It has been in the works for some time, but the British government is showing keenness to enact laws that will punish those guilty of Internet “trolling”.  According to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, “This is a law to combat cruelty – and marks our determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob.”

None of this is actually new, at least when it comes to such policies of speech control on the Sceptred Isle.  The policy change was already flagged in March this year when an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill was proposed making it possible for a Crown Court, rather than magistrates, to try cases of online harassment.[1]  Prison sentences from up to two years will be doled out.

Internet trolls have already been the subject of legislative, and criminal attention in the UK, with the current maximum sentence one of six months under the Malicious Communications Act.  Two years ago, Nicola Brookes obtained a court order compelling Facebook to produce the IP addresses of those who attacked her online.

Frank Zimmerman also received a suspended jail sentence in 2012 for his dedicated haranguing of the Tory politician Louise Mensch, MP.  Commentary then focused on Zimmerman’s appearance, giving an unruly, irritable citizen of cyberspace face and form.  Dominique Jackson of the Daily Mail provided one reaction:  “Images of a long-haired dishevelled and straggly-bearded Zimmerman in the press this week conformed closely to our stereotype of the internet troll: a cowardly loner, spending hours hunched over the keyboard, spitting out minatory venom from the relative safety of a cranky pseudonym and a potentially anonymous IP address.”[2]

Such images are misplaced.  The modern Internet troll may well conform to a Zimmerman stereotype. Or they might be like Brenda Leyland, who was found dead in a hotel room earlier this month after an encounter with Sky News over alleged trolling of Kate and Gerry McCann, whose daughter went missing in Portugal in 2007.

Another dimension that tends to be neglected in such debates are the hired cadres, working for organisations or entities in the name of platform and policy.  The entire landscape of electoral politics has been transformed by industrious trolls, who perform their venomous tasks with relentless, paid up enthusiasm.  Then come the propaganda departments and dream makers, keen to keep an image pure and virtuous.

Recently, the Kremlin’s plans for a sustained shaping of opinion via bombarding the comments sections of such American websites as The BlazePolitico and Huffington Post was exposed in emails leaked by a Russian hacker collective.[3]  “The main problem,” notes one of the project’s team members, Svetlana Boiko, “is that in the foreign internet community, the ratio of supporters and opponents of Russia is about 20/80 respectively.”

Britain’s parliament may well be nudging the debate in the wrong direction.  Such punitive laws constitute riot control by other means.  While it is hard not to express sympathy for those targeted by what is a form of manic, even sadistic violence by social media, attempts to bang people up for that may not necessarily be the best way.  Criminal prosecutions, argue such lawyers as Mark Stephens, should only be kept for that “very small minority who are fixated, who take it to the extreme – people who are borderline certifiable.”[4]

Where do the lines of expression deemed against the public interest, and those in its favour, blur? It is all very good to hold the view, as Jackson, does, that, “Freedom of speech should never mean freedom to abuse.”  But apart from the United States, the very idea of a right termed a “freedom of speech” is highly circumscribed, one which is at the mercy of legislative intrusion.

Such laws risk being used by public figures to veil themselves in a protective layer – given that Internet forums and social media are formats of expression, disabling users, or at least dissuading participants – from being antsy, may have its own chilling consequences.

A further consequence of such laws is placing internet service providers into the position of moral guardians and gatekeepers.  Such a dilemma was faced by Storify’s CEO Xavier Damman, when he was confronted by some five women over the messages posted by a user under the handle “elevatorgate”.  Elevatorgate had, it was said, a history of sending messages filled with abuse and a good deal of misogyny.  Damman’s response was that this remained a “free speech issue”, allowing elavatorgate’s account with the company to stand.[5]

This saddling of responsibility, as entities such as Storify have to face, is highly problematic, being a grant of powers most ISPs would rather not have.  But this is classic government outsourcing, a form of policing through the private sector.

Barbara Bukovska of ARTICLE 19 is certainly wary.  Resorting to the blunt arm of the law in criminalising trolls is but one part of the problem.  “Do we want to criminalise every social conduct we find problematic?”  The pendulum may well swing the other way, and in matters of free speech, the offensive, at least to some degree, must be tolerated.  Who determines the degree of that offensiveness is a problem writ large by the Internet.

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

America’s Jihad

October 20th, 2014 by K. R. Bolton

US President Ronald Reagan meeting with Afghan Mujahedeen, who he called “freedom fighters”, in the Oval Office on February 2, 1983. (Ronald Reagan Library)

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The Islamic State organization seems to have arisen overnight, well-armed, and swiftly moving through Iraq and Syria, seemingly unstoppable. One might wonder as to how plausible it is to believe the CIA, U.S. National Security Council, and Mossad supposedly hitherto knew little or nothing of the Islamic State jihadists. We are apparently expected to believe that they appeared from nowhere as if by magic.

It is apt to recall the present Jihad bogeyman arose from the Mujahideen, which was formed by the CIA as a guerrilla force against the Russians in Afghanistan. The “clash of civilizations,” as neocon historians refer to the “war on terrorism,” was a contrivance; not the result of an inexorable historical law. By the end of the First World War much goodwill existed between the Entente and the Arabs who had fought together against the Ottoman Empire, with the expectation that the Arab states would achieve independence, thanks to the heroic efforts of T. E. Lawrence and the Arabic fighters. Their guerrilla war against the Turks had been crucial to the war effort, although subsequently besmirched by Zionist propagandists.[1] Thanks to Zionist machinations, the Entente had spoken with a forked tongue to the Arabs while making a contrary promise to the Zionists to back a Jewish state in Palestine in return for Jewish influence supporting the Entente cause, by then in a predicament, in the USA. The result was the Balfour Declaration and the needless prolongation of the war[2] so that the Zionists and the messianists could get their nose poked into Palestine until such time as being able to dump themselves en masse after the Second World War.

It is also opportune at this point to recall those who introduced terrorism into Palestine. The Irgun, Stern and Palmach underground regarded the British as the “new Nazis,” and for that matter anyone who stood in the way of their messianic dreams. Hence, United Nations envoy Count Folke Bernadotte, who had negotiated for thousands of Jews to leave German occupied territory, was gunned down by the Sternists because his suggestions for the boundaries of Israel were regarded as an affront to Jewry.[3] Ultimately, the Zionist dream for Israel extends the boundaries from the rivers Nile to Euphrates (Genesis 15: 18) and any compromise of captured territory would mean the surrendering of the deeds of promise from God Himself,[4] unless there is a longer-term motive involved. There cannot be peace in the MiddleEast until that dream is forgotten, which is not going to happen, any more than the aim of rebuilding the Temple of Solomon upon the ruins of the Al Aqsa Mosque as the prerequisite for the coming of the Jewish Messiah;[5] the declaration of Jerusalem as the capitol of the world, and the elimination of “idolatrous” religions, to be replaced by the Seven Noahide Laws, already promulgated by U.S. Congress.[6] As the Israeli scholar Dr. Israel Shahak documented, such notions are alive and kicking in Israel.[7] Yet we are constantly told of “Muslim fanaticism.” We are also told of the hatred Islam possesses for Christianity, despite the recognition of Jesus as a great prophet, and his mother. Meanwhile, Talmudic Judaism teaches that Jesus was the son of a whore and a Roman soldier, Pandira, and is in hell boiling in semen. The hatred of Talmudic Jews for Christianity is frequently manifested by the Orthodox custom of spitting on monks and priests, and in many other ways, again documented by Shahak.[8]

In short, the origins of the present Middle East terrorism stem from Franco-British duplicity and Zionist machinations during the First World War, and rampant religious lunacy from Judaism rather than Islam. As the political and judicial theorist Dr. Carl Schmitt pointed out, an outer enemy is often the prerequisite for the formation or maintenance of unity among disparate elements. Hence, Zionism requires “anti-Semitism” to exist. Israel requires the myth of belligerent Arab neighbors ever ready to run them into the Dead Sea. The USA requires a new global bogeyman after the demise of the USSR, to maintain its role as the world’s “big brother,” albeit one of a particularly vulgar and bullying type. While Putin’s Russia has somewhat served the role once occupied by the USSR, it is difficult to imbed the notion into the world’s consciousness that Putinism, like Sovietism, supposedly aims at world conquest, and only the USA can stop this. An added factor is required. Jihadism serves these purposes for both the USA and Israel. Where would the USA have been since the implosion of the Soviet bloc, had it not been for Jihadism? Largely obliged to mind its own business for the first time since before Woodrow Wilson.

Mujahideen a U.S. Creation

The ground for Jihadism was sown by the U.S. arming of the Mujahideen against the USSR in Afghanistan. The CIA describes its role in founding Jihadism:

After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979, President Carter directed CIA to assist the Afghan mujahidin. CIA came to see that the indigenous Afghan opposition to the Soviets was less an organized movement than widespread opposition by villages and tribes. Through Pakistan, CIA provided the mujahidin with money, weapons, medical supplies, and communications equipment. Initially the goal was to drain Soviet resources by keeping their forces bogged down. In 1985, CIA shifted from a plan of attrition to one that would help the rebels win. One of the pivotal moments came in September 1986, when the mujahidin used CIA-provided Stinger missiles to shoot down three Soviet Mi-24D helicopter gunships. As part of this escalation of financial and materiel support, President Reagan issued new guidance that put CIA into more direct contact with rebel commanders, beginning an era of CIA interaction with tribal and local leaders that continues through the post-9/11 era. [9]

The CIA then supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban government. The CIA also claims that it supported the Northern Alliance against Al Qaeda and bin Laden when they moved into Afghanistan from the Sudan. However, an NBC report states of CIA support for bin Laden:

As his unclassified CIA biography states, bin Laden left Saudi Arabia to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan after Moscow’s invasion in 1979. By 1984, he was running a front organization known as Maktab al-Khidamar – the MAK – which funneled money, arms and fighters from the outside world into the Afghan war.

What the CIA bio conveniently fails to specify (in its unclassified form, at least) is that the MAK was nurtured by Pakistan’s state security services, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, the CIA’s primary conduit for conducting the covert war against Moscow’s occupation.

The CIA, concerned about the factionalism of Afghanistan … found that Arab zealots who flocked to aid the Afghans were easier to “read” than the rivalry-ridden natives. While the Arab volunteers might well prove troublesome later, the agency reasoned, they at least were one-dimensionally anti-Soviet for now. So bin Laden, along with a small group of Islamic militants from Egypt, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestinian refugee camps all over the Middle East, became the “reliable” partners of the CIA in its war against Moscow.[10]

These Afghan veterans became the nucleus for Jihadists further afield.[11]

Serbia Targeted

When the U.S. globalists wanted to dismember Yugoslavia and globalize the wealth of Kosovo, again we find the Mujahideen. The USA claims to be fighting Islamic terrorism worldwide. Milosevic’s Serbia was on the frontline fighting Islamist terrorism. Rather than U.S. support for the Serbs, the support went to Islamist terrorists and gangsters. Serbs had been the target of Islamists for decades. They aimed to carve out a Greater Albania by annexing Kosovo. The U.S./NATO interest was that of privatizing the globalizing the vast mineral wealth and other resources of the region run by the State.

In 1998 the Kosovo Liberation Army was described by U.S. special envoy to Bosnia, Robert Gelbard, as “terrorists.” The U.S. State Department had previously prepared a report detailing the methods of the KLA to intimidate Kosovan-Albanian ethnics into supporting them. Prior to Milosevic’s intervention to restore order, U.S. official sources were reporting that Albanian ethnics were fleeing their villages in their entirety to escape the KLA. Also well-known by American and European police agencies were the drug-trafficking connections the KLA had with organized crime in Europe and Turkey.[12]

The KLA aim was for a Greater Albania including parts of Serbia, Greece, Macedonia, and Montenegro. Chris Hedges, when New York Times Balkans Bureau Chief (1995-1998), wrote in Foreign Affairs of a map of the Greater Albania found at a KLA compound. Hedges reported: “Between 1966 and 1989 an estimated 130,000 Serbs left the province because of frequent harassment and discrimination by the Kosovar Albanian majority.” Hedges mentioned the funding that the KLA was receiving from Islamic states and the presence of Mujahideen in the KLA staging area in northern Albania. In 1981, the Associated Press reported that 4000 Serbs fled Kosovo due to anti-Serb riots, and the desecration of Orthodox churches and graves. [13]

When Serb forces attacked Srebrenica, it was to end the armed attacks mounted from the Islamist base on nearby villages. A news report of the time cites “intelligence sources” as stating that it was “harassment which precipitated the Serb attack on the 1,500 Muslim defenders inside the enclave.”[14] General Philippe Morillon, commander of the U.N. troops in Bosnia (1992-1993), testified before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia that Muslim forces based in Srebrenica had “engaged in attacks during Orthodox holidays and destroyed villages, massacring all the inhabitants. This created a degree of hatred that was quite extraordinary in the region.” Between May and December 1992, Muslim forces repeatedly attacked Serb villages around Srebrenica, killing and torturing civilians; some were mutilated and burned alive. Muslim forces in Srebrenica murdered over 1,300 Serbs and had “ethnically cleansed” a vast area.[15]

The London Spectator reported that during 1992-1995 the Pentagon helped Islamists from Central Asia to reach Bosnia and join the Bosnian Muslims, stating:

As part of the Dutch government’s inquiry into the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995, Professor Cees Wiebes of Amsterdam University compiled a report entitled “Intelligence and the War in Bosnia”, published in April 2002. In it he details the secret alliance between the Pentagon and radical Islamic groups from the Middle East, and their efforts to assist Bosnia’s Muslims. By 1993, there was a vast amount of weapons-smuggling through Croatia to the Muslims, organised by ‘clandestine agencies’ of the USA, Turkey and Iran, in association with a range of Islamic groups that included Afghan Mujahideen and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah. Arms bought by Iran and Turkey with the financial backing of Saudi Arabia were airlifted from the Middle East to Bosnia – airlifts with which, Wiebes points out, the USA was “very closely involved.”[16]

One of the stated war aims of NATO was that the Yugoslav Federation would become a “free market” economy. The fight for a “free market” economy was not an aim that seems to have been widely publicized by the spokesmen for the U.S. State Department and British Foreign Office at the time. The prize was the Trepca mining complex, which had operated 24 hours a day, having the richest lead, lignite and zinc deposits in Europe, and one of the richest world-wide. Once the moral pontifications of the Rambouillet diktat were dispensed with, chapter four makes the aim clear enough: Article I (1): “The economy of Kosovo shall function in accordance with free market principles.”[17] A Privatization agency of Kosovo was established, but the economy, including Trepca, remains in a shambles.

Russia, Libya, Syria…

Islamists have likewise proven useful within the Russian Federation. The primary pro-Chechnya lobby in the USA was the Freedom House-founded American Committee for Peace in Chechnya. This included some of the most notable neocons and Zionists: Richard Perle; Elliott Abrams; former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Kenneth Adelman; Midge Decter of the Heritage Foundation; Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy; Bruce Jackson of the U.S. Committee on NATO; Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, and former CIA director R. James Woolsey.[18] It is strange that of these enthusiasts for the rights of Muslims in Russia, all but Abrams and Ledeen were members of the arch-Zionist Project for a New American Century, founded in 1997. A sub-branch was the Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000 headed by Perle, which prepared a blueprint for the reorganization of the Middle East, that calls in particular for “regime change” in Syria and Iran, This seems to be the plan that is be is being followed.[19]

While the ACPC changed its name to American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus, it seems to have become largely defunct since 2013. That is the year of the Chechan bombing in Boston. Wayne Madsen, writing for the Strategic Culture Foundation, commented:

After revelations that an entity called the Caucasus Fund was used by the CIA-linked Jamestown Foundation of Washington, DC to sponsor seminars on the North Caucasus in Tbilisi from January to July 2012, Georgian authorities moved to shut down the fund. The reason given by Georgia was that the organization had “fulfilled its stated mission”. Caucasus Fund and Jamestown Foundation events were attended by accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a citizen of Kyrgyzstan born to parents from Dagestan. Jamestown had previously held a seminar in Tbilisi on “Hidden Nations” in the Caucasus, which, among other issues, promoted a “Greater Circassia” in the Caucasus. [20]

Madsen remarks of the general strategy:

U.S. “humanitarian” and “civil society” assistance to radical Islamist groups has, for the past three decades, filtered into the coffers of terrorist groups celebrated as “freedom fighters” in Washington. This was the case with U.S. support for the Afghan Mujaheddin through such groups as the Committee for a Free Afghanistan during the Islamist insurgency against the People’s Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in the 1980s and the Bosnia Defense Fund in the 1990s. In the case of Afghanistan, U.S. and Saudi money ended up in the hands of insurgents who would later form “Al Qaeda” and in Bosnia U.S. funds were used by Al Qaeda elements fighting against Yugoslavia and the Bosnian Serb Republic and, later, Al Qaeda elements supporting the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in its war against Serbia.[21]

Terrorists supported by the USA to oust Qaddafi were then sent to Syria to continue the American Jihad against stable states. The CIA had been funding a Libyan rebel army since 1988, Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army. Haftar had been living for twenty years in Virginia, prior to returning to Libya with CIA and Saudi backing. Patrick Cockburn commented in The Independent:

Even shadier is the background of Abdul Hakeen al-Hassadi, a Libyan who fought against the US in Afghanistan, was arrested in Pakistan, imprisoned probably at Bagram, Afghanistan, and then mysteriously released. The US Deputy Secretary of State, James Steinberg, told Congressmen he would speak of Mr Hassadi’s career only in a closed session.[22]

Mossad Destablization

Israel has sought to keep the entire region in a state of destabilization. This serves several factors. A constant state of conflict portrays Israel as the only stable entity in a volatile region. Destabilization ensures that there can be no united front against Israeli’s aspirations, which are never-ending. The notion of Jews being surrounded by mad Arabs keeps the Israelis in a state of preparedness and unity. Israel went to the extent of backing the Red Brigades in Italy during the 1970s as part of a destabilization strategy, indicating the extent of the strategy. According to Magistrate Ferdinando Imposimato, who led the investigations into the 1978 kidnapping and murder of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro, “‘at least until 1978 Israeli secret services had infiltrated Italian subversive groups. He said that based on confessions of jailed guerrillas who turned police informers there had been an Israeli plan to destabilize Italy. The plan aimed at reducing Italy to a country convulsed by civil war so that the United States would be forced to count more on Israeli for the security of the Mediterranean,’ the judge said.” [23]

The extent of this destabilization strategy has included Mossad backing of Islamists at an early stage. According to a UPI news report on a 2002 Hamas bombing of a Jersualem city bus,

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon immediately vowed to fight “Palestinian terror” and summoned his cabinet to decide on a military response to the organization that Sharon had once described as “the deadliest terrorist group that we have ever had to face.” Active in Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas wants to liberate all of Palestine and establish a radical Islamic state in place of Israel. It has gained notoriety with its assassinations, car bombs and other acts of terrorism. But Sharon left something out.

Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years. Israel “aided Hamas directly – the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),” said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic [and International] Studies [CSIS]. Israel’s support for Hamas “was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,” said a former senior CIA official. … According to U.S. administration officials, funds for the movement came from the oil-producing states and directly and indirectly from Israel. The PLO was secular and leftist and promoted Palestinian nationalism. Hamas wanted to set up a transnational state under the rule of Islam, much like Khomeini’s Iran.[24]

Even when the support for Hamas seemed to be backfiring there were those who continued to see a dialectical advantage:

But even then, some in Israel saw some benefits to be had in trying to continue to give Hamas support: “The thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the others, if they gained control, would refuse to have any part of the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place,” said a U.S. government official who asked not to be named. “Israel would still be the only democracy in the region for the United States to deal with,” he said. All of which disgusts some former U.S. intelligence officials.[25]

The strategy was confirmed by Mossad defector Victor Ostrovsky, who was told by a prominent Mossad officer that a decision was made to “destabilize Jordan to the point of civil anarchy.” The officer explained to Ostrovsky that this would be done by circulating counterfeit money and “arming religious fundamentalist elements, similar to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood,” assassinating leading figures who are symbols of stability, causing riots in the university to prompt government repression. The plan was also to destabilize Egypt in the same manner, with Mossad running guns to “Egyptian fundamentalists” through Afghanistan.[26]

Ostrovsky further relates that “Mossad had to come up with a new threat to the region, a threat of such magnitude that it would justify whatever action the Mossad might see fit to take.” The attitude of many in Mossad and elsewhere in Israeli ruling circles is that in order to maintain “fortress Israel” the “constant threat of war” needs to be maintained.[27]

Supporting the radical elements of Muslim fundamentalism sat well with the Mossad’s general plan for the region. An Arab world run by fundamentalists would not be a party to any negotiations in the West, thus leaving Israel once again as the only democratic, rational country in the region.  And if the Mossad could arrange for the Hamas to take over the Palestinian streets from the PLO, then the picture would be complete.[28]

This destabilization dialectic is the same as that being enacted on a global scale by the USA to maintain its global ambitions. Since the Soviet bogeyman no longer exists as justification for U.S. global ambitions, the bogeyman of the “global war on Islamic terrorism” was quickly created as a substitute. While Putin has been demonized to at least keep the semblance of a Russian bogeyman intact, it cannot convincingly be said that Putin aims at “world conquest.” However, “Islamism” is a new threat to worldpeace, with a world Jihad and the aim of imposing Sharia law over the world. This new global threat must be met under U.S. leadership, which generally means U.S. domination, politically, economically and even morally and culturally, or what has been described as the “new world order.”

The Study Group for a New Israeli Strategy stated that Israel’s aims must be to

Work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll-back some of its most dangerous threats. This implies clean break from the slogan, “comprehensive peace” to a traditional concept of strategy based on balance of power. Change the nature of its relations with the Palestinians, including upholding the right of hot pursuit for self defense into all Palestinian areas and nurturing alternatives to Arafat’s exclusive grip on Palestinian society. [29]

Both aims have been fulfilled. As we have seen the backing of Jiahists involves the use of Jordan and Turkey, and the primary target is Syria, now that Saddam has been eliminated from Iraq. While the blueprint was addressed to Israel, one can see the role being played out by the USA in its fulfilment:

Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions. [30]

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (a.k.a The Caliphate)

Suddenly ISIL (or ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) snaps onto the scene to pose the biggest threat to world peace, whose path of terror also happens to be a march through the states that have been marked for destruction by the Zio-neocons; Syria particularly. Like Hafta in Libya, and later Syria, the head of the Islamic State organization, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has links with the USA. He was a “civilian internee” at an U.S. internment center in Umm Qasr, Iraq. He was “unconditionally released” in 2009.

What can be said is that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s declaration of himself as Caliph of all Muslims world-wide has spread further factionalism among Muslims. Despite the universal repudiation among even radical Muslims, U.S. foreign policy strategists are building up ISIL as the most potent Islamic force. Assem Barqawi, the spokesperson for the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front – an erstwhile ally of ISIL in the Syrian war – spurned al-Baghdadi’s claim to a universal Caliphate, countering: “In short, al-Baghdadi and ISIL have no support whatsoever among Muslims. They are loathed even by their fellow ultra-Salafis, Wahhabis and Takfiris.” On the other hand terrorism expert William McCants of the Brookings Institution, said to the New York Times: “ISIS is now officially the biggest and baddest global jihadi group on the planet… Nothing says ‘hard-core’ like being cast out by Al Qaeda.” Dr. Kevin Barrett, an Arabist scholar, regards it likely that al-Baghdadi is a mind-control asset from his time at Umm Qasr camp:

The secrecy surrounding al-Baghdadi’s five years in US custody strongly suggests that the self-proclaimed “caliph of Islam” is actually a Muslim version of Jim Jones. His “Islamic State” is a Muslim Jonestown. It is designed to mass-suicide Islam by turning Muslims against each other.[31]

William Engdahl, a foreign policy specialist, opines:

Key members of ISIS it now emerges were trained by US CIA and Special Forces command at a secret camp in Jordan in 2012, according to informed Jordanian officials. The US, Turkish and Jordanian intelligence were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region, conveniently near the borders to both Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the two Gulf monarchies most involved in funding the war against Syria’s Assad, financed the Jordan ISIS training. Advertised publicly as training of “non-extremist” Muslim jihadists to wage war against the Syrian Bashar Assad regime, the secret US training camps in Jordan and elsewhere have trained perhaps several thousand Muslim fighters in techniques of irregular warfare, sabotage and general terror. The claims by Washington that they took special care not to train ‘Salafist’ or jihadist extremists, is a joke. How do you test if a recruit is not a jihadist? Is there a special jihad DNA that the CIA doctors have discovered?[32]

In 2012, Aaron Klein reported that Egyptian officials had talked of training being given to terrorist forces to be deployed to Syria by the USA, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The training camp was at the Jordanian town of Safawi.[33]

Among the tangled intricacies of the Middle East imbroglio a course was established to bring chaos to the region, formulated by think tanks where American and Jewish messianists converge. Their recommendations appear as the ones being enacted, but these strategists themselves are the heirs to aims of long duration and a politicized religious fanaticism that is obscured by a worldwide barrage of propaganda about a new Muslim threat.

K R Bolton holds doctorates and certifications in theology, psychology and social work studies and a Ph.D.h.c. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social and Political Research (Athens), and of the Institute for Higher Studies on Geopolitics and Auxiliary Sciences (Lisbon), and has been widely published on a variety of subjects in the scholarly and general media. Some of his books include: Revolution from Above; The Banking Swindle; Stalin: The Enduring Legacy; The Geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific: Emerging Conflicts, New Alliances; introductions to new editions of Oscar Wilde’s Soul of Man Under Socialism, Belloc’s Europe and the Faith, and T E Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom; and an upcoming book on Peronism (2013). 

References

  1. T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom (2013), http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seven-pillars-of-wisdom-t-e-lawrence/1103272301?ean=9781908476562
  2. Samuel Landman, Great Britain, the Jews and Palestine (London: New Zionist Press, 1936), 2-3. Landman was Honorary Secretary of the Joint Zionist Council of the United Kingdom, 1912; Joint Editor of The Zionist 1913-1914; Solicitor and Secretary for the Zionist Organisation 1917-1922; and adviser to the New Zionist Organisation, ca. 1930s.
  3. Bernadotte called on Israel to relinquish the Negev and Jerusalem in return for western Galilee. Since the Zionist messianists think they are entitled by no less than God to a vast region, this was nothing sort of blasphemy.
  4. http://www.globalresearch.ca/greater-israel-the-zionist-plan-for-the-middle-east/5324815
  5. See the plans at: https://www.templeinstitute.org/
  6. Promulgation of “U. S. Education Day” honoring Rebbe Schneerson, the Lubavitch Messiah, and the Seven Noahide Laws, Proclamation 5463, April 19, 1986; Public Law 102—14 (H.J. Res. 104) March 20, 1991; Day of International Tribute, June 28, promulgated 2002.
  7. Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion (London: Pluto Press, 1994).
  8. Shahak, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (Pluto Press, 1999).
  9. “Afghanistan,” Central Intelligence Agency, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/additional-publications/devotion-to-duty/afghanistan.html
  10. Michael Moran, “Bin Laden Comes Home to Roost,” NBCNews.com, August 24, 1998, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3340101/#.VD9w2TY5QqR
  11. Michael Moran, ibid.
  12. See: Frank Viviano, “Drugs Paying for Conflict in Europe,” San Francisco Chronicle, June 10, 1994.
  13. 13.“Minorities Leaving Yugoslav Province Dominated by Albanians,” Associated Press, October 17, 1981.
  14. Michael Evans, “Muslim soldiers ‘failed to defend town from Serbs,’” Times London, July 14, 1995.
  15. Jan Willem Honig and Norbert Both, Srebrenica: Record of a War Crime, (Penguin Books, 1997), p. 79.
  16. Brendan O’Neill, “How We Trained al-Qa’eda,” Spectator, London, September 13, 2003.
  17. Rambouillet Agreement: Interim Agreement for Peace and Self-Government in Kosovo.
  18. “American Committee for Peace in Chechnya,” Right Web, http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/American_Committee_for_Peace_in_Chechnya
  19. Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, 1996.
  20. Wayne Madsen, “Washington’s ‘Civil Society’: CIA Financing of Chechen and Caucasus Regional Terrorists,” Global Research, May 6, 2013, http://www.globalresearch.ca/washingtons-civil-society-and-cia-financing-of-chechen-and-other-caucasus-regional-terrorists/5333359
  21. Wayne Madsen, ibid.
  22. Patrick Cockburn, “The Shady Men Backed by the West to Replace Gaddafi,” The Independent, April 3, 2011, http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/patrick-cockburn-the-shady-men-backed-bythe-west-to-displace-gaddafi-2260826.html
  23. “Arrest Wrecked Brigades’ Plan for Massacre,” The Evening Post, Wellington, New Zealand, January 18, 1982, p. 1.
  24. Richard Sale, “Hamas History Tide to Israel,” UPI, June 18, 2002; Information Clearing House, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article10456.htm
  25. Richard Sale, ibid.
  26. Victor Ostrovsky, The Other Side of Deception (New York: Harper, 1995), p. 182.
  27. Victor Ostrovsky, ibid., p. 251.
  28. Victor Ostrovsky, ibid., p. 252.
  29. Study Group for a New Israeli Strategy, A Clean Break, op. cit.
  30. Study Group, ibid.
  31. Kevin Barrett, “Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?”, PressTV, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/07/14/371210/who-is-abu-bakr-albaghdadi/
  32. “ISIS in Iraq: A CIA-NATO Dirty war Op?”, June 26, 2014, http://www.infowars.com/isis-in-iraq-a-cia-nato-dirty-war-op/
  33. Aaron Klein, “Mideast War in March?”, February 24, 2012, WND, http://www.wnd.com/2012/02/mideast-war-in-march/

Facing a large backlash, resignations, and protests, the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has decided that it will not make an intervention at the Canadian Supreme Court in the case involving Chevron Corporation’s contamination of the Ecuadorian rainforest.

In a letter sent to members, CBA president Michele Hollins stated “The [Legislation and Law Reform] Committee concluded that while the factum was well-drafted and of a high standard of quality, it did not meet the specific requirements of CBA’s Intervention Policy. Consequently, under the terms of the Intervention Policy, the CBA came to the conclusion that without the certification of the factum, the Intervention could not move forward and would be withdrawn.”

Although the previous letter to members made mention of opposition to the CBA intervention, this second letter did not. Santiago Escobar, a member of the Anti Chevron Committee of Canada, in an interview with teleSUR stated ”The CBA won’t admit this but they withdrew because of the protests they were facing, they knew that they couldn’t be seen supporting a corporation that has negatively affected the lives of so many Indigenous people in Ecuador.”

The CBA’s legislative and law reform committee had recommended against proceeding. Meanwhile the environment, aboriginal, and civil litigation committees has urged the CBA not to intervene on behalf of Chevron. Kathryn Deo, who had resigned from the CBA in protest told the Globe and Mail “I’m sure it was a difficult decision but it was clearly the right decision and we are appreciative of their courage in reversing course.” Lawyers in Canada were upset that the board of the CBA had authorized a law firm with ties to Chevron, Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, to submit the brief.

At issue is whether the Ecuadorian plaintiffs can seize the assets of Chevron corporation in Canada in order to collect a USD $9.5 Million judgment against Chevron for the contamination it cause in the Lago Agrio region. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the case could indeed be heard. Chevron has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which will hear the case in early December of this year. Chevron maintains that courts in Canada have no jurisdiction in this case, should the Supreme Court rule against them, the full judgment could be collected and paid to the Ecuadorian plaintiffs.

How the CIA Infiltrated Germany’s Mainstream Media

October 20th, 2014 by Global Research News

Leading US-funded think-tanks and German secret service are accessories. Attempted suppression by legal threats. Blackout in German media.

Exclusively for RI, Dutch journalist Eric van de Beek interviews the senior German editor who is causing a sensation with his allegations that the CIA pays German media professionals to spin stories to follow US government goals.  

We wrote about this two weeks ago, and the article shot up in views, becoming one of the most read articles on our site.

Udo Ulfkotte reveals in his bestseller Bought Journalists, how he was “taught to lie, to betray and not to tell the truth to the public.”

The former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which is one of Germany’s largest newspapers, was secretly on the payroll of the CIA and German secret service, spinning the news in a way that was positive for the United States and bad for its opponents.

In his latest interview, Ulfkotte alleges that some media are nothing more than propaganda outlets of political parties, secret services, international think tanks and high finance entities.

Repenting for collaborating with various agencies and organisations to manipulate the news, Ulkotte laments, “I’m ashamed I was part of it. Unfortunately I cannot reverse this.”

Some highlights from the interview:

  • “I ended up publishing articles under my own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the German secret service.”
  • “Most journalists from respected and big media organisations are closely connected to the German Marshall Fund, the Atlantik-Brücke or other so-called transatlantic organisations…once you’re connected, you make friends with selected Americans. You think they are your friends and you start cooperating. They work on your ego, make you feel like you’re important. And one day one of them will ask you ‘Will you do me this favor’…”
  • “When I told the Frankfurter Allgemeine that I would publish the book, their lawyers sent me a letter threatening with all legal consequences if I would publish any names or secrets – but I don’t mind.”
  • [The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitunghasn’t sued me. They know that I have evidence on everything.”
  • “No German mainstream journalist is allowed to report about [my] book. Otherwise he or she will be sacked. So we have a bestseller now that no German journalist is allowed to write or talk about.”

Here’s more from the interview:

“Bought journalists”, who are they?

“We’re talking about puppets on a string, journalists who write or say whatever their masters tell them to say or write. If you see how the mainstream media is reporting about the Ukraine conflict and if you know what’s really going on, you get the picture. The masters in the background are pushing for war with Russia and western journalists are putting on their helmets.”

And you were one of them, and now you are the first to blow the whistle.

“I’m ashamed I was part of it. Unfortunately I cannot reverse this. Although my superiors at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung approved of what I did, I’m still to blame. But yes, to my knowledge I am the first to accuse myself and to prove many others are to blame.”

How did you become a bought journalist?

“It started very soon after I started working at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. I learned to regard luxury invitations as quite acceptable and to write positive articles in return. Later on I was invited by the German Marshall Fund of The United States to travel the United States. They paid for all my expenses and put me in contact with Americans they’d like me to meet. In fact, most journalists from respected and big media organisations are closely connected to the German Marshall Fund, theAtlantik-Brücke or other so-called transatlantic organisations. Many of them are even members or ‘fellows’.

I am a fellow of the German Marshall Fund. The thing is, once you’re connected, you make friends with selected Americans. You think they are your friends and you start cooperating. They work on your ego, make you feel like you’re important. And one day one of them will ask you ‘Will you do me this favor’ and then another will ask you ‘Will you do me that favor’. Bye and bye you get completely brainwashed. I ended up publishing articles under my own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially theBundesnachrichtendienst.”

You said your superiors approved of that?

“They did. From my private point of view, in retrospective, they even sent me to spy. For instance in 1988 they put me on a plane to Iraq, where I traveled to the border with Iran. In those days Saddam Hussein was still seen as a good guy, a close ally to the US. The Americans supported him in his war against Iran. About 35 kilometers from the border, in an Iranian place called Zubaidad, I witnessed the Iraqis killing and injuring thousands of Iranians by throwing poison gas at them.

I did exactly what my superiors had asked me to do. I made photo’s of the gas attacks. Back in Frankfurt it appeared my superiors didn’t show much interest in the atrocities I had witnessed. They allowed me to write an article about it, but they severely limited the size of it as if it wasn’t of much importance. At the same time they asked me to hand over the photo’s that I had made to the German association of chemical companies in Frankfurt, Verband der Chemischen Industrie. This poison gas that had killed so many Iranians was made in Germany.”

What’s your opinion on press trips? Journalists usually excuse themselves by saying they are perfectly able to follow their ownjudgment and that they don’t commit themselves to anything or anybody. 

“I’ve been on a thousand press trips and never reported bad about those who paid all the expenses. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. That’s where corruption starts. And that’s the reason why magazines like Der Spiegel don’t allow their journalists to accept invitations to press trips unless they pay for their own expenses.”

The consequences of becoming a whistleblower can be serious. Do you have any indications people tried to prevent the publication of your book?

“When I told the Frankfurter Allgemeine that I would publish the book, their lawyers sent me a letter threatening with all legal consequences if I would publish any names or secrets – but I don’t mind. You see, I don’t have children to take care of. And you must know I was severely injured during the gas attack I witnessed in Iran in 1988. I’m the sole German survivor from a German poison gas attack. I’m still suffering from this. I’ve had three heart attacks. I don’t expect to live for more than a few years.”

In your book you mention many names of bought journalists. How are they doing now? Are they being sacked? Are they trying to clear their names?

“No German mainstream journalist is allowed to report about the book. Otherwise he or she will be sacked. So we have a bestseller now that no German journalist is allowed to write or talk about. More shocking: We have respected journalists who seem to have gone deep sea diving for a long time. It’s an Interesting situation. I expected and hoped that they would sue me and bring me to court. But they have no idea what to do. The respected Frankfurter Allgemeine just announced they will fire 200 employees, because they’re losing subscribers very rapidly and in high numbers. But they don’t sue me. They know that I have evidence on everything.”

The Politics of Empire. The US, Israel and the Middle East

October 20th, 2014 by Dr. Ludwig Watzal

The Israeli military went again on a rampage against the ghettoized people in the Gaza strip. The last time, they “visited” the walled-in strip at the turn of the year 2008/09, they slaughtered 1 400 Palestinians. In 2014, they killed over 2 100 Palestinians, 80 per cent civilians, injured over 10 000, made over 300 000 homeless and ravaged the infrastructure. Israel’s patron, the US Empire, did not lift a finger in 2008/09; neither did it this time. This one-sided relationship is analyzed by James Petras, an award-winning author and Professor Emeritus, in a global geopolitical perspective.

In 2000, “the imperial military and ideological apparatus for direct intervention was firmly in place.” 9/11 seemed godsend. The objectives of the planned serial wars “were defined by their principal Zionist and militarists architects” as the following: First, “destroying regimes and states (that) have opposed Israel’s annexation of Palestine.” Secondly, “deposing regimes which promoted independent nationalist policies, opposing or threatening the Gulf puppet monarchist regimes and supporting anti-imperialist, secular or nationalist-Islamic movements around the world.”

Blinded by their imperial hubris, neither the Zionists nor the civilian militarists within the US administration anticipated prolonged national resistance from the attacked countries, writes Petras. The destruction of the entire political, administrative and military infrastructure by the US invaders and their willful European executioners created a “political vacuum”, which was never a problem for the embedded Zionists in the US Administration, “since their ultimate goal was to devastate Israel’s enemies”. According to the author, under the Obama presidency, “a new ‘cast’ of embedded Zionists has emerged to target Iran and prepare the US for a new war on Israel’s behalf”. After Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before the UN General Assembly in September and his visit to the White House, 345 members of the US Congress signed a letter, in which they demanded from President Obama to remain tough with Iran. Netanyahu had raised the same demand from President Obama. It’s the first time that US Members of Congress publicly oppose their own president while supporting the demands of a foreign government!

The book is unique in providing an overall concept that links empire-building and foreign interventions to the domestic emergence of a police state, declining standards of living, advanced global spying on allies and adversaries, large scale commitments to wars in the Middle east to the detriment of major corporate interest, but for the benefit of its client State of Israel, and the power of a foreign state over US policy via its Zionist lobby. The question can be raised weather US foreign policy is bad for US corporations. Didn’t Hulliburton make a fortune, when the George W. Bush and his neoconservative gang attacked Iraq?

According to Petras, the US is still inclined to advance its Empire, but the Obama Empire builders “have relied on a wider variety of interventions than their predecessor under George W. Bush”. The Obama administration has shown more restraint in direct interventions and relies more on its “imperial European allies”. For an aggressive continuation of Empire building, the current administration lacks domestic support, writes the author. The most serious obstacle, however, to effectively adapting to the current international realities “is the influential Israel-linked Zionist Power Configuration embedded in Congress,

the Administration and the mass media. Zionists are deeply committed to pushing the US into more wars for Israel.” Despite the “Zionist Power Configuration” (ZPC), Petras comes to the conclusion that the Obama Administration is less inclined to start large-scale military interventions and listens more to public opinion.

In this study, the author concentrates on US empire-building measures in the Middle East. Here, the ZPC comes into play. In this specific region, Zionist power has played an important role “in harnessing the US Empire to serving the regional power projections of Israel”. According to Petras, this fact is underlined by “the importance of the domestic political power relations in shaping US imperial policy, the importance of military ideology over economic interests; and the role of ‘dual citizens’ with foreign allegiances in subverting a potentially democratic foreign policy”.

The study shows also that US empire-building efforts are not confined solely to the Middle East and to serve Israeli interests. It’s a global US effort, but to advance its sphere of influence, for example, the US relies on its European allies like France and Great Britain to secure the realm in Africa. The overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya and the direct intervention of France in Mali or in the Central African Republic are cases in point.

Petras regards the Zionist lobby as the most important factor in shaping US foreign policy in the Middle East. This goes beyond the influence of AIPAC because there exists a whole string of pro-Israeli think tanks, a power configuration of 52 Jewish organizations, influential individuals in the media and the military, plus leverage over the US Congress. It seems as if the author overrates the influence of the Zionist lobby, which influences and even determines US foreign policy, downplaying US policies mainly affected by the military, financial and industrial elites. Globally, Israel performs a useful role for the US in the region. In case of emergency, Israel would safeguard the Jordanian or the Saudi regimes from being overthrown either by internal unrest or foreign intervention .

The author argues that the loss of trust between the power elite and the majority of the American people is one of the leading factors influencing US foreign policy. Together with the totally discredited US Congress, only 9 per cent have a positive view of the Congress, and the public’s rejection of President Obama’s militarist approach are important factors that hindered the US empire’s determination for new wars. Despite this war-weariness, the war-mongering US Congress in close cooperation with the Zionist lobby pushes for a military confrontation with Iran, even though the negotiations between Iran and the five UN Security Council members plus Germany are heading in the right direction.

Although the geopolitical analysis of James Petras’ newest book is convincing in many aspects, his focus on the Zionist Power Configuration and a subservient US Congress does not show the whole picture of US imperial interests. The domestic power configurations are more complex. For the political class of the United States, it would be a damning indictment, if Israel or its stakeholders would be the sole power brokers in terms of US foreign policy.

Whether the 21st century will be an American one, has to be seen, although, according to Petras, “there is no alternative imperial or modern anti-imperial tendency on the immediate horizon”. Right now, the US makes more enemies than friends. Its new adventurism in Syria and Iraq may turn out to be even more disastrous for the US than the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Petras’ book gives the readers an insight in the making of US foreign policy, which appears multifarious and determined by a power struggle between different elites.

Press TV’s correspondent in Turkey, Serena Shim, has been killed in a suspicious car accident near the Turkey-Syria border.

Shim was killed on Sunday as she was on a working mission in Turkey to cover the ongoing war in the strategic Syrian town of Kobani.

She was going back to her hotel from a report scene in the city of Suruç in Turkey’s Urfa Province when their car collided with a heavy vehicle. The identity and whereabouts of the truck driver remain unknown.

Shim, an American citizen of Lebanese origin, covered reports for Press TV in Lebanon, Iraq, and Ukraine.

On Friday, she told Press TV that the Turkish intelligence agency had accused her of spying probably due to some of the stories she has covered about Turkey’s stance on the ISIL terrorists in Kobani and its surroundings, adding that she feared being arrested.

Shim said she was among the few journalists obtaining stories of militants infiltrating into Syria through the Turkish border, adding that she had received images from militants crossing the Turkish border into Syria in World Food Organization and other NGOs’ trucks.

Shim flatly rejected accusations against her, saying she was “surprised” at this accusation “because I have nothing to hide and I have never done anything aside my job.”

Kobani and its surroundings have been under attack since mid-September, with the ISIL militants capturing dozens of nearby Kurdish villages.

Turkey has been accused of backing ISIL militants in Syria.

IMF-World Bank Policies and the Rwandan Genocide

October 20th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

This article was first published in January, 1995. in the wake of the Rwandan Genocide.  It was subsequently included as a Chapter in  The Globalization of Poverty, first edition, 1997. 

In the context of recent revelations concerning the 1994 genocide and the covert role of the United States in triggering a humanitarian disaster,  the role of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank must be understood.

In September 1990 at the very outset of the US-UK sponsored RPF insurgency and invasion from Uganda, a devastating program of macroeconomic reforms was imposed on Rwanda by the IMF.

Michel  Chossudovsky, October  20  2014

*      *     *

The Rwandan crisis has been presented by the Western media as a profuse narrative of human suffering, while neglecting to explain the underlying social and economic causes. As in other ‘countries in transition’, ethnic strife and the outbreak of civil war are increasingly depicted as something which is almost ‘inevitable’ and innate to these societies, constituting ‘a painful stage in their evolution from a one- party State towards democracy and the free market’.

The brutality of the massacres has shocked the world community, but what the international press fails to mention is that the civil war was preceded by the flare-up of a deep-seated economic crisis. It was the restructuring of the agricultural system which precipitated the population into abject poverty and destitution. This deterioration of the economic environment which immediately followed the collapse of the international coffee market and the imposition of sweeping macro-economic reforms by the Bretton Woods institutions – exacerbated simmering ethnic tensions and accelerated the process of political collapse .

In 1987, the system of quotas established under the International Coffee Agreement (ICA) started to fall apart. World prices plummeted, the Fonds d’egalisation (the State coffee stabilisation fund) which purchased coffee from Rwandan farmers at a fixed price started to accumulate a sizeable debt. A lethal blow to Rwanda’s economy came in June 1989 when the ICA reached a deadlock as a result of political pressures from Washington on behalf of the large US coffee traders. At the conclusion of a historic meeting of producers held in Florida, coffee prices plunged in a matter of months by more than 50%. For Rwanda and several other African countries, the drop in price wreaked havoc. With retail prices more than 20 times that paid to the African farmer, a tremendous amount of wealth was being appropriated in the rich countries.

The legacy of colonialism

original

What is the responsibility of the West in this tragedy? First, it is important to stress that the conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi was largely the product of the colonial system, many features of which still prevail today. From the late 19th century, the early German colonial occupation had used them wami (King) of the nyiginya monarchy installed at Nyanza as a means of establishing its military posts.

However, it was largely the administrative reforms initiated in 1926 by the Belgians which were decisive in shaping socio-ethnic relations. The Belgians explicitly used dynastic conflicts to reinforce their territorial control. The traditional chiefs in a each hill (colline) were used by the colonial administration to requisition forced labour. Routine beatings and corporal punishment were administered on behalf of the colonial masters by the traditional chiefs. The latter were under the direct supervision of a Belgian colonial administrator responsible for a particular portion of territory. A climate of fear and distrust was installed, communal solidarity broke down, traditional client relations were tranformed to serve the interests of the coloniser.

The objective was to fuel inter-ethnic rivalries as a means of achieving political control as well as preventing the development of solidarity between the two ethnic groups which inevitably would have been directed against the colonial regime. The Tutsi dynastic aristocracy was also made responsible for the collection of taxes and the administration of justice. The communal economy was undermined, the peasantry was forced to shift out of food agriculture into cash crops for export. Communal lands were transformed into individual plots geared solely towards cash crop cultivation (the so-called cultures obligatoires).

Colonial historiographers were entrusted with the task of ‘transcribing’ as well as distorting Rwanda-Urundi’s oral history. The historical record was falsified: the mwami monarchy was identified exclusively with the Tutsi aristocratic dynasty. The Hutus were represented as a dominated caste….

The Belgian colonialists developed a new social class, the so-called negres evolues recruited among the Tutsi aristocracy, the school system was put in place to educate the sons of the chiefs and provide the African personnel required by the Belgians. In turn, the various apostolic missions and vicariats received under Belgian colonial rule an almost political mandate, the clergy was often used to oblige the peasants to integrate the cash crop economy… These socio-ethnic divisions – which have been unfolding since the 1920s – have left a profound mark on contemporary Rwandan society.

Since Independence in 1962, relations with the former colonial powers and donors have become exceedingly more complex. Inherited from the Belgian colonial period, however, the same objective of pushing one ethnic group against the other (‘divide and rule’) has largely prevailed in the various ‘military’, ‘human rights’ and ‘macro- economic’ interventions undertaken from the outset of the civil war in 1990.

The Rwandan crisis has become encapsulated in a continuous agenda of donor roundtables (held in Paris), cease-fire agreements, peace talks…These various initiatives have been closely monitored and coordinated by the donor community in a tangled circuit of ‘conditionalities’ (and cross-conditionalities). The release of multilateral and bilateral loans since late 1990 was made conditional upon implementing a process of so-called ‘democratisation’ under the tight surveillance of the donor community. In turn, Western aid in support of multiparty democracy was made conditional (in an almost ‘symbiotic’ relationship) upon the government reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and so on….

These attempts were all the more illusive because since the collapse of the coffee market, actual political power in Rwanda largely rested, in any event, in the hands of the donors. A communique of the US State Department issued in early 1993 vividly illustrates this situation: the continuation of US bilateral aid was made conditional on good behaviour in policy reform as well as progress in the pursuit of democracy….

The model of ‘democratisation’ based on an abstract model of inter-ethnic solidarity envisaged by the Arusha peace agreement signed in August 1993 was an impossibility from the outset and the donors knew it. The brutal impoverishment of the population which resulted from both the war and the IMF reforms, precluded a genuine process of democratisation. The objective was to meet the conditions of ‘good governance’ (a new term in the donors’ glossary) and oversee the installation of a bogus multiparty coalition government under the trusteeship of Rwanda’s external creditors. In fact multipartism as narrowly conceived by the donors, contributed to fuelling the various political factions of the regime… Not surprisingly, as soon as the peace negotiations entered a stalemate, the World Bank announced that it was interrupting the disbursements under its loan agreement.

The economy since independence

The evolution of the post-colonial economic system played a decisive role in the development of the Rwandan crisis. While progress was indeed recorded since Independence in diversifying the national economy, the colonial-style export economy based on coffee (les cultures obligatoires) established under the Belgian administration was largely maintained providing Rwanda with more than 80% of its foreign exchange earnings. A rentier class with interests in coffee trade and with close ties to the seat of political power had developed. Levels of poverty remained high, yet during the 1970s, and the first part of the 1980s, economic and social progress was nonetheless realised: real gross domestic product (GPD) growth was of the order of 4.9% per annum (1965-89), school enrolment increased markedly, recorded inflation was among the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, less than 4% per annum.

While the Rwandan rural economy remained fragile, marked by acute demographic pressures (3.2% per annum population growth), land fragmentation and soil erosion, local-level food self-sufficiency had, to some extent, been achieved alongside the development of the export economy. Coffee was cultivated by approximately 70% of rural households, yet it constituted only a fraction of total monetary income. A variety of other commercial activities had been developed including the sale of traditional food staples and banana beer in regional and urban markets.

Until the late 1980s, imports of cereals including food aid were minimal compared to the patterns observed in other countries of the region. The food situation started to deteriorate in the early 1980s with a marked decline in the per capita availability of food. In overt contradiction to the usual trade reforms adopted under the auspices of the World Bank, protection to local producers had been provided through restrictions on the import of food commodities. They were lifted with the adoption of the 1990 structural adjustment programme.

The fragility of the State

The economic foundations of the post-Independence Rwandan State remained extremely fragile, a large share of government revenues depended on coffee, with the risk that a collapse in commodity prices would precipitate a crisis in the State’s public finances. The rural economy was the main source of funding of the State. As the debt crisis unfolded, a larger share of coffee and tea earnings had been earmarked for debt servicing, putting further pressure on small-scale farmers.

Export earnings declined by 50% between 1987 and 1991. The demise of State institutions unfolded thereafter. When coffee prices plummeted, famines erupted throughout the Rwandan countryside. According to World Bank data, the growth of GDP per capita declined from 0.4% in 1981-86 to – 5.5% in the period immediately following the slump of the coffee market (1987-91).

A World Bank mission travelled to Rwanda in November 1988 to review Rwanda’s public expenditure programme… A series of recommendations had been established with a view to putting Rwanda back on the track of sustained economic growth. The World Bank mission presented to the government, Rwanda policy options as consisting of two ‘scenarios’. Scenario I entitled ‘No Strategy Change’ contemplated the option of remaining with the ‘old’ system of State planning, whereas Scenario II labelled ‘With Strategy Change’ was that of macro-economic reform and ‘transition to the free market’.

After careful economic ‘simulations’ of likely policy outcomes, the World Bank concluded with some grain of optimism that if Rwanda adopted Scenario II, levels of consumption would increase markedly over 1989-93 alongside a recovery of investment and an improved balance of trade. The ‘simulations’ also pointed to added export performance and substantially lower levels of external indebtedness. These outcomes depended on the speedy implementation of the usual recipe of trade liberalisation and currency devaluation alongside the lifting of all subsidies to agriculture, the phasing out of the Fonds d’egalisation, the privatisation of State enterprises and the dismissal of civil servants…

The ‘With Strategy Change’ (Scenario II) was adopted, the government had no choice… A 50% devaluation of the Rwandan franc was carried out in November 1990, barely six weeks after the incursion from Uganda of the rebel army of the Rwandan Patriotic Front.

The devaluation was intended to boost coffee exports. It was presented to public opinion as a means of rehabilitating a war-ravaged economy. Not surprisingly, exactly the opposite results were achieved exacerbating the plight of the civil war. From a situation of relative price stability, the plunge of the Rwandan franc contributed to triggering inflation and the collapse of real earnings. A few days after the devaluation, sizeable increases in the prices of fuel and consumer essentials were announced. The consumer price index increased from 1.0% in 1989 to 19.2% in 1991. The balance-of-payments situation deteriorated dramatically and the outstanding external debt which had already doubled since 1985, increased by 34% between 1989 and 1992.

The State administrative apparatus was in disarray, State enterprises were pushed into bankruptcy and public services collapsed. Health and education collapsed under the brunt of the IMF imposed austerity measures. Despite the establishment of ‘Social Safety’ (earmarked by the donors for programmes in the social sectors), the incidence of severe child malnutrition increased dramatically, the number of recorded cases of malaria increased by 21% in the year following the adoption of the IMF programme largely as a result of the absence of anti-malarial drugs in the public health centres. The imposition of school fees at the primary school level was conducive to a massive decline in school enrolment.

The economic crisis reached its climax in 1992 when Rwandan farmers in desperation uprooted some 300,000 coffee trees. Despite soaring domestic prices, the government had frozen the farmgate price of coffee at its 1989 level (125 RwF a kg), under the terms of its agreement with the Bretton Woods institutions. The government was not allowed (under the World Bank loan) to transfer State resources to the Fonds d’egalisation. It should also be mentioned that a significant profit was appropriated by local coffee traders and intermediaries serving to put further pressure on the peasantry.

In June 1992, a second devaluation was ordered by the IMF leading — at the height of the civil war – to a further escalation of the prices of fuel and consumer essentials. Coffee production tumbled by another 25% in a single year…. Because of over-cropping of coffee trees, there was increasingly less land available to produce food, but the peasantry was not able to easily switch back into food crops. The meagre cash income derived from coffee had been erased yet there was nothing to fall back on. Not only were cash revenues from coffee insufficient to buy food, the prices of farm inputs had soared and money earnings from coffee were grossly insufficient.

The crisis of the coffee economy backlashed on the production of traditional food staples leading to a substantial drop in the production of cassava, beans and sorghum… The system of savings and loan cooperatives which provided credit to small farmers had also disintegrated. Moreover, with the liberalisation of trade and the deregulation of grain markets as recommended by the Bretton Woods institutions, (heavily subsidised) cheap food imports and food aid from the rich countries were entering Rwanda with the effect of destabilising local markets.

Under ‘the free market’ system imposed on Rwanda, neither cash crops nor food crops were economically viable. The entire agricultural system was pushed into crisis, the State administrative apparatus was in disarray due to the civil war but also as a result of the austerity measures and sinking civil service salaries… A situation which inevitably contributed to exacerbating the climate of generalised insecurity which had unfolded in 1992…

The seriousness of the agricultural situation had been amply documented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) which had warned of the existence of widespread famine in the southern provinces. A report released in early 1994 also pointed to the total collapse of coffee production due to the war but also as a result of the failure of the State marketing system which was being phased with the support of the World Bank. Rwandex, the mixed enterprise responsible for processing and export of coffee, had become largely inoperative.

Military hardware

The decision to devalue (and ‘the IMF stamp of approval’) had already been reached on 17 September 1990 prior to the outbreak of hostilities in high-level meetings held in Washington between the IMF and a mission headed by the Rwandan Minister of Finance Mr Ntigurirwa. The ‘green light’ had been granted: as of early October, at the very moment when the fighting started, millions of dollars of so-called ‘balance-of-payments aid’ (from multilateral and bilateral sources) came pouring into the coffers of the Central Bank. These funds administered by the Central Bank had been earmarked (by the donors) for commodity imports, yet it appears likely that a sizeable portion of these ‘quick disbursing loans’ had been diverted by the regime (and its various political factions) towards the acquisition of military hardware (from South Africa, Egypt and Eastern Europe). These purchases of Kalachnikov guns, heavy artillery and mortar were undertaken in addition to the bilateral military aid package provided by France which included inter alia Milan and Apila missiles (not to mention a Mystere Falcon jet for President Habyarimana’s personal use).

Moreover, since October 1990, the Armed Forces had expanded virtually overnight from 5,000 to 40,000 men requiring inevitably (under conditions of budgetary austerity) a sizeable influx of outside money… The new recruits were largely enlisted from the ranks of the urban unemployed of which the numbers had dramatically swelled since the outset of the collapse of the coffee market in 1989. Thousands of delinquent and idle youths from a drifting population were also drafted into the civilian militia responsible for the massacres. And part of the arms purchases enabled the Armed Forces to organise and equip the militiamen…

In all, from the outset of the hostilities (which coincided chronologically with the devaluation and the initial ‘gush of fresh money’ in October 1990), a total envelope of some $260 million had been approved for disbursal (with sizeable bilateral contributions from France, Germany, Belgium, the European Community and the US). While the new loans contributed to releasing money for the payment of debt servicing as well as equipping the Armed Force, the evidence would suggest that a large part of this donor assistance was neither used productively nor was it channelled into providing relief in areas affected by famine.

It is also worth noting that the World Bank through its soft-lending affiliate, the International Development Association (IDA), had ordered in 1992 the privatisation of Rwanda’s State enterprise Electrogaz. The proceeds of the privatisation were to be channelled towards debt servicing. In a loan agreement co-financed with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Caisse francaise de developpement (CFD), the Rwandan authorities were to receive in return (after meeting the ‘conditionalities’) the modest sum of $39 million which could be spent freely on commodity imports. The privatisation, carried out at the height of the civil war, also included dismissals of personnel and an immediate hike in the price of electricity which further contributed to paralysing urban public services. A similar privatisation of Rwandatel, the State telecommunications company under the Ministry of Transport and Communications, was implemented in September 1993.

The World Bank had carefully reviewed Rwanda’s public investment programme. The fiches de projet having been examined, the World Bank recommended scrapping more than half the country’s public investment projects. In agriculture, the World Bank had also demanded a significant down-sizing of State investment including the abandonment of the inland swamp reclamation programme which had been initiated by the government in response to the severe shortages of arable land (and which the World Bank considered ‘unprofitable’). In the social sectors, the World Bank proposed a so-called ‘priority programme’ (under ‘the Social Safety Net’) predicated on maximising efficiency and ‘reducing the financial burden of the government’ through the exaction of user fees, lay-offs of teachers and health workers and the partial privatisation of health and education.

The World Bank would no doubt contend that things would have been much worse had Scenario II not been adopted. The so- called ‘counterfactual argument’… Such a reasoning, however, sounds absurd particularly in the case of Rwanda. No sensitivity or concern was expressed as to the likely political and social repercussions of economic shock therapy applied to a country on the brink of civil war… The World Bank team consciously excluded the ‘non-economic variables’ from their ‘simulations’.

While the international donor community cannot be held directly responsible for the tragic outcome of the Rwandan civil war, the austerity measures combined with the impact of the IMF-sponsored devaluations, contributed to impoverishing the Rwandan people at a time of acute political and social crisis. The deliberate manipulation of market forces destroyed economic activity and people’s livelihood, fuelled unemployment and created a situation of generalised famine and social despair…

Economic Genocide

To lay the blame solely on deep-seated tribal hatred not only exonerates the great powers and the donors, it also distorts an exceedingly complex process of economic, social and political disintegration affecting an entire nation of more than seven million people… Rwanda, however, is but one among many countries in sub-Saharan Africa (not to mention recent developments in Burundi where famine and ethnic massacres are rampant) which are facing a similar predicament. And in many respects the Rwandan 1990 devaluation appears almost as a ‘laboratory test case’ as well as a threatening ‘danger signal’ for the devaluation of the CFA franc implemented on the instructions of the IMF and the French Treasury in January 1994 by the same amount, 50%.

It is also worth recalling that in Somalia iln the aftermath of ‘Operation Restore Hope’, the absence of a genuine economic recovery programme by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) mission in Mogadishu – outside the provision of short-term emergency relief and food aid – was the main obstacle to resolving the civil war and rebuilding the country. In Somalia, because of the surplus of relief aid which competed with local production, farmers remained in the relief camps instead of returning to their home villages.

What are the lessons for Rwanda? As humanitarian organisations prepare for the return of the refugees, the prospects for rebuilding the Rwandan economy outside the framework determined by the IMF and Rwanda’s international creditors seem to be extremely bleak. Even in the event a national unity government is installed and the personal security of the refugees can be ensured, the two million Rwandans cramped in camps in Zaire and Tanzania have nothing to return to, nothing to look forward to: agricultural markets have been destroyed, local-level food production and the coffee economy have been shattered, urban employment and social programmes have been erased.

The reconstruction of Rwanda will require ‘an alternative economic programme’ implemented by a genuinely democratic government (based on inter-ethnic solidarity and free from donor interference). Such a programme presupposes erasing the external debt together with an unconditional infusion of international aid. It also requires lifting the straitjacket of budgetary austerity imposed by the IMF, mobilising domestic resources, and providing for a secure and stable productive base for the rural people.

From Ambassador Jean-Marie NDAGIJIMANA, former Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister

To:

- Tony Hall, Director-General

- Sam Bagnall, Executive Producer, This World, BBC

Dear Sir,

Let me begin by introducing myself.  My name is Jean-Marie Ndagijimana. I am a lawyer, and a human rights activist. I come from mixed ethnicity, Hutu and Tutsi; my mother is a Tutsi and my father a Hutu. During the Tutsi genocide, I lost several members of my tutsi family killed by the Hutu militias and after Paul Kagame took power, several members of my hutu family were massacred by the RPF Tutsi rebels in Rwanda and Zaïre, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Before 1994, I served as Rwandan Ambassador in Addis-Ababa from January 1986 to October 1990, and in Paris from October 1990 to April 1994. I fell apart with the interim government formed at the beginning of the genocide.  I joined the first government of national unity established after the genocide where I served as foreign affairs minister from July 1994 to October 1994. I resigned and forced to go into exile in October1994 after I denounced and condemned the massacres of thousands of innocent Hutus committed by the new national army, namely the RPA/RPF. I am now the Spokesman of the Committee for Unity, Peace and Reconciliation in Rwanda (Inteko y’ubwiyunge mu Rwanda). I live in France.

My stance on the genocide of 1994 is as follows. Yes, some Hutus committed acts of genocide against their Tutsi neighbours, there was certainly genocide against the Tutsis between April and July 1994. I spoke out publicly on that matter in the middle of April 1994 when many of those who today pretend to be defending my fellow Rwandans, murdered Tutsi and Hutu. However, all the Hutus did not participate in the massacre of the Tutsis, nor are the Hutus a genocidal people as some people seem to assert. That is confirmed by intelligence reports.

On the other hand, Hutus were victims of mass killings which could be described as genocide, though it has not as yet been recognized by the International Community. Thousands of Hutus were selectively and systematically massacred by extremist Tutsis of the RPF from October 1990 to 1994.  Many more were massacred after April 1994. My position is that Kagame’s RPF committed acts of genocide against Hutus in the areas they controlled during the war 1990-94. The ethnic cleansing of the Hutus was carried out after Paul Kagame took power in Rwanda and reached its climax in the forests of Zaire when about 400,000 Hutu refugees were killed by RPF between 1996 and 1998. The evidence abounds. The testimony of many RPF soldiers directly implicated in these massacres sends chills up your back. Investigative reports by international judges and human rights organizations have been published on that subject (Mapping Report), but without budging anything. Everything happened as if the brutality, the cruelty and the bestiality of the genocide of Tutsis hunted down and slaughtered like animals in front of TV cameras anesthetized the global consciousness that no longer wants to hear about Rwanda and millions of the dead. Out of sight, out of mind!

After all,” some say, “the massacres committed by the RPF were aimed only at the majority of the country.” The reason, “The Hutus were numerous enough to survive genocide.”

As one of the specialists of the Great Lakes and Rwanda in particular, I participated in several conferences on the Rwandan genocide, the recently took place in The Hague from June 1 to 3, 2014 to consider the failure of the international community to prevent or effectively respond to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and to explore whether and how the tragedy might have been averted.

I do confirm that at that conference, various responsibilities of Paul Kagame and the RPA in the genocide were recognized and underlined by many eye witnesses, including the former UNAMIR commander who was in Kigali during the Tutsi genocide.

At that conference, I exposed my point of view on that matter, and made it clear that Paul Kagame/RPF/RPA sacrificed the Tutsi on one hand, and committed genocide against the Hutu on the other hand. I expected the rwandan government’s delegation at the conference, to react, but they never contradicted me on that matter.

On my part, I wrote a book How Paul Kagame sacrificed Tutsi, in which I testify the responsibilities of the Rwanda Patriotic Front. I take this opportunity to send you confidentially the file of the manuscript of my book proving that the contents of the documentary “Rwanda’s untold story” are just a drop in the ocean, taking into account that one cannot tell, in one hour, all the crimes committed by Paul Kagame’s Rwanda Patriotic Front.

I do congratulate the BBC for its impartiality and the professionalism in that documentary. Those who try to frighten the BBC by spreading and broadcasting motions and public protests against the documentary “Rwanda’s untold story” are fighting a rear-guard to mask the truth and protect Paul Kagame and his accomplices.

I have attached here with the complete file of my book.

Hoping that this communication will help you understand better the complex history of the Rwandan genocide.

Yours sincerely,

Ambassador Jean-Marie NDAGIJIMANA

Spokesman of the Committee for Unity, Peace and Reconciliation in Rwanda (CUPR)

http://www.inteko-y-ubwiyunge.org/

This business has been too focused on growth and cared more about the loan outcome than the customer outcome. Andy Haste, Wonga Chairman, The Guardian, Oct 16, 2014.

Keeping people poor in a world of seedy abandonment.  Borrowing at phenomenal rates.  Loan sharks running wild, dressed by the language of assistance and salvation.  All of this should be the stuff to be binned and repelled by governments, but in an age when governments forfeit, rather than affirm responsibility in the face of the economy, the phenomenon of Wonga, a deferred deposit loan operator, has come to thrive.  Private indebtedness has become both a condition and a lifestyle.

The names of such companies as Wonga suggests something benign, a sort of gentle helper in the world of tightened finance.  You need cash. You need it quickly.  Get the money, but then repay it at phenomenally high rates of interest.  If you can’t make the payments by each payday, then you can be re-issued with a new round of finance for the debt.  The circle closes, and is never opened.  Goods can be repossessed.  Property is surrendered.  A loan of $200 easily multiplies to returns of $2000 for the lending company. (Wonga’s own rates can be up to 5,853 per cent a year.)

As the Australian Securities and Investments Commission cautions individuals, “The best way to stay out of debt is not to get a loan.  Think about whether you really need the money right now, whether there are any other options, and whether a small amount loan is the right credit product for you.”[1]  Steven M. Graves of California State University, Northridge draws up a depressing picture.  “Growing disparities in the type of and accessibility to credit in the inner city has generated calls for greater regulation to curb practices by payday lenders that critics claim disproportionately affect poor and minority customers.”[2]

It should not be surprising that this fiendish financial product is not new.  Alan Bond, convicted for Australia’s biggest corporate fraud, was one who did enjoy the business of pay-day lending.  In Britain and the United States, it took off, a rogue model of obtaining profits that sent financiers courting those at the bottom of the economic food chain.

It even got the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, worried.  So much so, in fact, that he has a proposal: supporting credit co-ops, effectively credit unions that will act as a buffer against the loan shark model.[3]  In Welby’s words, they will be “both engaged in their communities and are much more professional – and people have got to know about them.”

Welby, however, has another reason. Wonga has become a problem for his own organisation.  The Church of England’s pension fund has found its money invested via a North American venture capital firm in Wonga’s own reserves.  Ethical uprightness has, as a result, been undercut.  “It shouldn’t happen, it’s very embarrassing, but these things do happen and we have to find out why and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”[4]

Wonga, which has been termed a “payday lender”, has written off the debts of 330,000 borrowers this month who were more than 30 days in arrears.  The value of that comes down to an eye goggling £220m.  Additionally, 45,000 customers in arrears will not be chased up for interest owing.  The company is in retreat in the face of its own practices which have managed to lure individuals into the debt cycle in the name of innovative “business models”. Perhaps it is only fitting that it should have a new chairman by the name of Andy Haste, whose surname does not augur well for the company’s practices.

In a desperate attempt to salvage an already sunk reputation, the company has also appointed debt management executive Paul Miles as the new chief financial officer.  He knows the right things to say, hoping to put “good governance and superior operating processes at the heart of everything Wonga does”.[5]

This could either be startlingly simple, or monumentally difficult, given the way Wonga has been operating.  Hectoring customers under false names claiming to represent fictitious legal companies is not perhaps a “superior operating process” by any stretch of the imagination, but it must have been fun for the employees of the company whose names were actually used.

Sensitivities (because even financial markets can be sensitive) exist towards any move that could reduce the interest on the lending system, to make it more accessible without necessarily being more punitive.  This might be due to the mania associated with the bubble of the housing market, something that has become a deity to worship rather than dethrone.  As financial reporter Max Keiser notes, this disease can be attributed to the Thatcher period, as if we had not already noted it, when all Britons became housing speculators.[6]

The latest write-offs on the part of Wonga, and the keen manoeuvring to adjust its top staff, have been deemed apologies of purpose.  They still want to operate, and have suddenly decided to come clean with a modern, revised conscience.  Such a self-discovery, however, is pure illusion.  The vital issue there is less to placate the customer than to placate the regulator.

That will not impress the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has made it clear to Wonga’s founder Errol Damelin that he hopes to “compete” the likes of Wonga “out of existence”.  Fourteen states in the US have moved to ban payday lenders.  Some Australian states have set limits on the maximum annual percentage rate.[7]

With the emergence of new digital market models, be it through Bitcoin, crowsourced funding, and such creations as Metrobank, new financial imperatives continue to operate.[8]  But any regulator with teeth will have to consider halting the relentless march of the debt inducing machine that is the payday lender.

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


Notes

In the West, Russian media is often accused of propaganda. If this really is the aim of the Russian press, they aren’t remotely as good at it as the Washington Post.

Let’s talk about propaganda and the Western media’s use of ‘star’ columnists to spout it. Let’s, especially, focus on when that vitriol is deliberately inaccurate. This week’s best example is the Washington Post columns.

The Post used to be perceived as a great newspaper, but those were different times. It has won 47 Pulitzer Prizes and under Philip Graham’s direction it became regarded, globally, as a beacon of honest reporting. It’s now owned by the Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, who was named the world’s worst boss at this year’s International Trade Union Confederation World Congress in Berlin. The ITCU is not some fringe body – it represents 180 million workers. Some accolade, eh?

“Amazon operating in Germany treats its workers as if they are robots. The company makes no secret that within just a few years they will replace workers with robots. A rich American corporation operating globally with disdain for dignity, for rights for working people,”

stated Sharan Burrow, the ITCU’s General Secretary.

The halcyon days of the Post are over and, in a hardly surprising move, that story didn’t get their, once famed, forensic coverage.

One of its most prominent op-ed writers is Anne Applebaum, who writes on foreign affairs every fortnight. Her brief is global, but in Anne’s world, Russia seems to be, just about, the only foreign affair of interest.

People’s personal lives are usually not relevant here, but Anne is married to Radoslaw Sikorski, who was recently removed as Poland’s Foreign Minister, so it merits mention. Sikorski played a prominent role in stoking up this year’s coup in Ukraine and is, notoriously, hawkish on Russia. The Pole was affiliated with Washington’s American Enterprise Institute – a neocon citadel with close links to the former (George W.) Bush administration in the US. A British citizen for 19 years, until he renounced it, Sikorski is devoted to Poland but his world view was largely shaped on foreign fields. Applebaum, herself, won a Pulitzer for her book Gulag in 2004. She’s coveted an image as a ferocious warrior against oppression (so long as that oppression was in Russia) and chauvinism (again if the intolerance is in Russia). Although Moscow hijacks most of her time – in fact she’s made a career out of bashing the country – Applebaum sometimes finds a gap in her schedule for a bit of Muslim baiting.

In 2009, she claimed that “in recent years separatist and politically extreme forms of Islam have emerged in every European country with a large Muslim population: Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, Sweden.”

Now I’ve never heard of separatist Muslim’s in Denmark, have you? I also seem to have missed the separatist Islamic uprising in Germany while I was living there, although a drunken Kurd did propose that Berlin’s Kreuzberg be made a Muslim ‘zone’ with no alcohol sold – the irony amused.

Ironically, the only European country that has recently had a separatist Muslim problem is Russia. In 2001, when President Putin and then President Bush allied in the ‘War On Terror’, Applebaum wrote in London’s Daily Telegraph:

“Putin’s commitment to America’s war on terrorism was made so abruptly, and is so clearly personal, that I suspect it comes from something deeper: his racism. Or – since racism is a harsh word – perhaps it is better to say that his commitment comes from his deep belief that the greatest threat to Russia now comes not from the West and NATO, but from the South and Islam.” “When we tell the world’s Muslims that our war isn’t against them, we’d better make sure our Russian partners are acting as if they believe it.”

To put it another way, Anne was supportive of Muslims when she thought Russia was against them. Once, the penny dropped that Putin wasn’t an Islam-ophobe, she flip-flopped. And so to her Washington Post column this week Applebaum goes on a pro-NATO rant and briefly mentions how great life is in Europe. Anne lives in Poland, where the average net monthly salary is €679. Doubtless, life is pure La Dolce Vita there on an American income, but many locals might demur.

There’s a bit of spiel about how wonderful and understanding the US was in the nineties’ and then the fun starts. Applebaum claims that Russia never qualified to join the old G8 because it was “neither a large economy nor a democracy.” There’s little doubt democracy could be improved in Russia, but the fiscal comment is bizarre. Canada was a member, and still sits at the G7, but its economy is well under half the size of Russia’s. See the table below.

(Source: IMF)

So, Russia is the 4th biggest economy of the old G8, but Applebaum thinks it didn’t merit membership on the grounds of being “a large economy?” If she counters by claiming the piece referred to the 90’s, Russia was admitted in 1998, when Boris Yeltsin was in charge and open democracy was all the rage in Russia. The country defaulted on its debts the same year.

Here’s another ludicrous statement. “In 1991, Russia was no longer a great power… so why didn’t we recognize reality, reform the United Nations and give a Security Council seat to India, Japan or others?” I can answer that Anne. Russia is the world’s second largest military power, by all accepted metrics, and Japan is 10th. In fact, South Korea and Turkey have stronger militaries than Japan. Not to mention that Russia has 15,000 tanks and Japan only 767. They won’t be going too far with those. Even in 1991, Russia’s nuclear strength alone guaranteed membership.

Russia is also the only nation in the world that can currently launch a human being into space. That kind of stuff is important in the world of security.

The danger here is that The Washington Post helps frame opinion in America’s corridors of power. The vast majority of elected representatives have no personal experience of Russia and have never been there. Instead, their view of the country is framed by what they consume from the US corporate media. Applebaum speaks to an extremely powerful audience. Distorting facts to present a false picture in The Washington Post is callous, improper and viperous.

Jeff Leen, the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor for investigations, begins his renewed attack on the late Gary Webb’s Contra-cocaine reporting with a falsehood.

Leen insists that there is a journalism dictum that “an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.” But Leen must know that it is not true. Many extraordinary claims, such as assertions in 2002-03 that Iraq was hiding arsenals of WMDs, were published as flat-fact without “extraordinary proof” or any real evidence at all, including by Leen’s colleagues at the Washington Post.

A different rule actually governs American journalism – that journalists need “extraordinary proof” if a story puts the U.S. government or an “ally” in a negative light but pretty much anything goes when criticizing an “enemy.”

If, for instance, the Post wanted to accuse the Syrian government of killing civilians with Sarin gas or blame Russian-backed rebels for the shoot-down of a civilian airliner over Ukraine, any scraps of proof – no matter how dubious – would be good enough (as was the actual case in 2013 and 2014, respectively).

Journalist Gary Webb

Image: Journalist Gary Webb

However, if new evidence undercut those suspicions and shifted the blame to people on “the U.S. side” – say, the Syrian rebels and the Ukrainian government – then the standards of proof suddenly skyrocket beyond reach. So what you get is not “responsible” journalism – as Leen tries to suggest – but hypocrisy and propaganda. One set of rules for the goose and another set for the gander.

The Contra-Cocaine Case

Or to go back to the Contra-cocaine scandal that Brian Barger and I first exposed for the Associated Press in 1985: If we were writing that the leftist Nicaraguan Sandinista government – the then U.S. “enemy” – was shipping cocaine to the United States, any flimsy claim would have sufficed. But the standard of proof ratcheted up when the subject of our story was cocaine smuggling by President Ronald Reagan’s beloved Contras.

In other words, the real dictum is that there are two standards, double standards, something that a careerist like Leen knows in his gut but doesn’t want you to know. All the better to suggest that Gary Webb was guilty of violating some noble principle of journalism.

But Leen is wrong in another way – because there was “extraordinary proof” establishing that the Contras were implicated in drug trafficking and that the Reagan administration was looking the other way.

When Barger and I wrote the first story about Contra-cocaine trafficking almost three decades ago, we already had “extraordinary proof,” including documents from Costa Rica, statements by Contras and Contra backers, and admissions from officials in the Drug Enforcement Administration and Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff.

However, Leen seems to dismiss our work as nothing but getting “tips” about Contra-cocaine trafficking as if Barger and I were like the hacks at the Washington Post and the New York Times who wait around for authorized handouts from the U.S. government.

Following the Money

Barger and I actually were looking for something different when we encountered the evidence on Contra-cocaine trafficking. We were trying to figure out how the Contras were sustaining themselves in the field after Congress cut off the CIA’s financing for their war.

We were, in the old-fashioned journalistic parlance, “following the money.” The problem was the money led, in part, to the reality that all the major Contra organizations were collaborating with drug traffickers.

Besides our work in the mid-1980s, Sen. John Kerry’s follow-on Contra-cocaine investigation added substantially more evidence. Yet Leen and his cohorts apparently felt no need to pursue the case any further or even give respectful attention to Kerry’s official findings.

Indeed, when Kerry’s report was issued in April 1989, the Washington Post ran a dismissive story by Michael Isikoff buried deep inside the paper. Newsweek dubbed Kerry “a randy conspiracy buff.” In Leen’s new article attacking Gary Webb — published on the front-page of the Washington Post’s Sunday Outlook section – Leen just says:

“After an exhaustive three-year investigation, the committee’s report concluded that CIA officials were aware of the smuggling activities of some of their charges who supported the contras, but it stopped short of implicating the agency directly in drug dealing. That seemed to be the final word on the matter.”

But why was it the “final word”? Why didn’t Leen and others who had missed the scandal as it was unfolding earlier in the decade at least try to build on Kerry’s findings. After all, these were now official U.S. government records. Wasn’t that “extraordinary” enough?

In this context, Leen paints himself as the true investigative journalist who knew the inside story of the Contra-cocaine tale from the beginning. He wrote: “As an investigative reporter covering the drug trade for the Miami Herald, … I wrote about the explosion of cocaine in America in the 1980s and 1990s, and the role of Colombia’s Medellin Cartel in fueling it.

“Beginning in 1985, journalists started pursuing tips about the CIA’s role in the drug trade. Was the agency allowing cocaine to flow into the United States as a means to fund its secret war supporting the contra rebels in Nicaragua? Many journalists, including me, chased that story from different angles, but the extraordinary proof was always lacking.”

Again, what Leen says is not true. Leen makes no reference to the groundbreaking AP story in 1985 or other disclosures in the ensuing years. He just insists that “the extraordinary proof” was lacking — which it may have been for him given his lackluster abilities. He then calls the final report of Kerry’s investigation the “final word.”

But Leen doesn’t explain why he and his fellow mainstream journalists were so incurious about this major scandal that they would remain passive even in the wake of a Senate investigation. It’s also not true that Kerry’s report was the “final word” prior to Webb reviving the scandal in 1996.

Government Witnesses

In 1991, during the narcotics trafficking trial of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, the U.S. government itself presented witnesses who connected the Contras to the Medellin cartel.

Indeed, after testimony by Medellin cartel kingpin Carlos Lehder about his $10 million contribution to the Contras, the Washington Post wrote in a Nov. 27, 1991 editorial that “The Kerry hearings didn’t get the attention they deserved at the time” and that “The Noriega trial brings this sordid aspect of the Nicaraguan engagement to fresh public attention.”

But the Post offered its readers no explanation for why Kerry’s hearings had been largely ignored, with the Post itself a leading culprit in this journalistic misfeasance. Nor did the Post and the other leading newspapers use the opening created by the Noriega trial to do anything to rectify their past neglect.

In other words, it didn’t seem to matter how much “extraordinary proof” the Washington Post or Jeff Leen had. Nothing would be sufficient to report seriously on the Contra-cocaine scandal, not even when the U.S. government vouched for the evidence.

So, Leen is trying to fool you when he presents himself as a “responsible journalist” weighing the difficult evidentiary choices. He’s just the latest hack to go after Gary Webb, which has become urgent again for the mainstream media in the face of “Kill the Messenger,” a new movie about Webb’s ordeal.

What Leen won’t face up to is that the tag-team destruction of Gary Webb in 1996-97 – by the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times – represented one of the most shameful episodes in the history of American journalism.

The Big Papers tore down an honest journalist to cover up their own cowardly failure to investigate and expose a grave national security crime, the Reagan administration’s tolerance for and protection of drug trafficking into the United States by the CIA’s client Contra army.

This journalistic failure occurred even though the Associated Press – far from a radical news outlet – and a Senate investigation (not to mention the Noriega trial) had charted the way.

Leen’s Assault

Contrary to Leen’s column, “Kill the Messenger” is actually a fairly honest portrayal of what happened when Webb exposed the consequences of the Contra cocaine smuggling after the drugs reached the United States. One channel fed into an important Los Angeles supply chain that produced crack.

But Leen tells you that “The Hollywood version of [Webb's] story — a truth-teller persecuted by the cowardly and craven mainstream media — is pure fiction.”

He then lauds the collaboration of the Big Three newspapers in destroying Webb and creating such enormous pressure on Webb’s newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, that the executive editor Jerry Ceppos threw his own reporter under the bus. To Leen, this disgraceful behavior represented the best of American journalism.

Leen wrote:

“The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, in a rare show of unanimity, all wrote major pieces knocking the story down for its overblown claims and undernourished reporting.

“Gradually, the Mercury News backed away from Webb’s scoop. The paper transferred him to its Cupertino bureau and did an internal review of his facts and his methods. Jerry Ceppos, the Mercury News’s executive editor, wrote a piece concluding that the story did not meet the newspaper’s standards — a courageous stance, I thought.”

“Courageous”? What an astounding characterization of Ceppos’s act of career cowardice.

But Leen continues by explaining his role in the Webb takedown. After all, Leen was then the drug expert at the Miami Herald, which like the San Jose Mercury News was a Knight Ridder newspaper. Leen says his editors sought his opinion about Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series.

Though acknowledging that he was “envious” of Webb’s story when it appeared in 1996, Leen writes that he examined it and found it wanting, supposedly because of alleged overstatements. He proudly asserts that because of his critical analysis, the Miami Herald never published Webb’s series.

But Leen goes further. He falsely characterizes the U.S. government’s later admissions contained in inspector general reports by the CIA and Justice Department. If Leen had bothered to read the reports thoroughly, he would have realized that the reports actually establish that Webb – and indeed Kerry, Barger and I – grossly understated the seriousness of the Contra-cocaine problem which began at the start of the Contra movement in the early 1980s and lasted through the decade until the end of the war.

Leen apparently assumes that few Americans will take the trouble to study and understand what the reports said. That is why I published a lengthy account of the U.S. government’s admissions – both after the reports were published in 1998 and as “Kill the Messenger” was hitting the theaters in October. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Sordid Contra-Cocaine Saga.”]

Playing It Safe

Instead of diving into the reeds of the CIA and DOJ reports, Leen does what he and his mainstream colleagues have done for the past three decades, try to minimize the seriousness of the Reagan administration tolerating cocaine trafficking by its Contra clients and even obstructing official investigations that threatened to expose this crime of state.

Instead, to Leen, the only important issue is whether Gary Webb’s story was perfect. But no journalistic product is perfect. There are always more details that a reporter would like to have, not to mention compromises with editors over how a story is presented. And, on a complex story, there are always some nuances that could have been explained better. That is simply the reality of journalism, the so-called first draft of history.

But Leen pretends that it is the righteous thing to destroy a reporter who is not perfect in his execution of a difficult story – and that Gary Webb thus deserved to be banished from his profession for life, a cruel punishment that impoverished Webb and ultimately drove him to suicide in 2004.

But if Leen is correct – that a reporter who takes on a very tough story and doesn’t get every detail precisely correct should be ruined and disgraced – what does he tell his Washington Post colleague Bob Woodward, whose heroic Watergate reporting included an error about whether a claim regarding who controlled the White House slush fund was made before a grand jury.

While Woodward and his colleague Carl Bernstein were right about the substance, they were wrong about its presentation to a grand jury. Does Leen really believe that Woodward and Bernstein should have been drummed out of journalism for that mistake? Instead, they were lionized as heroes of investigative journalism despite the error – as they should have been.

Yet, when Webb exposed what was arguably an even worse crime of state – the Reagan administration turning a blind eye to the importation of tons of cocaine into the United States – Leen thinks any abuse of Webb is justified because his story wasn’t perfect.

Those two divergent judgments – on how Woodward’s mistake was understandably excused and how Webb’s imperfections were never forgiven – speak volumes about what has happened to the modern profession of journalism at least in the mainstream U.S. media. In reality, Leen’s insistence on perfection and “extraordinary proof” is just a dodge to rationalize letting well-connected criminals and their powerful accomplices off the hook.

In the old days, the journalistic goal was to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” but the new rule appears to be: “any standard of proof works when condemning the weak or the despised but you need unachievable ‘extraordinary proof’ if you’re writing about the strong and the politically popular.”

Who Is Unfit?

Leen adds a personal reflection on Webb as somehow not having the proper temperament to be an investigative reporter. Leen wrote:

“After Webb was transferred to Cupertino [in disgrace], I debated him at a conference of the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization in Phoenix in June 1997. He was preternaturally calm. While investigative journalists are usually bundles of insecurities and questions and skepticism, he brushed off any criticism and admitted no error. When asked how I felt about it all, I said I felt sorry for him. I still feel that way.”

It’s interesting – and sadly typical – that while Leen chastises Webb for not admitting error, Leen offers no self-criticism of himself for missing what even the CIA has now admitted, that the Contras were tied up in the cocaine trade. Doesn’t an institutional confession by the CIA’s inspector general constitute “extraordinary proof”?

Also, since the CIA’s inspector general’s report included substantial evidence of Contra-cocaine trafficking running through Miami, shouldn’t Leen offer some mea culpa about missing these serious crimes that were going on right under his nose – in his city and on his beat? What sort of reporter is “preternaturally calm” about failing to do his job right and letting the public suffer as Leen did?

Perhaps all one needs to know about the sorry state of today’s mainstream journalism is that Jeff Leen is the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor for investigations and Gary Webb is no longer with us.

[To learn how you can hear a December 1996 joint appearance at which Robert Parry and Gary Webb discuss their reporting, click here.]

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

The head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota – Dr. Michael Osterholm – is one of the world’s top infectious disease experts and a prominent public health scientist.

Dr. Osterholm just gave a talk shown on C-Span, explaining how to prevent the public from panicking about Ebola:

I categorically reject the idea that you can’t tell people you “don’t know” … because you’re afraid you’ll scare them.

There is a complete [scientific] literature on risk communications that says people are never frightened if you tell them you don’t know, but “this is what I’m doing to learn”.  Or [if you tell them] “this is something, and it might be very scary.”

The literature shows – over and over again – there are 2 things that will turn them to be very concerned … if not scared.

One is if you tell them with certainty “A”, and then you tell them with certainty “B”, and then A and B don’t happen … or they happen in a way you didn’t tell them.  Then they wonder about your credibility.

The second thing is if you get dueling banjos.  If you get one one person saying A, and another person saying “oh, you’re going to scare people, don’t say that” … because it’s not true. The literature supports that’s when people get concerned.

***

One of the worst enemies we can have today is dogma. Dogma should be, at the first instance, the thing we jettison immediately Do not fall into the trap of dogma. I see far too many today doing that for the fact that they want to reassure the public about A,B or C … and that is a dangerous path.

And see this.

Dr. Osterholm gives an example: the medical community is trying to downplay the fact that some people with Ebola never have a fever … right up until the time they die. The failure to talk openly about this fact will only end up shaking people’s confidence:

(And temperature screening is easily fooled, even when an Ebola carrier does have a fever.)

One of our recurring themes is that happy talk doesn’t fix anything.

Giving false assurances only backfires … instead making people lose trust in their governments and institutions, and increasing their fear.

I’ve never been very politically minded. I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’ve never been arrested and I don’t like to get in trouble. I do like, and always have, to think for myself. I’m a natural skeptic and pragmatist. These days, there are a couple of issues that are getting under my skin, and connecting the dots between them helps to establish a framework for a truth in science “sniff-test”. Be warned, you may find that many arenas in which you have come to believe that you were being protected by your authority figures and government, in fact, you’ve been led down a blind path, and will be left there to fend for yourself when it all goes down. That’s why I advocate for consumer empowerment and thoughtful decision-making about what we put in our bodies.

Humans suffer from hubris – we think we know better than nature, can fix it, manipulate it, and master it. There are (at least) two major transgressions that follow similar patterns, raise important red flags, and most certainly do not pass the sniff test: GMOs (genetically modified “foods”) and vaccination.  Here’s what they have in common:

War with Nature

Nature has a sense to it, cultivated over billions of years of evolution. The complexity of botanical systems, the relationship to pests, soil, and the elements sustains optimal diversity and reproduction. It was only when we began to industrialize the process, hijack growth with an eye toward yield, and allow chemical companies to attempt to regulate variables of perceived adversity that we ended up in the mess that GMO crops are in today. Now we have randomly spliced animal DNA with bacterial vectors inserting into plant genomes, disrupting the natural functioning of the plant, and allowing for supersaturation with the toxic, endocrine-disrupting and gut bug slaughtering herbicide, Roundup.

Pharmaceutical companies and doctors think they can outsmart immune systems that have evolved to coexist with microbes, to be primed and educated by them. We are at war with infectious disease, and as a consequence, our fear and malice toward bacteria and viruses have lead us to compromise and alter our immune systems with pathogens entering our bodies through our muscles, accompanied by toxic additives that cripple our natural immune function and causechronic inflammation. The notion of improving upon our human capacities, as we understand them is discussed by Sayer Ji of GreenMedInfo as “transhumanism.”

We cannot outsmart nature, we are only just beginning to appreciate her infinite sophistication.

Lack of Pre-marketing Safety Study

Monsanto claims that GMOs are simultaneously equivalent to existing foods (relieving them of any real duty to demonstrate safety), and novel enough that they can be patented. Despite the Frankensteinian effects of genetic manipulation on proteins and gene expression, these foods have never been studied in a human population, let alone assessing for long-term effects. What happens as a result of this fast-track-to-market process is that slow-emerging trends of harm at the population level begin to emerge.  Differing patterns of chronic disease in Europe and America at this point may have some relation to limitations of GMO products in Europe.  There is inherent difficulty in associating cause to effect in chronic disease; however, arguing for the importance of long-term premarketing trials.

Vaccines have similarly, never been studied against an unvaccinated control group, allegedly because they are assumed to be so vital to our health that it would be unethical to withhold them even though basic epidemiology demonstrates that hygiene and nutrition have played the most significant role in elimination of infectious disease.  They have never been studied in their current schedule, nor have the additives (adjuvants) which include known body toxins, aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde, and polysorbate 80.

Signal of Harm

Despite this lack of effort and incentive to support safety data in these two arenas, both have suffered a signal of harm that should have activated the precautionary principal. Monsanto monitored GM and non-GM fed rats for 90 days, and declared that changes in liver and kidney function were not clinically significant. Seralini et al, copied this design, but extended the observation period to years. Take a gander at what happened to these animals. The first tumor sprouted at the 4 month mark. Multiple animal studies have emerged mirroring this study’s provocative findings. Glyphosate, the herbicide that has been sprayed in escalating quantities, is an endocrine-disruptor that has been linked to obesity, liver disease, birth defects, autism, and cancer.This is the most enlightening exploration of its toxic mechanisms. Bt-toxin in GMO corn has been found to puncture intestinal cells and circulate into fetal tissue.

Whether in the realm of neurodevelopment, deathautoimmunity, or even susceptibility to the disease intended to provide protection from, vaccines have been demonstrated to harm and several billion dollars have been paid out to victims through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Patterns of chronic illness such as atopy and autism have been demonstrated to correlate with vaccine uptake and prospective study of neurodevelopment in monkey’s has demonstrated injury.

Suppression of Investigation

Seralini was silenced. His work was roundly attacked, censored from the media, and demands from industry ties for the paper to be retracted from its journal of publication. Several months after Seralini’s paper, Richard Goodman, a former Monsanto employee was fast-tracked to the position of Associate Editor for Biotechnology. With Monsanto now at the helm of influential medical journals, the prospects for publication of independent research are diminishing.

The now infamous Andrew Wakefield, who published a paper on the presence of vaccine-strain measles in the guts of autistic children was stripped of his license and maligned for fraud in a witch-hunt intended to suppress any further investigation into this connection. Fortunately, at least 28 independent studies from around the world have confirmed his findings.

Protection of Corporate Profits

The “Monsanto Protection Act” was designed to provide legal immunity to GM technology so that citizens could never litigate on the grounds of harm secondary to GM food exposure. In this way, corporations would be protected above farmers and citizens.

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was established in 1986 to assume liability from corporations so that any incentive to police the safety of their product was roundly eliminated and civilians could only engage in a non-jury-mediated “trial” of red-tape and rejection as a means of seeking justice for injury.

Revolving Door Conflicts of Interest

This is where the rubber meets the road on these issues, and, truly the source of all corruption. When those regulating a system in need of checks and balances are the same people who have profited or are profiting from its protection and success, we have a critical breakdown in protection of the interests of consumers and patience. The revolving door of Monsanto and government ranges from Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and former Monsanto Vice President of Public Policy to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former Monsanto attorney. Enjoy this pictorial.

The list of interchangeable figures between the CDC, pharmaceutical industry and Vaccine Advisory Committee features more conflicts than exceptions. Notably, in January 2010, Julie Gerberding, former director of the CDC, became the President of Merck’s vaccine unit. In January 2011, Elias Zerhouni, former director of the NIH became President of Sanofi-Aventis’ research labs. These relationships are known to be kindled far in advance of the job acceptance. The most outspoken mouthpiece of today’s vaccine schedule is Paul Offit MD, Merck employee and Rotavirus vaccine patent holder.  This paper details the many layers of profit-motivation that cloud regulators’ judgment.  Here’s a little video if you’d rather not read.

It is an impossible expectation that objectivity in research support or information dissemination could be exercised under these circumstances. These conflicts of interest undermine any and all safety claims, and leave those engaging with these technologies to look to research that has not been funded by corporate agendas to help navigate true concerns about risk. These are multibillion-dollar corporate giants with dollars to spare when it comes to influencing legislators and regulators.

These arenas and their implicit overlap as discussed here, are slated to unite in a number of in-development GMO-containing vaccines. We are already part of a vast, uncontrolled experiment, and this may add a layer of complexity that will be the ultimate straw that broke the camel’s back. If you’re anything like me, you want out of this deal you never signed up for. There is a way out. Make informed choices, trust your instincts, vote with your wallet.

Dr. Brogan is allopathically and holistically trained in the care of women at all stages of the reproductive cycle experiencing mood and anxiety symptoms, including premenstrual dysphoria (PMDD), pregnancy and postpartum symptomatology, as well as menopause-related illness.

You can learn more about Dr. Brogan at www.kellybroganmd.com, and connect with her on Facebook

Mass protest action continued Friday over the disappearance of 43 teaching students (normalistas) from Ayotzinapa in the Mexican state of Guerrero. A march of over ten thousand teachers and sympathizers took place in the afternoon along the hotel beach zone in the Guerrero Pacific coast resort of Acapulco.

Marchers chanted, “Ayotzinapa is all Mexico.” They demanded that authorities produce the missing students, alive. They also demanded that Guerrero’s governor, Ángel Aguirre, leave office.

Undaunted, Governor Aguirre ordered a massive state police presence to contain the Acapulco demonstration. Police reportedly worked with so-called narco taxi drivers to keep the marchers from entering certain zones.

On Thursday protesters in Guerrero state occupied five city halls, including the municipal headquarters of Chilpancingo, Guerrero’s capital. They vowed to take all 81 town halls in Guerrero unless the students were returned.

The 43 normalistas disappeared after police in the city of Iguala opened fire on protesting Ayotzinapa students September 26, killing six people and wounding 16 other students.

Last week Guerrero state prosecutor Iñaky Blanco said that two members of the Guerrero Unidos gang had confessed to killing 17 of the missing students and burying them. The gang members said that the order to kidnap the students came from Iguala’s police chief, who has since disappeared along with its mayor, José Luis Abarca.

Twenty-eight burned bodies were recovered from mass graves on the outskirts of Iguala. This week federal investigators said the bodies were not those of the missing students because their DNA did not match them. However, 26 mass graves have been located in the area so far, making processing all of them a laborious task.

The status of the missing students remains shrouded in mystery, and outrage in Mexico is widespread.

Abarca’s brothers-in-law had been lieutenants in the notorious Beltrán Leyva drug cartel, and another brother-in-law is a member of Guerrero Unidos. No sooner were Albarca’s ties to drug gangs made public last week than Albarca’s mother-in-law said in an interview that the Beltrán Leyvas had financed Aguirre’s campaign for governor.

Both Albarca and Aguirre are members of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). They are in the dominant faction in the PRD called the Chuchos, which signed on to President Peña Nieto’s “Pact for Mexico,” including attacks on teachers and workers and the opening up of the Mexican economy and oil industry to foreign capital.

Facing massive disaffection, on Thursday the head of the PRD was forced to call for Aguirre to resign. The Guerrero state Congress on Thursday formally removed the fugitive Abarca from his mayoral post. Aguirre then replaced Abarca with his deputy, Luis Mazón. Aguirre at the same time removed Mazon’s brother, Lázaro Mazón, as secretary of health of Guerrero state because he had been the principal promoter of Abarca’s political career.

Authorities reported finding a blanket in Iguala Wednesday with a message from the head of Guerrero Unidos directed to President Peña Nieto. It claimed that the brothers of Mario Casarrubias Salgado, the founder of the gang, and a gang called Los Peques (the Kids), were responsible for the massacre and disappearance of the normalistas. It also reportedly said that eight mayors in the northern part of Guerrero state, including in major cities such as Taxco and Ixtapan de la Sal, as well as a high state official, had close ties with the gang.

Peña Nieto’s government has long known of Abarca’s ties to drug gangs. Peña Nieto’s attorney general and interior minister last year were provided with credible testimony that Abarca had such links and had killed political rivals. They did nothing.

In a poll taken in Guerrero published in the newspaper Reforma this week, half of those polled anticipated that those responsible for the disappearance of the normalistas would escape with impunity, while only 37 percent predicted that they would be punished. Sixty-three percent of those polled were in favor of the protests and marches demanding justice for the disappeared students, and 65 percent said they disapproved of Governor Aguirre’s handling of the matter.

The savage attack on the Ayotzinapa normalistas comes only a few months after what now appears to have been the summary execution of 22 youths by a special army brigade in Tlatlaya in the nearby state of Mexico. The Secretary of National Defense has does his best to likewise shroud the facts of that incident from public scrutiny.

The Iguala and Tlalaya massacres hold a mirror to the character of Mexican capitalism and the state that stands atop it. They reveal the real and explosive state of affairs: mass violence against the population, political manipulation of the law if not its complete absence, corruption, the collusion of organized crime with the authorities, and the complicity of the civil government and the armed forces in all of the above.

In the final analysis, the terrorism of the state is meant to crush any resistance of the Mexican working class to a political and socioeconomic regime that benefits only Mexican oligarchs and foreign capital.

In a speech Thursday at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, titled “Going Dark: Are Technology, Privacy, and Public Safety on a Collision Course?” Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey demanded that the major telecommunications corporations develop new “backdoor” access points in their encryption systems to facilitate the US government’s mass surveillance programs.

Comey’s speech exposed the real perspective of the US ruling elite—usually concealed behind the smokescreen of lies—with respect to the unconstitutional surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency, the FBI and other government agencies.

Comey made clear the government will not tolerate even minor and ineffective obstacles to the government’s wiretapping and data mining efforts, such as the limited forms of cell phone encryption promoted by the tech companies as part of a marketing strategy.

Focusing in particular on the deployment of cell phone encryption software by Apple and Google, Comey complained that even with its existing “supercomputer” technology, the government is hampered in its surveillance efforts by increasing use of widely available data encryption methods.

“The law hasn’t kept pace with technology… Encryption threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place,” Comey warned.

Comey acknowledged that the promotion of cellphone encryption by the corporations is motivated by public relations considerations stemming from exposures of NSA spying. Alluding to the attempts of the companies to refurbish their reputations, damaged by revelations from Edward Snowden that they actively collaborated in the government’s mass spying, Comey said, “Encryption isn’t just a technical feature; it’s a marketing pitch… And my question is, at what cost?”

Comey noted that the companies are defending their new encryption systems by pointing to other methods through which the government can gain access to their customers’ data en masse. “Apple argues, for example, that its users can back-up and store much of their data in ‘the cloud’ and that the FBI can still access that data,” Comey said.

The FBI director insisted, however, that the agency requires direct access to communications content, effectively admitting the fraudulence of US government claims that only metadata is subject to dragnet surveillance.

“Metadata doesn’t provide the content of any communication. It’s incomplete information,” Comey said.

Comey’s comments included a notable departure from the usual platitudes advanced by surveillance boosters about the supposed need to “strike a balance” between “liberty” and “security.” Echoing arguments advanced by the most authoritarian regimes in modern history, the FBI director said that even minimal freedoms can only be protected by a powerful, omnipresent security apparatus.

“Some have suggested there is a conflict between liberty and security. I disagree…. When a city posts police officers at a dangerous playground, security has promoted liberty—the freedom to let a child play without fear,” Comey said.

There is a growing recognition within the US elite that the population is not convinced by surveillance justifications based on the threat of “terrorism.” Comey largely framed his arguments in terms of the need to surveil kidnappers and child abusers, warning of “predators who exploit the most vulnerable among us” and “violent criminals who target our communities,” while citing a number of particularly horrific incidents in an effort to justify systematic violation of privacy and democratic rights by the state.

Comey’s remarks were peppered with blatant lies and distortions about the extent of government surveillance. Brushing aside the avalanche of evidence publicized by Snowden, Comey claimed, absurdly, that the US government is not systematically gathering data on the population.

“In the wake of the Snowden disclosures, the prevailing view is that the government is sweeping up all of our communications. That is not true,” Comey said. “Perhaps it’s time to suggest that the post-Snowden pendulum has swung too far in one direction—in a direction of fear and mistrust.”

Turning reality on its head, Comey claimed that while the government has the necessary “legal authority to intercept and access communications and information,” the agency nonetheless lacks “the technical ability to do so.”

In fact, as documents leaked by Edward Snowden have conclusively demonstrated, surveillance programs developed by the US government are systematically acquiring, storing and analyzing every bit of communications data produced by populations worldwide. Comey’s assertions about “legal authority” notwithstanding, these programs operate in flagrant violation of the US

Constitution, the Bill of Rights and international human rights covenants. Near the conclusion of his remarks, Comey pointed to these essential political issues at stake in the struggles over electronic surveillance—those relating to democratic rights and the rule of law—before asserting, in contradiction to all the evidence, that the system of checks and balances established by the framers of the US Constitution remains in force.

“This country was founded by people who were worried about government power… they divided government power among three branches, with checks and balances for each. And they wrote a Bill of Rights to ensure that the ‘papers and effects’ of the people are secure from unreasonable searches,”

Comey said.

“The means by which we conduct surveillance through telecommunication carriers… is an example of government operating in the way the founders intended—that is, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches proposing, enacting, executing, and overseeing legislation, pursuant to the rule of law,”

Comey said.

“I think it’s time to ask: Where are we, as a society? Are we no longer a country governed by the rule of law, where no one is above or beyond that law?” Comey asked.

In reality, one of the main “legal” underpinnings for the government’s mass spying programs is Executive Order 12333, a unilateral decree promulgated by the Reagan administration and extended by further executive fiats issued during the George W. Bush administration. For its part, the judiciary has been effectively incorporated into the illegal activities of the government through the establishment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 1978, a parallel authoritarian shadow court that routinely rubber-stamps mass surveillance requests submitted by the NSA.

Freed from any meaningful oversight or constitutional constraints, it is the security agencies of the executive branch that increasingly operate as a law unto themselves. As Comey’s own remarks Thursday made clear, these instruments of capitalist class rule are determined to access all of everyone’s data, all of the time, viewing with unconcealed hostility any attempt to protect one’s “papers and effects” from government scrutiny.

Eric Toussaint Interviewed by Julia Goldenberg for the Argentine newspaper Página 12. |1| Eric Toussaint is a political scientist, university professor, activist and chairman of the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM). He has strong opinions on international finance. During an interview with Página 12, he described vulture funds as an extreme version of finance capital and their actions as a threat to regional stability. Member of Ecuador’s Presidential Commission for the Integral Audit of Public Debt, Eric Toussaint will be visiting Argentina this month.

Why do you think that the vulture funds are an extreme form of finance capitalism?

Vulture funds are the vanguard, followed by troops called Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citibank, HSBC, Bank of America, Santander, etc. I also think that the devious intention of the US to intervene in the region looms large behind this. External debt is a powerful instrument for subordinating Latin America, an instrument for enforcing the region’s involvement in neo-liberal policies. This is what is happening in Europe, the laboratory for fresh offensives of neoliberal policies.

Do you think that Judge Griesa’s ruling is an offensive against not only Argentina but also the entire region?

I think, Judge Griesa’s ruling |2| attempts to turn back Latin America’s clock to the late 19th and 20th century, when the US dictated terms to the indebted countries without respecting their sovereignty and with a brazen partiality towards the creditors. Vulture funds buy debt securities and then sue the countries. Therefore, I think it‘s about weakening the entire region. Over 20 years ago the NML hedge fund sued Peru and won a massive compensation, thanks to a colluding Fujimori. The way vulture funds perform is nothing new, it is well known. The novel factors here are Judge Griesa’s arrogance and Argentina’s reaction. In the case of Peru, Fujimori agreed to pay the compensation and in return the fund supplied an aircraft so that he could flee the country.

You participated in Ecuador’s Presidential Commission for the Integral Audit of Public Credit launched in 2007 by Rafael Correa. What can the region learn from this experience?

President Rafael Correa’s action regarding debt is inspiring: he issued an Executive decree for setting up an audit committee. Highly qualified members from the civil society, social movements etc were selected for this committee. The Executive decree to set up a commission for auditing the debt of 30 years (1976 to 2006) was a very interesting initiative. So far Brazil’s President Getulio Vargas is the only one to have taken a similar initiative in 1933, but social movements were not involved in it. Nevertheless, at that time it was a success story: based on the audit findings he managed to persuade creditors for a 70% debt reduction. The Ecuadorian Commission spent 14 months to identify the illegal and / or illegitimate part of the debt. It was a comprehensive audit, not limited to accounting or legal standards. We also considered the social, human and environmental impacts of the policies and projects financed by debt. Take, for example, large infrastructures: for one, we examined the effects and impacts of big hydroelectric dams on people. I think it is essential to conduct an audit in Argentina: its debt since 1976 is illegitimate and that must be proved. The decades of illegitimate debt |3| are as follows: the debt contracted by the military junta (1976-1983), by Carlos Menem with his privatization program in the 1990s, Cavallo’s “mega-swap” (Megacanje) in 2001, etc. So I think it is vital to set up an audit process.

What will be the effects of the recent UN resolution for establishing a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring?

This topic is now being debated within the UN General Assembly itself: that is the central and positive aspect of this vote The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in early September 2014 on the need for a mechanism for resolving disputes over sovereign debt. |4| .The fact that the UN General Assembly has embraced this issue is extremely important and globally relevant. However I insist: the solution lies in the unilateral sovereign decisions taken by the countries concerned. Frankly speaking, I do not foresee any concrete outcome from this resolution. There could be political effects at the international level, and that’s very important. I feel that the present-day world is basically a place where international law is not really respected and the most powerful states enforce their agenda. For example, Israel flouts international law through its actions against the Palestinian people. Overall, the US respects neither the UN Charter nor the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice in Hague. In this world-the real world, not the world of our dreams-the will of the strongest prevails, although the majority aspires to something else. Therefore, I reaffirm: only unilateral acts based on international laws can bring about a genuine solution to the debt problem. What do I mean by that? Since there is no international legal authority which can intervene effectively, it rests upon the indebted countries themselves to supersede the laws of the creditors with their own laws.

As for the internal voting on this UN resolution on external debt, how will you analyze the abstentions? Particularly those of the European countries, many of whom are in borderline situations, such as Greece or Spain?

When the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights were adopted, the US and several European countries voted against the motions. There is nothing new or surprising about this attitude. For the past 30 or 40 years, the UN has been taking steps, even if the US and the European countries wished otherwise or the European countries abstained from voting. Thus we observe that a big chunk of votes is repeatedly cast in the exact same manner, at the end of which the Southern countries, which form the majority, make some headway. However, the resolutions are not implemented afterwards. The major players abstain from voting or vote against the resolution, and take the utmost care to prevent any action taken on these votes. I mean they thwart the implementation of international treaties. Europe has recently become the epicenter of a neoliberal assault of capital against labor, creditors against the indebted. For example, Greece’s current situation is similar to that of Latin American countries during the 1980s. It is entirely controlled by the IMF.

What strategies should the region adopt for resisting fresh financial assaults?

The Bank of the South (BoS) is a vital instrument for reasserting national sovereignty. Néstor Kirchner signed the BoS’ founding charter in 2007, a few days before his term came to an end. However, the bank has not granted a single loan so far. Seven years down the line the Bank is yet to take off. I think the BoS has sufficient assets to lend to its member countries, so that they need to depend less on financial markets and organizations like the World Bank, IMF and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador have decided to leave the ICSID, the World Bank’s tribunal for the settlement of investment disputes, which generally rules in favor of the interests of multinational corporations at the expense of countries. These three countries have formally withdrawn from the ICSID in writing. Brazil never recognized this court. So we now have four South American countries that are not members of the ICSID: Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Brazil. As for strategy, I want to draw attention to the following based on my analysis of the Griesa ruling. After the military dictatorship in 1976, Argentina relinquished its sovereignty, going against the Argentine Constitution and the Calvo and Drago Doctrines |5|, named after two Argentine jurists from the late 19th – early 20th centuries. If an indebted country relinquishes its sovereignty, that becomes a crucial problem. Therefore, I believe that the Drago and Calvo Doctrines, which state that local jurisdictions will have authority in case of conflict with foreign investors, should be reintroduced. In addition, President Rafael Correa’s decree of 2007 is an example to follow. Finally, I believe that sovereign unilateral acts based on international law can by themselves help countries garner respect for the interests of their people.

Translated by Suchandra De Sarkar

Notes

|1| Página 12 is the main center-left newspaper in Argentina. Its editorial policy supports President Cristina Fernandez’s government. See the original full page version of this interview published in Página 12 on Sunday, September 28, 2014 http://www.pagina12.com.ar/diario/e… The interview has also been published in Spanish on CADTM’s website: http://cadtm.org/Los-fondos-buitre-…

|2| Judge Griesa is a New York based judge who ruled in favor of a vulture fund against Argentina. Seehttp://cadtm.org/Dettes-des-Etats-L… , http://cadtm.org/The-vulture-funds-… andhttp://cadtm.org/How-to-resist-vult…

|3| See Eric Toussaint, Argentine : Maillon faible dans la chaîne mondiale de la dette?, published on September 1, 2001, http://users.skynet.be/cadtm/pages/…. Also see:http://users.skynet.be/cadtm/pages/…

|4| See the UN website http://www.un.org/press/en/2014/ga1…. Following is an excerpt from the UN news bulletin dated 10.09.2014 on this subject: A new United Nations General Assembly resolution on debt restructuring that will set up a multilateral legal framework for debtor countries to emerge from debt safely was welcomed today by the UN rights expert on the issue as a way forward to “fill the current legal voice and reduce uncertainty.” With 124 votes in favour, 11 votes against and 41 abstentions, the General Assembly adopted the resolution: “Towards the establishment of a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes” on Tuesday that would establish an intergovernmental negotiation process aimed at increasing the efficiency, stability and predictability of the international financial system. http://www.un.org/News/dh/pdf/engli…

|5| Argentine Foreign Minister Luis María Drago formulated the Drago doctrine in 1902. It was a response to the intervention of the UK, Germany and Italy, that had blocked and bombarded ports after President Cipriano Castro refused to pay Venezuela’s massive external debts. Despite the Monroe Doctrine’s stipulations, the US refused to defend Venezuela, on the grounds that it was not warranted in this case, vis-à-vis their refusal to pay. In response, the Drago doctrine stated that no foreign country could collect debts payments forcefully. Drago doctrine is based on the Calvo doctrine but the two should not be confused. The Calvo Doctrine, named after Carlos Calvo (1824-1906), is a doctrine of international law which states that people living in a foreign country must file their pleas, complaints and grievances to the jurisdiction of local courts without calling for diplomatic pressure or military intervention. Appeals should be made to international diplomatic channels only when all local legal avenues are exhausted. Several Latin American countries have incorporated this doctrine in their constitutions.

It’s still 2014, but the New York Times is already running 2016 campaign coverage.  This new article (10/15/14) is about is something pretty fundamental: How white voters feel about a black president.

Under the headline “In South, Clinton Tries to Pull Democrats Back Into the Fold,” reporter Amy Chozick chronicles Hillary Clinton’s campaigning for a Senate candidate in Kentucky, a state she won during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. The Times notes that Clinton won thanks to “a huge advantage among white working-class voters.” And that’s the point of the piece: how someone like Clinton would be more appealing to white voters than Obama.

That’s the point, but in the second paragraph Chozick uses an unfortunate euphemism:

White Democrats voted for Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Obama by 49 percentage points in 2008, a telling indication of both her strength and Mr. Obama’s trouble in attracting traditional Democratic voters.

So is a “traditional voter” a white voter? Since the whole premise of the piece is about how Clinton would appeal to the white vote, that would seem to be the message. It recalls something that MSNBC host Chris Matthews said about Obama and his failure to connect with “regular Democrats” (Extra!7/08). (This was before Obama gave him that “thrill going up my leg”.) Regular, in the context of that race, sure seemed to mean one thing: white people.

The Times piece refers to the “the racial and class divisions in the Democratic Party that emerged in 2008 and have been exacerbated during Mr. Obama’s presidency,” and the papers gives voice to those who say this is Obama’s fault:

Many Democrats said Mr. Obama never made efforts to repair the divides that became apparent that year, leaving states like Kentucky and Arkansas vulnerable to a Republican rout.

So Obama is so unappealing to whites that Kentucky is a Republican state now? For a piece that is crafted around the idea that white Democratic votes are really in play, it would have been helpful to point to some numbers–though it wouldn’t have much helped the piece.  In 2008, exit polls show that Obama lost the white vote in Kentucky to John McCain by 63 to 36 percent. And four years earlier, when the race was between two white guys? John Kerry lost to George W. Bush, 64 to 35 percent.

So maybe the lesson is that white people in Kentucky aren’t “traditional Democratic voters” at all.

One of the most jarring passages was this:

Jonathan Miller, a former Kentucky state treasurer, said it was voters’ animosity toward Mr. Obama, and not necessarily excitement for Mrs. Clinton, that was energizing Democrats here. “We’re just nostalgic for when Democrats were different than Obama,” he said.

Back when Democrats were “different” than Obama. Wonder what he means by that. Traditional?

Shadow Facts About Shadow Government

October 19th, 2014 by David Swanson

Tom Engelhardt keeps churning out great books by collecting his posts from TomDispatch.com. His latest book,Shadow Government, is essential reading. Of the ten essays included, eight are on basically the same topic, resulting in some repetition and even some contradiction. But when things that need repeating are repeated this well, one mostly wants other people to read them — or perhaps to have them involuntarily spoken aloud by everybody’s iPhones.

We live in an age in which the most important facts are not seriously disputed and also not seriously known or responded to.

The United States’ biggest public program of the past 75 years, now outstripping the rest of the world combined, is war preparations. The routine “base” military spending, not counting spending on particular wars, is at least 10 times the war spending, or enough to totally transform the world for the better. Instead it’s used to kill huge numbers of people, to make the United States less safe, and to prepare for wars that are — without exception — lost disastrously. Since the justification of the Soviet Union vanished, U.S. militarism has only increased. Its enemies are small, yet it does its best to enlarge them. U.S. Special Operations forces are actively, if “secretly,” engaged in war or war preparations in over two-thirds of the nations on earth. U.S. troops are openly stationed in 90 percent of the nations on earth, and 100 percent of the oceans. A majority of the people in most nations on earth consider the United States the greatest threat to world peace.

The U.S. military has brought death, terror, destruction, and lasting damage to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya — and spilling out of Libya into Mali, sparked a Sunni-Shiite civil war in Iraq that has spread to Syria, rendered Pakistan and Yemen more violent and insecure with drone strikes, and fueled violence in Somalia that has spilled across borders.

These facts are well-established, yet virtually incomprehensible to a typical U.S. news consumer. So, if they can be repeated brilliantly and convincingly, I say: the more times the better.

We’re rendering the earth uninhabitable, and the October 27, 2014, issue of Time magazine includes a section headlined “Why the Price of Oil Is Falling — And What It Means for the World.” In reality, of course, it means devastation for the world. In Time it means a happy American oil boom, more sales for Saudi Arabia, and a good reason for Russia to rein in its military. Yes, the same Russia that spends 7% of what the United States does on its military. To get a sense of how Russia could rein in that military, here is a video of a Pentagon official claiming that Russia has physically moved closer to NATO (and put little green men into Ukraine).

Years ago I wrote an article for TomDispatch called “Bush’s Third Term.” Now of course we’re into Bush’s fourth term, or Clinton’s sixth. The point is that presidential power abuses and war-making expand when a president gets away with them, not when a particular party or individual wins an election. Engelhardt explains how Dick Cheney’s 1 percent doctrine (justifying war when anything that has a 1% chance of being a danger) has now become a zero percent doctrine (no justification is needed). Along with war today comes secrecy, which encompasses complete removal of your privacy, but also — Engelhardt notes — the abandonment of actual secrecy for “covert” operations that the government wants to have known but not to have held to any legal standard.

The White House went to the New York Times prior to President Obama’s reelection and promoted the story that Obama personally goes through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays and carefully picks which ones to have murdered. There’s no evidence that this hurt Obama’s reelection.

The Bush White House went to the New York Times and censored until after Bush’s reelection, the story that the government was massively and illegally spying on Americans.  The Obama White House has pursued a vendetta against whistleblower Edward Snowden for making public the global extent of the spying. While Engelhardt tells this story with the usual suggestion that Snowden let us in on a big secret, I always assumed the U.S. government was doing what people now know it is. Engelhardt points out that these revelations have moved European and Latin American governments against the U.S. and put the fear of major financial losses into Silicon Valley companies known to be involved in the spying.

Engelhardt writes that with the NSA and gang having eliminated our privacy, we can now eliminate theirs by publicizing leaked information. At the same time, Engelhardt writes that dozens of Snowdens would be needed for us to begin to find out what the U.S. war machine is doing. Perhaps the point is that the dozens of Snowdens are inevitable. I hope so, although Engelhardt explicitly says that the shadow government is an “irreversible way of life.” I certainly hope not, or what’s the point of opposing it?

Engelhardt notes that the U.S. government has turned against massive ground wars, but not against wars, so that we will be entering an era of “tiny wars.” But the tiny wars may kill in significant numbers compared with wars of centuries gone by, and may spark wars by others that rage on indefinitely. Or, I would add, we might choose to stop every war as we stopped the Syrian missile crisis of 2013.

Engelhardt pinpoints a moment when a turning point almost came. On July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter proposed a massive investment in renewable energy. The media denounced his speech as “the malaise speech.” “In the end, the president’s energy proposals were essentially laughed out of the room and ignored for decades.” Six months later, on January 23, 1980, Carter announced that “an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” The media took this speech quite seriously and respectfully, labeling it the Carter Doctrine. We’ve been having increasing trouble with people whose sand lies over our oil ever since.

WikiLeaks has released a second updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the world’s largest economic trade agreement that will, if it comes into force, encompass more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The IP Chapter covers topics from pharmaceuticals, patent registrations and copyright issues to digital rights. Experts say it will affect freedom of information, civil liberties and access to medicines globally. The WikiLeaks release comes ahead of a Chief Negotiators’ meeting in Canberra on 19 October 2014, which is followed by what is meant to be a decisive Ministerial meeting in Sydney on 25–27 October.

Despite the wide-ranging effects on the global population, the TPP is currently being negotiated in total secrecy by 12 countries. Few people, even within the negotiating countries’ governments, have access to the full text of the draft agreement and the public, who it will affect most, none at all. Large corporations, however, are able to see portions of the text, generating a powerful lobby to effect changes on behalf of these groups and bringing developing country members reduced force, while the public at large gets no say.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief, said:

The selective secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, which has let in a few cashed-up megacorps but excluded everyone else, reveals a telling fear of public scrutiny. By publishing this text we allow the public to engage in issues that will have such a fundamental impact on their lives.

The 77-page, 30,000-word document is a working document from the negotiations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, dated 16 May 2014, and includes negotiator’s notes and all country positions from that period in bracketed text. Although there have been a couple of additional rounds of talks since this text, little has changed in them and it is clear that the negotiations are stalling and that the issues raised in this document will be very much on the table in Australia this month.

The last time the public got access to the TPP IP Chapter draft text was in November 2013 when WikiLeaks published the 30 August 2013 bracketed text. Since that point, some controversial and damaging areas have had little change; issues surrounding digital rights have moved little. However, there are significant industry-favoring additions within the areas of pharmaceuticals and patents. These additions are likely to affect access to important medicines such as cancer drugs and will also weaken the requirements needed to patent genes in plants, which will impact small farmers and boost the dominance of large agricultural corporations like Monsanto.

The lack of movement within the TPP IP Chapter shows that this only stands to harm people, and no one is satisfied. This clearly demonstrates that such an all-encompassing and divisive trade agreement is too damaging to be brought into force. The TPP should stop now.

Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei.

People to go to for comment: HealthGap Professor Brook Baker, Senior Policy Analyst [email protected]

Knowledge Ecology International James Love, Director +1 202 361 3040 +1 202 332 2670 [email protected]

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Judi Rius Sanjuan, US Manager, MSF Access Campaign +1 917 331 9077

Public Citizen Peter Maybarduk, Director of Global Access to Medicines Program +1 202 588 7755 [email protected]

Fraud and Manufactured Ebola Paranoia in the United States

October 19th, 2014 by Prof Jason Kissner

This article presents argument is support of two related claims. The first claim is that there is a significant probability that the supposed “Ebola outbreak” in the United States is, at least so far, fraudulent. The second claim is that the overriding political purpose of the putatively manufactured mass Ebola paranoia in the United States is martial in nature. That is, the second claim comprehends the notion that deep state neocon figures are attempting to pressure the fraud Obama into aggressive military action in places such as Syria and Iraq, and conceivably the Ukraine. A contrived Ebola mass panic that has the potential to easily, and instantly, transform into a reality—even a derivative reality that at bottom is false—is an ideal mechanism by which to exert maximum pressure on Obama.

The argument is presented as follows. First, reasons in support of the claim that the Ebola outbreak in America is, at least so far, fraudulent are offered. Having established that there are good reasons to consider the fraud hypothesis valid, predictions derived from the hypothesis are offered. Obviously, to the degree that the predictions are substantiated/disconfirmed in coming days, the probability assigned to the fraud hypothesis should be increased/decreased. The conclusion specifically includes an assessment of the way in which Ebola’s apparently “aerosolized” status fits into the discussion.

There are at least two sets of probabilistic reasons to suspect Ebola fraud in the United States. These two sets were canvassed in an earlier article by this author that appears here. First, and briefly, while the MSM has reported with tremendous enthusiasm Dr. Kent Brantly’s plasma transfusion matches with three U.S. citizens tightly connected to U.S. soil (Dr. Nick Sacra, NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, and Nurse Nina Pham), the probability of these matches having actually arisen is provably, and formally so, exceedingly low (either .0352 or .0036 depending on whether Brantly’s blood type is A or B; as the above-linked article demonstrates, O and AB can be ruled out by logical deduction).

We might add now that, should the set of three be pronounced fully recovered, we would, in principle, have to factor in the likelihood that the plasma transfusions worked—after, of course, having accounted for the probability of having recovered anyway, how soon treatment was administered, etc. While data might not be sufficient to allow us to quantify this, we would nonetheless be compelled to acknowledge that logically speaking, a “three person recovery” result could only revise the already low probability estimates even further downward.

Second, there is, at least as of this writing, really no persuasive evidence that Nurse Pham (or, as far as I am aware, Amber Joy Vinson, for that matter) has Ebola. This is not a bombastic claim; instead, it is predicated on the way rational inference with probabilities works. We’ve been told that Pham received a positive Ebola diagnosis. However, we still know next to nothing as to exactly what her exposure to Duncan consisted in, and how long she was exposed. On the basis of what we have been told so far, it is quite possible that her prior probability of having contracted the disease was very low, which, together with the reality of false positive tests, might even mean that she is still more likely not to have Ebola than have it—in spite of the positive test result.

And here we arrive at a most interesting topic of discussion in connection with the MSM that should be discussed before moving to analysis of some contextual reasons to suspect Ebola fraud in the United States. Readers might agree that this point could be even more significant than others made in this article—particularly since it might shed light on mass-mediated fraud generally speaking. It is highly doubtful that the MSM did any assessment of the prior probability of Pham’s having contracted Ebola before reporting that she had it and making Pham an international figure. And how likely do you think it is that an Axis U.S. Government official tapped an MSM mouthpiece on the shoulder and began talking about the importance of prior probabilities?

Suppose now that someone were to whisper in the MSM’s ear that Pham doesn’t have Ebola, but rather something else that mimics Ebola. Do you think the MSM/Government Axis would reverse course? This writer, at least, doesn’t think so—and these considerations show that the MSM/Government Axis is, even under the most charitable of interpretations, gambling with respect to Pham’s status. It is obvious, though, that with enough such gambles, sooner or later entirely fictitious realities will have been constructed—fictitious “realities” that are very unlikely to be unwound even if they were innocently (if recklessly) created in the first place and are only subsequently discovered.

Here are some additional, and rather more contextual, reasons to suspect fraud with respect to Ebola in the United States. we now have, as Zero Hedge indicates, a U.S. federal figure, clipboard in hand, who traipses after purported U.S. soil generated Ebola victim # 2 Amber Joy Vinson. The federal figure, of course, is sans protective regalia.

Phoenix Air, which transported Vinson, issued an official explanation for the Hazmat lapse:

“Our medical professionals in the biohazard suits have limited vision and mobility and it is the protocol supervisor’s job to watch each person carefully and give them verbal directions to insure no close contact protocols are violated,” a spokesperson from Phoenix Air told ABC News said.

“There is absolutely no problem with this and in fact insures an even higher level of safety for all involved,” the spokesperson said.”

This explanation, of course, is so preposterous that to dispute it would be undignified. And then there are the silly “self-monitoring” programs that have been set up; how effective at containment are those supposed to be? Plus, we have Obama’s designation of Ron Klain as Ebola “czar”—a know-nothing from the standpoint of medicine but a political fixer extraordinaire. Also, there is the issue of travel bans, which Obama refuses to enact. If Ebola really is much more contagious now than it’s ever been and presents a serious threat to the United States, with 150 or so travelers a day coming from West African nations and not merely the possibility, but the likelihood that, given enough persons and flights, someone would be transmissible (even if not obviously so) on a plane, even Obama would enact a travel ban—unless he is trying to destroy the planet with Ebola (which is possible, but very unlikely to this author).

Readers will undoubtedly be able to extend these sorts of observations, but here it perhaps suffices to note that while incompetence could conceivably explain the observations in the previous paragraph, incompetence doesn’t explain the Brantly transfusion compatibilities and doesn’t eliminate the Pham prior probability issue. And, isn’t “incompetence” an uncomfortably common explanation of nearly every national security-related lapse?

If the current Ebola cases in the United States are in fact fraudulent, what conclusions should we draw regarding future events? One question, to be sure, is whether Obama knows they are fraudulent. On this score, it is reasonable to conclude that nearly everything the Obama administration has done is fully consistent with their believing that the cases are fraudulent. It might even be reasonable to say, as suggested above, that the behavior of the Administration can be construed as an admission that fraud is in play.

But if it is fraud, and Obama knows it, he also knows that saying so in this atmosphere would likely lead to his removal from office. He also knows that Ebola in the United States can probably be made real anytime the people faking it want to, and so the fakers have the upper hand in every way that matters. But what do the fakers want? Likely, the same thing they’ve wanted for a very long time: aggressive, militarized action in the Middle East and against Russian interests.

Under this view, the statistically unprecedented White House fence-jumpings and Secret Service lapses didn’t work; “Khorasan” and “Boko Haram” didn’t work in terms of compelling stronger militaristic interventionism. Nothing else has either. So the solution has been to compel Obama to stake his presidency on an Ebola situation that has likely been serving other purposes in Africa anyway.

So, Obama, having not heeded the Secret Service failure message or any other message, either offers a pronounced intensification of interventionism abroad followed by a drying up, and “containment” of Ebola in the United States (hail to the “chief” after all); or he refuses—in which case, more “Ebola” cases pop up sooner rather than later if at all—very possibly including one that is real.

It is also quite possible that Obama will be given additional justification for intervention by way of manufactured noise in areas such as the Middle East—just in case the Ebola grease isn’t enough. In the meantime, immediately ensuing days may well be more or less quiet on the Ebola front; after all, the still somewhat useful fraud Obama will be given enough time to cut the “right” deal.

To be sure, readers might find themselves wondering: “why Ebola as the mechanism”? There are several good reasons as to why this might be so. First, unlike terrorist attacks with, for example, bombs, the Ebola threat is continuous in nature and therefore in principle allows for more time for negotiation and greater ambiguity as to appropriate response.

Second, it amounts to the sort of bioterror which is much more difficult to attribute to “failures” of the national security apparatus than it is to Obama in his civilian capacity.

Third, what other form of fraud can produce a higher yield in terms of disruption? What other form of fraud offers Ebola’s sort of combination of mass-mediated sympathy and fear, and hence large amount of mass-mediated contagion per “casualty”? In principle, while people vary greatly in terms of fear responses, those who don’t worry about bombs might well worry about sneezes and vomiting—especially if told to do so.

Fourth, there is obviously the result of funneling even more money into Big Pharma, and the prospects of looming mass vaccination programs and an even greater Fascist takeover of health care.

Fifth, the Ebola potentiality generates fascinating political unifications. Many critics of the NWO from the “left” and the “right” have been galvanized, and suspect that the Ebola state of affairs might an NWO end-stage move. Perhaps, but wouldn’t it be ironic if misguided paranoia assisted in the implementation of major mid-term moves advancing global fascism by giving technological and economic control a bit more time to develop?

Overall, it is very rarely the case that the collection of interests that generates mass frauds does so with only one goal in mind. If the current Ebola situation in the United States really is fraudulent, it likely serves many functions, and in all likelihood was never intended to be “unleashed” in the United States until the public psyche had been appropriately conditioned by months of news reports.

Now to the conclusion, which, as promised at the outset, includes reflection on the “aerosolized” issue from the standpoint of the fraud hypothesis. Ebola may well be airborne, and there is reason to believe that the current strain or strains of Ebola we are dealing with is/are novel (click here for a discussion of each possibility). It cannot be gainsaid that there is empirical data in support of these propositions, and it should be noted here that Brosseau and Jones, as well, have suggested that Ebola may be airborne.

And yet, this does not necessarily detract from the probabilistic assessments, suggestive of fraud, regarding the Brantly transfusions and the Pham/Vinson prior probability concerns. It should be noted that Brosseau and Jones do not so much as rule aerosolized transmission in as show why it ought not be ruled out. This is not a criticism. Instead, it is a way of indicating that we can’t be exactly sure of what the viral capabilities are at present. If the fraud hypothesis is true, the novel strains of Ebola might well already be aerosolized, but right now the better bet is that the aerosolized possibility is being used as a propaganda tool and that reports of increased fatalities are either exaggerated, or outright lies, or real but attributable to other considerations involving human parties. The author’s primary reason for modifying his earlier conclusions on the “aerosolized” possibility emanates from the probabilistic indications of fraud. Obviously, empirical evidence in the future might counsel rejection of the fraud hypothesis.

Regardless, this author hopes to discuss, in a future contribution, just how easy it is to generate mass frauds. In closing, though, it is important to acknowledge that the Ebola situation in the United States could be real, and could easily become real even if it hasn’t been so far. If it is real, though, there is no reason to expect cases to suddenly go quiet on weekends, is there—particularly with some many persons supposedly exposed?

Dr. Jason Kissner is Associate Professor of Criminology at California State University. Dr. Kissner’s research on gangs and self-control has appeared in academic journals. His current empirical research interests include active shootings. You can reach him at [email protected].

If any of the mainstream media are to be believed, you would think that the future of the country, the very foundation of our Republic and what’s left of its democracy hung by a thread on the results of the upcoming 2014 Congressional election, especially Republican control of the Senate.

And yet, as the issueless campaigns of meaningless gestures drone on, voter turnout is anticipated to be more a measure of voter antipathy rather than an endorsement of the  posture of We-Own-the World.

Absent from the discussion in what constitutes a political campaign these days, is any real substantive sparring on issues of vital importance to the American public. To call it a debate on which party is best equipped to control Congress is a stretch as Democrats continue to support the president’s broken foreign policy initiatives which lay in a shambles from Ukraine to Iraq and Afghanistan to Libya.

As the savage ISIS, the latest international bogeyman marked for US annihilation threatens the fall of Baghdad and the largest US embassy complex in the world, and despite its support by US ‘allies’ Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, not one Senate Democrat has taken to the Senate floor to publicly question how ISIS is a threat to US national security.

After a decade of purposeless wars that have contributed to keeping the banks solvent, out on the campaign hustings there is no acknowledgement of a crumbling economy bolstered by an equally disintegrating governmental institution or that a fossilized domestic policy has sacrificed the well-being of millions of Americans on the altar of Empire.

As the two parties meld into one cumbersome/awkward political unit, no campaign furor is heard comparing the disintegration of American infrastructure and the breakdown of US social structure with the more severe results of US-provoked wars around the world.

With the absence of any contrition, no show of remorse or shame and certainly no apology to the American people by any member of the Senate for their lack of leadership and failure to govern, there has been no campaign furor over the economic and civil chaos after a decade of war and whether the disastrous futile results were worth the effort. Understandably, there has been no interest in Congressional oversight hearings to identify lessons-learned of another lost war since the obvious conclusion would inevitably lead to a legislative deterrent from repeating the same behavior, the same catastrophic mistakes. Nor has one Senate Democrat inquired what has the US achieved by its

interventions (proxy or otherwise) in Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya or made the link between the financial cost of US foreign policy debacles ($6 trillion spent on Iraq and Afghanistan) and the unnecessary bankruptcy of Detroit.

As the campaigns stumble their way to the Nov. 4th finale, one possible exception might by the re-election of Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo), whose questioning of NSA overreach and other civil liberty infringements has not translated into a groundswell of voter support. Locked in a very tight race with a Ted Cruz wanna-be which may prove to be a losing campaign, Udall has continued to support the president and every other Obama initiative.

* * *

In 2012, with a very narrow Democratic Senate majority (51 – 47) at risk, twenty-three Democratic Senate seats were on the ballot with only ten Republicans running for re-election. Clearly, the Democrats could not afford to lose one seat. With eight open Democratic Senate seats up for grabs, the odds did not look good for Democrats. And yet, as extremist tea party candidates sank Republican hopes of taking the Senate and both houses of Congress, the Democrats actually gained a 55-45 margin.

That was then…and this is now….

With a total of 36 Senate seats on the November 4th ballot (21 Democrats and 15 Republicans), current polls show Republicans expect to pick up four previously-held Democratic seats now open due to retirements (Montana, Nebraska, West Virginia and South Dakota) with Iowa, also a Democratic open seat, now leaning Republican. If Republicans can hold on to Sen. Pat Roberts (Kansas) who is facing strong opposition from an Independent with no Democrat on the ballot, Republicans may have big reason to celebrate on November 4th.

Since 2008, when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, little has been accomplished legislatively to warrant an outpouring of rampant voter enthusiasm on Election Day.

There is, of course, a slim chance that the R’s will blow it as they did in 2012 but with a bevy of new, attractive candidates debating a handful of stodgy, less than dynamic Democratic Senators, the odds currently favor a Republican takeover – giving both houses of Congress to the Republicans despite an erstwhile Democrat in the White House. To suggest that Barack Obama is a Democrat, in the historic sense, stretches one’s credulity and in what might have been a transformative presidency but for bungled political capital early on; lies one explanation for why the Democrats are in a very serious

suicidal spiral.

The thought of Republicans in control of Congress, one step from the White House, should send the heebeejeebies through the veins of anyone who cares about what were once traditional social Democratic liberal issues. This is not to suggest that today’s Democrats are saviors of the middle class or have the necessary inner grit required to stave off the demons of Wall Street or the NSA or the neocons in the State Department. Too often, they have readily acquiesced to Republican domination. But as the American public have witnessed: with no assertive, committed opposition to be the voice of peace, the disenfranchised, the unemployed, the homeless and millions of lost Americans, no statesmen/women has stepped forward as leadership of a national stature in every sector of the country has collapsed.

* * *

One example of the deterioration of Congress that still haunts today’s Constitutional crisis was its approval of the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) on Sept 14, 2001. Three days after the 911 attacks (when has Congress ever moved so swiftly) , the AUMF authorized the use of “necessary and appropriate force” against those unnamed, unknown parties responsible for 911. The House vote was nearly unanimous (420) with 1 dissension from Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif and ten not voting while the Senate vote was unanimous (98-0) with two absentees. Both votes took place with no debate.

In preparation for the Iraq invasion, a second AUMF Against Iraq was offered in October, 2002 which passed the House 296 – 133 with 81 Democrats in support and Senate approval (77 – 23) including 28 Democrats. In both votes, Democrats provided the margin of victory with a Republican in the Oval Office.

As a presidential candidate in 2008 opposed to the 2002 AUMF Against Iraq as a ‘dumb war,’ President Obama has, more recently, initiated Operation Inherent Resolve claiming both AUMF’s as the proper legal basis for initiating targeted air strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria without Congressional authorization. Obama’s latest imperial war is, however, in clear violation of the War Powers Act of 1973 which allows the President a 60-day period of hostilities without Congressional approval after which a continued conflict would constitute violation of the Act.

Using the incoherent logic that ISIS is an off-shoot of al Qaeda, which is, at best, problematic since the latter eschewed any association with ISIS in February, the White House has further sought to define ISIS as an ”associated force” (of al Qaeda). As if to legitimize its pursuit of ISIS and its use of AUMF

as political and legal cover for its attacks, the term is absent from either resolution and represents another Constitutionally-challenged application of the statutory interpretation of the AUMF. And yet as the Administration relies on AUMF for its legal authority:

“The two AUMFs .. were .. two very different conflicts, aimed at two different enemies, pursuing very different strategies, and based on completely different legal justifications, certainly under international law,” said Mary Ellen O’Connell, a professor of international law at Notre Dame.

While the AUMF has been used to justify a wide range of military initiatives including the Department of Justice conducting warrantless surveillance, legal justification for the war on terror, the use of Guantanamo, Navy seal raids and even drone strikes, Congressional Democrats who voted for the AUMF are responsible for providing every President since 2002 and into the future all the rationale necessary to justify the next attack on an extreme jihadist and the next and the next……

The Nato ordered indictment of Muammar Gadaffi by the International Criminal Court (ICC) during the Nato attack on Libya in 2011 echoed the indictment of President Milosevic by International Criminal Tribunal For Yugoslavia, during the Nato attack on Yugoslavia in 1999. Both men ended up dead as a direct consequence. The indictments of these two men, had only one purpose, to serve as propaganda to justify Nato’s aggression and the elimination of governments that refused to bend the knee.

The international criminal justice machine has become a weapon of total war, used not to prosecute the criminals who conduct these wars, but to persecute the leaders of the countries who resist.

Milosevic and Gaddafi are not the only victims of this criminalised international legal structure. The list is long:

President Saddam Hussein of Iraq,

President Charles Taylor of Liberia,

Prime Minister Jean Kambanda of Rwanda,

President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast,

President Bashir of Sudan and

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.

The charges against them trumped up, created out of whole cloth. Recently there was talk in the western press of charges against President Putin. We all see how absurd and surreal the game has become.

The structural role these tribunals have played in the attempt by the USA and its Nato allies to create a New World Order has been analysed and described by distinguished jurists and writers around the world. Since I am a trial lawyer, I wanted to contribute to your understanding of the criminal nature of this international justice machine by relating to you some of my experience defending a particular political prisoner held by it. I could tell you about the scandalous practices of the ICTY in the Milosevic trial in which I was involved through his international defence committee but these are well known and have been recounted by a number of eminent persons and writers. There are many victims of these tribunals but I will focus on this one particular case because it stands as an exemplar of the many. However, the criminality was so deep and so extensive that when I began writing down the history of this trial I realised I would need a book to relate it all. So, in the time permitted us, I decided to provide you with a sketch of how these trials work.

So I am going to talk about the Rwanda tribunal because it is the most familiar to me and because the war in Rwanda is used time and again by the United States in its propaganda to justify its wars of intervention, so-called. The US claims that the violence that occurred tin Rwanda in 1994 would not have happened if only America and others had acted instead of standing by and doing nothing. But now, after 15 years of trials and investigations, we know that the America and its allies did directly intervene. It was they who controlled that war and it was they who unleashed violence of an unprecedented magnitude and savagery simply in order to overthrow a regime that was an obstacle to greater conquests and riches in the Congo. Their forces, we now know, did most of the killing and Bill Clinton’s lie that the US was not involved is one of the great lies of history. As Boutros-Ghali told the Canadian writer on Rwanda, Robin Philpot, in 2004, “The Americans are 100% responsible for what happened in Rwanda.” Clinton’s big lie has been accepted and acted on because of the propaganda campaign that accompanied it in the media and the key to that propaganda campaign are the show trials at the Rwanda Criminal Tribunal, set up and financed by the same Nato countries and corporations and Soros connected ngos as control the Yugoslav, Sierra Leone and Hariri tribunals.

In January, 2000, General Augustin Ndidiliyimana, the former Chief of Staff of the Rwanda gendarmerie and most senior ranking Rwandan military officer in 1994, was arrested in Belgium based on an indictment issued by Carla Del Ponte, then prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal For Rwanda, the ICTR. He fled to Belgium in June 1994 after receiving threats on his life. His entry into Belgium was authorised by the then Belgian Foreign Minister, Willy Claeys, later Secretary-General of Nato, who stated at the time that he had saved the lives of many Rwandans.

It is with the arrest that the criminality begins to appear. It was speculated in the Belgian press at the time that it was for political reasons and indeed, 11 years later, this speculation was confirmed when the trial judges delivered their judgement.

They stated, in the judgement dated May 17, 2011 the following: General Ndindiliyimana was considered a political “moderate” during the Rwanda War of 1990-94, a Hutu respected by Tutsis and Hutus alike and, as attested to by many witnesses including witnesses for the prosecution, his gendarmes did not commit crimes against civilians but tried to protect them where they could. So why was he arrested?

Because he was a potential leader of the country, because he refused to cooperate with the RPF regime installed by the United States after the war, because he knew too much about what really happened in Rwanda and who was really responsible for the violence, because he knew that UN and American forces, despite Clinton’s denials, were directly involved in the final RPF offensive of 1994 and the murder of President Habyarimana. All these reasons were no doubt involved in his arrest but it quickly became clear that the prosecutor used his arrest to pressure him to give false evidence against Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, the former deputy minister of defence in Rwanda who was their primary target, the “big fish” of the prosecution.

The criminal methods used against him began immediately on his arrest. He and his counsel in Brussles met with two ICTR prosecution staffers who informed him that the indictment was just a formality to give the ICTR jurisdiction over him and that the real reason for his arrest was to accompany them to Arusha, Tanzania, the home of the ICTR, to meet with the prosecutor to be interviewed regarding events in Rwanda. The Rules of Procedure require that an accused be shown the indictment on arrest. He was shown nothing. Yet he voluntarily accompanied the ICTR staffers to Tanzania, and was immediately thrown in prison.

In June 2000 Ndindiliyamana contacted me by letter and asked me to be his counsel. I agreed and he submitted my name to the registrar to have me assigned. But their immediate reaction was to try to dissuade him from engaging me, stating that I had no experience, that I could not speak French, (he spoke no English) both false and attempted to persuade him to take counsel they preferred. This was a frequent occurrence at the ICTY and R and is now the norm at the ICC. Defence counsel who are seen to be too effective and willing to bring out the all the facts and let justice be done though the sky may fall, or, as Kant phrased, it “to let justice reign even if all the rascals in the world should perish from it”, are prevented from representing accused by various means in favour of counsel who are either active agents of the western powers or who will only put up token defences The few strong defence counsel who are able appear are hampered in every way possible and even thrown in prison on charges trumped up by the prosecution, and the intimidation of counsel trying to defend them, as we recently saw in the Bemba case at the ICC. Nevertheless, Ndindiliyimana persisted and, finally, I was allowed to represent him and to meet him later that summer.

The first thing to do obviously was to get hold of the indictment and see what the charges were. But that proved to be very difficult. The indictment was not a simple statement of a criminal charge. It was, instead, a 65 page propaganda tract, setting out the mass media version of the war, all of it false, all of it meant to prejudice the accused in the eyes of the judges but, more especially, meant for public consumption and prosecution press releases. In other words it was pure propaganda, and written as such. The other surprise was that entire lines, sections and even entire pages of the indictment were blacked out, including the names of co-accused.

On his arrival in Arusha the general was not taken immediately before a judge for an initial appearance as required by the ICTR Rules of Procedure. Instead he was held incommunicado for almost 4 months and did not make his first appearance before the judges of the tribunal until April 28th of that year. The delay was a deliberate tactic meant to soften him up psychologically. The same tactic was used against other prisoners, one example being Prime Minister Jean Kambanda, who instead of being brought before a judge on arrest was taken to a location hundreds of kilometres from the tribunal, held incommunicado for nine months and threatened by two Canadian police officers every day to make him confess to crimes he had not committed.

When Ndindiliyimana was finally brought before a judge the lack of a proper indictment was raised by the duty counsel who stated the accused was being asked to plead to a document that was half blank. The judge did nothing.

Upon my arrival at the tribunal, in July 2000, an American woman approached me in a hallway of the tribunal offices and informed me that she was in charge of the prosecution staff and wanted to talk with me. She informed me that she was not only a lawyer. She was also a Colonel in the US Air Force Reserves. She asked to meet me the next day to discuss a deal which was strange considering the charges they had made against my client of genocide. The next day, about 20 people walked into the meeting room where I was sitting alone. The attempt to intimidate me was clear. The American colonel made various proposals for a deal if we agreed to cooperate and testify for the prosecution. Our response was that the charges, so far as we could make them out, were false, that we could not accept his arrest and detention as a means of forcing him to give false testimony and demanded to have a trial. As an aside, I heard a number of times in private meetings with UN staffers, some at high levels, that everyone at the tribunal knew the general was a good man and not guilty of any thing but, as one insider told me, that’s the way the Americans “are playing things here”, and to watch my back.

On my next trip to Arusha, a couple of months later, to argue a motion for his release, I found that he had “disappeared” from the prison. The UN and Tanzanian guards refused to tell me where he was. It took a day of angry arguing with obstructive officials to find out that he had been transferred to a UN safe house in the town of Arusha. The excuse given to me was that he was in danger from other prisoners but in reality it was to keep him isolated psychologically, to weaken him, to soften him up, and to discredit him with the other prisoners by making it look like he was “making a deal.”

We demanded that he be taken back to the UN Detention Unit but all our legal efforts to effect that were useless until I raised the issue in the press and to avoid further scandal, two days after the press raised the issue, he was returned to the UN prison, where, soon after, he was elected head of the prisoners’ committee.

Over the next 4 years we faced constant obstructions in trying to find out what was going on, what charges he actually faced, what they were going to do and when he was going to have a trial. During this period, repeated offers were made by the prosecutors, including dropping all the charges but all were refused; our position being simply that his arrest and detention to pressure him to testify were illegal and immoral and that he would only cooperate as a free man.

Demands for a speedy trial were met with shrugs of indifference. We were not given any relevant disclosure and even at the end of the trial the prosecution kept hidden thousands of documents that were exculpatory and only came to light by accident. So, in effect we never got any disclosure and had to create a defence for what we thought the general charges to be. To compound the problems, we were also refused sufficient investigative missions to locate and meet with witnesses to build our defence.

Two Irish lawyers found out through sympathetic contacts in the UN security office that defence office phones and fax lines were tapped. We learned that at least one defence lawyer was an agent of the prosecutor. Lawyers noticed they were followed and hotel rooms were broken into. Attempts were made to put women net to us who worked for the Tanzanian and Rwandan intelligence services. Rumours were spread in the UN detention unit to discredit defence counsel with their clients.

In 2003, a Scottish lawyer, Andrew McCarten, representing another accused at the ICTR, came to see me in Toronto stating he knew all about how the US and CIA controlled the tribunal at every level and that he feared for his life. He was very agitated. He had just arrived from New York where had tried to meet with Bill Clinton, and had been thrown out of his office. He told me details of the US military and CIA penetration of the tribunal and said he was going to send me documents of even darker things. The tribunal accused him of financial irregularities and kicked him out. Two weeks late he was dead. The police could find no cause for his car going off a cliff in Scotland. He was Scotland’s foremost military lawyer.

On a visit to Arusha just after that I was visited by a major in American army intelligence, accompanied by an intelligence officer from the American State Department Research Intelligence Bureau who wanted to know what our trial strategy was and what my client’s views were of African politics.

The defence lawyers were not the only ones who faced problems. In 1997, Louise Arbour ordered an investigation into the shoot-down of the presidential plane, which resulted in the massacre of all on board, including the Hutu President of Rwanda, Habyarimana and the Hutu president of Burundi, Ntaryamira and the Army Chief of Staff. The invading Ugandan-RPF forces and Americans claimed that Hutu “extremists” shot down the plane.

An Australian lawyer, Michael Hourigan, was assigned to lead the investigation and in due course he reported to Arbour that his team had determined that it was in fact the RPF that had shot down the plane with the help of a foreign power and the CIA was implicated. Arbour, he stated in an affidavit, seemed enthusiastic when he first informed her by telephone but when he was summoned to The Hague to meet with her, her attitude had totally changed to open hostility. He was ordered to hand over his evidence and ordered off the case.

To this day that file has been kept secret and no one named in his report has been charged.

In January 2004 the defence lawyers organised a strike to protest the political nature of the charges and trials, the poor working conditions for the defence, the searches of defence counsel when they went to meet with their clients, and the isolation and conditions for the prisoners. A few weeks after the strike the strike leader, Jean Degli, a Congolese lawyer based in Paris, an excellent advocate and a strong leader of the defence lawyers’ association, was implicated by the prosecution in a financial scandal and forced out from the defence of a senior military officer. He had to go and he was gone. Once he left the tribunal the defence lawyers’ association fell apart and never took any effective action again.

British and American lawyers would sometimes appear in the prison and announce to several accused that they had been appointed their lawyers. But the prisoners had not asked for them, did not know them, did not want them and became convinced that they were sent in by western intelligence agencies to control the outcome of the cases. The prisoners themselves created a list of defence lawyers they believed to work for western intelligence agencies. For those cases the tribunal could not control through friendly counsel the prosecution tried to insert someone inside the defence team to pass on information and to influence defence tactics and strategy. We detected several people who were working for the prosecution as spies.

They sabotaged our team by trying to trap and arrest our lead investigator, a former Rwandan police major, very useful to us in locating witnesses. On the very day that he arrived in Arusha, I was informed by a sympathetic official that they intended to arrest him on genocide charges, that his work programme had been suspended and that I better get him out of the country. So we had to quickly smuggle him out of Tanzania, at considerable cost, to avoid his arrest or worse. The charges were patently false, as he had been cleared by UN security and Rwanda well before he was engaged as our investigator. But the prosecution tactic effectively crippled our defence for over a year and we were never able to locate an investigator again with his experience and contacts. To this date, our demands to know why he was charged have been met by silence but it is worth noting that after this episode he was accepted into the Dutch police force which did a complete security check on him and determined that he had no involvement in the events of 1994.

The pressure increased when the prosecution circulated rumours that indicated they were intending to charge the general’s wife as well.

Finally, almost 5 years after the general’s arrest, the trial began, in September, 2004. To our complete surprise, at the very start of the trial the prosecutor stood up and filed a brand new indictment containing dozens of new charges including allegations of massacres we had never heard of and personal murders allegedly committed by the general himself. The accusations were of the worst and most sensational kind. It was clear they were meant to prejudice the accused in the eyes of the judges before the trial got going and in fact, as we saw in their judgement many of those were dropped without any evidence ever being presented. It was all a sham. We protested and demanded a delay to prepare a defence. We were denied and forced on and so had to prepare a defence on the run. At that point I was alone without co-counsel as the registrar refused to allow us to have counsel we wanted. The judges’ attitude from the first day was openly hostile and they refused to allow us to discuss certain issues, or to cross-examine witnesses as we wanted. They openly sided with the prosecutors and sat back and did nothing as, each day, the prosecutors launched into vicious personal attacks on defence counsel and the accused.

The prosecution witnesses were mainly Hutu prisoners of the RPF, held without charge for ten years or more, in terrible conditions, many tortured, none of their testimony agreeing with the statements they had made prior to trial, much of it, double and triple hearsay. No RPF officers were called to testify though they did call a few witnesses who were members of Rwandan government propaganda groups. The only evidence they had came out of the mouths of these Hutu prisoners and government agents.

Nevertheless, a number of them, once on the stand, had the courage to state that they had been forced to sign statements and testify falsely in return for release, favours or to avoid execution. We learned from these witnesses that the regime had set up schools in the prisons to recruit and train false witnesses, and the judges heard detailed accounts of how witnesses were recruited in these prisons, and that prosecution staff at the tribunal were involved in this scandal. What the fate of these prisoners was when they returned to Rwanda we do not know but the fate of those that cross the Rwanda regime is always unpleasant and permanent.

Even the judges, selected and groomed to be hostile to the defence, began slowly to become uncomfortable with what they were hearing and disturbed on learning that all the witness statements disclosed to us post-dated the general’s arrest.

The judges threatened my self and other counsel with arrest if we continued lines of questions they didn’t want us to pursue, and there were daily angry confrontations in court between the judges and defence counsel when we tried to protect the rights of the accused and insisted on a fair trial. Throughout the trial, evidence came out that the enemy forces had committed mass atrocities against civilians but instead of the judges asking the prosecution why these forces were not charged they tried to silence us.

In 2005, during my cross-examination of a Belgian Army colonel concerning what is known as the Dallaire genocide fax, we learned that the translators were reading from scripts prepared by the prosecution instead of translating actual testimony of the witness. We demanded an investigation and demanded the prosecutors be charged. The judges again sat there stone-faced and despite our demands, did nothing.

It was during this cross-examination that the Dallaire fax was proved to be a forgery and placed in UN files by a colonel in the British Army. But the prosecution was so embarrassed by this revelation that the fax was never again mentioned in any of the trials at the ICTR and though it was claimed to be the most important prosecution document in our trial, the prosecution never again raised it.

In 2006, the prosecution arranged to have the Appeal Chamber make the astounding declaration that the “genocide” was a judicially noticed fact despite the clear denial by the defence, despite the contrary evidence in the trials and despite the fact that the primary charge all the accused faced was genocide. In effect the tribunal stated the defence could not deny the principal charge against them.

But we persisted in presenting our defence in spite of this decision and in our case, at least, the judges gave up fighting with us day after day and we continued to present the facts.

In September 2006 the well-known prosecution expert, Dr Alison Des Forges, testified in our trial and prepared an expert report for that purpose. The problem was that she removed from that report statements she had made in an earlier report that Ndindiliyimana was a man opposed to genocide and had tried to protect civilians. When she was confronted in cross-examination as to why she had attempted to mislead the judges she refused to answer the questions but it was clear from the reaction of the prosecutors that she had removed those exculpatory statements in an attempt to obstruct justice and did so on the orders of the prosecution. The trial judges took the rare step of censuring Dr. Des Forges for this deceit in the trial judgement.-

In 2007 we witnessed another bizarre scene in which the Judges and prosecutors held a secret meeting on how to eliminate the unwanted testimony of a Tutsi prince, son of the last Tutsi king, and well known personality in Rwanda, named Antoine Nyetera, who testified that the RPF had done all the killing and not the government and that he was a witness to it. Not liking the fact a prominent Tutsi was stating that the mass media version of events was false and that the RPF forces the prosecution refused to charge were responsible for most of the killings, they decided, in a secret meeting with the prosecutors, to announce in court that they were going to eliminate his testimony from the record. When all the defence counsel objected, we were met by a stone wall. To cover up what they did the daily minutes for that day were doctored as well.

Transcripts were doctored. We were given draft transcripts each day in the morning but when we received the final version, certain words or key phrases were changed to the benefit of the prosecution, Again, complaints went nowhere. We were being surveilled by UN security officers when meeting with witnesses in hotels. This was done quote openly and the effect was clearly to intimidate us.

In July 2008, a senior American ICTR official approached me in a café in Arusha, and told me he was a CIA officer, that they had murdered others who went too far at the tribunal, including an American prosecution counsel who he stated was poisoned after ignoring a warning to reveal sensitive information. He told me that if I did not stop my defence work they were going to kill me too. I reported this bizarre conversation to the President of the Tribunal the Norwegian judge, Mose, but again I was met with complete indifference. This was not the first time such a threat had been made. A member of the Rwandan government approached me at the beginning of the trial after watching me cross-examine their witnesses and told me that if I continued I did not have long to live. Complaints to the judges and UN security led nowhere. Tanzanian secret police approached me several times over the years and made similar remarks and it has not stopped even now. In July of this year Canadian intelligence officers came to see me in Toronto to tell me I was on a Rwandan hit list and asked me if I was going to stay active in the Rwandan file. It seemed to me they used the device of warning me of a threat to convey one.

In November 2005 Juvenal Uwilingiyimana, a former cabinet minister in Rwanda, who was being interviewed by two Canadian investigators working for Stephen Rapp, then chief of prosecutions at the ICTR, disappeared when he went to meet these investigators in Lille, France. These were the same Canadians who had kept Prime Minister Kambanda incommunicado for 9 months to extract a false confession from him. Weeks later, Uwilingiyimana’s body was found in a canal in Brussles, naked, with its hands cut off. Just before he disappeared he wrote a letter to the tribunal stating that Rapp and his men were pressuring him to give false testimony and that they had threatened to kill him and cut his body into pieces unless he cooperated. I and other counsel raised this letter and the murder in court and demanded that the prime suspects in the murder, Stephen Rapp and the two Canadians, be suspended and detained pending an investigation. Nothing was done. The Belgian police did no investigation and Rapp was promoted to the position of US roving ambassador for war crimes.

In 2008, a prosecution witness in our trial recanted stating that he was forced, under threat of death, to give false testimony. The defence succeeded in getting the judges to order his recall to be questioned about it and he was brought from Rwanda to a UN safe house in Arusha, The day before he was to testify he disappeared from that safe house and has never been seen since. The UN could not explain how he could disappear from one of their safe houses. Another prosecution witness recanted stating the same thing but in this case the prosecution accused me of bribing him. Two investigations concluded he was telling the truth, which included the fact that a prosecution counsel was involved in suborning perjury.

At about the same time an RPF military intelligence officer who had fled the regime testified that all the sections of the tribunal were penetrated by western and RPF intelligence officers and that the translators all worked for Rwandan intelligence and that the judges were seen as useful puppets.

We noticed the presence several times during the trial of American army officers and senior members of the American Department of Justice sitting with the prosecutors. When we found out who they were we demanded that they be ejected and the judges were forced to order them removed from the courtroom. During the short cross-examination we were permitted of General Dallaire, by video link from Canadian Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, the cameraman made the mistake of pulling back from the close-up shot of the General’s face and torso to a wide angle shot and we were shocked to see 5 senior Canadian Army officers sitting next to him when we had been told he was alone in the room with the technician and a court official. When we demanded to know who they were and who had given them orders to be there they refused to answer and the judges refused to order their removal.

In 2008, I found hidden in prosecution files a letter from Paul Kagame, dated August, 1994, in which he refers to his and President Museveni’s “plan for Zaire,” in which he stated that the Hutus are in the way of that plan but that, with the help of the Americans, British and Belgians, the plan would go ahead. I raised this letter in court the next day as it indicated that the war in Rwanda was just the first phase for the greater war in the Congo that was planned probably as far back as 1990. The prosecution immediately accused me of forging this document, even though it came from their files, and that night I was openly followed by a Tanzanian police detective. I was forced to ask the judges for protection the next day who insisted that I be left alone.

In 2011, despite the overwhelming evidence that Ndindiliiyimana had done all he could to save lives and to restore peace to Rwanda and that he was innocent of all the charges, the judges convicted him for failing to punish subordinates for two alleged crimes though they acquitted him on all the substantive charges and ordered his release. The convictions were absurd on their face as one of the alleged incidents had never occurred and in the other his men were not involved.

When the Appeal Chamber threw out those convictions on February 7 2014, I learned from an inside source that the judges felt they had to convict him of something despite his clear innocence because they were afraid of the consequences from the Americans if they acquitted. It was also speculated by a number of commentators that they had convicted him to justify his long illegal detention. As an aside, the day after the conviction was announced, I was surprised to receive an email from the American woman, the colonel, who had first dealt with the case in 2000 and offered us a deal. She is now a high official in the US State Department. She stated that she was angry that Ndindiliyimana had been convicted, that things were never meant to go that far and that, if ever I was in Washington, she would tell me what was really behind everything. But I have not gone to Washington.

Each trial has its own stories to tell. Each has its own anatomy but the disease is the same in all. It is a very depressing and dark picture. It was a very bitter experience. There is not much more I can say except that it seems to me that international justice worthy of the name cannot exist without an international order that is democratic; a world order in which the sovereignty and equality of nations is  fundamental. Law and its legal structures reflect the social, economic and political relations of a society. To rebuild the legal architecture of international justice so that it is fair, impartial and universal we first have to change the fundamental economic, social and power relations that are its foundation. Without this mankind will continue down the path of reaction and war and the list of victims of these truly criminal tribunals will be long and the victims of a world war will include all of us. How is this to be done? I leave that to you.

The US has begun bombing Iraq and Syria in the name of fighting the self-declared Islamic State. But is the real goal targeting the ISIL? 

Excerpt from October 8, 2014 US Department of State Daily Press Briefing:

Jennifer Psaki (US Department of State Spokesperson): Our objectives here are going after the threat of ISIL, the safe havens where ISIL has in Syria. There will be other towns and cities that we know will be threatened in Syria, but we have to focus on our strategic components here, which are command and control centers, which are oil refineries, which are other pieces where we’ve done our precision strikes over the past several weeks.

QUESTION: So saving people – saving innocent lives from this – from ISIL, which you’ve called barbaric and evil and everything else under the sun, is not as – is just not a priority?

Psaki: Absolutely not.

 

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More than a decade after the US and its coalition allies promoted and pursued a military campaign in Iraq, a new campaign is being launched. This time, the rationale (excuse) is not weapons of mass destruction. The casus belli in this case is the need to control and contain the threat posed by a group dubbed the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Formerly known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, the profile of the militants has increased over the past several months in the wake of their conquest of strategic territory within a broad swath of Iraq and Syria. Most notably, the group’s reputation for barbarism has been underscored by a number of high profile beheadings, in recent months.

While this broadcast was aired, the Kurdish city of Kobani on the Turkish-Syria border is at risk of falling before the repressive ISIL insurgents.

While the need to respond to the threat posed by the Islamic State is understandable, at least two questions need to be addressed as Western leaders agitate for military aggression in the region.

1) Is the US bombing campaign currently underway effectively eroding the Islamic State militants’ ability to threaten civilians in the region and abroad?

2) Given the US is no stranger to evoking phony pre-texts for war, is the need “to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community,” the true reason for Operation Inherent Resolve, as it’s now being called?

This week’s Global Research News Hour centres on the US coalition’s current military mobilization against the entity known as ISIL/ISIS, the likely objectives and propsects for success with two geo-political analysts.

Lawrence Wilkerson is a Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at The College of William and Mary in Virginia. He formerly served as Chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Global Research News Hour contributor Jon Wilson interviewed the US Army Veteran following a speech he gave at the University of Winnipeg on ISIS and the Middle East. Wilkerson attempts to explain the US strategy, his contention of it being fueled by a Sunni-Shia split within Iraq, and his prescription for the prospects for success.

 Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an award-winning author, geopolitical analyst, sociologist, and frequent contributor to Global Research. His view is that the operation against the so-called Islamic State is largely a smokescreen and puts forward his thesis that a larger regional power grab is the ultimate goal for the US. 

Nazemroaya will be holding workshops at the World Peace Forum Society’s 7th Annual Teach-In, Oct. 25, 2014, at the Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings, Vancouver. For more details, please visit www.peaceforumteachin.org

 Julie Lévesque is an independent Journalist and Associate Editor at Global Research focussing on the complex dynamics of this new offensive.

For further details, see the following GR articles recommended by Julie Lévesque 

“Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East

Preparing the Chessboard for the “Clash of Civilizations”: Divide, Conquer and Rule the “New Middle East”

“We’re going to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan & Iran..”

ISIS to the Rescue: America’s Terrorists Threaten War with Russia Amid NATO’s Failures in Ukraine

Former French Foreign Minister: The War against Syria was Planned Two years before “The Arab Spring”

SYRIA: CIA-MI6 Intel Ops and Sabotage

 NATO and Turkey Support Armed Rebels in Syria. Campaign to Recruit Muslim “Freedom Fighters”

Syria: ISIS Rebels, Assisted by Israel, Jordan and the U.S., Detain UN Peacekeepers in Israeli-Occupied Golan Heights | Global Research

Corrections: Israel Shahak is the translator of “The Zionist Plan for the Middle East” and not the author;  Ariel Sharon in 1982 was Israel’s Defence Minister. He became Prime Minister in 2001.

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CIA drones strikes in Pakistan have killed nearly 2,400 people since 2004. But despite US claims it just hits “confirmed terrorist targets,” only 84 of the victims have been named Al-Qaeda members, a report revealed.

On October 11, the US carried out its 400th drone strike in northwest Pakistan since its strikes started there in 2004. In almost a decade, 2,379 people have been killed.

“Only 704 of the 2,379 dead have been identified, and only 295 of these were reported to be members of some kind of armed group,” the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism found out.

As a part of its Naming the Dead project, the bureau collected the names and, where it was possible, the details of people killed by the CIA using a multitude of sources.

“These include both Pakistani government records leaked to the bureau, and hundreds of open source reports in English, Pashtun and Urdu,” they noted.


Image: Pakistani tribesmen gather for funeral prayers before the coffins of people allegedly killed in a US drone attack, claiming that innocent civilians were killed during a June 15 strike in the North Waziristan village of Tapi, 10 kilometers away from Miranshah, on June 16, 2011.(AFP Photo / Thir Khan)

It appears that less than 4 percent or 84 of the total number of killed have been identified as Al-Qaeda members.

These figures contradict what the US Secretary of State said in May, 2013, defending the CIA drone program as one of the “most accountable.”

“The only people we fire at are confirmed terror targets, at the highest level. We don’t just fire a drone at somebody we think is a terrorist,” John Kerry said.

But the UK Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveals that “more than a third” of those described as militants “were not designated a rank” and “almost 30 percent are not even linked to a specific group.”

“Judging by the sheer volume of strikes and the reliable estimates of total casualties, it is very unlikely that the majority of victims are senior commanders,” Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher for Amnesty International, was cited in the report as saying.

In fact, only 111 of those killed in Pakistan since 2004 were described as a senior commander of any armed group, the bureau has found. Another 73, according to the Naming the Dead project, were mid-ranking members of armed groups.

When the bureau asked US National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden for a comment, she said that strikes were only carried out when there was “near-certainty” that no civilians would be killed.

“The death of innocent civilians is something that the US Government seeks to avoid if at all possible. In those rare instances in which it appears non-combatants may have been killed or injured, after-action reviews have been conducted to determine why, and to ensure that we are taking the most effective steps to minimize such risk to non-combatants in the future,”

said Hayden.

When in September, 2001, three days after 9/11, the US Congress signed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Aumf) it gave the US President the right to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against those behind the attacks on America.

But the Aunmf did not name any particular group. Speaking at the National Defense University in May, 2013, President Obama determined the US main target as “Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and its associated forces.”


Image: US President Barack Obama waves after speaking about his administration’s drone and counterterrorism policies, as well as the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, at the National Defense University in Washington, DC (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

Asked what the “associate forces” stand for, Hayden said: “It is an organized armed group that has entered the fight alongside Al-Qaeda and is a co-belligerent with Al-Qaeda in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”

However, based on CIA documents, the UK-based bureau stresses that the US does not seem to know the affiliation of everyone they fire at. In April, 2013, the McClatchy news agency revealed that, in its recordings, the CIA identified hundreds of those killed as simply Afghan or Pakistani fighters, or as “unknown.”

The report speaks about two branches of the Taliban, one operating in Afghanistan and one in Pakistan. The latter was not designated by the US a terrorist group until September, 2010. So, it says, when it comes to the Taliban, it’s “problematic” to determine affiliation.

Moreover, the US doesn’t always carry out strikes based on its priorities, the reports said, citing media reports. It has been revealed the CIA made deals with Pakistan. In exchange for targeting militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas, Islamabad helped the US hit Al-Qaeda members.

First reported by McClatchy news agency last year, it was then echoed by the New York Time, which disclosed that the US first drone strike in June 2004 was a part of one of such deals with Pakistan.

The United States resumed its drone attacks in Pakistan this June, after almost a 12-month hiatus. Washington sees the airstrikes as an effort to minimize the global terrorist threat.

The Looting of Ukraine and the US Energy War

October 18th, 2014 by Vera Graziadei

There is a difference between a people’s revolution and an orchestrated coup, there is a difference between allowing people to choose their leaders democratically, irrespective of whether they are pro-western or pro-Russian, and actually installing a government, which the US has done in Kiev after the coup. One can only feel sorry for the poor Ukrainian people, who truly believed in what they were demonstrating against. Paul Craig Roberts summarised the coup and the protests that followed:

“The purpose of the coup is to put NATO military bases on Ukraine’s border with Russia and to impose an IMF austerity program that serves as cover for Western financial interests to loot the country. The sincere idealistic protesters who took to the streets without being paid were the gullible dupes of the plot to destroy their country.”

The main looters set to benefit from the takeover of power were some high profile American politicians and their friends and family and they were unashamedly supporting the protests to ensure that they would get their licence to loot. “We stand ready to assist you,” US Vice President Joe Biden promised to protesters, “Imagine where you’d be today if you were able to tell Russia: ‘Keep your gas.’ It would be a very different world.” Biden certainly had imagined where he and his family would be in a Ukraine without Russian gas – his son Hunter has since joined the board of the biggest Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holding.

Biden was not the only well-connected American to join the gas company. Devon Archer, a wealthy investor and Democratic campaign fundraiser with long ties to US Secretary of State John Kerry, upon joining the board of directors rejoiced that Burisma Holdings reminded him of “Exxon in its early days.” The company’s portfolio of licenses is well-diversified across all three of Ukraine’s key hydrocarbon basins – Dnieper-Donets, Carpathian and Azov-Kuban, and its fields are fully connected to the major gas pipelines in the country.

Hunter Biden (second from the right, son of Joe Biden) has joined the board of the biggest Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holding. Another coinsidence in Ukraine?

Crimea’s referendum and re-unification with Russia took everyone by surprise and it was a major blow for companies like Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil, Repsol and Petrochina, which had already invested money into developing Crimean offshore assets – LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) reserves in Crimea. If one looks at some of the targets of the U.S. sanctions against Russia or Russian-linked companies, two of them were directly aimed at slowing down or stopping South Stream: “The first South Stream-related company the U.S. targeted was Stroytransgaz, which is building the Bulgarian section. Putin ally and billionaire Gennady Timchenko owns it and he’s already on the sanctions list. So Stroytransgaz had to stop construction or risk exposing other companies on the project to the sanctions. The second entity in the sanctions crosshairs was a Crimean company called Chernomorneftgaz. After joining Russia, the Crimean parliament voted to take over the company, which belonged to the Ukrainian government. And guess what that company owned? The rights to the exclusive maritime economic zone in the Black Sea. That’s important because Russia routed the pipeline on a longer path through the Black Sea that cut out Ukraine. It avoided the Crimean waters, going instead via Turkey’s.”

Only a fool would believe that Putin has supported the referendum in Crimea in order to ‘protect interests of Russian people’, just as only a fool would believe that the US and EU are concerned about the Ukrainian people, democracy and freedom. Both sides are manipulating popular sentiments to achieve their own geopolitical and economic goal: a battle for energy dominance in Europe. What happened in Crimea was a mirror situation of what happened in Kiev – the people of Kiev, demonstrating on maidan, wanted to be closer to the EU and US, while people of Crimea have been trying for a long time to rejoin Russia, both the US and Russia have used the situation to their economic and political advantage, while citing humanitarian causes.

In recent years US foreign policy could be characterised as: expose people to shocking events, grab power and quickly carry out all the planned economic and political changes before people come back to their senses.

The major difference was that in Crimea only one soldier was killed by accident, while in Kiev snipers shot nearly 100 people from maidan-controlled buildings, after which power was taken by force. It looked like a popular technique the US used during many staged coups, described succinctly in Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine“: expose people to shocking events, grab power and quickly carry out all the planned economic and political changes before people come back to their senses. Another major difference is that while the majority of Crimeans are happy to be with Russia, the post-coup protests, which flared up in the Eastern regions of Ukraine, showed that significant parts of the Donbass population were not happy to break ties with Russia (the majority being ethnic Russians themselves).

When self defence forces set their base in Slavyansk, right in the heart of the Uzovka shale gas field, where Shell and Burisma were going to start fracking, US officials showed how far they were prepared to go in order to fight for the business interests of their oil and gas giants’ associates. On Monday April 14th, Reuters published a White House’s confirmation that CIA Director John Brennan had been in Kiev the weekend before. The following day, Kiev announced the beginning of a so called ‘anti-terrorist operation‘ in Donbass. One of the fierce supporters of this operation was Poland, which again was not surprising at all, given that one of  Burisma’s directors alongside Biden and Archer, was and is the ex-president of Poland – Alexander Kwasnevski.

The Senate Bill 2277, which was introduced on May 1st, 2014, “to prevent further Russian aggression toward Ukraine”, directed the US Agency for International Development to begin guaranteeing the fracking of oil and gas in Ukraine, while Kiev troops were marching into Donbass to ‘basically protect the fracking equipment’. One thing that Obama is very talented at is acting – it’s remarkable that during his UNGA speech, he managed to keep a straight face, when he was mouthing these lies and hypocrisies:

“This is the international community that America seeks: one where nations do not covet the land or resources of other nations, but one in which we carry out the founding purpose of this institution and where we all take responsibility. A world in which the rules established out of the horrors of war can help us resolve conflicts peacefully and prevent the kind of wars that our forefathers fought. A world where human beings can live with dignity and meet their basic needs whether they live in New York or Nairobi, in Peshawar or Damascus.”

The civil war that broke out in Ukraine and which, as shown above, is a part of the US global energy war, has claimed 4,000 civilian lives, left more than a million Ukrainians displaced and led to a humanitarian crisis. In addition to that, when fracking goes ahead in Ukraine, Ukrainians can in addition expect – ‘earthquakes, floods, groundwater pollution, and pestilence of marine animals, birds, and fish, streams of water boiling with methane, and poisoned drinking water and air’.

Furthermore:

“so far there is no information about the means of disposing of thousands of cubic meters of fracturing fluid from several thousand wells, which will produce shale gas. Are they really going to be buried in the ground or discharged into water bodies? The experience of foreign companies in third world countries (Ukraine cannot even claim to be the one of them) shows that they are capable of environmental crimes (Ecuador, Nigeria, etc.) “

This is particularly the case for Chevron and Shell, both of which have been implicated in major human rights violations in Nigeria. Chevron has been accused of recruiting and supplying Nigerian military forces involved in massacres of environmental protesters in the oil-rich Niger Delta, and Shell has faced charges of complicity in torture and other human rights abuses against the Ogoni people of southern Nigeria.[see here]

Obama’s statement: “America and our allies will support the people of Ukraine as they develop their democracy and economy.” is a lie. The truth, instead, can be found in gas industry media, where they do not attempt to veil American business interests with humanitarian concerns for Ukrainian people and other jingoistic moral narratives:

Fracking in Ukraine is a huge investment opportunities for the US companies. This is also reason why USA is so interested in Ukraine and its political developments.

American companies can directly invest in Ukraine, bringing their technology with them. Ukrainian companies can hire experienced American drillers, they can license American drilling and seismic imaging technology, and they can import sophisticated U.S. drilling equipment… U.S. government can encourage these developments through government-sponsored engagement programs like the State Department’s Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program … can speed this investment with financing from the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Once a new parliament is elected in October, the Ukrainian government should do everything they can to promote private investment in production; this would include lowering these taxes and providing new incentives to energy investment. One particular tax incentive they could offer would be to create a value-added tax (VAT) break for the import of sophisticated drilling equipment, modelled on a recently-initiated VAT break for imports of military equipment. It is important that Ukraine not only has strong laws and a good regulatory environment, but that it also has an open and transparent civil service, in order to prevent the corruption that was rampant under the old regime from becoming rooted into the new one. To prevent that, the U.S. and European governments should promote transparency within the government by encouraging engagement between American civil servants with the new members of the civil service of the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry.”

These are the people, who will benefit from “US support for Ukrainian democracy and economy”: American companies, American drillers, American drilling and seismic imaging technology specialists, manufacturers of US drilling equipment, US banks and American civil service. The people of Ukraine will not benefit, because the ‘shale gas revolution’ is a sham. Even Forbes, which in March claimed that “What Ukraine needs is an American style shale-gas revolution” by September published an article that the shale gas bubble is bound to burst. The only reason that most people still believe that shale gas can increase exports, boost employment and increase GDP, along with cutting down on greenhouse emissions, is because most of the information about natural gas supplies and how it can be exploited comes from ‘people with a vested interest in selling the dream of  a “Shale Gale”‘.

Most of the revenue in the fracking business comes from the selling of leases, something that in the financial industry would be seen as a variation of “pump and dump” scam, which looks like this:

Step 1. Borrow money and use it to lease thousands of acres for drilling.

Step 2. Borrow more money and drill as many wells as you can, as quickly as you can.

Step 3. Tell everyone within shouting distance that this is just the beginning of a production boom that will continue for the remainder of our lives and the lives of our children, and that everyone who invests will get rich.

Step 4. Sell drilling leases to other (gullible) companies at a profit, raise funds through Initial Public Offerings or bond sales, and use the proceeds to hide financial losses from your drilling and production operations.”

Banks and oil and gas companies will no doubt profit, but the gains will not pass on to the people of Ukraine or the people of Europe, where the US is hoping to export it’s ‘fracking pseudo-revolution’.Instead they will only have all the terrible fracking impacts on water, air, soil, human health, the welfare of livestock and wildlife, and the climate to deal with. Ironically it is Russian natural gas, which would be much safer and cheaper for Europe to keep consuming, but US foreign policy has been set and it looks that people of Europe will not have a choice on the matter. It is from the likes of Condoleeza Rice that we hear what should happen to Europe: “You want to depend more on the North American energy platform… you want to have pipelines that don’t go through Ukraine and Russia. For years we’ve tried to make Europeans interested in different pipeline routes. It’s time to do that.”

Recently, Securing America’s Future energy and the Foreign Policy Initiative hosted this conversation about energy security and geopolitics with US legislators and leading experts, where the “US New Paradigm” of Global Energy Dominance Foreign Policy was summarised. While the US is going for the kill with this new paradigm in Ukraine and Syria, Emperor Obama showcased his humanitarian Old New Clothes to an organisation which is supposed to “maintain international peace and security, promote human rights, foster social and economic development, protect the environment” and everyone present pretended not to see the ugly flesh of the US Energy War. But for anyone who saw that the King is naked, Obama’s last words sounded like a dangerous threat:

“And at this crossroads, I can promise you that the United States of America will not be distracted or deterred from what must be done….we are prepared to do what is necessary to secure that legacy for generations to come. Join us in this common mission”

Vera Graziadei is a Ukrainian-British actress. She achieved a degree in Philosophy and Economics and a Masters in Philosophy and Public Policy (Thesis: Social Capital and Critique of the World Bank’s Development Report) from London School of Economics. She continued studying Philosophy, while working as an actress, focusing on Existentialism, and completed a foundation course in Psychotherapy/Psychoanalysis. Her other passions are Comedy and Literature (esp. Russian classics).

Following the lead of American leaders like Dick Cheney, and Barack Obama, Turkish officials are now inching forward with their plans to implement a buffer zone and no-fly zone over Syria by simply changing the name of the zone they wish to implement.

Like Dick Cheney’s “Enhanced Interrogation” and Obama’s “Kinetic Military Action,” Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has now stated that Turkey is neither calling for a “buffer zone” or a “no-fly zone” enforced by the military over Syria; it is calling for a “safe zone” to be enforced by the military over Syria. In other words, Turkey is calling for a “buffer zone” and a “no-fly zone” to be enforced by the military in Syria.

Davutoglu’s statements were made in an interview with Al Jazeera on Wednesday October 17. By changing the name of the buffer zone to a safe zone, Davutoglu is banking on the hopes that the Turkish people remain as befuddled as the American public. The truth is that, most likely, they are not .

Unfortunately, Americans appear to be susceptible to any and all forms of propaganda, no matter how trite and pathetic it may be. For this reason, it is likely that the general public will be easily sold on the idea of a NATO enforced “safe zone” in Syria that begets even more direct war in the middle east and an untold additional number of innocent lives lost in Syria as well as the destruction of the secular government of Bashar al-Assad. The general public, of course, will watch airstrikes, missile attacks, and other military action in total confusion and ignorance only to forget Syria was ever a country two weeks later.

With this in mind, Davutoglu outlined the borders of the buffer zone that he and his NATO partners wish to see in Syria. These borders are set to reach into regions such as “Idlib northern Latakia, Hasakah, Jarablus and Kobani.”

These regions include the entire spectrum from east to west of Northern Syria and are located relatively deep into Syrian territory. A buffer zone with these borders also comes dangerously close to Aleppo, a scene of fierce fighting between terrorists and the SAA, but is increasingly coming under government control. Aleppo is Syria’s largest city.

A buffer zone, no-fly zone, aka “safe zone” in Syria has been the wish of NATO since the beginning of the Syrian crisis.With the establishment of this “buffer zone,” a new staging ground will be opened that allows terrorists such as ISIS and others the ability to conduct attacks even deeper inside Syria.

Working together with its NATO/GCC allies as well as the ever-present provocateur Israel, the United States is helping to create a buffer zone in the North and East of Syria while continuing to facilitate the opening of a “third front” on the Syrian border with Israel.

Such a strategy was discussed in 2012 by the Brookings Institution in its publication “ Assessing Options For Regime Change ,” where it stated

An alternative is for diplomatic efforts to focus first on how to end the violence and how to gain humanitarian access, as is being done under Annan’s leadership. This may lead to the creation of safe-havens and humanitarian corridors, which would have to be backed by limited military power. This would, of course, fall short of U.S. goals for Syria and could preserve Asad in power. From that starting point, however, it is possible that a broad coalition with the appropriate international mandate could add further coercive action to its efforts.

[...]

In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.

The recent statements by Davutoglu, as well as those made by American officials regarding their “openness” to the establishment of a no-fly zone/buffer zone, is yet more proof that the NATO operation against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is merely Libya 2.0.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that the U.S. airstrikes and its attempts to create a “buffer zone” inside Syria are nothing more than a farce. The death squads running amok in Syria are themselves entirely creatures of NATO and they remain under NATO’s command.

The true enemy of ISIS, Khorasan, and the cannibals of the Levant has always been and continues to be Bashar al-Assad.

Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom7 Real ConspiraciesFive Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 300 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV.  He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com. 
Read more at http://www.activistpost.com/2014/10/turkey-denies-plan-for-buffer-zone-in.html#ZaZ7vJjahxUrsjLM.99

Law on Donbass’ Special Status Comes into Force

October 18th, 2014 by ITAR-TASS

Ukraine’s law on a special status of Donbass (Donetsk and Luhansk regions) came into force on Saturday as it was published in the parliament’s official newspaper Golos Ukrainy (Voice of Ukraine).

On October 16, the presidential website read Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has signed a law on a special status for Donbass.

“Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has signed the law ‘On special procedure of local self-government in separate districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions’,” the report said.

“Document No. 1680-VII defines a provisional procedure of organizing local self-rule and operation of local power bodies in separate districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” it said.

“The key goal is to create conditions to normalize the situation as soon as possible, restore law and order, constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, create conditions for residents to return to forcibly left permanent residence places, restore vital activities in inhabited localities and develop the territories. The rights and legitimate interests of legal entities are also restored,” the report said.

The special status is introduced for three years.

“Governance in the cities, towns and villages is carried out by territorial communities through local government bodies under the Constitution and the laws of Ukraine. Powers of local councils and officials elected in the course of the extraordinary elections scheduled by the Verkhovna Rada [Ukraine’s parliament] will not be terminated early. Extraordinary local elections in these districts are scheduled for December 7, 2014,”

the report said.

“The document also specifies the way of coordinating the activity between local government of these districts and central and executive government,” it said.

“Moreover, the law stipulates mechanisms of state support of socio-economic development of these districts through the introduction of the regime of business and investment activity aimed at restoration of industrial objects, infrastructure, housing facilities, reorientation of industrial capacity, creation of new jobs,”

the report said.

“Under the law, the state guarantees prevention of criminal prosecution, criminal and administrative liability and punishment of persons-participants of the events in these districts. To protect public order, local government will create people’s police units. The law shall enter into force on the day of its publication,”

it said.

According to the UN, some 3,500 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s war-torn southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions during Kiev’s military operation conducted since mid-April to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR).

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on cessation of fire and exchange of prisoners during talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk. The ceasefire took effect the same day but reports said it has occasionally been violated.

Ukraine’s parliament on September 16 granted a special self-rule status to certain districts in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions for three years. The Verkhovna Rada also passed a law on amnesty for participants in combat activities in Ukraine’s troubled eastern regions.

On September 20, in Minsk, the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE adopted a memorandum outlining the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.

The document contains nine points, including in particular a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibres of over 100 millimetres to a distance of 15 kilometres from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

US-led Airstrikes Kill 10 Civilians Across Syria

October 18th, 2014 by Press TV

At least ten civilians have been killed in two separate airstrikes in Syria by military aircraft involved in the so-called US-led military campaign against the ISIL Takfiri militants.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced on Saturday that three people, including a child, died in an air raid on Thursday night against a village in the northeastern province of al-Hassakah.

Seven other civilians were killed when an airstrike hit a gas plant on Friday near the town of al-Khasham is the eastern Deir ez-Zor Province, where ISIL militants are in control of the majority of the oil-rich area.

Since late September, the US along with its regional allies, has been conducting airstrikes against the ISIL inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.

This is while many of the countries joining the so-called anti-terror coalition, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been the staunch supporters of the ISIL Takfiri elements in the Middle East region.

The airstrikes by US and its allies are an extension of the US-led aerial campaign against the ISIL positions in Iraq, which started in August.

The ISIL terrorists currently control large swathes of territory across Syria and Iraq. They have committed terrible atrocities in both countries, including mass executions and beheading of local residents as well as foreign nationals.

The Islamic State: A Caliph in a wilderness of mirrors

October 18th, 2014 by Pepe Escobar

I’m aiming at you, lover
Cause killing you is killing myself 

Orson Welles (director), The Lady from Shanghai,1947

He’s invincible. He beheads. He smuggles. He conquers. He’s the ultimate jack-of-all-trades. No Tomahawk or Hellfire can touch him. He always gets what he wants; in Kobani; in Anbar province; with the House of Saud (which he wants to replace) trying to make Putin (who he wants to behead) suffer because of low oil prices.

If this was a remake of Orson Welles’s noir classic The Lady from Shanghai, in the mirror sequence the lawyer (American?) and the femme fatale (Shi’ite?) would also get killed; but The Caliph of Islamic State would survive as a larger than life Welles, free to roam, plunder and “give my love to the sunrise” – as in a Brave Caliphate World shining in “Syraq” over the ashes of the Sykes-Picot agreement.

He’s winning big in Iraq’s Anbar province. The Caliph’s goons are now closing in on – of all places – Abu Ghraib; Dubya, Dick and Rummy’s former Torture Central. They are at a mere 12 kilometers away from Baghdad International. A shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile (or MANPAD) away from downing a passenger jet. Certainly not an Emirates flight – after all these are trusted sponsors.

Hit, in Anbar province, is now Caliph territory. The police forces and the province’s operational command have lost almost complete control of Ramadi. The Caliph now controls the crucial axis formed by Hit, Ramadi, Fallujah; Highway 1 between Baghdad and the Jordanian border; and Highway 12 between Baghdad and the Syrian border.

The Caliph’s goons are no less than taking over the whole, notorious Baghdad belt, the previous “triangle of death” in those hardcore days of American occupation circa 2004. Message to Donald Rumsfeld: remember your “remnants”? They’re back. And they’re in charge.

Both Ramadi and Fallujah have been reduced to an accumulation of bombed-out schools, hospitals, homes, mosques and bridges. Residential streets are virtually deserted. According to the United Nations, there are a least 360,803 internally displaced persons in Anbar, as well as 115,000 others in areas under The Caliph’s control. At least 63% of the 1.6 million people living in the province are classified as “in need” – with hair-raising minimal access to water, food and health care, and receiving little to absolutely zero humanitarian support from that fiction, the “international community.” US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power is not screaming her lungs out for R2P (“responsibility to protect”).

How could the Pentagon’s spectacular Full Spectrum Dominance possibly not see any of this happening? Of course they see it. But they don’t give a damn. The Pentagon occasionally uses AH-64 Apache helicopters to attack some of The Caliph’s goons in Ramadi and Hit. But Apaches can be easily hit with MANPADS. They are stationed at Baghdad International and their only mission is to protect the airport. Who cares about local, civilian “collateral damage”?

Married to the Mob
In Kobani, the former third-biggest town in Syrian Kurdistan, in the far northeast, The Caliph also wins big. Another biblical exodus has reached 300,000 refugees – and counting, with over 180,000 headed to Turkey.

The Caliph counts on indirect help from The Sultan (or alternate Caliph), aka Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. Tehran is – rightfully – furious, as it sees the “West” – and Turkey – betraying the Kurds all over again. It’s no secret Sultan Erdogan is doing nothing because he wants to screw the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD); let them die instead of repelling The Caliph and then be strong enough to threaten Turkish domination of those huge, essentially Kurdish patches of Anatolia. Thus the only thing Sultan Erdogan does support is aimless bombing by the Pentagon cum coalition of the clueless-cowards.

Anybody who believes the US Central Command’s spin that House of Saud and United Arab Emirates fighter jets conduct “bombing raids” on the outskirts of Kobani gets a one-way ticket to Oz. Imagine these clowns being able to deploy precision-guided bombs or trained laser spotters. To start with, the Pentagon has zero local intel – as in zero operatives able to paint lasers on targets. Thus the “coalition” can barely hit the odd tank (out of 25 around Kobani) or Humvee out of 2,000 crammed in a valley for almost two weeks now.

But the “coalition” certainly is able – miraculously! – to hit Syrian state infrastructure, as in energy installations. In June, the official Pentagon excuse was, “We don’t have any drone assets in Iraq.” Now there’s no excuse for drones which can read a “Smoking Kills!” warning in a packet of Marlboros not hitting The Caliph’s assets in Kobani – or in Anbar province for that matter. So it’s down to a mix of incompetence and neglect. It was so much easier to hit Pashtun wedding parties in the Waziristans. Especially because no one was paying attention.

Erdogan’s own goons, meanwhile, have instituted a curfew on all major towns and cities in southeast Anatolia, and are even gunning down peaceful Kurdish protesters. Fifteen million Kurds in Anatolia cannot be wrong; Erdogan wants Kobani to fall. Ankara remains for all practical purposes the top logistical hub for The Caliph’s goons. The Sultan is using The Caliph as a proxy army to smash the Kurds.

Terminal evidence has been offered by the leader of the Kurdish PYD, Salih Muslim, meeting Turkish military intel and asking for help. Conditions: abandon any hope of self-determination for Syrian Kurds; give up all your self-governing towns and regions; and watch as we install a Turkish “buffer”/no-fly zone inside Syrian territory.

Don’t expect the Obama “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff/We Have No Strategy” administration to sentence, “Erdogan must go”. Besides, the pathetic club of National Security Advisor Susan Rice and her deputy Ben Rhodes has no clue about what’s goin’ on.

To the Green Zone!
Tehran, for its part, has clearly identified Erdogan’s nasty game. The Sultan knows monster B1-B bombers flying over Kobani are absolutely useless – while The Caliph’s goons deploy massive car bombs and keep advancing. “Boots on the ground” will be needed. Enter NATO asset Turkey. But with one condition: regime change in Damascus, or at least a prelude, via that “buffer”/no-fly zone over Syria.

The Big Picture remains the same. Sultan Erdogan and the House of Saud want regime change in Damascus (Erdogan dreams of a Sunni puppet as a vassal of Ankara; the Saudis want their own Wahhabi schemer). Israel merrily agrees. And if that comes with a bonus – attacking the new Iraqi government, still supported by Iran, in the American-made Green Zone – even better. The lowdown: “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” translates as the Gulf Cooperation Council, Turkey and Israel using Washington to advance their quite explicit agenda.

Sultan Erdogan, as a Mob boss, does seem to heave learned a thing or two from watching Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. He’s extracting the maximum pound of flesh from the bewildered “Don’t do Stupid Stuff” team. The Sultan is boldly aiming at Turkish boots on the ground gloriously invading Syria in NATO “humanitarian intervention” mode. And all this sold as NATO offering “protection” to a member-nation. NATO’s new secretary-general, former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, has just been to Ankara. Saudi Arabia has already “voted” out loud for the “buffer”/no-fly zone. Same for General Francois Hollande, that pitiful excuse for President of France.

Once again, it’s Tehran to the rescue. The Foreign Ministry has duly announced Iran is ready to liberate Kobani from The Caliph’s goons (and they can do it) if Bashar Al-Assad says the word. Now that’s how you work the chessboard; NATO is left with zero excuses to mount an invasion of Syria, whatever Mob Boss Erdogan comes up with.

Operation Hands Off My Toyota
The Caliph also wins big in the “bleeding the Pentagon” department. A single US “strike” against his goons – involving F-15s, F-16s or F-22s – costs up to US$500,000. The Pentagon has just revealed it has spent no less than $1.1 billion against The Caliph since June.

What for? Virtually all the assets being destroyed by American bombing are made in the USA, deployed to the Iraqi army and then duly captured during The Caliph’s offensive. So here we have the Empire of Chaos spending a fortune from the US Treasury to smash tanks, Humvees and other gear already paid for by American taxpayers. No wonder taxpayers are fuming. Thus Operation Hands off My Toyota.

Additionally, the Pentagon does not have a clue on how to build its Obama-designed proxy “rebel” force to fight The Caliph (with no US soldiers or marines; only fanatic Wahhabis and assorted mercenaries).

To start with, they have no clue who the hell qualifies as a “moderate rebel”. The rabble must be “vetted” – and then sent to, of all places, Saudi Arabia for training. There the guy in charge will be – who else – a Special Ops honcho, Major General Michael Nagata. Even under the most optimistic scenario, the Pentagon won’t have its proxy “moderate rebel” army on the ground in Syria before the summer of 2015.

Hefty bottles of Chateau Margaux can be bet that all this prime US weaponized know how will ultimately end up captured by The Caliph’s goons. Same applies to reliable “rebel” intel on the ground.

But the real Dadaist masterpiece is that first these “rebels” will be politely asked by the Pentagon to forget about getting rid of Assad to fight The Caliph. At least for a while. Re-enter Stoltenberg, the new NATO head: “Next year, at the ministerial meeting, we will take decisions regarding the so-called spearhead but, even before it is established, NATO has a strong army after all. We can deploy it wherever we want to.” OK, tough guy; why not “Syraq”?

If this all sounds like a plot straight out of hit series Blacklist, that’s because it is. Why not get Red (James Spader) to fight The Caliph? And then again, what if Red is The Caliph? He pretends to fight himself – and he wins, handsomely. Back to Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai: “Killing you is killing myself”. Yet nobody could possibly want The Caliph dead when he’s such a smashing, undisputed box-office success.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at [email protected].

(Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

During his weekly address Obama chastised Americans for their “hysteria” over the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

He called for patience and a sense of perspective. He said the government is in control of the situation, theAFP reports.

“This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear — because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need. We have to be guided by the science. We have to remember the basic facts,” he lectured.

He said if the government takes “the steps that are necessary, if we’re guided by the science — the facts, not fear — then I am absolutely confident that we can prevent a serious outbreak here in the United States, and we can continue to lead the world in this urgent effort.”

Preventing flights arriving from West Africa, however, will not be one of the necessary steps.

“Trying to seal off an entire region of the world — if that were even possible — could actually make the situation worse… Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track.”

As for hysteria, this is amplified by the media. The corporate owned and government controlled media dwells on the CDC and the idea the state can actually do something about the disease. For statists, the disease is another excuse for government intervention in the lives of ordinary citizens.

“Disease pandemics are a dream come true for central planners,” writes Ryan McMaken. “Hysterical over possible contagion, citizens clamor for government action, government quarantines, government coercion, and government planning. In these cases, large numbers of people want government to do what government does best: seize people and property, coerce, issue orders, and spend lots of money.”

McMaken notes the repeated and systematic failures of government when dealing with possible pandemic diseases – mishandling anthrax, cross-contaminated bird flu, and the dangerous practice of routinely sending out contaminated samples across the country.

Obama’s promise that government will save us is patently false. “Moreover, a more long-term view of the history of disease prevention does not present much of an impeachable case for government intervention. Indeed, governments excel at creating the conditions that enhance the spread of disease, as they did with the Spanish flu in the aftermath of World War I.”

The CDC and the National Institutes of Health, of course, are not about to take responsibility for their role in spreading the disease. Bureaucrats claim the bungled response is due to budget restraints.

“Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready,” National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said last week.

Contrary to the lamentations of bureaucrats, budgetary restraints did not stop the flow of confiscated money to the CDC.

“Top public health officials have collected $25 million in bonuses since 2007, carving out extra pay for themselves in tight federal budgetary times while blaming a lack of money for the Obama administration’s lackluster response to the Ebola outbreak,” writes Kelly Riddell for The Washington Times.

“U.S. taxpayers gave $6 billion in salaries and $25 million in bonuses to an elite corps of health care specialists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 2007,” she writes.

And yet these “health care specialists” are unable to implement protocols to handle Ebola patients and protect hospital staff.

Once again, the lesson is clear. Government is a parasitical and predatory beast that preys on the real producers in society. It cannot respond to disease pandemics, natural disasters, and other catastrophic events requiring coordinated effort. It invariably exploits these situations to further secure its authority and enrich its partners.

“Folks, this is deja vu all over again. This administration is using this crisis to profit from it and, quite possibly, award no-bid contracts to their friends,” writes Jack Perry. “I now deeply suspect the CDC bungling in Dallas was intentional, not mere incompetence. They are manufacturing a crisis in order to not only build more government agencies with potentially unlimited power, but also so that certain corporations in bed with them can profit from it.”

This is the history of government – manufactured crises, false flag wars and other staged events to benefit corporate partners, the real recipients of service provided by the largesse extracted from a befuddled, largely brainwashed and fearsome American public.

The Islamic State (ISIS) in Texas?

October 18th, 2014 by Peter Hart

A politician making a ludicrous claim that has no basis in fact about a major story of the day should be an easy factcheck. But ABC’This Week  (10/13/14) reminded us that corporate news outlets are often not very good at this.

The claim in question came from Rep. Duncan Hunter (R.-Ca.), who declared, “I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas.” He added that “dozens more” evaded capture.

So members of the terrorist group that we’re told is worse than Al-Qaeda managed to slip into Texas? I feel like we would have heard something about this, even in the dreaded “liberal media.”

PolitiFact gave Hunter its worst grade (10/10/14)–”PANTS ON FIRE”–since there is no evidence to support this rather wild claim. If terrorists were “caught,” law enforcement would presumably have done the catching, and they deny anything like this has happened. Hunter’s spokesman told PolitiFact that the lawmaker stands by his remarks, and suggested that they’d be vindicated eventually:

We make the point. Official channels deny. Then, maybe in a few years from now, the information will pop up on the front page of the Washington Post.

OK–his source is the Washington Post, maybe in a few years from now?

Duncan_D._Hunter

Duncan Hunter is concerned about ISIS fighters nobody else seems to be able to see.

So what did ABC do with this? Anchor Martha Raddatz teased the segment:

Up next, were ISIS terrorists caught sneaking across our southern border? Why one congressman’s claims are raising alarms.

This was a bad sign, since Hunter’s claims weren’t really “raising alarms,” except perhaps among people concerned that a lawmaker would utter something so unbelievable.

Raddatz continued by calling it “a high stakes faceoff over the ISIS threat.” After playing a clip of Hunter, she wondered: “A stunning claim; but is it true?”

Not according to the Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who gets a soundbite. But then it’s back to Hunter’s camp:

RADDATZ: But Hunter insists he’s right. His spokesman firing back: “It makes sense that the left hand of the DHS doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. It’s been that way for a long time.” Did Congressman Hunter go too far with his new claims?

Then Raddatz turned it over to her roundtable guest, former George W. Bush adviser Matthew Dowd, who gave this clear-as-mud accounting of the facts:

RADDATZ: No one seems to have any evidence to back up Hunter’s claims. Is he just seizing on people’s fears? They are pretty high this morning.

DOWD: Well, yeah, they’re very high this morning. And I don’t want to conflate the two things with Ebola and this, but many times fear doesn’t have to be real to be powerful. And in the context of it, we don’t often have to have facts to back up our fears. We respond to our fears.

I think everybody has the right to say what they want to say, but they have the responsibility to say what may be they believe to be factually correct. The congressman says he believes it to be factually correct. But at a time like this with terrorism and, as you say, with the Ebola thing, we should counsel our fears and look for the fact sets.

Huh?

The thing about factchecking is that the person making a claim actually has to have evidence that what they’re saying is true; if they can’t produce any, then there’s not much left to say. Honestly believing that something false is true, or a spokesperson insisting that a lawmaker stands by a claim, doesn’t actually matter. But ABC manages to cloud up an issue that should be crystal clear.

If ABC can’t get an easy one right, can we really expect them to sort out the complicated stuff?

Correction: An earlier version of this post was illustrated with a photo of former Rep. Duncan Hunter, the current congressmember of that name’s father.

Ruling on a request filed by the Obama administration, US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler agreed Thursday to grant a one-month delay on the release of videotapes showing the barbaric force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

The tapes also show what are called “cell extractions,” in which heavily armed squads of soldiers beat prisoners as they forcibly drag them out of their cells to be strapped into the “five-point restraint” chairs used to implement the force-feedings.

Both of these forms of torture are employed by the US military to punish the political opposition by prisoners at Guantanamo to their open-ended imprisonment without charges or trials, expressed in a series of hunger strikes. More than 100 of the 149 prisoners who remain at the prison camp have participated in these protests over the past two years.

One of the prisoners, Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and turned over to the US military, has filed suit against the force-feeding. The suit brought to public knowledge the existence of videos, which include tapes of the force-feeding of Dhiab himself on numerous occasions between April 9, 2013 and February 19, 2014.

The tapes of Dhiab alone comprise eleven hours of video during which he screams, gasps, retches and writhes as tubes are forced through his nasal passage and down his throat while he is locked in a restraint chair.

Since this revelation, the Obama administration has combined adamant defense of the practice of force-feeding as “not painful” with an insistence that the tapes of this supposedly humane procedure should not be made public because they would “increase anti-American sentiment and inflame Muslim sensitivities overseas.”

In other words, the torturers argue that what they are doing is not torture, while at the same time resisting any public exposure because it would outrage the world.

Kessler’s ruling came one day before the deadline she had set at a hearing October 3 for the videos of Dhiab’s force-feeding to be turned over to the defense counsel and the media. The tapes would only be released in heavily redacted form, with the faces blurred for all US military personnel involved in force-feeding, extraction and other prison operations.

The Justice Department is expected to use the 30-day delay granted by Kessler to appeal her order for release of the tapes to the Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington DC.

In a court filing Friday, after Kessler had issued the 30-day delay, Dhiab’s attorneys again argued that force-feeding is akin to “torture” and urged the judge to order less brutal practices. They said that Dhiab was not hunger striking to death, only protesting his lengthy detention without trial, so force-feeding was not required to save his life. The only purpose of the regimen, they said, was to cause the prisoner “gratuitous pain” as punishment for his public act of protest.

Dhiab was actually cleared for transfer from Guantanamo by the Obama administration, but his repatriation to Syria was barred first by the likelihood that he would be tortured there—evidently the US government reserves the right of torture to itself—and then by the eruption of civil war in 2011. Earlier this year, Uruguay agreed to accept him as part of a group of seven prisoners, but delays on the US side led to a collapse of the deal.

The legal wrangling over the videos of the force-feeding has almost overshadowed the substance of Dhiab’s lawsuit, which was to compel the government to halt or alter the method of force-feeding. Dhiab is seeking to have doctors, rather than prison authorities, determine when feeding is necessary, based on the medical condition of the prisoner.

As currently practiced, force-feeding is essentially punitive. Military guards forcibly insert a nasal feeding tube at every meal, as often as three times a day, a process that is both inherently painful and easily abused.

Government attorneys have argued that the longer-term insertion of tubes, for days or weeks, is a security risk, claiming, improbably, that prisoners would pull the tube out, use it to strangle themselves or other detainees “or to fashion into a whip-like weapon.”

The Justice Department presented equally paranoid arguments for suppressing the videos, claiming that their release would help enemies develop “countermeasures” or reveal the physical layout of the Guantanamo Bay prison and thus “disrupt good order” there.

A coalition of media organizations has filed briefs supporting the release of the force-feeding videos on the grounds that they are newsworthy and that the government security concerns are specious.

The controversy has put the spotlight once again on the barbaric conditions at Guantanamo. This has been exacerbated by the fact that a majority of the prisoners, 79 out of 149, have been cleared for transfer to other countries and are still kept waiting mainly because of US concern that they would simply be released, given the unstable political conditions in countries like Yemen, which accounts for 58 of the 79.

The Obama administration has transferred only a single prisoner this year, besides the five high-level Taliban prisoners who were exchanged for captured US soldier Bowe Bergdahl.

Government Indifference Compounds Ebola Disaster

October 18th, 2014 by Kate Randall

United Nations officials said Thursday that the UN trust fund for Ebola has only $100,000 on hand, a fraction of the nearly $1 billion the world body says is needed to contain the spread of the deadly virus. While the UN fund has received pledges of about $20 million from various governments, it has received only $100,000 in actual cash deposits, and that from only one country, Colombia.

The failure of the US, Western Europe and other wealthier nations to provide needed resources to confront the Ebola outbreak is indicative of governmental indifference, as the crisis intensifies in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and cases are diagnosed outside West Africa. While donor countries have given about $376 million in cash and non-cash contributions to other UN programs, the trust fund itself—a flexible cash resource vital to fighting Ebola—remains scandalously underfunded.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that as many as 10,000 new cases of Ebola a week could develop in the three hardest-hit West African countries by December 1. At a news conference Tuesday, WHO Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward said the death toll now exceeds 4,400, with more than 8,900 confirmed cases since March.

Aylward said that while there were fewer cases in some of the worst affected areas, there were troubling signs that new areas of West Africa were reporting cases. There are also an increasing number of Ebola cases in the capital cities of the three countries most severely hit. The outbreak continues to wreak economic havoc on the region.

Food prices have risen by an average of 24 percent across Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, with some families forced to reduce their intake to one meal a day, the World Food Program reported Friday. In Monrovia, the Liberian capital, prices of the main staple foods, Cassava and imported rice, have risen by 30 percent.

Food producing regions in the three countries have some of the highest infection rates, and hundreds of farmers have died. Quarantines and restricted movement of the population—introduced by government authorities to contain the virus—have led to food scarcity and panic buying, further pushing up prices.

Supplies vital to fight the spread of the hemorrhagic fever are in woefully short supply. In a grim statement, the health ministry in Liberia reported that in the next six months it will need more than 85,000 body bags, which are crucial in preventing the spread of the virus, but it has less than 5,000 on hand. The country also has a severe shortage of other vital supplies, including protective suits, facemasks, gloves and goggles.

The governmental response to this dire situation in West Africa—and reports of a handful of new cases in Senegal, Nigeria, Spain and the US—has been particularly reprehensible in the US. The Obama administration is not making available the billions of dollars needed to provide human resources and supplies to the disease-ravaged region. Rather, it has seized on the humanitarian crisis as an opportunity to order the dispatch of active-duty troops to Liberia to secure a base for its African Command (AFRICOM).

On Thursday, Obama issued an executive order allowing the Pentagon to call up Reserve and National Guard troops to be sent to West Africa “to augment the active Armed Forces of the United States for the effective conduct of Operation United Assistance, which is providing support to civilian-led humanitarian assistance.”

The White House has come under increasing criticism over the authorities’ response to the first three cases of Ebola in the US. Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian, died October 6 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He was initially released from the hospital despite having a fever and other symptoms and telling staff he had recently arrived from West Africa.

Two nurses who treated Duncan, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, have been diagnosed with Ebola and have now been transferred to two of the nation’s four state-of-the-art Ebola treatment centers. Nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian have come forward to criticize the unpreparedness of hospital authorities to treat Ebola patients, including lack of staff training, protective suits that left nurses’ necks exposed, and reckless handling of contagious bodily fluid waste.

Before being diagnosed, Vinson contacted the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reporting an elevated fever, and was nevertheless given the go-ahead to board a commercial airline flight. People on that flight, and others on subsequent flights on the same aircraft, may have been exposed to Ebola. Relatives of Vinson and some of those on these flights have now been placed in voluntary 21-day quarantine.

On Friday, another Texas Health Presbyterian worker, who reportedly processed Duncan’s lab specimens, was quarantined in a cabin aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean on the recommendation of the CDC. The ship can carry 3,690 passengers and 1,367 crew members. Mexico and Belize refused to allow the ship to dock and it is returning to the US.

Facing mounting criticism over his administration’s incompetent and negligent response to the virus outbreak, President Obama on Friday named Ron Klain to serve as an “Ebola czar,” in charge of coordinating the government’s anti-Ebola efforts. The choice of Klain highlights the cynical and politically-driven concerns that dominate the administration’s actions in regard to the Ebola crisis.

Klain has no experience in health care or medical science. He is a Democratic Party insider who previously served as Vice President Joseph Biden’s chief of staff. He also served as chief of staff to Al Gore during the Florida ballot recount in the 2000 presidential election, when the former vice president acceded to the decision of the US Supreme Court to halt the recount and hand the presidency to George W. Bush.

The appointment of Klain confirms that Obama’s actions are driven not by what is needed to protect the population, either in the US or Africa, but rather by a desire to cover up the criminally negligent role of government agencies such as the CDC and of hospital officials, and limit the political damage to his administration.

With the mid-term elections less than three weeks away, the White House hopes the token appointment will prevent the Ebola crisis from becoming a significant issue on Election Day. Obama is coming under pressure from leading Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner and Texas Governor Rick Perry, to impose a ban on travel from West Africa.

Leading health experts, including CDC Director Thomas Frieden, warn that such an action would lead to the economic collapse of West African nations stricken by the disease, worsening the epidemic and making its global spread more, rather than less, likely.

Obama said Friday he supports present airport screening measures but is not “philosophically opposed” to a travel ban. Federal Aviation Administration head Michael Huerta told reporters Thursday that the government was assessing whether to issue a travel ban “on a day-to-day basis.”

A serious response to the Ebola crisis requires taking control of the effort out of the hands of corporate-dominated governments. What is needed is a massive, coordinated effort mobilizing an international team of doctors, scientists and health care professionals equipped with whatever supplies and resources are required—at whatever cost—to save as many people as possible in the disease-stricken nations and prevent an outbreak on a global scale.

Mythology and The Islamist State

October 18th, 2014 by William Blum

You can’t believe a word the United States or its mainstream media say about the current conflict involving The Islamic State (ISIS).

You can’t believe a word France or the United Kingdom say about ISIS.

You can’t believe a word Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, or the United Arab Emirates say about ISIS. Can you say for sure which side of the conflict any of these mideast countries actually finances, arms, or trains, if in fact it’s only one side? Why do they allow their angry young men to join Islamic extremists? Why has NATO-member Turkey allowed so many Islamic extremists to cross into Syria? Is Turkey more concerned with wiping out the Islamic State or the Kurds under siege by ISIS? Are these countries, or the Western powers, more concerned with overthrowing ISIS or overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad?

You can’t believe the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels. You can’t even believe that they are moderate. They have their hands in everything, and everyone has their hands in them.

Iran, Hezbollah and Syria have been fighting ISIS or its precursors for years, but the United States refuses to join forces with any of these entities in the struggle. Nor does Washington impose sanctions on any country for supporting ISIS as it quickly did against Russia for its alleged role in Ukraine.

The groundwork for this awful mess of political and religious horrors sweeping through the Middle East was laid – laid deeply – by the United States during 35 years (1979-2014) of overthrowing the secular governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. (Adding to the mess in the same period we should not forget the US endlessly bombing Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.) You cannot destroy modern, relatively developed and educated societies, ripping apart the social, political, economic and legal fabric, torturing thousands, killing millions, and expect civilization and human decency to survive.

Particularly crucial in this groundwork was the US decision to essentially throw 400,000 Iraqis with military training, including a full officer corps, out onto the streets of its cities, jobless. It was a formula for creating an insurgency. Humiliated and embittered, some of those men would later join various resistance groups operating against the American military occupation.  It’s safe to say that the majority of armored vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and explosives taking lives every minute in the Middle East are stamped “Made in USA”.

And all of Washington’s horses, all of Washington’s men, cannot put this world back together again. The world now knows these places as “failed states”.

Meanwhile, the United States bombs Syria daily, ostensibly because the US is at war with ISIS, but at the same time seriously damaging the oil capacity of the country (a third of the Syrian government’s budget), the government’s military capabilities, its infrastructure, even its granaries, taking countless innocent lives, destroying ancient sites; all making the recovery of an Assad-led Syria, or any Syria, highly unlikely. Washington is undoubtedly looking for ways to devastate Iran as well under the cover of fighting ISIS.

Nothing good can be said about this whole beastly situation. All the options are awful. All the participants, on all sides, are very suspect, if not criminally insane. It may be the end of the world. To which I say … Good riddance. Nice try, humans; in fact, GREAT TRY … but good riddance. ISIS … Ebola … Climate Change … nuclear radiation … The Empire … Which one will do us in first? … Have a nice day.

Is the world actually so much more evil and scary today than it was in the 1950s of my upbringing, for which I grow more nostalgic with each new horror? Or is it that the horrors of today are so much better reported, as we swim in a sea of news and videos?

After seeing several ISIS videos on the Internet, filled with the most disgusting scenes, particularly against women, my thought is this: Give them their own country; everyone who’s in that place now who wants to leave, will be helped to do so; everyone from all over the world who wants to go there will be helped to get there. Once they’re there, they can all do whatever they want, but they can’t leave without going through a rigorous interview at a neighboring border to ascertain whether they’ve recovered their attachment to humanity. However, since very few women, presumably, would go there, the country would not last very long.

The Berlin Wall – Another Cold War Myth

November 9 will mark the 25th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The extravagant hoopla began months ago in Berlin. In the United States we can expect all the Cold War clichés about The Free World vs. Communist Tyranny to be trotted out and the simple tale of how the wall came to be will be repeated: In 1961, the East Berlin communists built a wall to keep their oppressed citizens from escaping to West Berlin and freedom. Why? Because commies don’t like people to be free, to learn the “truth”. What other reason could there have been?

First of all, before the wall went up in 1961 thousands of East Germans had been commuting to the West for jobs each day and then returning to the East in the evening; many others went back and forth for shopping or other reasons. So they were clearly not being held in the East against their will. Why then was the wall built? There were two major reasons:

1) The West was bedeviling the East with a vigorous campaign of recruiting East German professionals and skilled workers, who had been educated at the expense of the Communist government. This eventually led to a serious labor and production crisis in the East. As one indication of this, the New York Times reported in 1963: “West Berlin suffered economically from the wall by the loss of about 60,000 skilled workmen who had commuted daily from their homes in East Berlin to their places of work in West Berlin.”

It should be noted that in 1999, USA Today reported: “When the Berlin Wall crumbled [1989], East Germans imagined a life of freedom where consumer goods were abundant and hardships would fade. Ten years later, a remarkable 51% say they were happier with communism.”  Earlier polls would likely have shown even more than 51% expressing such a sentiment, for in the ten years many of those who remembered life in East Germany with some fondness had passed away; although even 10 years later, in 2009, the Washington Post could report: “Westerners [in Berlin] say they are fed up with the tendency of their eastern counterparts to wax nostalgic about communist times.”

It was in the post-unification period that a new Russian and eastern Europe proverb was born: “Everything the Communists said about Communism was a lie, but everything they said about capitalism turned out to be the truth.”

It should be further noted that the division of Germany into two states in 1949 – setting the stage for 40 years of Cold War hostility – was an American decision, not a Soviet one.

2) During the 1950s, American coldwarriors in West Germany instituted a crude campaign of sabotage and subversion against East Germany designed to throw that country’s economic and administrative machinery out of gear. The CIA and other US intelligence and military services recruited, equipped, trained and financed German activist groups and individuals, of West and East, to carry out actions which ran the spectrum from juvenile delinquency to terrorism; anything to make life difficult for the East German people and weaken their support of the government; anything to make the commies look bad.

It was a remarkable undertaking. The United States and its agents used explosives, arson, short circuiting, and other methods to damage power stations, shipyards, canals, docks, public buildings, gas stations, public transportation, bridges, etc; they derailed freight trains, seriously injuring workers; burned 12 cars of a freight train and destroyed air pressure hoses of others; used acids to damage vital factory machinery; put sand in the turbine of a factory, bringing it to a standstill; set fire to a tile-producing factory; promoted work slow-downs in factories; killed 7,000 cows of a co-operative dairy through poisoning; added soap to powdered milk destined for East German schools; were in possession, when arrested, of a large quantity of the poison cantharidin with which it was planned to produce poisoned cigarettes to kill leading East Germans; set off stink bombs to disrupt political meetings; attempted to disrupt the World Youth Festival in East Berlin by sending out forged invitations, false promises of free bed and board, false notices of cancellations, etc.; carried out attacks on participants with explosives, firebombs, and tire-puncturing equipment; forged and distributed large quantities of food ration cards to cause confusion, shortages and resentment; sent out forged tax notices and other government directives and documents to foster disorganization and inefficiency within industry and unions … all this and much more.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, of Washington, DC, conservative coldwarriors, in one of their Cold War International History Project Working Papers (#58, p.9) states: “The open border in Berlin exposed the GDR [East Germany] to massive espionage and subversion and, as the two documents in the appendices show, its closure gave the Communist state greater security.”

Throughout the 1950s, the East Germans and the Soviet Union repeatedly lodged complaints with the Soviets’ erstwhile allies in the West and with the United Nations about specific sabotage and espionage activities and called for the closure of the offices in West Germany they claimed were responsible, and for which they provided names and addresses. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. Inevitably, the East Germans began to tighten up entry into the country from the West, leading eventually to the infamous wall. However, even after the wall was built there was regular, albeit limited, legal emigration from east to west. In 1984, for example, East Germany allowed 40,000 people to leave. In 1985, East German newspapers claimed that more than 20,000 former citizens who had settled in the West wanted to return home after becoming disillusioned with the capitalist system. The West German government said that 14,300 East Germans had gone back over the previous 10 years.

Let’s also not forget that while East Germany completely denazified, in West Germany for more than a decade after the war, the highest government positions in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches contained numerous former and “former” Nazis.

Finally, it must be remembered, that Eastern Europe became communist because Hitler, with the approval of the West, used it as a highway to reach the Soviet Union to wipe out Bolshevism forever, and that the Russians in World War I and II, lost about 40 million people because the West had used this highway to invade Russia. It should not be surprising that after World War II the Soviet Union was determined to close down the highway.

For an additional and very interesting view of the Berlin Wall anniversary, see the article “Humpty Dumpty and the Fall of Berlin’s Wall” by Victor Grossman. Grossman (née Steve Wechsler) fled the US Army in Germany under pressure from McCarthy-era threats and became a journalist and author during his years in the (East) German Democratic Republic. He still lives in Berlin and mails out his “Berlin Bulletin” on German developments on an irregular basis. You can subscribe to it at[email protected]. His autobiography: “Crossing the River: a Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War and Life in East Germany” was published by University of Massachusetts Press. He claims to be the only person in the world with diplomas from both Harvard University and Karl Marx University in Leipzig.

Al Franken, the liberal’s darling

I receive a continuous stream of emails from “progressive” organizations asking me to vote for Senator Franken or contribute to his re-election campaign this November, and I don’t even live in Minnesota. Even if I could vote for him, I wouldn’t. No one who was a supporter of the war in Iraq will get my vote unless they unequivocally renounce that support. And I don’t mean renounce it like Hillary Clinton’s nonsense about not having known enough.

Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian, would like you to believe that he’s been against the war in Iraq since it began. But he went to Iraq at least four times to entertain the troops. Does that make sense? Why does the military bring entertainers to soldiers? To lift the soldiers’ spirits of course. And why does the military want to lift the soldiers’ spirits? Because a happier soldier does his job better. And what is the soldier’s job? All the charming war crimes and human-rights violations that I and others have documented in great detail for many years. Doesn’t Franken know what American soldiers do for a living?

A year after the US invasion in 2003, Franken criticized the Bush administration because they “failed to send enough troops to do the job right.”  What “job” did the man think the troops were sent to do that had not been performed to his standards because of lack of manpower? Did he want them to be more efficient at killing Iraqis who resisted the occupation? The volunteer American troops in Iraq did not even have the defense of having been drafted against their wishes.

Franken has been lifting soldiers’ spirits for a long time. In 2009 he was honored by the United Service Organization (USO) for his ten years of entertaining troops abroad. That includes Kosovo in 1999, as imperialist an occupation as you’ll want to see. He called his USO experience “one of the best things I’ve ever done.”  Franken has also spoken at West Point (2005), encouraging the next generation of imperialist warriors. Is this a man to challenge the militarization of America at home and abroad? No more so than Barack Obama.

Tom Hayden wrote this about Franken in 2005 when Franken had a regular program on the Air America radio network: “Is anyone else disappointed with Al Franken’s daily defense of the continued war in Iraq? Not Bush’s version of the war, because that would undermine Air America’s laudable purpose of rallying an anti-Bush audience. But, well, Kerry’s version of the war, one that can be better managed and won, somehow with better body armor and fewer torture cells.”

While in Iraq to entertain the troops, Franken declared that the Bush administration “blew the diplomacy so we didn’t have a real coalition,” then failed to send enough troops to do the job right. “Out of sheer hubris, they have put the lives of these guys in jeopardy.”

Franken was implying that if the United States had been more successful in bribing and threatening other countries to lend their name to the coalition fighting the war in Iraq the United States would have had a better chance of WINNING the war.

Is this the sentiment of someone opposed to the war? Or in support of it? It is the mind of an American liberal in all its beautiful mushiness.

Nobel Prize: Hardly Noble Politics

October 18th, 2014 by Gouthama Siddarthan

It is really a great achievement of the Nobel award committee that it has created an environment in which criticism of the Nobel prizes is always rubbished and in which controversies are taken just as part and parcel of the scenario of the Nobel awards announcements. The committee has successfully infused the global psyche with a total indifference to, and an utter contempt for any valid and reasonable criticism from really serious and progressive-thinking writers and intellectuals. This can be termed as a feat on the part of the Nobel committee.

Now its announcement of literary award for French novelist Patrick Modiano has come like a bolt out of the blue. Its suddenness stems from the fact that all along the global media have been abuzz with speculations of a Nobel literary prize for Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. Also touted as Nobel award probables were American writer Philip Roth, French writer of Czech origin Milan Kundera, Ukrainian writer Svetlana Alexiyovich and Syrian poet Adonis.

However, it was Murakami whose name has been raising a lot of expectations. His works have been celebrated as both literary and commercial; yet they have been taking on more western colors than native Japanese. He too has declared himself as “an outcast of the Japanese literary world”.

Global media have idolized him, not without reasons. They are carried away by the way Murakami presented a fusion of literary and commercial features; a sort of modern outlook. Another reason for the rapture with which he is being read is that he conforms to the new dictum that only those writings projecting Western or European thoughts can be described as world literature. It is this tacit dictum that has been sunk into the psyche of global writers. Publishers’ international market politics too can be fitted into this scenario.

Now we can have a keen look at the writers who have stirred the media’s speculations about the Nobel honor.

Milan Kundera’s writings emerged on the scene when discussion of modern writing was globally threadbare. His important novel, “Immortality” hogged the global limelight; the literary world started paying a riveted attention to his writings. His short stories have a game-like appeal, revealing varied dimensions of writing. They describe the human mind’s weird thought processes interestingly and aesthetically and also the absurdity of human life as part of the rules of life game and its multi-dimensional crises. His book, “The Art of the Novel” discusses the aesthetics of writing, exploring various dimensions and possibilities of the art of novel.

Syrian poet Adonis is a very important personality in that he has given an expression to Arab life and brought Sufi thinking to bear on his poetry. This poet, who has been living in exile on account of his controversial political stances, has been regularly nominated for the Nobel prize since 1988.

Similarly, the writing of Svetlana Alexiyovich are regarded by critics as a literary documentation of the emotional tailspin of the Soviet and post-Soviet individual in the backdrop of the historic events such as Soviet-Afghan war, the Soviet Union’s downfall, the Chernobyl disaster etc. Russian literature that stagnated during 1950-60 is now resurrecting itself and traversing a revival trajectory. Russian literary critic Elena Dimov says: “Modern Russian writers are diverse and incredibly talented, and they did the almost impossible: they restored the Russian public’s trust in the written word after decades of government-ruled literature.” (Contemporary Russian Literature)

The Nobel Committee’s aversion to leftist thinkers and sympathisers has been reflected in its operations since the days of Soviet Russia.

From 1901 to 1912, the Nobel Award Committee had given prizes with a slant in its selection of awardees, though it justified its decisions, saying that it was conforming to the principles propounded in the will of its founder Alfred Nobel. That was why great writers such as Tolstoy, Ibsen, Emile Zola, Mark Twain etc. were bypassed. The committee had recommended awards to the writers of countries and their allies, which said they preferred to be neutral in the First World War. Moreover, there was a history of bias which was manifest in the fact that great Russian writers Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov never managed to get onto the Nobel list, all because of a bitter animosity prevailing at that time between Sweden and Russia.

At that time, it was a fad in the arts world to criticize Soviet Russia. During the period of Stalinist repression and suppression of artists, anti-Soviet thinkers and anti-establishment writers were going on in a full swing. Andrei Sinyavsky, an important writer, was up in arms against Soviet atrocities. Under the pseudonym of “Abram Tertz,” he wrote a book, “On Socialist Realism” (1959), criticizing the then-much-touted Soviet principle of socialist realism. From underground, he continued to criticize the Soviet establishment through novels of metaphor, allegories and fantasy writings. In his novel, “The Makepeace Experiment” (1963), he presents a satiric portrait of Lenin set in a heroic image, branding the Russian thought system Marxian utopianism.

This kind of anti-establishment post-modernism turned into magical realism in the Latin American countries where anti-dictatorial agitations were going on. The Nobel-winning novel, “The Tin Drum”, written by Gunther Grass, which projected the hero Oskar Matzerath as shrinking into a dwarf to protest Nazism belongs to the magical realist genre.

As a descendant of Andrei Sinyavsky, Boris Pasternak castigated his own country of ‘Iron Curtain’ and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958. But he was not allowed by the Soviet government to receive the award. Hence, a dejected and depressed Pasternak poured out his emotions in his poem, “Nobel Prize.” The line from his poem “I am done, like a beast in a cage” captured the blues of his vexed mind.

In a similar way, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who, in his novel, ‘Cancer Ward’, saw Soviet Russia as a metaphor for the cancer ward and whose another novel “The Gulag Archipelago” shed light on the seamy side of the Russian society, was honoured with the Nobel prize in 1970. Poet Joseph Brodsky, who was sent to the concentration camp during the Stalin regime for criticising the government, was also given the Nobel prize in 1987.

Consequently, the Nobel Committee was bombarded with charges that it honoured only the anti-Leftist writers and in order to counter the criticism, it went out of its way to honour Left-leaning writers such as Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, Marquez. However, it should be pointed out here that these writers’ creative world was purely literary. Camus’ writings focused on the absurdity of human life. Sartre put forward existential thoughts involving the modern man’s life. (It is a different controversy that he refused to accept the Nobel honour). It should be kept in mind that Marquez’s writings exude magical realism.

Thus, the Nobel prize is beset with endless controversies, political motives and pressures and vested interests.

However, I am not projecting these writers.

In the global media politics, Third World writers’ names continued to be suppressed. (Sometimes, as if in reservation system, they get recognition). No media project and talk about writings in the Third World, nor about the post-colonial political aesthetics. The micro political operations behind the scenes dish out awards in the name of art and aesthetics for what is generally touted as standard and serious writings. Alternative cultures or alternative writings are not recognized properly. Only those writers conforming to the western parameters are considered to be worthy of consideration for awards.

The Nobel prize is not only an attention-grabbing honour, but also a power structure.

In this regard, Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o must be mentioned. He was not much taken note of by any media except The Guardian.

He says, “If a language is to be brought under colonial domination, the best way is to impose upon it the power of the colonists’ language and make a literary impact upon it. The colonists could trumpet about the supremacy and lofty features of their own language and make it a symbol of social status, thereby creating an inferiority complex among the speakers of the native language and castrating it”.

He has been writing adamantly in his mother tongue Gikuyu about the post-colonial politics. His books have been translated into several languages. His critics explain how his novel, “Petals of Blood”, published in 1977, portrays the residual western culture, capitalism and political changes which have become warp and woof of the Kenyan life after the end of the British reign in Kenya. His different viewpoints about alternative politics, alternative writings and alternative culture are considered as paramount against the backdrop of the present post-colonial milieu. He must have been chosen for the Nobel prize.

I will plumb for Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o who has been fighting tooth and nail the micro-politics and power centre enshrined in the European literature and who has been proclaiming the power and depth of his own cultural foundation and literary strength of his language.

Well! What are the reasons cited by the Nobel Committee for selection of French writer Patrick Modiano for the honour?

Modiano’s writings have captured in vivid details the sorrows of Jews, the atrocities perpetrated by Nazis and loss of social identity. He has reconstructed powerfully in his writings the events that led to the invasion of France by Germany during the World War II. The grief-stricken life and turbulent human emotions under the foreign occupation have been successfully and aesthetically metamorphosed into a mosaic of creativity. That is what the Nobel Committee says, justifying the honour for the French writer.

What is the art that the committee speaks about? And what is the writing aesthetics that it puts forward?

It is not known still how long the Nobel prize committee members will continue to harp on writings dealing with the World War II. Nowadays battles are waged in several parts of the world, whose inhuman and cruel face is no less macabre and morbid than the Holocaust. In the chess game of the international politics, the ordinary human life is broken to pieces. Human life has become absurd in the post-modernist milieu, as man seems to be metamorphosing into the Kafkaesque beetle, caught as he is in the vortex of racial, post-colonial and religious politics.

The western thinkers, who pigeonhole the wars waged between big forces as I, II and III World Wars, seem to be blissfully unaware of the inhuman and dastardly attacks on small racial communities and blatant genocides happening in the Third World. To them, such attacks do not come under the label of war. In the name of fighting terror, how the dominant racial communities are preaching and practicing racial chauvinism and perpetrating atrocities on the lesser communities….. all these go unnoticed. The loss of social identity that Modiano speaks about in his writings is actually occurring in the Third World battles nowadays.

In the concrete world, hi-tech weapons and chemical arms keep on attacking human bodies. At the same time, in the abstract world, a variety of political power-oriented thoughts are tearing apart the fabric of human life. The absurdity of the ‘battle politics’ unfolds before us as the essence of human life, as if it were anonymous. The illusion of this anonymity is an art.

This is the art that the Third World creative artists are conjuring up.

Do the Nobel authorities take into account the writings that pierced the flesh and blood of wars happening in the Third World countries such as Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Latin America etc.? Do they take into consideration the racial and post-colonial outlooks, values and realities?

In this context, our Tamil poet Piramil’s poem comes back to mind. “A feather that falls apart from the wing moves on, writing on the inexhaustible pages of wind the life of a bird”. A feather that peels off a bird’s wings is not just a feather; it is a history; an art. This thought is the crux of the Third World countries’ art of life.

Are the Nobel committee members naïve enough not to understand all these things? Are they not steeped in the imperialistic power, dominant values and micropolitcs?

Yet, why did they choose Modiano, a Jewish author, for the award? Let us dig out the micropolitics behind it.

The Israelites’ Zionist domination is eliminating Muslims in the Gaza Strip in Palestine. Jews today are a far cry from the Jews suppressed during the World War II. The old scenes have changed. Now unfolds a new scene that shows them at their most valiant, at their most dominant and at their most powerful.

Yet it is the Zionists’ hidden agenda that the ground reality should not be viewed from a critical perspective. They want the old Jewish tales of woe to be told again and again; how they lost their identity must be dusted off and narrated seamlessly. Art must be created to delineate the force of dharma with which they rose from the dead like the phoenix. The present-day reality must be relegated to the background and a post-modernist reality projected before the world.

How wonderful this post-modernist politics!

This is the ‘Art-Truth-Politics’ that British playwright Harold Pinter spoke about in his Nobel prize acceptance speech in 2005.

Days of Darkness in America, Sparks of Hope

October 18th, 2014 by Devon DB

Currently in the United States, we live in an extremely polarized political sphere. People not only seek out news and op-eds that reinforce their own viewpoints, but also associate mainly with those who align with them politically in order to collectively and viciously demonize ‘the other side.’ The situation has gotten to the point where people view the policies of the opposing party as a threat to the nation. Globally, it seems that the landscape is even worse with problems arising in the Ukraine, the West once again embroiled in a war in the Middle East, and the knowledge that we’ve already seen irreversible damage due to climate change and are getting ever-closer to the 2017 deadline where climate change will truly be permanent. These are dark days; however, there is room for optimism. Around the world, we have seen unlikely political alliances that are working to fight for a better future.

The ‘Cowboy-Indian Alliance’

The ‘Cowboy-Indian Alliance’ made waves back in April 2014 when they led a five-day ‘Reject and Protect’ campaign in Washington D.C. against the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The action was quite prominent, although the origins of the alliance haven’t fully been brought to light, nor has the historical importance of such an alliance.

Art Tanderup, a Nebraska farmer who has actively protested against Keystone XL, stated in an April 2014 interview that the alliance formed years ago due to the “common interests between farmers, ranchers and Native Americans in northern Nebraska and southern South Dakota. We’ve come together as brothers and sisters to fight this Keystone XL pipeline, because of the risk to the Ogallala Aquifer, to the land, to the health of the people.”

The pipeline is a common threat to both communities, as the Ogallala Aquifer, a water tablet located beneath the Great Plains, provides water for 2.3 million people. The pipeline also “threatens the Missouri River, which provides drinking water for probably a couple ‘nother million,” bringing the grand total to about five million people whose clean water supply is under threat due to the proposed construction. In addition, the aquifer also provides water for animals, livestock, and irrigation. All of this means that the pipeline threatens the health and economic stability of the Midwest.

For the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Great Sioux Nation, there is historical significance as well. Tanderup stated in the interview that part of the pipeline’s route, as well as part of his farm, “is on the Ponca Trail of Tears from back in the 1870s, where Chief Standing Bear and his people were driven from the Niobrara area to Oklahoma.”

The extraction processes, such as tar sands mining and the refining and dilution processes, used to obtain the oil are extremely dangerous. Gary Dorr noted in the same interview that, before the oil extraction started, Fort Chip in Canada had “a negligible cancer rate” and now “[has] a cancer rate 400 times the national Canadian per capita average” and that “every single family [in Fort Chip] has cancer in their families.”

The alliance, while appearing unlikely on the surface, is rooted in history. It actually isn’t new, but is rather “a later incarnation of an alliance that was first formed in 1987 to prevent a Honeywell weapons testing range in the Black Hills, one of the most sacred sites in Lakota cosmology – where, in the 1970s, alliances successfully fended off coal and uranium mining.” This current movement is the continuation of a fight for the environment that protects people rather than profits.

This is also affecting Native American-White relations. Take the story of Mekasi Horinek, a member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma who is a Native rights and environmental activist.

When first hearing of the Cowboy-Indian Alliance, he was rather skeptical, saying “I’ve always been a little bit bitter toward white society” and “I’ve experienced a lot of racism-growing up on the res, living on the res. When I went to town, I was always treated differently than others.” However, with a little convincing from his mother, he eventually joined, realizing the cowboys “have that love and respect for the land the same that we do.”

This alliance is having far-reaching effects that go beyond just an environmental coalition. It “is beginning the dialogue not just about broken treaties, but about the long history of colonization, the effects of which are ongoing among some of the United States’ poorest populations.” This can be shown by the fact that both sides “hope the pipeline, which has caused them both much distress, will be a catalyst for reconciliation,” and that they “sense the reconciliation their work is a part of has a historic importance, something healing for both settlers and natives-and both feel that it is, in some way, destined to happen.”

Does this mean that everything will be smooth sailing between Native Americans and the descendants of settlers from here on out? Not in the slightest. However, it does offer some hope that a sort of reconciliation and reckoning will take place, changing the views of many so that they will aid the Native Americans in their fight for equal rights, as well as undo the damage done by over a century of mistreatment and cultural destruction.

Fighting For Peace in Palestine

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been ongoing since 1948, with both groups claiming the same land, and there is currently no end in sight. While the media promotes the narrative that both Palestinians and Israelis hate each other, there has been a large amount of support for the Palestinian cause as of late from Israelis and Jews.

For example, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network took an ad out in the New York Times, which was “signed by 40 Holocaust survivors and 287 descendants and other relatives” and “[called] for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted and Israel to be boycotted.” More specifically, the ad stated that they were “alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.” The ad concluded by arguing for collective action, reading: “We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people.”

Actions such as these are greatly important as they prove that not all Jewish people support the Israeli war machine and the wanton slaughter of innocent Palestinians.

There were also solidarity actions in Israel itself. However, it seems that it is increasingly dangerous to be anti-war in Israel as there have not only been attacks by right-wing nationalists, but the Israeli government itself cracked down on anti-war demonstrations. It even went so far as to attempt to use the IDF to ban anti-war protests , proclaiming that the police must obey IDF Home Front Command orders. These orders “[do] not permit large gatherings in public during times of conflict,” which results in people being unable to protest.

There is also increasing support for an end to the conflict in Palestine as well. In June, it was noted that most Palestinians wanted a unity government and a narrow majority favored “peace talks and peaceful coexistence with Israel.” An August 2014 poll in Gaza revealed that a majority supported a long-term truce with Israel, even as they opposed the disarmament of the strip.

While the fight for an end to the conflict and the creation of a fully sovereign Palestinian state will continue to be a long and arduous one, it is still good to know that people support peace and are able to reach across lines to form solidarity movements.

Solidarity of the Suppressed

Around the world, minority communities are subject to unjust persecution in many societies – persecution which can range from discrimination and a lack or nonexistence of a political voice to outright brutalization and murder by security forces and intense repression. While oppressed groups have fought for their rights individually, rarely have we seen such groups show solidarity with one another and provide support for each other. With help from social media, this seems to be changing.

Black-Palestinian Solidarity

An inspiring alliance has formed between Black people in the US and Palestinians in Gaza, each of whom have shown solidarity with one another in their struggles.

To make the situation much more relatable for African-Americans, in May 2014, Kristian Davis Bailey penned the article Why Black People Must Stand With Palestine in which he noted that police brutality faced by Blacks and other minorities is directly related to the violence in Palestine as “Since 2001, thousands of top police officials from cities across the US have gone to Israel for training alongside its military or have participated in joint exercises here.” Both communities experience systemic mass incarceration as well: “Forty percent of Palestinian men have been arrested and detained by Israel at some point in their lives. (To put this in perspective, the 2008 figure for Blacks was 1 in 11.) Israel maintains policies of detaining and interrogating Palestinian children that bear resemblance to the stop and frisk policy and disproportionate raids and arrests many of our youth face.” The problems of Black people in the US and Palestinians in Gaza are intimately related as the security forces of both countries work together to develop tactics to oppress and brutalize our communities.

In 2012, Jemima Pierre of Black Agenda Report took a historical look of the situation that is still relevant today, noting that many black leaders spoke out in support of the Palestinian cause. Specifically she made mention that

“Palestine was an important issue during the Black Power years as radicals identified with and embraced the anti-colonial struggle against Israel. Huey Newton, even under allegations of anti-Semitism, stated, “…we are not against the Jewish people. We are against that government that will persecute the Palestinian people…The Palestinian people are living in hovels, they don’t have any land, they’ve been stripped and murdered; and we cannot support that for any reason.”

Alice Walker made the direct connection of the Palestinian plight to the Black experience: “Going through Israeli checkpoints is like going back in time to the American Civil Rights struggle.” By supporting the Palestinian people, Black people today are only continuing the pro-human rights legacy that has been set by many black leaders before them.

Palestinians have reciprocated in the form of supporting the people of Ferguson in their protests against the police. Al Jazeera reported that “Local authorities in Ferguson have begun responding to nightly protests with tear gas and rubber bullets. Palestinians on Twitter could relate, and shared words and images of support with the US protesters.”

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine issued a statement of support with Black people, saying that the organization “salutes and stands firmly with the ongoing struggle of Black people and all oppressed communities in the United States” and quoted Khaled Barakat, a Palestinian writer and activist, as saying the fight against US brutality around the world is linked, and that, “When we see the images today in Ferguson, we see another emerging Intifada in the long line of Intifada and struggle that has been carried out by Black people in the US and internationally.”

Solidarity between Palestinians and Blacks is important and noteworthy as it shows international solidarity against oppressive social structures and governments as well as forms a space where the two groups can discuss and interact with one another, from promoting awareness about each other’s plights to exchanging resistance tactics.

Black-Asian Solidarity

The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans issued a statement of solidarity with Ferguson, saying, in part that, “our own communities’ histories in the United States include violence and targeting, often by law enforcement.” While a statement may not seem like much, it is rather important as it notes the history of white supremacy and how that ideology is an enemy of all non-whites, no matter their actual skin color.

Soya Jung argued that what is going on in Ferguson mattered to Asian Americans as while Asians “do not move through the world in the crosshairs of a policing system that has its roots in slave patrols, or in a nation that has used me as an ‘object of fear’ to justify state repression and public disinvestment from the infrastructure on which my community relies,” the situation is still important due, firstly, to han.

Jung explains han as a word in Korean culture that “loosely means ‘the sorrow and anger that grow from the accumulated experiences of oppression” that has been “expressed in protests against Japanese colonial rule in 1919, in the struggle for self-determination as the Korean war broke out in 1950, during student protests against the oppressive U.S.-backed South Korean government in 1960, and again during the democratic uprising in Kwangju in 1980.” This anger against a racist system of oppression and its importance to Jung’s identity is partly what connects the histories of Black and Asian America.

She then notes that Black rage “serves as a beacon when faced with the racial quandary that Asian Americans must navigate” with regards to “the invisibility of Asian death and the denial of any form of Asian American identity that doesn’t play by the model minority rulebook.”

Jaya Sundaresh took a broader view of the subject, in part discussing anti-blackness in the Asian community, writing that South Asian Americans must “work towards change in our own communities so that we do not inadvertently work to reinforce anti-black racism in this country, which is at the root of the police brutality which murdered Michael Brown.” She urged others to talk with their “South Asian friends and families about Ferguson, why it is important that we stop perpetuating or staying silent on racist views in our communities, why we should vocally support those in the African-American community who are working towards change, and why we should stop keeping silent when our white friends and colleagues find ways to justify Darren Wilson’s murder of Michael Brown.”

The solidarity between Blacks and Asians serves as an important avenue to hash out problems and tensions that exist between the communities, with hopes of eliminating those tensions and working together to strike back against racist oppression.

Conclusion

Do all of these solidarity actions and statements mean that things are now okay? That Native Americans and settlers will get along, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will end anytime soon, or that institutionalized and internalized racism will be dismantled? Unfortunately not. However, what these alliances do represent are sparks of hope that suggest we, as people, can put aside superficial differences and come together in an attempt to radically change the situation we currently find ourselves in.

These alliances, whether they are in the form of solidarity statements or marches, articles or tweets, should give people courage and nourishment to continue the fight for freedom and equality.

The world constantly seems like it is going to hell, and many feel that they may give up at any moment, but, to quote Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, “do not go gentle into that good night” instead one must “rage, rage against the dying light.”

The light is almost dead and the clock has nearly struck midnight, but this is the chance for everyone to give it their very best. If we are going to go down, let’s go down swinging. Let’s give ‘em hell!

If the militant group Boko Haram can be deemed a virus, then it has rich material to feed off.  The cells of its enrichment remain those complicit in its achievements within Nigeria and beyond.  Even as there remains a continued fascination with the girls kidnapped by the group six months ago from the village of Chibok (of whom over 200 remain in captivity), the question of Nigerian capabilities to rescue them remains at the forefront of discussions.

Even individuals like Matt Schiavenza would note that another, more traditionally described virus – that of Ebola – had been combated with supreme effectiveness.  “For Nigeria’s embattled government, October 20 is a date worth circling on the calendar: That day will mark 42 days since Nigeria’s last confirmed Ebola case, which, at twice the 21-day incubation period, will allow the country to declare itself free of a disease that has ravaged its West African neighbours.”[1]

Adotei Akwei, managing director of Amnesty International USA, sees the issue of the girls as “symbolic”.  “They’re part of a larger human rights catastrophe, a bad situation in Nigeria.”[2]  While Boko Haram fulfils the role as celluloid gangster and psychic monster, it does not detract from the brutalities of the Nigerian military, which is no angel in this fight.  “There’s no transparency, no accountability whatsoever.”

The group itself operates in three of the country’s north-eastern provinces, all controlled by the opposition All People’s Congress.  The Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, doesn’t tend to hold sway there, areas which have proven impregnable to the advances of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).  While Boko Haram is not a palatable option, the soil it thrives in has been one of neglect from the more affluent, mainly Christian South.

The APC has proven aggressive with its suggestions that Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP is, in fact, behind the activities of Boko Haram.[3]  Much of this involves the usual name calling and allegations, but they serve to show that Boko Haram, the virus, is very much established, with a distinct lack of antibodies to combat it.

National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Oyegun was left in no doubt. He pointed the finger at a former governor of Borno State as a mole, the PDP’s grand connection with Boko Haram.  Then came grand assertions about having to involve the International Criminal Court in targeting crimes committed by the militants.  “There is no doubt that Boko Haram has committed crimes against humanity in its scorched earth campaign against unarmed citizens, and the most appropriate body to investigate and try the sect’s sponsors is the ICC.”

Boko Haram also has bases of operation in Chad, Cameroon and Niger.  Representatives of various countries have had to busy themselves with a campaign of dissuasion – that they are not, in fact, connected to the group.  Cameroon’s minister for communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, held a press conference in September to state that exact point.  Accordingly, it was argued that such attacks were being carried out by “foreign assailants who after penetrating the country to cause havoc, immediately flee to the other side of the borders.”[4]

A long dance of sorts between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram has taken place, a curious ritual that suggests a blend of feigned courtship and scorn.  Extravagant claims of rescue were already being suggested by the Nigerian authorities the day after the girls were abducted.  In May, the authorities professed to knowing the whereabouts of the abductees, but refused to deploy force in any rescue attempt.  In Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh’s words, “Nobody should say Nigerian military does not know what it is doing: we can’t kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.”[5]  To disprove Badeh’s point, the Nigerian military proceeded to kill a few of its own troops in air strikes aimed at Boko Haram.

Over time, the girls themselves became idealised in gushes of sentimentality, a focal point of moral outrage that could be blown up without considering the enormity of the Nigerian problem.  The social media campaign “Bring back our Girls” suggested the absurdity of responding the problem, with developing countries hitting the rooftops with calls of outrage just as wilful ignorance existed of countless other cases of violent deaths.  Had the children been “white European girls, countries would do something.”[6]

Such hash-tag activism rapidly degenerated into its own celebrity debauch, with witless rapper Chris Brown feeding his moral core by tweeting a picture featuring a girl, Jenabu Balde, from Guinea Bissau.  Never mind that she wasn’t one of the kidnapped girls, or that the photo was taken in 2000 by Ami Vitale, or that she was from another country altogether – it was an African image of vulnerability, with photo shopped tears to boot.  This was the pornography of moral outrage.  In the words of Naunihal Singh, writing in The New Yorker (Jul 10), “A viral hashtag, it seems, is a fever that breaks quickly.”

The latest chapter in this tale of woe lie in reports of another round of discussions between the usual participants – Boko Haram and the Nigerian military – this time mediated by Chad.  Again, the monumentally inept Badeh has featured, announcing a truce with the group, who, as yet, has not corroborated his claim.  Nigerian government spokesman Mike Omeri also suggests that, “We are inching closer to release of all groups in captivity, including the Chibok girls.”  Omeri’s use of the term “inching” is probably truer than most, and we are bound to see this macabre dance continue.

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

The Hidden Hand – A Brief History of the CIA.

October 18th, 2014 by Jim Miles

This indeed is a brief history of the CIA, a topic that could command volumes of information encompassing much if not all of post World War II history.  Richard Immerman’s The Hidden Hand – A Brief History of the CIA is essentially a political precis of this important U.S. institution.  By necessity to its conciseness, it does not go into depth on the various personalities that influence the CIA, nor does it delve into the details of any historical element.  It names names, important dates, important events and keeps them within the well defined context of his frame of reference.  That reference is the internal political battles over whether the CIA is  – or wants to be – essentially an intelligence gathering, analysis establishment, or a covert operations unit applying physical force of some kind in the field.  

From the outset, Immerman indicates that “In a drastic departure from the intent of the CIA’s designers, the growth of the covert operations in frequency and complexity diverted both resources and commitment form the agency’s core mission of collecting, analyzing, and distributing intelligence.”  To make matters worse, even with intelligent estimates of whatever degree of accuracy, “correct assessments do not lead to correct predictions of behavior.”

The importance of the latter rises from the predisposed beliefs of the politicians who received the information and who were deciding on whether it was ‘actionable’.  While describing Eisenhower’s impact on the CIA, “his perspective and predisposition” were influential in deciding the who and how of operations, choosing John Dulles for director and General James Doolittle for an ad hoc Committee to assist with covert operations.  While considering Cuba later, the deputy director, “flushed with the pride and arrogance produced by the success in Iran and Guatemala,” was the “most fundamental cause of the debacle.”

The descriptions of the influence of personal perspectives goes on.  Immerman discusses the “predispositions” of those involved, the “bureaucracy” trying to protect conflicting interests, and with ambiguous evidence, “analysts interpreted it to corroborate their assumptions and expectations.”  The latter phrase criticized the CIAs work with the 1963 October Cuban missile crisis, under the direction of Dulles McCone, “a conservative, fiercely anti-Soviet Republican” who “relied more on his gut instincts” than on the analysts’ assessments.

Another aspect of personal influences, again referring to McCone, was that “he wanted to tell his “first customer” what he thought Kennedy wanted to hear.”  Immerman notes that this was not unusual for Washington, and revisits the idea with George Tenet  (under President Clinton) who was “predisposed to currying favor by telling people what they wanted to hear.”

This history of internal conflict – between intelligence gathering and covert actions, assessment and analysis against political predispositions – carries throughout this short history.  An aspect not examined by Immerman is the predisposition of anyone working for the CIA having such a strong pro U.S. bias in the first place, quite naturally by the nature of the institution in a country that proclaims its self-righteousness every day.  It is understandably not questioned in the book, as the book is vetted by the CIA itself.

The problem arising is simply as expressed by the author in his criticism of “perspectives and predispositions”.  The best intelligence officers would be pathologically neutral,  without  preconceived thoughts, able to gather all intelligence that related to the topic at hand and be able to analyze its various ramifications.  As it stands, Immerman is affected by this as well, being a part of the very institution he is criticizing, making it a rather sanitary history, one acceptable to the CIA institution itself, but also to the greater audience that might read the book.

I first wondered about this when he writes about “success in Iran and Guatemala” as noted above.  Does he truly believe that these coups were successes, completely or partially?  Are they successes within their particular limited time frame and geopolitical constructs without  consideration of the long term consequences, which were quite disastrous, especially for the citizens of the countries involved?  Or is this a paraphrased comment taken from a citation given at the end of his paragraph?

Immerman’s writing, as the work progresses into Twenty-first Century events, becomes a bit more problematical, perhaps due to the much shorter perspective on events, and again, the old vetting process on what might be acceptable to write.  The events of 9/11 are taken for granted, without discussion as to the validity of the official assessment – a complete cover-up from what information I have been exposed to – and that is combined with acceptance of Bin Laden as being the ultimate evil dude in the whole setup.  Within hours, bin Laden was the guilty culprit, the evidence was being destroyed, and the government resisted attempts at an investigation.

The CIA became the scapegoat for the incident, deflecting criticism away from the longstanding tenure of the neocons mentioned in the work (Wolfowitz, Pipes, Wohlstetter, Rumsfield, Scowcroft, Cheney, Feith, Nitze, et al) who had operated under Reagan and then been reborn under G. W. Bush., all with their desire for a “new Pearl Harbor”.  These are the same people who created the momentum for the invasion of Iraq, an event which highlights the struggle between administrators predispositions and the actual intelligence that had been gathered by the CIA.

The book closes with a discussion on terrorism and drones, a valid discussion in reference to the CIA. What is missing from a more modern perspective are discussions of the Arab Spring, the various color revolutions, and the incremental creep towards containing and/or dismantling Russia, all very significant in consideration of today’s current events, all influenced by U.S. CIA covert and overt operations.

That is a bit of an aside to criticizing the book, but it highlights the limitations of such a “brief” history in not being able to explore more ideas and present arguments about what are some common publicly held – and differing – positions on events.  It is unfortunately Immerman’s very last statement in the book that for someone living outside the “Empire for Liberty” (1) draws big attention to his own bias and preconception of the U.S. as being the indispensable nation, the world leaders, the “shining light upon a hill”,:

…in a globalized world of fluid boundaries punctuated by continuing and emerging threats and a cacophony of armed insurrectionists about which the United States knows very little, it would be the CIA that best serves the national and, indeed, the world’s interest.

Whoa!  This implies that the world’s best interests are those of the U.S.; that the CIA with all its predispositions and preconceptions could actually improve the situation; which ignores the fact that the CIA, among other U.S. institutions, helped create many if not most of these “armed insurrectionists” in the first place.  It makes one wonder why they do not know very much about them, as they were convenient at the time, but then allowed to disappear from the radar so that in the future they could become another valuable convenient evil ‘other’ that the U.S. and the CIA had to do battle with.

So what are the continuing and emerging threats?  Russia is obviously one of the evil ‘others’ a convenient “continuing” geopolitical threat to arouse the nation towards more global hegemony.  ISIS is an “emerging” threat, created by all the other havoc introduced into the Middle East by its covert and overt actions there, more blowback than emerging.

In short, apart from many other examples I could draw on, as many others have, the U.S. and the CIA are decidedly not the people that have the best interests of the world in mind.  It is still an empire with empirical demands, decaying and lashing out in its anguish at losing power and influence in the world.  Thus a reasonably well written work self destructs in the last paragraph.

Note (1):

Empire for Liberty.  Richard H. Immerman. Princeton University Press, 2010.  Review here:http://www.palestinechronicle.com/old/view_article_details.php?id=16340

“ From his clearly developed thesis and his strong precis of the important players of his choice, the characterizations that follow provide a lively, entertaining, and informative package on the development of the U.S. empire of liberty.”

But as with the contemporary work, modern history is a problem: 

“As with all histories, the writing creates a time lapse that makes interpretation of current events difficult if not impossible. Immerman ends his work castigating the Bush administration as “detention, torture, and rendition were systematic, orchestrated by the [CIA] with the Bush administration’s explicit approval.” Following that he looks forward to the ‘audacity of hope’ and ‘change’ that have proven to be meaningless under Obama’s leadership. While recognizing that Obama has not followed through on his rhetorical promises, he indicates that the future “may well incorporate less empire and more liberty.”    

Looks like more empire, more violent empire, and much less liberty, at home and abroad.

Obama Fights Ebola With A Czar and Soldiers

October 18th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The public continues to be reassured that ebola is not a problem for the US, but CNN reports that Obama has appointed an Ebola Czar.http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-10-17/meet-americas-new-ebola-czar  The Czar is not a medical person but an insider lawyer who served as chief of staff to Vice President Biden.

Little wonder ebola conspiracy theories are spreading faster than ebola. And as far as any of us know, the conspiracies could be true.

University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle, an expert of the perfidies of the US government, reminds us that Sierra Leone and Liberia, the countries most affected by the ebola outbreak, are two West African countries that host US biological warfare laboratories.  Professor Boyle asks how the disease, which is mainly associated with equatorial Congo reached West Africa thousands of kilometers away.

Washington’s response is itself peculiar. The Obama regime sent 4,000 US soldiers to West Africa to fight ebola.  Soldiers don’t have training or equipment with which to combat ebola.  Why expose 4,000 Americans to an epidemic?  This seemingly pointless decision has raised suspicions that Washington is exposing troops to ebola so that  vaccines or treatments can be tested on the troops.

Other commentators have noticed that West Africa is an area of Chinese investments. They wonder if Washington is using the cover of ebola to occupy the countries or even set the disease loose in order to drive out the Chinese.  The new US Africa Command was formed to counteract Chinese economic penetration in Africa.

The incompetence of US public health authorities in responding to ebola gives legs to these theories.  Real conspiracies abound.  Those who say “it’s just a conspiracy theory” need to look up the meaning of conspiracy.  As one commentator observed, the CDC’s response to ebola is too stupid for stupid.

The CDC’s protocol is based on assumptions about ebola that do not seem to be true for the current strain.  A nurse, who treated the ebola patient in Dallas who died, was given the green light to fly commercially even though she reported to CDC that she had symptoms.  She exposed 132 passengers on the flight, and these passengers have since been in contact with thousands of other people.  The Daily Mail has published photographs of an American with a clipboard and without protective suiting boarding the nurse on a private airplane on way to hospital quarantine. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2794854/what-thinking-mystery-man-without-hazmat-suit-seen-helping-2nd-ebola-nurse-board-plane-atlanta-joining-them.html

US public health authorities have imposed no quarantine on travel to the US from infected countries.  US airlines continue to fly to and fro from the infected countries despite the risk of introducing new infections into the US.

African countries are doing a much better job than the hegemonic superpower. They have closed borders, prevented air travel, and tracked down infected persons and those exposed to them.  http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AF_EBOLA_AFRICA_CONTAINMENT?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-10-16-14-24-38

Instead of taking sensible precautions, the Obama regime appoints an Ebola Czar and sends 4,000 Americans into the areas where the disease rages.

Little wonder that Americans have no confidence in their government.

As the Republicans want to privatize and outsource everything, why not close down Washington and outsource our governance to a more competent country?

Note:  And there is this view also:  http://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2014/10/17/ebola-hoax-hidden-purpose-of-the-operation/

 

Obama has appointed Ron Klain as the Ebola Czar.

Klain has no medical or healthcare background whatsoever.

Instead, he’s a high-powered lobbyist. He helped the corrupt Fannie Mae to overcome “regulatory issues” in 2004. Wikipedia notes:

Klain [helped in] convincing Congress and Fannie Mae’s regulators that Fannie Mae wasn’t doing anything dangerous, and wasn’t exposing taxpayers to risk. In other words, Ron Klain got paid to help fuel the housing bubble up until a couple of years before it popped.

Klain also:

Represented a company facing asbestos-exposure lawsuits, the embattled drugmaker ImClone and two companies trying to win support for large mergers.

What’s he going to do … lobby to convince Congress that Ebola is not that big a risk?

Klain is also a major Democratic operative, serving as Chief of Staff for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden.  As such, it is not unlikely that he will be motivated to cover up for any missteps by Obama and CDC chair Tom Frieden.

Matt Stoller – a Democrat who knows as much about D.C. politics as anyone – notes:

Ron Klain is a fixer who is well-connected and knows his way around the exec branch. His skill is fixing PR problems, not logistics.

He’s not a doctor … just a spin doctor.

“The position of the American Psychological Association is clear and unequivocal: For more than 25 years, the association has absolutely condemned any psychologist participation in torture.”

Statement by the APA, November 2013

“The American Psychological Association, the largest professional organization for psychologists, worked assiduously to protect the psychologists who did get involved in the torture program.”

–James Risen, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War, October 2014

New information may soon be revealed by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s yet-to-be-released report on the CIA’s post-9/11 abusive and torturous detention and interrogation operations. But what already has been clear for a long time — through reports from journalists, independent task forces, congressional investigations, and other documents — is that psychologists and other health professionals were directly involved in brutalizing “war on terror” prisoners in U.S. custody. Of particular note, contract psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen have been identified as the architects of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which included waterboarding, stress positions, exposure to extreme cold, sensory and sleep deprivation, and isolation.

At the same time, what has remained a matter of dispute is the extent to which the American Psychological Association (APA) collaborated with and worked to support the intelligence community and its program of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Critics (including both of us) have argued that the APA repeatedly failed to take the steps necessary to prevent the misuse of psychology, instead allowing perceived opportunities for a “seat at the table” to trump a firm commitment to professional ethics. In response to these allegations, the APA’s leadership has issued denials and statements asserting that the Association has always been steadfast in its opposition to torture.

Where the truth lies in this ongoing debate just became much clearer with the publication of James Risen’s new book, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. In a chapter titled “War on Decency,” the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist offers fresh evidence from an unexpected inside source: Scott Gerwehr, a RAND Corporation analyst with close ties to the CIA, the Pentagon, and the APA. When Gerwehr died in a motorcycle accident in 2008, he left behind an archive of personal emails, which Risen obtained while conducting research for his book.

These emails document that the CIA and the Bush Administration played a direct role in guiding APA’s stance and actions in regard to the ethics of psychologists’ involvement in national security detention and interrogation operations. As Risen writes:

The e-mail archives of one researcher with ties to the CIA, who died on the cusp of becoming a whistleblower, provide a revealing glimpse into the tight network of psychologists and other behavioral scientists so eager for CIA and Pentagon contracts that they showed few qualms about helping to develop and later protect the interrogation infrastructure. The e-mails show the secret, close relationships among some of the nation’s leading psychologists and officials at the CIA and Pentagon. And the e-mails reveal how the American Psychological Association (APA), the nation’s largest professional group for psychologists, put its seal of approval on those close ties — and thus indirectly on torture. (pp. 178-179)

The emails of particular interest are Gerwehr’s correspondence over several years with a small group of regular confidants and collaborators: the CIA’s chief behavioral scientist Kirk Hubbard (who introduced Mitchell and Jessen to the CIA as “potential assets” and then went to work for their firm when he retired from the CIA), White House science advisor Susan Brandon (who previously had been a senior scientist at the APA and is currently research director for the government’s High Value Detainee Interrogation Group), and the APA’s Director of Science Policy Geoff Mumford. Risen’s book offers important details about that collaboration.

In July 2004, shortly after the shocking photos from Abu Ghraib prison became public, senior APA staff from the Ethics Office and Science Directorate arranged a private meeting with officials from intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense (DOD). The email invitation from APA Ethics Office Director Stephen Behnke — to Hubbard from the CIA, Kirk Kennedy from DOD, and Gerwehr from RAND, among others — noted that the purpose of the meeting, at least in part, was to “identify the important questions, and to discuss how we as a national organization can better assist psychologists and other mental health professionals sort out appropriate from inappropriate uses of psychology” (p. 198).

But it is unclear how or why these particular invitees would be considered well suited to provide instruction to the APA on psychological ethics. Indeed Risen suggests a different motivation:

The invitation to the lunch meeting showed that the APA was opening the door to psychologists and other behavioral science experts inside the government’s national security apparatus to provide advice and guidance about how to address the furor over the role of psychologists in torture before the APA went to its own membership. The insiders were being given a chance to influence the APA’s stance before anyone else. (p. 199)

According to Gerwehr’s emails, APA’s Behnke also highlighted the following in his invitation:

I would like to emphasize that we will not advertise the meeting other than this letter to the individual invitees, that we will not publish or otherwise make public the names of attendees or the substance of our discussions, and that in the meeting we will neither assess nor investigate the behavior of any specific individual or group. (p. 198)

It is difficult to discern how such constraints and reassurances could have served the interests of the public or the profession, or how they could have helped “sort out appropriate from inappropriate uses of psychology” as Behnke stated in his invitation. Rather, these pre-conditions ensured that the actions of the psychologists in question would be protected from scrutiny rather than questioned — and that the CIA and DOD would take the lead role in establishing the ethics for psychologists in U.S. counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence activities. The national security psychologists would also guide the APA’s response to resistance or uproar from the public or its own members.

From this private meeting of undisclosed participants emerged a proposal for the creation of the APA’s Presidential Task Force on Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS). This task force met in June of 2005 at APA headquarters in Washington, DC. The small group quickly decided that it was ethical for psychologists to serve in various national security-related roles, including as consultants to detainee interrogations. Risen describes the events leading up to the weekend meeting this way:

Gerwehr’s e-mails show for the first time the degree to which behavioral science experts from within the government’s national security apparatus played roles in shaping the PENS task force. They show that APA officials were secretly working behind the scenes with CIA and Pentagon officials to discuss how to shape the organization’s position to be supportive of psychologists involved in interrogations — long before the task force was even formed. (p. 197)

In this regard, critics have long noted irregularities and possible collusion in the PENS process and the report itself. For example, most members selected for the task force worked for the military or intelligence agencies, and several had served in chains of command where detainee abuses reportedly took place. There were several participant-observers whose identities were never officially disclosed; among them were Susan Brandon, who had just recently left a position at the White House, and Russ Newman, a senior APA official whose spouse was a BSCT psychologist at Guantanamo. APA staff withheld the names of the task force members in response to press inquiries, and these names never appeared on the published report. The APA Board quickly adopted the PENS report in an inexplicable “emergency” session, without bringing it to the Association’s full governing body for review. The report included language nearly identical to the DOD language provided to the task force before the meeting had even started — namely, that psychologists serve to keep detention and interrogation operations safe, legal, ethical, and effective. And the task force and report prioritized the Bush Administration’s contorted interpretations of U.S. law over longstanding and broadly respected principles of international human rights law and health profession ethics.

Another email in Gerwehr’s archive reinforces these significant concerns. As Risen writes:

After succeeding in getting the PENS task force to endorse the continued involvement of psychologists in the interrogation program, congratulations were in order among the small number of behavioral scientists with connections to the national security community who had been part of the effort. In a July 2005 e-mail to Hubbard from Geoffrey Mumford (on which Gerwehr was copied), Mumford thanked Hubbard for helping to influence the outcome of the task force. “I also wanted to semi-publicly acknowledge your personal contribution… in getting this effort off the ground,” Mumford wrote. “Your views were well represented by very carefully selected task force members.” Mumford also noted that Susan Brandon had served as an “observer” at the PENS task force meetings and “helped craft some language related to research” for the task force report. (p. 200).

In unmistakable terms, the APA’s Science Policy Director Mumford first thanked Hubbard — a top CIA official with close professional ties to Mitchell and Jessen — for initiating the collaboration that led to the PENS report and then assured him that the task force members were carefully chosen with Hubbard’s own expressed objectives in mind. As well, the same email reveals that part of the responsibility for drafting the PENS report — a report that was supposed to reflect a full and careful consideration of the APA’s ethics code — was given to Susan Brandon, who only weeks earlier was working for the Bush White House.

Beyond the evidence highlighted here, Risen also offers a broader description of psychologists’ and the APA’s involvement with and acquiescence to U.S. government torture and abuse. Based on his research, he reports that those psychologists who supported the White House and CIA agenda “were showered with government money and benefits,” and that the APA “worked assiduously to protect the psychologists who did get involved in the torture program.” Risen also notes that changes to the APA’s ethics code in 2002 “gave greater professional cover for psychologists who had been helping to monitor and oversee harsh interrogations.” Indeed, he suggests that the entire “enhanced interrogation” program may have depended upon the willingness of the APA to go along with it. Finally, he refers to the desperate “spin control” that absorbed senior APA staff once journalists began to uncover the extent to which psychologists played essential roles in the torture program.

It is reasonable to wonder whether Risen’s investigative work will matter. For the past decade the APA’s leadership has repeatedly denied any collaboration with the military or intelligence agencies that engaged in torture and abuse. Such APA statements have consistently been coupled with a professed resolute commitment to defend the profession’s do-no-harm ethics. Even when these pronouncements have strained credulity, the APA’s rank-and-file members — eager to believe that critics’ assertions could not possibly be true — have accepted the claims of innocence and independence. This insistent benefit of the doubt, along with unwarranted deference to APA’s leaders, continues to insulate the Association from calls for investigations, accountability, and reform. To date, no psychologist has been held accountable for involvement in the abuse and torture of detainees, and no APA official has been held accountable for facilitating or protecting government programs that violated core professional ethics.

Several questions will be answered in the days immediately ahead, as the world’s largest organization of psychologists grapples with the damning revelations in Pay Any Price. Will APA members once again dutifully follow the Association’s leaders and drink from a polluted well of tired cliches and obfuscating language? Will they still find feeble justifications and implausible denials palatable? Or will the membership and the governing Council of Representatives finally demand the substantive independent investigation that is so long overdue? With the profession’s ethics and credibility hanging in the balance, we believe it is certainly time to hold the APA accountable for the choices it has made.

Roy Eidelson is a psychologist who studies, writes about, and consults on the role of psychological issues in political, organizational, and group conflict settings. He is president of Eidelson Consulting, a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, and a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. www.eidelsonconsulting.com.

Trudy Bond, Ph.D., earned her doctorate in counseling psychology from Oklahoma State University at age 26 and moved to Toledo, Ohio where she became licensed to practice psychology in 1980. As an independent psychologist, Dr. Bond has filed complaints with state licensing boards and the APA regarding individual psychologists implicated in the torture and abuse of detainees at Guantanamo.

Nato, dall’Ucraina alla Turchia

October 17th, 2014 by Manlio Dinucci

È andato in Polonia a incontrare il presidente Komorowski, ha ricevuto a Bruxelles il ministro degli esteri ucraino Klimkin, quindi si è recato in Turchia per colloqui col presidente Erdogan: non poteva iniziare meglio  il nuovo segretario generale della Nato, il norvegese Jens Stoltenberg. Già leader del Partito del lavoro e capo di governo, sostenuto dalla coalizione «rosso-verde», si è guadagnato il prestigioso incarico  – si legge nella biografia ufficiale – perché, quando era primo ministro nel 2005-2013, ha fatto della Norvegia uno dei paesi Nato  con la più alta spesa militare procapite.

Un segretario dinamico per una Alleanza sempre più dinamica in campo militare. In Polonia, dove si svolta l’esercitazione Nato Anaconda 2014 con la partecipazione di forze Usa, Stoltenberg ha assicurato che «la Nato è qui per proteggervi», ricordando che, dall’inizio della crisi in Ucraina, gli Alleati mantengono nell’Europa orientale una «continua presenza e attività militare aerea, terrestre e marittima». Lo scopo è «inviare un forte segnale alla Russia», definita dal segretario alla difesa lituano Vejonis «un aggressore, che rappresenta una potenziale minaccia per tutti i paesi europei».

Alla conferenza stampa a Varsavia, il presidente Komorowski ha chiesto al segretario generale della Nato di accelerare la costruzione dello «scudo missilistico» in Europa, ricordando che la Polonia si è impegnata a rafforzarlo con un proprio «scudo», anch’esso realizzato con tecnologie Usa, del costo previsto di 33,6 miliardi di euro. Ha per questo ricevuto le lodi di Stoltenberg. Contemporaneamente si è svolto in Polonia il Simposio sulla politica nucleare della Nato, con la partecipazione di tutti i paesi dell’Alleanza, compresi quelli come l’Italia che hanno aderito al Trattato di non-proliferazione formalmente come non-nucleari.  Nella dichiarazione del recente Summit nel Galles, la Nato chiarisce che «la difesa missilistica integra il ruolo delle armi nucleari, non le sostituisce» e che «finché esisteranno le armi nucleari, la Nato resterà una alleanza nucleare», poiché le forze nucleari strategiche degli Stati uniti (che l’amministrazione Obama sta potenziando), integrate da quelle britanniche e francesi, costituiscono  «la suprema garanzia della sicurezza degli Alleati». Come ulteriore garanzia, tl premio Nobel per la pace Lech Walesa propone che «la Polonia deve prendere in prestito o in leasing armi nucleari per mostrare a Putin che, se un solo soldato russo mette piede sulla nostra terra, noi attaccheremo».

All’esercitazione Anaconda 2014 in Polonia ha partecipato anche il Landcom, il comando delle forze terrestri dei 28 paesi dell’Alleanza, attivato a Smirne in Turchia. Dove la Nato ha oltre venti basi aeree, navali e di spionaggio elettronico, rafforzate nel 2013 da batterie di missili Patriot in grado di abbattere velivoli nello spazio aereo siriano; dove ha costituito centri di formazione militare per combattenti da infiltrare in Siria, favorendo lo sviluppo delle forze dell’Isis. Dove Stoltenberg è andato per esprimere ad Ankara «la solidarietà dell’Alleanza» di fronte alla «grave minaccia dell’Isis».

Stoltenberg ha quindi lodato il recente voto del parlamento che «autorizza un ruolo ancora più attivo della Turchia nella crisi», e dichiarato che «la Nato è pronta ad appoggiare tutti gli Alleati nel difendere la propria sicurezza», dando in tal modo via libera al piano, ufficialmente proposto dal presidente turco, che prevede la creazione di una «zona cuscinetto» in territorio siriano, rafforzata da una «no-fly zone» (di fatto già oggi esistente). Il «piano Erdogan», pur avendo la Turchia propri obiettivi nazionali (come quello di impedire la creazione di uno Stato curdo), rientra nella strategia Usa/Nato. L’abbattimento di Assad, apertamente chiesto oggi dal governo turco, da anni fa parte della strategia della Nato.  La dichiarazione del Summit sostiene addirittura che «il regime di Assad ha contribuito all’emergere dell’Isis in Siria e alla sua espansione al di là di questo paese». In altre parole, dice che il presidente Assad, in preda a mania suicida, avrebbe favorito la formazione del movimento islamico che lo vuole rovesciare.

 Manlio Dinucci

A History of Guatemala’s Syphilis Experiment: How a U.S. Led Team Performed Human Experimentations in Central America

Global Research Editor’s Note: Correction

According to a representative of the  Tekmira  Pharmaceutical Corporation, the statement by Dr. Cyril Broderick (quote below at outset of article)  to the effect that “ This research work involved injecting and infusing healthy humans with the deadly Ebola virus”  is incorrect:

Our TKM-Ebola program is funded by the US Department of Defense and a Phase I clinical study commenced in January 2014. The TKM-Ebola Phase I clinical trial is a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled study involving single ascending doses and multiple ascending doses of TKM-Ebola. The study will assess the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of administering TKM-Ebola to healthy adult subjects.

TKM-Ebola is being developed under specific FDA regulatory guidelines called the “Animal Rule.” The Animal Rule provides that under certain circumstances, where it is unethical or not feasible to conduct human efficacy studies, the FDA may grant marketing approval based on adequate and well-controlled animal studies when the results of those studies establish that the drug is reasonably likely to produce clinical benefit in humans. Demonstration of the product’s safety in humans is still required. (Corporate Communications, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation, BC, Communication to Gr, November 3, 2014)

*      *     *

Dr. Cyril Broderick, A Liberian scientist and a former professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Liberia’s College of Agriculture and Forestry says the West, particularly the U.S. is responsible for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Dr. Broderick claims the following in an exclusive article published in the Daily Observer based in Monrovia, Liberia. He wrote the following:

The US Department of Defense (DoD) is funding Ebola trials on humans, trials which started just weeks before the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The reports continue and state that the DoD gave a contract worth $140 million dollars to Tekmira, a Canadian pharmaceutical company, to conduct Ebola research. This research work involved injecting and infusing healthy humans with the deadly Ebola virus. Hence, the DoD is listed as a collaborator in a “First in Human” Ebola clinical trial (NCT02041715, which started in January 2014 shortly before an Ebola epidemic was declared in West Africa in March.

Is it possible that the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and other Western countries are directly responsible for infecting Africans with the Ebola virus? Dr. Broderick claims that the U.S. government has a research laboratory located in a town called Kenema in Sierra Leone that studies what he calls “viral fever bioterrorism”, It is also the town where he acknowledges that is the “epicentre of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.” Is it a fact? Is Dr. Broderick a conspiracy theorist? He says that “there is urgent need for affirmative action in protecting the less affluent of poorer countries, especially African citizens, whose countries are not as scientifically and industrially endowed as the United States and most Western countries, sources of most viral or bacterial GMOs that are strategically designed as biological weapons.” He also asks an important question when he says “It is most disturbing that the U. S. Government has been operating a viral hemorrhagic fever bioterrorism research laboratory in Sierra Leone. Are there others?”

Well, Mr. Broderick’s claims seem to be true. After all, the U.S. government has been experimenting with deadly diseases on human beings for a long time, history tells us so. One example is Guatemala. Between 1946 and 1948, the United States government under President Harry S. Truman in collaboration with Guatemalan President Juan José Arévalo and his health officials deliberately infected more than 1500 soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and even mental patients with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and chancroid (a bacterial sexual infection) out of more than 5500 Guatemalan people who participated in the experiments. The worst part of it is that none of the test subjects infected with the diseases ever gave informed consent. The Boston Globe published the discovery made by Medical historian and professor at Wellesley College, Susan M. Reverby in 2010 called ‘Wellesley professor unearths a horror: Syphilis experiments in Guatemala.’ It stated how she came across her discovery:

Picking through musty files in a Pennsylvania archive, a Wellesley College professor made a heart-stopping discovery: US government scientists in the 1940s deliberately infected hundreds of Guatemalans with syphilis and gonorrhea in experiments conducted without the subjects’ permission. Medical historian Susan M. Reverby happened upon the documents four or five years ago while researching the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study and later shared her findings with US government officials.

The unethical research was not publicly disclosed until yesterday, when President Obama and two Cabinet secretaries apologized to Guatemala’s government and people and pledged to never repeat the mistakes of the past — an era when it was not uncommon for doctors to experiment on patients without their consent.

After Reverby’s discovery, the Obama administration apparently gave an apology to then-President Alvaro Colom according to the Boston Globe:

Yesterday, Obama called President Álvaro Colom Caballeros of Guatemala to apologize, and Obama’s spokesman told reporters the experiment was “tragic, and the United States by all means apologizes to all those who were impacted by this.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had called Colom Thursday night to break the news to him. In her conversation with the Guatemalan president, Clinton expressed “her personal outrage and deep regret that such reprehensible research could occur,’’ said Arturo Valenzuela, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

The study in Guatemala was led by John Cutler, a US health service physician who also took part in the controversial Tuskegee Syphilis experiments which began in the 1930’s. Researchers wanted to study the effects of a group of antibiotics called penicillin on affected individuals. The prevention and treatment of syphilis and other venereal diseases were also included in the experimentation. Although they were treated with antibiotics, more than 83 people had died according to BBC news in 2011 following a statement issued by Dr Amy Gutmann, head of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues:

The Commission said some 5,500 Guatemalans were involved in all the research that took place between 1946 and 1948. Of these, some 1,300 were deliberately infected with syphilis, gonorrhoea or another sexually transmitted disease, chancroid. And of that group only about 700 received some sort of treatment. According to documents the commission had studied, at least 83 of the 5,500 subjects had died by the end of 1953.

Washington’s reaction to the report is a farce. The apology made to Guatemala’s government was for the sake of public relations. Washington knows about its human experimentations in the past with deadly diseases conducted by government-funded laboratories that are known to be harmful to the public. The U.S. government is guilty in conducting numerous medical experiments on people not only in Guatemala but in other countries and on its own territory. As the Boston Globe report mentioned, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study occurred between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service to study the “natural progression” of untreated syphilis in the African American population. The U.S. Public Health Service and the Tuskegee Institute collaborated in 1932 and enrolled 600 poor sharecroppers from Macon County, Alabama to study the syphilis infection. However, it was documented that at least 400 of those had the disease (they were never informed that they actually had syphilis) while the remaining 200 did not. They received free medical care, food and even free burial insurance for participating in the study. Documents revealed that they were told that they had “bad blood” which meant that they had various medical conditions besides syphilis. The Tuskegee scientists continued to study the participants without treating their illnesses and they also withheld much-needed information from the participants about penicillin, which proved to be effective in treating Syphilis and other venereal diseases. The test subjects were under the impression that they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government while they were deliberately being lied to by the same administrators who were conducting the tests. Washington is fully aware of its human experimentations with deadly diseases. The government of Guatemala also knew about the Syphilis experiments according to the Boston Globe:

A representative of the Guatemalan government said his nation will investigate, too — looking in part at the culpability of officials in that country. The records of the experiment suggest that Guatemalan government officials were fully aware of the tests, sanctioned them, and may have done so in exchange for stockpiles of penicillin.

However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published the study ‘Fact Sheet on the 1946-1948 U.S. Public Health Service Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Inoculation Study’ and was forced to admit what happened in Guatemala during the syphilis experiments:

While conducting historical research on the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis, Professor Susan Reverby of Wellesley College recently discovered the archived papers of the late Dr. John Cutler, a U.S. Public Health Service medical officer and a Tuskegee investigator. The papers described another unethical study supported by the U.S. government in which highly vulnerable populations in Guatemala were intentionally infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The study, conducted between 1946 and 1948, was done with the knowledge of Dr. Cutler’s superiors and was funded by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health to the Pan American Sanitary Bureau (which became the Pan American Health Organization) to several Guatemalan government ministries. The study had never been published.

The U.S. government admitted to its wrongdoing, 62 years too late. What Dr. Broderick wrote is not conspiratorial in any sense. The U.S. government has been involved in bioterrorism; Guatemala is a case in point. Dr. Broderick summarized what average people can do to prevent governments, especially those from the West from creating and exposing populations from diseases they experiment with in laboratories:

The challenge is global, and we request assistance from everywhere, including China, Japan, Australia, India, Germany, Italy, and even kind-hearted people in the U.S., France, the U.K., Russia, Korea, Saudi Arabia, and anywhere else whose desire is to help. The situation is bleaker than we on the outside can imagine, and we must provide assistance however we can. To ensure a future that has less of this kind of drama, it is important that we now demand that our leaders and governments be honest, transparent, fair, and productively engaged. They must answer to the people. Please stand up to stop Ebola testing and the spread of this dastardly disease.

After Guatemala’s ordeal with the U.S. government who deliberately infected people with syphilis, West African nations should be extremely skeptical about the U.S. government’s actions combating Ebola. Professor Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois, College of Law questions the Obama administration’s actions in West Africa. RIA Novosti recently interviewed Boyle and he said the following:

US government agencies have a long history of carrying out allegedly defensive biological warfare research at labs in Liberia and Sierra Leone. This includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is now the point agency for managing the Ebola spill-over into the US,” Prof. Francis Boyle said.

Why has the Obama administration dispatched troops to Liberia when they have no training to provide medical treatment to dying Africans? How did Zaire/Ebola get to West Africa from about 3,500km away from where it was first identified in 1976?”

That’s a good question for Washington, but would the public get any answers? Not anytime soon, since it took more than 62 years for the  Guatemala syphilis experiments to be exposed to the public, not by the US government, by a medical historian.

A classified US Senate probe into the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program does not evaluate the role of former President George W. Bush or top administration officials in approving abuses including torture, according to a new report.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s $40 million investigation into the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program – active from September 11, 2001 to 2006 – has found that the spy agency purposely deceived the US Justice Department to attain legal justification for the use of torture techniques, among other findings that resulted in a 6,000-page report, completed from March 2009 to December 2012. Of that investigative report, the public will only see a 500-page, partially-redacted executive summary that is in the process of declassification.

What the report does not include, according to sources for McClatchy news service, is any accounting of responsibility that top members of the Bush administration have for the shadowy capture-and-detain regime at Guantanamo Bay and secret “black site” prisons, often fueled by suspect bounties, or for crafting the legal framework that allowed the CIA to interrogate detainees with waterboarding and other methods deemed to be torturous by international standards.

Image: The exterior of Camp Delta is seen at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay. (Reuters/Bob Strong)

“This report is not about the White House. It’s not about the president. It’s not about criminal liability. It’s about the CIA’s actions or inactions,” said a person familiar with the report who requested anonymity, according to McClatchy.

“It does not look at the Bush administration’s lawyers to see if they were trying to literally do an end run around justice and the law,” the source added, echoing other sources that spoke to the news service regarding the report’s immunization of the Bush White House.

While specific details of the report are still unknown, McClatchy reported in April that it outlines 20 main conclusions about the post-9/11 torture program which, according to the investigation, intentionally evaded White House, congressional, and intra-agency oversight.

“The report does not put responsibility with the White House,” said a second person familiar with the Committee’s report.

The report may have been the last opportunity for officials in Washington to assess the responsibility that President Bush and top officials – like Vice President Dick Cheney – have for post-9/11 abuses, following repeated actions by President Obama and Congress to insulate the Bush administration from torture accountability.

Image: Former US Vice President Dick Cheney. (AFP Photo/Mark Wilson)

“If it’s the case that the report doesn’t really delve into the White House role, then that’s a pretty serious indictment of the report,” Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program at the New York University Law School, told McClatchy.

“Ideally it should come to some sort of conclusions on whether there were legal violations and if so, who was responsible.”

In early 2009, when authorizing the investigation into the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program, leaders of the Democratic-led Senate Intelligence Committee compromised the scope of the report in an effort to garner fleeting support from conservatives on the panel. Investigation guidelines were crafted to focus only on the CIA and how it “created, operated, and maintained its detention and interrogation program.”

“As an oversight document the main premise is about whether Congress was accurately and appropriately informed by the CIA,” said a McClatchy source familiar with the report. “The report will show that the CIA did not provide accurate information, and in some cases provided misleading information.”

Nevertheless, the panel’s chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and others have hailed the report as being one of the most detailed probes of the executive branch ever to be conducted by Congress.

Image: Chairman of Senate Intelligence Committee Sen. Dianne Feinstein. (AFP Photo/Alex Wong)

“There are more than 35,000 footnotes in the report,” Feinstein said when the panel approved a final draft of the report in late 2012. “I believe it to be one of the most significant oversight efforts in the history of the United States Senate, and by far the most important oversight activity ever conducted by this committee.”

Yet the Committee has continued to allow the Obama White House to withhold about 9,000 documents from the investigation based on executive privilege.

The White House told McClatchy in March that a “small percentage” of the 6.2 million pages of documents given to the Committee were “set aside because they raise executive branch confidentiality interests.” The White House added that it had worked with the Committee “to ensure access to the information necessary to review the CIA’s former program.”

The CIA did not offer comment to McClatchy.

Sen. Feinstein said in a statement that the report is the “definitive review of the program.” The White House would not comment on the report, but spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said President Obama “has made clear that the program that is the subject of the committee’s work is inconsistent with our values as a nation.”

While Bush administration officials may escape accountability vested in the Committee report, there is certainly evidence that President Bush and top aides crafted, ordered, and monitored the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation Program.

In a 2008 report, the Senate Armed Services Committee found that Bush ultimately approved detainee abuse in Feb. 2002 by denying Al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees any protection against torture, as is the standard of international human rights law. The report also concluded that top White House officials discussed CIA interrogation methods in 2002 and 2003.

Image: Former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld. (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

In April 2009, McClatchy reported that Cheney and Department of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pushed torture, or “harsh interrogation methods,” in an effort to link Al-Qaeda and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, which would bolster justification for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Other reporting on the Bush White House has included National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Secretary of State Colin Powell in the approval of abusive interrogations.

It is also widely known that White House and Dept. of Justice lawyers crafted legal language that allowed President Bush authority to order CIA torture, including waterboarding, wall-slamming, and sleep deprivation.

In justifying its interrogation methods in order to win the Justice Department’s legal approval, the CIA reportedly lied to the Office of Legal Counsel, saying that repeated use of torture like waterboarding “will not be substantial because the techniques generally lose their effectiveness after several repetitions.”

The CIA waterboarded detainees Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 83 and 183 times, respectively. They weren’t the only prisoners to be waterboarded or subjected to other harsh methods of interrogation, as has been reported for some time.

Image: Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa. (Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed)

In its long-suppressed 2002 memo justifying these tactics, the Office of Legal Counsel said that it did not find “harsh interrogation techniques” to be illegal – pursuant to US and international law banning torture – based on information provided by the CIA. The Office of Legal Counsel added that “if these facts were to change, this advice would not necessarily apply.”

A 2004 report by the CIA’s inspector general found that the CIA had gone outside legal parameters in its interrogation activities. The internal watchdog said at the time that the “continued applicability of the DOJ opinion” was in question given the CIA had told the Justice Department that it would utilize waterboarding in the same manner that the tactic was used in US military training for personnel, in case of enemy capture. The inspector general report found that the CIA used waterboarding in a “manner different” than the military’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape training.

The only government official that has gone to prison for torture is former CIA agent John Kiriakou, who felt the brunt of the Obama administration’s harsh treatment of government whistleblowers after he was the first to confirm the existence of the agency’s post-9/11 use of waterboarding. He is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence.

The average natural born citizen in any country is continuously indoctrinated into the national culture starting about the time they begin understanding the meaning of words. There’s one country in particular where reality is staring the public in the face, but the truth has been grossly distorted for decades by government, and mass media, bias and propaganda. If the citizens would suddenly see the truth, instead of what they’ve been conditioned to believe, they would find themselves in a strange and bizarre foreign land that’s contrary in many ways to their personal beliefs regarding home. For those who experience this sudden revelation, as soon as the truth is realized, it’s likely to provoke a profound and immediate sense of disbelief. Like emergency room personnel making insensitive jokes, laughter at some point becomes a self-defense mechanism for offsetting continuous parades of the absurd realities and outright horrors. This is all happening while the general population takes great pride in having a capitalist-democracy as their social-economic model for the stated purposes of providing equal rights, freedom, justice for all, and an all-inclusive participation in the political system. While in all truth, the capitalist-democracy in question has been corrupted directly by the legislation in place and the collective society’s inability to keep the system working for its stated and intended purposes.

Imagine being brought to a place without having any say in the matter, then being charged an exorbitant fee for the transportation costs and administration fees. Once at this location you’re required to work and sacrifice for the privilege of eating and paying your incurring debt while the rate of pay is set by your captors. There’s no escape, and the path of least resistance is to submit. Resisting the power structure in immediate terms would make life difficult to say the least. This is no imaginary scenario; for many this is reality in “the land of the free and home of the brave”, the United States of America, where natural citizens are born with the country’s debt already hanging over their heads, and from there on out, they’re indoctrinated as slaves to serve the dictates of the ruling-class when the time comes. The irony, and major absurdity, is that the populace believes theirs is the greatest capitalistic-democracy ever on earth, while the country has actually been moving further from the true workings of a capitalistic-democracy for decades and the percent of those being trapped in the indentured-servant class just keeps right on growing.

In cases where the US government appears to act deceptively on its own behalf, we have the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird, and the FBI’sCOINTELPRO as prime examples of programs designed specifically to manipulate public opinion and illegally interfere with the people’s rights to free speech and assembly. With writers and editors of influential “news” sources on the government payroll as operatives, there is no better way to wage a propaganda war against the public’s “constitutionally guaranteed” democratic rights. The CIA and FBI do not distort the truth and subvert Constitutional rights just for kicks; they are directly aiding and abetting those behind the scenes who have an agenda which is pure and simple — corporate profits. Our government representatives are essentially screened, groomed and “voted in” by huge campaign contributions derived from corporate profits, and ultimately the press is financed by those same corporations. And for their “investment in capital”, the corporations are getting what they want in return. So when corporate and special interests influence the government and news media directly, while the US government also influences news networks directly on behalf of corporations, then public opinion regarding any important issue is essentially being manufactured and controlled to a very large degree by corporate and special interests. The plain truth is the government, news media, corporate and special interests are all in a symbiotic criminal relationship with the absolute bottom line being they are willingly and knowingly denying Constitutional rights to the American citizenry which, in some of these instances, makes all those in violation willing traitors as defined by US law. And no, a group of conspirators does not need be prosecuted and found guilty in a court of law to be living and breathing traitors…

To maintain corporate profits and our status as world champion capitalists requires the US to undemocratically wage wars for “protecting our self-interests” of continually acquiring and consuming resources. Capitalism demands resources, and in our case, “democratically” waged wars to obtain those resources, require a willing public to sacrifice blood and treasure towards that goal. It’s all part of modern capitalism as practiced today — convincing the public, through deception, to sacrifice their blood and treasure to keep the whole system going for maximizing the bottom line of corporate profits. The beloved political-economic system keeps us addicted, enslaved and condemned to languish in a continuous cycle of acquisition through any means, including military aggression.  After being manipulated by unpatriotic government officials and news networks to serve unpatriotic corporations and special interests, we believe we’re being patriotic when waving our flags while we’re actually throwing truth, freedom and democratic principles into the bin of the “Unnecessary and too Risky” for the powers that be. The entire system of control and manipulation is being run by less than one percent of the population for their guaranteed advantages, while on the other end, the system is rigged to keep the majority in perpetual servitude. And because American citizens are part of the system and contributing to it, in that sense they are an accessory to the crimes being committed against themselves.

The truth being known in all of this presents a danger for those who pull the strings keeping the slave camp operating, but so far, the propaganda campaigns have been successful in keeping the general public from recognizing the truth. When this reality is presented to the average America born citizen, chances are high they’ll reflexively and automatically deny the truth as a form of self-defense. They simply don’t want to accept the reality of their governments’ betrayal, and many believe they’re being patriotic by defending what they think America is, but again, they’re defending lies when the truth is told. When people are held captive and trapped, hope and dignity can be cultivated through planned or spontaneous rebellion of one flavor or another — which might be the closest America will ever come to pulling itself up by the boot straps. But because roughly seventy percent of the general population doesn’t think independently, they’ll look to someone else or society in general when determining how to think and react; this fact is literally being banked on by those who mislead us through “our government” and “news media” while profiting at our expense and that of the entire world. If the prevailing winds, prevaricated by the government and news media, say there’s no reason to rock the boat, then the majority will bow their heads and continue on as compliant slaves, just as we’ve seen over recent decades.

When it comes to obtaining foreign resources, America’s “interests” often come at the expense of someone else. Converting a socialist leaning country, creating and aiding developing countries, or propping up dictators “friendly to western interests” can all work to enhance corporate profits with “privatizing the world” being part of the agenda. Under the table deals, coercion and outright military intervention, in any combination, are all being used to gain control of the world’s resources. This is often done under the guise of the IMF, and World Bank, making loans to “help” developing countries. In all reality the IMF and World Bank are there to secure the rights to a country’s natural resources, with the bottom line purpose again being corporate profits while having no concern for the indigenous people or anything else.

Corporate America is actively seeking to control water, farmland, mineral and energy rights all over the world. This all comes at the expense of human rights and lives, domestic and foreign. Very few, if any, of the ruling-class personally risk anything other than their personal integrity in these gambits. But everyday Americans, through propaganda, are persuaded to sacrifice their lives and tax money for use in the arsenal of weapons to beguile and wrestle the resources away from people in foreign lands. The powers that be are currently trying to tell the world we’ll all be better off with rain water being corporately owned so they can charge human beings for being alive. Next on the agenda is privatizing sunshine which probably sounds absurd to everyone — just as the concept of owning land was incomprehensible to native Americans. Judging by the actions of the ruling-class and not their words, as long as they have enough slaves to manipulate, they don’t care if American citizens or others must die so they can accomplish their primary goal of enriching themselves while controlling everything and everyone to that end. The wealthy and politically influential in the US are perfect examples of success in our overall corrupt capitalistic-democracy; while the rest of us are the epitome of failed dupes, having failed to exercise our democratic rights while being exploited. When summed up, the fact that Americans go along with all of this in the direction it’s going, is ludicrous when considering the impact all of this is having on the earth’s ecosystem (which can no longer be denied) — the ruling-class agenda is completely out of touch with reality — if the human race doesn’t get it together soon, all those corporate profits will all be for naught anyway, and could possibly end up being what ends it all for the human race. We do enjoy our self-deceptions though, and denials of the truth, while as master escape artists acknowledging a destiny beyond our control we turn on our favorite televised entertainment as absolute proof.

Destiny is inevitable and unstoppable just like the need to show the world how powerful we were in 1945, by dropping atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima when the US had already known the Japanese were preparing tosurrender. With special interests in mind, the US recognized ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as being legitimate starting before 1948 and continuing to this day. We can’t leave out the CIA’s roll in overthrowing democratically electedMohammad Mossadegh in 1953 Iran, only to install a murdering tyrant so the corporation now known as British Petroleum would benefit at the expense of the Iranian people. We had the Vietnam duo, with Henry Kissinger aidingNixon’s treason, which ultimately cost one million Vietnamese lives, twenty thousand American lives and one hundred thousand Americans wounded. For authorizing the Watergate scandal, Nixon later received a pardon from his personally designated successor. The overthrow of democratically electedSalvador Allende in 1973 Chile was backed by Nixon’s CIA which supported the brutally repressive regime of Augusto Pinochet. Another illegal Kissinger duet with Gerald Ford started in 1975 East Timor. Then came Ronald Reagan and the arms for hostages’ deal which circumvented Congress to supply weapons to Reagan’s murderous Contras. There was the “just say no to drugs” when Reagan’s CIA aided importing crack cocaine with the profits also illegally supporting the Contras’ killing machine. The Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s was our largest wealth redistribution up to that time, with many of the well-connected, including the Bush family, profiting at the expense of tax payer dollars. With the 2003 Iraq war being part of the neocon strategy for “securing the realm”, America was led to war through lies and deceit while the defense contractors made huge profits from the death and destruction at tax payers’ expense, which we’ll still be paying for decades from now. The 2008 economic meltdown resulted from the biggest financial rip-off and redistribution of wealth in the entire history of mankind, and while there was plenty of criminal activity on record, there were no prosecutions among the Wall Street ring leaders who orchestrated those crimes. Ultimately, after the 2008 economic collapse, the redistribution of wealth to the well-connected banks and their already wealthy stock holders, was again put on the tab of tax-paying slaves.

Our government escapes the consequences of these realities by manipulating the truth with the well-oiled propaganda machine. And by allowing Wall Street bankers to keep what they stole, and the press having no interest in holding anyone accountable, it all works out to continue bribing politicians with more “investment capital” in the form of “campaign contributions” from those same banks – and the US keeps right on moving toward the goal of lording over the entire world. It’s all just part of America doing business as usual, served up by corporate and special interests influencing the unpatriotic duo of US government and main-stream media networks to manipulate the American public into unwitting support for corporate fascism. By all means the illusion of equality, liberty and justice through a disingenuous capitalistic-democracy must be kept alive by our government and news media. If not for the illusion, who or what would run the show?

Mark Weiser was thrown into this world without any say as to when, or where, and to whom I would be born. My story is the same as all others in that respect as we all come from this same earth and began the same way. There is absolute truth in all matters among human kind, even if it’s that truth we’re afraid to acknowledge or don’t yet know. The truth where I’m concerned is preferable to anything else; it’s where my search began and where it never ends. Mark can be reached at:[email protected] 

AIR FRANCE: 183 passengers and other crew are quarantined in Madrid, Spain.

It’s official: today the Ebola virus just went global in earnest, or the frenzy went viral – we’re not sure just yet…

Air France has quarantined a passenger airliner and its 183 passengers at Madrid’s Barajas Airport, following 4 suspected cases there, including 1 passenger on board that flight. Apparently, a Spanish missionary, who returned from Liberia was in contact with Ebola patients, before being rushed to Madrid’s Carlos III Hospital.

Over in Moscow, health officials are monitoring 2 African students suspected of exhibiting Ebola symptoms. Russian health officials seem to airing on the side of caution, while simultaneously running quarantine training with drills for medical workers. RT reports:

“Two African students were taken to hospital in the Russian town of Oryol, some 350 km southwest of Moscow. They arrived in the capital’s airport and traveled to the town by bus. The Russian health watchdog later said it was part of drills.”

“The Rospotrebnadzor watchdog has confirmed that the two Guinea-Bissau citizens were not suspected of Ebola symptoms – it was a pre-planned measure aimed at diagnostics of African students, returning back to the town from holidays. The two were reported to have returned withtemperatures of 37.3 C. They were hospitalized and examined according to the procedures required when Ebola is suspected.”

Back in April 2014, Air France quarantined 187 and 11 crew in Paris following an Ebola panic. The flight from Guinea’s capital of Conakry landed at Paris’s Charles De Gaulle airport. French health workers checked fever on all travelers – after a dirty toilet sparked panic that passengers could be infected with Ebola. In the tests turned out negative.

In the US, public confidence was dented when it was revealed that the CDC (Center for Disease Control) gave the ‘OK to Fly’ to Dallas nurse Amber Vinson – the same nurse who treated the first US Ebola fatality, Thomas Duncan. CDC spokesman Tom Frieden may be forced to resign as a result. Frontier Airlines is also conducting a PR damage-control exercise as a result of the CDC gaff.

As 21WIRE reported earlier today – Ebola fears triggered a stock market dive including major airlines stocks. Both government agencies and Airline execs are under pressure from customers while the media fuel paranoia. Everyone is demanding answers about what government and airlines are doing to ensure public safety – scrubbing down aircraft with ‘hazmat’ protocols, shutting down routes to West Africa – to protect against the deadly virus.

The Ebola epicenter in West Africa currently has 8,997 suspected cases, with the majority fromLiberiaSierra Leone, and Guinea. It’s believed the incubation period for the deadly Ebola virus is said to be anywhere from two to 21 days.

Alexey Pushkov, the chairman of the international committee of the Russian lower parliament house, State Duma, said on Friday, Pentagon’s rhetoric in respect of Russia is illogical.

Speaking at the Association of the US Army’s annual conference on Wednesday US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called upon the military to be prepared to deal with Russia which, he argued was on NATO’s doorstep.

“The demands on the /US/ Army will grow more diverse and complicated. Threats from terrorists and insurgents will remain with us for a long time, but we must also deal with a revisionist Russia – with its modern and capable army – on NATO’s doorstep,” he claimed.

“The United States’ Department of Defense said that Russia’s army was ‘on NATO’s doorstep.’ How come, first NATO has expanded to our borders and then they say we are on their ‘doorstep?’” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Earlier, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu also commented on Chuck Hagel’s speech. He said Hagel’s statement that the US army should be ready to deal with modern and capable Russian armed forces means that the Pentagon is studying scenarios for operations near Russian borders.

“As for Russia standing on NATO’s doorstep, no one else but Washington itself has been stubbornly approaching this doorstep closer to our doors,” Shoigu said.

40 Killed in Turkey in Pro-Kobani Protests

October 17th, 2014 by Press TV

The number of Turkish people killed in demonstrations in support of the Kurds fighting the ISIL in the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani has neared 40.

Turkey has been gripped by a series of protests over the past week, a number of which turned violent in different parts of the country after security forces conducted a bloody crackdown on the protesters.

Turkey continues to block any delivery of military, medical or humanitarian assistance into Kobani where the ISIL terrorists are feared to be aiming at massive bloodletting.

Analysts say Ankara, having already won the US green light, plans to let the terrorists seize the Kurdish town of Kobani before sending tanks and troops to fight them in a bid to capture and possibly annex the Syrian territory.

Meanwhile, Press TV has learned that Washington has moved its base from Jordan to Turkey to train radical extremists who are fighting the Syrian government.

On Thursday, Idriss Nassan, the deputy head of Kobani’s foreign relations committee, called for pressuring the Turkish government to open its borders to volunteers and allow delivery of ammunition for the fighters.

Kobani and its surroundings have been under attack since mid-September, with the ISIL militants capturing dozens of nearby Kurdish villages.

The ISIL terror operations have forced tens of thousands of Syrian Kurds to flee into Turkey, which is a stone’s throw from Kobani.

Watch video here

It really is a pity that children are not allowed to U.N. meetings, so that during Obama’s address to the General Assembly last week someone could have shouted out: “The King is naked!”.  For even though in its intention his speech was supposed to be a finely-weaved cloth depicting utopian motifs of US-led knights in shining UN armour fighting for human progress, democracy, peace and prosperity around the globe, there were so many holes in this spin-doctor-fabricated material, that the bare flesh of the real US Foreign policy agendas was impossible to conceal.

Everyone present along with the loyal mainstream media carried on with the pretence, purposefully ignoring faulty lines and gaping holes, while praising the smoothness of the yarn (The Guardian: “Obama sought to strike a delicate balance at the UNGA“) and spotlighting new haute-couture patterns of justifying war (BBC: “The phrase that will linger is “the network of death”) soon to be seen in all high-street media narratives.

Conveniently, most MSM journalists chose to ignore the ironic twists in the weaving of Obama’s advisors: “Hundreds of millions of human beings have been freed from the prison of poverty” (yes, except 67% of Detroit families and 46.5 million people in the whole of the US); “I often tell young people in the United States that this is the best time in human history to be born (the U.S. infant mortality rate is fourth highest among 29 of the world’s most developed nations), for you are more likely than ever before to be literate (32 million adults in the U.S. can’t read. That’s 14 percent of the population), to be healthy (US has the most-expensive and least effective health-care system compared with 10 other western, leading industrialised nations), and to be free to pursue your dreams (The American Myth of Social Mobility).”

“We come together at a crossroads between war and peace; between disorder and integration; between fear and hope”, said the 2009 Noble Peace Laureate, who only a day before started bombing Syria.

“We come together at a crossroads between war and peace; between disorder and integration; between fear and hope”, said the 2009 Noble Peace Laureate, who only a day before started bombing the 7th predominantly Muslim country after Afganistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iraq. Hours before the U.S. launched airstrikes and cruise missiles into Syria, a senior administration official had told the Guardian that “neither of the two groups targeted in the Monday night strikes — the Islamic State militant group or the Al-Qaeda splinter group Khorasan — posed an imminent threat to the U.S.” In fact, Khorasan Group is a fake terror threat to justify bombing Syria.

As Obama was rallying the world on the path of war (which by then he had already started), not one person stood up to ask what possible legal authority he has to bomb Syria. During the following days all mainstream media outlets which in recent months have been so outspoken about international law and the sovereignty of the Ukrainian state towards which Russian aggression was allegedly directed, were now not only silent about the lack of UN or Congressional authorisation for the Syrian war, they were obligingly spreading all the war propaganda they were fed by the authorities. (Note: War propaganda is a war crime according to the Nuremberg Principles: Crime against the Peace. By upholding US foreign policy, MSM is complicit in war crimes.)

Setting aside the tragedy of the Middle Eastern conflict and focusing on Europe, as the Emperor was showcasing his supposedly humanitarian robes, there were so many holes of lies, hypocrisy and double standards in them, only fierce defenders of the Empire or Obama’s useful idiots would carry on with the pretence that the naked ugly flesh of US foreign policy is not flashing in front of everyone’s eyes. Presumably, because the majority of Brits and Europeans still believe that their own prosperity and progress is dependent on US global dominance, Obama’s speech resonated with their beliefs and values irrespective of its falseness. Because when one looks at the facts of what the US has been doing in the UK and Europe in recent years, it becomes clear that the real aggression is not coming from Russia, but from across the Atlantic  – seeding corrupt and undemocratic practices into European politics, as well as endangering the environment, undermining people’s rights and powers and even encouraging the spilling of blood (as in Ukraine). The only people who are benefiting from these practices are multinationals and corrupt politicians that work together in alliance to preserve the existing world order, which has been benefiting them and which is currently under threat.

According to Foreign Policy magazine, “American Leadership in the world is imperilled”: there’s more economic growth occurring in the developing world; military spending of developing countries is increasing (reducing the relative military power of the US) and the total federal debt is $13 trillion, which is 3/4th of GDP. It’s the latter, which is the biggest problem that the US faces at the moment: “among allies, adversaries, and swing states alike, U.S. fiscal policy is increasingly calling into question America’s ability to lead globally.”

Foreign Policy listed measures that the US has to take in order to remain a global power – fiscal deficit could be reduced by increasing the retirement age, investing in infrastructure, reforming corporate tax law to encourage bringing profits home, enhancing productivity through reforming health-care and education, and focusing on technological superiority in military spending. Aside from these domestic-focused solutions, it also stressed the importance of attracting talent from around the world and capitalising on America’s energy boom.

Less than a decade ago, the US was totally dependent on energy imported from abroad, especially from the Middle East. It was all reversed since 2007, when a combination of fracking and horizontal drilling have generated a surge in US oil and natural gas production, helping the US to overtake Russia as the world’s leading producer of oil and gas in 2013 and even giving hope that it will overcome Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest crude oil producer by 2015. This economic boost from the “North American energy revolution” has made the US relatively energy independent and in turn ‘stimulated energy-heavy petrochemical production, created 2 million jobs in shale gas industry’, supposedly reduced carbon dioxide emissions and, most importantly, transformed US foreign policy.

It all started with Hilary Clinton, who during her leadership at the State Department has worked closely with energy companies to spread fracking around the globe – sold as a broader push to fight climate change and boost energy supply, but also to weaken power adversaries, who challenge the US in the global energy market, such as Russia, China, Syria and Iran and to benefit US firms, which with the help of American officials, would get high concessions on shale gas overseas.

In early 2009, when Clinton was sworn as Secretary of State, she instructed lawyer David Goldwyn to ‘elevate energy diplomacy as the key function of US foreign policy’. By 2010, Goldwyn unveiled the Global Shale Gas Initiative, which aimed ‘to help other nations develop their shale potential’, in a way which is ‘as environmental friendly as possible’. However, when the Initiative was launched, environmental groups were barely consulted and it was the United States Energy Association, a trade organization representing Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Conoco-Phillips, that played the key role.

“From then on US officials and oil giants were working together, as if they are part of the same multinational company pursuing the same business plan.” They were working together in order to achieve the US foreign policy goals.

By early 2011, the State Department decided to launch a new bureau to integrate energy into every aspect of foreign policy, an idea heavily inspired by Chevron executive Jan Kalicki’s book Energy and Security: Toward a New Foreign Policy Strategy. The new Bureau of Energy Resources, with 63 employees and a multimillion-dollar budget (coming out of taxpayers’ pockets) started its work in late 2011. One of the strategies was for US embassies to ‘pursue more outreach to private-sector energy firms’ (some of these firms happened to support Hilary Clinton’s and Obama’s political campaigns, e.g. Chevron). From then on US officials and oil giants were working together, as if they are part of the same multinational company pursuing the same business plan.

Europe was one of the top targets of this new US energy-focused foreign policy/business plan and Clinton personally flew to various countries like Bulgaria to promote the fracking industry. Lobbyists circulated a report that the European Union could save 900 billion euros if it invested in gas rather than renewable energy to meet its 2050 climate targets. At the same time shale gas was advertised as the fuel of choice for slashing carbon emissions. Environmentalists argued that fracking can do little to ease global warming, given that wells and pipelines leak large quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Also anyone concerned with the environment was upset that investing in fracking could crowd out investment in renewables. At the same time growing evidence was emerging that fracking was linked to groundwater contamination and earthquakes.

Despite these counter-currents, ‘2012 was a busy year for a State Department, which hosted fracking conferences from Thailand to Botswana, while American foreign diplomats and officials helped US oil giants to snap up shale gas leases around the globe. Chevron had the largest share of shale concessions in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, and South Africa, as well as in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland, which had granted more than 100 shale concessions covering nearly a third of its territory.

However, this US foreign policy/business plan didn’t unfold smoothly : new research from the U.S. Geological Survey suggested that the EIA assessments had grossly overestimated shale deposits in Poland by 99% and one industry study estimated that drilling shale gas in Poland would cost three times as much as in the US. There was a further controversy with regards to rights to underground resources in Eastern Europe.

Facing these obstacles, the US State Department and Oil behemoths started a lobbying blitz around the EU: lawmakers were sent industry-funded studies, fake grassroots organisations were set up, regulators were wined and dined at conferences and extravagant functions. All of it came with a warning that failure to develop shale gas “will have damaging consequences on European energy security and prosperity”.

Is the EU as transparent as it presents itself, when a major law company in Washington is able to hire former senior decision makers who bring with them a not-yet-published draft law about tracking in the EU?

At one time of this European lobbying bonanza, Covington & Burling, a major Washington law firm, hired several former senior E.U. policymakers — including a top energy official who, according to the New York Times, arrived with a not-yet-public draft of the European Commission’s fracking regulations. Not only American law firms were fostering corruption by rewarding recruited European politicians, including top officials from the three main governing bodies – the European Commission, Parliament and Council – with fat pay-checks, but they also made every effort to keep their lobbying practices as opaque as possible, citing lawyer-confidentiality to evade government-backed but voluntary disclosure efforts. This lack of transparency left many of their lobbying results outside of public scrutiny, undermining democracy in Europe, yet bringing profits to multinational clients.

Between January and October 2012 Goldwyn from the US Shale Gas Initiative organised Chevron-funded fracking workshops in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine. All of these countries, except Bulgaria, which saw wide-spread anti-fracking protests, would later grant Chevron major shale concessions. In Romania the US State Department got involved in direct negotiations –the US Ambassador led negotiations between ‘upset’ Chevron officials and the Romanian government, which resulted in a 30 year deal with Chevron.

When Chevron started installing its first Romanian rig in late 2013, local residents blockaded the planned drilling sites. Soon, anti-fracking protests were starting across Europe, from Poland to the United Kingdom, but Chevron didn’t back down – along with other American energy firms, itlobbied to “insert language in a proposed U.S.-E.U. trade agreement, aka TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), allowing U.S. companies to haul European governments before international arbitration panels for any actions threatening their investments, in order protect shareholders against “arbitrary” and “unfair” treatment by local authorities.”

Despite the public outcry in Europe, the State Department, working alongside energy multinationals, as if ‘they were all branches of the same company’, has stayed on its course of making Europe more dependent on the North American energy platform. One of the biggest obstacles to this goal was and is Russia, as it supplies 30% of Europe’s natural gas. Part of the campaign to promote a US-led fracking revolution in Europe is the media’s demonisation of Russia, in order to scare Europeans away from their Russian gas consumption.

Unfortunately, Ukraine was bound to be the centre of this battle as it depends on Russian gas almost entirely while being one of the main gas transit countries in Europe. An insider report called “Occasional Paper 291. Ukraine’s Energy Policy and US Strategic Policy in Eurasia” stated the following as ‘the problem’:

“Twelve years after achieving independence, Ukraine seems unable to find a way to break away from its energy dependency on Russia, or to find viable ways of managing it. Ukraine’s current energy situation and its handling also have important negative implications for US strategy in the region… Ukraine’s lack of clear energy policy strategy complicates the US strategy of supporting multiple pipeline routes on the east-West axis as a way of helping to promote a more pluralistic system in the region as an alternative to continued Russian hegemony.” If only Obama’s speeches were as honest.

On 5th November 2013, it looked like Ukraine’s future independence from Russian gas was certain – Ukraine and Chevron finally signed a 50-year lease deal, following a January 2013 deal with Royal Dutch Shell. Ukraine President Yanukovich seemed optimistic about these new partnerships, stating on his website that they “will let Ukraine satisfy its gas needs completely and, under the optimistic scenario, export energy resources by 2020”.

Quite a few bottles of champagne must have popped on that day, as the US had been trying to wean Ukraine off Russian gas for quite a few years. As early as 2004, the Bush administration had spent $65 million ‘to aid political organisations in Ukraine, paying to bring opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko to meet U.S. leaders and helping to underwrite exit polls indicating he won last month’s disputed runoff election.’

It was during Yushchenko’s presidency (2005-2010), that Ukraine and Russia had many ‘gas rows’, which at one time in 2009 left as many as 18 European countries cut off from Russian gas. In response, Gazprom, Russia’s state-run energy company, proposed the building of a new $21.6 billion pipeline called South Stream as a way to circumvent Ukraine and ensure an uninterrupted, diversified flow to Europe. Italy and seven other countries have joined the venture.

Hromadske TV was established just one day after Yanukovich abandoned agreement with the EU (such a coincidence). This TV also promoted Maidan protests.

As the project would not be complete until 2018, the US still had time to challenge Russia in the European energy market and Chevron’s deal with Ukraine was an attempt to do just that.As usual, the US supplemented its business plan with a powerful PR campaign – a couple of months prior to the signing of the Chevron-Ukraine deal, the US (Chevron) and Dutch (Shell) Embassies, along with George Soros’ International Renaissance Foundation ‘announced’ the set-up of an “NGO” – an online anti-Russian pro-western media outlet called Hromadske TV, which, again totally incidentally (no doubt!) was launched on 22 November 2013, one day after Yanukovich abandoned an agreement with the EU in favour of Putin’s sudden offer of a 30% cheaper gas bill and a $15 billion aid package.

It was this US/Dutch/Soros-sponsored Hromadske TV, which became the main driving vehicle behind the Euromaidan protests, which were initiated by its editor-in-chief Mustafa Nayem, who used Facebook to rally the Ukrainians to gather on Independence Square in Kiev to protest Yanukovich’s decision. The narrative that was spun by Hromadske TV, opposition-owned Ukrainian TV and western media was that Euromaidan was ‘a true people’s movement, fueled by Ukranian citizens’ desire for a better government and closer ties with the EU.’ Somehow, not that many western journalists were concerned about the fact that the man who rallied people on Maidan was funded by US and Dutch Embassies, as well as by George Soros.

While publicly US officials were professing ‘the right of Ukrainian people to self-determination, freedom and democracy’, behind the scenes they were choosing leaders themselves, not with Ukrainian people’s interests, but with US interests in mind. In a private leaked telephone conversation US assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland told US ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt that “I don’t think [opposition leader] Klitsch should go into the government” (Klitshchko didn’t and successfully ran for the Mayor of Kiev instead). “I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience.” (Yatsenyuk became the interim prime minister. Also completely incidentally his foundation Open Ukraine has a revealing list of Russia-hating sponsors, including NATO Information and Documentation Centre and State Department of the United States of America)

In the same conversation, Nuland, who is married to neo-con foreign policy pundit Robert Kagan who pushed for the Iraq war, gave the most accurate definition of the UN’s role in this world: “He’s [Jeff Feltman, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] now gotten both [UN official Robert] Serry and [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, Fuck the EU.” I think the UN should change their website’s banner from Welcome to the United Nations. It’s your world.  to ‘Welcome to the United Nations. It’s a US world, and we are here to glue it.’ Also ‘Fuck the EU” is possibly the most succinct summary of US relations with Europe in recent years. It would add a touch of truthfulness, if they would add it as a postscript to Obama’s speech at the UNGA.

To be continued…

Vera Graziadei is a Ukrainian-British actress. She achieved a degree in Philosophy and Economics and a Masters in Philosophy and Public Policy (Thesis: Social Capital and Critique of the World Bank’s Development Report) from London School of Economics. She continued studying Philosophy, while working as an actress, focusing on Existentialism, and completed a foundation course in Psychotherapy/Psychoanalysis. Her other passions are Comedy and Literature (esp. Russian classics).

10 Questions for The WHO About Ebola

October 17th, 2014 by Activist Post

The World Health Organization is claiming that we are facing the most severe health crisis ever with the alleged Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

But since the WHO was caught inflating the Swine Flu pandemic to hoist experimental vaccines on the world, perhaps we should not just take them on their word without demanding evidence.

Here are 10 questions for the World Health Organization to answer about the Ebola outbreak in Africa:

1. You include “probable and suspected” cases of Ebola in your official African figures; what methods do you use to determine suspects and probables?

2. What is the exact number of “confirmed” cases of Ebola (minus the probable and suspected cases)?

3. What method was used for confirming that Ebola was indeed the cause of death in those cases, and what organization made that determination and gathered that data?

4. Can you provide a full list of all WHO-approved vaccination programs for West Africa conducted in the year leading up to the Ebola crisis?

5. Can you provide a full list of the genetically modified (GMO) mosquito experiments for presumptive treatment of dengue and malaria that are being conducted in the Ebola-stricken regions? Reviewing the effects of these experiments might be of value to the blind participants.

6. How many of the confirmed Ebola victims received vaccines or any other treatment from the Western NGOs (i.e. Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders) in the months leading up to their Ebola illness?

7. Do you have public water samples from Ebola regions to rule out contamination? Please show them to us.

8. West Africa has one of the lowest life-expectancy rates in the world at around 55 years. Does that compromised health environment lead to higher mortality rates for this supposed strain of Ebola?

9. How many of the alleged African Ebola victims also had compromised immune systems due to HIV/AIDS, the number one cause of death in the region?

10. Why are health workers wearing hazmat suits if Ebola is merely infectious like AIDS, when Tuberculosis, a highly contagious airborne disease, doesn’t even require hazmat suits? It’s a bit theatrical, don’t you think? And why isn’t it working to stop transmission to medical professionals?

This list is just scratching the surface. Please add your questions to the WHO or the CDC in the comment section.

The richest one percent of the world’s population now controls 48.2 percent of global wealth, up from 46 percent last year, according to the most recent global wealth report issued by Credit Suisse, the Swiss-based financial services company.

Hypothetically, if the growth of inequality were to proceed at last year’s rate, the richest one percent for all intents and purposes would control all the wealth on the planet within 23 years.

The report found that the growth of global inequality has accelerated sharply since the 2008 financial crisis, as the values of financial assets have soared while wages have stagnated and declined.

“These figures give more evidence that inequality is extreme and growing, and that economic recovery following the financial crisis has been skewed in favour of the wealthiest,” commented Emma Seery, head of Inequality at Oxfam, the British anti-poverty charity. “This report shows that those least able to afford it have paid the price of the financial crisis whilst more wealth has flooded into the coffers of the very richest.”

The study revealed that the richest 8.6 percent of the world’s population—those with a net worth of more than $100,000—control 85 percent of the world’s wealth. Meanwhile, the bottom 70 percent of the world’s population—those with less than $10,000 in net worth—hold a mere 2.9 percent of global wealth.

The growth in inequality is bound up with a worldwide surge in paper wealth, fueled by the trillions of dollars pumped into the financial system by central banks via zero interest rate and “quantitative easing” policies. The total amount of global wealth grew by 8.3 percent over the past year, the highest increase ever recorded, hitting a total of $263 trillion. This year alone, the total wealth of the US grew by $12.3 trillion—about the same amount that was wiped out in the 2008 financial crash.

As the report noted,

“The overall global economy may remain sluggish, but this has not prevented personal wealth from surging ahead during the past year. Driven by … robust equity prices, total wealth grew by 8.3% worldwide … the first time household wealth has passed the $250 trillion threshold.”

Credit Suisse added, “The annual rise of $20.1 trillion … continues a trend which has seen global wealth increase every year since 2008, so that it now stands at 20% above the pre-crisis peak and 39% above the recent low in 2008.”

This ongoing growth in asset values has generated a sharp rise in the number of millionaires. The number of adults with a net worth of over one million dollars increased by 12 percent in the United States last year, from 12.5 to 14.2 million.

In a significant observation, the report directly related the growth of social inequality to the 2008 financial crash. “Our research suggests that countries often experienced a structural break in inequality trends around the time of the financial crisis … after 2007, wealth inequality has tended to increase.”

In the aftermath of the 2008 crash, state treasuries all around the world were looted to bail out the financial system, while central banks printed money to prop up the values of financial assets held primarily by the rich. Meanwhile, social services were slashed to pay for these bailouts, even as companies used mass unemployment to drive down their employees’ wages. The result has been an unprecedented increase in social inequality.

This process was spearheaded by the Obama administration, which heads the most unequal of all the advanced capitalist countries. The US is home to a disproportionate number of what are known as ultra-high net worth individuals, those with a net worth of more than 50 million dollars. The US has half of the world’s ultra-high net worth individuals, twice the number that live in Europe and nearly ten times more than the country with the next-highest total of such people.

The report, issued by a major European financial institution, sounded a worried note. It observed that since the financial crisis, financial wealth has grown much faster than disposable income, which has been constrained by the lackluster state of the real economy.

Noting that the present ratio of wealth to income, 6.5 (i.e., wealth is 6.5 times income), is much higher than the postwar average of less than five, and is the highest level in postwar history, Credit Suisse wrote, “This is a worrying signal given that abnormally high wealth income ratios have always signaled recession in the past.” It added that “the ratio briefly rose above 6 in 1999 during the dot.com bubble and broke that barrier again during 2005–2007,” immediately before the 2008 crash.

The warning from Credit Suisse that the policies implemented over the past six years have only created the conditions for a new financial collapse follow similar statements of concern from other sections of the ruling class—and come amidst a surge in volatility on the global markets over the past week.

However, despite these worried remarks as the world economy approaches a new financial precipice, neither Credit Suisse nor any faction of the ruling class has any solution to a crisis that is rooted in the historic and intractable contradictions of the capitalist system.

International law can be such a funny thing. It acts as a brake on stomping behaviour; but it also acts as an incentive for abuse, the scanty cover for atrocious crimes.  Those usually scrupulous in picking up on the misbehaviour of other states tend to take quite a different position on the Palestinian-Israeli debate on statehood. The most obvious problem here is that the occupied and controlled are meant to be involved in a strained dialogue with the occupiers and controllers.  This is domestic abuse by international means.

The devilish problem on this score is how international law – always the fabulous default point of reference – becomes a chain rather than a sword.  The Israeli state is well acquainted with this dilemma, having breached various protocols and conventions in bagging, trying then hanging Adolf Eichmann.  Death, in short, in the name of a higher law.

Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s words on the subject still reek of natural law presumption, but they also suggest that international law, when required, needs to be broken or nudged.  The theme is repeated in the context of the settlements, the expansions, and attempts to keep a Zionist programme alive.  The biblical imperative becomes the legal justification.

Such breakages of the law create a dangerous situation, if you count anarchical violence as necessarily dangerous.  But the involvement of both the United States and Israel as key mediators and judges as to how Palestinian statehood develops is tantamount to determining when an irritating child becomes a formed adult. It is a proposition on condescending parenting that is both ponderous and preposterous.

It is obvious that an appetite for unilateral recognition for Palestinian statehood is coming to the fore.  European waters on the subject are stirring.  The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, had to face the music of disagreement when his fellow colleagues of the House of Commons decided to give a vote of 274-12 urging the UK to “recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.”[1]

Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies gave a decent summing up of the ramifications of such a vote.  Not much change in office, maybe, but “a statement from the closest US ally and perhaps the most influential country in Europe on this question to say that it is not prepared to go along with the US position that only US-orchestrated diplomacy that is based on this nonsense about the two states coming together as if they were equals… rather than an occupier and occupied population.”

Sweden’s newly formed centre-left government is also getting ready to unfurl the banners of recognition.  On October 3, Prime Minister Stefan Loefven made the prosaic point that the Palestinians have “legitimate demands for national sovereignty” and that, by virtue of that, Sweden would “recognise the State of Palestine” at some point.[2]

With little surprise, the commentariat on Palestinian non-statehood came up condemning the moves.  A former spokeswoman for the Israel Defence Forces, Avital Leibovich, came up with the traditionally anaemic suggestion that, “A two-state solution can only be achieved through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”[3]

Efraim Halevy, former Mossad head, suggested that it was in “nobody’s interest”, which is tantamount to saying that it was not in Israel’s interest.  In classic self-repudiation (we want Palestinian independence, but not an official recognition of statehood), Halevy would argue that such a move “will cause serious and maybe irreparable damage to [that] Palestinian dream.”[4]  This is old news, and not particularly good news: Palestinian statehood (or childhood) is the lengthiest of umbilical cords, tied to the womb of Israeli discretion.

In some ways, the hard views of such individuals as Caroline B. Glick of The Jerusalem Post are far more revealing.  There is no cant there – Palestinian statehood should simply never happen.  Keep those rotters where they are – Israel’s existence is premised on Palestinian subjugation, though she prefers to slant it differently by suggesting that recognising “Palestine”, as he puts it, “ does not advance peace, it advances Israel’s ruin.”[5]  Such an argument is striking for its historical echo at the establishment of the state of Israel. For it to exist, there had to be blood, dispossession and the ruin of other people.

Other commentators get troubled by what are perceived to be global implications of recognising the Palestinians, which is tantamount to suggesting servitude for the sake of avoiding history.  Douglas Murray, writing for The Spectator, is verging on fantastic hyperbole with his assertions that Palestinian statehood will somehow be a building block in a Caliphate project.

True, some individuals connected with groupings such as Hamas see broader religious connotations  – Murray picks up on a remark by Mahmoud al-Zahar in a 2010 speech as an example of seeing “Palestine in its entirety, the Arab nation in its entirety, the Islamic nation in its entirety, and the entire world.”[6]  Murray chooses to see this as Palestinians getting on the train of jihadi revolution and running amok, taking control of Spain (or Andalusia) in a reverse Reconquista.

Such an interpretation, without evidence of plans, strategies and conceptual understanding, tend to make a mockery about Palestinians, and the plans for statehood.  But Murray prefers to see that recognition of a Palestinian state would be “inevitably seen, by the peoples of the region, as an endorsement of these aspirations.”  Such an interpretation, despite the savage advances of the Islamic State, and the enormous fault lines of disagreement and dissent that course through Islam.

There is something to be said about the problems presented by the moves towards recognition. The parameters of statehood, outlined by the Montevideo Convention of 1933, do stipulate the need for a set territory, population, government and capacity.  A key problem here is how far the Hamas-Palestinian Authority can come to an agreement, but this is mere fiddlesticks when it comes to actual recognition.  The right to statehood exists irrespective of contesting factions who might wish to challenge for the mantle of the ruling government.  The constitution of a government is a classic smokescreen – either a state has one or not, even if it be atrocious.  One need only to look at the DPRK for confirmation on that.

The other point is that recognising Palestine is not going to unleash the dogs of war.  It may well actually keep them in the pen.  For one thing, the enemies of Israel have always gotten sustenance from the Palestinian cause. If statehood is recognised, the sting in the tail of that mission will be removed.  There is even – and dare we hope – the prospect of a Palestinian state playing the role of peace broker before factions in Islam.  Such optimism, it would seem, is something that dare not be named, or hoped for.

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

Notes

The string of beheadings of American and British hostages at the hands of the Islamic State has drawn horror and intense media scrutiny the world over, redoubling international determination to defeat the extremist group.  

But with IS dominating headlines, it is easy to forget that Saudi Arabia, a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council and a close ally of America in the war against the Islamist fighters, is itself routinely carrying out the practice of beheading.

Since January of this year, 59 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia under the country’s antiquated legal system based primarily around sharia law.

Last month saw Saudi Arabia behead at least 8 people — twice the number of Western hostages who have so far featured in IS’s barbaric execution videos. In August those executed by Riyadh were sentenced to death for crimes such as apostasy, adultery and “sorcery.” In one case, four members of the same family were executed for “receiving large quantities of hashish,” a sentence imposed, according to Amnesty International, on the basis of “forced confessions extracted through torture.”

The human rights group has reported a “disturbing surge” in executions in the kingdom. Said Boumedouha, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program, said that many are executed for petty crimes, highlighting the frequent and seemingly casual imposition of such sentences.

“The use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia is so far removed from any kind of legal parameters that it’s almost hard to believe,” Boumedouha remarked.

Mohammed Saad-al Beshi, a Saudi state executioner, told Arab News in 2003 that he felt that he was carrying out “God’s work” and that “when prisoners get to the execution square, their strength drains away.”

The practice is not confined to adults. According to Amnesty International, Saudi Arabia executed at least one person under the age of 18 this year, a violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The manner by which confessions are extracted also paints a bleak picture, activists say. ”The executions of people accused of petty crimes and on the basis of ‘confessions’ extracted through torture has become shamefully common in Saudi Arabia,” Boumedouha said.

The UN has sought to distance itself from Saudi Arabia on the issue, despite the membership of Saudi Arabia upon the UN Human Rights Council, a position it was elected to by the UN General Assembly.

In September, Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, remarked that “beheadings as a form of execution is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and prohibited under international law under all circumstances.”

Independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council have also been quick to denounce the kingdom’s brutal practice, commenting that “the practice of beheading, especially after unfair trials for crimes that may not carry the death penalty under international law, is shocking and grossly inappropriate.”

However, as an oil rich Western ally seen as key to the US-led offensive against IS, there remains little hope, at least within the short term, of large scale international condemnation.

Follow Tom Breakwell on Twitter: @TBreakwell

Obama Misrepresents the Russian Economy

October 17th, 2014 by Eric Zuesse

A report posted October 15th at Russia Insider (a Russian website), headlined “Russian Industry Expands Rapidly In September, Hammers Expectations: Fastest growth since 2012. Manufacturing up 3.6%. Food production shows double digit growth.” This contradicts many reports in U.S. media, which take unquestioningly the Obama Administration’s assertions that the Russian economy is doing poorly as a result of Obama’s sanctions against Russia. Russia has responded to those sanctions by simply increasing its trading with other nations, which aren’t within the U.S. orbit (and also increasing its trading internally, within Russia itself). For example, Russian President Putin counter-sanctioned against Europe, whose farmers have thus lost a market that’s now being met by Russia’s farmers, and by farmers in other, non-U.S.-controlled, nations. Russia’s Foreign Minister explained that, “Russia never intended to play the sanctions game, however the imposed bans against Russian companies and individuals forced Moscow to apply retaliatory measures,” so that America and the countries within its orbit won’t benefit. Instead, Europe is taking the hit from Obama’s sanctions. Europe has been corrupt enough to go along with — instead of to condemn and reject — those sanctions, and is paying a price for that.

On May 21st, the Wall Street Journal  bannered, “China and Russia Sign Natural Gas Deal: Gazprom CEO Says Agreement Worth $400 Billion Over 30 Years.” Then, on October 13th, that newspaper’s blog headlined, “Russia Seals Deal With China on Currency Swap,” and reported that, “The central banks of the two countries have announced today a 150 billion yuan ($24 billion) currency-swap agreement which would promote the international use of the Chinese renminbi, while making Moscow less dependent on the dollar.”

Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin is, thus far, successful in his effort to use the reductions of trade with America’s allies as an opportunity to boost trade with America’s non-allies, such as the BRICS countries, Brazil, Russia (their own internal market), India, China, and South Africa. (China is already a larger market than the U.S.; some of the others might also come to be so.) OnJuly 9th, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency bannered “BRICS to Create New Development Bank in Brazil,”  and reported that those countries agreed to devote $100 billion in start-up capital to create a competitor to the Washington-controlled IMF, and to the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency. Already, a more extensive article had appeared in France’s Humanite, bannering on July 5th, “POUTINE DANS L’ANCIEN PRÉ CARRÉ YANKEE” (“PUTIN IN THE FORMER BACKYARD [of the] YANKEE”), and they reported also that Putin would be visiting several Latin American cities that month, to drum up even more trade with America’s non-allies.

On October 15th, the Voice of America headlined, “Experts Divided Over Whether Sanctions Against Russia Are Working,” and then said that the reason there’s doubt about this is not that the economic sanctions are failing (which they largely are), but instead that the sanctions are “mostly intended to change behavior [of Putin], to deter bad behavior [such as Putin’s 'seizure' of Crimea, which was actually no seizure at all]. And in that sense, … probably it hasn’t worked.” This ‘news’ report, from America, said that the sanctions have worked against the Russian economy (when there actually hasn’t yet been enough time to evaluate what the net effects of the sanctions will turn out to be on Russia): “The Russian economy is likely to be stagnant this year and probably will gradually decline in the next few years.”

The U.S. Administration refers to the Russian economy under Putin’s rule as a failure. On August 2nd, President Obama said to Britain’s Economist“Russia doesn’t make anything. Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old. The population is shrinking.” All of that is blatantly false.

Regarding “Russia doesn’t make anything”: an August 2013 World Bank study, “Drivers of Firm-Level Productivity in Russia’s Manufacturing Sector,” reported:

“Russia experienced a well-documented productivity surge over the period 1999-2005, following the 1998 crisis. This contributed to a dynamic growth and poverty reduction. Estimated annual total factor productivity (TFP) growth of 5.8 percent was the driving force behind the observed average annual real GDP growth of 6.5 percent over this period (Alam et al. 2008). Part of the productivity surge is explained by better utilization of excess capacity, especially in the manufacturing sector, a key driver of Russia’s growth, but also within-firm factors and inter-sectoral allocation of labor. Productivity in manufacturing itself––an important engine of Russia’s growth––grew at a healthy rate of over 4 percent in this period.”

Putin had entered office in 2000, and so that analysis actually covered Putin’s entire record thus far; and, as I have documented in another article, the Russian economy has vastly outperformed the U.S. economy since Putin entered office, and Russia’s has been the only major economy whose growth has rivaled China’s. The growth in Russia’s manufacturing sector is simply a part of Russia’s broader stellar economic performance, thus far during Putin’s leadership of Russia.

Regarding Obama’s “Immigrants aren’t rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity”: Mark Adomanis in Forbes responded to this by asserting that Russia is, in fact, “the world’s second most popular destination for immigrants after the United States.” But both men were wrong here: According to the latest CIA World Factbook, both countries, America and Russia, are mediocre in this regard. The “Net Migration Rate” is 1.69 per thousand population entering Russia, and 2.45 in the U.S. By contrast, it’s 83.82 in Lebanon, 27.35 in Qatar, 21.78 in Zimbabwe, 17.69 in British Virgin Islands, 17.22 in Jordan, 16.01 in Libya, 14.71 in Cayman Islands, 14.55 in Singapore, 13.6 in Bahrain, and 13.58 in UAE — just to mention the top ten. The highest immigration-rates in Europe are 8.31 in San Marino, 7.97 in Luxembourg, 7.96 in Norway, and 7.24 in Spain. The highest in the Americas is 5.66 in Canada. The five highest emigration-rates are: -113.51 in Syria, -21.64 in American Samoa, -20.93 in Micronesia, -17.85 in Tonga, and -14.12 in Nauru.

Regarding Obama’s “The life expectancy of the Russian male is around 60 years old”: Adomanis noted that male life-expectancy was actually 65.14 years in 2013. That’s correct. However, Adomanis didn’t note (as I did in my article) that this is up from just 59 years when Putin first came into power in 2000. The only time when male longevity had been as high as it was in 2013 was in 1986, shortly before Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union and he called Harvard’s economics department in to remake the Russian economy (disastrously, as my article explained); Putin simply threw out the Harvardians, and their oligarchs, but the man who led Harvard’s effort, Harvard’s Lawrence Summers, subsequently went on to lead U.S. President Obama’s economic team, and his economy for America’s 1%. According to the latest CIA World Factbook,  overall  life-expectancy in the U.S. is 79.56 years, and in Russia it’s 70.16 years. But back in 2000 when Putin entered power, it was just 65.3 years. So: Putin’s leadership has given the Russians an additional five years of life. The ways he has done this are described in my article, earlier referred-to, and also (in terms strictly of Putin’s economic policy) described by Jon Hellevig here (see especially his pages 21-23).

Regarding Obama’s “The population is shrinking”: Russia’s population has actually been growing since 2007. It had soared nearly 50% between 1950 and Gorbachev’s entry into office in 1990, then headed steadily downhill till 2007, when it finally turned around and has been again on a growth-trend. The declines in the growth-rates of Russia’s population started when Gorbachev came into power in 1990, went into absolute negative territory starting in 1995, reached their very nadir in 2001, and then in 2003 headed back upward toward positive growth-rates once again, starting in 2003, and finally actually reached positive territory in 2008, eight years into Putin’s reign.

One can’t know in advance whether Putin’s phenomenal economic record will continue even after Obama’s recent efforts to harm Russia, but on September 1st, the Wall Street Journal’s website bannered, “Russia’s Manufacturing Sector Grows Despite Western Sanctions Over Ukraine,” and reported: “Russian manufacturing showed a second consecutive month of growth in August, propped up by new orders, suggesting that Western sanctions haven’t yet impacted the sector.” So: Obama’s false statements about Russia’s past could turn out to be accompanied by his false assertions about its future. In any case, his track-record as an economic predictor thus far is poor.

President Obama seems to be competing hard with his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush. Like Bush, too, he’s not just an American nationalist, but an American aggressive imperialist.

Obama’s speech at West Point, on 28 May 2014 (less than a month after he had started Ukraine’s anti-Russian ethnic cleansing) made clear his American supremacism – and even his rationalization for it — by addressing the graduating cadets as follows: “Here’s my bottom line:  America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.” Obama alleged: “Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us.” Our nazi President said — yes, this nazi in America’s White House said: “In Ukraine, Russia’s recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe. But this isn’t the Cold War [he said this after signaling his listeners that it really is but that he’s a ‘liberal’ and so he doesn’t assert such hate-mongering things explicitly, but the cadets naturally can come to the conclusion themselves; it’s what they’re being paid to do, and Obama’s a gifted deceiver leading them in doing that]. Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away. Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions; Europe and the G7 joined us to impose sanctions; NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies; the IMF is helping to stabilize Ukraine’s economy [and, get that -- he had actually already destroyed  it, and here is an even more-recent report on that]; OSCE monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of Ukraine.” (He said all this after having spent over five billion dollars of U.S. taxpayer funds to destabilize Ukraine and bring about the civil war there.)

George W. Bush had his Iraq (and his 2008 crash), and Barack Obama has his Ukraine (and so much more).

Both were/are based on lies.

How anyone can respect either of these two U.S. Presidents is beyond me. Both men should be in prison, for the rest of their lives. If there is not accountability for such heinous crimes as they have perpetrated upon America and upon the entire world, then why not let everyone who now is in America’s prisons, out? That would be less insane than either of these two men’s beingnot  in prison. No current U.S. prisoner has perpetrated nearly as vast harms as Bush has, nor as Obama has. And what does it say for America’s sense of values, that Americans aren’t calling, loud and clear, and insistently, for both men’s severe imprisonment? It’s an embarrassment to this country — nothing less than that. No American should accept it. This American does not. Great Presidents, such as Lincoln and FDR, deserve their high honors: they earned that. Similarly, any Presidents who have been so vile as Bush was, and as Obama is, deserve to be imprisoned for the rest of their lives. I hope that America is better than to accept either man. The sheer symbolism of that continued acceptance, the message that it sends to the rest of the world about our country, is simply awful. It will look very bad in the history books.

A doctor claims that he developed a successful drug to combat Ebola with the U.S. Army at Ft. Detrick Maryland but that the research was inexplicably shut down two weeks before the first outbreak of the virus in West Africa.

Richard C. Davis, M.D., a former flight surgeon with the U.S. Navy, told Infowars that he was leading a project to develop a drug called RC-2Beta, which according to Davis works, “at the core of our cells to enhance mitochondrial efficiency and promote gene signaling to stimulate cellular self-repair and pathogen destruction.”

In the fall of 2013, Davis’ company began collaborating with the US Army at their Level 4 bioweapons facility at Ft. Detrick, Maryland to develop the drug, with astounding success.

According to Davis, the drug “Killed four of the world’s deadliest viruses in a dose-dependent fashion. The Army also noted that uninfected cells in the same cultures were untouched by the drug (i.e., it was non-toxic).”

“Everyone was very excited about these results since there has never been a broad-spectrum anti-viral drug that killed so many different viruses without affecting normal (uninfected) cells in this way,” writes Davis.

However, after the Army initially indicated to Davis and his team that they were ready to move ahead quickly with further testing, communication completely ceased.

Army research data shows effectiveness of RC-2Beta in fighting the Ebola virus.

“Our once close communications and cordial relationship with the Ft. Detrick team went totally and inexplicably silent. Our phone calls went unanswered and emails unreturned,” writes Davis, adding he was “stunned” when the first reports of Ebola emerged in Africa just two weeks later.

The doctor also desperately contacted mainstream media outlets in an effort to get the story out, including CNN, ABC, MSNBC, CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times and others. After making initial contact and agreeing to provide documents, Davis was subsequently stonewalled and every outlet dropped the story.

Davis then turned to Florida Congressman David Jolly in an effort to reopen lines of communication with Ft. Detrick, a process that is ongoing.

While health authorities and the media aggressively promoted ZMapp and other less successful drugs and vaccines to fight Ebola, Davis set about anxiously contacting the World Health Organization, which in June announced that experimental treatments for Ebola would be fast tracked.

“Out of concern and frustration, I made it my personal priority to obtain the two necessary documents (Humanitarian Use Exemption and Export Certificate) needed to ship our drug to the medical teams working desperately in Africa,” writes Davis. “So I began calling, and writing and faxing everyone who might be able to help. Since May, I have reached out over 200 times to every head of every organization in the world involved with this crisis. This includes the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, the various teams at the FDA, the National Institutes of Health, DARPA, multiple private relief and aid organizations (like Doctors Without Borders), and dozens just like them. The response was always the same… Silence…”

The doctor also slammed the Obama administration’s response to the Ebola outbreak.

“The response of the American government has been patently absurd,” writes Davis. “Every protocol that has been put in place to prevent the spread of the disease has been ignored. Our borders remain open, infected patients are being brought into our hospitals, and no truly effective countermeasures have been erected to stem the tide of infectious risk.”

Davis’ conclusion on the government’s handling of the Ebola crisis and the fact that a potentially successful cure for the virus was shut down by Ft. Detrick immediately before the outbreak in West Africa left him to draw a sobering conclusion.

“I am left to conclude that America’s leadership is either guilty of gross misconduct, dereliction of duty, criminal negligence or worse – treason,” writes Davis, warning that the “crisis will undoubtedly spiral out of control” if the advice of incompetent public health authorities, the government and the media continues to be followed unquestionably.

Davis boasts an impressive Curriculum Vitae, having authored over 400 patents and trademarks while also being awarded commendations from the Chief of Naval Operations.

“The inescapable conclusions of negligence or corruption or both cannot be simply swept aside for the sake of political correctness when the lives of every one of us are at stake,” writes Davis, adding, “Ebola is real. It is here, now. There is no more time to waste.”

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.

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A Different War-Is-Good-for-Us Argument

October 17th, 2014 by David Swanson

It seems like we just got through dealing with the argument that war is good for us because it brings peace. And along comes a very different twist, combined with some interesting insights. Here’s a blog post by Joshua Holland on Bill Moyers’ website.

“War has long been seen as an endeavor urged on by the elites who stood the most to gain from conflict – whether to protect overseas assets, create more favorable conditions for international trade or by selling materiel for the conflict – and paid for with the blood of the poor, the cannon fodder who serve their country but have little direct stake in the outcome.

“. . . MIT political scientist Jonathan Caverley, author of Democratic Militarism Voting, Wealth, and Warand himself a US Navy veteran, argues that increasingly high-tech militaries, with all-volunteer armies that sustain fewer casualties in smaller conflicts, combine with rising economic inequality to create perverse incentives that turn the conventional view of war on its head. . . .

“Joshua Holland: Your research leads to a somewhat counterintuitive conclusion. Can you give me your thesis in a nutshell?

“Jonathan Caverley: My argument is that in a heavily industrialized democracy like the United States, we have developed a very capital intensive form of warfare. We no longer send millions of combat troops overseas – or see massive numbers of casualties coming home. Once you start going to war with lots of airplanes, satellites, communications – and a few very highly trained special operations forces — going to war becomes a check writing exercise rather than a social mobilization. And once you turn war into a check writing exercise, the incentives for and against going to war change.

“You can think of it as a redistribution exercise, where people who have less income generally pay a smaller share of the cost of war. This is especially important at the federal level. In the United States, the federal government tends to be funded largely from the top 20 percent. Most of the federal government, I’d say 60 percent, maybe even 65 percent, is financed by the wealthy.

“For most people, war now costs very little in terms of both blood and treasure. And it has a redistributive effect.

“So my methodology is pretty simple. If you think that your contribution to conflict will be minimal, and see potential benefits, then you should see an increased demand for defense spending and increased hawkishness in your foreign policy views, based on your income. And my study of Israeli public opinion found that the less wealthy a person was, the more aggressive they were in using the military.”

Presumably Caverley would acknowledge that U.S. wars tend to be one-sided slaughters of people living in poor nations, and that some fraction of people in the United States are aware of that fact and oppose wars because of it. Presumably he is also aware that U.S. troops still die in U.S. wars and are still drawn disproportionately from the poor.  Presumably he is also aware (and presumably he makes all of this clear in his book, which I have not read) that war remains extremely profitable for an extremely elite group at the top of the U.S. economy. Weapons stocks are at record heights right now. A financial advisor on NPR yesterday was recommending investing in weapons. War spending, in fact, takes public money and spends it in a way that very disproportionately benefits the extremely wealthy. And while public dollars are progressively raised, they are far less progressively raised than in the past. War-preparations spending is in fact part of what drives the inequality that Caverley says drives low-income support for wars. What Caverley means by his claim that war is (downwardly) redistributive is made a bit clearer further on in the interview:

Holland: In the study you point out that most social scientists don’t see military spending as having a redistributive effect. I didn’t understand that. What some call “military Keynesianism” is a concept that’s been around for a long time. We located a ton of military investments in the Southern states, not only for defense purposes, but also as a means of regional economic development. Why don’t people see this as a massive redistribution program?

“Caverley: Well, I agree with that construction. If you watch any congressional campaign or you look at any representative’s communication with his or her constituents, you will see that they talk about getting their fair share of defense spending.

“But the larger point is that even if you don’t think about defense spending as a redistributive process, it is a classic example of the kind of public goods that a state provides. Everyone benefits from defense of the state – it’s not just rich people. And so national defense is probably one of the places you’re most likely to see redistributive politics, because if you’re not paying too much for it, you’re going to ask for more of it.”

So, at least part of the idea seems to be that wealth is being moved from wealthy geographical sections of the United States to poorer ones. There is some truth to that. But the economics is quite clear that, as a whole, military spending produces fewer jobs and worse paying jobs, and has less overall economic benefit, than education spending, infrastructure spending, or various other types of public spending, or even tax cuts for working people — which are by definition downwardly redistributive as well. Now, military spending can drain an economy and be perceived as boosting an economy, and the perception is what determines support for militarism. Similarly, routine “normal” military spending can carry on at a pace of over 10-times specific war spending, and the general perception on all sides of U.S. politics can be that it is the wars that cost large amounts of money. But we should acknowledge the reality even when discussing the impacts of the perception.

And then there’s the notion that militarism benefits everyone, which conflicts with the reality that war endangers the nations that wage it, that “defense” through wars is in fact counter-productive. This, too, should be acknowledged. And perhaps — though I doubt it — that acknowledgement is made in the book.

Polls show generally diminishing support for wars except in particular moments of intense propaganda. If in those moments it can be shown that low-income U.S.ians are carrying a larger load of war support, that should indeed be examined — but without assuming that war supporters have good reason for giving their support. Indeed, Caverley offers some additional reasons why they might be misguided:

Holland: Let me ask you about a rival explanation for why poor people might be more supportive of military action. In the paper, you mention the idea that less wealthy citizens may be more prone to buy into what you call the “myths of empire.” Can you unpack that?

“Caverley: In order for us to go to war, we have to demonize the other side. It’s not a trivial thing for one group of people to advocate killing another group of people, no matter how callous you think humanity might be. So there is typically a lot of threat inflation and threat construction, and that just goes with the territory of war.

“So in my business, some people think that the problem is that elites get together and, for selfish reasons, they want to go to war. That’s true whether it’s to preserve their banana plantations in Central America or sell weapons or what have you.

“And they create these myths of empire — these inflated threats, these paper tigers, whatever you want to call it — and try to mobilize the rest of the country to fight a conflict that may not necessarily be in their interest.

“If they were right, then you would actually see that people’s foreign policy views – their idea of how great a threat is — would correlate with income. But once you control for education, I didn’t find that these views differed according to what your wealth or income is.”

This seems a little off to me. There is no question that Raytheon executives and the elected officials they fund will see more sense in arming both sides of a war than the average person of any income or education level will tend to see. But those executives and politicians are not a statistically significant group when talking broadly about the rich and poor in the United States. Most war profiteers, moreover, are likely to believe their own myths, at least when speaking with pollsters. That low-income Americans are misguided is no reason to imagine that upper-income Americans are not misguided too. Caverley also says:

“What was interesting to me is that one of the best predictors of your desire to spend money on defense was your desire to spend money on education, your desire to spend money on healthcare, your desire to spend money on roads. I was really shocked by the fact that there is not much of a ‘guns and butter’ tradeoff in the minds of most respondents in these public opinion polls.”

This seems exactly right. No large number of Americans has managed in recent years to make the connection between Germany spending 4% of U.S. levels on its military and offering free college, between the U.S. spending as much as the rest of the world combined on war preparations and leading the wealthy world in homelessness, food-insecurity, unemployment, imprisonment, and so on. This is in part, I think, because the two big political parties favor massive military spending, while one opposes and the other supports various smaller spending projects; so a debate develops between those for and against spending in general, without anyone ever asking “Spending on what?”

Speaking of myths, here’s another one that keeps the bipartisan support for militarism rolling:

“Holland: The bumper sticker finding here is that your model predicts that as inequality increases, average citizens will be more supportive of military adventurism, and ultimately in democracies, this may lead to more aggressive foreign policies. How does this jibe with what’s known as “democratic peace theory” — the idea that democracies have a lower tolerance for conflict and are less likely to go to war than more authoritarian systems?

“Caverley: Well, it depends on what you think is driving democratic peace. If you think it’s a cost-avoidance mechanism, then this doesn’t bode well for the democratic peace. I’d say most people I talk to in my business, we’re pretty sure democracies like to fight lots of wars. They just tend not to fight with each other. And probably the better explanations for that are more normative. The public is just not willing to support a war against another public, so to speak.

“To put it more simply, when a democracy has the choice between diplomacy and violence to solve its foreign policy problems, if the cost of one of these goes down, it’s going to put more of that thing in its portfolio.”

This is truly a lovely myth, but it collapses when put into contact with reality, at least if one treats nations like the United States as being “democracies.” The United States has a long history of overthrowing democracies and engineering military coups, from 1953 Iran up through present day Honduras, Venezuela, Ukraine, etc. The idea that so-called democracies don’t attack other democracies is often expanded, even further from reality, by imagining that this is because other democracies can be dealt with rationally, whereas the nations that ours attacks only understand the so-called language of violence. The United States government has too many dictators and kings as close allies for that to hold up. In fact it is resource-rich but economically poor countries that tend to be attacked whether or not they are democratic and whether or not the people back home are in favor of it. If any wealthy Americans are turning against this type of foreign policy, I urge them to fund advocacy that will replace it with a more effective and less murderous set of tools.

Tired of the oppressive financial hardship, wrought largely by the imperialist economic war against Iran, the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani president (June 2013) as he promised economic revival. He premised his pledge of economic recovery mainly on his alleged ability to bring the brutal sanctions against Iran to an end and integrate the Iranian economy into world capitalist system. His promise of removing or alleviating sanctions, however, seems to have been based on an optimistic perception that a combination of the so-called charm offensive and far-reaching compromises over Iran’s nuclear technology would suffice to alter the Western powers’ sanctions policy against Iran.

More than a year later, while Iran’s peaceful nuclear technology is reduced from a fairly advanced to a relatively primitive level (from 20% to below 5% uranium enrichment), critical sanctions remain in place and economic recovery remains a dream.

To mitigate the oppressive burden of the so-called stagflation, a combination of stagnation and inflation, the president and his economic team recently crafted an economic package, “Proposed Package to Turn Stagnation to Expansion,” which turns out to be disappointingly devoid of any specific guideline or clear policy for economic recovery. Slightly more than 40% of the package is devoted to a withering criticism of economic policies of the previous (Ahmadinejad’s) administration, which is not only full of factual falsehoods and distortions but is also dubious on theoretical grounds. The rest of the package consists of a series of vague statements and general descriptions that fall way short of a meaningful economic plan or program.

Reading through the package feels like reading through lecture notes of an academic economist on neoclassical/neoliberal macroeconomic theory, not a policy prescription or an economic agenda. Accordingly, the sentences and, indeed, the entire text of the package make use of an exclusively passive voice (which is characteristic of a theoretical narrative, or a self-protective language designed to avoid responsibility for action) instead of an active voice characteristic of a policy agenda to be acted upon. Implicit in the use of the passive voice in the composition of the text of the package is that the subject/agent, or do-er, is market mechanism, not public policy [1].

The purpose of this essay is not to show the emptiness of Mr. Rouhani’s economic package, as this is amply established by many other critics of the package [2]. It is rather to show why it is empty, and why this should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with his economic outlook or philosophy, as reflected, for example, in his book, National Security and Economic System of Iran (2010).

Neoliberal Economic Outlook

President Rouhani’s economic policy package is devoid of specific development plans or industrialization projects because the president and most of his economic advisors subscribe to an economic doctrine that frowns upon government intervention in economic affairs—unless such interventions help “pave the way” for unfettered market operations. According to this doctrine, called supply-side or neoliberal economics, solutions to economic stagnation, poverty and under-development lie in unhindered market mechanism and unreserved integration into world capitalist system. Recessions, joblessness and economic hardship in many less-developed countries are not so much due to economic mismanagement or the nature of global capitalism as they are because of government intervention and/or exclusion from world capitalist markets.

Neoliberal prescriptions that are portrayed as enabling the less-developed countries to harness “benevolent dynamics” of capitalism include: tax breaks for the wealthy and/or big business; privatization of public sector assets, enterprises and services; undermining labor unions and minimizing workers’ wages and benefits; eliminating or diluting environmental and workplace safety standards; deregulating markets; opening of the domestic market to unrestricted foreign investment/trade; and the like.

The claim that President Rouhani is a proponent of neoliberal economics is no speculation; it follows from his many speeches and statements, from his recently proposed “economic package” to fight stagflation and, as mentioned earlier, from his book, National Security and Economic System of Iran [امنیت ملّی و نظام اقتصادی ایران]. It is also evident from his policy prescriptions.

The president’s book deplores Iran’s “very oppressive” labor laws. It argues that the minimum wage must be slashed and restrictions on the laying off of workers eliminated if Iran’s “owners of capital” are to have the “freedom” to create prosperity. “One of the main challenges that employers and our factories face,” Rouhani writes, “is the existence of labor unions. Workers should be more pliant toward the demands of job-creators” [3].

Mr. Rouhani’s book also sheds important light on the link between his administration’s turn toward Washington and its plans to restructure the Iranian economy after the model of neoliberalism:

“There is a close correlation between economic development and political stability, which means maintaining dialogue and friendly relations with the outside world. As stable international relations paves the grounds for economic development, economic development, in turn, makes a country more secure or stable as it makes the country less vulnerable to external threats. Thus, there is a positive correlation, akin to a virtuous cycle, between the goal of economic development and the policy of establishing or maintaining friendly relations with the outside world” [4].

This passage (among many similar statements the president has made on numerous occasions) explains why Mr. Rouhani has made the solution to Iran’s economic problems contingent upon political détente or friendly relations with the United States and its allies. In general, there is of course nothing wrong with the desire to establish friendly relations with the U.S., or any other country for that matter; it could, indeed, be of mutual benefits if it is based on mutual respect for national sovereignty of countries involved. The problem with the Rouhani administration’s pursuit of an amicable relationship with the U.S., however, is that it has tied the urgently needed solutions to Iran’s economic difficulties to that unpredictable and unreliable relationship.

The administration’s misguided perception that the mere establishment of relations with the U.S. would serve as a panacea to Iran’s economic woes has basically made the fate of Iran’s economy hostage to the unforeseeable outcome of its negotiations with the United State and, therefore, hostage to the endless, and increasingly futile, nuclear negotiations with the group of the so-called 5+1 countries, dominated by the United States.

This explains Mr. Rouhani’s dilemma: he has essentially trapped himself into an illusion, the illusion that a combination of charm offensives, smiley faces and diplomatic niceties (in place of Ahmadinejad’s undiplomatic demeanor) would suffice to change imperialist policies toward Iran. In reality, however, the U.S. policy toward Iran (or any other country, for that matter) is based on an agenda, an imperialistic agenda that consists of a series of demands and expectations, not on diplomatic decorum, or the type of language its leaders use.

President Rouhani’s neoliberal economic views are abundantly evident from his occasional statements and speeches on economic policy. For example, in a 16 August 2014 (25 Mordad 1393, Iranian calendar) speech in Tehran, designed to explain his administration’s policies to fight economic stagnation, the president fervently maintained that state intervention in economic affairs is often more detrimental than beneficial, arguing that.> – needs to be paraphrased)ledent ionns inistration’ions wiht is that itmic developmment de world. As economic development can “the state must stay out of economic activities, and place those activities at the disposal of the private sector . . . . The private sector understands the economy much better, and it knows where to invest” [5]. (Incidentally, this statement is uncannily similar to what President Ronald Reagan famously said about the economic role of the government: “The government can help the economy by staying out of it.”)

The neoliberal policies of the Rouhani administration are, however, best reflected in the actual economic measures the administration has adopted. One such measure has been drastic reductions in a number of import duties, or tariffs, including reduction of tariffs on imports that have competitive domestic substitutes. For example, Mr. Mahmoud Sedaqat, vice president of the Association of UPVC Window & Door Profiles Manufacturers, recently complained (during a news briefing in Tehran) that while domestic production capacity of this petrochemical is more than twice as much as domestic needs, the government reduced import tariffs for this product from 30% to 15%. Mr. Sedaqat further pointed out that government’s careless trade policy and a lack of protection for domestic producers has led to an atmosphere of confusion and uncertainty among domestic producers, which is contributing to further aggravation of the ongoing economic stagnation [6].

Another example of the neoliberal policies of the Rouhani administration is its policy of fighting inflation. According to the president and his economic advisors, government spending and/or excessive money supply are the major cause for the hyperinflation in Iran. This view of inflation is based on the notorious IMF diagnosis for the plague of inflation not only in Iran but almost everywhere in the world. The essence of this approach to inflation, which is part of the IMF’s so-called “Structural Adjustment Program,” can be summarized as follows: (1) excessive government spending contributes to the growth of money supply; (2) growth of money supply automatically leads to inflation; and (3) to control inflation, therefore, requires rolling back government spending, or implementing austerity measures.

Real economic world is of course very different from this purely academic, nearly mechanical, correlation. An often-cited case in this context is the German experience of the immediate post-WW II period. Evidence shows that while the volume of cash and demand deposits rose 2.4 times and the volume of bank loans, both short and long term, rose more than ten-fold in the 1948-54 period, this significant rise in liquidity not only did not lead to a rise in the level of prices but it was, in fact, accompanied by a decline in the general level of prices—the consumer price index declined from 112 to 110 during that period. Why? Because the increase in liquidity was accompanied by an even bigger increase in output. While anecdotal, this experience nonetheless shows that, if or when used productively, a large money supply does not automatically lead to high inflation.

While it is true that, under certain circumstances, excess liquidity can be inflationary, I also strongly suspect that the inflationary role of liquidity is often exaggerated in order to justify and implement the anti-welfare, neoliberal policies of economic austerity. To the extent that curtailment of social spending may lead to curtailment of inflation, it also leads to curtailment of employment, purchasing power, demand and, therefore, economic growth, i.e. to stagnation—a side effect which is much worse than the plague of inflation. This explains, at least in part, the failure of the Rouhani administration’s neoliberal fight against inflation: not only has it not curtailed inflation, it has also aggravated stagnation by cutting social spending and undermining demand.

Like their neoliberal counterparts elsewhere, Iranian neoliberals view government spending as a cost that must be minimized. In reality, however, judicious government spending (whether on soft/social infrastructure such as education, health and nutrition or on physical infrastructure such as transportation and communication projects) is an investment in the long-term development of a society, not a cost. It is not surprising, then, that the IMF-sponsored curtailment of government spending in pursuit of lowering inflation has often led to economic stagnation and underdevelopment.

One of the first victims of the neoliberal economic policies of the Rouhani administration was the government-sponsored housing project that was put in place by the previous administration in order to make home-ownership affordable to working and low-income classes. Called Maskan-e Mehr (Goodwill Housing), not only did it allow 4.4 million low-income families to become homeowners, it also significantly contributed to economic growth and employment. Despite its success, the Rouhani administration has decided to discontinue the project.

Class Interests as Economic Theory

Neoliberalism is essentially an ideology or doctrine that is designed to promote and/or justify policies of economic austerity, thereby serving the interests of the plutocratic 1% at the expense of the overwhelming majority of citizens. This is accomplished through an ad-hoc, utilitarian economic theory that postulates that unhindered market mechanism and unrestricted pursuit of self-interest lead to economic expansion and prosperity for all, that state-sponsored social safety-net programs are “burdens” or “costly trade-offs” in terms of lost productivity and that, therefore, government intervention in economic affairs must be avoided.

This neoliberal ideology is promoted and propagated so effectively that it has evolved, more or less, like a religion, market religion—or as Alex Andrews of The Guardian newspaper puts it, “the market a god and economics a form of theology.” Indeed, the faith in market mechanism is more akin to blind cultism than rational belief of intelligent people in otherworldly religion. Viewing market mechanism as almost infallible and blaming capitalism’s systemic failures on the “irrational behavior of market players” is tantamount to some simplistic interpretations of religion that attribute humans’ misfortunes or miseries to their deviations from God’s ways; that is, in the same way that humans’ “sinful” deeds are said to condemn them to a wretched Otherworld, economic agents’ deviations from market rules are believed to lead to economic crises that would doom them to financial misery in this world.

Cleverly, this theory is called supply-side economics, implying that economic policy makers should not or need not concern themselves with the demand-side of the economy, that is, with the purchasing power or the ability of the people to buy or demand. Instead, if policy makers only focused on the production side of the economy and created conditions favorable to expanded growth or a bigger supply, the resulting “trickle-down” effects would automatically benefit the demand-side of the economy. And what are those favorable conditions? They include market deregulations, lax labor and environmental standards, supply-side tax breaks, minimizing wages and benefits, removal of restrictions on international capital flows, long hours and subjection of labor to strict management discipline, denial of trade union rights and suppression of workers’ political actions, and the like.

The division or dichotomy between supply-side and demand-side of an economy is, however, a scam: an artificial, utilitarian and arbitrary division that is crafted largely on abstract theoretical grounds, and for ideological reasons. A real world economy is a totality where supply and demand are two sides of the same coin, meaning that the two sides need to be dealt with simultaneously. For example, the need for health care coverage, the critical necessity of public education, or social safety need programs such as provision of subsistence nutrition for the needy cannot be neglected or put on the backburner in the hope of some illusory effects of “trickle-down” economics. Supply side is a façade, a misleading or obfuscationist theory that is designed to camouflage the neoliberal philosophy of social Darwinism.

The experience of the IMF-sponsored “structural adjustment programs” in many “developing” countries around the world shows that curtailing critical social spending in the name of boosting the supply-side of the economy is a counterproductive policy that tends to undermine long-term growth and development by cutting vital investment in both social and physical infrastructures. This can also be seen, even more clearly, in the context of the crisis-ridden core capitalist countries since the 2008 financial collapse, where extensive neoliberal austerity cuts have resulted in widespread misery and escalating inequality without reviving the stagnant economies of these countries.

While the supply-side doctrine has a long history (going back all the way to the classical economist Jean-Baptiste Say, 1767-1832, who famously expressed the doctrine as: “supply creates its own demand”), its latest revival started in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the U.S. and U.K., which brought forth two of its most effective propagandists: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. It has since been systematically entrenched not only in the core capitalist countries but also in many less-developed countries, including Iran.

In Iran, the turn to neoliberal economics started under the presidency of Hashemi Rafsanjani. It was somewhat contained under the presidency of Mahmud Ahmadinejad (although he too had his share of extensive privatizations); but with the election of President Rouhani it is once again gathering speed—Rouhani is basically picking up where Rafsanjani left off.

To point out that President Rouhani and most of his economic advisors are advocates of neoliberal economics is not to say that they lack compassion, or that they do not care about the lot of the working and needy classes. It is rather to point out that their policy prescription to remedy the financial distress that plagues the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people is misguided. It rests upon the idea of capitalism as a benign sphere of human activity where innovating entrepreneurs generate wealth to such an extent that some of it is bound to “trickle-down” to the population at large.

It is necessary to point out here that trickle-down theory may have had some validity in the earlier (industrial or manufacturing) stages of capitalism where the rise in the wealth of nations also meant expanded (real) production and the rise in employment. However, in the era of heavily financialized economies, where the dominant form of capitalist wealth comes not so much from real production of goods and services as it does from asset price inflations, that is, from financial bubbles, trickle-down theory has lost whatever minimal validity it may have had at earlier phases of capitalism.

Illusion and Misconceptions

President Rouhani’s (and most of his economic advisors’) perception that the solution to Iran’s economic problems lies in an unrestrained integration into world capitalism and a wholesale privatization of the Iranian economy is overly optimistic. Abundant and irrefutable evidence shows that, during the past several decades, neoliberalism’s dismantlement of socialist, social-democratic and other welfare state economies across the world has invariably led to drastic declines in employment, wages and living standards of the overwhelming majority of the people, thereby further aggravating poverty and inequality on a global level. In many “developing” countries that are integrated into globalized neoliberal capitalism, the living conditions of the majority of their citizens have, in fact, deteriorated. To the extent that workers can find employment, they are often paid poverty wages; and they are increasingly forced to hold several jobs, often detrimental to their health and family life. As Ben Selwyn (among many others) has pointed out:

“The contemporary world has unprecedented wealth, and mass poverty. Total global wealth was $241 trillion in 2013 and is expected to rise to $334 trillion by 2018. Yet the majority of people live in poverty. The World Bank and its defenders argue that global poverty has declined under neoliberalism. They can only make these arguments because the World Bank defines the poverty line as $1.25 a day, below which it is impossible to lead a dignified life. . . . Lant Pritchett, a critical World Bank economist, suggests a more humane $10 a day poverty line; according to his calculations, 88% of the world population lives in poverty” [7].

Summarizing his study of the relationship between globalization of neoliberalism and its impact on the living conditions of the worldwide masses of citizens, Selwyn concludes: “Far from a ladder of opportunity, workers in globalized production networks are incorporated into economic systems that reproduce their poverty to sustain corporation profits” [8].

Contrary to claims of neoliberalism, major economic developments, critical infrastructural projects and significant industrialization achievements under capitalism have been made possible either directly by the public sector or by the state support for the private sector. For example, in the aftermath of the Great Depression and WW II, most European countries embarked on extensive state-sponsored industrialization and/or development projects under social-democratic, labor or socialist governments, not so much to bring about “genuine” socialism as it was to rebuild the war-torn European economies by mobilizing and pulling together national resources and funneling them toward development projects. Similar policies were successfully carried out in other major capitalist countries such as the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia and South Korea.

In Iran too most industrialization projects and infrastructural developments since the 1979 revolution have taken place under direct or supervisory role of the state—when the country relied on its domestic talents, resources, and capabilities in pursuit of self-reliance in the face of hostile imperialist powers and their cruel economic sanctions. Such developments were brought about even under the highly inauspicious conditions of the war, the 8-year war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and brutal economic sanctions. By contrast, extensive privatizations and systematic spread of neoliberal capitalism of recent years, especially since the election of President Rouhani, has basically meant stagnation of the real sector and development of speculative, parasitic or financial sector of the economy.

Evidence shows that, at the early or formative stages of their development, all the presently industrialized countries vigorously carried out policies of export promotion and import substitution; that is, policies that protected their “infant industries” against the more competitive foreign exporters while promoting their own exports abroad. For example, Britain’s adoption of mercantilist and/or protectionist policies of economic development in the early stages of its industrialization, which erected prohibitive tariffs against the then more competitive Dutch exporters, played a significant role in nurturing the country’s manufacturers to excel in global markets.

Likewise, the United States pursued vigorous policies of protecting its “infant industries” against the more productive European exporters until the early to mid-twentieth century, when its producers became competitive in global markets. Similar protectionist policies were followed by Japan, South Korea and other core capitalist countries in the formative phases of their industrialization and development [9].

Thus, the neoliberal outlook of President Rouhani (and most of his economic advisors) that ties solutions to Iran’s economic difficulties to integration of the country’s economy into global capitalism and further curtailment of the economic role of the government is far from warranted; it is, indeed, contradicted by development experiences of most countries around the world.

Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007), and the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989). He is also a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press 2012).

Notes

[1] The Farsi title of the proposed package is: “بسته پیشنهادی دولت برای شکستن رکود و رونق اقتصادی,” and it is available online at: < http://mehrnews.com/detail/news/2331200>.  

[2] For a sample of critical reviews of the Rouhani administration’s proposed economic package see (1) Ahmad Tavakoli and Elias Naderan, “مدل بسته خروج از رکود نسخه شکست خورده صندوق بین‌اللملی پول است,” in: < http://www.siasatrooz.ir/vdcefe8v.jh8vvi9bbj.html>; (2) Farshad Moumeni, “نقدهای هشدار آمیز فرشاد مومنی به بسته خروج از رکود دولت,” in <http://www.rajanews.com/detail.asp?id=207214>; (3) Raja News, “رویکرد نادرست دولت در گره زدن معیشت مردم با رفع تحریم‌ها,” in: http://www.rajanews.com/detail.asp?id=194863; (4) Hossein Shamsyan, “بسته پوسیده,” in: <http://kayhan.ir/fa/news/20766/%D8%A8%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%87-%D9%BE%D9%88%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%AF%D9%87-%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%AA-%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B2>.

[3] As excerpted by Keith Jones, “Iranian president declares country ‘open for business’,” in <http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/27/iran-j27.html>.

[4] (Paraphrased) translation by the author from the abstract/introduction to the first edition of President Rouhani’s book, National Security and Economic System of Iran [امنیت ملّی و نظام اقتصادی ایران] (2010).

[5] “Rouhani Explains Anti-Stagnation Economic Policies,” available at: <http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=13930519000461>. 

[6] Mahmood Sedaqat, “کاهش تعرفه پروفیل «یوپی‌وی‌سی» ضربه دولت به تولید داخلی است,” Kayhan, Mordad 25, 1393 (August 16, 2014).

[7] Ben Selwyn, “Global Poverty and Neoliberalism: Development by the Elites, For the Elites,” <http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/07/development-by-the-elites-for-the-elites/>.

[8] Ibid.

[9] For an illuminating discussion of the impact of trade on development see Professor Michael Hudson’s Trade, Development and Foreign Debt, Pluto Press 1993.  

The briefing held at the United Nations by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Tuesday, October 7 was an opportunity to hear the DPRK’s response to US and EU initiatives targeting the DPRK. The US and the EU have been using the UN to try to demonize the DPRK as a perpetrator of grave human rights violations and to rally the UN Security Council to refer the DPRK to the International Criminal Court (ICC) (1)

In the past few month, the DPRK Mission to the UN has held several press conferences alerting journalists to threats to international peace and security taking place on the Korean Peninsula. This briefing, however, was not only open to the press covering the UN, but to UN member nations and also to NGO’s with access to UN Headquarters in NY.

At the briefing, the DPRK presented the “Report of the DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies” (Report) that it had published on September 13 about human rights in the DPRK.

DPRK’s Deputy Ambassador at the UN, Ri Tong Il, opened the briefing by introducing the Report. Also taking part in the presentation were Mr. Choe Myong Nam, Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the DPRK and Mr. Kim Song, Counselor at the DPRK Mission.

Ambassador Ri explained that there has been an increasing tendency to carry on a human rights campaign against the DPRK. He referred in particular to a meeting organized by US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss allegations of human rights abuse in the DPRK. The US sponsored meeting was held on September 23 at a hotel near the UN. The DPRK was not invited to the meeting, and it was denied the right to attend when it asked to participate.

Ambassador Ri said that the purpose of this briefing being held by the DPRK was to focus on correcting the misinformation being spread about human rights in the DPRK and to provide a more accurate understanding of the situation of human rights in countries with differing social and political systems. He pointed out that the UN with 193 member states is made up of nations with different political systems, different values and different ideologies.

Ambassador Ri listed the 5 chapters in the Report giving a brief introduction to each of the chapters. Then he welcomed questions or statements from those present. Diplomats from several missions at the UN, including the Cuban and Venezuelan Missions, responded, thanking the DPRK for the briefing. They referred to the criticism of some nations at the UN who sponsor country-specific human rights resolutions. Experience has demonstrated that such resolutions are most often politically motivated, and not geared toward improving conditions for people. Instead the purpose is an illegitimate political objective, such as regime change. The Human Rights Council had adopted the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure, as an effort to counter such abuse and instead to treat all countries impartially. While many countries focus on the UPR procedure, a few nations continue to sponsor country-specific resolutions thus politically targeting other nations.

An example of such political motivation was provided by Choe Myong Nam in response to a question. He described how in 1993 after a breakdown in negotiations with the US led the DPRK to pull out of the IAEA, the US pressured the EU to bring a resolution against the DPRK for human rights violations.

A copy of the Report was distributed to those who attended the October 7 briefing.

Chapter I of the Report explores the general nature of human rights so that each nation can determine what the application will be in their situation. For the DPRK this entails making a critique of how the US and certain other nations are trying to impose their view of what the standards should be for other nations. “Nobody in the international community empowered them to establish the international ‘human rights standards’,” the Report notes. (p. 12) Instead, the Report maintains that human rights standards in a country are the prerogative of the people of that country. “In every country,” the Report explains, “those who demand the human rights and campaign (for) them are the people….” (p. 12)

The Report refers to the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (COI) recently sponsored by the Human Rights Council. The content and framework of the Report provides background that is helpful toward grasping the underlying fallacy of the COI. The Report maintains that the ‘COI’ is an attempt “to bring down the DPRK by collecting prejudiced ‘data’ without any scientific accuracy and objectivity in the content….” (p. 12)

All of Korea has experienced the kind of human rights claims of an occupying power, notes the Report. This was during the period of the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945). “Each and every law manufactured by Japan in Korea in the past were…anti–human rights laws aimed at depriving Korean people of all political freedoms and rights, and forcing colonial slavery upon them.” (p. 13) The Report explains that these anti-Korean laws created by the Japanese colonial rule had to be abolished and a new foundations established legally and politically in order to provide protection and empowerment for the Korean people, thus demonstrating that the DPRK is concerned with the question of human rights. (See p. 14-15)

The Report proposes that the protection of human rights in the DPRK requires putting the political development of the DPRK into its historical context. Throughout the Report historical background is provided to put current developments into such a perspective. The Report documents various forms of hostile actions by the US showing the effect such actions have had on the DPRK development after the end of WWII and the end of Japanese colonial rule over Korea. One such example that the Report provides is explaining that “sanctions were imposed on Korea after Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.”(p. 93) Even before the Korean War, the US imposed sanctions against the socialist countries including the DPRK as part of its Cold War politics. (p. 93)

The Report also documents recent hostile acts by the US against the DPRK. The DPRK puts the anti-human rights campaign by the “US and its followers” in the context of the effort to “defame the image of the DPRK in the international arena and dismantle the socialist system under the pretext of ‘protection of human rights’.” (p. 98)

A question was raised during the briefing about what was the relationship between the fact the US is unwilling to negotiate a peace treaty with the DPRK to end the Korean War and the US led allegations of human rights abuse against the DPRK. This question is at the heart of the ability to understand the nature of the US campaign against the DPRK.

A recent journal article by Professor Christine Hong offers a helpful analysis toward understanding this relationship. Her article, “The Mirror of North Korean Human Rights,” published inCritical Asian Studies, captures the intimate connection between the US government’s unending war against the DPRK, and the US claims of gross human rights violations in the DPRK.(2)

The article explains that the US has been and is technically and in practice at war with the DPRK. There has been an unending set of economic, political and cultural sanctions imposed on the DPRK either by the US Congress or by the UN particularly the UNSC in the recent past. There have been massive military drills close to the DPRK by the US, Republic of Korea (ROK) and Japan, and more recently including France, the UK, Canada and other US allies. Over 28,000 US troops are permanently stationed in the ROK.

In such a situation, the US claims of DPRK human rights violations provide a convenient and effective discourse to cloak the image of US war activities on the Korean Peninsula in a humanitarian sounding dress. Hong writes that the ‘axis of evil’ narrative introduced by the Bush administration against Iraq, Iran and the DPRK provided a means whereby “war politics proceeded under the mantle of rescue politics.” (Hong, p. 564)

Hong maintains that the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) narrative provides the means by which “would-be rescuers lay claim to a monopoly on the virtuous use of violence….”

Similarly, a fallacious WMD narrative which was provided to the US government by defectors and politicized intelligence was used to camouflage the US regime change invasion of Iraq. A similar false narrative using unverifiable claims of defectors and politicized intelligence is once again being dusted off for use against the DPRK.

Keeping in mind such recent examples as Iraq and Libya, Hong observes that the claims of noble goals provides a level of protection to the perpetrators of invasions using the mantle of R2P. Instead of being “viewed as human rights violations in themselves” when they engage in acts of war like aerial bombardment, military invasion, or an embargo on essential goods, they are provided with the appearance of acting as saviors.

Taken in such a context one can understand the reluctance of nations like the DPRK to take the claims of those promoting R2P and human rights as exhibiting any but aggressive intentions.

Hong goes on to point out that any legitimate US concerns over human rights violations regarding the people of the DPRK would have to begin by addressing the massive destruction against the civilian population and civilian infrastructure of the DPRK carried out by the US and its allies during the Korean War and since by its sanctions.

The Report the DPRK has produced refers not only to the anti-human rights activities against the Korean people during the 35 years of Japanese occupation but also to the continuing saga of US hostile activities before and after the Korean War Armistice.

The US should welcome such reports and the airing of all views on every question at the UN.

Notes

(1)Such a strategy with Libya resulted in ICC cases against key Libyan officials weakening their fight against the NATO invasion that brought regime change and subsequently a state of serious instability to Libya.

Discussing the Libyan example of regime change, Joseph S. Nye, Jr explained that it is not the facts that matter in “the information age”. Instead soft power, which includes how the narrative describing a situation is framed, is as important as, or even more important than military action, in gaining one’s objectives. As he says in an online article, “In a global information age, success is not determined just by who has the biggest army, but also by who has the best story.” See the article On Libya, Soft Power, and the Protection of Civilians as Pretext

http://blogs.taz.de/netizenblog/2011/04/30/libya_and_protection_civilians_as_pretext/

(2) Christine Hong, “The Mirror of North Korean Human Rights,” Critical Asian Studies,
45:4, 561-592.

On September 8, a Texas state regulatory agency sent a letter to United States Secretary of State John Kerry, suggesting that U.S. anti-fracking activists are receiving funding from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It is reasonable to assume,” Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter wrote, “that their intention is to increase their market share of natural gas production and distribution as Russia is the second largest producer of natural gas in the world.”

This move by Texas coincides with the lead up to an Election Day referendum on the state’s first proposed city-wide fracking ban, to be held in the city of Denton on November 4. But this particular move by Texas to discredit activists is not a new one. In fact, it highlights one way climate campaigners have previously been tracked and monitored by intelligence agencies, public relations firms, and their powerful clients to create “actionable intelligence.” That is, information that could help undermine and eventually defeat social movements.

The letter was publicized in a press release headlined, “Porter Exposes Putin Plot to Hurt Texas Economy.” It offers no direct proof to back up the Putin claims, only citing “multiple reports” linking Russia’s massive state-owned natural gas company Gazprom to public relations and lobbying firms, such as industry giant Ketchum.

Porter also wrote that Russia’s strategy includes bankrolling anti-fracking environmental groups and pushing propaganda by distributing the Academy Award-nominated documentary Gasland, which Porter called “an incredibly deceitful film.”

Kerry has not yet responded publicly to the letter. And Carlos Espinosa, the Texas Railroad Commission’s director of special projects, admitted in emails obtained under the Texas Public Information Act that there was no actual paper trail corroborating the Putin story, only claims from others in the news.

“Our information is based off of reports from the New York Times, CNN, National Review, and many others, including a former American Ambassador to Russia,” Espinosa wrote in response to a reporter’s query. “Gazprom is spending tens of millions of dollars — that we know of — to eliminate competition globally. It’s likely they’ve influenced much of the overall anti-hydraulic fracturing movement’s message.”

Texas’ economic interest in developing its natural gas resources and the state’s long history of working hand-in-hand with the energy industry may explain its effort to discredit the anti-fracking movement. In his letter, Porter insists that the U.S. government must protect the “vitality of the industry that produces these resources and paves the way for American energy independence.”

This cozy relationship between the industry and its regulatory agency does not go unnoticed by activists.

“The RRC is not a regulator, but a facilitator of industry’s wishes,” Will Wooten, a Denton, Texas-based anti-fracking activist who has also been involved in the Tar Sands Blockade, said in an email. “Whether approving the eminent domain processfor pipelines like the Keystone XL, or allowing fracking to expand in urban areas with no real regulations in place, the RRC is there to make sure industry gets what it wants.”

The Texas Railroad Commission did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this article.

History Repeats Itself

The Putin tactic may have originated with Austin, Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor. When the U.S. anti-fracking movement began to gain steam in 2010, Stratfor began monitoring the activities of anti-fracking activists. It did so on behalf of its “biggest client,” the American Petroleum Institute.

In a June 2010 email obtained by Wikileaks from the now-imprisoned Anonymous “hactivist” Jeremy Hammond, Stratfor senior Eurasia analyst Lauren Goodrich made a now-familiar accusatory overture: U.S.-based anti-fracking organizations — and in particular, Gasland director and producer Josh Fox — might be tied to Putin.

“[Fox] said his film was paid for by HBO,” wrote Goodrich. “However, I would be interested to see who else funded this documentary (ie Coal or Russia, etc.).”

Personnel records obtained via the Public Information Act show that the Texas RRC hired Espinosa in August, about a month before the release of the Porter letter. Espinosa formerly worked as a senior counselor at the public relations firm Dezenhall Resources. Importantly, Espinosa gave final guidance to “tee up” Porter’s letter for dissemination to the press.

PR Industry’s “Navy Seals”

Dezenhall, the self-described “Navy SEALs of the communications business,” previously hired security firm Beckett Brown International (BBI) to surveil Greenpeace USA as part of its issues management due diligence process.

In practice, that meant not only open-source snooping on the Web, but also “pilfering documents from trash bins, attempting to plant undercover operatives within groups, casing offices, collecting phone records of activists, and penetrating confidential meetings,” according to a 2008 Mother Jones investigation.

Greenpeace filed a lawsuit in 2010 against both BBI and Dezenhall, which wasdismissed upon appeal in August.

In the world of corporate public relations, firms like Dezenhall and Stratfor provide what Judith Richter, author of the book Holding Corporations Accountable: Corporate Conduct, International Codes and Citizen Action, points to as a key public relations technique: “environmental monitoring.”

The practice amounts to an “early warning system that helps PR managers to locate the smoke and take action before a major fire develops,” Richter wrote in her book. “As a result of such information-gathering, public relations firms have [developed] data banks on activist and other relevant groups and organizations.”

It’s no coincidence, then, that such tactics are now being deployed in Texas and beyond, working their way all the way up to the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Barry Smitherman, another Texas Railroad Commissioner, cited these claims made by the NATO Secretary General in a July 11 letter to Denton Mayor Chris Watts. In so doing, Smitherman hinted that those pushing for the city-wide fracking ban in Denton, Texas might be funded by Moscow.

“It would therefore appear that not all efforts to ban hydraulic fracturing are grounded in environmental concerns,” wrote Smitherman. “With this in mind, I trust you will all will determine whether funding and manpower behind this effort to ban hydraulic fracturing in Denton is coming from out of state sources or from those who would profit from the imposition of such a ban.”

Out of Touch?

As Denton narrows in on its vote on the would-be historic fracking ban, powerful industry players have spent big money to defeat the measure. Citizens on the ground in Denton recently told the Dallas Observer that the Putin talking point has woven its way into the door-to-door canvassing operations of those volunteering to get out the vote in support of striking down the fracking ban proposal.

But Wooten, the anti-fracking activist, dismisses the Putin claims.

“While the [Russia] meme may be effective for [industry] on a national and international level, on a local level in Denton it just sounds out-of-touch with the issue at hand and borderline wingnut,” he said. “These tactics are hurting their support among Dentonites, not helping.”

Steve Horn is a Madison, WI-based staff writer for DeSmogBlog and a freelance investigative journalist. His writing has appeared in Al Jazeera America, VICE News, The Guardian, The Nation, Wisconsin Watch, Truth-Out, AlterNet and elsewhere. Alexandra Tempus is an independent journalist and was a lead researcher on This Changes Everything. She is also a researcher at Rolling Stone and has written on climate and politics for VICE News, Mic, the Associated Press and The Nation.

Inviting the punchy Russian leader to a military parade and awarding him a country’s highest honour may well be considered as dangerous as inviting a drunk to a well-stocked wine cellar for a the prized drop, but the analogy would be specious. The relationship between Serbia and Russia is both complex and intense, a deliciously neurotic bond that has both disappointed and benefited the parties. While nationalist admiration tends to be misplaced, the occasion of celebrating liberation from the occupation of Nazi forces after 70 years is not.  Every European country treasures it and the anniversary of Serbia’s liberation this month is no exception.

Belgrade has been in history’s tight spot for decades, enshrouded and packaged as both refuse and bad boy.  It used to be as free as an audacious bird, taking flight and landing in places most states in the Eastern bloc could only dream of.  Those were the days of Titoist extravaganza – Yugoslavia, defiant of Moscow, but also understanding of certain common principles.

Now, the rhetoric of navigating blocs of power have emerged – the aspirations of wounded but slowly emerging Serbia on the one hand; and the impositions of aggressively renascent Russia on the other.  European officials peer cautiously from the west – they are eyeing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s every move, a form of power perving and inquisitiveness that has come to dominate EU chatter.  The Russian bear is bearing down on the honey supply.  What will Brussels and company do?

Officials in Belgrade have not disappointed.  The military party bash, even if oddly timed, is extensive, the first military parade in 29 years.  “We have held no parade for the past 29 or 30 years,” claims Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić.  While the President tends to be Serbia’s disappearing act, someone who is ventriloquised by the prime minister, the point is clear: Serbia is happy to remember those who helped it.

Serbia is certainly adopting a gymnast’s pose here, though Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić sounds comical when he talks about a policy that is neither swerving, let alone moving, to the left or the right. It was impossible during the years when Russia was itself in history’s straightjacket.  “Serbia is going towards the EU, which is a strategic goal, but that it will not impose sanctions on Russia for many reasons, economic being one of them.”[1]  The Prime Minister is keen to remind his audience that this is not a matter of concealment.  “I am not concealing from our Russian partners that we are following the European course.”  Point being: we are not Ukraine.

There is also that other issue of the South Stream construction project, a Russian gas pipeline that is seen by Vučić as “good for Serbia” on the one hand, but a headache for other states.  “This should pass through Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria and all other countries.  As for Serbia, we have done our part, all the rest depends on others.”[2]

The call for sanctions upon brother Russia has become something of a mindless reflection, a reflex that is encouraged for those willing to join the moral club – if you don’t follow in step, you will be shunned.  Serbia’s imposition of sanctions on Russia would be, in many ways, a constriction and self-willing constipation.  In the Serbian government scheme, the Russian purse is being directed to government assets, which is in some ways more enthusiastically directed than other western reserves.  “[W]e expect participation of Russian investors in privatisation of certain enterprises.”

Admittedly, that resource – Russia’s hefty investment – has its own price tag, its own problematic influences.  Such money bags do come with weighty considerations and consequence, the risk that the recipient state becomes both compliant and compliable.  Being invested in is one thing; being filled to the point of becoming a client state is another matter.  But the point to be made here is that the government should decide on its own accord, a decision exclusive to Belgrade as opposed to pen pushing moralists in Brussels. As Vučić has told the Russian Tass news agency, “Serbia is a free and independent state, Serbia is on the European path”.

The other side of the bargain should also be emphasised: that the EU wishes Serbia to express the moral outrage of a member towards a force it considers a problematic citizen at international law, while denying that member membership.  Moscow has misbehaved.  It needs chastisement.  The EU has been moving into the land of the gentleman’s club, a sort of affair where cant and irritating sanctimony triumph over creditability and worth.

Putin, on the other hand, has his own targets.  Making sure that he touches the palpitating heart strings, he is clear to remind readers of the Serbian paper Politika of a weakening of “the vaccine against the Nazi virus”.  While he may be a bit short on describing his country’s own nationalist movements, he is not mistaken in noting “open manifestations of neo-Nazism, which have come common in Latvia and other Baltic states.”

As ever, the Serbian political grouping has had to adopt the approach of the gambler, or at least the gambler who will concede to accepting money and self-reform.  We have bad habits.  (We are too close to Moscow, and have suspicions of the Albanians.)  We are a frightfully traditional bunch, and we decided that a murderous approach might have been appropriate to keep the Yugoslavian union intact.  Hardly exceptional, given the circumstances – but it has made for interesting discussion.

The application for EU membership these days is much like spending a life time on the waiting list of an exclusive, overpriced club, a sort of generational pondering as to whether you just might join the Marylebone Cricket Club.  Given the chaos within an unsteady Europe, the Serbian antics on this look less peculiar, a sort of dogged manoeuvre before torridness. There is time – and European states should learn one thing: don’t lecture the student who has not yet been admitted to the classroom.

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

Notes