As the corporate-controlled media in the city of Detroit continues to champion the massive theft of healthcare programs, pension funds and public assets, totaling over $6 billion, the majority African American population is being completely disenfranchised by the bank-led so-called “plan of adjustment.”

Despite these claims of a “rebirth” of the municipality through a forced and illegal bankruptcy proceeding, the overall conditions within Detroit have declined over the last twenty months since the appointment of Kevyn Orr as emergency manager. Deliveries of public transportation, lighting, water resources, education and emergency medical services have worsened.

There are two select areas within the city which the ruling class interests have lauded as prime centers for investment. In downtown, billionaires Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans and Mike Illitch, the owner of the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, and other corporations, are attempting to reshape the development agenda for the entire municipality.

Also in the Midtown district encompassing Wayne State University, the Detroit Medical Center, the Institute of Arts, etc., efforts have been underway to encourage people to move into these areas for both residential and business purposes. Nonetheless, the working class, poor and senior residents of Midtown are being targeted for removal through the astronomical raising of rents and law-enforcement sweeps that target street people and the economically disadvantaged.

There is an increasing demand for rental units in Detroit but this has more to do with the impact of the foreclosure crisis which has plagued the city for nearly a decade. Whole neighborhoods throughout the east, west and southwest districts of the city have been devastated due to the predatory actions of banks, insurance firms, the monopoly utility company DTE Energy and the deeply distressed Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD).

The state and local governments failed to place a moratorium on bank foreclosures which could have saved tens of thousands of households from the bank seizures of their properties and therefore stem the precipitous decline in tax revenues and public school enrolments. Massive electrical, heating and water services shut-offs also serve to drive people from neighborhoods since it is almost impossible to live in homes without these essential necessities of modern life.

Federal Bankruptcy Court Endorses Draconian Policies of the Banks

Two major efforts were made through the legal and political actions of the Moratorium NOW!

Coalition and other organizations to bring in the questions of predatory bank lending and water shut-offs into the considerations for how the plan of adjustment would be structured. During the bankruptcy trial, there were hundreds of rank-and-file workers, retirees and homeowners who filed legal objections to both the eligibility for municipal bankruptcy as well as the series of eight drafts of the plan of adjustment.

Jones Day law firm, which misrepresented the interests of the city through the emergency manager and Gov. Rick Snyder, rejected any mention of the role of foreclosures and evictions in relationship to the financial ruin of Detroit. To ignore such an obvious fact of history and its causative effect on the decline of the population, the destructions of housing stock and municipal services is a clear recipe for disaster in formulating a plan for the revitalization of the city.

The class action lawsuit filed by victims of the massive water shut-offs impacting over 30,000 households since Jan. 2014 sought to bring recognition of the broken DWSD system which has been strangled by usurious bond issues and loans that have drained at least $537 million from the city over the last two years. Nonetheless, Federal Judge Steven Rhodes refused to impose a moratorium on the termination of water services despite the fact that the effects of these policies negatively impacted people throughout the city.

Can the Capitalist Rebuild Detroit Amid the Ongoing Economic Crisis?

Even though the ruling class is saying that they will reconstruct the city of Detroit in their own image, it remains to be seen whether the investment capital is actually available to make a significant dent in reversing the blight and underdevelopment. A key element of the development plan for the city is centered on the construction of a new hockey arena and entertainment district by Illitch Holdings.

In addition, the building of a light rail system on Woodward Ave. from downtown through Midtown to the New Center area is taking place as well. However, similar efforts during the late 1990s and early 2000s with the opening of two stadiums and three casino hotels failed miserably as it relates to ensuring financial stability.

Anywhere between 60,000-150,000 tax foreclosures could take place by the spring of 2015. Unemployment within the Detroit and the surrounding region of southeast Michigan remains high. The only real jobs being created are in the low-wage category that lack benefits and stability.

Since the financial crisis of 2007-2009 and the bailing out of the banks, insurance firms and auto companies, the corporations have failed to reinvest their trillions of dollars of capital in job creation and infrastructural improvements since such efforts would not guarantee the rate of profits that these entities are seeking. The phasing out of Quantitative Easing (QE) could prompt rises in interest rates and further stall growth spurring a renewed decline in the overall economy.

Of course when these plans fail to create the desired results, the ruling class and their agents in government will initiate a new round of austerity measures through lay-offs, the further driving down of wages and therefore creating additional hardships for the majority African American working class in Detroit. Only a program of development that empowers the working people can provide any realistic hope of improving the conditions of the people.

Any shift in policy that could benefit working people will only be the result of mass struggle and anti-capitalist organization. Consequently, the only real solutions to the problems facing the people of Detroit will out of necessity emerge through a direct challenge to the banks demanding a payback of the billions they have expropriated from the people through seizures of homes, jobs, pension benefits and public assets.

By Nancy L. Swanson,  Andre Leu,  Jon Abrahamson, and Bradley Wallet 

Abstract

A huge increase in the incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases has been reported in the United States (US) over the last 20 years. Similar increases have been seen globally. The herbicide glyphosate was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating with the advent of herbicide-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) crops. Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both. Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer.

In the present study, US government databases were searched for GE crop data, glyphosate application data and disease epidemiological data. Correlation analyses were then performed on a total of 22 diseases in these time-series data sets. The Pearson correlation coefficients are highly significant (< 10-5) between glyphosate applications and hypertension (R = 0.923), stroke (R = 0.925), diabetes prevalence (R = 0.971), diabetes incidence (R = 0.935), obesity (R = 0.962), lipoprotein metabolism disorder (R = 0.973), Alzheimer’s (R = 0.917), senile dementia (R = 0.994), Parkinson’s (R = 0.875), multiple sclerosis (R = 0.828), autism (R = 0.989), inflammatory bowel disease (R = 0.938), intestinal infections (R = 0.974), end stage renal disease (R = 0.975), acute kidney failure (R = 0.978), cancers of the thyroid (R = 0.988), liver (R = 0.960), bladder (R = 0.981), pancreas (R = 0.918), kidney (R = 0.973) and myeloid leukaemia (R = 0.878).

The Pearson correlation coefficients are highly significant (< 10-4) between the percentage of GE corn and soy planted in the US and hypertension (R = 0.961), stroke (R = 0.983), diabetes prevalence (R = 0.983), diabetes incidence (R = 0.955), obesity (R = 0.962), lipoprotein metabolism disorder (R = 0.955), Alzheimer’s (R = 0.937), Parkinson’s (R = 0.952), multiple sclerosis (R = 0.876), hepatitis C (R = 0.946), end stage renal disease (R = 0.958), acute kidney failure (R = 0.967), cancers of the thyroid (R = 0.938), liver (R = 0.911), bladder (R = 0.945), pancreas (R = 0.841), kidney (R = 0.940) and myeloid leukaemia (R = 0.889). The significance and strength of the correlations show that the effects of glyphosate and GE crops on human health should be further investigated.

Full Text: Journal of Organic Systems

Excerpts from the Introduction 

Within the last 20 years there has been an alarming increase in serious illnesses in the US, along with a marked decrease in life expectancy (Bezruchka, 2012). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the cost of diabetes and diabetes-related treatment was approximately $116 billion dollars in 2007. Estimated costs related to obesity were $147 billion in 2008 and cardiovascular diseases and stroke were $475.3 billion in 2009. Health care expenditures in the US totaled 2.2 trillion dollars in 2007 (CDC, 2013a). The onset of serious illness is appearing in increasingly younger cohorts. The US leads the world in the increase in deaths due to neurological diseases between 1979-81 and 2004-06 for the 55-65 age group (Pritchard et al., 2013). These mental disorder deaths are more typical of the over 65 age group. There have been similar findings for obesity, asthma, behavior and learning problems, and chronic disease in children and young adults (Van Cleave et al., 2010). Type II diabetes in youth is being called an epidemic (Rosenbloom et al., 1999). The rate of chronic disease in the entire US population has been dramatically increasing with an estimated 25% of the US population suffering from multiple chronic diseases (Autoimmunity Research Foundation, 2012). These findings suggest environmental triggers rather than genetic or age-related causes.

During this same time period, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of glyphosate applied to food crops and in the percentage of GE food crops planted (Benbrook, 2012). We undertook a study to see if correlations existed between the rise of GE crops, the associated glyphosate use and the rise in chronic disease in the US.

Genetic engineering

To genetically modify a plant for herbicide tolerance, genes are identified which convey tolerance of the active chemical in the herbicide to the organism. In the case of glyphosate, glyphosate-tolerant genes were isolated from a strain of Agrobacterium. These were inserted into the genome of the plant via a multi-step process resulting in a plant that can withstand the direct application of the herbicide. Genetic modification is also utilised for developing insect resistant plants by using insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt toxin. The promoter used to drive the expression of the foreign genes is generally the 35S promoter from the Cauliflower Mosaic Virus (CaMV). Not only are the virus and bacteria genes themselves potentially harmful (Ho, 2013; Ewen & Pusztai, 1999), but the plants are sprayed directly with herbicides. The herbicide-tolerant plants absorb the poisons and humans and domestic animals eat them.

The GMO industry claims that genetic engineering is no different than plant hybridisation, which has been practiced for centuries (FDA, 1992). It is the reason they gave, which the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted, for not having to submit GE food to rigorous safety testing to obtain FDA approval. This distortion of the facts needs to be corrected. One critical issue is that multiple genes are being transferred across taxonomical kingdoms in ways that do not occur by natural breeding methods (Bohn et al., 2014).

All living things are classified according to a ranking system that starts with species and sub species. Closely related species are grouped together under a rank that is called a genus. Closely related genera are grouped together under the rank of family. There are seven ranks. Starting with the highest they are: kingdom, phylum or division, class, order, family, genus, species.

Plants, animals, fungi, viruses and bacteria belong to separate kingdoms. Natural inter-breeding can take place between some species that belong to the same genus and very occasionally between species of different genera. However, species that belong to different families do not inter-breed and definitely species that belong to different kingdoms such as plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and viruses do not inter-breed in nature. Plants, for example, do not inter-breed with animals, bacteria or viruses. Genetic engineering allows for the transfer of genes between kingdoms in a way that does not occur naturally.

The other great misconception is that only one gene with the desired trait is inserted. At this stage, science is not sophisticated enough to insert a single gene and get it to work. To overcome this problem, scientists have to combine the gene with the desired trait (such as herbicide tolerance or pesticide production) with other genes that will make it work, such as promoter genes and marker genes. The result is a complex construction of transgenes that can come from bacterial, viral, fish, plant and other sources. This is completely different from natural hybridisation.

The stance taken by Monsanto, Dow, Bayer and the other purveyors of both chemicals and genetically engineered seeds is that GE food is “substantially equivalent” to non-GE products. According to the US FDA, “the substances expected to become components of food as a result of genetic modification of a plant will be the same as or substantially similar to substances commonly found in food, such as proteins, fats and oils, and carbohydrates” (FDA, 1992, Section I). The FDA maintains that it is up to the biotech companies that manufacture GE seeds to research and determine the safety of their products.

But Bohn et al. (2014) were able to discriminate between organic, conventional and GE soybeans without exception, based on vitamin, fat and protein content. Furthermore, they were able to distinguish GE soybeans from both conventional and organic by their glyphosate and AMPA (glyphosate degradation product) residues, as well as substantial non-equivalence in numerous compositional characteristics of soybeans. The researchers stated, “Using 35 different nutritional and elemental variables to characterise each soy sample, we were able to discriminate GM, conventional and organic soybeans without exception, demonstrating ‘substantial non-equivalence’ in compositional characteristics for ‘ready-to-market’ soybeans” (p. 207).

Exponentially increasing use of glyphosate world-wide

Since glyphosate was introduced in 1974 as the active ingredient in Roundup® it has become the most widely used herbicide for urban, industrial, forest and farm use (Monsanto, 2010). Pre-harvest application of glyphosate to wheat and barley as a desiccant was suggested as early as 1980, and its use as a drying or ripening agent 7-10 days before harvest has since become routine. It is now used on grain crops, rice, seeds, dried beans and peas, sugar cane and sweet potatoes (Monsanto, 2010; Orgeron, 2012; Orson & Davies, 2007). According to the Canadian Pulse Growers Association (PGA pamphlet, 2012), “Desiccants are used worldwide by growers who are producing crops that require ‘drying down’ to create uniformity of plant material at harvest. These products may also assist in pre- harvest weed control. In Canada, products such as diquat (Reglone) and glyphosate (Roundup) have been used as desiccants in pulse crops in the past, and there are new products on the way.” In 2012, 98% of spring wheat, 99% of durum wheat and 61% of winter wheat were treated with glyphosate or glyphosate salts in the US (USDA:NASS, 2013c). The glyphosate plots in this study include all formulations of glyphosate.

Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup®, states, “Since its discovery in the early 1970’s the unique herbicidal active ingredient glyphosate has become the world’s most widely used herbicide because it is efficacious, economical and environmentally benign. These properties have enabled a plethora of uses which continue to expand to this day providing excellent weed control both in agricultural and non-crop uses to benefit mankind and the environment. Glyphosate has an excellent safety profile to operators, the public and the environment. … It is approved for weed control in amenity, industrial, forestry and aquatic areas. Roundup Pro Biactive and ProBiactive 450 can be used at any time of the year as long as weeds are green and actively growing” (Monsanto, 2010, p.1).

The Monsanto document outlines use areas including vegetation control on agricultural land, on GE Roundup Ready Crops and on non-agricultural land. By 2006, glyphosate became used routinely for both agricultural and non-agricultural weed control and pre-harvest treatment. Since 1995, glyphosate use has rapidly increased with the planting of GE glyphosate-tolerant crops. Glyphosate and its degradation product, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) have been detected in air (Majewski et al., 2014, Chang et al., 2011), rain (Scribner et al., 2007, Majewski, 2014), groundwater (Scribner, 2007), surface water (Chang, 2011; Scribner, 2007; Coupe et al., 2012), soil (Scribner, 2007) and sea water (Mercurio et al., 2014). These studies show that glyphosate and AMPA persist in the soil and water, and the amounts detected are increasing over time with increasing agricultural use. Chang et al. (2011) reported that glyphosate was frequently detected in water, rain and air in the Mississippi River basin with concentrations as high as 2.5 μg/L in agricultural areas in Mississippi and Iowa.

Because glyphosate is in air, water and food, humans are likely to be accumulating it in low doses over time. Glyphosate residues of up to 4.4 parts per million (ppm) have been detected in stems, leaves and beans of glyphosate-resistant soy, indicating uptake of the herbicide into plant tissue  (Arregui et al., 2004). Reports from Germany of glyphosate in the urine of dairy cows (Kruger et al., 2013b), rabbits and humans (Kruger et al., 2014) ranged from 10-35 ppm. According to the study (Kruger, 2014, p. 212), “Chronically ill humans had significantly higher glyphosate residues in urine than healthy humans.” Furthermore, the cows were dissected and glyphosate residues in the tissues of the kidney, liver, lung, spleen, muscles and intestines were comparable to that found in the urine. This means that the glyphosate is not being passed through the urine without affecting the organism and that meat and dairy are an additional source of dietary glyphosate for humans.

Industry and lobbyists claim that GE crops reduce the amount of pesticides used on crops, resulting in a more sustainable agriculture. This has proved not to be the case. Since the introduction of GE seeds in 1996 the amount of glyphosate used on crops in the US has increased from 27 million pounds in 1996 to 250 million pounds in 2009 (US Geological Survey pesticide use maps, 2013). Charles Benbrook (2012) showed that there was a 527 million pound (239 million kilogram) increase in herbicide use in the United States between 1996 and 2011. Furthermore, Benbrook states that the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied. This has led to genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans tolerant of 2,4-D, which he predicts will drive herbicide usage up by approximately 50% more.

In the US, glyphosate residues allowed in food are some of the highest in the world. In July of 2013 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, 2013) raised the maximum allowable residues of glyphosate. An abbreviated list is provided in Table 1 and Table 2.

Full Text: Journal of Organic Systems

In reality, nothing was intended to be decided during US President Barrack Obama’s visit to Beijing, China. US policy regarding China has been more or less set for decades and only superficial, rhetorical changes are made year-to-year for a variety of shorter-term political reasons. 

And despite the language used to market America’s foreign policy both at home and abroad, what US President Obama is bringing with him to Beijing is yet another attempt to reassert geopolitical, military, and economic hegemony over China not only directly, but within China’s growing sphere of influence in Asia.

This includes attempts to sell the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – which in reality has nothing to do with “partnership” at all and is merely an attempt to erase national sovereignty as an obstacle to Wall Street and London’s Fortune 500 and their desire to expand their markets into the heart of Asia. Though China is not included in the TPP, a similar bilateral deal is being proposed by the US to open up Chinese markets to these same Western monopolies. Additionally, US domination of Asian markets through the TPP’s implementation will compliment economically, the geopolitical and military encirclement the US is attempting to achieve against China.

The Brush Fires 

As Air Force One touched down in Beijing, the US State Department’s ongoing political subversion in China’s special administrative region of Hong Kong continued. With the leaders of the so-called “Occupy Central” movement fully outed both by critics and even by many supporters of the movement as US-backed, Beijing labors under no delusions regarding the true nature or intentions of the United States and its perception of where China falls within what Washington policymakers and pundits call their “international order.”

In addition to Hong Kong, there is the restive region of Xinjiang where the United States is openly backing militant separatists who have been carrying out progressively more violent and widespread attacks across not only the troubled western province, but across all of China.

Beyond Hong Kong and Xinjiang, there is also a general campaign headed by the US State Department and its National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to sow chaos and sociopolitical division wherever and however it can across all of Chinese society – and within nations China is working hard to establish its influence economically, including across all of Southeast Asia.

Imagine a guest invited to one’s house, lighting the front lawn and backyard ablaze before crossing the threshold, and one begins to understand US foreign policy – a combination of threats, pressure, and “incentives” that constitute the now infamous “carrots and stick” policy the US has attempted to use against nations around the world.  One also begins to understand the infinite patience of China’s ruling political order as they host representatives from the West in Beijing in an attempt to avoid an escalating confrontation.

US Intent Versus Beijing Unchanged for a Century 

Despite US rhetoric of a “partnership” with China, it is clear by reading through decades of US policy papers regarding its intentions toward China that containment and eventually the co-opting of China’s political order is the only goal of everything the United States has been doing in the Pacific since the end of World War II. Before that, China served as a colonial enclave for the United States and many European interests. Today’s policy is little more than a polished version of the overt, racist imperialism that attempted to empty out China’s wealth and oppress its people before the outbreak of the World Wars.

During the Vietnam War, with the so-called “Pentagon Papers” released in 1969, it was revealed that the conflict was simply one part of a greater strategy aimed at containing and controlling China.

In 1997, US corporate-financier sponsored policymaker Robert Kagan would summarize US foreign policy versus China in a piece titled, “What China Knows That We Don’t: The Case for a New Strategy of Containment.” In title alone, America’s game of containment is revealed yet again.

The policy centers around the belief that there exists a “world order” which Kagan describes as follows:

The present world order serves the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it.

In 1997, Kagan appeared to believe this order was something immovable that China chaffed against. Today, we see a very different reality – a world order crumbling out from under the West’s ruling elite amid increasingly desperate attempts to reassert it where it has diminished or altogether vanished.

Kagan would define in detail, plans to contain China’s rise. Kagan would claim (emphasis added):

In truth, the debate over whether we should or should not contain China is a bit silly. We are already containing China — not always consciously and not entirely successfully, but enough to annoy Chinese leaders and be an obstacle to their ambitions. When the Chinese used military maneuvers and ballistic-missile tests last March to intimidate Taiwanese voters, the United States responded by sending the Seventh Fleet. By this show of force, the U.S. demonstrated to Taiwan, Japan, and the rest of our Asian allies that our role as their defender in the region had not diminished as much as they might have feared. Thus, in response to a single Chinese exercise of muscle, the links of containment became visible and were tightened.

The new China hands insist that the United States needs to explain to the Chinese that its goal is merely, as [Robert] Zoellick writes, to avoid “the domination of East Asia by any power or group of powers hostile to the United States.” Our treaties with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia, and our naval and military forces in the region, aim only at regional stability, not aggressive encirclement.

But the Chinese understand U.S. interests perfectly well, perhaps better than we do. While they welcome the U.S. presence as a check on Japan, the nation they fear most, they can see clearly that America’s military and diplomatic efforts in the region severely limit their own ability to become the region’s hegemon. According to Thomas J. Christensen, who spent several months interviewing Chinese military and civilian government analysts, Chinese leaders worry that they will “play Gulliver to Southeast Asia’s Lilliputians, with the United States supplying the rope and stakes.”

Indeed, the United States blocks Chinese ambitions merely by supporting what we like to call “international norms” of behavior. Christensen points out that Chinese strategic thinkers consider “complaints about China’s violations of international norms” to be part of “an integrated Western strategy, led by Washington, to prevent China from becoming a great power.

Kagan would also note (emphasis added):

The changes in the external and internal behavior of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s resulted at least in part from an American strategy that might be called “integration through containment and pressure for change.”

Such a strategy needs to be applied to China today. As long as China maintains its present form of government, it cannot be peacefully integrated into the international order. For China’s current leaders, it is too risky to play by our rules — yet our unwillingness to force them to play by our rules is too risky for the health of the international order. The United States cannot and should not be willing to upset the international order in the mistaken belief that accommodation is the best way to avoid a confrontation with China.

We should hold the line instead and work for political change in Beijing. That means strengthening our military capabilities in the region, improving our security ties with friends and allies, and making clear that we will respond, with force if necessary, when China uses military intimidation or aggression to achieve its regional ambitions. It also means not trading with the Chinese military or doing business with firms the military owns or operates. And it means imposing stiff sanctions when we catch China engaging in nuclear proliferation.

A successful containment strategy will require increasing, not decreasing, our overall defense capabilities. Eyre Crowe warned in 1907 that “the more we talk of the necessity of economising on our armaments, the more firmly will the Germans believe that we are tiring of the struggle, and that they will win by going on.” Today, the perception of our military decline is already shaping Chinese calculations. In 1992, an internal Chinese government document said that America’s “strength is in relative decline and that there are limits to what it can do.” This perception needs to be dispelled as quickly as possible.

obama_Xi_2014

 

Careful examination of this 1997 piece, representing a compilation of US foreign policy objectives regarding China, reveals that it not only was being implemented then, but the US is still attempting to implement it today.

Kagan would later end up a policy adviser to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who in late 2011 would pen an op-ed in Foreign Policy magazine titled, “America’s Pacific Century.” Despite being dressed up in diplomatic parlance, it is almost verbatim the same strategy of establishing regional hegemony in the Pacific and containing China described by Kagan over a decade beforehand. It includes overt admissions that the United States seeks to “play an active role in the agenda-setting” of regional institutions like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Since the US is not a Southeast Asian nation, one must question what legitimacy such a desire holds beyond consolidating a regional bloc, then using it as Kagan noted as “Lilliputians, with the United States supplying the rope and stakes.”

Neo-Imperialism Vs. Partnerships 

Ultimately, between Kagan’s 1997 analysis, US Secretary of State Clinton’s remarks in 2011 almost certainly ghostwritten by Kagan, and US President Obama’s agenda in Beijing this month with US-stoked chaos inflicting Hong Kong and Xinjiang among other places, it is clear the US is still pursuing an aggressive campaign of encirclement and containment versus Beijing.

The strategy versus China is multidimensional. It entails threats, political destabilization, and even armed terrorism within Chinese territory, as well as proxy wars around the planet designed to drive out Chinese interests – such as in Libya, Sudan, and Myanmar. There is also a push-pull strategy aimed at certain segments among China’s political and business elite. The West works ceaselessly to establish and cultivate institutions, networks, and agendas within China alongside certain Chinese interests, while it simultaneously works to undermine and uproot those Chinese interests that ultimately oppose Western hegemony both in Asia and within China itself.

The complexity of America’s current campaign of neo-colonization in the Asia-Pacific can be overwhelming, but with history as a guide, and consistency in US foreign policy papers transcending decades it should be clear that ultimately the US seeks to establish and maintain hegemony across Asia both directly and through a series of proxy regimes.

While the West will “partner” with those interests willing to put their own personal advancement ahead of China’s survival as a sovereign state, it is ultimately unable to enter any sort of “partnership” with China as a whole because it is unable to respect nations as equals. It is an exercise of the same racist, overtly imperial ambitions it pursued before the World Wars in Asia, and the same racist, overtly imperial ambitions the British Empire pursued before that.

China’s leadership, on the other hand, has exercised a resilient patience spanning decades and has exhibited a sociopolitical and cultural maturity unseen in Western foreign policy.

Moderation both domestically and abroad ensures enduring prosperity. Compared to the West’s limitless hunger for conquest – a hunger that has already outpaced its means – China needs only to wait and weather the West’s attempts to reassert itself in Asia, while sustainably advancing its own interests. Maturity includes temperance – an acknowledgment of limitations. While Beijing’s current political order is far from ideal, it understand that unlimited, unchecked greed and ambition may appear of maximum benefit to the individuals involved in the short-term, but is a death sentence for all involved in the long-term. Rampant corruption at home and overreaching ambitions abroad opens any given political order to predictable weaknesses that can invite disaster all on their own, or be exploited by enemies within and abroad.

Sustainably for China means not only resisting wasteful races with the West in response to geopolitical, military, and economic provocations, but also in terms of sabotaging the division the West is attempting to sow across Asia to build its united front to encircle and contain China. This can be done by ensuring not through words, but through actions, a commitment to the national sovereignty of its neighbors particularly in Southeast Asia, non-interventionism that will stand in stark contrast to the West’s perpetual meddling, and the continuation of infrastructure projects that provide mutual, tangible benefits politically and economically across the region.

In this regard, China already has a substantial head-start in a race it appears the United States is unaware even started. America’s brand of political meddling, economic manipulation, and “carrot and stick” geopolitics are the tired remnants of European imperialism. While not impossible for the US to retool its foreign policy, it is highly unlikely – and thus the inevitability of the West’s retreat from Asia is all but assured.

This may be why Beijing graciously allows the US to start fires upon its lawn before crossing the threshold for a visit – they know the US is a hegemon of diminishing menace.

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

China’s Renewable Energy Revolution: What Is Driving It?

November 17th, 2014 by John A. Mathews

Alongside its enormous “black” energy system, China is building a renewables energy system that is now the largest in the world. Following our previous articles on this topic in the Journal, we continue to report the latest trends in development of this renewables-based system, again focusing principally on the electric power system, and utilizing three sources of data from Chinese and international sources – capacity data (GW), electrical energy generation data (TWh) and investment data. We highlight that while the Chinese energy system as a whole is shifting in a green direction, at its leading edge (where new capacity is being added, and fresh electrical energy generated) it is turning green very rapidly. This provides a foundation for predicting future directions for the system as a whole, and eventual reductions in absolute carbon emissions. We note that China’s increasing reliance on renewables is consistent with a concern to enhance energy security, based on the observation that renewables are products of manufacturing rather than of extractive activities.

China is known as the world’s largest user and producer of coal, and the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. This is China’s “black face”. But less well known is China’s “green face”: the country is building the world’s largest renewable energy system – which by 2013 stood at 378 GW and generated just over 1 trillion kilowatt hours, by far the largest in the world. In terms of generating capacity, by 2013 China’s WWS sources (water, wind and solar) accounted for more than 30% of capacity (exceeding the unofficial 2015 target of 30%) and in terms of electrical energy generated, the WWS total was close to 20% of energy generated — exceeding the combined total of electrical energy produced by the power systems of France and Germany.1 The question arises: what are the drivers and implications of this extraordinary commitment towards renewables?

China’s drive to create the world’s largest renewable energy system is widely recognized by specialists. Dr James Hansen, prominent climate scientist, in a posting in early 2014 asserts that “China is now leading the world in installation of new hydropower, wind, solar and nuclear electricity generation.”2

The most recent data for 2013 lends support to Dr Hansen’s assertion, as well as very new data for the first half of 2014. Three sources of data may be drawn on: installed capacity (measured in gigawatts of power); generation of electrical energy (measured in billion kWh or TWh), where different sources are utilized with different capacity factors; and investment data. Together, these sources provide a realistic and multi-faceted assessment of China’s renewable energy revolution, and the progress made in accomplishing the goals laid out in the 11th and most recent 12th Five-Year Plan (FYP) covering the years 2011 to 2015.

1) Installed capacity

In terms of installed capacity, China now has the largest electric power system in the world, rated at 1.25 trillion watts (TW), exceeding the US power system’s capacity at 1.16 TW (and German at 175 GW).3 Renewables (water, wind, solar) accounted for around 30% of China’s capacity by 2013, while fossil fuels, mainly coal, still accounted for 69% — it is still a very black system (Mathews & Tan 2014a).

The year 2001 was the inflection point – which coincides with China’s entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This signalled to the world that China was “open for business” and manufacturing started to migrate to China in a big way – calling for drastic expansion of the energy system. In the time-honored way, replicating the actions of the West in the 19th century and Japan in the 20th century, what was expanded initially was the coal-burning system.4

The leading edge in capacity expansion is demonstrably getting greener. In 2013 China added about 100 GW of new capacity, of which 58% came from renewable (hydro, wind, solar PV) sources and just less than 40% from thermal (mostly coal) sources. China also added just 2.2 GW nuclear capacity in 2013. So China added more capacity in 2013 sourced from WWS than from fossil fuels and nuclear sources combined.5 In 2014 1H these proportions have dipped slightly, with 20 GW being added from WWS and just 15 GW being added from fossil fuels (or 53% from WWS) – with WWS still a majority of the new capacity added.

2) Electricity generation

Installed capacity is one thing; actual electrical energy generated is another. By 2013 China was generating a total of 5,361 billion kWh (or TWh), including 4,196 TWh from thermal power stations and 1056 TWh – or just under 20% – from renewable WWS sources. If the share of WWS in electricity generation continues to increase with its average growth (about 5% per year) since 2007 when China adopted a lower carbon strategy, then WWS would account for more than 26% of the electricity generation mix by 2020.

In this case the leading edge is also getting greener. For the year 2013, of the additional electrical energy generated (according to the 2014 BP Statistical Review) year-on-year, amounting to 373 TWh, 280 TWh came from thermal sources and 82 TWh from WWS – or WWS amounting to 22% of new additional energy generated. This is a higher proportion for WWS in additional energy generated than in the system as a whole.

Now it is true that large hydro has been the dominant component of this WWS category, driven by huge projects like the Three Gorges Dam. Large hydro accounted for 912 TWh of renewable electrical energy generated in 2013, compared with 132 TWh for wind and 12 TWh for solar PV – but the latter two sources are increasing rapidly. Of the additional electrical energy generated from WWS sources in 2013, more than half came from wind and solar PV. [39.5 TWh for hydro; 35.9 TWh for wind; and 5.7 TWh for solar PV] Solar and wind power are widely anticipated to be the dominant (combined) renewable sources by 2020.

3) Investment

The most revealing sign of the renewable energy revolution is from the investment data. Since 2007 the share of investment in renewable electric generation has increased steadily, from 32% of the total in 2007, passing 50% in 2011 and reaching 52% in 2013. Adding the investment in nuclear power, the proportion of investment in all non-fossil fuel-based electric generation increased from 37% in 2007 to 75% in 2013 while investment in thermal power plants declined from 62% to 25%. Here too then investment in green sources consistently outranks investment in fossil fuels and nuclear.

Thus our conclusion is that in 2013, China’s leading edge of change in its electric power system is moving in a green direction, away from fossil fuels dependence. We have demonstrated that this is so in terms of capacity added and in terms of investment, while in terms of generation of electrical energy the new WWS sources account for a higher proportion of new energy generated than for the system as a whole. Our argument is that these leading edge changes are consistent with trends towards renewables that are visible over several years, as shown in the Supplementary material, and place China in a leadership position. What we are demonstrating is that China’s ambitious goals to build a “green” renewables-based energy system alongside its “black” coal-fired system over the course of the 12th FYP is on track; indeed it is exceeding expectations.6 The most recent target from the National Development and Reform Commission (ND&RC) issued in March 2014, namely that China should have reduced the share of coal in total energy consumption to less than 65% by 2017, is likely to be fulfilled.7

“Leading edge” versus total system change

We emphasize that we are making a clear distinction between the state of China’s total energy system (in particular the electric power system) and its leading edge of change, as captured in the 2013 full-year data. China’s is a very large electric power system – as noted, now larger than that of the US. In terms of the slow-moving total system, China now has around 20% of its total electrical energy generated sourced from renewables, while around 30% of its generating capacity is built on renewables. (The difference is due to the lower capacity factors of renewable generating sources – themselves improving year by year.) The leading edge is clearly greener than the total system, which is why we can predict the direction of change of the total system as moving towards greater reliance on renewables.

The sources that are most widely discussed are wind power and nuclear. In terms of capacity, wind overtook nuclear by 2008, and by 2013 had grown to 91 GW, compared with less than 15 GW for nuclear – so that wind capacity exceeded nuclear capacity sixfold. In terms of actual electrical energy generated, wind drew level with nuclear in 2012, and has remained ahead as the preferred source since then (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. Electricity generation: Wind power vs. nuclear in China Source of primary data: the electricity generation data for wind and nuclear and the capacity data for wind is available from the 2014 BP Statistical Review of World Energy; the capacity data up for nuclear up to 2011 are available from the EIA International Energy Statistics database.

 

What are the likely future trends of these two sources? China is allowing the construction of four AP-1000 nuclear reactors by Westinghouse, with the first due to come on-line in 2014 and all four expected to be operational by 2016. The ND&RC envisages a target for growth in nuclear capacity to reach 50 GW by 2017 (generating 280 TWh), by which time wind plus solar are targeted to reach 220 GW. By 2017 the ND&RC expects China to have built 150 GW of capacity in wind power. How much electrical energy is this likely to generate? If we take the historic capacity factor of 20%, this would be expected to generate 255 TWh. But if we take the recently completed Salkhit wind farm in Mongolia as best practice example (50 MW, construction cost $120 million, output 168.5 GWh or capacity factor of 40%) then the 150 GW by 2020 should be adding 500 TWh of electricity in a year – around a fifth of China’s current needs. If we take the mean between these two extremes, and assume a capacity factor of 30% for wind, then the 150 GW target should be generating 375 TWh of electrical energy – comfortably exceeding the amount expected from nuclear. These are the trends in China.

Based on China’s abundant wind power resources, McElroy et al (2009) projected that China could build 640 GW of wind power by 2030. This is entirely consistent with recent trends, which have seen a doubling of capacity every two years, and with an anticipated target of 300 GW by 2020. Thus, while we agree with Dr Hansen’s assertion that China is building the world’s largest low-carbon energy system, it is difficult to agree with his follow-up assertion that China can only continue to do this by relying on nuclear power.8 On the contrary, China appears to be banking on a variety of low-carbon sources for its energy revolution – with the capacity to build a system based on manufacturing that can scale to grow with the country’s expanding economy, without impinging too aggressively on other countries’ fossil fuel resources.

What are the implications?

The common assumption is that it is concern over climate change (global warming) that drives China’s shift to renewables. Carbon emissions are certainly a topic of great concern to the Chinese leadership, as well they should; statements going back to 2009 and the Copenhagen conference indicate that by 2020 China is aiming to reduce carbon emissions as a proportion of GDP (carbon intensity) by 45% from 2005 levels. Our calculations shown in Fig. 2 reveal that this appears to be a realistic target.

Figure 2. China’s declining carbon emission intensity with target set for 2020 Sources of primary data: Carbon intensity data up to 2010 is available from US EIA; carbon intensity figures in 2012 and 2013 are estimated by authors based on the real GDP growth data available from Euromonitor and the carbon emissions data from BP 2014Statistical Review.

Important as this motive of reduced carbon intensity might be, we believe it is the least likely of the explanations for China’s shift. We believe the more plausible explanation for China’s new trajectory – and for the determination with which it is being pursued – is energy security (Mathews & Tan, 2014b).

All countries face a choice between, on the one hand, continued reliance on fossil fuels, with their geopolitical implications, including threat of military entanglements, and on the other an increasing reliance on renewables, which are based on manufacturing activities. So long as China is able to tap renewable sources of energy for manufactured devices to work on (solar and wind energy) it appears that it would be able to generate superior energy security through renewables than it would through continuing (or deepening) its reliance on fossil fuels. This appears to be well understood by the Chinese leadership. It is also reflected in China’s broader goals to reduce dependence on fossil fuels (particularly oil) in the transport sector, by increasing reliance on high-speed rail systems (where China leads the world) and on electric vehicles, including the charging infrastructure for EVs. These are seen as highest priority national infrastructure goals in China.

The other motivator for China’s push towards renewables is of course the scandal of the smog-blackened skies that are making the air unbreathable and life unliveable in the major cities. Scarcely a week goes by without some new story of terrible air pollution in Beijing, or Shanghai or Tianjin or some other major industrial centre. The Chinese leadership have to breathe the same air – at least up to a point. And this is clearly a powerful motivator in the drive to develop an energy system that is becoming less reliant on ‘black’ fossil fuels and more on ‘green’ renewables.9 It is notable that in 2013 China enacted several moves to cap coal consumption, particularly in coastal cities and in Beijing. The ND&RC policy noted above has banned construction of new coal-fired power stations in China’s most advanced regions including the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, and Beijing and its surrounding areas; a decline of the total coal consumption by 2017 is required as a performance indicator of the local governments in those areas.10

Manufacturing is the platform upon which China’s shift towards low-carbon sources of energy (and renewables in particular) is based, which in turn provides a platform for reducing costs due to learning curve effects. While the US is swinging behind an “energy revolution” based on alternative fossil fuels (shale oil, coal seam gas), China is clearly shifting towards greater independence of extractive activities and greater reliance on manufacturing for its growing appetite for power supplies.11 Manufacturing generates increasing returns, and can be expanded almost indefinitely – particularly if it works off recirculated materials, consistent with China’s goal of building a Circular Economy. By contrast, extractive activities are faced with eventual diminishing returns. This is why China’s swing towards renewables is good for China, and for the world.

John A. Mathews is Professor of Management, Macquarie University, Australia, and Eni Chair of Competitive Dynamics and Global Strategy at LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome. His research focuses on the competitive dynamics of international business, the evolution of technologies and their strategic management, and the rise of new high technology industries. He researches the development of the institutional capacities of firms and governments in the Asia-Pacific, internationalisation processes of firms and the theoretical explanations for latecomer firms’ success. His work has focused in recent years on the emergence of the ‘green economy’ and the transition to renewable energies, and the institutional changes needed to provide industrial capitalism with genuine long-term sustainability. He is the author of Strategizing, Disequilibrium, and Profit. Recent articles include “Knowledge flows in the solar photovoltaic industry: insights from patenting by Taiwan, Korea, and China,” (with C.Y. Wu) Research Policy, 2012, 41(3); and “Fast-follower industrial dynamics : the case of Taiwan’s emergent solar photovoltaic industry,” (with M.C. Hu and C.Y. Wu) Industry and Innovation, 2011, 18(2), 177-202. Email [email protected]

Hao Tan is a Senior Lecturer in International Business at the Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Australia. He also serves as a Convenor for the Master of International Business Program. Dr. Tan’s current research interests are in the interplays of international business strategy, innovation and economic geography, with a focus on the energy, resource and renewable energy sectors. Since 2009 he has published over 20 scholarly journal articles and book chapters. Email [email protected]

Their article “Economics: Manufacture renewables to build energy security,” appears in Nature, Vol 513, Issue 7517, 10 September 2014; their article “The Transformation of the Electric Power Industry in China” appears in Energy Policy, Vol. 52, January 2013.  

Recommended citation: John A. Mathews and Hao Tan, “China’s renewable energy revolution: what is driving it?”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 43, No. 3, November 3, 2014.

References

Hong, L., Zhou, N., Fridley, D. and Raczkowski, C. 2013. Assessment of China’s renewable energy contribution during the 12th Five Year Plan, Energy Policy, 62: 1533-1543.

McElroy, M.B., Lu, X., Nielsen, C.P. and Wang, Y. 2009. Potential for wind-generated electricity in China, Science, 325 (11 Sep 2009): 11378-1380.

Malakoff, D. 2014. The gas surge, Science, 344 (6191) (27 June 2014): 1464-1467.

Mathews, J. A. and Tan, H. 2014a. China’s Continuing Renewable Energy Revolution: Global Implications, The Asia-Pacific Journal, 12(12).

Mathews, J. A. and Tan, H. 2014b. Manufacture renewables to build energy security. Nature, 513 (11): 166-168.

Yuan, J., Xu, Y., Zhang, X., Hu, Z. and Xu, M. 2014. China’s 2020 clean energy target: Consistency, pathways and policy implications, Energy Policy, 65: 692-700.

Notes

1 In 2013 China produced 1056 billion kWh of renewable electrical energy, from hydro, wind and solar PV sources. In the same year Germany produced 579 billion kWh from all sources, and France produced 476 billion kWh from thermal and nuclear sources – giving total electrical energy produced in France and Germany of 1055 billion kWh, or what China produced from renewables alone.

2 See James Hansen, “Renewable energy, nuclear power and Galileo: Do scientists have a duty to expose popular misconceptions?”, 21 February 2014, here.

3 It is worth noting that US data is for “net” electrical energy generated, while for China it is “gross” energy generated. The difference is minor, amounting to around 5%; in any case thermal power stations use more electrical power (to load fuel supplies, remove ash and monitor operations) than renewables devices.

4 Note that the Chinese leadership appears to have “capped” the expansion of coal consumption at 3.5 Gt – with important implications for carbon emissions.

5 See also Mathews & Tan (2014a).

6 For recent scholarly discussion of China’s progress in the energy sphere, see Hong et al (2013) and Yuan et al (2014).

7 See the statement (in Chinese) here.

8 In his 2014 testimony to Congress, “Climate and Energy: Fundamental facts, responsibilities and opportunities,” Dr Hansen asserts: “Non-hydro renewables provide only a tiny fraction of global energy and do not appear capable of satisfying the large energy requirements of developing nations such as China and India.” See James Hansen, Testimony to the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 13 March 2014, here.

9 Christina Larson was certainly on the mark with her comment on the paradox of China’s “green energy and black skies”.

10 See “Beijing to ban coal use to curb pollution” (5 August 2014), here.

11 In the US, dependence on fossil fuels is being prolonged by the revolution in alternative fuels production, particularly coal seam gas and shale oil (Malakoff 2014). Overall, US generation of electrical energy from WWS sources has grown from 7.1% in 2003 to 10.6% in 2013, in a fairly even progression (Fig. A2 in Supplementary material). The shift to dependence on renewables has been much more pronounced in China.

It may well have been one of the more successful operations of silencing in Australia’s political history, a classic of “strategic incapacitation”, but the G20 summit could not contain the crass behaviour of its hosts.  Journalists and state representatives were treated to a spectacle of prosaic complaint, the cringe whinge fest that ranged between the puzzling and bizarre.

The chair of any summit, or session, sets the tone, even if it might be distant and hollow.  The opening speech of the Australian Prime Minister , Tony Abbott, made it plummet.  “What was he thinking?” asked Mike Reddy in a letter to The Age. “Did he expect a standing ovation from the other 19 leaders for stopping the boats and repealing the carbon tax?  Did he expect Barack Obama, who has struggled with an obstructionist Congress for six years, to a tear because he can’t get all is budget through the Senate?”[1]

Abbott did try to add salve to the wounds in winding up matters, suggesting that the G20 leaders had achieved something, even if it was a mere communiqué.  Over 800 reform measures were suggested, among them the establishment of a Global Infrastructure Initiative and pushing up participation rates of females in the workforce by 25 percent by 2025.

Tax evasion was also covered, with a proposal to prevent the use of anonymous shell companies to facilitate evading financial flows.  How this will be practically addressed is quite another matter.  (Governments and corporations, in this day and age, may be erratic bed mates, but they still remain bed mates.)  Naïve commentators ran with the lotus eating sentiment, suggesting that the communiqué spells an end to the prospects of another “Lux leaks” scandal.[2]  But the unilateral incentive remains too strong.

Then come the climate change pointers the Australian hosts were dreading: the enhancement of fuel quality, the reduction of carbon emissions from heavy-duty vehicles; healthier additions to the Green Climate Fund.  Abbott, finding himself cornered, could only speak about all countries wanting “to take strong and effective action against climate change”, achieved in ways “which build our growth and particularly strengthen our employment because that in the end is what it’s all about.”

There in lies a fundamental problem.  Growth has been the mania for most of the leaders gathered in Brisbane. But the convenient linking of climate change to the fetish for growth denies a fundamental contradiction.  In the words of Christopher Wright, “Economic growth, rising affluence and a growing world population are the major contributors to the current environmental crisis.”[3]

For all these monumental cleavages in the debates and the aspirations, it was perhaps fitting that these should be demonstrated with some vulgarity in the antipodes.  “The adolescent country.  The bit player. The shrimp in the school yard,” noted Robyn Dixon of the Los Angeles Times.[4]

Australia’s distance from the big game has not always been tyrannous. Prior to the dark depressions brought on by its calamitous involvement in the First World War, Australia proved more than a bit player in the progressive stakes.  In 1902, Australia became the second country after New Zealand to enfranchise women.  The country’s labour movement proved sprightly and enthusiastic in its campaign for Robert Owen’s vision of “Eight hours’ labour, Eight hours’ recreation, Eight hours’ rest”, making considerable gains throughout the nineteenth century.

Then came the ill-health that distance can breed.  Such sentiment oscillates between megalomania and indifference.  Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald got it down pat – the pathology of parochialism that screams across summit and meeting has become the modus operandi. It is a “provincial reflex” that hampers the making of policy. But Hartcher is also unduly glowing about the transformation of Australia’s bumpkin Weltanshauung as seen through the current prime minister.  “In the course of a year, Abbott has been transformed.  His provincial reflex has been replaced by an international inclination.”

Not quite, as the G20 antics have served to prove. Why push the constipated lament before fellow G20 leaders that he could not get efforts to make Australians pay $7 to see a doctor for each visit?  In the words of opposition leader Bill Shorten, “This was Tony Abbott’s moment in front of the most important and influential leaders in the world, and he’s whinging that Australians don’t want his GP tax.”

The maxim of “all politics is local” has seemed awkward and spiked with mediocrity.  Loftiness is avoided for mud ground pronouncements.  “The party room,” noted a pessimistic Nick Bryant in a Lowy Institute dispatch, “has trumped the halls of international summitry.”  So much so, in fact, that national priorities are determined by “the latest polling from the western suburbs of Sydney” rather than “diplomatic dispatches from Washington or Beijing.”[5]

Perhaps some of this is far more representative that we would wish. The G20 summits tend to be promoted as worthy gatherings that aspire to stratospheric goals with global scope.  They are the chatterer’s dream.  But Abbott’s behaviour has also shown that behind every grand hope for global worth lies a local provincial waiting to get out.  The globe is mere fantasy, while the locality of here and now matters above all, notably in terms of votes.  The shallowness of profligate junketing is all too evident, and continues to prove punishing for public treasuries.

The obvious point on the communiqué is that each country will, in its own way, take the parochial plunge on various points.  Some of the leaders will have no choice.  The vice of domestic politics can prove strong, restraining an ambitious executive.  The parochial plunge, however, comes easier to some.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: [email protected]

Notes

The Iraqi forces have found out that the US aircraft usually airdrop arms and food cargoes for ISIL militants who collect them on the ground, Asia news agency quoted Iraqi army’s intelligence officers as saying.

“The Iraqi intelligence sources reiterated that the US military planes have airdropped several aid cargoes for ISIL terrorists to help them resist the siege laid by the Iraqi army, security and popular forces,” added the report.

On Saturday, Iraqi security sources disclosed that the ISIL terrorist group is using the state-of-the-art weapons which are only manufactured by the US and each of their bullets are worth thousands of dollars.

“What is important is that the US sends these weapons to only those that cooperate with the Pentagon and this indicates that the US plays a role in arming the ISIL,” an Iraqi security source told FNA.

The source noted that the most important advantage of the US-made weapons used by the ISIL is that “these bullets pierce armored vehicles and kill the people inside the vehicle”.

He said each of such bullets is worth $2,000, and added, “These weapons have killed many Iraqi military and volunteer forces so far.”

The crisis in Iraq escalated after the ISIL militants took control of Mosul in a lightning advance on June 10, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) Northwest of the capital, Baghdad.

Soldiers of the Iraqi army, popular forces and Kurdish Peshmarga troops have been engaged in heavy fighting with the militants on different fronts and have so far been able to push them back in several areas.

With the launch of a new U.S.-led war in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State (IS), the United States has engaged in aggressive military action in at least 13 countries in the Greater Middle East since 1980. In that time, every American president has invaded, occupied, bombed, or gone to war in at least one country in the region. The total number of invasions, occupations, bombing operations, drone assassination campaigns, and cruise missile attacks easily runs into the dozens.

As in prior military operations in the Greater Middle East, U.S. forces fighting IS have been aided by access to and the use of an unprecedented collection of military bases. They occupy a region sitting atop the world’s largest concentration of oil and natural gas reserves and has long been considered the most geopolitically important place on the planet. Indeed, since 1980, the U.S. military has gradually garrisoned the Greater Middle East in a fashion only rivaled by the Cold War garrisoning of Western Europe or, in terms of concentration, by the bases built to wage past wars in Korea and Vietnam.

In the Persian Gulf alone, the U.S. has major bases in every country save Iran. There is an increasingly important, increasingly large base in Djibouti, just miles across the Red Sea from the Arabian Peninsula. There are bases in Pakistan on one end of the region and in the Balkans on the other, as well as on the strategically located Indian Ocean islands of Diego Garcia and the Seychelles. In Afghanistan and Iraq, there were once as many as 800 and 505bases, respectively. Recently, the Obama administration inked an agreement with new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to maintain around 10,000 troops and at least nine major bases in his country beyond the official end of combat operations later this year. U.S. forces, which never fully departed Iraq after 2011, are now returning to a growing number of bases there in ever larger numbers.

In short, there is almost no way to overemphasize how thoroughly the U.S. military now covers the region with bases and troops. This infrastructure of war has been in place for so long and is so taken for granted that Americans rarely think about it and journalists almost never report on the subject. Members of Congress spend billions of dollars on base construction and maintenance every year in the region, but ask few questions about where the money is going, why there are so many bases, and what role they really serve. By one estimate, the United States has spent $10 trillion protecting Persian Gulf oil supplies over the past four decades.

Approaching its 35th anniversary, the strategy of maintaining such a structure of garrisons, troops, planes, and ships in the Middle East has been one of the great disasters in the history of American foreign policy. The rapid disappearance of debate about our newest, possibly illegal war should remind us of just how easy this huge infrastructure of bases has made it for anyone in the Oval Office to launch a war that seems guaranteed, like its predecessors, to set off new cycles of blowback and yet more war.

On their own, the existence of these bases has helped generate radicalism and anti-American sentiment. As was famously the case with Osama bin Laden and U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, bases have fueled militancy, as well as attacks on the United States and its citizens. They have cost taxpayers billions of dollars, even though they are not, in fact, necessary to ensure the free flow of oil globally. They have diverted tax dollars from the possible development of alternative energy sources and meeting other critical domestic needs. And they have supported dictators and repressive, undemocratic regimes, helping to block the spread of democracy in a region long controlled by colonial rulers and autocrats.

After 35 years of base-building in the region, it’s long past time to look carefully at the effects Washington’s garrisoning of the Greater Middle East has had on the region, the U.S., and the world.

“Vast Oil Reserves” 

While the Middle Eastern base buildup began in earnest in 1980, Washington had long attempted to use military force to control this swath of resource-rich Eurasia and, with it, the global economy. Since World War II, as the late Chalmers Johnson, an expert on U.S. basing strategy, explained back in 2004, “the United States has been inexorably acquiring permanent military enclaves whose sole purpose appears to be the domination of one of the most strategically important areas of the world.”

In 1945, after Germany’s defeat, the secretaries of War, State, and the Navy tellingly pushed for the completion of a partially built base in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, despite the military’s determination that it was unnecessary for the war against Japan. “Immediate construction of this [air] field,” they argued, “would be a strong showing of American interest in Saudi Arabia and thus tend to strengthen the political integrity of that country where vast oil reserves now are in American hands.”

By 1949, the Pentagon had established a small, permanent Middle East naval force (MIDEASTFOR) in Bahrain. In the early 1960s, President John F. Kennedy’s administration began the first buildup of naval forces in the Indian Ocean just off the Persian Gulf. Within a decade, the Navy had created the foundations for what would become the first major U.S. base in the region — on the British-controlled island of Diego Garcia.

In these early Cold War years, though, Washington generally sought to increase its influence in the Middle East by backing and arming regional powers like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Iran under the Shah, and Israel. However, within months of the Soviet Union’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan and Iran’s 1979 revolution overthrowing the Shah, this relatively hands-off approach was no more.

Base Buildup 

In January 1980, President Jimmy Carter announced a fateful transformation of U.S. policy. It would become known as the Carter Doctrine. In his State of the Union address, he warned of the potential loss of a region “containing more than two-thirds of the world’s exportable oil” and “now threatened by Soviet troops” in Afghanistan who posed “a grave threat to the free movement of Middle East oil.”

Carter warned that “an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America.” And he added pointedly, “Such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

With these words, Carter launched one of the greatest base construction efforts in history. He and his successor Ronald Reagan presided over the expansion of bases in Egypt, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and other countries in the region to host a “Rapid Deployment Force,” which was to stand permanent guard over Middle Eastern petroleum supplies. The air and naval base on Diego Garcia, in particular, was expanded at a quicker rate than any base since the war in Vietnam. By 1986, more than $500 million had been invested. Before long, the total ran into the billions.

Soon enough, that Rapid Deployment Force grew into the U.S. Central Command, which has now overseen three wars in Iraq (1991-2003, 2003-2011, 2014-); the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan (2001-); intervention in Lebanon (1982-1984); a series of smaller-scale attacks on Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011); Afghanistan (1998) and Sudan (1998); and the “tanker war” with Iran (1987-1988), which led to the accidental downing of an Iranian civilian airliner, killing 290 passengers. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan during the 1980s, the CIA helped fund and orchestrate a majorcovert war against the Soviet Union by backing Osama Bin Laden and other extremist mujahidin. The command has also played a role in the drone war in Yemen (2002-) and bothovert and covert warfare in Somalia (1992-1994, 2001-).

During and after the first Gulf War of 1991, the Pentagon dramatically expanded its presence in the region. Hundreds of thousands of troops were deployed to Saudi Arabia in preparation for the war against Iraqi autocrat and former ally Saddam Hussein. In that war’s aftermath, thousands of troops and a significantly expanded base infrastructure were left in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Elsewhere in the Gulf, the military expanded its naval presence at a former British base in Bahrain, housing its Fifth Fleet there. Major air power installations were built in Qatar, and U.S. operations were expanded in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

The invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and of Iraq in 2003, and the subsequent occupations of both countries, led to a more dramatic expansion of bases in the region. By the height of the wars, there were well over 1,000 U.S. checkpoints, outposts, and major bases in the two countries alone. The military also built new bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (since closed),explored the possibility of doing so in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, and, at the very least, continues to use several Central Asian countries as logistical pipelines to supply troops in Afghanistan and orchestrate the current partial withdrawal.

While the Obama administration failed to keep 58 “enduring” bases in Iraq after the 2011 U.S. withdrawal, it has signed an agreement with Afghanistan permitting U.S. troops to stay in the country until 2024 and maintain access to Bagram Air Base and at least eight more major installations.

An Infrastructure for War

Even without a large permanent infrastructure of bases in Iraq, the U.S. military has had plenty of options when it comes to waging its new war against IS. In that country alone, a significant U.S. presence remained after the 2011 withdrawal in the form of base-like State Department installations, as well as the largest embassy on the planet in Baghdad, and a large contingent of private military contractors. Since the start of the new war, at least 1,600 troops have returned and are operating from a Joint Operations Center in Baghdad and a base in Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital, Erbil. Last week, the White House announced that it would request $5.6 billion from Congress to send an additional 1,500 advisers and other personnel to at least two new bases in Baghdad and Anbar Province. Special operations and other forces are almost certainly operating from yet more undisclosed locations.

At least as important are major installations like the Combined Air Operations Center at Qatar’s al-Udeid Air Base. Before 2003, the Central Command’s air operations center for the entire Middle East was in Saudi Arabia. That year, the Pentagon moved the center to Qatar and officially withdrew combat forces from Saudi Arabia. That was in response to the 1996 bombing of the military’s Khobar Towers complex in the kingdom, other al-Qaeda attacks in the region, and mounting anger exploited by al-Qaeda over the presence of non-Muslim troops in the Muslim holy land. Al-Udeid now hosts a 15,000-foot runway, large munitions stocks, and around 9,000 troops and contractors who are coordinating much of the new war in Iraq and Syria.

Kuwait has been an equally important hub for Washington’s operations since U.S. troops occupied the country during the first Gulf War. Kuwait served as the main staging area and logistical center for ground troops in the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq. There are still an estimated 15,000 troops in Kuwait, and the U.S. military is reportedly bombing Islamic State positions using aircraft from Kuwait’s Ali al-Salem Air Base.

As a transparently promotional article in the Washington Postconfirmed this week, al-Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates has launched more attack aircraft in the present bombing campaign than any other base in the region. That country hosts about 3,500 troops at al-Dhafra alone, as well as the Navy’s busiest overseas port.  B-1, B-2, and B-52 long-range bombers stationed on Diego Garcia helped launch both Gulf Wars and the war in Afghanistan. That island base is likely playing a role in the new war as well. Near the Iraqi border, around 1,000 U.S. troops and F-16 fighter jets are operating from at least one Jordanian base. According to the Pentagon’s latest count, the U.S. military has 17 bases in Turkey. While the Turkish government has placed restrictions on their use, at the very least some are being used to launch surveillance drones over Syria and Iraq. Up to seven bases in Oman may also be in use.

Bahrain is now the headquarters for the Navy’s entire Middle Eastern operations, including the Fifth Fleet, generally assigned to ensure the free flow of oil and other resources though the Persian Gulf and surrounding waterways. There is always at least one aircraft carrier strike group — effectively, a massive floating base — in the Persian Gulf. At the moment, theU.S.S. Carl Vinson is stationed there, a critical launch pad for the air campaign against the Islamic State. Other naval vessels operating in the Gulf and the Red Sea have launched cruise missiles into Iraq and Syria. The Navy even has access to an “afloat forward-staging base” that serves as a “lilypad” base for helicopters and patrol craft in the region.

In Israel, there are as many as six secret U.S. bases that can be used to preposition weaponry and equipment for quick use anywhere in the area. There’s also a “de facto U.S. base” for the Navy’s Mediterranean fleet. And it’s suspected that there are two other secretive sites in use as well. In Egypt, U.S. troops have maintained at least two installations and occupied at least two bases on the Sinai Peninsula since 1982 as part of a Camp David Accords peacekeeping operation.

Elsewhere in the region, the military has established a collection of at least five drone bases in Pakistan; expanded a critical base in Djibouti at the strategic chokepoint between the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean; created or gained access to bases in EthiopiaKenya, and the Seychelles; and set up new bases in Bulgaria and Romania to go with a Clinton administration-era base in Kosovo along the western edge of the gas-rich Black Sea.

Even in Saudi Arabia, despite the public withdrawal, a small U.S. military contingent has remained to train Saudi personnel and keep bases “warm” as potential backups for unexpected conflagrations in the region or, assumedly, in the kingdom itself. In recent years, the military has even established a secret drone base in the country, despite the blowback Washington hasexperienced from its previous Saudi basing ventures.

Dictators, Death, and Disaster

The ongoing U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia, however modest, should remind us of the dangers of maintaining bases in the region. The garrisoning of the Muslim holy land was a major recruiting tool for al-Qaeda and part of Osama bin Laden’s professed motivation for the 9/11 attacks. (He called the presence of U.S. troops, “the greatest of these aggressions incurred by the Muslims since the death of the prophet.”) Indeed, U.S. bases and troops in the Middle East have been a “major catalyst for anti-Americanism and radicalization” since a suicide bombing killed 241 marines in Lebanon in 1983. Other attacks have come in Saudi Arabia in 1996, Yemen in 2000 against the U.S.S. Cole, and during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Research has shown a strong correlation between a U.S. basing presence and al-Qaeda recruitment.

Part of the anti-American anger has stemmed from the support U.S. bases offer to repressive, undemocratic regimes. Few of the countries in the Greater Middle East are fully democratic, and some are among the world’s worst human rights abusers. Most notably, the U.S. government has offered onlytepid criticism of the Bahraini government as it has violently cracked downon pro-democracy protestors with the help of the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Beyond Bahrain, U.S. bases are found in a string of what the Economist Democracy Index calls “authoritarian regimes,” including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Yemen. Maintaining bases in such countries props upautocrats and other repressive governments, makes the United States complicit in their crimes, and seriously undermines efforts to spread democracy and improve the wellbeing of people around the world.

Of course, using bases to launch wars and other kinds of interventions does much the same, generating anger, antagonism, and anti-American attacks. A recent U.N. report suggests that Washington’s air campaign against the Islamic State had led foreign militants to join the movement on “an unprecedented scale.”

And so the cycle of warfare that started in 1980 is likely to continue. “Even if U.S. and allied forces succeed in routing this militant group,” retired Army colonel and political scientist Andrew Bacevich writes of the Islamic State, “there is little reason to expect” a positive outcome in the region. As Bin Laden and the Afghan mujahidin morphed into al-Qaeda and the Taliban and as former Iraqi Baathists and al-Qaeda followers in Iraq morphed into IS, “there is,” as Bacevich says, “always another Islamic State waiting in the wings.”

The Carter Doctrine’s bases and military buildup strategy and its belief that “the skillful application of U.S. military might” can secure oil supplies and solve the region’s problems was, he adds, “flawed from the outset.” Rather than providing security, the infrastructure of bases in the Greater Middle East has made it ever easier to go to war far from home. It has enabled wars of choice and an interventionist foreign policy that has resulted in repeateddisasters for the region, the United States, and the world. Since 2001 alone, U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Yemen have minimally caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and possibly more than one million deaths in Iraq alone.

The sad irony is that any legitimate desire to maintain the free flow of regional oil to the global economy could be sustained through other far less expensive and deadly means. Maintaining scores of bases costing billions of dollars a year is unnecessary to protect oil supplies and ensure regional peace — especially in an era in which the United States gets only around 10% of its net oil and natural gas from the region. In addition to the direct damage our military spending has caused, it has diverted money and attention from developing the kinds of alternative energy sources that could free the United States and the world from a dependence on Middle Eastern oil — and from the cycle of war that our military bases have fed.

David Vine,TomDispatch regular, is associate professor of anthropology at American University in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia. He has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, andMother Jones, among other publications. His new book, Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, will appear in 2015 as part of the American Empire Project (Metropolitan Books). For more of his writing, visit www.davidvine.net.

 

Roundup Is Dumped On Crops Right BEFORE Harvest … to Save a Buck

Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (technically known as “glyphosate”) has been linked to many diseases.

However, farmers appear to be dumping it on crops right before harvest.

Specifically, Monsanto International published a paper in 2010 touting the application of Roundup to kill crops right before harvest, in order to dry out the crops in advance and produce a more uniform and earlier harvest (starting on page 28):

Benefits of using glyphosate:

***

Uneven maturity and green tissue delays harvest. Spraying glyphosate desiccates green foliage & stems. The photograph (below left) shows the uniform dessication of sunflower by the use of glyphosate (Roundup Bioaktiv) applied by helicopter in Hungary (Czepó, 2009a). The photograph (below right) shows complete foliar desiccation of grain maize on the right side 14 days after application of glyphosate (Roundup Bioaktiv) at 0.54kg ae/ ha in 7 0L/ ha applied by helicopter using Reglojet nozzles and including Bandrift Plus at 0.1 % at 34% grain moisture in Hungary, with the untreated visible on the left-hand side.

Lower drying costs

Monsanto trials in Hungary on grain maize and sunflower clearly show the effect of the use of glyphosate on % grain moisture ….

At harvest glyphosate treated maize had moisture content some 4% lower than untreated maize. Glyphosate treated sunflower seed moisture was 10+°/0 lower than untreated sunflower. Treated grain was at 19 and 7% respectively in these trials.

The requirement to further dry the seed/ grain to 14-16% for stable storage of maize, or 8-10% for sunflower, was thus either reduced or eliminated.

***

Earlier harvest to get higher price

Harvest management is an important management technique enabling earlier harvest, particularly important for the ‘stay-green’ hybrids. Increased levels of ‘stay-green’ trait may result in such desiccation practice becoming ever more common in sunflowers (Larson et al, 2008). Some commercial trials on grain maize in Hungary, as above, commented on earlier harvest bringing a higher price. Work on sunflower in by North Dakota State University department of Plant Science show that glyphosate brought harvest earlier by 5-10 days (Howatt, 2007). Sunflower harvest was brought forward 2-3 weeks by glyphosate treatment in Hungary (Monsanto, 2009a).

***

By bringing harvest date forward 2-3 weeks growers can more often meet the optimum planting date for winter wheat establishment so maximising yield (Czepó, 2009b).

Given that enough Roundup is applied to full-grown plants to completely kill them, much higher quantities of Roundup are obviously being applied than would be required simply to keep away insects (while keeping the plants alive).

Similarly, the plants don’t have time to metabolize or otherwise get rid of the Roundup, and there is not time for rains to wash away the Roundup before harvest. Instead, Roundup is dumped on the plants to dry them out, and then they are immediately harvested … with high levels of Roundup still present.

Big agribusiness may save a buck … but we may all be paying with our health.

H/t Dr. Stephanie Seneff.

We are joined by Dr. Graeme MacQueen, co-editor of The Journal of 9/11 Studies, for an in-depth discussion on his important new book, The 2001 Anthrax Deception : The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy.

Shortly after 9/11, the US was once again gripped by fear as letters containing anthrax were sent through the post to news media offices and two US Senators, killing five and infecting perhaps dozens of others. Initially widely blamed on Al Qaeda and Iraq, the attacks were used to justify and accelerate the USA PATRIOT Act. But as evidence grew that the anthrax spores had originated in laboratories embedded in the US military-industrial complex, attention was diverted to looking for the “lone nut”, a quest that ended with a convenient suicide.

But what, asks Dr. MacQueen, should we conclude from all the “intelligence” that supposedly pointed towards Al Qaeda and Iraq in the first place? Was it all error? Or was it, as he persuasively argues, a nexus of “faulty” intelligence, “prescient” media reports, “tips”, and astonishing “coincidences” that inescapably points towards a group of insiders within the US state apparatus itself? And if so, argues Dr. MacQueen, the evidence heavily suggests that this group was also responsible for planning the 9/11 attacks.

Original Audio  music148    Interview Notes  Open-folder-info48   

Transcribed by Michael Cornelius

(Please Note: In this transcript the capitalised word “Hijacker” denotes “alleged hijacker”, following the convention employed by Dr. MacQueen in his book.)

Julian Charles:  Hello everyone, Julian Charles here of The Mind Renewed.com, coming to you as usual from the depths of the Lancashire countryside here in the U.K.  Today is the 9th of October 2014, and it is my privilege to welcome to the programme, Dr. Graeme MacQueen.  Dr. MacQueen holds a PhD in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University.  He taught for 30 years in the Department of Religious Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, where he was a founding director in 1989 of McMaster’s Center for Peace Studies.  He has co-directed projects in four war zones, and written articles and contributed to several books in Peace Research.  He’s also written several peer-reviewed articles on 9/11 anomalies, served on the steering committee of the Toronto Hearings into 9/11, is a member of the Consensus 9/11 Panel, and is co-editor with Kevin Ryan of the Journal of 9/11 Studies.  Dr. McQueen, thank you very much indeed for joining us on The Mind Renewed.

Graeme MacQueen:  Thank you for having me, Julian – my pleasure.

JC:  Now, we’re going to be talking today about your new book, The 2001 Anthrax Deception : The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy, which takes a critical look at the events and circumstances surrounding the so-called “Anthrax Attacks” of 2001 in the U.S., a little bit after 9/11. It examines them from the vantage point of 13 years of hindsight in a way that I think is very revealing; indeed I would say it dismantles the official explanation of those attacks and provides further erosion of the official 9/11 narrative.  (And for anyone who has not read it yet, let me say that although it is clearly an academic work with all the rigour, footnotes and references that one might expect, it’s nevertheless very readable. I think it’s a compelling read; a bit like a crime novel in some ways.) So that’s the subject of our conversation.

Let me start, Dr. MacQueen, by asking you about your background in Peace Studies, and what part that may have played in the kind of work you’re doing now.  Could you give us an idea of Peace Studies as an academic discipline, and how you got into that area of research?

GM:  Yes, I’ll do my best.  Peace Studies and Peace Research really began in the 1950s with a few individuals like Johan Galtung, from Norway, and subsequently a number of people, including people from Britain, such as Adam Curle.  Programmes were established around the world. The University of Bradford, in England, had one of the strongest.  There’s no generally-accepted official definition of Peace Studies, but it obviously has to do with war and peace; some would say, more generally, violence and peace.  Some people say: “It has to do with the causes of war and the conditions for peace,” which is not bad, except that that implies a rather conventional view of what war is.  One of the [most significant] contributions of some of the greatest Peace Studies intellectuals has been to formulate a quite different view of what war is: War is not an event; war is a system. That has many implications, and it even has implications for the work I do in studying 9/11 and anthrax.

But what you need to know is that initiatives for peace often flourish at the very times when war is most prominent, and that’s because people react against war; they’re disgusted by it, and they try to think of alternatives.  This has happened repeatedly in history.  So, for example, the US involvement in Vietnam in the 1960s led to quite a few developments in Peace Studies in the United States as a reaction to that: “We shouldn’t be doing this; this is wrong; it doesn’t make sense intellectually; it’s certainly not worthy of us morally.  What could we do that would be an alternative to that?” and so on.  And as the Cold War went on and people began to worry about nuclear annihilation, again people said: “This is absurd; we need to do something about this; universities aren’t challenging conventional thinking nearly enough; they can’t leave this to international relations experts and diplomats; we need new methods, new thinking, new institutions.” And this led to a flowering of programmes internationally.

I call it “a flowering,” even though those who’ve been involved in establishing and maintaining those programmes may not react to that metaphor very well, because it’s often more like rolling a stone up a hill.  In other words, you often don’t get a lot of support either from the institution itself (universities) or from governments.  The Thatcher Government went after the University of Bradford programme. These programs, if they are going to be worth anything at all, have to be willing to criticise governments, the military-industrial complex, and corporations that make money out of war; therefore the odds that they’re going to get a wonderfully huge grant are very slim.

JC:  So, this research is not looking at war as an event, but rather as a whole set of conditions, circumstances and processes that lead to war.

GM:  Yes, I don’t want to pretend to speak for all of Peace Studies.  Like any discipline, still in the early stages of developing its concepts, there’s much dissent and disagreement; so there’s no one view in this.  I’m just saying that, for me, one of the greatest insights in thinking about peace is to approach war as an institution.  Forget about events; forget about, “The war broke out here”, or “What is the cause of war?” Think rather that war is an enduring, but theoretically dispensable, institution that human beings resort to.  And it’s solidified internationally through what we call “the military-industrial complex,” and through certain cultural views.  But it isn’t eternal; it’s not necessary; it’s not essential to human beings; and it may be that it’s time we reined it in.

JC:  Can I ask you what made you start questioning 9/11 itself?

GM:  Yes, my answer could go on too long, so I’ll give you the short version. When the event happened I was certainly not convinced that it had been done by so-called “Al Qaeda”, but that doesn’t mean I was brilliantly seeing through the event. I was simply waiting for evidence that they had done it, and I assumed that would eventually be provided to us.  I was pretty sceptical initially, but like most people I kind of fell asleep. After a while we thought: “Oh well, I guess they must have done it.  Everybody seems to accept that, so, even though I haven’t actually seen the evidence myself, it must be true.”  I had a period of what I think of as my dogmatic slumber from late-2001 till about 2005.  I became aware during that period that there were people who questioned the event, and I certainly never ridiculed them or excluded that possibility.  But I was too busy, I thought, with other things to look into it properly:  I was busy trying to stop an invasion of Afghanistan, initially, then I was busy trying to stop an invasion of Iraq—naturally, I failed with all those things.  Then, eventually in 2005, I was challenged by somebody who said to me: “You haven’t looked into this.  You don’t realise 9/11 was a fraud because you don’t know anything about it.”  I realised he was right.  Sometimes, it’s good to be challenged.  So I did look into it, and in late 2005 I began to clear my desk of other materials and decided to figure out what was going on.  And I decided rather rapidly that this appears to have been a fraudulent event; it doesn’t hang together at all.  And by 2006, I was doing my own research in primary sources and publishing an article, and so on.  And the more research I did—and this has continued to the present day—the more I became convinced that this is not simply an event about which we should ask questions.  This is not merely a government account that has problems or a few difficulties.  This was one of those, perhaps, rare cases in history when we could actually say the official story of 9/11 is wrong, and we can prove it—we can prove it.  That’s the position I eventually reached.

JC:  Your book certainly contributes to that conclusion, and we’re going to delve into some of the detail of the book in a moment. But I think we need a short recap on the events of the Anthrax Attacks, because the media has pretty much shelved this whole business, and I suspect our collective memory of those days is pretty hazy, especially here in the U.K.  So could you give us a recap on the main events of those Attacks, and perhaps a flavour of how they were portrayed by the media at the time?

GM:  Yes, when I first began looking into the Anthrax Attacks a few years ago, I didn’t remember much about them either.  They weren’t a huge deal in Canada – though probably even less in the U.K. – but I did remember that shortly after 9/11 there was this scare: spores of this bacteria called “anthrax” were put into envelopes and sent around through the mail.  So I decided to look into it.

What happened was this: Approximately one week after the 9/11 attacks, somebody—individual or group, and in my view a group—put spores of the bacteria anthrax (which causes the disease that we also call anthrax) into envelopes and sent them around.  The first wave went mainly to news agencies.  There were also written notes in those envelopes conveying rather crude threats. By late September, people were beginning to get ill at various of these news agencies, but it wasn’t initially diagnosed as anthrax; it took a while.  It was not diagnosed until October 3rd, when a man in Florida by the name of Robert Stevens was officially diagnosed as having pulmonary anthrax, which is the most deadly form.  It’s what you get when you breathe it in.  He died two days later, October 5th.  The anthrax scare, then, as a kind of official event that happened after his death, lasted from about October 5th till well into November.  During that period, there was a series of deaths – not a lot of deaths, certainly not compared to 9/11 -  but five people died of anthrax, and about 22 are generally said to have become ill from it.  Some people think that’s an underestimate, and that it was as high as 50 or so.  Some of the people that got ill simply had a few symptoms, got over it and went back to normal, but not all did.  Sometimes, anthrax can leave you permanently disabled.  So, it was pretty serious stuff.

What people have to realise is that, while these Anthrax Attacks were happening – and while the American population was increasingly coming to think that this was the second blow of a one-two punch strike at America (9/11 being thought of as the first blow and anthrax the second blow by the same terrorist perpetrator) – a number of other really important things were happening in the United States.  The bombing of Afghanistan began just a couple of days after the first anthrax death. Preparations, which were now quite overt and public, began for attacking Iraq. The USA PATRIOT Act, which seriously ate into the civil rights of Americans, was passed during the Anthrax Attacks, and there are all sorts of direct connections between the two. (You might say Congress was frightened into passing the PATRIOT Act, in part by the Anthrax Attacks.) And the NSA began its infamous mass-spying on the US population during the early part of this period as well.  So yes, a lot of important things were happening during the Anthrax Attacks.

JC:  Is it right that two senators were targeted at this time—two Democratic Senators, Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy? And was that done, do you feel, in order to persuade them to come on board with the PATRIOT Act?

GM:  Yes, they were attacked; and yes, that’s why it was done – I’m quite certain.  They were part of what we might call “the second wave of anthrax letters.”  The preparation of anthrax spores used in this case was even more refined and more lethal than in the first wave.  So, figuring out what the meaning of the Anthrax Attacks might be requires looking at the intimidation of Congress and specifically at the letters sent to those two senators.

JC:  But I understand from your book that they weren’t actually against the PATRIOT Act; they were sort of dragging their heels on the issue.

GM:  That’s right.  In fact, when I first began exploring the anthrax letters sent to these two senators, I thought that the common view that they were sent these letters to help get the PATRIOT Act passed didn’t seem to work, because they weren’t putting up much resistance to the PATRIOT Act.  They’re two very prominent and crucial Democratic Senators; I mean, if they didn’t agree with the PATRIOT Act, it wouldn’t have gone through.  But when I looked at their views, I thought they had been successfully intimidated by the 9/11 attacks.  They had come around to thinking that the PATRIOT Act was necessary; they had agreed to work with the Government to get it passed.  So, initially, I thought: I don’t think the anthrax letters could have been sent to them for that reason.  But the more I looked into it, the more I realised that they were sent to intimidate them, and that is because, although they approved of the PATRIOT Act in general and wanted to work to get it through, they were slowing things down.  There was a particular event on October 2nd when they really put their feet down and said: “You know, this isn’t working for us; you must give way a little bit.”  It’s at that point that the anthrax letters were sent to them.

JC:  So, this was all part of creating a climate of fear, and generally in the population too, in order to get support for the PATRIOT Act, and for the NSA to start collecting on everybody.

GM:  That’s correct.  As I say in the book, as the Anthrax Attacks began there were many references in the mass media to “anxiety”, “fear” and “panic”, terms used repeatedly to describe the state of mind of the US population as these Anthrax Attacks proceeded.  There were similar references to the state of mind of Congress.  In my view, causing the panic was part of the operation, but also talking about it a lot through the mass media was part of the operation.  I do think the mass media permitted themselves to be used shamelessly in this operation, and spreading fear was part of their job.

JC:  You mentioned that the two senators were attacked with a very refined form on anthrax.  Now, I believe this is sometimes referred to as “weaponised anthrax.”  Could you tell us what that is?

GM:  Right, well, we won’t find everybody agreeing on the definition of “weaponised.”  The FBI eventually took the position that the anthrax was not weaponised, that none of the anthrax used in the attacks was weaponised.  In my view, that’s clearly false, even if you accept their definition of weaponised; but I don’t accept their definition.  They try to make it a very special kind of technical definition.  Basically, to weaponise anything is to prepare it such that it becomes a more effective weapon; that’s all “weaponised” really means.

What we’re talking about is a naturally occurring bacterium. It’s especially common among herbivores, it’s parasitic, and it can cause disease and death. But if someone wants to make it into an effective weapon, they can’t rely upon natural anthrax; it’s not going to do the job well enough.  So, it’s been known for years that it has to be prepared in special ways.  Some of the things that happen in nature have to be prevented.

In nature, it’s quite common for bacteria to form what’s called endospores when, for example, nutrients are scarce. You might say they ‘sleep’ in this condition, which is typically a very durable form of the bacterium. Then, when nutrients are provided, they will ‘awaken’ again.  This is what happens with anthrax.  If you breathe in one of these anthrax endospores, it gets into your lungs, finds itself in a perfect environment, and ‘awakens’ – turns into a more active form, and does its lethal job.  So, in order to make it into a weapon, one requirement is to prevent the clumping that tends to happen in nature. You see, anthrax is most lethal when it’s breathed in.  You can get cutaneous anthrax through the skin if you have an open wound; you can get an intestinal form if you eat, say, anthrax-infected meat; but by far the most dangerous form – which humans therefore choose to weaponise – is pulmonary or inhalation anthrax, where you breathe it in. That’s deadly; about 90% of the people that get inhalation anthrax will die from it.  So, it’s very lethal, and people who like thinking up exotic weapons will say: “Wow, look at that! Look at how lethal it is!”  But they’re also going to say: “In nature the spores clump together, so they don’t float around very well. We want a beautiful aerosol of tiny anthrax spores floating around in a cloud, almost like smoke.  So, if somebody opens the letter in a building, it floats out of the letter and contaminates the whole building.”  That’s exactly what happened, by the way, when Tom Daschle’s secretary opened the letter on October 15th in the Hart Senate Building; it was like smoke.  It came out of the envelope, floated around and contaminated the whole building – partly because it got transferred around on people’s clothing and entered the air ducts.  The whole building had to close down for months, and be cleaned out.  Imagine that, just from a tiny little bit of anthrax in an envelope!

So, how do you solve that?  Well, one way is to coat the anthrax spores.  What’s needed is a very fine and even product of tiny spores, without much refuse, just the right size to enter through the nasal passages and to become lodged in the lungs.  If they’re too big, they’ll get caught in the nasal passages; if they’re too small, they’ll be breathed right out again. Then the anthrax spores need to be coated with a substance that turns them into an aerosol; it gets rid of this tendency towards static clumping.

The point is, we have very strong evidence that all those things were done to the anthrax used in the Anthrax Attacks, and especially in the letters to the senators.  So when I say it was weaponised, I say it had had several things done to it to change it from the natural form of anthrax to a very lethal form of anthrax that could be used as a weapon.

JC:  Yes, and actually the sophistication of that material turns out to be an essential component in your argument, and no doubt we will come back to that in a few minutes. Let’s turn to the main arguments of your book.  In Chapter One, you give a list of statements that you’re going to argue for throughout the rest of the book. (You do make it quite clear that you’re not presenting a comprehensive account or a comprehensive analysis of the attacks; you are just alerting us to key pieces of evidence that support the following propositions.)  I’ll paraphrase your list if I may, the we’ll go from there.

GM:  Sure.

JC:  You say:

A: The Anthrax Attacks were carried out by a group of people, not a lone wolf
B: This group of criminals included deep insiders within the US executive branch
C: These people were linked to, or indeed identical with, the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks
D: The Anthrax Attacks were the result of a conspiracy aimed at redefining the enemy of the West away from the Cold War paradigm towards the Global War on Terror
E: This Global War on Terror paradigm has enabled the US executive branch to reduce civil liberties in the US, to attack other nations, and to weaken the rule of law both domestically and internationally.

Okay, so what I want to do is to look at your first two points: that this was a group of people, not a lone wolf, and that this group involved US government insiders. Now, in reaching these conclusions, you lay out four, I think, very helpful “quadrants” (as you call them in the text), and in these quadrants you have various hypotheses (“perpetrator hypotheses,” as you call them).  You describe them like this:

Q1: It could have been a foreign individual
Q2: It could have been a foreign group
Q3: It could have been a domestic individual
Q4: It could have been a domestic group

And you track the history of how the officially-preferred hypothesis (which was ‘a foreign group’), gradually shifted along to become ‘a domestic individual’ as difficulties arose for the explanation.  So, could you talk us through how and why that shift happened from the foreign-group-preferred hypothesis through to the domestic-individual one?

GM:  I’ll do my best.  All the options were on the table when the anthrax was first discovered.  That is to say, when it first became clear that anthrax was in play on October 3rd, 2001, people began brainstorming: “What going on? Is this a lone perpetrator, some insane individual in the United States?  Is it somebody from abroad?  Is it connected to the 9/11 attacks?”, and so on.  But pretty rapidly the most popular hypothesis in the US became that it was done by the same group, or a connected group, that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. We know this because a survey conducted in mid-October showed that over 60% of the US population thought that Al-Qaeda was involved in some way.  So, that was the most successful hypothesis.  But another hypothesis was meanwhile making its way around, which was that Iraq was responsible for the anthrax. There were lots of reasons for people to choose Iraq.  After all, who’s Al-Qaeda? – a small, poorly-funded group with caves and crude training camps in Afghanistan.  There’s no evidence that they had ever produced anthrax, and they especially couldn’t have come up with the kind of sophisticated product that seemed to be going around.  Iraq, on the other hand, had had an anthrax programme at one point in the past; and this was known. A state has laboratories, production facilities and finances that a little group like Al-Qaeda doesn’t have.  So, the idea formed: “Well, we don’t like Iraq, and we’ve been worried about their weapons of mass destruction for some time; maybe this has got their fingerprints.”  Then, by mid-October, a slightly more sophisticated hypothesis came about, that they were both involved; which is what I call The Double Perpetrator Hypothesis.  According to this, the anthrax came from Iraq, but Iraq provided it to Al-Qaeda, who then acted as the foot soldiers – the people on the ground who took the stuff, put it in the envelopes, wrote the little notes, and sent it off.  That hypothesis went from strength to strength in October of 2001, and was believed by enough people to help the PATRIOT Act go through, which was signed into law by George Bush on October 26th.

JC:  What kind of justification was offered for linking Iraq to Al-Qaeda, apart from what you’ve already said?

GM:  Linking Iraq to Al-Qaeda was one of the major projects of what I broadly call the neoconservatives in the United States.  There was a group that had been wanting to get Iraq for years.  Wolfowitz was an example of somebody in that camp; James Woolsey, former head of the CIA, was another.  These people had been angry that Bush, Sr. had not gone in, finished the job in Iraq, thrown out Saddam Hussein and put in somebody they liked.  They had never ceased campaigning to get rid of Saddam, and they had looked for every opportunity.  One of the arguments they were making was that Iraq and Al-Qaeda were connected.  So: “If this terrible Al-Qaeda has done the 9/11 attacks, and is connected to Iraq… wow, we’ve got to go after Iraq!”
They gave us various stories, Julian. There was a story that the head of the Hijackers, Mohammed Atta, had met with an Iraqi diplomat in Prague.  That was an example.  There were other stories of this kind, some of which supposedly came from Iraqi dissidents and expatriates.  To make a long story short, it was all baloney.  Iraq did not support Al-Qaeda; they had very different ideologies, very different views of the world.  They didn’t work together, and the CIA knew they didn’t work together. So did British intelligence, by the way; we know this from the Downing Street Memo.  It was well-known in the intelligence community that they didn’t work together.  But, that didn’t prevent the proponents of this double-perpetrator thing from trying, over an extended period, to claim that they were working together.  This was one of several stories that fell apart.

JC:  It doesn’t seem extremely likely to me that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden would have been the best of mates.

GM:  They weren’t working together; they definitely weren’t.

JC:  Do you think what really sold this 9/11 connection to the general population were the notes that appeared with some of these attacks?  I have one in front of me here. Reading from the top, it says: “9/11/01.  You cannot stop us.  We have this anthrax.  You die now.  Are you afraid?  Death to America.  Death to Israel.  Allah is great.”  Do you think those were the things that really made people believe that there was an Al-Qaeda connection here?

GM:  Sure, that was part of it.  The Al-Qaeda hypothesis was already making the rounds before the text of the letters was discovered, but there’s no doubt that the letters, briefly at least, helped to implicate Al-Qaeda.  I mean, there it is—9/11, the date, given right at the top of each one of these letters, and then, as you say, this kind of crude, almost Hollywood caricature of an Islamic extremist—death to this, death to that—obviously made to look like Al-Qaeda.  So yes, that had an effect; that helped frame Al-Qaeda. Meanwhile the framing of Iraq was going on in a somewhat separate way.  So, for example, at the end of October, ABC news claimed that experts had discovered a substance in the anthrax that coats the spores, namely Bentonite.  And they said: “Oh, my gosh, you’ve got three (and then it became four) independent expert sources telling us there’s Bentonite helping to weaponise this anthrax.  And Bentonite is Saddam Hussein’s signature.  It’s a particular substance that only Iraq uses to weaponise its anthrax.”  So there you go: you’ve got the letters which seem to point to Al-Qaeda, you’ve got the Bentonite pointing to Iraq – there you have the double-perpetrator.

JC:  Did the Bentonite thing hold water?

GM:  The Bentonite thing did not hold water. It’s just another story or scenario; it’s another cooked-up fiction that we were all supposed to buy.  Bentonite, by the way (and this amuses me), was described in one of these ABC reports as “the powerful additive.”  You kind of want to tremble at this horrible Bentonite.

JC:  It sounds like Kryptonite in the Superman comics.

GM:  Yes, exactly.  Actually it’s clay, and it’s used in Kitty Litter, so it’s not a particularly scary thing. But the point is that there wasn’t any in the anthrax, and ABC news had to back off pretty quickly and say, “Well, actually, it looks now as if maybe there isn’t any Bentonite.”  The whole story of the double-perpetrator collapsed quite quickly.

Your basic question to me was how do we get from ‘foreign group’ to ‘domestic individual’, and I’m slowly struggling to get there.  Once the idea that Iraq was involved fell apart, there was not a shred of evidence Iraq had anything to do with it.  And finally people started to admit that: “Al-Qaeda without Iraq? How does Al-Qaeda fit in?  Al-Qaeda couldn’t have made this substance; there’s no way.  This was really refined anthrax spore.”  So, as soon as the Iraq hypothesis died, the Al-Qaeda hypothesis was twisting in the wind; it didn’t make sense.

JC:  You say another mistake was made in choosing the Ames strain of anthrax. That also didn’t fit with Iraq.

GM:  That’s correct.  I’m not sure why they chose the Ames Strain; there are various hypotheses.  In any case, the anthrax used was a particular genetic strain of anthrax, which had first been isolated in Texas, and which was used mainly in American labs, especially military labs.  The US had shared it with a few allies, but there wasn’t the slightest evidence that Iraq or Al-Qaeda had ever gotten hold of the Ames strain.  So, here you have the Ames strain, which is common in relevant military labs in the United States as part of the US bioweapons program; and then then you’ve got it weaponised through this very sophisticated “micro-encapsulation process” with the addition of silicon (which is also characteristic of the US program).  So, by the end of October, there are people saying: “This looks like something from one of our own programmes.”  Finally, the FBI sees it has no alternative but to admit that, and that’s how the ‘domestic individual’ becomes the top hypothesis. Because once you’ve admitted, which they had by the end of 2001—the White House, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and all of them by the end of 2001—that this anthrax doesn’t come from any foreign Muslims, this comes from one of the United States’ own programmes… Once you’ve admitted that, what are you going to do if your job is containing this disaster?  You’re going to try and blame it on the famous “lone nut.”

JC:  Yes.

GM:  You’re going to say: “Well, it must be an individual in some lab here.  We just have to find him or her.  We can never rule out such  individuals. They’re probably crazy; that’s why we use the term ‘lone nut’. And, you know, that doesn’t reveal anything about our system, or our Government.  We’ll just find this individual and then it will all be over. You don’t have to worry.”  So this, in my view, was clearly an attempt at damage control; that’s what the Domestic Individual Hypothesis was. I don’t think there’s ever been any good reason to believe it was an individual that did this.  As I say in the book, it’s clear it was a group.

JC:  The picture you paint is one of the FBI, as it were, thrashing around to find somebody to blame for this. First, they seemed to go for this guy Steven Hatfill, and then Bruce Ivins. And I want to ask you about those two in just a second, but there’s just one thing that comes to my mind here: As this Iraq and Al-Qaeda thing dropped out of the picture, weren’t questions being asked about that at the time?  I mean, wasn’t anybody saying: “Why is this being dropped? Was this due to faulty intelligence?”

GM:  I can’t answer that in a very confident and comprehensive way, but I have been through hundreds – I suppose it’s thousands – of newspaper articles from that period, because this is one of the main methods I use to figure out what people were thinking at the time.  We do have a record of major newspapers, and it’s actually remarkable to me how few people asked the obvious questions.  You know, you’d think there would be a big editorial in The New York Times or something similar (as far as I know there never was), saying: “Something’s deeply disturbing here. We’ve been led to believe that foreign Muslims carried out an attack with a weapon of mass destruction on the United States, including Congress (which is a huge claim), and now, suddenly, we’re being told they didn’t.  Well, if they didn’t, what were all those stories about? Who created the Bentonite story? Who wrote those darned letters claiming to be Al Qaeda?  There’s something deeply disturbing; we should be very worried, and we should carry out a major investigation to get to the bottom of this.”  There’s relatively little about that. People seemed to assume: “Oh, well, we made our best guess and were wrong; on to the next thing.”

JC:  It’s quite disturbing looking back at that and seeing that process go on.  It makes you think: Is that going on today?  Are we missing things in the present situation?

GM:  Exactly, I think we are.  If you’ve spent years of your life, as I have, studying these fraudulent actions—whether it be 9/11, or anthrax, or any of the others; and there’s a whole string of them—then you do become extremely sceptical when you look at the mass media. You ask: “What are they trying to get us to do now?”  You will remember, in 2003, and actually for a couple of years before that, we were all told that there was an emergency: “What are we going to do about Iraq?” – and eventually, “Well, I guess we’ll have to invade them.”  You look back at this now, and you ask yourself, “What was the emergency?” Some of us, of course, were saying that at the time; in fact quite a large peace movement was saying it. There was no emergency.  Iraq hadn’t done anything new.  Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction years ago, and there had never been any evidence that they still had them and were trying to develop them. They were a poor, impoverished country; they were going down the drain; they’d suffered terribly from sanctions.  There simply was no emergency, and yet we were led to believe by our media that there was, and that we’d better invade.  Somehow, of course, the same thing is happening about Syria, and people are being beheaded—“Oh, my goodness! What are we going to do? We’d better invade. We’d better start bombing Syria,” supposedly in order to get ISIS, but I think many of us know that ISIS isn’t the real target here; they want to unseat the Assad regime.

JC:  Yes, memories do seem to be very short in some cases. Coming back to these two individuals, my understanding is that the FBI’s first suspect was this scientist called Steven Hatfill, which proved unsuccessful, and he was awarded substantial damages for harassment. Then they turned to Bruce Ivins, and that was successful  in the sense that the case was closed.  But you, along with many others, maintain that that case was extremely flimsy, almost to the point of non-existence. Could you give us an idea of how implausible that case was against Dr. Ivins?

GM:  I will do my best.  You’re right, in a sense, that the FBI was, at least in the short term, successful in going after Ivins, meaning that they convinced a fair number of people, and they felt sufficiently confident in their case that they closed the case.  However, he was not convicted; he was never tried; he was never even formally charged.  They were saying that they were about to charge him with the crime, and then he suddenly died.  This was in 2008.  He apparently took his own life through an overdose of Tylenol; friends who have looked into this more deeply than I have, say that appears to be true. He had emotional and mental problems; the FBI had put him under tremendous stress, visiting him at work, visiting him at his home, staking out his home, talking to his children—he was under enormous pressure.  He himself wrote a note to someone saying something like this: “The state demands its blood sacrifice, and it appears I am to be that sacrifice.”  So, here’s a man under great pressure who probably takes his own life.  Because of that, he’s not charged; he’s not tried; he’s not convicted.  So the FBI then has a field day: “Oh well, the fact that he took his own life just shows his guilty conscience”, and they write a document in which the case against Ivins is made. (I think it’s something like 90 pages long; you can find it on the Internet). You have to realise how outrageous this is. The man is dead, and you’re making a case against him, a case on the most flimsy, circumstantial evidence, slander, and all the rest of it.  He has no chance to rebut this. He had a lawyer, but the lawyer really has no function anymore because Ivins is dead.  This, by the way, is part of a common pattern that we find in fraudulent events. This is the Lee Harvey Oswald phenomenon. Remember that Oswald supposedly killed Kennedy, and then just happened to be murdered in the presence of 70 Dallas police officers. Well, that meant, of course, that he would never be able to tell his story; he would never be tried; he would be convicted by slander, not by a legal process. I believe this is a fairly common pattern with these things. So, here we have Ivins dead: “Wow! So we don’t have to worry about being sued for 5 million dollars,” which is what Hatfill was successful in his suit for. (I forget, but it was something like 5.1 or 5.3 millions dollars.)  “We don’t have to worry because he’s dead, so we’ll call him ‘the anthrax killer,’ and we’ll say the case is closed.”  And that’s the official FBI position now.  But I, and many other people, have been saying for years now: There’s no way; you’re evidence is hopelessly weak.

JC:  What kind of weaknesses were there with the evidence?  Can you drag up a couple of things to give us an idea?

GM:  Well, the FBI claims that he had the capacity, the requisite tools and equipment, and presumably some motivation to make this product, and so on.  All of this is unsupported by the evidence. He did work with anthrax; he worked at the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), a US military lab.

JC:  Was that at Fort Detrick?

GM:  Yes, Fort Detrick, Maryland. He was a serious scientist. He had published a lot on anthrax and was developing an anthrax vaccine.  He had co-operated with, and had volunteered to help, the FBI in the early years of this, trying to figure out who had done this.  Anyway, the point is, he didn’t work with the kind of anthrax that was sent, especially the anthrax sent to the senators; he worked with it in a liquid form.  They got a highly-refined dried form of anthrax.  There’s no evidence he knew how to do that; there’s no evidence that he had the equipment to produce this product, which was not merely refined and dried, but which had also, as I said before, undergone this micro-encapsulation process—tin added and silicon. There’s no evidence that Ivins could have done that, or that he had the equipment to do that.  So, from a scientific point of view, this is very far-fetched.  And, by the way, colleagues of his – a former boss of his – have come out and said this.  They’ve also said, “Where do you think he made it?  Do you really think he made it in his lab at Fort Detrick?  I mean, we would have noticed.  And furthermore, it would have taken him something like 10,000 hours, not the couple of dozen hours that you’re claiming.”

JC:  Yes, and there’s that very good documentary by CBC, that I looked at again recently, called “Anthrax War”, in which a former Deputy Commander at Fort Detrick, a man called Richard Spertzel…

GM:  Oh, yes.

JC:  In the documentary he said something like: “No, it’s far too sophisticated for Ivins to have produced with the equipment that was available at Fort Detrick.”

GM:  Right, Fort Detrick was badly equipped to produce this product.  The two most likely suspects are laboratories at either Battelle Memorial Institute, which does a tremendous amount of work for the US intelligence agencies, and specialises in aerosols, and so on.  And, the other would be the Dugway Proving Ground.  Dugway also works for the US military; it’s part of the military-industrial complex, and it’s also possible that Dugway and Battelle worked together on this. Ivins had nothing to do with them; he didn’t have access to their equipment.  Over the years I’ve referred to a number of quite technical articles on the anthrax spores used in the attacks, and it’s looking increasingly as if this product was taken from the US bioweapons programme.  It was probably taken from stores that already existed; it wasn’t created specially for the Anthrax Attacks.  This was most likely anthrax that was kept either at Dugway or Battelle.

JC:  So, looking at the logic of your argument, the two quadrants of the ‘foreign group’ and the ‘foreign individual’ seem to be pretty much unlikely, and this going after a ‘domestic individual’ doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.  So, that seems to leave us with the ‘domestic group’.  And, a major way in which you go about pinning down this group as very probably including US establishment insiders, is your exploration of the many warnings about Anthrax Attacks from official sources, in the media, and indeed a quite widespread taking of Cipro.  Is that how you pronounce it?

GM:  Yes, I guess so.

JC:  That was in the days leading up to the attacks themselves. However, and would have thought that there should have been no apparent foreknowledge of this.  So could you tell us something about these indications of possible foreknowledge, and what you think this tells us?

GM:  Yes, this is another thing to look for when you’re looking for a fraudulent event.  You look to see if there’s foreknowledge, if there’s advance knowledge that looks really fishy, because if there is it may be that it comes from the perpetrators—that their plans either leaked out inadvertently, or in some cases were deliberately leaked out, for various reasons.  The Anthrax Attacks are a good example of this.

The way that I often start off on this is to say: At the time, Cipro, or Ciprofloxacin was the antibiotic of choice to treat anthrax. We would not be surprised if we were to discover that there was a run on this particular drug, and that a lot of people were running out and buying it after it was revealed that Robert Stevens was suffering from anthrax, and especially after he died on October 5th.  So, if we were looking at a chart of how many people were buying Cipro, we would not be surprised to see that the sales went way up after his death; and, as a matter of fact, they did go way up.  So far, so good. However, we would be surprised if sales started going up before his death; in fact, a couple of weeks before he was diagnosed as having anthrax, which is to say mid-September, when nobody is supposed to have known that anthrax was in play. (Okay, there were some letters in the mail, but nobody had been diagnosed as having anthrax.) At that point, the run on Cipro begins.  And it reached quite large proportions, to the point where it was being talked about in The New York Times. It was called an “anthrax scare.”  There were druggists being quoted as saying: “I can’t keep it in stock.  People are worried about anthrax.”  This is happening before there is any public knowledge, or any legitimate public knowledge, about anthrax.  So, you have this strange situation where somebody puts anthrax in the mail, then there’s an anthrax scare, and then the anthrax put in the mail is discovered.  Well, hello folks, something looks wrong here!  So, then we look more deeply, and we find, for example, that George W. Bush, President of the United States, and Richard Cheney, Vice-President of the United States, were put on Cipro; they started a course of Cipro on 9/11 itself.  And you might think: “Well, that seems a little odd.”  But then somebody answers you: “Well, no, this is protocol. After all, there was a major terrorist attack; it could be followed up with a bioweapons attack, so naturally enough, you put your chief executive officers on Cipro.”  Now, if someone said that to me, I would say, “Okay, I guess so.  I haven’t seen the written protocol, but it makes sense to me. But that explanation starts to fall apart when we consider that other people were going on Cipro as well.”  So, for example, we have a Washington Post journalist by the name of Richard Cohen, who’s in print as saying this years later: “Oh, I was told in a roundabout way – I was given a tip by a government official – that I should procure Cipro.”  Now, he said this happened shortly after 9/11; he said it happened well before most people had even heard of Cipro.  So, when we try to figure out what period he’s talking about, it has to be between 9/11 and, let’s say, September 25th (because by that time everybody knows about it;  it’s being reported in The New York Times). So, at some point in mid-September, Richard Cohen, journalist, is given a tip—now, what on earth does this mean?—by a government official, that he should start taking the antibiotic required for anthrax.  And so, we’ve got all these things happening.  We’ve got the President, the Vice-President; we’ve got Cohen; we’ve got all kinds of other people talking about it; we’ve got druggists saying there’s a run on it.  At this point, we have to say that this is looking very fishy indeed.

JC:  Absolutely, but could you argue something like the following? Well, perhaps they had intelligence that there might have been, say,  unsophisticated anthrax coming from Al-Qaeda, and they didn’t want to alarm the population, so they just told certain people?

GM:  Well, you could say that, and I do explore that option in the book, but I don’t think it’s true.  Part of the reason is that this was not good intelligence, because Iraq, in fact, had destroyed its stocks of anthrax years ago, and Al-Qaeda never had any, as far as we know.  So, the idea that these foreign Muslims were going to spread anthrax in the United States shortly after the 9/11 attacks is not good intelligence; in my view it’s not even faulty intelligence—it’s fraudulent intelligence.  I think that US intelligence were perfectly aware that Iraq and Al-Qaeda didn’t have it and had no motivation anyway; certainly Iraq didn’t have any motivation.  So, was there intelligence?  Well, it depends on what you mean by intelligence.  There was fraudulent intelligence. Fictional stories were being given to people before and after 9/11, having to do with Al-Qaeda and Iraq being possibly about to carry out an anthrax attack. So, in that sense, you could say people were taking Cipro because they heard these stories, but the point is the stories were deliberately false stories; they were fictions.

JC:  As part of the kind of foreknowledge background to all of this, you mentioned something called Dark Winter, a project of the American Government that I believe was a simulation of an anthrax attack.  That was obviously before these attacks took place.  Could you tell us something about Dark Winter?

GM:  Yes, Dark Winter was a simulation; you could call it a war game if you like. (Governments carry out these all the time, so there’s nothing particularly suspect about it in itself.) They were war-gaming bioweapons attacks on the United States, not anthrax actually, but smallpox.  They do mention anthrax as a possibility during this simulation, but the emphasis is on smallpox.  This Dark Winter exercise takes place in June of 2001; in other words, several months before the actual Anthrax Attacks.  The reason it’s interesting is because of the parallels between this exercise and what then unfolds several months later.  And I’ve discussed, I believe, 10 parallels in the book.  But I suppose the single most interesting one is that, as the Dark Winter simulation unfolds, it becomes clear that: “Gee whiz, bin Laden may be involved.”  And then people say: “Oh gee, but he may have a state sponsor.”  And finally, by the end of the exercise, it has become clear that the smallpox attacks were carried out by a terrorist group based in Afghanistan – in other words, something like Al-Qaeda – and the actual smallpox was provided to them by Iraq.  So, in other words, the same double perpetrator that later gets blamed for the real Anthrax Attacks is already being framed in this smallpox simulation, even though it’s already silly and nonsensical in June of 2001.  It’s already known, in other words, that Iraq does not have the capacity to provide this material. Yet, already they’re framing Iraq; they’re setting things up for this.  And there are all kinds of other parallels that I mention.  So, for example, in the simulation in June, you have a need to curtail the civil rights of Americans; it’s talked about very overtly: “Okay, I guess we’ll have to suspend habeas corpus, and so forth.” And that’s exactly what happens a few months later with the PATRIOT Act curbing the civil rights of Americans.  We also have during the simulation the US population getting angry about these foreign Muslims, and so they start attacking Muslims in the streets.  That happens; it happens especially after 9/11, but also the Anthrax Attacks help to cement this notion of the “evil foreign Muslims.”  And there’s a range of attacks happening in the United States in the fall, including murder.  I mean, it’s a really major wave of recrimination against anybody who looks like they might be Muslim.  This is already prefigured in June.  So, you have all these things in the simulation: a high state official being targeted and coming down with smallpox, later you have two senators being targeted, and smallpox being sent to the media in envelopes.  That’s exactly the way the Anthrax Attacks begin.  So, you see the point; it’s almost as if you have a group practising, and then doing the real thing a few months later.

JC:  Yes, so it looks like a kind of template. But can you locate any individuals who were involved with Dark Winter, who then sort of float to the surface with respect to the anthrax scene?

GM:  (laughter) Yes.  I like the image of them floating to the surface.

JC:  Sorry.

GM:  No, there are indeed people who float to the surface.  Judith Miller plays the part of a reporter in the Dark Winter simulation. Of course, she was a reporter; she was a major journalist at The New York Times, and at the time of the Dark Winter simulation she was completing a book called Germs, in which Iraq especially would be called “the great fear” in terms of bioweapons.  Also, she and her co-authors say in the book: “They may, of course, have used an intermediary, a group like Al-Qaeda to help them.”  This is the same Judith Miller.  She shows up in the simulation, and her book comes out in October just as the Anthrax Attacks are happening.  On October 12th, she herself receives a threat letter at The New York Times, which turns out to have fake powder in it; but it allows her to write an article, it promotes sales of her book, and helps to get Iraq in the crosshairs.  So, Judith Miller is a participant in both the June simulation and in the real attacks in October.

Then we have James Woolsey, former head of the CIA; he’s in the simulation and then he becomes a participant during the Anthrax Attacks. He’s very vocal in making sure Iraq’s name is brought up all the time. He goes after Iraq; he thinks Iraq was involved in both 9/11 and the Anthrax Attacks.  So, this becomes one of his main functions in the real world, not just the simulation.

And we have this strange character, Jerome Hauer, who is in the simulation; he’s a key figure in the 9/11 attacks, and then he becomes involved in the anthrax thing because he’s a bioweapons expert.  In my view, he’s a deeply fishy character, but let’s just say he’s a dark player in both the simulation and the reality.

And when we look at all the parallels between the simulation and reality, we may be led to ask the following question, (a question I briefly ask in the book, and explore elsewhere in a paper at an academic conference): Where’s the line between simulation and reality?  Do we have simulations in June followed by reality in the fall?  Or is what happened in the fall Stage Two of the simulation?  Could it be thought of that way?  Admittedly, a lethal simulation, but nonetheless something that has many of the features of a simulation; which is to say it’s fiction, it’s limited in its scope, it’s got highly defined rules, and so on.

JC:  You’ve been talking about these various personnel “coincidences” (that may, or may not, deserve inverted commas), and certainly the Hijacker connection that you bring up in the book is absolutely full of such “coincidences”.  This has to do with one of the other contentions of your book – Point C in your Chapter One list -  that the people who were behind the Anthrax Attacks were linked to, or indeed identical with, the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.  And it’s in Chapter 7 that you really pinpoint this, where you discuss the alleged 9/11 Hijackers and their very surprising connections to this anthrax affair. This was news to me – a very eye-opening chapter indeed.  So, could you tell us how some of these alleged 9/11 Hijackers turn out to be connected to this anthrax narrative?

GM:  I will do my best.  This is an intricate issue, and it’s sometimes difficult to explain in an interview. Let me start by saying that when the Anthrax Attacks became public knowledge in October of 2001, it was a very common belief that the U.S. had been subjected to what we might call a “one-two punch,” in which Punch One was the 9/11 attacks, and then, before people really have a chance to recover, Punch Two comes in with the Anthrax Attacks.  That was pretty widely assumed to be true.  Now, once the anthrax narrative fell apart, and it became clear – which it did pretty quickly – that this wasn’t foreign Muslims, but rather this was coming from within the U.S. bioweapons programme itself, then the “one-two punch” story also fell apart.  That is, it was swept down the “memory hole”.  The FBI was now spending a lot of energy saying that there was no connection between 9/11 (which they maintained was carried out by real Muslims) and the Anthrax Attacks, because they were carried out by fake Muslims, or a fraudulent Muslim, who then wanted to kill Americans; they had nothing to do with each other.  So, one of the main things my book is  trying to do is to say that the original idea is correct: it was a one-two punch. They are connected; we need to see that. But they aren’t connected in the way that we were originally told.  It wasn’t a one-two punch by foreign Muslims; it was a one-two punch by people within the United States.  They were both inside jobs.  We can even say that we should talk about the 9/11-Anthrax Attacks – the 9/11-Anthrax Operation.  That’s the way I would like to call it: they were two parts of the same operation.  Now, I know that’s not quite what you asked, but I wanted to make that clear because that’s one of the main themes of my book.

Now, let’s turn to how we get there – why we conclude, perhaps to our surprise, that the famous 19 Hijackers who supposedly hijacked planes on 9/11 and flew them into this and that building are involved in the anthrax story. (This was a surprise to me as well when I first began researching the Anthrax Attacks in 2010; I had somehow missed that, but that’s a really important point, of course.)

The connections are many, but the most obvious one, I suppose, is  Florida, where about 15 out of 19 of the Hijackers lived for quite a while.  They didn’t just hang out there; they took flying lessons and various things there.  Some of these guys were directly connected, or pretty directly connected, to the first anthrax death.  For example, the woman who was the real estate agent of Robert Stevens (the first person to die of anthrax) was also the real estate agent of two of the 19 Hijackers—which is kind of weird—Hamza Alghamdi and Marwan al-Shehhi.  Marwan al-Shehhi, by the way, she clearly knew; it wasn’t that they simply passed in the hall.  She said: “Oh yeah, I remember them really well.  Marwan would phone me and laugh, and then he wanted me to drive them around town, and I did that, you know; I hung out with them.”  So, she remembered him very clearly.  So, here she is, finding two apartments for 19 Hijacker guys, and each apartment is then occupied by two of the 19 Hijackers; so at this point we’ve got four Hijackers involved.  And at one point, the St. Petersburg Times says that US intelligence has now linked nine of the Hijackers to a particular apartment in Florida, which this woman, Gloria Irish, found for them.  So, Gloria Irish is connected to the Hijackers.  And Gloria Irish is also connected to Robert Stevens.  In fact, her husband, Mike Irish, is the editor of the newspaper that Stevens works for.  She and her husband had known Stevens for years.  So what does this mean?

JC:  So, Robert Stevens is the first guy to be sent an anthrax letter.  Is that right?

GM:  Well, he’s not necessarily the first one to be sent it, but he’s the first one whose disease is diagnosed as anthrax. He’s diagnosed on October 3rd, dies on October 5th, and the building in which he works, America Media Incorporated, gets contaminated with anthrax.  He works as a photo editor for a publication called The Sun.  The editor of The Sun is Mike Irish, whose wife is the real estate agent.  So, in other words, there’s a connection.  Now, if this was the only connection, I suppose we might say: “Well gee, coincidences happen.”  But it isn’t; we find a variety of connections between the 9/11 Hijackers and anthrax, including the fact that the so-called head of the Hijackers, Mohammed Atta, is going around shortly before 9/11 trying to get a crop-duster plane…

JC:  I do want to ask you about that in a moment, because that’s another incredible thing.  But I don’t want to distract us from the improbability of what you’ve just been talking about. From everything you’ve just said, we now know that those alleged Hijackers wouldn’t have been sending the anthrax out, and yet it’s Robert Stevens, who’s closely linked into that whole situation, who receives this anthrax letter.  That’s incredible.  Out of the 350 million Americans who could have been targeted with this, how come he ends up being targeted?  That is absolutely astonishing.

GM:  It is, and I don’t think it’s coincidence.  So then, if it’s not  coincidence, then we’re left saying: “Well gee, the 19 Hijackers are quite closely connected to the Anthrax Attacks.” There’s plenty of evidence that they are connected. So then we’ve got to decide which direction to go with this. We can say: “Well, the Hijackers were obviously authentic—after all, they carried out the 9/11 attacks—so maybe the Anthrax Attacks have to be authentic, after all.”  That’s one direction we could go.  The other direction, which is what I believe the evidence overwhelmingly suggests, is that the Anthrax Attacks were fraudulent; they came from within the US. And if the Hijackers are connected, then the Hijackers are fraudulent, and the 9/11 attacks are fraudulent.  That’s the direction that I think we are forced to go in.

JC:  So, you’re saying, presumably, that the whole thing was set up so that the FBI would make a connection between Stevens and the Hijackers; they would then make the link with Al-Qaeda and give credence to the official story. But in reality, you’re saying, the whole thing was manufactured.

GM:  Exactly, and this is the part that people sometimes find confusing.  So, for example, if you look at the Dark Winter simulation I mentioned, in June of 2001, you’d find that, as the simulation goes on, people are discovering this, and they’re discovering that: “Oh gee, maybe bin Laden’s involved. Oh gee, maybe Iraq’s involved.” The perpetrators become clear over time.  Exactly the same thing, I believe, was designed to happen in the actual attacks in the fall.  You could see it in the media.  Somebody would say: “Gee, these anthrax letters are coming from the parts of the country where the Hijackers were active, like Florida.”  And then the next day someone would say: “Wow, it’s not just that! There’s this Gloria Irish person involved.”  And then someone says: “Well yeah, and Mohammed Atta went and talked to an Iraqi diplomat.”  All these little leads are being discovered, and I believe the leads were being discovered because they were planted there, and we were supposed to all discover them.  We were supposed to come to the conclusion, throughout the fall of 2001, that these Anthrax Attacks were an attack on the United States, using weapons of mass destruction, carried out by Al-Qaeda and Iraq.  That, obviously, would justify invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

JC:  And now we’re left with the situation where we’re supposed to believe that these 9/11 Hijackers had nothing to do with it, but rather it was Bruce Ivins who sent it. And it just so happens that he sent it to somebody closely connected with these Hijackers. Quite extraordinary.

GM:  That’s right. The FBI today doesn’t want to talk about the Hijackers in connection with the anthrax. To the extent that they have an official position, it is that there was nothing but coincidence.  I hope I’ve made the case strongly in the book that that’s extraordinarily unlikely.

JC:  You have indeed. You’ve also backed it up with what you were just about to say about Mohammed Atta, which is almost equally extraordinary; so let me not stand in your way of telling us about that as well.

GM:  Well, this is a story that was mentioned in the press shortly after 9/11. (It was mentioned in its original form before the Anthrax Attacks had become public, although the long form of the story didn’t come out until 2002.)  Anyway, here’s the story basically, in the long form, as reported by ABC news.  Mohammed Atta, the so-called ringleader of the 19 Hijackers, has just come to the United States from Hamburg in Germany. While in Hamburg he’s supposedly being followed by US intelligence, and is seen purchasing chemicals, which he may then use to carry out biological or chemical warfare attacks in the United States.  So, he leaves Hamburg after doing all that fishy stuff, comes to the United States and apparently decides: “Well, now I need a delivery vehicle. We can manufacture anthrax, or have it supplied to us, but how are we going to kill a lot of people? Well, the ideal way, apparently, would be to get a crop duster plane.” (It’s one of these little planes that flies over the fields and disperses substances – pesticides or whatever.)  “If we could get one of those planes with all the little nozzles and stuff, and load our liquefied anthrax (or maybe even dry form) onto the plane, imagine how many people we could kill forming this vast aerosol.”  That appears to be his thought, because he shows up at a US Department of Agriculture loan office in Florida, and talks to a loan officer by the name of Johnelle Bryant.  Supposedly, this is all happening in the spring of 2001; that’s what Johnelle Bryant tells ABC news.  And Atta says to her: “I’m originally from Egypt, but I’ve come to the United States via Afghanistan, and my dream is to fly planes. I’d like to dust American crops, and to that end I would like a loan, because I know you give out loans for agricultural purposes. And I want to make a special kind of crop-duster. I don’t want one of those little planes that you have to keep landing and reloading; I want a biggie, with a huge tank, so that I can do all the spraying I need in one go.”  And the story goes from one ridiculous assertion to another.  Bryant says to him fairly early on: “Well, I’m sorry, but you’re not an American citizen, so you’re not eligible for this.”  And he becomes agitated and says: “Well, who’s to say I couldn’t just walk over and cut your throat, and then take the $650,000 that I want?  I’ll take it from the safe.” So then, of course, she says: “You don’t scare me; I know karate.”  I mean, the whole story is silly, but it gets worse.  He then notices on her wall an aerial photograph of Washington D.C., and gets excited saying: “Oh, I’ve never seen a better view of Washington from the air.  That’s really great; I would like to have that”, and he begins throwing cash on her desk to buy it. At some point in the conversation he points out the Pentagon and says: “How would you like it if people came to your country and destroyed your buildings and your monuments?”  He goes on to say to Johnelle Bryant that he’d like to visit the World Trade Center, and asks: “Do you know what the security is like there?  I’d really like to get in and check it out.”  And he mentions Al-Qaeda, saying: “There’s a wonderful man in the world you may not have heard of called Osama bin Laden.  Someday, he’ll be very well-known.” He actually implies that he’s associated with bin Laden in this ridiculous conversation. This is reported by Brian Ross of ABC news in detail in 2002; the story is given in very short form shortly after 9/11. And we are then supposed to believe that this is Mohammed Atta, the chief Hijacker, the ringleader of the Hijackers, the man who flew a plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11.  Here he is, trying to buy a plane in order to carry out a biological attack on the United States. So, this is just of many false scenarios, obvious fictions, we were told to help set the stage so that we would believe the Iraq-Al-Qaeda story.

JC:  So, Atta would be going about his secret mission by alerting everybody to what it’s about and who he is; it’s incredible.

GM:  Exactly, and as I point out in the book, that’s not the only absurd Mohammed Atta story.  There’s a whole cycle of stories: Mohammed Atta is bitten by a dog; Mohammed Atta leaves his plane on the runway; Mohammed Atta is pulled over for speeding and has an arrest warrant issued when he refuses to show up in court; Mohammed Atta threatens somebody in a drug store and scares somebody – on and on. I mean, it’s absurd.  If this man was actually the ringleader who carried out one of the most lethal and sophisticated criminal operations in US history, there’s no way he would lay a trail like this, which is exactly what these 19 Hijackers are said to do.

JC:  Well, we are getting towards the end of our time here, and obviously, in order to get a full picture of how this all hangs together, people really need to read the book. I do highly recommend that people get a copy it and read it. As I said before, it’s very easy to read; you’ve gone to a lot of effort to make it easily understandable.
But before we close, I’d like to ask you, finally, if you would comment on the legacy of these attacks.  I have in mind here the way they played their part in shifting us away from the Cold War, towards this War on Terror paradigm that we’re in now, with all that means for war across the globe and surveillance at home.  So, how important do you see these attacks as bringing about that shift from the Cold War to this new War on Terror?

GM:  Well, as I say, I see the attacks on the US, or perhaps I should say the attacks that took place in the US in the fall of 2001, as forming one operation. So, rather than separate 9/11 and anthrax, I’d say the 9/11-Anthrax Operation was crucial in – if not creating the Global War on Terror, because we can argue it was already in place – at least creating a huge upsurge in this Global War on Terror.  Now, if we look at US military spending, and indeed global military spending, after the end of the Cold War, we find that it was indeed dropping. We may not have gotten the so-called peace dividend that we wanted, but it was going down. The attacks in the fall of 2001 changed all that, both in the US and in the world more generally; of course, they’re closely connected. The US at that time took up about 50% of the world’s military spending, so obviously if it goes up in the US, it’s automatically going to go up in the world as a whole.  But it went way up – I mean, just another huge peak. If you look, you see World War II was a peak; the Korean War was a peak; the Vietnam War was a peak; the late-Cold War was a peak; and now we’ve got the latest peak, the so-called Global War on Terror. The military-industrial-complex is happy; the US gets to control as much of the oil production as it can in the world during this dramatically important phase of world history when we are losing our energy resources.  There appears to be an effort by the sole remaining superpower to control the last drops of oil; this is a huge historic thing that’s happening here.  “Who cares?” these guys seem to say. “Who cares how many hundreds of thousands or even millions of people die? We are going to use the system we know, which is war; it’s called war.  We’re going to use it to solve the problems of oil scarcity, or energy scarcity more generally.  We’re going to use it, because that’s what we’re good at; we’re really good at war.”  And of course, this is so dangerous for humanity.  War is not a sustainable solution; it’s not a humane solution; and it’s certainly not a solution for humanity as a whole.  You cannot solve the problem of the world’s rapidly disappearing energy resources through this brutal system.  You can put off the day of reckoning, but you cannot solve it.  And that’s where we are right now, and that’s why some of us feel we must unmask these perpetrators if we can, so that the world may begin in a more enlightened and humane way to co-operate to solve the genuine environmental problems we face.

JC:  And I think what’s so worrying about this present phase is that this “War on Terror” is painted as being an eternal war.  I mean, people talk about it, saying: “It’s not going to be won in this generation.  It’s going to take generations”, as if the military-industrial complex has actually generated something that is in perpetual motion.

GM:  I think that’s what they are trying to create; they are trying to create what you might call a war machine, meaning a machine that keeps war going, no matter what people may think.  And I think this so-called ISIS threat is just the latest in a whole series of threats that they intend to keep creating and promoting as long as necessary.  And we need to start taking the mask off.

JC:  And do you feel that the clamping down at home – the surveillance state and the loss of freedoms – is part of that picture as well; that as people become more aware of what’s going on, then people’s consciences have to be stepped on to allow this war to continue?

GM:  Absolutely, and I try to make that point, however succinctly, in the book, by saying that the clamping down on civil rights and the promotion of wars abroad have often in history been two aspects of the same move.  When you want to mobilise people for war, you get them to think the same; you force them, if necessary, to think the same as the war leaders.  You begin clamping down on all forms of dissent; we’ve seen this throughout history.  And the Global War on Terror, therefore, if it’s going to be successfully kept going by these people, involves both the creation of outward war triggers, like ISIS, pretexts for war, and at the same time an inward movement.  And of course in the U.K., this is very strong, too.  And the London Bombings helped to create this. That is, you have to make the police into kind of paramilitary forces; you have to decrease people’s sense that they have civil rights that are inviolable; and you have to be willing to control the population.  And that’s what we’re seeing, unfortunately.

JC:  Yes, indeed.  And I think this came out very starkly just very recently with David Cameron’s speech at the UN, where he talked about people who say 9/11 was a “Jewish plot” (that’s very carefully worded), that 7/7 was staged, or that the West has a war on Islam. People who say things like that are now extremists, part of the narrative that is somehow connected to ISIS which needs to be combated.  And I think a lot of people have thought just how appalling that statement was. I don’t know to what extent David Cameron realises what he’s doing there, but he’s mouthing words that have presumably been given to him by somebody else, and it seems to be all part of this dynamic that you’ve just been talking about.

GM:  I think you’re absolutely right. I don’t know who wrote his speech, but I think the move comes from very dark and very powerful forces.  We have to remember that they’ve shown their hand.  When the Prime Minister gets up in the UN and somehow manages, through complete propaganda and nonsense, to weave together this brutal and terrifying force that beheads people with people like us who are raising questions about criminal acts that took place in our countries—we’re all somehow in the same category.

JC:  Absolutely.

GM:  They’re really showing where they’re going there, and I think we need to react to that.

JC:  Absolutely, very frightening times, but we shouldn’t be frightened; indeed, we should continue to talk about and question these things, because otherwise in a sense they’ve won. So, Dr. MacQueen, thank you ever so much indeed for being with us, and, as I say, your book is a must read.  I guess people can get it through Amazon, but can it be purchased through the publisher in some way?

GM:  Yes, the most direct route at the moment is to look up Clarity Press on the Internet; that’s the publisher, and you’ll find the book advertised there.  If you click through, you’ll get a web page which allows you to order the book directly from there.

JC:  Great, and obviously, as I said before, there’s so much more detail in the book than we can possibly cover in an interview like this. So, do go and get a copy; it’s an important book. It’s not a long book; you’ve written it to be understood and easily followed, and I think it makes its case extremely persuasively. I think it’s a major contribution to this area of study, including 9/11 studies.  So, thank you very much, indeed, Dr. MacQueen for writing it and for setting this time aside to be with us on The Mind Renewed.

GM:  Thank you, Julian.  I appreciate you giving me this opportunity.

JC:  It’s a pleasure. Thank you ever so much for coming on.

GM:  All the best.

JC:  Bye-bye.

GM:  Bye-bye.

Obama’s Pivot to Asia: Can China Contain America?

November 17th, 2014 by John V. Walsh

“Can America Contain China?” it is often asked in the West. But given America’s endless wars and assaults on the developing nations of the world, the question ought to be, “Can China Contain America”? Or at least, can China restrain the U.S. from doing more damage in East Asia and perhaps elsewhere in the developing world?

Last week Obama went to Beijing for the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit as the representative of the West and its centuries old grand project in East Asia. And what has that project been? History tells us that the West with its missionaries and soldiers, Obama’s predecessors, bathed the region in suffering and bloodshed there – from the Opium Wars on China, to the war on the Philippines, to the nuclear bombing of Japan, to the assault on China’s Maoist Liberation movement, to the Korean and Vietnam wars and the bombings that laid waste Laos and Cambodia, as well as the bloody CIA coup in Indonesia and the military assault on the Korean movement to overthrow the Park dictatorship.

And that thumbnail history merely recounts the Anglo-American contribution to the European rape of East Asia. For centuries, every two bit Western European power with a little bit of advanced military technology was in on the plunder in the Western Pacific.

Obama went to East Asia to say (in substance only): “We are not finished yet. The Indispensible Nation must dominate everywhere. We departed when the Vietnamese humiliated us and drove us from the neighborhood. But we are back. We are pivoting.”

Even before Obama departed the U.S., his “pivot” to the Western Pacific has for the most part come a cropper because the U.S. is nostril deep in the swamp of the Middle East, thanks to the Israel lobby, and because the U.S. has driven Russia into an embrace with China by engineering a fascist-enabled coup in Ukraine. True to form, just before climbing aboard the imperial 747 bound for Beijing, Obama could not resist wading a little deeper into the Middle East swamp and dispatched another 1500 ground troops to the killing fields of Iraq.

On the eve of the APEC summit, the Russia-China connection came alive as Presidents Putin and Xi closed a major petroleum pipeline deal that will bring into China the supply of natural gas that the U.S. has managed to deny Europe by its coup in Kiev. This pipeline, the so-called Western or Altai line, is the second from Russia to China, the first one having been agreed upon last May, with much fanfare. These land routes provide China with abundant petroleum resources that cannot be interdicted at sea by the massive U.S. Navy. This enhances the security of the Middle Kingdom in the face of the pivot. Thus, the deal goes far beyond symbolism. With it the American naval behemoth becomes less relevant as an instrument of U.S. dominance, although it is not one wit less burdensome to the U.S. taxpayer for that.

The talk at APEC was all about economics, which is going to determine the shape of the world to come. China’s economy is now slightly larger than that of the U.S. in terms of Purchasing Power Parity and on its way to become the equal of the U.S. in absolute terms within a decade. China relentlessly pursues economic growth and the overall stability that it demands. What did Obama have to offer? There he was peddling his Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which is to include Japan and 10 other Pacific nations but to exclude China. He says with a straight face that its purpose is not to contain or isolate China although that is precisely what it is designed to do. The TPP, however, is not making much headway, because it is written in secret by and for U.S. corporate and financial monoliths. Other countries will not take the TPP bait if there is little or nothing in it for them.

Some Western commentators saw the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FAATP) as a Chinese riposte to the TPP. But although China pushed hard to move the FAATP forward at the APEC meeting and won approval for it among all 21 attendees, it is not a new idea, nor even a Chinese idea. It was there from the beginning when APEC was created in 1989, according to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien who praised China for pushing for the next step to realize the pact, which is a study that will take two years. Lee said that when the FAATP is finally created, it will benefit all countries in the region and be one of the largest free trade areas in the world.

Similarly China has taken the lead in forming the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which will provide capital for badly needed investment in the region. The need for investment is estimated at $8 trillion; China has put in the first $100 billion and will host the headquarters in Beijing. The bank was formally inaugurated in October just a few weeks before the APEC meeting and included 21 countries: China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, Oman, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. Australia, Indonesia, South Korea did not join despite the interest they expressed a year earlier – a turnaround that was due to U.S. pressure. It is hard to believe that the U.S. is not trying to isolate and weaken China, that is, “contain” it by yanking other countries out of an arrangement that would benefit them.

But whatever the U.S. may attempt at this point, China has sufficient military strength to repel an attack by the West – although not to launch one. With that and its economic strength, China should be able to provide to the world alternatives to the diktats of the West. The BRICS may be the first sign of that. And China’s economic and infrastructure projects in Asia extending all the way to Europe herald a new and welcome multipolar world as outlined here.

In summary, the U.S. is busy in many corners of the world bombing, sanctioning and generally sowing misery and discord – most especially in the Middle East. In East Asia it has so far been pursuing a policy of isolating China and building military alliances against it. China, in contrast, has been busy getting rich and encouraging others to do the same. The U.S. is all guns, and China is all butter. Which is better for humanity?

John V. Walsh can be reached at [email protected].

In yet another example of how the actions of death squad terrorists in Syria conveniently seem to benefit the agenda of NATO and the United States, new reports suggesting that ISIS and the al-Nusra Front are now working together to defeat the elusive “moderate rebels” fighting against Assad are timed right alongside reports of Obama’s decision to refocus his Syria strategy to openly pursue the ouster of Assad as a part of his plan to “defeat ISIS.” These new reports will ultimately be used to justify NATO and America’s plan to openly overthrow Assad even while claiming to be fighting ISIS and extremists.

The mainstream media’s accounts of the “new alliances” between Nusra and ISIS are compelling indeed, as good narratives always are, regardless of whether or not they are true.

For instance, as Deb Reichmann of the Associated Press writes,

Militant leaders from the Islamic State group and al-Qaida gathered at a farm house in northern Syria last week and agreed on a plan to stop fighting each other and work together against their opponents, a high-level Syrian opposition official and a rebel commander have told The Associated Press.

Such an accord could present new difficulties for Washington’s strategy against the IS group. While warplanes from a U.S.-led coalition strike militants from the air, the Obama administration has counted on arming “moderate” rebel factions to push them back on the ground. Those rebels, already considered relatively weak and disorganized, would face far stronger opposition if the two heavy-hitting militant groups now are working together.

Of course, what the Associated Press neglects to mention is that while, admittedly, ISIS and Nusra have engaged in battle against one another on several occasions [such is the nature of fanaticism], the fact is that the two are actually the same organization.

For instance, it is important to remember the genealogy of ISIS which can be discovered through observing the career of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. As Voltaire Net writes,

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is an Iraqi who joined Al-Qaeda to fight against President Saddam Hussein. During the U.S. invasion, he distinguished himself by engaging in several actions against Shiites and Christians (including the taking of the Baghdad Cathedral) and by ushering in an Islamist reign of terror (he presided over an Islamic court which sentenced many Iraqis to be slaughtered in public). After the departure of Paul Bremer III, al-Baghdadi was arrested and incarcerated at Camp Bucca from 2005 to 2009. This period saw the dissolution of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, whose fighters merged into a group of tribal resistance, the Islamic Emirate of Iraq.

On 16 May 2010, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was named emir of the IEI, which was in the process of disintegration. After the departure of U.S. troops, he staged operations against the government al-Maliki, accused of being at the service of Iran. In 2013, after vowing allegiance to Al-Qaeda, he took off with his group to continue the jihad in Syria, rebaptizing it Islamic Emirate of Iraq and the Levant. In doing so, he challenged the privileges that Ayman al-Zawahiri had previously granted, on behalf of Al-Qaeda, to the Al-Nusra Front in Syria, which was originally nothing more than an extension of the IEI.

Note also that Voltaire Net describes al-Nusra, a documented al-Qaeda connected group, as merely an extension of the IEI (Islamic Emirate of Iraq) which itself was nothing more than a version of Al-Qaeda In Iraq. Thus, from Al-Qaeda in Iraq, came the IEI, which then became the Islamic Emirate of Iraq and the Levant. IEIL then became ISIS/ISIL which is now often referred to as IS.

In other words, Nusra=Al-Qaeda-IEI=IEIL=ISIL=ISIS=IS.

Although too lengthy of a study to be presented in this article, it is important to point out that al-Qaeda is entirely a creation of the West, created for the purpose of drawing the Soviets into Afghanistan in the 1970sand a host of other geopolitical goals in the Middle East and around the world, 9/11 being the most memorable instance of Western intelligence al-Qaeda mobilization.[1]

As for the “moderate rebels,” the reality is that the so-called “opposition” in Syria is anything but moderate. As Tony Cartalucci wrote in his article, “In Syria, There Are No Moderates,”

… there were never, nor are there any “moderates” operating in Syria. The West has intentionally armed and funded Al Qaeda and other sectarian extremists since as early as 2007 in preparation for an engineered sectarian bloodbath serving US-Saudi-Israeli interests. This latest bid to portray the terrorists operating along and within Syria’s borders as “divided” along extremists/moderate lines is a ploy to justify the continued flow of Western cash and arms into Syria to perpetuate the conflict, as well as create conditions along Syria’s borders with which Western partners, Israel, Jordan, and Turkey, can justify direct military intervention.

Indeed, even the New York Times has been forced to admit that there are, as Cartalucci expertly argues in his article, no moderates in the ranks of the Syrian death squads. As Ben Hubbard wrote in April, 2013,

In Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, rebels aligned with Al Qaeda control the power plant, run the bakeries and head a court that applies Islamic law. Elsewhere, they have seized government oil fields, put employees back to work and now profit from the crude they produce.

Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.

Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.[emphasis added]

Even one of the FSA commanders, Bassel Idriss, recently admitted to openly collaborating with ISIS and al-Nusra, revealing yet another example of the fact that the “moderate rebels” are not moderate at all.

In an interview with the Daily Star of Lebanon, Idriss stated “We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in . . . Qalamoun . . .  Let’s face it: The Nusra Front is the biggest power present right now in Qalamoun and we as FSA would collaborate on any mission they launch as long as it coincides with our values.”

Idriss also admitted that many FSA fighters had pledged allegiance to ISIS. He said, “[ISIS] wanted to enhance its presence in the Western Qalamoun area. After the fall of Yabroud and the FSA’s retreat into the hills [around Arsal], many units pledged allegiance [to ISIS]”.

Abu Fidaa, a retired Syrian Army Colonel who is now a part of the Revolutionary Council in the Qalamoun, corroborated Idrisss’ statements by saying that “A very large number of FSA members [in Arsal] have joined ISIS and Nusra. In the end, people want to eat, they want to live, and the Islamic State has everything.”

Not only the FSA, but also the Syrian Revolutionary Front has also openly admitted to working with Nusra and al-Qaeda. The leader of the SRF, Jamaal Maarouf admitted that his brigades coordinate with Nusra and al-Qaeda regularly.

Salem Idriss, one of the men seen in the photograph with John McCain, is the commander of the FSA, the “opposition group” touted as a “moderate rebels.” In reality, of course, the FSA is nothing of the sort. As Daniel Wagner wrote for the Huffington Post in December, 2012,

In the outskirts of Aleppo, the FSA has implemented a Sharia law enforcement police force that is a replica of the Wahhabi police in Saudi Arabia — forcing ordinary citizens to abide by the Sharia code. This is being done in a secular country which has never known Sharia Law. This type of action is currently also being implemented in northern Mali, where the West has officially declared its opposition to the al-Qaeda government that took control earlier this year. If what is happening near Aleppo is representative of what may happen if the FSA assumes control of Syria, the country may become an Islamic state. Is that really what the U.S. and other Western countries are intending to tacitly support?

[...]

Indeed, the FSA has also been targeting the infrastructure of the country. One of the main power plants in Damascus was knocked out for three days last week, impacting 40 percent of the city’s residents. Do ‘freedom fighters’ typically attack critical infrastructure that impacts ordinary citizens on a mass scale? The FSA long ago stopped targeting solely government and military targets.

The FSA is no stranger to atrocities. The FSA is the “moderate opposition” that was filmed forcing a young child to behead a Syrian soldier. It is also the “moderate opposition” that maintained “burial brigades,” a system of mass murder and mass executions against soldiers and those who support the Syrian government. The burial brigades were only one small part of a much wider campaign of terror and executions implemented by the Free Syrian Army.

Of course, the Free Syrian Army is merely the umbrella group of death squads carefully crafted to present a “moderate” face on what is, in reality, nothing more than savage terrorists. Thus, the FSA encompasses(d) a number of smaller “brigades” of al-Qaeda terrorists in order to cover up the true nature of its own ranks.

One such brigade was the Farouq brigade, to which Abu Sakkar was a member. Sakkar, also seen in photographs with John McCain, was the famous rebel videotaped cutting the heart out of a Syrian soldier and biting into it.

It is thus necessary to understand that there is no difference between the “moderate rebels,” ISIS, and Nusra in order to understand the deceptive nature of the narrative being promoted by mainstream media outlets regarding the recent “alliance.”

As it is, the story provided by Western media outlets will be used to justify NATO military invasion in Syria based on the lie that the poor “moderate rebels” and “peaceful democracy-loving ‘activists’” are being overwhelmed by both ISIS/Nusra extremists on one side and brutal dictator Assad on the other. If America does not step in on the side of the moderates, the story goes, the poor “moderates” will be eradicated and America left with the choice between Islamic extremists or a civilian-killing dictator.

Of course, the very notion that America deserves any options in the internal affairs of a foreign nation is an expression of gross arrogance. It is also absurd to paint Bashar al-Assad as a brutal dictator who kills his own people when there has been no shred of evidence to indicate that Assad has intentionally targeted civilians during the entire conflict.

Even more absurd, however, is to paint the FSA, SRF, and other “moderate rebels,” as moderate in an effort to pretend that there is such a thing as a desirable faction of the “rebellion,” in Syria. In reality, it is nothing more than a false narrative cooked up in order to justify American and NATO involvement on behalf of Western-backed death squads.

Also note that the clever script regarding the plight of the poor “moderates” comes on the heels of a White House announcement that America cannot continue its fictitious war on ISIS without removing Assad from power. As Reuters reported on November 12,

President Barack Obama wants his advisers to review the administration’s Syriapolicy after determining it may not be possible to defeat Islamic State militants without removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, CNN reported on Wednesday.

Citing senior U.S. officials, the network said Obama’s national security team held four meetings in the past week that were driven by how the administration’s Syria strategy fit into its campaign against Islamic State, which has seized large parts of Syria andIraq.

“The president has asked us to look again at how this fits together,” CNN quoted one senior official as saying. “The long-running Syria problem is now compounded by the reality that to genuinely defeat ISIL, we need not only a defeat in Iraq but a defeat in Syria.” ISIL is another acronym for Islamic State.

The Times of Israel was somewhat more forthcoming in its own report which stated,

US President Barack Obama has instructed his national security advisers to review the administration’s policy on Syria and make removing embattled President Bashar Assad from power a key element in defeating the Islamic State group in Iraq, CNN reported Thursday.

According to a report from the American news network, the US administration is moving away from its previous strategy of confronting IS in Iraq first and then dealing with Assad in Syria.

Officials now see replacing the Damascus regime as a necessary step to success in Iraq.

[...]

In Syria, where the administration was planning on waiting to confront the Islamic State and Assad, the Pentagon is now considering expanding and speeding up its program of vetting and training moderate rebels.

Obama had wanted $500 million to train 5,000 Syrian rebels within a year on condition that they are vetted first to ensure their intentions are aligned with US interests. The vetting process has proved to be tricky and not yet even begun, the report said.

Including the ouster of Assad will also allow Washington to firm up its coalition, whose members have been irritated at the less enthusiastic attitude of the US when it comes to removing Assad.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is said to be in talks with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Russia to look at a diplomatic ousting of Assad. However, officials say that while Russia, which has backed Assad in the civil war, has said it is ready to see him leave office, Moscow has not taken any practical steps to that end.

Obama has announced plans to double the number of American troops in Iraq to up to 3,100 as US-led efforts against the jihadists enter what he called a “new phase.”

In other words, in order to defeat ISIS, we must remove the person fighting ISIS so that we will be able to bring ISIS into power, all while stating our resolute opposition to ISIS.

Such logic would be staggering in its stupidity if it were truly being applied.

In the end, the claims surrounding the plight of the death squads presented to the American people as “moderates” against the death squads presented to the American people as extremists is nothing more than theatre, albeit mindboggling at times. The United States and NATO have funded, armed, trained, and directed the terrorists rampaging across Syria from the very beginning of the crisis and continue to do so today. We must not allow ourselves to be fooled by propaganda and false narratives designed to stampede us to war.

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 300 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. 

The true “affordability” of Obamacare has been called into question by a new study, which found that average premium costs across the board have skyrocketed from what they were before the unconstitutional tax dubbed “healthcare reform” became law in 2010.

The health insurance aggregate site HealthPocket found that, among three different non-smoking age groups, 23, 30 and 63, insurance premiums jumped significantly as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The worst age category was 23-year-old men, who saw their premiums increase by an average of 78 percent.

Similarly, 30-year-old men saw their premiums increase by an astounding 73 percent, while 63-year-old men witnessed a 22.7 percent increase, on average. Women in the younger age groups also saw premium increases, though less severe.

According to the report, 23-year-old women will pay, on average, 45 percent more for health insurance under Obamacare, while 30-year-old women will pay 35 percent more. The only age group where women fared worse than men was the 63-year-olds, which saw a nearly 38 percent premium increase compared to pre-Obamacare days.

“It’s very eye-opening in terms of the transformation occurring within the individual health insurance market,” stated Kev Coleman, head of research and data at HealthPocket, as quoted by The Washington Times.

“I was surprised in general to see the differences in terms of the average premiums in the pre-reform and post-reform markets. It was a higher amount than I had anticipated.”

Even with premium subsidies, Obamacare recipients still paying more for health insurance

Obamacare apologists would claim that these higher premiums are offset by government subsidies that help those who otherwise could not afford to pay them. But the data shows that many folks, especially younger ones, don’t even qualify.

“[Y]ou still have this issue of health insurance rising for that very young group and, depending on where they are with respect to income and premium, they may not qualify for a subsidy,” explained Coleman to the media. “That’s what we like to refer to as a subsidy gap.”

And as anyone with even a cursory understanding of economics understands, even if a policyholder isn’t directly paying for a subsidy, someone else in the system is. This means that, all subsidies considered, the cost of health insurance under Obamacare is still higher across the board now than it was prior.

“[T]he subsidized portion of the premium still must be paid by the government through the money it collects from the nation,” reads the study. “In other words, the subsidized costs of health insurance do not disappear but instead change payers.”

Healthy young people expected to shoulder financial burden of covering sick folks with pre-existing health conditions

The only way Obamacare can even work is if healthy younger people agree to purchase overpriced insurance, the premiums of which cover all the unhealthy folks, many of whom have pre-existing health conditions that weren’t covered under the old insurance model.

But many of the younger people who need Obamacare in the first place likely couldn’t afford health insurance prior to its implementation, and even more so can’t afford it now due to its significantly higher premium costs.

“If you’re expanding the services you’re covering, and you’re increasing the number of less healthy people in your risk pools, that’s going to increase costs,” said Coleman, noting that Obamacare insurance has the added costs associated with 10 “essential health benefits” that are required with every plan.

These benefits include things like pediatric, dental and vision care, maternity care and newborn care, even for policyholders who don’t or can’t have children or whose children are already adults.

“Attendant to that would be an increase in premiums to be able to appropriately cover those costs,” added Coleman.

Sources:

http://www.prnewswire.com

http://www.washingtontimes.com

http://www.bna.com

It is no secret that Monsanto is making life difficult for countless farmers in America with its parented seeds. After all, the biotech giant has already filed 145 lawsuits, or on average about 9 lawsuits every year for 16 straight years, against farmers who have “improperly reused their patented seeds.” But did you know that Monsanto is also leading hundreds of thousands of farmers to suicide?

Biotech has attempted dismiss the rise in farmer suicides in India due to the introduction of genetically modified crops, but the problem is too pervasive to wipe under the rug. While there are numerous contributing factors to farmer suicides in India, debt is the largest concern, which is largely fueled by non-viable crops.

Biotech sells seeds that either don’t grow or lead to the development of unstoppable superweeds and superbugs. Subsequently, biotech urges and nearly forces farmers to purchase RoundUp and other herbicidal chemicals which the farmers can ill afford. Thus, the mind-numbing cycle begins. Read this post for more in-depth information.

What’s worse is that after a farmer commits suicide, the debt falls on the remaining family members. Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, and other suicide seed sellers have essentially created a generational slave economy based on their toxic chemical and seed monopolies.

According to figures outlining farmer suicide rates, 17,638 Indian farmers committed suicide in 2009 — about one death every 30 minutes. Oftentimes, the farmers would commit the act by drinking the very same insecticide that Monsanto supplied them with — a terrible end in which Monsanto has wrecked the lives of independent and traditional farmers.

Many families are now ruined thanks to the mass suicides, and are left to economic ruin and must struggle to fight off starvation:

‘We are ruined now,’ said one dead man’s 38-year-old wife. ‘We bought 100 grams of BT Cotton. Our crop failed twice. My husband had become depressed. He went out to his field, lay down in the cotton and swallowed insecticide.’

Now, Monsanto has caused a massive 291,000 suicides in India with its GMOs, chemical creations, and shameless business practices.

“. . . the motivations for these suicides follow a familiar pattern: Farmers become trapped in a cycle of debt trying to make a living growing Monsanto’s genetically engineered Bt cotton. They always live close to the edge, but one season’s ruined crop can dash hopes of ever paying back their loans, much less enabling their families to get ahead. Manjusha’s father, like many other suicide victims, killed himself by drinking the pesticide he spreads on his crops.”

In the video below, Dr. Vandana Shiva talks about the current situation in India and how GMO’s have affected farmers there. Dr. Shiva is an Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has announced a multi-billion dollar overhaul of US nuclear forces after reviews uncovered serious flaws.

Hagel told reporters on Friday at the Pentagon that there had been a “consistent lack of investment and support” over “far too many years”.

He said the Defense Department will increase spending on the management of the US nuclear arsenal by about 10 percent a year for the next five years. The nuclear weapons forces reportedly cost over $15 billion annually.

“The internal and external reviews I ordered show that a consistent lack of investment and support for our nuclear forces over far too many years has left us with too little margin to cope with mounting stresses,” said Hagel.

“The root cause has been a lack of sustained focus, attention and resources, resulting in a pervasive sense that a career in the nuclear enterprise offers too few opportunities for growth and advancement,” he added.

Earlier this year, Hagel ordered two reviews of the nuclear arms program following a series of media reports revealed lapses in leadership, morale, safety and security at America’s several nuclear air force bases.

Earlier this month, the US Air Force dismissed two senior commanders from its nuclear missile corps on the grounds of indiscipline and misconduct.

Commenting on the news, an American activist and expert on military affairs said the US Air Force’s frustrated, demoralized and alcoholic officers have their fingers on the nation’s nuclear buttons.

“And it’s frightening when you think about the people that are manning the nuclear weapons infrastructure in the United States are in such a bad condition. It is very frightening,” said Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, from Bath, Maine.

GJH/GJH

I want to take just a few minutes of your time because this  is really important. Please read this article, watch the videos and check out the documentaries linked below. If you’ve got any friends in the army or know anyone considering joining up please share it with them.

“Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy.” - Henry Kissinger, former U.S. National Security Advisor and Secretary of State.

War is part of human history, we have fought each other for millennia. In most cases wars have been waged to take territories and resources. All major nations have won their power through blood and iron.  Not a lot has changed today. Big players still try to dominate the world by playing out a grand chess game. They conspire to deceive and manipulate the public through propaganda campaigns and false flag operations, they often invent non-existent threats to justify their actions. Soldiers are led to believe that they are fighting for a just cause to protect their countries but in many cases this is a travesty of the truth.

The Iraq war began in 2003 but it was merely one of a legion of conflicts involving the US in the last 200 years.  The pretext for invasion was the supposed threat to international security raised by Iraq allegedly possessing weapons of mass destruction. These were never found in the end. Initially, the American Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed that military intervention would cost no more than $60 billion and predicted that the war would not last longer than 5 months. In fact, the American-led occupation lasted for 9 years and may well have to return following the rise of Islamic State. Brown University has estimated that it has cost the US more than $2 trillion, over 40 times the initial projections and it could go beyond a staggering figure of $6 trillion.  Some sources suggest the death toll has exceeded more than one million people.

So what were the real reasons for this war?

Just take a moment and watch this testimony by General Wesley Clark:

Some of the countries he mentioned  experienced  American military intervention . Not everything happened according to plan, but let’s focus on Iraq in this instance . The US and its allies hoped to benefit from this war in several respects but the main prize was oil. Iraq has one of the largest oil reserves in the world and the US had already planned to take control of its supplies much earlier.

The following statement made by Dick Cheney in 1990 before the Senate Armed Services Committee can be seen to reveal the true purpose of the invasion: “Whoever controls the flow of Persian Gulf oil has a stranglehold not only on our economy but also on the other countries of the world as well.”

The Project For A New American Century

In September 2000 the policy paper entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defences: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century” was composed by the neoconservative think tank Project For The New American Century (PNAC) of which Dick Cheney was a member.  Established in 1997 its main goal was “to promote American global leadership”.

The report explains:

‘The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.’ The PNAC document supports a ‘blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests’.

This ‘American grand strategy’ must be advanced for ‘as far into the future as possible’, the report says. It also calls for the US to ‘fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars’ as a ‘core mission’.

The PNAC report also: refers to key allies such as the UK as ‘the most effective and efficient means of exercising American global leadership’;

Switching  from the dollar to the euro.

In late 2000 Saddam Husain switched oil trade from dollars to euros, which infuriated Washington. They decided to do so since they didn’t want to trade “in the currency of the enemy.”

The dollar is a fiat currency, it is not backed by anything, it can only maintain its position because it is used for trading worldwide. If more countries  chose to switch to another form of payment it could have catastrophic consequences for the American economy.

Other puppets played their part.

In this video from 2003, Stephen Harper, a Canadian politician who later became prime minister, and Australian Prime Minister John Howard delivered largely identical speeches urging their nations to join George W. Bush’s Coalition to invade Iraq.

The official explanation was that it was the speechwriter who was responsible for this imitation and that Stephen Harper was unaware of this “plagiarism”

Whatever the truth of this matter, when a political leader makes such a critical decision like sending their soldiers to war they should have the moral integrity to act in the interests of their own people independently.

Mike Sygula is a blogger and activist promoting alternative ideas to raise public consciousness of the important issues facing humankind. He is currently involved in establishing Awe Academy, an open source learning and teaching platform which he is now crowdfunding for. You can learn more about Awe Academy by visiting his Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/awe-academy-the-revolution-in-education/x/4690696 campaign. Click here: http://truththeory.com/?s=mike+sygula to read more articles by Mike Sygula, or follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mike.sygula

The communiqué issued at the end of the G20 summit held in Brisbane, Australia, over the weekend stated that agreement had been reached among the participants, whose countries comprise 85 percent of the world economy, to boost global growth by an additional 2.1 percent over the next five years, or more than $2 trillion.

However, any serious examination of the state of global capitalism or even the communiqué itself and its associated documents makes clear the commitments will be honoured only in the breach.

Both the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development poured cold water on the goal, pointing to “the high degree of uncertainty in quantifying the impact of members’ policies.”

The G20 leaders met after a year in which an array of economic data pointed to the growing stagnation and outright recession in the world economy and the increasing risks of another financial crisis, the consequences of which would be even more devastating than those of 2008.

Moreover, the summit was held amid growing geo-political tensions, arising from the renewed US military actions in the Middle East and the sanctions imposed on Russia which are further worsening the global economic outlook.

The communiqué pledged G20 members to work in “partnership” to lift growth and boost economic resilience. But major participants, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and US President Obama, lined up to denounce Russia and threaten further sanctions aimed at crippling its economy, the ninth largest in the world.

The contradiction between economic reality and the commitments to boost growth jump out from the very text of the communiqué.

It begins by stating that raising global growth to deliver better living standards and quality jobs for people across the world is “our highest priority.” However in same paragraph, after noting that global growth is not delivering the jobs needed and the economy is being held back by a shortfall in demand, it points to the persistence of risks, “including in financial markets and from geopolitical tensions.”

Not a small component in the shortfall in demand results from the program of austerity being implemented by all major governments as they claw back the debts incurred as a result of bailing out the financial system and banks following the global meltdown of 2008.

The risks to which it points arise from the actions of the major powers themselves. Dangers to financial markets arise from the collapse of the asset bubbles, reflected in the rise of US stock markets to a record high, which have been created by the actions of the world key central banks in placing trillions of dollars at virtually zero interest rates in the hands of banks and financial speculators.

The geo-political risks, in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, are rooted, above all, in the drive by the United States to use military and economic power in its drive to maintain its global hegemony.

The measures set out in the communiqué are themselves internally contradictory. On the one hand, it states that G20 members will “ensure our macroeconomic policies are appropriate to support growth, strengthen demand and promote global rebalancing.” However the next sentence states that they will strive to put “debt as a share of GDP on a sustainable path”—the code phrase for continuing spending cuts that drive down demand and lead to deflation and stagnation.

The summit adopted a Global Infrastructure Initiative, declaring that it “recognises that we are facing investment and infrastructure shortfalls in the global economy which will grow further if we do not act.” But there is no prospect of co-operation and collaboration in the development of such projects.

On the eve of the summit, the Obama administration heavily intervened to ensure the Australian government reversed its in-principle decision to become a founding member of the Chinese-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on the grounds that roads, ports and other facilities financed by the bank would enhance Chinese military capacities in the region.

The focus of the G20 measures is not the boosting of economic growth but so-called structural reforms. These have two related aims: to reduce government regulations on the operations of businesses and to worsen conditions for workers, through so called “labour market flexibility.”

In his preview of the “growth plan,” Australian treasurer Joe Hockey said that as monetary policy and fiscal policy had reached their limits, the focus had to be on “structural reform.”

An article published in the Australian Financial Review on the eve of the summit, by Richard Goyder, the chief executive of the Australian corporation Westfarmers and head of the B20 group of business leaders, made clear what that would entail. He said there was “work to be done to encourage labour market flexibility” and “workforce adaptability.”

The type of measures to be adopted was indicated in the Australian commitment to the G20 plan. It included government proposals to charge higher fees for university education and to force young unemployed people to wait for up to six months before receiving any government benefits.

The complete absence of any sense of broad-based collaboration to lift the world economy was exemplified in the extremely crass remarks by Abbott to the leaders’ retreat held shortly before official proceedings began.

As the leader of the host nation, he said the task of the summit was to “instil more confidence in the people of the world.”

Abbott then began his own five-minute contribution to the discussion by declaring that his government has carried out its election commitment to stop refugee boats arriving in Australia and had repealed the tax imposed on carbon by the previous Labor government.

He went on to bewail the fact that as part of its so-called reform agenda the government had so far been unable to introduce a $7 co-payment for visits to a doctor or deregulate university fees.

While they were a particularly graphic display of narrow nationalism, if not parochialism, Abbott’s remarks were at the same time an expression of the agenda of all the summit participants. Their actions are not determined by the need for global co-operation but by the needs of their own national-state.

National interests were to the fore in the discussions on climate change. There was a redrafting of the final communiqué to include a recommendation for countries to commit funds to the United Nations Green Climate Fund after what were described as “difficult discussions” and even “trench warfare.”

The Abbott government has specifically opposed the fund, describing it as “socialism masquerading as environmentalism,” and the prime minister was reported to have made a passionate defence of the fossil fuel industry.

However, the United States is in a different position as result of the development of the shale gas industry. Consequently Obama was reported to have forcefully opposed Abbott on the question of coal and coal-fired power stations.

The dispute was an example of the conflicting national interests which render all the wordy commitments to co-operation and collaboration to lift the world economy a dead letter.

The United States is a society incapable of producing a major documentary film opposing the institution of war and explicitly advocating its abolition. If it did so, the major corporate media outlets would not sing such a film’s praises.

Yet Watchers of the Sky is beloved by the U.S. corporate media because it opposes genocide, not war.  I’m not aware of any opponents of war who don’t also oppose genocide. In fact, many oppose the two as a single evil without the stark distinction between them. But the anti-genocide academic nonprofit industrial complex has become dominated by leading advocates for war.

As we watch people lament Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur while supporting mass killing in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, we seem to be witnessing a sort of extended victors’ justice running 70 years from the hypocritical “justice” that followed World War II right through the establishment of the International Criminal Court (for Africans).

Right-wing war supporters oppose “terrorism” which means small-scale killing my government disapproves of. Liberal war supporters oppose “genocide” which means killing my government disapproves of and which is motivated by backward drives like race or religion rather than enlightened projects like control of fossil fuels, profiteering off weapons, or maintaining global hegemony.

Selective outrage over killing within a country has become a common justification for killing across borders (and oceans).

Ben Ferencz, featured in Watchers of the Sky, was recently on my radio show pushing his idea of criminalizing war while refusing to consider recent U.S. wars to fit the category of wars worth criminalizing.

Samantha Power, star of Watchers of the Skysupports mass killing. I don’t think she’s pretending to be outraged by genocide any more than Madeline Albright who said killing a half million children had been a good policy is pretending when she claims to be outraged by genocide. I think such people are outraged by evils they have permitted themselves to see as evil, while blinding themselves to horrors they prefer not to recognize.

I recently gave a talk at a college and happened to mention Hillary Clinton’s comment about obliterating Iran. A professor interrupted me to state that such a thing never happened. A student pulled up the video of Clinton on several websites on a phone, but the professor still denied it stating that it made no sense. That is to say, it didn’t fit into his worldview. I later happened to criticize Israel’s treatment of Gaza, and the same professor got up and stormed out of the room. He could only deny what was done to Gaza by avoiding hearing it altogether. I have no doubt that he would have expressed sincere outrage over Rwanda if asked.

The problem with the focus on Yugoslavia and Rwanda is the pretense that there is something worse than, discrete from, and preventable by war. The myths about the origins and outcomes of those horrors play down the role that Western militarism had in creating them while playing up the role it had or could have had in preventing them. War is depicted as an under-utilized tool, while the effects of both war and genocide (such as refugee crises) are blamed entirely on genocide.

The odd thing is that people being slaughtered from the sky are almost always being slaughtered by the U.S. military and its allies. Those who can only see killing when it’s done by people resisting U.S. domination can usually keep their eyes comfortably downward.

Police throughout the United States are making preparations to crack down on possible protests following an imminent decision on whether to bring charges against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown on August 9. A grand jury is expected to return a decision on indictment as early as today.

The Associated Press carried a story Saturday reporting that police are “ready” for protests in cities throughout the country. The report followed the announcement last week by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon that he would call in the National Guard in the event of protests if there is no indictment of Wilson.

“Naturally, we always pay attention,” said Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Andrew Smith. “We saw what happened when there were protests over there and how oftentimes protests spill from one part of the country to another.”

The AP also cited preparations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which has seen its own wave of recent police killings; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and New York City. In the St. Louis suburb of Berkeley, Missouri, “officials this week passed out fliers urging residents to be prepared for unrest just as they would a major storm—with plenty of food, water and medicine in case they’re unable to leave home for several days.”

The report focused on police preparations in Boston, which was put under effective martial law last year after the bomb attack at the Boston Marathon. The AP noted that the city’s “police leaders met privately Wednesday to discuss preparations” for the protests. “Common sense tells you the timeline is getting close,” a spokesman for the Boston Police said. “We’re just trying to prepare in case something does step off, so we are ready to go with it.”

The implications of the article are quite plain. In a country where the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” is included in the Bill of Rights, police respond to the very possibility of protests with thinly veiled threats of mass arrests, tear gas and rubber bullets.

A decision not to indict Wilson, by a grand jury that has been manipulated by the prosecutor’s office, would be extremely provocative, flying in the face of forensics evidence and multiple eyewitness accounts indicating that Brown was gunned down even though he posed no threat to Wilson. This is particularly true since an indictment is not a guilty verdict, but simply a finding that there are sufficient grounds to have a public trial.

In the event that charges are brought against Wilson, the one-sided and selective leaks of information from the grand jury, likely coordinated by state officials and presented uncritically in the media, will have already poisoned public opinion, including potential jurors in any trial.

Earlier this weekend, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch released key evidence relating to the shooting, including radio dispatch recordings on the day Michael Brown was killed, and video surveillance footage showing Wilson arriving at a hospital two hours after the shooting.

Attorneys for the family of Michael Brown noted that the video evidence contradicted earlier claims by police officials that Wilson was severely injured prior to the shooting. At the time, major media outlets, including the Post-Dispatch itself, passed off these unsubstantiated claims by the police as good coin.

“Information was leaked from within the police department that Wilson was severely beaten and suffered an orbital eye socket ‘blowout,’ indicating that Michael Brown somehow deserved to die,” attorneys for the Brown family said in an email statement. “From the video released today it would appear the initial descriptions of his injuries were exaggerated.”

Also on Saturday, Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson made clear that Wilson will not be fired if charges are not brought against him, and that he will instead be allowed to return to work.

The preparations by police throughout the US indicate that the ruling class is well aware of the explosive social tensions that are building up in the United States. The November midterm elections earlier this month exposed the chasm between the political establishment and the working class. Extremely low voter turnout revealed that broad sections of the population are alienated from and increasingly hostile to the political system as a whole.

In the aftermath of the elections, the Obama administration announced that it would double the US troop presence in Iraq, despite mass opposition to war by the population. Social inequality is soaring, while the state asserts ever-more sweeping powers to spy on the population and police proceed as though they have a license to kill workers and young people with impunity.

The fact that there can be no expression within the political system of social opposition means that this opposition will take other forms. The protests in Ferguson in August already expressed the hostility that exists among workers and young people to social inequality and the pervasive attacks on democratic rights, including the growth of a massive and unaccountable military/intelligence apparatus in the United States.

The political establishment, both Democrats and Republicans, has responded to the protests with a two-pronged strategy. Behind the scenes, the Obama administration facilitated and coordinated a police crackdown that employed military equipment transferred to local departments as part of programs that have been vastly expanded over the past decade.

On the other hand, the White House has worked with the proponents of racial politics to present the Brown killing as an issue of “race relations” in an attempt to channel popular opposition back behind the Democratic Party. The Democrats have connections with a network of local organizations that aim to obscure the fundamental social and political issues at stake in the killing of Brown and the police response to the protests over the summer.

The fundamental question presented by the events in Ferguson is not one of racial or “community” relations, but of the immense social chasm between the corporate and financial aristocracy on the one hand, and the working class and youth on the other. The state violence that has been used and is being prepared is the response of the ruling class to the class tensions building up in America.

25th Anniversary of El Salvador Jesuit Murders

November 17th, 2014 by Kate Doyle

Commemorative drawings of the victims of the 1989 massacre at UCA (Photo: Steve Rhodes, 2009)

Washington, DC. – Twenty five years have passed since the horrifying murders in El Salvador of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter, during a rampage by Salvadoran security forces in the early morning hours of November 16, 1989, on the campus of the University of Central America (UCA) in the country’s capital. It has been twenty five years of grieving by the victims’ families and the Jesuit community; and twenty five years of waiting for justice to identify and prosecute the killers.

As they have done on so many other anniversaries of the brutal crime, thousands of Salvadorans and international visitors gathered in San Salvador to commemorate the lives of Father Ignacio Ellacuría Bescoetxea, UCA’s rector at the time of his assassination; Father Ignacio Martín-Baró; Father Segundo Montes; Father Armando López; Father Juan Ramón Moreno; Father Joaquín López y López; Julia Elba Ramos and her 13-year-old child Celina Maricet Ramos.

But this year’s anniversary is a little different. Although the perpetrators have yet to be brought to trial for their role in planning and ordering the crime, human rights lawyers at the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) believe they are closer than ever to achieving some measure of justice. A case that CJA opened in 2008 before the Spanish National Court under the principle of universal jurisdiction is inching forward, with presiding Judge Eloy Velásquez ruling just over a month ago to continue prosecuting the Jesuit killings , despite the reluctance of the Spanish Parliament to allow Spain to pursue international human rights cases. Velásquez has indicted twenty senior members of El Salvador’s military for planning, ordering, or participating in the crime .

The National Security Archive has spent the past quarter of a century collecting declassified US documents on El Salvador, including the Jesuit murders. Hundreds of those documents have been entered as evidence into CJA’s Spanish case . Thousands are published in two Digital National Security Archive collections. Today, in commemoration of the deaths, the Archive posts ten documents written by US officials on the day of the murders and during the week that followed.

Taken together, the documents indicate the striking initial unwillingness on the part of the United States to acknowledge the possibility that its closest Central American ally — the Salvadoran armed forces — may have been behind the atrocity. Despite overwhelming evidence of the Army’s bitter hostility toward the Jesuits — as documented by the UN Truth Commission report — the first reaction of United States officials on the day of the murders was the imprecise speculation that often served as a default US setting whenever political violence struck in El Salvador: that “extremists on either the right or the left may be responsible,” as Ambassador William G. Walker wrote in his earliest cable to Washington about the crime.

The theory was expanded in a lengthy CIA memorandum the following day that dwelled on indications that the killers could have been from the guerrilla forces of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), citing such evidence as, “Civilians reported the presence of 100 insurgents eating and resting on the highway behind the Hoescht factory [near] Ciudad Merliot … two kilometers southwest of the University of Central America …. ” On the other hand, wrote the Agency, the killers might have been “rightist extremists,” an encoded reference to polarizing rightwing politicians such as Roberto D’Aubuisson — a leading member of the ruling party ARENA — who reportedly made threatening comments about the priests in a talk given hours after they had already been killed. Nowhere in the CIA’s analysis was the military mentioned as a possible perpetrator.

In addition to ignoring signs that members of the armed forces had carried out the crime, US officials sought to bolster Salvadoran President Alfredo Cristiani as he prepared to face the possibility that his own party’s leadership was responsible for what Walker called “a barbarous and incredibly stupid action.” On November 19, Ambassador Walker sent an impassioned (and profoundly wrong) telegram to the State Department focusing on the alleged responsibility of ARENA extremists and proposing that he tell Cristiani that “with the USG [US Government], the leadership and majority of the armed forces officer corps, and the decent forces of Salvadoran society on his side, he can and must once and for all separate himself from those responsible for this barbarism.” Meanwhile, Secretary of State James Baker asked his ambassador in Madrid to urge Spain not to cut aid to El Salvador, which it had announced it would do in response to the murder of the Spanish-born priests.

As evidence began to emerge pointing to the Army’s role in the killings, the US documents reflected the alarm felt in Washington about its implications. Secretary Baker wrote directly to the Director of the CIA William Webster to request his agency’s assistance. “We would appreciate on an urgent basis information regarding the military units present in the area at the time of the killings, and the orders issued to such units.” US Assistant Secretary of State Bernard Aronson warned Ambassador Walker to hurry the investigations, arguing that allowing them to become drawn out would likely lead to stonewalling on the part of the Salvadoran government and impunity for the killers. Aronson evidently feared the consequences of publicly airing US suspicions about military responsibility for the killings, pressing Walker to keep his findings secret.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of building as solid a case as possible and then working closely with Cristiani on a strategy. We may be asking Cristiani to do what has never been done, actions which may involve moving against elements of his own party and perhaps even divide the Army. Please hold this information very closely.”

By the following year, in 1990, the US could no longer hide what its own investigation had uncovered: that the Salvadoran armed forces “at the highest levels” made the decision to kill the Jesuits.

Now, 25 years later, the United States has a decision to make. Although the Salvadoran government has so far rejected Spain’s request for the extradition of suspects in the crime, one of the indicted officers — Col. (Ret.) Inocente Orlando Montano — pled guilty in 2012 to charges of immigration fraud and perjury in a Boston courtroom and was sentenced in 2013 to 21 months in federal prison. Spanish Judge Velásquez is seeking the extradition of Montano to Madrid following completion of his jail term. A US ruling in favor of extradition would permit the Spanish case to proceed to trial and offer families of the eight victims a chance at justice in what has been a long and painful odyssey.

Research Assistance by Alexandra Smith


THE DOCUMENTS

Document 1: Jesuit Rector of UCA Shot Dead; Seven Others Killed
DNSA No. EL01044
U.S. Embassy in El Salvador
Confidential Cable
November 16, 1989

This confidential cable represents the U.S. Embassy’s first reaction to the assassination of Father Ignacio Ellacuria and five other Jesuit priests, along with a housekeeper and her daughter, at the Central American University. The cable includes the names and positions of each of the victims, and summarily describes information collected by the Country Team regarding events at the University prior to the murders.

Document 2: Situation Report As of 1430 Hours Local Time
DNSA No. EL00278
Central Intelligence Agency
Cable, Classification Excised
November 16, 1989

This cable from the Central Intelligence Agency illustrates the early understanding that the murders of Father Ignacio Ellacuria and his colleagues could have been perpetrated by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). The news is buried in a general summary of FMLN activities, including the takeover of Police Detachment headquarters in Cuscatancingo, and discussion of the armed forces’ “slow” progress in battling insurgents.

Document 3: Movement of 1,000 Fresh FMLN Troops to San Salvador; Planned Role of Ellacuria in Effecting New Negotiations Between the FMLN and the Government 
DNSA No. EL00279
Central Intelligence Agency
Cable, Classification Excised
November 17, 1989

This CIA cable summarizes talks between Father Ignacio Ellacuria and members of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front regarding negotiations with the government of El Salvador. The cable states that Ellacuria approved of the idea, and suggests that he was acting as a go-between for the two groups.

Document 4: Killing of Dr. Ignacio Ellacuria
DNSA No. EL00281
Central Intelligence Agency
Intelligence Memorandum, Classification Excised
November 17, 1989

An intelligence summary suggesting possible perpetrators of the UCA murders, this CIA cable indicates: “deaths could have been perpetrated by extremists of left or right.” The military is not mentioned in this document, despite their prevalence in other sources.

Document 5: Ellacuria Murder Et Al: Request for FBI Assistance
DNSA No. EL01046
U.S. Embassy in El Salvador
Limited Official Use Cable
November 18, 1989

In this official use cable reporting President Cristiani’s request for assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the investigation of the recent murders, Ambassador Walker insists that this crime should not go the way of all the other human rights crimes that had occurred in the 1980′s, and presses for a “credible investigation.”

Document 6: Ellacuria Assassination
DNSA No. EL01047
U.S. Embassy in El Salvador
Secret Cable
November 19, 1989

Ambassador Walker reports finding the “first substantive evidence” that members of the Nationalist Republican Alliance “might have triggered events which led to [the] murder” of the Jesuit priests at UCA. The Ambassador calls on President Cristiani to recognize the truth about “the right” in his party, and stand up for democracy.

Document 7: [Letter from Secretary of State to CIA Director Requesting Help with Investigation of Jesuit Murders]
DNSA No. EL01048
Department of State, Office of the Secretary
Secret Letter
November 20, 1989

Secretary of State Baker requests help from the Central Intelligence Agency in “developing information” about the perpetrators of the murder of Father Ellacuria and his colleagues. This request shows that the State Department was beginning to understand that the Army of El Salvador was involved in the crime.

Document 8: Government Investigation of Killings in El Salvador
DNSA No. EL00282
Central Intelligence Agency
Intelligence Memorandum, Classification Excised
November 21, 1989

This CIA intelligence memorandum examines political constraints on President Cristiani as he decides how to move against the perpetrators of the Jesuit murders. The document focuses on the “circumstantial evidence” against Roberto D’Abuisson and the ARENA party. The memo states that Cristiani is “highly sensitive to international criticism of human rights abuses in El Salvador.”

Document 9: Demarche on Spanish Policy Toward El Salvador
DNSA No. 01049
Department of State
Confidential Cable
November 22, 1989

This State Department demarche requests that Ambassador Walker counsel Spain to take caution in steps against El Salvador, after reports of suspended aid and the potential for further “retaliatory actions” in response to the murder of the Spanish-born Jesuit priests. The cable includes talking points that emphasize the idea that “too much pressure at this delicate moment could play into the hands of the FMLN guerillas.”

Document 10: Ellacuria Assassination
DNSA No. EL01050
Department of State
Secret Cable
November 22, 1989

Assistant Secretary of State Bernard Aronson urges Ambassador Walker to work with President Cristiani to move the case of the Jesuit murders hastily to its next stage. He states: “drawing it out will give those involved the chance to abort our efforts as they did in Romero assassination,” referring to the 1980 murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero by killers associated with ARENA leader Roberto D’Aubuisson. Aronson goes on to say that this may involve asking the president to “do what has never been done, actions which may involve moving against elements of his own party.” Aronson closes his note with the addendum: “Please hold this information very closely.”

Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, in an Odessa TV address to the nation, on November 13th, said:

“We will have our jobs. They will not. We will have our pensions. They will not. We will have care for children, for people, and retirees. They will not. Our children will go to schools and kindergartens. Theirs will hole up in basements [from our bombs]. Because they are not able to do anything. This is exactly how we will win this war! [I.e., we will starve and terrorize them into submission.]”

Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 6.40.55 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHWHqj8g7Bk

His corrupt government was installed by the United States of America, in a violent coup this past February, under the cover of “Maidan” demonstrations against the previous corrupt leader of Ukraine. U.S. President Barack Obama wants U.S. oil companies to be able to frack in Ukraine, and wants to place nuclear missiles there, against next-door Russia, but the previous Ukrainian ruler wouldn’t go along with those goals. So, Obama overthrew him and now wants to get rid also of the people who had voted for him. That’s why the successor President, Poroshenko, is bombing these people: to get rid of them.

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.

 

 

Mr. J.L. kindly shared this English translation of an interview with Mr. Nikolai Patrushev, current Secretary of the Russian Security Council (since 2008), and former Director of Russia’s FSB ( Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti, the renamed KGB) from 1999-2008. As such, it is a lengthy and detailed interview, but important to see how the current leadership surrounding Mr. Putin in Moscow views the world, and particularly its relationship with the USA and the West since the days of the Cold War:

Cold War II: Interview with Nikolay Patrushev, Secretary of the Russian Security Council

There are many things to be noted about Mr. Patrushev’s frank analysis. Most notably, Mr. Patrushev points out that the strategy of “vulnerabilities” that brought down the USSR was a deliberate orchestration of a collapse of energy prices, upon which the USSR built its export economy, a strategy that Mr. Patrushev strongly hints is behind the recent drop of oil prices, which, he is suggesting, will not work this time as Russia has been actively promoting new types of political and economic alliances:

“Our country’s main “vulnerability,” as defined by the CIA, was its economy. After detailed modelling, the American experts identified its “weakest link”, namely the USSR budget’s extremely high dependence on the export of energy resources. A strategy of provoking the financial and economic bankruptcy of the Soviet state was formulated, envisaging two interconnected objectives: the bringing about of a sharp reduction in revenue to the USSR’s budget from foreign trade, combined with a substantial increase in expenditure on resolving problems created from outside.

“A reduction in world oil prices was envisaged as the main measure for reducing the income side of the budget. This was successfully achieved by the mid-1980s when, as a result of US collusion with the rulers of a number of oil extracting countries, an artificial surplus of crude was created on the market and oil prices fell almost by a factor of four.”

Note that Russia’s response and determination to prevent what it viewed as clear attempts to break up the Russian Federation gained a dramatic impetus as a result of Washington’s meddling in South Ossetia:

“After 7-8 August 2008, when the Georgian leadership, with US support, attempted to annihilate South Ossetia, the world once again changed substantially. For the first time in many decades Washington provided direct support to a foreign state that had perpetrated an attack on Russian citizens and peacekeepers.

“Everything was staked on surprise. The Georgian dictator believed that a military incursion on the opening day of the international Olympic Games would put Russia in a difficult position, and the Georgians, taking advantage of this, would carry out their “blitzkrieg”. However, the Russian leadership reacted promptly to the sharp deterioration in the situation and the necessary measures were adopted to halt the aggression.

“[Yegorov] It was at that time that people started talking about the shaping of a new geopolitical reality – the multipolarity of the modern world. How did the United States react to this?

[Patrushev] After the August events in the Caucasus, Washington was clearly alarmed by Russia’s obvious intention to take its place among the world powers of the 21st century and uphold the principle of equal opportunities and full autonomy in global politics. And also to convert the state’s financial income from the exploitation of natural resources into real economic and defence potential and human capital.

The American leadership clearly also disliked the prospects of Russia’s collaboration with China and India, the introduction of the practice of summits in the BRICS format, the successful activity of other organizations in which Russia occupies leading positions (the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization], the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization], and the EAEC [Eurasian Economic Community]), and the formation of the Customs Union.” (All emphasis in the original)

Thus, from the long term perspective of history, Mr. Patrushev and the current Moscow leadership believe that the ultimate goal is simply to break the Russian Federation apart:

“Analysis shows that by provoking Russia into retaliatory steps the Americans are pursuing the very same objectives as in the 1980s with regard to the USSR. Just like back then, they are trying to identify our country’s “vulnerabilities”. At the same time, incidentally, they are pursuing the objective of neutralizing European economic competitors who have, in Washington’s opinion, grown excessively close to Moscow.”

The “meme” that will drive this, Patrushev suggests, is that Russia’s vast natural resource holdings are somehow “unfair” to the rest of humanity, the implication being that the Russian Federation should be broken up (read, placed under Western control), for “the good of humanity”:

“Many American experts, in particular former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, assert that there are vast territories “under Moscow’s power” that it is incapable of exploiting and which therefore “do not serve the interests of all humanity”. Assertions continue to be heard about the “unfair” distribution of natural resources and the need to ensure so-called “free access” to them for other states.

“The Americans are convinced that people must be thinking in similar terms in many other states, particularly those neighbouring on Russia, and that in the future they will, as is nowadays the custom, form “coalitions” to support the corresponding claims on our country. As in the case of Ukraine, it is proposed to resolve problems at Russia’s expense but without taking its interests into account.

“Even during periods of a relative thaw in relations between Russia (the USSR) and the United States, our American partners have always remained true to such notions.”

This, of course, Russia will not permit, and in language echoing President Putin’s recent statements at the Valdai conference, Mr. Patrushev serves notice that this is a “pipe dream”:

“Therefore irrespective of the nuances in the behaviour of the Americans and their allies the Russian leadership still faces this task as a constant: To guarantee the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Motherland, to defend and multiply its riches, and to manage them correctly in the interests of the multiethnic people of the Russian Federation.”

So why am I taking such pains to cite so much of Mr. Patrushev’s interview in Rossiskaya Gazetta? And my answer is, not so much because of what he says, but what his remarks imply might be a long term analysis and strategy being pursued by Moscow. First, note that he has drawn attention to the “analysis and strategy of vulnerabilities” conducted under the Reagan Administration, and the economic warfare in all its various forms. Mr.Patrushev mentions the manipulation of oil prices, and though he does not mention the infamous Farewell spy case, he as former Director of the FSB no doubt knows that this economic warfare included more active measures, such as the deliberate shipping of corrupt hardware and software components from the west into Soviet industry, using the KGB’s own industrial spying program to do it. (In the Farewell case, the result was that the French-run mole within the KGB supplied Paris and Washington with the KGB’s shopping list, which Washington very obligingly and covertly supplied. One result was the massive explosion of a Soviet gas pipeline – visible from space – due to the corrupted software.)

In short, Mr. Patrushev has implied the FSB has undertaken its own vulnerabilities studies of the West and of the USA, and that a similar goal – the prying of US allies and satellites out of the Western Alliance system “space”, is the long term goal, with the implosion of the USA itself as an even longer term goal. In confirmation of this analysis, consider Mr. Patrushev’s own statements about the two-fold goal behind the formation of NATO:

“As you know, after World War II the confrontation between the USSR and the West headed by the United States took the form of a “cold war”. The military-political component of this standoff was entrusted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), formed on the initiative of the United States on 4 April 1949. An analysis of NATO’s practical activity indicates that in creating the alliance the United States was pursuing two main objectives.

“First, a military bloc directed against the USSR was formed under American leadership.

:Second, Washington forestalled the emergence in Western Europe of an autonomous grouping of states that could have competed with the United States. It should be recalled that the territory of the United States itself, which essentially established unilateral military control over the allies, is not included in NATO’s zone of responsibility.” (Emphasis added)

Recall the similar statements of Zbigniew Brzezinski in his own book, The Grand Chessboard, that NATO was as much about containing German power as it was about containing Soviet power.

By highlighting NATO, and backhandedly indicating the pivotal position of Germany within the NATO-EU bloc, Mr.  Patrushev is, I believe, indicating what a long term Russian strategy will be, namely, to use world opinion, the already strong European-Russian international trade in energy, and the growing BRICSA bloc to leverage Europe away from NATO, or, failing that, to significantly reduce American influence within the organization.

What remains to be seen, however, is how that strategy will emerge in its operational and tactical details. But given Mr. Patrushev’s analytical tone and careful review of the world situation from the Moscow point of view, we can rest assured that some of those details are probably already worked out.

As the old Chinese proverb has it, “May you live in interesting times,” seems to be true. Time will show what those details are. One thing does emerge, however, from Mr. Patrushev’s remarks: the last time around, the Soviets played the American game (poker), and this time around, they mean to play Russia’s game (chess).

Medical experts are saying that the biggest flaw of Big Pharma today is a high percentage of ineffective products being sold without previous clinical trials. This is particularly true when anti-cancer medications are concerned.The sad fact is that Big Pharma prefers to invest in advertising and bribing officials instead of attempting to make their products truly effective. Today pharmaceutical manufacturing is handsomely funded by politicians and organized crime, since it’s has become one of the most efficient money laundering schemes and has already corrupted a large number of US and EU officials.

Biotech expert C. Glenn Begley, the former Vice-President and Global Head of Hematology and Oncology Research at Amgen – one of the largest cancer research centers in the US, is now a senior vice president in a private biotech company TetraLogic. In his article published in Nature magazine back in March 2012, Glenn stated that a series of tests conducted under his supervision proved that out of 53 anti-cancer drugs that had been developed by “respected laboratories,” a total of 47 showed no noticeable improvements in patients’ health conditions (which amounts to 88%).

Unfortunately, this study was proven right by a number of research teams that arrived at similar results while running tests. In 2009, a group of researchers at Michigan State University reached a similar conclusion, just like Bayer‘s research team. At the same time certain research institutes, like the famous Harvard Medical School, prefer to falsify their studies. In Harvard’s case it received a hefty grant of 15 million dollars from the Federal government.

Big Parma is all about PR campaigns and advertisements, while putting new potentially dangerous drugs on the market. For example, Glivec and Sutent that are authorized for usage in Europe, are reducing the size of tumors by wiping out pericytes that prevent the growth of tumor-nourishing blood vessels. As a result, additional testings showed, these drugs force cancer to spread faster across a body, making it increasingly more deadly.

Canadian Professor at the Department of Pharmacology at Dalhousie University, George S. Robertson is also stressing the ineffectiveness of certain drugs that are being put on the market today.

Over the past two decades, the most promising drugs that should have allowed people to fight cancer effectively were Gleevec and Herceptin. However, as it has been recently discovered, each of these medications initiated genetic mutations of cells, by turning a regular one into a malignant cell.

Scientists from Bayer had little luck with their studies as well. In 2011, in a paper “Believe it or not”, Bayer admitted that researchers couldn’t get the same results in clinical trials on stage two of their testings. The head of Target Discovery at Bayer Schering Pharma admitted that research teams couldn’t replicate the initial results of most of Bayer’s studies, no matter how hard they tried. Out of 47 potential new anti-cancer drugs less than one-quarter got past stage two. The scandal that followed put an end to all anti-cancer studies at Bayer.

According to C. Glenn Begley, when investigating Amgen Inc, approximately 100 scientists could not confirm the official results of clinical trials they contacted the producers of these drugs. Some of them demanded that Amgen Inc should sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to keep these facts from being published.

In pursuit of federal grants Big Pharma is falsifying research, by paying for factless publications in scientific journals, which then opens a direct path to the introduction of new drugs on the market, regardless of their potential danger. Unfortunately, regular people across the globe are to pay for this deceit, more often than not with their own lives.

Vladimir Platov, Middle East expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

A controversial government contractor once again finds itself in hot water, or in this case, melting glacier water.

TransCanada chose Environmental Resources Management Group (ERM) as one of its contractors to conduct the environmental impact statement for Keystone XL on behalf of the U.S. State Department. ERM Group also happens to have green-lighted a gold mining project in central Asia that is now melting glaciers.

ERM Group has a penchant for rubber-stamping projects that have had tragic environmental and public health legacies. For example, ERM formerly worked on behalf of the tobacco industry to pitch the safety of its deadly product.

A January 2014 study about Keystone XL’s climate change impacts published in the journal Nature Climate Change paints a drastically different picture than ERMGroup’s Keystone XL tar sands study.

The Kumtor Gold Mine, owned by Centerra Gold/Cameco Corporation, was provided a stamp of approval from ERM Group in October 2012. Similar to the TransCanada arrangement with the State Department on Keystone XL, Centerra served as the funder of the report evaluating its own project.

ERM Group Melting Glaciers

“The mine sits at an altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level, in the Tien Shan mountain range and among some of Kyrgyzstan’s – and the region’s – most important glaciers,” explained an October 28 story published in Asia Times.

“Centerra Gold has consistently dismissed as untrue that operations at Kumtor have had negative implications for the glaciers, which are reportedly melting with observable speed due to years of dumping rock tailings onto the ice sheet. The Canadian company has backed its position with expert evaluations from consultancies such as Environmental Resources Management.”

DeSmogBlog’s finding comes in the aftermath of the U.S. House of Representatives voting to authorize the Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma KeystoneXL northern leg, with a vote in the U.S. Senate to follow on November.

Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, hinted President Barack Obama will veto the bill if it arrives at his desk, with Obama also sounding as if a veto looms in a recent public appearance.

“I have to constantly push back against the idea that Keystone is either a massive jobs bill for the U.S. or is somehow lowering gas prices,” said Obama. “Understand what the project is, it will provide the ability for Canada to pump their oil and send it through their land down to the Gulf where it will be sold everywhere else.”

Bill Promoters Cite ERM Report

Promoters of the latest legislative push to ram through Keystone XL North have cited ERM’s State Department report as a reason for why Obama should sign off on the bill.

“The time for excuses is over,” the head of the American Petroleum Institute(API), Jack Gerard, said at an API-sponsored panel convened by The Hill (beginning at about 4:42 in the video). “This has been in the process for six years and has gone through five comprehensive environmental reviews and somehow [there is] this excuse that we’ve got to let the [permitting] process continue.”


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), sponsor of the Senate bill and in the midst of a run-off vote election against U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) — sponsor of the House-version of the bill — sang a similar tune about the ERM study at a press conference.

“This project has cleared every environmental hurdle and it has met the complete environmental review,” Landrieu stated in listing off the reasons why the pipeline should be approved.

The sponsor of another Senate bill introduced in May calling for the approval of Keystone XL North, U.S. John Hoeven (R-ND), also cited ERM’s State Department report in addressing the full Senate floor on November 13.

“[T]he final environmental impact statement…stated the project will have have no siginficant environmental impact [and] stated that very clearly,” said Hoeven.

“Hail Mary”

The Landrieu-Cassidy run-off has become what Houston Chronicle energy reporter Jennifer Dlouhy called a “Hail Mary” for both of them at The Hill event.

“There is no more vivid example that elections matter than the Keystone XLpipeline,” said Dlouhy (beginning at 33:33). “Both Representative Cassidy and Senator Landrieu are fighting to claim the title of the oil industry’s biggest champion, as well as that seat, and both view Keystone XL as their Hail Mary.”

But if Big Oil catches the Hail Mary pass and runs the ball into the end-zone, it will mean more melting glaciers in the Arctic at the hands of climate disruption, caused by the tar sands production Keystone XL North will incentivize.

Rethinking Conspiracy

November 17th, 2014 by Shawn Hamilton

The terms “conspiracy theorist” and “conspiracy nut” are used frequently to discredit a perceived adversary using emotional rather than logical appeals. It’s important for the sake of true argument that we define the term “conspiracy” and use it appropriately, not as an ad hominem attack on someone whose point of view we don’t share.

According to my Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, the word “conspiracy” derives from the Latin “conspirare,” which means literally “to breathe together” in the sense of agreeing to commit a crime. The primary definition is “planning and acting together secretly, especially for a harmful or unlawful purpose, such as murder or treason.”

It was in this sense that Mark Twain astutely observed, “A conspiracy is nothing but a secret agreement of a number of men for the pursuance of policies which they dare not admit in public.”

Conspiracies are common. If they weren’t, police stations would not need conspiracy units to investigate and prosecute crimes such as “conspiracy to import cocaine” or any other collusion on the part of two or more people to subvert the law.

Unfortunately, too many people smugly chide “conspiracy theories” as if they imagine that such a derisive characterization reflects superior intellect—whether or not they know anything about the issue in question. It’s a pitiful display of ego inflation and intellectual dishonesty, yet it appears to be a common approach preferred by those either short on information and critical thinking skills or harboring a hidden agenda.

Here are a few examples of past “conspiracy theories” that have been commonly derided but were later determined to be credible:

1933 Business Plot:  Smedley Butler, a decorated United States Marine Corps major general, who wrote a book called War is a Racket, testified before a congressional committee that a group of powerful industrialists, who had tried to recruit him, were planning to form a fascist veterans’ group that intended to assassinate Franklin Roosevelt and overthrow the government in a coup. While news media at the time belittled Butler and called the affair a hoax, the congressional committee determined that Butler’s allegations were credible, although no-one was prosecuted.

Project Paperclip:  After “winning” World War II, the US imported hundreds of Nazis and their families through “Project Paperclip,” so-named because ID photos were clipped to paper dossiers. It was set up by an agency within the Office of Strategic Services, predecessor of the CIA. Along with creating false identities and political biographies, Paperclip operatives expunged or altered Nazi records and other criminal histories in order to illegally circumvent President Truman’s edict that prohibited Nazis from obtaining security clearances. Thus, high-level Nazis waltzed into sensitive positions of authority and secrecy in the US military-industrial establishment, including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), major corporations, and universities. These Germans were conveniently referred to as “former Nazis,” but “former” was commonly just a euphemism for “active” and “ardent.”

Consider the irony of the United States’ moon mission. In order to successfully land men on the lunar surface and return them to Earth, the US depended almost exclusively on Nazis. A notable example was rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, a member of the Allgemeine SS, who would eventually lead the US space program. Von Braun had exploited concentration camp labor in Germany to build V-2 rockets at Peenemünde, and German aviation doctors’ gruesome and often fatal experiments at Dachau and other prisons afforded information that would help keep American astronauts alive in space.

While many Americans would prefer to call it a conspiracy theory, the United States defeated the Nazi organization in Germany only to transplant that ideology directly into the US after the war, and not just among members of the lay population but, more significantly, among members of the very “military-industrial complex” that President Eisenhower (a five-star general during WWII) had presciently warned the nation about in his 1961 message of leave-taking and farewell.

Operation Northwoods:  Declassified documents revealed that in 1962 the CIA was planning to execute false flag terrorist attacks, such as killing random American citizens and blowing up civilian targets, including a US airliner and ship, in order to blame Castro and justify invading Cuba.

Gulf of Tonkin:  President Lyndon Johnson used a contrived version of this 1964 event to justify escalation of the Vietnam War. It was claimed that Vietnamese gunboats had fired on the USS Maddox. It never happened—or at best was grossly distorted and overblown—yet the story served to prompt Congress to pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which provided the public justification Johnson needed to attack North Vietnam. This led to the deaths of about two million Vietnamese people and fifty thousand Americans.

MK-ULTRA:  As its code name suggests, MK-ULTRA was a mind control program run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence for the ostensible purpose of discovering ways to glean information from Communist spies although its applications were undoubtedly more far-reaching. It employed various methodologies including sensory deprivation and isolation, sexual abuse, and the administration of powerful psychotropic drugs such as LSD to unwitting subjects, including military personnel, prisoners, and college students. Many of them suffered serious consequences. One biochemist, Frank Olson, who was secretly slipped a strong dose of LSD at a CIA meeting, suffered a severe psychotic break and died when, for whatever reason, he plummeted from his apartment window to the pavement below. Such revelations came to light in 1975 during hearings by the congressional Church Committee (Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities) and the presidential Rockefeller Commission. These investigations were hindered by CIA Director Richard Helms who in 1973 had ordered the MK-ULTRA files destroyed.

Operation Mockingbird: This was a CIA media control program exposed by the Church Committee in 1975. It revealed the CIA’s efforts from the 1950s through the 1970s to pay well-known foreign and domestic journalists from “reputable” media agencies such as the Washington PostTime MagazineNewsweek, the Miami Herald, the New York Times, the New York Herald TribuneMiami News, and CBS, among others, to publish CIA propaganda, manipulating the news by planting stories in domestic and foreign news outlets. During the hearings, Senator Church asked an agency representative, “Do you have any people paid by the CIA who are working for television networks?” The speaker eyed his lawyer then replied, “This I think gets into the details, Mr. Chairman, that I’d like to get into in executive session.” In other words, he didn’t want to admit the truth publicly. He gave the same response when asked if the CIA planted stories with the major wire services United Press International (UPI) and the Associated Press (AP). In his 1997 book, Virtual Government — in the chapter “’And Now a Word from Our Sponsor – The CIA’: The Birth of Operation Mockingbird, the Takeover of the Corporate Press & the Programming of Public Opinion” — Alex Constantine claims that during the 1950s “some 3,000 salaried and contract CIA employees were eventually engaged in propaganda efforts.” I’m curious to know what the estimate would be today.

CIA Drug Smuggling: It’s no longer a secret that clandestine arms of US Intelligence have profited from running drugs for many years. I first became aware of the issue when a Vietnam veteran claimed he had helped load opium cultivated in Laos onto military transport planes. The opium was turned into heroin and shipped around the world, sometimes in the visceral cavities of dead soldiers. A Hollywood version of these events is portrayed in the film Air America, but the movie is based on historical truth. When the US military presence in Southeast Asia declined and the focus shifted to Central America, cocaine became the new revenue source. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb ran a well-documented three-part series in theSan Jose Mercury News called “Dark Alliance” alleging that traffickers with US intelligence ties had marketed the cocaine in Los Angeles and other cities where it was turned into the new and highly addictive form known as “crack,” inflicting a scourge that claimed the lives and freedom of thousands. One guy I met in Compton who had been arrested for crack possession described the drug this way: “It doesn’t really get you high,” he said. “You just want more.” Webb’s allegations were confirmed by an LAPD Narcotics Officer and whistleblower, Michael Ruppert, and the story received additional confirmation from CIA contract pilot Terry Reed, whose story is revealed in his 1994 book Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA. According to Reed, the sale of cocaine was used to finance the Contras in Central America when congressional funding was blocked by the Boland Amendment. He claimed the operation was run out of Mena, Arkansas when Bill Clinton was governor. Military cargo planes were flown to Central America with military hardware, he said, and then returned to Mena loaded with coke.

I could add to the list, and it would be a long one. The Iran-Contra scandal, Watergate, the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), the Tuskegee syphilis experiment—there is no shortage of crimes that were planned and committed by two or more people and thus constituted conspiracy. Conspiracies happen, and before any crime is solved it spawns theories. There are people who look at these theories rationally using logic and discernment, and there are others who are illogical, engaging in fallacious, emotion-based thinking and jumping to unjustified conclusions based on little or no evidence. The term “conspiracy theorist,” however, has been manipulated to suggest only those in the latter category.

The John F. Kennedy assassination provides a good example of how the term “conspiracy” has been misapplied to disparage people who find fault with official versions of major events. After Kennedy was murdered, very few people questioned the Warren Commission’s verdict that Lee Oswald had shot the president unassisted, and anyone who challenged that belief was branded a “conspiracy nut” (or buff) unworthy of respect or consideration. Forty years later, a 2003 Gallup poll revealed that 75% of the US population believed there had been a conspiracy to kill JFK.

Apparently some people have a psychological need to protect themselves from unpleasant realities, so it’s easier for them to label others as conspiracy nuts than to assimilate hard but discomforting facts. In the case of the John Kennedy assassination, even a congressional committee, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, concluded in 1979 that there had been a conspiracy to kill John Kennedy. They tried to soften that reality by calling it a “limited conspiracy” as if Oswald’s drunken cousin had helped him and not elements of US Intelligence, but the fact remains that the US government has officially admitted there was a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. “Conspiracy theorists” were finally vindicated, but I’ve never heard anyone apologize for disparaging their names and questioning their sanity.

“9/11,” of course, is the current topic that yields the most accusations of conspiracy nuttiness. Anyone who challenges the 9/11 Commission’s conclusions are branded “conspiracy theorists” (or nuts, wackos or kooks) as were their predecessors when JFK was killed.

History repeats itself.

One of the strange truths about the 9/11 affair is that members of the 9/11 Commission also called the event a conspiracy. That alone shows the term is being intentionally manipulated. In the Commission’s view, the conspirators were exclusively fanatical Muslims, but somehow that investigative body has been exempt from accusations of conspiracy theorizing even though they called the event a conspiracy. Apparently one must challenge the official version of events to qualify as a “conspiracy theorist.”

I asked Jim Marrs, the popular author and critic of various official versions of history, what he considered to be the origin of “conspiracy” as a derogatory term and how it has been manipulated: “The term ‘conspiracy theory’ was consciously submitted to assets of the CIA back in a document from the 1960s to be used to counter factual information that was continually being made public regarding the Kennedy assassination. From there, these assets, including media personalities, pundits, academics and government officials, expanded the term to become a pejorative for any statements not complying with the Establishment line,” Marrs said. “However, its repetitive overuse, plus the fact that the 9/11 attacks obviously involved a conspiracy, today has lessened the impact of the term.”

Many critics of the 9/11 Commission report make some valid points, and it’s not fair to simply dismiss them as conspiracy theorists when the very people they’re countering also claim there was a conspiracy. The question is simply: whose conspiracy was it?

Even officials tasked with investigating 9/11 knew there was plenty of deception involved. Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission, John Farmer, said on page four of his book The Ground Truth, “At some level of government, at some point in time, there was an agreement not to tell the people the truth about what happened.” In their book Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, the two co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean, outlined reasons they believe the government established the Commission in a manner that ensured its failure. These reasons included delay in initiating the proceedings, too short a deadline for the scope of the work, insufficient funding, and lack of cooperation by politicians and key government agencies including the Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, and NORAD. “So there were all kinds of reasons we thought we were set up to fail,” the chairmen said.

How much clearer can they be?

Conspiracies exist. They have always existed, and not wanting them to be true does not invalidate their existence. I think it’s time we reject the intentional misappropriation of the term “conspiracy” by forces attempting to manipulate public opinion and restore the term to its original and proper meaning. As long as we observe logic and reason, there is no intellectual dishonor in contemplating and discussing conspiracies, and doing so is imperative if we wish to retain what’s left of our liberties.

A version of this article was originally published at OpEdNews.com.  [Correction, Oct. 28, 2014: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that a chapter title of Alex Constantine's 1997 book Virtual Government is "Mockingbird: The Subversion of The Free Press by the CIA". The chapter is titled "'And Now a Word from Our Sponsor - The CIA': The Birth of Operation Mockingbird, the Takeover of the Corporate Press & the Programming of Public Opinion." The text has been revised to correct the error.]

Shawn Hamilton is a writing teacher and has taught in the United States and Taiwan. He authored a recently published book with the satirical title, Be All You Can Be (the old US Army recruiting slogan) about an Air Force major who, in the latter part of his life, rejected use of our military as an instrument of US imperialism. He has worked as a capitol reporter in Sacramento for KPFA Radio (Pacifica) and written for various print publications. He received a Project Censored award in 2011 and writes poetry for fun.

Since October 2014, both Ankara and Washington altered or adjusted their approaches to the battle over Kobani. Mounting pressure, including domestic anger and protests in Turkish Kurdistan against Turkey’s ruling AK Party, forced neo-Ottomanist Turkish President Erdogan and his officials to allow token support to cross the Syrian-Turkish border into Kobani. One hundred and fifty Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) peshmerga troopers from Iraqi Kurdistan were allowed to transit through Turkish territory into Kobani on November 1, 2014. The Pentagon also started to airdrop supplies near Kobani.

There are, however, catches to both gestures of support from the US and Turkish governments. Firstly, the corrupt KRG in Iraqi Kurdistan is a Turkish, US, and Israeli ally and business partner. The KRG is also a rival of the local Kurdish authorities in Kobani and hostile towards the most popular political movement in Syrian Kurdistan, the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Secondly, some of the US supplies that the Pentagon has dropped near Kobani got into the hands of the ISIL. In context of the US and Turkish goals addressed earlier, it appears that the US airdrops getting into the hands of the ISIL was intentional.

Washington’s attitude towards Syrian Kurdistan or Rojava has been very different from its attitude towards the corrupt KRG in Iraqi Kurdistan or Southern Kurdistan. In August 2014, when the ISIL attacked territory under the KRG’s control in Iraqi Kurdistan, the US immediately «appeared» to come to the aid of the KRG’s peshmerga units in the battles for Zumar and Sinjar (Shingal), albeit the Iraqis and other local actors, including the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Syrian Kurds, did most of the work fighting the ISIL, and evacuating the multi-ethnic Yezidi, Muslim, and Christian populations from these areas. Moreover, the US airstrikes utterly failed to stop the ISIL’s siege of Sinjar and many of the defending KRG peshmerga actually fled their posts when the ISIL’s forces advanced. If it was not for the PKK’s deployment, the Iraqi military would not have been able to evacuate many of the residents. The point here is that while heavy weaponry was delivered to the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraqi Kurdistan, it has not been delivered to the Democratic Union Party in Syrian Kurdistan, which has done more to fight the ISIL than the KRG.

The main reasons for the different US attitude and approach towards the Syrian Kurds are based on the facts that the Syrians Kurds are:

(1) not US allies;

(2) they are not opposed to Damascus or pushing for regime change in Syria; and

(3) they are not working to fragment Syria or Iraq.

Tensions run high between the Turkish government and the PYD. The ideological and working affiliation of the PYD to the PKK, which was aligned to Damascus in the past and has fought a bitter civil war against the Turkish military in Northern Kurdistan, has been cited as one of the reasons for the tensions between Ankara and the PYD. The reasons for the tensions, however, are not merely on account of the PYD’s affiliation to the PKK. In reality, Turkish officials do not want to see another autonomous Kurdish region on their southern border, especially a free-thinking one that is run by an inclusive grassroots movement which is unpredictable and not under Turkish influence.

Turkey sees the PYD and an autonomous Rojava or Syrian Kurdistan as a potential threat to itself, because a genuinely independent and inclusive Kurdish polity could encourage Turkish Kurds to make demands for similar autonomy in Northern Kurdistan or Turkish Kurdistan. Syrian Kurdistan could also be used as a pedestal to reinforce the Kurdish struggle in Northern Kurdistan and as a base for the paramilitary wing of the PKK, the People’s Defence Force (Yekineyen Parastina Gel, HPG). Moreover, Syrian Kurds and the majority of Turkish Kurds speak the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish, use the same Latin alphabet, and generally have closer cultural, linguistic, social, and political affinities towards each other than they do with the majority of the ethnic Kurds in Iraq and Iran.

Did the KRG coordinate with the ISIL or did they have a Tacit Understanding?

Albeit there was fighting between the KRG’s peshmerga forces and the ISIL, it has to also be remembered and emphasized that the ISIL and the KRG both took coordinated steps at expanding their territory inside Iraq (at the expense of the Iraqi federal government) in June 2014, respectively taking over Mosul and Kirkuk. This took place while the US refused to share any satellite images or intelligence data about the ISIL offensive entering Iraq from Syria with the Iraqi security forces or the federal government in Baghdad.

In context of the August 2014 fighting between the KRG peshmerga and the ISIL, the Pentagon’s role has greatly been exaggerated to provide support for its airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. «Coming to the aid» of the KRG is language taken from the misleading narratives that want to promote Washington as an «indispensable power.» When the US came to the «aid» of the KRG, it merely demarcated the territorial boundaries inside Iraq between the KRG and the ISIL. Essentially, the US airstrikes let the ISIL know where its territory was, where the KRG’s territory was, and roughly where their borders were.

Iraqi officials also reported that Israeli forces were present on the round in Iraq with the ISIL fighters when they invaded Mosul. US weapons that had disappeared from NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan also reappeared in the hands of the ISIL during their offensive of Mosul. These «missing» US arms from Afghanistan were most probably smuggled either through Turkey and/or Jordan (with lesser possibilities of Iraq and/or Lebanon) with the knowledge of the US and NATO.

The Democratic Union Party Has Worked to Protect and Unite All Rojava and Syria

For the sake of unity inside Syrian Kurdistan and to prevent fragmentation and infighting among the Syrian Kurd community, the PYD pursued a policy of cooperation with the KRG-supported Kurdish National Council while it steadfastly refused to compromise its political platform or end its support for national dialogue inside Syria and with the government in Damascus. Albeit tensions remain between the PYD and the Kurdish National Council, the PYD agreed to form the Kurdish Supreme Committee with the Kurdish National Council, through an accord brokered in Iraqi Kurdistan by the KRG, on July 12, 2012.

Under the accord, which recognizes the primacy of the PYD in Syrian Kurdistan, the seats in the Kurdish Supreme Council are equally divided between the PYD and the other Kurdish parties forming the Kurdish National Council. As part of the power sharing agreement, control over the YPG and YPJ is said to have formally been transferred to the Supreme Kurdish Council by the PYD. The YPG and YPJ, however, are nominally run by the Supreme Kurdish Council and are under the control of the PYD in practice. While the YPG and the YPJ act like a local army in Rojava, the policing and internal security forces of the Supreme Kurdish Council are the Asayish.

At the same time that the PYD has worked to maintain unity among the Syrian Kurds, it has not forgotten the non-Kurds of Syrian Kurdistan or the rest of Syria. PYD leaders have worked to create a system of inclusion that works to preserve the diversity of Syrian Kurdistan and maintain a spirit of tolerance in Rojava and Syria. This is why the PYD has reached out to the Arab, Armenian, Assyrian, and Turcoman (Turkoman) communities of Syrian Kurdistan to also represent their interests and to be their movement too.

YPG and YPJ troops have also worked to protect all the members of Syrian society in their areas of control, regardless of their faiths or ethnicities, from attacks by the US-backed insurgents. Many Sunni Muslim Arab Syrians have even sought refuge in the areas of Syria under PYD administration. The YPG and YPJ even have Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, and other ethnic groups among their ranks. Plus, it was the YPG and YPJ that quickly came to the rescue and aid of the Syrian Turcoman when they were attacked by the ISIL and ironically not Turkey which never passes a chance to parade itself as the champion of the Turcoman and Turkic minorities in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. In the case of Sinjar, it was also the YPG and YPJ that entered Iraq with the PKK to help save most the residents there from being executed or enslaved by the ISIL.

After the Arabs, Manipulating the Kurds: Preparing for a Kurdish Summer? 

The KRG on the other hand has taken a different path from the Kurds in Syria. Although the KRG preaches Iraqi unity and pays lip service to pluralism, Iraqi Kurdistan under the KRG has become a hub for a dangerous alliance of neoliberal profiteering and intolerant ultra-nationalist sentiments that have racist views towards Arabs, Turks, Turcoman, Persians, and other ethnic groups. Washington wants to use ethno-nationalism in Kurdistan as a weapon, just as it has capitalized on ultra-nationalism and anti-Russian views in Ukraine.

Preparations are being made to eventually ignite a «Kurdish Summer.» This goal includes igniting Kurdish ethno-nationalism to (1) help divide Syria and Iraq and to (2) destabilize the countries that have Kurdish populations. When systematic attacks by Jabhat Al-Nusra against Kurdish towns commenced in 2013, it was precisely with this understanding that it was noted that the following was the objective: «The targeting of Kurdish civilians in Syria by US-supported armed thugs is part of a deliberate attempt to galvanize the Kurds and pit them in a resurgent struggle against the non-Kurd regions.»  The same text, written on August 15, 2013, noticed that Washington was silent, because the Syrian Kurds were systematically being tortured, raped, and executed by insurgents groups supported by it, Turkey, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, and their allies. It was warned, however, that Washington and its cohorts would opportunistically «make supportive noise for the Kurds once they get the result they are seeking

To recap the argument made on August 15, 2013 about the situation in Rojava was thus: «The systematic massacres of Syrian Kurds mark the start of a new strategy to entangle the Kurds in the fighting inside Syria. The targeting of the Syrian Kurds by insurgent groups like Al-Nusra is premeditated and strategically executed precisely with the intention of galvanizing the Kurds in Syria and elsewhere into forming more armed groups and segregating themselves from non-Kurds.»

The PYD realized this too. This is why the PYD’s strategy has been based on maintaining pluralism and peaceful coexistence between all Syrian citizens. This is yet another reason as to why the US and its allies want to defeat the PYD.

Neutralizing the Syrian Kurds as a Free Force

Kobani is one of the three unofficial administrative divisions of the de facto autonomous region of Syrian Kurdistan or Rojava. The other two administrative division of Syrian Kurdistan are Efrin, which corresponds to Aleppo Governorate’s northwesternmost district that goes by the same name (called Afrin in Arabic and Efrin in Kurdish), and Jazira or Cizire, which roughly corresponds to northernmost sub-districts (nawahi) of the multi-ethnic Al-Hasakah Governorate’s three northern districts (manatiq) of Al-Malikiyah (Derika Hemko in Kurdish), Al-Qamishly (Qamislo in Kurdish), and Ras Al-Ayn (Sere Kaniye in Kurdish).

What sets Kobani apart from Efrin and Cizire, however, is its strategic location in north central Syria and the fact that it is the intermediate de facto district of the autonomous areas held by the YPG, PYD, and Kurdish Supreme Council. Capturing it is a step towards de-linking the Kurdish zones of autonomy. The surrender of Cizire, Kobani, and Efrin also means that almost all the northern Syrian border with Turkey will be in insurgent hands. With these Kurdish zones gone, the anti-government held border areas in the Syrian governorates of Al-Hasakah, Ar-Raqqah, Alepp, and Idlib will be united as one vast stretch of compartmentalized insurgent territory that will be fortified from the Turkish border by the US, Turkey, and their allies.

 Kobani was surrounded on three fronts by October 6, 2014. The Turkish military had mobilized with armed columns of tanks and troops on the Syrian-Turkish border to the north while from the southeast and southwest the ISIL anti-government brigades were inching closer with their military assault. Hiding his joy, President Erdogan declared that Kobani would collapse on October 7, 2014. While the battle was raging, either tacitly or directly, the Turkish government essentially gave the Syrian Kurd fighters defending the area against the Turkish-supported ISIL offensive ultimatums. Syrian Kurds were told that they could either join the anti-government forces working for regime change in Syria or be butchered by the ISIL. This is why US Department of State Spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki was asked by a journalist the following question on October 6: «Are you waiting for a Turkish deal with the Kurds?»

Speaking to the Istanbul-based Turkish newspaper Özgür Gündem, the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK) leader Sabri Ok testified that the ISIL’s fighters in Syria were merely foot soldiers in the service of the Turkish government. He explained that Ankara had actually requested the offensive on the Syrian Kurds. According to Sabri Ok, the AK Party was using its links to the ISIL to push for the elimination of the de facto autonomous Kurdish areas in Syria.

What this should make clear is that the ISIL attacks on Kobani and Syrian Kurdistan seek to neutralize and marginalize the PYD. The goals of the offensive include either forcing the PYD to make concessions to Ankara and Washington or replacing the PYD by allowing those Syrian Kurds aligned to the KRG and Turkey to take control of the area under substitute administrations that would be inclined to follow US and Turkish edicts and desires.

Things in Kobani, however, did not go as planned. Refusing to give up, the outnumbered YPG and YPJ volunteers heroically maintained their positions against the ISIL. Two days after Erdogan said Kobani would fall, on October 9, he was forced to say that the riots in Turkey had nothing to do with Kobani. As mentioned earlier, both Erdogan and the US government faced mounting criticism and pressure to support Kobani too. This forced them to voice their support or to make gestures of support.

Rojava and the Domino Effect Strategy in Syria

The war on the ISIL has been presented by the US and its allies as a new war against a new enemy, but it is in fact a continuation of the war against Syria and all of Syria’s people, including the Syrian Kurds. For decades many of the Kurds wrongly thought that the US supports them. Instead Washington and players like Israel have geopolitically manipulated them time and time again. While Kurds have hoped for help from US military jets, even if they are illegally bombing Syria, they have instead found themselves being killed by US tanks and arms in the hands of the ISIL.

Among many of the Syrian Kurds it is an open secret that the battle for Ayn Al-Arab or Kobani has really been about controlling the Syrian-Turkish border and forcing the Syrian Kurds to fall into line with the objectives of Ankara and Washington. The war in Rojava is a battle for control of the peripheries of Syria. If the YPG and YPJ fall or are absorbed into the insurgency, the fighting against the Syrian military will increase and the insurgents in the north will look towards the Mediterranean coast and southward towards the Syrian capital. This process could very well be described as a geographic or spatial domino effect strategy that intends to takeout the PYD and Rojava as a means of going after the Syrian government in Damascus.

Aside from a geographic domino effect, there is also a social one. While it has amply been demonstrated by the Democratic Union Party that it does not want to divide Syria and that the Syrian Kurds see themselves as constituents of Syrian society, hazardous conditions have arisen in Rojava and Syria. The growing mixture of militias in Syria has the potential for widening existing cleavages. Lebanonization has clearly and unfortunately made inroads in Syria. Albeit this will not necessarily divide the country, it can lead down a path of communitarianism and federalization. The Syrian Arab Republic will surely never be the same again.

Come what may, the Syrian Kurds and the inhabitants of Syrian Kurdistan have categorically stated that they do not need or want foreign intervention by the US or Turkey, but would appreciate logistical help in their battle to save their homes.

To read the first part, please click here.

This past Friday was a near carbon copy of the previous Friday for the precious metals.  Both were “outside reversal” days where the overnight and morning sessions were quite weak, only to bottom and then reverse to the upside strongly on very heavy volume by the day’s end.  First, this type of action is almost unheard of for precious metals and has happened only a handful of times over the last 15-20 years.  Also, both reversals were quite large from the day’s early lows to their final closes, the range was 3-4% which obliterated the long held “2% rule”.  We have now seen this twice in exactly 6 trading days and both were on a Friday. 

I want to emphasize “FRIDAY” and put it in capital letters to boot. Friday is the end of the week where there is no trading over the weekend.  (It is also the most important day to chartists where the charts cut off and print a close for the weekly period.)   Once business closes on Friday, participants are basically frozen in their position until Monday morning …or until the market reopens.  Market participants obviously know this and either position themselves accordingly or square their books going into weekends, it has been this way since the beginning of markets.  That said and as you know, I am a believer that we will see a system wide “re set” and this will in most all likelihood occur over a weekend.

I wasn’t sure when sitting down to write this how I’d structure it, meaning give you evidence and lead to a conclusion or the reverse?  My conclusion is that we have hit a precious metals BOTTOM and are now reversing, the worst is over in my opinion!  I must confess, I called a bottom 2 days after the low in June of 2013, some 16 months ago …which stood as correct until 2 weeks ago… I was wrong.  I did not in any way believe the $1,180 level in gold would be broken, it was.  That level was broken the day after the last FOMC meeting when 7 days worth of global production was sold at 12:30 AM on the COMEX.  Clearly this sale was meant to “break the charts” and break the spirits of any remaining PM bulls.  It did break the charts and sentiment along with it.  I actually saw a bullish/bearish sentiment reading this past week at “0″ bulls, I can’t remember where I saw it but I can tell you in 30 years I have never seen this before in any market.

OK, here is what I see and what leads me to believe we now have a hard bottom in.  We had the two consecutive reversal Fridays and both on very big volume.  These can be considered “impulse waves” if you will.  The previous week’s raid occurred just as the GOFO lease rates were again going negative (an impossibility in any normal market scenario).  Since then, the GOFO rates have gone further negative and have now seen two (possibly three, we will know on Monday?) record negative consecutive days.  GOFO rates should never be negative yet they are more negative than any time since 2001 when the gold bull market began.  Negative lease rates mean that the real metal is scarce which is a direct contradiction to dropping prices.  I will say this, while the COMEX can create 7 days worth of paper gold and sell it while everyone is sleeping to “make” price, they cannot create real gold out of thin air to satisfy real leasing needs.  What I am saying is this, rates in the “real” market show gold as very scarce, NOT plentiful as price would suggest.

Another anomaly occurred this past Thursday and Friday.  Scotia stepped up and served 920 Nov. COMEX gold contracts on Thursday and another 462 Friday.  This is VERY strange and can only be explained as “someone either needs or wants gold…NOW”!

I say “now” because the November month is historically a very small delivery month, there are only a few days left and there were only 33 contracts open prior to these 920, and 462 being served.  This represents 92,000 ounces of gold, almost three tons and 46,200 ounces or nearly 1 1/2 tons.  In a contract that is going off the board in short order, for what possible reason would this ever be done?  Who is the ultimate buyer and why now?  We can’t know “who?”, we can only speculate on “why now?” but we do know one thing for an absolute.  Someone is desperate for gold and has to have it immediately!  I have never seen anything like this in the COMEX metals in the last 15 years happen even once …but back to back days smacks of something really different!  Stay tuned as I plan to write more about this anomaly and the GOFO backwardation in my next piece.

Other pieces to the puzzle include very high open interest for Dec. silver, still contracted for more than 7 ounces for each ounce represented in registered inventory.  Interestingly, the bullish consensus on the dollar has never ever been higher than it is right now, everyone has moved to one side of the boat.  Russia announced a doubling of their purchases over the last three months to 55 gold tons while China is averaging nearly this amount weekly …and India looks to again be ramping up purchases.  We also have seen a rampage in Europe, particularly Germany where silver demand has recently been voracious.  So much so that many mints have gone “back order” including the U.S. mint suspending the sales of Silver Eagles.  Anecdotally, I would also like to mention the premiums on U.S. Gold Liberty coins has risen dramatically over the last two weeks, so much so that they now actually cost more than when gold itself was $30-$40 higher.  I understand, “they don’t make these anymore” but dealers are being forced to raise what they will pay owners to entice product.  NONE of this is the action of a market where the thought process is “get me out now”!

As a backdrop, we still need to hear from the G-20 and what was decided there along with the Swiss vote at the end of the month and also the “nuisance” factor of ISIS announcing they will create their own currencies …made of gold and silver.  We already know the APEC/G-20 meetings have respectively shown little U.S. respect as president Obama was pictured far from the center and (I mean no disrespect) between two women…followed by Mr. Putin being isolated by his lonesome for the G-20 photo.   I bring this up because China/Russia obviously knows the game of proper diplomacy, I can see no way a U.S. president would ever be treated like this unless something was afoot and close to being made public (I wrote about this in my “G-20 Massacre” article last week).  As for the treatment of Mr. Putin who now says he will leave the summit early, do the G-7 members really believe there is an upside to poking “the bear”?

As for the Swiss vote, this may be quite interesting as the banking powers that be seem to be putting a public full court press for a “no” vote.  If this was “no big deal”, there would not be as much or as many efforts to “scare” the voters away from gold.  For that matter, the recent price action may be directly connected to this vote and is being used to scare the “yes” vote?  I mentioned the announcement of gold and silver currency by ISIS because this will also increase demand.  Please do not think the “timing” of their announcement was by any coincidence or by chance, they can see everything we do and understand precious metals are the Achilles Heel of the Western fiat systems.

One last area I’d like to address is sentiment from personal experience.  In all my years as a broker and since then writing, I have never seen the fear that has been recently prevalent.  I have never received so many e-mails and phone calls from fear the stricken as I have of late.  These past two weeks have topped the charts.  Even the die hard’s are questioning their logic.  Never mind that demand far exceeds supply or that gold and silver cannot be produced for long at these prices, the fear has run rampant and blood is running through the streets (minds) of precious metals investors.

Please understand what is happening and why.  President Obama met with the leaders of finance last year and then suddenly gold and silver started to drop.  This in my mind was a last ditch effort to show the world “dollar is good, gold is bad”.  It has worked … so far, the only problem being “gold cannot be printed” and the West will at some point run out of metal to supply the buyers.  I did not take lightly “calling bottom” in June, 2013 and I don’t do so now.  That level held for 16 months until the most recent operation but it is what it is.

The action of the last two Friday’s tells me that something has definitely changed and physical buyers are digging in their heels.  In my opinion, we will not trade at the current levels for long.  I will be surprised if the action from here is not “V” shaped and another impulse wave kicks it off.  Whether or not we have a market closure, holiday and “re set” I don’t know but I do believe it is a likely scenario.  Any number of events could possibly be pointed to as (“but if such and such didn’t happen we would have been fine”) a reason.  There must be a “reason” for public consumption when in fact the “real reason” is simply an unworkable monetary experiment.

An EA 18G Growler from the Shadowhawks of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141 takes off. (Photo: Mass Communications Specialists 3rd Class Bradley J. Gee / US Navy)

Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest in Washington State are two of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the United States. Majestic glacier-clad peaks rise above temperate rainforest-covered hills. Gorgeous rivers tumble down from the heights and the areas are home to several types of plants and animal species that exist nowhere else on earth.

These protected national commons are also the areas in and near where the US Navy aims to conduct its Northwest Electromagnetic Radiation Warfare training program, wherein it will fly 36 of its EA-18G “Growler” supersonic jet warplanes down to 1,200 feet above the ground in some areas in order to conduct war games with 14 mobile towers. Enough electromagnetic radiation will be emitted so as to be capable of melting human eye tissue, and causing breast cancer, childhood leukemia and damage to human fetuses, let alone impacting wildlife in the area.

If it gets its way, this means the Navy would be flying Growler jets, which are electronic attack aircraft that specialize in radar jamming, in 2,900 training exercises over wilderness, communities and cities across the Olympic Peninsula for 260 days per year, with exercises lasting up to 16 hours per day.

No public notices for the Navy’s plans were published in any media that directly serve the Olympic Peninsula; hence the Navy initially reported that it had received no public comments on its “environmental assessment” for the war games.

One barely advertised public comment meeting was held in the small town of Forks, a several hour drive from the larger towns and cities that will be impacted by the war games. When asked to schedule more public comment meetings, the Navy refused.

But word spread. Tens of thousands of residents across the peninsula became furious, and widespread and growing public outcry forced the Navy to extend the public comment period until November 28 and schedule more public meetings.

It is not news that the Navy has been conducting electronic warfare exercises for years, but it might come as a surprise for people to learn that according to the US Navy’s Information Dominance Roadmap 2013-2028, the Navy states it “will require new capabilities to fully employ integrated information in warfare by expanding the use of advanced electronic warfare.”

What is at stake is not just whether the military is allowed to use protected public lands in the Pacific Northwest for its war games, but a precedent being set for them to do so across the entire country.

The Die Is Cast

The Navy already has an area in Mountain Home, Idaho, that is available for such war gaming.

Nevertheless, according to the Navy’s “environmental assessment,” it opted not to fly the 400 miles to Idaho in order to save jet fuel and enable their personnel to have more time with their families.

The war games would include the use of large RV-sized trucks equipped with electromagnetic generating equipment that would be dispersed along 14 sites in Olympic National Forest and several right along the boundary of Olympic National Park. While no trucks would, in theory, be allowed inside Olympic National Park, the warplanes would most likely be crossing over the park on a regular basis.

The exercises would be conducted by naval warplanes launching from the US Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island that would fly over the northern coast of the Olympic Peninsula in order to reach the West Coast, where they would fly inland over national forestland and Olympic National Park, in order to target the vehicles’ aimed electromagnetic radiation.

According to the Navy’s so-called environmental assessment, the purpose of these war games is to train to deny the enemy “all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation (i.e. electromagnetic energy) for use in such applications as communication systems, navigation systems and defense related systems and components.”

Six of the radiation emitting truck sites would be within 10 miles of the Quinault Reservation, and at least six of them would be right along the border of Olympic National Park.

Truthout requested comment from the Quinault and received this statement from Fawn Sharp, the president of the Quinault Indian Nation:

The Quinault Indian Nation has spoken with the Navy regarding the electronic warfare range proposal due to our ongoing concerns for our people and our wildlife in our usual and accustomed hunting grounds. Our people have lived here for thousands of years. We have always depended upon the fishing, hunting and gathering resources here, and managed these resources for the benefit of current and future generations. Today we co-manage these resources with our fellow sovereigns, the state and federal governments. The Navy has responded to our questions, on a government-to-government basis. At this time our only additional comment is that we will be monitoring the Navy’s activities, to assure there is no harm to the resources we manage and must protect for the sake of our people, our heritage and our generations to come.

The Navy claimed it had served notice to the Makah, Quileute, Hoh and Quinault tribes, all located in close proximity to the proposed war games areas.

John Moshier, the Navy’s northwest environmental manager for the US Pacific Fleet,has stated that their planes would be flying as low as 1,200 feet above the ground.

Yet the Navy’s environmental impact assessment does not even mention noise pollution or the sound of the Navy’s jets, and lists “no significant impacts” for public health and safety, biological resources, noise, air quality or visual resources.

Tens of thousands of outraged residents from around the Olympic Peninsula have expressed their opposition via letters to the US Forest Service, public meetings, letters to the editor in newspapers across the peninsula, flooding article comment sections and via social media.

David King, the mayor of Port Townsend, a town on the Northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula, has voiced his opposition to the plan, along with numerous other public officials from around the Olympic Peninsula, in addition to the thousands of angry residents.

“This is bringing militarism home in a very direct way, in one of the most pristine parts of the country,” Linda Sutton, a retired teacher who lives in Port Townsend, told Truthout. “Most of the people who live here do so because we are free of this kind of militarism. And people who visit here, come here for the natural beauty and environment, and if we allow this place to be turned into a war-gaming area, it is reprehensible.”

(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

“No Significant Impact?”

According to the National Park Service, the top two purposes of a national park are:

  • To preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources for future generations.
  • To provide opportunities to experience, understand and enjoy the park consistent with the preservation of resources in a state of nature.

As for national forests, according to US Code 475, which outlines the purposes for which national forests were established and how they are to be administered:

No national forest shall be established, except to improve and protect the forest within the boundaries, or for the purpose of securing favorable conditions of water flows, and to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States; but it is not the purpose or intent of these provisions, or of said section, to authorize the inclusion therein of lands more valuable for the mineral therein, or for agricultural purposes, than for forest purposes.

The Navy’s war-gaming plans are most likely in violation of the stated purposes of the National Park Service, in addition to being in violation of the aforementioned US code.

The Navy’s so-called environmental assessment, which they claim includes plans for “protecting people and large animals,” reported “no significant impact” would result from the $11.5 million warfare training project, which aims to be operational by September 2015.

The report, however, failed to provide specifics on either the maximum potential exposure or the intensity of the electromagnetic radiation emitters from the trucks to be used in the war games.

Nevertheless, Dean Millett, the district ranger for the Pacific district of the Olympic National Forest, had issued a draft notice of a decision in which he had agreed with the Navy’s finding of “no significant impact,” which has cleared the way for a Forest Service special permit to be issued to the Navy for the war games. Millet, however, insists that the decision is his to make, but has not made a final decision yet.

Under massive public pressure, however, Millett reopened public comment because of what he claimed was “renewed interest . . . from members of the public who were unaware of the proposal.”

(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Mike Welding, the Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island spokesman, recently admitted to reporters that any antennas emitting electromagnetic energy produce radiation.

“As a general answer, if someone is in the exclusion area for more than 15 minutes, that’s a ballpark estimate for when there would be some concern for potential to injure, to receive burns,” he said.

The Navy’s “environmental assessment” (EA) states, “There are no conclusive direct hazards to human tissue as a result of electromagnetic radiation,” and, “Links to DNA fragmentation, leukemia, and cancer due to intermittent exposure to extremely high levels of electromagnetic radiation are speculative; study data are inconsistent and insufficient at this time.”

However, in direct contradiction to the Navy’s responses along with their so-called environmental assessment, in 1994, the US Air Force published the report,“Radiofrequency/Microwave Radiation Biological Effects and Safety Standards: A Review.”

Page 18 of the report states: “Nonthermal disruptions have been observed to occur at power densities that are much lower than are necessary to induce thermal effects. Soviet researchers have attributed alterations in the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system to the nonthermal effect of low level RF/MW radiation exposure.”

The report concludes, “Experimental evidence has shown that exposure to low intensity radiation can have a profound effect on biological processes.” (emphasis added)

It is important to note that at the time that report was written, the standard for exposure was 50,000 milliwatts per square meter. Today, the maximum exposure limit is 10,000 milliwatts per square meter, yet even that level is more than 1 million times higher than the allowable exposure limits published in the 2012 BioInitiative Report.

Furthermore, the “EA” quotes from a study (Focke et al. 2009) that deals with extremely low frequency radiation (50 hertz) only and is thus completely irrelevant to the gigahertz radiation being proposed (1 gigahertz equals 1 billion hertz).

The Navy has not provided any relevant studies that prove no long-term effects to flora and fauna for their proposed 4,680 hours per year of exposure.

Nor does the “EA” factor in the electromagnetic radiation from the Navy’s Growler jets, as the jets will be using it to locate ground transmitters.

Peer-reviewed, published scientific studies about the harmful effects to humans of electromagnetic radiation abound.

quick search on Google Scholar for “Electromagnetic fields risk to humans” produces over 63,000 results, most of which are published scientific studies that chronicle the deleterious impact of electromagnetic fields to the human organism.

Some of the studies titles are: “Carcinogenicity of radiofrequency,” “The sensitivity of children to electromagnetic fields,” “Exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and the risk of malignant diseases – an evaluation of epidemiological and experimental findings,” “Extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields as effectors of cellular responses in vitro: possible immune cell activation,” and “Exposure to electromagnetic fields and the risk of childhood leukemia,” to name just a few.

One study, titled “Leukemia and Occupational Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields: Review of Epidemiologic Surveys,” states in its abstract: “Results for total leukemia show a modest excess risk for men in exposed occupations, with an enhanced risk elevation for acute leukemia and especially acute myelogenous leukemia.”

A report titled “Biological effects from electromagnetic field exposure and public exposure standards,” published in the journal Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy in 2008, concluded:

Health endpoints reported to be associated with ELF and/or RF include childhood leukemia, brain tumors, genotoxic effects, neurological effects and neurodegenerative diseases, immune system deregulation, allergic and inflammatory responses, breast cancer, miscarriage and some cardiovascular effects. The BioInitiative Report concluded that a reasonable suspicion of risk exists based on clear evidence of bioeffects at environmentally relevant levels, which, with prolonged exposures may reasonably be presumed to result in health impacts.

Electromagnetic radiation’s impact on wildlife is very well documented, as thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies have been published on the topic.

In May 2014, a study titled “Electromagnetic Interference Disrupts Bird Navigation, Hints at Quantum Action” was published in the journal Nature. “Researchers found out that very weak electromagnetic fields disrupt the magnetic compass used by European robins and other songbirds to navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field,” according to the study.

That same month another study, “Sensory biology: Radio waves zap the biomagnetic compass,” was also published in Nature. “Weak radio waves in the medium-wave band are sufficient to disrupt geomagnetic orientation in migratory birds, according to a particularly well-controlled study,” Nature reports. It added, “Interference from electronics . . . can disrupt the internal magnetic compasses of migratory birds.”

A 2013 study published in Environment International, “A review of the ecological effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF),” concluded, “In about two-third[s] of the reviewed studies ecological effects of RF-EMF [were] reported at high as well as at low dosages.”

A June 2011 study published in Ecosphere, titled “Impacts of Acute and Long-Term Vehicle Exposure on Physiology and Reproductive Success of the Northern Spotted Owl,” found that while the spotted owl is able to compensate for a low level of increased noise pollution and vehicle presence up to a threshold, “beyond which disturbance impacts may be greatly magnified – and even cause system collapse.” The northern spotted owl is an endangered species.

While more studies on the impact of electromagnetic radiation on larger animals are underway and the results pending, the negative impacts on birds in the proposed war-gaming areas are clear.

(Photo: Dahr Jamail)

Richard Jahnke, the president of the Admiralty Audubon Society located on the Olympic Peninsula, submitted comments to Greg Wahl, the environmental coordinator for the US Forest Service, who is fielding comments about the Navy’s war games plans.

Jahnke’s letter, which he provided to Truthout, clarifies the impact on birds in the war game area: “The western side of the Olympic National Park has a unique soundscape. A location in the Hoh River valley was identified as the quietest place in the lower 48 with respect to anthropogenic sound (see onesquareinch.org for further info).”

Jahnke noted how the Navy’s so-called EA did not assume any economic impact, hence categorically excluding that from their analysis. Of this he stated, “The planned range may alter the attractiveness of this region as a destination for tourists and there is potential for significant economic impact. Since this region is already economically stressed, even small variations in overall economic activity may result in large, relative impacts. The Navy should, therefore, assess the potential economic impact before proceeding.”

According to the Admiralty Audubon Society, the Pacific Coast is part of the Pacific Flyway, which makes it a critical pathway for migratory birds, with an estimated 1 billion birds migrating along the flyway annually.

“The Navy’s assessment includes little discussion of indirect impacts of EMR [electromagnetic radiation] on wildlife and does not incorporate the most recent, best available science,” Jahnke wrote, adding, “Since successful migration is critical to the survival of a migrating species, potential navigational impacts must [be] evaluated. However, these potential impacts are not considered in the current EA and hence the potential impacts were not assessed.”

Thus, the Admiralty Audubon Society has gone on record in recommending that the Navy’s EA and its associated “Findings of No Significant Impacts” not be adopted.

“The deficiencies documented above are significant and must be addressed,” Jahnke stated. “For these reasons, the EA does not meet the requirements of law and a full environmental impact statement under NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] must be prepared.”

Navy officials said that they “did not know” the impact of the electromagnetic radiation emissions “on small animals.”

The Forest Service’s Greg Wahl chose to parrot the Navy’s finding of “no significant impact” for the war games project.

Forest Service Response

Wahl chose not to respond to Truthout’s repeated requests for comment on how the Navy’s plans would have “no significant impact” on wildlife or humans in the affected areas.

Dean Millett, Olympic National Forest’s district ranger, downplayed impacts of the Navy’s plans, and told reporters that the Forest Service roads where most of the emitters will be located “are remote,” and added, “They don’t get much traffic unless there is some activity going on in the area.”

He claimed the electromagnetic radiation transmissions would “cease if large animals come into the area where the exercise is taking place,” and said he “was not concerned about the electromagnetic radiation emissions” and said this was “just one more small dose” of electromagnetic radiation.

Olympic Peninsula resident Karen Sullivan worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 15 and a half years, in Delaware, Washington, DC, and from 1998 through 2006 in Alaska. She worked in the Division of Endangered Species, External Affairs, and spent the last seven years as assistant regional director for External Affairs, which covered all media and congressional interaction and correspondence, plus outreach, publications and tribal grants for the Alaska region.

She called the Navy’s so-called environmental assessment “bogus” because “it’s relying on the biological opinion, which is totally invalid because it is old and not of broad enough scope.”

A “biological opinion” is a narrowly focused legal document prepared by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the purpose of evaluating whether an activity will jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species. Hence the Navy, in theory, is required to consult with Fish and Wildlife about endangered species and other impacts, according to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

“To illustrate this, the Navy can go explode mines on the sea floor, which creates a kill zone and alters the seafloor habitat, but if the one endangered fish being evaluated in the document doesn’t use that seafloor habitat, then the effects of that explosion are called ‘insignificant’ because they don’t affect that particular species,” Sullivan told Truthout.

The Sierra Club also submitted a letter to Wahl protesting the Forest Service’s concurrence with the Navy’s finding of “no significant impact.” The letter began by taking issue with the Forest Service not adhering to its mission:

The USFS’s mission, as set forth by law, is to manage its lands under a sustainable multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs of people. Among these diverse needs are forestry, recreation, and the protection of wildlife habitat and wilderness. The very nature of the Navy’s proposal, which involves open-ended access restrictions, makes it difficult to imagine how the USFS will be able to adhere to its multiple-use mandate as other uses will necessarily be precluded.

Sullivan takes issue with the Navy’s “EA” for numerous reasons, which she detailed for Truthout:

This 200-page document covered a huge area of airspace, but only 875 acres of land were specifically named, between Everett and Mt. Baker. The lone ground-based emitter mentioned was located in Coupeville, and the number of annual training events for Growler jets proposed back in 2009 was 275. That’s what the biological opinion evaluated. Not three mobile emitters and one fixed tower in 14 brand-new places, not 36 low-altitude Growler jets in areas previously not evaluated, not 2,900 Growler training events in the Olympic National Forest and another 2,100 elsewhere, for eight to 16 hours per day, 260 days per year. This is 20 times the level of activity that was covered in the biological opinion; therefore, using it so dishonestly to justify their new plans invalidates their environmental assessment.

Sullivan believes the Navy is violating NEPA by their initial attempts to not adequately seek public comment, and pointed out how the Navy tried to use the same tactic in Mendocino, California, which was met with similar public outcry then as well.

Sullivan sees many holes in how both the Forest Service and Navy have gone about making the war game exercises happen without following proper protocol.

“The Forest Service is supposed to evaluate everything else, including the effects of chronic radiation on trees and plants and animals, and there is nothing in their EA about that . . . nothing,” she said. “There is clearly an absence of data, and they are not doing their own research.”

The Sierra Club is clear in their findings and what they believe the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service must do:

Sierra Club North Olympic Group (NOG) believes that the Forest Service should not accept the finding of “No Significant Impact” and decline the Navy a Special-Use Permit and access to the Forest Service roads for their mobile electromagnetic (EM) emitters until the Navy revises and augments the final EA, requests an updated Biological Opinion from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and (potentially) prepares a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The FONSI [Finding of no significant impact] is not supported by the final EA from the Navy due to the inadequacies of that document. Without the FONSI or a complete EIS, the Forest Service cannot grant the Navy a special-use permit and access to Forest Service roads.

Like Sullivan, the Sierra Club found sections of the “EA” that needed “to be updated and rewritten to include the newest scientific literature research on the effects of EM and Noise on Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed species in the proposed military operations area (MOA) . . . research into the literature found no less than 3 peer-reviewed articles that would contradict the findings of no significant impact in the EA and perhaps the 2010 Biological Opinion.”

Sullivan pointed out that there are at least two endangered species, the marbled murrelet and the bull trout, that would likely be adversely affected by the war games, and possibly rendered extinct.

The Sierra Club pointed out that the northern spotted owl, also an endangered species, would also be adversely affected.

The group also voiced its concerns with the fact that the planned missions begin well before daylight and continue long into the night, the sound pollution emitted by the generators on the 14 mobile units and Growler jets, several areas in the “EA” where the Navy contradicts itself, impacts on gray wolves, vagueness in many areas of the Navy’s report, and the fact that Growler jets will be flying in trios (“with two in [radar] jamming mode and one in detection-mode”), among several other issues.

The Sierra Club’s letter to Wahl contained several open-ended questions and concerns, and pointed toward one section of concern, stating, “the last paragraph identifies a process of the Navy consulting with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on the effects on ESA listed species from the stressors and impacts described in this EA. When would this consultation take place, what is the output of the consultation (a report?) and is it subject to citizen review? Furthermore, we believe this consultation must take place prior to the granting of any special-use permit by the Forest Service.”

Sullivan concluded with asking open-ended questions to the Navy and federal agencies involved:

Does the Navy intend to reinitiate formal consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service, to obtain more recent evaluations of impacts to biological resources? Will the Navy revise the EA to reflect all of the information that was left out? Is it possible to insist there could still be “no significant impacts” unless you are blindfolded?

The current public comment period has been extended until November 28, and it is yet to be determined if the Navy will succeed in their efforts to carry out their war games on the Olympic Peninsula.

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last ten years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with William Rivers Pitt, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in Washington State.

Copyright, Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

new correlation study published in the Journal of Organic Systems has linked glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide, Roundup, to an enormous increase in chronic diseases across the United States.

Supporting countless studies before it, this new report is a detailed analysis proving an undeniable link between glyphosate-based herbicides and the rates of chronic disease all over the country.

Dr. Nancy Swanson and the President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Andre Leu, led the research team which proved – once again – that glyphosate and Roundup are lethal, even in small amounts.

The chemical is prevalently used on crops across the nation and world. Friends of the Earth Europe, says that more than 650,000 tonnes of glyphosate products were used over five years ago, with the amount being used increasing each year.

This increase in use is contributing to the development of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, lipoprotein metabolism disorder, Alzheimer’s, senile dementia, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, autism, and cancer. The report details how there is a direct correlation between the incidence of these diseases and glyphosate use.

It isn’t as if the toxicity levels of glyphosate are not already known by its makers. Monsanto was refusing to release to the public lab tests conducted in St. Louis, Missouri, which gave them authority to use glyphosate in China.

This is the company that is responsible for making PCBs, DD.T and Agent Orange as well, all of which caused irreparable health damage ignored by regulators for decades.

Glyphosate-based herbicides have been identified as the next widely used chemical on a list of chemicals consumers should be aware of.

Read: 7 Nasty Effects of Pesticides

The world’s number one weed killer, Glyphosate, or N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine, is posing serious harm to humans and the environment, yet the poison developed by John E. Franz of the Monsanto Company has been allowed on the US market since the 1970s.

It isn’t just Monsanto who sells glyphosate, though. There are now over 100 different manufacturers of the product throughout the world. You can find it in other products with names such as Clearout 41.

Although glyphosate is used primarily in agricultural settings, it is also sprayed by public authorities on roads and pavements. Even managers of golf courses and home gardeners still use the toxic chemicals to control weeds.

According to the new study:

“Within the last 20 years there has been an alarming increase in serious illnesses in the US, along with a marked decrease in life expectancy (Bezruchka, 2012). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the cost of diabetes and diabetes-related treatment was approximately $116 billion dollars in 2007.

Estimated costs related to obesity were $147 billion in 2008 and cardiovascular diseases and stroke were $475.3 billion in 2009. Health care expenditures in the US totaled 2.2 trillion dollars in 2007 (CDC, 2013a). The onset of serious illness is appearing in increasingly younger cohorts. The US leads the world in the increase in deaths due to neurological diseases between 1979-81 and 2004-06 for the 55-65 age group (Pritchard et al., 2013).”

The study points out that, “these findings suggest environmental triggers rather than genetic or age-related causes,” especially since chronic diseases are showing up in younger and younger individuals.

“During this same time period, there has been an exponential increase in the amount of glyphosate applied to food crops and in the percentage of GE food crops planted (Benbrook, 2012). We undertook a study to see if correlations existed between the rise of GE crops, the associated glyphosate use and the rise in chronic disease in the US.”

The bottom line?

“The significance and strength of the correlations show that the effects of glyphosate and GE crops on human health should be further investigated.”

On 60 MinutesCBS reporterLara Logan (11/9/14) presented a dramatic and emotional account of the fight against Ebola at one treatment facility in Liberia. But there was just one problem: Liberians didn’t speak on the broadcast.

Former New York Times correspondent Howard French weighed in onTwitter as the broadcast aired, and collected his thoughts on Storify (11/9/14) under the headline “Africa Without Africans, Brought to You by 60 Minutes.”

As he put it:

There’s a large literature of what’s meant by Africa w/out Africans. Common examples come from journalism that quotes just diplomats + aid workers + foreign experts of one kind of another. Usually, they’ll throw in a quote from a taxi driver or an anonymous market worker to cover their, you know…

Indeed, the focus of Logan’s reporting was the US medical workers who had traveled to Liberia to care for the sick–”more than 2,000 Americans leading the response,” anchor Scott Pelley explained in his introduction, “and more on the way.” The segment was based on life at one treatment center run by the International Medical Corps, with CBS focusing on the American doctors and nurses treating the sick.

There’s no doubt that they are brave; one doctor speaks of the “global citizen’s responsibility” to act, and a nurse who speaks very plainly about the chance she could get sick and die: “I’m OK with that, because I’d rather be here helping than home and safe.”

But Americans aren’t the only ones risking their lives to treat Ebola patients. Logan explained that “most of the staff here are Liberian, and to lift their spirits they mark every new shift with hymns.” That narration is accompanied by footage of singing African health workers, while Logan continues:

The stigma of the disease is so great, many of them say they’re treated as outcasts when they commute back home every day. But in here, the Americans who work with them call them heroes.

Logan even shows Liberian workers suiting up:

In sweltering heat and often 100 percent humidity, they cover every inch of their bodies in plastic and rubber armor. They’re so hard to recognize, they wear their names on their foreheads.

But she sits down with one of the American doctors to ask: “How tough is it wear that suit?”

At one point, Logan expressed a desire to include Liberian voices: ”We want to talk to some of the patients, but you have to keep your distance.”

There’s been plenty of criticism of US media coverage of Ebola for focusing on the slim threat to Americans while thousands of Africans have died. 60 Minutes didn’t do that at all. But it represented a different kind of media problem: The show traveled to the scene of the crisis–and chose to portray it through American eyes. As French put it, “It’s the erasure of Africans from history, in this case their own history, and to reserve meaningful thought and agency to whites.”

NATO Intensifies Threats against Russia over Ukraine

November 16th, 2014 by Christoph Dreier

NATO countries have stepped up their threats against Russia on the eve of the G20 summit in Australia. While they accuse the country of violating Ukrainian sovereignty, they are themselves preparing a massive escalation of military violence.

In an interview with the Bild newspaper on Friday, new NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg accused Russia of undermining “the value-based security architecture in Europe”. Russian President Vladimir Putin had “in any case, promoted the flare-up of conflict [in eastern Ukraine].”

Specifically, Stoltenberg accused the Kremlin of providing the separatists in the east of Ukraine with heavy weapons and soldiers. NATO has observed that, “Russia has again brought arms, equipment, artillery, tanks and rockets over the border into Ukraine”, he claimed. On Wednesday, NATO Supreme Commander Philip Breedlove declared there was no longer any doubt that Russia was intervening militarily in Ukraine.

The same day, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki spoke of “continuing, ongoing and blatant violations of the Minsk Accord by Russia and its representatives”. She announced the United States was taking a tough stance. In early September in Minsk, the Ukrainian government and the separatists had agreed to a ceasefire and to far-reaching autonomy for the east of the country. Both have not yet been implemented.

Representatives of the Ukrainian government, which came to power in February this year as the result of a coup orchestrated by the West, joined in the chorus. The Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, Yuriy Sergeyev, wrote on Twitter, “I believe that the UN must be informed as soon as possible about the fact that Russia is planning a full-scale invasion in Ukraine.”

The Ukrainian Ambassador to the OSCE, Ihor Prokopchuk, warned of “unpredictable threats to the security of Europe” resulting from the Russian activities. The spokesman for the National Security Council, Andriy Lysenko, even said that Ukraine was preparing for an attack by Russia from the Black Sea.

Neither government representatives nor the NATO Secretary General provided concrete evidence for these accusations. On Wednesday, Russia rejected the allegations. These were “nothing but hot air,” said Major General Igor Konashenkov. “All this is not based on facts.” The separatists also contradicted reports of military support from Russia.

Earlier this week, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has an observer mission deployed on the ground, spoke only of military convoys that had been moving westward inside the separatist region. Moreover, the border with Russia has seen increased crossings by uniformed personnel in both directions. They have, however, been unarmed.

According to both parties to the conflict, the fighting in the region has persisted. Again and again there have been heavy artillery attacks on Donetsk. On Thursday, for the first time, the Kiev regime admitted to also carrying out military actions behind the front line.

Fierce fighting has continued around Donetsk airport, which was actually ceded to the separatists in the Minsk Accord. However, the Ukrainian units have refused to withdraw and have engaged in fierce fighting with the rebel forces ever since.

In the fighting on Thursday, at least four Ukrainian soldiers were killed, according to government figures. The separatists spoke of numerous civilians being killed in the attacks on Donetsk. The OSCE reported that the separatists had been able to make some territorial gains.

The allegations that Russia is stoking up the conflict clearly serve NATO’s efforts to cover up its own aggressive plans. Since February’s fascist-backed coup, the NATO states have systematically worked at rolling back Russian influence and incorporating Ukraine into their own sphere of interest.

Now they are preparing for further escalation. “I see my main task in preparing military action”, Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said at a cabinet meeting. Ukraine had to prepare “to fight”; Kiev was ready to take “unpredictable actions”.

On Thursday, an adviser to Ukrainian Interior Minister Sorjan Schkirjak said that the Ukrainian army had spent $65 million on heavy military technology in the last week alone, which would be moved “to the front line” in the near future and used against the separatists in Donbass.

A day later in an interview with the Rheinische Post, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin praised Ukraine’s comprehensive military upgrade. “We now have thousands of soldiers who can fight, and have already proven this”, Klimkin said. “I’m sure that if it were necessary, these units could act effectively against the terrorists supported by Russian soldiers.”

According to a Ukrainian television report, the regime is working to make old howitzers battle-ready. The gun has a calibre of 203 millimetres and a range of 50 kilometres. With their help, the Ukrainian army could attack rebel-held areas from outside the official demilitarized zone.

NATO has also announced a more aggressive approach towards Russia. There will be more patrol flights and more troop rotations through Eastern Europe, according to Stoltenberg in the Bild interview. To enhance the troops’ preparedness, more manoeuvres were held. “Every second day, a new NATO military exercise begins”, the secretary general of the alliance said. NATO states would also have to “spend more on their defence”, as security cannot be had for free, he added.

In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the minister of defence of NATO member Estonia, Sven Mikser, demanded a greater NATO presence in his country. As in the Cold War, Russia should be deterred militarily. “When you’re dealing with a regime like Putin’s, weakness is far more provocative than strength,” Mikser said.

The sabre-rattling is being accompanied by threats of new economic sanctions against Russia. “Russia’s actions in Ukraine are unacceptable,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday in the Australian capital of Canberra. “If Russia continues to worsen the situation, we could intensify the sanctions,” he added. The United States threatened to add further Russian politicians to the sanctions list.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will meet Putin on the fringes of the G20 meeting, had already expressed similar comments regarding the crisis in Ukraine. She attacked Putin at a press conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Russia was not upholding the Minsk Accord, and was breaching the “territorial integrity of Ukraine,” the chancellor said. “That worries me a lot.” On Monday, the 28 EU foreign ministers meet to discuss further sanctions against Russia.

Meanwhile, the separatists have called on the Kiev government to resume talks on the Minsk Accord, at which representatives of both the OSCE and Russia will be involved. “We are willing to travel in the next few days and to return to work”, said Denis Puschilin, the spokesman of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk, adding, “The problem is that the Ukrainian side is taking so long to respond.”

The Dramatic Plight of Syrian Refugees in Turkey

November 16th, 2014 by Birsen Filip

The outbreak of the crisis in Syria in March 2011 has resulted in the emergence of new social, political and economic conditions for the Syrians that have been forced to abandon their homeland and seek shelter from the violence and terror in other countries. This crisis has had devastating impacts on the citizens of Syria, as many have lost family members, friends, neighbours, as well as their homes and livelihoods. In addition to experiencing intolerable violence, they have also endured dramatic decreases in their living standards, including rapidly rising poverty levels, diminished purchasing power, inequality and discrimination in their recipient countries, and numerous barriers to accessing housing, jobs and social services, such as education and health care.

According to recent reports from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as of August 29, 2014, more than 3 million Syrians have fled the country, while another 6.5 million have been displaced within Syria.  Of those that fled in search of safety and shelter, the majority became refugees in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. There are currently 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey[1], three-quarters of which are women and children. This already exceeds UNHCR planning figures for 2014, which expected the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey to reach 1.3 million by the end of this year, with a projected increase to 1.6 million[2] by December 2015.  This high number of Syrian refugees is largely due to the fact that Turkey essentially practices an open door policy with regards to Syrian civilians seeking to escape the violence in their country. Although accepting so many Syrian refugees may have enhanced Turkey’s image in the eyes of the international community, responding to the needs of such a large number of people has created many challenges and issues for the nation and its citizens.

According to UNHCR, upon their initial arrival with little more than the clothes on their backs and what they managed to carry, the Syrians “receive an ID card, which provides access to free health care services in Turkish clinics, as well as other aid provided by local municipalities, non-government organisations and other aid agencies. The card is a critical document that also shows refugees have the temporary protection of the Turkish government”[3]. However, although Turkey practices an open door policy in terms of allowing Syrians to seek refuge from the violence in their home country, they are not granted refugee status. This is because Turkey only grants refugee status to people originating from European countries in accordance with the Geneva Convention of 1951(established to protect European refugees) and the Protocol of 1967 (addressed all refugees worldwide), which define the status, as well as the social and legal rights of all refugees[4]. Turkey initially labelled the Syrians entering the country in the early stages of the conflict as “guests”, later modifying it to people under “temporary protection”[5], while not clarifying the precise meaning of this designation.

The term “temporary protection” has also not been formally defined by UNHCR. The most likely reason that the Turkish government chose to employ this label is because it allows them to withhold certain rights and benefits that the Syrians should be entitled to as refugees under the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees (1951), which demands “basic minimum standards for the treatment of refugees”[6]. Together, the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol attempt to provide “the same standards of treatment enjoyed by other foreign nationals in a given country and, in many cases, the same treatment as nationals”[7]. The 1951 Convention includes many rights such as “the right not to be punished for illegal entry into the territory of a contracting State (Article 31)”, “the right to work (Articles 17 to 19)”, “the right to housing (Article 21)”, “the right to education (Article 22)”, “the right to public relief and assistance (Article 23)”, “the right to freedom of religion (Article 4)”, “the right to access the courts (Article 16)”, “the right to freedom of movement within the territory (Article 26)”, and “the right to be issued identity and travel documents (Articles 27 and 28)” [8].  Furthermore, if the refugees are forced to remain in the host country for a longer period of time, the 1951 Convention recognizes that they need more rights in order to have security and live with dignity[9]. Therefore, the decision to not grant the Syrians escaping violence in their own countries refugee status is more than an exercise in semantics; it is a cynical attempt by the Turkish government to evade responsibility and deny the Syrian refugees the rights to which they are entitled, which has had a significant detrimental impact on their daily lives in terms of employment, housing, education, and health care.

Upon their initial arrival to their host countries, many of the Syrian refugees may not have been aware that they were only at the beginning of a very long and difficult journey, as their safety was their primary concern at that point.  Some of them may have expected the crisis to be over by now, which would have allowed them to return home and start re-building their lives. However, recent developments suggest that it may be quite some time before the situation becomes stable enough to return to Syria.

Currently, only 100,000 of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey are actually living in the refugee camps[10] that have been set up for them. This is likely because the primary objective of these camps is to provide basic needs and they do little in terms of integrating them into society or offering any meaningful employment or training. For these reasons, the majority of Syrians have opted to leave the camps in favour of moving to various cities around the country in search of better opportunities to provide for themselves and their families. In doing so, however, they expose themselves to new challenges, such as obtaining employment, finding shelter, learning Turkish, and integrating into a society where they have no rights.

Sinan Gokcen of the European Roma Rights Centre described the situation faced by Syrian refugees as follows:  “They live in miserable conditions in informal camps or in abandoned buildings without access to water and proper sewage. Collecting paper and scrap metal are the main sources of income.”[11] Currently, it is not uncommon to see some Syrians, mainly children, filthy and malnourished, begging for money in the streets or engaging in undocumented labor in a variety of industries and businesses including the agricultural sector, restaurants, or peddling small items (i.e. bottled water, toys, tissues, etc.) as street vendors Turkish cities. This is largely the consequence of desperation and frustration faced by Syrian families who are not receiving adequate help and support from the Turkish government or the international community.

UNHCR confirmed that 75% of Syrian refugees are women and children, primarily “orphaned girls and daughters of war widows”[12]. While they may have escaped the bombs and violence in their homeland, many have already fallen victim to “criminal rings that are forcing them into sexually exploitative situations ranging from illicit marriages to outright prostitution”[13]. It has been reported that “pimps, matchmakers, drug dealers, and traffickers work in overlapping circles along the border”[14] in order to find Syrian women and girls to exploit, labelling girls aged between 12 and 16 as “pistachios”, 17 to 20 as “cherries”, 20 to 22 as “apples”, and 22 years and older as “watermelon”[15]. The lack of adequate protection and the failure to provide social and economic security on the part of the host country has allowed these women and girls to be preyed upon by criminal and depraved elements of society.

Syrian refugees are not the only ones experiencing difficulties; Turkish citizens are also faced with new economic and social realities that have arisen since their arrival. For example, the high volume of Syrian refugees visible in many Turkish cities has significantly impacted unskilled Turkish citizens, as they are unable to compete with the low wages or poor working conditions that the Syrians are willing to accept.  More precisely, the high demand for menial work has driven down wages and led to the deterioration of working conditions and labour rights for refugees and unskilled domestic workers alike. This has resulted in some hostility with the local population who feel as though the Syrians are stealing their jobs. Tensions are further exacerbated by the fact that a few of the Syrian refugees have committed crimes, some violent in nature, which have been reported in the news.  All of these factors combined have led some Turkish citizens to generalize all of the Syrian refugees in their country as criminals and beggars. As a result, there have been some reports of assaults and protests against refugees in different cities including Adana, Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras.

At present, it does not appear as though a peaceful resolution to the conflict will emerge anytime soon in Syria.  Even if the conflict comes to an end in a few years, the destruction of so much of the country’s infrastructure means that an extensive rebuilding process will be needed before a sense of normality can be restored in people’s lives. For these reasons, one cannot reasonably preclude the possibility that Syrian refugees will be forced to reside in their recipient countries for many years. That being said, if the Turkish government and international community are not proactive in establishing a stable environment, both socially and economically, for the Syrian refugees they are hosting, their children will most likely grow up without adequate education or the skills they need to achieve success and prosperity in the future.

The complexity of the situation requires special attention on the part of the international community, as Turkey, on its own, cannot effectively provide a healthy environment for 1.5 million Syrians and help them deal with the physical and psychological trauma that they have endured. Humanitarian interventions typically have a short-term focus, prioritizing the provision of basic needs and essential services within refugee camps, namely food, water, healthcare and education.  While these are obviously important measures, policies should also aim to achieve positive outcomes in the longer-term. For example, a concerted effort needs to be made in terms of providing social assistance to those refugees that choose to live outside of the camps in order to help them better integrate into the society of the host country.

Achieving positive outcomes in the long-term would require changes to the Geneva Convention of 1951 and the Protocol of 1967. Specifically, the fact that these laws, as currently constituted, permit the Turkish government to avoid granting refugee status to the Syrians fleeing the violence in their country, as outlined by UNHCR 1951, makes them particularly vulnerable in Turkey. First and foremost, Turkey needs to remove the geographic origins of people as a factor in the determination of whether or not to recognize refugee status.

When examining the origins of the Geneva Convention of 1951 and the Protocol of 1967, it is not surprising that they do not adequately address the problems faced by Syrian refugees in Turkey.  The initial idea for establishing guidelines and laws for the adequate protection of refugees and their human rights originated with the end of the First World War (1914-1918)[16]. However, it was not until 1951, after the end of the Second World War (1939-1945), that the international community actually adopted the Convention on the Status of Refugees[17], which was subsequently amended in1967. In other words, the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol were established in accordance with the geopolitical, social, and economic realities of the time, when most refugees originated from European countries that were heavily impacted by the First and Second World Wars.

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, as currently constituted, are not capable of adequately addressing the problems faced by Syrian refugees. As a result, a combined effort is required on the part of the UN and the international community to amend 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol in order to develop, finance, and implement programs and services to meet the needs of contemporary refugees and ensure that their rights are upheld. First and foremost, changes need to be made to guarantee that all people that are deserving of refugee status, including the Syrians currently residing in Turkey and other countries, are recognized as such, which would prevent governments from evading their responsibilities by employing vague and broad terms such as “guests” or people under “temporary protection”. That being said, it is not reasonable to expect individual countries to meet their obligation of providing “basic minimum standards for the treatment of refugees”[18], as stated by the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, when they are overwhelmed by the sheer number of people that have crossed their borders. At the moment, Turkey needs to determine a course of action for providing 1.5 million Syrian refugees with their basic needs, in addition to a safe and stable environment so as to allow them to lead their lives with dignity and respect. However, any amendment has to take into consideration current social, economic, and cultural realities of Syrian refugees.

The international community, NGOs and recipient countries need bear in mind that the normal lives of Syrian refugees have been interrupted for an indefinite period of time for geopolitical reasons and through no fault of their own. While these refugees occupied a wide range of professions in their home country, including teachers, professors, musicians, artists, bureaucrats, labourers, doctors, mechanics, retailers, etc., they now have to focus on the unfamiliar task of struggling for survival.

Without amendments to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, as well as meaningful financial and institutional support on the part of the international community, Syrian refugees will not receive adequate assistance in the areas of employment, housing, education, health care, productive capacity, and the ability to provide for their families. Specifically, the international community has a crucial role to play in terms of openness, transparency and combating corruption in the administration of refugee programs. Otherwise, they will not be able to enact policies and programs that adequately deal with the social, physical, and economic needs of the refugees in areas that include worker rights, health, education, safety, and human rights. Sound policies will be developed only when the international community makes decisions based on the specific needs of the refugees, which includes the timing, speed, and sequence of the implementation of programs and policies.

The international community, host countries, and their citizens need to be prudent and realize that the problems and struggles faced by Syrian refugees are not only short-term in nature; they have the potential to extend well into the future, even beyond this current conflict. It is often easier to remedy problems if they are foreseen well in advance and dealt with through preventative measures instead of trying to remedy them after the onset of a situation and its impacts are entrenched. This view is shared by Machiavelli who stated that “the medicine is no longer in time because the malady has become incurable” (Machiavelli, The Prince, p. 21).

Notes

[1] Turkey hosts the second largest population of Syrian refugees after Lebanon.

The decision this week by the ICC not to investigate the point-blank killing, by Israeli commandos, of nine unarmed Turkish passengers on board the Mavi Marmara aid vessel in 2010, although there was a ‘reasonable basis’ to believe that Israel had committed a war crime in its maritime attack upon civilians, seems indefensible.

The decision not to prosecute will inevitably raise questions about the integrity and impartiality of the ICC in the face of political pressure by the global Israel lobby that already operates in Washington, London and Brussels.

The reason given by the ICC chief prosecutor that the court is more concerned with larger scale incidents, ignores the fact that this attack upon civilian passengers in international waters was part of a six year campaign by the Israeli government to effect an illegal regime change in Gaza by means of a blockade of essential goods to 1.8 million Palestinian Arabs – that still continues today.

This perverse decision would seem to have severely damaged the court’s credibility in any future war crimes investigation and could well signal its own demise as a claimed international body that has yet to be ratified by the U.S. (or its client state, Israel), China or India – i.e. over half the global community.

Fox, the London Telegraph, and the Daily Mail all published articles promoting a video claiming to show a Syrian boy rescuing a young girl amid heavy gunfire during Syria’s ongoing conflict. The Daily Mail article claimed under its titled, “Heroic young boy runs through sniper fire in Syria, pretends to get shot, then rescues terrrified girl as bullets hit the floor around them,” that: 

Yabroud was the last rebel stronghold held by the FSA on the Lebanese border before it fell to Assad’s forces in March 2014.

The video, which was uploaded yesterday, has already had nearly 500,000 views.

It was later re-published on YouTube by Sham News Network, which is run by activists based in Damascus.

Several YouTube comments claim the video is fake, but experts told The Telegraph they have no reason to doubt its authenticity.

The Telegraph, referenced by the Daily Mail, in an article titled, “Watch: Syrian ‘hero boy’ appears to brave sniper fire to rescue terrified girl in dramatic video,” would claim:

The Telegraph cannot independently verify the footage but it is thought the incident took place in Yabroud – a town near the Lebanese border which was the last stronghold of the moderate Free Syrian Army. Experts tell the paper they have no reason to doubt its authenticity.

It would not be the first time gunmen had targeted children in the nearly four years of bloody civil war.

More than 11,000 children have died in war-torn Syria since 2011, including hundreds targeted by snipers, a report by the London-based Oxford Research group revealed earlier this month.

The group found that sniper fire killed 389 Syrian children under the age of 17 between March 2011 and August 2013.

The UN has previously accused the Syrian regime of “crimes against humanity” – including the use of snipers against small children.

Nowhere does the Telegraph claim “experts” of any kind believed the video was authentic. Instead, what the Telegraph did was engage in the same intentionally misleading, manipulative propaganda much of the Western media has resorted to in its coverage of the Syrian conflict, and many others, for years – cite a baseless, unverified claim – then roll it in together with other baseless claims so that they appear to support one another as factual.

While the Daily Mail claims “experts” claimed “they have no reason to doubt its authenticity,” those who have witnessed the West’s intentional, systematic deceit throughout the duration of the Syrian conflict could cite many reasons. With it now confirmed that the above mentioned video is a hoax, yet another reason still can be cited.

Indeed, the video was a complete hoax – a literal production filmed in Malta, not Syria, and consisting of actors, actresses, and special effects. The UK Mirror in its article, “Footage of Syrian ‘hero boy’ dodging sniper’s bullets to save girl revealed as FAKE,” would finally admit:

Lars Klevberg, 34, from Oslo, devised the hoax after watching news coverage of the troubles in Syria.

He told BBC Trending: “If I could make a film and pretend it was real, people would share it and react with hope.

“We shot it in Malta in May this year on a set that was used for other famous movies like Troy and Gladiator.

“The little boy and girl are professional actors from Malta. The voices in the background are Syrian refugees living in Malta.”

Not the First Time

Klevberg admits that “Syrian refugees living in Malta” participated in his propaganda stunt. This is far from the first time the West and its proxies have been caught blatantly producing false reports, footage, and claims regarding the Syrian conflict. In fact, the Western media’s coverage of the Syrian conflict is nothing more than a series of deceptions crutching their way along on their audience’s perceived ignorance, from one exposed sham to another.

During the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, there was “Gay Girl in Damascus” who turned out to be a 40 year-old American man based in the UK. It is exactly “activist-based” footage, claims, and alleged personalities that the West has based its case against the Syrian government on.

There was also “Syria Danny,” a regular guest on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 until he was caught blatantly staging chaos off-camera ahead of a scheduled call-in.

Now, yet more staged videos, fabricated claims, and accusations are making their rounds – and being exposed – at yet another critical juncture during the Syrian conflict – with terrorist strongholds falling to the Syrian government and the West’s “Islamic State” rouse falling apart.

It is important that each of these fabrications, hoaxes, and staged productions are mentioned, again and again, when next the West parades out unverified claims it attempts to resell its narrative and agenda with. It is also critical to understand why exactly many in the general public continue to place their trust in media enterprises that continuously and now quite overtly, deceive the public.

On November 9, 2014, Germany and its Western Allies, celebrated the ‘Fall of the Berlin Wall’ and the subsequent‘re-unification’of the ‘two Germanys’.  Prime Minister Merkel described the ‘historic event’ as a “victory of freedom for all peoples in Europe and across the world.”  The entire Western media and officialdom echoed Merkel’s rhetoric, as 300,000 Germans gathered at the Brandenburg Gate hailed their leader as she spoke of ‘one people, one nation and one state in freedom, peace and prosperity…’  But Merkel’s discourse is a self-serving chauvinist fabrication which distorts the real consequences of a united Germany.  Moreover, the Western celebration of ‘fallen walls’ is very selective.

The notion that Germany was ‘unified’ democratically is of dubious historical accuracy.  The consequences of a powerful unified Germany have not led to a peaceful prosperous Europe and Germany’s current role in world politics, particularly its policies toward the Middle East, North Africa and the Ukraine, has been anything but peaceful.

The Walls of Freedom and the Walls of Prison

While NATO regimes celebrate the ‘Fall of the Berlin Wall’ as the highest expression of freedom, these same political leaders support, finance and promote the construction of oppressive walls throughout world:  Unified Germany and its NATO partners have supported Israel’s Separation Wall dividing and caging millions of Palestinians for the better part of two decades.  Apparently there are progressive and reactionary ‘walls’ – ‘good walls’ and ‘bad walls’. Unlike the Palestinians, Berliners were never deprived of basic necessities and subject to random displacement or even murder – the Western airlift provided all for West Berliners.  Israel’s Separation Wall results in division and seizure of Palestinian land, ancestral homes, farms, schools and cultural sites while centuries-old olive groves are razed – depriving their owners of productive income.

The US has built its own massive ‘Security Wall’ along its Mexican border, incarcerating and even shooting refugees fleeing Washington’s militarization of Central America and Mexico.  The US ‘Security’ Wall condemns millions of Mexicans and Central Americans to live in terror and misery in murderous US client narco-states.  In the past seven years, over 100,000 Mexican civilians have been killed under the reign of US-backed Presidents, who were elected through fraud, as they relentlessly pursue the US mandated “War on Drugs”.  Similar levels of killings ravage Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala where narco-gangs, with the backing of corrupt political, police and military officials, terrorize the cities and countryside.  The death toll from US military interventions in Central America far exceeds those by the former-Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. The US border wall ensures that the survivors of this terror will remain exposed to the brutal rule of US-backed regimes.

At the same time, the civilized ‘European Union’ has erected its land and sea ‘Walls against refugees’ from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Lebanon and Palestine, fleeing NATO directed invasions and proxy wars in their countries.  According to the UN Commission on Refugees, 13 million civilians have been displaced by US wars in Iraq and Syria.  Many fleeing the war zones crash up against the European ‘legal walls’ – immigration restrictions, concentration or “internment” camps and prolonged detentions welcome their “flight to freedom”.

Chancellor Merkel chose not to mention these ‘civilized’ walls against people fleeing NATO’s ‘humanitarian interventions’.  Nor have the Prime Ministers and Presidents of Europe or the US and its ‘ally’ Israel acknowledged the deaths and suffering…because these are their Walls, their own ‘barriers to freedom’.

Democratic Re-Unification or Annexation by Force

Merkel glosses over the crucial fact that the East Germans were never consulted or allowed to hold a free election to decide what kind of relation they would like with the West German regime.  They were never asked under what terms and in what time frame “reunification” would take place.  The West German regime seized control and dictated economic and social policies that destroyed their eastern neighbors’ economy by fiat.  Hundreds of thousands of East German factory-workers faced brutal arbitrary firings as the capitalist ‘West’ shut closed state factories.  East German farmers looked on helplessly as their prosperous, stable co-operatives were dissolved on the orders of West German officials.  Where was the democracy in this policy of brutal annexation and political viciousness that slashed the former ‘East’ Germans living standards, multiplied unemployment ten-fold, greatly prejudiced the welfare benefits and employment of female workers and devastated pensioners?  Over 1.5 million Eastern German workers were uprooted and became economic refugees in the ‘West’ where wages were double the rate in ‘liberated’ East Germany.  The wages were higher, but so was the job insecurity and the loss of social welfare provisions of the East.  And if the death of 138 East Germans during 28 years, trying to escape over the Wall, was a tragedy, then what should we call the thousands who have drowned or died other horrible deaths trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe or to scale the Wall separating the US and Mexico, or  Israel’s Wall strangling six million Palestinians?

There are many ‘death strips’ denying Latin Americans, Palestinians, Middle Easterners their freedom from want, blocking their escape from US-NATO wars and Israeli genocide.  But those ‘atrocious walls’ were not mentioned by Chancellor Merkel at the Brandenburg Gate as she celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  The scribes and scribblers from the New York Times, the Financial Times and the Washington Post did not mention these real, contemporary walls and their brutal toll.  The selective denunciation of certain Walls contrasts with the politics of erecting ‘other’, more formidable Walls. Western walls of exclusion carry with them a denial of responsibility for the political and economic conditions that has driven millions of refugees to flee Central America, Palestine, the Middle East and North Africa.

US intervention and support of proxy death-squad regimes and the brutal military in Central America, from the 1960’s to the 1990’s, resulted in over 250,000 civilian deaths and the displacement of over 2 million refugees.

US-EU invasions and proxy wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria for over a decade have uprooted more than 13 million people and killed well over million civilians.

Israel’s wars and occupation against the Palestinian people have resulted in over 500,000 Jewish colonial settlers grabbing Palestinian land since 1967.The self-proclaimed Jewish state forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands and killed, maimed and jailed over 300,000.  To admit that the West constructs and maintains its own system of atrocious walls inevitably points to the policy of decades of prolonged bloody imperialist wars leading to millions of refugees.

Imperial wars are characterized by the construction and maintenance of complex ‘Western Walls’, far deadlier and brutal than the Berlin Wall and less likely to fall.  In fact, Western Walls are multiplying and being fortified by the latest surveillance technology.  Larger budgets and more lethal arms for anti-immigrant police, has led to the brutal hunt, capture and incarceration of refugees – as Western regimes become more like police states .

The Malignant Consequences of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Annexation of East Germany

The annexation of East Germany vastly increased the economic power of Germany, providing German capital with several million skilled workers and trained engineers at no cost.  Germany’s enhanced power dictated the course of the European Union’s economic policy.  With the onset of the economic crisis, Germany’s capitalist and political elite were well positioned to dictate the terms of ‘recovery’ – and impose the entire burden on the working and middle classes of Southern Europe and Ireland.  Germany’s ruling class, in firm control of the EU directorate, forced “austerity programs” on Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland.  These regressive policies, which ensured that creditors would recover their loans with interest, led to spiraling unemployment rates, in some cases of over 50% for young people, and long-term, large-scale decline in living standards.  ‘Unified Germany’ flexed its newly found economic muscle and extended its hegemony over the EU and ensured debt payments from its European subjects.

Unified Germany’s economic power led to renewed political and military aspirations to engage and assert its presence in the US led imperial wars in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the Ukraine.  By the end of the first decade of the 21stcentury ‘united Germany’ was profitably supplying weapons, logistics and military missions in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.  It provided Israel with weapons and economic aid while Palestinians were expelled from their homes and land.   Merkel’s imperial ambitions were revealed in her wholehearted backing of the far-right coup in Ukraine.  Subsequently Germany imposed sanctions against Russia and supported the Kiev regime’s savage military blitz against the Donbass.  In the Ukraine, Germany once again, as in the 1930’s, found allies among neo-Nazi collaborators and thugs willing to slaughter ethnic Russian speaking federalists in the East.   Merkel’s dream is to convert the Ukraine into a German-American client state, where German exports would replace Russian goods and German agro-mineral investors can exploit the country’s raw materials.

Conclusion

It is obvious that Merkel, Obama and other imperialist rulers have a double standard with regard to ‘Walls’ – they denounce ‘Communist Walls’ while supporting murderous ‘Capitalist Walls’ against refugees; they celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall while they build bloodier Walls against the victims of their imperial wars.

Apart from the cant and hypocrisy of Western officialdom, there is a political logic guiding these policies.  The West’scriteria , for deciding which Walls are worthy of support and which Walls should fall, runs along the following lines:  Walls that keep out victims of imperialist wars are progressive and necessary for ‘national security’; Walls that protect Communist, nationalist or leftist regimes are repressive, dehumanizing and must fall.

If we consider the larger political consequences of an event, like the fall of the Berlin War and the subsequent arbitrary annexation of the East, it is clear that ‘re-unified’ Germany’s exercise of power has had a profoundly negative impact on the economies of Southern Europe and has concentrated dictatorial political powers in the hands of German decision-makers operating through EU headquarters in Brussels.  Unified Germany has renounced its passive role and re-asserted its role in world politics: slowly at first as a passive junior partner to US imperialist wars in the Middle East and now, more decisively, by linking up with Ukraine rightists and thugs and imposing economic sanctions on Russia.

Germany’s ‘great fall’ after World War II required a half century to “put all the pieces together again”.  But once in place, Germany seeks to project world power, particularly through its proxies in the EU and NATO, in alliance with US imperialism.  The Fourth Reich increasingly looks back to the Third Reich.

Update November 16, 2014

Doubts have been raised over the alleged alignment of al-Nusra and ISIL.  Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi has reasonably argued that perhaps the western-backed FSA factions are falsifying this link as a means to justify more US-Support.  

Brandon Turbeville has also reasonably argued that this could be a marketing ploy by western media to justify more US-aid.  If reports of this alignment are false, the facts remain that large amounts of US-backed rebels (SRF/FSA/Hazm) have defected to Nusra and ISIL, many, as the above Washington Post report states, have done so peacefully and without a fight.  If the Nusra-ISIL link is true, then my argument stands that this in no way justifies more US-aid to rebel groups, and it instead means that al-Nusra has taken US-aid given to it by western-backed rebels to ally with ISIL 

Instead of deterring the radical Islamist group, American airstrikes against them have accomplished two things: they have increased ISIL recruitment while at the same time have destroyed and degraded Syria’s infrastructure, murdering innocent Syrian civilians along the way.

FBI Director James Comey told Congress in mid-September, just a week before airstrikes against ISIL expanded from Iraq and into Syria, that, “Support for Islamic State increased after U.S. airstrikes began in Iraq,” and, “ISIL’s widespread use of social media and growing online support intensified following the commencement of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.”(1)  According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a large increase of 6,300 new fighters has been recruited into the group since the US began airstrikes. (2)(3)  This is not surprising given the fact that Islamic extremist groups like ISIL draw their greatest legitimacy among their constituency from either actually fighting, or appearing to fight against the United States.

A month ago, Patrick Cockburn, a leading correspondent on the Middle-East, reported that, “The US-led air attacks launched against Islamic State (also known as Isis) on 8 August in Iraq and 23 September in Syria have not worked. President Obama’s plan to “degrade and destroy” Islamic State has not even begun to achieve success. In both Syria and Iraq, Isis is expanding its control rather than contracting.”(4)

Despite not only failing to degrade ISIL, the US airstrikes have also accomplished another long-standing US goal in the region: the further destabilization of the Syrian state.  It has accomplished this by bombing Syria’s energy facilities and infrastructure under the pretext of choking off the revenues ISIL receives from its illicit oil sales. However this justification completely falls apart upon closer examination.

The US has been bombing oil and gas production sites, including oil fields and refineries inside Syria, and following one such strike in late September Reuters would report, “These so-called refineries are not a real target and they do not weaken Islamic State as they do not have any financial value for them,” Rami Abdelrahman of the [Syrian] Observatory [for Human Rights] told Reuters.  “They are composed of trucks with equipment to separate diesel and petrol used by civilians.”  These attacks, instead of striking at ISIL’s financial base, are accomplishing only the further destruction of Syrian infrastructure.

Coupled with this is the fact that although there have been widespread airstrikes against oil production in Syria, there have however been exactly zero strikes against oil production facilities inside of Iraq; the US is keeping in-tact energy facilities inside of the state that it has control over, whilst destroying the infrastructure of Syrian state which it seeks to degrade and destroy.  This two-faced approach is a further attack upon the Syrian government, eliminating any chance they have of recapturing their nation’s oil refineries in-tact, which would also subordinate Syria to foreign investment in the rebuilding process if they were ever to be recovered.  “The destruction of Syria’s oil infrastructure would also open the door for US and UK oil companies to win contracts to rebuild it, paid for in debt, by the Syrian state. Foreign companies running Syria’s oil and gas production would prevent Syria from nationalising their own resources and becoming an independent prosperous country. This would result in the basic enslavement of the country while mitigating the threat it poses to US client states including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey,” Maram Susli, a chemist who worked alongside Theodore Postol to debunk false claims of Assad’s complicity in the Ghouta chemical weapons attack, further analyzes.(5)(6)

It should also be noted that this isn’t just an attack on the Syrian government, it is also an attack on the Syrian people, as fuel and oil prices have soared following the bombings, as well as have electrical failures and power blackouts.  “The Americans are destroying our infrastructure,” one 35-year old resident said.(7)  It should be stated that in the end, these oil resources ultimately belong to the Syrian people.

Casting further doubt on the United States’ stated aims is the fact that senior Obama administration officials are now considering bombing pipelines in Syria “in an attempt to cut off the huge profits being made by Isis from captured oilfields.”(8 However ISIL does not use these pipelines to transport and sell its oil, instead it uses trucks and smuggles the oil through Turkey.  “Current oil production by the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL) is estimated to be worth $800 million per year… The oil that ISIL sales on the black market—mostly via trucks through smuggling routes on the Turkish border—is sold at a steep discount at prices ranging from $25-$60 per barrel,” IHS, the consulting company widely quoted as an authority on ISIL oil revenues, reports.  Thus we see the seeds being planted for further justifications to attack and destroy Syria’s energy industry, with no valid connection to stopping ISIL. (emphasis added)

Along with the destruction of Syria’s oil infrastructure, in September the Ambassador for the European Union in Iraq, Jana Hybaskova, testified before the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee stating that several EU member states have bought oil from the Islamic State, while refusing to name the guilty parties.(9)  So while the western powers are profiting from ISIL’s illicit oil trade, keeping intact the refineries and oil fields in Iraq presumably to do so, they are as well destroying Syria’s infrastructure, as a further way to destabilize the Syrian state.

US-Supplied Rebels Align with al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda Aligns with ISIL

On November 1st Jamal Maarouf’s forces, the US-backed Syrian Revolutionary Front, were routed by al-Nusra, and according to reports ISIL fought alongside Nusra in the attack.(10)  Back in April, CIA-vetted Maarouf admitted to working alongside al-Nusra, providing the al-Qaeda group with whatever US-supplied weapons they needed whenever they asked for them.(11)  Despite US officials being aware of the fact that their weapons were going straight to al-Qaeda, in September Congress approved Obama’s plan of arming and training more rebels.(12)  Now it seems that al-Nusra, strengthened by weapons given to them while fighting along-side US-sponsored rebels, are using their US-weapons to ally with ISIL and take more weapons and fighters from the US-backed SRF headed by CIA-vetted Maarouf.

A day after Maarouf was routed on November 2nd, in the early hours of the morning between midnight and 4am, according to AP sources al-Nusra and ISIL agreed to stop fighting each other and to work together.  Agreements were made to work against the US-backed Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm.  FSA and Harakat Hazm fighters were reportedly overtaken by al-Nusra later that day, ISIL sending about 100 fighters in 22 pickup trucks to aid in the effort.(13)  Al-Nusra is the longtime ally of the US-backed FSA.  Back in early September FSA commander Bassel Idriss stated, ““We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front… Let’s face it: The Nusra Front is the biggest power present right now in Qalamoun and we as FSA would collaborate on any mission they launch.”  It should be noted that Congress agreed to further supply Syrian rebels just a week after this admission.

Now it seems that al-Nusra and ISIL have joined forces against the FSA, yet reports of the encounter state that the FSA and Harakat Hazm militants defected to Nusra and ISIL peacefully, transferring large quantities of US-supplied weapons to them while doing so all without a fight.

Moderate rebels who had been armed and trained by the United States either surrendered or defected to the extremists as the Jabhat al-Nusra groupaffiliated with al-Qaeda, swept through the towns and villages the moderates controlled in the northern province of Idlib, in what appeared to be a concerted push to vanquish the moderate Free Syrian Army.”

 “Among the groups whose bases were overrun in the assault was Harakat Hazm, the biggest recipient of U.S. assistance offered under a small-scale, covert CIA program launched this year, including the first deliveries of U.S.-made TOW antitank missiles. The group’s headquarters outside the village of Khan Subbul was seized by Jabhat al-Nusra overnight Saturday, after rebel fighters there surrendered their weapons and fled without a fight.” (Washington Post, 11/2/14) (emphasis added)

This raises the question as to whether they were overrun at all, or if they freely allied with the much more successful and resource-equipped al-Nusra and ISIL groups.

In sum, US-backed Maarouf and his SFR, who admittedly have been fighting alongside and giving US weapons to al-Qaeda all along, were overtaken by Nusra and ISIL, their fighters defecting and their weapons being transferred.  Al-Nusra and ISIL have also agreed to work together, and the US-backed FSA and Harakat Hazm groups have freely defected to Nusra and ISIL, taking with them all of their US-supplied weaponry, including TOW antitank missiles.

It is not surprising that defections to Nusra and ISIL are widespread.  “Abu Majid, another rebel leader, who has been receiving western support for six months, said it had not prevented his recent defeat by Jabhat al-Nusra and that he was losing faith. More than 1,000 men, half his brigade’s strength, had left in despair, many defecting to Isil.”

Defection to the jihadists has now been going on for years. Mahmoud, a former prisoner of the regimewho used to work for the FSA, now runs safe houses in Turkey for foreign fighters looking to join Jabhat al-Nusra and Isil.” (The Telegraph, 11/11/14) (emphasis added)

This is not surprising given the fact that the majority of the arms shipments coordinated by the US through Saudi Arabia and Qatar have gone to the extremist elements that the Gulf States historically always have supported. For years the US has been actively coordinated the arming of the most virulent elements inside of Syria, making them the most powerful players within the region.  A year ago the New York Times reported that, “Most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.”

“The United States is not sending arms directly to the Syrian opposition. Instead, it is providing intelligence and other support for shipments of secondhand light weapons like rifles and grenades into Syria, mainly orchestrated from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The reports indicate that the shipments organized from Qatar, in particular, are largely going to hard-line Islamists.” (emphasis added)

Therefore the fact that the most hard-lined extremist in Syria are also the most powerful makes a lot more sense. As the media constantly has been telling us that the US is only arming ‘moderate’ rebels, it has instead been coordinated the arming of Nusra and ISIL through its allied Gulf states Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  At the same time it has been overseeing this arming of extremist, al-Qeada jihadists, it has also been actively funding ‘vetted’ groups like the FSA and SRF who have been working alongside Nusra and ISIL, freely coordinated with them while supplying them with US-weaponry the CIA had given to them just days before.  The end result of all of this is that Nusra and ISIL have become the dominant military forces within the region, prompting widespread defection of groups armed and trained by the US into their ranks.  As Nusra and ISIL have grown stronger through US tutelage, they have further been able to overcome other recipients of US aid like the Harakat Hazm brigades, further consolidating US-weaponry and US-trained fighters.

Anthony Cartalucci has argued, “But if the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) is being funded, armed, trained, and otherwise supported with the combined resources of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, NATO-member Turkey, Jordan, Israel, and others, just how exactly is the “Islamic State,” and other extremist factions such as Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, Al Nusra, getting even more cash and weapons?

“The answer… is that there were never, nor are there any “moderates” operating in Syria. The West has intentionally armed and funded Al Qaeda and other sectarian extremists…”

This is similar to the argument used by Senator Rand Paul when he recently testified against the arming of rebels in September before the Congress voted to approve the measure, deciding apparently that arming al-Qaeda and ISIL is worth the price of regime-change in Syria:  If the US and its allies have been arming moderate factions, to the tune of up to a billion dollars, how is it that the so-called moderates are virtually non-existent while the extremist elements have all of the power, weapons, and fighters?

Roots of the Bombing Campaign – Why US is Bombing ISIL

It should be understood that before the beginning of this year, when ISIL broke away and started fighting al-Nusra, that Nusra and ISIL had been working together for years.  Former British Army and Metropolitan Police counterterrorism intelligence officer Charles Shoebridge has stated, “It should also be noted in this respect that the ‘moderate’ rebels the US and UK support themselves openly welcomed the arrival of such extremists. Indeed, the Free Syria Army backed by the West was allied with ISIS, until ISIS attacked them at the end of 2013.”

‘Vetted’ US rebels such as the FSA and the Syrian Revolutionary Front have admittedly been transferring US-supplied arms to, and working with, al-Nusra, who for the entirety of the Syrian crisis before 2014 was allied with ISIL, a working relationship we now see has reemerged as recent developments have unfolded.

When ISIL and Nusra did begin fighting earlier this year, we have seen that Obama had done nothing as ISIL was rampaging throughout Syria.  He was, however, benefitting from the media PR campaign which could now state that Obama’s rebels were fighting the evil ISIL terrorists, the American public conveniently forgetting that those rebels were fighting alongside al-Qaeda as they were doing so.

The rise of ISIL and their subsequent push into Iraq was anticipated; as early as February it was already predicted that ISIL would attempt to take territory in Iraq.  On February 11th the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, delivered the annual DIA threat assessment to the Senate Armed Service Committee.  He stated, “”Al-Qa`ida in Iraq (AQI), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL): AQI/ISIL probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014, as demonstrated recently in Ramadi and Fallujah, and the group’s ability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria.”(14)  The push of ISIS into Iraq was anticipated and known, yet the Obama administration had done nothing to stop them.  The Wall Street Journal further states that, “The failure to confront ISIS sooner wasn’t an intelligence failure. It was a failure by policy makers to act on events that were becoming so obvious that the Iraqis were asking for American help for months before Mosul fell. Mr. Obama declined to offer more than token assistance.”

However, we do not have to wonder why Obama refused to act in this regard, he told us himself.  In an August interview with the New York Times, Obama said the reason, “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.”  Obama thus exploited the rise of ISIL in order to obtain the geopolitical goal of pressuring Maliki to step down, which happened shortly afterwards.  The plan was successful, the slaughter and subjugation of countless Iraqi’s mere ‘collateral damage’ for this ‘higher end.’

ISIL then went onto consolidate its holdings further into Iraq, culminating in the overtaking of Mosul.  An event which Noam Chomsky describes as being, “pretty remarkable.  In fact, western military analysts were astonished.  Remember what happened, Iraq has an army, and the Iraqi army knows how to fight.  During the Iran-Iraq war that army fought hard and viciously, and in fact ultimately won the war, with US support.  There was an Iraqi army of 350,000 men, armed to the teeth with all kinds of advanced weapons.  They had been trained by the United States for over a decade.  They were faced by a couple of thousand lightly armed jihadi’s.  First thing that happened was all the generals ran away. Then all the troops ran away, leaving their weapons behind them. And then the jihadi forces just marched into Mosul and then into large parts of Iraq.  It was a pretty amazing phenomenon, it tells you a lot if you think about it.”

The Guardian would report,

“Iraqi officials told the Guardian that two divisions of Iraqi soldiers – roughly 30,000 men – simply turned and ran in the face of the assault by an insurgent force of just 800 fighters. Isis extremists roamed freely on Wednesday through the streets of Mosul, openly surprised at the ease with which they took Iraq’s second largest city after three days of sporadic fighting.”(15)

The main discourse on this ‘amazing phenomenon’ has stated a few reasons to explain this event, however virtually no one, besides Professor Michel Chossudovsky, has been asking the obvious questions, “Had the senior Iraqi commanders been instructed by their Western military advisers to hand over the city to the ISIS terrorists? Were they co-opted?”

These questions are highly justified to ask.  Most analyst readily accept that the army was disloyal and unwilling to fight for their cities and thus fled, however asking whether they were instructed to flee is no more far-fetched then these mainstream assumptions.

Still after this the US did not start its airstrikes, it was only after ISIL began to threaten the Kurdish region of Erbil that the US initiated its bombing campaign.  The bombings were started ostensibly to defend the beleaguered Yazidi’s from the oncoming ISIL advance, however the problem with this is that the Yazidi’s were already protected and being escorted off Mt. Sinjar a full 3 days before the first US action; they were already being protected.  The US announced its airstrikes on August the 8th,(16) while the socialist Kurdish PKK fighters had already begun rescuing the Yazidi’s as early as the 5th.(17)

The real reason the US bombed ISIL now and not before was to protect western oil interests located in Erbil,(18)as well as defend the myriad of CIA agents stationed in the region,(19) along with the Israeli intelligence and military operatives conducting anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian operations.(20)  Obama admitted as much, “Obama, in a statement delivered at the White House late Thursday, said that strikes would be launched against extremist convoys “should they move toward” the Kurdish capital of Irbil, where the United States maintains a consulate and a joint operations center with the Iraqi military.”

 “We intend to take action if they threaten our facilities anywhere in Iraq . . . including Irbil and Baghdad,” he said.” (Washington Post, 8/8/14)

Obama was fine with ISIL rampaging through Iraq, killing civilians and pressuring Maliki to resign, until they threatened western oil interests.

Thus the Yazidi’s were saved by the socialists the US says is a terrorist organization, their bombs beginning to drop 3 days after the fact while the Yazidi’s were already safe and being evacuating off the mountain, all in order to protect Chevron and Exxon.(21)(22)

Mission Creep – ISIL Bombings to Justify Military Intervention

It has just been announced on November 12th that Obama is reviewing his ISIL strategy.  “In just the past week, the White House has convened four meetings of the President’s national security team, one of which was chaired by Obama and others that were attended by principals like the secretary of state. These meetings, in the words of one senior official, were “driven to a large degree how our Syria strategy fits into our ISIS strategy.” (23

Given the recent developments, of Nusra and ISIL aligning, of the US-backed rebels freely taking their US-training and US-arms into the ranks of al-Qaeda and ISIL, of how the US covert policy of Syrian regime-changecreated ISIL, with a little help from their Gulf allies, one would perhaps think that the Obama administration would abandon its oil-inspired plan of using virulent Islamic extremists to topple Assad, realize that there has never been a ‘moderate’ rebel force in the region, that Assad, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia are the most capable forces able to defeat the ISIL and have in fact been fighting them and al-Qaeda for over 3 years, and work towards realistically combating terrorism in the region, but you would be gravely mistaken.

“I think the President wants to make sure that we’re asking hard questions about what we’re targeting in Syria, how we’re able to degrade ISIL but also how we’re supporting opposition and building them up as a counterweight to ISIL but also ultimately of course to the Assad regime.”

Assad has been the biggest magnet for extremism in Syria, and the President has made clear that Assad has lost all legitimacy to govern. Alongside our efforts to isolate and sanction the Assad regime, we are working with our allies to strengthen the moderate opposition …”

“Among the options being discussed are a no-fly zone on the border with Turkey and accelerating and expanding the Pentagon program to vet, train and arm the moderate opposition.  Turkey has called for a no-fly zone, both to protect its border and to provide relief to Syrian rebels facing airstrikes from the regime.” (emphasis added)

It should be noted that the Syrian airstrikes are targeting al-Qaeda and ISIL rebels, and that a no-fly zone would protect the terrorists and further endanger the Syrian government along with the beleaguered Syrian population. As for arming more rebels, the evidence is abundantly clear that it was this exact same plan that created ISIL in the first place and encouraged terrorism to thrive in Syria, thus any such plans should be viewed for what they really mean: the Obama administration has chosen to continue supporting and showering weapons upon al-Qaeda linked extremist jihadi’s for the ‘greater good’ of massacring the civilian population, further miring Syria in chaos and turning it into a failed-state, with the end goal of toppling the insubordinate Assad ‘regime.’

We are now witnessing the contours of what many have been warning against all along, that the threat of ISIL and the US bombings that were justified through them, will eventually turn against the Syrian government, which, as stated above, is the real goal here.

The US will continue providing money and weapons to the rebels, never balking when proof after proof comes to light that their ‘vetted’ ‘moderates’ are working alongside al-Qaeda and ISIL, committing the exact same kinds of atrocities as them, and that all of the US-weapons in the region are going to violent extremists who daily murder innocents, rape women and children as young as 15 years old, eat the organs of their victims, and daily terrorize the Syrian population.  Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, who through US oversight are the main actors responsible for aiding and supporting the worst of the extremists, will continue pushing for regime change, pressuring the US to expand its bombs towards Assad.  As the war-hawk Republicans take control of the Senate in a month, with the likes of John McCain heading the Senate Armed Service Committee, the drums of war will continue to be sounded, loyally aided by the sycophantic mainstream media, and all will have forgotten the voices of the Syrian’s themselves; the western hubris justifying these ungodly atrocities under the guise of ‘helping’ and ‘protecting’ the Syrian people, blinded by their imperial greed to the fact that the only ones calling for this ‘help’ are everyone except the Syrians themselves.  It says a lot about one’s stance when regime-change efforts are justified in the name of humanitarian aid the local population while the indigenous Syrian’s themselves are opposed to it, compounded by the fact that such ‘humanitarianism’ involves arming and funding al-Qaeda and ISIL, although in reality, the FSA and SRF, along with all the rest, are themselves no different from the Islamic State.

There is still hope for the Syrians, but it will only be realized once we as western citizens honestly look upon our actions and understand our true role in all of this, and stop pretending to care about the Syrians by supporting an agenda aimed at making them suffer for the geopolitical aims of colonial powers.  We should be willing to accept the hard truths of what we have been involved in, and not be diluted by more comfortable lies of our professed benevolence and high moral intentions.  And not least of all, we should listen to what the Syrians have to say for themselves.

A few lost voices of the Syrian people, courtesy of Eva Bartlett:

 In a different area of Lebanon, I meet another Syrian, this time from the Aleppo outskirts. He is wiry, with grey hair though not yet 50, and a bright face, his presence emanating peace and calm… in spite of what he has gone through and lost.

“It isn’t a revolution,” he says, “What is that? Stealing from us, beheading us, destroying my country?  How is that a revolution? If it was a revolution, you target the government not the people, not the history.”(24)

Over the past two weeks in a small Lebanese village, I’ve gotten to know a number of Syrians, including a family from the Hasaka region in eastern Syria who’ve been pushed out of their village.

They returned six months ago, yearning to see their country, their home. But most people they knew had left, driven out by foreign terrorists. There was nothing left to return to.

“Their two kids help out with work but are otherwise in limbo, not able to continue university here…no money to do so. In Syria, it was virtually free.

Her words:

“We never thought we’d leave Syria, life was good. Everything was cheap, we had security. But we eventually had to…. not because of the government or the Syrian Army, because of the terrorists, mostly al-Nusra then. Now Daesh [ISIS] are there too, but they’re the same anyway.

Before we left, it had gotten to the point where we scarcely had access to water, had little electricity… The terrorists destroyed the power lines. The municipality would repair things and the terrorists would return and destroy them.”(25)

Following an April 21 mortar attack on Bab Touma, which killed 2 and maimed 23, I spoke with shop employees who had been present at the time of the attack. An employee in a shoe shop said:

“It was just after 3 pm, the area was packed with people. It happens a lot, a lot, a lot…all the time. Shrapnel flew everywhere, little bits and pieces. In the last two weeks, around ten mortars have landed in this area. This isn’t a revolution. They’ve come from outside. Do you know how we were living? We had security, work…but, sorry, now?”

“The terrorists know that their mortars accomplish nothing practically, they are just a vengeful act against the people of Damascus for not supporting them. Sometimes they film themselves as evidence of their loyalty, presented to anyone who would sponsor them financially to keep fighting against President Assad.”(26)

Although he chose to stay in the Old City, Father Frans was critical of the insurgents. In January 2012, he hadwritten: “From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”

“People in Homs were already armed and prepared before the protests began,” said Kanawati. “If they hadn’t been planning for the protests from the beginning, the people wouldn’t have had the quantity of arms that they had.”

Abu Nabeel explained that in addition to the Hamidiyeh district where various old churches are to be found, Christians in other areas occupied by the armed insurgents also fled. “There were an estimated 100,000 Christians living in the Old City of Homs before it was taken over by terrorists. Most fled in February 2012. By March, only 800 had stayed, and by the end just over 100 remained,” he said.

The siege that the Syrian army enforced on the Old City in an attempt to drive out the insurgents had a drastic effect on the daily lives of those remaining.

“Suddenly, we didn’t have electricity or water. We had to wait for the water trucks to refill tanks,” said Kanawati. “There were many elderly who couldn’t leave their homes. We’d take food and medicine to people in the community.

Mohammed, a Syrian from the Qussoor district of Homs, is now one of the reported 6.5 million internally-displaced Syrians.  He spoke of the sectarian nature of the insurgents and protests from the very beginning in 2011.

 “I was renting a home in a different neighbourhood of Homs, while renovating my own house. Just beyond my balcony there were protests that did not call for ‘freedom’ or even overthrowing the ‘regime’. They chanted sectarian mottos, they said they would fill al-Zahara – an Alawi neighbourhood – with blood. And also al-Nezha – where there are many Alawis and Christians.”

“My aunt lives in another neighbourhood nearby. She’s Allawi and her husband is Sunni. Because she is Allawi, the ‘rebels’ wanted to kill her two sons. I chose Bashar al-Assad, so they said, ‘we will kill you, because you chose him.’”(27)

This is a conversation I had with a Homs man earlier in June. Homs, dubbed by the corporate media the “heart of the ‘revolution’…” hear what he says about freedom and the terrorist-rebels:

“You call for ‘freedom’, so my choice is Bashar al-Assad. This is my choice. ‘No, we must kill you for this choice, because you don’t know….you must die for this choice.’”(28)

“Later, in a convenience store near my crappo apartment-hotel, I chat with Samer, from Jaramana. Things are better he says, and I experienced. Less mortars now. “Udhak alei? You’re laughing at me? Democracry? That’s what this is about?” he says of the corporate media/NGOs/Western line of “human rights” and “freedom and democracy” re Syria.”(29

Back at the simple hotel I’ve stayed in here I see Mahmoud, the young Syrian teen I’d spoken with a couple of times while here last month.

“How’s the situation in Syria?” he asks earnestly when he understands I’ve just come back. I tell him Damascus, while still being mortared by those terrorists, is a little quieter now that the Syrian army has cleared them out of some areas of the Damascus countryside. And I mention that Kasab has now been liberated. “I know! I was hearing that just now on the news,” he says.

I’d been unsure of where he stood politically when I spoke with him before, but tonight he made it clear.

“I haven’t seen my family in three years. Those dogs “Jaysh al Horr” (“Free Syrian Army”) control the area of Ghouta where my family lives. If I go back to Damascus, I can’t see them. If I tried to go to my home, they’d slaughter me. God rid us of those bearded men.”(30)  

Yesterday, meeting with someone to coordinate a visit to an area outside of Damascus, after taking a phone call, he lamented that pretty much no corporate media will cover the story he’s just been reminded of: a man from the Latakia countryside whose male family members were slaughtered and female members kidnapped by foreign mercenaries in August 2013. The man himself has gone blind from an injury at the time. “They don’t want to hear these stories, it doesn’t suit their narrative,” my contact said.”(31)

Back at my hosts’ rented home in a different area of Homs, they show me photos and videos of their own ravaged home, footage which Abu Abdu took himself. He meticulously points out how not only did the “revolutionaries” occupying their home utterly trash and destroy it, but they thieved every conceivable thing from it. “Here, they took the motor to the washing machine. Here, they stripped the fridge of its motor. Here, they took the taps in the kitchen. They stripped the electrical wiring.” Basically, they took anything that could be ripped out of wall or floor that could in any way be sold: metals, piping, wiring…and of course all of the family’s jewelry and valuables

In the video he shows, the bedrooms are so trashed and a hole has been knocked into a wall for passage to the next apartment… you’d think the IOF had been here instead of the “freedom-loving revolutionaries.”(32)

“They want to burn Syria from within, want to leave these factions fighting each until Syria is burned down and Syria is bled-out.”(33)

Even when I’m not “looking” for stories to share from Syrians, they come to me. Sitting at the sea, a young man a few metres away began talking with me after he saw my Syria wrist-band.  I asked a few general questions, and then he let loose on the hell that is life in Halab (Aleppo) with the foreign insurgents. He did so in the same mournful voice that others I’ve met here and in Syria have had, again without the bitterness and anger you’d expect from people suffering so greatly under this manufactured crisis filled with its unending, ghastly atrocities.

He also said what virtually every other Syrian I’ve met has said: “You should have seen Syria before, it was the most beautiful place, the safest place.

Walked into a supermarket which I forgot I’d been to… When I got to the counter I realized he was Abu Mohammed, the new Sweida friend I’d met some days ago, who’d insisted on serving me coffee.

“Hi Ava (Eva, Ava, I like both renditions), I read many things on your blog… what you wrote about Gaza and now about Syria. You wrote the truth about us! Thank you! We want people to know we are not like what the TV says about us.”(34)

Most news accounts of Syria paint a desolate, sectarian country where people in areas secured by the Syrian army are miserable and where people, above all, want to see Bashar al-Assad gone. In all regards I found the opposite. In particular, I found wide-spread, and usually ardent, support for the President.

We also visited two different schools now housing displaced Palestinians and Syrians from Yarmouk. Their words were the same. “The terrorists took over the camp, took over our houses, stole our food. We want the camp back. Tell your governments to tell those terrorists to leave Yarmouk.”

Berwin Ibrahim, chair of the National Youth Party for Justice and Development said, “We don’t agree with the regime on many things, but we insist that our homeland comes first. We have corruption in the government. But that is like any government. The conspiracy, terrorism, and interference from Western countries has united supporters of the government and the opposition,” she said.

One of the opposition who had formally called for Assad to step down, Mohammad Abu Qasem, Secretary General of the Solidarity Party, said, “What’s happening in Syria is international terrorism, with many countries interfering in Syria. Since the elections were announced, the insurgents started working harder in Kasab and in Aleppo.”

Feminist activist, Suheir Sarmini, Deputy Secretary General of the Syrian National Youth Party, said, “President Obama and Congress have armed these gangs to kill our children, our people. Tell Obama and Congress to stop killing the Syrian people and not to interfere in Syrian sovereignty.”

In contrast to accusations that no ‘real’ opposition could exist within Syria, Mazen al-Akhrass, a member of Syria’s NDF and a political analyst, pointed out that two very vocal (and far more critical than those I met) opposition members remain in Syria, unscathed.

Louay Hussein and Hassan Abdul-Azeem are very well known and extremely against the regime, and they ask for more than ‘reforms’. Yet they have been living in Damascus—the “stronghold of the regime”—during the events, and their lives weren’t threatened. They are not in jail, and at this point they seem to have settled for partial reforms as a step towards full regime change.”

We met with Syria’s Grand Mufti, Dr. Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun. He spoke of the need for reconciliation and forgiveness amongst Syrians. He’s notable for walking the talk: Sheik Hassoun’s 21 year old son Sarya was assassinated in October 2011, on the same day that it was announced he’d be engaged ; during the funeral, while sobbing, the Mufti called for forgiveness and reconciliation, even for those who murdered his son.

“All of the churches and mosques that have been destroyed, we can rebuild. But who will bring back our children? Who will bring back my son Saria? When we have violation against any child, it is a violation against God. 

He mentioned that in March he’d been granted a prestigious Italian peace prize, by The Ducci Foundation, for his non-sectarian preaching of interfaith peace. But the Mufti never got to Rome.

“I was granted a visa for only ten days. They were afraid I’d stay longer. But Europeans are among those killing our people. If all the Syrian people die, it’s okay, no problem, just to keep their oil. I reject this ‘democracy’. We in Syria are not Sunni or Shia or Allawi nor Muslim nor Christian. We are human beings and must be respected. They want to start a religious war. We are going to extinguish this fire.”

On a personal note, I’d echo the Mufti’s call, and those of so many others I met in Syria. Come to Syria, see for yourselves. Very quickly you can get a taste of the senseless mortars, and the horrific testimonies of those assaulted by foreign mercenaries and takfiri ideologists. But also of the strength and resistance that is the Syrian people, who don’t intend any time soon to fall to occupation, and who will vote for President Assad in June.”(35)

Steven Chovanec is an independent geopolitical analyst based in Chicago, IL.  He is an undergraduate of International Studies at Roosevelt University and is a regular writer and blogger on geopolitics and important social matters.  His writings can be found at undergroundreports.blogspot.com, find him on Twitter @stevechovanec.

The United States is a gung-ho supporter of a genocide that it created. (Click on those links, for the verification of these shocking facts — shocking only because they’re covered up by our ‘press.’) Why does Europe tolerate this, and even participate in it? But, they do.

On November 14th, France missed the second deadline for them to supply to Russia the Mistral helicopter-carrier ship that Russia had already paid for in full, and which had been built to Russian specifications, not suitable for use by NATO.

Back on 14 May 2014, Michael R. Gordon — one of the New York Times ‘reporters’ (more-realistically: stenographers for the U.S. Administration) who had ‘reported’ back in 2002 about how horrific were the WMD or Weapons of Mass Destruction that Saddam Hussein was building up, but which actually didn’t exist except in the Administration’s disinformation-agencies — headlined in that propaganda-outlet for the U.S. Government (propagandistically calling itself a ‘news’paper), “France’s Sale of 2 Ships to Russians Is Ill-Advised, U.S. Warns,” and he lambasted the dastardly purveyor of what U.S. nationalists had contemptuously called “freedom fries”; he opened his ‘news report’ as the stenographer to power that he and his newspaper are, with: “In a closed-door meeting in February 2010, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates urged his French counterpart not to proceed with the sale of two amphibious assault ships to Russia because it ‘would send the wrong message to Russia and to our allies in Central and East Europe.’” In other words: Russia is the enemy; don’t deal with them in any other way.

Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post, headlined the next day disdainfully, “Europe goes its own way,” and she opened, “France’s attempt to sell warships to Russia is both a ‘sell the rope to hang themselves’ moment and a comment on U.S. stature these days.” She lied: Russia isn’t France’s enemy; the U.S. has become that. And France wasn’t in any “attempt to sell warships to Russia”; those warships had already been sold and built and paid for, but Washington was turning the screws on their ‘friend’ France, to induce them not to deliver what had already been sold and manufactured.

 America’s fascists, and even for our racist-fascists or “nazis,” the Cold War has never ended, not even when the Soviet Union did and when Marxist economics became rejected everywhere but in Cuba and North Korea. Apparently, the Cold War was never really about communism, if one believes these fascists; it was about destroying Russia. For them, it has actually been just a marketing plan for U.S.-made weapons. Now that Russia is a democracy — perhaps more so than the U.S. now is — the old hatred still burns like hot coals in the black hearts of Barack Obama, Republicans, and all other far-rightist, pro-oligarchic, U.S. politicians, who serve the people at Raytheon Corporation and Lockheed-Martin, and other producers for NATO, the Western arms-buying club.

Gutless France isn’t telling Uncle Sam to shove off about that, but is instead setting itself up to pay a very heavy price for today’s peddler of genocide, the U.S. You don’t see this fact — or this, or even this — reported in the New York Times, or theWashington Post, or the Wall Street Journal. Those facts come from ‘the enemy.’

I am a European-American who is outraged that my country has taken up what had been one of Hitler’s big objectives, of destroying and subjugating Russians, and that Europe is participating in this moral degradation of America, all for the benefit of an all-too-powerful group of U.S. and a few cooperating European oligarchs, who think that their blood is not on the line if this produces a nuclear war against Russia. But their gated communities and frost-windowed limousines won’t protect even them from the viciousness of the hatreds and psychopathies that they harbor, if they succeed at prostituting ‘democracy’ in this way.

America needs a real press, not an aristocratically controlled ‘news-media,’ that are constantly for sale to the highest bidder, whomever can put up the advertising bucks to buy the ‘news reporting’ and ‘editorial opinions,’ that shape ‘democracy.’

 

The Siege of Julian Assange is a Farce

November 16th, 2014 by John Pilger

The siege of Knightsbridge is a farce. For two years, an exaggerated, costly police presence around the Ecuadorean embassy in London has served no purpose other than to flaunt the power of the state. Their quarry is an Australian charged with no crime, a refugee from gross injustice whose only security is the room given him by a brave South American country. His true crime is to have initiated a wave of truth-telling in an era of lies, cynicism and war.

The persecution of Julian Assange must end. Even the British government clearly believes it must end. On 28 October, the deputy foreign minister, Hugo Swire, told Parliament he would “actively welcome” the Swedish prosecutor in London and “we would do absolutely everything to facilitate that.” The tone was impatient.

The Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, has refused to come to London to question Assange about allegations of sexual misconduct in Stockholm in 2010 – even thoughSwedish law allows for it and the procedure is routine for Sweden and the UK. The documentary evidence of a threat to Assange’s life and freedom from the United States – should he leave the embassy – is overwhelming. On May 14 this year, US court files revealed that a “multi subject investigation” against Assange was “active and ongoing.”

Ny has never properly explained why she will not come to London, just as the Swedish authorities have never explained why they refuse to give Assange a guarantee that they will not extradite him on to the US under a secret arrangement agreed between Stockholm and Washington. In December 2010, the Independent revealed that the two governments had discussed his onward extradition to the US before the European Arrest Warrant was issued.

Perhaps an explanation is that, contrary to its reputation as a liberal bastion, Sweden has drawn so close to Washington that it has allowed secret CIA “renditions” – including the illegal deportation of refugees. The rendition and subsequent torture of two Egyptian political refugees in 2001 was condemned by the UN Committee against Torture, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch; the complicity and duplicity of the Swedish state are documented in successful civil litigation and WikiLeaks cables. In the summer of 2010, Assange had been in Sweden to talk about WikiLeaks revelations of the war in Afghanistan – in which Sweden had forces under US command.

The Americans are pursuing Assange because WikiLeaks exposed their epic crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale killing of tens of thousands of civilians, which they covered up; and their contempt for sovereignty and international law, as demonstrated vividly in their leaked diplomatic cables.

For his part in disclosing how US soldiers murdered Afghan and Iraqi civilians, the heroic soldier Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning received a sentence of 35 years, having been held for more than a thousand days in conditions which, according to the UN Special Rapporteur, amounted to torture.

Few doubt that should the US get their hands on Assange, a similar fate awaits him. Threats of capture and assassination became the currency of the political extremes in the US following Vice-President Joe Biden’s preposterous slur that Assange was a “cyber-terrorist”. Anyone doubting the kind of US ruthlessness he can expect should remember the forcing down of the Bolivian president’s plane last year – wrongly believed to be carrying Edward Snowden.

According to documents released by Snowden, Assange is on a “Manhunt target list”. Washington’s bid to get him, say Australian diplomatic cables, is “unprecedented in scale and nature”. In Alexandria, Virginia, a secret grand jury has spent four years attempting to contrive a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted. This is not easy. The First Amendment to the US Constitution protects publishers, journalists and whistleblowers. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama lauded whistleblowers as “part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal”. Under President Obama, more whistleblowers have been prosecuted than under all other US presidents combined. Even before the verdict was announced in the trial of Chelsea Manning, Obama had pronounced the whisletblower guilty.

“Documents released by WikiLeaks since Assange moved to England,” wrote Al Burke, editor of the online Nordic News Network, an authority on the multiple twists and dangers facing Assange, “clearly indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters relating to civil rights. There is every reason for concern that if Assange were to be taken into custody by Swedish authorities, he could be turned over to the United States without due consideration of his legal rights.”

There are signs that the Swedish public and legal community do not support prosecutor’s Marianne Ny’s intransigence. Once implacably hostile to Assange, the Swedish press has published headlines such as: “Go to London, for God’s sake.”

Why won’t she? More to the point, why won’t she allow the Swedish court access to hundreds of SMS messages that the police extracted from the phone of one of the two women involved in the misconduct allegations? Why won’t she hand them over to Assange’s Swedish lawyers? She says she is not legally required to do so until a formal charge is laid and she has questioned him. Then, why doesn’t she question him?

This week, the Swedish Court of Appeal will decide whether to order Ny to hand over the SMS messages; or the matter will go to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice. In high farce, Assange’s Swedish lawyers have been allowed only to “review” the SMS messages, which they had to memorise.

One of the women’s messages makes clear that she did not want any charges brought against Assange, “but the police were keen on getting a hold on him”. She was “shocked” when they arrested him because she only “wanted him to take [an HIV] test”. She “did not want to accuse JA of anything” and “it was the police who made up the charges”. (In a witness statement, she is quoted as saying that she had been “railroaded by police and others around her”.)

Neither woman claimed she had been raped. Indeed, both have denied they were raped and one of them has since tweeted, “I have not been raped.” That they were manipulated by police and their wishes ignored is evident – whatever their lawyers might say now. Certainly, they are victims of a saga worthy of Kafka.

For Assange, his only trial has been trial by media. On 20 August 2010, the Swedish police opened a “rape investigation” and immediately — and unlawfully — told the Stockholm tabloids that there was a warrant for Assange’s arrest for the “rape of two women”. This was the news that went round the world.

In Washington, a smiling US Defence Secretary Robert Gates told reporters that the arrest “sounds like good news to me”. Twitter accounts associated with the Pentagon described Assange as a “rapist” and a “fugitive”.

Less than 24 hours later, the Stockholm Chief Prosecutor, Eva Finne, took over the investigation. She wasted no time in cancelling the arrest warrant, saying, “I don’t believe there is any reason to suspect that he has committed rape.” Four days later, she dismissed the rape investigation altogether, saying, “There is no suspicion of any crime whatsoever.” The file was closed.

Enter Claes Borgstrom, a high profile politician in the Social Democratic Party then standing as a candidate in Sweden’s imminent general election. Within days of the chief prosecutor’s dismissal of the case, Borgstrom, a lawyer, announced to the media that he was representing the two women and had sought a different prosecutor in the city of Gothenberg. This was Marianne Ny, whom Borgstrom knew well. She, too, was involved with the Social Democrats.

On 30 August, Assange attended a police station in Stockholm voluntarily and answered all the questions put to him. He understood that was the end of the matter. Two days later, Ny announced she was re-opening the case. Borgstrom was asked by a Swedish reporter why the case was proceeding when it had already been dismissed, citing one of the women as saying she had not been raped. He replied, “Ah, but she is not a lawyer.” Assange’s Australian barrister, James Catlin, responded, “This is a laughing stock … it’s as if they make it up as they go along.”

On the day Marianne Ny re-activated the case, the head of Sweden’s military intelligence service (“MUST”) publicly denounced WikiLeaks in an article entitled “WikiLeaks [is] a threat to our soldiers.” Assange was warned that the Swedish intelligence service, SAP, had been told by its US counterparts that US-Sweden intelligence-sharing arrangements would be “cut off” if Sweden sheltered him.

For five weeks, Assange waited in Sweden for the new investigation to take its course. The Guardian was then on the brink of publishing the Iraq “War Logs”, based on WikiLeaks’ disclosures, which Assange was to oversee. His lawyer in Stockholm asked Ny if she had any objection to his leaving the country. She said he was free to leave.

Inexplicably, as soon as he left Sweden — at the height of media and public interest in the WikiLeaks disclosures — Ny issued a European Arrest Warrant and an Interpol “red alert” normally used for terrorists and dangerous criminals. Put out in five languages around the world, it ensured a media frenzy.

Assange attended a police station in London, was arrested and spent ten days in Wandsworth Prison, in solitary confinement. Released on £340,000 bail, he was electronically tagged, required to report to police daily and placed under virtual house arrest while his case began its long journey to the Supreme Court. He still had not been charged with any offence. His lawyers repeated his offer to be questioned by Ny in London, pointing out that she had given him permission to leave Sweden. They suggested a special facility at Scotland Yard used for that purpose. She refused.

Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape wrote: “The allegations against [Assange] are a smokescreen behind which a number of governments are trying to clamp down on WikiLeaks for having audaciously revealed to the public their secret planning of wars and occupations with their attendant rape, murder and destruction… The authorities care so little about violence against women that they manipulate rape allegations at will. [Assange] has made it clear he is available for questioning by the Swedish authorities, in Britain or via Skype. Why are they refusing this essential step in their investigation? What are they afraid of?”

This question remained unanswered as Ny deployed the European Arrest Warrant, a draconian product of the “war on terror” supposedly designed to catch terrorists and organized criminals. The EAW had abolished the obligation on a petitioning state to provide any evidence of a crime. More than a thousand EAWs are issued each month; only a few have anything to do with potential “terror” charges. Most are issued for trivial offences—such as overdue bank charges and fines. Many of those extradited face months in prison without charge. There have been a number of shocking miscarriages of justice, of which British judges have been highly critical.

The Assange case finally reached the UK Supreme Court in May 2012. In a judgement that upheld the EAW – whose rigid demands had left the courts almost no room for manoeuvre – the judges found that European prosecutors could issue extradition warrants in the UK without any judicial oversight, even though Parliament intended otherwise. They made clear that Parliament had been “misled” by the Blair government. The court was split, 5-2, and consequently found against Assange.

However, the Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, made one mistake. He applied the Vienna Convention on treaty interpretation, allowing for state practice to override the letter of the law. As Assange’s barrister, Dinah Rose QC, pointed out, this did not apply to the EAW.

The Supreme Court only recognised this crucial error when it dealt with another appeal against the EAW in November last year. The Assange decision had been wrong, but it was too late to go back.

Assange’s choice was stark: extradition to a country that had refused to say whether or not it would send him on to the US, or to seek what seemed his last opportunity for refuge and safety. Supported by most of Latin America, the courageous government of Ecuador granted him refugee status on the basis of documented evidence and legal advice that he faced the prospect of cruel and unusual punishment in the US; that this threat violated his basic human rights; and that his own government in Australia had abandoned him and colluded with Washington. The Labor government of prime minister Julia Gillard had even threatened to take away his passport.

Gareth Peirce, the renowned human rights lawyer who represents Assange in London, wrote to the then Australian foreign minister, Kevin Rudd:

“Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions… it is very hard to attempt to preserve for him any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged.”

It was not until she contacted the Australian High Commission in London that Peirce received a response, which answered none of the pressing points she raised. In a meeting I attended with her, the Australian Consul-General, Ken Pascoe, made the astonishing claim that he knew “only what I read in the newspapers” about the details of the case.

Meanwhile, the prospect of a grotesque miscarriage of justice was drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder. Deeply personal, petty, vicious and inhuman attacks were aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet subjected to treatment not even meted out to a defendant facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife. That the US threat to Assange was a threat to all journalists, to freedom of speech, was lost in the sordid and the ambitious.

Books were published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and an assumption that attacking Assange was fair game and he was too poor to sue. People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive. The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, called the WikiLeaks disclosures, which his newspaper published, “one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years”. It became part of his marketing plan to raise the newspaper’s cover price.

With not a penny going to Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a “damaged personality” and “callous”. They also revealed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables. With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that “Scotland Yard may get the last laugh”.

The injustice meted out to Assange is one of the reasons Parliament will eventually vote on a reformed EAW. The draconian catch-all used against him could not happen now; charges would have to be brought and “questioning” would be insufficient grounds for extradition. “His case has been won lock, stock and barrel,” Gareth Peirce told me, “these changes in the law mean that the UK now recognises as correct everything that was argued in his case. Yet he does not benefit. And the genuineness of Ecuador’s offer of sanctuary is not questioned by the UK or Sweden.”

On 18 March 2008, a war on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was foretold in a secret Pentagon document prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch”. It described a detailed plan to destroy the feeling of “trust” which is WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”. This would be achieved with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”. Silencing and criminalising this rare source of independent journalism was the aim, smear the method. Hell hath no fury like great power scorned.

www.johnpiler.com

For important additional information, click on the following links:

http://justice4assange.com/extraditing-assange.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/assange-could-face-espionage-trial-in-us-2154107.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ImXe_EQhUI

http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/nlj/wikileaks_doj_05192014.pdf

https://wikileaks.org/59-International-Organizations.html

https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1202703/doj-letter-re-wikileaks-6-19-14.pdf

The following is a short documentary about many of the people that have been described as “Euro-Maidan activists” and their activities inside Ukraine that the US, Britain, France, Germany, Poland and the European Union have supported.  Eric Zuesse 

The International Academics are Wrong on BBC Documentary on Rwanda

November 16th, 2014 by Jaqueline Umurungi

The international scholars, scientists, researchers, journalists and historians were wrong on Rwanda BBC Documentary and are misinformed or confused on this issue because they claim to know more on Rwanda than Rwandans especially on issues that Rwandans either participated in or saw them happening on their horizon.

I’m saying this because of the recent condemnation by the above group of the BBC 2 Documentary that exposed the long old theory that Kagame and his supporters have all along been feeding the international community for their own interests to harvest from their lies and keep Kagame in power.

Whereas the documentary is clear from the start to the end where it shows how the interahamwe and their government (MRND) planned genocide, Kagame on the other hand was planning to take power by all means; this is the contentious issue both in law and in fact. Why these so called academics are distorting the facts of the BBC Documentary? There is no illusion on this; Kagame’s lobbying machinery against anything that might shake his power is at its peak mobilizing. They are in all the corridors of academics or governments, religious leaders or anything that Kagame could see that will change the page of the correct line of his old lies.

The above academics admit that they accept legitimate investigation to be done, but according to them these investigation should not distort the reality of genocide of 1994.

“We accept and support that it is legitimate to investigate, with due diligence and respect for factual evidence, any crimes committed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), and to reflect on the contemporary political situation in Rwanda. However, attempts to examine these issues should not distort the reality of the 1994 genocide. It is not legitimate to use current events to either negate or to diminish the genocide. Nor is it legitimate to promote genocide denial.”

Like their godfather president Kagame, they are in fact using the same language this Rwandan ruler has been using to exterminate his political opponents .He has made laws that will lock up or kill those perceived to oppose his brutal rule using his courts or prisons or just extrajudicial killing. Do these academics have the reality on the facts of Rwanda? Could they be clear on what part the Documentary denies, negates or promote genocide? Is genocide not a crime against humanity and a crime against humanity equivalent to genocide?

The above academics in fact are getting it wrong, because according to Prof. William Schabas a criminal law expert, international crimes, namely genocide, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing have the same weight in law. Why should therefore questioning the massacres of Kibeho , Mukarange, Bwisige Karama and other places where RPF was in control be called distorting the reality of genocide?

Unfortunately, far from reality these academics are experts in history and political science, they don’t know that in criminal law, if there is new evidence about a crime, it could change the whole precedence of the law. Why shouldn’t they ask whether appeals could be made on new evidence? Indeed, for their information that’s why many countries have or are campaigning to abolish death penalty. Because if the new evidence is found they can either apply for a re trial of the case but it would be impossible in case the person is dead.

This looks like General Doctor (GP) trying to treat even the disease which needs a specialist. For example in US a woman who was sentenced for 17 years for murder, it was discovered that there was miscarriage of justice during her trial , the judge ordered her release , do these academics propose that this lady would have been left to rot in jail so that they don’t distort the earlier ruling of the court?

The judge said that in Mellen’s case the justice system failed and she had inadequate representation by her attorney at trial.

“I believe that not only is Ms Mellen not guilty, based on what I have read I believe she is innocent,” Arnold said. “For that reason I believe in this case the justice system failed.”

This is one example of million cases in US and other countries in Europe and UK, which have been overturned after the judicially gets new evidence. Yet this fair trial does not happen in Rwanda. Just recently in the case of Gen. Frank Rusagara the Military Court found the General was illegally detained but they did not release him.

Why in UK they are now prosecuting cases that were committed in 1970s? Do these academics appreciate the cases in the ICTR that were overturned moreover the Rwandan RPF government was accusing them of genocide? Gen. Kabiligi, and the former Minister of Commerce Mugenzi Justin, just a few cases in ICTR. These academics seem to misplace their arguments and indeed confine themselves in politics but frankly not in Law.

Furthermore, these academics base their arguments on three pillars in what they call “utmost concern” the first is a lie about the true nature of the Hutu Power militia. The second is an attempt to minimize the number of Tutsi murdered in the genocide, and the third is an effort to place the blame for shooting down President Habyarimana’s plane on April 6, 1994 on the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

It is unfortunate again that these academics distort the facts of the documentary of the BBC, no at any time did the BBC Documentary under estimated the Hutu Power Militia, in fact what the documentary is saying is that Kagame should have been aware or appreciate that these mad people were trained to kill and would have not have put more fuel on the burning flames.

Again, on whom shot the Habyarimana presidential jet, there are is no more confusion on this, because the people who were there and who have the evidence are coming out and saying here we have receipts that bought the missiles that hit the presidential jet. Why should these new evidences be called distorting the reality of 1994?

Why should these academics not appreciate that the 1991 census in Rwanda by World Bank put the number of Tutsis below One Million? Is it minimizing the number of Tutsis or rather RPF is increasing the number of the dead Tutsis for the reasons the academics don’t ask or deliberately ignore. Have these academics ever asked their doll Kagame the graves of the Hutus who were killed in genocide? Unless these issues are addressed by Rwandans but not those academics from US, UK, EUROPE and CANADA, we are just sweeping our houses and put the rubbish under the carpet.

They refer in their argument on international organizations reports like by Amnesty International, UNICEF, the UN Human Rights Commission, Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, Africa Rights, a UN Security Council mandated Commission of Experts and evidence submitted to the ICTR and other European courts who have successfully put on trial several perpetrators. Assuming this is correct, but if the information that these organizations had before was inaccurate or incorrect and now new information is discovered, why should be it be regarded as distortion?

Do these academics know that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty international are the worst enemies of Kagame today because of continued questions on his criminal record and human rights violations? If they are not convinced they should ask the Director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth Roth or Carina Tertsakian. It’s unfortunate that Alison Des Forges died, she would have told you that Kagame is now the only remaining criminal in office of the president in the world.

Why should these academics not ask the Rwandan President to go to The Hague to clear his name in the same way the Kenyan President did? Why should they appreciate the international organizations that praise Kagame and ignore those that criticize him?

Is this the new academic order of pros without contrasts? We have the UN Mapping report or the Report of Experts; both accuse the Rwandan ruler of mass violations of human rights in Congo. These Kagame admirers hardly mention about them? Do these academics know that the Burundian Prosecution under Valentin Bagora unkunda has confirmed that the dead bodies the world witnessed recently in Lake Rweru came from Rwanda?

He is now requesting the international community to help in invitation to establish the identity of these people. Yet the Rwandan government is determined to exhume these dead bodies and relocate them. In fact what these academics are doing is the reason the BBC Documentary discovered, the cover up of the crimes of Kagame, or those white washing a criminal of the 21 century.

We support the BBC and we call upon other independent institutions like CNN or Aljazeera to make further investigations, because even the supporters of Kagame have indicated on a number of occasions that Rwanda is a time Bomb.

Where are the people who have disappeared or reported missing?

“We have been closely observing the situation experienced by human rights activists, members of the opposition and also the Rwandan media for several years,” said Gesinde Ames from the Ecumenical Network for Central Africa, an association of German church organizations. “There are no longer any free media in Rwanda,” Ames said. “There is a state organ which is under strict control. And it is the same with opposition movements.” Any attempts to counter Kagame by establishing new political parties were quickly stifled, with “party leaders arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment,” Ames told DW

Do these academics know that there is no legal difference between genocide and crimes against humanity? All are international crimes and should call international attention and intervention. As much as we condemn in the strongest times possible those who use any interpretation to deny genocide, we don’t also support those who use genocide to commit other crimes against humanity; TWO WRONGS don’t MAKE A RIGHT? Kagame should be brought to justice and accountable for all the crimes he has committed.

At a time when France is commemorating the carnage of 1914-1918, when the President is planning budget cuts everywhere except on nuclear weaponry, when some 150 nations (including for the first time the USA and perhaps Russia) are expected to be in Vienna on December 8-9 – Vienna, at the heart of the Europe ravaged by two World Wars – for the 3rd Intergovernmental Conference on « the hamanitarian impact of nuclear weapons » i.e. their catastrophic and inhuman effects, what do France’s leaders propose? They propose authorising the five nuclear states with permanent seats on the Security Council (France being one) to prepare for mass crimes and to commit them with impunity.That is what emerges from an official article published by Laurent Fabius on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

What the Minister of Foreign Affairs does is to follow up the “simple yet ambitious proposition” made by President Hollande at the UN General Assembly on 24 September 2013 that “when the Security Council needed to pronounce on a case of a mass crime, the permanent members would undertake to suspend their veto powers”, and to declare in his article that “realistically, this code of conduct should exclude cases where the vital national interests of a permanent member state were in jeopardy.”

Thus, for Laurent Fabius, mass massacres must be condemned unanimously and combatted when perpetrated by chemical means or by a state without nuclear arms, but not when perpetrated by a nuclear-armed stated with a permanent seat on the S.C.

Implicitly, Fabius is admitting that nuclear weapons are instruments of « mass crime ». But France, justifying her weapons as always as necessary to defend her « vital interests » (no other state voices this argument) has to be able, « realistically » to use them with impunity. She must have the possibility, in such a case, of invoking her « vital interests » and vetoing any sanction by the international community. At the same time, France would be authorising her colleagues in the « Club of Five » to use the same excuse for massacring her own population.Crimes against humanity are thus forbidden, except by the five nuclear states with permanent seats … including (key point) the French Republic. « The homeland of Human Rights », as we keep hearing.

His article is over a year old. It dates from October 2013. Its logical implications were mentioned by nobody at the time (except ACDN, which denounced them immediately in a resolution sent to « Sortir du nucléaire » [the Nuclear Phase-Out Network]). The piece is still online today on the Ministry’s website, and so it still inspires policy. Anyone can look it up and note the Minister’s startling admissions:

- nuclear weapons are indeed arms for « mass crimes » ;

- France claims for herself and the other four permanent members of the S.C. the right to use them ;

- in the case in question, she reserves the right for herself or the other four to veto any international condemnation or sanction ;

- France places herself above humanity’s moral laws, Human Rights, and international law: e.g. Article VI of the NPT, the Advisory Opinion of the ICJ on 8 July 1996, the UN Charter…

Namely, we may recall that the UN General Assembly “considering that the use of nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons would bring about indiscriminate suffering and destruction to mankind and civilization to an even greater extent than the use of those weapons declared by […] international declarations and agreements to be contrary to the laws of humanity and a crime under international law” has formally declared that “Any state using nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons is considered as violating the Charter of the United nations, as acting contrary to the laws of humanity and as committing a crime against mankind and civilization” (Resolution 1653, XVI of 24 November 1961)

Under such circumstances, one can understand why France doesn’t wish to be represented in Vienna, just as she declined to attend the two preceding conferences on the « humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons » in Norway (Oslo, 3-4 March 2013) and Mexico (Nayarit, 13-14 February 2014). She would have to face a large assembly of indignant governments and NGOs and defend her so-called « nuclear deterrence » strategy. Her policy is militarily absurd, financially ruinous, politically unacceptable, criminal in human terms, indeed aberrant… and also cowardly and hypocritical.But for how much longer with French diplomacy continue this attitude?

Will France not end up by recognising that banning mass crimes implies abolishing nuclear weapons, including her own? It would demonstrate logic, lucidity, « realism » and even courage for France to overturn her policy, which defies humanism and commonsense.To paraphrase an eminent author (he merits full quotation, see below) :

« such an evolution, easy to implement, would preserve the essential point, the credibility of that pillar of peace and stability which the Security Council ought to be. It would express the international community’s wish to make protection of human life an effective priority. It would restore the primacy of discussion and contructive negotiation. It would prevent States from becoming the prisoners of their own positions. »

So come to Vienna, Monsieur Fabius, and tell the world the great news that France is again becoming the « homeland of human Rights. » (And of Descartes, insofar as that philosopher was cartesian.)

As you said a year ago, Monsieur le ministre : to put an end to mass crimes « there is now a window of opportunity. Let us seize it. »

This week has been a turning point in a seven month campaign to Save the Internet. The campaign began when FCC Chair, Tom Wheeler, told the media in May that he was considering creating a tiered Internet where wealthy corporations could pay for faster service giving them an advantage over start-ups, small businesses, entrepreneurs and citizen activists.

The Campaign for the Impossible: Internet as Common Carrier and Net Neutrality

The net neutrality rules were thrown out by a court in January 2014. Following that decision, millions of people emailed, petitioned and telephoned the FCC urging net neutrality but the FCC did not seem to be listening. More was needed.

Popular Resistance joined with net neutrality activists to not only stop the tiered Internet but to push for treating the Internet as a common carrier where there would be equal access for all without discrimination.

We participated in a protest 8 days before the public meeting where the FCC would announce its new rule-making proceeding. At that protest, we announced we would sleep at the FCC until the meeting.

1ofcc2The first night we slept at the FCC by ourselves. That night, people visited us and the next day one person joined us, bringing the first tent. The media began to notice as we put up massive banners and lined the outside of the FCC with signs.The encampment started growing.

Every morning we stood by the garage and entrances to the FCC greeting everyone who worked there with message calling for net neutrality and reclassifying the Internet as a common carrier. FCC employees came out to thank us for standing up for net neutrality.

The encampment was supported by the Internet freedom movement. Groups like Fight for the Future, Free Press, Demand Progress and two dozen other organizations all worked together. The FCC began receiving thousands of phone calls, tens of thousands of emails and hundreds of thousands of petitions.

TIME Magazine reported the “eighth floor executive office has been thrown into chaos amid a mounting backlash that shut down its phone lines as a growing number of Open Internet advocates camp out in front of their office.” They reported Chairman Wheeler had to hold a meeting to lift the morale of the dispirited staff. The encampment was also covered in the Washington PostGuardian and other major outlets.

Fissures began to develop among corporations with the broadband providers and telecoms, e.g. Comcast, Verizon and AT&T supporting a tiered Internet, but all the content providerslike google, Facebook, Amazon and many others opposing it. Internet investors and start-ups came out on the side of net neutrality. As the pressure grew, three of the five FCC commissioners visited the camp, including the chair, Tom Wheeler.

A large protest bringing hundreds of people to the FCC was held the day of the public hearing to announce the rulemaking.

As the rule-making hearing began, three of us stood up and interrupted demanding “real net neutrality,” “reclassification as a common carrier” and protection of the Internet as the forum for Freedom of Speech in the 21st Century.

Major Breakthrough: FCC Includes Reclassification in Rulemaking Proceeding

At the meeting, Wheeler used rhetoric that sounded like he supported real net neutrality but proposed a rule that would have created a tiered Internet. But, the pressure had became so intense that Chairman Wheeler included the movement’s proposal: reclassifying the Internet as a common carrier under Title II and restoring net neutrality rules; along with his tiered Internet proposal. The FCC wanted comments on both options.

1dingoThe comments started to pour in. Thousands of people were commenting every day. The numbers grew rapidly.  Then on June 1, 2014, John Oliver of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, jumped in with a 13 minute monologue that explained net neutrality, described Comcast as behaving like a mafia shakedown and compared putting Chairman Wheeler in charge of the Internet as equivalent to a dingo babysitting. This spurred even more public comments.

The net neutrality movement continued to build. There were protests organized at FCC office’s all over the country, then protests at Comcast and Verizon officesprotests at Obama fundraisers and more protests at the FCC in Washington, DC. Popular Resistance produced a “musical protest” entitled “Which Side Are You On, Tom?” asking whether Tom Wheeler was with the people or the telecoms? For four weeks before the musical we leafleted the FCC, inviting employees, including Chairman Wheeler, to join us for the musical. We had heard so much thanks from FCC employees that we published an open letter thanking FCC employees for their support for net neutrality.

An online Internet Slowdown was held resulting in “2 million emails and nearly 300,000 calls (averaging 1,000 per minute) to Congress. On top of that, so many pro-Net Neutrality comments were filed (722,364 to be exact) that the FCC’s site broke (again).”

By the time the public comment period was coming to an end, net neutrality had become a bandwagon with so many comments it crashed the FCC’s system. In the end more than 3.7 million people had commented – by far the record number of comments on any FCC rulemaking. Analysis of the comments showed that 99% wanted net neutrality. The people had spoken clearly and loudly – they wanted an Internet free of discrimination, with equal access for all where broadband and telecom companies could not impact content.

1fccerrorWheeler Still Not Listening

Despite this overwhelming support for reclassification under Title II, Wheeler continued to try to find a way to satisfy Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and other telecoms and broadband providers. Rather than full reclassification and real net neutrality, Wheeler was urging a hybrid plan of partial reclassification which would continue to allow telecoms to negotiate special deals with corporations for different services.

Anger grew in the Internet community that the FCC was not listening to 3.7 million people and was putting the profits of a handful of corporations ahead of protecting the Internet. Various groups began to take action – when commissioners opposed to net neutrality held meetings, advocates for net neutrality were there, commissioners were invited to meetingsaround the country, FCC employees were called75,000 people told the White House to fireor  demote Wheeler, the White House was warned that the Democrats could lose the Internet vote and photos were posted showing support for net neutrality (submit yours!).

Pressure continued to grow. Rumors began to surface that the Obama administration was considering speaking out on the issue but that advisers were divided. To help them decide, a protests was held at the White House and in 30 cities across the country on November 6.

We learned that the greatest obstacle to net neutrality was the Chairman. We then decided that it was necessary to bring the message directly to Chairman Wheeler that he needed to listen to the people. As a former top lobbyist for the telecom and broadband industry, Wheeler needed to be reminded that he worked for the people now, not the telecoms. We decided to confront him at home and block his driveway.

As we turned the corner to his house, Wheeler was just coming out the door. Three of us jumped out of the car and sat in his driveway, our social media person got out and started filming, the rest of us joined quickly bringing signs to cover the front of his house.  Wheeler tried to engage us, initially posing for a photo-op in front of a Save The Internet sign. We told him this was not a photo-op for him but people telling him it was time to listen to the people. We sang to him: “Which side are you on, Tom. Are you with the people or with the telecoms?” We continued to make it clear that we wanted full reclassification, not hybrid plans as well as real net neutrality rules put in place.

President Obama Joins the Debate

President Obama Makes Personnel AnnouncementWhen Barack Obama ran for office he was outspoken in his support for the level playing field of the Internet. He spoke about how it was an engine for creativity in the economy and promised he would “not take a back seat” to anyone in protecting the Internet. His appointments as FCC chair have been disappointing as none have been advocates for net neutrality. When President Obama picked Tom Wheeler as chairman, someone who had been a major fundraiser during his campaigns and who had been a top lobbyist for the industry, there was concern in the net neutrality community.

Prior to November 10, President Obama had only modestly spoken in opposition to an Internet with fast lanes and slow lanes based on how much a corporation paid.  But two hours after we blockaded Wheeler’s driveway President Obama said everything we wanted him to say. He said it with specificity, not leaving himself any wiggle room for a political escape hatch.

President Obama called for reclassification of the Internet under Title II and putting in place net neutrality rules.  The president said:

“An open Internet is essential to the American economy, and increasingly to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known.

“‘Net neutrality’” has been built into the fabric of the Internet since its creation — but it is also a principle that we cannot take for granted. We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas. That is why today, I am asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to answer the call of almost 4 million public comments, and implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.”

He went on to give specific recommendations to the FCC on what was required.

That night we returned to Wheeler’s home but with a non-confrontational attitude. Things had changed dramatically since the morning blockade of his driveway, not only had the President come out strongly but others were joining the President’s call. The momentum had shifted and a national consensus was forming in favor of reclassification and net neutrality.  We gave his wife a bottle of wine with a note saying we were “looking for an Internet hero.” We greeted Wheeler when he returned home in a friendly manner and then talked about the national consensus and how the FCC needed to be part of it.

1ncta3We also said that if they did so, the movement would ensure Congress did not take action against the FCC. We began to shift our attention to the telecoms and broadband providers with a protest at the National Cable and Telecommunications Associationwhich Wheeler used to head, and now was run by Michael Powell the former FCC commissioner who made the mistake of reclassifying the Internet from a common carrier to an information service in 2002.

Shockingly, the Washington Post reported the next day that Chairman Wheeler was thinking of breaking with the president. Not only had Wheeler ignored millions of Americans who took the time to comment to the FCC, now he was going to ignore the President who appointed him to the position!

Fall 2014 082We had a series of escalating tactics planned to pressure Wheeler. We had put those aside when President Obama spoke out and momentum had shifted, but the Washington Post article pushed us to review those tactics and let him know that we were upset with the direction The Post reported he was considering.  We picked a relatively mild tactic, placing door knockers on the doors in his neighborhood with Tom Wheeler’s picture on them and letting neighbors know he was threatening the Internet.  This resulted in a strong response from the FCC.

Some press reports have clarified that Wheeler had not decided to break with the President, but had also not made a decision on reclassification yet. This was a nuanced distancing from The Post story, enough for us not to escalate further. While Wheeler has still not made it clear whether he will follow the views of millions of Americans and the President, we are watching closely and waiting to see the direction he goes.

Celebrate and Press On

On Thursday night, we joined with other net neutrality advocates in holding a#PartyAtTheFCC to celebrate how far we have come but also to build energy for the next phase of advocacy. We tried to invite the commissioners, but FCC security prevented it.

Despite rain and cold, the #PartyAtTheFCC went forward, along with parties in more than a dozen cities, ending with people in the FCC driveway chanting “Party at the FCC” and “Net Neutrality Now:”

We know we have not won yet, but we also know we are capable of winning. The battle for the future of the Internet has been engaged and the right solution – resclassification under Title II and putting in place strong net neutrality rules – has gone from being politically impossible to seemingly inevitable.

It is proof that even in a government corrupted by money, united and mobilized people who act strategically with creative tactics can win. Stay tuned and get ready to become engaged if things begin to turn the wrong way. Winning the battle for the future of the Internet is one that will impact each of us, and we all must take responsibility for it.

Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese are organizers with Popular Resistance, which provides daily movement news and resources. Sign up for their daily newsletter; and follow them on twitter, @PopResistance.

Vladimir Putin: The Global Financial Situation and Our Common Actions

November 16th, 2014 by President Vladimir Putin

Before the start of the G20 Leaders’ Summit, there was a meeting of BRICS heads of state and government.

Taking part in the meeting were President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and President of the South African Republic Jacob Zuma.

The Russian President invited all the participants to the BRICS Summit, which will take place in Ufa on July 8-9, 2015.

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, friends, colleagues.

It gives me great pleasure to greet you here. I have just recently visited the People’s Republic of China, were our Chinese friends hosted the APEC Summit. I would like to congratulate them on this. I think the Summit was organised on the highest level. We had some very frank conversations, and here we will have the opportunity to continue the conversations we began in Beijing.

I would like to say that I consider our meetings within the G20 framework to be very useful and important because they give us a chance to compare notes regarding the enormous flow of information and our positions on world trade, the global financial situation, our common actions to improve the situation in the global economy, giving consideration to the interests of the actively developing economies as well.   I would like to note in this connection that we are successfully implementing the decisions to create dedicated financial institutions within BRICS. Madam President [of Brazil Dilma Rouseff] referred to it earlier. We are finalising the creation of the Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, which were founded at the summit in Fortaleza. They have a significant total capital of $200 billion. This will provide us with common mechanisms capable of stabilising national capital markets in case of crisis situations in the global economy. Meanwhile, new joint lending opportunities will make it possible to expand our trade and economic ties.

It is important that ties between our five states are expanding in other areas as well. Thus, our cooperation in industry and technology is becoming more efficient. New joint projects have evolved in such areas as energy, mineral resources production and processing, agro-industry and high technology. We also share a common stand on information security and exchange experience in resolving acute social issues and in developing agriculture, education and science.

Friends and colleagues, in April 2015 Russia will take over the Presidency in BRICS. Our efforts will be directed at a further expansion of cooperation within our association. Russia is drafting a strategy for our economic partnership and an investment cooperation roadmap.

Friends, I would like to invite you all to the Russian city of Ufa on July 8-9, 2015 for another joint effort. We will prepare for the event together.

Libya: Ten Things About Gaddafi They Don’t Want You to Know

November 16th, 2014 by Global Research News

What do you think of when you hear the name Colonel Gaddafi? Tyrant? Dictator? Terrorist? Well, a national citizen of Libya may disagree but we want you to decide.

For 41 years until his demise in October 2011, Muammar Gaddafi did some truly amazing things for his country and repeatedly tried to unite and empower the whole of Africa.

So despite what you’ve heard on the radio, seen in the media or on the TV, Gaddafi did some powerful things that are not characteristic of a “vicious dictator” as portrayed by the western media.

Here are ten things Gaddafi did for Libya that you may not know about…

Muammar Gaddafi Libya

1. In Libya a home is considered a natural human right

In Gaddafi’s Green Book it states: ”The house is a basic need of both the individual and the family, therefore it should not be owned by others”. Gaddafi’s Green Book is the formal leader’s political philosophy, it was first published in 1975 and was intended reading for all Libyans even being included in the national curriculum.

2. Education and medical treatment were all free

Under Gaddafi, Libya could boast one of the best healthcare services in the Middle East and Africa.  Also if a Libyan citizen could not access the desired educational course or correct medical treatment in Libya they were funded to go abroad.

3. Gaddafi carried out the world’s largest irrigation project

The largest irrigation system in the world also known as the great manmade river was designed to make water readily available to all Libyan’s across the entire country. It was funded by the Gaddafi government and it said that Gaddafi himself called it ”the eighth wonder of the world”.

4. It was free to start a farming business

If any Libyan wanted to start a farm they were given a house, farm land and live stock and seeds all free of charge.

5. A bursary was given to mothers with newborn babies

When a Libyan woman gave birth she was given 5000 (US dollars) for herself and the child.

6. Electricity was free

Electricity was free in Libya meaning absolutely no electric bills!

7.  Cheap petrol

During Gaddafi’s reign the price of petrol in Libya was as low as 0.14 (US dollars) per litre.

8. Gaddafi raised the level of education

Before Gaddafi only 25% of Libyans were literate. This figure was brought up to 87% with 25% earning university degrees.

9. Libya had It’s own state bank

Libya had its own State bank, which provided loans to citizens at zero percent interest by law and they had no external debt.

10. The gold dinar

Before the fall of Tripoli and his untimely demise, Gaddafi was trying to introduce a single African currency linked to gold. Following in the foot steps of the late great pioneer Marcus Garvey who first coined the term ”United States of Africa”. Gaddafi wanted to introduce and only trade in the African gold Dinar  – a move which would have thrown the world economy into chaos.

The Dinar was widely opposed by the ‘elite’ of today’s society and who could blame them. African nations would have finally had the power to bring itself out of debt and poverty and only trade in this precious commodity. They would have been able to finally say ‘no’ to external exploitation and charge whatever they felt suitable for precious resources. It has been said that the gold Dinar was the real reason for the NATO led rebellion, in a bid to oust the outspoken leader.

So, was Muammar Gaddafi a Terrorist?

Few can answer this question fairly, but if anyone can, it’s a Libyan citizen who has lived under his reign? Whatever the case, it seems rather apparent that he did some positive things for his country despite the infamous notoriety surrounding his name. And that’s something you should try to remember when judging in future.

This quirky video documentary spells out an interesting, if rather different, story from the one we think we know.

 

Afghan Opium Production Hits All-Time High

November 16th, 2014 by Mike Whitney

2014 was a banner year for Afghanistan’s booming opium industry. According to a United Nations annual survey released on Wednesday, opium cultivation set a record in 2014, increasing by an impressive 7 percent year-over-year and up nearly 50 percent from 2012. Afghanistan presently produces 80 percent of the world’s heroin which provides billions of dollars in illicit profits for the powerful drug Mafia. Heroin trafficking and production have flourished under US military occupation and transformed Afghanistan into a dysfunctional narco-colony.

Readers who follow events in Afghanistan will recall that the Taliban had virtually eradicated poppy production before Bush and Cheney launched their war in 2001. The Pentagon reversed that achievement by installing the same bloodthirsty warlords who had been in power before the Taliban. Naturally, this collection of psychopaths–who the western media lauded as the “Northern Alliance”–picked up where they left off and resumed their drug operations boosting their own wealth and power by many orders of magnitude while meeting the near-insatiable demand for heroin in capitals across Europe and America.

In a Thursday article in the New York Times, Rod Nordland suggests that the recent uptick in production can be pinned on the Afghan presidential elections. Here’s what he says:

“The eight-month presidential and provincial elections…affected opium production not only in the increased demand by politicians for campaign cash, but also in diverting police and military resources to the elections and away from opium eradication.

Opium crop eradication decreased by 63 percent from 2013 to 2014, the report said. Such changes were seen in nearly all provinces where there were eradication efforts underway…

Andrey Avetisyan, a former Russian ambassador to Afghanistan and now the head of the United Nations drug agency here, said United Nations officials had met with (newly-elected President) Ashraf Ghani recently and were encouraged by his concern. He understood well that drug trafficking suffocates the normal economic development,” Mr. Avetisyan said. “We are quite optimistic.” (Afghan Opium Cultivation Rises to Record Levels, New York Times)

Think about how that for a minute. Nordland admits that production rose because of the “the increased demand by politicians for campaign cash”, but then he does an about-face and says that those same politicians (like new president Ashraf Ghani) support opium eradication. Does that make sense to you, dear reader? Is Nordland trying to say that Afghan politicians only support eradication when they don’t need money, but do a quick 180 when they do?

It’s worth noting that Washington’s new man in Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, received a Master’s degree from Columbia University, taught at Johns Hopkins University from 1983 to 1991, and joined the World Bank in 1991. In other words, he has the perfect pedigree for an aspiring sock puppet who will do whatever Washington tells him to do.

It’s also worth mentioning that Ghani signed a controversial security deal to allow US combat troops to stay in Afghanistan after the occupation formally ends. (US troops will also enjoy total immunity from prosecution.) Karzai refused to cave in on the issue, which made him persona non grata at the White House, but eager-to-please Ashraf signed the document the day after he was sworn into office. Here’s the scoop from the Washington Post:

“The United States and Afghanistan on Tuesday signed a vital, long-delayed security deal that will allow nearly 10,000 American troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond the final withdrawal of U.S. and international combat forces this year.

The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), and a separate pact signed with NATO, permit the continued training and advising of Afghan security forces, as well as counterterrorism operations against remnants of al-Qaeda. The signing of the documents comes as Taliban insurgents are increasing their attacks in an effort to regain control in anticipation of the combat troops’ departure.

The accord was signed a day after Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as Afghanistan’s new president in a power-sharing government, marking the first democratic hand­over of power in the nation’s history. Ghani’s predecessor, Hamid Karzai, who had presided over the country since shortly after the Taliban was driven from power in 2001, had refused to sign the agreement, souring relations with Washington.” (U.S. and Afghanistan sign vital, long-delayed security pact, Washington Post)

You can see why they love Ghani in Washington. The man is clearly prepared to bend over backwards to please his handlers at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

There’s no reason to think that Ghani is going to be any tougher on poppy growers or drug traffickers than Karzai. The whole thing is a joke. Besides, Ghani doesn’t have the resources to wage that kind of war. He can’t deploy combat units to burn the fields, or hunt down and bust the kingpins, or freeze the assets in suspect bank accounts. Only the US has that kind of power, and they’re not interested. According to the report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction:

“The recent record-high level of poppy cultivation calls into question the long-term effectiveness and sustainability of those prior efforts….Given the severity of the opium problem and its potential to undermine U.S. objectives in Afghanistan, I strongly suggest that your departments consider the trends in opium cultivation and the effectiveness of past counternarcotics efforts when planning future initiatives.” (CNN)

“Counternarcotics efforts”? What counternarcotics efforts? The US hasn’t lifted a finger to fight the ballooning drug trade in 14 years.

Show me one headline in the last decade where US agents rolled up even one big-name drug trafficker in Afghanistan? The Washington PR guys don’t even bother faking it with photos of captured kilos of heroin stacked a mile high or shady looking gangstas blindfolded and handcuffed doing the perp walk for the media. They don’t fake it, because they don’t care what the public thinks. In fact, they even shrugged off the UN report. The State Department issued a bland statement saying they were “disappointed”, while a spokesman for the Pentagon, Michael Lumpkin, opined, “In our opinion, the failure to reduce poppy cultivation and increase eradication is due to the lack of Afghan government support for the effort.”

Got that? In other words, blame Karzai. How’s that for accountability?

So what’s going on here? Is the US is really allowing an illicit multi-billion dollar industry to flourish right under its nose (without involvement of any kind) or is there a part of this story that’s missing from the headlines? Of course, that leads us to an area of speculation that the media considers taboo, the prospect that US intel agencies are somehow implicated. As journalist and author Alexander Cockburn pointed out some years ago:

“There are certain things you aren’t meant to say in public in America. … A prime no-no is to say …that the CIA’s complicity with drug dealing criminal gangs stretches from the Afghanistan of today back to the year the Agency was founded in 1947.” (Why They Hated Gary Webb, Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch)

Is that it? Is that why Afghanistan has emerged as the world’s biggest producer of heroin, because the CIA is somehow involved?

It seems quite likely, although I suspect it has less to do with greed than it does with policy. After all, the production and trafficking of narcotics helps the US achieve its strategic goals in Afghanistan, that is, to pacify the public, to maintain the loyalty of the warlords, and to open the country to resource extraction and military bases. As long as the warlords get their payola, the US is able to maintain some control over the hinterland beyond Kabul, which is a big part of the gameplan. Now check out this blurb from an article by Alexander Mercouris titled “The Empire of Chaos and the War on Drugs” which gives a brief history of the CIA’s involvement in the drug trade:

…during the French war in Indochina, the SDECE (French secret service) … turned to the French Connection to organise the heroin traffic, partly in order to fund its own operations against the Vietnamese Communists. After the French left, this operation was taken over by the CIA, with opium poppies grown and processed in the area now known as the Golden Triangle by CIA-backed Chinese drug lords associated with the anti-Communist Kuomintang movement, which had ruled China before the 1949 Communist takeover. The extent of collaboration between the US and the drug traffickers was so great that in the 1960s, the CIA was actually arranging flights to ship heroin from southeast Asia to the US.

The extent of CIA and SDECE collusion with the French Connection and with the Chinese drugs lords of southeast Asia was exposed in 1972 by the US historian Alfred W. McCoy in a seminal book The Politics of Heroin: CIA involvement in the Global Drug Trade (first edition 1973 and third edition 2003)…

The center of opium cultivation then switched to Afghanistan, where the same pattern reproduced itself. The major cultivators and traffickers of opium and heroin were assorted criminals and gangsters who made up a large proportion of the so-called Mujahidin, the Islamic jihadi insurgency which the CIA was supporting in the 1980s because they were fighting the Soviets. These criminals, of whom the most notorious is the Afghan warlord and drug trafficker Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, used the Soviet war in Afghanistan as a cover and protection for their criminal activities. Later many of these same people formed the core of the so-called Northern Alliance, which, together with the US, overthrew the Taliban in 2001 and formed the government that has ruled Afghanistan ever since. The Taliban had tried to eradicate opium cultivation and heroin trafficking. Following their overthrow, both resumed with a vengeance…

Many people are vaguely aware that cocaine production and trafficking took off in Columbia in the 1970s and 1980s at a time when the right-wing pro-US Columbian government was fighting a counterinsurgency war against a left-wing guerrilla movement known as the FARC and that this war continues to this day…

What even fewer people know is that, repeating the pattern of what happened in southeast Asia in the 1960s and in Afghanistan in the 1980s, what caused the Latin American cocaine trade to explode was the CIA’s involvement in it. In the 1980s the CIA formed an alliance with the Colombian drugs lords to support the Contras, the right-wing insurgency the CIA supported to overthrow the left wing Sandinista government in Nicaragua. With CIA encouragement, the Contras themselves became heavily involved in the cocaine trade, as did the various right-wing paramilitary groups the CIA was simultaneously supporting in El Salvador during the civil war there. The key transit corridor of these Colombian drugs was Mexico, where the individual who controlled the cocaine trade was Miguel Gallardo, a gangster who is now acknowledged to have been a CIA asset. Gallardo is the acknowledged godfather of all the various vicious Mexican drug cartels that have proliferated in Mexico ever since, which have reduced parts of the country to a state of virtual war…

The CIA’s admission of its role in creating the modern cocaine trade is little known and barely acknowledged in the US. A look at the present state of the heroin trade makes it grimly obvious that nothing has changed and that no lesson has been learned.” (The Empire of Chaos and the War on Drugs, Alexander Mercouris, Sputnik)

Do you see the pattern here? This isn’t about profits. It’s about crushing workers movements, leftist organizations, and any emerging grassroots group that threatens the plutocratic system of wealth distribution. To achieve that end, Washington would just as soon climb into bed with jihadis and Neo Nazis as they would with druglords and narco kingpins. In fact, they have!

The point is, Afghanistan’s bumper crop is not an accident. It’s a form of social control that fits with Washington’s broader strategic objectives of maintaining a permanent military presence in Central Asia and of opening up the country to resource extraction. The proliferation of drugs helps to keep the “little people” in line so the adults can get on with the business of looting.

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

If a soldier beat up or shot somebody, all he had to say – if he said anything at all – was that he felt threatened. As a result, our behaviour at war was completely unchecked. That’s why it was possible for American soldiers to decapitate Iraqis by means of machine-gun fire and then use their heads as objects of play.” -Joshua Key (2007) [1]

We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.” -Colonel Nathan Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson, from the fictional 1992 movie A Few Good Men.

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Veteran’s Tales

As noted in last week’s program, the myth of the soldier as guarantor of freedom and security for our fellow citizens has become wide-spread and reinforced in the imaginations of citizens, particularly in America, and lately in Canada.

We therefore see the “Support the Troops” monicker adorning bumpers and webpage banners.

Veterans’ Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies increasingly are, in the opinion of this author, becoming celebrations of the sacrifice of ‘heroic’ men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. These sentiments overwhelm any sense of regret about the tragedy of their loss and the resolve to put an end to such military conflicts so future generations of soldiers (and civilians) need not suffer the same gruesome fate.

Even on Canada Day 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his public remarks, chose not to mention scientific, medical, artistic or other such achievements, nor the creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, nor the debut of national projects such as publicly funded health care.

Instead he chose to focus almost exclusively on the accomplishments of our military personnel abroad, and the prowess of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Evidently, PM Harper seeks to transform Canada’s image away from the land of friendly ‘hosers’ to that of a Modern Day Sparta.

Not surprisingly then, this unthinking devotion to all things military has affected policy. It is fueling more US wars of aggression in the Middle East and prompting Canada’s enthusiastic support.

This week’s Global Research News Hour takes a close look at the toll war takes on the fighting men and women and particularly on the broader society. Critically, it examines the roots of the pro-war mentality that has gripped the imaginations of the people, and of the men in particular. This show also probes possible remedies that might potentially de-program members of the pro-war cult.

Both of the show’s two guests are veterans of the US Armed Forces, and have served in missions abroad. They are now staunch critics of US military adventurism.

Stan Goff began his military service in January, 1970 as an infantryman with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam. His service took him to seven more conflict areas after Vietnam, including Guatemala, Grenada, El Salvador, Peru, Colombia, Somalia, and Haiti. He retired as a Master Sergeant from the US Army in 1996. He has taught military science at the US Military Academy at West Point. Over the last decade he has published a number of articles and three books, including Sex and War, and Full Spectrum Disorder: The Military in the New American Century. He currently authors the blog Chasin’ Jesus. His latest book, Borderline – Reflections on War, Sex, and Church from Wipf and Stock (Cascade Books) is expected to be released in February of 2015.

 Joshua Key who hails out of Guthrie, Oklahoma was trained as a US combat engineer was dispatched to Iraq in April of 2003. He claims to have witnessed numerous instances of abuse of the Iraqi civilian population by US forces, which went unaddressed by commanding officers. He fled the war for reasons of conscience at the end of 2003, and with his then wife and children in tow, made his way across the border to Canada in early 2005. He has sought and been denied refugee status in that country. Remarried to a Canadian, he along with other Iraq War Resisters and deserters are ‘living in limbo’ waiting for deportation orders back to the US where they face the prospect of dishonorable discharge and lengthy prison sentences for the crime of desertion. Joshua Key is the author, along with Lawrence (Book of Negroes) Hill of The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier who Walked Away from the War in Iraq.

 

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The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

The show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at prn.fm. Listen in every Monday at 3pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3FM NEWTONS  during the Truth and Justice Radio Programming slot -Sundays at 7am ET.

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario –1  Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border. 

It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia Canada. – Tune in every Saturday at 6am.

CFRU 93.3FM in Guelph, Ontario. Tune in Wednesdays from 12am to 1am.

Notes

1)  Joshua Key (2007) ‘The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier who Walked Away from the War in Iraq’ p.216

 

In a joint press conference yesterday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his British counterpart David Cameron set a tone of confrontation for the G20 leaders summit due to start today in the Australian city of Brisbane. Both leaders zeroed in on Russia, bluntly accusing Moscow of expansionism, and, in the case of Cameron, threatening to impose further economic sanctions over Ukraine.

In the lead-up to the summit, Abbott had declared that he intended to “shirtfront”—that is, physically confront—Russian President Vladimir Putin over the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine. At this week’s APEC summit in Beijing, Abbott demanded a meeting with Putin at which he insisted—without providing any evidence—that Russia was responsible for the tragedy and called for an apology and compensation.

The Australian Prime Minister kept up the attack yesterday, accusing Putin of “trying to recreate the lost glories of tsarism or the old Soviet Union.” “Whether it’s bullying of Ukraine, whether it’s the increasing Russian military aircraft flying into the airspace of Japan or European countries, whether it’s the naval task force which is now in the South Pacific, Russia is being much more assertive,” he said.

British Prime Minister Cameron joined the attack. In a barely concealed comparison of Russia to Nazi Germany prior to World War II, he declared: “We have to be clear about what we’re dealing with here: it is a large state bullying a smaller state in Europe and we’ve seen the consequences of that in the past and we should learn the lessons of history and make sure we don’t let it happen again.”

Cameron said he intended to let Putin know in a “brush-by” meeting at the G20 summit that Russian actions were unacceptable. He bluntly warned that “if Russia continues to make matters worse [in Ukraine], we could see those sanctions increase. It is as simple as that.”

In a speech earlier yesterday in the Australian parliament, Cameron also took a swipe at China, attacking the idea that so-called “democracies” like Britain and Australia would be “out-competed and out-gunned by countries that believe there is a shortcut to success [via] a new model of authoritarian capitalism.”

Quite apart from the lies and distortions involved, the language employed, or perhaps more accurately deployed, by the two leaders was highly provocative. It was not the measured, nuanced language of diplomacy, but that of militarism, aggression and war. That is not to say that such words are never used at summits—behind closed doors. But in this case, it was out in the open, before the G20 leaders had even begun to formally meet.

The Australian government has billed this G20 summit as critical in establishing international cooperation to boost the global economy and create jobs. Treasurer Joe Hockey has boasted of setting the definite goal of an additional two percent GDP growth. The wall-to-wall media coverage of the summit in Brisbane has been accompanied by hours of breathless commentary and speculation on the outcomes to be expected.

In reality, all of the leaders jetting in to Brisbane understand that no agreement is going to be reached on economic cooperation, much less on meaningful action on climate change or any of the other myriad international issues being touted. In the five years since the G20 first met in the face of the 2008 global financial crisis, the world economy has been mired in an intractable breakdown, signalled today by acute financial instability, deepening economic slowdown and fears of further crises.

The limited economic cooperation of the first G20 meeting has been replaced by an increasingly open resort to the beggar-thy-neighbour policies accompanied by threats, provocations and the use of military force. So obvious are the antagonisms that today’s editorial in the Australian Financial Review commented: “Australia is hosting the G20 in a year when old-fashioned geopolitics has made a stunning return.”

As the G20 meets today, a small fleet of Russian naval vessels are being shadowed by Australian frigates and surveillance aircraft as well as American warships somewhere in international waters off the north-east Australian coast. Whatever the exact calculations of the Russian government, this show of force only compounds the already tense atmosphere at the summit.

However, the chief responsibility for rising geo-political tensions around the world lies with US imperialism, which has ratcheted up a confrontation with Russia by engineering the fascist-led coup in Ukraine in February and launching a new war in the Middle East, aimed primarily at ousting Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In a bid to impose its dictates on Moscow, Washington, in league with its European allies, has imposed sanctions on Russia that are crippling its economy.

Speaking to the TASS news agency yesterday, Putin made the obvious point that the sanctions “run counter to the very principle of G20 activities, and … to international law” and violated the principles of the WTO and GATT. “The United States itself created that organisation at a certain point. Now it is crudely violating its principles,” he declared.

Putin acknowledged that the sanctions were harming Russia which faced the prospect of “catastrophic fall” in energy prices on which its economy depended. Russia’s central bank is forecasting zero growth for next year, amid a falling rouble and share prices. But Putin warned that such measures would also impact on other economies, including the US and the EU. “Everyone must understand that the global economy and finance these days are exceptionally dependent on each other,” he said.

Putin’s appeals for greater economic cooperation are certain to fall on deaf ears. As the Russian president himself pointed out, the US is intent on establishing two agreements—one Transatlantic and the other Transpacific—that specifically exclude China, the world’s second largest economy, and Russia, which ranks ninth.

At the APEC summit this week in Beijing, Obama provocatively hosted a meeting of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) members that pointedly did not include the host nation. Obama is also waging what US economic analyst Fred Bergsten described to the Australian Financial Review as “Washington’s jihad” to undermine China’s plans for a regional infrastructure bank.

For the past five years, Obama has been engaged in a confrontational “pivot to Asia” aimed against China that was formally announced on the floor of the Australian parliament in November 2011. The American president will deliver a keynote speech in Brisbane today on American leadership in the Asia Pacific that will set the stage for a further escalation of tensions in the region.

US national security official Evan Medeiros told the media: “It will be his vision for what he wants to accomplish in the Asia-Pacific and the ways in which he will do it, covering diplomatic issues, economic issues, security issues, people-to-people issues.”

“It will be very forward-leaning,” Medeiros declared.

In other words, Obama will set out in unmistakeable terms an aggressive, all-embracing strategy for ensuring the predominance of US imperialism in Asia, through diplomatic provocation, economic bullying and preparations for war.

The CIA Won the Midterm Elections

November 15th, 2014 by Philip Giraldi

The wheels up party is a venerable CIA tradition, normally celebrated at overseas stations when a particularly incompetent Chief of Station or a hostile ambassador was in the process of permanently leaving post. The drinking would begin at a time estimated to coincide with the moment when the dearly departed’s aircraft lifted off from the tarmac on its way to Washington.

Wheels ups are rarer at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., though celebrations were reported when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in 1980; but as a number of senior officers in the Agency actually had a hand in that development, there was probably a measure of self-congratulation at a job well done.

One might well imagine that the partying began at Langley shortly after the polls closed last Tuesday, as soon as it became clear that there would be a GOP Senate majority. More to the point, Sen. Dianne Feinstein would be performing her own wheels up, relinquishing her position as Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) chair to be replaced by the little known Richard Burr of North Carolina. Burr is regarded by the Agency as a good friend, someone who had already staked out a position in favor of protecting government secrecy, stating “I personally don’t believe that anything that goes on in the intelligence committee should ever be discussed publicly.” He also basically supports the CIA position that torture produced information critical to the killing of Osama bin Laden, commenting that “The information that eventually led us to this compound was the direct result of enhanced interrogations…” Burr is regarded as a right-wing conservative and has earned the ultimate accolade of a zero rating from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Now some might argue that Feinstein herself did her best to preserve the executive branch’s right to assassinate Americans overseas, to spy secretly, set up black site prisons and to engage in other activities that are best not discussed in polite company. Many of these activities were carried out by the CIA, but Feinstein did draw the line at torture, which is one of the few illegal acts that the Obama administration credibly claims to be against, placing Feinstein on safe ground bureaucratically speaking. She only turned against the Agency when she learned that it had had the temerity to spy on the activity of her own committee.

In a recent speech made before the midterms, election Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper expressed his confidence that congressional moves to rein in National Security Agency spying had pretty much lost momentum. With Republicans now firmly in charge, remaining watered down measures are likely to die in committee.

And given the post electoral euphoria, does anyone inside the Beltway even remember the passionate debate over the SSCI report on CIA torture? The hotly contested issue of when or how to release the report, or sections of it, to the public is now as dead as the proverbial dodo—even if some heavily redacted version of the report summary does somehow emerge, particularly as the White House has effectively distanced itself from the entire process. The meticulously researchedSenate report, covering 6,700 pages and including 35,000 footnotes, apparently concluded that torturing terrorist suspects was not only illegal under the United Nations Convention on Torture, to which Washington is a signatory; it was also ineffective, producing no actionable intelligence that was otherwise unobtainable. The CIA is reportedly working on a rebuttal maintaining that the extreme measures were effective and has also been blocking “naming names” in the final document based on cover and other security concerns.

Since a “forgive and forget” forward-looking White House has already indicated that no one will ever be punished for illegal actions undertaken in the wake of 9/11, why is the torture issue important beyond the prima facie case that a war crime that was authorized by the highest levels of the federal government?

It is important because of its constitutional implications and its contravention of the principle of rule of law in the United States. The constitutional issue, in its simplest terms, is that the CIA works for the president, and when it operates without legally mandated oversight by the executive branch and judiciary, it makes the Agency little better than a secret army run by the POTUS.

Even conceding that Feinstein might have been proceeding with the best interests of the country in mind, the past 24 months of delay in the report’s release have demonstrated that the intel community, with the support of the White House, can stonewall any issue until the cows come home.

It has been suggested that the Agency is trying to avoid the inclusion in any released summaries any blame or suggestion of “mission failure” which would potentially affect budgets and broader Agency political interests, but some of us who were once in CIA suspect that the report includes information that might be much more damaging, to include really nasty details, possibly identifying many more deaths under interrogation than have been previously admitted. Former CIA General Counsel John Rizzo has suggested in a recent interview that some “lethal” proposals for retaliatory action made post 9/11 were “chilling,” though he refused to describe them in any detail. When Feinstein was railing at the Agency stonewalling there was genuine concern at Langley that a new Church Commission going through the CIA’s dirty laundry might well be the result, leading to more legal restrictions on clandestine activity.

So the downfall of the Democrats did indeed provide cause for celebration. If the Dom Perignon was flowing on the seventh floor at CIA Headquarters and its counterparts working for Clapper, it is partly because they had obtained a get out of jail free card. But more important, they now also have every expectation of seeing recent budget cuts linked to drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan reversed and possibly even go the other way. Currently $67.9 billion is spent on civilian and military spying, down 15 percent since 2010, but Burr is on record as favoring more spending on defense, and as much of the intelligence budget is rolled into the massive Pentagon bill one hand will likely be washing the other, as the Italians would put it.

The grounds for such a reversal of fortune has been well prepared by the intelligence community’s persistent overhyping of what Clapper refers to as a “perfect storm” of “diverse” threats currently confronting the United States, most notably ISIS and associated groups together with the manufactured crisis in Ukraine. And it comes at the time when the government’s bete noire Edward Snowden has weakened the capability to strike back. The White House and mainstream media have taken their lead from the intelligence community, convincing the public that radical Islam and Moscow are at it again, requiring a return to post-9/11 thinking. All of which means that the gravy train has again arrived at Washington’s Union Station.

What goes on in Washington committees would be comic opera or even institutionalized buffoonery but for the fact that there are real world consequences. If torture is not discredited as a tool for national security it will undoubtedly be used again in the wake of another terrorist attack, further damaging U.S. credibility and inevitably distancing Washington from its actual and potential allies. The Republican effort to scuttle negotiations with Iran might also feature an intelligence sidebar. Incoming House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has already announced his intention to look into any involvement of the Agency in secret negotiations with Iran being conducted by the White House. He wants to discredit the process by claiming that the intelligence role had not been acknowledged in oversight briefings before his committee, suggesting that the Obama administration was covering up and is heading towards a bad deal with Tehran.

And so it goes. Feeble congressional attempts to rein in and establish some accountability relating to the out-of-control intelligence community are now dead. Worse still, the likely acceptance of a GOP perception that the United States is experiencing a national security failure as it confronts a broad array of intractable foreign threats fits in neatly with the Clapper warning about a “perfect storm.” Budgets will rise and concerns over extraordinary measures being used to confront the menace will be placed on the back burner. How long will it be before we again start referring to the “global war on terror?”

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

Obama’s ‘Hot Anti-Wall Street Rhetoric’?

November 15th, 2014 by Peter Hart

With that midterm election out of the way, media are spending even more time talking about the 2016 presidential race. And one of the themes is how Hillary Clinton will create distance from the Obama administration’s record.

Along those lines, Politico has a piece (11/11/14) by William Cohan that lays out a strong case that Wall Street (and its money) is more excited about her than Obama. But Politico falls down when it tries to argue that that Obama has been unusually  tough on Wall Street.

Under the headline “Why Wall Street Loves Hillary,” Cohan lays out a pretty persuasive case that the finance industry has strong feelings for Clinton. The implication is that they don’t feel so close to Obama, and there’s evidence to bear this one: He took in far less in campaign donations from Goldman Sachs in 2012 than he did in 2008.

The problem with Politico‘s analysis is how it miscasts Obama’s approach to Wall Street:

 During a speech last December at the Conrad Hotel, in New York, her message could not have been more different from Obama’s hot, anti-Wall Street rhetoric: “We all got into this mess together, and we’re all going to have to work together to get out of it.”

It’s not totally unusual to read about Obama’s supposedly tough rhetoric. But what are they really talking about? Cohan tries to spell it out here:

By 2009 the bloom was off the rose. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Obama not only referred to Wall Street as the “fat cat bankers” but also blamed Wall Street for causing the financial crisis. “People on Wall Street still don’t get it,” he said. In July 2010, just weeks after a much-vilified Goldman agreed to pay a $550 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission–then the largest fine ever–to settle charges stemming from Goldman’s underwriting and selling of a synthetic collateralized debt obligation, the details about which the SEC believed Goldman had failed to properly disclose to investors, Obama joked at the White House Correspondents Dinner: “All of the jokes here tonight are brought to you by our friends at Goldman Sachs. So you don’t have to worry–they make money whether you laugh or not.”

So the evidence is Obama making a comment on 60 Minutes and apparently blaming Wall Street for the economic collapse. But while financiers would no doubt rather be referred to as “entrepreneur/philanthropists” than as “fat cat bankers”–a phrase that did not become a regular part of Obama’s vocabulary–there is little doubt that Wall Street does in fact deserve a major share of blamefor the financial meltdown. It’s peculiar to classify a commonplace observations about the world as “hot rhetoric.”

And there’s the fact that Obama made a joke about Goldman Sachs’ profitability–at a dinner where presidents make jokes!–right after the company just paid out a massive settlement for the kind of behavior that helped fuel the economic collapse.

In other words, this is not exactly a strong case. And the weird thing is, several paragraphs later, the Politico piece admits as much, in its own way:

Where Obama blamed Wall Street—not inaccurately—for behavior that caused the 2008 financial crisis and championed new Wall Street regulations like the Volcker Rule and the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that really stick in the craw of money men—all while presiding over a veritable profit boon for the financial industry—Clinton said hardly a word on the topic of Wall Street shenanigans.

So it’s not that Obama was right to say that Wall Street crashed the economy; to Politico, he was “not inaccurate.”

The story here, of course, is that Wall Street sees Hillary Clinton more favorably than Obama–something you may have read about it this summer in the New York Times (7/7/14). But Politico shouldn’t therefore suggest that Obama has been especially tough on them, rhetorically or otherwise.

UPDATE: The bigger question, of course, is not Obama’s rhetoric, but his actions–most notably his administration’s failure to hold Wall Street executives responsible for the widespread fraud that helped bring down the economy, and his appointment of financial industry alums like Lawrence Summers and Jack Lew to key economic posts.

The Pentagon is “certainly considering” sending US ground troops into Iraq for inevitably bloody battles to retake Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and to secure the predominantly Sunni Anbar province and its border with Syria, the top uniformed US commander told a Congressional hearing Thursday.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed the House Armed Services Committee barely one week after the Obama administration ordered the doubling of the number of US troops deployed in Iraq, with another 1,500 “advisers” being sent into the country, most of them to embattled Anbar province.

With the new US war in the Middle East now in its fourth month, there is every indication that this was only the first in what will prove a series of military escalations as Washington pursues a strategy that extends well beyond the stated aim of “degrading and destroying” ISIS.

Dempsey urged “strategic patience” in what he described as a “complex and long-term undertaking.” He said that he did not support the US intervening to fight the war itself with the kind of “large military contingent” deployed in the previous Iraq war, unless a series of US “assumptions are rendered invalid.”

These include the consolidation of an “inclusive” government in Baghdad and the development of the Iraqi Security Forces to the extent that they are capable of taking back the areas of Anbar and Nineveh province that were overrun by ISIS.

Neither of these “assumptions” is by any means certain. The Iraqi government remains dominated by Shia sectarian parties, and Shia militias have been responsible for the bulk of the advances made against ISIS, which have been accompanied by attacks on the Sunni civilian population and episodes of “ethnic cleansing” to drive Sunnis out of villages near Shia population centers. Such military victories, won with the backing of US air strikes, have only served to deepen the sectarian divisions in Iraq and strengthen the Sunni resistance, which was the central element in facilitating the ISIS offensive.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi military remains largely in disarray, despite recent sackings of dozens of generals and other senior officers by the new government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. A classified assessment of the state of the Iraqi military conducted by the Pentagon in July concluded that barely half the existing units were even fit to be trained by US “advisers.” It warned, moreover, that many units were infiltrated by both Sunni militants and Shia militiamen, raising a distinct threat that US personnel training them could come under the kind of “insider” attacks that became commonplace in Afghanistan.

Dempsey spoke in terms of “80,000 competent” Iraqi troops being needed to defeat ISIS in Iraq. In their absence, he suggested, US forces could be called upon to fill the breach.

Further emphasizing the fraud of President Barack Obama’s pledge that the new war in the Middle East would not see American “boots on the ground,” the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Buck McKeon, warned that he would kill any legislation authorizing the use of military force in Iraq and Syria that included a proscription on the use of US combat troops.

“I will not support sending our military into harm’s way with their arms tied behind their backs,” he said.

In questioning Dempsey, McKeon demanded, “How can you successfully execute the mission you’ve been given to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL (ISIS) when some of your best options are taken off the table?”

The administration, which is seeking congressional approval of $5.6 billion in funding for the new war, has reversed its earlier stand that it did not need a congressional vote on the war itself and has indicated that it will seek an Authorization of the Use of Military Force (AUMF) along the lines of those passed in 2001 and 2003, paving the way to over a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, as it escalates the US-led war in Iraq, the Obama administration is reportedly also debating a shift in its strategy in neighboring Syria to further regime change, i.e., bringing down the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Wrestling with the inherent contradictions in its new war—which is ostensibly directed against ISIS, whose advances were made possible by the arms and aid provided by Washington and its regional allies to it and other Islamist-led militias—the administration has reportedly concluded that its stated policy of “Iraq first” and then Syria is no longer tenable.

The limited US air strikes that have been conducted in Syria, outside of the attacks on ISIS fighters seeking to overrun the Kurdish town of Kobani on the Turkish border, have been directed at both ISIS targets and those of the Al Nusra Front, which is the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda. They have apparently had the unintended effect of bringing together these two Islamist factions, which had previously been at each other’s throats, while weakening their supposedly more “moderate” US-backed Sunni militias opposed to the Assad regime.

Together these two Islamist factions, which reportedly reached a unity pact last week, constitute the bulk—and by far the most combat effective—of the forces opposed to Assad. They recently routed US-backed factions like the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and the Hazm Movement, large sections of which defected along with their US-supplied arms to Al Nusra.

According to CNN, the White House has convened a series of meetings of national security principals on the crisis in Syria and has concluded that, “ISIS may not be defeated without a political transition in Syria and the removal of President Bashar al-Assad.”

In part, according to the report, the administration is responding to mounting pressure from its regional allies, particularly Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States—backers of the Islamist militias in Syria, whose main interest is the overthrow of Assad.

“Among the options being discussed are a no-fly zone on the border with Turkey and accelerating and expanding the Pentagon program to vet, train and arm the moderate opposition,” according to CNN.

The imposition of a no-fly zone, which has been demanded by Turkey, would entail an intense US bombing campaign to knock out Syria’s air force and air defenses, turning the new Middle East intervention into a direct war on Syria.

Even as the White House and the Pentagon prepare for a major escalation of the war in the Middle East, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel Friday announced that a review of the US nuclear war arsenal had concluded that billions more must be spent to ensure that US nuclear weapons are “safe, secure and effective.”

The review, initiated following a series of scandals involving cheating and drug use by missile launch crews and misconduct by the nuclear war force’s most senior commanders, concluded that a 10 percent increase is needed in the $15-16 billion budget for the nuclear force over each of the next five years.

Pentagon officials claimed that the nuclear arsenal had been neglected because of 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The turn to modernize the nuclear war force is being carried out in the context of US military provocations against both Russia and China and points to the growing danger of a nuclear Third World War.

Several environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State and Secretary John Kerry over the permitting of a controversial border-crossing northern leg of a pipeline system that DeSmogBlog has called Enbridge‘s “Keystone XL Clone.”

The Keystone XL Clone is designed to accomplish the same goal as TransCanada‘s Keystone XL: bringing Alberta’s tar sands to Gulf coast refineries and export market. It consists of three legs: the Alberta Clipper expansion as the northern leg, the Flanagan South middle leg and the Seaway Twin southern leg.

Green groups have called the northern leg an “illegal scheme”because the Enbridge Alberta Clipper expansion proposal didn’t go through the normal State Department approval process. Instead, State allowed Enbridge to add pressure pumps to two separate-but-connected pipelines on each side of the border and send Alberta’s diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) to market.

Enbridge dodged a comprehensive State Department environmental review, which involves public hearings and public commenting periods. The groups say this is illegal under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and have demanded a re-do for Enbridge’s application process.

“The only thing worse than dirty oil is dirty oil backed by dirty tricks. This is the fossil fuel equivalent of money laundering,” Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. “The Obama administration should be ashamed of itself for letting Enbridge illegally pump more dirty tar sands oil into the United States.”

The maneuver has a key beneficiary: former Obama Administration Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner, who now serves as President of the private equity giant Warburg Pincus.

Geithner’s connection to the lawsuit not only adds intrigue, but also reveals the purpose of Enbridge’s Keystone XL Clone: an export fast-track to the global market.

Timothy Geithner, MEG Energy, Warburg Pincus

Geithner departed as Secretary of the Treasury in January 2013 and in November of that year, Warburg Pincus named Geithner president of the firm. He assumed the role beginning March 2014 — a natural transition given theWarburg family played a key role in the creation of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank.

But what do Geithner and Warburg Pincus have to do with any of this?

Enter tar sands production company MEG Energy. Bloomberg data shows that Warburg Pincus owns a 16.88 percent stake in MEG, the largest equity owner of the company by percentage.

MEG Energy, which went public in 2010 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, owns the Christina Lake Project, the Surmont Project and other prospective tar sands production land lease holdings.

Beyond owning tar sands production projects, MEG has a contract to send its tar sands through Enbridge’s Keystone XL Clone pipeline system, according to a recent article published in the Globe and Mail.

“MEG has booked capacity for 25,000 barrels a day on the [Flanagan South] pipeline, due to start up in early December, with potential to boost shipments to 100,000 b/d over time,” wrote Global and Mail reporter Jeffrey Jones.

A document posted on the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) website confirms the contractual relationship between MEG and Enbridge. It began in December 2011, a month before President Obama kicked the can down the road on making a decision on Keystone XL’s northern leg.

“MEG…contracted with Enbridge…to ship crude oil on Enbridge’s Gulf Coast Access Project for service from Flanagan, Illinois to Cushing, Oklahoma and on to the Texas Gulf Coast, pursuant to an executed Transportation Services Agreement (MEG TSA),” reads the FERC document.

MEG and Tar Sands Exports

On MEG’s quarter three investor call, the company said it is considering applying for a permit to export tar sands from the Gulf coast.

“We certainly are looking at those types of things. We are well positioned,” Bill McCaffery, CEO of MEG Energy, said on the earnings call. He also noted that MEGhas achieved record quarterly tar sands production rates.

“If you take the Flanagan/Seaway combination, obviously it lands us in Houston area and obviously you can move to other built areas…We have not applied that at this stage, but we are evaluating that,” McCaffery continued.

Enbridge also has skin in the tar sands export game via its subsidiary Tidal Energy Marketing and has already exported tar sands crude to Italy and Spain. Enbridge received a permit from the U.S. government to export “limited quantities” of tar sands crude this past spring.

Enterprise Products Partners, the co-owner of the Seaway Twin pipeline with Enbridge, also is a player in the oil exports game.

In June, the Obama Administration issued a permit to Enterprise to export oil condensate originating from the Eagle Ford Shale basin, the first U.S. unrefined oil product exported from the U.S. in over four decades.

“State Department Oil Services”

When 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, DeSmogBlog referred to the State Department’s backroom wheeling and dealing done on behalf of TransCanada and the proposed KeystoneXL pipeline as “State Department Oil Services.”

It now appears Enbridge has taken a lesson from TransCanada’s playbook, with Geithner’s Warburg Pincus chomping at the bit for dilbit to flow through Enbridge’s Keystone XL Clone and to the global market.

“[T]he State Department must stop turning a blind eye to Big Oil schemes to bypass U.S. laws and nearly double the amount of corrosive, carbon-intensive tar sands crude it brings into our country,” said Michael Bosse, Sierra Club deputy national program director, in a press release. “Enbridge has been allowed to play by their own rules…at the expense of our water, air, and climate.”

Watch the animation created by Mark Fiore for DeSmogBlog in 2012 about Hillary Clinton’s State Department Oil Services:

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Price Rigging and Financial Corruption. A Global House Of Cards

November 15th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

As most Americans, if not the financial media, are aware, Quantitative Easing (a euphemism for printing money) has failed to bring back the US economy. 

So why has Japan adopted the policy?  Since the heavy duty money printing began in 2013, the Japanese yen has fallen 35% against the US dollar, a big cost for a country dependent on energy imports.  Moreover, the Japanese economy has shown no growth in response to the QE stimulus to justify the rising price of imports.

Despite the economy’s lack of response to the stimulus, last month the Bank of Japan announced a 60% increase in quantitative easing–from 50 to 80 trillion yen annually.

Albert Edwards, a strategist at Societe Generale, predicts that the Japanese printing press will drive the yen down from 115 yen to the dollar to 145.

This is a prediction, but why risk the reality? What does Japan have to gain from currency depreciation? What is the thinking behind the policy?

An easy explanation is that Japan is being ordered to destroy its currency in order to protect the over-printed US dollar.  As a vassal state, Japan suffers under US political and financial hegemony and is powerless to resist Washington’s pressure.

The official explanation is that, like the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan professes to believe in the Phillips Curve, which associates economic growth with inflation.  The supply-side economic policy implemented by the Reagan administration disproved the Phillips Curve belief that economic growth was inconsistent with a declining or a stable rate of inflation.  However, establishment economists refuse to take note and continue with the dogmas with which they are comfortable.

In the US QE caused inflation in stock and bond prices as most of the liquidity provided went into financial markets instead of into consumers’ pockets.  There is more consumer price inflation than the official inflation measures report, as the measures are designed to under-report inflation, thereby saving money on COLA adjustments, but the main effect of QE has been unrealistic stock and bond prices.

The Bank of Japan’s hopes are that raw material and energy import prices will rise as the exchange value of yen falls, and that these higher costs will be passed along in consumer prices, pushing up inflation and stimulating economic growth.  Japan is betting its economy on a discredited theory.

The interesting question is why financial strategists expect the yen to collapse under QE, but did not expect the dollar to collapse under QE.  Japan is the world’s third largest economy, and until about a decade ago was going gangbusters despite the yen rising in value. Why should QE affect the yen differently from the dollar?

Perhaps the answer lies in the very powerful alliance between the US government and the banking/financial sector and on the obligation that Washington imposes on its vassal states to support the dollar as world reserve currency.  Japan lacks the capability to neutralize normal economic forces.  Washington’s ability to rig markets has allowed Washington to keep its economic house of cards standing.

The Federal Reserve’s announcement that QE is terminated has improved the outlook for the US dollar.  However, as Nomi Prins makes clear, QE has not ended, merely morphed.

The Fed’s bond purchases have left the big banks with $2.6 trillion in excess cash reserves on deposit with the Fed.  The banks will now use this money to buy bonds in place of the Fed’s purchases.  When this money runs out, the Fed will find a reason to restart QE. Moreover, the Fed has announced that it intends to reinvest the interest and returning principle from its $4.5 trillion in holdings of mortgage backed instruments and Treasuries to continue purchasing bonds. Possibly also, interest rate swaps can be manipulated to keep rates down. So, despite the announced end of QE, purchases will continue to support high bond prices, and the high bond prices will continue to encourage purchases of stocks, thus perpetuating the house of cards.

As Dave Kranzler and I (and no doubt others) have pointed out, a stable or rising dollar exchange value is the necessary foundation to the house of cards.  Until three years ago, the dollar was losing ground rapidly with respect to gold.  Since that time massive sales of uncovered shorts in the gold futures market have been used to drive down the gold price.

That gold and silver bullion prices are rigged is obvious. Demand is high, and supply is constrained; yet prices are falling.  The US mint cannot keep up with the demand for silver eagles and has suspended sales. The Canadian mint is rationing the supply of silver maple leafs. Asian demand for gold, especially from China, is at record levels.

The third quarter, 2014, was the 15th consecutive quarter of net purchases of gold by central banks. Dave Kranzler reports that in the past eight months, 101 tonnes have been drained from GLD, an indication that there is a gold shortage for delivery to physical purchasers.  The declining futures price, which is established in a paper market where contracts are settled in cash, not in gold, is inconsistent with rising demand and constrained supply and is a clear indication of price rigging by authorities.

The extent of financial corruption involving collusion between the mega-banks and the financial authorities is unfathomable.  The Western financial system is a house of cards resting on corruption.

The house of cards has stood longer than I thought possible. Can it stand forever or are there so many rotted joints that some simultaneous collection of failures overwhelms the manipulation and brings on a massive crash?  Time will tell.

Since publication of this article, we have received information to the effect that the photo is unconfirmed and was intended to create confusion. (M. Ch. GR Editor)

According to information obtained from the email of George Bilt, a former MIT alumni and aviation expert for more than 20 years, the Malaysian Boeing 777 flight #MH17 Amsterdam – Kuala-Lumpur, which tragically collapsed on July 17, 2014, was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet chasing it.

The email was sent a few days ago attention to the Russian Union of Engineers which published a preliminary Incident Report on MH17 this August.

“I fully agree with the results of your analysis of the causes of Boeing catastrophe. It was shot down by a fighter jet.”

– wrote the author who presented himself as George Bilt.

The assertion was supported by a space photo made presumably by a US or UK spy satellite at the moment of attack around 13:20 UTC on July 17, 2014.

Russian Channel 1 has released satellite images edivencing that Malaysian Boeing MH17 (top of picture) was shot down by a Ukrainian warplane (bottom left).

Russian Channel 1 has released satellite images edivencing that Malaysian Boeing MH17 (top of picture) was shot down by a Ukrainian warplane (bottom left).

The picture, which clearly shows the launch from the left wing fighter exactly the cockpit, was attached to the e-mail. The landscape, weather, aircraft sizes on picture are fully consistent with the circumstances of the accident.

Ivan Andrievsky, the first Vice-President of the Russian Union of Engineers comments:

“Here is a space picture taken from a low orbit. According to the coordinates specified in the picture, we can assume that it was taken by a US or British spy satellite. We conducted a detailed analysis of the image and there was no sign of a fake here.”

On July 21 the head of Main Directorate for Operations of the HQ of Russia’s Armed Forces, Lieutenant-General Andrey Kartopolov stated that according to the data of objective control a Ukraine Air Force military jet SU-25 was detected moments before the downfall of Boeing.

RELEVANT VIDEO:

U.S. President Barack Obama’s operation (click on this for the documentation) to exterminate pro-Russian voters in Ukraine, was discussed back in July by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chief foreign affairs advisor, Sergei Glazyev, in an interview by Alyona Berezovskaya, of this website: http://en.ukraina.ru/editor/20140717/1010844100.html

U.S. news-media have not been reporting about the U.S.’s hiring nazi (otherwise known as racist-fascist) Ukrainian politicians, and nazi mercenaries, in order to eliminate the residents in Ukraine’s southeast, where the people had in 2010 voted at around 90% for the very same man whom the Obama Administration overthrew in a violent Kiev coup on February 22nd of this year.

So, let’s now see whether U.S. news-media will report (even this belatedly — it’s already four months) on the Russian Government’s view about this important matter.

Here is the key portion of Glazyev’s interview, in which the Russian Government, essentially, presents its view of Obama’s ethnic-cleansing program in Ukraine, to get rid of Moscow-friendly voters in Ukraine

A.B. The war between the United States and Novorossiya is getting more intense. The Pentagon has announced weapons deliveries to the Ukrainian punishers, while accusing Russia of delivering weapons to the self-defense forces. Does this mean that the US has a right to officially deliver weapons and finance the punitive forces and ulra-nationalists? How should Russia react to this?

S. G. The main task that the American puppet masters have set for the junta is to draw Russia into a full-scale war with Ukraine. It is for this purpose that all of these heinous crimes are committed – to force Russia to send troops to Ukraine to protect the civilian population, which has been fleeing to Russia in the hundreds of thousands and begging for help. Naturally, Russia can’t remain indifferent. Therefore, the American supervisors of the Ukrainian Nazis call far escalation of violence and more victims. Heavy artillery is used against women and children. People are trapped in blockaded cities without water and food. Some cities are facing a real famine. In other words, genocide is being committed on orders from America to force Russia to interfere and protect the civilian population, the same ethnic Russians and Ukrainians, living on the other side of the border. And I should say that the public pressure provoked by these tragic events is very high.

A.B. Many politicians and experts believe that America needs this war to cleanse the territory for shale gas production in the future. It’s a well known fact that major shale gas deposits are located in the Donetsk People’s Republic. Today, we are witnessing the cleansing of Donbas. Those who refused to leave for Russia will be killed or put in filtration camps.

S.G. The war has been provoked to destroy the Russian World, to draw Europe into it, and to surround Russia with hostile countries. Unleashing this world war, America is trying to deal with its own internal problems, which are much more serious than shale gas or a Ukrainian gas pipeline.

A. B. A war for the sake of war? Shouldn’t there be a financial interest?

S. G. The bankruptcy of the US financial system, which is unable to service its foreign debt, the lack of investments to finance a breakthrough to a new technological order and to maintain America’s competitiveness, and the potential defeat in the geopolitical competition with China. To resolve these problems, Americans need a new world war. Using Ukrainian ultra-nationalists as a tool to unleash this war, they are not facing any risk, since they are killing Ukrainians with the hands of the Ukrainians. Pushing the two largest countries of the Russian world against each other, they are trying to destroy and weaken Russia, causing it to fragment, as they need this territory and want to establish control over this entire space. We have offered cooperation from Lisbon to Vladivostok, whereas they need control to maintain their geopolitical leadership in a competition with China. Nazis are their main instrument. They have been training them for decades. It’s a well known fact that following the liberation of Ukraine from the fascists, hundreds of thousands of Banderites and their families fled to America and Canada. They served as a basis for cultivating an aggressive Ukrainian Nazism. It was then exported to Ukraine and today we see American agents in power, who are using ultra-nationalists to foment a new world war against Russia.

A. B. If it is so obvious, and Russian authorities understand that the current leaders in Ukraine are US agents, being used to destabilized the situation around Russia and undermine Russian statehood, should Moscow engage in a dialogue with Kyiv?

S.G. The fact is that not everyone in Moscow understands the essence of the tragic events in Ukraine. People always try to avoid complications, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work. Despite the willingness to hold peaceful negotiations and to stop the killings, it’s not working, as you can see. This has to do with the fact that the real president of Ukraine is not Petro Poroshenko, but the US ambassador in Kyiv.

Closing note: He is referring there to Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine, taking instruction from Victoria Nuland of President Obama’s State Department (who takes instruction from John Kerry who takes instruction from Barack Obama), regarding whom he must choose to lead the post-coup Ukrainian Government. A detailed transcript and explanation of that 4 February 2014 conversation between Pyatt and Nuland can be seen here.

Of course, the fact that the man who would be appointed 18 days later to run Ukraine was being selected during this momentous phone-conversation was ignored there. U.S. ‘news’ media could not deny that this phone-conversation took place, because even the White House now essentially acknowledged that it was authentic. So, instead, U.S. ‘news’ media just ignored the import of what was being said in this history-making conversation — the conversation that led to the ethnic-cleansing campaign that’s now going on (which U.S. ‘news’ media likewise are ignoring). How much longer will this cover-up by America’s press continue?

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010.

Ebola Vaccines and Drugs: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

November 15th, 2014 by Global Research News

by Case About Bird Flu

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Ebola vaccines and drugs that cover whether they are clinically proven to be safe and effective, whether you can be compelled to take them, whether you will be entitled to damages if you suffer adverse events reactions, when the vaccines and drugs will be available, which pharmaceutical companies and military organizations are developing them, where Ebola comes from and how severe the Ebola outbreak is.

The Ebola vaccines and drugs

Q. Are there any safe and effective Ebola vaccines available?

A. No. “At present, there are no safe or effective vaccines, nor readily available efficacious drugs that can treat the disease,” according to a Norwegian Institute of Public Health Discussion Note on Ebola dated October 21, 2014. (

http://news.sciencemag.org/sites/default/files/Norway_submission_WHO_EVD_23Oct2014.pdf

Experimental treatments such as Zmapp and Brincidofovir have been given to a few Ebola patients with mixed results. Other experimental approaches, such as Serum from recovered Ebola patients, have been tried out successfully following efforts dating back to a 1995 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Q. Have clinical trials ever been performed on Ebola vaccines?

A. Yes. Prior to 2014 all Ebola vaccine trials were discontinued. The three most recent Ebola vaccine trials were suspended, terminated or withdrawn in phase 1 of clinical trails.

http://news.sciencemag.org/sites/default/files/Norway_submission_WHO_EVD_23Oct2014.pdf

Q. What is phase 1 of clinical trials?

A. Phase 1 is the earliest phase of clinical trials where basic safety is tested. Traditional clinical trials involve three phases.

Q. Is it something I should worry about if every one of the most recent Ebola vaccine trials using the traditional clinical trials approach was terminated in phase 1?

A. Yes. The most recent Ebola vaccine developed by the US Department of Defense and Tekmira Pharmaceuticals – TKM-100802 for Injection; Drug: Placebo– was suspended over safety concerns

http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT02041715

Q: What kind of Ebola vaccines will there be?

A: There are two leading Ebola vaccines candidates. The first one is an Ebola “ChAd3” vaccine. This is developed by scientists from Okairos, a Swiss-Italian biotechnology company owned by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. It uses a cold virus that infects chimpanzees and a Zaire Ebola virus.

The second one is called an Ebola “rVSV” vaccine. It uses a vesicular stomatitis virus, which causes a mouth disease in cattle and Ebola . It was developed by the Canadian government and licensed to NewLink Genetics in Ames, Iowa.

There are also Rabies and Ebola vaccines and an Ebola and Marburg nasal vaccine in the pipeline along with several other vaccine candidates which may be ready in 2015

http://news.sciencemag.org/sites/default/files/Norway_submission_WHO_EVD_23Oct2014.pdf

Q. How much time will the new Ebola vaccines and drugs be in development?

A. GSK’s Ebola “ChAd3” vaccine could wrap up a five-week clinical trial in humans in November 2014, enter field trials shortly after and be ready for wide distribution early in 2015.

http://www.dddmag.com/articles/2014/09/two-anti-ebola-vaccines-historic-race

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2014/second-ebola-vaccine/en/

http://www.who.int/immunization/diseases/ebola/1-MPK_ebola_vaccine_development_presentation.pdf

Q. Is five weeks of clinical trials on humans enough for an Ebola vaccine?

A. No. Five weeks is not enough to determine whether a vaccine is safe and works. A vaccine undergoes three clinical trials under the traditional approach and takes on average 10.71 years to develop. (N) Also, a vaccine only has a 6% chance of entering the market. Drugs can take 10 to 15 years to develop with 95% failure risk at point of discovery. (4) Ebola is one of the most rapidly fast-tracked vaccines in history.

Q. Isn’t Ebola a deadly virus?

A. Yes. Ebola is a very severe viral infection with a high death rate. It is also contagious, transmitted by bodily fluids.

Q. Are experimental Ebola drugs and vaccines necessary to stop the Ebola outbreak?

A. No. The New York Times asked 10 leaders of the fights against smallpox, polio, SARS, rinderpest, Guinea worm and other diseases for their views on how best to fight the Ebola outbreak. All were sure the Ebola outbreak could be stopped without experimental drugs or vaccines. Applying proper protocols on screening, quarantines, protective clothing and travel bans have been effective ways of stopping outbreaks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/30/science/leadership-and-calm-are-urged-in-outbreak.html?mabReward=RI%3A5&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&region=CColumn&module=Recommendation&src=rechp&WT.nav=RecEngine&_r=1

Q. Are there plans to give these experimental vaccines to many people?

A. Yes. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases , told The Canadian Press that it’s “quite conceivable, if not likely” that fast-tracked Ebola vaccines may have to given to entire countries.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/u-s-national-i222nstitute-of-health-nih-we-may-have-to-vaccinate-whole-countries-to-stop-ebola-outbreak/5407196

Q. Could I get Ebola from the vaccine?

A. It cannot be ruled out that you will get Ebola from the vaccine. An HIV vaccine, which used the same cold virus as the GSK Ebola vaccine, was halted because it was found to give people HIV. Men who had previously caught colds caused by the same chimpanzee “cold” virus used to make the HIV vaccine were two to four times as likely to become infected with HIV if they got the HIV vaccine.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/18/health/research/trial-vaccine-made-some-more-vulnerable-to-hiv-study-confirms.html

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/databases/alerts/hiv_step_study.html

The Ebola “ChAd3” vaccine is made from a cold virus, a chimpanzee “cold” virus, specifically a chimp adenovirus type 3 (ChAd3). The cold virus is used as a carrier, or vector, to deliver material from the Zaire Ebola and Sudan Ebola virus.

http://www.niaid.nih.gov/news/QA/Pages/EbolaVaxQA.aspx

Q. Surely, someone will stop the Ebola vaccine trial if people end up getting infected with Ebola from it?

A. The trial might not be stopped. The HIV vaccine was stopped because it was found to infect people when it underwent traditional clinical trials. But the Ebola vaccine will not undergo the same traditional clinical trials.

Q. When was the HIV trial halted?

A. The Step trial of the NIAID and Merck HIV vaccine was halted in phase IIb in 2007 when results showed that people were being infected by the vaccine.

Q. Why won”t the Ebola vaccine be halted in phase IIb if results show people are getting infected?

A. Phase IIb and 3 of the Ebola vaccine trials will be performed in west Africa in areas with poor local research infrastructure and low numbers of well trained medical staff. This will make it difficult to keep track of participants in the study and find out if they have been infected with Ebola from the vaccine or suffered other adverse events from the Ebola vaccines and drugs. According to a study, collecting data on vaccines during an epidemic may be impossible. Also, “any data obtained to assess benefit or toxicity could have innumerable biases and misappropriations,making their application under current research standards impossible.”

http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1915876

Q. Could it really happen that something as important as people getting a lethal Ebola disease from the vaccine is not recorded?

A. Everything depends on accurate records. But there are significant problems with records of patients in Ebola affected countries. Just one example: there is no record of one woman known to have been delivered to an Ebola Treatment Centre in Liberia. There is no record of what happened to her or even whether she is alive or dead. ()

Q. Does this lack of proper data collection mean that the Ebola vaccine could pass its trials even if it infects people with Ebola?

A. Yes. If data on people who may have been infected with Ebola by the vaccine is not collected, then the infections will not be recorded in the clinical trial results, and the Ebola vaccine may well be judged safe enough to enter market.

Q. Does that mean an Ebola vaccine that infected people in field trials could be given to the wider population?

A. Yes. If the Ebola vaccine passes its rushed field trials, The World Health Organization (WHO) could decide to give the vaccine to wider populations, also in the USA, UK and Europe.

Q. Are there any other problems with the Ebola vaccine trials?

A. The GSK Ebola “ChAd3” vaccine is based on data obtained from trials in monkeys, which did not show lasting protection. Six of the eight macaques monkeys who were given one Ebola “ChAd3” shot died at ten months.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/07/us-health-ebola-vaccines-idUSKBN0H20NQ20140907

Also, the monkey trial involved a mild lab form of Ebola and not the harsh west Africa type so it is hard to extrapolate the data.

Q. Have there been problems with these types of rushed vaccine trials before?

A: Yes. Eleven children died during Pfizer’s meningococcal meningitis trial, in which 200 Nigerian children were administered ceftriaxone or an unregistered medication, trovafloxacin, without informed consent.

In addition, there were large numbers of adverse events reactions reported for the swine flu vaccine which was also fast tracked and did not undergo traditional clinical trials. Large numbers of children have suffered narcolepsy as a result of the swine flu vaccine. There were also many miscarriages. It is hard to know how many miscarriages were caused by the swine flu vaccine.More than 3,500 post-vaccination miscarriages in the USA may have simply been ignored by the Centre of the Disease Control.

http://news.sciencemag.org/sites/default/files/Norway_submission_WHO_EVD_23Oct2014.pdf

Q. What is informed consent?

A. WHO has said that participants in the Ebola early stage trials must give their informed consent. That means the participants have to be informed of the risks of the experimental Ebola vaccines.

Following experiments on concentration camp prisoners by the Nazis, the Nuremberg Codei was drafted to provides ethical guidelines for medical researchers to protect human test subjects in scientific experiments from injury, disability or death. A key principle of the Nuremberg Code—that doctors must obtain voluntary informed consent from the person about to be experimented on, especially when it comes to clinical trials of experimental vaccines.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/19/drug-company-lies-and-uses-human-as-guinea-pigs.aspx

Q. Are people really going to be informed of the risks of the Ebola vaccine?

A. It is very hard for people in an epidemic setting to give meaningful informed consent to experimental treatments, especially if there are high levels of illiteracy as is the case in Ebola-affected countries, according to a study. The study notes that a “physicians’ ability to meaningfully inform vulnerable populations is overestimated. The belief that informed consent is understood by patients naive to advanced health care, especially in an epidemic, is cavalier.”

http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1915876

Q. Has it happened before that people who should have given their informed consent did not?

A. Yes. An example is the 200 children in Nigeria during Pfizer’s meningococcal meningitis trial. Eleven children died.

Q. How can Ebola vaccines and drugs be given to people with so few tests?

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Ebola an emergency of international concern. That means Ebola vaccines and drugs do not have to be demonstrated to be safe and effective before they are given under emergency use provisions.

Ebola vaccines and drugs can be developed, tested, licensed and used on people all at the same time.

http://www.who.int/immunization/diseases/ebola/Finn_WHO_Sept_29_2014.pdf

An emergency declaration allows for the criteria for passing Phase 11b and 3 trials could be lowered to a minimum.

Q. If I damaged by an experimental Ebola vaccine or drug, will I get compensation?

A. It’s not clear. Pharmaceutical companies are asking for global indemnity so that the patients bars the risk. They received indemnity in 2009 for the swine flu vaccine.

http://www.ageofautism.com/2014/11/new-ebola-vaccine-manufacturers-seek-global-indemnity-so-that-patient-bears-risk.html

Q. What about other kinds of tests Ebola vaccines and drugs will be given?

A. Apart from the fast track clinical trials, there are plans to test multiple drugs at once in an umbrella study.

The umbrella study is a new and controversial type of trial design in which a person on a drug is paired with someone from a comparison group. 

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/11/06/health-officials-unveil-plan-to-test-multiple-ebola-drugs-at-once/?intcmp=latestnews

Also, a step wedge randomised trial is planned involving 8000 people.

http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2288/6/54

Q. Are there problems with these studies?

Yes, In the case of umbrella studies, subjects have to be perfectly paired for a pattern to be detectible. In the case of stepped wedge studies, there are problems with accurate results. Safety and efficacy results can be easily manipulated to appear higher or lower (N).

Also, some Ebola drugs will be developed under the animal rule, such as Tekmira’s siRNA therapeutics.

http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ABEA-50QJTB/0x0x693285/ef3d52ca-f45b-46f5-8fc7-444e0e98087a/MacLachlan_DIA_Filovirus2.pdf

Q: What is the animal rule?

A: The Animal Rule provides that under certain circumstances, where it is unethical or not feasible to conduct human efficacy studies, the FDA may grant marketing approval based on adequate and well-controlled animal studies when the results of those studies establish that the drug is reasonably likely to produce clinical benefit in humans.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/a-liberian-scientist-claims-the-u-s-is-responsible-for-the-ebola-outbreak-in-west-africa/5408459

Q. What forms will the vaccines come in?

A. Some vaccines like the Rabies and Ebola vaccine to be manufactured by IDT Biologika can be produced in liquid and freeze dried forms. There is also a nasal spray forms.

Q. Are any of the Ebola vaccines genetically modified?

A. Yes. The “chimp cold” virus in GSK’s ChAd3 Ebola vaccine is genetically engineered to contain both Ebola and Marburg viral DNA. The virus slips into healthy cells as normal cold viruses do, and co-opts their machinery, causing them to pump out the Ebola protein.

http://www.dddmag.com/articles/2014/09/two-anti-ebola-vaccines-historic-race

Q. Are genetically modified viruses and bacteria an indication that these viruses may have come from bioweapons labs?

A. Yes. Genetrcally engineering viruses and bacteria to make them more lethal is the purpose of bioweapons research programmes.

Q. How much research does the US military do on Ebola?

A. Ebola is classified as a lethal virus — a Biosecurity level 4 or ‘Category A Priority Pathogen’ – and this has encouraged significant funding of Ebola research by the US government in the last 10 to 15 years. (N)

Cumulative research funding from 2008 to July 2014 for Ebola drugs and vaccines has been over $469.3 million in the USA. This funding has supported a pipeline of at least 11 drug candidates. Two entered clinical phase I; three are currently in preclinical development but expected to enter clinical trials soon. At least six other drug candidates previously at different stage of development appear to have been either discontinued or halted in the absence of renewed funding. The funding has also supported eight vaccines. Two are in clinical phase I and six in preclinical development. In addition, from 2000 to 2014, the US government spent almost US$956m to research that has been directly or potentially relevant to Ebola(N).

The US government and the military started making vaccines against Ebola and a related virus, Marburg, during the 1990s. The National Institutes of Health came up with a program called Partnerships in Biodefense.

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2014/10/symposium-vaccine-seen-best-hope-arresting-ebola

Q. Is it true that the US government owns a patent on Ebola?

A. A patent on Ebola was awarded to the United States government in 2010. That patent number is CA2741523A1. The patent claims U.S. government ownership over all variants of Ebola which share 70% or more of the protein sequences described in the patent: “[CLAIMS] …a nucleotide sequence of at least 70%-99% identity to the SEQ ID…” Also, the patent claims ownership over any and all Ebola viruses which are “weakened” or “killed,” meaning the United States government is claiming ownership over all Ebola vaccines.
http://www.naturalnews.com/046946_ebola_outbreak_vaccines_patents.html#ixzz3J2icrAwU

The “ownership” over Ebola extends to Ebola circulating in the bodies of Ebola victims. When Dr. Kent Brantly was relocated from Africa to the CDC’s care in Atlanta, samples of his blood were acquired for research by the CDC and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Q. Did the Ebola outbreak have anything to do with a bioweapons labs?

A. Dr. Francis Boyle, a scholar of biowarfare and international law at the University of Illinois, who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, the US implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, hassaid that Ebola originated in a US bioweapons lab.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40012.htm

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40013.htm

http://www.waronwethepeople.com/another-ebola-problem-solved-natural-source-found/

http://www.globalresearch.ca/ebola-genetically-modified-organism-developed-in-us-biowarfare-laboratories-in-africa/5409003

“This isn’t normal Ebola at all,” he said. “I believe it’s been genetically modified.”

As evidence, Boyle points to the existence of US government laboratories in Africa that are creating bioweapons under the guise of working on cures. Boyle says Ebola came out of one of these bioweapons labs in Kenema, Sierra Leone. He said: “Kenema is the absolute epicentre of the outbreak. Something happened there. It could have been an accident in the lab or they might have been testing an experimental vaccine [on the population] using live genetically modified Ebola and calling it something else.” In addtion, Boyle says the speed of Ebola’s spread and the number it is killing is proof that Ebola is a modified form. “I

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/10/ebola-2.html

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/10/bioweapons-expert-reaffirms-belief-ebola-escaped-biowarfare-lab.html

Q. Are there other scientists who think that Ebola is a bioweapon?

A. Yes. Dr. Cyril Broderick, Professor of Plant Pathology, in a front-page article published in the Liberian Observer, declared. He goes on to explain:
[Dr Leonard Horowitz] confirmed the existence of an American Military-Medical-Industry that conducts biological weapons tests under the guise of administering vaccinations to control diseases and improve the health of “black Africans overseas.”

Q. Can I be forced to take the Ebola vaccine or be placed forcibly under quarantine?

A. As soon as WHO declared Ebola an epidemic emergency, of international concern it triggered the International Health Regulations (2005) allowing for forced vaccination and quarantine. Most countries have national pandemic plans allowing for the vaccination of 100% of the population, also by force.

Also, President Barack Obama signed an executive order #13674, on July 31, 2014, which allows the U.S. federal government to arrest and quarantine any person who shows symptoms of infectious disease.

This executive order allows federal agents to forcibly arrest and quarantine anyone showing symptoms of:

…Severe acute respiratory syndromes, which are diseases that are associated with fever and signs and symptoms of pneumonia or other respiratory illness, are capable of being transmitted from person to person, and that either are causing, or have the potential to cause, a pandemic, or, upon infection, are highly likely to cause mortality or serious morbidity if not properly controlled.

http://www.naturalnews.com/046946_ebola_outbreak_vaccines_patents.html#ixzz3J2jIIKFG

Q. Have any military measures already been applied during the Ebola epidemic?

A. Yes. Liberia, for example, declared a state of emergency was declared in early August, with a 9 p.m. curfew and soldiers and police officers patrolling the streets. Communities were quarantined including a part of the Liberian capital called West Point, home to about 75,000 people. Barbed wire was used to lock in the residents without food and water. The military fired on residents, killing a 15-year-old boy and severely wounding a 22-year-old man.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/world/africa/president-ellen-johnson-sirleaf-ends-state-of-emergency.html?_r=0

Sierra Leone is now under a state of medical martial law, where Ebola victims were hunted down in door-to-door manhunts.

http://www.naturalnews.com/046946_ebola_outbreak_vaccines_patents.html#ixzz3J2jIIKFG

Q. Are the Ebola diagnostic kits accurate?

A. There are several. The FDA prohibits claims that its Ebola diagnostic kit is safe or effective. The diagnostic kit has never been tested on any Ebola negative specimens.

Q. When did WHO declare Ebola an epidemic of international emergency allowing experimental Ebola vaccines and drugs to be given to people?

A. On August 8th, 2014.

Q. But Ebola is an out of control epidemic, isn’t it?

A. No. According to WHO’s Ebola expert Pierre Formenty, Ebola was under control. Responding to a question on whether the situation had ‘got out of hand’ Dr. Formenty replied that the situation was not out of hand at a press conference on June 27th, shortly before Ebola made the emergency declaration.

http://reliefweb.int/report/sierra-leone/regular-press-briefing-information-service-27-june-2014-ebola-outbreak-west

Liberia has lifted the state of emergency in November because Ebola cases have declined dramatically and more than two thirds of the 696 beds in Liberia’s Ebola treatment centers are empty,. New admissions and the number of dead bodies being picked up by burial teams are both falling.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/14/world/africa/president-ellen-johnson-sirleaf-ends-state-of-emergency.html?_r=0

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/07/liberia-ebola-empty-beds_n_6121680.html

Q. Why did WHO declare Ebola an emergency if Ebola was not an out of control epidemic?

A. Vaccine makers like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) may have influenced WHO’s declaration. GSK acquired a Swiss biotech company which had a preclinical Ebola vaccine in 2013. GSK offered these preclinical vaccines to WHO in March 2014 when the Ebola outbreak started. As soon as WHO declared Ebola an emergency in August, WHO gave GSK a contract to produce Ebola vaccines. These GSK Ebola vaccines could not be given to anyone without an emergency declaration by WHO.

Q. Is WHO’s emergency declaration a repeat of the swine flu scandal in 2009 when GSK and other pharmaceutical companies were accused of inflating the threat of the swine flu in order to trigger lucrative swine flu vaccine contracts?

A. Yes. In 2009, WHO concealed from the public that many of its advisers were on the payroll of pharmaceutical companies, who stood to profit from a pandemic emergency.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10235558

WHO has also concealed from the public the fact that at least one pharmaceutical company, GSK had a financial stake in WHO declaring Ebola an international emergency. GSK bought a Swiss biotech company with a preclinical Ebola vaccine in 2013 and offered WHO the vaccine in March 2014. However, in an email dated April 3rd, WHO denied there were any vaccines available or potential conflicts of interests involved in its declaration of a n Ebola emergency.

Q. Does GSK have a good record?

A. No.

On 2 September 2014, 45 litres of concentrated live polio virus solution were released into a river by the pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), in Rixensart, Belgium.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/pharmaceutical-giant-glaxosmithkline-accidentally-released-45-liters-of-concentrated-live-polio-virus-in-the-environment/5405801

The Argentinean Federation of Health Professionals accused GlaxoSmithKline of misleading participants and pressuring impoverished, disadvantaged families into enrolling their children in clinical trials of the experimental Synflorix pediatric pneumonia vaccine. Fourteen of the children participating in the experimental vaccine trial died.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/19/drug-company-lies-and-uses-human-as-guinea-pigs.aspx

in 2012, GSK was fined $3billion after admitting to the  ‘biggest healthcare fraud in history’. GSK paid U.S. medics to prescribe potentially dangerous medicines to adults and children.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2167742/GlaxoSmithKline-pay-3b-fine-pleading-guilty-healthcare-fraud.html

In 2014, China fined UK pharmaceuticals firm GlaxoSmithKline $490m (£297m) after a court found it guilty of paying out bribes to doctors and hospitals in order to have their products promoted.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29274822

Q. Are there safer cures for Ebola?

A. There are promising cures. These include serum from Ebola survivor’s blood which are being tested.

A Japanese anti-viral drug called Favipiravir is being studied in Guinea. It has been given to several Ebola patients and all patients survived.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/researchers-to-start-studies-of-two-antivirals-in-ebola-patients-in-december-

A doctor in rural Liberia inundated with Ebola patients says he’s had good results with a treatment he tried out of HIV drug. Dr. Gorbee Logan has given the drug, lamivudine, to 15 Ebola patients, and all but two survived. That’s about a 87% survival rate.

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/27/health/ebola-hiv-drug/

Studies on the clinical impact of vitamin C look promising.

http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v10n14.shtml

http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v10n13.shtml

Good supportive care can help Ebola patients.

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2014/11/good-supportive-care-can-help-ebola-patients-experts-say

U.S. Air Force study called Interaction of silver nanoparticles with Tacaribevirus underlines the effectiveness of treatment with colloidal silver 

http://www.jnanobiotechnology.com/content/8/1/19

Copyright Case about Bird Flu, 2014

If there were any remaining doubts about the unlimited stupidity Western corporate media is capable of dishing out, the highlight of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing has been defined as Russian President Vladimir Putin supposedly “hitting” on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s wife – and the subsequent Chinese censoring of the moment when Putin draped a shawl over her shoulders in the cold air where the leaders were assembled. What next? Putin and Xi denounced as a gay couple?

Let’s dump the clowns and get down to the serious business. Right at the start, President Xi urged APEC to “add firewood to the fire of the Asia-Pacific and world economy”. Two days later, China got what it wanted on all fronts.

1) Beijing had all 21 APEC member-nations endorsing the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) – the Chinese vision of an “all inclusive, all-win” trade deal capable of advancing Asia-Pacific cooperation – see South China Morning Post (paywall). The loser was the US-driven, corporate-redacted, fiercely opposed (especially by Japan and Malaysia) 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). [See also here.

2) Beijing advanced its blueprint for “all-round connectivity” (in Xi’s words) across Asia-Pacific – which implies a multi-pronged strategy. One of its key features is the implementation of the Beijing-based US$50 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. That’s China’s response to Washington refusing to give it a more representative voice at the International Monetary Fund than the current, paltry 3.8% of votes (a smaller percentage than the 4.5% held by stagnated France).

3) Beijing and Moscow committed to a second gas mega-deal - this one through the Altai pipeline in Western Siberia – after the initial “Power of Siberia” mega-deal clinched last May.

4) Beijing announced the funneling of no less than US$40 billion to start building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Predictably, once again, this vertiginous flurry of deals and investment had to converge towards the most spectacular, ambitious, wide-ranging plurinational infrastructure offensive ever attempted: the multiple New Silk Roads – that complex network of high-speed rail, pipelines, ports, fiber optic cables and state of the art telecom that China is already building across the Central Asian stans, linked to Russia, Iran, Turkey and the Indian Ocean, and branching out to Europe all the way to Venice, Rotterdam, Duisburg and Berlin.

Now imagine the paralyzed terror of the Washington/Wall Street elites as they stare at Beijing interlinking Xi’s “Asia-Pacific Dream” way beyond East Asia towards all-out, pan-Eurasia trade – with the center being, what else, the Middle Kingdom; a near future Eurasia as a massive Chinese Silk Belt with, in selected latitudes, a sort of development condominium with Russia.

Vlad doesn’t do stupid stuff

As for “Don Juan” Putin, everything one needs to know about Asia-Pacific as a Russian strategic/economic priority was distilled in his intervention at the APEC CEO summit.

This was in fact an economic update of his by now notorious speech at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi in October, followed by a wide-ranging Q&A, which was also duly ignored by Western corporate media (or spun as yet more “aggression”).

The Kremlin has conclusively established that Washington/Wall Street elites have absolutely no intention of allowing a minimum of multipolarity in international relations. What’s left is chaos.

There’s no question that Moscow pivoting away from the West and towards East Asia is a process directly influenced by President Barack Obama’s self-described “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” foreign policy doctrine, a formula he came up with aboard Air Force One when coming back last April from a trip to – where else – Asia.

But the Russia-China symbiosis/strategic partnership is developing in multiple levels.

On energy, Russia is turning east because that’s where top demand is. On finance, Moscow ended the pegging of the rouble to the US dollar and euro; not surprisingly the US dollar instantly – if only briefly – dropped against the rouble. Russian bank VTB announced it may leave the London Stock Exchange for Shanghai’s – which is about to become directly linked to Hong Kong. And Hong Kong, for its part, is already attracting Russian energy giants.

Now mix all these key developments with the massive yuan-rouble energy double deal, and the picture is clear; Russia is actively protecting itself from speculative/politically motivated Western attacks against its currency.

The Russia-China symbiosis/strategic partnership visibly expands on energy, finance and, also inevitably, on the military technology front. That includes, crucially, Moscow selling Beijing the S-400 air defense system and, in the future, the S-500 – against which the Americans are sitting ducks; and this while Beijing develops surface-to-ship missiles that can take out everything the US Navy can muster.

Anyway, at APEC, Xi and Obama at least agreed to establish a mutual reporting mechanism on major military operations. That might – and the operative word is “might” – prevent an East Asia replica of relentless NATO-style whining of the “Russia has invaded Ukraine!” kind.

Freak out, neo-cons

When Little Dubya Bush came to power in early 2001, the neo-cons were faced with a stark fact: it was just a matter of time before the US would irreversibly lose its global geopolitical and economic hegemony. So there were only two choices; either manage the decline, or bet the whole farm to consolidate global hegemony using – what else – war.

We all know about the wishful thinking enveloping the “low-cost” war on Iraq – from Paul Wolfowitz’s “We are the new OPEC” to the fantasy of Washington being able to decisively intimidate all potential challengers, the EU, Russia and China.

And we all know how it went spectacularly wrong. Even as that trillionaire adventure, as Minqi Li analyzed in The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy, “has squandered US imperialism’s remaining space for strategic maneuver”, the humanitarian imperialists of the Obama administration still have not given up, refusing to admit the US has lost any ability to provide any meaningful solution to the current, as Immanuel Wallerstein would define it, world-system.

There are sporadic signs of intelligent geopolitical life in US academia, such as this at the Wilson Center website (although Russia and China are not a “challenge” to a supposed world “order”: their partnership is actually geared to create some order among the chaos.)

And yet this opinion piece at USNews is the kind of stuff passing for academic “analysis” in US media.

On top of it, Washington/Wall Street elites – through their myopic Think Tankland – still cling to mythical platitudes such as the “historical” US role as arbiter of modern Asia and key balancer of power.

So no wonder public opinion in the US – and Western Europe – cannot even imagine the earth-shattering impact the New Silk Roads will have in the geopolitics of the young 21st century.

Washington/Wall Street elites – talk about Cold War hubris – always took for granted that Beijing and Moscow would be totally apart. Now puzzlement prevails. Note how the Obama administration’s “pivoting to Asia” has been completely erased from the narrative – after Beijing identified it for what it is: a warlike provocation. The new meme is “rebalance”.

German businesses, for their part, are absolutely going bonkers with Xi’s New Silk Roads uniting Beijing to Berlin – crucially via Moscow. German politicians sooner rather than later will have to get the message.

All this will be discussed behind closed doors this weekend at key meetings on the sidelines of the Group of 20 in Australia. The Russia-China-Germany alliance-in-the-making will be there. The BRICS, crisis or no crisis, will be there. All the players in the G-20 actively working for a multipolar world will be there.

APEC once again has shown that the more geopolitics change, the more it won’t stay the same; as the exceptional dogs of war, inequality and divide and rule keep barking, the China-Russia pan-Eurasian caravan will keep going, going, going – further on down the (multipolar) road.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).  He may be reached at [email protected].

 

Galilee Town Boils at Israeli Police ‘Execution’

November 15th, 2014 by Jonathan Cook

KAFR KANA, Galilee – Rauf Hamdan admitted to one small consolation as he sat in his mourning tent, greeting the steady stream of well-wishers paying condolences nearly a week after his son was gunned down in the street by Israeli police.

“At least his death was caught on camera,” he told Middle East Eye. “Otherwise the police would accuse me of lying when I said that he was executed in cold blood. The police can claim whatever they like. The truth is there for all to see.”

The killing of 22 year-old Kheir Hamdan – and the footage of it caught on security cameras that quickly went viral on social media – set off a firestorm of protests in Palestinian communities across Israel this past week that has yet to die down.

Hamdan instantly became a symbol: a victim of Israeli brutality and oppression, merging the experiences of Israel’s large minority of 1.5 million Palestinian citizens with those of their kin in the occupied territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

Although their inhabitants are disconnected politically and geographically, all these Palestinian areas currently simmer with a shared and barely suppressed rage that may yet erupt into a new uprising, or Intifada.

The Hamdan family home in Kafr Kana, a town of 22,000 Palestinians in northern Israel near Nazareth, is located in an overcrowded backstreet, close to a church over the site where Jesus supposedly performed his first miracle, turning water into wine at a wedding.

But Kafr Kana, like other Palestinian communities in Israel, feels like a community under an occupation of sorts.

Land and jobs scarce

Despite the flood of pilgrims, there are no hotels or major restaurants in the town. Israeli tour buses pay a flying visit that offers Kafr Kana none of the usual benefits of tourism.

Wadea Awawdy, a local journalist, pointed out that half of the town’s inhabitants were under 18. But jobs are scarce, as are the chances of finding land to build a home, usually a cultural pre-requisite here for getting married. None of that looks accidental to residents.

Kafr Kana’s only land reserves for housing and industry have been seized by the state and reassigned to Nazareth Ilit, a Jewish city built decades ago to “Judaise” Nazareth and its environs. “They have a large industrial zone on our land,” said Awawdy. “The only thing we get from it is pollution from a glass smelting factory.”

It is a picture of neglect and marginalisation common in Palestinian communities across the Galilee. Excluded from a meaningful Israeli identity, the minority increasingly feels it shares a common struggle with Palestinians across the Green Line.

The entrance to the Hamdan home hosts a martyr poster of the kind familiar when Palestinians are killed by the Israeli army in the occupied territories. Hamdan’s face is framed by the Palestinian flag.

The passage down to the mourning tent is adorned with images of the al-Aqsa mosque, the Islamic holy site regularly at the centre of Palestinian protests in occupied East Jerusalem.

Wrapped around 50 year-old Rauf Hamdan’s neck is a keffiyeh, a scarf that Yasser Arafat made a symbol of Palestinian resistance.

Concealing faces

Over the past week, such scarves have been concealing the faces of some of the thousands of youths who have clashed with police in Kafr Kana and elsewhere during protests against Hamdan’s killing. That has not stopped police arresting dozens of youths.

The keffiyeh has also been adopted by thousands of Palestinian children in Israeli schools as a visual protest. On Wednesday, a Palestinian Knesset member, Basel Ghattas, caused a flood of complaints when he donned it inside the Knesset.

“We are seen as the enemy by Israel because we are Palestinians,” said Rauf Hamdan. “Our citizenship makes no difference to the security forces.”

Hamdan’s assessment echoes that of an official inquiry into an earlier incident, 14 years ago, when the police fired live ammunition and rubber bullets at unarmed demonstrators in the Galilee at the start of the Second Intifada. Thirteen Palestinian citizens were killed and hundreds wounded in what have come to be known as the October 2000 events.

The Or Commission concluded that Israeli police related to the Palestinian minority “as an enemy.”

This week, one of the three members of that commission, Shimon Shamir, a noted history professor, said on Israeli radio that the police’s approach to the country’s Palestinian minority had only gotten worse in the intervening years.

That, said Awawdy, was how it looked to most Palestinian citizens too as they watched the video of Hamdan’s killing.

‘Sack of potatoes’

Hamdan’s final moments late on the night of 7 November were captured by cameras from several angles outside an electrical shop close to his home.

The store’s owner, Ehab Khoury, tutted angrily as he watched the video again. Like others, he was outraged by footage showing Hamdan being shot in the upper body from close range as he tried to flee from a police van.

Judging by Khoury’s reaction and the hushed conversations in the mourning tent, even more infuriating were the scenes of Hamdan, moments after he was severely wounded, being dragged along the ground by his arms and into the van.

“What is he?” said Khoury. “A citizen or a sack of potatoes? Why did they not call an ambulance when it was clear he was badly wounded?”

Police claim they fired a warning shot, though the cameras do not show the officer who fired on him doing so. But one of Khoury’s videos reveals the shadow of a policeman’s raised arm, holding a gun, from the far side of the van, out of the camera’s view.

That night, a bullet smashed through neighbour Edward Khoury’s bedroom window. If that was the warning shot, it looks suspiciously like it was fired with no regard to the safety of the residents close by.

Other details have further inflamed passions. The video shows the police van driving past the camera on its way out of Kafr Kana, having made a late-night arrest of Hamdan’s cousin following a domestic incident. Hamdan himself had been pepper-sprayed during the arrest.

Many seconds later, Hamdan comes into view chasing after the departing police. Then the van suddenly appears again in view of the camera, the police apparently having decided to return to deal with Hamdan.

Hospital trip delayed

The youth is seen banging on the window with an object police say was a knife. But he flees as the police emerge. According to medical reports, he was shot twice.

The cousin’s testimony to lawyers suggests the police drove around for some long minutes away from the nearest hospitals in Nazareth before heading for a much more distant one in Afula, losing vital time.

“His killing was pre-meditated,” said his father. “The police were leaving. They came back only to kill him.”

Human rights lawyers at Adalah, a legal centre for Israel’s Arab minority, believe the evidence suggests Hamdan was “executed.”

Unlawful killings by police have been a continuing occurrence since the 13 deaths in October 2000, said Jafar Farah of Mossawa, an advocacy group for the Palestinian minority.

Mossawa has identified 35 cases of Palestinian citizens being killed in similar circumstances by security forces since 2000, including previous incidents in Kafr Kana. Only in three cases were officers convicted, but the courts handed down short sentences.

“There is the same impunity for the security forces when it comes to using live ammunition against civilians, whether it is in Israel or the occupied territories,” said Farah.

Comments a few days before Hamdan’s killing by the police minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, that terrorists “should be sentenced to death” rather than arrested had, said Farah, given “a green light” to police to use live ammunition against civilians.

Sceptical of inquiry

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has insisted on an investigation by a justice ministry unit known as Mahash, but few in the Palestinian minority expect it to be thorough.

“I have no trust that Mahash will get to the truth,” said Rauf Hamdan.

That scepticism is shared by human rights lawyers. A recent report by Adalah noted that Mahash had closed without action 93 per cent of complaints between 2011 and 2013, including in cases of clear breaches of police regulations.

Earlier, Mahash was accused of failing to properly investigate the police officers responsible for killing the 13 demonstrators in October 2000. None were ever indicted.

There are signs that the police are expecting similar lenience on this occasion. National Commissioner Yohanan Danino dismissed criticism of the police’s treatment of Hamdan as “unfounded” and “irresponsible.”

But the Palestinian minority’s concerns are not limited to police brutality. The political reaction has been equally disturbing.

Rauf Hamdan said no government official had visited the tent, or called to offer condolences. Instead, government leaders have used Hamdan’s death to further question the minority’s status as citizens.

Both Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his economics minister, Naftali Bennett, have suggested Hamdan was a “terrorist,” placing his fight with the police on a par with recent Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians.

‘Move to Gaza’

But more worrying still, Netanyahu has exploited the outpouring of anger in the Galilee to confirm the Palestinian minority’s growing suspicion that the Israeli authorities see no future for them in a Jewish state.

Netanyahu has called on the interior minister to investigate stripping the protesters in Kafr Kana and elsewhere of their citizenship. He has also urged them to “move to the Palestinian Authority or to Gaza … Israel will not put any obstacles in your way.”

Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, leapt at the chance to promote again his plan to redraw Israel’s borders to expel a quarter of a million Palestinian citizens, saying: “It is clear that territorial and population swaps must be part of the solution. Us here and them there.”

A Palestinian Knesset member, Ahmed Tibi, said Netanyahu had “gone off the rails” in making his remarks, a view shared by the liberal daily Haaretz. An editorial accused Netanyahu of “exposing his nationalist face to the public.”

Since earlier in the year, Netanyahu and his government have been intensifying their efforts to silence the minority’s Palestinian representatives, both in and out of the parliament.

The electoral threshold was raised in March to a level that may ensure there are no Palestinian parties in the next Knesset. Meanwhile, Netanyahu used the protests over Hamdan’s killing to reiterate plans to outlaw the Islamic Movement, the minority’s most popular extra-parliamentary political faction.

Farah noted that clashes between police and the Palestinian minority were occurring more regularly and growing in intensity. “Once these crises occurred once every decade or more. But they are now a pattern. We saw violent confrontations over the summer during the attack on Gaza and only weeks later it’s happening again.”

There is deep distrust of the police and politicians, but Farah believes the anger is unlikely for the time being to translate into an Intifada. “The leadership here is opposed,” he said. “Despite the hostile atmosphere in the Israeli parliament, courts, media and public, there is still a preference to seek redress through political and legal channels.”

Awawdy, the journalist from Kafr Kana, is more pessimistic. “This government sees us at worst as enemies and at best as guests whose rights can be taken away at any moment. If things keep on this way, an explosion is coming. You can sense it in the air.”

The British Prime Minister was evidently enjoying the backslapping as he strode into the Australian parliament. David Cameron felt at home before members he could count on, so much so the weak jokes seemed to have effect.  The UK-Australian relationship was discussed.  Like a long union, it had gathered some dust, losing its frisson perhaps, but never its presumption of friendship.  “It is extraordinary to think that no British Foreign Secretary had visited Australia in nearly 20 years.  I was determined to change that.”

Rocky times were still times when the couple stuck it through.  “Our ties have been woven not only in the best of times, but in the worst of times.  Never more so than in each other’s – and in humanity’s – bleakest hours.”[1]  Then come the security elements to the relationship, the Five Power Defence Arrangement and the Five Eyes intelligence sharing partnership.

Cameron said the right things for his audience.  Like a cabinet file, he had gone through the main folders.  Mention Gallipoli.  Mention that, “Those diggers were not just fighting for their country, they were shaping the identity of a new young nation.” Mention the permanent state of warring commitment between the two countries.  Note that Australian Aboriginals have managed to make it to the elite institutions of Cambridge and Oxford.  Appeal to the Australian pragmatism: “You are a ‘can do’ country.”  Speak about assertiveness in absence of thought.  “Typical Australia. Always there, with action not words.”

There was also another striking point.  Cameron had selected his audience, and moment, with good reason. Islamic radicalisation was on the script, and he was keen to push the message of how best to cope with it.  “In both our countries we have seen some of our young people radicalised, going off to fight in Iraq and Syria, and even appalling plots to murder innocent people back in our own countries.”  Given the Abbott government’s attempt at passing some of the most far reaching, and sinister national security legislation in decades, the British PM knew where he had landed.

For Cameron, British foreign policy, in alliance with the United States and Australia, does not explain radicalisation.  Muslims do not engage in foreign conflicts because of the actions of their host country.  This is the sentiment of obliviousness, one that takes refuge in the idea of exceptional values challenged by exceptional threats. We do no harm; only harm is done to us.  “There is no opt-out from dealing with this.  We have to confront this threat at its source.”

Cameron’s suggests the converse.  British foreign policy has been good for Islam.  “Now I can show you examples all over the world where British aid and British action have saved millions of Muslim lives, from Kosovo to Syria.” The fantasy of salvation is yet another way of branding acts of interference as acts of humanitarian benevolence.

Then come the avenues by which radicalisation can take place.  Local conditions such as poverty are irrelevant to Cameron, “though of course our nations are united in tackling deprivation wherever it exists.” The convenient dismissal of foreign policy and domestic social policy as causes enables Cameron to take free rein over targeting a specific group.  For anyone vaguely acquainted with such radicalisation notions, the processes, and the causes, vary dramatically between communities. In the comforts of a Parliamentary speech, complexity gives way to easy wrapping and simple summaries.

The true demon of radicalisation, argues Cameron, is the big bad space of the Internet, for “the root cause of the challenge we face is the extremist narrative.”  Like Don Quixote having a beef with the windmills, Cameron is concerned that government can engage in the task of removing “extremist material” from the Internet.  “There is a role for government in that.  We must not allow the Internet to be an ungoverned space.”

And if the government can’t do it, companies must.  “In the UK we are pushing them to do more, including strengthening filters, improving reporting mechanisms and being more proactive in taking down this harmful material.”  Censorship, for Queen and country, is the suggested antidote.

It should be obvious that such ideas give way to undermining of the very “values” that animate the British system, be they the presumption of innocence, free speech, the innate wisdom of the common law, or the judgment of those good sages of Parliament.  The Counter-Terrorism Bill suggests a reversal of the onus of proof- that one returning from Syria or Iraq fighting for the various militias should well be detained for the very grounds of that travel.  This is institutional guilt rather than punishable conduct.  Australia’s foreign fighter legislation has the same slant.

The other point to note is that such laws are simply not clear about whether the foreign fighter prohibitions apply evenly.  If one had rewound the tape of history to examine how such laws would operate in the context of a conflict like the Spanish Civil War, we would find individuals such as George Orwell and Arthur Koestler doing time in the cells of Blighty. It would have equally applied to the pro-Fascist fighters who took sides with Generalissimo Franco. The practice of it is something else.

The problems have already been faced in the Australian context: do you punish a Syrian-Australian fighter who fights for the Assad regime?  What of Kurdish fighters of Australian or British origin who find themselves fighting in northern Iraq against ISIL forces?  Law, in a theoretical sense, should be of even application.  The practice, however, tends to see favouritism.  The narrative, in other words, is slanted towards punishing Islamic radicalism personified by the Islamic State. It does not single out the fighters sponsored by Western interests. Nor does it distinguish the range of militias that might fall into a prosecutable group as opposed to another.

So much for the wisdom of Parliament, which has gone off.  But irrespective of all that, the UK and Australia can be counted upon to do, not so much the right thing, as the predicable thing.  They have their own narratives to push, even if they end in being self-defeating ones.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: [email protected]

At the APEC Summit in Beijing,  Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott who is hosting this week’s G20 meetings in Brisbane, intimated in no uncertain terms, during a 15 minute encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin, that Moscow was responsible for the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine. 

During the meeting, Mr Abbott is reported to have stated that “Russia had armed the rebels who shot down the aircraft and killed 38 Australians.”  Mr Abbott said that  “MH17 was destroyed by a missile from a launcher that had come out of Russia, was fired from inside Eastern Ukraine and then returned to Russia… [and that this] was a very serious matter.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing. Pic: A

Prime Minister Tony Abbott meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing. Pic: AFP

Global Research has from the outset provided extensive coverage of the downing of MH17. The evidence and analysis not only dispels Prime Minister Abbott’s accusations, it points unequivocally to a false flag attack instigated by the US-NATO supported Kiev regime, as well as a coverup by the Australian and Dutch investigators.

Lest we forget, the downing of MH17 was used as a pretext by Washington to impose economic sanctions on the Russian Federation.

The Western media and governments have gone to arms length to suppress and distort the evidence which points to the downing of MH17 not by a Buk missile but by a Ukrainian military aircraft.

Spanish Air Traffic Controller’s Twitter Report [translated from Spanish]

One of the first reports (in real time) pointing to the presence of two Ukrainian military aircraft  was revealed by the Spanish air traffic controller’s twitter messages on the day of the attacks. (emphasis added)

11:48 – 17 de jul. de 2014

The B777 plane flew escorted by Ukraine jet fighter until 2 minutes before disappearing from the radar,

11:54 – 17 de jul. de 2014

“If kiev authorities want to tell the truth, It´s gathered, 2 jet fighters flew very close minutes before, wasn’t downed by a fighter”

12:00 – 17 de jul. de 2014

“Malaysia Airlines B777 plane just disappeared and Kiev military authority informed us of the downing, How they knew?”

12:00 – 17 de jul. de 2014

“7:00 minutes after [plane disappeared], the downing was notified, later our tower was taken with foreigner staff, they still here ”

12:01 – 17 de jul. de 2014

“all this is gathered in radars, to the unbelieving, shot down by kiev, here we know it and military air traffic control also”

13:15 – 17 de jul. de 2014

“Here the military commanders are in control and admit that the military could be following other orders , but no, the pro-Russian”

13:29 – 17 de jul. de 2014

“Interior Minister knew what the fighters were doing in the area, the defense minister didn’t.”

13:31 – 17 de jul. de 2014

“Military confirm It was Ukraine, but still does not know where the order came from”

The Spanish air-controller’s Twitter account was closed down by Twitter. This report from Kiev’s air traffic control was  dismissed by the mainstream media as “a conspiracy theory”. The audio records of communication between air traffic control and the plane were not made public.

Spanish Air Controller @ Kiev Borispol Airport: Ukraine Military Shot Down Boeing MH#17 bBy Global Research News, July 18, 2014

The Report of German Pilot Peter Haisenko

German pilot Peter Haisenko in a path-breaking analysis pointed to bullet like holes which could not have been triggered by a buk missile:

The cockpit shows traces of shelling! You can see the entry and exit holes. The edge of a portion of the holes is bent inwards. These are the smaller holes, round and clean, showing the entry points most likely that of a 30 millimeter caliber projectile.

Revelations of German Pilot: Shocking Analysis of the “Shooting Down” of Malaysian MH17. “Aircraft Was Not Hit by a Missile” By Peter Haisenko, September 09, 2014

The Suppressed BBC Report on Eyewitness Testimonies

The BBC  in an early report from Eastern Ukraine (which was subsequently suppressed) provided testimonies that MH17 was shot down by a military aircraft.  The BBC has censored its own news reporting. That BBC report including the video was removed by the BBC:

The inhabitants of the nearby villages are certain that they saw military aircraft in the sky shortly prior to the catastrophe. According to them, it actually was the jet fighters that brought down the Boeing.

The Ukrainian government rejects this version of events. They believe that the Boeing was shot down using a missile from a “BUK” complex that came in from Russia.

BBC reporter Olga Ivshina and producer Oksana Vozhdayeva decided to find the place from which the missile was allegedly launched.

Eyewitness #2: … And there was another aircraft, a military one, beside it. Everybody saw it.

Eyewitness #1: Yes, yes. It was flying under it, because it could be seen. It was proceeding underneath, below the civilian one.  

Original BBC Video Report: Preserved by Google Web-cache

[both the original BCC video as well as the web cache BBC report on Google has also been suppressed]

Below is the same BBC Russian Services report which was reposted on the internet

 

See Deleted BBC Report. “Ukrainian Fighter Jet Shot Down MHI7″, Donetsk Eyewitnesses By Global Research News, September 10, 2014

The Report of OSCE Monitor Michael Bociurkiw

Michael Bociurkiw,  head of the OSCE group of monitors confirmed in late July in a CBC TV interview (which has not been suppressed) the presence of  machine gun holes in fuselage (pointing to a military aircraft rather than a missile). The byline of the CBC report was  ”OSCE monitor Michael Bociurkiw mentions bullet holes in #MH17, not able to find any missile so far” 

Original source http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/malaysia… – OSCE monitor Michael Bociurkiw mentions bullet holes in #MH17, not able to find any missile so far.

The Kiev Regime’s Official Report on the Downing of MH17 

It is worth noting that one week after Michael Bociukiw’s statement, the Kiev regime released its official report (August 7) on the downing of  MH17  drafted by Ukraine’s intelligence bureau, The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). This report, which borders on the absurd, has barely been acknowledged by the mainstream media.

According to the SBU report entitled Terrorists and Militants planned cynical terrorist attack at Aeroflot civil aircraft , the Donetsk militia (with the support of Moscow) was aiming at a Russian Aeroflot passenger plane and shot down the Malaysian MH17 airliner by mistake. That’s the official Ukraine government story which has not been reported by the MSM, nor mentioned “officially” by Western governments.

According to the Kiev regime, the Donetsk militia did not intend to shoot down Malaysian airlines MH17. What the “pro-Russian rebels” were aiming at was a Russian Aeroflot passenger plane. 

The MH17 was shot down “by mistake” according to an official statement by the head of Ukraine’s Secret Service, Valentine Nalyvaichenko (Ukraine News Service, August 7, 2014). 

According to SBU Chief Nalyvaichenko who casually accuses the Russian government of planning to shoot down a Russian Aeroflot flight:

“Ukraine’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies have established during the investigation into a terrorist attack on the Boeing… that on that day, July 17, and at that time military mercenaries and terrorists from the Russian Federation planned to carry out a terrorist attack against a passenger aircraft of Aeroflot en route from Moscow to Larnaca… as a pretext for the further invasion by Russia,”

This cynical terrorist attack was planned for the day when the [Malaysia Airlines] plane happened to fly by, planned by war criminals as a pretext for the further military invasion by the Russian Federation, that is, there would be a casus belli,” he added.

Thus, according Nalyvaichenko, the terrorists downed the Malaysian airliner by mistake.” (Ukraine Interfax News, August 8, 2014)

Nalyvaichenko said that the Kiev government reached this conclusion “in the course of its own investigation into the downing of MH17″.

According to Britain’s foremost news tabloid, The Mail on Sunday, quoting the head of Ukraine intelligence, the insidious design of the pro-Russian rebels (supported by Moscow) was to shoot down a Russian commercial airline plane, with a view to blaming the Ukrainian government. The objective of this alleged “false flag” covert op was to create a justifiable and credible pretext for Vladimir Putin to declare war on Ukraine.

Desperate MH17 “Intelligence” Spin. Ukraine Secret Service Contends that “Pro-Russian Rebels had Targeted a Russian Passenger Plane”. “But Shot Down Flight MH17 by Mistake”By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, November 06, 2014

SELECTED ARTICLES

Below is a selection of key articles which dispels the media lies and official government fabrications to the  effect that the Donbass militia supported by Moscow was behind the attack on Malaysian airlines MH17. 

At no juncture during the Ukrainian crisis could the downing of flight MH17 have been more convenient for NATO and its proxy regime in Kiev. Kiev’s forces in eastern Ukraine are being repealed. NATO’s attempts to bait Russia into moving into Ukrainian territory have failed.

Dutch MH17 Investigation Omits US “Intel”. Fabrications and Omissions Supportive of US-NATO Agenda Directed against Russia By Tony Cartalucci, September 19, 2014

MH17 Verdict: Real Evidence Points to US-Kiev Cover-up of Failed “False Flag” By 21st Century Wire, September 14, 201

Report by Dutch Investigators of MH17 Crash Dispels Notion about Missile Attack. Michel Chossudovsky By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, September 11, 2014

Spanish Air Controller @ Kiev Borispol Airport: Ukraine Military Shot Down Boeing MH#17 By Global Research News, July 18, 2014

Dutch Safety Board (DSB) Report: Malaysian MH17 was Brought Down by “A Large Number of High Energy Objects”, Contradicts US Claims that it Was Shot Down by a “Russian Missile” By Prof Michel Chossudovsky and Julie Lévesque, September 09, 2014

“Support MH17 Truth”: OSCE Monitors Identify “Shrapnel and Machine Gun-Like Holes” indicating Shelling. No Evidence of a Missile Attack. Shot Down by a Military Aircraft? By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, September 09, 2014

Camouflage and Coverup: The Dutch Commission Report on the Malaysian MH17 Crash is “Not Worth the Paper it’s Written On”By Peter Haisenko, September 11, 2014 

The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases

November 15th, 2014 by Jules Dufour

Global Research Editor’s Note

This important analysis and review of US military might by distinguished Canadian geographer Professor Jules Dufour and CRG Research Associate was first published by Global Research in 2007.

US military presence expanded around the World has expanded dramatically in the course of the last five years.  This study is largely based on data for the period 2001-2005.

*      *

The Worldwide control of humanity’s economic, social and political activities is under the helm of US corporate and military power. Underlying this process are various schemes of direct and indirect military intervention. These US sponsored strategies ultimately consist in a process of global subordination.

Where is the Threat?

The 2000 Global Report published in 1980 had outlined “the State of the World” by focusing on so-called  “level of threats” which might negatively influence or undermine US interests.

Twenty years later, US strategists, in an attempt to justify their military interventions in different parts of the World, have conceptualized the greatest fraud in US history, namely “the Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT). The latter, using a fabricated pretext  constitutes a global war against all those who oppose US hegemony. A modern form of slavery, instrumented through militarization and the “free market” has unfolded.

Major elements of the conquest and world domination strategy by the US refer to:

1) the control of the world economy and its financial markets,

2) the taking over of all natural resources (primary resources and nonrenewable sources of energy). The latter constitute the cornerstone of US power through the activities of its multinational corporations.

Geopolitical Outreach: Network of Military Bases

The US has established its control over 191 governments which are members of the United Nations. The conquest, occupation and/or otherwise supervision of these various regions of the World is supported by an integrated network of military bases and installations which covers the entire Planet (Continents, Oceans and Outer Space). All this pertains to the workings of  an extensive Empire, the exact dimensions of which are not always easy to ascertain.

Known and documented from information in the public domaine including Annual Reports of the US Congress, we have a fairly good understanding of the strucuture of US military expenditure, the network of US military bases and  the shape of this US military-strategic configuration in different regions of the World.

The objective of this article is to build a summary profile of the World network of military bases, which are under the jurisdiction and/or control  of the US. The spatial distribution of these military bases will be examined together with an analysis of the multibillion dollar annual cost of their activities.

In a second section of this article, Worldwide popular resistance movements directed against US military bases and their various projects will be outlined. In a further article we plan to analyze the military networks of other major nuclear superpowers including  the United Kingdom, France and Russia.

I. The Military Bases

Military bases are conceived for training purposes, preparation and stockage of military equipment, used by national armies throughout the World. They are not very well known in view of the fact that they are not open to the public at large. Even though they take on different shapes, according to the military function for which they were established; they can broadly be classified under four main categories :

a) Air Force Bases (see photos 1 and 2);

b) Army or Land Bases;

c) Navy Bases and

d) Communication and Spy Bases.

Photo 1. Air Base of Diego Garcia located in the Indian Ocean

Image:Diego Garcia (satellite).jpg

Reference : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Diego_Garcia_%28satellite%29.jpg

Photo 2. Diego Garcia. An Aerial View of two B-52 and six Kc-a135

Reference : http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/images/diego-garcia-ims7.jpg

II. More than 1000 US Bases and/or Military Installations

The main sources of information on these military installations (e.g. C. Johnson, the NATO Watch Committee, the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases) reveal that the US operates and/or controls between 700 and 800 military bases Worldwide.

In this regard, Hugh d’Andrade and Bob Wing’s 2002 Map 1 entitled “U.S. Military Troops and Bases around the World, The Cost of ‘Permanent War’”, confirms the presence of US military personnel in 156 countries.

The US Military has bases in 63 countries. Brand new military bases have been built since September 11, 2001 in seven countries.

In total, there are 255,065 US military personnel deployed Worldwide.

These facilities include a total of 845,441 different buildings and equipments. The underlying land surface is of the order of 30 million acres. According to Gelman, who examined 2005 official Pentagon data, the US is thought to own a total of 737 bases in foreign lands. Adding to the bases inside U.S. territory, the total land area occupied by US military bases domestically within the US and internationally is of the order of 2,202,735 hectares, which makes the Pentagon one of the largest landowners worldwide (Gelman, J., 2007).

Map 1. U.S. Military Troops and Bases around the World. The Cost of «Permanent War» and Some Comparative Data

Source: http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=884

Map 2. The American Military Bases Around the World (2001-2003)

Source : http://www.globalpolicy.org/empire/intervention/index.htm

Click here for Peace Pledge Union website

Source : http://www.nobases.org

Map 3 US Military Bases Click here to see Map 3

The Map of the World Network “No Bases” (Map 3) reveals the following:

Based on a selective examination of military bases in North America, Latin America, Western Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan, several of these military bases are being used for intelligence purposes. New selected sites are Spy Bases and Satellite-related Spy Bases.

The Surface of the Earth is Structured as a Wide Battlefield

These military bases and installations of various kinds are distributed according to a Command structure divided up into five spatial units and four unified Combatant Commands (Map 4). Each unit is under the Command of a General.

The Earth surface  is being conceived as a wide battlefield which can be patrolled or steadfastly supervised from the Bases.

Map 4. The World and Territories Under the Responsibility of a Combatant Command or Under a Command Structure

Map-the World With Commander' Area of Responsibility

Source : http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2009/0109_unifiedcommand

Territories under a Command are: the Northern Command (NORTHCOM) (Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado), the Pacific Command (Honolulu, Hawaii), the Southern Command (Miami, Florida – Map 5), The Central Command (CENTCOM) (MacDill Air Force Base, Florida), the European Command (Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany), the Joint Forces Command (Norfolk, Virginia), the Special Operations Command (MacDill Air Force Base, Florida), the Transportation Command (Scott Air Force Base, Illinois) and the Strategic Command (STRATCOM) (Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska).

Map 5. The Southern Command

Source : http://www.visionesalternativas.com/militarizacion/mapas/mapabases.htm

NATO Military Bases

The Atlantic Alliance (NATO) has its own Network of military bases, thirty in total. The latter are primarily located in Western Europe:

Whiteman, U.S.A., Fairford,
Lakenheath and Mildenhall in United Kingdom,
Eindhoven in Netherlands,
Brüggen, Geilenkirchen, Landsberg, Ramstein, Spangdahlem, Rhein-Main in Germany,
Istres and Avord in France.
Morón de la Frontera and Rota in Spain,
Brescia, Vicenza, Piacenza, Aviano, Istrana, Trapani, Ancora, Pratica di Mare, Amendola, Sigonella, Gioia dell Colle, Grazzanise and Brindisi in Italy,
Tirana in Albania,
Incirlik in Turkey,
Eskan Village in Soudi Arabia and
Ali al Salem in Koweit (http://www.terra.es/actualidad/articulo/html/act52501.htm )

III. The Global Deployment of US Military Personnel

There are 6000  military bases and/ or military warehouses located in the U.S. (See Wikipedia, February 2007).

Total Military Personnel is of the order of  1,4 million of which 1,168,195 are in the U.S and US overseas territories.

Taking figures from the same source, there are 325,000 US military personnel in foreign countries:

800 in Africa,
97,000 in Asia (excluding the Middle East and Central Asia),
40,258 in South Korea,
40,045 in Japan,
491 at the Diego Garcia Base in the Indian Ocean,
100 in the Philippines, 196 in Singapore,
113 in Thailand,
200 in Australia,
and 16,601 Afloat.

In Europe, there are 116,000 US military personnel including 75,603 who are stationed in Germany.

In Central Asia about 1,000 are stationed at the Ganci (Manas) Air Base in Kyrgyzstan and 38 are located at Kritsanisi, in Georgia, with a mission to train Georgian soldiers.

In the Middle East (excludng the Iraq war theater) there are 6,000 US military personnel, 3,432 of whom are in Qatar and 1,496 in Bahrain.

In the Western Hemisphere, excluding the U.S. and US territories, there are 700 military personnel in Guantanamo, 413 in Honduras and 147 in Canada.

Map 3 provides information regarding military personnel on duty, based on a regional categorization (broad regions of the world). The total number of military personnel at home in the U.S. and/or in US Territories is 1,139,034. There are 1,825 in Europe 114, 660, 682 in Subsaharian Africa, 4, 274 in the Middle East and Southern Asia, 143 in the Ex-USSR, and 89,846 in the Pacific.

IV. The Operational Cost of the Worldwide Military Network

US defense spending (excluding the costs of the Iraq war) have increased from 404 in 2001 to 626 billion dollars in 2007 according to data from the Washington based Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. US defense spending is expected to reach 640 billion dollars in 2008.

(Figure 1 and http://www.armscontrolcenter.org/archives/002244.php ).

These 2006 expenses correspond to 3.7% of the US GDP and $935.64 per capita   (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_of-the_United_States).

Figure 1. U.S. Military Expenditures since 1998

At 2007 prices, 1998 military spending was $364.35bn. 2008’s is approximately $643.9bn

Source : http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/ArmsTrade/Spending.asp

According to Fig 1, the 396 billion dollars military budget proposed in 2003 has in fact reached 417.4 billion dollars, a 73% increase compared to 2000 (289 billion dollars). This outlay for 2003 was more than half of the total of the US discretionary budget.

Since 2003, these military expenditures have to be added to those of the Iraq war and occupation The latter reached in March 2007, according to the National Priorities Project, a cumulative total of 413 billion dollars.

(http://www.janes.com/defence/news/jdi/jdi050504_1_n.shtml),

(http://nationalpriorities.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=182 ).

Estimates of the Defense Department budget needs, made public in 2006 in the DoD Green Book for FY 2007 are of the order of  440 billion dollars.
(http://www.dod.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2007/index.html )

Military and other staff required numbered 1,332,300. But those figures do not include the money required for the “Global World on Terrorism” (GWOT). In other words, these figures largely pertain to the regular Defense budget.

A Goldstein of the Washington Post, within the framework of an article on the aspects of the National 2007 budget titled «2007 Budget Favors Defense», wrote about this topic:

“Overall, the budget for the 2007 fiscal year would further reshape the government in the way the administration has been striving to during the past half-decade: building up military capacity and defenses against terrorist threats on U.S. soil, while restraining expenditures for many domestic areas, from education programs to train service”

(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/04/AR2006020401179.html ).

V. US Military Bases to Protect Strategic Energy Resources

In the wake of 9/11, Washington initiated its ”Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT), first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. Other countries, which were not faithfully obeying Washington’s directives including Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela have been earmarked for possible US military intervention.

Washington keeps a close eye on countries opposed to US corporate control over their resources. Washington also targets countries where there are popular resistance movements directed against US interests, particularly in South America. In this context, President Bush made a quick tour to Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico «to promote democracy and trade» but also with a view to ultimately curbing and restraining popular dissent to the US interests in the region. .

(http://www.voanews.com/spanish/2007-03-08-voa1.cfm)

The same broad approach is being applied in Central Asia. According to Iraklis Tsavdaridis, Secretary of the World Peace Council (WPC):

“The establishment of U.S. military bases should not of course be seen simply in terms of direct military ends. They are always used to promote the economic and political objectives of U.S. capitalism. For example, U.S. corporations and the U.S. government have been eager for some time to build a secure corridor for US.-controlled oil and natural gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea in Central Asia through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea. This region -has more than 6 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and almost 40 percent of its gas reserves. The war in Afghanistan and the creation of U.S. military Bases in Central Asia are viewed as a key opportunity to make such pipelines a reality.”

(http://stopusa.be/campaigns/texte.php?section=FABN&langue=3&id=24157 ).

The US. are at War in Afghanistan and Iraq. They pursue these military operations until they reach their objective which they call “VICTORY”. According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deployment_of-the_U.S.-Military), American troops fighting in these countries number 190,000.  The “Enduring Freedom” Operation in Iraq alone has almost 200,000 military personnel, including 26,000 from other countries participating to the US sponsored ”Mission”. About 20,000 more could join other contingents in the next few months. In Afghanistan, a total of 25,000 soldiers participate to the operation (Map 6 and Map 7).

Map  6.  Petroleum and International Theatre of War in the Middle East and Central Asia

Source : Eric Waddell, The Battle for Oil, Global Research, 2003

Map 7. American Bases Located in Central Asia

Source : http://www.heartland.it/

Map 8. Oil Fields in Latin America

 

Source : http://www.visionesalternativas.com/militarizacion/mapas/mapahegem.htm

VI. Military Bases Used for the Control of Strategic Renewable Resources

US Military Bases in foreign countries, are mainly located in Western Europe: 26 of them are in Germany, 8, in Great Britain, and 8 in Italy. There are nine military installations in Japan (Wikepedia).

In the last few years, in the context of the GWOT, the US haa built 14 new bases in and around the Persian Gulf.

It is also involved in construction and/or or reinforcement of 20 bases (106 structured units as a whole) in Iraq, with costs  of the order of 1.1 billion dollars in that country alone (Varea, 2007) and the use of about ten bases in Central Asia.

The US has also undertaken continued negotiations with several countries to install, buy, enlarge or rent an addional number of military bases. The latter pertain inter alia to installations in Morocco, Algeria, Mali, Ghana, Brazil and Australia (See Nicholson, B., 2007), Poland, Czech Republic (Traynor, I., 2007), Ouzbekistan, Tadjikistan, Kirghizstan, Italy (Jucca, L., 2007) and France.

Washington has signed an agreement to build a military base in Djibouti (Manfredi, E., 2007). All these initiatives are a part of an overall plan to install a series of military bases geographically located in a West-East corridor extending from Colombia in South America, to North Africa, the Near East, Central Asia and as far as the Philippines (Johnson, C., 2004). The US bases in South American are related to the control and access to the extensive natural biological , mineral and water resources resources of the Amazon Basin. (Delgado Jara, D., 2006 and Maps 9 and 10).

Map 9. The Biological Wealth of Latin America

Source : http://www.visionesalternativas.com/militarizacion/mapas/mapahegem.htm

Map 10. Freshwater Resources in Latin America

Source : http://www.visionesalternativas.com/militarizacion/mapas/mapahegem.htm

VII. Resistance Movements

The network of US military bases is strategic, located in prcximity of traditional strategic resources including nonrenewable sources of energy. This military presence has brought about political opposition and resistance from progressive movements and antiwar activists.

Demonstrations directed against US military presence has developed in Spain, Ecuador, Italy, Paraguay, Uzbekistan, Bulgaria and in many other countries. Moreover, other long-termer resistance movements directed against US military presence have continued in South Korea, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, Cuba, Europe, Japan and other locations.

The Worldwide resistance to US foreign military bases has grown during the last few years. We are dealing with an International Network for the Abolition of US Military Bases.

Such networks’ objective is to broadly pursue disarmament, demilitarization processes Worldwide as well as dismantle US military bases in foreign countries.

The NO BASES Network organizes educational campaigns to sensitize public opinion.  It also works to rehabilitate abandoned military sites, as in the case of Western Europe.

These campaigns, until 2004, had a local and national impact.

The network is now in a position to reach people Worldwide. The network itself underscores that “much can be gained from greater and deeper linkages among local and national campaigns and movements across the globe. Local groups around the world can learn and benefit from sharing information, experiences, and strategies with each other”

(http://www.no-bases.org/index.php?mod=network&bloque=1&idioma=en )

“The realisation that one is not alone in the struggle against foreign bases is profoundly empowering and motivating. Globally coordinated actions and campaigns can highlight the reach and scale of the resistance to foreign military presence around the world. With the trend of rising miniaturization and resort to the use of force around the world, there is now an urgent and compelling need to establish and strengthen an international network of campaigners, organisations, and movements working with a special and strategic focus on foreign military presence and ultimately, working towards a lasting and just system of peace»

(http://www.no-bases.org/index.php?mod=network&bloque=1&idioma=en )

The Afghanistan and Iraq wars have, in this regard, created a favourable momentum, which has contributed to the reinforcement of the movement to close down US military bases in foreign countries:

“At the time of an International anti-war meeting held in Jakarta in May 2003, a few weeks after the start of the Iraq invasion, a global anti-military Bases campaign has been proposed as an action to priorize among global anti-war, justice and solidarity movements»  (http://www.no-bases.org/index.php?mod=network&bloque=1&idioma=en).

Since then, the campaign has acquired greater recognition. E-mail lists have been compiled ([email protected]  and [email protected] ) that permit the diffusion of the movement members experiences and information and discussion exchanges. That list now groups 300 people and organizations from 48 countries. A Web site permits also to adequately inform all Network members. Many rubrics provide highly valuable information on ongoing activities around the World.

http://www.no-bases.org/index.php?mod=network&bloque=1&idioma=en

In addition, the Network is more and more active and participates in different activities. At the World Social Forums it organized various conferences and colloquia. It was present at the European Social Forum held in Paris in 2003 and in London in 2004 as well as at the the America’s Social Forum in Ecuador in 2004, and at the Mediterranean Social Forum in Spain in 2005.

One of the major gatherings, which was held in Mumbai, India, in 2004, was within the framework of the World Social Forum. More than 125 participants from 34 countries defined the foundations of a coordinated global campaign.

Action priorities were identified, such as the determination of a global day of action aiming at underscoring major issues stemming from the existence of US military bases. The Network also held four discussion sessions at the Porto Alegre Social Forum in 2005. One of those pertained to the financing of the Network’s activities.

It is important to recall that the Network belongs to the Global Peace Movement. Justice and Peace organizations have  become more sensitized on what was at stake regarding US military bases.

.

Map 11. Social and Resistence Movements in Latin America

Source : http://www.visionesalternativas.com/militarizacion/mapas/mapahegem.htm

The Quito and Manta International Conference, Ecuador, March 2007

A Network World Conference for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases was held at Quito and at Manta, Ecuador, from March 5 to 9 2007

(http://72.14.205.104/search?q=cache:SmEvQwFUeiAJ:www.abolishbases.org/pdf/CalltoEcuadorFlyer-Francais.pdf+R%C3%A9seau+mondial+des+bases+militaires&hl=fr&gl=ca&ct=clnk&cd=3&lr=lang_fr ).

The objective of the Conference was to underscore the political, social, environmental and economic impacts of US military bases, to make known the principles of the various Anti-Bases movements and to formally build the Network, its strategies, structure and Action Plans. The main objectives of the Conference were the following:

-           Analyze the role of Foreign Military Bases and other features of military presence associated to the global dominance strategy and their impacts upon population and environment;

-           Share experiences and reinforce the built solidarity resulting from the resistance battles against Foreign military Bases around the World;

-           Reach a consensus on objectives mechanisms, on action plans, on coordination, on communication and on decision making of a Global Network for the abolition of all Foreign military Bases and of all other expressions of military presence; and

-            Establish global action plans to fight and reinforce the resistance of local people and ensure that these actions are being coordinated at the international level.

Conclusion

This article has focussed on the Worldwide development of US military power.

The US tends to view the Earth surface as a vast territory to conquer, occupy and exploit. The fact that the US Military splits the World up into geographic command units vividly illustrates this underlying geopolitical reality.

Humanity is being controlled  and enslaved by this Network of US military bases. .

The ongoing re-deployment of US troops and military bases has to be analyzed in a thorough manner if we wish to understand the nature of US interventionism  in different regions of the World.

This militarization process is characterized by armed aggression and warfare, as well as interventions called “cooperation agreements”. The latter reaffirmed America’s economic design design in the areas of trade and investment practices. Economic development is ensured through the miniaturization or the control of governments and organizations. Vast resources are thereby expended and wasted in order to allow such control to be effective, particularly  in regions which have a strategic potential in terms of wealth and resources and which are being used to consolidate the Empire’s structures and functions.

The setting up of the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases turns out to be an extraordinary means to oppose the miniaturization process of the Planet. Such Network is indispensable and its growth depends on a commitment of all the People of the World. It will be extremely difficult to mobilize them, but the ties built up by the Network among its constituent resistance movements are a positive element, which is ultmately conducive to more cohesive and coordinated battle at the World level.

The Final Declaration of the Second International Conference against Foreign Military Bases which was held in Havana in November 2005 and was endorsed by delegates from 22 countries identifies most of the major issues, which confront mankind. This Declaration constitutes a major peace initative. It establishes  international solidarity in the process of  disarmament. .

(http://www.csotan.org/textes/texte.php?type=divers&art_id=267 ).

 References

COMITÉ DE SURVEILLANCE OTAN. 2005. Las bases militares : un aspecto de la estrategia global de la OTAN. Intervencion del Comité Surveillance Otan en la Conferencia Internacional realizada en La Habana 7-11.11.2005. 9 pages.

DELGADO JARA, Diego. 2006. Bases de Manta, Plan Colombia y dominio de la Amazonia. Militarizacion de la Hegemonia de EE. UU. En América latina. 17 pages.

EQUIPO DE COMUNICACIÓN CONFERENCIA NO BASES. 2007. La gente del mundo no quiere bases militares extranjeras. 
 

GELMAN, J. 2007. Terratenientes. Rebelion. 26 de Febrero de 2007,  http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id-47353

Ghana to host US Military Base? February 26, 2006. 

JOHNSON, C.,  America’s Empire of Bases. January 2004.

JOHNSON, C.  America’s Empire of Bases. Janvier 2004 .

JOHNSON, C. 2005. The Sorrows of Empire. Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic. Henry Holt, April 2005, Paperback. 389 pages.

JOHNSON, C., 2007.. 737 U.S. Military Bases = Global Empire.  February 19, 2007

JUCCA, L., 2007. Italians protest over U.S. base expansion. Sat Feb 17, 2007.

MANFREDI, E. 2007. Djibouti : Hôtel Corne d’Afrique, grande base américaine. Le GRAND SOIR.info. Édition du 23 mars 2007.

NEW INTERNATIONALIST. 2004. The Bases of Resistance, December 2004, Issue 374.

NICHOLSON, B. 2007. Secret New Us Spy base to Get Green Light. February 15, 2 007. 

TRAYNOR, I. 2007. US EXPANDS, Builds New Military Bases in Europe.  The Guardian, anuary 22, 2007.

TSAVDARIDIS, I., 2005. Military Bases around the world and in Europe – the role of the USA and NATO. Novembre 2005. Stop USA / STOP United States of Agression. 

VAREA, C., Las bases Militares de EEUU en Iraq. 4 mai 2006. Nodo50.

Web Sites  

An Internet Guide to United States Military Bases Around the World :

http://www.libsci.sc.edu/bob/class/clis734/webguides/milbase.htm

APPEL A UN RASSEMBLEMENT INTERNATIONAL en Mars 2007, Équateur, Pour  l’abolition de toutes les bases militaires

Bases y Ejercicios Militares de EE.UU. El Comando Sur.

BUILDING A GLOBAL ANTI-MILITARY BASES MOVEMENT
 

Campana. Un mundo sin bases militares . Asemblea de Organizaciones y Movimientos contra la guerra, la OTAN y el Neoliberalismo (Madrid), Nodo50.

Challenges to the US Empire, http://www.globalpolicy.org/empire/challenges/challengesindex.htm.

Washington veut installer une base militaire en Algérie. Le Quotidien d’Oran, 20 juillet 2003. 

Empire? http://www.globalpolicy.org/empire/index.htm

International Conference against Foreign Military Bases. Final Declaration.

[Fsmed-general] for all that are against foreign military bases:
http://www.grups.pangea.org/pipermail/fsmed-general/Week-of-Mon-20060206/001002.html

FUENTES DE AGUA EN AMÉRICA LATINA :
http://www.visionesalternativas.com/militarizacion/mapas/mapahegem.htm

Abdulhafeth Khrisat, Impérialisme américain et politique militaire, ,  Université Mu’tah 

Interview with Chalmers Johnson, Part 1. An Empire of More Than 725 Military Bases.

Liste des bases militaires américaines dans le monde.

Major Military Bases World-Wide,
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/sites.htm

Military Bases Around The World, http://www.fsmitha.com/com/bases.htm

Military Bases around the world and in Europe – the role of the USA and NATO , Iraklis Tsavdaridis, Secretary of the World Peace Council (WPC) 8th November 2005, From the Greek Committee for International Detente and Peace (EEDYE), Presented on November 8, 2005 at the International Conference on Foreign Military Bases in Havana/Cuba organized by MOVPAZ :

http://stopusa.be/campaigns/texte.php?section=FABN&langue=3&id=24157  

Military of the United States : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_armed_forces

MOVIMIENTOS SOCIALES DE RESISTENCIA EN AMÉRICA LATINA 

No a la instalacion de una base de la OTAN en Zaragoza :
http://www.ecologistasenaccion.org/article.php3?id_article=6261

OTAN – Le grand jeu des bases militaires en terre européenne :

http://www.mondialisation.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=DIN20060509&articleId=2414

Protestas contra bases militares de EEUU en Espana :
http://spanish.peopledaily.com.cn/spanish/200104/02/sp20010402_46341.html

RIQUEZA DE LA BIODIVERSIDAD EN AMÉRICA LATINA

US Military Troops and Bases Around the World :
http://www.globalpolicy.org/empire/intervention/2003/0710imperialmap.htm

U.S. Military Troops and Bases Around the World /united for peace & justice:
http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=884

US Military Expansion and Intervention :
http://www.globalpolicy.org/empire/intervention/index.htm

YACIMIENTOS PETROLEROS EN AMÉRICA LATINA :
http://www.visionesalternativas.com/militarizacion/mapas/mapapetrol.htm

Jules Dufour is President of the United Nations Association of Canada (UNA-C) – Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean branch and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).  He is Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of  Quebec, Chicoutimi.

In 2007, Professor Jules Dufour became Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Québec, a distinction conferred by the Quebec government, for his contributions to World peace and human rights,  his numerous scholarly writings and the work he accomplished in the context of national and international commissions on issues pertaining to regional development, human rights and the protection of the environment.

Translated from the French, first published on Global Research’s French language website: www.mondialisation.ca

Article in French, 10 avril 2007.

 400 billion dollar 40 year oil and gas deal between China and Russia is a response to the new cold war pressure and sanctions on Russia says Professor Michael Hudson

SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

During this year a number of governments applied sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the alleged pro-Russian unrest in the Ukraine. Sanctions against Russia were applied by many countries, with the United States and the European Union taking a lead. In retaliation, Russia has responded with sanctions against a number of countries, including a total ban on food imports from the European Union, United States, Norway, Canada, and Australia.

What does all of this mean to Europe, the United States, and the geopolitical reconfigurations on trade pacts?

Here to discuss all of this is Michael Hudson. Michael is coming to us from New York City. He is the distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

So, Michael, what’s going on this week in Beijing?

MICHAEL HUDSON, PROF. ECONOMICS, UMKC: The APEC meetings. In most such meetings for the last few years, including the G20 meetings (coming up in Brisbane this weekend) nothing really has been done. The United States is attending as the odd man out.

At issue are two different views of how economies should evolve. China is moving for its own trading bloc instead of being in a privatized pro-corporate bloc, it’s a mixed economy. So what you have is the Chinese economy growing very rapidly, and the American economy that’s been going flat.

In a situation like this there’s not really much to say. China and the United States have announced pretty much what they were going to do anyway and make it appear as if they’re all doing it in harmony.

President Obama was talking mainly to his American base, and to the Republican Party in particular to work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. His vision is an agreement that will abolish government regulation of the environment, abolish regulation of banking, and implicitly nullify the Dodd-Frank Act. If a bank misbehaves or a government requires higher reserve requirements, then under the new international law that Mr. Obama is pushing, the government have to pay the private bank as if it weren’t regulated. And if a government imposes environmental fines on a company for polluting the environment, the government will have to pay the company whatever it would have made if it didn’t have any such fines.

The big news in the American press is that China has agreed to lower its air pollution. Well, of course China has to do this. If you’ve been in Beijing, you know it’s a polluted city. So this is just an announcement of where it’s going. Russia announced at the meetings a $400 billion 30-year gas deal with China to increase gas exports, with some oil also going to China. So China will scale back its coal plants, and there’ll be less coal smoke in the air.

Mr. Obama said that the United States is also going to cut back carbon emissions. But he’s still pushing for the XL Pipeline with Alberta to bring tar sands oil into the United States. That is the most high polluting activity on the planet.

What has been less talked about are the banking changes that have been announced.

PERIES: Before you move on, Michael, isn’t it a bit ironic that on one hand China signs an accord with the United States making a commitment to cut emissions, but on the other hand they’re making a deal with Russia that includes oil, a fossil fuel that will obviously increase emissions, not reduce them?

HUDSON: Every economy needs oil to some extent. China has to use oil for many things that gas simply won’t work for. Every country’s GDP goes up in keeping with its energy consumption. You could say the rise in productivity for the last hundred years, throughout the Industrial Revolution, has been an increase in energy use per worker or per unit of output. So it’s energy that’s pushing growth. And of course China needs oil. In fact, one of its problems is that when people are getting richer, they want to have cars, and they use gasoline. So of course China’s going to be dependent on oil from Russia.

Mr. Putin said that as a result of these deals, Russian trade with China and the rest of Asia is going to increase from 25 percent to 40 percent of Russia’s GDP. This leaves Europe out in the cold. What’s been clear at the meeting is that there’s a coming together between China and Russia. This has been the opposite of what American foreign policy has been trying to push for since the 1980s. What is ironic is that where the United States thought that it was putting pressure on Russia and sanctions following the NATO adventure in Ukraine, what it’s actually done is bring Russia and China closer together.

The most important way in which they’re coming together is reflected in Mr. Putin’s announcement that Russia is setting up its own bank clearing house system independent of the so-called SWIFT system. When you transfer funds from one bank to another, or when any bank uses U.S. dollars, it has to go through the SWIFT clearing house system in the United States.

Right now the only country that’s not part of this is Iran. To Russia, this has tipped America’s hand. It showed that what U.S. Cold Warriors really want is to break up Russia and China, and to interrupt their financial and banking services to disorient their economies. So Russia, China and Iran – and presumably other Asian countries – are now moving to establish their own currency clearing systems. To be independent of the SWIFT system and the U.S. dollar, Russia and China are denominating their trade and investments in rubles and yuan instead of the dollar. So what you’ve seen in the last few days in Beijing is a rejection of the dollar standard, and a rejection of American foreign policy behind it.

China has doubled its military spending since Mr. Obama was there in 2009. The president of China politely said, let’s make sure there’s not an accidental bang up in the air or on sea. What he means is, “We’ve defined our airspace over the islands that we’re claiming as ours, so if one of your planes comes too close to ours and we bump into it and knock it down, please don’t take this as an attack on America. We don’t really mean it personally.” So China’s really throwing its weight around.

That’s why Mr. Obama has looked so uncomfortable at these meetings. He knows that he hasn’t gotten anything he wants. Asian countries are not about to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and they’re moving on now to Brisbane, Australia.

In the next few days you’re going to see Europe being left out. The sanctions that the United States and NATO have insisted that it impose on Russia have led to Russian counter-sanctions against French and Baltic and European exports. French farmers are already demonstrating, and Marine Le Pen’s nationalists are likely to win the next election. The Baltic States are also screaming from losing their farm exports. France, Latvia, and even Germany had been looking to Russia as a growing market the last few years. Yet their leaders obeyed U.S. demands not to deal with the Russian market. This leaves Europe in a position of economic stagnation.

As for the sanctions isolating Russia economically, this is just what it needs to protect its industrial revival and economic independence. In conjunction with China, it’s integrating the Russian economy with that of China, Kazakhstan and Iran. Russia is now going to be building at least two atomic reactors in Iran. The center of global investment is shifting to Asia, leaving the United States out as well as Europe.

So you can expect at the G20 Brisbane meetings next week to see increased pressure from Europe to break away from the U.S. sanctions. All the United States has diplomatically at the present time is military pressure, while Russia and China have economic growth – markets and investment opportunities opening up. Despite the fact that there was an agreement on high-technology trade between the United States and China, the U.S. is basically being left out. This seems to be why Mr. Obama was looking so out of sorts at the meetings. He knows that the strategy that he was given by his neocons is backfiring.

PERIES: Finally, Michael, how do you think this is going to be dealt with by Congress and a Republican-controlled Senate now?

HUDSON: Obama said that he looked forward to dealing with the Republicans now that he doesn’t have to deal with the Democrats anymore. Republicans are the only party that would agree to his pro-corporate, anti-labor Trans-Pacific Partnership. He has shown himself to be a Republican in the same spirit as Cheney and George W. Bush. The noises coming out of Washington from Harry Reid and the Democratic leadership are blaming Obama for mishandling the economy so badly and losing them the election – as if it were not their own doing and Steve Israel’s support for Republican-striped Democratic Blue Dog candidates. So if I can paraphrase what Obama essentially said, it’s “I’m a Republican and I’m supporting Wall Street.” He’s letting the Republicans know he’s pushing for the kind of giveaways that the lobbyists have written into the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I think you’ve had Lori Wallach on your show explaining exactly what this is. So you can expect Obama to move even more sharply to the right, getting Republican support while the Democrats pretend to scream in agony and say, “My God, what have we ever done with bringing this guy in?” – while supporting Hillary.

PERIES: Michael Hudson, as always, thank you so much for joining us.

HUDSON: It’s good to be here. Thank you very much.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.