Intellectual Property and The Globalization of Big Pharma

February 15th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

In Slashdot’s “Big Pharma Presses US To Quash Cheap Drug Production In India,” it states:

“Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), are leaning on the United States government to discourage India from allowing the production and sale of affordable generic drugs to treat diseases such as cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. India is currently on the U.S. government’s Priority Watch List — countries whose practices on protecting intellectual property Washington believes should be monitored closely. Last year Novartis lost a six-year legal battle after the Indian Supreme court ruled that small changes and improvements to the drug Glivec did not amount to innovation deserving of a patent. Western drugmakers Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Roche Holding, Sanofi, and others have a bigger share of the fast-growing drug market in India. But they have been frustrated by a series of decisions on patents and pricing, as part of New Delhi’s push to increase access to life-saving treatments in a place where only 15 percent of 1.2 billion people are covered by health insurance. One would certainly understand and probably agree with the need for for cheaper drugs. But don’t forget that big pharma, for all its problems still is the number one creator of new drugs. In 2012 alone, the U.S. government and private companies spent a combined $130 billion (PDF) on medical research.”

And while Slashdot claims that “big pharma, for all its problems still is the number one creator of new drugs,” it should be remembered that much of that money comes from federal grants, or in other words, out of the pocket of tax payers. Once these new drugs are developed, big-pharma’s business model is defended stalwartly by regulators, the media, and other facets of the corporate-financier oligarchy ruling over the Western world. The immense profits generated by the West’s health care racket are not merely helping recover R&D costs – the immensity of “big pharma” in and of itself is testament of this.

Image: Big pharma and big health – there is nothing they can do that we the people can’t do better. Unwrapping the enigma in which our health care exists is step one in medical liberation.

….

So for big pharma to hold profits and the contrived notion of “intellectual property” over the lives of impoverished people abroad is truly indefensible.

Several barriers prevent this skewed formula from being balanced or indeed, tilted in favor of the people.

For one, the notion of “intellectual property” prevents both the knowledge derived from research and development from passing into the hands of others who could potentially improve both the process of developing drugs as well as the very drugs produced in the first place. Since this knowledge is in part paid for by the people, it should be accessible to the people.

Another barrier are regulatory bodies that do not in fact function for the benefit of the health and safety of the people, but the profits and reputations of the corporations utilizing them. The US FDA has literally approved poison for human consumption on more than one occasion – not the result of incompetence, but the result of collusion with profiteering monopolies.

Hitting Back – Open Pharmaceuticals 

Circumventing these barriers will require creativity and ingenuity on the part of the people. Legislation simply will not work, since the legislators are easily and continuously bought off – nor will protests. Instead, we must unwrap the enigma within which pharmaceutical R&D exists, and begin developing our own medical treatments through professional cooperatives.

There are already people working toward this goal – multidisciplinary professionals seeking to circumvent the frustrating pipeline of pharmaceutical and treatment development.

One of these people is Andrew Hessel, who is currently working on a project called the “Pink Army Cooperative.”

Cancer is perhaps the most  frustrating condition with which one can be inflicted. It is also a disease that generates millions for the health care industry and pharmaceutical giants despite the fact that treatments are generally ineffective, and worse still, devastating to those who take them before their inevitable demise.

The Pink Army Cooperative seeks to leverage advances in biotechnology through a cooperative model of R&D as well as implementation, to bring treatments that are both effective and affordable to the people who need them most. It short-circuits the political battle between big pharma and its victims, and goes straight for pragmatic solutions.

From the Pink Army Cooperative’s website, it states:

Can you imagine a cancer treatment made just for you, in a day, for free? One with almost no side-effects?

It sounds like science fiction but I believe it’s within reach if we work together. Here’s why.
When you think about it, cancer is just an infection of your body with some of your own cells that have gone rogue. Not unlike a bacterial infection, which have been treated successfully since penicillin, turning a once-deadly disease into a trivial, take-a-pill-and-go-home fix.

With cancer, treatment requires killing just the rogue cells while leaving the good ones untouched. The challenge is specificity – the ability of the treatment to affect one type of cell and not another. The agents we use today aren’t specific. They’re broad. So broad that they’re akin to busting a few bad guys in New York by nuking the entire city. It’s effective, but there’s a lot of collateral damage. We we really need is a molecular police force able to distinguish good cells from bad – and these were impossible until we had biotechnology.

It is highly recommended that readers continue on with the introduction, as well as browse the rest of thePink Army Cooperative website.

The promise offered by Hessel’s proposal is not merely theoretical. Cancer has been cured through the use of a “molecular police force able to distinguish good cells from bad.” Gene therapy carried out against a variety of blood cancers have already successfully (and so far permanently) cured 120 patients. AP reports in their article, “GENE THERAPY SCORES BIG WINS AGAINST BLOOD CANCERS,” that:

In one of the biggest advances against leukemia and other blood cancers in many years, doctors are reporting unprecedented success by using gene therapy to transform patients’ blood cells into soldiers that seek and destroy cancer.

A few patients with one type of leukemia were given this one-time, experimental therapy several years ago and some remain cancer-free today. Now, at least six research groups have treated more than 120 patients with many types of blood and bone marrow cancers, with stunning results.

“It’s really exciting,” said Dr. Janis Abkowitz, blood diseases chief at the University of Washington in Seattle and president of the American Society of Hematology. “You can take a cell that belongs to a patient and engineer it to be an attack cell.”

In one study, all five adults and 19 of 22 children with acute lymphocytic leukemia, or ALL, had a complete remission, meaning no cancer could be found after treatment, although a few have relapsed since then.

These were gravely ill patients out of options. Some had tried multiple bone marrow transplants and up to 10 types of chemotherapy or other treatments.

While the advances being made against cancer right now are driven by institutions and government funding, the technology that is resulting will lay the infrastructure for Hessel’s Pink Army Cooperative. Manning that infrastructure may be ordinary people from around the world, being educated and trained in all matters biological at their local DIYbio laboratory.

The diving costs and simplicity of modern biotechnology is opening doors to make it as accessible and affordable as personal computing. The “killer app” for personal biotechnology will surely be health care cooperatives that give the masses a truly appealing alternative to the variety of big-business “solutions” being offered now by immense pharmaceutical corporations (costly, ineffective drugs), insurance providers (Obama care, rationed care in the EU), and others parasitically profiteering from the misfortune of others.For readers today, looking into the world of DIYbio and finding a local laboratory (or starting one) can be the first step on the journey toward health care liberation. Like the media monopolies now crumbling in the face of advances in IT, pharmaceutical monopolies will likewise fall. Building bridges to the many dedicated professionals lining these industries will be essential in establishing alternatives that truly serve the best interests of the people.

Remembering that biotechnology is a double-edged sword, able to cut in any direction depending on the hands that wield it, should encourage us to pick it up and ensure it stays in our hands. Technological disparity breeds injustice, and the only true means to reduce this disparity is to put technology into as many hands as possible.

We all know that the radiation from the stricken Fukushima plant has spread around the globe and is poisoning people worldwide. We all know that the West Coast of the United States is being polluted with radioactive debris and that the oceans, the beaches that border them, and even the air is becoming more polluted by radioactivity as time goes on.

You have to ask yourself why the government won’t admit this. It’s not like a disaster half a world away is their fault, is it?

Or is it? Could the United States government have done something to prevent the situation getting to this point?

Nothing in this article is a state secret, everything is in the public domain, but the information is so disseminated that it appears disconnected.

  • the US government knows only too well that the West Coast is polluted with radiation and that the situation is getting worse by the day.
  • the US government and General Electric knew that Fukushima was a disaster waiting to happen, and they did nothing to prevent it.
  • they also know that the many nuclear reactors in the United States are also prone to catastrophic meltdown, and they are doing nothing about it.
  • research by doctors and scientists is being suppressed, and research by private citizens is being written off purely because they have no scientific background.

 All the warnings were ignored

The narrative that leads us to the state we are in today starts in 1972.

Stephen Hanauer, an official at the atomic Energy Commission recommended that General Electric’s Mark 1 design be discontinued as it presented unacceptable safety risks.

The New York Times reported:

In 1972, Stephen H. Hanauer, then a safety official with the Atomic Energy Commission, recommended that the Mark 1 system be discontinued because it presented unacceptable safety risks. Among the concerns cited was the smaller containment design, which was more susceptible to explosion and rupture from a buildup in hydrogen — a situation that may have unfolded at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Later that same year, Joseph Hendrie, who would later become chairman of theNuclear Regulatory Commission, a successor agency to the atomic commission, said the idea of a ban on such systems was attractive. But the technology had been so widely accepted by the industry and regulatory officials, he said, that “reversal of this hallowed policy, particularly at this time, could well be the end of nuclear power.” (source)

Then, three years later in 1975, Dale Bridenbaugh and two colleagues were asked to review the GE Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactor (BWR). They were convinced that the reactor was inherently unsafe and so flawed in its design that it could catastrophically fail under certain circumstances. There were two main issues. First was the possible failure of the Mark 1 to deal with the huge pressures created if the unit lost cooling power. Secondly, the spent fuel ponds were situated 100 feet in the air near the top of the reactor.

They voiced their opinions, which were promptly pushed aside, and after realizing that they were not going to be allowed to make their opinions public all three resigned.

Over the years numerous other experts voiced concerns over the GE Mark 1 BWR. All have gone unheeded.

Five of the six reactors at Fukushima were GE Mark 1 BWR. The first reactor, unit one, was commissioned in 1971, prior to the first concerns about the design being raised. The other reactors came on line in 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978 and 1979 respectively. Although all six reactors were the GE Mark 1 design only three were built and supplied by GE. Units 1, 2 and 6 were supplied by GE, 3 and 5 by Toshiba and unit 4 by Hitachi. (Now Hitachi-GE)

Why isn’t GE being held accountable?

Why wouldn’t GE be held accountable? Here’s one possibility: Jeffery Immelt is the head of GE. He is also the head of the United States Economic Advisory Board. He was invited to join the board personally by President Obama in 2009 and took over as head in 2011 when Paul Volcker stepped down in February 2011, just a month before the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Fukushima.

Paul Volcker was often seen as being at odds with the administration, and many of his ideas were not embraced by the government. The appointment of Immelt, a self-described Republican, was seen as a move to give Obama a leg up when dealing with the Republican majority in the House.

There have been calls from many organizations for GE to be held accountable for the design faults in the reactors that powered the Fukushima plant. The fact that they had been known for so long does seem to indicate that the company ignored and over-ruled advice from nuclear experts.

GE ran Fukushima alongside TEPCO, but it isn’t liable for the clean-up costs.

A year after the disaster, Tepco was taken over by the Japanese government because it couldn’t afford the costs to get the damaged reactors under control. By June of 2012, Tepco had received nearly 50 billion dollars from the government.

The six reactors were designed by the U.S. company General Electric (GE). GE supplied the actual reactors for units one, two and six, while two Japanese companies Toshiba provided units three and five, and Hitachi unit four. These companies as well as other suppliers are exempted from liability or costs under Japanese law.

Many of them, including GE, Toshiba and Hitachi, are actually making money on the disaster by being involved in the decontamination and decommissioning, according to a report by Greenpeace International.

“The nuclear industry and governments have designed a nuclear liability system that protects the industry, and forces people to pick up the bill for its mistakes and disasters,” says the report, “Fukushima Fallout.”

“If nuclear power is as safe as the industry always claims, then why do they insist on liability limits and exemptions?” asked Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a nuclear analyst with Greenpeace Canada.

Nuclear plant owner/operators in many countries have liability caps on how much they would be forced to pay in case of an accident. In Canada, this liability cap is only 75 million dollars. In the United Kingdom, it is 220 million dollars. In the U.S., each reactor owner puts around 100 million dollars into a no-fault insurance pool. This pool is worth about 10 billion dollars.

“Suppliers are indemnified even if they are negligent,” Stensil told IPS. (source)

GE will not have put anything into this ‘pot’ to cover Fukushima, as it is not in the United States. They have walked away, even though they knew their reactors have design faults.

Wait! There’s more!

It’s not that simple, though; and here’s where keeping quiet and denying what’s happening comes into its own.

So far I have not explained why Obama is keeping quiet about the radiation contamination. Well, that’s the easy part.

There are 23 nuclear plants in the United States that use the GE Mark 1 BWR.23.

There are 23 nuclear plants in the United States where the used fuel rods are suspended, in a pond, 100 feet above the ground. (source)

Any admission that radiation has spread across the Pacific Ocean and contaminated American soil is an admission that the technology was flawed, and that same flawed technology is being used in the United States. The government does not want anyone looking closer at the situation. They don’t want people poking around asking questions about why the radiation got out in the first place…it’s too close to home.

Better to say that the radiation is within safe levels, and then if such a disaster happens here they can mourn those in the immediate fallout zone and maintain that the rest of the country is okay, just as it was after Fukushima.

The fact that the CEO of GE works for Obama just highlights the facts. There is no way that Immelt doesn’t know about all the warning his company was given about the design flaws of the Mark 1; and if he knows, the government knows.

Ask yourself this, why after such a monumental event are all the scientific papers regarding the disaster singing the same song?

It is impossible to have so many scientists and doctors agreeing to this level. Nothing has been published regarding the increased rates of miscarriage and childhood thyroid cancers. Why is that?

After Chernobyl there was a plethora of papers announcing to the world the increased cancer risks, the risks to pregnant women and young children. I suggest that because Chernobyl was in Russia, a place where no American technology was used, that there was no suppression of the facts.

GE cannot afford a corporate law suit, and neither can the Obama administration. It wouldn’t be pretty if a senior advisor to the president was hauled through the courts. There’s a chance it would not just be GE that went down in the wake of such a case.

The President of the United States knows that the radiation from Fukushima is worse than it would have been had the reactors used at the plant been of a different design.

Know to the US government, the delicate and hazardous task of removing and storing the spent fuel rods is going to take years, and that one mistake can exacerbate the problems ten-fold.

23 sites in America are using the same flawed reactors and the government is doing nothing about it.

The President of the United States is holding the lives of tens of millions of Americans in his hands and he refuses to even admit there is a problem. He needs to understand that the people of the West Coast are not just pawns in his political game. Moreover he should be explaining what is causing all the fish die-offs if it is unconnected to radiation.

Obama knows that millions of American citizens are being poisoned due, in part, to a failure of American technology. I recognize that the earthquake and tsunami were forces of nature, but the damage sustained could have been reduced considerably by not using the Mark 1.

I understand that these reactors were not installed on his watch, but he’s there now. He’s the one that can make the difference now. It is he who can look into the nuclear power stations on American soil in the hope of preventing a meltdown here.

Our nuclear power stations are old, past their sell by date in some cases. It’s not just the reactors that are the problem either. Hanford, right on the Columbia River in Washington state, as one example, constantly leaks radioactive liquid into the ground, and possibly the groundwater.

The situation at Fukushima is still far from stable, and it will be years before stability is even on the horizon.

Something has to be done before one of our aging power stations starts Fukushima Part ll.

Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. Wake the flock up!

The Geopolitics of Water in the Nile River Basin

February 15th, 2014 by Prof. Majeed A. Rahman

In Africa, access to water is one of the most critical aspects of human survival. Today, about one third of the total population lack access to water. Constituting 300 million people and about 313 million people lack proper sanitation. (World Water Council 2006). As result, many riparian countries surrounding the Nile river basin have expressed direct stake in the water resources hitherto seldom expressed in the past.

In this paper, I argue that due to the lack of consensus over the use of the Nile basin regarding whether or not “water sharing” or “benefit sharing” has a tendency to escalate the situation in to transboundary conflict involving emerging dominant states such as the tension between Ethiopia-Egypt over the Nile river basin.  At the same time, this paper further contributes to the Collier- Hoeffler conflict model in order to analyze the transboundary challenges, and Egypt’s position as the hegemonic power in the horn of Africa contested by Ethiopia.   Collier- Hoeffler model is used to predict the occurrence of conflicts as a result of empirical economic variables in African states given the sporadic civil strife in many parts of Africa. In order to simplify my argument and analysis, I focused on Ethiopia and Egypt to explicate the extent of water crisis in the North Eastern part of Africa.

One may question why Ethiopia?  My answers are grounded in three main assumptions. The first is based on the failed Anglo-Ethiopia treaty in 1902 which never materialized.  The second assumption is based on the exclusion of Ethiopia, since 1902 and the subsequent water agreement of 1929 between Britain and Egypt and the 1959 water agreement between Egypt and Sudan after the later became independent in 1956. The final assumption is the emergence of Ethiopia   as a powerful and influential nation in the horn of Africa because of its military power in the sub region.

Ethiopia has pushed forward her demand to develop water resources through hydroelectric power along the Nile. However, for several decades, Egypt has denied other riparian countries complete access to water resources along the Nile, and for that matter has exercised her hegemonic powers over the development and control of the use of water resources in the Nile river basin for many decades. The Nile river basin has survived centuries, and for many years has served as Egypt’s economic hub, political power and growth since ancient times. The water resources in the Nile basins have also served as economic, political, social and cultural achievements of Egypt’s influence in the sub region1.

The water resources in the past were used as trade routes which enhanced Egypt’s mobile communication and international relations for centuries.  In which many earlier contacts of Egypt described Egypt as “the gift of the Nile” This hegemonic status enjoyed, since the beginning of earlier civilizations of the ancient kingdoms of Egyptian civilization compelled the ancient philosopher Herodotus to describe this civilization as “Egypt is the Nile and the Nile is Egypt.” This again coincides the period of Egyptian economic boom and its political dominion. What has further entrenched Egypt’s position in the past, which ultimately contributed to Egypt’s power over other riparian countries in the Nile river basin is the 1929 water treaty agreement signed between Egypt and Britain2.  Britain, then in charge of many riparian countries as colonies negotiated with Egypt on behalf of its colonies, thereby, giving Egypt an urge over other riparian countries in the use and access to water resources in the river basin.

However, with the attainment of independence by these countries,  high population growth, global warming, global economic crisis natural disasters, political development, pollution and resource depletion, industrialization as well as urbanization, high capital cost of water drilling, poor rural electricity for pumping underground water  have impelled these riparian countries to engage Egypt’s control in order to re-negotiate earlier water treaties and to abrogate all attempt by Egypt to control the use and development of water resources over the Nile3.  Egypt has been in control of the Nile Rivers for a long time and has emerged as the major country that has complete access to the Nile. The shortages of water and water resources in Ethiopia and of course Sudan has prompted those countries to take a second look at Egypt’s access to the Nile, most especially Ethiopia’s attempt to confront Egypt in the Nile river. Berman and Paul concluded that the tension between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Nile is likely to escalate to a war in the future. Due to Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population, in consequence, Ethiopia’s water demand has almost doubled in the last decade4.

Nile River Basin and Declining Water Resources

The Nile river basin comprises of ten countries namely, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. These countries are known as the ten riparian countries due to their proximity to the Nile river basin5.  It is the longest river in the world constituting about 6700 km or 4100 miles long and drains almost all ten aforementioned countries. The flow of the Nile as a naturally endowed commodity has benefited North Eastern countries’ economic activities through agricultural and tourism. About 90% of Egypt’s land mark is desert and therefore, many populations have concentrated along the Nile river basin, due the economic opportunities available along the Nile river basin couple with irrigation activity for landscape farming and animal rearing.6

The complete dependence of water resources over the centuries have caused the Nile river basin to deplete, especially of essential material resources causing high rate of unemployment, diseases and hunger in the countries depending on the water resources. Declan et al, argue that the resource depletion in the Nile river basin is due to three spatial factors, namely global green house effect, regional (through land use) and river basin (land management). This assertion is also consistent with Oxfam studies in Askum region and the drought that has engulfed the entire country. In a brief quote Oxfam indicated the situation in Ethiopia and said:

“Climate variability in Ethiopia is not new – but now, in addition to the usual struggles, Ethiopians living in poverty are additionally suffering the effects of climate change – both more variable climate and more extreme weather events. People who are already poor and marginalized are struggling with the added burden of climate variability. For now, this means that the little that they have goes to dealing with the current unpredictable weather because their livelihoods are so dependent on it. When selling off assets becomes a mean to cope, there is little left to plan for the future. Thus, communities are faced with simultaneously increasing climate variability, and with it increasing risk and vulnerability.7”

Global warming due to climatic conditions and green house emission effect according to Declan et al is one of the contributing factors for the recent water resource decline in the Nile river basin8.  They argued that high temperature couple with underground water reduction in the Blue Rivers in Egypt and Sudan is undergoing drastic impact of global warming. As a result, development along the Nile River has led to water resource pollutions by many riparian countries.9

For example, the Ethiopian and Eritrean wars in the late 1990s polluted a substantial part of the river basin with military accoutrements and missile deposits into the Nile Rivers. This pollution activity is further exacerbated by the huge population growth concentrated in the river basin. This populations growth according to the world water council 2006 have double in the last two decades, and continues to rise amidst migrations to the Nile river basins.10

The impact of population pressures and the resource decline in the river basins is also consistent with Aston’s argument that the southern and the northern portions get less rainfall than their equatorial neighboring countries.11  For example the Nile has two confluent tributaries connecting the White Nile and the Blue Nile, the Blue Nile which is considered the most fertile for crop production flows from Lake Tanna in Ethiopia through to Sudan from the South East.12  The Blue and White river basins also coincide with the division of upstream and downstream riparian, and their source of water. While the upstream mainly benefit on water rainfall, the down streams such as the blue river basins enjoys physical flow of water.

Braune, and Youngxin argue that the demand for allocation of water resources has witnessed several treaties and pointed out that “in the past 60 years there have been over 200 international treaties on water and only 37 cases reported on violence between countries.13.”  These magnitude of the problem resulted in lack of adequate resolution in resource allocation of water resources.

The impact of Industrialization and mechanization has played a significant role as a result of expansion projects along the Nile river basin. In 2004, the Ethiopian minister for trade accused Egypt of using undiplomatic strategies to control Ethiopia’s development projects on the Nile. Said, “Egypt has been pressuring international financial institutions to desist from assisting Ethiopia in carrying out development projects in the Nile basin.14.”

Farming along the Nile is one of the major sources of livelihood for communities living along the concentrated Nile river basins, but the ensuing drought, famine, population growth and land degradation have impacted the water resources in the Nile river basin. The Environmental Protection Agency in its 2010 report also argued that land degradation and deforestation in the river basin due to excessive burning for land cultivation in many parts of the Nile River has virtually eroded the oasis making it extremely tough for cultivation and water conservation.15

Thus before the 1950s, there were fewer resentments on the Nile water resources by riparian countries, however with changing circumstances such as declining water resources, hunger, and diseases, riparian countries have decided to renegotiate themselves in order to access the Nile. Kenya together with Ethiopia are  pioneering this process as seen in the cessionary address to parliament by the Member of Parliament for Kenya Paul Muite in 2004 who remarked “Kenyans are today importing agricultural produce from Egypt as a result of their use of the Nile water.” In a similar statement, Moses Wetangula, the assistant minister for foreign affairs remarked “Kenya will not accept any restriction on use of lake Victoria or the river Nile” and stated  “ it however does not wish to be alone ranger in deciding how to use the waters, and has consequently sought the involvement of involved countries.”16

Methodology

Conflict Theory and the Collier-Hoeffler Model

Kofi Anan reiterated that “Unsustainable practices are woven deeply in to the fabric of modern life. Land degradation threatens food security. Forest destruction threatens biodiversity. Water pollution threatens public health, and fierce competition for fresh water may well become a source of conflicts and wars in the future.’’

This statement by Kofi Anan is buttressed by Amery when he alluded to the Egyptian Member of Parliament’s assertion that Egypt’s “national security should not only be viewed in military terms, but also in terms of wars over waters17.”  The horn of Africa has been bedeviled by conflicts, both interstate and civil wars for several years now. These conflicts are mainly concentrated on the north east and central Africa. While many of these conflicts have been disputes over land occupation in mainly oil rich areas of the Congo, others have been the issue of diverting water resources. This paper examines the water scarcity in the North East with an attempt to focus on Egypt and Ethiopia through the Collier-Hoefer model of theory of civil wars in order to construct the model on water scarcity with an attempt to reconcile the tensions over water resources and its effects on the people of the north East African people.

There have been several applications and interpretations of the earlier conflict theorists propounded by earlier scholars such as Karl Marx, Lenin, and Weber. Collier-Hoeffer, also known as the C-H model is one of such interpretation of recent times. Their analyses on conflict is based on the framework of many variables such as tribes, identities, economics, religion and social status in Africa, and subjecting the data to a regression analysis and concluded that of the many variables identified in Africa and the examination of the 78 five year increments(1960-1999) in which conflicts occur, and of  five year 1, 600 inputs in which no conflicts occur, concluded that based on the data set that economic factors rather than ethnic, or religious, identities are the bane of conflicts in Africa. In complementing this model with the earlier conflict theory propounded by Karl Marx, Marx, recognized the significance of the social and interactions within a given society. These interactions according Karl Max are characterized by conflicts. Hence, the conflict between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie of the capitalist system forms a synthesis of the forces of the interaction within the system.18

Marx, again reiterated the fact that these social and human interactions is dialectical in the sense that when a dominant nation seeks to control dependent nations or peripheral countries what yields in consequence is the tension to rebel against the oppressor by dependent states in order to agitate for equitable and fair share of national resources. This point is consistent with the C-H model when they argued with empirical data on the causes of conflicts in Africa, and concluded that economic factors are the significant predictor of conflict in many parts of the African continent. Therefore, according to C-H, economic reasons contributed to a large extent the greater portion of conflicts in Africa19.  While these economic reasons are varied and numerous due to the resources available in a given region and the allocation of resource whether naturally endowed or man-made, any form of competition to control these resources or allocation of resources will naturally generate two outcomes: tension and potential conflict, and cooperation. In this case, Egypt’s sole access to the Nile for centuries now has invariably gratified itself as the sole control of the Nile water resources.

As a result of the 1929 mandate that gave Egypt absolute control of water resources in the Nile, she has worked to sabotage many riparian countries through other diplomatic and international treaties. Ethiopia has vowed to engage Egypt over the control of water resources in the Nile valley basin. This is exemplified in many water agreement initiated by Ethiopia and the other riparian countries to abrogate all previous agreement hitherto entered by Egypt. Consequently, Stars argues that the looming tension between Egypt and the riparian countries initiated by Ethiopia is a recipe for conflict in the North Eastern Africa20.  For instance, these tensions are exemplified in Egypt’s response to Kenya’s assistant foreign affairs minister’s  statement when Mohammed Abu Zeid, Egypt’s minister for water resources remarked that Kenya’s statements were a “a declaration of war” against Egypt and subsequently threatened Kenya of economic and political embargo.21

This looming tension among riparian countries is further worsened by Kenya’s continuing threat of engagement. In 2002, a senior Kenyan minister Raila Odinga, called for the review and renegotiation of the 1929 treaty which gave Egypt the right to veto construction projects on the Nile river basin, and said “it was signed on behalf of governments which were not in existence at that time.” This paper’s argument is further rooted in the idea that there are emerging players such as Kenya and Ethiopia in the horn of Africa as major hydro-political powers to engage Egypt’s hydro-hegemonic status. Prior to the Nile basin initiative in February 1999, Wondwosen, argues that there have been several similar water treaties such as the 1993 Technical Committee to promote development cooperation among riparian countries. Also, in 1995 the Nile Basin Action Plan was launched, and in 1997, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through collaborations with the World Bank attempted to foster cooperation among riparian countries to promote dialogue.22

This initiative including earlier treaties already mentioned shows the magnitude of the problem in the Nile basin, and of course the consensus necessary to equitably allocate water resources and thereby encourage development projects along the Nile. In 2010, for instance, Ethiopia announced that it was initiating a hydro-electric development projects in order to improve its country’s electric and energy needs. This announcement few days later saw resentment by Egypt and Egypt attempt to veto any such policy along the Nile. While Ethiopia is poised to making this project reality, Egypt has begun galvanizing international support in order to prevent Ethiopia from undertaking such projects.

Cascao, argued that the asymmetrical flow of water resources in the Nile river basin and the access to physical flow of the blue Nile by Egypt and Sudan in the downstream has extremely heighten hydro-political tension over the Nile. These tensions have attracted the United Nations organizations interventions and other international organization on matters concerning the distribution and allocation of water resources in the Nile river basin and in which compensation are offered to other riparian countries unequal access to the distribution of water resources, especially those on the upstream who only benefit rainfall.23

Thus in 1999, nine riparian countries met in Dar Es Salem, Tanzania by the Council of Minister of Water Affairs of Nile River Basin Countries and agreed to cooperate in solidarity for equitable allocation of water resources in the Nile basin as well as for economic integration through sustainable development.24

This economic solidarity through cooperation is declared in the Nile Basin Initiative as the shared vision by riparian countries to promote cooperation and economic well being, while at the same time  “to achieve sustainable socio-economic development through the equitable utilization of, & benefit from, the common Nile Basin water resources25.”  This Nile Basin Initiative is the first attempt by riparian countries to push demand for equal access to the Nile, and  at the time promoting economic cooperation. Egypt’s defiance of the NBI and its lack of participation in the NBI’s initial attempt to convene such a cooperation agreement is a crucial aspect of the NBI’s objective to consolidate through cooperation in the negotiation for equitable distribution. The subsequent institutional mechanism for policy guidelines for riparian countries to agree to follow is set forth by NBI in order to stimulate cooperation rather than intimidation in the allocation of water resources.

The following objectives in February 1999 were set up by the NBI as follows:26

•    To develop the Nile Basin water resources in a sustainable and equitable way to ensure
•    prosperity, security, and peace for all its peoples
•    To ensure efficient water management and the optimal use of the resources
•    To ensure cooperation and joint action between the riparian countries, seeking win-win gains
•    To target poverty eradication and promote economic integration
•    To ensure that the program results in a move from planning to action.

Thus among the NBI’s core functions include among others to promote water resource management, water resource development and capacity building enhanced through cooperation. These initiative have proven worthwhile, in preventing a escalating a major conflict in the region, although there are still tensions among riparian countries along the Nile. Egypt still exercises hydro hegemonic powers in the region because of her absolute control of the Nile basin, Egypt has participated and is willing to cooperate with other riparian countries in bringing lasting solutions to the increasing demand of water resources on the Nile river basin. When it comes down to water resource allocation and distribution, it has always been sidelined and not considered a significant issue in the solution to the Nile problem.

Africa’s interstate conflicts in the past have been on a number of issues such as ethnic and tribal as well as land disputes and acquisitions. The discovery of oil however has proven to be a blessing in disguise in many of the oil regions of Africa. In the Congo for instance, there have been several conflicts with rebels over the control of oil regions of the Brazzaville. This area has not been spared of violence and mayhem for several decades now. In Nigeria for example, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has created havoc and tensions culminating in violence and attacks on oil expatriates in the Niger Delta region. These oil regions in Africa today are bedeviled with conflicts, violent attacks and conflicts in order to control oil resources. The least said about the diamond and gold areas of sub Saharan Africa the better. Similarly, and in consistent with the paradigm this paper takes is the assertion that water conflicts like many of the natural endowed assets bestowed on the African continent is a bane for the continent’s development. In the cases of the Nile, although there is no any imminent conflict, scholars are predicting that the lack of concrete and up-to-date resolution on the water policy regarding the distribution of water resources on the Nile is a recipe for conflict in the region.

Relations of Power

As already mentioned and by extension Herodotus comments on Egypt as “the gift of the Nile,” has been extrapolated by Egypt in order to exercise hydro-political power in the Nile river basin for several decades. This status Egypt has enjoyed for some time now without allowing any riparian countries along the Nile to negotiate any form of control on water resources and development projects such as hydro electric power by neighboring countries. The asymmetrical flow of water resources in the Nile has also afforded Egypt a position of dominance compared to other riparian countries who are situated upstream on the Nile. The Nile’s downstream is currently housed by Egypt and Sudan, consequently, Sudan’s attempt to renegotiate Egypt’s unilateral control on the Nile27.

In 1959, a water agreement signed between Egypt and Sudan gave Egypt 55bcm and 18bcm to Sudan. Again this uneven allocation of resource points to asymmetrical power relations of riparian countries ability to negotiate Egypt to access water resources28.  Cascao, provides a theoretical understanding on this hydro power hegemony of Egypt in controlling water resources. And indicated that the hegemonic power of Egypt is due to many factors in the horn of Africa, but argues that this hegemonic status is about to end as counter hydro hegemonic powers are beginning to emerge in order to contest Egypt’s long standing hegemony in the region. I totally agree with Cascoa, and in fact her analysis is in line with my argument that the position Egypt finds herself is about to change due to first the declining rate of water resources in the Nile.

This is because in the past when life was booming riparian countries made no mention of inequity if water resources however, with the emergence global water crisis due to global warming these riparian countries are beginning to contest power relation on the access to the Nile. Cascao points to “apparent consent” to illustrate the apparent lackadaisical attitudes of consent by riparian countries. This apparent consent, Cascoa argues was latent consents by riparian countries along the Nile on many agreements that were signed as far back in 1902. Ethiopia is a case in point. In many of these water treaties Reginald points to about 60 water agreements since the first one in 1902 which either ignored Ethiopia or Ethiopia decided to apparently consent to by keeping mute to the issue. But what is significant is a looming civil war among riparian countries. There have been scuffles between Sudan and Burundi, also Ethiopia and Eritrea and Rwanda and Somalia in the past several decades without totally engaging Egypt’s hydro-hegemonic power in the region, given the emerging hydro political configuration that is beginning to unravel29.

In order to understand the relations of power and dominance in regards to the situation in the Nile river basin it is prudent to again invoke Cascao analysis of power and dominance as they significantly hinges on the Ethiopia’s counter hegemonic strategy in the Nile river basin for some time now. Cascao begins by citing Gramsci’s definition of hegemony as “political power that flows from intellectual and moral leadership, authority, or consensus as distinguished from armed force30”  she continues to argue “power is relational and the outcome of hegemonic power relations is determined by the interaction of diverse actors” diverse actors for me seem meaningful and significant here in terms of the power relations here. It can be recalled that there are ten riparian countries each diverse with varied needs and demands in regard to the fair allocation of water resources in the Nile. This diversity is yet galvanized for a common interest as seen in the Nile basin initiative put forth by the nine riparian countries.

Once gain the significant portion Egypt occupies comes under a counter hegemonic truce by riparian countries to renegotiate earlier treaties concerning the Nile river allocation of resource which is consistent with Cascao assertion that “power relations are not static or immutable” and points to a dialectical thesis of challenging the status thereby bringing in new status quo with alternatives. This dialectics is one earlier propounded by Marx and Lenin in their conflict theories regarding the suppression of groups and their simultaneous revolt of the existing status quo. In the case of the river basin, these riparian countries see themselves as having asymmetrical power relations with Egypt, and because Egypt’s consistent dominance in both economic and hegemonic political relations in the sub region, there is an attempt to contest existing status quo as seen in the earlier water treaties and allocation of resources in the Nile basin.

Based on the accusations and counter accusations on the allocation of water resources along the Nile, Ethiopia like Egypt have both galvanized for support in terms of international diplomacy and legitimacy over the use of resources in the Nile. While Egypt continues to maintain its legitimacy based of the earlier water agreements and proclamations that exclusively gave Egypt dominance with right to veto any development projects, Ethiopia has taken its stands to engage Egypt on talks to renegotiate Ethiopia’s position of the Nile resources. When it comes to international funding on the Nile river basin, the IMF and the World Bank has withhold funds for development along the Nile because of the looming tension between the riparian countries and has promised not to get itself tangled on the water crisis along the Nile river basin.31

“Water sharing” or “benefit sharing”

The debate as to whether “water sharing” or “benefit sharing” has dominated many scholarly discourse on the Nile issue. According to Teshome, benefit sharing is “the distribution of benefits through cooperation” and argues furthermore that “benefit sharing gives riparian states the chance to share the benefits derived from the use of water rather than the physical distribution of water itself32.”  Teshome’s analysis regarding benefit sharing through cooperation sounds a laudable alternative to riparian countries capacity to cooperate in order to tap water resources, but this argument is idealistic given the power relations along the Nile, and the asymmetrical flow of water resources in the upstream and downstream countries could be difficult to ascertain. I offer the following reason to buttress my argument.

Most significantly, the lack of political will to cooperate by riparian countries is the number one reason benefit sharing could be difficult to achieve. Several water  agreement have been launched since the 1929 Anglo Egyptian water agreement that gave Egypt the exclusive power to monitor development activities along the Nile. The lack of political will is clearly demonstrated by Ethiopia’s “apparent consent” to many water treaties that has been passed. The most recent treaty the Nile Basin Cooperative Frame Work Agreement launched in (1997-2007) shows the nature of participation by riparian countries to cooperate to achieving common goals and the allocation of water resources. This lack of political will is also consistent with Teshome argument that the lack of political leadership has exacerbated the situation to the extent that at present there is no international treaty or agreement that binds riparian countries together. Although the many cooperative agreements between upstream and downstream riparian have sidelined issues bordering benefit sharing in their agenda33.

In addition, problem in benefit sharing cooperative agreement is the fact that many riparian countries comes from different political and socio-cultural backgrounds and are therefore prone to series of political and civil upheavals that will endanger any attempt by riparian countries to cooperate for mutual benefit sharing. The most significant one is the Ethiopia Eritrea conflict that has rocked the region for several years, also the Somalia civil conflicts, the Rwanda Burundi and many others in Sudan has worked to prevent many cooperative agreement to realize its potential. Although mutual benefit is essential its implementation to a full potential is unattainable.

This argument is also supported by Cascao when she argued that cooperative agreement can be a “battle ground for opposing tendencies” (p24) Not only that but, also Egypt’s power and international diplomacy over the region. It is indeed important to acknowledge the role of Egypt’s diplomatic relations in the past that has ushered its dominance over the Nile. The strategic position of Egypt on the Suez Canal has been a strategic location for British involvement in Egypt and for British access to India through the canal. This important location of Egypt was advanced by British interest in India34.  Benefit sharing or cooperative agreement by upstream and downstream countries have been in opposing terms for quite some time now. The recent National Basin Initiative (NBI) has been used as a platform by Ethiopia to get the 1959 water agreement between Egypt and Sudan annulled, since Ethiopia was excluded, and for that matter the other seven riparian countries in order to enact a comprehensive water policy that will promote the advancement of cooperative water sharing without hostilities.

Also, significant factor that hampers any cooperative agreement on benefit sharing is Egypt’s diplomatic influence on the region. If all riparian countries agree to benefit share these cooperative agreement maybe lopsided and for that matter benefit Egypt more than the other riparian because of Egypt diplomacy with Britain and US, and the international organizations including the Arab league. This point is argued in Teshome when he said “Egypt has been pressuring international institutions to desist from assisting Ethiopia in carrying out development projects in the Nile basin …it has used its influence to persuade  the Arab world not to provide Ethiopia with any loans or grants for Nile water development.”

My final alternative is that several water sharing agreements have been adopted by riparian countries at least since the 1959 between Sudan and Egypt in terms of allocation of water resources. This allocation which earmarked 18 BCM to Sudan and 55BCM to Egypt is seen by Sudan as an unfair deal and have since pushed forward for renegotiation on the allocation of water resources that has given Egypt an unfair proportional distribution of resources and for development projects on the Nile. This last alternative could be dangerous in if physical allocation of water resources are to be shared among riparian countries through demarcation, this is because land demarcation and allocation of resources have been one of the dangerous recipe for conflicts currently ongoing on the continent, to physically allocate recourses is nothing but to add more insult to injuries. With emerging hydro-political powers in the region, Ethiopia and Egypt could dominate other countries and for that matter wage physical wars in order to control water resources.

On the basis of the above discussions, it can be safely concluded that the nature of tension in North Eastern Africa most, especially the Nile riparian countries are on a brink of conflict over the control and use of Nile water resources. As already pointed out, and by extension Collier-Hoeffler’s economic analysis of conflicts in Africa did not cite the potential trigger of conflict as a result of the Nile, what is significant about his model is the paradigmatic nature upon which his theory of analysis are based. And since water is a vital part of the economic resources of Africa, this papers concludes that the water resources just as any other economic resource has a full potential of tension and conflict over the Nile river basin by riparian states.

Notes

1.Wonddwossen Teshome B. “Transboundary Water cooperation in Africa: The case of the Nile Basin Initiative.” Turkish Journal of International Relations winter Vol. 7.4 2008 pp34-43
Also see Flintan, F. & Tamarat,I  Spilling Blood Over Water? The case of Ethiopia, in Scarcity and Surfeit, The Ecology of Africa’s Conflict. Lind &J.& Sturman K.(eds)  Institute for Security Studies, Johannesburg (2002)
2.Ibid
3.Ashton, Peter J.  “Avoiding Conflicts over Africa’s Resources” Royal Swedish Academy of Science. Vol.31.3, 2002 pp236-242
4.Berman and Paul, “The New Water Politics of the Middle East. Strategic Review, Summer 1999. 21-28
5.Wonddwossen Teshome B. “Transboundary Water cooperation in Africa: The case of the Nile Basin Initiative.” Turkish Journal of International Relations winter 2008 Vol. 7.4 pp34-43
6.Alcamo, J., Hulme, M., Conway, D., & Krol, M. “Future availability of water in Egypt: The interaction of global, regional and basin scale driving forces in the Nile basin”. AMBIO – A Journal of the Human Environment, 25(5), (1996). 336.
7.Oxfam 2009 report
8.Kim, U., & Kaluarachchi, J. J. “Climate change impacts on water resources in the upper Blue Nile river basin, Ethiopia.” Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 45(6), (2009). 1361-1378.
9. ibid
10.World Water Council Report 2006
11.ibid
12.Wonddwossen Teshome B. “Transboundary Water cooperation in Africa: The case of the Nile Basin Initiative.” Turkish Journal of International Relations winter 2008 Vol. 7.4 pp34-43
14.Braune, Eberhard and Youngxin Xu2. “The role of Ground Water in the Sub Saharan Africa.” Vol. 48.2 March 2010, pp229-238
16.Cam McGrath and Sonny Baraj “Water Wars  Loom along the Nile” 2004 news 24.com
17.EPA North East Africa 2010 report
18.Ibid
19.UN Secretary General Kofi Anan
20.Karl Marx. “Capital” A Critique of Political Economy Vol. 1, translated by Samuel Moore and Edward Avelling Ed.  F.Engels 1887
21.Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler. “Economic Causes of Civil War.” Oxford Economic Papers Vol50.4 1998, pp563-573. Also in Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler Greed and Grievance in Civil War. World Bank Policy Research—Working papers number 2355 May 2000
22.J.R. Stars “Water Wars” Foreign Policy  Issue 82 991pp17-20
BBC 12 DEC 2003 also see AL-Ahram, 26 February 2004
23.Ibid also see Ana Elisa Cascao “Ethiopia- Challenges to Egyptian hegemony in the Nile Basin” Water Policy 10 supplement 2 (2008)
24.Ana Elisa Cascao “Ethiopia- Challenges to Egyptian hegemony in the Nile Basin” Water Policy 10 supplement 2 (2008)
25.Ana Elisa Cascao “Ethiopia- Challenges to Egyptian hegemony in the Nile Basin” Water Policy 10 supplement 2 (2008)
26.The Nile Basin Initiative NBI
27.Ibid NBI
28.ibid
29.ibid
30.ibid
31.Gramci 1971 cite in Cascao (2008) p.18
32.World water council report 2009
33.ibid
34.ibid
35.Cascao “water policy” document No. 10

Majeed A. Rahman is Professor of African Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milawaukee.

The Killing of Osama bin Laden was an “American Hoax”

February 14th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Posted on GR in September 2013
-
By readers’ request, this is a reposting of a translation of a Pakistani National TV interview with an eyewitness to the alleged SEAL Team Six attack that allegedly killed Osama bin Laden. I made the translation available two years ago in an article prior to the creation of this website.  
Before you believe “your” government’s lies about Syria, remember “your” government’s lies about Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction.” Remember Washington’s lies about the Gulf of Tonkin that unleashed the Vietnam war. Remember the lies about Gaddafi and Libya. Remember  the lies about 9/11, the lies about the murders of JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. Remember the Northwoods Project that the Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted President John F. Kennedy to embrace. 
The Northwoods project called for shooting down US airliners, shooting down people on the streets of Miami and Washington, D.C., and strafing Cuban refugee boats in order to blame Castro and build public support for regime change in Cuba. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Northwoods
Sound familiar?  Sound like regime change in Iraq, Libya, Syria? 
The top secret Operation Northwoods plot against Cuba and the American people was officially released and is available online, as are numerous histories of the proposal by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff to kill Americans in order to create support for invading Cuba. Keep this established fact in mind before you again repeat the gullible and reassuring statement: “our government wouldn’t kill its own people.”  
Try to find any of Washington’s agendas about which the government spoke truthfully. The US government is so enamored of its secret agendas that Washington never speaks truth.  Keep in mind that Washington’s 12 years of wars, which have doubled the US national debt and left the federal government without the means to help the rising number of Americans whose jobs have been given to foreigners and whose homes are  foreclosed, have their origin in 9/11, the investigation of which was prevented by the White House. After resisting for one year the pressure from 9/11 family members for an investigation, the White House created a political panel to listen to the government’s line and to write it down in the 9/11 Commission Report.
The Obama regime has shown no interest in investigating how the most powerful national security state of all time, a Stasi police state that spies on the entire world, could be defeated by a few Saudi Arabians, who had no support from any government or any intelligence service, or why instead of a real investigation, the Bush White House chose an orchestrated cover-up.
The US government’s claim to have killed bin Laden has a zero probability of being true. According to Pakistani eye witnesses to the attack on the alleged Osama bin Laden compound in Pakistan, the Obama regime’s claim is simply more theater, more lies.
In this interview from Pakistani National TV you can learn about your government’s lies about killing Osama bin Laden.

Pakistan TV Report Contradicts US Claim of Bin Laden’s Death — Paul Craig Roberts

http://www.globalresearch.ca/pakistan-tv-report-contradicts-us-claim-of-bin-laden-s-death/25915  

August 6, 2011 

In my article, “Creating Evidence Where There Is None,” http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2011/08/05/creating-evidence-where-there-is-none/  about the alleged killing of Osama bin Laden by a commando team of US Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan, I reported a Pakistani National TV interview with Muhammad Bashir, who lives next door to the alleged ”compound” of Osama bin Laden.

I described the story that Bashir gave of the ”attack” and its enormous difference from the story told by the US government. In Bashir’s account, every member of the landing party and anyone brought from the house died when the helicopter exploded on lift-off. I wrote that a qualified person could easily provide a translation of the interview, but that no American print or TV news organization had reported or investigated the interview of Muhammad Bashir by Pakistani National TV..

An attorney with a British Master of Laws degree in international law and diplomacy, who was born in Pakistan, provided the translation below. He writes: ”I have no problem with being identified as the translator, but would prefer to remain anonymous. “

The translator provides these definitions and clarifications:

  •  ”Gulley” is generally referred (in Urdu) to a sidewalk or pavement. Also for the space between two houses.
  • “kanal is a traditional unit of land area, so that one kanal equals exactly 605 square yards or 1/8 Acre; this is equivalent to about 505. 857 square meters.
  • Muhammad Bashir refers to himself as ”We”. This is common respectable language for the self; to use the plural term instead of singular. The English language equivalent would be the ”Royal, We”.
  • Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan.

The translator:

I have translated the entire text of the video. 

I have tried my best to keep words in a chronological order, but in some cases this is not possible, as in translation words must be replaced in reverse order to make sense! However, I have had to put a few words in brackets to clarify meaning. If you want to ask about any section—please supply time stamp and I will supply a contextual text.  

Video Transcript:  

welcome back!—Muhammad Bashir, Abotabad Area, Bilal Town resident, Looks like an ordinary person, but he is no ordinary person! Muhammad Bashir, lives in Abotabad’s, Bilal Town Opposite Bin Laden’s House. 

Night of 2nd May Muhammad Bashir was on the roof of his house, whereupon, the entire OBL, American operation was seen with his own eyes.

Last night, when our team was in Abotabad, Bilal Town, near OBL house, Muhammad Bashir approached me and said that:

“Sister, I want to tell you something that is a great burden on my heart and conscience”—Listen to what he said:  

00: 59 Muhammad Bashir: I. . today. . . would like to comment about todays Abotabad operation events, until now, what I am about to say, no person has said.

01: 08: Reporter: But, Muhammad Bashir sahib appeared frightened. While speaking to me, Muhammad Bashir sahib phoned his relative; leader, M. E. A. of Jamaat-e-islami, Abotabad, Abdul Razaq Abaasi on the phone.

01: 21: reporter: Tell me your name and where do you live?

Muhammad Bashir: —One minute, first I need to speak to him. . . I am going to give an interview, a complete interview. Shall I give a complete interview or half?

Reporter: Complete!—complete!

Muhammad Bashir: I first need to phone him, I need to speak to him

Reporter: I could of. . .

01: 39: Reporter: Muhammad Bashir sahib, on that night’s events of the American operation, that took place, he expressed such comments about circumstances that have never been expressed before, therefore, we checked his ID card, his place of residence and we can confirm that he definitely lives there and we also approached senior politicians and asked about him, after hearing his comments, we were amazed—now you watch what he said.

01: 57: Muhammad Bashir: The events that happened are thus; we were awake, we were not asleep.

02: 00: Muhammad Bashir: a Helicopter came, and circled and dropped some people there.

02: 07: Muhammad Bashir: in that house. . . where they are saying, Osama lives here; on that house’s roof, they dropped people, after that, the helicopter returned and went back.

02: 16: Reporter: How many people were they?

02: 18: Muhammad Bashir: They were ten, twelve people

02: 20: Muhammad Bashir: After that it left and for approximately 20 minutes, there behind us, on those mountains, it kept going around, the top of the mountains.

02: 27: After 20 minutes, it returned. When it returned, at that time there were TWO more helicopters arrived. One came from the West and one came from the North. When it approached for landing, after that. . .

At this point; Video cut and resumed:

02: 41: Muhammad Bashir: that helicopter, there was an explosion within it and there was fire within it, immediately, we

came out and arrived there. When we arrived, the helicopter was on fire, it was burning. After that, about twenty minutes later the Army arrived, the police arrived. They moved all of us back. . .

03: 04: Muhammad Bashir: . . . and all the people inside it, all of them. . . we think; if Osama was inside it, or inside this house—then who took him to the Americans?

03: 16: Muhammad Bashir: Because America. . . the helicopters that America is saying; IT carried out the operation. If America did this operation and it’s army came and it’s helicopter came, then that helicopter that came from the American’s, within that, all the people that came, those people with the explosion were finished, got destroyed!

03: 35: Muhammad Bashir: Within it, there was fire, those people, all of them died!

03: 39: and if Osama was there, they would have put him in the helicopter. Obviously, if the helicopter caught fire, Osama could have died there. If their own people were gone, (dead) so could have Osama. After that, the fallen helicopter was destroyed after this, how can Osama be, with them in America? this is a strange thing!

Video cut & resumes

03: 59: Muhammad Bashir: They are saying we killed Osama here. After that, they picked him up and took him away.

04: 04: Muhammad Bashir: PICKED HIM UP AND TOOK HIM AWAY—how did they do this? This, what we are thinking!

04: 07: Muhammad Bashir: The Americans’ helicopter that came, that fell here and got destroyed!

04: 09: Reporter: There was only ONE helicopter?

04: 11: Muhammad Bashir: ONE helicopter landed down here, the second helicopter came from above and went towards Mansera.

It did not land. No second helicopter landed!

04: 20: Only ONE helicopter, that first dropped it’s passengers, the SAME returned to pick the people and there was an explosion within it.

04: 27: Reporter: People were inside it?

04: 29: Muhammad Bashir: People were inside it!

04: 30: Reporter: How do you know this?

04: 32: Muhammad Bashir: These people, we seen them all

04: 34: Reporter: In the helicopter. . . you saw dead people?

04: 36: Muhammad Bashir: We saw dead people!

04: 38: Reporter: How many people?

04: 39: Muhammad Bashir: This, we could not count, within the compound there was fire.

04: 43: Muhammad Bashir: and we. . . the gate was open, we entered the gate, at that time the Army had not arrived.

04: 48: Muhammad Bashir: Police had not arrived. Some people from the agencies, were present, but they did not prevent anybody, they kept entering, every person was looking , now, nobody is saying, but everyone from the mohalla (neighbourhood) and all the people present from the mohalla arrived first. We saw the gate open, we entered inside, saw the burning helicopter, the people inside were dead. After that everything was lifted. Now, there is nothing there!

05: 16: Reporter: How many dead bodies did you see?

05: 18: Muhammad Bashir: Look, you cannot count, the dead bodies were in pieces everything else was broken pieces, some here, some there, some broken, some half, some like this.

05: 27: Reporter: Tell me fully—what happened?

06: 30: Reporter: Tell me the full events

05: 31: Muhammad Bashir: I told you, this is. . .

05: 32: Reporter: You did not. . . I cannot believe this, that’s why.

05: 36: Muhammad Bashir: Look, what I have said—that’s it!

Video Cut!

05: 39: Reporter: When you saw the American craft, (Helicopter) what did you think, why they came here?

05: 42: Muhammad Bashir: We thought. . . this is it. . . why did they came? we thought why did they come? maybe. . we. . . did not

expect them to do anything, we thought maybe our Army is arriving at some centre and the army people were sleeping,

there was no explosions or events taking place, nothing was happening, everybody was sleeping, for 20 minutes or so. . .

06: 05: Reporter: The craft landed in front of your house, how did you feel about this?

06: 08: Muhammad Bashir: I thought. . just. . . understand. . . imagine. . we thought we’re dead!

Video cut:

06: 13: Reporter: But, how did the Americans return?

06: 16: Muhammad Bashir: This is what I am saying; their Craft came and the helicopter was destroyed, HOW, could they return?

06: 22: Reporter: Tell me this; you say, that you saw the dead bodies yourself. . . .

06: 25: Muhammad Bashir: one more thing, Madam, may I tell you; The people who were dropped from the craft, That walkway . . . that . . where our gates are. . . they banged them hard. . . and shouted. . . don’t come out. . . don’t do this, don’t do that, if you come

out you will be shot. . we will do this, we will do that, all the people who were dropped, all of them spoke Pashtu

(Afgahni Language)—Pakhtun!

06: 49: Reporter: Who were these people?

06: 49: Muhammad Bashir: This I do not know! Those who were dropped from the craft (helicopter), those people.

06: 54: Reporter: This, somebody else told me—that they spoke Pashtu.

06: 57: Muhammad Bashir: They WERE Pashtun! we do not know if they were working for the Americans, we do not know if they were working for Pakistan, we do not know if they were army people or civilian, what people, BUT they SPOKE PASHTU!

07: 07: Reporter: You said you heard they were asking for Osama?

07: 09: Muhammad Bashir: No, they didn’t ask me about Osama, they just said, do not come out, if you come out from your house, we will shoot you!

07: 16: Reporter: Were these Pakistani people?

Muhammad Bashir: who?

07: 18: Reporter: The ones who were saying that if you come out, we will shoot you.

07: 20: Muhammad Bashir: They said that in Pashtu!

07: 22: Reporter: so did they. . were you coming out. . . exactly where were you, where was you standing when this happened?

07: 26: Muhammad Bashir: Inside the house, on top of the roof, I was not in the house, just on top of the (flat)roof

07: 29: Reporter: from Above the roof these people in the helicopter. . .

07: 30: Muhammad Bashir: I was on the roof, sitting, no, lying down, on the roof,lying and watching this and what was happening

07: 37: Reporter: Fear, was you not afraid? did you not think to phone someone?

07: 40: Muhammad Bashir: From the house, They were calling me from downstairs, the children were calling me, come down, come down, and I told them stop making noise! go into your rooms, I am watching what is happening. Afterwards, I found

out about this, that, Osama was killed here!

07: 53: Reporter: How did you get inside? (the compound)

Muhammad Bashir: where?

Reporter: when there was fire.

Muhammad Bashir: the gate was open, when there was fire, the gate was open.

08: 02: Reporter: The house gate was open?

08: 03: Muhammad Bashir: The outer gate, the big gate, was open.

08: 06: Reporter: You came from upstairs to downstairs?

08: 08: Muhammad Bashir: I came down, from my own house into the gulley, I didn’t go alone inside the other house, 200 other people went inside! Everybody saw it!

08: 15: Reporter: All 200 saw the dead bodies?

08: 17: Muhammad Bashir: Everybody saw this. Whoever went inside they saw everything!

08: 20: Reporting: the events at that time that are in your mind, please express them.

08: 28: Muhammad Bashir: I have told you this and this, in my mind, this is what I have seen, when we were there, when we entered the gate, When the helicopter exploded, it scattered everywhere, one piece fell over there, one fell here, one here, a lot of pieces fell in the gulley outside, they reached up to the gulley and our house and also some pieces managed to reach onto my roof. so, the area of the open space there (in front of the house) is about four Kanal in size. It is a very large compound. You cannot see all of it from one location. Four Kanal is a big area, only in a small area you could possibly see everything. There I saw some people, in broken pieces, someone’s leg, someone’s arm, someone’s torso, someone’s head. Beside this, I did not see intensely, who are they, how are they, because I thought that one of our own craft had fallen and the people within it were our own people. Because they spoke Pashtu they could be pakistani.

09: 35: Muhammad Bashir: but language does not necessarily mean. . by speaking it. . . the American language could be spoken, the agents can speak all sorts of languages. It could be that it is the American army and they could speak Pashtu and the people would think that it is our own people.

09: 54: Reporter: Seeing the dead bodies—did you not feel fear?

09: 57: Muhammad Bashir: But we were thinking about ourselves at the time, but seeing the dead bodies who felt frightened?

10: 00: Reporter: When you went inside, what did you do after that, how did you come out?

10: 02: Muhammad Bashir: we came out, our Army reached there, when the army arrived, they moved all the people back. Move aside, move aside! So we moved aside. Then they closed the area down.

10: 13: Reporter: did Rais see this?

Muhammad Bashir: What?

Reporter: where was your cousin?

10: 18: Muhammad Bashir: My cousin was at that time in the house.

10: 20: Reporter: Did he go with you?

10: 21: Muhammad Bashir: He was with me, but I did not notice when he was picked up.

10: 28: Reporter: Has he returned yet?

10: 29: Muhammad Bashir: Yes, he has returned. They picked him up and took him away.

10: 32: Reporter: What is he saying?

10: 34: Muhammad Bashir: I have not met him yet, he is at home they will not let him come out, we are not allowed to visit him, they will not let him come out. We have not met.

10: 40: Reporter: You was not able find out, but since when have you been allowed out.

10: 45: Muhammad Bashir: I did not go home, by going home. . .

Reporter: You have seen the fire you have seen the bodies how long did you stay there?

Muhammad Bashir: approximately, after five or six minutes, I left and came out. . five, six minute. . what happened . . . . the reason we left, was that after we entered, there was another small explosion, I do not know if the engine fail and

there was another fire, it was a small explosion, after this explosion all the people ran out.

11: 06: Muhammad Bashir: when we went out, nobody let us go back in again.

11: 11: Reporter: Besides you, why is nobody else saying these things? why are you alone in this?

11: 16: Muhammad Bashir: Look, what we have seen, that is what we are saying and we are speaking for this reason that, we are sad that such humble and nice people of our town, that has never seen such events, no fighting, no arguments, no animosity, No murders, such nice people of ours in this town and they have been branded as terrorists.

11: 43: Reporter: Tell me; two helicopters came, lifted and took the rest of the people?

11: 46: Muhammad Bashir: No—they did not take the rest of the people, because they did not even land, One came from the West and it left towards the North, the one that came from the North, left towards the South. They did not land!

12: 00: Studio Reporter: these events that we showed you from Abotabad, there are many more things that we discovered about the compound where OBL was staying, there were vegetables planted there, what kind of vegetables, the person who grows the vegetables is the cousin of this person (Muhammad Bashir), whose interview we have shown. An extraordinary thing that he has said and he has sworn repeatedly on the veracity of his statement. this is from his own account and upon this account do view this. Yesterday we found out and it has been confirmed that there were two Ashfaq’s who lived there (in the compound): Mr Arshad and Mr Tariq who went shopping locally and used to buy international brands, the items they found in the house, dry dates, dried meat and things like this, this person who you saw in the interview in his house there was food from OBL’s house, he was given Kaabli Pillau (Rice) and such items were presented to him, There the view of local mosque people, what they think of OBL all these things we will present to you in an exclusive program an important newsbeat, todays time is finishing, do write to us at newsbeat@samaa. tv where you can get other information as well and you can join us at newsbeat with Fareeha Idrees thats my favourite bit, do write to us, the time is up now, By your permission to leave, take care of yourself, In Allah’s care.

13: 20: Reporter: I am now at standing in front of Abdullah Bin Zubair Mosque, this is the same mosque that is within walking distance from OBL’s house. Are you saying that if people found out that OBL was living here, would they be happy?

1st man: Possibly, people could be happy.

2nd man: He wasn’t living here, but he was a Muslim, he believed in Allah.

End of translation

Anyone fluent in Urdu who wishes to dispute the translation should do so.

I asked the translator if he might contact the Pakistani news organization and inquire if the reporters had further investigated Bashir’s story. He replied that he could do so, but exactly 24 hours later ”for some unknown reason” the news organization started to discredit Bashir by connecting ”him to his cousin, who is accused of receiving foodstuffs from the household of OBL.

Bashir’s cousin is the person who, according to the reporter (see 12:00 time line) had a vegetable garden inside the wall of the alleged bin Laden compound. Is it likely that with a hunted and dangerous person hiding within, locals would be permitted to have vegetable gardens inside the compound? The cousin’s vegetable garden obviously had to be redefined as receiving foodstuffs from OBL.

The translator offers his view on the 13:20 timeline:

“The final seconds of the video clip contain random people to generate and show some kind of sympathy with OBL in the district.  

It would be very difficult to find people in Pakistan who sympathize with OBL or the Taliban. The only people who do sympathize are the poor illiterate people who do not know about the religion and can easily be convinced of a distorted version of Islam.

“Therefore, the closing part of the video contains, out of context expressions:

“1st man: Possibly, people could be happy. (Meaning it is possible that SOME people could be happy. )

2nd man: He wasn’t living here, but he was a Muslim, he believed in Allah. (Meaning; he claimed to be Muslim, so he must have believed in Allah. )

Therefore, it seems that although initially, the TV station was overjoyed with this interview, they changed their tune, twenty four hours later. (for some unknown reason.)

Readers can arrive at their own conclusions. It seems clear that under intense pressure and serious threats from the US government, the Pakistani government fell in line with the US government’s claim that a commando raid had killed bin Laden, and that the TV news organization got the message to get in line also.

It is likely that the many witnesses who observed the dead from the helicopter crash have been warned to keep quiet. However, a news organization, should one be so inclined, could certainly interview Bashir and the 200 others who saw the dead bodies. A good reporter, perhaps accompanied by trained psychologists, would be able to tell if people were lying out of fear and encourage some to speak anonymously.

I am confident that no news organization believes that it could confront such an important US national myth in this way. The killing of bin Laden satisfies the emotional need for revenge and justice. In the least, a news organization that challenged the government’s story would be cut off from all government sources and be denounced by politicians and a large percentage of the gullible US population as an anti-American terrorist-serving organization. They could even be arrested for giving aid and comfort to the enemy. In America today, truth-tellers are the last thing the government and much of the brainwashed public wants to here.

OBL’s death will remain one of those many ”truths” that rest on nothing but the government’s word. 

***

UPDATE September 2013:  When is the last time the US government told the truth about anything? Despite an unbroken history of lies, the word of the US government still carries weight, especially with gullible Americans.

The link in my original article to the interview with Bashir has been taken down. This might be the original Pakistani National TV interview:

In another interview the BBC interviewed 50 residents of Abbottabad. The residents said that it was impossible that Osama bin Laden lived in their midst without their knowledge. The person who lives next door to the alleged “bin Laden compound” said that the resident shown in the American photo was not bin Laden, but his neighbor whom he knew well.  The Pakistanis say the killing of bin Laden is an American hoax.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWcDDSg9O7c (Preview)  
The Obama regime’s story of the murder of bin Laden is nonsensical. The fact that the regime would tell such a preposterous story indicates that Washington regards the American and international public as gullible morons, people lacking any ability to discern the truth of what they are officially told. 
Who can believe that the “terror mastermind,” the head of what is said to be the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world, would be left alone, unguarded and unarmed, with only two women to protect him?  Who can believe that such a defenseless person with such essential information for Washington’s war on terror would simply be shot on sight by US Navy SEALs?  Why would Washington waste such an archive of information?  
Why would Washington forego the triumph of parading their captive before the world and confronting him in a courtroom with his crimes?  
Why would Washington dump the body secretly into the sea without even having photographic evidence to back the story?  Why would Washington tell such a preposterous story for which it can supply no evidence whatsoever?  
Why would Obama, faced with a reelection campaign, forego the patriotic publicity of a White House ceremony at which he pins medals on the
victorious SEALs?  What politician would forego such an opportunity?
Do you really believe that the SEALs’ identity had to be protected in order to keep them safe from terrorists, or that Obama would let his reelection take a backseat to such a consideration?
No politician would handle the capture of Osama bin Laden in such a politically wasteful way.  Can you imagine a politician throwing away such marvelous opportunities for PR events?  Can you imagine an intelligence service destroying such a valuable source of information without interrogating Osama bin Laden?
Now consider this:  The Obama regime claims to have given bin Laden a
proper Muslim burial at sea from an aircraft carrier, the Carl Vinson, named after a U.S. Representative from Georgia who served in the House for more than 50 years and is known as “the father of the two-ocean Navy.”
The aircraft carrier has approximately 6,000 personnel.  From emails that sailors sent home to family and friends, none witnessed the sea burial of bin Laden.  
When the story of the emails got out, Washington quickly announced that bin Laden’s burial was conducted in secret and that no one but a few officers were involved.  
Think about this for a minute.  First of all, here again is a massive victory over the forces of terrorism being kept from sailors whose moral it would have raised.  Why keep a moral-boosting victory over terrorist evil from 
the crew of a deployed warship?  What was achieved by the secrecy?
Why give up the photography of such an important American victory that could so well stimulate patriots’ worship of Obama?  It makes no sense whatsoever.
Second, do you really believe that an at-sea burial can be conducted on a ship with 6,000 personnel with watches being kept, with sailors on deck performing a variety of necessary functions, and no one saw?  I mean, really!  6,000 people on one ship, and no one saw?  Were they all lockedin their bunks?
Now consider the fate of SEAL Team 6, whose members allegedly murdered Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.  Shortly after the alleged hit on bin Laden, SEAL team 6 was wiped out in Afghanistan.  The Obama regime claims that a helicopter carrying the SEAL team was shot down by the Taliban.
Just as the Bush regime’s story of 9/11 ran into opposition from the 9/11 families, the Obama regime’s story of the SEALs’ demise ran into opposition from SEAL families who studied the documents that comprised the Obama regime’s account. I don’t remember if I wrote about the SEAL families’ challenge to the government’s story, but I did some interviews about the families’ disbelief. The interviews or some of them would be posted on my website, such as http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/07/28/obamas-seal-team-6-coverup-explosive-paul-craig-roberts-interview/  
The SEAL team families noticed that normal deployment operational procedures were not followed, that the entire SEAL team was loaded on a 50-year old Vietnam war era helicopter and not dispersed as required on their normal modern attack helicopters, and that a variety of other procedures devised to protect such expensively trained special forces were not followed. SEAL team members, according to parents, had written home expressing concerns about their safety. One told his father he had made a will. According to parents, the SEALs themselves sensed that they were in danger from internal forces, not from the external enemy.
Of course, there is no proof.  The criminal Obama regime will not indict itself.  But, just as the Carl Vinson sailors did not witness any at-sea burial of Osama bin Laden, the members of the SEAL team were asking each other, ”who was on the mission that got bin Laden?”
As it turned out, none were. Fearful of the emails that would follow the SEAL team’s discovery that no one was on the mission, the team was eliminated.
Yes, I know, Hollywood made a movie of the heroic SEAL team’s exploit in murdering an unguarded, unarmed “Terror Mastermind.”  An alleged SEAL wrote a book describing the “victory” of eliminating, prior to interrogation, the source of all terrorist plots, leaving the Americans in the total dark. The movie and book are likely nothing but organized propaganda to support the government’s lie.
Considering the gullibility of Americans, little doubt that the movie and book were successful.  It plays to the emotions of uninformed and unaware Americans that they have won.  They are equally happy when their favorite football team defeats the rival. The happiest days experienced by a generation is when Auburn defeats Alabama or vice versa, or Georgia Tech defeats Georgia or vice versa.  Americans are addicted to winning, and they remember these victories forever.  Little else is important to them.  Obama told them that they had defeated Osama bin Laden, who had died ten years before of terminal illnesses prior to his staged murder in a propaganda event, and that is all that is important to Americans. They won. “We beat bin Laden!”  And Obama won. Despite his sell-out of his every constituency and his transparent lies, Obama won reelection.
Obama is an anomaly. He is a warmonger who won the Nobel Peace Prize.  
Keep in mind that prior to the Obama regime’s announcement that the indispensable, exceptional country had killed bin Laden, Obama’s standing was so low that the Democrats were discussing running a candidate against him for the Democratic presidential nomination.
By faking an American victory over the demonized bogyman, Obama dispensed with threats to his reelection.
Thus, with Osama bin Laden, we have a man who only died twice.

The following letter was sent to Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, regarding her position on Israeli “democracy.”

You were quoted in the “Jewish Tribune” as saying that “Israel plays as the bulwark of democracy in the Middle East.” It seems to me that you “have not thought through the real politic of life in the Middle East” to quote you. Here are the facts:

Israel has over fifty laws that discriminate against 20% of its Christian and Muslim citizens:
http://adalah.org/eng/Israeli-Discriminatory-Law-Database

See also the Index of Currently Pending Discriminatory Bills in the 19th Israeli Knesset:
http://adalah.org/Public/files/Discriminatory-Laws-Database/Discriminatory-Bills-19th-Knesset-24-06-2013.pdf

Following is the moral and principled position of the Green Party (USA) and the Left Party in France:
Green Party (USA) reiterates support for BDS.
The Left Party in France joins the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
http://www.lepartidegauche.fr/actualites/communique/le-parti-gauche-s-engage-dans-les-campagnes-boycott-desinvestissement-sanctions-l-egard-d-israel-25718

I hope that you won’t call their position anti-Israeli, the way you described the “‘anti-Israeli stance’ of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME)”. I urge you to not “pander” to the pro Israeli lobby the same way the other leaders of Canadian federal parties do, otherwise Canada and by association the Canadian people’s reputation internationally is doomed. I urge you to rethink your biased and emotional position.

Thanks for your attention

Hanna Kawas
Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver
24 November 2013

The Foreign and Expatriates Ministry on Wednesday sent two identical letters to the UN Secretary General and the President of the UN Security Council saying that on January 31st , 2014 while visiting the occupied Syrian Golan, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman made statements which embody an insolent approach to the events in Syria and recklessness with the relevant UN resolutions on ending the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan and all occupied Arab lands since 1967.

During the visit, Liberman called for “settling the Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights in the framework of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the events in Syria,” saying “part of this comprehensive bargain has to cover an understanding between Israel, the international community and the US stating that Golan is part and parcel of Israel.”

He claimed that “the security dangers linked to our capability to defend north of the country requires a recognition of Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights by the international community.”

“It seems that Israel, an authority existing through occupation, didn’t stop at involving in supporting the armed terrorist groups in Syria, but mistakenly believes it can exploit its backing to a terrorist war on Syria to achieve its expansionist dreams and try to legitimatize its occupation of the Syrian Golan, turning a blind eye to all international relevant resolutions on ending the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan including resolution No. 497 of 1981,” the letter said.

It added that those statements the requirement to remind Israel that the UN Security Council has affirmed in Resolution No. 497 of 1981 that the Israeli decision issued on December 14th, 1981  to impose its laws, administrative and judicial custody on the occupied Syrian Golan is null and void  and has no legal value, a stance to which the UN General Assembly has annually affirmed via its resolutions, the latest of which No. 84/68 states that Israel, until now, did not abide by UN Security Council resolution No. 497 of 1981 and that Israel ‘s decision issued on December 14th, 1981 is null and void.

The General Assembly, in the 5th item of the same resolution, also called on Israel to withdraw from the whole occupied Syrian Golan to the June 4th, 1967 line.

The Foreign Ministry said that after the 47 years which have passed on Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan and the international community’s adoption of hundreds of resolutions which call for the end of this occupation and the stop of its inhuman and racial policies as well as the acts of killing against civilians in the occupied Arab lands, Israel still turns a blind eye to all international resolutions. Furthermore, Liberman’s  statement indicates an escalation of Israel’s recklessness disregard for the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly.  

“The government of the Syrian Arab Republic, while draws the attention of the UN Secretary General and the US Security Council President to the dangers of such statements and the accompanying Israeli hostile practices, calls on the UN, particularly the Security Council to take the necessary procedures to guarantee the respect for its resolutions and oblige Israel to end its occupation of the Syrian Golan and withdraw from it into the line of June 4th, 1967,” the Ministry said.

It added that Syria renews the assertion that the continuous dealing of the UN with the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan is routine without any serious move to enforce the Security Council’s resolutions, which  encourages this illegal situation to continue in our region and undermine the credibility of the UN organization.

The Ministry called for issuing this letter as an official document of the Security Council and General Assembly under the two agenda items of 35 and 52.

The Postal Bank as the People’s Bank?

February 14th, 2014 by Miles Howe

With its back to the proverbial wall, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers has its thinking cap on. And while it’s not a new idea – first Canada Post president Michael Warren was making the same pitch decades ago – one of the main notions now being floated towards making Canada Post solvent is the creation of a postal bank.

Deepak Chopra, current head honcho at Canada Post, has noted that the postal service doesn’t have the expertise to enter the banking sphere, and that the only answer to the corporation’s woes is slashing service and jobs.

Bolstering Chopra’s grim prognosis is a Conference Board of Canada study, The Future of Postal Services in Canada, which suggests that while postal banking is a good idea – and has worked in a variety of countries around the world – the Canadian banking sector already “has a highly developed financial sector that extends from large banks to small credit unions.”

In short, the Canadian financial field is already full.

Not so, says Geoff Bickerton, Research Director at CUPW and longtime Canadian Dimensionscontributor. Granted, Canada Post doesn’t have the expertise yet, concedes Bickerton. But the rules of finance are fairly straightforward, and it isn’t rocket science.

“It’s not necessarily like sending a person to land on Mars,” says Bickerton. “President’s Choice formed a bank. Wal-Mart formed a bank. There’s talent out there you can buy, you can do things in partnership. Other institutions have done it. It’s possible.”

As for the Conference Board study, Bickerton challenges the notion that the authors say that postal banking is good for the global goose, but not for the Canadian gander.

“Other countries have gotten into postal banking and have done very well, but in the case of Canada we ‘already have a developed banking sector?’” says Bickerton. “Unlike Switzerland, say. What do they know about banks? That’s why the authors didn’t elaborate on that section of the report, in my opinion, because they would have had to elaborate on that idea.”

There is also the issue of our increasing reliance on the internet, which brings into doubt the actual need for more physical banks in this age of online services. It’s been instrumental in the downward spiral of postal service delivery, and the Canadian Bankers’ Association has reported that since 1990 there has been a 22% drop in the number of bank branches.

Would Canada Post simply be throwing its lot in with one more institution set for extinction?

No, says Bickerton, because the postal bank would be a different type of bank, one guided by a mandate of serving the unserved. Traditional banks are closing, true. But they’re also exclusive places and increasingly centralized in high density, higher income, areas, like shopping malls.

To prove the point, he draws back the curtain of a boardroom at the Holiday Inn in Dartmouth. Outside is the neon rush of another Pay Day loan storefront, a high interest loan provider that preys largely upon those who have been excluded from traditional banks due to poverty.

“We know who uses the pay day loan system,” says Bickerton. “It’s basically the people who have been excluded form our ‘great’ banking system. In many cases they are part of the 3-5% of the population who don’t have banks accounts. These are the poorest people in the country and they are systematically excluded from the banks. We know that First Nations people are often the greatest users of the pay day loans. Why? Because they are the most excluded from our banking system.”

Another of the great bank-excluded classes are rural Canadians. And here, with its cross-country network of postal outlets, Canada Post would be at a distinct advantage. Bickerton notes that there are over 2,000 bank-less communities across the country that are served by a postal outlet. Add a financial service delivery capacity to these outlets - et voila - an instant underserved market, goes the logic.

Bickerton and CUPW aren’t yet at the stage of proposing an actual postal banking model. From the United Kingdom, to France, to New Zealand, to Brazil and beyond, there are a variety of models to choose from, ranging from full counter service to simple bill-paying centres. The similarity that all these countries’ models share is that their postal banking services all help shoulder the financial load of personal mail delivery. And that helps keep the valuable jobs associated with mail delivery.

“We’re not proposing any one specific structure yet,” says Bickerton. “There are reasons for that. Firstly, we want to concentrate on gaining support for the concept. And frankly, we want to work with our allies on this. We need to do more research. We need to know more about the industry. And most importantly we need to be flexible, because along the way we’re going to be approached [by other banks or credit unions] who want to do business with Canada Post.”

There is, of course, the notion of a bank as a blunt tool driven by profit at all cost that doesn’t necessarily jive with the forward-thinking, sometimes radical, Canadian Union of Postal Workers. From their Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel to their solidarity work around the world, the CUPW is often at the vanguard of outwardly thinking, union-led, resolutions.

Could the CUPW, in good faith, champion the Canadian banking system, regardless of whether a postal bank were to provide services to unserved or underserved communities?

I ask Bickerton what might make a postal bank any less morally corrupt than, say, a Scotia or Royal Bank, institutions that many activists have distanced themselves from in exchange for a more localized financial plan. His answer, at this formative, pitch stage of the process, was understandably not complete. The suggestion is that it will be up to the vigilance of those involved, notably CUPW, to keep Canada Post honest in the banking world.

“If the board of directors of Canada Post has their way you can be sure that Canada Post postal bank would be at least as morally corrupt as Scotia Bank, if not leading the way,” says Bickerton. “This is where the whole question of the mandate becomes central. It will depend on the mandate, but firstly we have to get to that stage.

“We don’t want simply another place where people can go and make deposits and withdrawals. We want an institution that will have as a mandate, one of social inclusion, where we will actually attempt to deal with the problems that people face in this country when it comes to access to financial services.”

How the Credit Card Gravy Train Is Running Over You

February 14th, 2014 by Ellen Brown

The credit card business is now the banking industry’s biggest cash cow, and it’s largely due to lucrative hidden fees. 

You pay off your credit card balance every month, thinking you are taking advantage of the “interest-free grace period” and getting free credit. You may even use your credit card when you could have used cash, just to get the free frequent flier or cash-back rewards. But those popular features are misleading. Even when the balance is paid on time every month, credit card use imposes a huge hidden cost on users—hidden because the cost is deducted from what the merchant receives, then passed on to you in the form of higher prices.

Visa and MasterCard charge merchants about 2% of the value of every credit card transaction, and American Express charges even more. That may not sound like much. But consider that for balances that are paid off monthly (meaning most of them), the banks make 2% or more on a loan averaging only about 25 days (depending on when in the month the charge was made and when in the grace period it was paid). Two percent interest for 25 days works out to a 33.5% return annually (1.02^(365/25) – 1), and that figure may be conservative.

Merchant fees were originally designed as a way to avoid usury and Truth-in-Lending laws. Visa and MasterCard are independent entities, but they were set up by big Wall Street banks, and the card-issuing banks get about 80% of the fees. The annual returns not only fall in the usurious category, but they are returns on other people’s money – usually the borrower’s own money!  Here is how it works . . . .

The Ultimate Shell Game

Economist Hyman Minsky observed that anyone can create money; the trick is to get it accepted. The function of the credit card company is to turn your IOU, or promise to pay, into a “negotiable instrument” acceptable in the payment of debt. A negotiable instrument is anything that is signed and convertible into money or that can be used as money.

Under Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code, when you sign the merchant’s credit card charge receipt, you are creating a “negotiable instrument or other writing which evidences a right to the payment of money.” This negotiable instrument is deposited electronically into the merchant’s checking account, a special account required of all businesses that accept credit.  The account goes up by the amount on the receipt, indicating that the merchant has been paid.  The charge receipt is forwarded to an “acquiring settlement bank,” which bundles your charges and sends them to your own bank. Your bank then sends you a statement and you pay the balance with a check, causing your transaction account to be debited at your bank.

The net effect is that your charge receipt (a negotiable instrument) has become an “asset” against which credit has been advanced.  The bank has simply monetizedyour IOU, turning it into money.  The credit cycle is so short that this process can occur without the bank’s own money even being involved. Debits and credits are just shuffled back and forth between accounts.

Timothy Madden is a Canadian financial analyst who built software models of credit card accounts in the early 1990s. In personal correspondence, he estimates that payouts from the bank’s own reserves are necessary only about 2% of the time; and the 2% merchant’s fee is sufficient to cover these occasions. The “reserves” necessary to back the short-term advances are thus built into the payments themselves, without drawing from anywhere else.

As for the interest, Madden maintains:

The interest is all gravy because the transactions are funded in fact by the signed payment voucher issued by the card-user at the point of purchase. Assume that the monthly gross sales that are run through credit/charge-cards globally double, from the normal $300 billion to $600 billion for the year-end holiday period. The card companies do not have to worry about where the extra $300 billion will come from because it is provided by the additional $300 billion of signed vouchers themselves. . . .

That is also why virtually all banks everywhere have to write-off 100% of credit/charge-card accounts in arrears for 180 days. The basic design of the system recognizes that, once set in motion, the system is entirely self-financing requiring zero equity investment by the operator . . . . The losses cannot be charged off against the operator’s equity because they don’t have any. In the early 1990′s when I was building computer/software models of the credit/charge-card system, my spreadsheets kept “blowing up” because of “divide by zero” errors in my return-on-equity display.

A Private Sales Tax

All this sheds light on why the credit card business has become the most lucrative pursuit of the banking industry. At one time, banking was all about taking deposits and making commercial and residential loans. But in recent years, according to the Federal Reserve, “credit card earnings have been almost always higher than returns on all commercial bank activities.”

Partly, this is because the interest charged on credit card debt is higher than on other commercial loans. But it is on the fees that the banks really make their money. There are late payment fees, fees for exceeding the credit limit, balance transfer fees, cash withdrawal fees, and annual fees, in addition to the very lucrative merchant fees that accrue at the point of sale whether the customer pays his bill or not. The merchant absorbs the fees, and the customers cover the cost with higher prices.

A 2% merchants’ fee is the financial equivalent of a 2% sales tax – one that now adds up to over $30 billion annually in the US. The effect on trade is worse than either a public sales tax or a financial transaction tax (or Tobin tax), since these taxes are designed to be spent back into the economy on services and infrastructure. A private merchant’s tax simply removes purchasing power from the economy.

As financial blogger Yves Smith observes:

[W]hen anyone brings up Tobin taxes (small charges on every [financial] trade) as a way to pay for the bailout and discourage speculation, the financial services industry becomes utterly apoplectic. . . . Yet here in our very midst, we have a Tobin tax equivalent on a very high proportion of retail trade. . . . [Y]ou can think of the rapacious Visa and Mastercharge charges for debit transactions . . . as having two components: the fee they’d be able to charge if they faced some competition, and the premium they extract by controlling the market and refusing to compete on price. In terms of its effect on commerce, this premium is worse than a Tobin tax.

A Tobin tax is intended to have the positive effect of dampening speculation. A private tax on retail sales has the negative effect of dampening consumer trade. It is a self-destruct mechanism that consumes capital and credit at every turn of the credit cycle.

The lucrative credit card business is a major factor in the increasing “financialization” of the economy. Companies like General Electric are largely abandoning product innovation and becoming credit card companies, because that’s where the money is. Financialization is killing the economy, productivity, innovation, and consumer demand.

Busting the Monopoly

Exorbitant merchant fees are made possible because the market is monopolized by a tiny number of credit card companies, and entry into the market is difficult. To participate, you need to be part of a network, and the network requires that all participating banks charge a pre-set fee.

The rules vary, however, by country. An option available in some countries is to provide cheaper credit card services through publicly-owned banks. In Costa Rica, 80% of deposits are held in four publicly-owned banks; and all offer Visa/MC debit cards and will take Visa/MC credit cards. Businesses that choose to affiliate with the two largest public banks pay no transaction fees for that bank’s cards, and for the cards of other banks they pay only a tiny fee, sufficient to cover the bank’s costs.

That works in Costa Rica; but in the US, Visa/MC fees are pre-set, and public banks would have to charge that fee to participate in the system. There is another way, however, that they could recapture the merchant fees and use them for the benefit of the people: by returning them in the form of lower taxes or increased public services.

Local governments pay hefty fees for credit card use themselves. According to the treasurer’s office, the City and County of San Francisco pay $4 million annually just for bank fees, and more than half this sum goes to merchant fees. If the government could recapture these charges through its own bank, it could use the proceeds to expand public services without raising taxes.

If we allowed government to actually make some money, it could be self-funding without taxing the citizens. When an alternative public system is in place, the private mega-bank dinosaurs will no longer be “too big to fail.” They can be allowed to fade into extinction, in a natural process of evolution toward a more efficient and sustainable system of exchange.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, chairman of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the bestselling Web of Debt. In her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. She is currently running for California State Treasurer on a state bank platform.

Fear and Loathing in Turkey: Erdogan versus the Gulenists

February 14th, 2014 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

At first glance, the Turkish scandals that emerged in December 2013 appear to be cases of ordinary corruption, but under the surface a power struggle is unfolding.

Unlike the Gezi Park protests, this confrontation is among those in power and not merely the Turkish government and a cross-section of opposition movements.

The two antagonist camps are, in one corner, the Gulenists, which are the acolytes of the influential US-based scholar, Fethullah Gulen (the preacher “beyond the ocean”) inside the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey’s state institutions, and the followers of Prime Minister Erdogan and what can be referred to as the National View portion of the AKP in the other corner.

Iran appears to have been caught in the middle of the crossfire between two rival Turkish cliques due to the involvement of Halkbank.

Vendetta, persecuting AKP corruption, or regime change operations?

Tensions between the Gulenists and the Erdogan camp and his allies had been building for some time, but the divorce between them revealed itself in full when the Turkish government announced in November 2013 that it was going to close Turkish private preparatory schools and tutorial halls. This was an attack on the Gulenists, designed to weaken or de-fang them, because they run numerous prep schools in Turkey and around the world as lucrative sources of revenue, as well as for the recruitment and indoctrination of new members. While an earlier scandal involving secret peace talks with Kurdish separatists in 2012 saw a battle between the two camps, the closure of the preparatory schools was the point of no return. Erdogan’s decision transformed the silent internal power struggle between the two camps into an open war.

The break up between the two sides appeared after the resignation of MP Idris Bal from the AKP on November 30, in protest to the shutting of the private schools. Bal’s resignation was followed by the resignation of MP Hakan Sukur, an outright Gulenist, on December 16. Sukur even publicly admitted that he consulted Fethullah Gulen himself about his decision. MP Hasan Hami Yildirim, also associated with the Gulenist movement, would resign on December 31, 2013.

The day after the withdrawal of Sukur from the AKP, criminal investigations were officially launched against AKP members and their families that included charges of money laundering, construction fraud, bribery, and the illegal sale of Turkish citizenship. The groundwork for these investigations was secretly prepared in 2012, the same year as the battle over the Kurdish peace talks. Three anti-corruption investigations resulted in a major scandal for the Turkish government. Gulenist or not, the chief prosecutor was Zekeriya Oz, responsible earlier for the Ergenekon investigation against members of the Turkish military that were allegedly planning a coup d’état against the AKP. The McCarthy-style prosecutions led by Oz were witch hunts that had the unbending support and praise of the AKP government, which branded Oz a national hero.

 

A demonstrator carries a shoe box, a symbol of the corruption scandal after police found $4.5 million secreted in shoe boxes in the home of the chief executive of Turkish state-owned Halkbank, during an anti-corruption protest in Ankara on January 11, 2014. (AFP Photo / Adem Altan) A demonstrator carries a shoe box, a symbol of the corruption scandal after police found $4.5 million secreted in shoe boxes in the home of the chief executive of Turkish state-owned Halkbank, during an anti-corruption protest in Ankara on January 11, 2014. (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

 

Infamous photos of shoe boxes full of millions of dollars found inside the CEO of Halkbank’s home were leaked to the media for publication by the Turkish investigators. Prime Minister Erdogan’s reaction was harsh. He intervened directly in the investigations, creating tensions with the police and judiciary. The AKP government was outraged that they were not consulted before any investigation was initiated. All police and law enforcement units were ordered to henceforth inform their superiors, and essentially the government, about all their investigations for approval.

Hundreds of police and law enforcement agents, including key police chiefs in Istanbul and throughout Turkey, were dismissed and the AKP put forward a plan to restructure the Turkish judicial system. Hereafter, by government order, journalists were no longer allowed to enter Turkish police departments. Eventually, the Turkish government would remove five thousand individuals from their posts, including from the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) and the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK). The justifications for the moves were that the AKP was purging state institutions of the Gulenist cult, which was creating a state within the state and collaborating with foreign interests.

Erdogan also struck out at Oz, revealing that Oz himself was involved in corruption and took multiple lavish vacations around the world annually. Indicating the depth of the inner struggle, the media also began receiving humiliating tapes of Prime Minister Erdogan’s private telephone conversations, which painted a picture of a cover-up attempt on his part.

Graft probes aimed at hurting Turkish ties with Iran?

There has been a corresponding and less explosive scandal in Iran, with an uproar in the Iranian Parliament and many MPs questioning the government. Tehran also arrested the Iranian billionaire, Babak Zanjani, who is the boss of Reza Sarraf/Zarrab in Turkey. Zanjani was commissioned by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government to circumvent the US-led sanctions against Iran. The Halkbank Scandal put Zanjani’s operations under closer scrutiny by the authorities in Tehran. After the graft scandal in Turkey became public, Iranian authorities probably realized that Zanjani and his associates were pocketing much more money than they were entitled to for the covert trade that they were responsible for facilitating on behalf of Tehran. Zanjani was consequently charged by Iranian police for embezzling approximately two billion dollars from government funds.

The Iranian media has not really joined the dots together, or discussed the connections between Zanjani and Halkbank in depth. Understandably, their government and its partners do not want to delve too deeply into how they have used Turkey and other countries, including China, to internationally circumvent the US-led sanctions regime. Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi has even asked, while speaking to the Mehr News Agency, that the Iranian media not cover corruption stories like the one involving Zanjani, because of the effects it could have on investment in the Iranian economy.

What it is important to be aware of is that the graft scandal in Turkey has erupted at a time when the Turkish government has been trying to silently distance itself from the neo-Ottoman policies that it has adopted since the Arab Spring erupted in 2011. While Ankara’s political ties with Tehran and Moscow were steadily degenerating as a result of the AKP government’s stillborn neo-Ottoman stance to carve out a sphere of influence for Turkey in the Arab World, Turkish officials were becoming more and more painfully aware that Turkish ties with Iran and Russia are indispensable.

Ankara had optimistically expected that the Syrian government would collapse and then would mend its ties with Iran and Russia afterwards, but it slowly realized that the neo-Ottoman regional order it originally envisaged was unfeasible. As a result, in the final months of 2013, the Turkish government appeared to soften its stance against Damascus, at least in its public rhetoric, and began to embark on a path to rebuild and repair its ties to Iran and Russia. There have also been numerous reports suggesting that Ankara has asked Tehran in closed door talks to repair Turkish ties with the Syrian government.

 

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Tehran on January 29, 2014. (AFP Photo / HO / Iranian Supreme Leader's Website) Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R), with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Tehran on January 29, 2014. (AFP Photo / HO / Iranian Supreme Leader’s Website)

 

In the context of moving closer towards Iran and Russia, Prime Minister Erdogan asked President Vladimir Putin and Russian officials, during a press conference held in St. Petersburg in November 2013, to let Turkey enter the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a full member and promised that Turkey would forget any idea of joining the EU if it entered the SCO. This was not the first time that Erdogan had talked about Turkey being admitted into the SCO, the last time he mentioned it was during an interview on Turkey’s Kanal 24 in January 2013. This time, however, he also asked that Turkey join the Eurasian Union that Russia and its sister-republic allies, Kazakhstan and Belarus, are forming.

About two months after the St. Petersburg press conference with Putin, Erdogan went as far as to denounce and backtrack on the AKP’s neo-Ottoman policy, while visiting Japan in January 2014. He declared in the presence of his Japanese hosts that Ankara had no ambitions for Turkey to become either a regional or global power. This is quite a different position from the one that Foreign Minister Davutoglu and Erdogan had espoused in 2011.

The Turks additionally called for the Iranians to participate at the second international peace conference on Syria in Switzerland and hosted Iran at a January 17 conference in Sanliurfa for all the countries bordering Syria. Ankara also began the work to bridge its position with the Iranian and Russian positions on Syria by coordinating joint positions on certain issues before Geneva II was held in Montreux. Furthermore, Prime Minister Erdogan visited Tehran late in January, despite a warning from Washington, and forged common ground on Syria.

US and Israeli meddling inside Turkey?

The Turkish government is blaming the US and Israel for its battle with the Gulenists. This is a repeat of the accusations that the AKP government leveled about the foreign hand that was responsible for the Gezi Park protests. These claims can be dismissed as diversion tactics, but they do hold some weight.

Catching wind of how Iran was working through Turkey to circumvent sanctions, the US government banned gold exports to Iran in July 2013. This may be the same time that investigators inside Turkey discovered that Halkbank’s CEO was receiving money from Sarraf/Zarrab, which means that there is a possibility that they may have been informed by US channels or vice-versa; they may have informed the US government through the Gulenist movement or other channels. The US and Israel were also upset that Halkbank was going to be used by India to make New Delhi’s debt and oil payments to Iran.

Prime Minister Erdogan’s cohorts report that there is an international conspiracy to ruin Turkey, while the Gulenist faction claims that Erdogan and his allies are lying to hide their corrupt practices. A much smaller faction of the media has reported that the government corruption has been exposed by the Gulenists, due to political motivations and the objective of regime change.

 

A Turkish protester holds up a placard with pictures of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and the United States-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen reading "We will cast them down" during a demonstration against corruption in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul on December 25, 2013. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic) A Turkish protester holds up a placard with pictures of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and the United States-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen reading “We will cast them down” during a demonstration against corruption in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul on December 25, 2013. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

 

The Gulenists have been portrayed as, knowingly or unknowingly, being US and Israeli agents, working as pawns for the interests of Washington and Tel Aviv. The Gulenist role in revealing Halkbank’s services to Tehran gives room for entertaining this notion, because it has hurt the interests of Erdogan and Iran. There are also other factors that give credibility to the view that the Gulenists are tied to the US and Israel. These factors are: the opposition of Fethullah Gulen to Turkish efforts to send an aid flotilla to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in 2010; Gulen’s recognition of Israel as the proper authority in Gaza in line with his pro-Israeli stance; and Gulen’s aggressive and unfathomable opposition to a peaceful settlement in Turkish/Northern Kurdistan or southeastern Turkey.

Regardless of the nature of their ties to Washington and Tel Aviv, the Gulenists have worked to further US and Israeli objectives through their demands in Kurdistan. Nor is it a coincidence that the same people in the US and Israel that talk about dividing Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran also talk about dividing Turkey. The military option in Turkish/Northern Kurdistan that the Gulenists have desired would have negative effects on Turkey and the bordering countries. It would destabilize Turkey, polarize Turkey’s Kurdish citizens, and amplify the ethnic cleavages between Turks and Kurds. It short, it would catalyze the Kurds throughout the region into mobilizing against their governments and divide Turkey, which is a scenario that benefits the US and Israel.

Do not be fooled into thinking that Fethullah Gulen’s movement is some wholesome organization. It is a shadowy organization with lots of money and assets around the world, and no one knows how these things were initially procured. It could very well be funded by the CIA as a means of gaining influence in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The movement has also had its schools in other places closed. The aged Gulen himself may not even have any control over the organization. Turkish government officials additionally have refrained from mentioning it by name too, instead consistently using cryptic language about it. The purges show that there is real fear amongst them.

The corruption probes that were launched by the Gulenist have nothing to do with upholding the law. The probes are a form of retaliation by Gulen in the power struggle with Prime Minister Erdogan and his allies. The Gulenists never had any problems with government corruption earlier. They have been a party to it and unvaryingly looked the other way during previous scandals, such as the Deniz Feneri scandal, which the same judiciary was blocked from investigating.

It should not be forgotten, either, that Erdogan himself is the one who allowed the Gulenists to gain access to important positions and offices. He had no problem with this as long as they were partners. Nor should it be forgotten that his government has also been intimately tied to the US and Israel, both openly and clandestinely.

 

Fethullah Gulen (AFP Photo / Zaman Daily / Selahattin Sevi)Fethullah Gulen (AFP Photo / Zaman Daily / Selahattin Sevi)

 

Jinni of uncertainty out of the bottle?

The grassroots and rank and file of the AKP are being split. There are increasing groans from within about Prime Minister Erdogan. Tensions reportedly exist between him and President Abdullah Gul too. One of the ministers that resigned, Erdogan Bayraktar, even said that Erdogan was fully aware of everything that was happening and has defiantly called for him to step down from the premiership.

A revolt within the AKP against Erdogan and his political lieutenants could eventually come as the AKP’s political strength further erodes. The Turkish municipal elections due to be held in March 2014 will stoke these flames.

Possibly in a sign of the AKP’s panic about the upcoming mayoral elections, Turkish officials have ordered that the assets of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) main opposition candidate in Istanbul be confiscated due to a bad loan dating back to 1998. The move has been seen as a way to insure that the AKP incumbent in Istanbul keeps his position.

There are probably still remnants of the Gulenists within the AKP that have not withdrawn from the governing party, which will probably show their faces with time, and perhaps when an AKP revolt against Erdogan and his allies is in full swing.

Turkey has also been damaged in multiple ways. The Turkish lira’s values have fallen and speculation has hurt the economy further, not to mention that the key person from the US Treasury responsible for managing the US-led sanctions regime against Iran arrived in Turkey to discuss Halkbank.

The Turkish judiciary now sits at the heart of the internal struggle with the government purges. While the AKP claims that it is trying to remove subversive elements, its critics maintain it is erasing the independence of the judiciary by officially subordinating the courts to the Turkish government.

The upper echelons of the Turkish military are now bravely making statements in the political arena too. Retrials for the convicted members of the Turkish military have been asked for. There are legitimate fears in the Turkish intelligentsia about the return of military tutelage.

The question that arises from all this is whether the fighting between Erdogan and the Gulenist has been designed to prevent Turkey, corrupt or not, from upholding an independent foreign policy that would allow Ankara to shift towards the orbits of Iran and Russia.

This article was originally published by Russia Today on February 10. 2014.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California.

Ignorance in the form of stereotyping people from other parts of the world can have unpredictable consequences, sometimes leading to mass suffering that a more enlightened view might have avoided.

In 1922, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee held hearings on a joint resolution in support of the Balfour Declaration, a letter five years earlier from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour expressing support for a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine but vowing to avoid injuring non-Jewish inhabitants.

Rep. Hamilton Fish, the committee chairman and a pro-Zionist representative from New York, called an array of witnesses, including a few who did not favor a “Jewish home” in Palestine. This did not mean that the committee’s support for the Balfour Declaration was ever really in doubt, but rather the apparent openness resulted from the political influence of certain academics, as well as American Christian missionary societies, who were sympathetic to Arab nationalist aspirations.

Among those who testified against the resolution was Fuad Shatara, a Palestinian-born American citizen and successful physician who led an organization called the Palestine National League. He told the committee that a good number of Palestine’s Zionist community were devoted socialists, which had the potential of raising congressional concerns about leftist “red scares.” If accepted, this political dynamite could have unsettled committee members enough to derail the resolution.

But Shatara’s quite accurate assertion was not accepted by Fish and his committee. It was not even investigated because it appeared utterly counterintuitive. Why so? We learn the answer from committee member Rep. Henry Allen Cooper of Wisconsin, a successful lawyer and an imperialist who had supported the retention of the Philippines as an American colony following the Spanish-American War.

According to Cooper, the assertion that socialists were active among the Zionists in Palestine could not be true, because all the world knew that the Jew is “proverbially a believer in private property.” In other words, at least some members of the U.S. Congress had bought into the stereotype that a capitalist orientation is a congenital part of Jewish culture.

There was, of course, a racist undertone to this stereotype, and in Europe such a belief, conjuring up the figure of Shylock, had contributed to widespread anti-Semitism. Nonetheless, there it was coming out of the mouth of a U.S. politician with a seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

We now fast-forward 91 years to last December. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-California, a member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities. On Dec. 4, he appeared on C-SPAN to discuss the negotiations of the P5 + 1 powers (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) with Iran seeking to limit that country’s nuclear energy program in exchange for a lessening of international sanctions.

A Tea Party Republican and a U.S. Marine veteran, Rep. Hunter said he was suspicious of these negotiations because he feels that even if there is a positive outcome, Iran cannot be trusted. Why so? Iran is part of the Middle East and, according to Hunter, “In the Middle Eastern culture it is looked upon with very high regard to get the best deal possible, no matter what it takes, and that includes lying.” In other words, at least some members of Congress have bought into the stereotype that lying is a congenital part of the Middle Eastern personality.

Hunter also said that if worse came to worst and a confrontation occurred, the United States should avoid “American boots on the ground”; instead “you do it with tactical nuclear weapons and you set them back a decade or two or three.”

Once more we can readily identify the racist undertone of the anti-Muslim stereotype. It presently feeds into an Islamophobia that has led to hysteria and violence toward Muslims from some elements of the American population. And now we see it coming from the mouth of a U.S. politician with a seat on the congressional subcommittee for (of all things) intelligence.

Beliefs with Consequences

These two examples of stereotypes reflect ignorance bordering on stupidity and, despite their near-century divide in time, they both feed into behaviors with large destructive potential. In 1922, Rep. Cooper probably gave little or no thought to the fact that his endorsement of the Balfour Declaration would contribute to the displacement of millions of Palestinians, the destruction of an entire culture, and all the death and misery that goes along with such a process.

If he thought about this at all, he would probably have agreed with his fellow committee member Rep. W. Bourke Cockran of New York, who saw Jewish immigration into Palestine as akin to the white man’s arrival in the New World – what Cockran regarded as an indisputably good thing. (Cooper’s disbelief that Jews could be socialists also was meant as something of a compliment.)

Rep. Hunter, however, is much more a conscious militarist. His vision of the Middle East is not overlaid with misplaced idealism. His assessment of Iranians as liars had no positive element and could lead to a face-off on the battlefield.

If it comes to that, Hunter advocated use of an aerial assault, including “tactical nuclear devices.” He said, “That is the way to do it with a massive aerial bombardment campaign.” Hunter has done several combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and knows what dead and maimed Middle Easterners look like but that apparently does not bother him too much.

Indeed, with his glib reference to the use of tactical nuclear weapons laid alongside his stereotype of all the region’s people as congenital liars, who knows what horrors the baby-faced congressman is capable of.

The Greek poet Homer, who lived around the 8th century BCE, once bemoaned, “Would that strife might perish from among gods and men.” I don’t know about the gods, but today among men there seems little hope of Homer getting his wish.

The ignorant, the ideologues and the stereotypers call out to each other decade after decade. Henry Allen Cooper and Duncan D. Hunter belong to the same dangerous fellowship. As they echo their empty-headed ideas, the rest of us – those who know better and those who don’t – bend our ears and listen intently.

Indeed, presently it may only be the weariness of decades of off-and-on war that has led Americans to a momentary reluctance to buy into Rep. Duncan’s warmongering nonsense. But momentary reluctance or not, I’ll take it.

Unmasking the disastrous consequences of the Balfour Declaration on the one hand and on the other, achieving that elusive comprehensive settlement with Iran, can’t help but be good for the planet. Even if the next slippery slope to conflict is around a near corner, these are rational, sensible, sane goals for the present.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National InterestAmerica’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism

Obama Revisits Military Option on Syria

February 14th, 2014 by M. K. Bhadrakumar

The United States’ narrative on Syria dramatically changed during the past fortnight. President Barack Obama has publicly discussed the military option on Syria.

An unseen hand would seem to have stealthily reshuffled the order of the heap of Syrian files stacked up on his desk in the Oval Office and brought to the fore the «all-options-are-open» file dated August 31 last year, which was when Obama stalled on his plan to launch a «limited» attack on Syria and took the detour to seek approval from the US Congress for use of military force to «deter, disrupt, prevent and degrade» the potential for chemical attacks in Syria.

In two highly publicized testimonies by US spy chiefs at two senate hearings during the past fortnight, the Obama administration worked on the American public’s awareness of the Syrian situation. Simultaneously, it also disclosed through media leaks that with Congressional approval, the US has been supplying weapons to Syrian rebels.

Between the two Senate hearings, the Obama administration sized up the al-Qaeda problem in Syria. The National Intelligence Director James Clapper assessed that the strength of the Syrian opposition fighting inside Syria is estimated at anywhere between 75000 to 115000 fighters out of which «somewhere in the neighborhood of between 20000 and maybe up to a top range of 26000 we [US intelligence] regard as extremists. And they are disproportionately influential because they are among the most effective fighters on the battlefield».

The message to the American public was three-fold:

• Al-Qaeda is making Syria its main operational base.

• The «homeland security» is threatened insofar as extremists are being trained in camps with specific plans to attack America and its allies.

• The Syrian conflict threatens to be a protracted one posing grave dangers to international security and the US’ vital interests.

Besides, certain allegations were also made at the senate hearings: a) Syrian government is dragging feet in implementing the accord on chemical weapons; b) an «apocalyptic disaster» (to use Clapper’s expression) threatens Syria in terms of the humanitarian crisis and appalling level of civilian casualty; and, c) in Clapper’s «professional opinion», Syrian government has committed large scale atrocities.

Clapper assessed that any expectations out of the Geneva 2 conference need to be «pretty modest» and prospects for a long-term political solution to the three-year-long conflict remain «problematic».

He highlighted that among foreign fighters present in Syria, there are al-Qaeda veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan who aspire to attack Europe and the US. In sum, the Senate hearings served to flag in the domestic opinion the imperative need for the US to act on Syria.

Clearly, the synergy that has developed between the Obama administration and the Capitol on Syria found reflection on the visit of the French President Francois Hollande to Washington this week. What emerges is that Obama would see Hollande as just the right man at the moment to take on the kind of risks in Syria (or Lebanon) that, say, British Prime Minister David Cameron or German Chancellor Angela Merkel would want to avoid. Indeed, Hollande has piled up a good track record on military interventions abroad – Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic.

The French interventions seem to impress Obama who is reluctant to engage militarily in overseas conflicts because of a tightening budget and the war-weariness among the American public. When it comes to Syria, Hollande also happens to be a close ally of Saudi Arabia and France claims it to be a historical legacy – and an obligation – to play a lead role in the affairs of the Levant. Needless to say, French commercial interests are very substantial, too.

In sum, France has overnight become the US’ best ally in Europe «at least as seen through the prism of crisis management and military cooperation,» as the prominent French pundit Frederic Bozo sardonically noted. Indeed, Obama can be a very charming man if he wants to.

He ensured the whole works for Hollande knowing how much the French love pomp – a warm reception with Michelle Obama by his side on the White House lawns (although Hollande is a confirmed bachelor), ceremonial guard of honor, gala state dinner attended by 300 invitees, a rare ride on Air Force One, conducted tour of Thomas Jefferson’s plantation estate outside Charlottesville, Virginia, and an effusive welcome speech where Obama said, «What I do believe, is that the US-French alliance has never been stronger, and the levels of cooperation that we’re seeing across a whole range of issues is much deeper than it was, I think, five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago».

Put differently, the lengthy references to the Syrian conflict at the joint press conference by Obama and Hollande following the bilateral talks on Tuesday carry great resonance and must be noted carefully.

Obama conveyed four things. First and foremost, he marked a distance between the US and Russia on the Syrian problem. He differentiated the US stance and put the onus on Russia to ensure Syrian government’s compliance with the chemical weapons accord. He implied that Russia has been blocking humanitarian aid from reaching beleaguered Syrian communities caught up in the crossfire. Obama used exceptionally harsh words, «Russia a holdout. And Secretary [of State John] Kerry and others have delivered a very direct message to the Russians».

Secondly, Obama expressed skepticism whether the Geneva 2 process adds up to anything. He reiterated Washington’s resolve to «strengthen the moderate [Syrian] opposition». Thirdly, Obama claimed a US-French concord on Syria: «It is bad for global security that there are extremists who have moved into the vacuum in certain portions of Syria in a way that could threaten us over the long term. So this is one of our highest national security priorities, and I know that Francois [Hollande] feels the same way».

Finally, Obama discussed the moribund military option in Syria. He underscored his «enormous frustration» over the Syrian stalemate and said, «I always reserve the right to exercise military action on behalf of America’s national security interests. But that has to be deployed wisely… right now we don’t think there is a military solution, per se, to the problem. But the situation is fluid, and we are continuing to explore every possible avenue to solve this problem».

The Washington Post newspaper has since reported quoting US officials that there are «internal discussions» going on within the Obama administration as to the «extent of the president’s powers to use lethal force against terrorist organizations» in Syria. It quoted the Pentagon’s press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby insisting that the US military «currently has the necessary authority, under domestic and international law, to meet the threat posed by al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations».

However, it seems improbable that the US can ever secure a mandate from the UN Security Council to undertake a direct military intervention in Syria. Nor is it likely that such an intervention is on Obama’s mind at the moment.

What, then, is the game plan? One explanation could be that Washington hopes to apply maximum pressure on the Syrian regime to step aside and make way for a transitional set-up in Damascus with President Bashar al-Assad simply doing the right thing by walking into the sunset. According to Obama’s version, his threat of a limited strike on Syria only prompted Moscow and Damascus to scramble and produce the accord on chemical weapons last year. He probably hopes for a repeat performance.

On the other hand, a very good case is also being made by the Obama administration through the past fortnight before the US domestic audience, which continues to be war-weary, that some sort of intervention in Syria is becoming necessary because national security is in the crosshairs.

It is entirely conceivable that Obama may order US drone strikes on targets in Syria at some stage. Which, of course, will begin with al-Qaeda targets but could always be extended incrementally to tilt the military balance in favor of the wider agenda of regime change…

This is where Hollande’s recent visit to Turkey, the first by a French leader in the past 22 years, becomes significant. To be sure, all indications are that the Obama administration is switching back to muscular diplomacy on Syria.

Tsilhqot’in Chiefs along with non-First Nations representatives from the Cariboo-Chilcotin region are in Ottawa this week to remind the Harper government the New Prosperity mine must be rejected after receiving a second negative Federal Panel Report which predicts that all the fish in Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) will die.

The Federal cabinet is scheduled to make a decision by the end of the month.

“The Tsilhqot’in, supported by First Nations and non-First Nations across the country, fear the scathing findings of not one but two independent expert Panels will be forgotten amidst the lobbying efforts by Taseko Mines Ltd. and its supporters,” said Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair for the Tsilhqot’in National Government.

“After two reports that found significant and immitigable adverse effects to fish, water, and a sacred Tsilhqot’in cultural school, one would think that the decision should be easy, yet we remain concerned because it appears to us that this company and its cheerleaders have free access to the Federal Ministers, while we are ignored.”

Chief Roger William of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nations Government said: “Now we have two independent panels stating the mine would significantly infringe the rights and culture of the Tsilhqot’in, and threatens our ability to sustain our way of life and cultural identity.”

“This project cannot be approved because we hold a court declaration of Aboriginal rights to this area, and the federal government has a constitutional duty to protect and uphold those rights.”

AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo stated, “The Assembly of First Nations stands with the Tsilhqot’in, as we have from the beginning and at the recent Williams case at the Supreme Court of Canada, as they assert their right to protect their lands, citizens and sacred sites.  The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples requires free, prior and informed consent by First Nations on any activities that their lives or their lands and, clearly, the Tsilhqot’in reject this project.  Governments must respect and honour our rights and title.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said: “First Nations across the Province and the country are watching this decision very closely, as a test of the Harper government’s commitment to First Nations or to maintaining the last shred of credibility left in the environmental assessment process.”

“The UBCIC, along with all provincial and national First Nation organizations stand firmly behind the Tsilhqot’in, and we are fully prepared to help them defend their rights and environment if the government chooses a path of irresponsible development.”

First Nations are not alone in their opposition to this mine. Sage Birchwater from the Fish Lake Alliance, a group of Williams Lake citizens opposed to the mine said:

“Many Williams Lake and Cariboo citizens participated in good faith in both panel reviews, and if the federal government ignores the independent findings, then what was the point of having an environmental assessment in the first place?”

Patricia Spencer from the Friends of Fish Lake, a group of citizens from 100 Mile House opposed to the mine said: “The fact that the proponent has for years continued to attempt to push this project ahead despite opposition from First Nations demonstrates the company’s profound lack of respect for the Tsilhqot’in people.  If First Nations and non-First Nations are to find a path to reconciliation in B.C., it begins with respect, and that means rejecting this mine once and for all.”

Chief Alphonse concluded: “The Tsilhqot’in appreciate the support we’ve received from First Nations across the country, and our non-First Nation neighbours with whom we share our lands and waters.  It is an honour that citizens from Williams Lake and 100 Mile House, as well as Grand Chief Phillip and the National Chief, have joined us in Ottawa.

“This fight has been unfairly spun by the company and its PR machine as a First Nation versus non-First Nation issue.  Well the truth is that many more non-First Nations spoke out against this project in the public hearings than those in support.  The upcoming decision must be about the facts, and a truthful examination of them only leads to one conclusion: this mine proposal must be rejected, once and for all.”

MEDIA:

Chief Joe Alphonse – 250-305-8282
Chief Roger William – 250-267-6593
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip – 250-490-5314
Sage Birchwater – 250-302-2815
Patricia Spencer – 250-644-0632

For National Chief Shawn Atleo, contact Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext. 382; 613-292-0857 or [email protected]

Assistance Reaching Tsilhqot’in Chiefs: JP Laplante, 250-267-3759

The U.S. Counterattack in Central America

February 14th, 2014 by Nil Nikandrov

From left to right: In Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís (PAC), José María Villalta (Frente Amplio), Johny Araya Monge (PLN). In El Salvador, Norman Quijano (ARENA), Salvador Sánchez Cerén, (FMLN) and Elías Antonio Saca (Unidad).

After the recent summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), at which the U.S. was not represented, Washington is trying to get revenge in Central America. On February 2 presidential and parliamentary elections took place in El Salvador and Costa Rica. Most predictions indicated the possibility that leftist politicians may come to power in these countries: in Costa Rica the leader of the Broad Front, Jose Maria Villalta; and in El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the candidate from the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). It was not ruled out that there could be a second round of elections, as in both countries there were record numbers of presidential candidates; the electorate was divided, and it was difficult to get enough votes to win. That is what occurred.

In Costa Rica, Villalta was unexpectedly eliminated from the presidential race, having taken third place among the candidates. The propaganda campaign conducted against him by the local oligarchs and U.S. intelligence, who portrayed him as a «Bolivarian agent» financed by «populist» countries, played a role. «My opponents could not accuse me of corruption, so they called me a communist,» lamented Villalta. Now Araya Monge, the candidate from the ruling National Liberation Party; and Luis Solis Rivera of the Citizens’ Action Party, whose political platform is described in the media as «leftist», will fight for victory. However, one should not have any illusions. The “leftness” of Solis Rivera is highly dubious. He has been in good standing at the American embassy since he studied at Tulane University in New Orleans and at the University of Michigan as a Fulbright Scholar. Solis Rivera could be called the political understudy of Oscar Arias, the former president of Costa Rica and an agent of Washington’s influence in Central America used for systematic attacks on «populist regimes».

Washington has ensured that it will maintain control of Costa Rica regardless of which of the remaining candidates triumphs in the second round on April 6. Gonzalo Gallegos, who was sent to Costa Rica by the State department in August 2013, is responsible for obtaining the result the U.S. needs. He became acquainted with the local environment twenty years ago, during his first appointment abroad, when he was the Director of the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano, which has traditionally been used as a cover for CIA agents. He gained additional experience at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, and then served in Nicaragua, Colombia, and Trinidad and Tobago. His graduate degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College testifies to the nature of his activities. He has also been in charge of cooperation between the State Department and the Pentagon. Among the tasks before Gallegos during his assignment in Costa Rica are reinforcing military ties and ensuring the continued use of Costa Rican territory for the deployment of U.S. Navy ships and Air Force planes.

The U.S. got the green light to expand its military presence in the country in 2010, that is, when Laura Chinchilla came to power. She was sympathetic to the arguments of the American embassy: Costa Rica is a country through which drugs are transported to the U.S. Costa Rica does not have its own army, so it was implied that America’s help would be needed in the fight against drug trafficking. Chinchilla easily persuaded the parliament that such collaboration was necessary. She forwarded a note on the subject from the U.S. embassy to the legislators without translating it from English to Spanish. If one is to believe the news agencies, the representatives voted almost unanimously in favor. Perhaps this is why Costa Rica is increasingly being called a «U.S. protectorate». The Americanization of the country is proceeding at an accelerated pace.

At peak moments of the «war on drug trafficking» or for «humanitarian activities», there may be dozens of ships at bases, from aircraft carriers to amphibious vehicles, as well fighter planes and at least three thousand soldiers, marines and intelligence agents. Costa Rica has become part of a strategic zone created by Washington for the purpose of maintaining control over a large territory rich in hydrocarbons, mineral resources and water. Strategic points of this zone are located in Florida, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Honduras, Panama, Haiti, and the islands of Curacao and Aruba… Costa Rica’s cooperation in the United States’ militarization of the region is perceived with alarm in Nicaragua, as there are unresolved territorial disputes in the countries’ bilateral relations, in particular, over the San Juan River. The problem is made more acute by the upcoming construction of the Great Nicaraguan Canal in an adjacent zone. It is theorized that Washington is deliberately trying to stir up conflict between Costa Rica and Nicaragua in order to block this massive Chinese-Nicaraguan project.

In El Salvador, FMLN candidate Sanchez Ceren received almost 49% of the votes. His main rival, Norman Quijano from the National Republican Alliance (ARENA), received 10% fewer votes. The second round will take place on March 9. Sanchez Ceren has stated that in Latin American conditions such a gap in results is practically a guarantee of victory, but his party will make a maximum effort to obtain additional votes, first of all among those who voted for the Unity (Unidad) coalition, which took third place (over 11% of the votes). According to Sanchez Ceren, after the first round Elias Antonio Saca, the candidate from the Unity coalition, called him to congratulate him on his success. Ceren emphasized: «I have no doubt that in the second round we will cooperate with one another.» He also urged entrepreneurs, civil organizations, women, young people, all Salvadorans and all sympathetic political powers to support him and his party.

It must be said that ideologically, Unity is closer to ARENA, but conflicts between their leaders are causing this party to negotiate with FMLN. Sanchez Ceren, a former guerilla commander with Marxist views, has become a social democratic politician and is thus basically acceptable to Unidad. Sanchez Ceren was vice president in the first FMLN administration (2009-2014), which was headed by independent politician Mauricio Funes. His inconsistency, preference for neoliberal dogmas in economics, and behind-the-scenes contacts with Americans have more than once evoked the censure of the FMLN political leadership. Thus in the current elections they gave up on the plan of using an «independent» presidential candidate.

Judging by the results of the first round, the electorate has not lost its faith in the party. However, will the ex-Commandante suit the Obama administration as president? Even without him there is a troublemaker in Central America – Nicaraguan Daniel Ortega. He is the source of many problems, maintaining ties with Russia, China, Iran, Cuba, and other countries of ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America. For this reason, one may assume that now, behind the scenes of the election campaign in El Salvador, the U.S.  Embassy is taking steps to create an ARENA-Unidad bloc. In this case Norman Quijano would have a chance for victory. It bears remembering that in conducting his electoral campaign he has the assistance of Juan Jose Rendon, a specialist in events of this sort living in Florida. The Latin American media has written many times of his accountability to the CIA. He has worked with Colombians Alvaro Uribe and Manuel Santos, Mexican Enrique Pena Nieto and others, greatly easing their ascent to power.

El Salvador has close political and economic ties to the United States, where, according to official data, at least 2.5 million Salvadorans (out of 6 million) reside. In 2013 money transfers from them reached 4 billion dollars. Salvadorans are constantly reminded in various forms that a president unfriendly to the United States will destroy the established harmony of relations, which cannot but affect their prosperity.

In strengthening its position in Central America, the U.S. is simultaneously disrupting the integration process within the framework of CELAC and developing its own project, the Pacific Alliance.

Clashes in Venezuela Leave Three Dead

February 14th, 2014 by Bill Van Auken

Clashes between anti-government demonstrators and both security forces and supporters of President Nicolas Maduro left at least three people dead following a demonstration of over 10,000 organized by the political right in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas Wednesday.

Those killed in the clashes following the demonstration were Bassil Alejandro Dacosta, 24, a student at the Universidad Añejandro Humboldt de Bellas Artes who was shot in the head, and Juan Montoya, 40, a member of a pro-government group from an impoverished area of Caracas, who was shot in the head and chest. A third victim fell Wednesday night during clashes between security forces and demonstrators burning tires in the streets of Chacao, the wealthy district of the capital that is a center of opposition.

Both the Venezuelan president and his right-wing opponents have raised the specter of the April 2002 abortive US-backed coup against Maduro’s late predecessor, Hugo Chavez, in characterizing the violence seen in the capital as well as several other cities.

“There will be no coup d’état in Venezuela, you can be absolutely sure of that, let the whole world know that,” Maduro declared in a TV and radio broadcast. The Venezuelan president banned all public demonstrations nationwide for the rest of the week.

The government also ordered the arrest of several right-wing opposition leaders described as the “intellectual authors” of Wednesday’s violence. These included Iván Carratú Molina, a former vice-admiral in the Venezuelan navy, and Fernando Gerbasi, a former Colombian foreign minister, who were recorded in a telephone conversation warning that Wednesday’s demonstration would be “something like April 11,” the day of a bloody 2002 confrontation between government opponents and supporters at the Miraflores presidential palace that set the stage for the coup against Chavez.

Arrest orders were also issued against former mayor Leopoldo Lopez, the leader of the right-wing Popular Will party, which was one of the main organizers of Wednesday’s protests. Maduro and his supporters have descried Lopez and his followers as a “Nazi-fascist faction” of the opposition, distinguishing them from the MUD (Democratic Unity Roundtable) politicians, like Miranda governor and twice-failed former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, with whom the government is collaborating.

Leopoldo and his allies have made it clear that their aim is to bring down the government, describing their campaign as la salida, or “the way out,” and insisting that the country cannot wait until the next presidential elections in 2019 to force Maduro out of office.

Wednesday marked the 200th anniversary of a battle in the war for independence in which seminary and university students played the decisive role. Celebrated annually as Day of the Youth, demonstrations were held by students supporting the government as well as those led by the right-wing opposition.

The main clashes erupted after the vast majority of demonstrators had left the street as small bands attacked government buildings, set fire to police cars and clashed with both security forces and government supporters.

The protests are the largest seen since the eruption of clashes following Maduro’s election to the presidency last April by the thinnest margin in 45 years. The clashes in Caracas had been proceeded by smaller student protests in the western states of Merida and Táchira.

While both sides are comparing these events to the coup of April 2002, there is as yet no indication of any military faction seeking the overthrow of the government, and the right-wing opposition does not appear able to mobilize anywhere near the numbers it brought into the street a dozen years ago.

Nonetheless, there is little doubt that this is the outcome desired by the right as well as within powerful sections of the US ruling establishment. Late last month, the Brookings Institution issued a report entitled “Venezuela Breaks Down in Violence,” by one Harold Trinkunas, who is the former chair of the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in California.

Significantly, at the time it was issued, there was no significant political violence in the country, only what the author referred to as “the risk of a violent popular reaction and regional instability.” The report stresses US interest in maintaining Venezuela as “a reliable supplier of oil to international markets” and advises Washington, “should violence erupt, to prepare a concerted regional response that leads to Venezuela’s re-democratization.” In other words, bring about regime change.

It is noteworthy that the center of the anti-government protests has been in the well-heeled eastern part of Caracas and among more privileged layers of middle class students.

There is evidence, however, that opposition to the government is building up from another direction, the left, within the Venezuelan working class, whose conditions have deteriorated in the face of a 56.1 inflation rate last year—the highest on the continent—and government devaluations that have slashed workers’ real wages. Meanwhile, the government’s economic policies have led to widespread shortages, with the Venezuelan Central Bank itself estimating that at any one time one out of four basic necessities is unavailable.

Lack of foreign exchange has also led to the collapse of Venezuela’s auto industry, previously the continent’s third-largest after Brazil and Argentina. Toyota announced that it would shut down operations today due to a lack of parts, putting 1,300 of its own workers and 1,500 in related industries in the street. The country’s other two carmakers, General Motors and Ford, never began production this year for the same reason.

While the government routinely employs rhetoric about “Bolivarian socialism,” figures released by the central bank last month show that of the nearly $642 billion coming into the country between 2005 and 2013 as revenue from Venezuela’s nationalized oil industry (which accounts for 95 percent of the country’s exports) more than $282 billion, 44 percent of the total, is going into the coffers of private enterprises.

Those within the ruling financial, corporate and government circles with access to scarce dollars are profiting as never before, while conditions for the working class and the poor deteriorate. Maduro and others in the government try to present this process as a matter of “economic war” and “sabotage” by a “parasitic bourgeoisie,” even as their supporters in the so-calledboliburguesia enrich themselves.

Among the demonstrations canceled in the wake of Wednesday’s violence was a mass march that had been called for Friday by the electrical workers union FETRAELEC. While rejecting what it termed the “violence provoked by a fascist and anti-democratic sector,” the union insisted that workers would take to the streets again to oppose “the abominable bureaucracy which today has taken control of the revolutionary process at CORPOLEC (the state-run electrical company).”

Massive spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) poses a “direct threat to journalism,” according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) released Wednesday. The CPJ is warning, in particular, that the agency’s dragnet of communications data threatens to make it “next to impossible for journalists to keep sources confidential.”

New York-based CPJ devotes the first two chapters of its annual report, entitled “Attacks on the Press,” to an assessment of the impact of the NSA’s vast data sweep, which has been exposed by Edward Snowden and reported by numerous media outlets. The report notes that by storing massive amounts of data for long periods, the spy agency could develop the capability to recreate a reporter’s research and retrace a source’s movements by listening in on past communications.

The report points to the threat to press freedom in the context of the revelations of illegal government spying and the Obama administration’s unprecedented campaign against whistle-blowers. It quotes William Binney, who resigned from the NSA in 2001 in protest over privacy violations the agency committed post-9/11. Binney believes that the government keeps tabs on all journalists and notes that they are “a much easier, smaller target set” to spy on than the general population.

Alex Abdo, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, one of a team of lawyers who have litigated against the NSA for violating constitutional protections, told the CPJ that “all reporters should be worried” about the NSA’s vast collection and storage of data. “Reporters who work for the largest media organizations should be worried probably primarily because their sources will dry up as those sources recognize that there is not a way to cover their trail,” he said. He added that independent journalists should be concerned that “they themselves will be swept up in the course of their reporting.”

The watchdog group chillingly notes that the NSA’s storage of metadata creates a “deep breeding ground for artificial intelligence systems, which may in the future lead to more efficient, even predictive, spying machines.” As capabilities evolve, CPJ warns, such systems could be utilized to identify patterns of journalistic activity, targeting reporters for surveillance, intimidation and potential prosecution long before they actually engage in any suspect reporting.

President Barack Obama has absurdly asserted that despite the exposure of programs to collect data on millions of Americans’ phone calls, emails and Internet activity, there is no evidence that the US intelligence complex “has sought to violate the law.”

Meanwhile, top NSA officials have indicated that the token reforms announced by the president last month will do little to curb the agency’s spying activities. “They’re not putting us out business,” commented NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett on the measures in a recent interview with the Washington Post. He added, “They’re not putting an unbearable burden on us.”

Obama has tasked Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper to develop options by March 28 for ending the NSA’s storage of data on Americans’ phone calls. So far, no such plan has been drawn up, and Congress must approve any changes to the agency’s operations.

The president’s measures also include a requirement that the NSA obtain pro forma court approval before it can run a suspect’s phone number against the agency’s database. However, even this largely cosmetic restriction is vitiated by a provision allowing the NSA to query the data without prior court approval by invoking an “emergency” exception.

In the wake of the Snowden revelations, the government is implementing measures to prevent similar exposures in the future. Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, DNI Director Clapper said Snowden had taken advantage of a “perfect storm” of security lapses to sweep up a trove of government documents with the use of a web crawler, a readily available piece of software.

Clapper said the government’s 16 intelligence agencies have in place a long-term plan to tag every piece of information in their databases and then tag the individual who accesses each one. The NSA is also implementing a “two-man rule,” based on the model of nuclear weapons handling, which requires two systems administrators to work simultaneously when accessing highly classified material.

In earlier testimony before Congress, the DNI director claimed that Snowden’s revelations had resulted in “profound damage” and were “putting the lives of members, or assets of, the intelligence community at risk.” Clapper demanded that “Snowden and his accomplices” return any documents they had taken to the NSA. In the view of the intelligence community, these “accomplices” include journalists who have gone public with these documents in press reports.

The Obama administration has filed charges against Snowden under the Espionage Act of 1917. It has prosecuted more cases under this act that all of its predecessors combined, criminalizing whistle-blowers as well as journalists who reveal state secrets.

Bradley Manning, the young Army private, is now serving 35 years for revealing US military war crimes. The US is seeking the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face charges over the release of diplomatic cables exposing the US government’s intrigues. Snowden was forced to obtain asylum in Russia and faces death threats from current and former US intelligence personnel.

Last May, the Justice Department admitted to spying on at least 20 telephone lines used by the Associated Press to communicate with sources, in violation of First Amendment protections of freedom of the press.

The same month, it was revealed that the Justice Department had subpoenaed personal telephone and email records of Fox News Washington Bureau Chief James Rosen in connection with an investigation into the leaking of information about North Korea. The subpoenaed records included phone numbers registered to Rosen’s coworkers and parents, and even the White House’s own switchboard number.

The affidavit supporting the subpoena request for Rosen’s email and phone records specifically alleged that “there is probable cause to believe that the reporter has committed or is committing a violation [of the law] at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator.”

There is no section of the political establishment that seriously challenges the supposed “right” of the government to prosecute whistle-blowers and collect data from the phones and computers of virtually every American. The prosecution of individuals such as Manning, Assange and Snowden is justified by politicians of both big business parties in the name of combating terrorism and maintaining “national security”—a blanket pretext for destroying democratic rights and establishing dictatorial rule.

Senator Rand Paul (Republican of Kentucky) announced Wednesday that he is filing a class-action lawsuit against the NSA’s phone surveillance operations, saying he hoped to “protect the Fourth Amendment,” which bars unreasonable searches and seizures. Announcing the suit, however, the right-wing Republican made clear that he is not opposed to government spying.

He told a press conference, “I’m not against the NSA. I’m not against spying. I’m not against looking at phone records.” Shortly after his announcement of the lawsuit, Paul had a private lunch with Attorney General Holder at the Justice Department.

JPMorgan Chase is the unspoken architect of fraud, corruption, not to mention the establishment of the largest Ponzi scheme in World history.The agenda is to steal and appropriate wealth through market manipulation:

“Just last month, JPMorgan Chase acknowledged that it facilitated the largest Ponzi scheme in history, looking the other way as Bernie Madoff brazenly turned his business bank account at JPMorgan Chase into an unprecedented money laundering operation that would have set off bells, whistles and sirens at any other bank.

The U.S. Justice Department allowed JPMorgan to pay $1.7 billion and sign a deferred prosecution agreement, meaning no one goes to jail at JPMorgan — again. The largest question that no one can or will answer is how the compliance, legal and anti-money laundering personnel at JPMorgan ignored for years hundreds of transfers and billions of dollars in round trip maneuvers between Madoff and the account of Norman Levy. Even one such maneuver should set off an investigation. (Levy is now deceased and the Trustee for Madoff’s victims has settled with his estate.)” Pam Martens, Russ Martens, JPMorgan Vice President’s Death Shines Light on Bank’s Close Ties to the CIA, WallStreetParade.com, February 12, 2014

To successfully implement its various financial operations, JP Morgan Chase not only controls politicians in high office, it also uses retired politicians to undertake advisory functions.

Upon his retirement from the position of Prime Minister, Tony Blair was  appointed to a senior advisory position at  JPMorgan Chase, His initial fee for this part-time consultancy was a modest retainer of £500,000 a year, ($750.000). It was subsequently increased to £2 million.

Tony Blair was slated to use his network of crony political relations in Britain and the Middle East to serve the interests of JPMorgan Chase. He worked closely with CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon, who has recently been the object of controversy.

“We operate our business all over the world”, said Jamie Dimon:

“and Tony Blair will bring our leaders and clients a unique and invaluable global perspective that is especially critical in turbulent times like these. Our firm will benefit greatly from his knowledge and experience” (JPMorgan January 2008 Press Release)

It is worth noting that in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq, during Tony Blair’s mandate as Prime Minister JP Morgan Chase was designated to run the Trade Bank of Iraq.

Tony Blair is a war criminal who has links to a fraudulent banking network.

Mysterious Deaths of Four Senior Wall  Street Bank Executives

In recent developments on January 28, a JP Morgan Chase Vice President in the U.K., Gabriel Magee, “was found dead on a 9th level rooftop of the bank’s 33-story European headquarters building in the Canary Wharf section of London.”

On February 10, Ryan Henry Crane, 37, another senior  JPMorgan Chase executive died under mysterious circumstances, Crane was responsible for JPMorgan’s global program trading.

Crane’s death comes after “a rash of suicides” over a period of  6 days weeks involving three prominent bankers including JPM’s Gabriel Magee,  former Federal Reserve economist Mike Dueker and William Broeksmit, a former senior manager for Deutsche Bank, who was found “hanging in his home, also an apparent suicide”.  Broeksmit was, according to reports, connected to the process of rigging of foreign exchange markets.

***

Appointment of Tony Blair: Text of January 2008 Press JP Morgan Chase Press Release

NEW YORK, January 10 [2008]/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- JPMorgan Chase announced
 today that it has appointed former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a
 senior advisory capacity to the firm, effective immediately. Mr. Blair will
 also join the company's International Council.

     Mr. Blair will advise JPMorgan Chase's CEO and senior management team
 on a part-time basis - drawing on his immense international experience to
 provide the firm with strategic advice and insight on global political
 issues and emerging trends.

     In addition, Mr. Blair will participate in select events and
 conferences for the company including senior-level client events and will
 provide briefings on political trends to the firm's Board of Directors.

     "We're honored that Tony Blair has chosen to join JPMorgan Chase as a
 senior advisor to our executive team and Board," said Jamie Dimon, Chairman
 and CEO. "We operate our business all over the world, and Tony Blair will
 bring our leaders and clients a unique and invaluable global perspective
 that is especially critical in turbulent times like these. Our firm will
 benefit greatly from his knowledge and experience."

     Mr. Blair added, "It is a great opportunity to be able to contribute to
 the work of JPMorgan Chase. They are a leading company at the cutting edge
 of the global economy, with a footprint in virtually every part of the
 world. I look forward to advising them on how they approach the huge
 political and economic changes that globalisation brings. I am excited at
 the prospect of joining Jamie Dimon, for whom I have a lot of respect, and
 the whole team, adding my own experience to their work and helping them to
 grow."

     JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:   JPM) is a leading global financial services
 firm with assets of $1.5 trillion and operations in more than 50 countries.
 The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for
 consumers, small business and commercial banking, financial transaction
 processing, asset management, and private equity. A component of the Dow
 Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase serves millions of consumers in
 the United States and many of the world's most prominent corporate,
 institutional and government clients under its JPMorgan and Chase brands.
 JPMorgan Chase is committed to investing in education, economic
 opportunity, development and environmental programs that enable people and
 communities to thrive. Information about the firm is available at

http://www.jpmorganchase.com.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.” -anonymous

Join host Michael Welch for a special hour of live radio, featuring special guests Richard Gage, Rocco Galati, and Yves Engler!

The Global Research News Hour was revamped in the fall of 2012 and features an hour of global public affairs news programming.

Winnipeg radio station CKUW 95.9FM is the station at which the programme is produced. The Global Research website carries the show as a podcast.

The programme has become quite popular and is now carried by the Progressive Radio Network (PRN.FM) and by at least two other community radio stations across North America.

CKUW is on track to dispense with all paid advertisements. So apart from the funding provided by the students at the University of Winnipeg through a student levy, the only source of funding will come from listener donations.

Like the Centre for Research on Globalization, we believe that in order to maintain our independence we must avoid funding from private or public foundations. This is why the station must periodically ask for support from our listeners.

Even though the station operates on a shoe-string, it takes resources to keep a community radio station operating and maintained in order to support a variety of programs.

The Global Research News Hour is planning a special LIVE broadcast on Friday February 14 at 1 pm Winnipeg time (2:00pm EST/ 7:00pm GMT).

We hope our listeners will consider listening in, and donate to keep CKUW and the Global Research News Hour on the air. Special items are offered as incentives for those who donate $35 or more!

In Winnipeg, tune in 95.9FM.

Outside Winnipeg, CKUW may be streamed here:

http://streamserver.ckuw.ca

Donations may be made here:

http://fundrive.ckuw.ca

http://store.globalresearch.ca/donate  (indicate GRNH)

The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Fridays at 1pm CT. The programme is also broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

Violent opposition groups attacked government buildings and civilians, and clashed with police and government supporters following peaceful marches commemorating the Day of Youth.

The violence has claimed two deaths and left 23 injured across the country. Thirty arrests have been made according to government sources.

Venezuela commemorates the day of the youth on 12 February each year in memory of the role of young people in the decisive independence battle in La Victoria in 1814. Today marked the bicentenary of the historic battle.

Caracas

In mid afternoon President Nicolas Maduro delivered a speech in Caracas, praising the morning’s marches as peaceful. However, shortly later one Chavista was reported to have been killed amid clashes involving opposition activists. Juan Montoya, also known as Juancho was shot. He was a community leader in the Chavista stronghold, Barrio 23 de Enero. This afternoon National Assembly head Diosdado Cabello condemned the shooting, and accused armed right-wing groups of “hunting down” Montoya.

“They are fascists, murderers, and then they talk about dialogue,” Cabello stated, referring to armed right-wing activists. The AN head called for calm, and urged against reprisals.

Juan Montoya, on the right, talking to El Universal in August last year

Violent opposition groups also attacked the attorney general’s office in Carabobo Park, Caracas. Photographs of the scene indicate the building’s exterior was damaged.

A building belonging to the government owned Fundacaracas organisation was also attacked by opposition groups. A few hours later the mayor of Caracas’s Libertador municipality, the PSUV’s Jorge Rodriguez also reported that the judicial offices in Chacao, Miranda, were also attacked. Later in the night the National Guard were deployed to the state owned VTV offices in Los Ruices. Disturbances had been reported in the area, though no further details were available at the time of writing.

In the evening, President Nicolas Maduro stated that violent opposition groups had also set fire to five police patrol vehicles. He also stated that a group of around two hundred violent activists had attempted to attack Miraflores Palace after the attorney general’s office.

Merida

After weeks of small, violent protests in Merida, there was a large march by government supporters in one part of the Andean city, and a larger march by opposition supporters elsewhere. Both were observed to be peaceful by Venezuelanalysis. However, violence began shortly after the opposition march finished. Clashes took place in Merida’s streets after individuals began burning garbage in intersections and erecting barricades.

A larger confrontation took place at a major intersection in the city’s north. Witnesses told Venezuelanalys.com that they saw men in balaclavas occupy a number of apartments, and fire live ammunition into the streets below. Riot police blocked the intersection. Hundreds of government supporters gathered a few hundred metres behind the police lines.

“We’re defending the city centre,” one supporter told Venezuelanalysis.

The Pro-Government March

At the pro-government march in the morning, Roger Zurita told Venezuelanalysis.com, “I’m worried about confrontations but I’m marching because today is the day of the youth, to celebrate the battle of La Victoria, not because of the opposition march. We have to organise ourselves around our values. We’re celebrating with happiness and peace the youth who struggle, our independence, the struggle for political power. Today we have an anti-imperialist youth and people are waking up, we’re not going to fall for the right wing’s games.”

“I’m marching for various reasons, mainly because I still believe in the project of our country, which still hasn’t been fully realised, but if we work just a bit harder we can do it, we have a lot to do. Also because it’s important to show that we are many, there are a lot of people who believe in this. What’s been happening in Merida is sad, regrettable. It’s a shame that they [violent sectors of the opposition] can’t propose anything without violence. We shouldn’t respond with violence. But the only proposal they seem to have is to get people into power who have never cared about the people, they just want to sell our country to the [US] empire,” Raquel Barrios told Venezuelanalysis, referring to the last four days of violence in Merida.

“I’m marching to commemorate the battle of La Victoria, but they [the opposition leadership] are manipulating the youth of Merida and parts of the opposition, they want to put an end to everything we’ve achieved, but they won’t be able to, because we’re peaceful people but ready for any necessary battle,” said Douglas Vasquez told  Venezuelanalysis.

“Basically I’m marching to rescue Merida. We can’t let Merida be in the hands of violent people. I’m a teacher at the University of Los Andes (ULA), and I feel very ashamed that the recent violent incidents are mostly promoted by people from the ULA, who hope to create discomfort in the people in order to overthrow a consolidated and democratically elected government,” Katania Felisola said to Venezuelanalysis.

The Opposition March

The opposition march started at the ULA and went down the Americas Avenue after a last minute redirection.

Fernando Peña, a chemical engineering student at the ULA told Venezuelanalysis’s Ewan Robertson, “The students have felt the need to show themselves against [the goverment], because they have taken students prisoner in Mérida and Táchira just for expressing their right to protest. Right now feelings are very tense, because the people are tired of the government, [and] the students are the centre of the mobilisation throughout the country. The people now deeply disagree with the decisions that the government makes…living in Venezuela has become ever more difficult”.

Jan Carlos Lopez, worker in the Medical Faculty of the ULA told VA, “Some of the main reasons [for the march] are the shortages that are being experienced in the country, criminality, and insecurity. There isn’t an organisation that can protect us at night time so that we can go out. That’s what we’re asking for, security so that all Venezuelans can live in peace.”

Other opposition marchers told Robertson that they blamed the government for the violence, for “sending out motorbikes to attack students”.

In the violence after the marches, two people have been reported as injured, both shot in the legs. One of those was Jilfredo Barradas, a state government photographer.

“It’s a show, everyone knew it would turn out like this, it was planned,” one Merida activist told Venezuelanalysis, referring to the violence both in the Americas intersection as well as on Avenue 3.

Further, Gustavo Bazan told Venezuelanalysis, “On Friday they [violent opposition sectors] wanted to store Molotov cocktails [in the apartment where Bazan lives] and break up bricks in order to have rocks. I stepped out of line a bit and I told them that here they weren’t protesting against the government but rather against their own neighbours. I challenged them to take off their balaclavas and said to them they weren’t capable of coming over and having a conversation. They jumped over the fence and three of them started to beat me up. A friend and a building security guard saved me. I filmed them while they prepared the Molotov cocktails”. 

Other cities

Electricity minister Jesse Chacon informed through his Twitter account that “violent groups” surrounded an electric substation in San Cristobal and threw Molotov cocktails at it.

According to AVN there was also violence in Aragua and Carabobo states “which left material damage”.

The governor of Carabobo state, Francisco Ameliach said that “violent groups burnt a truck with liquid asphalt”. Ameliach alleged that the head of the MUD in the state, Vicencio Scarano had financed the crimes.

The minister for internal affairs, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, said that violent groups had tried to set the Aragua state government building on fire.

Official response

Tonight Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz informed the public that so far there have been a total of two deaths, 23 injured, and thirty arrests. Along with Montoya, student Basil Da Costa died after suffering a gunshot.  She added though that public lawyers were investigating and visiting hospitals to determine the exact number. According to Maduro the two men were both shot in the head, “like the sharp shooters who murdered [people] on 11 April [2002]”.

Ortega also said that four CICPC (Scientific Crime Investigation Body) vehicles were set on fire, as well as other private vehicles.

Regarding the march in Caracas, she said “they were guaranteed security from Plaza Venezuela to the Attorney General’s Office, there was nothing to impede them”.

Maduro also warned tonight that “whoever protests or marches without permission will be detained”.

“These are trained groups who… are prepared to overthrow the government in a violent way, and I’m not going to allow this, so I call on Venezuela to be peaceful,” Maduro said.

Foreign minister Elias Jaua alleged that Leopoldo Lopez was the “intellectual author of the deaths and injuries in Caracas”.

The Ecuadorian government emitted a statement today condemning the “acts of violence and vandalism by irresponsible members of the opposition”.

“We hope for the prompt reestablishment of social peace in our brother country and because respect for the government and its legitimately constituted institutions has precedence”.

Opposition statements and response

“This a call put out by the students and supported by the Democratic Unity [MUD opposition coalition], this march on the day of the youth is taking place when the government is repressing, with jail, with torture,” Leopoldo Lopez told CNN yesterday, in anticipation of today’s events.

“The government has an agenda of violence and as they control the monopoly [sic] over communication in Venezuela they hide it…the call that has been made is to be in the street,” he said, blaming the violence over the last week in Merida and Tachira on the government.

Speaking tonight on Noticias 24, Lopez blamed the national government for today’s violence and deaths. “Who is generating the violence? The government… repression by the national guard, the police,” he said.

Some of the top tweets by the opposition at the moment also blamed the Tupamaros groups. The Tupamaros are now quite small, but are often blamed for any violence that takes place. They support the national government.

“They (Tupamaros) are animals and they should all die,” wrote Daniel Garcia.

“Hitler, come back and put all the Tupamaros in gas chambers” wrote Andreina Leonett.

“When the first student dies all the streets of Venezuela will burn,” wrote Jose Gamboa.

Over the last week far right opposition leaders such as Leopoldo Lopez have been calling for people to “go out into the street” in order to achieve an “exit” of the national government.

At least three people have died in violent protests in the Venezuelan capital, officials have confirmed. President Nicolas Maduro has condemned the unrest as an attempt at a coup d’état orchestrated by extremist members of the political opposition.

Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of the Venezuelan capital on Wednesday in the worst unrest since Nicolas Maduro assumed the presidency last year. Demonstrators from several different political factions clashed in Caracas, leaving at least three people dead and over 20 injured.

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Venezuela’s top prosecutor confirmed the death of 24-year-old student Bassil Dacosta Frías, who was shot in the head and died later in hospital. Officials said that a government supporter was also assassinated in what they decried as an act of “fascism.” A third person was killed in the Chacao neighborhood in the East of the Venezuelan capital.

#Caracas Difunden foto de unidades policiales incendiadas en el centro de la ciudad pic.twitter.com/tO2bUXUOsh

— Angel VillarroelLara (@avillarroellara) February 12, 2014

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As night fell in Chacao, police clashed with protesters, firing tear gas into a crowd of young protesters who burned tires and blocked a main road. RT Actualidad’s correspondent in Caracas, Karen Mendez, said that gunfire broke out in Chacao later during the night and her team had been caught in the crossfire.

The government and the opposition have already traded blows over the violence in the capital. Leader of the opposition movement ‘Popular Will’ Leopoldo Lopez – who participated in the 2002 coup d’état against former President Hugo Chavez – claimed the government had orchestrated the bloodshed to discredit the Venezuelan opposition.

Plaza Venezuela 11:10am @ElNacionalWeb #12Fpic.twitter.com/LoNpAyQZFz

— Andrea (@andreesarabia) February 12, 2014

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“Maduro, you know full well that what happened today was your plan. The dead and the injured are your responsibility,” Lopez tweeted.

Nicolas Maduro responded to the violence in a public statement, denouncing the unrest as an attempt to carry out a coup d’état. He laid the blame at the feet of extremist fascist groups and said that those responsible for the violence would be prosecuted by the full weight of the law.

Demonstrators run away from tear gas during a protest in Caracas February 12, 2014.(Reuters / Jorge Silva)

Demonstrators run away from tear gas during a protest in Caracas February 12, 2014.(Reuters / Jorge Silva)

“We are facing a coup d’état against democracy and the government that I preside over,” said Maduro. He claimed that the fascists group was using civil liberties and democracy as a tool to overthrow the government.

Despliegue policial en La Av. Universidad, Caracas (Foto VVperiodistas. Hace minutos) pic.twitter.com/DLGNxHK2JQ

— VVSincensura (@VVperiodistas) February 12, 2014

Maduro called for peace on the streets of the capital and said that the bloodshed had to end. His political rival during last year’s elections, Henrique Capriles also appealed for calm on the streets.

“Violence will never be the way! We are confident that a large majority refuses and condemns it,” Capriles tweeted.

Protests have become relatively commonplace in Venezuela with the population disgruntled over shortages of basic goods such as sugar and toilet paper.

The latest bout of demonstrations focuses on the country’s economic woes and the high level of inflation Venezuela has experienced recently.

Riot police walk past a barricade of burning garbage during a protest against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas February 12, 2014. (Reuters / Carlos Garcia Rawlins)
Riot police walk past a barricade of burning garbage during a protest against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas February 12, 2014. (Reuters / Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Fifty years ago, E P Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class rescued the study of history from the powerful. Kings and queens, landowners, industrialists, politicians and imperialists had owned much of the public memory. In 1980, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States also demonstrated that the freedoms and rights we enjoy precariously – free expression, free association, the jury system, the rights of minorities – were the achievements of ordinary people, not the gift of elites.

Historians, like journalists, play their most honorable role when they myth-bust. Eduardo Galeano’s The Open Veins of Latin America (1971) achieved this for the people of a continent whose historical memory was colonized and mutated by the dominance of the United States.

The “good” world war of 1939-45 provides a bottomless ethical bath in which the west’s “peacetime” conquests are cleansed. De-mystifying historical investigation stands in the way. Richard Overy’s 1939: the countdown to war (2009) is a devastating explanation of why that cataclysm was not inevitable.

We need such smokescreen-clearing now more than ever. The powerful would like us to believe that the likes of Thompson, Zinn and Galeano are no longer necessary: that we live, as Time magazine put it, “in an eternal present”, in which reflection is limited to Facebook and historical narrative is the preserve of Hollywood. This is a confidence trick. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

The people of Korea understand this well. The slaughter on their peninsula following the second world war is known as the “forgotten war”, whose significance for all humanity has long been suppressed in military histories of cold war good versus evil.

I have just read The Korean War: A History by Bruce Cumings (2010), professor of history at the University of Chicago. I first saw Cumings interviewed in Regis Tremblay’s extraordinary film, The Ghosts of Jeju, which documents the uprising of the people of the southern Korean island of Jeju in 1948 and the campaign of the present-day islanders to stop the building of a base with American missiles aimed provocatively at China.

Like most Koreans, the farmers and fishing families protested the senseless division of their nation between north and south in 1945 – a line drawn along the 38th Parallel by an American official, Dean Rusk, who had “consulted a map around midnight on the day after we obliterated Nagasaki with an atomic bomb,” wrote Cumings. The myth of a “good” Korea (the south) and a “bad” Korea (the north) was invented.

In fact, Korea, north and south, has a remarkable people’s history of resistance to feudalism and foreign occupation, notably Japan’s in the 20th century. When the Americans defeated Japan in 1945, they occupied Korea and often branded those who had resisted the Japanese as “commies”. On Jeju island, as many as 60,000 people were massacred by militias supported, directed and, in some cases, commanded by American officers.

This and other unreported atrocities were a “forgotten” prelude to the Korean War (1950-53) in which more people were killed than Japanese died during all of world war two. Cumings’ gives an astonishing tally of the degree of destruction of the cities of the north is astonishing: Pyongyang 75%, Sariwon 95%, Sinanju 100%. Great dams in the north were bombed in order to unleash internal tsunamis. “Anti-personnel” weapons, such as Napalm, were tested on civilians. Cumings’ superb investigation helps us understand why today’s North Korea seems so strange: an anachronism sustained by an enduring mentality of siege.

“The unhindered machinery of incendiary bombing was visited on the North for three years,” he wrote, “yielding a wasteland and a surviving mole people who had learned to love the shelter of caves, mountains, tunnels and redoubts, a subterranean world that became the basis for reconstructing a country and a memento for building a fierce hatred through the ranks of the population. Their truth is not cold, antiquarian, ineffectual knowledge.” Cumings quotes Virginia Wolf on how the trauma of this kind of war “confers memory.”

The guerrilla leader Kim Il-sung had begun fighting the Japanese militarists in 1932. Every characteristic attached to the regime he founded – “communist, rogue state, evil enemy” – derives from a ruthless, brutal, heroic resistance: first to Japan, then the United States, which threatened to nuke the rubble its bombers had left. Cumings exposes as propaganda the notion that Kim Il-sung, leader of the “bad” Korea, was a stooge of Moscow. In contrast, the regime that Washington invented in the south, the “good” Korea, was run largely by those who had collaborated with Japan and America.

The Korean War has an unrecognized distinction. It was in the smoldering ruins of the peninsula that the US turned itself into what Cumings calls “an archipelago of empire”. When the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, it was as if the whole planet was declared American – or else.

But there is China now. The base currently being built on Jeju island will face the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai, less than 300 miles away, and the industrial heartland of the only country whose economic power is likely to surpass that of the US.

“China,” says President Obama in a leaked briefing paper, “is our fast emerging strategic threat.” By 2020, almost two thirds of all US naval forces in the world will be transferred to the Asia-Pacific region. In an arc extending from Australia to Japan and beyond, China will be ringed by US missiles and nuclear-weapons armed aircraft. Will this threat to all of us be “forgotten”, too?

I cinque cerchi di ghiaccio

February 13th, 2014 by Manlio Dinucci

Soffiano venti da guerra fredda sulle Olimpiadi invernali di Sochi, anzi sulle «Olimpiadi dello zar Putin» come le chiamano all’unisono i media occidentali. Le splendide prestazioni degli atleti di tutto il mondo, preparatisi per anni ai giochi, vengono messe in secondo piano o ignorate salvo quando a vincere è un atleta nazionale. Mentre si abbuiano le Olimpiadi, frutto di un colossale lavoro collettivo, si forniscono dettagliate notizie sull’eliminazione dei cani randagi a Sochi e sul fatto che nella cerimomia  di apertura uno dei cinque cerchi olimpici non si è acceso, mantenendo le sembianze di un fiocco di neve (presagio infausto, avrebbero detto gli antichi). Viene allo stesso tempo lanciato l’allarme su un attentato terroristico che potrebbe scolvolgere le Olimpiadi, dopo quelli puntualmente verificatisi a Volgograd.

A Washington, dove di terrorismo se ne intendono, hanno espresso preoccupazione per un possibile attentato a Sochi decidendo di intervenire militarmente: la Mount Whitney, nave ammiraglia della Sesta flotta, è salpata da Gaeta entrando nel Mar Nero insieme alla fregata Taylor. Tenendosi pronte a evacuare da Sochi gli atleti e gli spettatori statunitensi, le due navi da guerra intanto si esercitano, affiancate da unità georgiane, ai limiti delle acque territoriali russe.

Obama, Cameron e Hollande, strenui difensori dei diritti umani con cui motivano le loro guerre e le relative stragi, hanno fatto capire di non essere andati alle Olimpiadi perché in Russia si vieta la propaganda gay, e Letta ha promesso di ribadire a Sochi la contrarietà dell’Italia a qualunque normativa discriminatoria nei confronti dei gay. Lo ha dichiarato pochi giorni dopo aver lodato ufficialmente a Dubai «la posizione umanitaria degli Emirati» e aver espresso analoghi apprezzamenti nei confronti delle altre monarchie del Golfo, i cui codici penali puniscono i rapporti consezienti tra adulti dello stesso sesso con dieci anni di carcere e, in Arabia Saudita, con la fustigazione o la lapidazione. Le stesse monarchie, tanto apprezzate da Obama e dagli altri leader occidentali, si preparano ora a sottoporre gli immigrati a non meglio precisati «test medici» per evitare che omosessuali entrino nei paesi del Golfo. La scesa in campo di Obama, Letta e altri leader a fianco dei gay in Russia è quindi del tutto strumentale. Come lo è l’accusa a Mosca di aver speso troppo per le Olimpiadi e di volerle usare a fini di propaganda nazionale, cosa che fanno tutti i paesi che le ospitano, a causa del meccanismo stesso di questo evento internazionale che andrebbe profondamente rivisto. Tali accuse, pur avendo una base di verità, hanno un fine ben preciso: alimentare nell’opinione pubblica un nuovo clima da guerra fredda, funzionale alla strategia Usa/Nato che incontra a Mosca una crescente opposizione. Se al potere in Russia ci fosse ancora Eltsin, disponibile a ogni concessione agli Usa e all’Occidente, nessuno definirebbe quelle di Sochi «le Olimpiadi dello zar Eltsin».

A insindacabile giudizio di chi a Washington stabilisce il voto in condotta dei governanti, Eltsin è iscritto nella lista del «buoni», mentre Putin sta finendo in quella dei «cattivi». L’elenco da cui viene scelto di volta in volta «il nemico numero uno» (come è stato Saddam Hussein, Milosevic, Gheddafi), che serve a giustificare l’escalation militare fino alla guerra. Il bersaglio su cui di volta in volta si concentrano gli attacchi politici e mediatici, ingigantendone le malefatte per nascondere quelle ben maggiori di chi si erge a tutore dei diritti umani.

Manlio Dinucci

Sochi : Os cinco círculos de gelo

February 13th, 2014 by Manlio Dinucci

Os ventos da guerra fria estão soprando nas Olimpíadas invernais de Sochi, ou melhor, nas « Olimpíadas do Tzar Putin » [Tzar, em russo Царь, significando imperador ou rei] como as chamam em unisono a mídia ocidental. As explêndidas prestações dos atletas do mundo inteiro, que se prepararam por muitos anos para os jogos, passaram ao segundo plano, ou melhor, elas são ignoradas completamente, salvo se for um atleta nacional que a ganhe. Enquanto encobrindo de sombras as Olimpíadas, fruto de um colossal trabalho coletivo, a mídia fornece informações detalhadas sobre o destino de cães errantes em Sochi, e sobre o fato de que na cerimônia de abertura, um dos cinco anéis olímpicos não tinha ficado iluminado, tendo então uma aparência de floco de neve (um funesto presságio teriam dito os antigos). Ao mesmo tempo então foi lançado um alarme de que atentados terroristas poderiam transtornar as Olimpíadas. Isso após o que então aconteceu, pontualmente, em Volgagrado, na Rússia, de quando dos dois recentes atentados terroristas,

Em Washington, onde se entende de terrorismo, exprimiu-se a preocupação por um possível atentado a Sochi o que foi seguido da decisão de se intervenir militarmente : o “Mount Whitney”, um navio de guerra, almirante, da Sexta Flota, ancorou-se em Gaéte (Lacium), para entrar no Mar Negro com a fregata “Taylor”. Eles estiveram a pouco de evacuar de Sochi os atletas e expectadores norteamericanos. Os dois navios de guerra, flanqueados de unidades da Geórgia, exercitaram-se em manter os limites das águas territoriais russas.

Obama, Cameron e Hollande, valentes defensores dos direitos humanos, pelos quais eles motivam suas guerras e massacres, deram a entender que eles não foram as Olimpíadas porque na Rússia a propaganda “gay”, ou seja homosexual, está proibida ; e Letta, que é presidente do Conselho Italiano, NdT, prometeu de reafirmar em Sochi o desgosto da Itália frente a qualquer tipo de discriminação a respeito de “gays”. Isso ele declarou só alguns dias depois de ter feito oficialmente os louvores a Dubai, a respeito « da posição humanitária dos Emirados » e de ter exprimido apreciações similares a respeito das outras monarquias do Golfo, onde o código penal pune as relações consentidas entre adultos do mesmo sexo, com dez anos de prisão, o que na Arábia Saudita se pune então com a flagelação ou a lapidação, ou seja, a pedradas.

Essas mesmas monarquias, assim tão apreciadas por Obama e pelos outros líderes ocidentais, estão se preparando atualmente a submeter os imigrantes a uns tantos imprecisos « testes médicos » para evitar que homosexuais entrem nos países do Golfo. Essa história de Obama, Letta, e outros líderes ocidentais, estarem ao lado de homosexuais na Rússia  é simplesmente instrumental. Isso assim também como o é a acusação contra Moscou de ter expendido demais para as Olimpíadas, e de querer utilizar a mesma para fins nacionais propagandísticos, o que o fazem todos os países que as acolhem, por causa mesmo do próprio mecanismo desses eventos internacionais, os quais deveriam ser sujeitos a grandes revisões. Essas acusações, mesmo que tenham uma base de verdade, tem mais a ver com um objetivo bem preciso : alimentar a opinião pública para um novo clima de guerra fria. Essa é uma estratégia US/OTAN que encontra em Moscou uma crescente oposição. Se Bóris Yeltsin ainda estivesse no poder na Rússia, disposto a fazer todas as concessões aos Estados Unidos e ao ocidente, ninguém iria definir Sotchi como « as Olímpíadas to Tsar Yeltsin ».

De acordo com o julgamento incontestável daqueles que em Washington dão as guias de conduta para o seu governo, Yeltsin deveria ser posto na lista dos « gentís » enquanto que Putin deveria entrar naquela dos « maus ». Essa é a lista da qual se escolhe, cada vez que se mostre necessário,  « o inimigo número um » como fizeram com Saddan Hussein, Milosevic e Kaddafi. Essa escolha e essa denominação servem para justificar a escalada militar até a guerra. Será no alvo que escolheram, que cada vez que for necessário, se concentrarão os ataques políticos e midiáticos. Eles farão que seus defeitos sejam rendidos de maneira gigantesca, escondendo assim aqueles, muitíssimo maiores, daqueles que se levantam como tutores dos direitos humanos.

Manlio Dinucci

 

Edição de terça-feira, 11 de fevereiro de 2014 do il manifesto

Texto original :  http://ilmanifesto.it/i-cinque-cerchi-di-ghiaccio/

Tradução Anna Malm, artigospoliticos.wordpress.compara mondialisation.ca

The Bureau has found evidence that the Secretary of State, Theresa May deliberately waited for a terror suspect to leave the country before revoking his British citizenship.

The move, described by the suspect’s lawyer as an abuse of the Home Secretary’s powers followed the advice of a Home Office official. He wrote to May saying: ‘When [the suspect] leaves the UK, he should be deprived of his British citizenship.’

In a witness statement presented to the Court of Appeal, the official explained to the Home Secretary that waiting until the suspect, referred to in court as L1, had gone abroad voluntarily before removing his citizenship enabled her to avoid having to deport him, which could have led to him remaining in the UK for ‘a period of years’ while he fought legal appeals.

The revelation comes as the Security Minister denied that there was a government policy of removing a person’s citizenship when they were out of the country.

The minister, James Brokenshire was talking to MPs at a debate in Westminster Hall about an amendment added to the Immigration Bill.

He said: ‘It is true that people have been deprived while outside the UK, but I do not accept that it is a particular tactic.

‘It is simply an operational reality that in some cases the information comes to light when the person is outside the UK or that it is the final piece of the picture, confirming what has been suspected. In other cases, we may determine that the most appropriate response to the actions of an individual is to deprive that person while they are outside the UK.’

The current laws allow the Home Secretary to remove the citizenship of any dual national – including those born inside the UK – with no prior warning and no judicial approval in advance. Since the current laws were passed in 2006, Bureau research has established that 40 orders have been issued.

Now, May is seeking an amendment to the Immigration Bill that will allow her to strip the UK nationality of naturalised or foreign born individuals, even if they have no other nationality, effectively rendering them stateless.

The Home Secretary often signs exclusion orders at the same time, preventing the individuals from returning to the UK. This means that those affected – and sometimes their families too – are stranded overseas, lacking the protections of British citizenship as they fight legal appeals that can stretch on for years.

The terror suspect, L1, came to the UK from Sudan as an asylum seeker in 1991 and became British in 2003.

The process of removing his citizenship dates back to the Labour government. A Court of Appeal judgment from July 2013 shows that in mid-2009 the Home Office was at an ‘advanced stage’ of planning to remove the UK nationality of L1 as he was in his native Sudan for the summer.

But the plans were shelved, after he returned to the UK before the notification was dispatched. He does not appear to have been charged with any crimes in the UK or put under any measures such as TPIMs, and remained at liberty for the next 10 months, before leaving again in July 2010 of his own will.

Four days after leaving the country the Home Secretary issued notification that his citizenship was to be revoked.

Since the removal of his British nationality, L1 has been stranded in Sudan, unable to return to the UK. His wife, who is also Sudanese, lost her right to remain in the UK when L1′s citizenship was removed – meaning that his four children, all British citizens and all aged under 10 at the time of the order – are effectively exiled from the UK too.

L1′s lawyers claim the Home Secretary’s decision to wait until L1 was out if the country was an abuse of her powers as it ‘appeared to constitute a deliberate manipulation… for the purpose of obstructing [L1's] statutory right of appeal or making it more difficult to exercise’, as Lord Justice Laws noted last year in his written judgment.

When asked about the official’s witness statements in the case of L1, a spokeswoman said the Home Office does not comment on individual cases. It has in the past declined to disclose the number of UK citizens stripped of their nationality while they were abroad, on grounds of national security.

In a statement that closely resembled statements provided on at least four previous occasions, the spokeswoman said: ‘Those who threaten this country’s security put us all at risk. This government will take all necessary steps to protect the public.

‘Citizenship is a privilege, not a right and the Home Secretary will remove British citizenship from individuals where she feels it is conducive to the public good to do so.’

She also denied that it has a policy of waiting until individuals are out of the UK before removing their citizenship.

But research by the Bureau has also found that of the 18 individuals we have identified who have lost their UK nationality removed since 2006, at least 15 were known to be abroad when orders to remove their citizenship were issued.

Of those individuals, two – Mohammed Sakr and Bilal al-Berjawi – were killed in US drone strikes in Somalia. Another, Mahdi Hashi, was rendered to the United States where he’s currently awaiting trial on terror charges in a high-security jail.

Speaking in the parliamentary debate, Diane Abbott pointed out that debate around citizenship-stripping often failed to presume the innocence of individuals who had not faced criminal charges.

‘We are talking about terror suspects. Nowadays in Parliament, saying that someone is suspected of terrorist activity is enough for the political class to assume that that person does not deserve due process,’ she said.

Saghir Hussain of HMA solicitors, who has represented Sakr, Berjawi and Hashi, and one other individual referred to in court as Y1, told the Bureau: ‘All four had their notice [of deprivation of citizenship] sent to them while they were out the country and with all four there were serious problems getting legal instructions to them to appeal against this stripping.

‘It’s extremely difficult when they are outside [the UK]. The process of obtaining legal aid takes months and only very few lawyers are able or willing to work for free.’

The Security Minister also told MPs in the parliamentary debate that British terror suspects who have their nationality stripped under the new plans may have the right to remain in the UK. He explained that suspects subjected to new orders being proposed by Home Secretary could stay in Britain until ‘they have acquired another nationality.’

Brokenshire added that  individuals made stateless under new legislation while in the UK would have the opportunity to seek a second nationality before being extradited.

‘Some [suspects] may be able to acquire or reacquire another nationality. In those cases where the individual has been deprived [of their citizenship] while in the UK we would seek to remove that individual from the UK once they have acquired another nationality,’ he said. ‘Where appropriate we could regularise a person’s position in the UK by granting limited leave, possibly with conditions relating to access to public funds and their right to work and study.’

Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda, questioned whether rendering people stateless would benefit national security.

‘Potentially, the only countries that would offer nationality to a person reckoned to be a suspected terrorist would be countries where we probably would not want that person to end up, because they would by definition be countries that sponsor terrorism,’ he said.

‘We recognise the need to avoid statelessness and are committed to maintaining our international obligations. However, we do not believe that that should be at a cost to the national security of the UK,’ Brokenshire said.

‘Two-tier’ citizenship?

MPs voiced concern on Tuesday that prospective changes to the Immigration Bill allowing the Home Secretary to make people stateless would result in ‘two classes of British citizens.’

Theresa May is seeking the power to strip terror suspects of their UK nationality even if it renders them stateless – currently she can only use the law against dual-nationals, who won’t be left stateless by the loss of their British nationality. The changes in legislation will only apply to foreign-born or naturalised British citizens.

Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said: ‘We will have two classes of British citizens. That is a dangerous road to go down.’

Abbott added: ‘The fear will be that although this has started with suspected terrorists, where will it end, once the state decides that British citizenship is not indivisible?’

Security minister James Brokenshire replied: ‘We do not accept that there is, or will be, a two-tier citizenship system.’

But a recent Home Office briefing showing how the Immigration Bill amendment seeks to comply with EU law, said it was ‘satisfied that there is an objective and reasonable justification for treating naturalised citizens differently from others.’

In the Darkness of Dick Cheney

February 13th, 2014 by Mark Danner

 If you’re a man of principle, compromise is a bit of a dirty word. —Dick Cheney, 2013

From the March 6, 2014 issue of The New York Review of Books

1.

In early 2007, as Iraq seemed to be slipping inexorably into chaos and President George W. Bush into inescapable political purgatory, Meir Dagan, the head of the Israeli Mossad, flew to Washington, sat down in a sunlit office of the West Wing of the White House, and spread out on the coffee table before him a series of photographs showing a strange-looking building rising out of the sands in the desert of eastern Syria. Vice President Dick Cheney did not have to be told what it was. “They tried to hide it down awadi, a gulley,” he recalls to filmmaker R.J. Cutler.

There’s no population around it anyplace…. You can’t say it’s to generate electricity, there’s no power line coming out of it. It’s just out there obviously for production of plutonium.

The Syrians were secretly building a nuclear plant—with the help, it appeared, of the North Koreans. Though the United States was already embroiled in two difficult, unpopular, and seemingly endless wars, though its military was overstretched and its people impatient and angry, the vice-president had no doubt what needed to be done:

Condi recommended taking it to the United Nations. I strongly recommended that we ought to take it out.

Launching an immediate surprise attack on Syria, Cheney tells us in his memoirs, would not only “make the region and the world safer, but it would also demonstrate our seriousness with respect to nonproliferation.” This was the heart of the Bush Doctrine: henceforth terrorists and the states harboring them would be treated as one and, as President Bush vowed before Congress in January 2002, “the United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.” It was according to this strategic thinking that the United States answered attacks on New York and Washington by a handful of terrorists not by a carefully circumscribed counterinsurgency aimed at al-Qaeda but by a worldwide “war on terror” that also targeted states—Iraq, Iran, North Korea—that formed part of a newly defined “axis of evil.”1 According to those attending National Security Council meetings in the days after September 11,

The primary impetus for invading Iraq…was to make an example of [Saddam] Hussein, to create a demonstration model to guide the behavior of anyone with the temerity to acquire destructive weapons or, in any way, flout the authority of the United States.2

And yet five years after the president had denounced the “axis of evil” before Congress, and four years after his administration had invaded and occupied Iraq in the declared aim of ridding Saddam’s regime of its weapons of mass destruction, the North Koreans had detonated their own nuclear weapon and the Syrians and Iranians, as the vice-president tells us in his memoirs, were “both working to develop nuclear capability.” What’s more,

Syria was facilitating the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq, where they killed US soldiers. Iran was providing funding and weapons for exactly the same purpose, as well as providing weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan. They were both involved in supporting Hezbollah in its efforts to threaten Israel and destabilize the Lebanese government. They constituted a major threat to America’s interests in the Middle East.

By the vice-president’s own analysis the “demonstration model” approach, judged by whether it was “guiding the behavior” of the axis of evil countries and their allies, was delivering distinctly mixed results. No matter:

I told the president we needed a more effective and aggressive strategy to counter these threats, and I believed that an important first step would be to destroy the reactor in the Syrian desert.

Launching an air strike on Syria, as he tells Cutler, “would sort of again reassert the kind of authority and influence we had back in ’03—when we took down Saddam Hussein and eliminated Iraq as a potential source of WMD.”

“Back in ’03” had been the Golden Age, when American power had reached its zenith. After Kabul had fallen in a few weeks, the shock and awe launched from American planes and missiles had brought American warriors storming all the way to Baghdad. Saddam’s statue, with the help of an American tank and a strong chain, crashed to the pavement. The first of the “axis of evil” countries had fallen. President Bush donned his flight suit and swaggered across the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. It was the “Mission Accomplished” moment.

And yet is there not something distinctly odd in pointing, in 2007—not to mention in the memoirs of 2011 and the film interview in 2013—to “the kind of authority and influence we had back in ’03”? Four years after the Americans had declared victory in Iraq—even as the vice-president was “strongly recommending” that the United States attack Syria—more than a hundred thousand Iraqis and nearly five thousand Americans were dead, Iraq was near anarchy, and no end was yet in sight. Not only the war’s ending but its beginning had disappeared into a dark cloud of confusion and controversy, as the weapons of mass destruction that were its justification turned out not to exist. The invasion had produced not the rapid and overwhelming victory Cheney had anticipated but a quagmire in which the American military had occupied and repressed a Muslim country and, four years later, been brought to the verge of defeat. As for “authority and influence,” during that time North Korea had acquired nuclear weapons and Iran and Syria had started down the road to building them.

Given this, what exactly had the “demonstration model” demonstrated? If such demonstrations really did “guide the behavior of anyone with the temerity…to flout the authority of the United States,” how exactly had the decision to invade Iraq and the disastrous outcome of the war guided the actions and policies of those authority-flouting countries? The least one could say is that if the theory worked, then that “authority and influence we had back in ’03,” in conquered Baghdad, had been unmasked, as the insurgency got underway, as an illusion.

The pinnacle of power had been attained not in Baghdad but long before, when the leaders decided to set out on this ill-starred military adventure. By invading Iraq Bush administration policymakers—and at their head, Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld—had managed to demonstrate to the world not the grand extent of American power but its limits. The most one could say is that the “demonstration model” had had the opposite result of that intended, encouraging “rogue states,” faced with the prospect of an aggressive United States determined to wield its unmatched conventional military forces, to pursue the least expensive means by which to deter such an attack: nuclear weapons of their own. Now the Iraq war suggested that even if the Americans did invade, a determined core of insurgents equipped with small arms, suicide vests, and other improvised explosive devices might well be enough to outlast them, or at least outlast the patience of the American public.

2.

By November 2007 two in three Americans had concluded that the Iraq war had not been worth fighting. President Bush, bidding fair to become the least popular president since modern polling began, had just led the Republicans to a decisive “thumping” at the polls, losing control of both houses of Congress—and had felt obliged finally to fire Rumsfeld, Cheney’s longtime mentor, over the latter’s dogged and strenuous objections. It was Rumsfeld who had brought the young Cheney into the White House in the late 1960s and who had presided over his astonishing rise, and it was Rumsfeld who had been Cheney’s critical partner in advocating “the strategy of the demonstration effect.” Even as Bush secretly interviewed Robert M. Gates, Rumsfeld’s prospective replacement, at his Crawford, Texas, ranch two days before the election, discussing Iraq, Afghanistan, and the perilous state of the American military, the vice-president’s shadow loomed. According to Gates, “After about an hour together, the president leaned forward and asked if I had any more questions. I said no. He then sort of smiled and said, ‘Cheney?’”3

Two syllables. One word. Hearing it Gates “sort of smiled back.” Reading it, we do the same. But what exactly does that word, accompanied by that “sort of” smile, mean? It raises first and foremost a question about power—secret power. Untrammeled power. Hard power. The power behind POTUS. The Dark Side. The man who, even as he could no longer prevent his longtime mentor and close collaborator from being fired, himself never could be.

Richard Bruce Cheney, the man who had acceded to Governor George W. Bush’s request in 2000 that he lead his search to find a perfect vice-president, and who found that this arduous and exacting effort led to none other than himself, would be there at Bush’s side, or somewhere in the murk behind him, until the bitter end. For all his experience and sophistication, that grimly blank expression—calmly unflinching gaze, slightly lopsided frown—embodied a philosophy of power unapologetically, brutally simple: attack, crush enemies; cause others to fear, submit. Power from time to time must be embodied in vivid violence, like Voltaire’s executions, pour encourager les autres.

When it comes to Cheney’s rise and his persistence we are in the realm of miracles and wonders. In 1969, Cheney was a twenty-eight-year-old fledgling academic wannabe from Wyoming laboring obscurely as an intern on Capitol Hill—and lucky to be there, having twice flunked out of Yale, twice been jailed for drunk driving. Five years later he was Gerald Ford’s White House chief of staff. Can American history offer a more rapid rise to power? Even the firework arc of his mentor Donald Rumsfeld pales before it.4 He’d owed his rise in large part to Rumsfeld’s patronage, but also to Watergate itself, to the once in a lifetime opportunities offered by the resignation of one president and the humbling of his successor. At close range Cheney, still in his early thirties, had seen the secret organs of executive power, notably the CIA, exposed to the light, humiliated, leashed. If it was true that “after 9/11, the gloves came off,” Cheney, as a young and unlikely power in the Nixon and Ford White Houses, had had a front-row seat to observe the methods by which Congress first put those gloves on.

After Ford’s defeat in 1976, Cheney won Wyoming’s single House seat and rose with astonishing speed, advancing within a decade from freshman to minority whip, the number-three leadership position. He was on his way to the Speakership when he accepted President George H.W. Bush’s offer to become secretary of defense and then, after leading the Pentagon during the wildly popular Desert Storm, left after Bush’s defeat to become CEO of Halliburton, the giant oil services company. After gaining wealth and influence as a corporate leader, he finally departed to become—to use the commonplace but entirely inadequate phrase—“the most powerful vice-president in history.”

And all the while, like an ominous ground bass booming along beneath this public tale of power and triumph, runs another, darker narrative of mortality, in some ways even more remarkable. While campaigning for the House in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1978, Cheney was struck down by a heart attack. His doctor, and coauthor of Heart: An American Medical Odyssey, Jonathan Reiner, remarks that he knows no one who had a heart attack in the Seventies who is still alive today. For Cheney that 1978 coronary would be the first of five, his survival increasingly owed to the most advanced medical technology that with almost miraculous fortune became available just as he needed it to survive—as if, Cheney writes, he “were traveling down a street, late for work, and all the lights ahead of me were red, but they turned green just before I got there.” In the book’s most striking scene, Reiner recalls hearing a colleague summoning him back to the operating table late one afternoon in March 2012: “Hey, Jon, take a look.” Entering, he is confronted with a singular vision:

In Alan’s raised right hand, festooned with surgical clamps and now separated from the body that it had sustained for seventy-one years, rested the vice president’s heart. It was huge, more than twice the size of a normal organ, and it bore the scars of its four-decade battle with the relentless disease that eventually killed it.

I turned from the heart to look down into the chest…. The surreal void was a vivid reminder that there was no turning back.

3.


Dick Cheney; drawing by Pancho

No turning back would be a good slogan for Dick Cheney. His memoirs are remarkable—and he shares this with Rumsfeld—for an almost perfect lack of second-guessing, regret, or even the mildest reconsideration. “I thought the best way to get on with my life and my career was to do what I thought was right,” he tells Cutler. “I did what I did, it’s all on the public record, and I feel very good about it.” Decisions are now as they were then. If that Mission Accomplished moment in 2003 seemed at the time to be the height of American power and authority, then so it will remain—unquestioned, unaltered, uninflected by subsequent public events that show it quite clearly to have been nothing of the kind. “If I had to do it over again,” says Cheney, “I’d do it in a minute.”

Yet lack of regret, refusal to reconsider, doesn’t alter the train of cause and effect; certainty that decisions were right, no matter how powerful—and the imperturbable perfection of Cheney’s certainty is nothing short of dazzling—cannot obscure evidence that they were wrong. Often the sheer unpopularity of a given course seems to offer to Cheney its own satisfaction, a token of his disinterestedness, as if the lack of political support must serve as a testament to the purity of his motives. “Cheney is an anti-politician,” remarks Barton Gellman, author of the brilliant study of Cheney’s vice-presidency, Angler.5 “But no president can be an anti-politician. No president can govern that way.”

By 2007, even President Bush had begun to realize this, to understand the pitfalls and risks of Cheney’s certainty. Having ventured his own one-word query in the interview with Robert Gates—“Cheney?”—Bush supplies his own answer: “He is a voice, an important voice, but only one voice.” This observation would appear to be proved true in the debate over attacking Syria, in which Gates as secretary of defense joined Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Secretary Adviser Stephen Hadley in opposing Cheney. “The idea that we could bomb the Syria reactor to make a point about proliferation in the face of uncertain intelligence,” Rice remarks in her memoirs, “was, to put it mildly, reckless.”

It was not just the possibility that such a surprise attack could ignite a regional conflagration and pull the Syrians and Iranians deeper into the Iraq quagmire, or the fact that the American public was exhausted with war and desperate to withdraw from the Middle East rather than attack another country there. The Chinese were deeply involved—they were critical to pressuring the North Koreans, who had helped build the Syrian reactor—and, Rice notes, “they (and the rest of the region) would never have tolerated the military strike the Vice President recommended.”6

No matter. Cheney prided himself on keeping political concerns out of decisions about “what was right”; and no war gone wrong, let alone a defeat at the polls, would change his views on the terrible “nexus” between terrorists and their state sponsors and weapons of mass destruction. As he tells Cutler: “You don’t want Syria to have that kind of capability that they might be able to pass along to Hamas or Hezbollah or al-Qaeda.” Despite the ongoing war in Iraq, and the widespread fears of a regional conflagration, and the war-weariness and anger among Americans, the United States had no choice but to attack Syria and to do it without delay. And as Gates remarks, though “Cheney knew that, among the four of us, he alone thought a strike should be the first and only option,…perhaps he could persuade the president.”7

Perhaps he could; if so, it would not be the first time that Cheney’s voice, isolated or not, had carried the day. The vice-president lobbied the president directly and then made his case to a National Security Council meeting in June 2007:

I argued in front of the group and in front of the President…. I thought I was rather eloquent…. The President said, “All right, how many people agree with the Vice President?” And nobody put their hand up.

The days had passed when Bush would ignore the hands and choose Cheney’s path anyway. There would be no return to the glorious “authority and influence we had back in ’03.” Having refused Israeli demands that he order an air strike, Bush also discouraged, at least nominally, direct Israeli action, supposedly intending to follow Rice’s and Gates’s insistence that the reactor be exposed at the United Nations. But the Israelis had other plans. Late one night in September 2007, American-made Israeli F-15s streaked across the Syrian border and, using precisely targeted bombs, “took out” the reactor. In the event, the Israelis made no grand announcement to promote Israel’s “authority and influence” or that of its American ally. The Israelis kept the attack secret and insisted the Americans do the same—as did the Syrians, who quietly demolished the ruins and plowed them under. The era of the “demonstration effect” was over.

4.

And yet we live still in Cheney’s world. All around us are the consequences of those decisions: in Fallujah, Iraq, where al-Qaeda-allied jihadis who were nowhere to be found in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq have just again seized control; in Syria, where Iraqi jihadists play a prominent part in the rebellion against the Assad regime; in Afghanistan, where the Taliban, largely ignored after 2002 in the rush to turn American attention to Saddam Hussein, are resurgent. And then there is the other side of the “war on terror,” the darker story that Cheney, five days after the September 11 attacks, was able to describe so precisely for the country during an interview on Meet the Press:

We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies…. That’s the world these folks operate in, and so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.

The day after Cheney made these comments President Bush signed a secret document that, according to longtime CIA counsel John Rizzo,

was the most comprehensive, most ambitious, most aggressive, and most risky Finding or MON [Memorandum of Notification] I was ever involved in. One short paragraph authorized the capture and detention of Al Qaeda terrorists, another authorized taking lethal action against them. The language was simple and stark…. We had filled the entire covert-action tool kit, including tools we had never before used.8

This memorandum, as Rizzo remarks, “remains in effect to this day.” So too does Congress’s Authorization for the Use of Military Force that Bush signed the following day. More than a dozen years later these are the two pillars, secret and public, dark side and light, on which the unending “war on terror” still rests. Though we have become accustomed to President Obama telling us, as he most recently did in the State of the Union address, that “America must move off a permanent war footing,” these words have come to sound, in their repetition, less like the orders of a commander in chief than the pleas of one lonely man hoping to persuade.

What are these words, after all, next to the iron realities of the post–September 11 world? The defense budget has more than doubled, including a Special Operations Command able to launch secret, lethal raids anywhere in the world that has grown from 30,000 elite troops to more than 67,000. The drone force has expanded from fewer than 200 unmanned aerial vehicles to more than 11,000, including perhaps 400 “armed-capable” drones that can and do target and kill from the sky—and that, following the computer directives of “pilots” manning terminals in Virginia and Nevada and elsewhere in the United States, have killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia an estimated 3,600 people.

The “black sites”—the network of secret prisons the CIA set up around the world, from Thailand and Afghanistan to Romania and Poland and Morocco—were ordered shut down by President Obama, but despite his executive order on his second day in office, Guantánamo Bay, the “public black site,” remains open, its 155 detainees, but for a handful, uncharged and untried. Among that number live “high-value detainees” who were once secretly imprisoned at the black sites, where many were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques.”9 Asked by Cutler whether he considers “a prolonged period of creating the sensation of drowning”—waterboarding—to be torture, Cheney’s response comes fast and certain:

I don’t. Tell me what terrorist attacks that you would have let go forward because you didn’t want to be a mean and nasty fellow. Are you gonna trade the lives of a number of people because you want to preserve your, your honor, or are you going to do your job, do what’s required first and foremost, your responsibility to safeguard the United States of America and the lives of its citizens. Now given a choice between doing what we did or backing off and saying, “We know you know their next attack against the United States but we’re not gonna force you to tell us what is is because it might create a bad image for us.” That’s not a close call for me.

Quite apart from the large factual questions blithely begged, there is a kind of stark amoral grandeur to this answer that takes one’s breath away. Just as he was likely the most important and influential American official in making the decision to withhold the protection of the Geneva Conventions from detainees, Cheney was likely the most important and influential American when it came to imposing an official government policy of torture. It is quite clear he simply cannot, or will not, acknowledge that such a policy raises any serious moral or legal questions at all. Those who do acknowledge such questions, he appears to believe, are poseurs, acting out some highfalutin and affected pretense based on—there is a barely suppressed sneer here—“preserving yourhonor.” What does he think of those—and their number includes the current attorney general of the United States and the president himself—who believe and have declared publicly that waterboarding is torture and thus plainly illegal? For Cheney the question is not only “not a close call.” It is not even a question.

As I write, five men are being tried for plotting the attacks of September 11, 2001. Though one would expect that such proceedings might be dubbed “the trial of the century” and attract commensurate attention, it is quite possible—likely, even—that you have not even heard of them. The five defendants accused of killing nearly three thousand Americans are being tried before a military commission at Guantánamo Bay. Those handful of visitors who are able to gain permission to attend, including a very few journalists, find the conditions rather unusual, quite unlike any courtroom they have ever seen, as Carroll Bogert of Human Rights Watch reports:

Visitors observe the hearings behind sound-proof glass, with an audio feed that runs 40 seconds behind. When something sensitive is said in the courtroom, the infamous “hockey light” on the judge’s bench lights up and the comment is bleeped out….

The degree of classification of banal matters is bewildering. A former camp commander issued a memo on exactly what material the defense lawyers were allowed to bring in to their clients. One thing that was not allowed to be brought in? The memo itself.

The defendants include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the confessed mastermind of September 11, who was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in March 2003 and immediately disappeared into the CIA’s network of secret prisons, spending time, reportedly, at black sites in Afghanistan, Thailand, and Poland, where he was subjected to a medley of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including prolonged sleep deprivation, beatings, forced nudity, “walling,” cold water immersions, and waterboarding, which procedure he endured no less than 183 times. Though this particular information comes from CIA documents, including an authoritative report by the CIA’s inspector general, which have long been public, any mention of the treatment of Mohammed, and the other defendants, is forbidden in court. And yet, Bogert writes, “Torture is Guantanamo’s Original Sin.”

It is both invisible and omnipresent. The US government wants coverage of the 9/11 attacks, but not the waterboarding, sleep deprivation, prolonged standing and other forms of torture that the CIA applied to the defendants. It’s tricky, prosecuting the 9/11 case while trying to keep torture out of the public eye. “Torture is the thread running through all of this,” one of the detainees’ psychiatrists told me. “You can’t tell the story [of 9/11] without it.”

And yet in that Guantánamo pseudo-courtroom American military officers acting under color of law as well as some civilian lawyers are trying to do so. This peculiar, mortifying procedure—a futile attempt to render a kind of disfigured justice to those responsible for killing thousands of Americans and upending the history of the country—is one more legacy of the misshapen response to the attacks: not a remnant of a past we want to forget but of a present we are trying to ignore. Bogert goes on:

The 9/11 defendants are not being tortured today, at least not in the way they once were. But we don’t know much about conditions in their prison. For years, even its name, “Camp Seven,” was a secret. Proceedings have now ground to a halt while the mental competency of one defendant, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, is evaluated. He kept interrupting the hearings last month with shouts of “This is my life. This is torture. TORTURE!”

We’re not sure what else he said…. Bin al-Shibh’s audio went fuzzy partway through.10

Orwellian? Kafkaesque? The words seem pale and inadequate. Against the backroom noise of these distant, choked-off voices, largely forgotten and ignored, stands the former vice-president, speaking clearly and forthrightly, defiantly unashamed. One can’t help feeling grim gratitude to him for this, for, as I shall explore in the next article, it was Dick Cheney, more than any other official, who set the terms for the post–September 11 world we all share.

—This is the fourth in a series of articles

  1. See my earlier articles in this series, “ Rumsfeld’s War and Its Consequences Now,” The New York Review, December 19, 2013, “ Rumsfeld Revealed,” The New York Review, January 9, 2014, and “ Rumsfeld: Why We Live in His Ruins,” The New York Review, February 6, 2014. 
  2. See Ron Suskind, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 (Simon and Schuster, 2006), p. 123. 
  3. See Robert M. Gates, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War (Knopf, 2014), p. 7. 
  4. See “ Rumsfeld’s War and Its Consequences Now.” Perhaps Theodore Roosevelt, who rose from New York City police commissioner to president in six years, comes close. See Tevi Troy, “Heavy Heart: The Life and Cardiac Times of Dick Cheney,” The Weekly Standard, January 27, 2014. 
  5. Barton Gellman, Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency (Penguin, 2008). 
  6. See Condoleezza Rice, No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington (Crown, 2011), p. 713. 
  7. Gates, Duty, p. 172. 
  8. See John Rizzo, Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA (Scribner, 2014), p. 174. 
  9. See my article “ US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites,” The New York Review, April 9, 2009. 
  10. See Carroll Bogert, “There’s Something You Need to See at Guantanamo Bay,” Politico, January 22, 2014. 

Washington  doesn’t negotiate in good faith.  Duplicity defines longstanding US policy.

Are current Obama negotiations more smoke and mirrors deception? Are they pretense, not real? Does he want sustained conflict, not peace?

Geneva is a cosmopolitan city. It’s a cultural center. It’s a well-known multilateral diplomatic world capital. It’s a traditional peace talk venue. It’s been so for over a century.

It’s home to earlier historic decisions. After WW I, it became the League of Nations’ home city. The body’s Palace of Nations remains largely unchanged today.

Post-WW II, Geneva became Europe’s UN home. It’s a preferred diplomatic choice. It’s in neutral Switzerland. It’s an easy flight from Washington or Moscow.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is based there. Nineteenth century Geneva Conventions were drafted there.

So were post-WW II Geneva Conventions I through IV. Subsequent protocols supplemented them there. Common Articles 2 and 3 highlight details.

Geneva is the world’s top tough talks choice. It’s home to Syrian peace negotiations. It’s hosting Iranian nuclear ones.

It’s been tough going for both. More on Iran below. Syria prioritizes conflict resolution. It wants terrorism stopped. It wants human suffering ended. It wants equitable, lasting peace.

Obama launched war. He continues it. He could stop it by calling off his dogs. He shows no signs of doing it.

He wants Syrian sovereignty destroyed. He abhors diplomatic conflict resolution. He wants Assad ousted.

He wants his choice for Syria’s leader replacing him. He wants Syrians having no say.

On Tuesday, he hosted French President Francois Hollande at the White House. He’s France’s most unpopular president in modern times.

On the one hand, Obama said: “Right now we don’t think there is a military solution per se to the problem” in Syria.

On the other, he suggested possible US military intervention if other options fail. He’s going all-out to assure it. Is he planning bombs away again?

“I always reserve the right to exercise military action on behalf of America’s national security interests,” he said.

Pursuing US interests involves naked aggression against one independent country after another. It’s about total war.

It’s about mass slaughter and destruction. It’s about bombing countries back to the stone age. It’s about creating unspeakable human misery.

It’s about resource control. It’s about unchallenged US dominance. It’s about replacing sovereign governments with pro-Western puppet ones.

It’s about crushing democracy. It’s about tolerating it nowhere. It’s about making the world safe for US corporate interests.

Obama calls the Syrian situation “fluid.” All options are being considered. Bet on total war being his top choice.

Peace talks are fake. They’re not about resolving conflict. Obama didn’t initiate it to quit. He’s waging proxy war for regime change.

On January 22, initial talks began. They accomplished nothing. On February 10, round two began. Day one was shaky. So was day two.

UN/Arab League Syrian envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is intermediary for both sides. He’s no honest broker. He’s Washington’s man.

The name of the game is regime change. Not according to government delegates. Syrians alone will decide their future.

Syrian National Council (SNC) representatives are US stooges. They obey Washington diktats. Assad must go, they demand.

Negotiations remain deadlocked. “The beginning of this week (was) as laborious as it was in the first week,” said Brahimi. “We are not making much progress.” None whatever in halting violence.

Obama wants it this way. He wants his will imposed. Syrian sovereignty is too valuable to lose. Assad capitulation isn’t planned.

He didn’t send delegates to Geneva to arrange his departure. Syrians alone will decide if he stays or goes.

Brahimi wants transitional governance discussed. Government delegates want Syrians having sole say on who’ll lead them. Outside meddling won’t be tolerated.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad wants terrorism discussed. He wants ending fighting addressed.

“Those who come out with statements far removed from what is happening in the meetings have rejected clearly and openly to include terrorism in the conference’s discussions, saying that there’s no terrorism in Syria, no Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, no Jabhet al-Nusra, and no Islamic Front, and this again proves that they live in an illusionary, unreal, deceptive and false world,” he said.

“We cannot accept bypassing the first item – which is the most important one – of the Geneva communique on counterterrorism.”

“Those who refuse to discuss this item seek to create and support terrorism to kill the Syrian people.”

Halting violence and terrorism come first. Nothing else matters otherwise. Mekdad called on all world countries for support. Save Syrian lives, he urged.

Monday and Tuesday were lost days. SNC delegates insist “there is no terrorism in Syria,” said Mekdad. Maybe they believe the earth is flat.

According to SNC spokesman Louay Safi, government delegates are “stalling.” They “believe in a military solution,” he claims.

They’ll more than go half way to resolve things. They have no legitimate peace partner.

SNC stooges are self-serving. They represent Washington. They’re detached from ordinary Syrians. They don’t represent them.

Syrian delegates prioritize discussing terrorism. They insist as long as talks continue. Odds favor them breaking down entirely.

Stopping violence and ending conflict matter most. Protecting Syrians depends on achieving what they want most.

It’s their country. It’s their choice. Government delegates represent them. Syrians have full faith in their mission. They deplore SNC stooges. They want no part of replacing Assad.

His political/media advisor Bouthaina Shaaban called political discussions impossible with ravaging nationwide terrorism.

Counterterrorism comes first. Transitional governance depends on what Syrians want. It bears repeating. Outside meddling won’t be tolerated.

Government delegates negotiate constructively, she said. They want bloodshed stopped. They want Syrian lives saved.

Daily massacres continue. On February 10, Jabhet al-Nusra terrorists targeted Maan village. It’s in Hama’s northern countryside.

They slaughtered 42 women, children and elderly victims. They did so in cold blood. Mainstream media ignored it.

A General Command statement said takfiri armed terrorists attacked Maan. They used Western-supplied weapons. Israel supplies its own.

They pillaged homes. They burned them. They demolished others. They displaced village occupants.

They did so during fake peace talks. “What can we (call) what happened in Maan,” said Shaaban? Who slaughtered innocent civilians? Who commits outrageous massacres?

Who talks peace while committing crimes of war and against humanity? SNC delegates ignore stopping bloodshed. Peace talks are a sham. They want power.

They want what benefits them. They’re mindless of Syrian suffering. Claiming “transitional government can fight terrorism means they’re linked to (it) and the flow of arms” they’re receiving, said Shaaban.

They support what they claim to oppose. They “encourage terrorism.” They threaten Syria’s survival. Obama does most of all.

He wants war. He deplores peace. He’s arming, funding, training and directing terrorists. He’s doing so while pretending to seek peace.

Shaaban said government delegates “decided that dialogue should be among Syrians under (UN supervision) with no interference from other sides.”

Mass rallies across Syria support Assad. They back Syrian  counterterrorism efforts. They carried Syrian flags, pictures of Assad and placards honoring martyrs.

They chanted supportive government slogans. They reject foreign interference. They represent what mainstream media won’t report.

They urged all Syrians support their country. They back their army and leadership. They face Washington-supported death squads.

Peace talks are fake. Obama’s waging proxy war. A previous article said if past is prologue, expect direct US intervention.

Peace talks are smoke and mirrors deception. They’re designed to fail. Expect Assad to be blamed.

Direct US intervention is one false flag away. It’s likely. Expect it. Perhaps any time. When manipulated talks fail, bombs away could follow any time.

Are Iranian nuclear negotiations rigged the same way? Was Obama’s outreach fake? Previous articles discussed his Joint Plan of Action (JPA) breaches.

He violated JPA provisions twice. Doing so suggests he’s subverting talks. He lawlessly imposed sanctions on companies operating legally.

He may or may not back possible new congressional sanctions. On Tuesday, Iranians commemorated their 35th Islamic Revolution anniversary.

Perhaps Obama plans no 36th. He’s a warrior president. He tolerates no sovereign independent states. He wants pro-Western stooge ones replacing them.

Duplicitously targeting Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is red herring cover for regime change. Do ongoing talks reflect smoke and mirrors deception?

Do war plans masquerade as prioritizing peace. Syria is in the eye of the storm. Iran’s turn awaits. Does Obama plan direct US intervention against both countries?

Is he hungry for more war? Does he have more death and destruction in mind? Are nuclear talks just pretense?

He threatened more sanctions on Iran if interim agreement terms are violated. We’ve “been very clear to the Iranians that there’s not going be any letup,” he said.

He’ll come down like “a ton of bricks” on companies violating US/EU-imposed sanctions.

Washington’s Greater Middle East agenda wants unchallenged dominance. It wants it regionally. It wants it everywhere. No-holds-barred tactics are used to achieve it.

Strategy calls for ravaging and destroying one country after another. If Syria falls, will targeting Iran follow? Will war rage throughout Obama’s final three years?

Will millions more die? Will countless others suffer? America’s entire history reflects one war segueing to others. Does Obama plan more of the same?

He’s got all the proving to do to suggest otherwise. His policies and body language give pause for concern.

So does America’s permanent war policy. It’s longstanding. Is this time different? Smart money says don’t bet on it.

Rogue states operate this way. It’s Washington’s way. It’s no way to seek peace. It’s sure-fire way to prevent it. War profiteers want things this way. Obama is going all-out to deliver.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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

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

Small-scale farmers in Mozambique – who collectively grow most of Africa’s food. Photo: União Nacional de Camponeses.

Tickets to today’s Feeding the World conference in London cost £695 – a sure way to exclude the small and family farmers that produce 70% of the world’s food. Graciela Romero denounces the global corporate takeover of land, food and farming.

This gathering is not for those not with legitimacy, but for those with the political and economic power to shape the global food system.

Today sees The Economist boost multi-million pound business as the notorious Monsanto’s chief executive sits alongside UN representatives at the magazine’s Feeding the World 2014 conference in London.

The title for this year’s annual event poses the question whether the current world hunger crisis – over 800 million hungry people – will become a catastrophe by 2050, when the global population is expected to reach 9.6 billion.

Solutions only from the uber-wealthy

Yet, despite so many people facing a chronic lack of food, the conference once again devotes much of its space to claimed solutions from the super-rich on how to address the crisis.

Few, if any among the hundreds of millions of the world’s small-scale farmers are expected to have their say – small wonder, when almost £700 is needed for the minimal admission fee.

With charities and others charged even higher sums, the inevitable conclusion is that this gathering is not for those not with legitimacy, but for those with the political and economic power to shape the global food system.

And, of course, the space for large aid agencies to roam and continue shaking the hand that feeds them.

Powerful but illegitimate

The power of getting your message across through exclusive conferences, afforded by international bodies and high profile media channels, cannot remain underestimated, or unchallenged by voices that expose their illegitimacy and abuse of power.

The cosy public-private dinners and forums have reached every sphere. Expensive meals and meetings, featuring discussions on the hungry poor, sustainable agriculture and the environment, are endemic.

Not only do such comfortable talks serve the purpose of influencing policy makers, but they also shape the messages that ordinary people receive through the media.

Indeed, they could easily be seen as part of corporations’ PR, advertising and lobbying strategies.

Small farmers are feeding the world – not corporations

High-level conferences explicitly avoid tackling the real power unbalances in the food system. Millions of small-scale farmers produce 70% of the world’s food.

Yet they remain excluded and forgotten from exchanges which affect their livelihoods or concern how to end world hunger.

How many high-level audience conferences are organised to promote, let alone present, the vast evidence from scientists and millions of farmers on the positive long-term impact of techniques such as agroecology that confront the global food and environmental crisis?

There are underlying power relations within the global food system which constantly exacerbate the world food crisis. The Feeding the World conference epitomes how power is controlled and owned by dominant players.

A new wave of corporate colonialism

Can Monsanto or Nestlé, corporations which make huge profits, be trusted to tackle the planet’s food security crisis? Why are the voices of millions of small-scale food producers, many of them women, not represented at such conferences?

Another event on the same issue took place last summer, as part of David Cameron’s hunger summit, held at the London headquarters of the food giant Unilever.

Big business chiefs shared the table with G8 leaders of the world’s leading economies to decide how to divide African markets, land and seeds among their countries and corporations like Monsanto.

Cameron ignored the call from African civil society to stop the new wave of colonialism with his £395 million of UK aid money give-away to support large companies operating in the continent.

Writing global food policy – for their own profit

Last November, the UN Conference on Trade and Development was attended by representatives from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, with 200 of the largest corporations as members, including Monsanto.

They had the space and time to dictate the tone of the discussion about the need for private investment in developing countries, dismissing questions about environmental degradation and the displacement of entire communities.

Or take the G8′s launch of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in May 2012. A private sector investment initiative, its objective is to open up African agriculture to multinational agribusiness companies by means of national ‘cooperation frameworks’ between African governments, donors and investors – with no reference to the needs or wishes of African farmers.

They call it ‘sustainable agriculture’ – but it’s the opposite

There is no space at such events to question, or to remember that expensive agrochemical packages, sold to Indian farmers, drove many thousands to unsustainable debts and suicide with the very same chemicals.

Or that Nestlé - The Baby Killer - as exposed by War on Want, continues to cause illness and death by promoting bottle feeding and undermining breast feeding in developing countries with less accessible clean water.

The technical fixes pushed by Monsanto, through initiatives such as Global Harvest and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, supported by the British and US governments, are sold and pushed as sustainable agriculture practices to harness productivity, trade and development.

Though the two initiatives are championed for small-scale farmers in Africa, president Barack Obama does not shy away from highlighting the real benefits of the Global Harvest Initiative, boosting US trade and its farmers.

Support food sovereignty for the poor, not profit for the rich

If the people behind debates on the food crisis really want to address the root causes of the problem, they should expose private-led initiatives promoting corporate sales and resource control.

It is time to advocate for and support millions of producers working towards positive alternatives, such as food sovereignty and agroecology, that safeguard people’s livelihoods and the environment.

Public bodies and government officials should act as watchdogs for public interest, not feed profitable relationships with corporations.

Graciela Romero is International Programmes Director with War on Want.

The recent anti-NSA, anti-surveillance protests were the latest manifestation of a burgeoning movement for freedom from mass surveillance and the liberation of information.

It is this new resistance movement, comprised of myriad individuals and organizations, which is perhaps the greatest measure of the legacy of Aaron Swartz.

By the time of his death a little more than a year ago, Aaron Swartz had already achieved more in his 26 years than most activists achieve in a lifetime. He was a technological innovator, contributing his computer expertise to develop open platforms such as RSS, Creative Commons, and Reddit, while working to liberate information from closed databases like JSTOR (the online digital library of scholarly and scientific research).

However, he also took the fight into the public arena, articulating a language of freedom and social responsibility, tirelessly working to raise public consciousness of the all-encompassing, draconian system of control erected around us all.

A simple examination of Swartz’s Guerilla Open Access Manifesto reveals many of his core beliefs. In it, Swartz wrote,

“Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations…We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world…With enough of us, around the world, we’ll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge — we’ll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?”

Swartz was articulating the idea that remained at the core of his activism the rest of his life: that corporate monopoly and totalitarianism are not only to be feared, they are to be actively resisted using every possible means. And this point is what made him so dangerous to the political establishment in the United States. He offered not only grievances, but solutions which could fundamentally alter the balance of power in favor of the people.

One such solution which is still impacting the lives of millions was his development of the code that would evolve into the modern RSS (Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication), a vital web feed format that allows individuals and organizations to disseminate, organize and share information instantly all over the world.

The truly revolutionary aspect of RSS was in its open source format, which prevented any single corporate interest from controlling its use. Unlike closed platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, RSS allowed individuals to connect and share information in a truly independent way, with no single entity controlling or restricting the free flow of knowledge.

Screenshot from thedaywefightback.org Screenshot from thedaywefightback.org

In other words, RSS was Swartz’s first attempt at, as he described, “opposing the privatization of knowledge.”

Swartz continued on this trajectory with his ‘scraping’ of the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system which restricted access to public court records behind a paywall. Using his computer prowess, Swartz helped design and modify the script that he then used to scrape the site and place at least 2.7 million court documents into the public sphere. He did not do this for profit, but rather in the belief that ‘public records’ should truly be public, that is, open and free to all.

Once again, Swartz put his rhetoric into action, defying a system that attempted to restrict and stifle the free flow of information.

Another vital contribution Swartz made was in his collaboration with a number of others in the creation and launch of Creative Commons, a project which allows individuals to share information and collaborate through free, easy-to-use copyright licenses. Where would independent media be today were it not for Creative Commons licensing?

This innovation brought the internet to the forefront of the true media revolution as it became something far more than a vehicle for corporate media to further capitalize and consolidate their control over information and public opinion.

Swartz was involved in many groundbreaking projects and initiatives intended to democratize the internet and information. However, the one that ultimately brought the wrath of the US government upon him was his attempt to liberate JSTOR. As he alluded to in the Guerilla Open Access manifesto, JSTOR is a monopolistic attempt to restrict access to the shared scientific and cultural production of modern civilization accumulated over centuries.

Aaron Swartz remained true to his ideals of democratizing information by attempting to liberate this knowledge and put it into the public sphere. Ultimately, he faced multiple charges for this heroic and necessary act, charges which carried such a severe prison sentence that they may have ultimately led to him allegedly taking his own life.

Perhaps Swartz’s most highly publicized actions were his tireless efforts leading the charge to stop the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act), two Orwellian pieces of legislation that would have done irreparable damage to the open internet as we know it by allowing government and corporations unprecedented control over content, traffic, information and virtually every other aspect of online activity. Swartz was instrumental in leading the SOPA Strike, a movement consisting of activists, tech companies, NGOs and thousands of media and other organizations who came together to stop these dangerous bills from passing. Again, Swartz demonstrated his unwavering commitment to freedom and democratization of information.

Even after his death, Swartz’s impact continues to be felt. He was a co-creator of DeadDrop, a secure document submission service designed to allow whistleblowers to anonymously leak and disseminate information for the public good. The system essentially decentralizes the function of an organization like WikiLeaks, preventing the authorities from stopping whistleblowers through persecution, as with Assange and WikiLeaks.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation has taken over the system and its management, renaming it SecureDrop, and helping to further cement Swartz’s legacy as a crusader for truth and social justice.

AFP Photo / Allison ShelleyAFP Photo / Allison Shelley

Making heroes into enemies

Aaron Swartz played a major role in transforming the way we disseminate, access, and share information online. For that, the US government and corporate establishment made him, and activists like him, into enemies. Even members of the political establishment have questioned the insidious way in which the Obama Administration has persecuted hackers and other activists.

Last month, Republican Senator John Cornyn marked the one year anniversary of Swartz’s death by stating that,

“[Senator] Al Franken and I have asked the attorney general to look into the conduct of his prosecutors, and whether that might have to his decision to take his life…We asked him if there had been prosecutorial overreach and he claimed it was good use of prosecutorial discretion.”

To hear such statements from someone like Cornyn, himself boasting a very poor record on issues of constitutional rights and civil liberties, indicates the egregiousness of the behavior of the US government toward Swartz and others. More than a mere criminal, the government viewed Swartz as a threat.

This point is further illustrated by the voluminous surveillance records that the US Secret Service kept on Aaron and his activities. The 104 heavily-redacted pages, released through a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, only scratch the surface of the surveillance carried out on Swartz (the full file contains more than 14,000 pages).

However, they demonstrate the degree to which Aaron was seen as a ‘threat’ by the intelligence community whose responsibility it is to safeguard the infrastructure of power.

Absurdities and Atrocities: The Threat of World War III

February 13th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Throughout the history of mankind there have been murderers and tyrants; and while it may seem momentarily that they have the upper hand, they have always fallen. (Mahatma Gandhi)

The United States has discarded pretensions to international legality and decency, and embarked on a course of raw imperialism run amok. (William Rockler, Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. (François-Marie Arouet – Voltaire, 1694-1778)

Look inside “Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War“, the E-Book by Michel Chossudovsky:

The US and its NATO allies are preparing to launch a nuclear war directed against both Iran and North Korea with devastating consequences. This military adventure in the real sense of the word threatens the future of humanity. While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality. The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace. “Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.

But nuclear holocausts are not front page news! In the words of Mordechai Vanunu:

“The Israeli government is preparing to use nuclear weapons in its next war with the Islamic world. Here where I live, people often talk of the Holocaust. But each and every nuclear bomb is a Holocaust in itself. It can kill, devastate cities, destroy entire peoples.”[1]

Realities are turned upside down. In a twisted logic, a “humanitarian war” using tactical nuclear weapons, which according to “expert scientific opinion” are “harmless to the surrounding civilian population” is upheld as a means to protecting the Western world from a nuclear attack.

The Cult of Killing and Destruction

The global killing machine is also sustained by an imbedded cult of killing and destruction which pervades Hollywood movies, not to mention the primetime war and crime TV series on network television. This cult of killing is endorsed by the CIA and the Pentagon which also support (finance) Hollywood productions as an instrument of war propaganda:

“Ex-CIA agent Bob Baer told us, “There’s a symbiosis between the CIA and Hollywood” and revealed that former CIA director George Tenet is currently, “out in Hollywood, talking to studios.””[2]

The killing machine is deployed at a global level, within the framework of the unified combat command structure. It is routinely upheld by the institutions of government, the corporate media, the mandarins and intellectuals of the New World Order in Washington’s think tanks and strategic studies research institutes, as an unquestioned instrument of peace and global prosperity.

A culture of killing and violence has become imbedded in human consciousness. War is broadly accepted as part of a societal process: the Homeland needs to be “defended” and protected. “Legitimized violence” and extrajudicial killings directed against “terrorists” are upheld in western democracies, as necessary instruments of national security. A “huma – nitarian war” is upheld by the so-called international community. It is not condemned as a criminal act. Its main architects are rewarded for their contributions to world peace.

America’s Mini-nukes

With regard to Iran, what is unfolding is the outright legitimization of war in the name of an illusive notion of global security. America’s mininukes, with an explosive capacity of up to six times a Hiroshima bomb, are upheld as a humanitarian bomb, whereas Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons are branded as an indisputable threat to global security.

When a US-sponsored nuclear war becomes an “instrument of peace”, condoned and accepted by the world’s institutions and the highest authority, including the United Nations, there is no turning back: human society has indelibly been precipitated headlong onto the path of self-destruction.

We are at a dangerous crossroads: the rules and guidelines governing the use of nuclear weapons have been “liberalized” (i.e. “deregulated” in relation to those prevailing during the Cold War era). The new doctrine states that Command, Control and Coordination (CCC) regarding the use of nuclear weapons should be “flexible”, allowing geographic combat commanders to decide if and when to use nuclear weapons:

“Geographic combat commanders would be in charge of Theater Nuclear Operations (TNO), with a mandate not only to implement but also to formulate command decisions pertaining to nuclear weapons.”[3]

We have reached a critical turning point in our history. It is absolutely essential that people across the land, nationally and internationally, understand the gravity of the present situation and act forcefully against their governments to reverse the tide of war.

The details of ongoing war preparations in relation to Iran and North Korea have been withheld from the public eye and the media is involved in acts of camouflage. The devastating impacts of a nuclear war are either trivialized or not mentioned. Instead, fake “crises” – e.g. a worldwide flu pandemic, a “false flag” nuclear attack by “Islamic terro rists” – are fabricated by the media, the governments, the intelligence apparatus and the Washington think tanks. While the real danger of nuclear war is barely acknowledged, these fake crises are invariably front page news.

A Third World War is no longer a hypothetical scenario. Already in 2007, President Bush hinted in no uncertain terms that if Iran did not comply with US demands, the US-NATO military might “reluctantly” be forced into in a World War III situation:

“We got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously…” (George W. Bush, 17 October 2007)

Notes

1. See interview with Mordechai Vanunu, Glob al Research, December 2005, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=20060102&articleId=1703.

2. Matthew Alford and Robbie Graham, “Lights, Camera, Covert Action: The Deep Politics of Hollywood”, Global Research, January 31, 2009, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11921.

3. Joint Chiefs of Staff, “Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations”, Joint Publication 3-12, Washington DC, March 2005, http://zfacts.com/metaPage/lib/zFacts_2005_03_15_Joint_Nuclear_Operations.pdf.

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Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa. He is the Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and Editor of the globalresearch.ca website. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages.

This E-Book is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alice C. Tang, who devoted her life to global peace, the pursuance of truth, military disarmament and the prevention of nuclear war. Alice Tang’s proposal was titled “Two Percent, No First Strike.” The pledge would be that no nation shall spend more than 2 percent of its GDP on military purposes, and no nation would be a “first strike” aggressor with nuclear weapons.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver speaking at the Jewish Community Relations Council’s 2009 rally in support of Israel during Operation Cast Lead. (Photo: Vosizneias.com)

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) takes legislators on free trips to Israel and spearheaded the campaign against boycotting the country at Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Coop.  Now, the JCRC has opened up a new front in the battle against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement: helping to draft legislation aimed at academic organizations that support BDS.

On Friday, the Jewish Daily Forward‘s Hody Nemes reported that the JCRC was working closely with the New York legislators who are behind a bill prohibiting state funds from flowing to academic groups that boycott Israel–a reaction to theAmerican Studies Association’s (ASA) endorsement of BDS last December.  The JCRC helped draft New York Senate legislation against the boycott that passed two weeks ago, and is working with New York Assembly leaders on their own bill.

The JCRC is a key umbrella organization that acts as a central coordination body for the organized Jewish community in New York.  Other Jewish organizations that are members of the JCRC–like the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee–say they don’t support the New York bills.

“Speaker Silver and Senator Klein are taking a stand against this extremist movement and in support of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas,” the JCRC’s Hindy Poupko told the Forward’s Nemes, referring to the legislators who drafted the anti-boycott bills.

The original Assembly legislation prohibits state cash from going to pro-BDS academic groups. It would have cut off state aid for a year to any school in New York that used taxpayer dollars to fund travel or departmental membership in groups like the ASA.

After an outcry last week from Palestine solidarity groups, the New York teacher’s union and civil liberties organizations that called it an attack on free speech and academic freedom, it was withdrawn.  The backlash worried some Israel advocates, like former New York Assemblyman Ryan Karben, who, in a blogpost, called the withdrawal of the bill a “political earthquake” because it showed that “Democrats and the interest groups that fire the party’s base and fill its coffers are moving away from global pro-Israel talking points.”

But now, the bill is back, with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver amending the punishment for schools in violation of the bill.  Instead of withdrawing all state aid for a year, the exact amount spent would be withdrawn from state aid to the school.  In other words, if $100 of taxpayer money is used by a teacher to travel to the ASA convention, the state would deduct $100 from the school the teacher works for. While it’s less punitive than the original bill, the constitutional concerns–that the state is punishing speech based on its content–remain.

The New York Senate legislation has not been amended.  As the Senate measure stands, any school in violation of the law would lose all state aid for a year.  Jeff Klein, the Democratic author of the Senate bill, praised the JCRC’s work on the legislation to the Forward.

Klein “worked very closely with the JCRC,” which helped him draft the legislation.  ”I was on a conference call with their board [on February 4] and they were very, very excited and supportive of the bill passing the Senate and they wanted to figure out a strategy for the bill passing the Assembly as well,” he said in an interview with Nemes.

The JCRC’s involvement in drafting the bill is the latest demonstration of its clout in state government. It is the go-to address for legislators looking to display their pro-Israel bonafides, and has forged close relationships with powerful officials such as Assembly Speaker Silver.  In October 2011, the JCRC worked with Silver to pass a bill banning companies that invest in Iran’s energy industry from being able to obtain state contracts. And as Phan Nguyen noted on this site, Silver toured Israel and the occupied West Bank in December 2008 on the JCRC’s dime.  He was pictured next to Shaul Goldstein, then-mayor of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, which administers illegal settlements.

The JCRC is not the only Jewish organization to get behind the anti-boycott bills.  The Forward‘s Nemes also reported that the Baltimore Jewish Council in Maryland helped draft that state’s bill, which is similar to the New York one.  Another bill aimed at state funds for universities is set to be introduced in Illinois, according to the Forward.  Less punitive resolutions condemning the ASA are pending in Pennsylvania and Florida.

And some Jewish and pro-Israel groups are backing the Congressional bill introduced last week that would cut off federal funds to academic institutions in support of BDS.  The conservative Washington Free Beacon‘s Adam Kredo reported last week that The Israel Project and the Simon Wiesenthal Center supported the legislation.

Yesterday marked the end of a three-day state visit by French President François Hollande in Washington, DC. It was billed as the definitive burying of the diplomatic conflicts that erupted between the United States and France over a decade ago, when right-wing President Jacques Chirac opposed the Bush administration’s 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In a joint editorial in the Washington Post and Le Monde on Monday, as the visit began, Obama and Hollande spelled out a new Franco-American alliance.

They wrote: “A decade ago, few would have imagined our two countries working so closely together in so many ways. But in recent years our alliance has transformed. Since France’s return to NATO’s military command four years ago and consistent with our continuing commitment to strengthen the NATO-European Union partnership, we have expanded our cooperation across the board. We are sovereign and independent nations that make our decisions based on our respective national interests. Yet we have been able to take our alliance to a new level because our interests and values are so closely aligned.”

With this declaration, Hollande’s Socialist Party (PS) is signing on as a junior partner to the US agenda of world domination launched under Bush and continued after Obama took over from Bush in January of 2009. In defiance of both public opinion and the traditions of its own imperialist diplomacy in the post-World War II era, Paris is abandoning any pretense of pursuing an independent foreign policy from Washington.

The 2002 US National Security Strategy, which sought to justify US aggression against Iraq, called for a policy “based on a distinctly American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national interests.”

Today, Obama and Hollande cite shared “interests and values” to embark not on the conquest of a country, but on a neo-colonial re-division of the entire globe by imperialism. Washington is aiding Paris in its wars in Mali and the Central African Republic, while Paris is pledging to step up support for Obama’s “pivot to Asia” aimed at China. Both are backing a German-led campaign to isolate and carve up Russia, starting with the current far-right street protests pushing for regime-change in Ukraine.

France emerged last September as the only European power pushing to fight a US-led war against Syria, which could have escalated into a war with Syria’s backers, Iran and Russia. Hollande pressed for war even after the British Parliament voted against it, and despite overwhelming popular opposition in France. This earned Hollande comparisons to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was mocked as Bush’s “poodle” for slavishly supporting the Iraq war.

In their joint press conference Tuesday in Washington, Obama praised Hollande, saying: “From Mali and the Central African Republic to Syria and Iran, you have shown courage and resolve. And I want to thank you for your leadership and for being such a strong partner to the United States.” He also announced stepped-up aid to the Al Qaeda-linked Islamist opposition in Syria.

Obama also praised Hollande, who just announced a €50 billion corporate tax break involving deep cuts to social spending, for launching new free trade talks. He said they had “agreed to continue pursuing an ambitious and comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.” He added, “I want to thank President Hollande for his commitment to these negotiations.”

Hollande solidarised himself with the agenda of war and austerity outlined by Obama, whose election he hailed as “proof that America was moving forward once more.” He added, “America was able to make something possible, to make progress possible.”

Hollande’s claim that this joint agenda of austerity and war represents “progress” is an absurd lie. Paris is reacting to the crisis of its world position—its loss of competitiveness to Germany, its ebbing economic influence in its former African colonies, and a collapsing economy undermined by harsh social cuts—by turning the clock back, embarking on a global policy of plunder. The crisis of the imperialist world order has irrevocably undermined the class equilibrium that existed in France in the post-World War II period.

The Hollande-Obama commentary underscores the broad significance of the 2009 decision by Hollande’s predecessor, right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy, to re-integrate France into NATO after 43 years outside NATO’s central command. This decision to integrate French and US foreign policy—maintained by Hollande and silently supported by his allies, the Stalinist French Communist Party (PCF) and the pseudo-left New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA)—has far-reaching political implications.

The traditional distance between US and French foreign policy, as formulated by General Charles de Gaulle, emerged from the revolutionary crisis of post-war France. Both de Gaulle and the PCF sought to suppress anti-capitalist sentiment in the working class that exploded after the collapse of France’s Nazi-collaborationist regime. De Gaulle, leading most of the right-wing forces in the Resistance and France’s remaining colonial armies, relied on PCF support to found a new capitalist regime and keep control of France’s colonies.

Both this strategy and de Gaulle personally faced opposition from powerful forces in Washington, however. US imperialism opposed the PCF and had its own designs on France’s colonies. De Gaulle feared that if Washington sidelined him and kept a Vichy official as head of state, popular anger might prove impossible to contain.

The external counterpart to his balancing between right-wing elements and the PCF was the pursuit, from within NATO, of an independent foreign policy, including limited overtures to Moscow and attempts to keep conflicts between Washington and Moscow from escalating too far. In 1945, De Gaulle called for “a French policy of balancing between the two very great powers, a policy I consider absolutely necessary for the interests of our country and even for those of peace.”

De Gaulle was a ruthless imperialist, whose views in part prefigured the global re-eruption of imperialism today. Reflecting on his government’s defeat in the Algerian war and his decision to allow a 1962 referendum that would lead to the independence of Algeria, he wrote in his Memoirs: “Everything commands us to re-appear in Cairo, Damascus, in Amman, in Baghdad, in Khartoum, as we have remained in Beirut.”

The concessions he made to the working class and the conflicts between French and US interests required him, however, to pursue an independent policy from Washington, particularly amid the escalating US-French tensions of the 1960s. Leading French officials and publications charged the CIA with encouraging the failed 1961 anti-Algerian independence putsch against de Gaulle, led by former NATO official General Maurice Challe, to keep Algeria French and thus keep it from falling under Soviet influence.

This, along with US opposition to France’s nuclear program, led de Gaulle to withdraw France from the integrated NATO command in 1966 and to limit US intelligence operations in France.

These policies have irrevocably collapsed, however, following the breakup of the Soviet Union and amid the escalating crisis of European capitalism. The social concessions to the working class that formed the basis of the PCF’s collaboration with de Gaulle and the military restraints on European imperialism imposed by the existence of the USSR have disappeared. A new revolutionary conflict is emerging between the working class and a ruling class determined to preserve its wealth through social retrogression at home and wars of plunder abroad.

The violent shift to the right of the bourgeois “left” parties towards a reckless and aggressive war policy is an unmistakable indication of the revolutionary crisis that is emerging, and the gulf opening up between the working class and all of the representatives of the capitalist class.

The PCF and the NPA have used their support for the Syrian opposition, cynically justified on “human rights” grounds, to line up behind the Socialist Party’s reckless policy of risking war with Syria, Iran, and even Russia and China. They have ignored the exposure of mass spying operations by both US and French intelligence, revealed by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. They are complicit in all the crimes being prepared by Washington, Paris and the United States’ other imperialist allies.

European Parliament Kills Call to Protect Edward Snowden

February 13th, 2014 by Bill Van Auken

Under intense pressure from both the Obama administration and national governments in Europe, a committee of the European Parliament has killed a measure calling for asylum and protection for National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden should he leave his temporary haven in Russia for anywhere within the European Union.

Not only did the panel reject an amendment Wednesday that would have called on EU members to offer to protect Snowden from persecution at the hands of US authorities, it excised any mention of his name from a 60-page report that is based entirely on the secret documents that he made public. These documents have exposed a massive spying operation against hundreds of millions of people in Europe, the United States and internationally. The report is slated to be submitted to the full Parliament next month.

Also rejected was an amendment calling on US authorities to drop attempts to prosecute Snowden under the 1917 Espionage Act.

The vote came Wednesday afternoon on the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee, which approved a draft report on mass surveillance prepared by Claude Moraes, the deputy leader of the British Labour Party in the European Parliament. The report was passed with 33 votes in favor, 7 against and 17 abstentions.

The proposed amendment in defense of Snowden called on EU member states “to drop criminal charges, if any, against Edward Snowden and to offer him protection from prosecution, extradition or rendition by third parties, in recognition of his status as whistleblower and international human rights defender.”

A separate resolution, also defeated, called upon Washington “to give amnesty to Edward Snowden for initiating the process of rethinking the course of intelligence agencies.”

The European Greens, who tabled the amendment calling for protection of Snowden, condemned the passage of the report without its inclusion, pointing out that without Snowden’s actions there would have been no exposure of massive illegal surveillance, which was the basis of the document.

“Center-right and socialist MEPs [members of the European Parliament] have voted to leave whistleblower Edward Snowden in the lurch by rejecting an amendment calling for Snowden to be granted protection in the EU,” Green spokesperson Jan Philipp Albrecht said after the vote. “Edward Snowden’s brave revelations have provided the basis for this inquiry, and failing to recognize this vital contribution by calling for his protection is a display of cowardice, which is borne out of a desire not to offend the US.”

The reaction of the European United Left group within the European Parliament, which includes organizations such as Die Linke (Left Party) of Germany, the French Left Front, and Syriza of Greece, along with various Stalinist parties, was far more muted.

“We welcome the adoption of this report because for the first time the Parliament is, in effect, admitting that this spying and surveillance actually took place, instead of just being suspected,” said the group’s president, Gabi Zimmer of Die Linke.

“However, on the down side,” she continued, “there was no real discussion about the abuse of antiterrorism laws based on false assumptions, nothing about offering asylum to Snowden, no demand to put an end to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and no real revision of the overall security architecture today, with the blurring of lines between internal and external security, police and intelligence.”

The mentioning of Snowden as an afterthought along with various other perceived failings in a resolution they otherwise praised reflected the cynical politics of these forces, who waged no genuine campaign on the NSA whistleblower’s behalf. These groups, representing privileged layers within Europe’s middle classes, adapt themselves to the right-wing social democratic parties, such as the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany, the Socialist Party of France and the British Labour Party, which provided the votes required by the conservative parties in the European Union to block any mention of Snowden.

After defeating the amendment on Snowden, the committee adopted a toothless alternative put forward by the SPD- and Labour Party-led “Socialists and Democrats” faction, which merely called for the EU to “thoroughly examine the possibility of granting whistle-blowers international protection from persecution.”

The report itself calls for the suspension of the SWIFT agreement between the EU and Washington, in which international bank transfer information is fed to the US for supposed counterterrorism purposes. The documents provided by Snowden made it clear that the NSA is carrying out wholesale spying on European banking and credit card transactions. The document also advocates suspension of the “Safe Harbor” pact, which allows US companies to self-certify that they are in compliance with EU privacy rules.

Moraes, the author of the report, made it clear that the objective of the dominant factions in the European Parliament was to make some empty gestures toward civil liberties in order to overcome the devastating exposures of illegal spying that is being conducted in Europe and internationally.

“What we’ve ended up with is a condemnation of systematic, blanket collection of personal data,” said Moraes. “We want to draw a line between data that is useful for security purposes and data that is not of use for these purposes.”

The vote on the report came amid arrangements for Snowden to testify before the European Parliament civil liberties committee early next month. Snowden, who is living in asylum in Russia, has agreed to answer questions with a video recording, but has rejected for security reasons either a face-to-face meeting or an interactive video conference. A number of unnamed US military and intelligence operatives were quoted last month advocating Snowden’s assassination.

The US government has strongly opposed the ex-NSA contractor’s appearance before the committee, a position bluntly spelled out by a US congressional delegation that visited the European Parliament last December and threatened retaliation if Snowden was allowed to speak. Congressman Mike Rogers, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, declared in Brussels that it was “beneath the dignity” of the European Parliament to talk to a “felon,” and threatened that such a development could mean an end to talks on a US-EU free trade pact.

While the US pressure is considerable, the killing of the amendment advocating protection for Snowden is not merely a matter of external forces, but the outcome of decisions taken within the major European governments and political parties. Like their counterparts in Washington, these governments and parties defend the interests of a narrow financial and corporate oligarchy. They have no commitment to democratic rights and are complicit in the totalitarian spying operations of the NSA.

This point was made candidly late last year by US Senator Chris Murphy (Democrat from Connecticut), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs. In remarks delivered in Brussels aimed at forestalling both aid to Snowden and any European Parliament report critical of US spying operations, Murphy stressed that any differences should be ironed out on a “bilateral” basis, rather than through the EU. After all, he stressed, the wholesale interception of telephone, email and Internet communications data was being done “largely in coordination with your countries’ intelligence services.”

Boycott America, Not Russia

February 13th, 2014 by Margaret Kimberley

President Obama’s personal boycott of the Winter Olympics is the height of hypocrisy. Washington provides arms, aid and diplomatic protection to some of the most homophobic regimes on earth. “There are at least ten nations considered American allies that have anti-gay laws far more harsh than Russia’s.”

In 2013 the Russian Federation passed legislation that prohibits the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.” The official bigotry rightly received worldwide condemnation and in anticipation of the Winter Olympic games taking place in Sochi, Russia, spawned calls for official boycotts of the event.

This columnist is unequivocally opposed to discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, or any other status. But the vehemence with which Russia has been castigated should raise other issues for Americans, who think of themselves as living in the freest, most democratic country on earth. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Russian president Vladimir Putin doesn’t claim the right to kill his citizens without charge or trial but United States president Barack Obama does. Not only does he claim the right to execute any one he wants, but he has perverted the very document he swore to uphold in order to justify his wrong doing. The United States Constitution guarantees a right to due process, but according to the Obama administration that is not true all of the time.

The chief law enforcement officer of this country, Attorney General Eric Holder, announced that the right to due process is not the same as the right to judicial process, and therefore the president can kill at will. If those words are confusing it is because they are utter nonsense and the hallmark of countries that Americans generally vilify as dictatorships.

Of the two countries, which spends more of its resources on the military? Of course the answer is the United States, which not only spends more on defense than any other country but more than the rest of the world combined. Russia ranks 6th in defense expenditures, behind the United States, China, the United Kingdom, France and Japan. So, it is America that uses more of its resources for making war than for benefitting humanity.

Instead of looking at how their most vulnerable citizens are treated, Americans prefer to look at the rest of the world and condemn whomever their government tells them to. When two of the musician activists in the group Pussy Riot visited New York they were celebrated for enduring two years in prison as a result of protesting against Putin’s government.

The sentence was inhumane and so are Russian laws against “hooliganism” which can mean anything that government wants it to mean. But it is the United States that is uniquely inhumane among the world’s nations in its incarceration policies. The country with the dubious distinction of being the world’s largest jailer is, of course, the worst at dispensing justice. In the United States there are 3,278 people serving sentences of life imprisonment after being convicted of non-violent offenses. Of these 3,278 people, 65 percent are black, which is further proof of the systemic racism which is still rampant in this country.

While Barack Obama claims the right to kill anyone he wants, he is simultaneously pretending to be high minded on the issue of the Russian LGBT community. He and other heads of state have announced their own personal boycotts of the Winter Olympics and won’t attend. Obama says he has “no patience” for the Russian law but actively opposed the efforts of 5,000 people imprisoned as a result of draconian drug laws who sought to request resentencing.

Of course Obama doesn’t care about gay people at all. There are at least ten nations considered American allies that have anti-gay laws far more harsh than Russia’s. Saudi Arabia, America’s partner in international crime, actually executes people because they are gay. Homosexuality is not illegal in Russia, no one has been imprisoned as a result of the propaganda legislation and perpetrators of anti-gay hate crimes have been punished. Meanwhile the sorry record of American states and localities choosing not to punish the white people who kill a black person every 28 hours should be worthy of international boycotts.

The fury directed against Russia is more a result of our government’s propaganda than of any true need for protest. The reaction is also a result of willful ignorance about America’s extreme shortcomings in the treatment of its own citizens.

Russia has spoken out against U.S. imperialism, given sanctuary to Edward Snowden and prevented a U.S. attack on Syria. That is why our government is angry with Vladimir Putin and why the corporate media follows suits. There is less of an excuse for ordinary citizens to follow along blindly because a president wants free rein in the world. When presidents and the media tell us whom we should hate and vilify, our reaction should be one of skepticism.

If there is a country deserving of boycotts of sports or other events, it is the United States. There is no other way that the country leading in violence and inhumanity ought to be treated by the civilized world.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. 

Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

“Marikana was the great shock to the national consciousness, and Mandela’s death brought a final end to the pretense of social transformation.” In the transition from apartheid, the ruling African National Congress chose Black capitalism and neoliberalism. But, trade unionists plan to create a workers party that will fight for implementation of the Freedom Charter – and socialism.

Nelson Mandela’s voice filled the hall at New York City’s historic Riverside Church, last Saturday. A film showed Mandela’s speech of July 26, 1991, in Matanzas, Cuba, the African National Congress deputy president’s first trip abroad since his release from imprisonment, the year before. “Our goals remain achievement of the demands of the Freedom Charter, and we will settle for nothing less than that,” said Mandela, with Fidel Castro standing nearby.

Mandela thanked the Cuban people for their heroic sacrifices in defeating the armed forces of the apartheid regime, at Cuito Cuanavale, Angola, in 1988. Twice more in the speech, Mandela mentioned the Freedom Charter, the ANC’s 1955 promise to the people. He cited the Charter’s rejection of “the racist state” that still ruled South Africa, and quoted the document’s declaration that “The people shall govern.” But the man who would assume the presidency of South Africa four years later made no mention of the Freedom Charter’s core economic demands: the redistribution of land and nationalization of the mines, heavy industry and banking – steps the Cubans had taken soon after the triumph of their revolution.

By the time he took the stage at Matanzas, Mandela and his African National Congress colleagues had already discarded the key elements of the Freedom Charter except those that called for a government elected by a common franchise. Ronnie Kasrils, a veteran of the ANC’s armed wing who joined the cabinet of the new ANC government in 1994, described “How the ANC’s Faustian pact sold out South Africa’s poorest” in an article published in The Guardian, in June of 2013. “From 1991 to 1996,” Kasrils wrote, “the battle for the ANC’s soul got under way, and was eventually lost to corporate power: we were entrapped by the neoliberal economy – or, as some today cry out, we ‘sold our people down the river.’”

While he still breathed, Mandela’s symbolic aura shielded the ANC from the harsh verdict of history. Then, in 2012, as “Madiba’s” health began to fail, police massacred 34 workers demanding higher wages at a platinum mine in Marikana – the worst state violence since the white regime’s slaughter of Black demonstrators at Sharpeville, in 1960. The ANC government was no less rabid than its white predecessor in denouncing the dead as the agents of their own destruction, for having broken away from the giant mineworkers union, a cornerstone of the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU), which is the third leg of the nation’s ruling triumvirate, along with the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Today, the once 300,000-strong mineworkers union has lost at least half its membership to more militant rivals. No wonder, since its founding secretary, Cyril Ramaphosa, went on to become a fabulously wealthy ($675 million, according to Forbes) member of the board of directors of the multinational corporation that the Marikana miners were striking against, and a high ranking official in the ruling African National Congress. Emails sent by Ramaphosa during the Marikana crisis indicate he encouraged the government to make an example of the strikers.

The National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA), now the biggest trade union, with 380,000 members, has announced it will not support the ANC in coming elections, and urges COSATU to leave the ruling alliance. Instead, NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim calls for formation of a genuine workers party that will fight to fulfill the demands of the Freedom Charter, and for “a new United Front that will coordinate struggles in the workplace and in communities, in a way similar to United Democratic Front of the 1980s” – the period when the ANC was banned and largely in exile.

The metalworkers, backed by eight of COSATU’s 19 unions, are demanding a special congress to battle it out with ANC loyalists. NUMSA’s Irvin Jim derided ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, who pretended to act as a mediator in the COSATU dispute, as a man who “feigns ignorance of neoliberalism” and “talks about cushioning the working class, but he does not even mention what class force is responsible for the suffering of our class. This is because some of [his] colleagues in [the] top six of the ANC are capitalists.”

Capitalists like Cyril Ramaphosa, the most prominent beneficiary of BEE, Black Economic Empowerment, the ANC’s alternative to the socialist path set forth in the Freedom Charter. Not only did the ANC and the South African Communist Party choose the neoliberal path, in the critical first half of the 90s, they set the stage for creation of a Black capitalist class to be grafted onto existing corporate structures. The economic ruling class was, to a degree, racially integrated, while the ruling party, the ANC, was converted to capitalism. The revolution was defeated – or, rather, never begun – and everybody knew it, but it took Marikana and Mandela’s death to bring contradictions to a head.

In addition to the metalworkers, the nine dissident unions, who probably represent a majority of union members in South Africa, are: the Communication Workers’ Union, Democratic Nurses Union of South Africa, the Food and Allied Workers’ Union, Public and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa, South African Commercial and Catering Workers’ Union, South African Football Players’ Union, South African Municipal Workers’ Union and the South African State and Allied Workers Union.

COSATU’s current leadership, which is all but inseparable from the ANC/SACP, refuses to call a special congress – despite the fact that COSATU’s constitution requires such a congress if demanded by one-third of affiliated unions. Instead, they threaten to suspend the metalworkers, which would almost surely split COSATU right down the middle. ANC leadership has long treated COSATU as a mere appendage to its rule, and would prefer a paralyzed union confederation to a politically independent one.

However, the arrogance of the new Black capitalists may prove their undoing. For many millions of South Africans, the psychologically break with the ANC has already happened. Marikana was the great shock to the national consciousness, and Mandela’s death brought a final end to the pretense of social transformation. South Africa sees itself much more clearly: the most unequal country in the world, in which the struggling poor are said to stage more demonstrations than any other nation on earth – out-protesting the Chinese! – confronting a killer police force that was never weaned from its apartheid mission, to suppress the Black lower classes.

It is also the South Africa where the Freedom Charter is a living memory, the socialist document that legitimized the ANC as the post-apartheid ruling party. Mandela was compelled to cite the Freedom Charter in Cuba, even as he and his colleagues were discarding it, at home.

The Freedom Charter is South Africa’s unfinished business. The ANC, having repudiated it, in word and deed, must now be forced to run against the Freedom Charter, through the formation of a workers party opposition. We will then likely see a split in the ANC, itself – which is necessary to allow the honest elements within its ranks to escape the institutional grasp of Black capitalists and opportunists.

The Freedom Charter has been dormant for a quarter century, during which time multinational capital has been reinforced by a Black comprador class, headquartered in the African National Congress. It is now impossible to defeat multinational capital’s grip on South Africa, without also confronting the party that claims to have “liberated” the country. Fortunately, the process is well underway.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

US-UN Fears Assad Win in Free Syrian Election?

February 13th, 2014 by Daniel McAdams

Every now and then we have a chance to peek through a tiny window to see how “diplomacy” is done behind closed doors. Last week the leaked conversation between US diplomats plotting the overthrow of Ukraine’s government was one such dramatic moment.

Another came yesterday, in an interview with Iran’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, which appeared in the respected Lebanese Daily Star newspaper. In a sweeping interview, the Ambassador discussed the recent bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut and the regional threat of the growing number of jihadist groups in Syria.

Assad RallyThen he let loose with this bombshell. Roknabadi told the Daily Star that the Iranian government had been under pressure to convince Syrian president Bashar al-Assad not to run again for president. As Syria’s only regional ally, Iran presumably has a good deal of influence with the Assad government.

Ambassador Roknabadi:

[U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey] Feltman, during a visit to Iran last summer, asked officials to convince Assad not to run in the elections. The Iranian officials asked him: ‘What’s the problem if he runs,’ to which Feltman responded: ‘If he runs, he will win the elections.’

Feltman is not just any UN bureaucrat. In the revolving door between the UN and US government, he previously served as US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from August 2009 to June 2012 and as United States Ambassador to Lebanon from July 2004 to January 2008. Before that he served in post-”liberation” Iraq.

More recently, Feltman was an important cast member in the above-mentioned “Ukraine-gate” phone call between US undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. In the Ukraine drama, his former State Department colleagues agreed that Feltman could be trusted to appoint a UN official to “glue” together the deal they were cooking up.

If Ambassador Roknabadi is accurate in his account, this confirms much about the US government’s cynical regime-change ploy in Syria. Not that it is any surprise to those paying attention. It is in keeping with US ambivalence toward actual electoral democracy in those places which it purports to democratize. From Gaza to Egypt to Afghanistan to Libya to Iraq, it seems what US democratization efforts fear most is actual democracy.

No wonder Secretary Kerry keeps desperately clinging to the US misread of the “Geneva I” communiqué, claiming without evidence that it is a regime-change agreement among signatories. Assad must be kept out of the picture, because the US is terrified of his popularity in Syria.

Foreign Ministry : release of Syrian assets frozen by EU to fund elimination of chemical weapons flagrant violation of law

A source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said,

“In a step, the newest in a series of illegal procedures made by the European Union on Syria, the EU foreign ministers endorsed on Monday a modification to the restrictive measures imposed on Syria to release Syrian assests frozen by the EU states to fund the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons, particularly to the credit fund of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), is a flagrant violation of the international law and the UN Charter and understandings reached by the executive board of the OPCW.”

The source added in a statement to SANA that the European step violates the resolution of the OPCW executive board adopted on November 15, 2013 which acknowledged Syria’s stance which was conveyed to the organization officially stating the inability to shoulder the financial costs of destroying the chemical weapons.

The source said that the ministry sees this step which is aimed at evading from the international obligations to fund the process of destroying the Syrian chemical weapons a translation of hidden intentions and an expression of the swindle policy practiced by some influential countries inside the EU at a time when they reject to release frozen assets to fund purchase of food and medicine which is considered the priority of the Syrian state.

“The Foreign Ministry condemns this European selective step and calls on the EU to immediately lift the immoral sanctions imposed on Syria and undo the measures which violate the international law through which the EU allowed its members to arm the terrorist groups which are responsible for bloodshed in Syria and to purchase the Syrian oil,” the source added.

F.Allafi

A memorandum titled “Save Ukraine!” was published on February 12 in the  edition of the Russian weekly Zavtra. Written by experts for the Izborsk Club, an influential intellectual group accorded prominence by President Vladimir Putin in recent months, the statement defines a “fascist and Nazi creeping coup” in Ukraine as a strategic threat to the Russian Federation.

While holding the United States and the EU responsible for the regime-change project in Ukraine, the memorandum calls for summoning the USA to crisis-avoidance consultations under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Ukraine’s sovereignty or, if Budapest Memorandum signers Ukraine or Britain refuse such a conference, undertaking emergency Russian-American diplomacy based on the precedent of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis—when the world went to the brink of nuclear war.

Several of the evaluations and ideas in the memorandum coincide with last week’s interviews and articles by Presidential advisor Academician Sergei Glazyev and retired Gen. Leonid Ivashov, who are Izborsk Club participants and were among the co-authors of the club’s early 2013 military strategic white paper (see “U.S. Moves toward Nuclear First Strike Capability,” [1] EIR, March 15, 2013).

The “Save Ukraine!” memorandum states that the situation in that country

“is approaching a boundary limit, beyond which lies the danger of Ukraine’s going fascist.” This development leads, it continues, toward “transformation of Ukraine from a non-aligned, neutral and non-nuclear state into a new ‘hot spot’ for Europe and the entire world, and into a hotbed of instability and chaos on Russia’s borders.”

Detailing the recent concessions by Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych and the actions of the EU and the USA, including those revealed in the leaked phone conversation between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Ambassador in Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt, the memorandum says that these events are

“creating the conditions for an illegitimate seizure of power by a coalition of political forces that do not represent the interests of the majority of the people of Ukraine.”

Charging that “the U.S. leadership group on top of Operation Ukraine is comprised of high-ranking intelligence and diplomatic operatives,” the statement suggests that “Washington is most worried of all that Moscow, which has enormous reserves among the Ukrainian population, will suddenly wake up and become more active, wrecking the almost completed plan of establishing a totally anti-Russian government, up to and including the broad use of the fascistized followers of [Nazi collaborator Stepan] Bandera.”

The report outlines possible political scenarios for regime-change in Ukraine, either by the abrupt ouster of Yanukovych or through a “coalition government” process that would also end in his ouster. A new leader, possibly former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, released from prison, would “take over the leadership of Ukraine, on the radical nationalist platform of [Oleh] Tyahnybok and other rightwing fascist groups. An ideological turn of events of that sort … would be a way of forming an anti-Russian state on the Russian Federation’s border, as well as disrupting any comprehensive integration processes in the former Soviet area.”

 ”Strategic Interests of the Russian Federation”

Under the subhead, “Consequences of the coup for Russia’s strategic interests,” the memorandum outlines what “a new political and ideological regime in Ukraine, … based on an extreme nationalist ideology, as the only available mechanism for suppressing social tensions,” can be expected to do: “decisions which directly affect the strategic interests of the Russian Federation.” The list includes military expansion by the United States and NATO that is unacceptable for Russia:

“— Rejection of the presence of the Russian Armed Forces in Crimea, including at Sevastopol as the base of the Russian Federation’s Black Sea Fleet. The time frame will be set at six to ten months, which is insufficient for an orderly relocation of the military facilities to Russian territory in the vicinity of Novorossiysk.

“— Purges of pro-Russian forces in eastern and southern Ukraine, leading to a flood of refugees into the Russian Federation.

“— Annihilation of manufacturing capacities in Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, and other Ukrainian cities, which do contract work for the Russian military-industrial complex.

“— Stepped-up forcible Ukrainianization of the population on the left bank of the Dnieper [where there are large Russian ethnic and/or Russian-speaking populations].

“— Expanded partnership of Ukraine with NATO and the appearance of U.S. and NATO bases in Ukraine, including Crimea.

“— Establishment in eastern Ukraine of bases for training terrorists, who will begin to operate both in the Caucasus and in the Volga Basin, and possibly also Siberia.

“— Extension of “Euromaidan” techniques into major Russian cities, especially in ethnically defined constituent territories of the Russian Federation.

“— Expulsion of the Russian Orthodox Church from Ukraine, accompanied by forcible seizure of churches and monasteries, resulting in a further decline of the authority of both the ROC and the executive branch of government within Russian society.

“— Launching of prosecutions against Gazprom, Rosneft, and their executives, with the new Ukrainian government also suing Russia in Western-sponsored international courts under various pretexts.”

“Catastrophic for the Future of Russia”

In the final section, “What is Russia to do?”, the authors state: “We consider the situation taking shape in Ukraine to be catastrophic for the future of Russia and the entire post-Soviet area.” Among the measures they propose that Russian political leaders take, “within the framework of international law,” are the following:

“— an official ideological evaluation of the creeping coup as fascist and Nazi, infringing the rights of all peoples and ethnic groups living in Ukraine;

“— an appeal to the Russian and Ukrainian peoples to resist with all their might the fascist plague that is seizing power in Kiev, and to bring broad layers of the public into the political process;

“— direct social and economic assistance to all the regions of southern and eastern Ukraine, through launching bilateral programs and keeping low gas prices for Ukrainian customers, while withholding additional direct loans to the government of Ukraine;

“— calling on all Russian citizens to contact their relatives and friends in Ukraine, to mobilize them to join an overt political process against the Maidan, which is leading to a future fratricidal war; <…>

“— launch of a broad campaign on national TV channels to support the Ukrainian public and expose the fascist content of the coup that is under way, as well as the adverse economic consequences for Ukraine, especially its eastern and southern regions;

“— an open declaration to the world community on the unacceptability for Russia of the creation of a fascist, anti-Semitic state close to our borders, as well as making such statements at the UN and other international organizations;

“— an appeal by the Government of the Russian Federation, under the currently valid Budapest Memorandum on the Sovereignty of Ukraine, dated Dec. 5, 1994 (Article 6), to the governments of Ukraine, the USA, and Great Britain, with a decisive protest against U.S. interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine and a demand to convene a conference of the parties to the Budapest Memorandum in connection with the situation involving political aggression and measures of “economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty”;

“— in the event of refusal of one of the parties to take part in such a conference, the said memorandum should be declared temporarily invalid, with Russia entering into direct talks with Washington, citing the situation with the Caribbean Crisis [Cuban Missile Crisis] of 1962 as a precedent for the current events in Ukraine, and proposing to the USA to hold negotiations on developing joint monitoring of the political process and elections in Ukraine, as well as joint mediation of a settlement of the developing political crisis;

“— a proposal to the People’s Republic of China and other BRICS countries to develop economic assistance plans for Ukraine and joint work in the entire post-Soviet area, in order to rein in any attempts at unilateral U.S. hegemony.”

In conclusion, they write:

“Only such actions by the Russian state and sane forces in the Russian and international community, together with the executive bodies of our two countries, can stabilize the social and economic situation in Ukraine and prevent social and political catastrophe in that country.”

Copyright EIR, February 2014

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens

The nonstop crime news swirling around JPMorgan Chase for a solid 18 months has started to feel a little spooky – they do lots of crime but never any time; and with each closed case, a trail of unanswered questions remains in the public’s mind.

Just last month, JPMorgan Chase acknowledged that it facilitated the largest Ponzi scheme in history, looking the other way as Bernie Madoff brazenly turned his business bank account at JPMorgan Chase into an unprecedented money laundering operation that would have set off bells, whistles and sirens at any other bank.

The U.S. Justice Department allowed JPMorgan to pay $1.7 billion and sign a deferred prosecution agreement, meaning no one goes to jail at JPMorgan — again. The largest question that no one can or will answer is how the compliance, legal and anti-money laundering personnel at JPMorgan ignored for years hundreds of transfers and billions of dollars in round trip maneuvers between Madoff and the account of Norman Levy. Even one such maneuver should set off an investigation. (Levy is now deceased and the Trustee for Madoff’s victims has settled with his estate.)

Then there was the report done by the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the London Whale episode which left the public in the dark about just what JPMorgan was doing with stock trading in its Chief Investment Office in London, redacting all information in the 300-page report that related to that topic.

Wall Street On Parade has been filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Federal government in these matters, and despite the pledge from our President to set a new era of transparency, thus far we have had few answers coming our way.

One reason that JPMorgan may have such a spooky feel is that it has aligned itself in no small way with real-life spooks, the CIA kind.

Just when the public was numbing itself to the endless stream of financial malfeasance which cost JPMorgan over $30 billion in fines and settlements in just the past 13 months, we learned on January 28 of this year that a happy, healthy 39-year old technology Vice President, Gabriel Magee, was found dead on a 9th level rooftop of the bank’s 33-story European headquarters building in the Canary Wharf section of London.

The way the news of this tragic and sudden death was stage-managed by highly skilled but invisible hands, turning a demonstrably suspicious incident into a cut-and-dried suicide leap from the rooftop (devoid of eyewitnesses or  motivation) had all the hallmarks of a sophisticated covert operation or coverup.

Read the rest of the article

The 2014 Olympics in Sochi is undoubtedly the most politicized Games since the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. 

First came the Saudi and Chechen threats to unleash terrorist attacks on the Games — international racketeering and blackmail at its worst, putting Russia on their highest security alert in Sochi. Shockingly, the international (aka western) community was completely silent over this affair, not least of all because it involved staunch US and British ally Saudi Arabia.

Contrast that with this week’s big international statement of outrage over Russia’s supposed ‘anti-gay’ laws — punctuated by an American TV commentator dressing in drag in front of a world-wide audience.


As far as American audiences are concerned, chatter surrounding the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics has been overtaken by Johnny Weir, a gay ex-Olympic figure skater, now working for NBC Sports.

While liberal-leaning media outlets like Gawker are very excited by this latest news, and waving their hands in the air with excitement, while other critics are questioning whether or not this flavour of international protest has any genuine provenance beyond its ‘human rights’ sound bites. Gawker heaps on the praise:

“Weir has appeared on television in at least two different outfits so far this weekend, and both have been incredible. Above we see a white blazer over a white sheer v-neck shirt with a dramatic gold necklace pulled straight from your grandmother’s closet. (Or Lil B’s. One of the two.)

And below we see a black blazer over a white Oxford with black lines scribbled on it and a massive gold-and-pearl ring, which actually seems understated by his standards.”

How did we get to this point – where broadcasters are cross-dressing and twitters mobs are railing against the nation of Russia? Clue: it has more to do with scoring political points in the west than it does ‘human rights’ in the east…

Most people are aware that there exists a controversy regarding Russia and the LGBT lobby, but few in the media, or in the “celebrity community” have done a very good job explaining exactly how this all started.

The big bee in the bonnet is said to be Russia’s ‘Gay Propaganda Law’, which was passed this last summer. The legislation bans the spreading of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to underage minors. It’s worth noting the law passed in the Duma 436-0, sort of a majority, if you like.

The Pussy Riot

During the same period, the Duma also approved a new law to guard against “offending religious feelings”, which has received international attention due to the trial of anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot. The band have since become the new darlings of the globalist music circuit, recently appearing alongside Madonna at Amnesty International’s “Human Rights” concert.

What people are quick to forget, however, is how Pussy Riot actually ended up in their cold Russian jail cell in the first place — for simulating sex acts and defacing the altar at a sacred Christian Orthodox cathedral — Russia’s equivalent of London’s Westminster Abbey, or the National Cathedral in Washington DC. If any artist or band did what they did in the UK or US, it’s pretty much a given that they’d have ended up in a jail cell – just as Pussy Riot did.

Anyway, back to Sochi…

Judging by the amount of media attention LGBT and ’human rights’ activists are getting in the US and the UK, you’d think that Russia would have passed a law banning homosexuality, just like those laws currently on the books of Washington’s ‘special friend’ Saudi Arabia, or like in many of Britain’s Commonwealth countries.

Alas, there are no such laws on the books in Russia, but let’s not let that get in the way of a good old globalist colour revolution, especially when so many celebrities are interested in getting involved…

The West’s liberal crusade over the ‘gay issue’ in Russia has become a trendy dog pile, with activists and celebrities all too eager to jump on top, but based on many of the comments made in the media thus far, it’s pretty obvious that most have not actually examined the argument in any depth. Liberal media outlets are going all-out on this issue, determined to somehow brow-beat the Russian state so that it’s supposedly “in line with western values”.

You could look at it another way — after Russia and Putin humiliated the White House and its allies over the west’s attempt to jump-start a major war in Syria, in order to exact revenge on the Russian Bear, the west has forsaken their cruise missiles and cluster-bombs for a big pink boa and a set of furry handcuffs. Seriously though, even at a casual glance, all of this looks like a multi-pronged attack to undermine Russia on many levels; not just politically, but also economically too.


The public wave of anti-Russian sentiment seems to be working, with numerous campaigns online to target Olympic sponsors, as well as anything Russian.

London’s Guardian website is even running an online seminar entitled, ‘Learn how to protest against anti-gay laws in Russian during the Winter Olympics‘. It goes on, ”Learn this handy Russian phrase in time for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and join Derren Brown, Stephen Fry, Paloma Faith, Rupert Everett, Neil Gaiman, and other celebrities in telling the world you don’t support Russia’s anti-gay laws”.

“Do something and make a difference — upload your attempts to Twitter #russianrainbowflag”.

Horray, horray! Western celebrities have come to the rescue! Isn’t it wonderful? Well, not everyone seems to think so…


Other commentators have tried to inject some soberness back into an international discussion that, because of a few mindless celebrity bandwagon jumpers, has become completely hysterical. Even Guardian journalist Marc Bennetts has spotted the problem with America and Europe’s international LGBT media circus:

“While western opponents of the Kremlin’s law may have noble intentions, their criticism has far too often been both hysterical and hypocritical. Condemnation has also at times resembled hate speech, as in Hugh Laurie’s recent suggestion that Russians have nothing whatsoever of value to offer the world. Laurie’s outburst was mild, however, compared to statements by Stephen Fry and Jay Leno, who have both likened the Kremlin’s law to Nazi persecution of Jews.”

Why has the US targeted this Olympics for politicization? It’s classic divide and rule.  American conservatives are offended because in their eyes, the red, white and blue has been over-shadowed by the ‘rainbow’ American flag. Liberals love the controversy because they believe that it’s exposing ‘the plight of gays in Russia’. In reality, neither is correct. Firstly, it’s probably worth pointing out that almost every Olympic athlete, attendee and TV viewer is interested in the sports first and foremost, and are not particularly interested in what designer woman’s blazer is being worn by Weir.

Many spectators may even be offended by Weir hijacking the event for his own politicized agenda — and in a free country, that would be their right too. It’s more likely that NBC’s Johnny Weir is leveraging the opportunity to extract some celebrity and political capital through his public exhibitionism. Indeed, what passes for ‘activism’ these days seems to be anything that can be uploaded onto YouTube or Instagram. As today’s chief metrics for celebrity, Weir’s likes on Facebook and followers on Twitter have enjoyed a significant spike following his unusual performance, which is likely to be followed by various and sundry sponsorship offers to capitalise on the new found fame.

In the old days, this would be referred to a ‘publicity stunt’, but somehow that term has been eviscerated by the new 24/7 reality culture where politics and protests are throw-away items, used to plot one’s journey up the latter of fame. 

The danger here is that the over-the-top, emotive and shrinking intellectual quality of the US-Euro LGBT approach to this issue may have already backfired. The end result: making the west look bad internationally. Bennetts adds here:

“They play straight into the hands of the Kremlin-run media, whose raison d’etre is increasingly founded on its gleeful willingness to highlight western inconsistencies. The new legislation is certainly not, as US-based gay rights activists have claimed, “one of the most draconian anti-gay laws on the planet”.”

.

The problem with the LGBT ‘Gay Protest’ against Russia is that it’s simply disingenuous. When celebrities enter into any political debate, an intellectual reduction of facts and arguments is almost certain to take place. British celebrity Stephen Fry (photo, above) is probably the most guilty on this front, with his sensational lie that gay people are being beaten to death “while police stand idly by”. Fry’s polemic is not so much disingenuous as it is dangerous. 

As the self-styled ‘King of Social Media’, Fry knows better than most how a statement like that can whip up the activist mobs online. Unfortunately, the western public, much less the LGBT ‘community’, rarely know any better than to question such a fantastic statement coming out of the mouth of a god-like celebrity. This fact has become a sort of Achilles heal for us in the west – an over reliance on celebrities for ‘reassurance’ on various political issues (we’ll save that for another debate).

Western media, LGBT activists and celebrities have also been egged-on by Obama’s White House and others – for the simple reason that their efforts dovetail with US foreign policy and European Union foreign policy to both undermine and contain Russia’s influence, particularly in relation to the Ukraine and Syria. For those celebrities reading this article, you might want to refer to the Washington DC globalist think tank, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where you can learn how your own ‘activist’ campaign in Sochi falls under the general banner of advancing ‘Russophobia’ and what DC think tanks refer to as a policy of ‘neocontainment’ for Russia.

ON that note, Bennetts rightly concludes:

“If Putin is indeed waging war on Russia’s LGBT community, then why has he not followed the example of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, which has just introduced a new law that stipulates jail sentences of up to 14 years for gay people? Or India, the world’s largest democracy, where the supreme court recently reinstated a colonial-era ban on gay sex? If he wants to get really harsh, of course, Putin could look to Saudi Arabia, whose habit of executing homosexuals has done little to break up what Barack Obama has called the “long history of friendship” between Washington and Riyadh. This, of course, is the same Obama who has“no patience” for Russia’s gay propaganda law.”

Overall, this not-so-well-thought-out ‘protest’ at the Winter Olympics will damage America and Europe’s credibility because political leaders did not read the fine print, and instead, fell over backwards for a half-baked argument in order to curry a few votes in the next election. That seems to be the way with everything in politics these days — from WMD’s to global warming.

Sure, gay rights and human rights are tremendously important, but perhaps on this occasion — the LGBT lobby has chosen both the wrong target, as well as the wrong venue.

So Johnny Weir can enjoy his new sponsorship contracts, and Obama can enjoy this week’s rainbow bounce. Both are erected on top of a false premise.

by Steve Horn and Caroline Selle

DeSmogBlog has obtained documents revealing that the government of Calvert County, MD, signed a non-disclosure agreement on August 21, 2012, with Dominion Resources — the company proposing the Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal in Lusby, MD.  The documents have raised concerns about transparency between the local government and its citizens.

The proposal would send gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from the Marcellus Shale basin to the global market. The export terminal is opposed by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Maryland Sierra Club and a number of other local environment and community groups.

The Accokeek Mattawoman Piscataway Creeks Council (AMP Council), an environmental group based in Accokeek, MD, obtained the documents under Maryland’s Public Information Act and provided them to DeSmogBlog.

Cornell University’s Law School explains a non-disclosure agreement is a “legally binding contract in which a person or business promises to treat specific information as a trade secret and not disclose it to others without proper authorization.”

Upon learning about the agreement, Fred Tutman, CEO of Patuxent Riverkeeper — a group opposed to the LNG project — told DeSmogBlog he believes Calvert County officials are working “in partnership with Dominion to the detriment of citizen transparency.”

“We’re unhappy that it does seem to protect Dominion’s interest rather than the public interest,” Tutman said. “The secrecy surrounding this deal has made it virtually impossible for anyone exterior to those deals, like citizens, to evaluate whether these are good transactions or bad transactions on their behalf.”

Details of the Non-Disclosure Agreement

The six-page non-disclosure agreement explains Calvert County “desires to participate in discussions regarding Calvert County property tax credits. During these discussions, [Dominion] may share certain proprietary information with the [county].”

What’s confidential? According to the non-disclosure agreement,

“… any data or information…not generally known to the public, whether in tangible or intangible form, and meeting the requirements for mandatory denial of inspections pursuant to the Maryland Public Information Act…whenever and however disclosed, including, but not limited to: (i) marketing strategies, plans, financial information, or projections, operations, sales estimates, business plans and performance results relating to the past, present or future business activities of such party, its affiliates, subsidiaries and affiliated companies; (ii) plans for products or services, and customer supplier lists; (iii) any scientific or technical information, invention, design, process, procedure, formula, improvement, technology or method; (iv) any concepts, reports, data, know-how, works-in-progress, designs, development tools, specifications, computer software, source code, object code, flow charts, databases, inventions, information and trade secrets; and (v) any other information that should reasonably be recognized as confidential information of [DCP].”

In a statement provided to DeSmogBlog, Calvert County Commissioner Evan K. Slaughenhoupt, Jr. said it would be the “height of naiveté” to think a government would not sign a non-disclosure agreement in this type of situation, given the stakes involved.


Evan K. Slaughenhoupt, Jr.; Photo Credit: Calvert County

“When businesses have contractual concerns, and meet with elected officials in a lawful duly authorized executive session to discuss expansion of a business, I honor my responsibility to not convey what was discussed in such a session,” he said. “Citizens expect no less of that from us.”

Non-Disclosure Agreements “Normal Part of Negotiations”

The use of non-disclosure agreements by local governments is not unprecedented. Some cases in point:

- In 2008, Kitsap County, WA, officials signed a non-disclosure agreement with NASCAR when deliberating over building a race track there. Met with opposition from citizens, the deal fell through for Kitsap.

- In 2013, Nike released three non-disclosure agreements it had signed with Washington County, OR, pertaining to facilities it planned to build in Portland, where it is headquartered.

- Weapons manufacturer Prometheus Solutions recently signed a non-disclosure agreement with Somervell County, TX, for the details surrounding construction of a manufacturing site there.

Evan K. Slaughenhoupt, Jr.; Photo Credit: Calvert County right

Queried about Dominion’s non-disclosure agreement with Calvert County, Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle told DeSmogBlog such agreements are “a routine, normal part of negotiations involving multi-billion dollar economic development projects.”

“Companies and counties often use non-disclosure agreements because they each need to share business-sensitive, confidential information that cannot be shared with other businesses or counties for competitive reasons,” Norvelle said. “The result this time around is certainty for both Dominion and the county.”

U.S. Congressmembers Decline Comment

Asked for comment on the agreement on multiple occasions by DeSmogBlog, Maryland’s U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D) and Barbara Mikulski (D) declined to comment, as did U.S. Rep. and Democratic Party Whip Steny Hoyer.

“The non-disclosure agreement is between two parties — Calvert County and Dominion — and the process by which it was developed did not involve federal action so neither Mr. Hoyer nor his staff had a role in developing the agreement,” Hoyer Press Secretary Mariel Saez told DeSmogBlog.

Rep. Hoyer received $10,000 from Dominion prior to the 2012 elections and has taken another $5,000 in the run-up to the 2014 elections. Sen. Cardin received $9,000 before the 2012 elections, while Mikulski received $1,000 in 2012 and has taken $2,500 for the current campaign cycle.

In Whose Best Interest?

The original recipient of the records, AMP Council, sees things differently than the two parties to the non-disclosure agreement.

“Citizens [can’t] participate effectively in the legislative process because the non-disclosure agreement prevented Calvert County commissioners and staff from giving people the information they needed to understand Dominion’s financial status and outlook, thereby making it impossible for them to make informed recommendations to the people they elected to represent them,” a press statement from the council reads.

“The commissioners were working with Dominion’s best interests in mind, not the people’s.”

Still awaiting a final approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and from Maryland’s Public Service Commission, Dominion received a conditional permit for Cove Point LNG export terminal in May 2013 from the U.S. Department of Energy.

If the project moves forward, Cove Point would be the first Marcellus Shale-area east coast LNG export terminal.

Only one LNG terminal has received all the permits necessary to open shop in the U.S.: Cheniere’s Sabine Pass LNG export facility, located on the Louisiana coast. Sabine Pass is scheduled to become operational in late 2015.

Assume that you ran a business that was found guilty of bribery, forgery, perjury, defrauding homeowners, fleecing investors, swindling consumers, cheating credit card holders, violating U.S. trade laws and bilking American soldiers. Can you even imagine the kind of punishment you’d get?

How about zero? Nada. Nothing. Zilch. No jail time. Not even a fine. Plus, you still get to stay on as boss, you get to keep all the loot you gained from the crime spree, and you even get an $8.5 million pay raise!

Of course, you and I would never get such outrageous, absurd, kid-glove pampering by legal authorities. But, then, we’re not the capo of JPMorgan Chase, America’s biggest bank and a crime syndicate that apparently is too big to jail.

Jamie Dimon is the slick, vainglorious, silver-haired boss of the JPMorgan house of banksters. This CEO has fostered a culture of thievery during his years as a top executive at JPMorgan, leading to a shameful litany of crime. Yet, federal prosecutors have bowed to the politically connected Wall Streeter, refusing to ruffle his feathers with even a single criminal charge.

Meanwhile, one of the scams that Dimon directly supervised produced a $6 billion loss for shareholders in 2012. And his reign of mismanagement and illegalities cost the bank’s shareholders another $20 billion in federal fines last year, resulting in a 16 percent drop in profits. You might think the bank’s board of directors would at least slap Jamie’s wrist for the loss of those billions of dollars, but no — in January, they rewarded him, raising his pay by some 70 percent to a sweet $20 million!

The New York Times noted that, “To ordinary Americans,” such a reward for poor performance “may seem curious.” Curious? Uh-uh.

Try incomprehensible, insane and immoral. Wall Street’s haughty elites continue to demonstrate that they’re common mobsters — only not so ethical.

That’s the funny thing about Wall Street mobsters (or as I like to call them: Banksters) is that they make a killing by defrauding millions of homeowners, customers, investors and taxpayers — then, when caught, they wonder why we don’t love them.

That’s “funny” as in “bizarre,” not as in “ha-ha.”

You would think that after racking up a record level of regulatory fines for the recidivist criminal operation overseen by the boss, a little self-reproachment might have done Dimon some good. But he chose a funny way (again meaning bizarre) to express remorse: He’s been running a feel-sorry-for-me campaign, claiming that he’s the victim of this sordid story!

Never mind his long rap sheet of malfeasance and incompetence, which cost so many so much, Jamie wails that everything from Wall Street’s bailout to the pay of top bank executives have made people envious of bankers’ success. Thus, he moans, an anti-Wall Street sentiment has spread through the public, prompting politicians and regulators to pander to this populist anger by persecuting enterprising bankers like him. He called the whole thing “unfair.”

Good grief. This guy builds bank profits through rip-offs, piles billions of dollars in fines on the backs of shareholders, pockets $20 million in personal pay for one year’s work — and he wants us to weep for him? Being a Wall Street boss, you see, means never having to say you’re sorry, for it’s always someone else’s fault.

Only 25 years ago, more than a thousand bankers were prosecuted for this sort of malfeasance during the savings & loan scandal. Let’s return to the ethical accountability of those days. Or maybe We the People should send our own message to today’s banksters by rolling a guillotine down the center of Wall Street.

“In the latest debacle for the US State Department and the Obama Administration, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was caught on tape micro-managing Ukraine opposition party strategies with US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. That the Ukraine regime-change operation is to some degree being directed from Washington can no longer be denied….The taped conversation demonstrates in clear detail that while Secretary of State John Kerry decries any foreign meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs, his State Department is virtually managing the entire process.”

– Daniel McAdams, “‘F**k the EU’: Tape Reveals US Runs Ukraine Opposition“, Ron Paul Institute

Washington is at it again, up to its old tricks. You’d think that after the Afghanistan and Iraq fiascos someone on the policymaking team would tell the fantasists to dial-it-down a bit. But, no. The Obama claque is just as eager to try their hand at regime change as their predecessors, the Bushies. This time the bullseye is on Ukraine, the home of the failed Orange Revolution, where US NGOs fomented a populist coup that brought down the government and paved the way for years of social instability, economic hardship and, eventually, a stronger alliance with Moscow.

That sure worked out well, didn’t it? One can only wonder what Obama has in mind for an encore.

Let’s cut to the chase: The US still clings to the idea that it can dominate the world with its ham-fisted military (that hasn’t won a war in 60 years) its scandalized Intel agencies, its comical Rambo-style “Special Ops” teams, and its oh-so-brilliant global strategists who think the days of the nation-state will soon be over hastening the onset of the glorious New World Order. Right. Ukraine is a critical part of that pipe dream, er, strategy which is why the US media puts demonstrations in Kiev in the headlines while similar protests in the US are consigned to the back pages just below the dog food ads. In any event, the crisis is likely to intensify in the months ahead as Washington engages in a no-holds-barred tug-o-war with Moscow over the future of civilization.

For bigwig strategists, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, Ukraine is a war that Washington must win to maintain its position as the world’s only superpower. As he sees it, the US must establish outposts throughout Eurasia to diminish Russia’s influence, control China, and capitalize off the new century’s fastest growing region. Here’s how Brzezinski sums it up in Foreign Affairs in an article titled “A Geostrategy for Eurasia”:

“America’s emergence as the sole global superpower now makes an integrated and comprehensive strategy for Eurasia imperative…Eurasia is home to most of the world’s politically assertive and dynamic states. All the historical pretenders to global power originated in Eurasia. The world’s most populous aspirants to regional hegemony, China and India, are in Eurasia, as are all the potential political or economic challengers to American primacy…

Eurasia is the world’s axial supercontinent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world’s three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa…

What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America’s global primacy and historical legacy.” ( “A Geostrategy for Eurasia”, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Foreign Affairs, 1997)

Okay, so the not-so-subtle Brzezinski is telling US policymakers that if they want to rule the world, they’ve got to take over Eurasia. That’s pretty clear. It’s the Great Game all over again and Ukraine is one of the biggest trophies, which is why the US has allied itself to all kinds crackpot, rightwing groups that are stirring up trouble in Kiev. It’s because Washington will stop at nothing to achieve its objectives. Of course, there’s nothing new about any of this. The US frequently supports violent, far-right organizations if their interests coincide. Here’s a little background on the topic from Eric Draitser in an article in CounterPunch titled “Ukraine and the Rebirth of Fascism”:

“In an attempt to pry Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence, the US-EU-NATO alliance has, not for the first time, allied itself with fascists. Of course, for decades, millions in Latin America were disappeared or murdered by fascist paramilitary forces armed and supported by the United States. The mujahideen of Afghanistan, which later transmogrified into Al Qaeda, also extreme ideological reactionaries, were created and financed by the United States for the purposes of destabilizing Russia. And of course, there is the painful reality of Libya and, most recently Syria, where the United States and its allies finance and support extremist jihadis against a government that has refused to align with the US and Israel. There is a disturbing pattern here that has never been lost on keen political observers: the United States always makes common cause with right wing extremists and fascists for geopolitical gain.” (Ukraine and the rebirth of Fascism“, Eric Draitser, CounterPunch)

Death squads here, jihadis there; what difference does it make to the big shots in Washington?

Not much, apparently.

But, wait, what’s all this talk about the US being on the side of anti-Semites and fascists in Ukraine? Is that true?

It sure looks that way. In fact, there was a funny story in the World Socialist Web Site about Assistant Secretary of State Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland which shows how far these people will go to achieve their objectives. In this case, Nuland, who — according to the WSWS — is “the grand-daughter of Jewish immigrants who fled to America to escape pogroms in Tsarist Russia”…was seen “handing out cookies in Maidan square to Svoboda thugs who venerate the mass murderers of Hitler’s SS.” (“Leaked phone call on Ukraine lays bare Washington’s gangsterism“, Bill Van Auken, World Socialist Web Site)

Nice, eh? So Vickie was having a little snacktime with guys who’d probably shove a knife in her back if they were given half a chance. That’s what you call dedication. By the way, Nuland’s “husband is Robert Kagan, the right-wing foreign policy pundit who served as the founding chairman of the Project for a New American Century, the neo-conservative Washington think tank that played a key role in the political and ideological preparation for the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The fact that Obama and Co. are directly involved in this latest would-be coup, doesn’t surprise anyone. According to a recent poll conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center, “almost a half (45%) of Russian citizens think that protests in Ukraine have been provoked by Western special services.” By “special services” we presume the survey’s authors mean US Intel agencies and US-funded NGOs which have a long history of poking their noses in other country’s affairs. Here’s a statement by Rep Ron Paul in 2004 to the US House International Relations Committee which helps to throw a little light on the issue:

“It is clear that a significant amount of US taxpayer dollars went to support one candidate in Ukraine. …. What we do not know, however, is just how much US government money was spent to influence the outcome of the Ukrainian election.

Dozens of organizations are granted funds under the PAUCI program alone, (Poland-America-Ukraine Cooperation Initiative, which is administered by the US-based Freedom House.) and this is only one of many programs that funneled dollars into Ukraine. We do not know how many millions of US taxpayer dollars the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) sent to Ukraine through NED’s National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute. Nor do we know how many other efforts, overt or covert, have been made to support one candidate over the other in Ukraine.

That is what I find so disturbing: there are so many cut-out organizations and sub-grantees that we have no idea how much US government money was really spent on Ukraine, and most importantly how it was spent.” (“What has the NED done in Ukraine?“, Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell)

The fact is, the USG gives away tons of money to all types of shady groups who carry out their agenda. As far as Ukraine is concerned, we actually have a better idea of the money that’s been spent than Paul thinks. Check out this video of Nuland addressing various industry groups and admitting that,

“Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States supported the Ukrainians in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government…We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals.” (“Washington’s cloned female warmongers“, Finian Cunningham, Information Clearinghouse)

5 billion smackers to topple a democratically-elected government in Ukraine while 8 million Americans still can’t find a damn job in the US. That tells you a lot about Obama’s priorities, doesn’t it?

Last week’s fiasco surrounding Nuland’s leaked phone conversation has clarified what’s really going on behind the scenes. While the media has focused on Nuland’s obscenity, (“Fuck the EU”) it’s the other parts of the conversation that grabbed our attention. Here’s a brief summary by the WSWS’s Bill Van Auken:

“The call (exposes) the criminal and imperialist character of US policy in Ukraine …What the tape makes clear, is that Washington is employing methods of international gangsterism, including violence, to effect a political coup aimed at installing a regime that is fully subordinate to US geo-strategic interests…

The precise goal of US efforts is to shift political power into the hands of a collection of Western-aligned Ukrainian oligarchs who enriched themselves off of the private appropriation—theft—of state property carried out as part of the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. In doing so, it aims to turn Ukraine into a US imperialist beachhead on the very border of Russia, whose territory it also wants to divide and subjugate to neocolonial status as part of its drive to assert American hegemony throughout the strategic landmass of Eurasia…

Nuland makes clear that behind the scenes, Washington is dictating which leaders of the opposition…should enter the government to swing it behind Washington and what role the others will play…”(“Leaked phone call on Ukraine lays bare Washington’s gangsterism“, Bill Van Auken, World socialist Web Site)

Same old, same old. Like we said earlier, there’s nothing new here, nothing at all. All the blabber about “democracy” is just public relations crappola. It means nothing. US elites want to trim Moscow’s wings, set up shop in Eurasia, control China’s growth, be a bigger player in the continent’s oil and natural gas markets, export its financial services model, and make as much money as possible in the 21st century’s hottest market, Asia. It’s all about profits. Profits and power.

But then, you probably knew that already.

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].

Washington Orchestrated Protests Are Destabilizing Ukraine

February 13th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The protests in the western Ukraine are organized by the CIA, the US State Department, and by Washington- and EU-financed Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that work in conjunction with the CIA and State Department. The purpose of the protests is to overturn the decision by the independent government of Ukraine not to join the EU.

The US and EU were initially cooperating in the effort to destroy the independence of Ukraine and make it a subservient entity to the EU government in Brussels. For the EU government, the goal is to expand the EU.

For Washington the purposes are to make Ukraine available for looting by US banks and corporations and to bring Ukraine into NATO so that Washington can gain more military bases on Russia’s frontier.

There are three countries in the world that are in the way of Washington’s hegemony over the world–Russia, China, and Iran. Each of these countries is targeted by Washington for overthrow or for their sovereignty to be degraded by propaganda and US military bases that leave the countries vulnerable to attack, thus coercing them into accepting Washington’s will.

The problem that has arisen between the US and EU with regard to Ukraine is that Europeans have realized that the takeover of Ukraine is a direct threat to Russia, which can cut Europe off from oil and natural gas, and if there is war completely destroy Europe. Consequently, the EU became willing to stop provoking the Ukraine protests.

The response of the neoconservative Victoria Nuland, appointed Assistant Secretary of State by the duplicitous Obama, was “F**k the EU,” as she proceeded to describe the members of the Ukraine government that Washington tended to impose on a people so unaware as to believe that they are achieving independence by rushing into Washington’s arms. I once thought that no population could be as unaware as the US population. But I was wrong. Western Ukrainians are more unaware than Americans.

The orchestration of the “crisis” in Ukraine is easy. The neoconservative Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told the National Press Club in Washington on December 13, 2013, that the US has “invested” $5 billion in agitation in Ukraine. 

The crisis essentially resides in western Ukraine where romantic ideas about Russian oppression are strong and the population is less Russian than in the eastern Ukraine.

The hatred of Russia in western Ukraine is so dysfunctional that the duped protesters are unaware that joining the EU means the end of Ukraine independence and rule by the EU bureaucrats in Brussels, the European Central Bank, and US corporations. Perhaps Ukraine is two countries. The western half could be given to the EU and US corporations, and the eastern half could be reincorporated as part of Russia, where the entire Ukraine resided for as long as the US has existed.

The disaffection from Russia that exists in western Ukraine makes it easy for the EU and US to cause trouble. Those in Washington and Europe who wish to destroy Ukraine’s independence portray an independent Ukraine as a hostage of Russia, while a Ukraine in the EU is allegedly under the protection of the US and Europe. The large sums of money that Washington funnels into NGOs in Ukraine propagate this idea and work the population into a mindless frenzy. I have never in my life witnessed people as mindless as the Ukrainian protesters who are destroying the independence of their country.

The US- and EU-financed NGOs are fifth columns designed to destroy the independence of the countries in which they operate. Some pretend to be “human rights organizations.” Others indoctrinate people under cover of “education programs” and “building democracy.” Others, especially those run by the CIA, specialize in provocations such as “Pussy Riot.” Few if any of these NGOs are legitimate. But they are arrogant. The head of one of the NGOs announced prior to the Iranian elections in which Mousavi was Washington’s and the CIA’s candidate that the election would result in a Green Revolution. He knew this in advance, because he had helped to finance it with US taxpayer dollars. I wrote about it at the time. It can be found on my website, www.paulcraigroberts.org and in my just published book, How America Was Lost.

The Ukrainian “protesters” have been violent, but the police have been restrained. Washington has a vested interest in keeping the protests going in the hopes of turning the protests into revolt so that Washington can grab Ukraine. This week the US House of Representatives passed a resolution threatening sanctions should the violent protests be put down by the police.

In other words, if the Ukrainian police behave toward violent protesters in the way that US police behave toward peaceful protesters, it is reason for Washington to interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine. Washington is using the protests to destroy the independence of Ukraine and has ready the list of puppets that Washington intends to install as Ukraine’s next government.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

Forty-two years late, another Israeli war crime emerges from the shadows. In this case, dozens, and more probably hundreds, of Israeli soldiers kept a decades-long vow of secrecy. One of them is Shlomo Gazit, today a respected (in Israel, at least) academic at Tel Aviv University.

In January 1972, Ariel Sharon decided that 3,000 Bedouin were in the way of a massive military exercise he wanted to conduct in the southern Negev and northern Sinai. So he summarily expelled two tribes in the el-Arish area of the Sinai from their homes, during a deep winter spell. At least 40 people died, mostly babies, children and the elderly.

A young army researcher, Clinton Bailey, heard from other Bedouin of the expulsion and went to meet the families. He photographed 28 small graves at their new makeshift location.

He then brought the expulsion to the attention of the head of the army, David Elazar. Although Elazar ordered the tribes to be returned to their land, it was too late for the dozens who had died. No action was taken against Sharon or anyone else. In fact, Sharon’s military and later political career prospered on such “exploits”.

Bailey and everyone else covered up the crime for four decades, fearful of the damage it would do to Israel’s reputation. The silence has been broken now because Bailey divulged the incident to journalist David Landau, who was preparing a new biography of Ariel Sharon.

Haaretz coyly admits that its military correspondent of the time knew of the war crime too but kept quiet. The paper has published the story now, but one cannot but ponder its motives. This revelation should help book sales, and Landau is a former senior editor at the paper.

No one is denying that these events took place. The Israeli army even comments that the “case is known”, though it wishes to say nothing more. Gazit has no recollection of being told about it at the time.

What other such crimes do we still not know about because Israelis consider their loyalty to their state more important than their responsibility as human beings to the truth and justice?

And although Haaretz, and most of those involved in the cover-up, treat this as some footnote in the historical record, or another aberration to lay at the feet of Sharon, the reality is that Israel is still driving Arabs – Palestinians – off their land. The people of the Jordan Valley, Sussiya and East Jerusalem know this only too well.

www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.573778

Rudoren meets with American Jewish Committee group in January

New York Times Jerusalem correspondent Jodi Rudoren’s piece on the boycott movement is titled, “West Bank Boycott: A Political Act or Prejudice?” and it reveals the reporter (again) as culturally bound– operating within the Israeli Jewish experience. She begins by citing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s view that a boycott is “immoral” and she seems to agree, for she promptly brings in the Nazis:

for many Israelis, the boycott that comes to mind is the Nazi-led one of Jewish-owned businesses that spread in the 1930s from Germany across Europe and beyond. Avoiding a coffee shop because you don’t like the way the boss treats his employees is voting with your wallet; doing so because the boss is Jewish — or black or female or gay — is discrimination.

But no one is boycotting Jews as Jews. They are boycotting Jews because of the way they treat people under occupation when they boycott settlement products, the supposed focus of this story.

Though it is surely the case that some boycotters oppose Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, does that make them anti-Semitic? I should think that would make them anti-Zionist. Rudoren equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Many believe, she says,

that the movement is motivated by anti-Semitism, that the ultimate target is not Israeli policy, but Israel’s right to exist.

Yes, she quotes Omar Barghouti, saying BDS is not singling out any religious or ethnic group, but our West Jerusalem minder promptly steps in– “Many Israeli leaders do not buy this,” and quotes a torrent of rightwingers, government spokesman Mark Regev (“It’s of dubious morality…”), Dani Dayan, Netanyahu, and Malcolm Hoenlein.

FYI, Hoenlein is not an Israeli at all, but an American Jewish leader.

“Seventy years ago, you went after, ‘Kill the Jews’ — here you say, ‘Kill the Jewish state,”’ said Malcolm Hoenlein… “The politically correct way to be anti-Semitic is not to say, ‘I hate the Jews,’ but to say, ‘I hate Israel.”’

But I can think of at least two Jewish groups who are for boycott of settlement products, Peace Now and Jewish Voice for Peace. Do they hate Jews? No they hate the colonies. And Peace Now and Peter Beinart are Zionists. Why didn’t Rudoren quote them when she was calling Americans to talk about Israeli opinion?

What’s more, Peace Now is a constituent of the Conference of Presidents, of which Hoenlein is the executive director. Why does Peace Now remain in the Conference when Hoenlein is calling it a collection of anti-Semites?

It is surely good news that the fat is in the fire on boycott, that people are discussing it at last in the mainstream. But Nazis? This is a form of hysteria. To her credit, Rudoren did a pretty good job about going into the territories to write up Palestinian employment in settlements the other day; but when is she going to talk about the actual conditions of life inside the occupation, which even Haaretz says is a form of slavery, because Palestinians lack control over their lives and bodies? When will the Times undertake to explain how it has come to pass that a couple dozen other peoples have gained the right of self-determination in the 67 years since the U.N. voted to give the Palestinians a state, but they still don’t have that right? That is why I am for boycott, and so many other Americans are, too. To do what I can to lift the heel of the oppressor.

Photo: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

President Obama is now considering whether to order the Central Intelligence Agency to kill a U.S. citizen in Pakistan. That’s big news this week. But hidden in plain sight is the fact that Amazon would be an accessory to the assassination.

Amazon has a $600 million contract with the CIA to provide the agency with “cloud” computing services. After final confirmation of the deal several months ago, Amazon declared: “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA.”

The relationship means that Amazon — logoed with a smiley-face arrow from A to Z, selling products to millions of people every week — is responsible for keeping the CIA’s secrets and aggregating data to help the agency do its work. Including drone strikes.

Drone attacks in Pakistan are “an entirely CIA operation,” New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti said Tuesday night in an interview on the PBS NewsHour. He added that “the Pakistani government will not allow the [U.S.] military to take over the mission because they want to still have the sort of veneer of secrecy that the CIA provides.”

The sinister implications of Amazon’s new CIA role have received scant public attention so far.

As the largest Web retailer in the world, Amazon has built its business model on the secure accumulation and analysis of massive personal data. The firm’s Amazon Web Services division gained the CIA contract amid fervent hopes that the collaboration will open up vast new vistas for the further melding of surveillance and warfare.

Notably, Amazon did not submit the low bid for the $600 million contract. The firm won the deal after persuading the CIA of its superior technical capacities in digital realms.

Amazon is now integral to the U.S. government’s foreign policy of threatening and killing.

Any presidential decision to take the life of an American citizen is a subset of a much larger grave problem. Whatever the nationality of those who hear the menacing buzz of a drone overhead, the hijacking of skies to threaten and kill those below is unconscionable. And, as presently implemented, unconstitutional.

On Feb. 11 the Times reported that the Obama administration “is debating whether to authorize a lethal strike against an American citizen living in Pakistan who some believe is actively plotting terrorist attacks.” In effect, at issue is whether the president should order a summary execution — an assassination — on his say-so.

The American way isn’t supposed to be that way. The “due process of law” required by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution is not supposed to be whatever the president decides to do.

A free and independent press is crucial for confronting such dire trends. But structural factors of corporate power continue to undermine the potential of journalism. The Washington Post is a grim case in point.

Six months ago, Jeff Bezos — the CEO and main stakeholder of Amazon — bought the Post. But the newspaper’s ongoing CIA-related coverage does not inform readers that the CIA’s big contract with Amazon is adding to the personal wealth of the Post’s sole owner.

This refusal to make such conflict-of-interest disclosures is much more than journalistic evasion for the sake of appearances. It’s a marker for more consolidation of corporate mega-media power with government power. The leverage from such convergence is becoming ever-less acknowledged or conspicuous as it becomes ever-more routine and dominant.

After e-mail correspondence with me about the non-disclosure issue in early January, the executive editor of the Washington Post, Martin Baron, declined to answer questions from media outlets on the subject. On Jan. 15 — when I delivered a RootsAction.org petition under the heading “Washington Post: Readers Deserve Full Disclosure in Coverage of CIA,” signed by 30,000 people, to the newspaper’s headquarters — Baron declined to meet with me or designate any employee to receive the petition. Clearly the Post management wants this issue to go away.

But, as I wrote to Baron last month, it’s all too convenient — and implausible — for the Washington Post to claim that there would be “no direct relevance of the [Amazon-CIA] cloud services contract to coverage of such matters as CIA involvement in rendition of prisoners to regimes for torture; or in targeting for drone strikes; or in data aggregation for counterinsurgency.”

The surveillance state and the warfare state continue to converge. The Washington Post does not want us to insist on journalistic disclosure. Amazon does not want us to insist on moral accountability. President Obama does not want us to insist on basic constitutionality. It would be a shame to oblige any of them.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

US Intelligence Community Worldwide Threat Assessment

February 12th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

America has 16 known intelligence agencies. James Clapper is Director of National Intelligence (DNI).

On January 29, he presented his annual worldwide threat assessment. He did so to Senate Select Committee on Intelligence members.

He lied calling terrorism “persistent threats to US interests overseas.” None exist except ones America invents.

It’s for strategic and geopolitical reasons. It justifies America’s fake war on terror. It’s state terror targets humanity.

It’s not manufactured. It’s real. It claims millions of victims. It threatens millions more.

Clapper was right calling Syria a hotbed for “al-Qa’ida-aligned groups…” He omitted saying Washington uses them strategically.

They’re imported from dozens of countries. Funding, weapons, training and direction are provided.

They’re radical extremists. They’re cutthroat killers. They commit gruesome atrocities. They used chemical weapons multiple times.

They threaten “neighboring countries,” said Clapper. They threaten EU ones. They threaten America, he claimed.

They “increas(e) the likelihood of a protracted conflict.” Iran and Hezbollah “are committed to defending” Syria, he said.

They consider Assad a “key partner in the ‘axis of resistance’ against Israel.” They’re “prepared to take major risks to preserve the regime…”

Clapper wrongfully accused them of “threaten(ing) the interests of US allies.” They threaten no one.

America and Israel are the region’s key existential threats. Clapper didn’t explain. He called Obama’s backtracking on military intervention a good deal for Assad.

His willingness to destroy his chemical weapons “adds legitimacy” to his government.

“Moscow has hailed (his decision) as a major foreign policy accomplishment. It positions Russia to play a major role in any future settlement of the Syrian conflict…”

Syria remains fully committed to eliminating its chemical weapons arsenal.

“Previously, we had assessed that Syria had a highly active chemical warfare (CW) program and maintained a stockpile of sulfur mustard, sarin, VX, and a stockpile of munitions – including missiles, aerial bombs, and artillery rockets – that can be used to deliver CW agents,” said Clapper.

“Until the CW materials are completely destroyed or removed from country, groups or individuals in Syria might gain access to CW-related materials,” he added.

Despite no evidence suggesting it, he called Assad Syria’s main threat. He wants to produce biological weapons, he claimed. He cited no evidence proving it.

“We judge that some elements of Syria’s biological warfare program might have advanced beyond the research and development stage and might be capable of limited agent production, based on the duration of its longstanding program,” he claimed.

No evidence suggests it. Clapper wants attention focused on Assad. He manufactured a nonexistent threat. Perhaps it’s another pretext for direct US intervention.

He omitted what’s most important. Washington, Britain, France, Israel, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia actively supply weapons to extremist anti-Assad fighters.

Saudi Arabia supplies CWs. US special forces train jihadists in their use. They do so in Jordan.

Assad “remains unwilling to negotiate himself out of power,” said Clapper. He “almost certainly intends to remain the ruler of Syria and plans to win a new seven-year term…”

In mid-2014, presidential elections will be held. They’ll be independently monitored. A date remains to be set.

In May 2012, first time ever parliamentary elections were held. It was a milestone political event. It was open, free and fair. Independent candidates participated.

Voting went smoothly. Independent monitors supervised the process. They included intellectuals, legislators and judicial authorities. They came from other countries.

Ba’ath party members won a 60% majority. Previously they held just over 50% control. With support from independent MPs, they comprise 90% of Syria’s parliament.

Polls show overwhelming support for Assad. He’ll run if Syrians wish him to, he said. He’ll serve if elected.

Otherwise he’ll step down. Syrians alone will decide. Outside interference won’t be tolerated. International law prohibits it.

Clapper pointed fingers the wrong way. He discussed Iran’s “WMD capabilities.” He presented no evidence suggesting a nuclear weapons program.

“We continue to assess…Iran’s overarching strategic goals,” he said. It pursues “civilian goals.”

Clapper claims Tehran has “the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so.”

Nothing suggests it. “We do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons,” he stressed.

No programs exist to do so. Clapper claimed Tehran progressed technologically in “uranium enrichment, nuclear reactors, and ballistic missiles.”

Its “advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons.”

So do Germany, Japan and numerous other countries. Clapper ignored Israel’s threatening nuclear, chemical and biological arsenals.

US ones weren’t mentioned. Their long-range delivery systems weren’t addressed. They threaten humanity. Clapper was silent.

Despite Iran’s technological capabilities, he said, it won’t “be able to divert safeguarded material and produce enough weapons-grade uranium (WGU) before such activity would be discovered.”

It bears repeating. Clapper said Tehran has no nuclear weapons program. Nothing suggests otherwise.

If Iran “fully implements” the interim Joint Plan of Action, its transparency will “provide earlier warning of” any violations, he said.

Iran “will continue to act assertively abroad in ways that run counter to US interests and worsen regional conflicts.”

“Iran’s actions will likely do more to fuel rather than dampen increasing sectarianism.” Clapper presented no evidence proving it.

The Times of Israel took full advantage of his comments. On January 29, it headlined “Iran can now build and deliver nukes, US intel reports,” saying:

It has “break out” capability if it wishes. “This makes the central issue its political will to do so.” On January 28, Netanyahu repeated numerous previous lies.

The “whole world knows Tehran is after nukes,” he claimed. The “whole world” knows otherwise. Netanyahu ignored Israel’s well known arsenal.

The interim Joint Plan of Action only set Iran back six weeks, he said. There is “no dispute” about Iran wanting to “wip(e) Israel off the map.”

He referred to what former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said. Nor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Nor other Iranian officials.

Claiming otherwise is one of many bald-faced lies. Netanyahu repeats them ad nauseam. He long ago lost credibility. Why Israelis put up with him they’ll have to explain.

Clapper addressed a nonexistent North Korean threat. Its “nuclear weapons and missile programs pose a serious (one) to the United States and to the security environment in East Asia,” he claimed.

Washington’s presence is the region’s only threat. Clapper didn’t explain.

He accused North Korea of “export(ing) ballistic missiles and associated materials to several countries, including Iran and Syria.”

He lied about North Korea helping Syria build a nuclear reactor. In 2007, Israel destroyed what didn’t exist he said.

In February 2008, Seymour Hersh headlined “A Strike in the Dark,” asking:

“What did Israel bomb in Syria?” On September 6, 2007, four Israeli aircraft entered Syrian airspace. Secret unprovoked bombing followed.

At the time, tensions were high. “(B)y almost any definition,” Israel committed “an act of war.” It said little. Syria denounced what happened.

A military spokesman said Israeli planes dropped munitions in an unpopulated area. Syrian air defenses “forced them to flee.”

Weeks later, Assad said Israel warplanes struck an “unused military building.” He added that Syria reserved the right to retaliate.

(A)nonymous sources” claimed Israel “destroyed a nascent nuclear reactor.” With North Korea’s help, it was “secretly” being assembled.

Evidence was circumstantial at best. Hersh spent months researching his article.

He “was repeatedly told by current and former intelligence, diplomatic, and congressional officials that they were not aware of any solid evidence of ongoing nuclear weapons programs in Syria.”

Alleged evidence was suspect at best. No concrete proof existed then or now. “Much of what one would expect to see around a secret nuclear site was lacking at the target,” said Hersh.

“There (was) no security around the building. No barracks for the Army or the workers. No associated complex.”

Best evidence was a North Korean ship. Both countries had routine business dealings for years. North Korean laborers went back and forth routinely. They did nothing out of the ordinary.

They worked at the site. It was unrelated to nuclear or chemical weapons.

The facility struck “was to be one of a string of missile-manufacturing plants scattered throughout Syria, all low tech, not strategic,” said Hersh.

Whatever was attacked had nothing to do with nuclear reactor development. Clapper lied suggesting otherwise.

He lied about a nonexistent North Korean threat. Suggesting a possible future Iranian one doesn’t wash. No evidence whatever suggests it. Or that Syria threatens its neighbors. Or Iran.

It bears repeating. America and Israel are the region’s only existential threats. Clapper omitted explaining what’s most important.

It didn’t surprise. Hegemons blame victims for their crimes. They repeat with disturbing regularity.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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

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

A Washington D.C court has today ruled that hunger-striking Guantánamo detainees, including the last remaining British resident, Shaker Aamer, can challenge force-feeding in federal court.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in Aamer et al. v. Obama, a case brought by lawyers from human rights charity Reprieve and associated counsel Jon B. Eisenberg, that the Federal District Court has jurisdiction to decide whether the techniques used to force-feed Guantánamo detainees.

The appellate court held that the detainees should be allowed a ‘meaningful opportunity’ back in District Court to show that the Guantánamo force-feeding was illegal. The judges also invited the detainees to challenge other aspects of the protocol. The detainees have alleged that the force-feeding is both a violation of their rights, and gratuitously torturous.

The judges refused to ban force-feeding altogether, saying that for an immediate injunction “it is not enough for us to say that force-feeding may cause physical pain, invade bodily integrity, or even implicate petitioners’ fundamental individual rights.”

The judges also said that they could not bar the doctors from following military orders in Guantánamo merely because they might be acting in violation of their medical ethics.

The judges also ruled, with respect to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), that the foreign detainees could not be deemed to be ‘persons’ within the definition of the act. Therefore, the prison could not be prevented (by the courts) from trampling on the detainees’ religious freedoms.

Detainee Emad Hassan, who has been on hunger strike and force-fed since 2007, said in a recent conversation with his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith: “I am so dehydrated that my tongue becomes dry like tanned animal skin.  They can’t find a vein to take my blood. They always strap me to the chair for force feeding, whether I am vomiting or not.  The chairs slope backwards and because I have terrible kidney problems it is very painful.”

Shaker Aamer, in a conversation with his lawyer in anticipation of the judgement, said: “This is one step towards justice. A general in charge of this place said they were going to make it less ‘convenient’ for us to go on a peaceful hunger strike. The way they force feed us is just torture, using the FCE [Forcible Cell Extraction] team to force us to the feeding room, using the torture chair to strap us down, using tubes that are too big for our noses, and putting the 120 centimeter tubes in and pulling them out forcefully twice each day, with each feeding. Instead of making matters worse here, they should treat us with respect, like human beings.”

At the latest count, 17 of the strikers continue to be force-fed, and there are another 17 who are not currently being force-fed.

Cori Crider, Reprieve’s strategic director, said: “This is a victory for the prisoners. The detainees have been on hunger strike for years now, with the simple, peaceful demand that they be given a fair trial or freedom. President Obama agrees that the Guantánamo regime is a blot on the reputation of America, and it is time he put an end to the torturous force feeding there.”

Jon B. Eisenberg, the California-based lawyer who argued the case, said: “This decision puts a large crack in the edifice of lawlessness that has surrounded Guantánamo Bay since 2002.  It’s a good day for the rule of law in America.”

Late in the afternoon, the Los Angeles Times went ahead and released the name of the country: Pakistan. That it explains the concern. There definitely are special operations forces from the US operating covertly in the country and the US cannot call too much attention to them without risking blowback.

A United States citizen, who happens to be an alleged member of al Qaeda, is reportedly planning attacks on Americans who are overseas. The Associated Press reports, based on the comments of four anonymous United States officials, that President Barack Obama’s administration is contemplating how it can legally add this citizen to a “kill list” so he could be killed by a drone.

First and foremost, this news report again presents the issue of assassinating an American without due process. Hina Shamsi of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project articulates:

The government’s killing program has gone far beyond what the law permits, and it is based on secret evidence and legal interpretations. The targeted killing of an American being considered right now shows the inherent danger of a killing program based on vague and shifting legal standards, which has made it disturbingly easy for the government to operate outside the law.

Shamsi points out that the Obama administration continues to fight against “basic transparency” about the people who are being killed in addition to insulating the government from “accountability for the wrongful killings of US citizens,” which the ACLU has challenged in a lawsuit.

What AP further reports is that the alleged American terror suspect is in a country, which “refuses US military action on its soil.” Obama’s new policy for “American suspected terrorists overseas” also is being interpreted as prohibiting assassinations by the CIA. The US military, however, could kill the suspect if the Justice Department was able to conceive a legal basis for placing him on a “kill list.”

He is not on a “kill list,” at the moment. Two of the anonymous officials view him as an “al-Qaida facilitator who has been directly responsible for deadly attacks against U.S. citizens overseas and who continues to plan attacks against them that would use improvised explosive devices.”

Knowing where he is currently located would help one understand this story appropriately. So, in what country would certain officials like to be able to launch an attack?

The Associated Press has agreed to the government’s request to withhold the name of the country where the suspect is believed to be because officials said publishing it could interrupt ongoing counterterror operations.

It seems reasonable to question this decision by the AP to not publish. The decision bears a distinct similarity to refusing to print that a secret drone base is located in a certain country when covering the issue of drones, which US media organizations have previously done.

If it is illegal to add the person to a list and the government cannot come up with a legal way to launch a US military attack because the country opposes it, why should a media organization play the role of not “interrupting” this “ongoing counterterror operation”?

Just how many alleged American members of al Qaeda are there? This report disseminated on the Internet could now aid an “enemy” in figuring out some details on the extent to which he is being tracked and monitored for assassination in order to stop him from launching more attacks on Americans overseas. So, it would seem if AP really wants to protect counterterror operations from “interruption” they would simply not publish the story at all.

Marcy Wheeler suggests this story is coming from staffers of members of Congress. Mike Rogers, House Intelligence Committee chairman, is mentioned because he complained last week that a “number of terrorist suspects were all but out of reach under the administration’s new rules that limit drone strikes based on the target’s nationality or location.”

One official apparently told AP “the president could make an exception to his policy and authorize the CIA to strike on a onetime basis or authorize the Pentagon to act despite the possible objections of the country in question.” It would seem the goal of this story is to publicize the fact that the Obama administration is refusing to take what Rogers and others think is appropriate action to kill another US citizen with a drone.

Additionally, there are some details in the story that likely indicate, as Wheeler also suggested, a primary issue may be the American is targeting US military service members in the country where he is located. Of course, that does not help the US government when this country’s government “refuses US military action” (which is an anti-septic way of describing military intervention).

The person the Obama administration is considering targeting has possibly attacked US special operations forces. According to journalist Nick Turse, such forces are in at least 100 countries.

AP’s story could be of value to the public if it did not amount to a kind of quid pro quo transaction between the anonymous officials quoted: You give me this news headline that America wants to kill another US citizen and we’ll write this story in such a way to help you advance your political agenda.

When considering what was revealed in a story published by journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald about “unreliable metadata” being used to kill people with drones, how is this not helping to insulate the government from further scrutiny that it should have to face?

Is it really the duty of a media organization to help the US government conceal the name of a country where secret and illegal operations are being considered (and may possibly, in some respect, be ongoing)?

The government will always say the publication of such information would threaten national security and pose a risk to American lives. It can rarely prove this claim. So, the excuse should not proscribe the right to publish information that could give citizens a better idea of how their government is operating on the edges and outside the boundaries of law to kill a US citizen away from any declared conflict zone.

Is History Repeating … Or Throwing a Head-Fake?

  Chart courtesy of Tom McClellan of the McClellan Market Report (via Mark Hulbert)

 Hulbert notes that the chart “has been making the rounds on Wall Street.”

On the other hand, Martin Armstrong predicts that a worsening economy – and bank deposit confiscation – in Europe will cause people to flood into American stocks as a “safe haven” for a couple of years.

And the Fed has more or less admitted that propping up the stock market is a top priority.

 International, regional and internal players vying for interests, wealth, power or influence are all beneficiaries of the “al-Qaeda threat” in Iraq and in spite of their deadly and bloody competitions they agree only on two denominators, namely that the presence of the U.S.-installed and Iran–supported sectarian government in Baghdad and its sectarian al-Qaeda antithesis are the necessary casus belli for their proxy wars, which are tearing apart the social fabric of the Iraqi society, disintegrating the national unity of Iraq and bleeding its population to the last Iraqi.

The Iraqi people seem a passive player, paying in their blood for all this Machiavellian dirty politics. The war which the U.S. unleashed by its invasion of Iraq in 2003 undoubtedly continues and the bleeding of the Iraqi people continues as well.

  According to the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq , 34452 Iraqis were killed since 2008 and more than ten thousand were killed in 2013 during which suicide bombings more than tripled according to the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk’s recent testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The AFP reported that more than one thousand Iraqis were killed in last January. The UN refugee agency UNHCR, citing Iraqi government figures, says that more than 140,000 Iraqis have already been displaced from Iraq ’s western province of Anbar .

Both the United States and Russia are now supplying Iraq with multi–billion arms sales to empower the sectarian government in Baghdad to defeat the sectarian “al-Qaeda threat.” They see a casus belli in al–Qaeda to regain a lost ground in Iraq, the first to rebalance its influence against Iran in a country where it had paid a heavy price in human souls and taxpayer money only for Iran to reap the exploits of its invasion of 2003 while the second could not close an opened Iraqi window of opportunity to re-enter the country as an exporter of arms who used to be the major supplier of weaponry to the Iraqi military before the U.S. invasion.

  Regionally, Iraq’s ambassador to Iran Muhammad Majid al-Sheikh announced earlier this month that Baghdad has signed an agreement with Tehran “to purchase weapons and military equipment;” Iraqi Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen defense and security agreements with Iran last September.

Meanwhile Syria , which is totally preoccupied with fighting a three –year old wide spread terrorist insurgency within its borders, could not but coordinate defense with the Iraq military against the common enemy of the “al-Qaeda threat” in both countries.

Counterbalancing politically and militarily, Turkey and the GCC countries led by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in their anti-Iran proxy wars in Iraq and Syria, are pouring billions of petrodollars to empower a sectarian counterbalance by money, arms and political support, which end up empowering al–Qaeda indirectly or its sectarian allies directly, thus perpetuating the war and fueling the sectarian strife in Iraq, as a part of an unabated effort to contain Iran’s expanding regional sphere of influence.

Ironically, the Turkish member of the U.S.–led NATO as well as the GCC Arab NATO non–member “partners” seem to stand on the opposite side with their U.S. strategic ally in the Iraqi war in this tragic drama of Machiavellian dirty politics.

Internally, the three major partners in the “political process” are no less Machiavellian in their exploiting of the al-Qaeda card. The self–ruled northern Iraqi Kurdistan region, which counts down for the right timing for secession, could not be but happy with the preoccupation of the central government in Baghdad with the “al–Qaeda threat.” Pro-Iran Shiite sectarian parties and militias use this threat to strengthen their sectarian bond and justify their loyalty to Iran as their protector. Their Sunni sectarian rivals are using the threat to promote themselves as the “alternative” to al-Qaeda in representing the Sunnis and to justify their seeking financial, political and paramilitary support from the U.S. , GCC and Turkey , allegedly to counter the pro-Iran sectarian government in Baghdad as well as the expanding Iranian influence in Iraq and the region.

Exploiting his partners’ inter-fighting, Iraqi two–term Prime Minister Nouri (or Jawad) Al-Maliki, has maneuvered to win a constitutional interpretation allowing him to run for a third term and, to reinforce his one-man show of governance, he was in Washington D.C. last November, then in Tehran the next December, seeking military “help” against the “al-Qaeda threat” and he got it.

  U.S. Continues War by Proxy

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged to support al-Maliki’s military offensive against al–Qaeda and its offshoot the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

24 Apache helicopter with rockets and other equipment connected to them, 175 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, ScanEagle and Raven reconnaissance drones have either already been delivered or pending delivery, among a $4.7 billion worth of military equipment, including F-16 fighters. James Jeffrey reported in Foreign Policy last Monday that President Barak Obama’s administration is “increasing intelligence and operational cooperation with the Iraqi government.” The French Le Figaro reported early this week that “hundreds” of U.S. security personnel will return to Iraq to train Iraqis on using these weapons to confirm what the Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Steve Warren, did not rule out on last January 17 when he said that “we are in continuing discussions about how we can improve the Iraqi military.”

Kerry ruled out sending “American boots” on the Iraqi ground; obviously he meant “Pentagon boots,” but not the Pentagon–contracted boots.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) online on this February 3 reported that the “ U.S. military support there relies increasingly on the presence of contractors.” It described this strategy as “the strategic deployment of defense contractors in Iraq .” Citing State Department and Pentagon figures, the WSJ reported, “As of January 2013, the U.S. had more than 12,500 contractors in Iraq ,” including some 5,000 contractors supporting the American diplomatic mission in Iraq , the largest in the world.

  It is obvious that the U.S. administration is continuing its war on Iraq by the Iraqi ruling proxies who had been left behind when the American combat mission was ended in December 2011. The administration is highlighting the “al-Qaeda threat” as casus belli as cited Brett McGurk’s testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on this February 8.

  The Machiavellian support from Iran , Syria and Russia might for a while misleadingly portray al-Maliky’s government as anti – American, but it could not cover up the fact that it was essentially installed by the U.S. foreign military invasion and is still bound by a “strategic agreement” with the United States .

Political System Unfixable

However the new U.S. “surge” in “operational cooperation with the Iraqi government” will most likely not succeed in fixing “Iraq’s shattered political system,” which “our forces were unable to fix … even when they were in Iraq in large numbers,” according to Christopher A. Preble, writing in Cato Institute online on last January 23.

“Sending David Petraeus and Ambassador (Ryan) Crocker back” to Iraq , as suggested by U.S. Sen. John McCain to CNN’s “State of the Union ” last January 12 was a disparate wishful thinking.

“ Iraq ’s shattered political system” is the legitimate product of the U.S.–engineered “political process” based on sectarian and ethnic fragmentation of the geopolitical national unity of the country. Highlighting the “al-Qaeda threat” can no more cover up the fact that the “political process” is a failure that cannot be “fixed” militarily.

Writing in Foreign Policy on this February 10, James Jeffrey said that the “United States tried to transform Iraq into a model Western-style democracy,” but “the U.S. experience in the Middle East came to resemble its long war in Vietnam.”

The sectarian U.S. proxy government in Baghdad , which has developed into an authoritarian regime, remains the bedrock of the U.S. strategic failure. The “al-Qaeda threat” is only the expected sectarian antithesis; it is a byproduct that will disappear with the collapse of the sectarian “political process.”

Iraq is now “on the edge of the abyss,” director of Middle East Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), professor Gareth Stansfield, wrote on this February 3. This situation is “being laid at the door of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki,” who “is now portrayed as a divisive figure,” he said.

In their report titled “Iraq in Crisis” and published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on last January 24, Anthony H. Cordesman and Sam Khazai said that the “cause of Iraq’s current violence” is “its failed politics and system of governance,” adding that the Iraqi “election in 2010 divided the nation rather than create any form of stable democracy.”

On the background of the current status quo, Iraq’s next round of elections, scheduled for next April 30, is expected to fare worse. Writing in Al-Ahram Weekly last August 14, Salah Nasrawi said that more than 10 years after the U.S. invasion, “the much-trumpeted Iraqi democracy is a mirage.” He was vindicated by none other than the Iraqi Speaker of the parliament Osama Al Nujaifi who was quoted by the Gulf News on last January 25 as saying during his latest visit to U.S.: “What we have now is a facade of a democracy — superficial — but on the inside it’s total chaos.”

Popular Uprising, not al-Qaeda

Al-Maliki’s government on this February 8 issued a one week ultimatum to what the governor of Anbar described as the “criminals” who “have kidnapped Fallujah” for more than a month, but Ross Caputi, a veteran U.S. Marine who participated in the second U.S. siege of Fallujah in 2004, in an open letter to U.S. Secretary Kerry published by the Global Research last Monday, said that “the current violence in Fallujah has been misrepresented in the media.”

“The Iraqi government has not been attacking al Qaeda in Fallujah,” he said, adding that Al-Maliki’s government “is not a regime the U.S. should be sending weapons to.” For this purpose Caputi attached a petition with 11,610 signatures. He described what is happening in the western Iraqi city as a “popular uprising.”

Embracing the same strategy the Americans used in 2007, Iran and U.S. Iraqi proxies have now joined forces against a “popular uprising” that Fallujah has just become only a symbol. Misleadingly pronouncing al-Qaeda as their target, the pro-Iran sectarian and the pro-U.S. so-called “Awakening” tribal militias have revived their 2007 alliance.

The Washington Post on this February 9 reported that the “Shiite militias” have begun “to remobilize,” including The Badr Organization, Kataib Hezbollah and the Mahdi Army; it quoted a commander of one such militia, namely Asaib Ahl al-Haq, as admitting to “targeted” extrajudicial “killings.”

This unholy alliance is the ideal recipe for fueling the sectarian divide and inviting a sectarian retaliation in the name of fighting al-Qaeda; the likely bloody prospects vindicate Cordesman and Khazai’s conclusion that Iraq is now “a nation in crisis bordering on civil war.”

Al – Qaeda is real and a terrorist threat, but like the sectarian U.S.-installed government in Baghdad , it was a new comer brought into Iraq by or because of the invading U.S. troops and most likely it would last as long as its sectarian antithesis lives on in Baghdad ’s so–called “Green Zone.”

“Al-Maliki has more than once termed the various fights and stand-offs” in Iraq “as a fight against “al Qaeda”, but it’s not that simple,” Michael Holmes wrote in CNN on last January 15. The “Sunni sense of being under the heel of a sectarian government … has nothing to do with al Qaeda and won’t evaporate once” it is forced out of Iraq , Holmes concluded.

A week earlier, analyst Charles Lister, writing to CNN, concluded that “al Qaeda” was being used as a political tool” by al–Maliki, who “has adopted sharply sectarian rhetoric when referring to Sunni elements … as inherently connected to al Qaeda, with no substantive evidence to back these claims.”

Al–Qaeda not the Only Force

“Al–Qaeda is “not the only force on the ground in Fallujah, where “defected local police personnel and armed tribesmen opposed to the federal government … represent the superior force,” Lister added.

The Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) had reported that the “Iraqi insurgency” is composed of at least a dozen major organizations and perhaps as many as 40 distinct groups with an estimated less than 10% non-Iraqi foreign insurgents. It is noteworthy that all those who are playing the “al-Qaeda threat” card are in consensus on blacking out the role of these movements.

Prominent among them is the Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi (JRTN) movement, which announced its establishment after Saddam Hussein’s execution on December 30, 2006. It is the backbone of the Higher Command for Jihad and Liberation (HCJL), which was formed in October the following year as a coalition of more than thirty national “resistance” movements. The National, Pan-Arab and Islamic front (NAIF) is the Higher Command’s political wing. Saddam’s deputy, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, is the leader of JRTN, HCJL and NAIF as well as the banned Baath party.

“Since 2009, the movement has gained significant strength” because of its “commitment to restrict attacks to “the unbeliever-occupier,” according to Michael Knights, writing to the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) on July1, 2011. “We absolutely forbid killing or fighting any Iraqi in all the agent state apparatus of the army, the police, the awakening, and the administration, except in self-defense situations, and if some agents and spies in these apparatus tried to confront the resistance,” al-Duri stated in 2009, thus extricating his movement from the terrorist atrocities of al-Qaeda, which has drowned the Iraqi people in a bloodbath of daily suicide bombings.

The majority of these organizations and groups are indigenous national anti-U.S. resistance movements. Even the ISIL, which broke out recently with al-Qaeda, is led and manned mostly by Iraqis. Playing al-Qaeda card is a smokescreen to downplay their role as the backbone of the national opposition to the U.S.-installed sectarian proxy government in Baghdad ’s green Zone. Their Islamic rhetoric is their common language with their religious people.

Since the end of the U.S. combat mission in the country in December 2011, they resorted to popular peaceful protests across Iraq . Late last December al-Maliki dismantled by force their major camp of protests near Ramadi, the capital of the western province of Anbar . Protesting armed men immediately took over Fallujah and Ramadi.

Since then, more than 45 tribal “military councils” were announced in all the governorates of Iraq . They held a national conference in January, which elected the “General Political Council of the Guerrillas of Iraq.” Coverage of the news and “guerrilla” activities of these councils by Al-Duri’s media outlets is enough indication of the linkage between them and his organizational structure.

No doubt revolution is brewing and boiling in Iraq against the sectarian government in Baghdad , its U.S. and Iranian supporters as well as against its al-Qaeda sectarian antithesis.

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

The material was uploaded onto the accounts of two men from London, thought to be fighting in Islamist rebel groups that have some links to Jahbat al Nusra.

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A facebook post
The description of a video posted on Facebook-

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Jahbat al Nusra is the only jihadi outfit operating on the ground in Syria that is explicitly endorsed by al Qaeda’s global leader.

One video, apparently taken on a mobile phone, was posted to Facebook on January 30 this year .

It shows a prisoner, apparently from the Free Syrian Army, being beaten for insulting Allah.

The FSA prisoner is heard shouting his innocence as he is bound to a car tyre and beaten across the legs with what appears to be a metal baton.

As he writhes around on the floor, one of the men stamps on his head.

Repeatedly he cries in Syrian Arabic dialect that he is not a “kuffar”, a non-believer, and that he is a “mujahid” – a Muslim fighter like them.

As the beating continues he begs them not to kill him.

Towards the end of the video, the baton breaks in half, and is held up to the camera by one of the captors.

Hand-cuffed men in Syria
A Brit fighting in Syria is believed to have tweeted this image

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The Facebook video post is accompanied by a chilling description by the British citizen who uploaded it.

The social media account has been verified as belonging to a British citizen by experts from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College London, a leading research unit on foreign fighters in Syria.

For further details including the video, access complete report at

http://news.sky.com/story/1209106/brits-involved-in-syria-executions-and-torture

British Jihadists

This Sky News report stylizes British involvement based on unconfirmed (fabricated?) social media postings. It tends to focus on individual cases based on anecdotal “evidence” from Facebook and Twitter.

While it confirms what is already known and documented regarding British involvement in the Syria insurgency, it fails to mention  that the British government has from the outset supported the recruitment of British jihadists in coordination with NATO.

The report has racial overtones: it intimates that the British jihadists are also a threat to national security in the U.K., which should be promptly addressed by the British government.

Moreover, the Sky News report tends to dismiss the significance of British paramilitary presence among Al Qaeda affiliated rebel forces. Without supporting evidence, it points to the presence of some 40 Brits in rebel formations, when in fact the numbers are much larger. It fails to acknowledge that British SAS forces have been on the ground in Syria from the outset in March 2011.

British MI6 operatives and UKSF (SAS/SBS) personnel have reportedly been training the rebels in urban warfare as well as supplying them with arms and equipment. US CIA operatives and special forces are believed to be providing communications assistance to the rebels.” Elite Forces UK, January 5, 2012 (emphasis added)

According to data provided by Scotland Yard (quoted by the London Evening Standard)  “the total number of British participants in the conflict is estimated to be in the “hundreds”.

The Scotland Yard figures are consistent with those contained in a recent Turkish government report which was sent in December to the governments of EU member countries. The report confirms that Turkish police arrested and deported 1,100 E.U. citizens “who came to Turkey in 2013 to join al-Qaeda-linked groups fighting in Syria”.

We are not dealing with an isolated event involving a handful of British jihadists as conveyed by Sky News. What the official Scotland Yard figures suggest the existence of an organized recruitment process in the U.K, which has the tacit support of HM’s government.

“The British government of Prime Minister David Cameron has blood on its hands. It is acting in defiance of its own [anti-terrorism] legislation.”  (Should David Cameron be Prosecuted for Recruiting Brits to Fight in Al Qaeda Ranks in Syria? By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research,  February 05, 2014

Speaking Friday in advance of signing a bill slashing $8.7 billion from the food stamp program, President Barack Obama hailed the dismal jobs report for January released earlier that day. Wall Street also reacted enthusiastically, rallying to send the Dow Jones Industrial average higher by 160 points.

The US economy created 113,000 jobs in January, according to Friday’s report, far fewer than the 189,000 economists had predicted. It was the second consecutive month of slow job growth, following December’s increase of 75,000.

There are mounting warnings by economists that the US confronts long-term economic stagnation and high unemployment into the indefinite future. The Associated Press ran a piece Sunday entitled “US economy may be stuck in slow lane for long run,” and last month former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers warned of “secular stagnation.”

Mass unemployment has become a permanent fact of life in the United States and much of the rest of the world.

* Officially, there are ten million unemployed people in the US, up from 6.8 million in 2007.

* Fully 3.6 million people have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more, according to the official jobless rolls. This figure is three times larger than it was in 2006, when there were 1.1 million long-term unemployed.

* Nearly 36 percent of the unemployed have been out of work for more than 27 weeks, three times higher than the average between 1948 and 2008. The mean duration of unemployment currently stands at 35.4 weeks, up from 16.9 weeks in 2006.

These figures tell just part of the story, since they track only those who are actively looking for work. According to a survey by the Economic Policy Institute, a further 5.73 million “missing workers” have dropped out of the labor force over the past five years for non-demographic reasons. If these missing workers were counted as unemployed, the unemployment rate would be 9.9 percent.

The true scale of the jobs deficit is indicated by the fact that the US economy had 866,000 fewer jobs last month than it had in January 2008, while the working-age population had increased by ten million people.

This was the context in which Obama boasted of the success of his economic policies as he prepared to sign a measure cutting food assistance by almost $100 per month for nearly a million needy households. Obama and the Democrats are absurdly posing as opponents of inequality and champions of the poor even as they join with the Republicans in dismantling social benefits and impoverishing ever broader layers of the population.

The cuts in food stamp benefits come on top of the expiration of jobless benefits for 1.4 million long-term unemployed workers and the passage of a bipartisan budget that keeps in place $1 trillion in across-the-board “sequester” cuts over the next decade.

Following his speech Friday, Obama met with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to demonstrate once again his support for the bankruptcy of Detroit, which is being used to gut city workers’ pensions and health benefits, setting a precedent for similar attacks on public-sector workers across the country.

The ruling class policy of unlimited cash handouts for the rich coupled with sweeping reductions in social programs, mass layoffs and wage-cutting has caused social inequality to soar. By one estimate, based on the comparison of mean and median incomes, social inequality has grown four times faster under Obama than under Bush.

The wealth of America’s billionaires hit $1.2 trillion last year, more than double what it was in 2009, while workers’ wages have stagnated or declined. Between 2007 and 2012, median household income in the United States plummeted by 8.3 percent.

Obama’s response to the jobs report reflects callous indifference to growing social distress and suffering and the disconnect that exists between the entire political establishment and the concerns and needs of the people. It also tacks the views of his core social constituency—the rich and the super-rich—as registered by Friday’s rise in share values on Wall Street.

As economist Robert Reich pointed out in a blog posting Sunday, Wall Street reacted positively to the poorer-than-expected employment report for definite material reasons. Slow job growth increases the likelihood that the Fed will keep interest rates near zero for the indefinite future, and raises the possibility that the central bank will slow down its “tapering” of bond purchases, which have pushed the stock market to record heights and injected trillions of dollars into the financial markets.

This will enable corporations to continue to borrow cheaply and use the cash to buy back their own stock, sending share prices even higher and guaranteeing record profits for speculators and record pay packages for executives.

Continued mass unemployment will, moreover, push workers’ wages even lower.

Meanwhile, big business can continue to amass a cash hoard, already at $1.5 trillion, and use it to speculate and buy more and bigger mansions and yachts rather than invest in manufacturing and production, rebuild the country’s infrastructure, and hire the unemployed.

Such are the real considerations behind the policies of both corporate America and its political instrument, the Obama administration.

More than five years after the Wall Street crash, chronic mass unemployment and the growth of social inequality underscore the fact that the financial meltdown was the expression of a systemic crisis. It marked the breakdown and failure of the capitalist system.

The crisis, triggered by the criminal practices of the banks, was seized upon by the ruling class to launch a social counterrevolution to reverse all of the gains won by workers in the course of a century of struggle. The trade unions have played an indispensable role, blocking and sabotaging every effort of the working class to fight back.

Working people must reject all calls for sacrifice and concessions, which only pave the way for even more brutal attacks. Instead, mass opposition to the ruling class assault on jobs, wages and living standards must be mobilized in a struggle against Obama and both parties of big business, and on the basis of a socialist program aimed at reorganizing society to meet social needs instead of effecting the ever more obscene enrichment of a corporate-financial elite.

Andre Damon

by Sam Ashman and Nicolas Pons-Vignon

The resolutions adopted at the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s (NUMSA’s) congress in December mark an important rupture in South African politics. NUMSA, the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (COSATU’s) largest affiliate, has refused to endorse the African National Congress (ANC) ahead of this year’s elections and is to explore the establishment of a new movement for socialism. This is a significant challenge to the increasingly contested leadership of the ANC-led alliance, not least because it seeks to build and draw on a mass movement in order to win social and economic change. In our view, it is also the most promising development that progressives – those who support substantial economic and social change in favour of the disadvantaged – could have hoped for.

 

NUMSA’s decision can be seen as a political consequence of the Marikana massacre of August 16, 2012 and the shockingly tame response to it. How could such an event, entailing a deliberate act of violence by security forces, targeted at a (supposed) constituency of the ruling alliance in the key mining sector not affect the status quo? We still do not know who ordered the use of live ammunition. Why have there been no resignations from the Cabinet or the police?

Last year, Planning Minister Trevor Manuel gave the annual Ruth First memorial lecture at the University of the Witwatersrand, a choice of speaker that was a travesty in the light of First’s radical legacy, including outstanding work exposing the conditions of migrant labour. Manuel was prepared to discuss the long-term proximate causes of Marikana, yet say nothing about the immediate responsibility for the massacre, and to advocate continuity in policies that have failed workers.

Break with the Past

NUMSA has confronted the elephant in the room: mine workers’ anger toward the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), once Cosatu’s largest affiliate. It testifies to a decision to break with the past that is anchored in a will to honour the victims of Marikana. At its congress, NUMSA raised more than R350,000 for the families of those who were killed, who have been largely abandoned, having to fight even for fees for legal representation at the commission of inquiry investigating the massacre. NUMSA delegates wanted President Jacob Zuma to resign over Marikana, not just Nkandla.

All this puts NUMSA in stark contrast to the ANC’s Cyril Ramaphosa, a former NUM general secretary and a strategic shareholder in Lonmin, who called the Marikana strikers “dastardly criminal” and who demanded “concomitant action” be taken against them, or the South African Communist Party’s Blade Nzimande, who called the striking mine workers “counter-revolutionaries.”

NUMSA’s decision entails recognizing that the ANC government obsessively defends the interests of big business and finance, as well as of a few of its own selected ‘partners’ to established capital, at the expense of the working-class, which includes the unemployed and the precariously employed. Indeed, too many in the ANC now openly show contempt for the poor, as when the Gauteng premier told Bekkersdal residents: “The ANC doesn’t need your dirty votes.”

Post-Apartheid, Neoliberal Revolution

The official rhetoric is, of course, different, including the increasingly ludicrous reference to a “second stage” of the national democratic revolution. Instead, what South Africa has experienced since 1994 is closer to a national neoliberal revolution, with the control of policy in the hands of the Treasury in the name of “business friendliness.”

In post-apartheid South Africa, many of the characteristics of late apartheid are being actively reproduced and are not simply an unchallenged legacy of the past. The financialization of the economy has seen enormous growth and rewards to finance and shrinking levels of long-term investment. Liberalization of exchange controls has resulted in large-scale capital flight, made worse as big corporations have relisted overseas. Capital flight has been combined with a debt-driven consumption boom causing what economists call an import leakage: the middle and upper classes’ credit-fuelled consumption of imported (often luxury) goods exacerbates the current account deficit, which makes the economy increasingly dependent on portfolio (short-term, not long-term, investment) flows.

To attract such flows to balance the current account, it is necessary to maintain high interest rates – reminding us that low interest rates are another promise on which the Growth, Employment and Redistribution strategy did not deliver. The “economic freedom” denied to the majority has not really benefited the aspiring black bourgeoisie.

The control of much black economic empowerment (BEE) funding by large private companies has furthermore led to jobs being outsourced to “micro-entrepreneurs,” who are asked to perform the same task but without permanent employment and its associated benefits. Well-paid consultants are then brought in to help them acquire the “business skills” they lack.

BEE in mining also often entails new ‘black’ firms exploiting old mines, and using casual labour to stay profitable.

Looking Forward

South Africa needs an economy that creates more and better jobs. This will entail policies that regulate finance and address productive sectors, as well as policies that address all areas of workers’ lives, from housing to transport, education and health. An important part of this will be to deal with the consequences of cartels, which assert control over value chains, often directly appropriating the income of poor workers and grant-holders.

Two moves are thus promising. First is NUMSA’s intention not to rush into electoral politics but to form alliances with progressive forces, whether political, union or social movements. The latter have been all too often attacked by the state, and their inclusion in a broad movement promises that key questions – from housing to water and electricity distribution – will receive the attention they deserve. Second is NUMSA’s statement about organizing across value chains, including its announcement that it will organize mine workers. Moreover, NUMSA shows signs of serious engagement with economic policy issues and willingness to mobilize labour in support of progressive economic policy objectives, such as the all-important issue of the (inflated) price of key industrial inputs.

There is time to debate what sort of party South Africa needs and its establishment will be a process. And while there is much to commend about NUMSA’s decision, it would be foolish to imagine that it will succeed easily. The building of such an ambitious project will face huge challenges.

The first and most immediate one is the difficulties the union is bound to experience when it integrates large numbers of mine workers. Building new alliances on the left will in all likelihood entail difficulties as well as opportunities. And last but not least, the reaction of the alliance will be harsh, with great effort made to isolate NUMSA. This is intensified for the ANC because there is much to lose with political power for a movement that presides over avenues of accumulation intertwined with the circuits of the state.

Yet, if NUMSA continues to send positive signals, it may well succeed in building a mass movement, attracting those disillusioned with the ANC and ready to embrace a credible socialist alternative. Looking at the state of politics around the world, Latin America aside, it is hard to think of a more promising opportunity for real progressive change. •

Sam Ashman and Nicolas Pons-Vignon are economists at the University of Johannesburg and the University of the Witwatersrand. This article first published on bdlive.co.za website.

This Road is for Jews Only. Yes, There is Apartheid in Israel

February 12th, 2014 by Global Research News

Jewish self-righteousness is taken for granted among ourselves to such an extent that we fail to see what’s right in front of our eyes. It’s simply inconceivable that the ultimate victims, the Jews, can carry out evil deeds. Nevertheless, the state of Israel practises its own, quite violent, form of Apartheid with the native Palestinian population.

The US Jewish Establishment’s onslaught on former President Jimmy Carter is based on him daring to tell the truth which is known to all: through its army, the government of Israel practises a brutal form of Apartheid in the territory it occupies. Its army has turned every Palestinian village and town into a fenced-in, or blocked-in, detention camp. All this is done in order to keep an eye on the population’s movements and to make its life difficult. Israel even imposes a total curfew whenever the settlers, who have illegally usurped the Palestinians’ land, celebrate their holidays or conduct their parades.

If that were not enough, the generals commanding the region frequently issue further orders, regulations, instructions and rules (let us not forget: they are the lords of the land). By now they have requisitioned further lands for the purpose of constructing “Jewish only” roads. Wonderful roads, wide roads, well-paved roads, brightly lit at night–all that on stolen land. When a Palestinian drives on such a road, his vehicle is confiscated and he is sent on his way.

On one occasion I witnessed such an encounter between a driver and a soldier who was taking down the details before confiscating the vehicle and sending its owner away. “Why?” I asked the soldier. “It’s an order–this is a Jews-only road”, he replied. I inquired as to where was the sign indicating this fact and instructing [other] drivers not to use it. His answer was nothing short of amazing. “It is his responsibility to know it, and besides, what do you want us to do, put up a sign here and let some antisemitic reporter or journalist take a photo so he that can show the world that Apartheid exists here?”

Indeed Apartheid does exist here. And our army is not “the most moral army in the world” as we are told by its commanders. Sufficient to mention that every town and every village has turned into a detention centre and that every entry and every exit has been closed, cutting it off from arterial traffic. If it were not enough that Palestinians are not allowed to travel on the roads paved ‘for Jews only’, on their land, the current GOC found it necessary to land an additional blow on the natives in their own land with an “ingenious proposal”.

Humanitarian activists cannot transport Palestinians either.

Major-General Naveh, renowned for his superior patriotism, has issued a new order. Coming into affect on 19 January, it prohibits the conveyance of Palestinians without a permit. The order determines that Israelis are not allowed to transport Palestinians in an Israeli vehicle (one registered in Israel regardless of what kind of numberplate it carries) unless they have received explicit permission to do so. The permit relates to both the driver and the Palestinian passenger. Of course none of this applies to those whose labour serves the settlers. They and their employers will naturally receive the required permits so they can continue to serve the lords of the land, the settlers.

Did man of peace President Carter truly err in concluding that Israel is creating Apartheid? Did he exaggerate? Don’t the US Jewish community leaders recognise the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination of 7 March 1966, to which Israel is a signatory? Are the US Jews who launched the loud and abusive campaign against Carter for supposedly maligning Israel’s character and its democratic and humanist nature unfamiliar with the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 30 November 1973?

Apartheid is defined therein as an international crime that among other things includes using different legal instruments to rule over different racial groups, thus depriving people of their human rights. Isn’t freedom of travel one of these rights?

In the past, the US Jewish community leaders were quite familiar with the meaning of those conventions. For some reason, however, they are convinced that Israel is allowed to contravene them. It’s OK to kill civilians, women and children, old people and parents with their children, deliberately or otherwise without accepting any responsibility. It’s permissible to rob people of their lands, destroy their crops, and cage them up like animals in the zoo.

From now on, Israelis and International humanitarian organisations’ volunteers are prohibited from assisting a woman in labour by taking her to the hospital. [Israeli human rights group] Yesh Din volunteers cannot take a robbed and beaten-up Palestinian to the police station to lodge a complaint. (Police stations are located at the heart of the settlements.) Is there anyone who believes that this is not Apartheid?

Jimmy Carter does not need me to defend his reputation that has been sullied by Israelophile community officials. The trouble is that their love of Israel distorts their judgment and blinds them from seeing what’s in front of them. Israel is an occupying power that for 40 years has been oppressing an indigenous people, which is entitled to a sovereign and independent existence while living in peace with us. We should remember that we too used very violent terror against foreign rule because we wanted our own state. And the list of victims of terror is quite long and extensive.

We do limit ourselves to denying the [Palestinian] people human rights. We not only rob of them of their freedom, land and water. We apply collective punishment to millions of people and even, in revenge-driven frenzy, destroy the electricity supply for one and half million civilians. Let them “sit in the darkness” and “starve”.

Employees cannot be paid their wages because Israel is holding 500 million shekels that belong to the Palestinians. And after all that we remain “pure as the driven snow”. There are no moral blemishes on our actions. There is no racial separation. There is no Apartheid. It’s an invention of the enemies of Israel. Hooray for our brothers and sisters in the US! Your devotion is very much appreciated. You have truly removed a nasty stain from us. Now there can be an extra spring in our step as we confidently abuse the Palestinian population, using the “most moral army in the world”.

[Translated by Sol Salbe]

Shulamit Aloni is the former Education Minister of Israel. She has been awarded both the Israel Prize and the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

Copyright Shulamit Aloni, Counterpunch, 2013

This article was originally published by Haiti Action and Global Research on March 2, 2004. At the time, Canada’s involvement in the Coup d’Etat was not known.

..

Members of  Congress Waters and Rangel and Randall Robinson, all three, confirmed that the President and Mrs. Aristide said they were forced on an airplane, at gunpoint, with U.S. and French soldiers guarding.

The plane eventually landed in the French/US de facto protectorate known as the Central African Republic . Aristide reiterated he did not resign and that he was being held hostage surrounded by French and U.S. soldiers in a place called the Chateau De Renaissance, in the Central African Republic.

Our Black people in Port-au-Prince Haiti are being slaughtered.

The duly elected President kidnapped by U.S. Marines and flown out of the country at gunpoint and is being held hostage in the Central African Republic under U.S and French guard.

Yesterday [Feb 29], it is reported that, under U.S. marine escort the former FRAPH/FAHD thugs rolled into Port-au-Prince.

Aristide’s private residence has been raided and pillaged.

The Prime Minister’s residence has raided and pillaged. .

The first order of business for these U.S. supported death squad leaders (Guy Philippe, Jean Tatoune and Louis Jodel Chamblain) and harden criminals was to go to the National Penitentiary and forcibly break out all the 2000 prisoners there.

Now these murderers have more murderers to help them terrorize Haiti.

Practically every building Aristide and the Haitian people built these last 10 years are being burned down and destroyed. Meanwhile the U.S. troops, French troops, Canadian troops are protecting their own edifices in Haiti. No one is protecting the more than 850 million investment per year hard working Haitians of the Diaspora have invested in the security, development, shelter and nurturing of their relatives, children and family in Haiti.

Last night these opposition thugs ran through the slums of Belaire, La Saline and Cite Soleil, well known for its support of the elected President, who is now a hostage of the U.S., and indiscriminately fired, killing countless numbers, according to an independent reporter in Port-au-Prince.

The Lavalas Party has been threatened and warned to remain quiet and not denounce the Coup d’Etat and abduction of Aristide, his wife, a brother in law and two security people from Haiti. Not to tell the people President Aristide did not resign freely but at U.S. gunpoint and forced on an airplane against his will.

The oppression and REPRESSION of democracy is as follows:

Dissenters, specifically Lavalas officials, are being told if Lavalas demonstrates in Haiti and protests or defend their right to free speech and association, or for the return of Aristide and against the opposition and their Jean Tatoune/Guy Philippe/Louis Jodel Chamberlain triumvirate, then presumably the international community, that is, U.S/ France/Canada along with the opposition they broker for, will make sure that the Lavalas party is not allowed to participate in any upcoming elections!

Moreover, Prime Minister, Yvonne Neptune is technically a prisoner in his office. US/Euro soldiers surround the Prime Minister’s building. He cannot leave his office and his home has been ransacked.

From these reports, it appears any good works towards justice in Haiti that had flickered has been destroyed in one fell, U.S.-Coup d’Etat swoop yesterday. Supposedly a Triumvirate has been created, made up of 1). One member of the International Community, 2) One member of the so-called opposition and 3) One member of Lavalas.

It is reported, this Triumvirate will, in turn, pick a nine or so  member council to work towards elections and governance. The Supreme Court Judge has been appointed interim President of Haiti and it is rumored the former Haitian army head, Herald Abraham is back in office calling all former army soldiers back to their post!

According to some on-the-ground observers, Former Haitian military are right now walking side by side with U.S. Marines and French and Canadian troops in Haiti.

So many laws have been broken; I am not sure where to begin.

l. It is against the U.N. Charter, the OAS, The CARICOM charter to violently overthrow a constitutionally elected President;

2. It is against all these above-mentioned charters and international law and U.S. federal law to kidnap and take hostage, not only a President of a sovereign country but his U.S. citizen wife and the brother and two security guards. If this operation goes up Bush, if he had anything to do with this covert operation and abduction, we are talking about High Crimes and Misdemeanors, not to mention that impeachment resolution should begin to be drafted right now.

3. The 2004 US/French invasion of Haiti. It is against international law to enter a sovereign country without an invitation. All the foreign troops, French, U.S. Canadian, etc. who invaded Haiti on February 29, 2004, to conduct and maintains this crime-against-humanity-debacle are in violation of international law and treaties and Haitian sovereignty.

4. Secretary Colin Powell, Roger Noriega, U.S. Ambassador Foley and all those directly or indirectly supporting the reign in Haiti of convicted criminals, like Jean Tatoune, Guy Philippe, and Jodel Louis Chamblain and all their other terrorist, and an unelected, platformless opposition, may be charged as accomplices in the killings and slaughter of the Haitian people being murdered right now in Haiti by these ex-soldiers and death squad leaders and possibly now, their new prisoner recruits from the National Penitentiary.

5. The cover-up and/or current dismissal by the major news media and press of President Aristide’s abduction and forced resignation is violates all journalistic ethics and code. It appear as a part and parcel of the State Department’s psychological warfare to repress free speech against this dastardly deed not only in the U.S. but also in Haiti. For instance the fact that Guy Philippe an accused drug trafficker (confirmed by the US Drug Enforcement Administration), accused Coup d’Etat leader under both Preval and the Aristide administrations, is today traveling with his own embedded AP reporter. (It would be like  Bin Laden traveling around with his own embedded AP reporter). All this is evidence of the mainstream media’s outrageous and depraved indifference to the sufferings of the Black people of Haiti. There is a racist tone, which is deplorable, for instance the guest yesterday on George Stephanopoulos’ ABC News show, said that the United States has a stake in Haiti “because we have to control the flow of refugees and disease” into the U.S.

The media’s treatment of the vast majority of Haiti’s People plight and struggle to live free and establish democracy is unimaginably callous and non-factual, mainly playing into deep racists fears and stereotypes.

Another instance of reporting verbatim, without verification, state department positions is what we read today, March 1, 2004, in the New York Times about Haiti. The New York Times reports that, for instance, South Africa refused Aristide asylum. Yet, President Aristide talked this morning via telephone to Maxine Waters, Randall Robinson and Charles Rangel. He said he wanted the Haitian people and the world to know that he did not resign. It was a Coup d’Etat. U.S. Marines who came to his house with Morino, a U.S. representative to the U.S. Ambassador Foley and told him they were withdrawing his U.S. security details, that he had to leave or face Guy Phillippe who was being escorted into Port-au-Prince by U.S. soldiers. Congresspersons, Waters, and Rangel and Randall Robinson, all three, confirmed that the President and Mrs. Aristide said they were forced on an airplane, at gunpoint, with U.S. and French soldiers guarding, that eventually landed in the French/US de facto protectorate known as the Central African Republic. President Aristide said he was not allowed to call anyone, much less call South Africa, or any nation and ask for asylum. He reiterated he did not resign and that he was being held hostage surrounded by French and U.S. soldiers in a place called the Chateau De Renaissance, in the Central African Republic.

Call your local Congressperson. Call the White House. Call Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Haiti Desk at the State Department. Ask that the U.S. withdraw all support for these opposition thugs and secure the safe return of the Constitutionally elected Haitian President and Mrs. Aristide to Haiti.

 Marguerite Laurent, Esq. is Chair, Haitian Lawyers Leadership

US Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq to Cost $6 trillion

February 12th, 2014 by Global Research News

This article was originally posted on GR on September 20, 2013

by Sabir Shah

The decade-long American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would end up costing as much as $6 trillion, the equivalent of $75,000 for every American household, calculates the prestigious Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. 

Remember, when President George Bush’s National Economic Council Director, Lawrence Lindsey, had told the country’s largest newspaper “The Wall Street Journal” that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion, he had found himself under intense fire from his colleagues in the administration who claimed that this was a gross overestimation.

Consequently, Lawrence Lindsey was forced to resign. It is also imperative to recall that the Bush administration had claimed at the very outset that the Iraq war would finance itself out of Iraqi oil revenues, but Washington DC had instead ended up borrowing some $2 trillion to finance the two wars, the bulk of it from foreign lenders.

According to the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government 2013 report, this accounted for roughly 20 per cent of the total amount added to the US national debt between 2001 and 2012.

According to the report, the US “has already paid $260 billion in interest on the war debt,” and future interest payments would amount to trillions of dollars. This Harvard University report has also been carried on its website by the Centre for Research on Globalisation, which is a widely-quoted Montreal-based independent research and media organisation.

In its report under review, the 377-year old Harvard University has viewed that these afore-mentioned wars had not only left the United States heavily indebted, but would also have a profound impact on the federal government’s fiscal and budgetary crises over a protracted period.

The report has attributed the largest share of the trillions of dollars in continuing costs to care and compensation for hundreds of thousands of troops left physically and psychologically damaged by the two wars being discussed here.

The report states: “The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, taken together, will be the most expensive wars in US history—totaling somewhere between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. This includes long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replenishment and social and economic costs. The largest portion of that bill is yet to be paid.”

It asserts: “Another major share of the long-term costs of the wars comes from paying off trillions of dollars in debt incurred as the US government failed to include their cost in annual budgets and simultaneously implemented sweeping tax cuts for the rich. In addition, huge expenditures are being made to replace military equipment used in the two wars. The report also cites improvements in military pay and benefits made in 2004 to counter declining recruitment rates as casualties rose in the Iraq war.”

The authors of this report have warned that the legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.

According to the Harvard University report, some 1.56 million US troops—56 per cent of all Afghanistan and Iraq veterans—were receiving medical treatment at Veterans Administration facilities and would be granted benefits for the rest of their lives.

It reveals:

“One out of every two veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan has already applied for permanent disability benefits. The official figure of 50,000 American troops “wounded in action” vastly underestimates the real human costs of the two US wars. One-third of returning veterans are being diagnosed with mental health issues—suffering from anxiety, depression, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”

The report notes that in addition, over a quarter of a million troops have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI), which, in many cases, were combined with PTSD, posing greater problems in treatment and recovery.

“Constituting a particularly grim facet of this mental health crisis is the doubling of the suicide rate for US Army personnel, with many who attempted suicide suffering serious injuries,” opine the report authors.

It maintains:

“Overall, the Veterans Administration’s budget has more than doubled over the past decade, from $61.4 billion in 2001 to $140.3 billion in 2013. As a share of the total US budget it has grown from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent over the same period. Soaring medical costs for veterans is attributable to several factors. Among them is that, thanks to advancements in medical technology and rapid treatment, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have survived wounds that would have cost their lives in earlier conflicts.”

The Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government report has estimated: “While the US government has already spent $134 billion on medical care and disability benefits for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, this figure will climb by an additional $836 billion over the coming decades.”

It notes that the largest expenditures on health care for World War II veterans took place in the 1980s, roughly four decades after the war, and that spending on medical care and disability payments for Vietnam War veterans was still on the rise.

Here follows the description:

“The most common medical problems suffered by troops returning from the two wars include: diseases of the musculoskeletal system (principally joint and back disorders); mental health disorders; central nervous system and endocrine system disorders; as well as respiratory, digestive, skin and hearing disorders. Overall, some 29 per cent of these troops have been diagnosed with PTSD.”

The report goes on to argue:

“Among the most severely wounded are 6,476 soldiers and Marines who have suffered “severe penetrating brain injury,” and another 1,715 who have had one or more limbs amputated. Over 30,000 veterans are listed as suffering 100 percent service-related disabilities, while another 145,000 are listed as 70 to 90 percent disabled.”

It reads:

“The worst of these casualties have taken place under the Obama administration as a result of the so-called surge that the Democratic president ordered in Afghanistan.”

It mentions that the Walter Reed Medical Centre, US Army’s flagship hospital at Washington DC, was treating hundreds of recent amputees and severe casualties, adding that this facility had received 100 amputees for treatment during 2010; 170 amputees in 2011; and 107 amputees in 2012.

The report has also stated that the US Marines have suffered an especially high toll.

The report points out:

“Massive direct spending on the two imperialist interventions continues. With over 60,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan, it is estimated that the cost of deploying one American soldier for one year in this war amounts to $1 million. These troops continue suffering casualties—including in so-called “green on blue” attacks by Afghan security forces on their ostensible allies. As they are brought home, they will further drive up the costs of medical care and disability compensation. The US is maintaining a vast diplomatic presence in Iraq, including at least 10,000 private contractors providing support in security, IT, logistics, engineering and other occupations; as well as logistics support and payments for leased facilities in Kuwait.”

In its conclusion, the report not only seeks to dispel illusions that ending full-scale wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would produce any kind of “peace dividend” that could help ameliorate conditions of poverty, unemployment and declining living standards for working people in the US itself, but makes it clear that the legacy of decisions made during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts would impose significant long-term costs on the federal government for many years to come.

Copyright The News Pakistan 2013

The Osama Bin Laden Files: No Photos, No Videos. A Real Conspiracy Theory?

February 12th, 2014 by Timothy Alexander Guzman

On May 2nd, 2011, US President Barack H. Obama announces to the world that Osama Bin-Laden had been killed by US Navy Seals (Seal Team Six) in an special operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan “Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world, the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children”. 

RT News reported that www.judicialwatch.org filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of Defense:

In the email, addressed to “Gentlemen,” McRaven wrote, “One particular item that I want to emphasize is photos; particularly UBLs [Usama Bin Laden, as US military referred to him] remains. At this point – all photos should have been turned over to the CIA; if you still have them destroy them immediately or get them to the [redacted].”

The order to purge the photos came 11 days after the conservative government transparency organization Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request with the Defense Department seeking “all photographs and/or video recordings of Usama Bin Laden taken during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011.”

Judicial Watch has requested the photographs and videos of Osama Bin-Laden to prove if it was actually him. But the Department of Defense (DOD) has proven that there is a cover-up on Osama Bin-Laden’s death. Washington said that they killed their target then buried him at sea because they could not find a country that would bury him in 24 hour time period.  The Los Angeles Times wrote an article on May 3rd, 2011 following Al-Qaeda’s leader Osama Bin-Laden and his “Proper” burial at sea:

The conspiracy theories spoke to the quandary facing the U.S.: proving the Al Qaeda leader’s death without inflaming his supporters and the broader Muslim world. Because of that concern, U.S. officials were considering the merits of releasing gory photos of Bin Laden taken after he was shot.

The burial, which was carried out from aboard the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in the northern part of the Arabian Sea, was necessary because arrangements couldn’t be made with any country to bury Bin Laden within 24 hours, as is the general Muslim practice, administration officials said. But a senior military officer said the U.S. also wanted to avoid having a grave become a shrine that would attract his followers.

Administration officials insisted Monday that there was no question who was killed in the Pakistani raid. Along with being visually identified on the scene by U.S. operatives, Bin Laden was identified by name by a woman believed to be one of his wives, according to a senior intelligence official. On Sunday evening, CIA specialists compared photos of the body with known photos of Bin Laden, determining with 95% certainty that they were one and the same.

On CBS’s ’60 Minutes’an interview conducted by Scott Pelley with former U.S. Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette involved in the killing of Osama Bin-Laden and author of ‘No Easy Day’ under the name of Mark Owen admits he did not recognize if the man they killed was in fact Osama Bin-Laden:

Pelley: So, after Osama bin Laden is wounded, he’s still moving. You shot him twice? 

Bissonnette: A handful of times. 

Pelley: A handful of times, and the SEAL in the stack behind you also shot Osama bin Laden. And at that point, his body was still?

Bissonnette: Yes.

Pelley: Did you recognize him? 

Bissonnette: Nope. You know, everybody thinks it was, like, you know it’s him. No. To us, at that time, it could have been anybody. Maybe this was another brother. Maybe this is a bodyguard. Maybe, it doesn’t matter. The point is to just continue clearing.

With recent revelations confirmed by Judicial Watch and Matt Bissonnette’s testimony on Main Stream Media on the operation of May 2nd, 2011 only proves that Osama Bin-Laden’s death at the hands of US Navy Seals is questionable to say the least.

It seems strange that the US government does not want to release the picture that will finally prove he is dead because it is “very gruesome” according to CBS News national security correspondent David Martin. You cannot expect me to believe their explanation that the photos are “very gruesome” to show the public.  Is it because that the pictures of Osama Bin Laden released in the mainstream media were constantly scrutinized by alternative and worldwide media? Throughout the years the US Media and the Pentagon was releasing photos of Osama bin-Laden that where questionable presuming that he was ill with kidney problems although he looked like he was recuperating well despite the fact that he was living in the mountains of Afghanistan. It is most likely that he died years ago from kidney complications. Let’s take a closer look at Osama bin Laden’s death. First and foremost, Osama Bin Laden was reported to have arrived on July 4, 2001 at the American hospital in Dubai for renal processing or a Kidney Dialysis and left on July 14 according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) on October 31st 2001:

Osama Bin Laden was treated in July at the American hospital in Dubai where he met a person in charge of the CIA, the French daily newspaper the Barber and Radio International France (RFI) reported on Wednesday. The two medias quoted “a witness, professional partner of the administrative direction of the hospital”, as confirming that the man that the United States suspects of having financed the attacks of September 11 arrived on July 4 at Dubai by plane coming from Quetta, in Pakistan. Osama was immediately transferred to the hospital for a renal processing (Kidney Dialysis). He left the establishment on July 14, adds the Barber. During this stay, reports the daily newspaper, the local representative of the CIA was seen going in the room of Bin Laden. “A few days later, the CIA man bragged in front of some friends that he had visited the billionaire Saudi”. According to the Barber and RFI who quote an “authorized source”, the representative of the CIA was recalled to Washington on July 15.

It was a reported fact that Osama bin Laden was already gravely ill. In a CNN report on January 21, 2002, CNN medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke about how Osama bin Laden’s kidney treatment would not work well in the Afghanistan Mountains. In a response to CNN’s Paula Zahn after she confirmed that Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf said that Osama bin Laden imported two dialysis machines into Afghanistan and that Osama bin Laden might have died from kidney failure. Dr. Gupta replied:

That’s right. And again, renal dialysis — talking about hemodialysis — is something that really is reserved for patients in end-stage renal failure. That means their kidneys have just completely shut down. The most common cause of something like that would be something like diabetes and hypertension. Once that’s happened, if you’re separated from your dialysis machine — and incidentally, dialysis machines require electricity, they’re going to require clean water, they’re going to require a sterile setting — infection is a huge risk with that. If you don’t have all those things and a functioning dialysis machine, it’s unlikely that you’d survive beyond several days or a week at the most.

So there was a good chance he died several years ago. But according to the Pentagon Osama Bin Laden was still alive. Every so often Bin Laden’s newest photo’s appeared on the mainstream news. In fact it was changing his appearance all of the time. Just look at some of the pictures below.

Osama Bin Laden in a 2001 press conference in Khost, Afghanistan

Then look at this famous photo of Osama Bin Laden again in 2001

Here is a photo release of Osama Bin Laden in 2007 where he looks fairly healthy with his beard dyed

Then here is an Osama bin Laden watching Television in May of 2011

Notice his facial features and ears from the left photo (below) is slightly different from the right photo

Perhaps Washington was concerned that one of their fake photos of a dead Osama Bin Laden would not pass the “Smell Test”? Many people throughout the world did not believe that the US Navy Seals in the middle of the night kill their target and then dumped him in the ocean. Anti-War activist Cindy Sheehan based in the United States posted in her Facebook what she thought of the situation when she said that “I am sorry, but if you believe the newest death of OBL, you’re stupid,” she continued “Just think to yourself — they paraded Saddam’s dead sons around to prove they were dead — why do you suppose they hastily buried this version of OBL at sea?” She has a point.

According to President Obama on a 60 Minutes interview, he said

“It is important to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool,” said the president. “We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies,” Mr. Obama added. “The fact of the matter is, this is somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received.” Really? The truth of the matter is that the people deserve to see the evidence to put their pain to rest. But to say that it would cause violence or it can be used as propaganda because they do not “trot out this stuff as trophies” is absurd.  Several months later, Muammar Gaddafi was murdered by a Washington orchestrated plan involving NATO forces to topple his government.  Muammar Gaddafi’s videos and pictures of his execution were floating around in the media.  The images were truly disturbing. Washington did not have a problem with it. Hillary Clinton even gleamed with joy when she said “We came, we saw, he died”.

Washington did not show you the pictures of Osama Bin Laden’s death because they of course verified it with DNA evidence. Then they buried him at sea. The Los Angeles Times article mentioned earlier was initially titled “Sea burial fodder for conspiracy theories” said that “Conspiracy Theorists” would have many reasons for not believing Washington’s line that Osama Bin Laden’s death and that it was achieved in a daring raid in Pakistan and then dumped his body at sea to because it was difficult to bury him within 24 hour time period in accordance to “Muslim Practice”. They also claimed that they would like to avoid a grave site because it can become a “shrine” to Muslim followers that could eventually “inflame” his supporters is a farce.

Don’t you think that US involvement in the Middle East since the toppling of Mohammed Mosaddegh of Iran in 1954 that installed the brutal dictatorship of Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavī better known as the Shah which did lead to the 1979 Iranian Revolution “inflamed” the Iranians? Would the US led invasion of Iraq or even the invasion of Libya through NATO “inflame” the Middle East? How about the drone strikes in Pakistan or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

How about the Washington’s support of the Monarchies in the Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Bahrain that oppress their people? Washington’s unwillingness to show the photos of Osama Bin Laden’s body is giving “Conspiracy Theorists” ammunition to consider it a conspiracy, which it is.

Since Washington will not to show any evidence confirming Bin Laden’s death since he had to be buried at sea and the photos taken not allowed to be shown to the public because they are “very gruesome” is a conspiracy within itself, isn’t it?

I never thought I would see it. A mainstream TV programme, this one made by Australian channel ABC, that shows the occupation in all its inhuman horror.

The 45-minute investigative film concerns the Israeli army’s mistreatment of Palestinian children. Along the way, it provides absolutely devastating evidence that the children’s abuse is not some unfortunate byproduct of the occupation but the cornerstone of Israel’s system of control and its related need to destroy the fabric of Palestinian society.

Omar Barghouti has spoken of Israelis’ view of Palestinians as only “relatively human”. Here that profound racism is on full show.

There are, of course, concessions to “balance” – in the hope of minimising the backlash from Israel – but they do nothing to dilute the power of the message.

This is brave film-making of the highest order.

It is an indication of quite how exceptional this film is that it has cornered Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, into expressing her “deep concern“. That’s the same Bishop who last month doubted that the settlements in the West Bank were illegal.


If the video above is removed, you can also watch the film here:

www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2014/02/10/3939266.htm

- See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2014-02-11/aussie-tv-dares-to-show-the-real-occupation/#sthash.i5YI7K0N.dpuf

Synopsis of ABC Australia TV program

The Israeli army is both respected and feared as a fighting force. But now the country’s military is facing a backlash at home and abroad for its treatment of children in the West Bank, occupied territory.

Coming up, a joint investigation by Four Corners and The Australian newspaper reveals evidence that shows the army is targeting Palestinian boys for arrest and detention. Reporter John Lyons travels to the West Bank to hear the story of children who claim they have been taken into custody, ruthlessly questioned and then allegedly forced to sign confessions before being taken to court for sentencing.

He meets Australian lawyer Gerard Horton, who’s trying to help the boys who are arrested, and talks to senior Israeli officials to examine what’s driving the army’s strategy.

The program focuses on the stories of three boys. In two cases the army came for the children in the middle of the night, before taking them to unknown locations where they are questioned. A mother of one of the boys described the scene…

 

Ethical Standards and the Big Business of Medicine

February 12th, 2014 by Dr. Gary G. Kohls

When people ask me about what motivates me to occasionally blow the whistle on certain ethical issues, I sometimes say that I am just being true to the Hippocratic Oath that I took when I graduated from medical school. My 40 year medical career began as a board certified rural family physician and ended by practicing holistic mental health care for a decade. During that time I have often found myself, usually unconsciously, invoking the “primum non nocere”  (latin for “first do no harm” ) standard while recommending a treatment for a patient. The Oath has served me well in medicine as well as in life, child-rearing, marriage and politics.

Following the ethical standards outlined in the Hippocratic Oath probably makes practicing modern medicine more challenging. In an era where deadly medicines (that are packaged in sub-lethal dosages) are being manufactured and marketed at an increasingly rapid pace by very powerful multinational pharmaceutical corporations that have seemingly unlimited resources to brain-wash us prescribers and our patients about their synthetic chemicals and the secrets of their laboratories, it is getting harder and harder to avoid doing harm to our patients.

The Big Business of Medicine seems to have decided that patients should be denied the time to relate all the pertinent details of their illnesses or to be able to ask all the pertinent questions they need to ask.

The Big Business of Medicine seems to have decreed that physicians should be denied the time to take comprehensive histories, thus impairing our ability make accurate diagnoses and plan curative therapies. Whoever is in charge of medical care delivery these days seems to have decided that physicians and nurses should be denied the time to do the thorough teaching required to be maximally effective discharging their duties, with the possibility, indeed the inevitability, of engaging in misdiagnoses and medical misadventures.

Just consider this simple fact: Trans-national drug companies that manufacture pharmaceutical drugs do not study the effects of drug combinations (of two or more drugs at a time) in the brains or organs of experimental animals – and the testing that is done on that single drug is usually only for an extremely brief period of time, often just hours, days or weeks. This is especially true for brain research.

That means that the physicians of the vast majority of drug-taking patients (especially the elderly who, studies say, swallow half a dozen or more pills per day) have no good scientific data that proves the safety or even mechanism of action of their regimen. That makes the swallowing of more than one such drug at a time a scientific crap shoot and an ethical dilemma for the doctor who has pledged to do no harm. Since there are no biopsy, radiology or immunoassay studies that tell neuroscientists and physicians whether or not any of the millions of possible drug combinations (or the billions or trillions of possible drug dosage combinations) are safe or even effective, the prescribing physician may be inadvertently doing harm to his or her unsuspecting patient when those untested combinations are prescribed.

And that goes for human clinical studies as well, where, in the case of psychotropic drug testing, patients-subjects of psychiatrists are tested with a single experimental drug for a relatively short period of time (usually just a couple of months or less), with no biopsy or radiological proof of long-term safety or efficacy before the FDA approves it (for long-term use).  So again, patients who are prescribed more than one drug at a time have no scientific assurance of long-term safety or efficacy. Both those pre-marketing short-comings place the prescribing physician, unbeknownst to the patient, in an ethical bind.

And that is where the Hippocratic Oath should come in – if it still has any relevance in this age of modern medicine.

The Oath of Hippocrates is 2,500 years old and came out of ancient Greece. It is increasingly regarded by many, especially Big Business, pro-corporate types, as having limited applications to modern medicine. But if you ask patients who are concerned about the safety and effectiveness of their drugs, they regard the “never do harm to anyone” ethic as still being relevant to them and their children, even if Big Business has decreed otherwise.

Immediately below is an English translation of the Oath. Note that dietary treatment is the first regimen mentioned in the oath, which underlines what Hippocrates is often quoted as having said, namely, that “food is medicine and the best medicine is the best food”. Also note the underlined portions, especially the line that condemns deadly medicines.

The Oath of Hippocrates

I swear by Apollo, the healer, Ascelepius, Hygieia and Panacea, I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath and agreement:

To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art;  to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art; and that by my teaching, I will impart a knowledge of this art to my own sons, and to my teacher’s sons, and to disciples bound by an indenture and oath according to the medical laws, and no others.

I will prescribe dietetic regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion,

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

I will not cut for stone (Ed note: “cut for stone” means “to operate on bladder stones”), even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this area.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or men, be they free or slaves.

All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all humanity and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my life.

Non-physicians do not pledge the Hippocratic Oath when they complete their studies, although some paramedical educational institutions have adapted portions of it for their purposes. Some nursing schools, for instance, have their graduates take a pledge called the Nightengale Pledge (which was written in the 1890s in honor of Florence Nightengale, the founder of modern nursing. Nightengale gained international fame for her efforts on behalf of wounded, sickened and malnourished soldiers during the disastrous British military misadventure in the Crimea in the 1850s). Here is one version of the Nightengale Pledge:

The Nightengale Pledge

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully.

I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.

I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling.

With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician, in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.

 Is the Hippocratic Oath Obsolete, Overlooked or Just Killed Off?

Most of us took the Hippocratic Oath seriously in the early stages of our medical careers, but after getting into the “real world” of high-productivity medicine, most of us had no choice but to gradually compromise our ideals because of 1) the need sign on with a well-administered clinic; 2) the need to be maximally productive (seeing as many patients as possible in the shortest period of time) in order to pay off our $100,000+ medical education debt; 3)  the need to stop trying to do all the time-consuming things that patients expect and deserve; 4) the need to get most of our continuing medical education credits from courses subsidized by the pharmaceutical industry; 5) being seduced almost daily by the pharmaceutical  industry’s very attractive opposite-sex sales reps, bearing gifts of “pens, pizzas and post-it notes” in their drug company’s efforts to get us to uncritically adopt, as the new “community standard of care”, the extensive use of potentially toxic synthetic chemicals not yet proven to be safe long-term, especially when combinations of these always very expensive drugs are used.

 It is often said that the real clinical trials of new drugs start when the brief pre-marketing studies – involving only hundreds or occasionally thousands of test subjects  – have been approved by the FDA, for that is when millions of unsuspecting, but excited patients get their first prescriptions of the latest wannabe blockbuster drug that they saw presented so appealingly on TV.

 Big Business argues that the profitability of business enterprises depends on getting new products into the marketplace quickly in order to generate profits as soon as possible. Thus, paying for thorough, independent long-term studies (especially with watchdog agency oversight) is only grudgingly accepted by the profit-driven investors on Wall Street.

Should Capitalism’s Doctrine of “Letting the Buyer Beware” Apply to Patients as Well?

In light of the current corporate reality of profit maximization (and that goes for HMOs, hospitals and most clinics, especially the for-profit kinds with their multimillionaire CEOs), we physicians should be the ones who make sure that no harm is being done because of the drugs we prescribe. Throughout history, physicians have always accepted, as a sacred trust, the duty to warn patients about the potential dangers of their treatments, and there are many. (For more on iatrogenic diseases (doctor or medical treatment-caused), see Dr. Barbara Starfield’s article in the July 26, 2000 issue of the JAMA documenting the annual 225,000 iatrogenic deaths per year in the US; also at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iatrogenesis.)

In order for a patient to give fully informed consent to a treatment option, he or she must be given thorough information about the risks, safety and efficacy of the treatment both short-term and long-term, which, in the case of most psychiatric drugs, is virtually impossible to do given the lack of long-term studies that were done prior to FDA approval and the poor post-marketing surveillance that is done. Medical malpractice suits commonly revolve around the issue of adequate informed consent.

 Patients deserve to know whether or not psychotropic drugs are addicting or dependency-inducing, are capable of causing withdrawal symptoms or whether or not the patient can be sickened or intoxicated by the drugs. Patients also deserve to know about the existence alternative therapies which, in the case of mental health issues, utilize good psychotherapy and nutritionally-based, life-style alterations, approaches that are often falsely discredited by medical trade association groups like the AMA, the APA and their medical journals. The giant multinational corporations that generously fund such groups, are always looking for ways to eliminate the competition in order to achieve a near-monopoly for the sale of their substances.

A Word in Favor of Reviving the Precautionary Principle

 The time-honored Precautionary Principle says that an ethical business, governmental agency or culture should err on the side of caution before new chemicals, technologies, procedures, services, food additives, drugs, surgical procedures, etc are introduced into the marketplace (and the environment) – and only then should they be allowed on the market when there is absolute proof that the substances are  not dangerous to the environment (which includes human/animal life, the water supply, the soil and the air – ie., our fragile planet).

So when medical industries wish to market new synthetic chemical substances that have the potential to adversely affect human or environmental health (even years or decades into the future) the Precautionary Principle requires that adequate and aggressive long-term studies (funded by agencies totally independent of those who want to profit from the substance) be undertaken and then only approved when it has been proven to be totally safe.

So, under the Precautionary Principle, regulatory agencies must be given permission to aggressively withhold the marketing approval of potentially carcinogenic, disease-producing, neurotoxic or immune system-destroying products from the environment from where they may be ingested, inhaled or otherwise absorbed into the bodies of potential victims.

Therefore, before potentially dangerous substances are allowed onto the grocery store shelves or into our pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and then, inevitably, into our bodies, the Precautionary Principle says that they should be first proven that they will do no harm, short-term or long-term.

As was documented in last week’s Duty to Warn column America has a drug-induced dementia, suicide, violence and mental ill health epidemic on its hands that should be obvious to every critical thinker that looks at the evidence. But because there are not many in the medical professions with the time (or willingness) to look at the evidence, the epidemic will surely continue to worsen because of the continued chronic use of non-curative drugs that are, in America, too often used as first-line “treatment”. Both psychiatric drug-induced brain disruption and psychiatric drug withdrawal syndromes can be mistaken for mental illnesses of unknown cause.

We can do better for our patients – and our dying planet – if we just go back to the honorable past traditions exemplified in the Hippocratic Oath and the Precautionary Principle.

Dr Kohls is a retired physician from northern Minnesota. He writes a weekly column for the Duluth, Minnesota area’s alternative newsweekly, the Reader Weekly (http://duluthreader.com/articles/categories/200_Duty_to_Warn). His topics include ethics, peace, justice, mental health, nutrition, militarism and the environment.

Empower Yourself to Fight the Power

February 11th, 2014 by Global Research

The enemies of truth, freedom, and justice are highly mobilized, well funded, and efficiently organized.

The institutional structures of power, whether local, national or global, are effective mechanisms through which the ruling groups of society establish and entrench their influence, build consensus among each other, brainwash and expand their control over the masses and society as a whole. Whether they take the form of think tanks, universities, governments, corporations, militaries, intelligence agencies, NGOs, media conglomerates, international organizations, philanthropic foundations, they are institutions of control and conquest.

Whether that conquest is ideological or physical, the effect is the same: the conquered are oppressed and repressed.

These institutions are financed through the global banking system of collusion between the private banks and quasi-governmental central banks, who control the money supply and value of the change in your pocket, which are in fact a highly concentrated group of institutions and individuals. Never in all of human history have so few controlled so much on such a global scale, nor have so many had so little on an equally global scale.

Never before in history have the mechanisms for absolute total global control and oppression been within such close reach. We are seeing the emergence of this ‘new society’ in which governments are increasingly imperialistic abroad and militaristic at home, as domestic police states are established under the guise of ‘homeland security’, sold on the pretense of protecting people from terrorists, but in actuality are designed to protect the powerful from the people.

Increasingly, civil rights and freedoms are being dismantled for the wider populations: countries and peoples all around the world are subjected to bombings, drone attacks from flying killer robots in the sky named “Predators”, and high-tech military equipment is designed and used to more effectively kill and conquer poor people all around the globe.

In the emerging ‘homeland security states’, technology is being used to spy on people, all internet traffic monitored, phones tapped, cameras recording not only our images, but through biometrics they are categorizing and quantifying our specific individual faces and emotional responses. We are, increasingly, seeing the emergence of a hybrid nightmarish scenario of ‘Brave New World’ meets ’1984.’ Technology has largely facilitated the advances in these areas and has, for the first time in all of human history, made possible the notion of a truly global police state.

Yet… there is still hope.

The Technological Revolution has not only facilitated a more rapid and effective apparatus for the institutions of power to exploit in methods of oppression and control, but it has simultaneously facilitated the rapid and effective means through which more people than ever before in human history have access to and empowerment through information and communication on a truly global scale.

As a result of the Internet, the traditional institutions of power have lost their monopoly of control over information and communication.

The very same technological advances that make possible their methods of control and conquest are simultaneously making possible their eventual downfall and failure. While the powerful have the money and are highly centralized, the rest of the world increasingly have the means and remain highly decentralized. And while the powerful are few, the rest are many. The Internet and social media have become effective means through which people are able to empower themselves to struggle against and expose the institutions of power that seek to oppress and control them. Naturally, those same institutions seek to influence – whether overtly or covertly – those very same avenues of social media, they are still effective and available for the struggle for liberation from oppression.

Here at Global Research, we have been able to harness these new communications technologies. We are committed to providing free and accessible information to the many in order to expose the few.

Our aim is to struggle against and expose the institutions of power, and to empower the people to take this endeavour into their own hands… and onto their own keyboards.

To continue to provide information and battle the spread of disinformation, Global Research needs your help.

We are aware that the world is in rough economic times, and we have been at the forefront in warning that they are likely to continue to get worse; and so while Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase may be breaking records and their executives signing their own bonuses, the vast majority of the world’s people do not have this luxury. However, there is still something that everyone can do to help in the cause and to help Global Research advance that cause and become more effective in our aims. Whether you are financially comfortable, or living from pay check to pay check, you can empower yourself and empower Global Research to continue and expand our operations.

We rely upon donations from our readers to maintain our operations, as we do not take money from corporations, banks, governments, universities, or foundations.

Our resources are limited, but our readers are dedicated, and we need that dedication to continue.

If you have the ability to donate, please support us and allow us to continue maintaining our independent voice. Remember, while the powerful are few, we are many. While the Council on Foreign Relations has a much wealthier membership, we have a much larger readership and thus, even if you are able to contribute a small amount, every bit helps.

There are also free and effective ways to help Global Research and to help in the spread of knowledge and truth.

Empower yourself and help us get a wider audience through the use of social media. Recently, Global Research established a Facebook page, on which we post many of our latest articles and videos and bring them directly to your news feeds. You can  help spread our name and information by “liking” our Facebook page here, suggest us to your friends, and share our articles and information.

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We rely upon you, our readers, to consume the information we provide, to use that knowledge to empower yourself, and to help spread our name and information to others in order to continue doing what we do. “Like” our page and recommend us to your friends. Whether you can donate or help spread the word, every bit helps!

Thank you, readers, for continuing to support our efforts and operations,

The Global Research Team

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