are more likely to be killed by lightning than terrorism. “You can’t sit there and worry about everything,” Bloomberg exclaimed. “Get a life.”

Indeed, the Senior Research Scientist for the Space Science Institute (Alan W. Harris) estimates that the odds of being killed by a terrorist attack is about the same as being hit by an asteroid (and see this).

Terrorism pushes our emotional buttons. And politicians and the media tend to blow the risk of terrorism out of proportion. But as the figures above show, terrorism is a very unlikely cause of death.

Indeed, our spending on anti-terrorism measures is way out of whack … especially because most of the money has been wasted. And see this article, and this 3-minute video by professor Mueller:

Indeed, mission creep in the name of countering terrorism actually makes us more vulnerable to actual terrorist attacks. And corrupt government policy is arguably more dangerous than terrorism.

* Note: Subsequent official reports – published in 2012 and 2013 – show that even fewer Americans were killed by terrorists than in the previous year.

Abdelhakim Belhadj has reportedly joined forces with the Islamic State, according to the journalist Sara Carter. Belhadj is a former al-Qaeda operative who was a key player in the overthrow of Moammar Gaddafi. He worked directly with the U.S. and NATO.

Kyle Shideler writes for The Washington Times:

If Belhadj has gone over to Islamic State, it will represent a major boost to Islamic State’s efforts to co-opt and bring in Libya’s existing jihadist forces under their banner, which now reportedly includes as many as 3,000 fighters. Belhadj’s forces play a significant role in the Islamist “Libyan Dawn” coalition (which includes the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda’s Ansar al-Sharia), which currently holds Tripoli, and which claims to be the rightful government in opposition to the U.N. recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni.

The Islamic State in Libya is based in Derna, a city in the northeast part of the country. In 2001, it represented “one of the greatest concentrations of jihadi terrorists to be found anywhere in the world, and by some measures can be regarded as the leading source of suicide bombers anywhere on the planet,” according to Webster Tarpley. It was also “the epicenter of the NATO-backed rebellion,” writes Tony Cartalucci. In 2011 Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, a leading figure of the Derna jihadists, told the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Or he had recruited “around 25″ men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. The Telegraph reported on March 25, 2011:

Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against “the foreign invasion” in Afghanistan, before being “captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan”. He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008.

Abdelhakim Belhadj’s links to key neocons (as the tweet above reveals) and Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi’s connection to the CIA-run and Saudi financed war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan provides further evidence al-Qaeda and its spawn, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS, are intelligence fabrications designed to perpetuate the war on terror and further the geostrategic agenda of the global elite. Belhadj’s CIA rendition (with the help of British intelligence) and al-Hasidi’s capture by the U.S. reveal both to be intelligence assets. The presence of the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and now Libya is a key element in the next phase in the war on terror. In late February the Islamic State released a video calling for jihadists from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Egypt to immigrate to Libya. Mohammed al-Dairi, the Libyan foreign minister, is calling for direct military intervention against the Islamic State. “I ask world powers to stand by Libya and launch military strikes against these groups,” he said in February. “This threat will move to European countries, especially Italy.”

The conventional medical system is literally grasping at straws trying to maintain the illusion that vaccines work, with new reports now admitting that flu vaccines are an utter failure while still pushing people to get them. The latest nonsensical narrative, at least from the Canadian government, attributes all the inconsistencies between what authorities have long claimed about the alleged efficacy of the flu shot and its actual dismal success rate to a mysterious “paradox” where previous vaccinations somehow interfere with current ones.

Since health authorities no longer have a leg to stand on — it is now widespread knowledge that the flu shot is minimally effective at best — they are resorting to more confusing pseudoscience that, oddly enough, actually affirms what flu shot skeptics have surmised for many years. Vaccines in general, they now reluctantly admit, affect every person differently. And depending on what previous vaccinations a person has had, flu shots may or may not provide any protection at all–and in some cases, they will make a person more prone to illness.

“People who receive flu vaccines year after year can sometimes show reduced protection, an effect that Canadian infectious disease specialists say muddies public health messages for annual flu vaccine campaigns,” explains Canada’s CBC News about this disturbing phenomenon.

“During the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, researchers at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control originally thought seasonal flu shots from 2008 might offer extra protection against the new pandemic strain. They were puzzled to find instead, seasonal flu vaccination almost doubled the risk of infection with pandemic flu.”

Did you read that? An untested vaccine that health authorities all around the world urged everyone to get for their own protection against a novel, pandemic flu strain — and a vaccine that they promised would also protect against seasonal flu — actually made people who got it more prone to contracting the flu. This is now being openly admitted, affirming what independent news outlets like Natural News have been warning the public about for years.

And yet, despite this admission, these same health authorities are still trying to scare the public into rushing out and getting a flu shot. Huh? The vaccine doesn’t work, they now say. And people who get it year after year are more prone to contracting the flu, they also say. But everyone should still rush out and get it, especially if they’re in a high-risk category?

Peer-reviewed study reveals that unvaccinated people are most protected against influenza

At least six separate studies conducted by the same people that are still pushing the flu shot have confirmed that seasonal flu shots make people more prone to contracting the flu. The evidence is now overwhelming that, rather than impart immunity as long claimed, flu shots actually destroy the immune system and increase the risk of infection.

One would think that, now that the cat is out of the bag, these peddlers of quackery would quit while they’re ahead, admit that they lied about flu shot safety and efficacy, and go out and find a real profession. Instead, they’re continuing to push the seasonal flu shot, which as they now put it causes “interference” with people’s immune systems, as they hype the soon unveiling of a “universal” flu shot that will be better than ever (fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, well, you know the rest).

The real kicker here is that, in the same CBC News report, a study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases is referenced, revealing that the people who are most protected from the flu are, wait for it — the unvaccinated. So tell me again, why should anyone get a flu shot?

Sources:

http://www.thedailysheeple.com

http://www.cbc.ca

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://truthwiki.org/Vaccine_Fanaticism

http://truthwiki.org/Medical_Fascism

http://truthwiki.org/Medical_Kidnapping

This is not what the GMO industry wanted to see: banner headlines today in major newspapers and across the internet exposing the fraud behind GMOs. But this constitutes much more than a PR nightmare. The story behind the headlines shakes the very foundations upon which the industry is built.  

‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truth’ is a new book by the US public interest lawyer Steve Druker. The book is the result of more than 15 years of intensive research and investigation by Druker, who initiated a lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that forced it to divulge its files on GM foods. Those files revealed that GM foods first achieved commercialisation in 1992 but only because the FDA covered up the extensive warnings of its own scientists about their dangers, lied about the facts and then violated federal food safety law by permitting these foods to be marketed without having been proven safe through standard testing.

If the FDA had heeded its own experts’ advice and publicly acknowledged their warnings that GM foods entailed higher risks than their conventional counterparts, Druker says that the GM food venture would have imploded and never gained traction anywhere.

He also argues that that many well-placed scientists have repeatedly issued misleading statements about GM foods, and so have leading scientific institutions such as the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the UK’s Royal Society.

Druker states that contrary to the claims of biotech advocates, humans have indeed been harmed by consuming the output of genetic engineering. The technology’s first ingestible product (a food supplement of the essential amino acid, L-tryptophan) caused dozens of deaths and seriously sickened thousands of people (permanently disabling many of them). Moreover, the evidence points to the genetic alteration as the most likely cause of the unusual contamination that rendered the supplement toxic.

He explains that laboratory animals have also suffered from eating products of genetic engineering, and well-conducted tests with GM crops have yielded many troubling results, including intestinal abnormalities, liver disturbances, and impaired immune systems.

Druker says:

“Contrary to the assertions of its proponents, the massive enterprise to reconfigure the genetic core of the world’s food supply is not based on sound science but on the systematic subversion of science – and it would collapse if subjected to an open airing of the facts.”

Eminent environmentalist and anthropologist Jane Goodall has written the foreword to the book and states that Steven Druker is a hero for exposing this massive fraud and is worthy of a Nobel prize for lifting the lid on the truth about GM.

She goes on to state that the industry worked to:

“convince the public and government officials, through the dissemination of false information, that there was an overwhelming expert consensus, based on solid evidence, that the new foods were safe. Yet this, as Druker points out, was clearly not true.”

Goodall adds that the companies have spread disinformation to try and win public support. She states:

“Druker describes how amazingly successful the biotech lobby has been – and the extent to which the general public and government decision makers have been hoodwinked by the clever and methodical twisting of the facts and the propagation of many myths. Moreover, it appears that a number of respected scientific institutions, as well as many eminent scientists, were complicit in this relentless spreading of disinformation.”

Jane Goodall is best known for her 55-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. She holds many awards for her environmental and humanitarian work, including the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science, the French Legion of Honour, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science, Japan’ s Kyoto Prize and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.

She describes Druker’s work as one of the most important books of the last 50 years, and adds:

“It will go a long way toward dispelling the confusion and delusion that has been created regarding the genetic engineering process and the foods it creates. Although this book tells a story that’s in many ways distressing, it’s important that it has finally been told because so much confusion has been spread and so many important decision-makers have apparently been deluded.”

 Steven Druker gave a press conference in London on Wednesday and has challenged Britain’s Royal Society to apologise for its pro-GM stance and its part in rubbishing scientists who have safety doubts over the crops and food. (Perhaps the likes of Owen Paterson and Anne Glover should too for their role in dismissing legitimate concerns about GMOs, especially Paterson for his recent tirade against critics see this and this.)

His work highlights research which has found tumours, liver and kidney harm in animals given GM feed in trials. And he complains, that researchers who dare to raise these problems have been pilloried.

He said:

“Contrary to the assertions of its proponents, the massive enterprise to reconfigure the genetic core of the world’s food supply is not based on sound science but on the systematic subversion of science – and it would collapse if subjected to an open airing of the facts.”

With the TTIP having the potential to open the floodgates to allow GMOs into Europe, Pat Thomas, director of the campaigning group Beyond GM, said:

“Steven Druker’s investigation into the history of fraud and deceit that ushered in the era of GM deserves serious consideration before we take actions that will irreversibly alter the European food supply.”

“If justice and truth take place,

If he is rewarded according to his just desert,

His name will stink to all generations.” (William Wesley, 1703-1791.)

On the evening of 19th November 2014, the charity Save the Children (STC), with a gala event in New York, “recognized” Tony Blair – whose government enjoined in the ending of the fledgling lives of children on an industrial scale in Afghanistan and Iraq – with their “Global Legacy Award.”

Children of Iraq

In Iraq’s decimation of course, Blair’s regime was responsible for the dodgy dossier alleging Saddam Hussein’s ability to annihilate in “forty five minutes”, thus persuading for war, but had also enjoined with the US between 1997 and 2003 in ensuring, via the United Nations Sanction Committee that Iraq’s infants and children were denied all normality from the womb to their young deaths at an average of 6,000 a month.

Blocked were scanners to check the developing foetus, incubators for the frail newly arrived, paediatric oxygen, paediatric syringes, tracheal suction tubes to clear airway obstructions and all needed to combat a challenging start to life in order to become a healthy toddler and enter happy childhood.

For those who survived to childhood, reading and exercise books, paper, pens, pencils, blackboards, toys, tricycles, bicycles, scooters, all juvenile joys and normality were vetoed. When they suffered what are normally relatively simply treated ailments, infections, asthma, the antibiotics, inhalers needed were invariably also vetoed or fatally delayed. All policies endorsed by Blair’s government.

Then Iraq’s deprived, traumatized children were bombed and invaded in an action largely publicly justified by his government’s documented lies.

Yet Save the Children honoured Blair – to immediate condemnation. In the UK a petition on site “38 Degrees” quickly garnered nearly 125,000 signatures in protest (UK only, world wide it would certainly have been in orders of magnitude more.)

Judging by the uproar on blogs, Twitter, social media sites, it has been a spectacular own goal for Save the Children with countless supporters cancelling their subscriptions or donations.

At a meeting with Brendan Cox, the charity’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, a small delegation with Robin Priestley of 38 Degrees, handed in the petition and in a meeting: “ … all had to agree that it was impossible to remove the Award from Tony Blair now …” (1) Given the damage caused by this insane honour, Mr Cox should surely have committed to moving heaven and earth to doing exactly that.

However, now he has a chance. Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s UK Chief Executive, who personally delivered the invitation to Tony Blair and was a former aide to him as Prime Minister, apologized on 3rd March (sort of) on BBC Radio 4’s flagship “Today” programme.

He was sorry for the offence caused and that it had become an “unnecessary distraction” (2) from the organization’s work. Given Blair’s record in endorsing child deaths and resultant uproar the Award caused and the redesign of their logo to “Kill the Children” found across social media, it was not a “distraction” but an outrage.

Upsetting people, said Mr Forsyth: “ … is not really what we do at Save the Children.” Really? After this so close to home, can their judgement in differing global cultures possibly be trusted?

There was some verbal footwork about the Award being for Blair’s work in Africa, however this is defined as a “Global Legacy Award.” The former Prime Minister’s “legacy” is mass graves of dead children from Kandahar to Falluja.

Moreover, according to Blair’s Faith Foundation website: “Mr. Blair was recognised for his work … in 2005 to pledge to double aid to Africa and provide 100 per cent debt relief to eligible countries, as well as his work in partnership with African governments through the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI).” It might be worth trawling the potentially “double aided” and “100 per cent debt relief” countries to see if and how many of the beneficiaries he might have one of his many lucrative advisory roles with. Politics is hardly known for lack of back scratching.

The Daily Mail on line also quotes Mr. Forsyth as stating: “I know that many of our supporters and volunteers were very upset and our staff, several of our staff too, and I’m very sorry for that.” Another verbal sleight of hand and it was not “several staff.”  By 28thNovember, The  Guardian reported: “An internal petition circulated among Save the Children employees around the word is to be presented to head office.” Describing the award as “morally reprehensible” and calling for it to be rescinded, the petition has gathered more than 500 staff signatures.”(3)

The letter accused Save the Children of “a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values.”

Their ”Vision, Mission and Values” (4) include:

* “We aspire to live to the highest standards of personal honesty and behaviour; we never compromise our reputation and always act in the best interests of children.” Tell that to Iraq’s five million orphans and their uncounted counterparts in Afghanistan, to the bombed, orphaned, traumatized children of Gaza who the “Middle East Peace Envoy” has ignored.

* ”A world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.” Think about it, Save the Children. Were words ever more hollow after the honouring of a man mired in the destruction of every aspiration in that sentence.

* “To inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.”  Endorsed is seemingly one to whom “breakthrough” and “immediate and lasting change” is deprival of life, childhood, parents, home, healing, freedom from fear and all semblance of normality. “Lasting change” indeed.

On 5th December 2014, a letter (5) was sent to Save the Children by Inder Comar of the legal firm Comar Law, San Francisco. outlining starkly the enormity of the illegality of the attack on Iraq in which Mr Blair had been so integral. It pointed out that Save the Children’s hero’s name is entered at the International Criminal Court at the Hague in its “Register of War Criminals.”

The correspondence, in which I declare an interest, was sent on behalf of Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General, Professor Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization and myself included:

‘As you may be aware, in March 2003, Mr. Blair, while Prime Minister, likely participated with several high-ranking United States leaders in committing the crime of aggression against Iraq. The crime of aggression is the “supreme international crime,” as declared by the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1946. In addition to being prohibited by international law, the crime of aggression is a crime also defined by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, over which it may have the opportunity to exercise jurisdiction in the coming years. “Resort to a war of aggression is not merely illegal, but is criminal.” United States v. Hermann Goering, et al., 41 AM. J. INT’L L. 172, 186, 218-220 (1946); see also Charter Int’l Military Tribunal, art. 6(a), Aug. 8, 1945, 59 Stat. 1546, 82 U.N.T.S. 279.

‘As you may also be aware, in 2004, Secretary General Kofi Annan declared the Iraq War illegal and in contravention of the United Nations Charter.1

‘In 2006, a former prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, Benjamin Ferencz, stated that the Iraq War was a “clear breach of law.”2 “There’s no such thing as a war without atrocities, but war-making is the biggest atrocity of law.”

‘In 2010, a Dutch inquiry concluded that the Iraq War had no basis in international law.3

‘In 2010, Hans Blix, the former chief weapons inspector for the United Nations, stated that it was his “firm view” that the Iraq War was illegal.4

‘In 2012, judges empanelled before the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, an independent commission headed by former judges and involving input from several international law scholars, concluded that a prima facie case existed that Mr. Blair committed the crime of aggression against Iraq. The tribunal reported its findings to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and entered the name of Mr. Blair in its “Register of War Criminals.” ‘

It concludes:

“Was there any consideration to the optics of giving this Award to Mr. Blair in light of the fact that many of Save the Children’s current management – including Jonathan Forsyth, Jonathan Powell, Sam Sharpe and Fergus Drake – have intimate ties with Mr. Blair and his government? Was there any consideration to the moral paradox of providing this Award to a person whose destitute victims are concurrently succored by Save the Children staff?”

It demands: “Please confirm that Save the Children will rescind the Global Legacy Award forthwith.”

There has been no reply. That action however, would a gesture of, albeit belated, tangible apology and might be a start at repairing Save the Children’s tattered image.

If State Honours, Knighthoods and Peerages can be withdrawn from those subsequently deemed unworthy of their bestowal, surely so can Save the Children’s woefully misplaced Global Award.

Notes

1.     https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-save-the-children-charity-from-giving-tony-blair-their-annual-global-legacy-award

2.     http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31707195

3.     http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/28/save-the-children-tony-blair-award-row

4.     https://www.savethechildren.net/about-us/our-vision-mission-and-values

5.      http://www.globalresearch.ca/lawyers-letter-to-save-the-children-stc-rescind-the-global-legacy-award-to-war-criminal-tony-blair/5418469 

In an interview with the Palestinian Embassy in South Africa, and the Palestinian delegation participating in the Israeli Apartheid Week, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that the “west committed the holocaust against the Jews in Europe, while the Palestinians are still paying a historic price for it.

Tutu, a senior religious, intellectual and social figure who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, said that the Palestinians should not be paying the price of what the west did to the Jews in Europe.

In a meeting with the Palestine Embassy in South Africa and the Palestinian media delegation participating in the Israeli Apartheid Week, Tutu said, “We support Israel’s rights to exist, but at the same time we denounce the ongoing Israeli violations, its rejection to recognize the legitimate Palestinian rights, and its repeated wars on the Palestinians, where innocent civilians end up paying a heavy price.”

demondtutu.jpg

Archbishop Tutu also denounced Israel’s persistence to force the Palestinians to recognize it as a Jewish State, slammed the attempts to hold Islam and all Muslims responsible for terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, and said such parallels are not different from trying to hold all Christians responsible for the crimes the Ku Klux Klan committed.

“Those who founded, and maintained, the apartheid regime in South Africa weren’t Muslims,” he added, “The current stage requires us to have more faith, to be wiser – we must be in full solidarity with the Palestinian people, supporting their legitimate struggle for freedom and independence.”

Media officer of the Palestine Embassy, Tamer al-Masry, handed the Archbishop a gift in the name of the Palestinian people, thanking him for his support, wishing him well, and wishing him to be able to visit Bethlehem soon.

The Israeli Apartheid Week started on March 2nd, and will continue through March 8, in more than 250 cities around the world, and in more than 20 South African Campuses and 45 South African cities and towns.

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events (including rallies, protests, lectures, cultural performances, concerts, films and workshops) held in over 250 cities, communities and campuses across the globe. It is endorsed in South Africa by more than 75 organizations, trade unions, political parties and other groups.

The aim of IAW is to raise awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies towards the indigenous Palestinians and serves to garner support for the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel’s campaign, which seeks to bring an end to Israel’s apartheid policies and violations of international law. http://www.iawsouthafrica.com/

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What is a Conspiracy Theory? What is the Truth?

March 5th, 2015 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Obama is on a hot war footing. Western civilization is allegedly “threatened by the Islamic State”.  

 The “Global War on Terrorism” is  heralded as a humanitarian endeavor.

We have a “Responsibility to Protect”. Humanitarian warfare is the solution. 

Evil folks are lurking. ‘Take ‘em out”, said George W. Bush.

The Western media is beating the drums of war. Obama’s military agenda is supported by a vast propaganda apparatus. 

One of the main objectives of war propaganda is to “fabricate an enemy”. As the political legitimacy of the Obama Administration falters, doubts regarding the existence of this “outside enemy”, namely Al Qaeda and its network of (CIA sponsored) affiliates  must be dispelled.

The purpose is to tacitly instil, through repeated media reports, ad nauseam, within people’s inner consciousness, the notion that Muslims constitute a threat to the security of the Western World.  

Humanitarian warfare is waged on several fronts: Russia,  China and the Middle East are currently the main targets.

Xenophobia and the Military Agenda

The wave of xenophobia directed against Muslims which has swept across Western Europe is tied into geopolitics. It is part of a military agenda. It consists in demonizing the enemy.

Muslim countries possess more than 60 percent of total oil reserves.  In contrast, the United States of America has barely 2 percent of total oil reserves. Iraq has five times more oil than the United States. (See Michel Chossudovsky, The “Demonization” of Muslims and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, Jannuary 4, 2007).

A large share of the World’s oil lies in Muslim lands. The objective of the US led war is to steal and appropriate those oil reserves. And to achieve this objective, these countries  are targeted: war, covert ops, economic destabilization, regime change.

The American Inquisition

A consensus building process to wage war is similar to the Spanish inquisition. It requires social subordination, the political consensus cannot be questioned. In its contemporary version, the inquisition requires and demands submission to the notion that war is a means to spreading Western values and democracy.

A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. We must go after the bad guys.

War is peace.

The ‘big lie’ has now becomes the truth … and the truth has become a ‘conspiracy theory’.

Those who are committed to the Truth are categorized as “Terrorists”.

According to Paul Craig Roberts (2011), the conspiracy theory concept “has undergone Orwellian redefinition”…

A “conspiracy theory” no longer means an event explained by a conspiracy.  Instead, it now means any explanation, or even a fact, that is out of step with the government’s explanation and that of its media pimps….

In other words, as truth becomes uncomfortable for government and its Ministry of Propaganda, truth is redefined as conspiracy theory, by which is meant an absurd and laughable explanation that we should ignore.

Fiction becomes fact.

Investigative journalism has been scrapped.

Factual analysis of social, political and economic issues is a conspiracy theory because it challenges a consensus which is based on a lie.

What is the Truth

The real threat to global security emanates from the US-NATO-Israel alliance, yet realities in an inquisitorial environment are turned upside down: the warmongers are committed to peace, the victims of war are presented as the protagonists of war.

The homeland is threatened.

The media, intellectuals, scientists and the politicians, in chorus, obfuscate the unspoken truth, namely that the US-NATO led war destroys humanity.

When the lie becomes the truth there is no turning backwards.

When war is upheld as a humanitarian endeavor, Justice and the entire international legal system are turned upside down: pacifism and the antiwar movement are criminalized. Opposing the war becomes a criminal act. Meanwhile, the war criminals in high office have ordered a witch hunt against those who challenge their authority.

The Big Lie must be exposed for what it is and what it does.

It sanctions the indiscriminate killing of men, women and children.

It destroys families and people. It destroys the commitment of people towards their fellow human beings.

It prevents people from expressing their solidarity for those who suffer. It upholds war and the police state as the sole avenue.

It destroys both nationalism and internationalism.

Breaking the lie means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force.

This profit driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.

Let us reverse the tide.

Challenge the war criminals in high office and the powerful corporate lobby groups which support them.

Break the American inquisition.

Undermine the US-NATO-Israel military crusade.

Close down the weapons factories and the military bases.

Bring home the troops.

Members of the armed forces should disobey orders and refuse to participate in a criminal war.

Some 375 civil society organisations from across Europe have today called on EU decision-makers to protect citizens, workers, and the environment from threats the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) it poses.  

The call comes as European Parliament committees are discussing a draft resolution on the TTIP negotiations to be voted upon in May. It will not be legally binding on negotiators but will be a significant political signal, as any final TTIP deal would have to pass a vote in the European Parliament.

In an open letter sent to MEPs today, groups from 25 countries – including trade unions, consumer, environmental, and civil rights organizations – warn that TTIP could strengthen the influence of big business and undermine public services, the protection of public health, the environment, food and workers’ rights.

For a TTIP resolution that puts people and the environment before short-term profit and disproportionate corporate rights, the letter calls on all MEPs to agree on a strong resolution that makes clear that the European Parliament will reject any future trade or investment agreements that will not serve the public interest and threaten important rights acquired by ordinary people in long struggles in the EU, US and the rest of the world.

The letter forwards the following key demands:

1) Transparency now: all documents relating to the TTIP negotiations, including draft consolidated texts, must be made public to allow for an open and critical public debate on the TTIP.

2) A democratic process to allow for the scrutiny and assessment of the negotiation texts and which would ensure that policies are in the public interest.

3) No ISDS: any provision containing Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms must be taken permanently out of the negotiations.

4) No regulatory cooperation council: all regulation must be fully in the hands of democratically controlled bodies and processes.

5) No deregulation of standards which safeguard and serve the public interest: EU standards need to be respected and not “harmonised” down to the lowest common denominator.

6) No further deregulation and privatisation of public services.

7) The promotion of humane and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices and protection of small family farming.

8) Public authorities must keep the political power and structures necessary to protect certain sensitive sectors and safeguard standards important to our quality of life. Internationally-agreed labour and environmental standards must be respected and enforced. The continuous violation of labour standards should be addressed by imposing monetary fines.

Go here to access the open letter (in 11 languages) sent to MEPs today and to see the full list of signatories.

A blatant corporate power grab in secret  

Negotiations over the TTIP are happening behind closed doors, without comprehensive and effective public consultation. The lack of transparency makes it impossible for citizens and civil society to monitor the negotiations in order to ensure that public interests are being protected. Business lobby groups are given privileged access to information and opportunities to influence the negotiations.

The proposed investment protection chapter, particularly the inclusion of an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision, would give investors exclusive rights to sue states when decisions made by public institutions are considered to have negative impacts on their anticipated profits. These mechanisms rely on rulings by tribunals that operate outside the national court systems and thereby undermine national and EU legal systems and existing structures for formulating laws and policies.

The creation of new governance structures and procedures that aim to ‘harmonise regulations’ like the proposed regulatory cooperation council would make the TTIP and other agreements a moving target, constantly developed in secret by unelected bureaucrats and big businesses. These structures threaten to lower important standards and rules designed for the protection of public interests or prohibit future improvements, regardless of necessity and public mandate.

Evidence from business and industry lobbying documents reveals that the focus on non-tariff barriers and regulatory convergence is being used to push for deregulation, further investment guarantees, intellectual property rights’ monopolies and ultimately a race to the bottom.

Pia Eberhardt of lobby-watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory says:

“TTIP is an attempted corporate coup d’etat where big business on both sides of the Atlantic is trying to achieve in secret negotiations what it could not get in open and democratic processes – from watering down food safety standards to rolling back regulations in the financial sector.”

Paul de Clerk of Europe’s largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth Europe says:

 “TTIP is like a Trojan horse. In the end we find out that it results in lower food, environmental, labour standards and the sacrificing of democratic rights for corporate interests. MEPs have to clearly reject the dangerous provisions in TTIP, such as giving corporations vast new powers to sue governments in corporate biased tribunals and regulatory cooperation as the ultimate tool for business lobby groups to stop new regulation.”

More than 1.5 million people in Europe have signed a self-organised European Citizens’ Initiative calling on EU decision-makers to stop the TTIP negotiations and to not ratify the EU-Canada trade deal CETA.

Erich Foglar of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) says:

 “Trade unions will not support trade deals that lead to job losses, increase inequalities and undermine democracy. But the negotiation texts and independent studies we see, show that this is exactly what TTIP is about. What we need is a trade policy which respects democracy, helps generate decent jobs and enhances workers’ rights.”

For a thorough outline of the history of the negotiations concerning the TTIP, see ‘A Brief History of an Agenda for Corporate Plunder’.

If you want your food poisoned even further with like likes of chlorinated chicken, hormone-treated beef, GMOs and even lower thresholds for pesticides, do nothing.

If you want Monsanto or Syngenta determining policies (more than they do already) in secretive meetings in Brussels, do nothing.

If you want Unilever, Kraft or Nestle determining what is allowed in your food, do nothing.

If you want governments to be made even more spineless and compelled to further bend to the threats, demands and power of corporations and unscrupulous speculators, do nothing.

In the UK, do not let the main parties sideline TTIP during the general election campaign.

Be informed and take action:

https://stop-ttip.org/

http://corporateeurope.org/

http://www.foeeurope.org/

http://www.s2bnetwork.org/

https://www.lobbycontrol.de/schwerpunkt/ttip/

http://www.alter-eu.org/

http://www.tradejustice.ca/take-action/

Western agribusiness, food processing companies and retail concerns are gaining wider entry into India and through various strategic trade deals are looking to gain a more significant footprint within the country. The Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA) and the ongoing India-EU free trade agreement talks have raised serious concerns about the stranglehold that transnational corporations could have on the agriculture and food sectors, including the subsequent impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of millions. For example, see this on the dismantling of Indian agriculture, this on the KIA and the US neoliberal invasion of India and this on the US-Indo free trade deal. 

What it all could mean is a trend towards a handful of big companies determining what food is grown, how it is grown, how it is processed, what is in it and who sells it. In other words, a Western model of intensive petro-chemical farming (aka the ‘green revolution’) and heavily processed grow-fast chemically-tampered-with food passed through a chain that sees it ending up in Western-style convenience supermarkets or fast-food outlets that rely on industrial farms. From seed to field to plate, the entire process would be handed over to a handful of large corporations whose bottom line is not agricultural sustainability, food security, food democracy or healthy nutritious food, but control and fast profit.

Look no further than the situation in Africa. Daniel Maingi works with small farmers in Kenya and belongs to the organization Growth Partners for Africa. He says here that the ‘green revolution’ approach is based on Western-style agriculture, with its reliance on fertilizer, weed killers and single crops. Maingi was born on a farm in eastern Kenya and studied agriculture from a young age.

He remembers a time when his family would grow and eat a diversity of crops, such as mung beans, green grams, pigeon peas and a variety of fruits now considered ‘wild’. Following the Structural Adjustment Programmes of the 1980s and 1990s and a green revolution meant to boost agricultural efficiency, the foods of his childhood have been replaced with maize, maize, and more maize.

Maingi says here:

“In the morning, you make porridge from maize and send the kids to school. For lunch, boiled maize and a few green beans. In the evening, ugali, [a staple dough-like maize dish, served with meat]… [today] it’s a monoculture diet, being driven by the food system – it’s an injustice.”

In India, farmers are being displaced and policy makers have been facilitating a reliance on corporate seeds and corporate access to the food processing and retail sectors, both of which have traditionally tended to be small scale and key to supporting local (rural) economies and livelihoods. There are of course major implications for food security/sovereignty and the restructuring of society (seethis), but what this could mean for the nation’s diet and health is already clear to see.

Although almost half the nation’s under-5s are underweight (the prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world, see this), rates of obesity in the country have tripled in the last two decades and the nation is fast becoming the diabetes and heart disease capital of the world (see this).

Western style fast food outlets have been soaring in number throughout the country. Pizza Hut now operates in 46 Indian cities with 181 restaurants and 132 home delivery locations, a 67 percent increase in the last five years). KFC is now in 73 cities with 296 restaurants, a 770 percent increase. McDonalds is in 61 Indian cities with 242 restaurants as compared to 126 restaurants five years back, a 92 percent increase). According to a recent study published in the Indian Journal of Applied Research, the Indian fast food market is growing at the rate of 30-35 percent per annum (see this).

Of course, the dominant paradigm implies such a trend is positive. The commodification of (corporate) seeds, the manufacturing and selling of more and more chemicals to spray on crops or soil, the opening up fast food outlets and the selling of pharmaceuticals or the expansion of private hospitals to address the health impacts of the modern junk food system is ‘good for the economy’. It’s all ‘good for business’ as more cash exchanges hands and certain businesses cartels thrive. And what is good for business is good for GDP growth. And what is good GDP growth is good for everyone, or so we are told.

Transnational food companies now see their main growth markets in Asia, Africa and South America, where traditionally (as in India) people have tended to eat food from their own farms or markets that sell locally-produced foods. Taking Mexico as an example, GRAIN describes how agribusiness concerns are infiltrating farming and transnational food retail and processing companies are taking over food distribution channels and replacing local foods with cheap, processed foods, often with the direct support of the government. Free trade and investment agreements have been critical to this process and an alarming picture is set out of the consequences for ordinary people, not least in terms of their diet and health (see GRAIN’s report here).

In 2012, Mexico’s National Institute for Public Health released the results of a national survey of food security and nutrition. Between 1988 and 2012, the proportion of overweight women between the ages of 20 and 49 increased from 25 to 35 percent and the number of obese women in this age group increased from 9 to 37 percent. Some 29 percent of Mexican children between the ages of 5 and 11 were found to be overweight, as were 35 percent of the youngsters between 11 and 19, while one in ten school age children suffered from anaemia.

The Mexican Diabetes Federation says that more than 7 percent of the Mexican population has diabetes. Diabetes is now the third most common cause of death in Mexico, directly or indirectly.

The various free trade agreements that Mexico has signed over the past two decades have had a profound impact on the country’s food system. GRAIN explains that after his mission to Mexico in 2012 the then Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, concluded that the trade policies currently in place favour greater reliance on heavily processed and refined foods with a long shelf life rather than on the consumption of fresh and more perishable foods, particularly fruit and vegetables. He added that the overweight and obesity emergency that Mexico is facing could have been avoided, or largely mitigated, if the health concerns linked to shifting diets had been integrated into the design of those policies.

The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has led to the direct investment in food processing and a change in the retail structure (notably the advent of supermarkets and convenience stores) as well as the emergence of global agribusiness and transnational food companies in Mexico.

NAFTA required Mexico to provide equal treatment to domestic and foreign investors, with the elimination of rules preventing foreign investors from owning more than 49 percent of a company. It also prohibited the application of certain “performance requirements” such as minimum amounts of domestic content in production and increased rights for foreign investors to retain profits and returns from initial investments.

The Agreement triggered an immediate upsurge of direct investment from the US into the Mexican food processing industry. In 1999, US companies invested $5.3 billion in Mexico’s food processing industry, a 25-fold increase from $210 million in 1987.

Another effect of NAFTA on the Mexican food system was an explosive growth of chain supermarkets, discounters and convenience stores. GRAIN highlights how the food corporations began by colonising the existing, dominant food distribution networks of small-scale vendors, known as tiendas (the corner stores). Tiendas have proved critical to the spread of nutritionally poor food as they are the means by which transnationals and domestic food companies sell and promote their foods to poorer populations in small towns and communities.

According to GRAIN, the tiendas are, however, quickly being replaced by corporate retailers that offer the processed food companies even greater opportunities for sales and profits. By 2012, retail chains had displaced tiendas as Mexico’s main source of food sales. For example, Oxxo (owned by Coca-cola subsidiary Femsa) tripled its stores to 3,500 between 1999 and 2004.26 In July 2012, Oxxo was opening its ten thousandth facility, and is aiming to open its 14 thousandth store sometime during 2015.

For De Schutter, a programme that deals effectively with hunger and malnutrition has to focus on Mexico’s small farmers and peasants. They constitute a substantial percentage of the country’s poor and are the ones that can best supply both rural and urban populations with nutritious foods. His view is in line with numerous official reports that emphasise the key role that such farmers have in providing food security and which also stress the importance of agroecological farming (for instance, see this and this). Likewise, GRAIN argues that Mexico could recover its self-sufficiency in food if there were to be official support for peasant agriculture backed with amounts comparable to the support granted to the big corporations.

In Mexico, the loss of food sovereignty has induced catastrophic changes in the nation’s diet. The writing is on the wall for other countries such as India because this scenario is being played out across the world. (Diet aside, there are other severe deleterious health impacts that result from the indiscriminate use of pesticides that have accompanied the ‘green revolution’, not least in the Indian state of Punjab which has become known as a ‘cancer epicentre’: see this.)

The situation is encapsulated by Vandana Shiva who outlines the consequences of opting for a food system that is based on a corporate-controlled, chemical-intensive system based on diminishing variety, fast food and fast profits:

“If we grow millets and pulses, we will have more nutrition per capita. If we grow food by using chemicals, we are growing monocultures — this means that we will have less nutrition per acre, per capita… The agrarian crisis, the food crisis and the nutrition and health crisis are intimately connected. They need to be addressed together. The objective of agriculture policy cannot be based on promoting industrial processing of food. The chemicalisation of agriculture and food are recipes for “denutrification”… The Green Revolution displaced pulses, an important source of proteins, as well as oilseeds, thus reducing nutrition per acre. Monocultures do not produce more food and nutrition. They take up more chemicals and fossil fuels, and hence are profitable for agrochemical companies and oil companies. They produce higher yields of individual commodities but a lower output of food and nutrition.” (See here, ‘The Real Hunger Games’)

For the first time ever, the head of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has been fired. It happened on Tuesday, March 3rd.

Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, and former Norwegian Prime Minister, said, on the way out the door, that it would be “really nice” if President Barack Obama were to return the prize.

The White House had no immediate comment. (This reporter just now, at 1:47 PM Eastern time, specifically asked the White House whether there yet is a comment, and still there is none. Maybe he will volunteer to return it?)

President Obama received the prize on 9 October 2009 after 9 months in office. There is question whether he had already perpetrated the 28 June 2009 coup that overthrew the progressive democratically elected President in Honduras, Manuel Zelaya and installed the narco-regime that followed after, but Obama and especially his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton certainly were the key people in enabling that regime to remain in power after almost every other government in the Americas and many around the world had declared them illegal. The following year, Honduras became the world’s highest-murder-rate nation, which they have since remained.

Then, President Obama in 2011 bombed Libya into anarchy and turned it into a failed state with rampant tribal and religious wars.

In 2014, President Obama carried out a Ukrainian coup which removed the democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych and replaced him with a racist-fascist anti-Russian regime which is bombing the area of Ukraine that had voted 90% for Yanukovych.

Perhaps nothing in the history of the Nobel Peace Prize has embarrassed that Committee as much as the premature granting of this Prize to the man who is increasingly viewed around the world as George W. Bush II.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

US and Venezuela: Decades of Defeats and Destabilization

March 5th, 2015 by Prof. James Petras

US policy toward Venezuela is a microcosm of its larger strategy toward Latin America.  The intent is to reverse the region’s independent foreign policy and to restore US dominance; to curtail the diversification of trading and investment partners and re-center economic relations to the US; to replace regional integration pacts with US centered economic integration schemes; and to privatize firms partly or wholly nationalized.

The resort to military coups in Venezuela is a strategy designed to impose a client regime.  This is a replay of US strategy during the 1964-1983 period.  In those two decades US strategists successfully collaborated with business-military elites to overthrow nationalist and socialist governments, privatize public enterprises and reverse, social, labor and welfare policies.  The client regimes implemented neo-liberal policies and supported US centered “integration”.  The entire spectrum of representative institutions, political parties, trade unions and civil society organizations were banned and replaced by imperial funded NGO’s, state controlled parties and trade unions.  With this perspective in mind the US has returned to all out “regime change” in Venezuela as the first step to a continent-wide transformation to reassert political, economic and social dominance.

Washington’s resort to political violence, all out media warfare, economic sabotage and military coups in Venezuela  is an attempt to discover the effectiveness of these tactics under favorable conditions, including a deepening  economic recession, double digit inflation, declining living standards and weakening political support, as a dress rehearsal for other countries in the region

Washington’s earlier resort to a “regime change” strategy in Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador failed because objective circumstances were unfavorable.  Between 2003 to 2012 the national-populist or center-left regimes were increasing political support, their economies were growing, incomes and consumption were improving and pro-US regimes and clients had earlier collapsed under the weight of a systemic crises.  Moreover, the negative consequences of military coups were fresh in peoples’ minds.  Today Washington’s strategists believe that Venezuela is the easiest and most important target because of its structural vulnerabilities and because Caracas is the linchpin to Latin American integration and welfare populism.

According to Washington’s domino theory, Cuba will be more susceptible to pressure if it is cut-off from Venezuela’s subsidized oil-for-medical services agreement.  Ecuador and Bolivia will be vulnerable.  Regional integration will be diluted or replaced by US directed trade agreements.  Argentina’s drift to the right will be accelerated.  The US military presence will be enlarged beyond Colombia, Peru, Paraguay and Central America.  Radical anti-imperialist ideology will be replaced by a revised form of “pan-Americanism”, a euphemism for imperial primacy.

 The concentrated and prolonged US war against Venezuela and the resort to extremist tactics and groups can only be accounted for by what US strategists perceive as the large scale (continent-wide) long-term interests at stake.

 We will proceed by discussing and analyzing the US fifteen year war (2000-2015) against Venezuela, now reaching a climax.  We will then turn to examining the past and current strengths and weakness of Venezuela’s democratic, anti-imperialist government.

Prolonged Political Warfare:  Multiple Forms of Attack in Changing Political Conjunctures

 The US war against Venezuela started shortly after President Chavez’s election in 1999.  His convoking of a constitutional assembly and referendum and the subsequent inclusion of a strong component of popular participatory and nationalist clauses “rang bells” in Washington.  The presence of a large contingent of former guerrillas, Marxists and Leftists in the Chavez electoral campaign and regime, was the signal for Washington to develop a strategy of regrouping traditional business and political clients to pressure and limit changes.

 Subsequent to 9/11/01, Washington launched its global military offensive, projecting power via the so-called “war on terror”.  Washington’s quest to reassert dominance in the Americas included demands that Venezuela fall into line and back Washington’s global military offensive.  President Chavez refused and set an example of independent politics for the nationalist-populist movements and emerging center-left regimes in Latin America.  President Chavez told President Bush “you don’t fight terror with terror”.

 In response, by November 2001 Washington strategists shifted from a policy of pressure to contain change to a strategy of all-out warfare to overthrow the Chavez regime via a business-military coup in (April 2002).

 The US backed coup was defeated in less than 72 hours.  Chavez was restored to power by an alliance of loyalist military forces backed by a spontaneous million person march.  Washington lost important assets among the military and business elite, who fled into exile or were jailed.

 From December 2002 to February 2003, The White House backed an executive lockout in the strategic oil industry, supported by corrupt trade union officials aligned with Washington and the AFL-CIO.  After three months the lockout was defeated through an alliance of loyalist trade unionists, mass organizations and overseas petrol producing countries.  The US lost strategic assets in the oil industry as over 15,000 executives, managers and workers were fired and replaced by nationalist loyalists.  The oil industry was renationalized – its earnings were put at the service of social welfare.

Having lost assets essential to violent warfare, Washington promoted a strategy of electoral politics – organizing a referendum in 2004 which was won by Chavez and a boycott of the 2005 congressional elections, which failed and led to an overwhelming majority for the pro Chavez forces.

Having failed to secure regime change via internal violent and electoral warfare, Washington, having suffered a serious loss of internal assets, turned outside by organizing para-military death squads and the Colombian military to engage in cross border conflicts in alliance with the far right regime of Alvaro Uribe.  Colombia’s military incursions led Venezuela to break economic ties, costing influential Colombian agro-business exporters ad manufacturers’ losses exceeding $8 billion dollars . . .  Uribe backed off and signed a non-aggression accord with Chavez, undermining the US “proxy war” strategy.

Washington revised its tactics, returning to electoral and street fighting tactics.  Between 2008-2011/12 Washington channeled millions of dollars to finance electoral party politicians, NGO’s, mass media outlets (newspapers, television and radio) and direct action saboteurs of public energy, electricity and power stations.

The US “internal” political offensive had limited success – a coalition of warring rightwing political groups elected a minority of officials thus regaining an institutional presence.  A Chavez backed overtly socialist referendum was defeated (by less than 1%).  NGO’s gained influence in the universities and in some popular neighborhoods exploiting the corruption and ineptness of local Chavez elected officials.

But the US strategy failed to dislodge or weaken the Chavez led regime for several reasons.  Venezuela’s economy was riding the prolonged commodity boom. Oil prices were soaring above $100 a barrel, financing free health, education, housing, fuel and food subsidy programs, undercutting the so-called “grass-roots” agitation of US funded NGO’s

Government subsidies of imports and lax regulation of dollar reserves secured support even among the capitalists and loosened their support for the violent opposition.  Sectors of the middle class voted for Chavez as a ticket to the consumer society.

Secondly, President Chavez’s charismatic appeal, promotion and support of popular neighborhood groups counter-acted the ill-effects of corrupt and inept local “Chavista” officials who otherwise played into the hands of US backed opposition.

Thirdly, US intervention in Venezuela alienated not only the center-left but the entire political spectrum in Latin America, isolating Washington.  This was especially evident by the universal condemnation of the US backed military coup in Honduras in 2009.

Fourthly, the US could not counter Venezuela’s subsidized oil sales to Caribbean and Central American regimes.  Petrocaribe strengthened Venezuela and weakened US dominance in Washington’s historical “backyard”.

The entire electoral strategy of the US depended on fomenting an economic crises – and given the favorable world prices for oil on the world market (it failed).  As a result Washington depended on non-market strategies to disrupt the socio-economic links between mass consumers and the Chavez government.

Washington encouraged sabotage of the power and electrical grid.  It encouraged hoarding and price gouging by commercial capitalists (supermarket owners).  It encouraged smugglers to purchase thousands of tons of subsidized consumer goods and sell them across the border in Colombia.

In other words, the US combined its electoral strategy with violent sabotage and illegal economic disruption.

This strategy was intensified with the onset of the economic crises following the financial crash of 2009, the decline of commodity prices and the death of President Hugo Chavez.

The US and its mass media megaphones went all-out to defend the protagonists and practioners of illegal violent actions – branding arrested saboteurs, assassins, street fighters, assailants of public institutions as “political prisoners”. Washington and its media branded the government, as “authoritarian” for protecting the constitution.  It accused the independent judiciary as biased. The police and military were labelled as “repressive” for arresting fire bombers of schools, transport and clinics.

No violent crime or criminal behavior by opposition politicos was exempt from Washington’s scrofulous screeds about defending “human rights”.

The crises and collapse of oil prices greatly enhanced the opportunities for the US and its Venezuelan collaborator’s campaign to weaken the government. Venezuela’s dependence on President Chavez, as the singular transformative figure, suffered a serious blow with his death. Personalistic leadership weakened organic mass organization.

The US relaunched a multi-pronged offensive to undermine and overthrow the newly elected Nicolas Maduro regime.  Washington, at first, promoted the ‘via electoral’ as the route to regime change, funding opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

After Capriles’ electoral defeat, Washington resorted to an intense post-electoral propaganda campaign to de-legitimize the voting outcome.  It promoted street violence and sabotage of the electrical grid.  For over a year the Obama regime refused to recognize the electoral outcome, accepted and recognized throughout Latin America and the world.  In the subsequent Congressional, gubernatorial and municipal elections the US backed candidates suffered resounding defeats. President Nicolas Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela won three quarters of the governorships and retained a solid two-thirds majority in Congress.

Beginning in 2013 the US escalated its “extra-parliamentary” offensive – massive hoarding of consumer goods by wholesale distributors and retail supermarkets led to acute shortages, long lines, long waits and empty shelves.

Hoarding, black market speculation of the currency, wholesale smuggling of shipments of consumer goods across the border to Colombia (facilitated by opposition officials governing in border-states and corrupt National Guard commanders) exacerbated shortages.

US strategists sought to drive a political wedge between the consumer driven middle and lower classes and the Maduro government.  Over time they succeeded in fomenting discontent among the lower middle class and directing it against the government and not at the big business elite and US financed opposition politicians, NGO’s and parties.

In February 2014 emboldened by growing discontent the US moved rapidly toward a decisive confrontation… Washington backed the most violent extra parliamentary opposition.  Led by Leopoldo Lopez, it openly called for a coup and launched a nationwide assault on public buildings, authorities and pro-democracy activists.  As a result 43 people were killed and 870 injured – mostly government supporters and military and police officials – and hundreds of millions of dollars of damage was inflicted on schools, hospitals and state supermarkets.

After two months, the uprising was finally put down and the street barricades were dismantled— as even rightwing businesspeople suffered losses as their revenues diminished and there was no chance for victory.

Washington proclaimed the jailed terrorists leaders as “political prisoners”– a line parroted by al the mass media and the bogus Human Rights Watch.  The Obama regime sought to secure the release of its armed thugs to prepare for the next round of violent confrontation.

Washington accelerated the pace of planning, organizing and executing the next coup throughout 2014.  Taking advantage of the Maduro regime’s lax or non-existent enforcement of laws forbidding ‘foreign funding of political organizations, the US via NED and its “front groups” poured tens of millions, into NGOs, political parties , leaders and active and retired military officials willing and able to pursue  “regime change” via a coup.

Exactly one year following the violet uprising of 2014, on February 14, 2015, the US backed a civilian-military coup. The coup was thwarted by military intelligence and denunciations by lower level loyalist soldiers.

Two power grabs in a year is a clear indication that Washington is accelerating its move to establish a client regime.

What makes these policies especially dangerous, is not simply their proximity, but the context in which they occur and the recruits who Washington is targeting.

Unlike the coup of 2002, which occurred at a time of an improving economy, the most recent one takes place in the context of declining economic indicators.  Earlier the masses turned out to support the new constitution, declining inflation, the introduction of new social legislation and improving income.  The most recent coup takes place with incomes declining, a devaluation which reduces purchasing power, rising inflation (62%) and plummeting oil prices.

Moreover, the US has once again gained converts in the military as was the case in the 2002 coup but absent in the 2014.  Three generals, three colonels, 9 lieutenants and a captain signed on to the coup and it can be surmised that they were in contact with others.  The deteriorating loyalties in the military are not simply a product of US bribery. It is also a reflection of the socio-economic decline of sectors of the middle class to which middle level officers belong by family ties and social identification.

Subsequent to the earlier coup (of 2002) then President Chavez called for the formation of popular militias, National Reserve and a rural defense force to ‘complement’ the armed forces.  Some 300,000 militia volunteers were registered.  But like many radical ideas, little came of it.

As the US moves to activate its ‘military option’, Venezuela must consider activating and linking these militias to mass popular community based organizations, trade unions and peasant movements.

The US has developed a strategic concept for seizing power by proxy.  A war of attrition built upon exploiting the social consequences of the fall of oil revenues, shortages of basic commodities and the growing fissures in the military and state institutions.

In 2015 Washington has embraced the strategy of 2002, combining multiple forms of attack including economic destabilization, electoral politics, sabotage and military penetration..All are directed toward a military – civilian coalition seizing power.

Facing the US Offensive:  The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Maduro Government

The basic strength of the Chavista government of President Maduro is the legacy of nearly 15 years of progressive legislation, including rising incomes, grass roots community based democracy, the affirmation of racial, class and national dignity and independence.  Despite the real hardships of the past 3 years, forty percent of the electorate, mostly the urban and rural poor, remains as a solid core of support of the democratic process, the President and his efforts to reverse the decline and return the country to prosperity.

Up to now the Maduro government has successfully rebuffed and defeated the offensive by US proxies.  President Maduro won electorally, and more recently has pacified the coupsters by adopting firmer security measures and more technically efficient intelligence. Equally important he has demanded that the US reduce its embassy operatives from 100 to 17, equal to Venezuela’s staff in Washington. Many embassy personnel were engaged in meetings with Venezuelan organizers of violent activity and in efforts to subvert military officials..

Yet these security measures and administrative improvements, as important and necessary as they are, reflect short-range solutions.  The deeper and more fundamental issues relate to the structural weakness of the Venezuelan economy and state.

First and foremost, Venezuela cannot continue running on a petrol based ‘rentier economy’ especially one that still depends on the US market.

Venezuela’s ‘consumer socialism’ totally depends on oil revenues and high oil prices to finance the importation of foodstuffs and other essential commodities.

A strategy of ‘national defense’ against the imperial offensive requires a far higher level of ‘self-sufficiency’, a greater degree of local production and decentralized control.

Secondly, next to US intervention and destabilization, the greatest threat to the democratic regime is the government’s executive, managerial and elected officials who have misallocated billions in investment funds, failed to effectively carry out programs and who largely improvise according to day to day considerations, It is essential that Maduro advances  the strategic priorities ensuring basic popular interests.

The Chavez and the Maduro governments outlined general guidelines that were passed off as a strategic plan.  But neither financial resources, nor state personnel were systematically ordered to implement them.  Instead the government responded or better still reacted, defensively, to the immediate threats of the opposition induced shortages and oil revenue shortfalls.  They chose the easy route of securing loans from China by mortgaging future oil exports.  They also took out commercial loans – borrowed at the highest rates in the world (18%)!

The post commodity boom requires a decisive break with the petrol economy . . . continuing costly debt financing staves off the day of reckoning, which is fast approaching.

US military coups and political warfare are with us and will not fade away even as Washington loses battles.  The jailing of individual plotters is not enough.  They are expendable …Washington can buy others.

The Maduro government faces a national emergency which requires a society-wide mobilization to launch a war-economy capable of producing and delivering class specific commodities to meet popular needs.

The February 12, 2015, coup dubbed, Plan Jericho, was funded by the US NGO, the National Endowment for Democracy and its subsidiaries, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House.  The coup organizers led by former Venezuelan Congresswomen Corina Machado, (a White House invitee) was designated to head up the post-coup dictatorship.

As a matter of survival the Maduro government must clamp down and prosecute all self-styled ‘NGO’ which are recipients of overseas funding and serve as conduits for US backed coups and destabilization activity.

No doubt the Obama regime will seek to protect its proxy financing and howl about ‘growing authoritarianism’.  That is predictable.  But the Venezuelan governments’ duty is to protect the constitutional order, and defend the security of its citizens.  It must move decisively to prosecute not only the recipients of US funds but the entire US political network, organizations and collaborators as terrorists.

Venezuela can take a page out of the US legal code which provides for 5 year prison sentences for “nationals” who receive overseas funds and fail to register as foreign agents.  More to the point, the Obama regime has prosecuted organized groups suspected of conspiring to commit violent acts to lifetime prison sentences.  He has justified extra judicial assassinations (via drones) of US “terrorist suspects”.

President Maduro need not go to the extremes of the Obama regime.  But he should recognize that the policy of “denunciation, arrest and release” is totally out of line with international norms regarding the fight against terrorism in Venezuela.

What the US has in mind is not merely a ‘palace coup’ in which the democratic incumbents are ousted and replaced by US clients.  Washington wants to go far beyond a change in personnel, beyond a friendly regime amenable to providing unconditional backing to the US foreign policy agenda…

A coup and post-coup regime is only the first step toward a systematic and comprehensive reversal of the socio-economic and political transformations of the past 16 years!

Heading the list will be the crushing of the mass popular community organizations which will oppose the coup.  This will be accompanied by a mass purge, of all representative institutions, the constitutionalist armed forces, police and nationalist officials in charge of the oil industry and other public enterprises.

All the major public welfare programs in education, health, housing and low cost retail food outlets, will be dismantled or suffer major budget cuts.

The oil industry and dozens of other publically owned enterprises and banks will be privatized and denationalized.  US MNC will be the main beneficiaries.  The agrarian land reform will be reversed:  recipients will be evicted and the land returned to the landed oligarchs.

Given how many of the Venezuelan working class and rural poor will be adversely affected and given the combatative spirit which permeates popular culture, the implementation of the US backed neo-liberal agenda will require prolonged ,large-scale repression.  This means, tens of thousands of killings, arrests and incarceration.

The US coup- masters and their Venezuelan proxies will unleash all their pent-up hostility against what they will deem the blood purge necessary to punish, in Henry Kissinger’s infamous phrase, “an irresponsible people” who dared to affirm their dignity and independence.

The US backing of violence in the run-up to the February 2015 coup will be escalated in the run-up to the inevitable next coup.

Contemporary US imperial wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya and past US backed bloody  military coups installing neo-liberal regimes in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay a few decades past, demonstrate that Washington places no limits on how many tens of thousands of lives are destroyed, how many millions are uprooted, if it is ‘necessary’ to secure imperial dominance.

There is no doubt that the Venezuelan economy is on shaky foundations; that officials have yet to devise and implement a coherent strategy to exit the crises.  But it is of decisive importance to remember that even in these times of intensifying imperial warfare, basic freedoms and social justice inform the framework of government and popular representation.  Now is the time, and time is running short, for the Maduro government to mobilize all the mass organizations, popular militias and loyal military officials to administer a decisive political defeat to the US proxies and then to proceed forward to socializing the economy.  It must take the opportunity of turning the US orchestrated offensives into a historic defeat.  It must convert the drive to restore neo-liberal privilege into the graveyard of rentier capitalism.

Epilogue

Unlike past political confrontations between US imperial regimes and leftwing Latin American governments, in the case of Venezuela the US has suffered numerous major defeats with  regard to domestic and foreign policy, over the past 15 years.

US-Venezuelan Conflicts:  Internal Policies and their Results

In 2001 the US demanded Venezuela support its “war on terrorism, its global quest for domination via war.  President Chavez refused to back it, arguing successfully that “you cannot fight terror with terror”, and winning support worldwide

In April 12, 2002, the US organized and backed a military-business coup which was defeated by a mass uprising backed by constitutionalist armed forces.  US lost key assets in the military, trade union bureaucracy and business sector.

In December 2002 – February 2003, the US backed a CEO directed lockout designed to shut-down the oil industry and overthrow the Chavez government that was defeated, as workers and engineers took charge and overseas oil partners supplied petroleum.  The US lost assets in the oil industry.

In 2004, a referendum to oust Chavez, funded by the US and organized by NED funded NGOs was defeated.  US electoral assets were demoralized.

In 2006 a US backed boycott of Congressional elections was defeated.  The electorate turned out in force.  US congressional assets lost their institutional power base and influence.

In 2006 Chavez is re-elected for a second time.  The US-backed candidate is badly beaten.

In 2007 a US backed coalition squeak out a 1% margin of victory, defeating constitutional amendments, socializing the economy.

In 2009 President Chavez wins a referendum on constitutional amendments including the abolition of term limits.

In 2012 Chavez wins re-election for the fourth time defeating a US financed opposition candidate.

In 2013 Chavez’s selected candidate Maduro wins the Presidency defeating Obama’s anointed candidate.

Pro-Chavez parties win resounding Congressional majorities in all elections between 1999 – 2010.

Repeated electoral defeats convinced Washington’s political strategists to rely on violent, unconstitutional roads to power.

The anti-capitalist domestic social reforms and ideology were one of two key motivating factors in Washington’s prolonged political war against Venezuela.  Equally important was Chavez and Maduro’s foreign policy which included Venezuela’s leading role in opposing US centered regional integration organizations like ALCA, regional political organizations like the OAS and its military missions.

Venezuela promoted Latin American centered integration organizations which excluded the US.  They included Petro-Caribe, a Venezuelan sponsored trade and investment organization that benefited Caribbean and Central America countries.

UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) a regional political organization which displaced the US dominated OAS and included 33 Latin American and Caribbean states.

Venezuela joined MERCOSUR, a “free trade” organization, which included Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Venezuela’s leading role in promoting five organizations promoting Latin American and Caribbean integration – excluding the US and Canada – was seen as a mortal threatto Washington’s political dominance of Latin American politics and markets.

Venezuela’s large scale, long-term political and economic ties with Cub undermined the US economic blockade and reinforced Cuba’s links with and support by the rest of Latin America.

Venezuela opposed the US backed coup against Haiti’s reformist President Bertram Aristide.

Its opposition to the US invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and (later) Libya and its increased investment and trade ties with Iran in opposition to US sanctions, set US plans of a global empire on a collision course with Venezuela’s embrace of a global anti-imperialist  policy.

US failure to secure passage of a US centered Latin American Free Trade Treaty and incapacity to secure across the board support in Latin America for its Middle East wars and Iran sanctions was largely the result of Venezuelan foreign policy.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Venezuela’s foreign policy successes in countering US imperialist policies, especially with regard to Latin American integration, is the main reason that Washington has persisted in its long-term, large scale effort to overthrow the Venezuelan government.

The US escalation of its global military interventions under Obama and its increasing belligerency toward the multiplication of independent Latin American regional organizations, coincides with the intensification of its violent destabilization campaign in Venezuela.

Faced with the growth of Latin American trade and investment ties with China – with $250 billion in the pipeline over the next ten years – pioneered by Venezuela, Washington fears the loss of the 600 million Latin American consumer market.

The current US political offensive against Venezuela is a reaction to over 15 years of political defeats including failed coups, resounding electoral defeats, the loss of strategic political assets and above all decisive set-backs in its attempts to impose US centered integration schemes.

More than ever, US imperial strategists today are going all-out to subvert Venezuela’s anti-imperialist government, because they sense with the decline of oil revenue and export earnings, double digit inflation and consumer shortages, they can divide and subvert sectors of the armed forces, mobilize violent street mobs via their mercenary street fighters, secure the backing of elected opposition officials and seize power.  What is at stake in the US –Venezuelan conflict is the future of Latin American independence and the US Empire.

Obama Lied About Obamacare

March 5th, 2015 by Eric Zuesse

Obamacare Increases Insurance-Rate by 87.7%/85.4%, or 2.7% Since 2008

Obamacare Increases Insureds from 85.4% up to 87.7%

Candidate Obama’s Promise  of “Universal” Meant 100%

Obamacare started being available on 1 October 2013 and has now been available for 16 months. When candiate Obama was running for the Presidency, he promised “universal coverage,” which is what exists in virtually all other developed countries: 100%, everyone insured, no citizen lacking health insurance for ordinary and life-preserving needs. (Medicare-for-everybody would have been this.) Now that his Obamacare has been available for 16 months, is every American citizen health-insured; did he provide what he had promised? Is America no longer the lone outlier that has a lousy system of funding health care — overloading emergency-rooms, which is the costliest way to deal with healthcare (and one reason why all other advanced countries pay far less and yet obtain better results than the U.S. does)?

When Obama ran for the Presidency and started to make this “universal healthcare” promise, the insurance-rate was 85.4% (or 14.6% uninsureds); and, today, according to the Gallup poll released on March 4th, it is 87.7% (or 12.3% uninsureds).

In an article at Huffington Post on 16 June 2014, I headlined “Obama Lied About Obamacare, Now Wants Political Lying To Be Legal,” and there were only 35 reader-comments to it; so, it seems that not many people then thought that either part of the headline was especially interesting. The subheads summarized that report, and there were three:

“Obamacare fails to come close to meeting candidate Obama’s promises:

“Mr. Obama never even tried to fulfill on them; he was opposed to them.

“Obama now openly supports legalizing lying during political campaigns.”

Each one of those three sub-heads was fully documented, but probably few people clicked through to the documentation. Anyway: few commented.

At washingtonsblog on 9 January 2015, I headlined “How Obama Lied About Obamacare,” and provided a different account of his lying, also fully documented, but this time there were only 11 reader-comments. (That site has a smaller audience though it’s perhaps the best American general-news site of all.)

 

Americans apparently don’t much care about being lied-to by politicians, not even when it concerns the candidate’s most-central campaign promise.

How can a democracy exist under such a circumstance? It can’t — not really. If only few people demand honesty from their political leaders, then having an honest government is impossible. And democracy without an honest government is impossible.

Obama now is basing his over-arching foreign policy on pure lies; and it’s bringing us closer to a nuclear war than ever since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 — and this time the U.S. is clearly the aggressor. Obama lies to say that Russia is.

Americans seem to accept being ruled by a psychopath who is bringing the world closer to nuclear war than in 70 years.

Similarly, George W. Bush, who lied Americans into supporting a catastrophic invasion in 2003 that produced hell in Iraq and over $3 trillion in costs to U.S. taxpayers (and that started ISIS in 2006), is a fairly popular former President, to the people he deceived and cost so much.

Something’s wrong with American values — this country’s real values, not the ones that all the politicians profess.

Americans live in a fantasy-world of lies, until the fantasy ends, however it does, which probably will turn out to be very ugly indeed.

They just don’t much care. They certainly aren’t enraged at the liars.

Lying is the way to succeed in America.

Anyway: Obama has moved the insured-rate up from 85.4% to 87.7% and is nowhere close to 100% or “universal coverage” — not even in a single state.

And Americans tolerate a lying government. Even one that lies on big things.

If Americans tolerate lies in politics, then that’s what Americans will get, because lying will be the way to win, and America will then have a lying Government. Even on the big things. It’s dangerous.

Oh, and regarding that U.S. Supreme Court case in which the White House argued that lying in politics is a fundamental free-speech right, the Court agreed, 9-to-0, 100%. (The decision is summarized there.)

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

It is common knowledge that at end-January 2015 the global movement Amnesty International published a report, titled “Breaking the conspiracy of silence: USA’s European “partners in crime” must act after Senate torture report”, which throws further light upon the information gathered within the US Senate investigation into torture methods, applied by the Central Intelligence Agency, by referring to media reports on the way CIA-operated secret detention sites were run in Europe – in particular, on the territory of Lithuania, Poland and Romania. As a matter of fact, it was several years ago when it first became known that CIA tortured terror suspects not only in these countries but also on the territory of another EU Member State – namely, Great Britain. According to the Lawrence Wilkinson, former Chief of Staff to the US Secretary of State, after the terror attack of 11th September 2001 the CIA used the US military base on the island of Diego Garcia, located in the British Indian Ocean Territory, to conduct interrogations and torture terror suspects who had been abducted from various countries without any court order whatsoever.

After the US Senate report got published, the European Parliament adopted a special resolution on 11th February 2015 in which it:

“expresses its deep condemnation of the gruesome interrogation practices that characterized these illegal counterterrorism operations; underlines the fundamental conclusion by the US Senate that the violent methods applied by the CIA failed to generate intelligence that prevented further terrorist attacks; recalls its absolute condemnation of torture”.

The resolution also highlights the fact that:

“the climate of impunity regarding the CIA programme has enabled the continuation of fundamental rights violations, as further revealed by the mass surveillance programmes of the US National Security Agency and secret services of various EU Member States”.

In this context, the US Government is called on:

“to investigate and prosecute the multiple human rights violations resulting from the CIA rendition and secret detention programmes, and to cooperate with all requests from EU Member States for information, extradition or effective remedies for victims in connection with the CIA programme”.

The European Parliament also:

“reiterates its calls on Member States to investigate the allegations that there were secret prisons on their territory where people were held under the CIA programme, and to prosecute those involved in these operations, taking into account all the new evidence that has come to light”.

At the same time it:

“expresses concerns regarding the obstacles encountered by national parliamentary and judicial investigations into some Member States’ involvement in the CIA programme, the abuse of state secrecy, and the undue classification of documents resulting in the termination of criminal proceedings and leading to de facto impunity of perpetrators of human rights violations”.

Furthermore, the resolution “calls for the findings of existing inquiries relating to Member States’ involvement in the CIA programme, in particular the Chilcot inquiry, to be published without further delay”.

Considering the above, we are unpleasantly impressed by the fact that the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) have hitherto failed to demonstrate the due will to discuss the refusal of the governmental authorities in Vilnius, Warsaw and Bucharest to investigate the multiple occasions of human rights violations, ensuing from the agreement of these countries to host the establishment of CIA black sites on their territory. Such an attitude erodes the very foundations of the European Union, weakens the belief of European citizens that their fundamental rights are truly guaranteed, divests the EU of its moral authority and discredits its allegiance to the universal human values.

The US Senate report and the one issued by Amnesty International, unequivocally point out that the above three EU Member States, as well as Great Britain, played a key role in the implementation of this CIA “operation” on the territory of the Old Continent. Without the help of these governments the USA would not have been in the position to detain and torture people for so many years, applying such inhumane methods as waterboarding and mock execution, sleep deprivation, use of coffin-sized confinement boxes or sexual threats.

It is high time that Europe became aware of the fact that the time for paying lip service to the condemnation of these crimes or the attempts at their covering up is over for good. The governments of Lithuania , Poland and Romania can no longer hide behind the unconvincing “national security reasons” and “state secret” arguments, thus refusing to bring to light the entire truth about their role for the torture and abduction of people in their countries. Jozef Pinior, one of the legendary leaders of the Polish “Solidarity” trade union, member of the European Parliament in the period 2004 – 2009 and of the Parliamentary committee on secret CIA prisons in Europe, now a Polish senator, points out:

“The information in the Washington Post about the fact that Polish intelligence services received USD 15 million to “host” a secret CIA prison in the country compromises the entire Polish state which should elucidate this issue as quickly as possible. This unquestionably confirmed the grimmest hypothesis that under Leszek Miller Poland turned into a “banana republic” to the USA . Another deplorable fact is that our national services have contributed in no way whatsoever to the disclosure of this conspiracy. This is an extremely disgraceful situation. The Polish state, the judicial system and the Government should publish the investigation findings as soon as possible. Otherwise we are going to become Europe ’s laughing stock. It turns out that we while we give lessons in democracy to countries like the Ukraine , we take money from the US to allow them to practice illicit torture of people on our territory”.

In its turn the Bulgarian Government should state its official support for the appeal of Amnesty International and the European Parliament and urge the authorities in Vilnius , Bucharest and Warsaw to undertake an immediate and full investigation of this case and to prosecute those involved in the tortures. Let us be reminded that most of the victims of these malpractices are Muslims and in the context of surging anti-Islam mood after the terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen it becomes even more important to find out the truth about the secret CIA “black sites” in Europe.

In recent weeks the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has slowed from a peak of more than 1,000 new cases per week to 99 confirmed cases during the week of February 22, according to the World Health Organization. For two countries that have taken diametrically opposed approaches to combating the disease, the stark difference in the results achieved over the last five months has become evident.

The United States, which sent about 2,800 military troops to the region in October, has announced an end to its relief mission. Most soldiers have already returned. Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby declared the mission a “success.” The criteria for this determination is unclear, as the troops did not treat a single patient, much less save a single life.

President Barack Obama proclaimed the American response to the crisis “an example of American leadership.” As is the case “whenever and wherever a disaster or disease strikes,” according to Obama, “the world looks to us to lead.” The President claimed that the troops contributed not only by their own efforts, but by serving as a “force multiplier” that inspired others.

Obama says the “American values” displayed “matter to the world.” They are an example of “what makes us exceptional.”

By virtue of American supremacy, apparently, these values are superior to those of people from any other nation.

When you look behind the President’s and the Pentagon’s rhetoric, it is difficult to find concrete measures of success. From the beginning, the capacity of American troops to make a difference in containing and eliminating a medical disease was questionable, to say the least.

In October, the Daily Beast reported that soldiers would receive only four hours of training in preparation for their deployment to Africa. That is half of a regular work day for people with no medical background. When they arrived, they did not exactly hit the ground running. “The first 500 soldiers to arrive have been holing up in Liberian hotels and government facilities while the military builds longer-term infrastructure on the ground,” wrote Tim Mak.

The DoD declared on its Website that

“the Defense Department made critical contributions to the fight against the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa. Chief among these were the deployment of men and women in uniform to Monrovia, Liberia, as part of Operation United Assistance.”

So, the chief contribution of the DoD was sending people in military uniforms to the site of the outbreak.

The DoD lists among its accomplishments training 1,539 health care workers & support staff (presumably non-technical and cursory); creating 10 Ebola treatment units (which you could count on your fingers); and constructing a 25-bed medical unit (for a country that has had 10,000 cases of Ebola).

USAID declares that “the United States has done more than any other country to help West Africa respond to the Ebola crisis.” Like the DoD, they are short on quantitative measurements and long on vague business-speak. USAID says they “worked with UN and NGO partners,” “partnered with the U.S. military,” and “expanded the pipeline of medical equipment and critical supplies to the region.”

USAID and other government personnel have clearly helped facilitate the delivery of equipment and supplies, but claims that the U.S. has done more than any other country are dubious.

By the end of April, all but 100 U.S. troops will have left West Africa. There will then be a transition to what Obama called the “civilian response.” This appears equally as vague as the military response.

The U.S. response did involve many people and several hundred millions of dollars, which is, indeed, more than most countries contributed. But an examination of the facts shows that the U.S. played mostly a supporting role, collaborating with other actors in the tangential aspects of the crisis. U.S. government employees were not directly involved in treating any patients. Their role was rather to help other health workers and officials on the front lines who actually did. To say this is an example of American leadership and exceptionalism seems like a vast embellishment.

The other country who has taken a very public role in the Ebola crisis is Cuba. Unlike the U.S., Cuba sent nearly 500 professional healthcare workers – doctors and nurses – to treat African patients who had contracted Ebola. These included doctors from the Henry Reeve Brigade, which has served over the last decade in response to the most high-profile disasters in the world, including in Haiti and Pakistan. In Haiti, the group was instrumental in detecting and treating cholera, which had been introduced by UN peace keepers. The disease sickened and killed thousands of Haitians.

Before being deployed to West Africa, all the Cuban doctors and nurses completed an “intense training” of a minimum of two weeks, where they “prepared in the form of treating patients without exposing themselves to the deadly virus,” according to CNN.

After Cuba announced its plan to mobilize what Cubans call the “army of white robes,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said that “human resources are clearly our most important need.”

“Money and materials are important, but those two things alone cannot stop Ebola virus transmission,” she said. “We need most especially compassionate doctors and nurses” to work under “very demanding conditions.”

Like their American counterparts, Cuban authorities also recently proclaimed success in fighting Ebola. They used a clear definition of what they meant.

“We have managed to save the lives of 260 people who were in a very very bad state, and through our treatment, they were cured and have gotten on with their lives,” said Jorge Delgado, head of the medical brigade, at a conference in Geneva on Foreign Medical Teams involved in fighting the Ebola crisis.

The work of the Henry Reeve Brigade was recognized by Norwegian Trade Unions who nominated the group for the Nobel Peace Prize “for saving lives and helping millions of suffering people around the world.”

The European Commission for humanitarian aid and crisis management last week also “recognized the role Cuba has played in fighting the Ebola epidemic.”

For more than 50 years, Cuba has carried out medical missions across the globe — beginning in Algeria after the revolution in 1961 and taking place in poor countries desperately needing medical care throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. They have provided 1.2 billion consultations, 2.2 million births, 5 million operations and immunizations for 12 million children and pregnant women, according to Granma.

“In their direct fight against death, the human quality of the members of the Henry Reeve brigade is strengthened, and for those in need around the world, they represent welcome assistance,” writes Nuria Barbosa León.

The mission of the DoD is one of military involvement worldwide. As Nick Turse reports in TomDispatch, U.S. military activity on the African continent is growing at an astounding rate. The military “averages about one and a half missions a day. This represents a 217% increase in operations, programs, and exercises since the command was established in 2008,” Turse writes. He says the DoD is calling “Africa the battlefield of tomorrow, today.”

Turse writes that the U.S. military is quietly replicating its failed counterinsurgency strategy in Africa, under the guise of humanitarian activities.

“If history is any guide, humanitarian efforts by AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command) and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa will grow larger and ever more expensive, until they join the long list of projects that have become ‘monuments of U.S. failure’ around the world,”

he writes.

There are some enlightening pieces of information listed by the DoD as part of the “transition to Operation Onward Liberty.” The DoD “will build partnership capacity with the Armed Forces of Liberia” and will “continue military to military engagement in ways that support Liberia’s growth toward enduring peace and security.”

It is unclear what role the U.S. military will help their Liberian counterparts play, unless peace and security is considered from the perspective of multinational corporations who have their eyes on large oil reserves, rather than the perspective of the local population.

The U.S. military, unsurprisingly, seems to be using the Ebola crisis as a pretext to expand its reach inside Africa, consistent with the pattern of the last seven years that Turse describes. The deployment of several thousand troops to West Africa can be understood as a P.R. stunt that is the public face of counterinsurgency.

U.S. troops are used as props. What may sound like a massive effort is little more than propaganda. The idea is to associate troops with humanitarianism, rather than death, destruction and torture. In reality, one doctor can save more lives than hundreds of soldiers. A true humanitarian mission would be conducted by civilian agencies and professionals who are trained and experienced specifically in medicine, construction and administration, not by soldiers trained to kill and pacify war zones.

In Liberia, as in most of Africa, Washington’s IMF and World Bank-imposed neoliberal policies have further savaged a continent devastated by 300 years of European colonialism. Any U.S. military involvement in Liberia and elsewhere is likely to reflect the economic goals of the U.S. government, which is primarily concerned with continuing the implementation of the Washington consensus.

Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law, warned last fall about the dangers of using a “war on terror template” in response to a disease such as Ebola.

“Countering Ebola will require a whole new set of protections and priorities, which should emerge from the medical and public health communities. The now sadly underfunded National Institutes of Health and other such organizations have been looking at possible pandemic situations for years,”

Greenberg writes. “It is imperative that our officials heed the lessons of their research as they have failed to do many times over with their counterparts in public policy in the war on terror years.”

This is the opposite of the strategy the Obama administration elected to take. It would be wise to question the alarming militarization of American foreign assistance. The continued expansion of the national security apparatus occurs at the direct expense of vital civilian agencies. The Cuban model is evidence of what is possible with an alternative approach.

Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy, and Latin America. You can follow him on twitter. Read other articles by Matt, or visit Matt’s website.

Now that the split vote on the FCC commission has decided to accept their secret plan to turn the internet into a public utility, prepare for all the same rubber stamp decisions that your state run Public Service Commission’s operate in the utility sector.

As anyone who ever interacted with PSC type regulators can attest, the corporatist legal teams that shepherd their clients’ monopolist proposals, almost invariably get their way. So much for a crony system, that seldom protects the interests of the rate payer.

When it comes to government regulation of the internet, the stake dramatically escalates far beyond simply the cost of service. The essay, When Net Neutrality Becomes Programmed Censorship argues the case that inevitably the web will eventually be assimilated into a Chinese styled content restrictive enforcement system.

The video NET NEUTRALITY: THIS IS WHAT CHINESE STYLE NET CENSORSHIP LOOKS LIKE complements the fate in store for surfers who tackle taboo waves going in directions that conflict with the mega corporatism and globalist governmental technocrats.

For the business community who poopoos concern about free speech, gate keeping and suppression of political dissent, the Zacks article FCC Adopts Net Neutrality with Title II, Hard Time for ISPs makes several valid points against this federal takeover.

“The major argument, however, stands that the ISPs have to expend several billion dollars to install and upgrade a high-speed mobile/fixed broadband network. Disallowing discriminatory pricing policy will significantly reduce their revenues and margins, which will in turn result in lower investments in the high-speed broadband sector. Consequently, broadband equipment service providers will suffer (due to lesser investment by ISPs) and lots of jobs will be eliminated from this sector.

Telecom behemoths Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ – Analyst Report) and AT&T Inc. (T – Analyst Report) have decided to challenge the new regulation in court. In Jan 2014, Verizon won a federal court case against the FCC’s previous set of net neutrality rules.

Major cable multi-service operators, namely Comcast Corp. (CMCSA – Analyst Report), Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC – Analyst Report) and Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR – Analyst Report) also strongly opposed the FCC’s decision and may file legal suits. This group made clear that though they have no objection to the open Internet concept, enforcement of stricter regulations by the government is not acceptable.”

For the millions of addicted internet users who confine their online habits to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Twitter, the promise of higher speed connection is so attractive that sacrificing their independence and free speech rights becomes immaterial to their narrow minds.

Look; any fundamental imposition of government regulation on the free flow of information, prohibits the very existence of the miracle that connects the world instantaneously that took off some twenty years ago. With the introduction of MS Windows 95, the PC community, which included most business computers at the time, experienced a true productivity revolution.

Reflecting on the strides achieved from worldwide connectability, the essential functions of the internet is not presently broken. So what is the basic reason to accept Federal management of the most defused and individual liberating tool that has ever been invented? The answer according to Zacks is: “Telecommunications is a necessary utility.”

Well is the internet really a utility or is it a DAPRA project that Al Gore invented? Proponents of more government regulation want the people to accept that the public will benefit under FCC altruistic guidance, which will be superior to the commutative collection of billions of content contributors.

Content is king and the mere threat of consenting to a government filter on political speech is the true risk that is being imposed upon internet users, who overwhelming oppose censorship. The Electronic Freedom Foundation urges that “Internet blacklist legislation—known as PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House—invites Internet security risks, threatens online speech, and hampers Internet innovation”, should be opposed.

Note that such enactments are proposed as actual laws, while the FCC decision to inflict utility status upon the interconnection system is both arbitrary and capricious in the legal jargon of future court litigation, which is sure to come.

Utility designation is not just the preverbal slippery slope; it is the predictable introduction of specious authority to mirror the Chinese model for future command and control over the internet.

Watch the video, CHINA INTERNET CENSORSHIP CRACKDOWN – China To Crack Down on Social Media Accounts, to see what is coming. Share those anti-government Facebook and Twitter posts while you can.

Businesses are obviously intimidated by federal oversight that picks winners and losers. So the manifest question must be asked, if the internet is not broken, why force a fix that is so risky and really unnecessary?

Simply stated, constructive legislation to improve the “so called” bottleneck issues could be enacted that allows and encourages innovation that has been the backbone for growing the success of the internet.

Alas, such an approach does not achieve the actual objective. Reward the insiders of the Corporatocracy and build the authoritarian governance infrastructure that is so necessary to complete the total interdependency of world commerce.

The internet is all about independence, not conformity. That is why allowing free exchange is so dangerous for the oligarchs. FCC grabbing authority over the internet, extensively under the guise of utility denomination, is pure theater.

Matt Walsh writes in Dear Foolish and Gullible Americans, Net Neutrality is Not Your Friend a most proper concern.

“If the FCC can impose rules based on what might occur, can’t we oppose those rules based on what will almost definitely occur and in fact has already occurred? A Fairness Doctrine for the Internet isn’t hard to conceive . Like the television and radio version, it will ensure that not only our “access” is fair and open, but that the content itself lives up to the federal government’s fairness and openness standards.”

Is it better to face the facts than to believe in the fantasy that Big Brother will protect your true interests?  How you answer may well determine if you are one of those susceptible surfers eager to give up your rights to unfettered speech.

The officials in charge of the United Nations climate talks say that no deal will be done in Paris in December (COP21) to avoid dangerous global warming. After preparatory negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland, this month, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), confirmed that the target set previously, of limiting warming to 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels, would be missed. Figueres had already said, in December, after a round of talks in Lima, Peru, that

“the sum total of efforts [in Paris] will not be able to put us on the path for two degrees. [...] We are not going to get there with the Paris agreement … We will get there over time.” This month she reiterated that the Paris talks would only “set the pathway for an orderly planned transition over time to a low-carbon society.”

The EU climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete, claimed that “you cannot say it is a failure” if, collectively, the world’s governments abandoned the 2 degrees target, as long as there is “an ongoing process.”

Voluntary Commitments

Diplomats at Geneva put together an 86-page document for political leaders to haggle over in December. But it’s already clear that:

  • The approach adopted in Kyoto in 1997 – to require countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions by particular amounts, within specified timeframes under international law – has been abandoned. Instead, negotiators are reported to be saying, the new agreement will rely on “peer pressure, national accountability and global cooperation” to “voluntarily” slow down global warming.
  • The USA, the European Union and China – who jointly account for more than half of all emissions from burning fossil fuels[1] – have already decided on their commitments. A group of academic researchers analysed the likely effect of countries’ promises, and concluded that if governments stick to them, the atmosphere would probably get 3 or 3.5 degrees warmer – rather than the 4-5 degrees of warming likely in a “business as usual” scenario.

Massimo Tavoni of the Politecnico di Milano, who led the research, acknowledged that “there’s a lot of uncertainty” with the countries’ targets and their exact effects. What is not uncertain is the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and warming (see “The Global Carbon Budget,” below).

Neither is there any doubt about the terrible human suffering that researchers associate with warming of 3 degrees or more. (You can get an idea from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report which contains frightful descriptions of the likely consequences of 4 degrees of warming. And don’t forget, there are no exaggerations here: it’s all been signed off by representatives of all countries that have signed the convention, including Saudi Arabia and other oil producers.)

To summarize:

  1. The target of keeping global warming to 2 degrees has been repeatedly analysed by scientists, and accepted by politicians and even energy companies as essential to prevent what the UN framework convention calls “dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system.” (The UNFCCC summary is here, and an excellent summary history is here.)
  2. The Paris deal, if it happens, will certainly miss this target by a long way, and will depend on the good will of governments, rather than any international enforcement mechanism.
  3. Diplomats and politicians are claiming that this is “not a failure,” as the EU’s Canete put it. But, measured in terms of the welfare of the world population, it clearly is.

This is a collective failure of the world’s large states.

In 2009 at Copenhagen, Denmark, they acknowledged the 2 degrees target – and in 2010 at Cancun, Mexico, wrote it into an international agreement – but failed to make commitments to achieve it. This year in Paris, they will abandon any pretence of concerted action, rubber-stamp voluntary “commitments,” and use the diplomatic-media-NGO circus to try to spread the illusion of progress.

Some leftists portray Copenhagen as the outcome of neoliberalism and market fundamentalism. I see it differently.

The response of the world’s leading capitalist states to the 2008 financial crash – that is, their economic policy since before Copenhagen – cannot be described as market fundamentalism. In 2009-10 the USA invested hundreds of billions of dollars to support the banking system. It deepened its symbiotic relationship with the Chinese dictatorship, that advanced industrialization and urbanization – a counterbalance to the recession in the USA and Europe – with an approach that had little to do with neoliberalism.

Of course neoliberal dogma continued to be used to bolster trade arrangements that favoured the large capitalist states, and to justify “austerity” policies. But the large states continued to intervene in the economy. What they stopped far short of was policies that might have begun to address the threat of global warming.

Plenty has been said about a “green new deal” and “green growth,” by trade union leaders and left parties among others … but measures that might enhance the transition away from fossil fuels – ending subsidies, or state-supported investment in renewable technologies and decentralized energy systems – have been pathetically inadequate or non-existent.

Carbon Tax vs Trading Schemes

Instead of a carbon tax (which, if you believe global warming could or should be addressed without tampering with capitalism, is at least logical), the EU launched the ridiculous emissions trading scheme. It has failed (as predicted) to produce any discernible movement away from fossil fuel burning. There has been some investment in solar and wind power, but only insofar as it fits in to the commercial electricity system dominated by coal, gas and nuclear.

Come December last year, the U.S. and Chinese presidents, Barack Obama and Xi Jinping, agreed that the USA will by 2025 aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% of the 2005 level, and that China’s emissions will peak in 2030. The EU had previously set a target – which many observers believe it will miss – of cutting emissions levels by 40% of the 1990 level, by 2030. These political leaders – not neoliberals, but maybe market liberals, post-Stalinists, post-social democrats, whatever – have abandoned any effective action on warming.

The moment in the Hollywood movie, when the world’s leaders agree to overlook their differences to combat the shoal of meteors, alien spaceships, or whatever, has not happened.

Copenhagen and Paris are not failures of neoliberalism, but failures of states, and a failure of the UN, the forum for cooperation between those states set up after the second world war.

Liberal writers on international relations have long assumed that in the long run modern capitalist states led by liberals would, and should, work together. This assumption underpinned Francis Fukuyama’s argument that the universalization of western liberal democracy was the culmination of human achievement.[2]

At Paris, universalized western liberal democracy will complete its retreat, not before alien spaceships or shoals of meteors, but in front of a monster produced by capitalist economic growth. It’s a frightening prospect. But it could also refocus the attention of social and labour movements on the need to recreate society ourselves.

Social and Labour Movements

Here are three suggestions for how social and labour movements might react.

First. We should reject the false narratives being promoted around the talks … the stuff about “we” are making “progress.”

It’s worth noting what some big environmental NGOs are saying. After the Geneva talks, Climate Central reported that the Paris meetings “are being viewed [by NGOs] as an opportunity to launch a wholly new approach to global climate action [...] that could do far more” than an international diplomatic agreement.

Alex Hanafi of the Environmental Defense Fund said that Paris will “put us not on an emissions trajectory for 2 degrees, but on an institutional trajectory that allows us to try to meet that goal.” For me that is false optimism gone mad.

Another illusion to be avoided is that the politicians are responding substantially to the pressure of civil society. The journalist Rebecca Solnit, commenting on the Obama-Xi deal in December, wrote: “Pressure works. The [U.S.] president is clearly feeling it, and it’s reflected in the recent U.S.-China agreement [...] – far from perfect or adequate, but a step forward.” Really? I prefer Ben Adler’s sober judgment that Obama “shies away from using the levers of power” that he has. And I take Obama’s commitment as seriously as I would the promise of any politician about anything.

Second. We should reject the false narratives about technologies that tweak the fossil-fuel-based energy system but cannot produce the necessary fundamental shift away from it.

The latest favourite among politicians is a technology known as BECCS: the attachment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to power stations burning biomass, instead of fossil fuels. Theoretically, if plants, trees or crops are grown to replace those that are burnt, BECCS could actually reduce the amount of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere.

The latest IPCC report includes many scenarios that make incredibly optimistic assumptions about the spread of BECCS plants – of which there is not yet a single one in operation. (There’s a good explanation by Carbon Brief here.) To me, the whole thing looks like a way of boosting CCS (beloved of power companies who want to keep burning coal or gas on the grounds that at some point in the future they will use CCS to reduce emissions) and of forgetting about deeper-going technological shifts.

Fixes that do not involve progress on renewable and decentralized technologies should be treated with suspicion, in my view.

Third. We should do more to develop discussions on the complex social, economic and technological issues in social and labour movements, and in civil society more broadly.

The implication of the failure of states so evident in the run-up to the Paris talks is that we must broaden and deepen discussion and action independently of and in opposition to those states. In December 2013, for example, the UK’s leading climate change research outfit, the Tyndall Centre, organized a “radical emissions reduction” conference that brought together academics and researchers with activists. Why don’t social and labour movement organizations pick that up and develop it further?

Gabriel Levy edits the blog People and Nature, where this article first appeared.

The World’s Great Newspaper Reports on Ukraine

March 4th, 2015 by Eric Zuesse

Here are summaries (translated by me into English) of the latest news-reports on Ukraine, in Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, or German Economic News. (Click on the following link to see each of these news reports in full. If you use the Chrome browser, it will automatically translate everything into English.)

http://deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de/thema/ukraine-/

ALL ARTICLES ABOUT UKRAINE [past 24 hours]

Bank crash in Ukraine: Delta-Bank reports bankruptcy

The Ukrainian Delta Bank was declared insolvent, by the monetary authorities in Kiev. The fourth largest bank in the country will be gone from the corporate loan market because of repayment failures by its borrowers.

German Economic News  |  03.03.15, 18:25

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Ukrainian oligarchs gain access to European taxpayers’ money

In the course of rapprochement with the EU, three powerful oligarchs are hiring former EU politicians and SPD grandees. The oligarchs want to control reconstruction of the Ukraine - though they are notorious in Ukraine. For oligarchs to control politics and economics is above any political accountability. It should now be called simply doling out European taxpayers’ money, because that’s what it is.

German Economic News  |  03.03.15, 18:10

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Ukrainian oligarchs give Europe’s ex-politicians jobs

Three Ukrainian oligarchs have enlisted prominent former EU politicians, in their “agency for the modernization of Ukraine”: ministers, commissioners and lobbyists. The oligarchs help to generate new business. Among them are the SPD politician Peer Steinbrück and Günter Verheugen.

German Economic News  |  03.03.15, 18:06  |  4 comments

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Ukrainian central bank raises interest rates to 30 percent

The Ukrainian central bank raised its key interest rate by 10.5 percentage points, to stabilize the money market. The country has no access to international financial markets. The central bank chief warns against the negative consequences of the “panic in the foreign exchange market.”

German Economic News  |  03.03.15, 15:01  |  7 comments

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US sends Parachute Battalion into Ukraine

The US is sending a battalion of paratroopers into the Ukraine. The soldiers will first develop Ukrainian artillery units. Later, the Americans could train Ukrainians in the use of US weapons. Russia had announced several months ago to classify the deployment of US soldiers or weapons in Ukraine as a provocation.

German Economic News  |  03.03.15, 13:40  |  39 comments

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Ukraine: Merkel and Putin see progress on ceasefire

Russia, Germany, France and the Ukraine agree to ease the situation in the Donbass. The Minsk Agreement should now be implemented quickly.

German Economic News  |  03.03.15, 00:26  |  11 comments

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Against Putin, Kasparov expects violent uprising in Russia

Living in US political exile, a companion of the murdered opposition politician Boris Nemtsov said that a peaceful change in Russia is not possible. He expects a violent mass uprising against the “brutal dictatorship of Putin”. The sooner “Putin is gone, the greater are the chances that chaos can be avoided.” The German federal government intensifies the tone against Putin — although they still avoid directly blaming Putin for the murder.

German Economic News  |  03.03.15, 10:08  |  75 comments

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Against Russia: Germany delivers battle tanks to Poland

NATO’s new threat against Russia means that Germany will supply battle tanks to Poland and at the same time increase its own troops. The US requests that all NATO countries invest two percent of GDP in weapons. The UK snubbed this rule, must reduce deficit-spending.

German Economic News  |  03.03.15, 08:56  |  80 comments

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Despite EU sanctions: RWE Dea sold to Russian investor

The energy group RWE Dea sold its gas subsidiary for approximately 5.1 billion euros to Russian investors. The deal comes despite the official opposition of the British Government. Apparently, money talks, even after sanctions.

German Economic News  |  03.02.15, 14:34  |  6 comments

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Russia Rubles recovery in February was surprisingly strong

In February, the ruble gained momentum after the dramatic crash last year. Rising oil prices and the negotiations of Minsk brought the ruble good performance in February, despite the sanctions and the tougher tone in a new Cold War.

German Economic News  |  03/02/15 10:10  |  8 comments

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Ukraine’s Steel industry without exports to Russia is in free fall

By corruption, mismanagement and war, Ukraine is bankrupt though one of the world’s most resource-rich countries. The iron and steel industry of Ukraine, which is the industry that builds on these raw materials, is in free fall. The plunge in world prices accelerated this development. The Kiev government has done nothing to counter it.

German Economic News  |  03.02.15, 11:33 am  |  13 comments

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Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland establish UN intervention force

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has ratified a law establishing a common military force with Poland and Lithuania. It will participate in UN missions.The Ukraine has for some time, pursued switching to NATO standards — a development that Russia considers a provocation.

German Economic News  |  03.02.15, 01:00  |  12 comments

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US Senator McCain: No matter who shot Nemtsov, Vladimir Putin is to blame

US Senator John McCain has assigned to Putin the blame for the murder of Boris Nemtsov. But his statement remains remarkably vague. Apparently McCain, one of the most prominent opponents of Russia, wants to make political capital out of a crime that could just as well turn out as a private criminal case.

German Economic News  |  03.02.15, 01:48  |  36 comments

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Against the USA: China supports Russia in Ukraine crisis

China has clearly for the first time come down on the Russian side in Ukraine Crisis: The West must accept Moscow’s legitimate security concerns seriously. The dispute over the Ukraine could otherwise turn into a pointless proxy war. The Americans must take note that their influence is disappearing in international politics.

German Economic News  |  03.03.15, 17:07  |  96 comments

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

As a postscript headline to the mid-January article below, America’s most famous general turned CIA Director David Petraeus just worked out a plea bargain deal with the Justice Department. He admitted to leaking classified documents to his biographer turned lover Paula Broadwell. Rather than face the further humiliation of a high profile public trial, the Bilderberg member opted for the easier way out of his latest lowbrow scandal. The New York Times is reporting that Petraeus will plead guilty to a mere misdemeanor charge of “one count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.”

Justice Department spokesperson Marc Raimondi disclosed:

      The plea agreement and corresponding statement of facts, both signed by the defendant,  indicate that he will plead guilty to the one-count criminal Information.

The fact that the head of the CIA as the one man entrusted to hold US secrets secret, allowed pillow talk to share America’s most classified national secrets with his mistress, Betray-Us Petraeus is guilty of as serious a breach to our national security as there ever was. Yet the most celebrated military commander of his generation could at most possibly serve up to just one year in prison. Of course with buddies in such high places like Senators John McCain and Diane Feinstein, we know how that song ends. While gulag America is busily rounding up and torturing innocent US citizens who suddenly disappear inside secret CIA-like black holes across the nation, having earned his stripes as a card carrying elitist, Petraeus will most likely do no time at all behind bars… another telling blight on the American justice system.

Original article:

In recent days all the most hawkish protectors of US global hegemony and American Empire status quo, prominent politicians like Senators Feinstein and McCain, are circling their wagons in a defensive rush to the rescue of the former military rock star, onetime presidential hopeful General David Petraeus. Last Friday the FBI recommended to the Justice Department that it should proceed with plans to file criminal charges against Petraeus that could turn the most famous so called US war hero of the modern era into a convicted felon. On last Sunday’s CNN’s “State of the Nation, Senator Feinstein stated:

This man has suffered enough in my view. It’s done. It’s over…. David Petraeus is the four-star general of our generation and a very brilliant man.

What the chair of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee is objecting to is the Justice Department announcement that it may charge the former CIA Director Petraeus with passing classified information onto his lover at the time Paula Broadwell. Despite the retired general’s dubious contention claiming he’s an innocent man and never did give his former mistress access to top secret documents, the FBI maintains that it found classified evidence of secret files on her confiscated computer after raiding her North Carolina home in search of potential criminality and intelligence leaks that may have breached national security.

The White House leaks information and mostly disinformation to the press constantly at will whenever it so desires. Then it turns around and hypocritically arrests journalists for unwillingness to breach confidentiality of their sources protected by the First Amendment, or indicts whistleblowers under the Espionage Act for complying with the 1989 Whistleblower Act designed to protect them for their brave acts of public service. Just another double standard by which this administration has become infamous.

Also appearing on Sunday’s CNN news platform, Senator McCain raged against the machine for the Petraeus story to be slipped to the New York Times last Friday. McCain went on to defend his war buddyPetraeus venting, “No American deserves such callous treatment, let alone one of America’s finest military leaders whose selfless service and sacrifice have inspired young Americans in uniform and likely saved many of their lives,” referring to Petraeus’ inflated accolades as “the savior of Iraq War” for his 2009 surge. His constant escort Senator Lindsey Graham chimed in calling the investigation of their war hero “outrageous,” and both senators charged that it has been “grievously mishandled.”

We all recall the media circus of November 2012 when just two days after President Obama won his second term in office, CIA Director Petraeus was forced to resign his post after news of his torrid affair went public. Paula Broadwell was a major in the Army Reserves at the time she was given unlimited private access to the general while he was stationed overseas commanding from the Afghanistan warfront and continued stateside after he resigned from the Army to head the CIA. Idolizing her man while she was all into him writing his All In biography, Paula was eager to share her insider’s secrets with the rest of the world while making the media talk show circuit zealously touting both Petraeus and her book.

At one point just a couple weeks prior to her and her man’s sudden fall from grace, while on her book tour speaking at the University of Denver, Ms. Broadwell enthusiastically shared her privy info that only she could have learned from her intimacy with the CIA director himself. She made the bold claim that the Benghazi attack on 9/11/12 where Libyan Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were murdered came as the result of the CIA’s detainment of several local al Qaeda affiliated leaders. She maintained the attackers of the Benghazi compound were acting on either an attempt to rescue their fellow militiamen or deliver violent retribution to America for adducting their leaders.

Of course as CIA director, Petraeus was working closely with Hillary Clinton using her State Department as cover for the highly illegal arms smuggling operation that was shipping much of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s rather large arsenal of chemical weapons and surface-to-air missiles from the port of Benghazi through Turkey to aid the US backed al Qaeda fighting the US proxy war in Syria against President Assad’s forces.

Because back in January 2009 upon coming to power Obama signed Executive Order 13491 explicitly prohibiting the detainment of foreign nationals, Broadwell’s need to shine as the darling insider biographer inadvertently revealed that the CIA under Obama had simply continued its widespread practice of rounding up detainees throughout the Middle East and North Africa and engaging in unlawful acts of torture that they’d been ordered by the Bush administration to cease. Of course once confronted with Broadwell’s allegations after their adulterous scandal broke, the CIA as a rogue government agency that lies for a living emphatically denied any violation of Obama’s executive order. But clearly Paula Broadwell both incriminated her lover and his agency while at the same time incriminated Petraeus himself in passing CIA secrets off to his concubine. How else could she have known about the CIA detaining Libyans as that entire illicit Benghazi affair was as top secret as it gets?

That the Obama administration likely authorized the Benghazi detainment against his own order only shows why he is so quick to sweep the CIA torture history under the rug, calling for Americans to look forward rather than backward. CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou is still in prison for blowing the lid off CIA torture for going public exposing the unlawful practice under the Bush regime. Kiriakou maintainsthat torture under Obama’s watch has only submerged deep enough underground to not be noticed but still goes on. This also explains Obama’s recent choice to not hold those guilty criminals in both the Bush-Cheney administration as well as the sadistic perpetrators within the CIA and military accountable for inflicting such inhumane treatment as waterboarding on mostly innocent foreign nationals in our name. On top of all that, torture proved ineffective in producing any results.

In September 2012 at least 35 CIA personnel were reported to be overseeing the gun smuggling shipments in the largest CIA operation in North Africa from their Benghazi annex located just a mile away from the ambassador’s compound. In an August 2013 report CNN interviewed anonymous CIA operatives stationed in Benghazi at the time of the attack. They all admitted that every month they must submit to lie detector tests to ensure they do not spill the beans on what really happened in Benghazi. They also alluded to being under the strictest order to remain silent about their Libyan role or face threats from the Obama administration that they and their families would be harmed if their loose lips dared to sink Obama and Hillary’s deepest, darkest secrets ships. Ships that would forever sink his presidential legacy to the bottom of the heap alongside Nixon’s, and permanently shatter her political aspirations of a presidential future.

Petraeus has kept his silence as well, and swiftly rewarded. Within a week after Petraeus’ CIA resignation, his wife Holly victimized by her husband’s extramarital affair, was suddenly being rewarded a promotion to a newly created job just for her by President Obama himself, earning nearly $200,000 a year to compliment her husband’s $220,000 intact pension (despite his violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice for adultery which by law would preclude him from collecting any pension at all or retiring at his four-star general’s rank). The ever-close time proximity alone between the scandal breaking and his wife’s new cushy job raises questions of it being hush money.

Of course as a bi-coastal professor at City University of New York, Harvard and USC, Petraeus is peddling the environment killer fracking these days with his course syllabus entitled “The Coming North American Decade.” He also holds a prominent position in the elitist New York investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, and is a faithful annual Bilderberg and Council on Foreign Relations member, so the Petraeus household is still raking in millions as an established elitist family. “Mums” been the word on Petraeus keeping his mouth shut, no spillage of secrets that could have brought down Barack and Hillary, despite his taking the fall for them for his illicit affair, which was definitely not the actual reason he went down.

Petraeus’ penchant for outsourcing CIA to private paramilitary subcontractors similar to how he outsourced the US military largely replaced by the multitude of paramilitary mercenary-type civilian contractors also had lots to do with his downfall. By March 2011 more Americans were employed by private civilian contractors like KBR, Blackwater and DynCorp (155,000) in Iraq and Afghanistan than Americans serving in military uniform (145,000).  By March 2010, 27,000 armed private security contractors were in Iraq and Afghanistan. Largely under the radar this last decade, General Petraeus changed how the US fights its modern wars. Because civilian contractors earn five to ten times or more than US soldiers, resentment and conflict have been a natural outcome. Complete lack of transparency and accountability have led to obscene wasteful misappropriation of taxpayer dollars as well as mercenary war crime atrocities – an all too familiar theme with both our military but especially civilian Department of Defense contractors, Blackwater the most notorious of all.

General Petraeus was in bed with these shady unscrupulous defense contractors, raising a growing concern from critics both inside and outside the beltway. We can in large part thank King David for the myriad of problems arising from blurred roles and boundaries as well as lack of oversight.

A case in point raising a few eyebrows is the cozy embedded relationship Petraeus had while Afghanistan War commander with married think tank couple Fred and Kimberly Kagan. They represent the hawkish power interests of the core Republicans in Congress. The general had them set up with offices in Afghanistan for almost a year at government expense, giving them free access to both him and his field commanders. As influential policymakers, they directly implemented change in how the military was waging war. They had been instrumental in both designing and backing Petraeus’ surges on both fronts, advocating a long term military presence in both nations.

Petraeus stretched the envelope like never before in promoting the corrupt, self-serving merger, blurring and obscuring all boundaries between the US armed forces, private civilian contractors that made $138 billion in Iraq alone, $39.5 going to top earner KBR (the former Halliburton subsidiary that Cheney CEO’d), and private think tanks. The current spreading malignancy that is the Empire’s military industrial complex, characterized by rampant waste, cronyism, fraud and grossest unaccountability, has never been more evident or extreme in its destructive power to destroy the planet. And the most famous general of them all has been its chief ring-leading, cheerleading war architect.

After Betray-us Petraeus was such an instrumental proponent in transforming the US military through outsourcing in addition to how America fights wars with the failed dogma of his authored Counterinsurgency manual (COIN), upon taking command of the CIA, he began arrogantly doing the same thing there and quickly made enemies. His micromanaging military style contrasted with the series of laissez faire CIA directors like Petraeus’ predecessor Leon Panetta. The CIA was used to operating freely.

Retired Navy Seal Brandon Webb and retired Green Beret Jack Murphy in their book Benghazi: The Definitive Report lay bold claim that disloyal deputies and bodyguards serving under General Petraeus leaked his affair to the CIA that then arranged circumstances for the affair to be investigated by the FBI. Jack Murphy told the Daily Mail, “It’s almost like they wanted him not just to resign but they wanted him kicked out of the political game for at least a number of years.”

Though numerous holes and loose ends make their report anything but “definitive,” their contention that professional spies who already did not trust their new boss might learn of his improper sexual liaison is a no-brainer. In fact the spy agency likely knew of his affair while he was still a general in Afghanistan, and that prior to Obama even selecting him as the next CIA chief, Obama knew too. It’s an insult to Americans’ intelligence to buy the official lie that the president never knew about it until after his reelection.

The CIA has a long tradition as an independent rogue element unto itself within the US government, very used to operating under little or no oversight with complete impunity and a bottomless deep pocket engaging in terrorism to wreak havoc all over the earth. Any time an outsider from the rival military is appointed its new director, a backlash amongst powerful senior intelligence officials is to be expected. And when the new boss treats seasoned CIA officers just like military subordinates, cutting them out of their sanctified intelligence gathering domain of control and outsourcing them with paramilitary operations that included prioritizing drone warfare, for every action, especially in the form of unwanted change imposed by a ruthless outsider, there is a counter-reaction. Obama selecting a war commander fresh from fighting two wars to CIA director to fight those and other low intensity wars with drones was also a direct move toward militarization of the CIA.

Ex-CIA officer Philip Giraldi stated that “former military officers are generally not liked at the CIA.” Despite acting as though he was there to learn his first days at Langley, it didn’t take long for Petraeus’ egotistical arrogance to quickly start rubbing the CIA rank and file the wrong way. His response to counterterrorism was to push drones and to utilize paramilitary contractors, replacing the way historic CIA operations of clandestine services were delivered. Ex-CIA officer Giraldi states, “Petraeus was particularly resented because he was perceived as moving forward with the paramilitarization of the agency.” Operating drones took up much of the budget at the expense of job layoffs. Senior staff were being pushed out to make room for younger remote controlled drone pilots and outsourced work to non-CIA contractors. Additionally, the general’s overbearing military style of micromanagement was neither welcomed nor trusted within the CIA halls of Langley, Virginia.

Petraeus would bristle every time others voiced a differing opinion or dare disagree. The megalomaniac had become so full of himself, consumed with his own power, for decades always getting his way no questions asked, his pompous, military brand of toxic leadership grated against the CIA’s bureaucratic culture of autonomy and independence. No longer having his trusted warrior-scholars nor his longtime nurse-maid aides catering to his every narcissistic whim, Petraeus suddenly found himself as a CIA civilian in a very different cultural environment, unsettled and uncomfortable as a fish out of water, outside his old familiar elements he’d grown so accustomed to over the previous 37 years. Observers at the CIA stated that he often ate alone. Reports of those close to him claim that he had changed, growing more distant from both family and friends. His inner crowd dwindled to very few confidantes.

Waging Empire wars for most of the last decade, he and his wife were rarely even together for any length of time. Holly Petraeus lamented how little of it they did have between them. She wished that he’d spent more time with his family, hoping his military retirement would afford him that opportunity. But the intimacy she’d been longing for that they once shared was already long gone.

Because David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell shared so much in common, both as fellow West Pointers (he from the Class of 1974 directly behind me and she from the Class of 1995) and Army officers as well sharing their passion for power and politics, throw in their mutual addiction as fitness fanatics and the familiar cliché scenario of the older gent plowing and sowing his seeds with the younger, attractive, adoring female, and you have the anatomy of their adulterous affair. Their increasing amount of alone time together that began in Afghanistan would only continue stateside. Spending time with his admiring mistress who idolized him helped Petraeus adjust to the culture shock of his new life as a civilian. With his “men-opausal” change of life from general to CIA director accompanied, soothed and stimulated by their romantic trysts, they probably wished she could continue writing his biography forever. But all good things must pass, and once the book was completed and published, their increased time apart had Paula’s radar nets spreading to places like Tampa, honing in on any and all real or imagined threats, specifically another young, attractive social climber similarly enraptured by the aphrodisiac of power – Jill Kelley. And the rest is history.

Just as it was all too obvious to those in the know in Afghanistan, the Petraeus-Broadwell romance had to be supplying both intrigue and fodder for the spy world gossip mill. And since Petraeus was alienating himself from those who thrive on the “information is power” game, a growing army of the CIA rank and file increasingly viewed their new director and his reckless indiscretions as a potential risk and breach of national security, in the end an expendable liability. The CIA could have just as easily tipped off the FBI, but hey, let’s leave it at jealous, catty, threatening anonymous emails from Paula that make for such juicier soap opera plot. Sleeping with his biographer was merely the front used to oust the unwelcomed intruder encroaching and making unwanted changes on unfriendly CIA turf.

Professor, writer and astute geopolitical analyst James Petras presented a convincing argument against the notion that one lone wolf, low level FBI agent in Frederick Humphries Jr., a known Islam-aphobic rogue with pro-Zionist leanings handed over his “evidence” to bring down two of the most powerful figures in US foreign policy. CIA Director Petraeus and CENTCOM and Afghan war commander General John Allen (Annapolis Class of 1976) were Empire militarists who embraced jihadist mercenaries in proxy wars like Libya and Syria and rightwing Islamic regimes in efforts to topple mostly secular Middle Eastern governments. We also know the FBI agent presented the damaging goods to recently voted-out-of-office, pro-Zionist ex-powerful Congressman Eric Cantor, who in turn submitted the dirt to FBI Director Mueller with the express order to act on the investigation or face his own Congressional inquisition.

What we also know is Petraeus saw Israel as a geopolitical liability to Empire aims in the Middle East in dealing with Arab states since the US is merged hip deep in Israeli shit. It slipped out in a Petraeus email a couple years ago that brought all kinds of Zionist heat down on him to have to beg Max Boot from the Council on Foreign Relations to smooth over the ruffled Jewish feathers.  The exclusive power of the Israeli lobby to dictate US global policy to the extent of potentially causing the downfall of America’s most powerful military leaders plausibly falls within the realm of possibilities if not probabilities.

Though an Iraq and Afghanistan war criminal many times over during his near four decade long military career, technically Petraeus never violated any criminal laws indulging in an extramarital affair. Since his extracurricular activity with Broadwell overseas was common knowledge to those around him, it’s virtually impossible for Obama not to have known about Petraeus’ adultery prior to selecting him as CIA director in July 2011. The salacious truth would have certainly been uncovered even without a thorough, comprehensive background check. Obama may well have chosen to cast Petraeus aside into the hidden shroud of CIA secrecy as an effective ploy to keep the war hero out of the limelight long enough for Obama to get reelected. The question then becomes if he already knew about the affair, is the most secretive president in US history cunning and devious enough to purposely set Petraeus up for a later timed public exposure once Obama secured his second term in office? In one fell swoop it would be a win-win for Barack Obama in 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 to eliminate their stiffest, most formidable competition…food for thought. And somebody out there knows the truth.

With Hillary providing the State Department cover in Benghazi for Petraeus’ CIA arms smuggling operation, making King David the CIA chief may have been the perfect masterful stroke to first set him up and then forever eliminate him as a Republican presidential rival. By bringing him on board to participate in their internationally illegal gun running operation from Libya through Turkey to fight against Assad in Syria, in order to protect themselves, all three – Obama, Hillary and Petraeus – would be sworn to secrecy. That’s why Petraeus has kept his mouth shut and Obama and Hillary have gone to such great lengths to silence the truth from ever coming out about Benghazi. As sinister psychopaths, their political lives and legacies depend on it. So with the damaging goods on Petraeus already secured, regardless of their covert Benghazi operation with or without the added complication of the ambassador and three other dead Americans, Obama and Hillary would have Petraeus’ power checkmated by simply exposing his affair at the optimally strategic time right after the November 2012 election as true cloak and dagger politics in twenty-first century America.

From February 2012 when the FBI allegedly began gathering Petraeus’ dirty laundry through intercepted emails, it’s extremely unlikely that the FBI director meeting weekly with Obama would either not know about the affair himself or choose to withhold that information from the president. It’s far more likely that the adultery was uncovered PRIOR to Petraeus even taking his new job. But ironically it was not his actual affair that did him in. It was far more plausible an increasing number of CIA personnel that the general was pissing off were responsible for bringing down King David. Busily outsourcing their work to privatized paramilitary contractors was the likely clincher, causing CIA with or without the CENTCOM groupie from Florida to invite rival FBI to look closer at his personal affairs.

In any event, fortunately for us, Petraeus will never become the third West Pointer to reach the White House. But as America’s most famous living general, as the shrewd opportunist he is, King David has nonetheless been cashing in on his fame, or more fittingly his infamy, earning millions with cushy creampuff university jobs and as a high profile figurehead to an elitist investment firm.

The David Petraeuses of the world are sadly the sycophantic type of leader who invariably ends up at the highest echelons of elitist power in America, be it in the military, politics, academia, legal or corporate world. And that’s because the psychopathic system that reeks of rotten moral decay is one and the same in all these intertwined and twisted worlds… a world where blind ambition means selling your soul to the devil, throwing your own mother under a bus and kissing the ass off those in power above you. Because those in power have played the game so zealously, simple law of attraction has them imbuing power through promotion to those deemed just like them. Few righteous souls with any moral integrity, character or conscience would ever enter this soulless world by choice because they’d refuse to play the game, and refusing to play the game is tantamount to suicide in their psychopathic world. It’s why I as a West Point cadet and officer clashed so much with the system and why people like Petraeus thrive so much in it.

David Petraeus may be the poster boy of our morally bankrupt system gone wrong, be it West Point, the Army or the United States of America, cranking out a methodically trained amoral, blindly ambitious, coldhearted, imperialistic, bureaucratic, ass-kissing politician-general for its leadership that systematically rises to the very pinnacle of this country’s power pyramid. And of course this case in point explains and richly illustrates more than anything else why the state of our world is so sadly and currently in such a heap of shit.

That’s why as a CFR-Bilderberg elitist, the war criminal will never see one day in jail nor ever be brought to trial as a potentially convicted felon. We all know that there exists two systems of justice in the United States, one for the privileged rich who simply buy their get-out-of-jail cards and the other system that will unjustly hang the rest of us for simply looking the wrong way or insisting on the truth be told. Though for sensationalism effect, all the mainstream press are currently reporting that Mr. Petraeus’ future hangs precariously in outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder’s hands, we the little people who know too well how the (in)justice system in America works, and therefore we already know the outcome. So the mainstream press can spare us the drama.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing.

The Pentagon has announced that depleted uranium (DU) munitions have not, and will not, be used by US aircraft in the conflict against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The policy U-turn contrasts with statements made over previous months, where Pentagon officials claimed that DU would be used if needed; the decision reflects a growing stigmatisation of the controversial weapons.

Since the decision to deploy 12 A-10 Thunderbolt II gunships to the Middle East as part of Operation Inherent Resolve last December, concerns have been raised that the US would once again use DU in Iraq – already the world’s most DU contaminated country. Just months before the deployment was announced, Iraq had called on the United Nations for technical assistance in dealing with the legacy of the 404,000kg DU that was fired by the US and UK in the conflicts in 1991 and 2003. Iraq also argued in favour of a global treaty ban on the weapons.

In spite of Iraq’s clear and highly visible position against DU weapons, in October a Pentagon spokesperson had said that 30mm DU ammunition would be loaded onto the A-10 gunships and used as needed: “If the need is to explode something — for example a tank — [depleted uranium] will be used.” However, in a remarkable change in policy and in response to questioning from Joe Dyke, Middle East editor of IRIN, the Pentagon has now confirmed that: “Combined Joint Task Force can confirm that US and Coalition aircraft have not been, and will not be, using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq or Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve.”

PAX’s Wim Zwijnenburg welcomed the US U-turn, arguing that the conflict is complex enough:

“The further use of these chemically toxic and radioactive munitions would have been yet another burden on the Iraqi population. They are already facing a humanitarian crisis and have grave concerns over the health legacy of historic DU use. The Iraqi government is still struggling with the clean-up of past US DU use, with Iraqi workers and civilians at risk of exposure.”

A-10 being loaded with 30mm PGU-13/B high explosive incendiary (HEI) ammunition in Afghanistan. It can fire either HEI alone, or its standard combat load, which is a mixture of HEI and DU armour piercing incendiary (API) ammunition. It cannot select between ammunition types once airborne, one of the reasons why DU has historically been used against a far wider range of targets than just tanks.

Depleted uranium isn’t becoming any more acceptable

Since last October, campaigners and parliamentarians in Belgium, the Netherlands and UK have urged their governments to challenge the US on the issue. The decision to deploy the A-10s came days before 150 countries backed a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for international assistance to states affected by DU and for greater transparency over past use to allow clean-up.

ICBUW Coordinator Doug Weir said;

“The overwhelming majority of states have grave concerns over the acceptability of DU weapons. ICBUW believes that this U-turn by the US reflects the growing global stigmatisation of DU. Coalition partners are responsible for the actions of their peers and it would have been unthinkable for the US to once again use DU on the territory of a country that has so recently called for a global ban on the weapons.”

Fears that DU would be used in the conflict with IS had recently emerged in the besieged Syrian town of Raqqa, where concern has been expressed over the long-term public health and environmental legacy of Coalition’s use of munitions.

From 2011, and as part of ICBUW, PAX has had a programme in Iraq studying the use and impact of DU. PAX has demonstrated the complexity of identifying, assessing and cleaning-up DU-contaminated military scrap metal: a problem that remains even a decade after the conflict. Iraq’s effort to reduce the risks DU poses to civilians continue to be hampered by the US refusal to hand over firing coordinates, in spite of calls to do so by a US Congressman and US civil rights organisations.

The Pentagon statement referred only to the use of DU by coalition aircraft. In the event that US land forces are employed in the conflict, there remains a risk that DU may be used by US armoured vehicles and tanks.

On 2 March 2015, we  sent a ‘Cease and Desist Order’ to the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (also copied to the Chancery Department, Royal Courts of Justice, London), under Article 15 of her jurisdiction, and in relation to the notification and claim submitted in August 2014 for the prevention of genocide and other grave crimes against humanity against Palestinians, with particular reference to:

1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide in relation to Israelis’ actions and continuing against Palestinians (indigenous population)

General Assembly’s Uniting for Peace Resolution of 1950

Articles 15, 5, 6, 7, 8, 27, 28 and 29 of the Statute of Rome

This claim was accepted on 11 August 2014 with the following reference: OTP-CR-249/14. Should you wish to submit evidence, please do so under this reference, or start your own action under Article 15 (and 15.3, if you have been a victim of Israeli crimes against humanity, including collective punishment).

This ‘Cease and Desist Order’ was also issued in view of Israeli stated policies (for instance “Dahiya Doctrine” to destroy whole neighbourhoods and civilians, as identified in the Goldstone Report of 2009, and for which the Palestinian Authority requested an investigation by the ICC in 2009), and Knesset speakers’ remarks about the containment and extermination of Palestinians.

The letter and text of the Order reads as follows:

Dear Prosecutor at the ICC

Further to our application for urgent relief for continuing crimes against humanity, and our 23-page claim (4 Aug 2014), our 51-page claim (8 Aug 2014), our request for urgent disclosure (17 Aug 2014), and our details and evidence of Zionist leaders’ (declared) genocidal intent and acts against the indigenous population of Palestine before the creation of the State of Israel, and most recently with the ‘Dahiya Doctrine’ (“the application of disproportionate force and causing of great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations”: UN Commission for Human Rights, 2009) ordered and carried out on besieged and captive Gazans from 8 July 2014 with damage and destruction not remedied, and the announcement of more US funding to aid and abet such massive, systematic and sustained CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY as have been COMMISSIONED BY ISRAELI OFFICIALS AND COMMANDERS AS HAVE BEEN HAPPENING SINCE 1947, and with preparations once again afoot for another genocidal attack against besieged and captive Palestinians, we seek the following CEASE AND DESIST ORDER with immediate effect:

1.Immediate lifting of the Blockade and siege against captive civilians in Gaza. This blockade constitutes collective punishment and is a prima facie GRAVE crime against humanity.

2.Prevention of all targeted assassinations of Palestinians (the indigenous population), including minors, and of people assisting Palestinians. We further seek accountability, punishment and redresses for such grave crimes against humanity.

3.Prevention of the targeted harassment, injuring and killing of Palestinians, such as fishermen and farmers who are going about their lawful and necessary work. We further seek accountability, punishment and redresses for such grave crimes against humanity.

4.Prevention of the kidnapping of Palestinians including minors and of people assisting Palestinians. In Feb 2015, 285 Palestinians have been kidnapped. We further seek accountability, punishment and redresses for such grave crimes against humanity.

5.Prevention of the extreme targeting, punishment and collective punishment of Palestinians including minors who throw stones as a means of self-defence against an occupying and brutal and fully armed force. We further seek accountability, punishment and redresses for such grave crimes against humanity.

6.Prevention of torture of Palestinians including minors. We further seek accountability, punishment and redresses for such grave crimes against humanity.

7.Prevention of inhumane, degrading and humiliating treatment of Palestinians, including minors, and of people assisting them. We further seek accountability, punishment and redresses for such grave crimes against humanity.

8.Prevention of theft of Palestinian resources, including water. We draw particular attention to the area of Salfit and the way this theft for the 23 illegal settlements surrounding it, has resulted in ethnic cleansing and pollution of this area of fruit plantations and natural beauty. We further seek redresses for such grave crimes against humanity which have deprived Palestinians of their houses, farming lands, and severed centuries’ old communities.

9.Prevention of further construction of the Separation Wall and an Order to demolish it. This Wall was deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice in 2004. We further seek accountability, punishment redresses for such grave crimes against humanity which have deprived Palestinians of their houses, farming lands, and severed centuries’ old communities.

10.Prevention of all settlement expansion. Such expansion has long been regarded as illegal under international law. This has accelerated tremendously since the Palestinian Authority agreed to US-brokered peace talks from 2013 onwards, and especially since the “truce” of August 2014. We further seek accountability, punishment redresses for such grave crimes against humanity which have deprived Palestinians of their houses, farming lands, and severed centuries’ old communities.

11.Prevention of all house demolitions against the Palestinians. Such collective punishment is deemed a prima facie crime and also falls within the ICC’s jurisdiction. We further seek accountability, punishment and redresses for such grave crimes against humanity.

12.Prevention of violations of the Aqsa Mosque. There is a declared and commissioned policy to destroy the Mosque. Palestinians are wrongfully prevented from or are severely restricted from worshipping there.

Yours Sincerely
Dr Joanne Maria McNally
LAWYER

BRIEF SUMMARY OF GRAVE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

War crimes

(Please see our evidence submitted from 2 Aug 2014 onwards, and also, below, that of Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past President of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general for external communications of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists.)

(1) Willful killing: Israeli forces have killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians (more than 400 children and over 80% civilians). Israel used 155-millimeter artillery, which, according to Human Rights Watch, is “utterly inappropriate in a densely populated area, because this kind of artillery is considered accurate if it lands anyplace within a 50-meter radius.”

(2) Willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health: Nearly 10,000 people, 2,500 of them children, have been wounded. Naban Abu Shaar told the Daily Beast that the dead bodies from what appeared to be a “mass execution” in Khuza’a looked like they were “melted” and were piled on top of each other; assault rifle bullet casings found in the house were marked “IMI” (Israel Military Industries). UNICEF said the Israeli offensive has had a “catastrophic and tragic impact” on children in Gaza; about 373,000 children have had traumatic experiences and need psychological help. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said: “There’s a public health catastrophe going on. You know, most of the medical facilities in Gaza are non-operational.”

(3) Unlawful and wanton, extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity: Tens of thousands of Palestinians have lost their homes. More than 1,300 buildings were destroyed and 752 were severely damaged. Damage to sewer and water infrastructure has affected two-thirds of Gazans. On July 20, Israeli forces virtually flattened the small town of Khuza’a; one man counted 360 shell attacks in one hour. Reconstruction of Gaza is estimated to cost $6 billion. Israel shrunk Gaza’s habitable land mass by 44 percent, establishing a 3 km “no-go” zone for Palestinians; 147 square miles of land will be compressed into 82 square miles. Oxfam described the level of destruction as “outrageous … much worse than anything we have seen in previous [Israeli] military operations.”

(4) Willfully depriving a prisoner of war or a civilian the rights of fair and regular trial: Nearly 2,000 Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces during July 2014, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies. Prisoners include 15 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, about 240 children, dozens of women, journalists, activists, academics and 62 former prisoners previously released in a prisoner exchange. Israeli forces executed many prisoners after arrest, either by directly firing on them, refusing to allow treatment or allowing them to bleed to death. More than 445 prisoners are being held without charge or trial under administrative detention.

(5) Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population, civilian objects, or humanitarian vehicles, installations and personnel: “The civilian population in the Gaza Strip is under direct attack,” reads a joint declaration of over 150 international law experts. Israeli forces violated the principle of “distinction,” which forbids deliberate attacks on civilians or civilian objects. Israeli forces bombed 142 schools (89 run by the UN), including six UN schools in which civilians were taking refuge. Israeli forces shot and killed fleeing civilians (warnings, which must effectively give civilians time to flee before bombing, do not relieve Israel from its legal obligations not to target civilians). Israeli forces repeatedly bombed Gaza’s only power plant and other infrastructure, which are “beyond repair.” Israeli forces bombed one-third of Gaza’s hospitals, 14 primary healthcare clinics and 29 ambulances. At least five medical staff were killed and tens of others were injured.

(6) Intentionally launching attacks with knowledge they will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or long-term severe damage to the natural environment, if they are clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage: The principle of “proportionality” forbids disproportionate and excessive civilian casualties compared to the claimed military advantage gained in the attack. The Dahiye Doctrine directly violates this principle. Responding to Hamas’ rockets with 155-millimeter artillery is disproportionate. Although nearly 2,000 Palestinians (over 80 percent civilians) have been killed, 67 Israelis (all but three of them soldiers) have been killed. The coordinates of all UN facilities were repeatedly communicated to the Israeli forces; they nevertheless bombed them multiple times. Civilians were attacked in Shuja’iyyah market.

(7) Attacking or bombarding undefended towns, villages, dwellings or buildings, or intentionally attacking religious, educational and medical buildings, which are not military objectives: On July 20, Israeli forces virtually flattened the small town of Khuza’a; one man counted 360 shell attacks in one hour. Israeli forces bombed 142 schools (89 run by the UN), one-third of Gaza’s hospitals, 14 primary healthcare clinics, and 29 ambulances. Israeli shelling completely destroyed 41 mosques and partially destroyed 120 mosques.

Genocide

(a) With the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group: Palestinians, including primarily civilians, and Palestinian infrastructure necessary to sustain life were deliberately targeted by Israeli forces.

(b) The commission of any of the following acts

(i) killing members of the group: Israeli forces killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians.
(ii) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group: Israeli forces wounded 10,000 Palestinians.
(iii) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction in whole or in part: Israeli forces devastated Gaza’s infrastructure, knocking out Gaza’s only power plant, and destroying homes, schools, buildings, mosques and hospitals.
Crimes against humanity

(A) The commission of murder as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population: Israeli forces relentlessly bombed Gaza for one month, killing nearly 2,000 Palestinians, more than 80 percent of whom were civilians. Israeli forces intentionally destroyed Gaza’s infrastructure, knocking out Gaza’s only power plant, and destroying homes, schools, buildings, mosques and hospitals.

(B) Persecution against a group or collectivity based on its political, racial, national, ethnic or religious character, as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population: Israeli forces killed, wounded, summarily executed, and administratively detained Palestinians, Hamas forces and civilians alike. Israel forces intentionally destroyed the infrastructure of Gaza, populated by Palestinians. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “the massive death and destruction in Gaza have shocked and shamed the world.” He added the repeated bombing of UN shelters facilities in Gaza was “outrageous, unacceptable and unjustifiable.”

(C) The crime of apartheid (inhumane acts committed in the context of an institutional regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another racial group, with the intent to maintain that regime): Ali Hayek, head of Gaza’s federation of industries representing 3,900 businesses that employ 35,000 people, said: “After 30 days of war, the economic situation has become, like, dead. It seems the occupation intentionally destroyed these vital factories that constitute the backbone of the society.” Israel maintains an illegal barrier wall that encroaches on Palestinian territory and builds illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands. Israel keeps Gazans caged in what many call “the world’s largest open air prison.” Israel controls all ingress and egress to Gaza, limits Gazans’ access to medicine, subjects Palestinians to arbitrary arrest, expropriates their property, maintains separate areas and roads, segregated housing, different legal and educational systems for Palestinians and Jews and prevents mixed marriages. Only Jews, not Palestinians, have the right to return to Israel-Palestine.

Collective punishment

Although the Rome Statute does not include the crime of collective punishment, it is considered a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which constitutes a war crime. Collective punishment means punishing a civilian for an offense he or she has not personally committed; it forbids reprisals against civilians and their property (civilian objects).

Ostensibly to rout out Hamas fighters, Israel has wreaked unprecedented devastation on the people of Gaza, killing nearly 2,000 people (more than 80 percent of them civilians) and destroying much of the infrastructure of Gaza. This constitutes collective punishment.

On August 5, 2014, veteran Israeli military advisor Giora Eiland advocated collective punishment of Gaza’s civilian population, saying: “In order to guarantee our interests versus the other side’s demands, we must avoid the artificial, wrong and dangerous distinction between the Hamas people, who are ‘the bad guys,’ and Gaza’s residents, which are allegedly ‘the good guys.’” That is precisely the strategy Israel has employed during Operation Protective Edge.

Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands also constitutes collective punishment. Israel maintains effective control over Gaza’s land, airspace, seaport, electricity, water, telecommunications and population registry. Israel deprives Gazans of food, medicine, fuel and basic services.

Netanyahu’s Ugly Israel

March 4th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

 Israel is a rogue terror state by any standard. No amount of speechmaking changes reality. 

They want supreme hegemonic regional control. They’re willing to wage genocidal wars to achieve objectives – including use of nuclear, chemical, biological and other banned weapons.

Their Machiavellian extremism threatens world peace and stability. Netanyahu is the tip of the iceberg. 

Netanyahu came to Washington to convince Congress, the US public and his own population about a nonexistent Iranian threat.

He knows Iran threatens no one. Its nuclear program is peaceful. It has no military component. His own Mossad says so. So does US intelligence annually.

Claiming an existential Iranian threat is a ruse – a Big Lie. None exists. Netanyahu is a serial liar. He wants pro-Western stooge governance replacing Iranian sovereign independence.

He’s willing to massacre millions of Iranians to rule the region unchallenged. His madness could launch nuclear war.

At the same time, his goon squads terrorize Palestinians daily.

Every day is Kristallnacht in Palestine. So-called Israeli security forces terrorize Palestinians with impunity. So do radicalized settlers with full state support and encouragement.

Gaza remains lawlessly besieged. An Israeli caused humanitarian disaster worsens daily.

West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinian communities are virtual war zones – subjected to daily terrorizing incursions.

Fear is pervasive. Collective punishment is official Israeli policy. So is institutionalized racism worse than anything experienced in apartheid South Africa.

Peaceful public demonstrations are brutally attacked. Free expression and movement are prohibited.

Population centers are isolated. Borders are closed. Militarized occupation prohibits normal daily life.

Palestinians face rascist discrimination, land theft, bulldozed homes, regular terror attacks, targeted killings, mass arrests, wrongful imprisonments, torture, punitive taxes, impoverishment, indentured servitude, ethnic cleansing and slow-motion genocide.

Palestinians wanting to live free on their own land in their own country are called terrorists. Fishermen are attacked at sea.

So are farmers working their land. Their crops, livestock and orchards are lawlessly destroyed.

Israeli goon squads shoot Palestinian children for target practice. Fundamental civil and human rights are denied.

Few services are provided. Vital ones are lacking or inadequate. Palestinian lawmakers are imprisoned for belonging to the wrong party.

Israeli democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. When Israelis vote on March 17, embedded power will emerge victorious.

Business as usual will continue.

The whole world knows. Western leaders able to change things sit on their hands and do nothing.

Washington funds Israel’s killing machine with billions of dollars annually, the latest weapons and technology, and bipartisan endorsement of its worst crimes.

Before Netanyahu left for Washington, Israel cut off power for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians twice in the dead of winter.

It warned about further outages if PA officials don’t pay millions of dollars in outstanding debt.

Impossible because Israel won’t release around $250 million in tax revenues belonging to Palestine – collective punishment for joining the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Israel punitively opened dams near Gaza’s border. Flooding caused hundreds of Palestinians to flee water levels more than three meters deep.

Many others were affected – compounding the humanitarian disaster from Israel’s summer war.

Media scoundrels ignore a catastrophe affecting hundreds of thousands of Palestinians on their own with virtually no promised aid delivered.

While Netanyahu ranted to Congress, his goon squads destroyed thousands of acres of wheat, barley and other Bedouin Rakhama village crops.

Tractors protected by killer cops uprooted privately owned Palestinian land. One resident spoke for others saying:

“This is vandalism through which they plan to displace the Bedouins from the Negev so as to create a Jewish state free of Arabs.”

“(M)y message to them is that if you turn over the land a million times, and if you demolish our homes a thousand times we will continue to live on this land and won’t allow anybody to take it from us.”

Area bedouins were given land to compensate for forced 1954 displacement. Israeli agreements aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

Bedouins live in so-called unrecognized villages – without essential services Israel refuses to provide. It wants Arabs displaced for exclusive Jewish development.

It uses various means to remove them – including declaring privately owned Palestinian land closed military zones.

On Tuesday, radicalized settlers attacked Palestinian MK Hanin Zoabi. She was speaking at Ramat Gan college near Tel Aviv.

Lunatic Israelis attacked her with bottles and milk spilled on her. She sustained moderate injuries.

Reports indicated Israel’s extremist right-wing ordered the attack. Without security intervention, she could have been killed.

On March 17, she’s running for reelection. On February 18, Israel’s High Court overturned a right-wing Knesset ruling disqualifying her from general elections.

She’s condemned for participating in the May 2010 Mavi Marmara humanitarian Gaza mission. Israeli fascists call her a traitor for supporting right over wrong.

On March 2, a B’Tselem press release headlined “Incident in which soldiers set dogs on Palestinian youth was part of official policy.”

Israeli goon squads routinely use vicious attack dogs against unarmed defenseless Palestinian civilians.

B’Tselem published video evidence “of two soldiers from the IDF dog unit filmed by another soldier after they had set dogs on a Palestinian boy.”

“The footage was first posted on former MK Michael Ben Ari’s Facebook page, but has since been removed from there.”

“The military’s official response read: ‘Upon receipt of the footage, the Commander of the Airborne and Special Training Center ordered an immediate internal inquiry into the incident.’ ”

” ‘Upon completion of this inquiry, conclusions will be drawn and the necessary steps will be taken to prevent such incidents from recurring.’ ”

So-called Israeli inquiries are whitewashes by any standard.

B’Tselem “documented and publicized this incident about two months ago,” it said.

Video evidence reveals “standard” IDF practice. Attack dogs are unleashed. They’re ordered against Palestinians. They savagely bite into human flesh until handlers order release.

Sometimes dogs maintain killer grips, said B’Tselem. Handlers have to taser them to release victims.

Previous responses to B’Tselem complaints indicate so-called inquiries focus “only on how the dogs were used, and not on whether they should have been used at all,” the organization said.

It wants all dog attacks stopped. Its only response gotten in 18 months is that this type unacceptable viciousness “is under review.”

Israel continues numerous terror tactics against Palestinians no just society would tolerate. The incident in question occurred on December 23, 2014.

Palestinians threw stones in response to a confrontation Israeli soldiers initiated.

An eyewitness said they unleashed attack dogs on Palestinian youths. One dog savagely bit 16-year-old Hamzeh Abu Hashem.

He required hospitalization. His family said he was arrested, handcuffed, removed from the hospital and taken to Ofer Prison.

B’Tselem said he was sentenced to six months imprisonment. Similar incidents occur often.

Israel uses killer attack dogs as terrorizing weapons against Palestinians for virtually any reason or none at all.

Netanyahu’s congressional rant didn’t explain. Supportive House and Senate members didn’t ask. Or express any outrage against Israeli viciousness.

One rogue state supports another.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Signalling for War: Benjamin Netanyahu before Congress

March 4th, 2015 by Binoy Kampmark

He has been busy, drunk with that transformation that afflicts Israeli politicians when touring the United States.  Deflecting and parrying while stabbing and thrusting, he should never have given an address to Congress in these circumstances.  Cold water has been poured on it from high above.  There were promises that certain members of Congress would not attend. 

Instead, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was feted a third time, equal in number with Britain’s Winston Churchill, something which will no doubt be emblazoned on some artefact. While Haaretz (Mar 3) noted that Netanyahu was the “Superman at AIPAC” he was “no Churchill.”  While lacking Churchillian, brandy fuelled gravity, Netanyahu’s puritanical address was certainly grave, a picture of the “Likud/Republican position on negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program”.[1]

The motivation for Netanyahu’s lecturing blast was one-dimensionally simple. At no point should a nuclear deal of any substance be made with Iran, run by deceptive, orientalised savages who so happen to have discovered Twitter. “Iran’s supreme leader… spews the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel… must be destroyed.”

That way lies calamity, a self-boxing suggestion spouting the idea that doom is going to arise, less from the mullahs than the frothing patriots in Israel itself.  “No deal is better than a bad deal.  Well, this is a bad deal.  It’s a very bad deal.  We’re better off without it.”  Such atavistic presumptions are not merely dangerous but undermining in the diplomatic theatre. It is far better to term it anti-diplomacy – “Do what I say, or else.”

Cold shoulders and distance from Iran is also suggested.  Leave the negotiating room with disdain. Abandon talks. Let the Iranians work out that they are unpopular, that they will have to capitulate and dissolve into fit of regime changing ecstasy.  This self-defeating point encourages Iran to go on the vigilante pathway to obtaining a nuclear weapon, and the image of a Freudian death wish comes to the fore.  We dare them, and hope they do not disappoint us.

Then came the conceptual deficiencies in the argument, what Matt Duss, head of the Foundation for Middle East termed an “Islamist Voltron Theory.”[2]  Central to it is conflation, involving the false lumping together of interests.  It follows that constellation of views that all who are against Israel’s own policies are somehow conniving together in a secret boardroom to plot the fall of the Jewish state. “When it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.”  This is also the simplifying idiocy of Bush-speak: Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda were mortal enemies but accomplices at the same time.

In the opinion of the Washington Post’s Paul Waldman, the speech “may well have done Netanyahu and his American supporters far more harm than good” (Washington Post, Mar 3).  In the views of opposition head Isaac Herzog, who is gunning for Netanyahu’s position as leader of the Zionist Union Party in the elections this month, it was futile nonsense.  While Netanyahu might ventilate, “tonight’s speech will not influence the deal or Iran’s desire for a nuclear weapon.” Cooperation with the White House, he insisted, was vital (Defense News, Mar 3).[3]

Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi, had to do the dance of diplomatic distance – acknowledge the ties with Israel while dumping on its belligerent leader.[4]  All could “agree” that “a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable to both countries.”  Israel stood “as the greatest political achievement of the 20th century,” with which the US would “always have an unshakable commitment” to.

But the Israeli prime minister’s speech was dripping with “condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing further nuclear proliferation.”  All bases, in other words, had to be covered.

The other side of this roughly minted coin of non-diplomacy is Netanyahu’s own intelligence services, who continue to provide a different story to rock the boat. It is not one the Prime Minister is keen to accept, since it portrays an Iran that is less barking mad than he would like.  This unfolded in 2012, when he warned members gathered at the UN General Assembly that Iran was some 70 per cent on the pathway to finalising “plans to build a nuclear weapon”.

The language of apocalypse was mandatory fare then, as it is now.

“By next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage.  From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.  A red line should be drawn right here, before – before Iran completes the second stage of the nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.”

That same year, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan suggested that his services, and those of the Prime Minister, were not ad idem.  This was hardly surprising – their estimates did not tally with Netanyahu’s doomsday manual.  “An attack on Iran before you are exploring all other approaches is not the right way.”[5]

The release of cables by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit revealed a continuing scepticism towards Tehran’s designs.  A report by Mossad to their South African peers in October 2012 suggested that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.” Scientists were “working on closing gaps in areas that appear legitimate such as enrichment reactors.”

Mossad’s report did not rule out the prospects that some weapons capability might, from a certain vantage point, be acquired.  (The need to satisfy superiors can be endemic.)  The greatest misunderstanding underlying the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime lies precisely in misunderstanding the dual nature of nuclear energy – hence the caution.  Undertaking such activities “will reduce the time required to produce weapons from the time the instruction is actually given.”

Noam Chomsky prefers the geopolitical implication of Netanyahu’s stonewalling behaviour.  “They have a common interest in ensuring there is no regional force that can serve as any kind of deterrent to Israeli and US violence, the major violence in the region.”[6]  Keep the fires with Iran burning, both within Israeli and US Republican camps, and the insurance policy for violence will be assured.  In President Barack Obama’s own words, “The prime minister didn’t offer any viable alternatives.”

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

us-army-arctic

US-NATO Preparing for War Against Russia: Holding Largest Arctic War Games in Decade; Training and Arming Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine By Stop NATO, March 04, 2015

Below is a list of article excerpts from various sources published on Stop NATO. Global Research does not endorse the points of view presented by these articles, most of which consist of war propaganda portraying Russia as the aggressor. The…

Foster-US-Troops-Ukraine

Despite Russian Warnings, US Will Deploy a Battalion to Ukraine by the End of the Week By Tyler Durden, March 04, 2015

“Before this week is up, we’ll be deploying a battalion… to the Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces for the fight that’s taking place,” stated US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Colonel Michael Foster said at the Center for Strategic and International…

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Netanyahu, ‘Censored Voices,’ and the False Narrative of Self-Defense By Marjorie Cohn, March 04, 2015

An Israeli tank column moves across the desert in the 1967 War. (Archive photo)

On March 3rd, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an impassioned plea to Congress to protect Israel by opposing diplomacy with Iran. Referring to “the remarkable…

Netanyahu-congress

Benjamin Netanyahu and Iran’s Nonexistent Nuclear Weapon: The Boy Who Cried Wolf By SM Gibson, March 04, 2015

In Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress today, he exclaimed, “Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.” This declaration that Iran is close to obtaining a nuclear weapon is nothing new for the…

THE KUALA LUMPUR INITIATIVE TO CRIMINALISE WAR

The Ultimate War Crime: America’s “Global War on Terrorism” By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, March 04, 2015

This text will be presented at the Kuala Lumpur International Conference on The New World Order, A Recipe for War or Peace Perdana Global Peace Foundation Putrajaya Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 9  March 2015 - Introduction The Obama administration…

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The Struggle Against the Ebola Pandemic Continues. Triggers Economic and Social Instability in West Africa By Abayomi Azikiwe, March 04, 2015

African leaders, healthcare professionals, international humanitarian organizations and others have praised the work done in battling the latest and most deadly outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). In Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the epicenters of the latest outbreak of…

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Netanyahu’s Speech to the US Congress Really Helps Obama against Iran By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, March 04, 2015

A lot of focus has been made about the tensions between US President Barack Obama’s administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The tensions pivot on Iranian-US nuclear negations and Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the US Congress…

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Berlin and Paris look East: How Close are we to a Common Economic Space? By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, March 04, 2015

The Eurasian Economic Union is a reality that may end up costing the US its “perch” in Eurasia’s western periphery as a Common Economic Space is formed. Former US national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski averred the following in 1997:  “But…

Below is a list of article excerpts from various sources published on Stop NATO.

Global Research does not endorse the points of view presented by these articles, most of which consist of war propaganda portraying Russia as the aggressor. The goal is to provide information on NATO’s ongoing war preparations.

For more information, visit Stop NATO.


 

Enhanced Partners: Ukraine To Participate In NATO Exercise

March 3, 2015

Ukraine to take part in NATO crisis management exercise

KYIV: The NATO begins Annual Crisis Management Exercise, the NATO headquarters has told an Ukrinform correspondent in Brussels.

Australia, Finland, Japan, Sweden and Ukraine will participate alongside Allies in the exercise. South Korea, New Zealand and Georgia chose to observe the exercise,” the NATO press office says.

The exercise is designed to test the North Atlantic Council procedures at the strategic political-military level…

NATO Commander: U.S. Must Train, Arm Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine

Agenda.ge
March 3, 2015

NATO envoy: ‘Essential’ for US to train, advise and equip Georgia’s national security forces

Tbilisi,Georgia: A top NATO commander believes it is “essential” the United States (US) “train, advise and equip the national security forces of Georgia” as the country and region focus on maintaining stability and security.

NATO supreme allied commander in Europe and chief of the US European Command, Philip Breedlove, said it was “essential” the US offer support to Georgia and other US partner countries in light of the ongoing instability in the region.

As US partners, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine face a different security challenge from Russia than those facing NATO allies,” he said in report presented to the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

All three countries have implemented political and economic reforms to advance democracy and integrate with Europe. However, their ability to make further progress is significantly constrained by Russian interference and pressure…”

Video: U.S. Marines Train Georgian Troops For New War

U.S. Marine Corps
February 27, 2015

Georgia Deployment Program Resolute Support Mission Rotation One

Hohenfels, Germany: U.S. Marines and soldiers and from the Republic of Georgia join forces for a pre-deployment training during a Mission Rehearsal Exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany. The month-long MRE is designed to test the capabilities of the 43RD Georgian Infantry Battalion before their deployment to Afghanistan…

Poland: U.S., Polish Forces Coordinate War Moves 

U.S. Army Europe
March 2, 2015

US, Polish forces hone interoperability skills
By 1st Sgt. Jim Wagner

DRAWSKO POMORSKIE, Poland: On a sunny, winter morning, with the last of the morning’s frost dissipating into fog, U.S. troopers and Polish infantrymen met at the edge of the airfield here to await the UH-60 Black Hawk’s arrival and the beginning of medical evacuation training.

This is the latest in weeks of training between Dragoons assigned to K Troop, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment and Polish infantrymen from 3rd Company, 1st Infantry Battalion, 12th Mechanized Brigade. The training will culminate in an upcoming live-fire exercise as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Operation Atlantic Resolve is a NATO exercise led by the U.S. to test the alliance’s interoperability with Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian military forces while demonstrating their commitment to a safe and prosperous Europe…

U.S. Decision To Arm Ukraine “99% Ready”: Saakashvili

March 2, 2015

US decision to give Ukraine defensive weapons ‘99% settled,’ says Saakashvili

The United States has “99% settled” the question of giving Ukraine defensive weaponry, former president of Georgia and current freelance adviser to the President of Ukraine Mikheil Saakashvili has told Ukrainian news broadcaster Channel 5.

“The main thing we are trying to achieve in the United States is that Ukraine receives defensive weapons,’ Saakashvili said…

U.S. To Allot $120 Million To Fuel Ukraine War

Ukrinform
March 2, 2015

U.S. to allocate $120 million to equip Ukrainian army

KYIV: The U.S. will allocate Ukraine $120 million in 2015 for training and equipping its troops.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt said this in an interview with Ukrainian television’s Inter channel, according to Espreso.TV.

“The U.S. Congress has approved the allocation of $120 million this year for training and purchasing equipment. The only question that is still being discussed is whether it should include defensive lethal weapons,” Pyatt said…

Pentagon Hosts Georgian Defense Delegation 

Ministry of Defence of Georgia
March 2, 2015

Levan Girsiashvili Held Working Visit to USA

The MoD delegation led by Deputy Defence Minister Levan Girsiashvili held two-day long working visit to the USA. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas hosted the Georgian side at the Pentagon. Within the framework of the visit, the MoD delegation also held meetings with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Todd C. Chapman and the senators.

The sides discussed progress achieved by Georgia in the scope of intensified bilateral cooperation in the field of defence at the meetings. Implementation of NATO-Georgia Substantial Package and U.S. engagement in the process was referred at the meeting. Regional security issues and existing challenges were discussed at the meeting as well…

NATO Chief: NATO’s Italian Headquarters Key To Wars In Africa, Balkans, Middle East

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
February 27, 2015

Secretary General visits NATO military headquarters in Naples

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked Allied personnel for their service and for their contribution to NATO operations and missions during his first visit to Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters in Naples on Friday (27 February 2015). “You are helping to keep our Alliance safe, and our world more secure,” he said.

The Secretary General underscored the command’s “wide range of responsibilities” and its key role in running a large number of missions and operations. He noted that Allied Joint Force Command Naples has been at the forefront of NATO’s engagement to train Iraqi security forces, protect civilians in Libya, combat terrorism in the Mediterranean, and bring stability to the Balkans

U.S. Paratroopers Held Largest Arctic War Games In Decade 

U.S. Army
February 26, 2015

Exercise Spartan Pegasus demonstrates joint military partnership
By Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Smith

Spartan Pegasus demonstrates rapid Arctic airborne insertion, mobility Paratroopers, with U.S. Army Alaska’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, await their exit as they fly inside a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during Exercise Spartan Pegasus on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

DEADHORSE, Alaska: Paratroopers, with U.S. Army Alaska’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, performed the largest U.S. airborne mission north of the Arctic Circle in more than a decade during Exercise Spartan Pegasus 15, Feb. 24.

This exercise demonstrated their unique ability to rapidly mass power on an objective in extremely cold and austere environments.

The airborne operation, spearheaded by the Spartan Brigade’s 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, or BEB, inserted nearly 150 paratroopers along with arctic-mobility equipment, including a small unit support vehicle and arctic sustainment gear.

The large-scale exercise involved intricate planning and coordination amongst several military components including U.S. Army Alaska, or USARAK, the Air Force, the Alaska National Guard, and the state of Alaska…

Ukraine Receiving Lethal Weapons From “Whole World”: Junta

Ukrinform
February 28, 2015

Ukraine receives foreign lethal weapons – NSDC

KYIV: Some countries supply lethal weapons to Ukraine.

Deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) Oleh Hladkovsky has said this at the briefing, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

“We are working with the whole world, and I may tell you, without going beyond the scope of state secret, that we receive lethal weapons from the countries, where there is no hype, where there is no impact, which we create, unfortunately, by ourselves,” he said, answering journalists’ questions whether Ukraine receives lethal weapons from some world countries…

Before this week is up, we’ll be deploying a battalion… to the Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces for the fight that’s taking place,” stated US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Colonel Michael Foster said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC on Monday. Despite earlier warnings from Russia (and claims that NATO had not agreed to any such foreign ‘boots on the ground’ action’), Sputnik News reports, Foster added, “what we’ve got laid out is six United States companies that will be training six Ukrainian companies throughout the summer.

This comes a week after PM David Cameron confirmed Britain will be sending 75 military personnel to help combat Russian military aggression.

Despite earlier reports from Russia’s NATO envoy that, as TASS reports,

NATO has taken no decisions on sending British or any other instructors to Ukraine, Russia’s Ambassador to the North Atlantic Alliance Alexander Grushko said on Monday.

“NATO has taken no decisions on sending instructors,” he told the Rossiya 24 television channel. “NATO is implementing the decisions that were taken at the political level at the Wales summit in September 2014.”

Moscow will take all measures, including military-technical, to neutralize possible threat from NATO presence in Ukraine, he added.

It seems it is happening, as Sputnik News reports,

The United States will deploy personnel by the end of this week to train the Ukrainian national guard, US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Colonel Michael Foster said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC on Monday.

“Before this week is up, we’ll be deploying a battalion minus… to the Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces for the fight that’s taking place,” Foster stated. “What we’ve got laid out is six United States companies that will be training six Ukrainian companies throughout the summer.”

The current plan is for US forces to stay six months, he said, and noted there have been discussions about how to increase the duration and the scope of the training mission.

The current channels for military training set up between Ukraine and the United States would not be used for transferring defensive lethal aid if the United States decided to provide arms to Ukraine, Foster told Sputnik on Monday.

“It would go through something separate… We would not funnel the lethal aid or arms through that [training] event, we would use a secondary method for that,” Foster said, adding that a completely separate process is preferable.

Here is the full interview with Colonel Foster: “If Russia will invade Ukraine, why would we not think they will invade the US next?”

At 14:45, Colonel Foster discusses the deployment of US troops to Ukraine…

Of course, we already knew American military boots were on the ground in east Ukraine…

But this seems like a direct aim at Putin after the war-mongery rhetoric this morning.

An Israeli tank column moves across the desert in the 1967 War. (Archive photo)

On March 3rd, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued an impassioned plea to Congress to protect Israel by opposing diplomacy with Iran. Referring to “the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States” which includes “generous military assistance and missile defense,” Netanyahu failed to mention that Israel has an arsenal of 100 or 200 nuclear weapons.

The Six-Day War

The day before he delivered that controversial address, Netanyahu expressed similar sentiments to AIPAC, Israel’s powerful U.S. lobby. He reiterated the claim that Israel acted in the 1967 Six-Day War “to defend itself.” The narrative that Israel attacked Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in self-defense, seizing the Palestinian territories in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula in 1967, has remained largely unquestioned in the public discourse. Israel relies on that narrative to continue occupying those Palestinian lands. And the powerful film “Censored Voices,” which premiered at Sundance in February, does not challenge that narrative.

But declassified high-level documents from Britain, France, Russia and the United States reveal that Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were not going to attack Israel and Israel knew it. In fact, they did not attack Israel. Instead, Israel mounted the first attack in order to decimate the Egyptian army and take the West Bank.

Censored voices uncensored

For two weeks following the Six Day War, Amos Oz and Avrahim Shapira visited Israeli kibbutzim and recorded interviews with several Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who had just returned from that war. Largely censored by the Israeli government for many years, those reels have finally been made public. “Censored Voices” features the taped voices of young IDF soldiers, as the aging, former soldiers sit silently beside the tape recorder, listening to their own voices.

The testimonies documented in the tapes reveal evidence of targeting civilians and summarily executing prisoners, which constitute war crimes. A soldier asks himself, “They’re civilians – should I kill them or not?” He replies, “I didn’t even think about it. Just kill! Kill everyone you see.” Likewise, one voice notes, “Several times we captured guys, positioned them and just killed them.” Another reveals, “In the war, we all became murderers.” Still another says, “Not only did this war not solve the state’s problems, but it complicated them in a way that’ll be very hard to solve.” One soldier likens evacuating Arab villages to what the Nazis did to Jews in Europe. As a soldier watched an Arab man being taken from his home, the soldier states, “I had an abysmal feeling that I was evil.”

In what proved to be a prescient question, one soldier asks, “Are we doomed to bomb villages every decade for defensive purposes?” Indeed, Israel justifies all of its assaults on Gaza as self-defense, even though Israel invariably attacks first, and kills overwhelming numbers of Palestinians – mostly civilians. Each time, many fewer Israelis are killed by Palestinian rockets.

Israel’s false self-defense claim

The film begins by showing a map of Israel surrounded by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, with arrows from each country aimed at Israel. The IDF soldiers felt those Arab countries posed an existential threat to Israel. “There was a feeling it would be a Holocaust,” one soldier observed. The Israeli media claimed at the time that Egypt had attacked Israel by land and by air on June 5, 1967. According to British journalist Patrick Seale, “Israel’s preparation of opinion” was “brilliantly managed,” a “remarkable exercise in psychological warfare.”

In his book, “The Six-Day War and Israeli Self-Defense: Questioning the Legal Basis for Preventive War,” published by Cambridge University Press, Ohio State University law professor John Quigley documents conversations by high government officials in Israel, the United States, Egypt, the Soviet Union, France, and Britain leading up to the Six-Day War. He draws on minutes of British cabinet meetings, a French government publication, U.S. documents in “Foreign Relations of the United States,” and Russian national archives. Those conversations make clear that Israel knew Egypt, Syria and Jordan would not and did not attack Israel, and that Israel initiated the attacks.

Egypt was the only one of the three Arab countries that had a military of any consequence. Israeli General Yitzhak Rabin told the Israeli cabinet that the Egyptian forces maintained a defensive posture, and Israeli General Meir Amit, head of Mossad (Israeli’s intelligence agency), informed U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara that Egypt was not poised to attack Israel. Both the United States and the Soviet Union urged Israel not to attack. Nevertheless, Israel’s cabinet voted on June 4 to authorize the IDF to invade Egypt.

“After the cabinet vote,” Quigley writes, “informal discussion turned to ways to make it appear that Israel was not starting a war when in fact that was precisely what it was doing.” Moshe Dayan, who would soon become Israel’s Minister of Defense, ordered military censorship, saying, “For the first twenty-four hours, we have to be the victims.” Dayan admitted in his memoirs, “We had taken the first step in the war with Egypt.” Nevertheless, Israel’s UN Ambassador Gideon Rafael reported to the Security Council that Israel had acted in self-defense.

“The hostilities were attacks by the Israeli air force on multiple Egyptian airfields, aimed at demolishing Egyptian aircraft on the ground,” according to Quigley. On June 5, the CIA told President Lyndon B. Johnson, “Israel fired the first shots today.”

Article 51 of the UN Charter authorizes states to act in collective self-defense after another member state suffers an armed attack. Although Jordan and Syria responded to the Israeli attacks on Egypt, they – and Egypt – inflicted little damage to Israel. By the afternoon of June 5, Israel “had virtually destroyed the air war capacity of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria,” Quigley notes. “The IDF achieved the ‘utter defeat’ of the Egyptian army on June 7 and 8.”

The United States empowers Israel

U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk said that U.S. officials were “angry as hell, when the Israelis launched their surprise offensive.” Yet, Quigley notes, “Israel’s gamble paid off in that the United States would not challenge Israel’s story about how the fighting started. Even though it quickly saw through the story, the White House kept its analysis to itself.”

Although Security Council resolution 242, passed in 1967, refers to “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calls for “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” Israel continues to occupy the Palestinian territories it acquired in the Six-Day War.

Israel has abandoned its claim that Egypt attacked first. Yet the international community considers that Israel acted in lawful anticipatory self-defense. Quigley explains how the UN Charter only permits the use of armed force after an armed attack on a UN member state; it does not authorize anticipatory, preventive, or preemptive self-defense.

“The UN did not condemn Israel in 1967 for its attack on Egypt,” Antonio Cassese of the University of Florence explained. Quigley attributes this to Cold War politics, as the USSR supported Egypt. “For the United States in particular, Israel’s success was a Cold War defeat for the USSR. The United States was hardly prepared to condemn Israel after it performed this service.”

The United States continues to support Israel by sending it $3 billion per year in military aid, even when Israel attacks Gaza with overwhelming firepower, as it did in the summer of 2014, killing 2,100 Palestinians (mostly civilians). Sixty-six Israeli soldiers and seven civilians were killed.

If Israel were to mount an attack on Iran, the United States would invariably support Israel against Iran and any Arab country that goes to Iran’s defense. Indeed, Netanyahu intoned to Congress, “may Israel and America always stand together.”

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her latest book is, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Previous books include: Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and co-author of Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent (with Kathleen Gilberd); and an anthology, The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse.

In Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress today, he exclaimed“Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs.” This declaration that Iran is close to obtaining a nuclear weapon is nothing new for the Prime Minister.

In 1992, Netanyahu, who was then a member of Israeli Parliament, said that Iran was only three to five years away from developing and securing nuclear arms. He also urged the United States to intervene to prevent such an occurrence from transpiring. Netanyahu stated that Iran’s race to obtain nuclear weapons needed to be “uprooted by an international front headed by the US.”

Iran did not acquire nuclear weapons within three to five years.

In his book, Fighting Terrorism — which was released in 1995 — Netanyahu wrote that Iran was “five to seven years at most” from possessing an operational nuclear facility. Seven years has come and gone, and yet Iran has still not accomplished this objective.

Netanyahu solicited the United States to become involved in Iran’s affairs once again in 1996. Speaking to the US Congress, the newly elected Prime Minister said“the international community must reinvigorate its efforts to isolate [Iran], and prevent them from acquiring atomic power.” He then added, “Only the United States can lead this vital international effort to stop the nuclearization of terrorist states. But the deadline for attaining this goal is getting extremely close.”

It has been 19 years since Netanyahu proclaimed that Iran’s goal of procuring atomic arms was “extremely close.” They still do not have these arms or even the capabilities to produce such weapons.

Netanyahu made this warning again in 2009. While speaking to a Congressional delegation visiting Israel, he complained that Iran’s “tentacles” were choking Israel. He also added, that according to “our experts”, Iran was only 1-2 years away from gaining nuclear devices.

2012’s assertion that Iran was on the cusp of becoming nuclear was possibly Netanyahu’s most hyperbolic and vehement to date. In an address to the United Nations General Assembly, he said “it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.” He also went on at great length to paint Iran as the most menacing force on the planet. Phrases such as “world’s most dangerous terrorist regime” and “driven by a lust for violence” were used by Netanyahu to describe the Iranians.

The weeks and months that Netanyahu referred to in his UN oration have passed us by, and yet Iran has still not gained these nuclear armaments.

In opposition to the multitude of claims by the MIT graduate and Israeli Prime Minister, Reuters  reported in 2012 that,

“The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran’s nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead.”

In fact, even the Mossad — Israel’s intelligence agency — contradicted and discredited Netanyahu’s claims in 2012. The intelligence group reported that Iran is “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons”according to leaked documents.

In today’s speech, the Prime Minister — who also happens to receive over90% of his campaign funding from the United States — also voiced in his address to Congress that Iran was “gobbling up all the nations.” It should be noted that Iran, a nation that is by no means a beacon of freedom, has not actually invaded any nation — unless provoked — in modern times.

Given Netanyahu’s rhetoric over the past 20 years, if Iran were ever actually moments away from “going nuclear,” how could anyone believe him?

You can watch today’s address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States Congress in its entirety below.

A Star of David spray painted at the Future House Association in Khuzaa, a community center for women and children.

As well as killing more than 2,200 Palestinians and causing huge economic and environmental damage, the Israeli military left messages on the walls of Palestinian homes they occupied along Gaza’s boundary with Israel last summer.

On 20 July, at the height of the 51-day assault, Israel launched a ground invasion into Gaza’s boundary areas that lasted fifteen days.

A massive bombing campaign reduced to rubble wide swaths of the Shujaiya district of Gaza City.

Israeli forces occupied Shujaiya homes, transforming bedrooms and kitchens into military outposts from which snipers carried out killings of Palestinian civilians. The slaying of Shujaiya resident Salem Shamaly, gunned down by an Israeli sniper while searching for his family, was caught on video.

Several miles south of Shujaiya, Israeli forces besieged and invaded the village of Khuzaa near Khan Younis. Over a twelve-day period, Israeli forces bombed mosques and homes, wiping out families taking shelter inside, and executed villagers as they fled the attacks.

Among numerous atrocities, Israeli soldiers brutally executed six resistance fighters in a home, slashing them with knives used for slaughtering chickens and firing on them with bullets and grenades, before setting the corpses ablaze.

During subsequent ceasefires, thousands of Palestinians who had fled returned to their bombed-out neighborhoods. Amid the mass destruction, numerous homes that stood after the bombing campaign were littered with evidence of the presence of Israeli soldiers. Discarded food rations, used medical supplies, sandbags and hundreds of bullet casings of various calibers were scattered about.

The following photographs were taken in August 2014.

Hebrew-language translation by Dena Shunra.

Dan Cohen is a journalist and Palestine-based correspondent for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter: @dancohen3000.

In Shujaiya, soldiers wrote “price tag” — a term used for terror attacks on Palestinians that come in response to perceived Israeli government concessions to Palestinians. Below that is a menorah, a symbol of the Jewish temple and sovereignty, and finally “Yalla Beitar” — a cheer for Beitar Jerusalem, an Israeli soccer team synonymous with racism and hooliganism.

A Star of David etched into the staircase of a home in Shujaiya.

Next to a map of the surrounding area in Shujaiya, the Hebrew-language graffiti reads (from top to bottom): “Values, Toughness, Mutuality, Striving for contact” and “Understanding the forces.”

In a child’s bedroom in Shujaiya, a map depicts the homes in the immediate vicinity. Many of the numbered homes were destroyed.

In a child’s bedroom in Shujaiya, a map of a level of a floor in the same house.

A Star of David carved into a closet door is visible as young Palestinians inspect damage to their home in Shujaiya.

A destroyed floor in a Shujaiya house where invading Israeli forces tore the floor open searching for tunnels.

In Shujaiya, Israeli soldiers picked off Palestinians through what US soldiers in Afghanistan called “murder holes.”

Afghan government security forces and affiliated paramilitary units, developed under the US occupation, are engaged in a daily, ongoing campaign of terror against the country’s civilian population, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released this week, “Today We Shall All Die.”

The puppet regime in Kabul, established by the US and NATO powers after the overthrow of the Taliban government in October 2001, presides over a web of criminalized security forces and politicized crime syndicates that oppress and plunder the population, all while drawing on a steady stream of resources from Europe and North America, HRW found.

“The administration of former President Hamid Karzai installed many powerful warlords and failed to confront others, while many others have been funded by and worked alongside international forces, further entrenching them politically into the fabric of Afghan society. In this way impunity in Afghanistan is both a domestic and foreign problem for which the solution resides not only in Kabul but in foreign capitals such as Washington, DC,”

HRW wrote.

Forces aligned with the Kabul government regularly commit a range of criminal violations of the basic rights of the population, including extra-legal killings, disappearances, extortion, robbery, rampant sexual abuse and arbitrary detentions. Money flowing into Afghanistan from US and European governments for security and logistics contracts is channeled by high-ranking Afghan officials to maintain private militias, HRW found.

“The perpetrators of these abuses are persons in positions of authority or persons who operate with their backing … they occupy positions in almost every level of government, from local militia commanders to ministerial rank,”

HRW reports.

To prepare the report, HRW interviewed some 120 members of communities across eight Afghan provinces that have been affected by the violence. Based on these interviews, HRW drew up eight case studies of leaders within the official Afghan security forces and the broader network of semi-formal militant groups that wield power in the hinterland.

One militant leader highlighted by the report, Abdul Shujoyi, was recruited as a fighter for the Afghan Security Guards (ASG) and worked directly with US occupation forces beginning from at least 2009.

Elder villagers interviewed by HRW stated that “everyone has seen [Shujoyi] with the Americans,” with the militant leader paying frequent visitings to a US facility known as Forward Operating Base (FOB) Anaconda.

Shujoyi spends “a good deal of time on the US base at Khas Orugzgan,” according to investigative work published by the Sydney Morning Herald. “Cover by US Special Forces has emboldened and protected Shujoyi,” a reporter for the Herald found on the basis of extensive interviews with local sources.

By 2011, at the instigation of US Special Forces officers who used their connections to the government to override the opposition of the local governor and tribal leaders, Shujoyi rose to command elements of the Afghan Local Police (ALP), a militia network set up by US forces occupying the country in coordination with the government in Kabul.

ALP forces under Shujoyi’s command repeatedly raided villages around Kukhtaba, robbing and murdering inhabitants, including children, in 2011 and in following years, HRW reported. Multiple accounts from villagers state that Shujoyi’s forces killed local children by stoning.

In November 2012, local residents submitted a list of 121 victims they said were killed by Shujoyi’s men since 2009, while also reporting that militants under Shujoyi’s command regularly raped villagers, and stole their motorcycles and wheat yields at gunpoint.

HRW highlighted another figure, Commander Azizullah, who served as a senior officer with the Afghan Security Guard (ASG), while it was involved in joint combat operations with US forces.

A UN report from 2010 found that Azizullah repeatedly engaged in arbitrary detention and execution of children. After joining the ALP in 2011, reports emerged that Azizullah was overseeing similar abuses, including forcible conscription of child soldiers into his militias.

A village teacher told HRW that he was arbitrarily detained and savagely beaten by ALP militiamen led by Azizullah during a 2012 raid. The ALP forces arrived in Ranger trucks accompanied by US military personnel, the teacher said.

Azizullah remained in command of a local ALP detachment as of June 2014, according to HRW.

Kandahar police chief Abdul Razziq, a man with close ties to the US military who received praise from a top US general for establishing “security” in areas under his control, encourages systematic use of torture by forces under his command, a separate UN report found.

Referring to the professional murderers and thugs surveyed in the report, HRW noted that “the Afghan government has empowered rather than apprehended them” and has done so “with the backing of the US and other international supporters.”

Indeed, what the psychopathic criminals depicted in the HRW report all have in common is their close collaboration with the US military and its special operations units. In its drive to reorganize and dominate global politics, US imperialism forges alliances everywhere, with the most depraved forces, as the necessary instruments of its global agenda of subjugation and mass murder.

Before leaving office, in the wake of the US-orchestrated power sharing agreement that placed Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah in power last fall, the Karzai government granted sweeping amnesty to state criminals, HRW reported. As under Karzai, top Afghan military, intelligence and administration officials of the Ghani regime directly carry out and supervise murder, torture and rape, HRW found.

The formal end of US combat operations in Afghanistan on December 31, 2014, has by no means halted the US-directed slaughter. US commandos continue to carry out a “secret war” throughout the country, coordinating and directly executing targeted assassinations against anyone suspected of opposing the government.

The first act of the Ghani regime’s “national unity” government was to sign off on the permanent occupation of the country by some 10,000 US troops, who will continue to enjoy full legal immunity for civilian “collateral damage” produced by their operations.

The combined net worth of the world’s billionaires has reached a new high in 2015 of $7.05 trillion, according to the latest compilation published by Forbes magazine on Monday.

There are a record 1,826 billionaires, each with an average wealth of $3.8 billion. Relative to last year, the world’s billionaires have increased their combined wealth by more than 10 percent, from $6.4 trillion in 2014, while the total number of billionaires has grown by 11 percent.

In introducing its report, Forbes noted the striking disconnect between the continued surge in the wealth of the world’s ultra-rich and the state of the world economy. “Despite plunging oil prices and a weakened euro, the ranks of the world’s wealthiest defied global economic turmoil and expanded once again,” the magazine commented.

This growth in the wealth of billionaires is bound up with the continued rise in global equity markets. The FTSE All-World Index surged to record highs last month, and US markets have continued to break records. Stock ownership is overwhelmingly concentrated in the hands of the wealthy, who have been the prime beneficiaries of “quantitative easing,” record low interest rates and other government policies.

The United States, the home of Wall Street and center of global financial capital, again has far and away the highest number of billionaires—536. Since the beginning of the so-called “economic recovery,” in 2009, some 95 percent of all income gains in the United States have gone to the top 1 percent. Meanwhile, nearly one in four children in the country lives in poverty.

At the top of the list of billionaires in the US are familiar names, including Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, whose individual wealth alone surged by $3.2 billion, to $79.2 billion. Among Americans, Gates was followed by investor Warren Buffet, the list’s biggest gainer for the year, who now has a net worth of $72.7 billion, up $14.5 billion from last year.

Further down the list, one finds individuals like hedge fund manager Steven Cohen, a personification of the essentially criminal character of American capitalism. A year ago, Cohen’s former hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, pleaded guilty to insider trading charges. Cohen himself was never charged, and he simply transferred his fortune to a new firm, Point72 Asset Management. Cohen made $1.3 billion last year, bringing his total net worth to $11.4 billion.

If categorized as a separate country, California, with 131 billionaires, would be second on the Forbes list, following only the US as a whole and China. Among the new billionaires in California are Travis Kalanick and Garett Camp, co-founders of Uber, a car-sharing service that specializes in coordinating drivers who are paid low wages, with uncertain and irregular hours. Such labor is increasingly being seen as a model for the American economy as a whole.

Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecommunications magnate, was second on the global list, with $77.1 billion. Half of Mexico’s population of 122 million people lives in poverty, defined as an income of less than about $6 a day (2,329 pesos a month). Slim’s personal fortune is roughly comparable to the combined annual income of these 60 million impoverished Mexican workers.

While Slim is the richest single individual in Latin America, the country with the largest number of billionaires in the region is Brazil, with 54. Half of Brazil’s 60 million children live in poverty.

Overall, the country with the second largest number of billionaires is China, with 213, followed by Germany, India and Russia.

China, which remains a cheap labor platform for world capitalism, is home to 71 of the 290 billionaires on the Forbes list this year, or about a quarter of the total. The richest individual in China is Wang Jianlin ($24.2 billion), a real estate magnate, followed by Jack Ma ($22.7 billion), the founder of Alibaba Group, an Internet trading company.

A surge in equity markets in China last year has benefited not only Chinese billionaires. Forbes commented, “If you invested in the companies run by billionaires on the top 20 China billionaire list, you’re tracking their wealth right into your brokerage account.” The initial public offering of Alibaba last year became an international spectacle of speculation and greed, netting global investors tens of billions in profits.

On India, Forbes commented that the country’s 90 billionaires “are riding high on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of ‘good times.’” The right-wing Hindu fundamentalist politician, elected last year, has quickly pushed through a raft of pro-business measures, while promoting the country as the world’s sweat shop.

The richest Indian is Mukesh Ambani (net worth of $21 billion), the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Limited. About 60 percent of the population in India, or 750 million people, live on less than $2 a day.

Russia has seen a significant decline in the number of billionaires, from 111 to 88, dropping from third to fifth on the overall list of countries. This is one result of the economic crisis that has engulfed the country, due to the sharp drop in oil prices and crippling economic sanctions imposed by the United States and Europe. One of the primary aims of these sanctions is to encourage a section of the Russian oligarchs, fearful of the impact on their wealth, to turn against the government of Vladimir Putin.

Certain broader comparisons are revealing. The debt that Greece owes the banks of Europe, for example, is about $90 billion. The wealth of the world’s billionaires is more than 77 times this amount.

In the United States, the city of Detroit has a debt of $6.9 billion, or one one-thousandth of the collective wealth of the world’s billionaires.

Both Greece and Detroit have been dragged through a disastrous restructuring dictated by the banks and endorsed by the entire political establishment, resulting in mass impoverishment and the decimation of living standards.

The Forbes list gives expression to the parasitic character of world capitalism as a whole. Whatever the particular sector of the economy with which their wealth is associated—finance, manufacturing, telecommunications—the fortunes of the ultra-rich are invariably tied to surging stock markets.

The concentration of such enormous sums in the hands of so few is not simply the product of abstract economic processes, but deliberate government policies, intensified since the financial crash of 2008. As the World Socialist Web Site noted at the time, the crisis was “the form in which a fundamental restructuring of the American and global economy, and the social and class relations upon which it is based, is taking place.”

Since 2009, when the policies of bank bailouts, near-zero interest rates and “quantitative easing” were fully implemented, the wealth of the world’s billionaires has nearly tripled. Led by the Obama administration in the US, the ruling class has funneled trillions of dollars into the financial markets while carrying out a relentless assault on the working class.

The universal character of these processes makes clear that what is at issue is the very nature of the existing economic order. The extraordinary growth of social inequality and the immense transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top are expressions of a bankrupt and diseased social system, capitalism. The decay and crisis of this system are producing the means for its own demise—the eruption of social conflict and class struggle on a world scale.

The petition up on WhiteHouse.gov against mandatory vaccinations — the one the White House tried to bury — has, at the time of writing this, reached well over the 100,000 signatures needed by March 6th in order to supposedly garner a response from our president’s administration.

The petition is short, sweet, and to the point:

No human being should be FORCED to be vaccinated against their will and/or personal/religious beliefs. I petition against making vaccinations of any kind mandatory. This includes forcing children to be vaccinated to attend public schools, activities, and daycare centers. This also includes adults working in the public or private sector.

The fact that this even has to be petitioned in the first place, however — that the people so fear their government would take away their basic sense of medical freedom — is a sure sign of tyranny.

According to the WhiteHouse.gov site, “A minimum number of signatures is necessary in a given amount of time in order for the petition to be reviewed by the White House, distributed to the appropriate policy officials within the Administration and receive an official response.” At the time of writing this, the petition currently has 102,206 signatures and counting with three days left to go to accrue even more. Sign it if you haven’t. Why not.

The real question is, do you think they will officially respond?

If so, what will that response be?

This government is so tyrannical… If this country was still the America founded on the Constitution and Bill of Rights and not a plasticine front for megacorporations like those scurrying under the banner of Big Pharma, it would be ashamed to even have to answer to such a charge of forcing its population to be shot up with unproven chemical cocktails.

Considering that, in the wake of the propagandized measles hysteria, states all across the country including Texas are introducing bills to take away people’s right to object to vaccines on any grounds, we have definitely long ago passed the mark founding father Benjamin Rush warned about if medical freedom was not included in the Constitution like religious freedom was.

“The Constitution of this Republic should make special provision for medical freedom. To restrict the art of healing to one class will constitute the Bastille of medical science. All such laws are un-American and despotic. … Unless we put medical freedom into the constitution the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship and force people who wish doctors and treatment of their own choice to submit to only what the dictating outfit offers.”

Melissa Melton is a co-founder of TruthstreamMedia.com. She is an experienced researcher, graphic artist and investigative journalist with a passion for liberty and a dedication to truth. Her aim is to expose the New World Order for what it is — a prison for the human soul from which we must break free.

Is your doctor on the payroll of the mega pharmaceutical companies? If you want to find out if your doctor’s aggressive push for Viagra could be stemming from financial interests, there’s a government website that can do just that.

The Open Payments Data website presented by the government reveals to you the depths to which your personal care provider could be controlled by Big Pharma’s institutions. From physicians to teaching hospitals, you can even identify the company making payments.

Is your doctor on the payroll? This is a really awesome tool to tell whether or not your current or perspective healthcare providers are hiding their vested interests.

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A motions hearing in Berrien County, Michigan on Feb. 27 resulted in the denial of imprisoned community leader Rev. Edward Pinkney bond pending the outcome of an appeal filed in an attempt to overturn his conviction on five felony forgery charges last year.

Pinkney was convicted by an all-white jury in November and he was sentenced to 30-120 months in prison on Dec. 15. He is currently housed at Marquette Correctional Facility, a 10-12 hour drive from his home in Benton Township.

He was indicted after a group of residents collected enough signatures of registered voters seeking to recall Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower. Dissatisfaction with Hightower stemmed from the poor economic conditions in the majority African American city where unemployment and poverty are widespread.

Benton Harbor is a city of approximately 10,000 people in southwest Michigan. Nearly 90 percent of the population is African American yet across the bridge in St. Joseph, the seat of the county, the city is nearly all-white and far more affluent.

According to the United States Census data for 2009-2013, over 48 percent of the residents of Benton Harbor live below the poverty line. The median income per household in Benton Harbor is $18,000 annually.

The estimated per capita income for Benton Harbor is $9,500 yearly. Due to the high rate of unemployment and home foreclosures, only 35 percent of the residents live in their own homes.

Political Implications of the Case

Pinkney, who heads the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO) in Berrien County, was charged and convicted for allegedly changing the dates on five signatures on the recall petitions. However, during the trial not one witness claimed to have seen the defendant change any dates on the petitions.

As a result of a Michigan appeals court decision the recall election was cancelled and Hightower remains in office although he is facing reelection later this year. Supporters of the recall including BANCO accused Hightower of being a surrogate of Whirlpool Corporation which is based in Benton Harbor.

During the course of the trial, Prosecutor Michael Sepic asked witnesses about their views on Whirlpool as well as questions related to the political outlook of BANCO in relationship to the multi-national firm. These questions were allowed into the court record by the presiding Judge Sterling R. Schrock.

BANCO has opposed numerous policies carried out by Benton Harbor and Berrien County officials. In 2010, a project was undertaken which appropriated the publically-owned Jean Klock Park turning it into the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course on Lake Michigan.

Two years later in 2012, Pinkney and BANCO organized the “Occupy the PGA” protest demonstrations when the senior golf tournaments were held in Benton Harbor. The recall campaign against Hightower was prompted by his refusal to support a measure that would tax corporations in order to create jobs and rehabilitate the infrastructure of the blighted and economically depressed municipality.

The city has a long and sordid history of racism and police misconduct. In 2003, people rose up in rebellion after an African American motorcyclist was chased down to his death by several law-enforcement agencies in the region.

Motions Filed in Post-Conviction Hearing

At the motions hearing on Feb. 27 the courtroom was packed with supporters of Pinkney. There were at least 30 people who waited outside the proceedings because there was no room inside.

When Pinkney entered the courtroom wearing handcuffs and prison clothes, he was given a standing ovation. A law-enforcement officer then walked over to the crowd and told them they were not allowed to disrupt the courtroom.

One supporter from Ann Arbor wanted to give Pinkney a greeting card which came back in the mail from Marquette prison. He was told by officers in the courtroom that he was not allowed to do so.

Another person, an academic from Lansing, wanted to give the BANCO leader some literature contained in a package but was not allowed to do so either. When he attempted to turn over the materials to Pinkney’s defense lawyer Tat Parish he was told again by the officers that this was not possible.

On at least two occasions, officers in the courtroom chastised members of the audience for supposedly making contact with Pinkney, who sat quietly in a chair next to his defense attorney. In addition to arguments from Atty. Parish, Mark Fancher, representing the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was in attendance as well.

The Michigan ACLU has filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Pinkney being released on bond. Parish and Fancher argued that the activist was not a flight risk or a danger to the community, yet Judge Schrock denied the motion ordering Pinkney back to Marquette prison.

Fancher argued on behalf of the Michigan ACLU citing the People v. Hall case noting in all likelihood Pinkney should not have been indicted or convicted on felony charges, but that such an offense if found guilty, would only be a misdemeanor punishable by 93 days in jail. Although the judge set an evidentiary hearing on two of the motions filed, he would not budge on setting an appeal bond for Pinkney.

In his brief Fancher stated on behalf the Michigan ACLU that

“A critical factor in the decision to grant bond is whether the appeal is substantial. In light of the Hall case, Rev. Pinkney’s likelihood of success on appeal in this case is extremely high. It is not unusual for criminal appeals to be decided two or more years after a defendant’s conviction. If bond pending appeal is not granted in this case, Rev. Pinkney will suffer irreparable harm because he will have served much more than a 93 day sentence.”

Fancher recalled how

“The ACLU represented Rev. Pinkney in a successful appeal of an order revoking his probation in People v. Pinkney, 2009…. In that case the Court of Appeals granted Rev. Pinkney’s Motion for Bond Pending Appeal. Rev. Pinkney complied with the bond terms imposed in that case and he never became a flight risk.”

Of the five motions filed, only two will be subjected to evidentiary hearings, but the immediate issue during the Fri. Feb. 27 proceedings was the attempt to have the 66-year-old released until a Michigan appeals court makes a decision on the constitutionality of his conviction. There was also a request from Parish to have Pinkney moved to a correctional facility closer to Berrien County so that his family and legal counsel can consult with him on important matters.

Judge Schrock said that it was his preference that Pinkney be moved to a closer location but that it was up to the discretion of the Michigan Department of Corrections (DOC) and that he would not issue an order to such an effect.

People attended the hearing from throughout the state of Michigan as well as Illinois. Representatives were present from numerous organizations including BANCO, the Moratorium NOW! Coalition, National Lawyers Guild, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, the People’s Tribune newspaper, and many others.

After the hearing Pinkney was taken by DOC officers back to prison. A demonstration was later held outside the Berrien County Courthouse demanding the release of Pinkney.

The evidentiary hearing on two of the motions filed is scheduled for April 14. Local and national civil rights and human rights activists are urging people to continue to build support for the BANCO leader.

African leaders, healthcare professionals, international humanitarian organizations and others have praised the work done in battling the latest and most deadly outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

In Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the epicenters of the latest outbreak of the deadly pandemic, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of cases reported. It is estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) based in Geneva, Switzerland and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States that some 9,500 people died among the 20,000 infected over the last year.

Nonetheless, even though there has been a precipitous decline in reported cases as borders re-open throughout West Africa and life is returning to some form of normalcy, experts and leaders warn that vigilance is still required. An increase in cases in Sierra Leone over the last several weeks has once again prompted concern.

In a recent statement from Geneva, it reports that

“According to WHO’s Feb. 25 Situation Report, the steep decline in case incidence in Sierra Leone from December to the end of January has halted, and transmission remains widespread. Case incidence decreased in Guinea in the week up to February 22 compared with the week before, and cases continue to arise from unknown chains of transmission. In Liberia, transmission continues at very low levels, with only one new case reported in the week up to February 22.” (World Health Organization)

Renewed Alert in Sierra Leone

Since last month there has been a new outbreak of cases in Sierra Leone of unknown origin. It is suspected that the EVD infections are being transmitted by workers in the fishing industry who have traveled inland to the capital of Freetown.

Overall says the WHO, “A total of 99 new confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) were reported in the week to 22 February. Guinea reported 35 new confirmed cases.”

A WHO summary report stresses that

“Transmission remains widespread in Sierra Leone, with 63 new confirmed cases. A spike of 20 new confirmed cases in Bombali is linked to the previously reported cluster of cases in the Aberdeen fishing community of the capital, Freetown.”

There were 14 confirmed new cases in Freetown during the same time frame, with additional infections being discovered from what is described as unknown chains of transmission in the capital and other locations. So serious is the current threat that Vice-President Samuel Sam-Sumana placed himself in quarantine after one of his security guards died from EVD on Feb. 24.

In a statement released by Sam-Sumana’s office on March 1, he says

“This virus has affected thousands of our people and has nearly brought our country to its knees. We all have a collective responsibility to break the chains of transmission by isolating the sick and reporting all known contacts, by not touching the dead … We cannot be complacent. We must work together as a nation to end Ebola now.” (Associated Press)

Liberia Reports Rapid Decline in Cases

At the same time transmissions continue at very low levels in Liberia, with only one new confirmed case reported in the seven days leading up to the week of February 22. Liberia, which has had the highest number of deaths, succeeded in bringing its number of confirmed cases to almost zero while reopening schools as well as the borders with contiguous states.

During the last week of February, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf visited the U.S. and met with Secretary of State John Kerry along with high-ranking members of Congress. She reported on developments in the fight against EVD and thanked Washington for its support.

Liberia, a longtime ally of the U.S., has served as a major partner with the Pentagon through the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Thousands of Pentagon troops were deployed to the country at the height of the outbreak many of which have now been withdrawn.

In a press release issued by a Liberian-based news agency it says

“President Johnson-Sirleaf and her delegation on Thursday, February 26 held discussions with House Democratic and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senators Lindsey Graham and Patrick Leahy of the Senate Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. The Liberian leader also met Senator Jeffery Flake and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senator Chris Coons of the Senate Subcommittee on Appropriation; Representative Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee along with ranking members including Representatives Elliott Engel, Chris Smith and Karen Baas.” (The News, March 2)

Ebola vaccine trials are continuing in Liberia

There are EVD vaccine trials also underway in Liberia where some 27,000 people may participate in a study to test the effectiveness of an experimental drug.

Front Page Africa newspaper based in the capital of Monrovia reported that

“The trial process, according to information, is being led by a Liberia-U.S. Clinical Research Partnership sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). The trial is seeking volunteers from groups at particular risk of Ebola infection, including health care workers, communities with ongoing transmission, contact tracers and members of burial teams.” (Feb. 27)

Clinical trial participants are assigned at random to one of three equally-sized groups.

Participants in one group will receive a placebo (saline), while the others will undergo a single injected dose of either the cAd3-EBOZ or the VSV-ZEBOV vaccines. The drugs were manufactured by pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and New Link/Merck, which are based in Britain, the U.S. and Canada.

There are efforts underway to assure the public in Liberia that the vaccine trials are safe and voluntary. Last year during the initial phase of the outbreak, there were accusations that the EVD pandemic was caused by a U.S.-sponsored bio-defense research program that went awry. (Article by Dr. Cyril Broderick in the Liberian Daily Observer)

Although several EVD outbreaks have been reported in Africa since 1976, originating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), then known as Zaire, the 2014-2015 pandemic has been the most virulent, widespread and long lasting. With specific reference to the ongoing trials of the vaccines which was initiated at the Redemption Hospital, a principal investigator of the Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccine in Liberia (PREVAIL), Dr. Stephen Kennedy, disclosed that he has taken the vaccine claiming the drug is safe and that no one needs to be afraid of the injections.

One issue discussed by President Johnson-Sirleaf with U.S. officials was the need to invest in medical, communications and educational infrastructure in Liberia. The West African state which was founded by former enslaved Africans in the U.S. during the early decades of the 19th century has been largely under the control of Washington for nearly a century through the control of rubber and mineral production.

The legacy of colonialism and neo-colonialism has underdeveloped Africa while European and North American states have grown wealthy as a result of the exploitation of agricultural commodities, mineral resources and labor. At present the Pentagon, the State Department and the Central Intelligence (CIA) are engaging in massive military and surveillance operations across West Africa under the guise of the so-called “war on terrorism.”

Nonetheless, instability is increasing throughout the region and only a resurgence of anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist sentiment can move the people towards genuine independence and sovereignty.

A lot of focus has been made about the tensions between US President Barack Obama’s administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The tensions pivot on Iranian-US nuclear negations and Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the US Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 3, 2015. Although there are several angels to look at the situation and frank differences do exist, the key point that should not be lost is that through his tough stance Prime Minister Netanyahu is actually providing leverage to President Obama and the US negotiating team against Iran. This is why talk about a war with Iran is beginning again in Washington, DC.

The disagreements between the Obama Administration and Netanyahu do not signal a divide between Israel and the US. The strategic relationship between Israel and the United States is still intact. Nor does the gap between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party over Netanyahu’s March 3 speech reflect divisions between Israel and the US as much as it represents divisions among the US political establishment, specifically between the realists and the neo-conservatives.

Speaking in London to the British think-tank Chatham House, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini confirmed that internal divisions and «political dynamics» are creating friction on February 24, 2015. In this context, it should not be forgotten that Israel’s parliamentary elections will be held on March17, 2015. Netanyahu is using both fear and the US Congress as a stage to give a performance for Israeli voters to make sure that his Likud Party and its political allies secure enough seats in the Knesset to form the next government with him as its prime minister.

The Argument for Sanctions: Is it About a Hidden Prize?

Although he indirectly took a slap at Benjamin Netanyahu and the Republicans, US Secretary John Kerry even brought up the option of «whacking» Iran—meaning going to war with Tehran—at the US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs hearing to review the US Department of State’s budget request on February 24, 2015. He did this while answering US Senator Roy Blunt’s question about Iran.

Kerry mentioned «whacking» Iran to calm and mitigate the criticisms against the Obama Administration’s negotiations with the Iranian government. This was clear when Kerry spoke to the warmonger Senator Lindsey Graham at the end of the session when he deliberately reversed the Republican rhetoric about a nuclear-armed Iran telling Senator Graham if negotiations did not continue that what Graham and Israel wanted to prevent would come into fruition.

Partisan politics was visible throughout the hearing. Using a ridiculous cartoon drawing of multiple cartoon bombs to claim that the US government was allowing Iran to fund Hezbollah, the Republican Senator Mark Kirk clearly was using similar rhetoric as Netanyahu by claiming that the interim agreement with Iran was a form of defeatist appeasement. Senator Kirk also tried to undermine the lead US negotiator, US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, too.

Pausing and choosing his words carefully, Secretary Kerry also made the following statement about Washington’s negotiations with Tehran: «Anybody running around right now jumping in to say, ‘Well we don’t like the deal,’ or this or that, doesn’t know what the deal [with Iran] is and there is no deal yet. And I caution people to wait and see what these negotiations produce.»

The continuation of the anti-Iran sanctions regime is a key feature of the foreign policy divisions in the Washington Beltway about negotiations with Iran. It was during the course of the exchange between Kirk and Kerry on maintaining the sanctions regime on Iran that John Kerry would mention Prime Minister Netanyahu directly. Secretary Kerry would point out to Senator Kirk that Netanyahu was against the Obama Administration’s sanctions approach, but hitherto has been arguing for the sanctions to be kept in place against the Iranian economy.

In part, the temptation to somehow seize the immense amount of Iranian financial assets and funds that have been frozen due to the anti-Iran sanctions might be driving a faction of the opponents of the nuclear negotiations. Kerry told the US Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs that Iran has well over one hundred billion US dollars that have been frozen that Tehran cannot touch and that since 2012 the US has denied Iran access to two hundred billion in lost exports and funds «held abroad in restricted accounts.»

To some extent, Netanyahu could be serving US financial interests more than Israeli interests. He and much of the Republican Party share the same election donors. «More than half the people who gave money to Netanyahu’s re-election campaign are Americans who’ve also donated to the Romney campaign or the Republican Party in the United States,» according to an article published by McClatchey on November 1, 2012. [1] McClatchey also reveals the following important points:

• According to records published by Israel’s State Comptroller office, Netanyahu has received donations from 47 individuals. Only one of them was Israeli, and 42 were American. By cross-checking public records in the United States with Netanyahu’s list, McClatchy found that 28 of the American donors to Netanyahu also gave to Romney, the Republican Party or both. Only two gave to Democrats, one of whom donated to President Barack Obama.

• In interviews, Netanyahu’s representatives have stressed that he isn’t interested in playing partisan politics in the United States. However, his list of donors shows only two families who gave to both the Democratic Party and Netanyahu. [2]

Aside from ideological posturing and a strategy to gain maximum concessions from Tehran, the financial interests that both Netanyahu and the Republicans represent may want to use the anti-Iran sanctions regime to annually siphon about twenty to forty billion dollars (US) from Iran.

Obama’s Authorization for the Use of Military Force Request: For DAESH or Iran?

Although the anti-Iran sanctions may now be viewed as a means of plundering Iranian wealth for Wall Street, they are also a form of pressure or coercion that is being used alongside the military threat of a US and Israeli war against the Iranians.

Netanyahu’s warmongering is psychologically and politically assisting this push to maximize the possible concessions that Tehran makes to Washington. His hawkish posturing gives the Obama Administration leverage to make more demands from the Iranian side. In one way or another, Netanyahu and the Republicans are playing the role of the bad cops while the Obama Administration is paying the role of the good cops with Iran.

At the end of the day, the US and Israel are aligned and threatening Iran. Both the US and Israel are on a war footing and uneasy as they realize that the strategic equation in the Middle East is about to see major changes to the benefit of Iran and its regional allies in the Resistance Bloc or Axis of Resistance. [3] It is in this context that Israel’s Channel 2 has quoted an unnamed European official as saying that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will allow Israel to use it airspace to launch a military attack on Iran—ridiculously in exchange for «progress» in the bogus Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. [4] It is also in this context that Turkey intervened in Syria, using the pretext of relocating the tomb of Suleiman Shah on February 21, 2015, as a means to normalize and reserve a possible military role for Turkey inside Syria should a regional war be ignited. [5]

Obama is silently holding a big stick over Iran. Under the pretext of fighting DAESH, first in Iraq and then in Syria, the Obama Administration has asked the US Congress to give it the authorization for the use of military force in the Middle East. The Pentagon has already marshaled a large military contingent and used the cover of fighting DAESH in Iraq to begin illegal military operations inside Syria. [6] The authorization to use military force from the US Congress will give the Obama Administration flexibility to redirect the Pentagon forces that the US government has amassed in the Middle East and use them to threaten Iran and Syria with war.

NOTES

-
[1] Sheera Frenkel, «Mitt Romney, Benjamin Netanyahu share donors as well as friendship,» McClatchy, November 1, 2012.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, «Iran’s Golan ‘Third Front’ and the Border Clashes between Israel and Hezbollah,» Strategic Culture Foundation, February 25, 2015.
[4] «Report: Saudis might help Israel attack Iran in exchange for progress in peace process,» Jerusalem Post, February 24, 2015.
[5] Leo Benedictus, «Why did Turkey invade Syria to dig up the grave of Suleyman Shah?» Guardian, February 23, 2015.
[6] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, «Fighting ISIL is a Smokescreen for US Mobilization against Syria and Iran,» Strategic Culture Foundation, September 26, 2014.
This article was originally published by the Strategic Culture Foundation on March 3, 2015.

The Eurasian Economic Union is a reality that may end up costing the US its “perch” in Eurasia’s western periphery as a Common Economic Space is formed.

Former US national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski averred the following in 1997: “But if the middle space rebuffs the West, becomes an assertive single entity, and either gains control over the South or forms an alliance with the major Eastern actor, then America’s primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically. The same would be the case if the two major Eastern players were somehow to unite.”

This was a clear warning to the elites in the Washington Beltway and Wall Street. Camouflaged behind thinly veiled liberal and academic jargon, what Dr. Brzezinski was saying is that if the Russian Federation and the post-Soviet space manage to repulse or push back Western domination — meaning some combination of US and European Union tutelage — and manage to reorganize themselves within some type of confederacy or supranational bloc, either gaining influence in the Middle East and Central Asia or form an alliance with China that Washington’s influence in Eurasia would be finished.
Top officials from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Belarus take part in a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union in Astana. (Reuters/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin)

Top officials from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Belarus take part in a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union in Astana. (Reuters/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Kremlin)

Everything that Brzezinski warned Washington to prevent is in motion. The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) — simply called the Eurasian Union — has been formed by Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. Kyrgyzstan will be acceding into the Eurasian Union as an EEU member, and Tajikistan is considering joining it too. The Kremlin and the EEU are actively looking for new partners too. Countries outside the post-Soviet space, such as Syria, are even interested in joining the EEU and the Russian-led bloc has already signed an important trade agreement with the Arab juggernaut Egypt. In Southeast Asia, negotiations with Hanoi have also been completed and Vietnam is scheduled next to sign an agreement with the EEU sometime in 2015.

 

Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski (Reuters/Jim Young)Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski (Reuters/Jim Young) 

 

The “Middle Space” is clearly resurgent. Turkey is looking towards a Eurasian alternative. The Turk Stream natural gas pipeline deal between Ankara and Moscow has put Washington and the European Commission on alert. Following the energy and trade agreements with Turkey, Russia renewed its military ties with Iran and has subsequently offered Tehran the Antey-2500 — Tehran alongside Moscow was a key player that prevented an open Pentagon war from being launched on Syria in 2013. Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and his Iranian counterpart, Brigadier-General Dehghan, publicly signed agreements in Iran to renew Russo-Iranian military cooperation on January 20, 2015. From Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria to Yemen and Iraq, Russian influence is growing in the Middle East (i.e. “the South”).

In Latin America, from Argentina and Brazil to Nicaragua and Venezuela, Russian influence also is rising. The Latin American regional tour last year by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the one this year by Shoigu have both included military cooperation talks and led to speculation about the erection of a network of Russian signals, naval, and air bases in the area. Moreover, the increase in Russian influence and Washington’s declining weight inside Latin America have both been factors for Washington’s rapprochement with the Cubans. Moscow’s influence was present even on the eve of a historic visit to Cuba by a delegation from the US Congress when the Russian naval ship Viktor Leonov, an intelligence and signals vessel, docked in Havana on January 20, 2015.

Both the “Middle Space” and the “Middle Kingdom” (Zhongguo/China) joined forces long ago. This happened before the formation of the EEU or the EuroMaidan coup in Ukraine. Moscow and part of the post-Soviet space began building an alliance with China (i.e. “the major Eastern actor”) at the bilateral or multilateral levels in the late-1990s. This has begun blossoming. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which was formed out of the Shanghai Five in 2001, is proof of this. The mega Sino-Russian natural gas deal is merely the fruits of this alliance and the coming together of the “Middle Space” and the “Middle Kingdom.”

Preventing Eurasian integration: Attempts to cordon the “Middle Space”

Without Russia, Europe is incomplete by any means or calculation. The Russian Federation is in both demographic and territorial terms the largest European country. There is no question about it either that Moscow is a major political, socioeconomic and cultural force in European affairs that cannot be overlooked from the Baltic Sea to the Balkans and the Black Sea.

Economically, Russia is an important export and import market for the EU and its members. This is why the EU is suffering from the US-engineered economic sanctions that have been imposed against Russia as a form of economic warfare. It is in the context of Russia’s economic importance to the economies of the EU that US Vice-President Joseph Biden candidly even admitted during a lecture at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University that Washington had to pressure the EU into accepting the anti-Russian sanctions regime on October 2, 2014.

Brzezinski’s warning has another angle to it too, which involves Washington’s EU and NATO partners. “Finally, any ejection of America by its Western partners from its perch on the western periphery would automatically spell the end of America’s participation in the game on the Eurasian chessboard, even though that would probably also mean the eventual subordination of the western extremity to a revived player occupying the middle space,” he warns. What the former US official means is that if the US-aligned major European powers (i.e. France and Germany, or the EU collectively) reject Washington’s influence (maybe even withdraw from NATO), the US would lose its western perch in Eurasia. Brzezinski warns that an assertive Russia — probably alongside its Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) allies — would instead replace US influence.

 

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd R) presents his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro with a book dedicated to late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a meeting in Brasilia July 16, 2014. (Reuters/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin)Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (2nd R) presents his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro with a book dedicated to late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez during a meeting in Brasilia July 16, 2014. (Reuters/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin) 

 

The reason that unity in the post-Soviet space and any political and economic convergences between the EU and the “Middle Space” are a threat to Washington can be analyzed by using the standpoint and lexicon of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Under 32 Smolenskaya-Sennaya Square’s framework, Eurasia is partitioned into three zones or regions: the Euro-Atlantic (western periphery), Euro-Asia (central area), and the Asia-Pacific (eastern periphery).Hence, the explanation for the term “Middle Space” used by Brzezinski to describe the post-Soviet space.

In organic terms, it is the central Euro-Asia region that can unite and integrate both the western and eastern Eurasian peripheries. Russia and the EEU want to ultimately establish a free trade zone encompassing the entire EU and EEU — a “Common Economic Space.” In the words of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the EEU “is designed to serve as an effective link between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.”

It is Russia and the EEU acting as a bridge between the two Eurasian peripheries that threatens Washington’s plans to integrate the Euro-Atlantic and Asia-Pacific zones with itself.

The Common Economic space vs. the TTIP and the TPP

The US wants to be the center of gravity in Eurasia. It fears that the EU could eventually gravitate towards the “Middle Space” and integrate with Russia and the EEU.

The tensions that Washington is deliberately stoking in Europe are an attempt to estrange the EU from Moscow as a means of allowing the continuation of US empire-building in Eurasia — this is Washington’s version of a modern “Great Game.” Even Brzezinski’s warning about the resurgence of the “Middle Space” (i.e. Russia and the post-Soviet space) is about the area unifying to become “an assertive single entity” and not even an “aggressive” entity that is a military threat to world peace.

Washington wants the western periphery (Euro-Atlantic) and eastern periphery (Asia-Pacific) to integrate with it through the Trans-Atlantic and Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The EEU and any thoughts of a Common Economic Space are a threat to the consolidation and merger of these regions with the US. This is why the US cannot tolerate an independent and assertive “Middle Space” or, for that matter, an independent and assertive “Middle Kingdom.” This is why both Russia and China are being demonized and targeted: Moscow is being targeted via the instability the US has helped author in Ukraine (as well as through a new wave of Russophobia) whereas Beijing is being targeted through Washington’s so-called military “Pivot to Asia.” This has taken place while the US has destabilized the Middle East (i.e. the South).

While Brussels had its own reasons for accelerating TTIP negotiations with Washington, US fears of Eurasian integration hastened the sense of urgency Washington felt in concluding TTIP negotiations to solidify its influence over the EU. The sanctions (economic warfare) against the Russian economy, the drop in energy prices prompted by the flooding of oil markets, and the drop in the value of the Russian ruble are part of this Rubik’s Cube too.

The Common Economic Space is an aspiration for a Eurasian-wide trade zone. As an ambition Moscow and its EEU partners see the Common Economic Space as a framework to gradually incorporate other Eurasian regions together. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Nebenzya confirmed all this to the Tass news agency in an interview published on December 31, 2014. Nebenzya told Tass that Moscow views the long-term goal of EU-EEU cooperation “as the basis of a common economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific” in Eurasia.

Not only would any trade agreement between the EU and the EEU be the basis for the Common Economic Space, it would be the embryo for a broader Eurasian-wide trade zone that has the potential to include the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). A compartmentalized supranational bloc could emerge.

From a Russian perspective, instead of prioritizing the TTIP with the US, it makes more sense for the EU to look at creating the framework for cooperation with the EEU. This sentiment has been reflected by Moscow’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, who told the EU Observer in an interview published on January 2 that Moscow wanted to start contacts between the EU and EEU as soon as possible and that the EU sanctions on Russia should not prevent dialogue and contact between the two blocs. “We might think of a free trade zone encompassing all of the interested parties in Eurasia,” Ambassador Chizhov explained as he described the “Russia-led bloc as a better partner for the EU than the US” during the interview.

As Chizhov rhetorically asks, the question that the EU needs to think over is thus: “Do you believe it is wise to spend so much political energy on a free trade zone with the USA while you have more natural partners at your side, closer to home?”

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses during the 51st Munich Security Conference at the 'Bayerischer Hof' hotel in Munich February 7, 2015. (Reuters/Michael Dalder)German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses during the 51st Munich Security Conference at the ‘Bayerischer Hof’ hotel in Munich February 7, 2015. (Reuters/Michael Dalder)

Is the EU waking up?

Ambassador Chizov’s question has not fallen on deaf ears. The same questions are being asked in various EU capitals. The leaders of EU powers are realizing that the US is instigating a conflict with the Russians that Washington wants them to fight and waste resources on that would weaken the EU and Moscow to Washington’s benefit. Smaller EU powers have been vocal about this while the larger ones have been slower in realizing it.

Greece refused to fall in line when the EU released a statement blaming Russia for the eruption of the fighting in the East Ukrainian city of Mariupol on January 24, 2015. Athens refused to blame Moscow and complained that the EU acted undemocratically by not even following its own procedures by asking for the consent of all members before releasing a statement on behalf of the collective. Instead of confrontation with Russia, the Greek government wants closer ties with Moscow.

President Putin’s February 2015 visit to Budapest ruffled feathers in the EU and US. Hungary has been vocal in its opposition to the EU sanctions against Russia. This has outraged some in the Washington Beltway and European Commission. A diplomatic row even started between Budapest and Washington when US Senator John McCain called Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban a “neo-fascist dictator” because Hungary refused to cut ties with Russia in 2014.

While there has been speculation that Hungary is being used as the “good cop” to bargain with Moscow, the US has even gone as far as banning members of the Hungarian government from entering US territory on October 20, 2014. Although the EU would react collectively if any country slapped diplomatic sanctions on one of its members, Brussels effectively did not respond to Washington.

Cypriot Present Nicos Anastasiades has joined the revolt against Brussels and Washington by visiting Moscow on February 25, 2015. Nicosia and Moscow even signed an agreement allowing the Russian Navy to use Cypriot ports.

Germany and France — once mocked as “old Europe” by Pentagon honcho Donald Rumsfeld — are having second thoughts too. Franco-German differences with the US emerged at the Munich Security Conference at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel when German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuffed members of the US and British delegations about a military solution for Ukraine. In this context, Paris and Berlin rehashed the Kremlin’s original peace proposal for East Ukraine and began diplomatic talks in Moscow.

Merkel casually also mentioned she supported a Common Economic Space too: a sign of things to come?

 This article was originally published by RT on March 2, 2014.

Gitmo in Chicago

March 3rd, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

What London’s Guardian reported on Tuesday is shocking, disturbing, yet unsurprising given the scourge of neocon fascist governance in America.

Washington’s war on humanity at home and abroad should be a wakeup call for everyone. Wars without end rage against one nation after another.

Independent ones are targeted for regime change. Washington’s goal is total colonization of planet earth, stealing its resources and enslaving its people.

US cities are virtual battlegrounds like never before. America is unsafe to live in.

Washington provides police nationwide with enormous amounts of combat weapons, related equipment and supplies – making them virtual military units.

The line between cop and combat ready soldier is less clear than ever in US history. Militarized police wage war on freedom. It’s a hair’s breadth from disappearing altogether.

When cities become battlegrounds, ordinary people risk being treated like enemies – losing all constitutional protections mattering most.

The alarming state of today’s America should scare everyone. Fundamental rights don’t matter. Anyone can be targeted, arrested and disappeared. Perhaps never heard from again.

This writer’s home city Chicago may be ground zero for some of the most disturbing practices. London’s Guardian broke the story demanding world coverage and outrage.

On February 24, it headlined ”The disappeared: Chicago police detain Americans at abuse-laden ‘black site.’ ”

It’s an “off-the-books (Homan Square) interrogation compound,” said the Guardian – some miles west from where this writer lives.

A “nondescript warehouse (is) the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.” People are lawlessly arrested, detained, denied access to lawyers up to 24 hours, and tortured during secret interrogations.

Detainees are kept off “official booking databases. Some young as 15 are painfully shackled for long periods, beaten and terrorized.

Homan Square is in Chicago’s west side North Lawndale district. It’s home to the original 1905 Sears, Roebuck and Co. property.

Many of its buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Perhaps Gitmo in America will be included one day. More on the Guardian’s report below.

Chicago police have a longstanding reputation for brutality. They have virtual carte blanche authority to operate with impunity.

They take full advantage. From 1972 – 1991, detective Jon Burge got away with torturing over 200 detainees. Instead of dismissal and prosecution, he was promoted.

Dozens of victims complained. Suits followed. Finally, after 21 abusive years, he was fired.

Community outrage stopped a March 1993 Fraternal Order of Police plan to honor him with a float in Chicago’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

On October 21, 2008, he was indicted on two counts of obstructing justice and one count of perjury. On June 28, 2010, he was convicted on all counts. He’s the exception proving  the rule.

It took decades for partial justice. Few police are prosecuted –  almost never one of high rank. Burge rose from street cop to detective commander. Over two decades, he got 13 commendations and a Justice Department letter of praise.

His crimes were well-known. A code of silence hid them. He was honored until his luck ran out. He got off mildly.

He received four and half years in prison. His crimes and similar ones committed by other rogue cops should never have been allowed in the first place.

This writer personally knows a Chicago cop torture victim. He committed no crimes. Yet he was lawlessly arrested, detained and brutalized for being Black in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He remains justifiably outraged. Rogue cops weren’t punished. Nor their superiors. During Chicago’s May 2012 NATO summit, Chicago police viciously assaulted peaceful protesters.

Dozens were hurt. Victims had head injuries, broken bones and teeth knocked out. Many required hospitalization.

In Black and Latino communities, police brutality rages. Cracked skulls, arrests and brutality in detention reflect longstanding practice.

Chicago is a mini-police state. Last year, a Chicago organization called We Charge Genocide produced a report charging city police with “systematic horrific & punitive police violence against Black and Brown youths on a daily basis.”

ACLU human rights program director Jamil Dakwar says

“(i)t’s time for systemic policing reforms and effective oversight that make sure law enforcement agencies treat all citizens with equal respect and hold officers accountable when they cross the line.”

Chicago police lie saying

“CPD abides by all laws, rules and guidelines pertaining to any interviews of suspects or witnesses, at Homan Square or any other CPD facility.”

“If lawyers have a client detained at Homan Square, just like any other facility, they are allowed to speak to and visit them.”

“It also houses CPD’s Evidence Recovered Property Section, where the public is able to claim inventoried property.”

The Guardian report explained systematic abuse of power and denial of fundamental constitutional rights.

“At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square (so-called) ‘interview room’ and later pronounced dead,” it said.

Brian Jacob Church was one of the 2012 NATO Three protesters. He was arrested and held incommunicado at Homan Square for nearly 24 hours before being booked at local police station.

He commented to the Guardian as follows, saying:

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place. It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East.”

“The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

“…I wasn’t allowed to make any contact with anybody.”

He was painfully shackled for about 17 hours.

“I had essentially figured, ‘All right, well, they disappeared us and so we’re probably never going to see the light of day again.”

Lawyers seeking access to Homan Square are routinely turned away. According to Chicago attorney Julia Bartmes:

“It’s sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits, this place – if you can’t find a client in the system, odds are they’re” at Homan.

Civil rights attorney Flint Taylor accused Chicago police of Fifth and Sixth Amendment violations.

He omitted 8th Amendment prohibitions against “cruel and unusual punishments.”

He said Homan Square reflects

“an institutionalization of the practice that dates back more than 40 years, of violating a suspect or witness’ rights to a lawyer and not to be physically or otherwise coerced into giving a statement.”

When a Guardian reporter tried gaining access to Homan, a guard “refused any entrance and would not answer questions,” the paper said.

“This is a secure facility. You’re not even supposed to be standing here,” the guard said.

Detainees taken there “just disappear,” said criminal defense attorney Anthony Hill.

Their whereabouts is unknown “until they show up at a district for charging or are just released back out on the street.”

Chicago police guidelines prohibit Homan Square practices. A “Processing Persons Under Department Control” directive says the following:

“(I)nvestigation or interrogation of an arrestee will not delay the booking process.”

Anyone arrested must be allowed

“a reasonable number of telephone calls (to attorneys straightaway) after their arrival at the first place of custody.”

“Arrestee and In-Custody Communications (must) allow visitation by attorneys.”

According to the Guardian:

“The combination of holding clients for long periods, while concealing their whereabouts and denying access to a lawyer, struck legal experts as a throwback to the worst excesses of Chicago police abuse, with a post-9/11 feel to it.”

Former Chicago public defender/current Valparaiso University Law School dean Andrea Lyon calls Homan Square “analogous to the CIA’s black sites,”

Chicago Justice Project’s Tracy Siska says

“(t)he real danger in allowing practices like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib is the fact that they always creep into other aspects.”

“They creep into domestic law enforcement, either with weaponry like with the militarization of police, or interrogation practices.”

“That’s how we ended up with a black site in Chicago.”

A follow-up February 26 Guardian report said city police didn’t respond to its questions.

What’s ongoing in Chicago likely happens elsewhere across America. US jails, detention facilities and prisons are notoriously brutal.

An earlier article discussed a 2005 UK Deborah Davis Channel 4 report titled “Torture, Inc., America’s Brutal Prisons.”

It explained prisoners brutally shocked with cattle prods, burned by toxic chemicals, harmed by stun guns, beaten, stripped naked and abused in various other ways.

Sound familiar, it asked? Welcome to Guantanamo in America..

Videos Britain’s Channel 4 aired made disturbing viewing. They show guards yelling and abusing prisoners.

“(O)rdering them to lie on the ground and crawl. (If not) fast enough, a guard kicks (them) or stomps on (their) back.”

One man screamed when a dog bit his lower leg. Another had his ankle broken, couldn’t crawl fast enough, and was painfully taserred on his buttocks.

Hours later, his body still shook uncontrollably. Images revealed reflected Gitmo or Abu Ghraib practices in US prisons.

Horrifying evidence of America’s brutality. Commonplace abroad and at home at the federal, state and local levels.

Chicago is a microcosm of systemic US ruthlessness. Torture without accountability is the clearest example.

Sadism writ large best explains it. Nothing in prospect suggests change.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can b reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

A much-ignored huge news report from Reuters on Friday, February 27th, was headlined “Chinese diplomat tells West to consider Russia’s security concerns over Ukraine.”

China’s Ambassador to Belgium (which has the capital of the EU) said that the “nature and root cause” of the Ukrainian conflict is “the West,” and that “The West should abandon the zero-sum mentality, and take the real security concerns of Russia into consideration.”

By “real security concerns,” he is clearly referring to NATO’s expansion right up to Russia’s border, and America’s surrounding Russia with U.S. military bases, now inceasingly including the most strategic of Russia’s bordering countries: Ukraine.

In other words, this diplomat says: “the West” has a “zero-sum” attitude toward Russia, instead of seeking to move forward with an approach in which neither side among the nuclear superpowers benefits at the other’s expense — the entire world moves forward together.

This is a direct criticism of Barack Obama, and of all of the pro-Obama, anti-Putin, EU leaders.

It’s also an implicit repudiation of Obama’s having repeatedly referred to the U.S. as “the one indispensable nation.” (Another example of that phrase is here.) Obama keeps saying: every other nation, except the U.S., is “dispensable.” He clearly thinks that Russia is.

That’s not merely an insult: it’s an act of provocation; it is virtually asking for a fight. And all for what? For whose nuclear char?

This criticism of the aggressive nationalist Obama does not come from China’s top leadership, but it would not have come at all if they had not approved of it in advance.

China thus now tells Obama: Stop it. Stop it in word, and in deed.

Implicitly, China is also telling Obama: China is not dispensable, either. In fact, the entire mentality, which Obama embodies, is not just callous and insulting; it’s dangerous.

Like President G.W. Bush, Obama is increasingly an embarassment to his country.

Shortly before Obama’s coup in Ukraine, Gallup International issued, on 30 December 2013, a poll of 65 countries, which found that:

“The US was the overwhelming choice (24% of respondents) for the country that represents the greatest threat to peace in the world today. This was followed by Pakistan (8%), China (6%), North Korea, Israel and Iran (5%). Respondents in Russia (54%), China (49%) and Bosnia (49%) were the most fearful of the US as a threat.”

More details of that poll were reported here.

When the U.S. Government is hankering for a war with the only other nuclear superpower, such findings certainly make sense. And the 54% of Russians who cited the U.S. as the greatest threat to peace would probably be far higher today. But Gallup International didn’t publish any update on that poll-question, perhaps because the original financial backer (which was unnamed) wouldn’t fund it.

Already, the finding was bad enough. But Obama keeps calling the U.S. “the one indispensable nation in the world.” He keeps telling other nations: you are dispensable. He keeps rubbing it in — not the fact, but his own nationalism.

It reminds some people of Mussolini, and of Hitler. But Obama pretends to be a democrat, not a fascist.

Maybe he’s just a bigger liar than they were. Maybe that’s what he is so arrogant about: his terrific ability to deceive.

After all, he won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for it: for lying. For misrepresenting himself as being progressive, instead of regressive.

Well, now: anyone who doesn’t know the reality is deluded by propaganda — and it’s not coming from Russia, nor from China. It’s coming from their own nation’s ‘news’ media.

Which heads-of-state want to be publicly associated with a foreign leader like that, one who tells the given leader’s public: your nation is dispensable. Fools. Only fools.

Obama is encouraging other countries to oppose the United States.

Wow. He’s the black George W. Bush.

On the eve of a provocative speech to the US Congress by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama administration officials bent over backwards to proclaim their commitment to support and defend the state of Israel.

Netanyahu organized the speech in a deal with Republican House Speaker John Boehner without informing the White House, an unprecedented violation of international protocol. The Israeli prime minister’s aim in delivering the address, scheduled for Tuesday morning, is, on the one hand, to scuttle any negotiated agreement over Iran’s nuclear program, and, on the other, to raise his own flagging fortunes in an Israeli election to take place in little more than two weeks.

On the eve of his speech to a joint session of Congress, Netanyahu spoke to the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the premier pro-Israel lobby in the US. Netanyahu declared that his impending speech before Congress “is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds.” He added, “I have great respect for both.”

This is entirely disingenuous. Netanyahu is deliberately provoking Obama by delivering a speech against his administration’s express wishes. He is betting that a confrontation with a US president who is widely unpopular in Israel will serve to mobilize his right-wing base in the upcoming election.

Recent polls have shown Netanyahu either in a dead heat with or trailing his main opponent, the Labor Party’s Isaac Herzog. The latter has condemned Netanyahu’s decision to address the US Congress as “endangering US support for Israel.”

Netanyahu told AIPAC, “The purpose of my speech is to speak up about a potential deal with Iran that could threaten Israel’s future.” Before flying to the US, the Israeli prime minister self-servingly described his controversial trip as a “fateful, even historic, mission.”

The Israeli government has long held the position that any deal with Iran on its nuclear program is unacceptable. It has persistently pushed to draw the US into a military confrontation with Iran.

While both Tel Aviv and Washington have charged that Iran has used its nuclear program to pursue the development of nuclear weapons, Tehran has insisted that it is directed solely toward peaceful purposes.

Iran and the P5+1 group—comprised of the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany—are set to resume negotiations this week in Switzerland. The outlines appear to be taking shape of a potential deal that would freeze Iran’s nuclear enrichment for a lengthy period—according to some reports, for ten years—in exchange for the lifting of punishing economic sanctions imposed upon the country.

Iranian Prime Minister Javad Zarif stated Monday that any deal would be contingent on the swift ending of sanctions. “If they want an agreement, sanctions must go,” he said. “We believe all sanctions must be lifted.”

Ultimately, under the deal, Iran’s nuclear status would be normalized based on its status as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Israel, which has refused to sign the treaty, rejects any such normalization. With its arsenal of hundreds of warheads, the Zionist state is determined to maintain its monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East, not as a means of self-defense, but as a military club to impose its will on neighboring countries.

While the Netanyahu government and the Zionist lobby continuously insist that Tehran is bent on Israel’s annihilation, it is Israel that constantly threatens unilateral military aggression against Iran, while using assassinations and other covert operations to destabilize its government.

The Israeli press reported Monday that Washington and Tel Aviv have ceased sharing intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program. One of the fears expressed by the Obama administration is that Netanyahu will use his speech to Congress to disclose classified information about the talks in Switzerland in an attempt to derail any agreement. Last month, US officials charged that the Israeli regime had leaked such information to the Israeli media for the same purpose.

Netanyahu is also expected to use his appearance before the US Congress to lend support to two bills that would impose further US sanctions upon Iran and give Congress the power to block the treaty. Obama has vowed to veto the measures.

With the controversy over Netanyahu’s speech being described as a low point in US-Israeli relations, the Obama administration bent over backwards on the eve of the address to affirm its unwavering commitment to Israel’s security. It also renewed threats against Iran.

Washington provides Israel with $3.1 billion in annual aid, most of it military, and gives Tel Aviv virtually unconditional support in the United Nations and other international bodies.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Monday that a nuclear deal with Iran would not preclude new rounds of sanctions or even a US military attack on the country. In the event Tehran was deemed to be out of compliance with the agreement, he said, “We can add additional sanctions to the mix if we feel like that would be successful.” He added, “We’ll even have a military option that continues to be available to the president.”

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, was dispatched to the AIPAC conference Monday to deliver a speech implicitly threatening US military action against Iran. “Talks, no talks, agreement, no agreement, the United States will take any steps that are necessary to protect our national security and that of our closest ally,” she said. “We believe that diplomacy is the preferred route to secure our shared aim, but if it should fail, we know the stakes of a nuclear-armed Iran as well as everyone here. We will not let it happen.” Power’s bellicose remarks won a standing ovation from the right-wing Zionist audience.

Earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered remarks at the annual session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in which he denounced the body for its “obsession with Israel” and an “unbalanced focus” on the Israeli government’s wars, occupations and apartheid policies.

Kerry’s defense of Israel came just as the Palestine Liberation Organization announced that it will bring its first complaint over Israeli war crimes to the International Criminal Court on April 1. The case will deal with last summer’s Israeli war on Gaza, which claimed the lives of 2,200 Palestinians, most of them civilians. The PLO is also planning to sue over Israel’s illegal building of settlements in the occupied territories.

Both Washington and Tel Aviv vehemently opposed the move by the PLO in January to join the ICC. In retaliation, Israel has withheld millions of dollars in monthly taxes that it collects for the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority, throwing it into deep financial crisis.

While much has been made of a supposed Democratic Party boycott of Netanyahu’s speech, as of late Monday, just 30 members of the House and two senators were reportedly planning to skip the speech—out of at total of 535 members in the two houses. Even those criticizing the Israeli prime minister’s actions are doing so from the standpoint of his injecting “partisanship” into the US-Israeli alliance, not from the standpoint of opposing the crimes for which Israel is responsible.

Shortly after noon last Sunday raw video appeared on Facebook within minutes after multiple Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers shot and killed an unarmed man on the sidewalk outside the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row, where many of the City’s homeless live in makeshift tents on the street.

Within hours, the video had been shared on thousands of Facebook pages and racked up millions of views. While the original Facebook post has been taken down, the video can be seen in its entirety on YouTube.

Details, including the victim’s name, age and background, have not yet been released. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office reports that he is black and in his mid-30s. Andy Bales, president of the Union Rescue Mission, has stated that the victim used the name “Africa,” and may have been an immigrant from Cameroon.


According to Bales, the victim stayed nearby and helped Mission workers keep the area clean. Other people have told reporters that the victim spoke to them of having spent long stretches in a mental hospital before showing up on Skid Row a few months ago.

A significant number of the homeless who populate Los Angeles’ Skid Row and similar neighborhoods in other major US cities suffer from serious mental illness, and there are no effective programs to house and treat them.

Skid Row has been targeted by developers who see driving the homeless away as the key to profiting through gentrification. The officers involved in Sunday’s shooting were assigned to the so-called “Safer Cities Initiative,” an LAPD task force assigned to target Skid Row residents and force them to move out.

The video, which appears to have been made by a cell phone, begins abruptly with officers rousting the victim from his small plastic tent on the sidewalk almost directly in front of the Mission. As the man spins around, waving his arms harmlessly, surrounded by four officers, a small woman can be seen standing in the background. It is not yet known whether she and the victim were associated in any way.

One of the four officers drops his billy club, leaving it on the sidewalk, to draw his firearm. The woman walks over, picks up the nightstick, and holds it as if to defend herself from officers, who by this time have knocked the victim to the ground, piled on top of him, and started beating him.

The woman was herself knocked to the ground violently by two officers, as more officers arrived and joined in the beating of the victim.

At the 20-second point in the video, the distinctive clicking sound made by a Taser during its discharge of electricity can be heard, and one of the officers appears to be jamming the Taser’s electrodes into the victim. A voice is heard yelling, “Drop the gun!” three times, and then five shots rang out in the space of three seconds.

Officers continued to point their weapons at the victim’s lifeless body for almost a minute and a half before one of them finally checked for a pulse, as stunned onlookers became increasingly angry, yelling denunciations of the police.

No gun was recovered, and there is nothing in the video suggesting that the victim ever had his hand on an officer’s weapon.

The LAPD later confirmed that two officers and one sergeant fired bullets.

At a press conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat, defended the officers and called the LAPD “the most progressive force in the country.” He announced that at least two officers were wearing body cameras. Neither video has been released, however.

LAPD Chief of Police Charlie Beck immediately rushed to the defense of the officers at a Monday morning press conference, using the same lame “he was going for an officer’s gun” excuse used by Officer Darren Wilson after killing Michael Brown last summer in Ferguson, Missouri.

When officers approached, the victim “refused to comply with the officers’ commands and then began to fight with them,” according to Beck. The video clearly shows the officers as the aggressors.

Beck claimed that the victim “forcibly grabbed one of the officer’s holstered pistols,” for proof pointing to a blurry screen shot from the video that shows the victim’s hand extended into the air, not touching a gun.

Beck did not explain why, if the prostrated man was grabbing at his gun, the officer did not simply stand up, removing it from his reach.

Beck called his officers’ sickening one-sided beating and execution of a mentally ill, homeless man “a very intense situation and a brutal, brutal fight.”

Surveillance cameras mounted outside the Mission captured events before and after the shooting. The victim had been involved in a minor altercation with another homeless man. After his tent was pointed out, the officers dragged the victim out, leading to the events captured on the cell phone camera. The surveillance cameras also captured the paramedics arriving and pronouncing the man dead at the scene.

Police officers have extensive training on weapons retention, and they use special holsters that make taking weapons away from officers very difficult. No officer in a situation like this one is going to allow a vastly outnumbered, unarmed transient access to a firearm unless he is looking for a pretext to use deadly force.

Officers have been known to shout lines such as “Stop resisting” to cover up for their own brutality. Yelling “Drop the gun” signals other officers to use lethal force.

Sunday’s shooting is part of a surge in police violence throughout the United States, which is itself a direct response to deepening social tensions arising from the growth of social inequality. According to killedbypolice.net, law enforcement agencies in the United States have killed over 175 people already this year, a rate of about three people a day. In contrast, no police officers have been killed by criminal suspects so far in 2015.

Image: The deal between Tata Power and SUEK could prepare the ground for boosting Russian coal sales in the Asia Pacific region. Source: RIA Novosti

Tata Power, the energy arm of Tata Group and India’s largest integrated power company by its own estimate, announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Russia’s biggest coal producer Siberian Coal Energy Co (SUEK), aimed at “identifying and developing opportunities across the energy chain.”  

A Tata Power spokesperson characterised SUEK as a reliable and world-class mining company and called the deal a “major milestone” for Tata Power’s aspiration to become a significant energy player in the international arena.

The Tata Group had revenues of US$103 billion in 2013-14 across seven business sectors, making it India’s biggest conglomerate. Tata Power is its energy sector flagship, and had revenues of about US$5.8 billion in 2013-14.

Tata Power’s agreement with SUEK helps the Indian company to gain a new range of energy opportunities in Russia and other areas. The coal production volume of SUEK equals almost 100 million tonnes a year — or more than a quarter of Russia’s total production — from 17 open-cut and 12 underground mines in Siberia and the Russian Far East. SUEK, controlled by Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, says it provides more than 40 per cent of the coal used by Russia’s power industry, and it claims identified and potential coal reserves of 5.6 billion tonnes.

SUEK has a majority share in the Murmansk commercial seaport above the Arctic Circle in the northwest of Russia, and has recently modernised its Russian Far East coal terminal at Vanino port, near Khabarovsk. Vanino and Vostochny port near Nakhodka deal with Russia’s Asian coal buyers such as China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, and the trade is on the rise.

India is the world’s third largest coal producer after China and the US, with annual output of more than 600 million tonnes. State-controlled Coal India Ltd alone has a 2014-15 production target of 507 million tonnes.

But due to cost and logistical factors, and because of Indian domestic coal’s low calorific value and high ash content, the country still has to import thermal coal — more than 160 million tonnes last year, according to a Reuters report. In addition, many of India’s coal-fired plants use outdated subcritical boiler technology, which results in efficiency and air pollution issues.

One of the few supercritical technology plants in India is Tata Power’s 4000 MW Mundra plant in Gujarat state, which uses coal imported mainly from Indonesia. The first 800 MW unit began operating at Mundra in March 2012, while the fifth and final 800 MW unit came on line in March 2013. It is India’s third largest plant.

India still has a long way to go in power plant efficiency. China, for example, has obliged all new coal-fired power plants above 600 MW to surpass the supercritical stage and utilise ultra-supercritical boiler technology — usually defined as pressure of 300 bar and temperatures above 593C — which has already been adopted in Japan and Northern Europe.

The deal between Tata Power and SUEK could prepare the ground for boosting Russian coal sales in the Asia Pacific region. SUEK is already Russia’s largest coal exporter, with international sales of 45.6 million tonnes in 2014, or a gain of 5 per cent over the previous year.

The company says its goal is increasing exports to China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan “and other countries of the Pacific region,” as well as preserving its role of a major supplier of thermal coal in the Atlantic market.

Based on materials from The Australian.

Image: Hillary Clinton with the so-called pro-democracy rebels in Libya during the NATO intervention which overthrew Gaddafi.

An anonymous source told Fox News on Tuesday the U.S. government believes a terror attack comparable to the 9/11 attack will arise from Libya.

Citing the presence of Islamic State operatives in Benghazi, Derna and Sirte, the government argues it needs authority to go into Libya in pursuit of terrorists.

In late February the Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Libya is the most “troublesome” country in the Middle East.

“There are, in addition to ISIL, probably six or eight other terrorist groups that have gathered in Libya,” he said. “So it’s a magnet because, essentially, it’s ungoverned.”

“From an intelligence perspective, I think clearly we need to step up our game,” Clapper added. “I think there’s a lot of merit to partnering with the French, who have sort of staked out their claim in the Sahel region of North Africa.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters Libya must deal with its security issues with the help of the United States and the United Nations.

“Are we happy with the situation in Libya from a governance and security perspective? No. Absolutely not,” she said.”At the end of the day, though, this is not just a line, it’s true. This is ultimately up to the Libyan people, leaders in Libya to take the security of their country into their own hands and try to move it in a better direction with our help, the U.N. and others’ help as well.”

Current Policy Ensures Rise of ISIS in Libya

The United Nations and the U.S., however, have tied the hands of Khalifa Haftar, a general supported by the West in the ongoing battle against Libya Dawn, a coalition of Islamic militias that has taken over Tripoli and large part of western Libya.

Libya Dawn claims it is opposed to the presence of the Islamic State in the country. Jamal Naji Zubia, a Tripoli government spokesman, told The New York Times Libyans who appeared to be part of the Islamic State were Gaddafi loyalists who had “put on the mantle of the Islamic State.”

The United Nations has called for the creation of a maritime monitoring force to prevent weapons from entering and illegally exported oil from leaving the north African country.

“Current transfers to Libya are probably contributing to further onward proliferation of materiel,” a United Nations report released over the weekend said. It claims the proliferation of weapons poses “a significant security challenge for other countries in the region, particularly from a terrorism perspective.”

According to UNSC resolution 2174, weapons may only be imported into Libya with the permission of “recognized authorities” and the transfers have received approval from the Sanctions Committee which must be notified of any transactions in advance.

The U.S., the United Nations and Britain want a handpicked government installed before the current arms embargo is lifted.

U.S. Responsible for Situation in Libya

The recent State Department remarks on Libya ignore the fact the United States is directly responsible for arming Libyan militants, including al-Qaeda.

“The White House and senior Congressional members deliberately and knowingly pursued a policy that provided material support to terrorist organizations in order to topple a ruler Muammar Gadhafi ,” the Citizens Commission on Benghazi said in an interim report released last April.

The policy has produced “utter chaos” in Libya and has facilitated “the spread of dangerous weapons (including surface-to-air missiles), and the empowerment of jihadist organizations like al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“The United States switched sides in the war on terror with what we did in Libya, knowingly facilitating the provision of weapons to known Al-Qaeda militias and figures,” said Clare Lopez, a former CIA officer and a member of a commission established by Accuracy in Media to study the Benghazi arms transfer.

“They were permitted to come in. … They knew these weapons were coming in, and that was allowed,” she said. “The intelligence community was part of that, the Department of State was part of that, and certainly that means that the top leadership of the United States, our national security leadership, and potentially Congress—if they were briefed on this — also knew about this.”

Caracas, March 2nd 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) The Venezuelan government has responded to increased pressure from Washington by revoking visa rights for former US politicians such as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, described by President Nicolas Maduro as “terrorists against the peoples of the world” on Saturday.

“I have decided on a prohibition list for people who will not be permitted visas and who can never enter Venezuela, for a set of chief US politicians who have committed human rights violations. They have bombed the people of Iraq, the people of Syria, the people of Vietnam… It is an anti-terrorist list,” declared the head of state to an impassioned crowd.

The statements were part of a rousing speech delivered by the president on Saturday to thousands of marchers who had taken to the streets of Caracas to reject White House interference in the South American country. The march was a direct response to a string of further US sanctions enacted against the Venezuelan government in early February and to what Maduro characterised as a “moment of increased aggression” from the Obama administration. The head of state went on to call for a “global rebellion against US imperialism”.

“The US thinks it is the boss, the police of the world… Something happens somewhere, let’s say in Asia, and a spokesperson for the US comes out saying that the US government thinks that such and such a government shouldn’t do such and such a thing in Asia… Are we going to accept a global government? Enough of imperialism in the world!” stated an incensed Maduro.

During his speech, the head of state also announced a slew of new diplomatic measures against the US which include the implementation of visa requirements for all US citizens visiting Venezuela.

“They must pay what Venezuelans pay when they want to travel to the United States,” said the president.

Maduro explained that the changes were designed to “protect” Venezuelans, after a number of US citizens were discovered to be taking part in acts of espionage by Venezuelan authorities.

One of the most recent detections includes the pilot of a US airplane who was stopped and questioned by authorities on the border last week. A number of US citizens were also detained last year for their participation in the armed barricades or Guarimbas which sought to bring down the government and led to the deaths of at least 43 Venezuelans.

Despite the latest measures, Maduro emphasised that Venezuela continued to value its relationship with US citizens.

“You can count on the fact that the people of Bolivar respect the people of the US, and recognise in you a brother peoples, these decisions are against the imperialist elite,” he stated.

The new measures will see the number of staff at the US embassy in Caracas significantly reduced and US representatives obliged to inform Venezuelan authorities of any meetings that they intend to hold.

The diplomatic institution currently has over 100 employees, in comparison to just 17 who work at the Venezuelan embassy in Washington. Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, has explained that the US diplomatic mission will be obliged to reduce its staffing numbers to 17 over the next 2 weeks.

Tense Relations 

Recently the US embassy in Caracas has become embroiled in a diplomatic altercation with the Maduro administration which has intensified since the discovery of a planned coup against the government in February. The Venezuelan head of state has accused the White House of conspiring against his government and charged embassy personnel with having advanced knowledge of the coup plot, which was allegedly being funded in US dollars from Miami.

Prior to the discovery of the coup, the US embassy was reported to have attempted to bribe senior military and government officials to partake in insurrectionist actions against the government. US Vice-president Joe Biden also made a series of statements accusing the Venezuelan government of repression following a meeting with the wife of jailed opposition leader, Liliana Tintori.

Current opinion polls suggest significant support amongst the population for government actions against the US. According to a February poll conducted by opposition aligned think tank, Hinerlaces, 92% of Venezuelans oppose any kind of foreign intervention while 62% think that the US should not be allowed to pass judgement on the country’s internal affairs.

In 2014, the US government issued 103 statements against Venezuela and another 65 since the start of the year. Just a few weeks ago, the Obama administration also approved increased funding for Venezuelan opposition groups and Non-Governmental Organisations.

Here’s Time Magazine‘s David von Drehle: “The greatest threat that ISIS poses — even to the poor souls living under ISIS rule — is the unintended damage that might follow from the effort to eradicate the group. . . . As dangerous as it is to have a terrorist kingdom in the middle of the world’s geopolitical tinderbox, ousting ISIS will be every bit as dangerous.”

Drehle goes from there immediately into the debate over whether U.S. troops or local troops should do the job. His article is followed by Max Boot arguing for U.S. ground troops and Karl Vick arguing for U.S. bombing with local ground troops. All three writers seem to be aware that ISIS wanted U.S. bombing and wants U.S. ground troops even more, that ISIS recruitment climbs in response to U.S. military action. All three can’t help but be aware that terrorist kingdoms like Saudi Arabia already exist in the region with the blessing of the U.S. government (and of magazine writers who seek to please the U.S. government). All three are fairly condescending toward local troops, eager to (somehow) get Sunnis to attack Sunnis, and wary of allowing Iranian “death squads” to get involved in the, you know, mass killing they are proposing.

None of the three have one word to say about the great many innocents already killed in the latest U.S. bombings, but all three seem to grasp that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was necessary for the creation of ISIS, all three seem to understand that fighting ISIS is counterproductive, and yet all three strive to place the need to attack ISIS beyond the range of any debate. The question is not whether to make the disaster worse, but exactly how to do it.

What, after all, makes the region a global tinderbox? Israel’s nukes? Certainly not, those are not supposed to be mentioned or even thought about. Well then, all the other weapons? But over 80% of those are supplied by the United States, so that can’t be it. Perhaps the violent overthrows and devastation of so many governments and countries? But it was the U.S. and friends who destroyed Iraq and made Libya what it is and who have done what they’re still doing to Afghanistan. It is the U.S. that has ruined Yemen. It is the U.S. that arms and supports Israel’s wars. It is the U.S. that props up the terrorist states in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and Egypt. Surely what makes the region a tinderbox (rather than a region rich in oil about which greedy earth-destroying interests might be concerned) is something unthinkable or nonsensical or inscrutable, something ethnic or religious or unworthy of consideration.

Because otherwise we might have to consider cease fires and arms embargoes and diplomacy and humanitarian aid as possible alternatives to the usual choices of (1) do nothing, or (2) make it all worse with more of what caused much of the problem in the first place. We might have to consider that it isn’t ISIS that’s posing the greatest threat in the form of “the effort to eradicate the group.”

Obama indicates that remaining options would be limited, including additional sanctions or military actions, if ongoing negotiations with Tehran fail. ‘Why wouldn’t we take that deal?’ the president asked, if there are assurances Iran cannot build a covert nuclear weapons program. (Image: Screenshot/Reuters)

Though voicing no overall criticism of Israeli state policy when it comes various issues involving regional politics, its own nuclear weapons program, or its treatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the number of U.S. lawmakers who now say they will not attend the speech of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday has grown to nearly 60 members of Congress, with high-profile Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken among the most recent to register their objection to the address.

According to The Hill on Tuesday, nearly a quarter of House Democrats will not attend.

Meanwhile, President Obama sat down with the Reuters news agency and offered his most detailed comments yet about the so-called “rift” that has publicly percolated around the prime minister’s decision to address the joint session just weeks ahead of Israeli elections. The speech also comes amid tense, high-level talks in Switzerland this week, where Iran and the P5+1 nations (the U.S., U.K., China, Russia, France, and Germany) are in the final stages of trying to reach a deal on monitoring for Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Declaring her reasons for not attending the speech, Sen. Warren said, “It’s unfortunate that Speaker Boehner’s actions on the eve of a national election in Israel have made Tuesday’s event more political and less helpful for addressing the critical issue of nuclear nonproliferation and the safety of our most important ally in the Middle East.”

For his part, Sen. Franken said he would not attend Netanyahu’s speech because it had devolved into a “partisan spectacle” he wants no part of. “I’d be uncomfortable being part of an event that I don’t believe should be happening,” Franken said. “I’m confident that, once this episode is over, we can reaffirm our strong tradition of bipartisan support for Israel.”

In his remarks to Reuters, President Obama also affirmed the “depth of the U.S./Israeli relationship” – a bond, he said, that would never be broken.

“I don’t think it’s permamently destructive,” Obama told Reuters in reference to Netanyahu’s visit, “but I think it’s a distraction from what should be our focus. And our focus should be: how do we stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon?”

“Why not wait to see if there’s actually going to be a deal – can Iran accept the terms that we’re laying out. If, in fact, Iran can accept terns that would ensure a one-year breakout period, for ten years or longer—and during that period we know that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapon; we have inspectors on the ground that give us assurances that they’re not creating a covert program—why would we not take that deal when we know that the alternatives—whether through sanctions or military actions—will not result in as much assurance that Iran is [or is not] developing a nuclear weapon? There’s no good reason not to let these negotiations play themselves out.”

Obama added, “If, in fact, a deal is arrived at, that it’s going to be a deal that is most likely to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

Obama said that in his mind it’s “still more likely than not” that Tehran will back away from finalizing a deal, but added that “in fairness to them, they have been serious negotiators” and acknowledged that internal Iranian politics have their own potent dynamics. That said, Obama continued, “It is more likely we could get a deal now than it was three or five months ago.”

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that if the U.S. could find the political will, he was sure “we can have an agreement this time.”

The Iraqi Army has once again claimed that it has downed a NATO aircraft that was providing military assistance directly to ISIS according to Iranian FARS News Agency.

This time, the Iraqis are claiming they shot down a US Helicopter in the Al-Bagdadi region in Anbar Province last week. The reason for shooting the helicopter, according to FARS and, apparently, high-ranking Iraqi officials, was that the helicopter was carrying weapons to ISIS.

Head of the Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee and senior Iraqi legislator, Hakem al-Zameli has stated that the Iraqi government is constantly receiving reports from its security forces that NATO aircraft is dropping weapons to ISIS.

Zameli claims that the reason for the airdrops is that NATO wishes to prolong the situation in Anbar Province for geopolitical purposes.

Zameli stated that “The Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee has access to the photos of both planes that are British and have crashed while they were carrying weapons for the ISIL.”

Indeed, the claims come only one week after a video was released purporting to show a US Chinook helicopter dropping at least two boxes of weapons to ISIS and flying a low altitudes unmolested over ISIS-controlled territory south of Fallujah. It is reported that the footage was filmed by Hezbollah Brigades based in Iraq.

In order to prove the fact that they did indeed down an American helicopter the FARS report claims that the Iraqi fighters posted a picture of the chopper and the weapons that were recovered from the wreckage.

Credit: FARS News Agency

The alleged downing of the US Helicopter comes on the heels of an alleged downing of two UK planes by Iraqi forces using the same reason (NATO dropping weapons to ISIS) as justification.

In this regard, Zameli stated that “The Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee has access to the photos of both planes that are British and have crashed while they were carrying weapons for the ISIL.”There are also reports that some US helicopters have landed in Fallujah, a stronghold of ISIS fighters in Iraq for the purpose of completing airdrops to al-Qaeda/ISIS.

The al-Ahad News website has quoted Khalaf Tarmouz, head of the al-Anbar Provincial Council as saying “We have discovered weapons made in the US, European countries and Israel from the areas liberated from ISIL’s control in Al-Baqdadi region.”

Tarmouz also claimed that weapons made in Israel and Europe were also discovered in Ramadi.

“The US drops weapons for the ISIL on the excuse of not knowing about the whereabouts of the ISIL positions and it is trying to distort the reality with its allegations,” he said.

These reports are by no means the first time that the United States, Europe, or Israel have been implicated in the arming and support of ISIS. It is, however, the first time Iraqi forces (since the initial US invasion of 2003) have mounted a direct resistance to US and NATO treachery.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 500 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 

She became the face of the Ebola crisis during its publicity peak last fall. But nurse Nina Pham, the first known case of an individual contracting Ebola within the U.S., is now suing the parent corporation of her former employer, which she says violated her personal privacy and left her chronically ill by exploiting and neglecting her during the outbreak.

Pham reportedly filed a lawsuit on March 2 in Dallas County against Texas Health Resources, the overseer of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital where she contracted Ebola while treating “patient zero” Thomas Eric Duncan. The 26-year-old nurse says she now suffers from constant nightmares, body aches and insomnia due to the experimental medications that were forced upon her while in isolation.

She also says the hospital was negligent in properly training both her and the other nurses in how to safely care for Ebola patients, resulting in her contracting the disease. According to Pham’s lawyer, the nurse is seeking damages for physical pain, mental anguish, medical expenses and loss of future earnings.

During an exclusive interview with The Dallas Morning News, Pham explained that her goal is to “make hospitals and big corporations realize that nurses and health care workers, especially frontline people, are important. And we don’t want nurses to start turning into patients.”

“I wanted to believe that they would have my back and take care of me, but they just haven’t risen to the occasion,” stated Pham to the paper about how she was treated at Texas Health.

Pham says Texas Health made her “a symbol of corporate neglect”

As images of Pham and her story were being plastered all across the media, the nurse says she was still given inadequate safety wear that left her exposed to the hemorrhagic virus. Pham and other nurses were also made to become custodians, she says, in the cleanup of Ebola-infected waste that was piling up inside the hospital due to nobody wanting to touch it.

Pham describes her fate as being made “a symbol of corporate neglect — a casualty of a hospital system’s failure to prepare for a known and impending medical crisis.”

Despite being Duncan’s primary nurse, Pham says she was among the last to be informed that he had tested positive for Ebola. The entire hospital became stricken with panic as a result, leading to chaos and failed protocols that exposed Pham and her close nurse friends to a disease that could have killed them.

“You’d think the primary nurse would be the first to know,” she stated to The Dallas Morning News, adding that she and her colleagues “fought in the trenches together,” despite neglect from the hospital.

“I broke down and cried, not because I thought I had it but just because it was a big ‘woah, this is really happening’ moment.”

Experimental Ebola “medicine” has left Pham chronically ill

Concerned about being paraded around in the media and exploited, Pham says that after she tested positive she asked that “no information” about her be released to the media. Instead of honoring her wishes, the hospital allowed Pham to be filmed while speaking to a doctor in a hospital room, with video footage later released to the public without her permission.

Pham was also given experimental medicine that she says left her with chronic fatigue and pain, as well as high liver enzymes that cause her to become ill on a regular basis.

“I don’t know if having children could be affected by this, but that’s something I worry about,” she explained.

Sources for this article include:

http://res.dallasnews.com

http://www.reuters.com

http://www.nbcnews.com

Netanyahu at AIPAC

March 3rd, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

His Monday bluster was a warmup for what honest observers call the most outrageous address ever by a foreign official to a joint congressional session – scheduled for Tuesday, March 3 at 11:00AM EST.

Netanyahu spurned protocol. He circumvented administration control over who gets invited to address Congress.

 He’s persona non grata at the White House. No welcome mat greeted him on arrival. Obama refused to see him.

Nearly five dozen House and Senate members intend boycotting his address – showing unprecedented disapproval of a foreign leader visiting Washington.

Voters should demand others explain why they intend showing up to support a cold-blooded racist mass-murderer serial liar.

On the one hand, his address is a thinly veiled campaign stunt two weeks ahead of March 17 Israeli elections.

On the other, It’s an anti-Iranian fear-mongering effort – intended to sabotage ongoing P5+1 talks.

It represents an unprecedented affront to US presidential authority – besides willfully lying about a Tehran nuclear weapons program his own intelligence agency (Mossad) says doesn’t exist.

Annual US intelligence assessments say the same thing. Hard truths don’t matter. Any excuse to bash Iran will do. Big Lies substitute for cold, hard facts.

Netanyahu’s AIPAC speech was beginning-to-end demagogic boilerplate – full of bluster, megalomaniacal ranting, pompousness,  and Big Lies.

“Israel never forgets its friends,” he said. He then recited a list of individuals complicit with Israeli crimes.

He insulted Palestinians and freedom fighters everywhere calling Jerusalem Israel’s “eternal undivided capital.”

False! It’s a UN established international city. The vast majority of countries with embassies in Israel refuse to locate them there – including America.

Netanyahu avoided explaining what he’ll tell Congress on Tuesday. It’s no secret. He’ll lie about a nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapons program.

He absurdly called Iran an existential threat. It hasn’t attacked another country in centuries. It has no intention of doing so now.

None of its neighbors feel threatened. Tehran seeks cooperative relations with all states.

Netanyahu gives chutzpah new meaning. Despite deliberately circumventing US presidential protocol, he ludicrously claimed his speech isn’t intended to show disrespect.

Or inject himself “into the American partisan debate.” In 2012, he openly supported Romney. It’s no secret he and Obama dislike each other.

How anyone can stand either of them they’ll have to explain. They’re both serial liars and war criminals multiple times over.

Israel’s attorney general is investigating Netanyahu for alleged criminal use of state funds. Possible prosecution and imprisonment could follow.

He thanked Washington for “back(ing) Israel in defending itself at war and in our efforts to achieve a durable peace with our neighbors.”

He ludicrously said “a potential deal with Iran could threaten the survival of Israel.” He repeated the Big Lie about “Iran (being) the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”

He turned truth on its head claiming “Iran vows to annihilate Israel.”

Fact: Israel deplores peace. It thrives on wars and instability it creates.

Fact: Its only enemies are ones it invents.

Fact: It wages perpetual war against defenseless Palestinian civilians.

Fact It terrorizes them ruthlessly.

Fact: It incarcerates 1.8 million Gazans in the world’s largest open-air prison.

Fact: Last summer it terror-bombed large parts of the Strip to rubble. it murdered or maimed thousands of its people.

Fact: Israel and Washington partner in each other’s wars.

Fact: They’re cold, calculated acts of premeditated aggression.

Fact: Washington provides Israel with generous funding, weapons, munitions and full support.

Netanyahu’s serial lying wore thin long ago. It bears repeating. Iran threatens no one. Its nuclear program is peaceful. It has no military component. No evidence proves otherwise.

Anyone paying attention knows Netanyahu’s claims are deliberate acts of deception – Big Lies to influence Congress, the US public and his own constituents about a nonexistent Iranian threat.

“Israel lives in the world’s most dangerous neighborhood,” he claims. Israel and Washington bear full responsibility for violence and instability throughout the region. Both countries threaten world peace.

Common values they share aren’t “liberty, equality, justice, tolerance (and) compassion,” as Netanyahu claims.

They’re polar opposite aims to conquer, dominate and exploit – benefitting rich and powerful interests at the expense of all others.

No two countries in world history threaten humanity’s survival more. None more reflect pure evil – a scourge vital to stop before it destroys everyone in its maniacial aim for world dominance.

On Monday, the White House and State Department warned Netanyahu against revealing sensitive details he apparently knows about P5+1 talks.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest said doing so would constitute a “betrayal” of US trust

John Kerry said “(w)e are concerned by reports that suggest selected details of the ongoing negotiations will be discussed publicly in the coming days.”

“I want to say clearly, doing so would make it more difficult to reach the goal that Israel and others say they share in order to get a good deal.”

Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Obama officials gave Israel detailed classified information.

She explained Kerry’s remarks were directed at Netanyahu. Revealing information given Israel in confidence would be more of an affront than already

In recent weeks, US officials largely ceased keeping their Israeli counterparts informed on P5+1 talks – because of concern about Netanyahu leaking information or revealing it publicly before Congress.

On Monday, Israel’s Channel 10 said Washington halted all intelligence cooperation with Israel pertaining to Iran’s nuclear program.

Days before his congressional address, a blistering Haaretz editorial accused Netanyahu of “wrecking Israel’s ties with” Washington.

It said his actions “gravely impair” what’s called a special relationship. “(D)ue primarily to electoral considerations, (he’s) determined to act like a wrecking ball,” it stressed.

He “insist(s) on damaging Israel’s most important relationship. (He’s) embarrassing Barack Obama in his home court.”

He’ll challenge him openly “on Capitol Hill and urge (his opponents) to (sabotage) his diplomacy with Iran, just so that he can portray himself as the ‘savior of the nation’ back home and please his (paymaster) American billionaire Sheldon Adelson…”

Haaretz editors called him an irresponsible leader. His congressional address is meant to be a deliberate “frontal confrontation with the US president,” they said.

On the one hand, his actions will have no effect on US policy, Haaretz editors maintain. On the other, they’re destroying the fabric of a longstanding relationship.

His “flawed judgment” shows he’s unfit to serve. Haaretz editors urged Israelis to replace him. Adding one of a new prime minister’s “first tasks will be to fix what Netanyahu has destroyed”

It’ll take more than a rogue prime minister to undo decades of US/Israeli partnership in high crimes against peace,

Leaders come and go. An ugly alliance of pure evil persists. A rising tide of resistance needs to confront it. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance.

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

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

 

Sedki al-Maket, rearrested in secret by Israel’s Shin Bet for exposing collaboration between Syrian rebels and the IDF

Israel’s Shin Bet rearrested Golani Druze Sedki al-Maket (age 48).  Until his release in 2012 (Hebrew), he’d been the longest serving Israeli security prisoner, having spent 27 years detained.  News of his arrest is under gag order by Israeli media. The gag is laughable since the arrest has been reported not only by Syrian media, but in a Hebrew Facebook post.

Though Israeli security services haven’t offered any reason for his arrest, it’s likely they’re angered because a week ago he followed Syrian rebels to a meeting inside Israeli-occupied territory.  The rebels met with IDF forces who’ve previously been shown to receive logistical and intelligence support from Israel in previous reports here and in Israel and foreign media.  Al Maket filmed a video  while the meeting was underway, in which he described what he saw and offered it to Syrian TV.  It was aired to the entire nation and likely monitored by Israeli security.

The Shin Bet doesn’t want any further leaks about such collaboration because it allows the Syrian regime to paint the rebels as Israeli stooges.  It also gives the lie to those Israeli intelligence figures and journalists who’ve spoken falsely about Israel remaining neutral regarding the two sides fighting in Syria.  Despite numerous air attacks against Syrian government facilities, assassinations of Syrian, Hezbollah and Iranian military, and security cooperation with rebels, Israel continues to maintain the fiction it hasn’t chosen sides.

If anyone wonders why Islamists are beheading western journalists and occupying Iraq and Syria, while carefully avoiding Israeli targets, this will explain a lot.  It will also explain Israel’s approach which is to weaken central power in Syria, so that the Golan region closest to the border will become a protectorate, as was southern Lebanon until Israel’s withdrawal in 2000.  Having Syrian rebels under Israeli sponsorship ruling the Syrian Golan will be much more conducive to maintaining Israel control and occupation for years to come.

Meanwhile, the Israeli media is content to publish happy news about the Golani Druze village of Majd al-Shams (home to al-Maket), which apparently has become a playground for a certain hip Israeli scene which enjoys pub crawling in the midst of Israeli-occupied Golan.  If the report is to be believed, you can hardly tell the difference between it and Berlin or New York!  And let’s not forget the glorious skiing almost under the guns of those nasty Syrians who spoil all the fun with their inconvenient civil unrest.

Israel’s media fiddles while Syria burns.

Azerbaijan Should Be Very Afraid of Victoria Nuland

March 3rd, 2015 by Andrew Korybko

The US’ Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, visited Baku on 16 February as part of her trip to the Caucasus, which also saw her paying stops in Georgia and Armenia. While Azerbaijan has had positive relations with the US since independence, they’ve lately been complicated by Washington’s ‘pro-democracy’ rhetoric and subversive actions in the country. Nuland’s visit, despite her warm words of friendship, must be look at with maximum suspicion, since it’s not known what larger ulterior motives she represents on behalf of the US government.

A Bad Omen

Nuland is most infamously known for her “F**k the EU!” comment that was uncovered during a secretly recorded conversation with the American Ambassador in Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. The two were conspiring to build a new Ukrainian government even before democratically elected (but unpopular and corrupt) president Viktor Yanukovich was overthrown by the US-supported EuroMaidan coup. Nuland played a direct role in events, not only behind the scenes, but also on the streets, since she proudly handed out cookies and other foodstuffs to the ‘protesters’ that would violently seize power just over two months later. Her role in the Ukrainian events forever marks her as an agent for US-supported regime change in the former Soviet sphere, and her visit anywhere in that space should be seen as the bad omen that it is.

Like Husband, Like Wife

Normally an individual’s personal life doesn’t have any bearing on their professional one, but in the case of Nuland, it’s the opposite because her husband is the leading neo-conservative thinker Robert Kagan. He and his ilk are known for their expertise in exploiting foreign geography to maximize US power, regardless of the regional cost. Also, he previously referred to Azerbaijan in 2006 as a “dictatorship” and said the US will “pay the price” for dealing with it when responding to a user-submitted Q&A session with the Financial Times:

“During the Cold War, both Europeans and Americans had to compromise with dictators around the world in order to weaken the Soviet Union and communism. What would be, in your view Mr Kagan, the new sort of compromises that the US government is willing to make to defeat terrorism? Corneliu, Bucharest

Robert Kagan: Clearly we are making such kinds of compromises all over the place in the war on terrorism, although I must say I doubt they are proving very useful.

We are turning a mostly blind eye to the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt, despite much rhetoric to the contrary, as well in Saudi Arabia. We have been forgiving of the dictatorships in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Nor have we been very critical of the Putin dictatorship in Russia, no matter how many people he assassinates.

This is all largely in the service of the war on terror. During the Cold War I actually believed that we wrong to support so many dictators, for it often did not help but hurt in the struggle against communism, in addition to being a violation of the principles we were struggling to defend.

I am equally unpersuaded today that our support for these dictatorships will help us fight terrorism, and once again we pay the price of moral and ideological inconsistency.”

Given the ideological context in which Nuland likely sees eye-to-eye on with her husband, plus her experience in instigating the Color Revolution in Ukraine, it is not likely that she came to Baku with positive intentions, or even with a positive image of the country in her mind. This is all the more so due to the recent scandal over Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Foreign Agent, Domestic Punishment

The US-government-sponsored information agency was closed down at the end of December under accusations that it was operating as a foreign agent. While the US has harshly chided the Azeri government for this, at the end of the day, it remains the country’s sovereign decision and right to handle suspected foreign agents as it sees fit. Azerbaijan’s law is similar to Russia’s, in that entities receiving foreign funds must register as foreign agents, and interestingly enough, both of these laws parallel the US’ own 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

So why does the US feel that it reserves the sole right to register foreign agents and entities, and if need be, identify and punish those that are acting in the country illegally, but Azerbaijan is deprived of this exercise of sovereignty? The reason is rather simple, actually – it’s the US that is the most likely to use these foreign agents to destabilize and potentially overthrow governments (as in Ukraine most recently), whereas Azeri agents in America, should they even exist, are nothing more than an administrative nuisance incapable of inflicting any real harm on the authorities. This double standard is at the core of the US’ relations with all countries in the world, not just Azerbaijan, but it’s a telling example of the power and leverage Washington attempts to hold over Baku, which is seen most visibly by the blistering criticism leveled on the government after Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s closing in compliance with the law.

Duplicitous Games

Even more concerning for Azerbaijan isn’t the seditious game that the US and Nuland might be playing within the country, but the geopolitical one that they might be playing next door with Armenia. Although Washington says that it values Baku as a strategic and pragmatic partner, one needs to wonder to extent a prosperous, neutral Azerbaijan is more important to the US than a destabilized one that could be used as a weapon against Russia. To put everything into context, take a look at the threat that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued towards Russia and the Eurasian Union back in December 2012:

“There is a move to re-Sovietise the region, It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called a customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that, but let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.”

One year later, Ukraine, which could have been of immense value to the US and its geostrategy as a neutral, stable state, was in the middle of the US-supported EuroMaidan Color Revolution, showing that Washington will go to great and dramatic lengths to sacrifice its pragmatic interests for the sake of destabilizing Russia. So the question is, could the US also do the same in the Caucasus in order to simultaneously destabilize Russia from the southern flank while it’s distracted in dealing with Ukraine?

In Armenia Against Azerbaijan, The US Always Wins

Click to enlarge

Armenia is arguably the weakest member of the Eurasian Union, and is thus the most prime for any external destabilization attempt. As the world has seen, the US will even go as far as instigating a war on Russia’s borders (the Ukrainian Civil War) just to hamper its regional integration efforts in the west. Could it also try to instigate a new war in Nagorno-Karabakh, too, in order to facilitate this goal in the south? Azerbaijan doesn’t know what matters Nuland discussed with Armenia behind closed doors, nor what convincing promises or irresistible threats she may have given Yerevan. The authorities can no longer be assured that Azerbaijan’s enormous energy reserves guarantee it a safe place in the US’ regional vision, especially considering the caustic language the US has used since the closing of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. If America is successful in instigating a continuation war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, neither of the two states would emerge as the strategic victor, since it’s the US that would ultimately triumph because it would have succeeded in destabilizing Russia at the entire Caucasus’ expense.

Walking A Tightrope

Given the fact that Azerbaijan can no longer trust the US to not conspire against its internal or external affairs, it is necessary for the country to tweak its foreign policy in order to best safeguard its interests. This means that although Baku cannot outright reject Washington or forget the two-decades-long history of fruitful cooperation with it (nor should it), it must pragmatically reorient its policies to adapt to multipolarity. By this, it is meant that Azerbaijan should look to diversify its partners and foreign policy dealings, namely, in the direction of Russia and Iran, the two neighborly countries that would support its leadership against any US-inspired plot against it. Although there are certainly challenges existing in bilateral relations with Iran, this doesn’t mean that they can’t be overcome in the interests of preserving Azerbaijan’s prosperity and protecting the country’s overall population from any unwanted trans-Atlantic tinkering that could endanger it.

Despite the fact that the US is most definitely interested in seeing Azeri energy power the EU, it is not yet known whether this objective of EU energy diversification is more important than the one of Russian destabilization. Under such circumstances, Azerbaijan must carefully walk a tightrope between the West (US/EU) on one hand, and the East (Russia/Iran) on the other, and if it is successful in delicately balancing between both worlds, then it can pivotally reap the resultant benefits thereof and propel its global prominence.

Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, English version exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

Major US news media have presented a grossly distorted and misleading interpretation of vaccines and their relationship to public health since early January. These journalistic organs have suggested the recent measles outbreak in the Western US has been a crisis of monumental proportions.

This flagrant and cynical sensationalism has become a foundation for intense advocacy on behalf of the pharmaceutical corporate and regulatory cartel targeting patient informed consent—a founding principal of modern medical practice and personal freedom. Keeping in mind the close to 300 vaccine products now in the pharmaceutical industry’s pipeline,[1] closer analysis of “measles outbreak” press coverage suggests a conscious effort by corporate news media to virtually banish such notions and practices from the public mind. A news media dependent on over $1 billion in advertising dollars from big pharma must almost by necessity indulge their clients’ broader agenda. 

David Dees (right)

dees_vaccine

An impartial journalistic approach to the question of vaccination and personal choice would provide equal and unprejudiced airing of “both sides,” in addition to the varied grey areas in the debate, from the corporate and statist entities flying the banner of mandatory vaccination to cautious segments of the citizenry voicing reservations toward such technology alongside the foremost prerogative of personal choice.

A LexisNexis search of US newspaper and wire service articles from December 28, 2015—the official start date of the California measles outbreak—to February 8, 2015 [2] using the search terms “measles” and “vaccination” yields 799 press releases or wire stories and 746 newspaper articles and opinion pieces. Much of this coverage predictably emphasizes the array of vaccine-friendly assumptions and pronouncements from entities abetting the pharmaceutical industry’s long-term profit-specific objectives.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is, alongside the Food and Drug Administration, the most powerful bureaucratic arm utilized by the global pharmaceutical cartel to elicit compliance with the federal vaccine schedule for children from the medical profession and broader population. Of the article sample referenced above, close to one-third (517) reference the “Centers for Disease Control” or “CDC” in their text, suggesting citation of the agency and its policies to persuasively instruct readers on vaccine efficacy and safety.

In contrast, the same body of over 1,500 press releases, news stories and editorials reference “informed consent” only three times—and when the term is used it is done so either in passing or to disparage the practice itself. For example, Arthur Caplan, a professor of medicine at New York University, warns against doctors even considering the practice of informed consent in regard to vaccines. “The science is unimpeachable,” Caplan proclaims. ” Vaccines do not cause autism; measles is dangerous and contagious; inoculating against the disease is neither pointless nor riskier than abstention.” The physician then amazingly suggests that genuine informed consent–explaining how a vaccine such as Measles, Mumps, Rubella, which can severely injure, incapacitate, or kill the child patient–must be categorically replaced by the dissemination of pharmaceutical industry propaganda and half-truths. “Those doctors who counsel otherwise – who distort what patients need to know to preserve their health or that of their children – have crossed a bright red line. They have violated a patient’s right to informed consent, which depends on accurate information.”[3]

The foremost US organization advocating the fundamental doctrine of informed consent, the National Vaccine Information Center, is referenced a paltry 22 times in the sizable article sample. And while the NVIC routinely emphasizes that it is not “anti-vaccine” and merely advocates that patients or their parents fully understand the risks associated with the industrialized, “one size fits all” immunization process, it is nevertheless framed as the official voice of “anti-vaccination.” A recent New York Times article from the data set is exemplary of this practice. “Members of the anti-vaccine movement said the public backlash had terrified many parents. ’People are now afraid they’re going to be jailed,’ said Barbara Loe Fisher, the president of the National Vaccine Information Center, a clearinghouse for resisters.”[4]

Of the 746 articles published in newspapers, 143 are editorial and opinion pieces. Almost without exception each vigorously supports wide-scale vaccination, even proposing punitive measures for those clinging to informed consent and personal choice. Such uniform opinion among newsroom management provides a clear indication of exactly how warped the overall news coverage of the “measles outbreak” has been.

“If we’re not willing to permanently exile anti-vaxxers from the public square,” one opinion in the Philadelphia Daily News remarks, “we should at least make emergency provisions to do so. Anti-vaxxers should be made to understand that when there is a public-health emergency – such as a measles outbreak – they’ll be quarantined for the duration.”[5] “Those who refuse to vaccinate are wrong,” the Salt Lake Tribune argues. “They endanger themselves and those around them.”[6] “The growing anti-vaccination movement is one of the most frustrating developments of this decade,” the San Jose Mercury News similarly contends. “Some of the parents who mistrust vaccine are uneducated and have no access to pediatric counsel, but there’s no excuse for the irresponsible parents who have access to the latest science yet irrationally fear that vaccines are not safe for their children.”[7]

In an effort to console parents concerned about the very real possibility of vaccines causing autism, US government press releases and US news outlets alike reference a 1998 study authored by British physician and medical scientist Andrew Wakefield linking vaccination to Crohn’s disease and autism. “Public health officials blame a decline in parents having their kids vaccinated that began after a now-thoroughly discredited 1998 British report alleged that common early childhood vaccinations triggered autism,” the San Diego Union Tribune grouses. “Unfortunately, that discredited report continues to be cited by know-nothing celebrities and vapid New Age authors who broadly reject modern medicine. They do so even as life expectancy hits all-time highs and medical researchers make steady progress on many fronts.”[8]

The US government’s own public relations service—US Official News—likewise chimes in on Wakefield’s alleged deceit. “A 1998 article in the medical journal The Lancet caused a firestorm of controversy when it was published and helped create the anti-vaccine movement that continues today,” one US government press release reads. “There’s only one problem–the article was later retracted by the publisher for being ‘utterly false,’ and the author, Andrew Wakefield, was found to have been paid big bucks by plaintiffs’ lawyers.”[9]

The fact that Wakefield’s 1998 findings have been upheld in 19 peer-reviewed papers he has contributed to the literature between 1998 and 2010, in addition to 28 studies from other scientists around the world [10] has been consciously overlooked by US newspaper editors and other drug industry propagandists. That this key piece of disinformation–soundly rebutted in the published research–continues to be repeated by journalists and government publicists alike suggests the hardcore disinformation tactics deployed to perpetuate the misunderstanding and unwarranted faith the majority of US families continue to place in big pharma’s immensely profitable vaccine agenda.

As direct result of this well-coordinated publicity campaign and resulting hysteria the legal right by which families may exercise informed consent is now under intense legal assault across the US. “Hearings to remove philosophical/conscientious exemptions to vaccine mandates have already taken place in Washington and Oregon,” NVIC reports.

California, Maine, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Vermont all have bills already filed or press announcements of bills about to be filed to remove philosophical/conscientious exemptions. Maine, Minnesota and Texas have bills to substantially restrict philosophical/conscientious exemptions. Religious exemptions are also under attack. Maryland, New Jersey, Texas and Vermont have bills filed or announced to eliminate religious exemptions, and Illinois, New Mexico and Texas have bills filed or announced to unconstitutionally restrict religious exemptions.

In addition, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia all have legislation underway to expand vaccine mandates.[11]

In light of the above one should be unsurprised at the mob-like antipathy toward “anti-vaxxers,” and how the notions of personal liberty and informed consent have been made to appear increasingly bizarre by being effectively stricken from public discourse. The population has been expertly propagandized on the issue by medical practitioners, their professional associations, and regulatory agencies tethered to the pharmaceutical industry’s agenda vis-a-vis a news media reliant on drug advertising revenue. With these observations in mind one must seriously ask themselves, In what meaningful way would a wholly scientific authoritarianism differ from what is witnessed in America today?

Notes

[1] Medicines in Development: A Report on the Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Vaccines, Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, 2013.

[2] Jennifer Zipprich, Kathleen Winter, et al, “Measles Outbreak – California, December 2014-February 2015,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 20, 2015.

[3] Arthur Caplan, “Quacks Against Vaccines? Revoke Their Licenses,” Washington Post, February 8, 2015.

[4] Jack Healy and Michael Paulson, “Vaccine Critics Turn Defensive Over Measles,” New York Times, January 31, 2015.

[5] Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuck, “The Vaccination Debate Continues,” philly.com, February 9, 2015.

[6] “Washington Post: Measles in America,” Salt Lake Tribune, February 3, 2015.

[7] “Disneyland’s Measles is a Hard Lesson in How Vaccines Work,” San Jose Mercury News, January 29, 2015.

[8] “Anti-Vaccination Charlatans Take Toll on Public Health,” San Diego Times Union, January 19, 2015.

[9] “Flashback: The Anti-Vaccine Movement and a Trial Lawyer-Funded Climate of Fear,” Plus Media Solutions/US Official News, February 17, 2015.

[10] Joseph Mercola, “Why Medical Authorities Went to Such Extremes to Silence Dr. Andrew Wakefield,” Mercola.com, April 10, 2010, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/10/wakefield-interview.aspx

[11] “You Need to Act Now: Vaccine Exemptions and Mandates Threatened in Even More States,” National Vaccine Information Center, February 23, 2015.