During 2009, after six years of occupation, with a population of about 30 million and required peak demand of 6800 – 7500 MW [2], only 3,300 MW of electricity was available. To date, Iraq cannot achieve it’s 9,925 MW production of the late 1980s. In other words, the Iraqi population is getting only 30% of the electricity production the pre-occupation government had previously provided for them. Electricity came to Iraq in 1917 [1].

According to UNDP, 2008 [2], until 1990, Iraq enjoyed an excellent electricity infrastructure, where generation capacity exceeded the demand of about 6000 mega watts (MW), and additional power generation plants were under construction prior to the Gulf War in 1991.  The total installed generating capacity was 9,295 MW, for a population of (22) million at that time [3]. The system supported a peak demand of about 5,100 MW. 87% of population had access to electricity during the eighties.

Out of the thirty power plants which were built prior to the American occupation, twenty were installed and commissioned into service within the period of 1970 – 1980 [2] by the national government of the Republic of Iraq.

During the multiple attacks, economic sanctions and occupation, the electrical power production network was systematically and intentionally destroyed by American forces [2] [4]. After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the electrical power production capacity dropped to only 3,300 MW [2], which was drastically under the national requirements.

During 2009, after six years of occupation, with a population of about 30 million and required peak demand of 6800 – 7500 MW [2], only 3,300 MW of electricity was available. To date, Iraq cannot achieve it’s 9,925 MW production of the late 1980s. In other words, the Iraqi population is getting only 30% of the electricity production the pre-occupation government had previously provided for them.

Destruction of the Electrical Power Generation System in Iraq

Barton Gellman wrote in Washington Post, Jan 23, 1991; [In 1991 war, 700 targets were identified and bombed, 28 were "key nodes" of electrical power generation. The allies flew 215 sorties against the electrical plants, using unguided bombs, TC, and laser guided GBU-110 bombs. Between the sixth and seventh days of the air war, the Iraqis shut down what remained electrical grid "not an electron was flowing" said one target planner] [4].

The UNDP report [2] emphasized that about 70% of Iraq’s installed power generating capacity was damaged or destroyed during the 1991 Gulf War. All major power stations were damaged and nearly 80% of the gas turbines units were affected.

Gellman also wrote that “we have to emphasize here that the periling planning for the bombing campaign began before Iraq even invaded Kuwait last Aug.”] [4].

This is all indicates that the major goals of the bombing was not liberating Kuwait or Iraq, rather, it was the total destruction of the civilian infrastructure. With the combined impacts of the comprehensive economical sanction & the deteriorating health care system, a crime of decimation and depopulation was put into place and committed.

The destroyed electricity generating stations and oil refineries were partially repaired during Iraq’s reconstruction campaign of 1991-1993 [2]. However, without the spare parts required during the economical sanction imposed on Iraq, only about 5300 MW generating capacity was repaired [2].

In 2003, during the military operations of the invasion, the United States forces retargeted electrical power distribution facilities [5]. Attacks on distributing systems were carried out with carbon fiber bombs. Electrical power was out for over thirty days after US strikes on transformer facilities in al-Nasiriya. After all this destruction, the electrical power generating capacity in Iraq dropped to only 20% of its original capacity [6]. Accordingly, daily electricity blackouts for about 20 hours became a fact of life. With that Iraq’s water purification & sewage treatment systems, health care, sanitation, and other related services faced major malfunctions.

Since the occupation of Iraq, average daily electricity supply in Baghdad homes has been only 3-5 hours [7].

Electricity Crises in Iraq: Environmental and Health Impacts

Lack of electricity in a country where summer temperatures reach 120º F can be torture. With ever decreasing hours of supply from the national grid, each house in the country depends on house hold generators. These generators, depending on size, type & generating capacity can provide an average supply of (8-10) house of electricity a day, often less.

Estimated number of household generators: According to the statistics of the Ministry of Trade that is related to the food ration distribution system; there were about four million families of different sizes in Iraq in 2004 [8]. Total related estimated population is 28 Million. No real census of Iraq’s population has been conducted since 1997[9].

In 2010, according to projected number of population, the projected number of families became about 4,428,000. Depending on this number we assume that the approximate number of small and medium household generators in major cities are 2.5 million units. If we add 0.4 million extra units for commercial centers (restaurants, police stations, government offices, hospitals, municipalities), & other 0.3 million larger units for street grid generators. Total number of generators in Iraq becomes about 3.2 million units.

To conclude this point, since 2003 major sources of electricity supply in Iraq are:

  1. National electricity grid, which ranges from (3-8) non-continuous hours/day in Baghdad [7].
  2. Small household generators within the capacities of (1- 12 KVA
  3. Street & local grids electricity from medium size generators of private sectors (12-60 KVA). These sources sale few Amperes per line for houses in one or two streets for certain time schedule.

Environmental and Health Impacts Related to Electricity in Iraq

Electricity supply crises caused enormous environmental and health problems. Some of these problems are related to the use of hundreds of thousands house hold generators that consumes fossil fuel (crude oil, heavy oil, gas oil, gasoline, kerosene, etc.). Problems such as the following:

  1. Emission of about (8.2) Million Metric Ton of CO2 /year to atmosphere,   Calculations of Co2 emissions according to:http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html, In addition to other measured sources of annual CO2 emission in Iraq (118.309 MMT) [10], and (141 MMT) from Iraq’s occupation military operations from 2003-2007[11]. This additional amount of CO2 emission is contributing to global warming.
  1. Increase of hydrocarbons (HC) emission as a result of unburned or partially burned fuel from generators. HC includes many toxic compounds.  Continues exposure to such toxicants causes cancer & other adverse health effects [12].
  1. Existence of hydrocarbons (HC) fumes from the generators in residential areas would react with Nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight to form ozone. Ozone in the lower atmosphere would form the photochemical smog. Photochemical smog cause respiratory problems, continues watering of the eyes. Cardio-vascular problems if continuously exposed to ozone. Increase of the rate of cancer cases in Iraq partially attributed to these toxic pollutants.
  1. Noise pollution, where most of these generators roar together in residential areas.  Noise interference peaks up to exceed the acceptable level of ambient noise pollution.
  1. Excessive heat losses from unit generators add to already unbearable heat of summer in Iraq.

Other health impacts are:

  1. Continuous hardship, discomfort & psychological problems related to inconsistency of electrical supply especially for family members with health complications.
  1. The  problem of getting enough fuel from black markets in a country suffers from lack of security,  cities divided into cages and cells by huge concrete walls, and hundreds of military check points. A trip to a gasoline station might take 3-4 hours with high risk of getting killed or injured by side road car explosion.
  1. Financial problems where each family has to spend about (200-300) USD on private electrical supply.
  1. Without continuous electrical supply no cooling systems, refrigeration systems do not work properly. As a result food poisoning is a very familiar disease among the population of Iraq with highest rate of children mortality in the region.
  1. Health car & hospitals dis-functioning problems. Without continues and consistent electricity supply, hospitals cannot function, perishable medicines spoil, water cannot be purified and raw sewage cannot be processed properly.
  1. Deterioration of sanitation & life quality parameters. Baghdad ranked No 221 city, or the worst city according to Mercer quality of living cities of 2012[13].
  1. Economic problems related to industrial and irrigation water conversion & drainage systems, where millions of acres of agricultural land are turning into desert areas.

Souad N. Al-Azzawi, Associate Professor in Environmental Engineering, member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal.

Notes:

[1] Ministry of electricity in Iraq. www.moelc.gov.iq/pages-en.aspx?id=4.

[2]UNDP report 2008: Overview of Iraq’s Electricity..http://iraqslogger.powweb.com/downloads/Overview_of_Iraq_Electricity.pdf?PHPSESSID=1d0997c112323e42a279e5b1a99a65f4.

[3] Table of Electrical Generators in Iraq. www.auptde.org/newsite/uploadImages/News/110/322.pdf.

[4]Barton Gelman. Washington Post, jan23, 1991.”  Allied Air War Struck Broadly in Iraq”.

[5] Off Target. Human Right Watch. Dec. 11, 2003. www.hrw.org/en/node/12207/section/6.

[6] ICRC, 2008: IRAQ; No let-up in the humanitarian crises.

[7] Electricity crisis at its worst point in Iraq. NBC News.com.

 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11830468/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/electricity-crisis-its-worst-point-iraq./

[8] ASHARQ  AL_AWSAT Newspaper. No 9634. Thursday, April 14, 2005.www.awsat.com/details.asp/Sec=48issueno=9634&article=293503&feature.

[9] Niqash/Society. ‘Iraq last official population census was conducted in 1997”. www.niqash.org/content.php?content.

[10] eia: Independent Statistics & Analysis.US Energy Information Administration. http://www.eia.gov/cfapps/ipdbproject/iedindex3.cfm?tid=90&pid=44&aid=8&cid=r5,IZ,&syid=2006&eyid=2010&unit=MMTCD.

[11] Nikki Reisch and Steve Kertzmann. “A climate of war: The war in Iraq and global warming”

         OILCHANGE International. 2008..

[12] USEPA, 2004”Photochemical Smog- what it means for us”.http://www.epa.sa.gov.au/xstd_files/Air/Information%20sheet/info_photosmog.pdf.

[13] Mercer’s 2012 Quality of Living ranking highlights – Global http://www.mercer.com/press-releases/qualityoflivingprcanada.

StopWatching.us is a coalition of more than 100 public advocacy organizations and companies from across the political spectrum.

Join the movement at https://rally.stopwatching.us. This video harnesses the voices of celebrities, activists, legal experts, and other prominent figures in speaking out against mass surveillance by the NSA.

Please share widely to help us spread the message that we will not stand for the dragnet surveillance of our communications.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a nonprofit civil liberties law and advocacy center that has been fighting the NSA’s unconstitutional spying for years. Learn more at https://eff.org.

WASHINGTON DC – This weekend in Washington DC, a diverse coalition of demonstrators have come out to protest against America’s rogue National Security Agency (NSA) and their highly unpopular and illegal surveillance activities.

The demonstration is being called the ‘Stop Watching Us‘ rally, and as of 1pm EST our GMN photographer on the ground, Nemo, reports approximately 1,500 protesters are present at the main location near Washington DC’s Columbus Circle and Union Station Plaza area near Capitol Hill.
NSA-Rally-GMN-Nemo

(PHOTO by Nemo GMN)

The eclectic coalition of supporters for this new event includes some high profile whistleblowers, activists, political leaders, and even a few Hollywood actors who have chosen to voice their privacy concerns in public.

International outrage hit fever pitch this week, over more Ed Snowden revelations of wire tapping of at least 35 different world leaders at the hands of the NSA.

In addition to this NSA protest, this week, Oct 21-27, 2013, is National Free Speech Week in America.

NSA-Rally-DC-Nemo-GMN
(PHOTO by Nemo GMN)

NSA-Rally-DC-Nemo-GMN_2
(PHOTO by Nemo GMN)

Whether any of the high-profile actors like John Cusack, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, as well as film director Oliver Stone (watch video below) are prepared to direct any of their public angst towards President Obama himself is unlikely as many of these same actors openly campaigned for the democratic party’s White House aspirations over the last two national elections.

See more updates on this story at 21st Century Wire this weekend.

Path-breaking article first published on GR in July 2009

Under the rubric of cybersecurity, the Obama administration is moving forward with a Bush regime program to screen state computer traffic on private-sector networks, including those connecting people to the Internet, The Washington Post revealed July 3.

That project, code-named “Einstein,” may very well be related to the much-larger, ongoing and highly illegal National Security Agency (NSA) communications intercept program known as “Stellar Wind,” disclosed in 2005 by The New York Times.

There are several components to Stellar Wind, one of which is a massive data-mining project run by the agency. As USA Today revealed in 2006, the “National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.”

Under the current program, Einstein will be tied directly into giant NSA data bases that contain the trace signatures left behind by cyberattacks; these immense electronic warehouses will be be fed by information streamed to the agency by the nation’s telecommunications providers.

AT&T, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the NSA will spearhead the aggressive new initiative to detect malicious attacks launched against government web sites–by continuing to monitor the electronic communications of Americans.

This contradicts President Obama’s pledge announcing his administration’s cybersecurity program on May 29. During White House remarks Obama said that the government will not continue Bush-era surveillance practices or include “monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic.”

Called the “flagship system” in the national security state’s cyber defense arsenal, The Wall Street Journal reports that Einstein is “designed to protect the U.S. government’s computer networks from cyberspies.” In addition to cost overruns and mismanagement by outsourced contractors, the system “is being stymied by technical limitations and privacy concerns.” According to the Journal, Einstein is being developed in three stages:

Einstein 1: Monitors Internet traffic flowing in and out of federal civilian networks. Detects abnormalities that might be cyber attacks. Is unable to block attacks.

Einstein 2: In addition to looking for abnormalities, detects viruses and other indicators of attacks based on signatures of known incidents, and alerts analysts immediately. Also can’t block attacks.

Einstein 3: Under development. Based on technology developed for a National Security Agency program called Tutelage, it detects and deflects security breaches. Its filtering technology can read the content of email and other communications. (Siobhan Gorman, “Troubles Plague Cyberspy Defense,” The Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2009)

As readers of Antifascist Calling are well aware, like other telecom grifters, AT&T is a private-sector partner of NSA and continues to be a key player in the agency’s driftnet spying on Americans’ electronic communications. In 2006, AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein revealed in a sworn affidavit, that the firm’s Internet traffic that runs through fiber-optic cables at the company’s Folsom Street facility in San Francisco was routinely provided to the National Security Agency.

Using a device known as a splitter, a complete copy of Internet traffic that AT&T receives–email, web browsing requests and other electronic communications sent by AT&T customers, was diverted onto a separate fiber-optic cable connected to the company’s SG-3 room, controlled by the agency. Only personnel with NSA clearances–either working for, or on behalf of the agency–have access to this room.

Klein and other critics of the program, including investigative journalist James Bamford who reported in his book, The Shadow Factory, believe that some 15-30 identical NSA-controlled rooms exist at AT&T facilities scattered across the country.

Einstein: You Don’t Have to Be a Genius to Know They’re Lying

But what happens next, after the data is processed and catalogued by the agency is little understood. Programs such as Einstein will provide NSA with the ability to read and decipher the content of email messages, any and all messages in real-time.

While DHS claims that “the new program will scrutinize only data going to or from government systems,” the Post reports that a debate has been sparked within the agency over “uncertainty about whether private data can be shielded from unauthorized scrutiny, how much of a role NSA should play and whether the agency’s involvement in warrantless wiretapping during George W. Bush’s presidency would draw controversy.”

A “Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for EINSTEIN 2″ issued by DHS in May 2008, claims the system is interested in “malicious activity” and not personally identifiable information flowing into federal networks.

While DHS claims that “the risk associated with the use of this computer network security intrusion detection system is actually lower than the risk generated by using a commercially available intrusion detection system,” this assertion is undercut when the agency states, “Internet users have no expectation of privacy in the to/from address of their messages or the IP addresses of the sites they visit.”

When Einstein 3 is eventually rolled-out, Internet users similarly will “have no expectation of privacy” when it comes to the content of their communications.

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters, “we absolutely intend to use the technical resources, the substantial ones, that NSA has.” Seeking to deflect criticism from civil libertarians, Napolitano claims “they will be guided, led and in a sense directed by the people we have at the Department of Homeland Security.”

Despite protests to the contrary by securocrats, like other Bush and Obama “cybersecurity” initiatives the Einstein program is a backdoor for pervasive state surveillance. Government Computer News reported in December 2008 that Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said that “the misuse or exposure of sensitive data from such a program [Einstein] could undermine the security arguments for surveillance.”

And with Internet Service Providers routinely deploying deep packet inspection tools to “siphon off requested traffic for law enforcement,” tools with the ability to “inspect and shape every single packet–in real time–for nearly a million simultaneous connections” as Ars Technica reported, to assume that ISPs will protect Americans’ privacy rights from out-of-control state agencies is a foolhardy supposition at best.

The latest version of the system will not be rolled-out for at least 18 months. But like the Stellar Wind driftnet surveillance program, communications intercepted by Einstein 3 will be routed through a “monitoring box” controlled by NSA and their civilian contractors.

Under a classified pilot program approved during the Bush administration, NSA data and hardware would be used to protect the networks of some civilian government agencies. Part of an initiative known as Einstein 3, the plan called for telecommunications companies to route the Internet traffic of civilian agencies through a monitoring box that would search for and block computer codes designed to penetrate or otherwise compromise networks. (Ellen Nakashima, “Cybersecurity Plan to Involve NSA, Telecoms,” The Washington Post, July 3, 2009)

However, investigative journalist Wayne Madsen reported last September “that the Bush administration has authorized massive surveillance of the Internet using as cover a cyber-security multi-billion dollar project called the ‘Einstein’ program.”

While some researchers (including this one) question Madsen’s overreliance on anonymous sources and undisclosed documents, in fairness it should be pointed out that nine months before The New York Times described the NSA’s secret e-mail collection database known as Pinwale, Madsen had already identified and broken the story. According to Madsen,

The classified technology being used for Einstein was developed for the NSA in conducting signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations on email networks in Russia. Code-named PINWHEEL, the NSA email surveillance system targets Russian government, military, diplomatic, and commercial email traffic and burrows into the text portions of the email to search for particular words and phrases of interest to NSA eavesdroppers. According to NSA documents obtained by WMR, there is an NSA system code-named ”PINWALE.”

The DNI and NSA also plan to move Einstein into the private sector by claiming the nation’s critical infrastructure, by nature, overlaps into the commercial sector. There are classified plans, already budgeted in so-called “black” projects, to extend Einstein surveillance into the dot (.) com, dot (.) edu, dot (.) int, and dot (.) org, as well as other Internet domains. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has budgeted $5.4 billion for Einstein in his department’s FY2009 information technology budget. However, this amount does not take into account the “black” budgets for Einstein proliferation throughout the U.S. telecommunications network contained in the budgets for NSA and DNI. (Wayne Madsen, “‘Einstein’ replaces ‘Big Brother’ in Internet Surveillance,” Online Journal, September 19, 2008)

A follow-up article published in February, identified the ultra-spooky Booz Allen Hamilton firm as the developer of Pinwale, an illegal program for the interception of text communications. According to Madsen, “the system is linked to a number of meta-databases that contain e-mail, faxes, and text messages of hundreds of millions of people around the world and in the United States.”

In other words both classified programs, Pinwale and Einstein, are sophisticated electronic communications surveillance projects that most certainly will train the agency’s formidable intelligence assets on the American people “using as cover a cyber-security multi-billion dollar project called the ‘Einstein’ program,” as Madsen reported.

AT&T: “No Comment”

An AT&T spokesman refused to comment on the proposals and is seeking legal protection from the state that it will not be sued for privacy breaches as a result of its participation in the new program. “Legal certification” the Post reports, “has been held up for several months as DHS prepares a contract.”

NSA’s involvement is critical proponents claim, because the agency has a readily-accessible database of computer codes, or signatures “that have been linked to cyberattacks or known adversaries. The NSA has compiled the cache by, for example, electronically observing hackers trying to gain access to U.S. military systems,” the Post averred.

Calling NSA’s cache “the secret sauce…it’s the stuff they have that the private sector doesn’t,” is what raises alarms for privacy and civil liberties’ advocates. Known as Tutelage, NSA’s classified program can detect and automatically decide how to deal with malicious intrusions, “to block them or watch them closely to better assess the threat,” according to the Post. “The database for the program would also contain feeds from commercial firms and DHS’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, administration officials said.”

Jeff Mohan, AT&T’s executive director for Einstein, was more forthcoming earlier this year. He told Federal News Radio: “With these services, we will provide a secure portal from the agency’s infrastructure, or Intranet to the public internet. There is a technical aspect, which is routers, firewalls and that sort of thing that applies these security capabilities across that portal and looks a Internet traffic that comes from public Internet to Intranet and vice versa.”

The “technical aspect” will also provide federal agencies the ability to capture, sort, read and then store Americans’ private communications in huge data bases run by NSA.

Mohan said that AT&T will provide the state with “optional services such as scanning e-mail and placing filters on agency networks to keep malicious e-mail off the network as well as forensic and storage capabilities also are available through MTIPS [Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services].”

In addition to AT&T, other private partners awarded contracts under the General Services Administration’s MTIPS which has a built-in “Einstein enclave” include: Sprint, L3 Communications, Qwest, MCI, General Dynamics and Verizon, according to multiple reports published by Federal Computer Week.

Claiming that the state is “looking for malicious content, not a love note to someone with a dot-gov e-mail address,” a former unnamed “senior Bush administration official” told the Post “what we’re interested in is finding the code, the thing that will do the network harm, not reading the e-mail itself.”

Try selling that to the tens of millions of Americans whose private communications have been illegally spied upon by the Bush and Obama administrations or leftist dissidents singled-out for “special handling” by the national security state’s public-private surveillance partnership!

An Electronic Spider’s Web

As the “global war on terror” morphs into an endless war on our democratic rights, the NSA is expanding domestic operations by “decentralizing its massive computer hubs,” The Salt Lake Tribune revealed.

The agency “will build a 1-million-square-foot data center at Utah’s Camp Williams,” the newspaper disclosed July 1. The new facility would be NSA’s third major data center. In 2007, the agency announced plans to build a second data center in San Antonio, Texas after the Baltimore Sun reported that NSA had “maxed out” the electric capacity of the Baltimore area’s power grid.

The San Antonio Current reported in December, that the NSA’s Texas Cryptology Center will cost “upwards of $130 million.” The 470,000 square-foot-facility is adjacent to a similar center constructed by software giant Microsoft. Investigative journalist James Bamford told the Current that under current law “NSA could gain access to Microsoft’s stored data without even a warrant, but merely a fiber-optic cable.”

A follow-up article by The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the facility will cost upwards of $2 billion dollars and that funds have already been appropriated by the Obama administration for NSA’s new data center and listening post.

The secretive agency released a statement Thursday acknowledging the selection of Camp Williams as a site for the new center and describing it as “a specialized facility that houses computer systems and supporting equipment.”

Budget documents provide a more detailed picture of the facility and its mission. The supercomputers in the center will be part of the NSA’s signal intelligence program, which seeks to “gain a decisive information advantage for the nation and our allies under all circumstances” according to the documents. (Matthew D. LaPlante, “New NSA Center Unveiled in Budget Documents,” The Salt Lake Tribune, July 2, 2009)

Not everyone is pleased with the announcement. Steve Erickson, the director of the antiwar Citizens Education Project told the Tribune, “Finally, the Patriot Act has a home.”

While the total cost of rolling-out the Einstein 3 system is classified, The Wall Street Journal reports that “the price tag was expected to exceed $2 billion.” And as with other national security state initiatives, it is the American people who are footing the bill for the destruction of our democratic rights.

Em 1993, frente à grave crise econômica que atingiu a ilha depois da desintegração da União Soviética, as autoridades de Havana decidiram legalizar a circulação do dólar estadunidense no país. Era necessário encontrar as divisas indispensáveis para o funcionamento da economia e do comércio e satisfazer as necessidades da população, particularmente no setor alimentício. Assim, duas moedas circulavam no país: o dólar e o peso cubano (CUP).

Em 1994, além do peso cubano e do dólar, o Banco Central de Cuba criou o peso conversível (CUC), com um valor igual ao dólar, o que fez de Cuba o único país no mundo a imprimir duas moedas. O CUC é particularmente usado no turismo e para adquirir produtos de importação. Assim, de 1994 a 2004, circularam três moedas em Cuba, até a desaparição do dólar, em 2004, depois das novas sanções econômicas impostas pela administração Bush. Agora, o peso cubano circula junto com o peso conversível, com uma notável diferença de valor: são necessários 25 CUP para conseguir 1 CUC.

Essa dupla moeda é, então, fonte de desigualdade na nação, na medida em que a imensa maioria da população ativa recebe seu salário em CUP. Uma pequena categoria de cubanos, particularmente os empregados da indústria turística e os que recebem remessas familiares do exterior, têm acesso ao CUC. Essa dualidade monetária tem como consequência levar um número substancial de pessoal qualificado — acadêmicos, médicos, arquitetos, engenheiros — a abandonar sua profissão em benefício de uma atividade mais lucrativa como a de taxista, garçom ou porteiro de hotel.

Por outro lado, esse sistema de dupla moeda afeta a contabilidade nacional e causa numerosas distorções que complicam qualquer medida econômica. Tem um impacto direto na política econômica do Estado e prejudica gravemente o desenvolvimento do país.

O presidente Raúl Castro, consciente dessa realidade, decidiu agir em conformidade. Segundo ele, “o fenômeno da dualidade monetária constitui um dos obstáculos mais importantes para o progresso da nação”. Traçou como objetivo dos principais economistas cubanos a elaboração de uma estratégia econômica e financeira para conseguir a unificação monetária o quanto antes.

No dia 22 de outubro de 2012, em conformidade com o projeto de atualização do modelo econômico que foi adotado pelo VI Congresso do Partido Comunista Cubano, em abril de 2011, o governo de Havana anunciou o lançamento de um processo de unificação monetária. Ainda assim, as autoridades não apontaram precisamente como essa mudança será feita e nem deram um prazo para que isso aconteça. Estas mudanças preocuparão, em um primeiro momento, as empresas e as instituições, antes de se estender por todo o país.

O caráter parcimonioso das informações que as autoridades cubanas proporcionam é explicado pela complexidade do processo de unificação monetária. Para poder aumentar os salários é imprescindível aumentar também a produtividade e a produção. Também é necessário elaborar uma estratégia de substituição de importações, particularmente no setor alimentício, em um país que é mais de 80% dependente das matérias-primas agrícolas produzidas no exterior.

Se a unificação monetária for realizada em boas condições, isto é, com um aumento da produção, da produtividade e dos salários, será possível eliminar a fonte de desigualdade que a dualidade CUP/CUC representa. Também acabará com as numerosas distorções de ordem econômica que uma dupla contabilidade engendra. Mas, obviamente, esta reforma monetária não será fácil.

Salim Lamrani

Salim Lamrani é Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latino-americanos da Universidade Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani é professor-titular da Universidade de la Reunión e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu último livro se chama Cuba. Les médias face au défi de l’impartialité, Paris, Editions Estrella, 2013, com prólogo de Eduardo Galeano.

Contato: [email protected] ; [email protected]
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The Cape of Good Hope  Presentation at the Rhodes Forum, October 5, 2013

 First, the good news. American hegemony is over. The bully has been subdued.

We cleared the Cape of Good Hope, symbolically speaking, in September 2013. With the Syrian crisis, the world has passed a key forking of modern history. It was touch and go, just as risky as the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

The chances for total war were high, as the steely wills of America and Eurasia had crossed in the Eastern Mediterranean. It will take some time until the realisation of what we’ve gone through seeps in: it is normal for events of such magnitude. The turmoil in the US, from the mad car chase in the DC to the shutdown of federal government and possible debt default, are the direct consequences of this event.

Remember the Berlin Wall? When it went down, I was in Moscow, writing for Haaretz. I went to a press-conference with Politburo members in the President Hotel, and asked them whether they concurred that the end of the USSR and world socialist system was nigh. I was laughed at; it was an embarrassing occasion. Oh no, they said. Socialism will blossom, as the result of the Wall’s fall. The USSR went down two years later. Now our memory has compacted those years into a brief sequence, but in reality, it took some time.

The most dramatic event of September 2013 was the high-noon stand-off near the Levantine shore, with five US destroyers pointing their Tomahawks towards Damascus and facing them – the Russian flotilla of eleven ships led by the carrier-killer Missile Cruiser Moskva and supported by Chinese warships. Apparently, two missiles were launched towards the Syrian coast, and both failed to reach their destination.

It was claimed by a Lebanese newspaper quoting diplomatic sources that the missiles were launched from a NATO air base in Spain and they were shot down by the Russian ship-based sea-to-air defence system. Another explanation proposed by the Asia Times says the Russians employed their cheap and powerful GPS jammers to render the expensive Tomahawks helpless, by disorienting them and causing them to fail. Yet another version attributed the launch to the Israelis, whether they were trying to jump-start the shoot-out or just observed the clouds, as they claim.

Whatever the reason, after this strange incident, the pending shoot-out did not commence, as President Obama stood down and holstered his guns. This was preceded by an unexpected vote in the British Parliament. This venerable body declined the honour of joining the attack proposed by the US. This was the first time in two hundred years that the British parliament voted down a sensible proposition to start a war; usually the Brits can’t resist the temptation.

After that, President Obama decided to pass the hot potato to the Congress. He was unwilling to unleash Armageddon on his own. Thus the name of action was lost. Congress did not want to go to war with unpredictable consequences. Obama tried to browbeat Putin at the 20G meeting in St Petersburg, and failed. The Russian proposal to remove Syrian chemical weaponry allowed President Obama to save face. This misadventure put paid to American hegemony , supremacy and exceptionalism. Manifest Destiny was over. We all learned that from Hollywood flics: the hero never stands down; he draws and shoots! If he holsters his guns, he is not a hero: he’s chickened out.

Afterwards, things began to unravel fast. The US President had a chat with the new president of Iran, to the chagrin of Tel Aviv. The Free Syrian Army rebels decided to talk to Assad after two years of fighting him, and their delegation arrived in Damascus, leaving the Islamic extremists high and dry. Their supporter Qatar is collapsing overextended. The shutdown of their government and possible debt default gave the Americans something real to worry about. With the end of US hegemony, the days of the dollar as the world reserve currency are numbered.

World War III almost occurred as the banksters wished it. They have too many debts, including the unsustainable foreign debt of the US. If those Tomahawks had flown, the banksters could have claimed Force Majeure and disavow the debt. Millions of people would die, but billions of dollars would be safe in the vaults of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. In September, the world crossed this bifurcation point safely, as President Obama refused to take the fall for the banksters. Perhaps he deserved his Nobel peace prize, after all.

The near future is full of troubles but none are fatal. The US will lose its emission rights as a source of income. The US dollar will cease to serve as the world reserve currency though it will remain the North American currency. Other parts of the world will resort to their euro, yuan, rouble, bolivar, or dinar. The US military expenditure will have to be slashed to normal, and this elimination of overseas bases and weaponry will allow the US population to make the transition rather painlessly. Nobody wants to go after America; the world just got tired of them riding shotgun all over the place. The US will have to find new employment for so many bankers, jailers, soldiers, even politicians.

As I stayed in Moscow during the crisis, I observed these developments as they were seen by Russians. Putin and Russia have been relentlessly hard-pressed for quite a while.

  * The US supported and subsidised Russia’s liberal and nationalist opposition; the national elections in Russia were presented as one big fraud. The Russian government was delegitimised to some extent.

   * The Magnitsky Act of the US Congress authorised the US authorities to arrest and seize the assets of any Russian they deem is up to no good, without a recourse to a court.

  * Some Russian state assets were seized in Cyprus where the banks were in trouble.

  * The US encouraged Pussy Riot, gay parades etc. in Moscow, in order to promote an image of Putin the dictator, enemy of freedom and gay-hater in the Western and Russian oligarch-owned media.

* Russian support for Syria was criticised, ridiculed and presented as a brutal act devoid of humanity. At the same time, Western media pundits expressed certainty that Russia would give up on Syria.

 As I wrote previously, Russia had no intention to surrender Syria, for a number of good reasons: it was an ally; the Syrian Orthodox Christians trusted Russia; geopolitically the war was getting too close to Russian borders. But the main reason was Russia’s annoyance with American high-handedness. The Russians felt that such important decisions should be taken by the international community, meaning the UN Security Council. They did not appreciate the US assuming the role of world arbiter.

In the 1990s, Russia was very weak, and could not effectively object, but  they felt bitter when Yugoslavia was bombed and NATO troops moved eastwards breaking the US promise to Gorbachev. The Libyan tragedy was another crucial point. That unhappy country was bombed by NATO, and eventually disintegrated. From the most prosperous African state it was converted into most miserable. Russian presence in Libya was rather limited, but still, Russia lost some investment there. Russia abstained in the vote on Libya as this was the position of the then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev who believed in playing ball with the West. In no way was Putin ready to abandon Syria to the same fate.

The Russian rebellion against the US hegemony began in June, when the Aeroflot flight from Beijing carrying Ed Snowden landed in Moscow. Americans pushed every button they could think of to get him back. They activated the full spectre of their agents in Russia. Only a few voices, including that of your truly, called on Russia to provide Snowden with safe refuge, but our voices prevailed. Despite the US pressure, Snowden was granted asylum.

The next step was the Syrian escalation. I do not want to go into the details of the alleged chemical attack. In the Russian view, there was not and could not be any reason for the US to act unilaterally in Syria or anywhere else. In a way, the Russians have restored the Law of Nations to its old revered place. The world has become a better and safer place.

None of this could’ve been achieved without the support of China. The Asian giant considers Russia its “elder sister” and relies upon her ability to deal with the round-eyes. The Chinese, in their quiet and unassuming way, played along with Putin. They passed Snowden to Moscow. They vetoed anti-Syrian drafts in the UNSC, and sent their warships to the Med. That is why Putin stood the ground not only for Russia, but for the whole mass of Eurasia.

The Church was supportive of Putin’s efforts; not only the Russian Church, but both Catholics and Orthodox were united in their opposition to the pending US campaign for the US-supported rebels massacred Christians. The Pope appealed to Putin as to defender of the Church; so did the churches of Jerusalem and Antioch. The Pope almost threatened to excommunicate Hollande, and the veiled threat impressed the French president. So Putin enjoyed support and blessing of the Orthodox Patriarchs and of the Pope: such double blessing is an extremely rare occassion.

There were many exciting and thrilling moments in the Syrian saga, enough to fill volumes. An early attempt to subdue Putin at G8 meeting in Ireland was one of them. Putin was about to meet with the united front of the West, but he managed to turn some of them to his side, and he sowed the seeds of doubt in others’ hearts by reminding them of the Syrian rebel manflesh-eating chieftains.   

The proposal to eliminate Syrian chemical weapons was deftly introduced; the UNSC resolution blocked the possibility of attacking Syria under cover of Chapter Seven. Miraculously, the Russians won in this mighty tug-of-war. The alternative was dire: Syria would be destroyed as Libya was; a subsequent Israeli-American attack on Iran was unavoidable; Oriental Christianity would lose its cradle; Europe would be flooded by millions of refugees; Russia would be proven irrelevant, all talk and no action, as important as Bolivia, whose President’s plane can be grounded and searched at will. Unable to defend its allies, unable to stand its ground, Russia would’ve been left with a ‘moral victory’, a euphemism for defeat. Everything Putin has worked for in 13 years at the helm would’ve been lost; Russia would be back to where it was in 1999, when Clinton bombed Belgrade.

The acme of this confrontation was reached in the Obama-Putin exchange on exceptionalism. The two men were not buddies to start with. Putin was annoyed by what he perceived as Obama’s insincerity and hypocrisy. A man who climbed from the gutter to the very top, Putin cherishes his ability to talk frankly with people of all walks of life. His frank talk can be shockingly brutal. When he was heckled by a French journalist regarding treatment of Chechen separatists, he replied:

  “the Muslim extremists (takfiris) are enemies of Christians, of atheists, and even of Muslims because they believe that traditional Islam is hostile to the goals that they set themselves. And if you want to become an Islamic radical and are ready to be circumcised, I invite you to Moscow. We are a multi-faith country and we have experts who can do it. And I would advise them to carry out that operation in such a way that nothing would grow in that place again”.

 Another example of his shockingly candid talk was given at Valdai as he replied to BBC’s Bridget Kendall. She asked: did the threat of US military strikes actually play a rather useful role in Syria’s agreeing to have its weapons placed under control?

Putin replied: Syria got itself chemical weapons as an alternative to Israel’s nuclear arsenal. He called for the disarmament of Israel and invoked the name of Mordecai Vanunu as an example of an Israeli scientist who opposes nuclear weapons. (My interview with Vanunu had been recently published in the largest Russian daily paper, and it gained some notice).

Putin tried to talk frankly to Obama. We know of their exchange from a leaked record of the Putin-Netanyahu confidential conversation. Putin called the American and asked him: what’s your point in Syria? Obama replied: I am worried that Assad’s regime does not observe human rights. Putin almost puked from the sheer hypocrisy of this answer. He understood it as Obama’s refusal to talk with him “on eye level”.

In the aftermath of the Syrian stand-off, Obama appealed to the people of the world in the name of American exceptionalism. The United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional”, he said. Putin responded: “It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.” This was not only an ideological, but theological contradistinction.

As I expounded at length elsewhere, the US is built on the Judaic theology of exceptionalism, of being Chosen. It is the country of Old Testament. This is the deeper reason for the US and Israel’s special relationship. Europe is going through a stage of apostasy and rejection of Christ, while Russia remains deeply Christian. Its churches are full, they bless one other with Christmas and Easter blessings, instead of neutral “seasons”. Russia is a New Testament country. And rejection of exceptionalism, of chosenness is the underlying tenet of Christianity.

For this reason, while organised US Jewry supported the war, condemned Assad and called for US intervention, the Jewish community of Russia, quite numerous, wealthy and influential one, did not support the Syrian rebels but rather stood by Putin’s effort to preserve peace in Syria. Ditto Iran, where the wealthy Jewish community supported the legitimate government in Syria. It appears that countries guided by a strong established church are immune from disruptive influence of lobbies; while countries without such a church – the US and/or France – give in to such influences and adopt illegal interventionism as a norm.

As US hegemony declines, we look to an uncertain future. The behemoth might of the US military can still wreck havoc; a wounded beast is the most dangerous one. Americans may listen to Senator Ron Paul who called to give up overseas bases and cut military expenditure. Norms of international law and sovereignty of all states should be observed. People of the world will like America again when it will cease snooping and bullying. It isn’t easy, but we’ve already negotiated the Cape and gained Good Hope.

(Language edited by Ken Freeland)

Israel Shamir reported from Moscow. He can be reached at [email protected]  

Since 2009, the United States has regularly bombed Yemen.

These aerial attacks have occurred in almost every province of the country. In the past two years, the number of drone strikes has multiplied and the infrastructure required for these attacks have been expanded, not only in Yemen, but also in neighboring Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.

Since the first strikes in November 2002 and until the writing of this report in July 2013, the United States has carried out between 134 and 234 military operations in Yemen.

These include strikes by aircraft and drones as well as missiles launched from warships located in the Gulf of Aden. According to various sources, estimates of the number of people killed range from 1000 to 2000. However, to this day, neither the Yemeni nor the American authorities have put forward official statistics on the number of casualties.

Alkarama carried out a number of field investigations in Yemen throughout 2012 and 2013, in order to gather witness accounts and victim testimonies about these attacks, as well as information from their families and lawyers. Interviews were also held with government officials and members of civil society.

This report presents the results of our research and analysis on the US strategy in its “war on terror” with respect to international law. It also examines the reactions of US as well as Yemeni officials and civil society in light of the serious violations committed. Finally, the report sets out recommendations to the Yemeni and US authorities, as well as to the UN, to address these issues.

Table of contents

Our thanks to the Yemeni National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms (HOOD) for its collaboration in the preparation of this report.

This path-breaking article was first published by GR in February 2012.

A new study by the Mediterranean Council for Intelligence Studies’ (MCIS) 2012 Intelligence Studies Yearbook points to the use of social media as “the new cutting edge in open-source tactical intelligence collection”. IntelNews.org’s Joseph Fitsanakis, who co-authored the study, reports:

We explain that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a host of other social networking platforms are increasingly viewed by intelligence agencies as invaluable channels of information acquisition. We base our findings on three recent case studies, which we believe highlight the intelligence function of social networking. (Joseph Fitsanakis, Research: Spies increasingly using Facebook, Twitter to gather data, intelNews.org, February 13, 2012)

What the study fails to mention, however, is the use of social media by intelligence agencies for other purposes. The study leads us to believe that social media is solely an intelligence gathering tool, when in fact, a number of reports have shown that it is used for propaganda including the creation of fake identities in support of covert operations. Those practices are discussed in Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote Propaganda, Social Media: Air Force ordered software to manage army of Fake Virtual People and Pentagon Seeks to Manipulate Social Media for Propaganda Purposes, published on Global Research in 2011.

The MCIS study is partly based on the “Arab Spring” framework which allegedly “prompted the US government to begin developing guidelines for culling intelligence from social media networks”. (Ibid.)

Again, this leaves out the fact that the U.S. Government provides “activist training” to foreign nationals to destabilize their country of origin. This tactic is detailed in Tony Cartalucci’s latest article, Egypt: US-funded Agitators on Trial: US “Democracy Promotion” = Foreign-funded Sedition.

“Cyber dissidence” is sponsored among others by CIA-linked Freedom House. The First of The Bush Institute’s Human Freedom Events, Co-Sponsored by Freedom House was titled “The Conference on Cyber Dissidents: Global Successes and Challenges”.

The Conference on Cyber Dissidents highlighted the work, methods, courage and achievements of its eight dissident guest speakers, from seven nations. Five of these nations are places where freedom has been extinguished (all rated “not free” by Freedom House): China, Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Russia. Two others are places where freedom is in peril (both rated “partly free” by Freedom House) because of an authoritarian government accumulating more power, as in Venezuela, or because of the threat of internal terrorist groups, as in Colombia. (The Conference on Cyber Dissidents: Global Successes and Challenges, The George W. Bush Presidential Center)

Countries where “freedom has been extinguished” and which are U.S. allies, such as Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, are not listed above. The only U.S. ally listed is Colombia and its freedom is said to be threatened by terrorist groups, rather than by its governement. It is worth noting that the Colombian government has been accused of spying on its journalists and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) says freedom of expression ‘barely exists’ in Colombia.

The goal of “activist training” by U.S. NGOs is to destabilize America’s political enemies in the name of freedom. “Cyber dissidence” is in turn used by intelligence agencies for covert operations.

On October 24, London’s Guardian headlined “NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts,” saying:

Snowden released documents revealed it. “An official in another US government department” gave NSA over 200 private phone numbers.

Thirty-five world leaders were included. They weren’t named. It’s not hard imagining likely targets. Germany’s Angela Merkel is one. So is France’s Francois Hollande.

Brazil’s Dilma Rouseff is another. Mexican President Enrique Nieto’s private communications are monitored. Russian, Chinese and Iranian leaders are prime NSA targets.

“(T)he NSA encourages senior officials in its ‘customer’ departments, such the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their ‘Rolodexes’ so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems,” said the Guardian.

 The memo it obtained reveals extensive NSA surveillance. It’s dated October 2006. It was issued to NSA’s Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID).

It’s titled “Customers Can Help SID Obtain Targetable Phone Numbers.” An example it gives states:

American officials interface often with world leaders. “In one recent case, a US official provided NSA with 200 phone numbers to 35 world leaders,” said the Guardian.

“Despite the fact that the majority is probably available via open source, the PCs (intelligence production centers) have noted 43 previously unknown phone numbers. These numbers plus several others have been tasked.”

New phone numbers help NSA obtain “more new contact details.” Doing so facilitates monitoring.

“These numbers have provided lead information to other numbers that have subsequently been tasked.”

At the same time, this type monitoring produced “little reportable intelligence.” Listening to foreign leaders’ phone calls continues.

NSA seeks new contact information. Its memo states “S2 (signals intelligence) wonder(s) if there are NSA liaisons whose supported customers may be willing to share their ‘Rolodexes’ or phone lists with NSA as potential sources of intelligence.”

“S2 welcomes such information!” Sometimes it comes unsolicited. According to its memo:

 ”From time to time, SID is offered access to the personal contact databases of US officials.”

“Such ‘Rolodexes’ may contain contact information for foreign political or military leaders, to include direct line, fax, residence and cellular numbers.”

 The Guardian asked Obama administration officials to explain. No response followed.

On Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said:

NSA “revelations have clearly caused tension in our relationships with some countries, and we are dealing with that through diplomatic channels.”

 ”These are very important relations both economically and for our security, and we will work to maintain the closest possible ties.”

 Merkel knew about or suspected Washington monitored her phone calls all along. She discovered her cell number written on a US document.

 On October 21, The New York Times headlined “Rules Shielding Online Data From NSA and Other Prying Eyes Advance in Europe,” saying:

 Influential EU lawmakers back a measure requiring US companies like Google and Yahoo “to seek clearance from European officials before complying with United States warrants seeking private data.”

 The legislation has been considered for two years. At issue is tightening privacy rules. Enacting it requires governments and  European parliament approval.

 The European Commission is the EU’s executive body. It supports legislation requiring US tech companies to seek permission before providing its intelligence agencies with personal information on EU citizens.

 The European parliament already approved a non-binding resolution. It suspends EU Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) data sharing with America.

 It did so in response to revelations about NSA monitoring international bank SWIFT transfers.

The European Parliament has no formal powers to suspend or terminate international deals. At the same time, its press release said:

 ”(T)he commission will have to act if Parliament withdraws its support for a particular agreement.”

 The European Parliament includes 766 members from 28 EU countries. Elected MEPs serve five-year terms.

 They expressed concern about EU governments failing to look into NSA spying. Its resolution calls for a “full on-site technical investigation” of NSA’s SWIFT transfers monitoring. Its press release said:

 ”(A)ny data-sharing agreement with the US must be based on a consistent legal data protection framework, offering legally-binding standards on purpose limitation, data minimisation, information, access, correction, erasure and redress.”

 Jan Philip Albrecht is a German EU parliament member. His Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs is spearheading legislative action.

It “voted to make clear that it is exclusively EU law that applies to EU citizens’ private data online regardless of where the business processing their data has its seat.” he said.

Technology industry officials oppose it. According to DigitalEurope director general John Higgins:

 ”Rushing through a half-baked law risks throwing away a vital and much needed opportunity to stimulate economic growth.”

 The measure calls for stiff fines. They can be as much as 5% of a company’s annual gross income. Supportive lawmakers hope for passage by next spring.

It remains to be seen what follows. Two years ago Washington got Europe to abandon a similar measure. According to The Times:

It “would have shielded Europeans from requests by American authorities to share online data gathered by some of the biggest American Internet companies.”

Many live in Europe. Companies serving them complain about potential onerous new rules. Their customers need protection. NSA spying compromises their rights.

 According to the Guardian, many Germans welcome Merkel getting a taste of her own medicine. She failed to act responsibly after Snowden’s revelations made headlines. German Pirate party member Anke Domscheit-Berg said:

 ”In the past few months, Chancellor Merkel has done very little to make the US government answer all those questions that should have had highest political priority.”

 ”Now she gets a taste of what it feels like when foreign secret services spy on all your communications.”

 Albrecht accused German interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, of “not only fail(ing) to act in Germany’s interest, he also failed to act on Angela Merkel’s promise to take data protection more seriously.”

 Months earlier, Friedrich dismissively called NSA accusations driven mainly by “a mix of anti-Americanism and naivety.” On Thursday, he said:

 ”Bugging and snooping on friends in public or in private is unacceptable.”

 It was too little, too late. It was disingenuous. Albrecht asked “why is this man still interior minister?”

Former Federal Commissioner for Data Protection Peter Schaar added:

Headlined revelations show “the absurdity of politicians trying to draw to a close the debate about surveillance of everyday communication here. In the light of the new revelations it seems irresponsible that more transparency wasn’t called for earlier.”

Die Zeit is one of Germany’s most US-friendly publications. It called Merkel’s months earlier failure to challenge NSA spying revelations “unethical.”

 It was “her duty (to do so) when millions of NSA attacks on citizens’ privacy were at stake because their basic rights are as valuable as those of the chancellor,” it said.

 On October 25, EU member state leaders issued a joint statement, saying:

 ”The Heads of State or Government discussed recent developments concerning possible intelligence issues and the deep concerns that these events have raised among European citizens.”

 ”They underlined the close relationship between Europe and the USA and the value of that partnership.”

 ”They expressed their conviction that the partnership must be based on respect and trust, including as concerns the work and cooperation of secret services.”

 ”They stressed that intelligence gathering is a vital element in the fight against terrorism.”

 ”This applies to relations between European countries as well as to relations with the USA.”

 ”A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field of intelligence gathering.”

 ”The Heads of State or Government took note of the intention of France and Germany to seek bilateral talks with the USA with the aim of finding before the end of the year an understanding on mutual relations in that field.”

 ”They noted that other EU countries are welcome to join this initiative.”

 ”They also pointed to the existing Working Group between the EU and the USA on the related issue of data protection and called for rapid and constructive progress in that respect.”

 On October 24, London’s Guardian headlined “Obama left increasingly isolated as anger builds among key US allies,” saying:

 Washington is in damage control mode to fix things. It’s “anxious to avoid a more permanent rift in the network of alliances that has been central to its foreign policy since the second world war.”

 The Guardian spoke “with several diplomats and foreign government officials,” it said. They agreed “only on the condition of anonymity.”

They said “the White House (still) underestimate(s) the anger felt over recent disclosures.”

Perhaps it’s less about what’s ongoing and more about it making headlines.

 ”They argue that US officials are being deliberately disingenuous when they claim that all countries engage in similar forms of espionage, even against allies,” said the Guardian.

 ”While it is widely accepted that the US, Britain, France, Russia and China engage in counter-espionage, other countries do not have the tools to conduct surveillance on the scale of the NSA.”

 France, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, and perhaps other countries asked Washington to explain what’s ongoing. They want assurances it’ll stop. So far, they’ve been stonewalled.

According to the Guardian, some Washington-based foreign officials “changed the way they conduct business.”

They avoid discussing sensitive information by phone or online. They know their embassies are bugged. Their cable communications are monitored.

Brazilian federal workers were ordered to use highly-encrypted emails. EU nations are reviewing their “policies on internet governance, privacy and data-sharing, amid growing skepticism about whether the US can be trusted,” said the Guardian.

An unnamed EU official said it’s “clear we’re not doing business on a level playing field.” Washington has no intention to do so.

US spying at home and abroad is longstanding. Today more than ever it’s lawless and unprecedented. International standards don’t matter. Constitutional rights are ignored.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

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

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/nsa-spying-world-leaders/

Members of the International Anti-Occupation Network (I.A.O.N.) coming from Portugal, Algeria, Belgium, France, Iraq, Jordan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and the UK, representing many international NGOs, met in Lisbon from October 11-13 to discuss developments in Iraq and its future

...

.

The Lisbon Statement – October 2013

ACCOUNTABILITY & JUSTICE FOR IRAQ

Even after the US was forced by the resistance of the people of Iraq to withdraw its combat troops, tens of thousands of advisors, contract employees and security personnel remain throughout the country to ensure the goals of the occupation. Foreign and regional powers continue to vie for influence and domination over Iraq, even to the extent of intervening with militias and committing crimes against the Iraqi people. Outside forces have not given up their attempt to control the economic resources of the country and to deny basic services to the population. The root cause of the increased terrorist violence is the sectarian Bremer constitution imposed on the Iraqi people during the first years of the occupation. This has been recognized by growing numbers of demonstrators in the popular uprising against the al Maliki regime that have spread throughout Iraq since December 2012. 

THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ ARE CLEARLY DETERMINED TO REMOVE ALL REMNANTS OF THE OCCUPATION.

The political process and the regime imposed upon Iraq are an integral part and continuation of the US strategy to divide and conquer its resistance to imperialism and neo-liberalism. The policy of the current regime is dependent on revenge and sectarian division and encourages acts of terror against the civilian population to prevent Iraq from regaining its sovereignty after decades of sanctions, war and occupation. The I.A.O.N. re-iterates its position from the Le Feyt Declaration of 2008“Iraq cannot recover lasting stability, unity and territorial integrity until its sovereignty is guaranteed…All of Iraq´s neighbors should recognize that stability in Iraq serves their own interests and commit to not interfering in its internal affairs.” 

THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ REJECT SECTARIANISM AND DIVISION.

We continue to support and call for solidarity with the efforts and struggle of the Iraqi people to regain full independence. The truth about the war must be told and the consequences of the occupation recognized. The US and its allies who are responsible for the destruction and crimes committed against Iraq must be held accountable. The world has a legal and moral responsibility to help the Iraqi people to regain their legitimate rights after all the suffering they have been subjected to. But the destiny of Iraq lies in the hands of its people. We are confident that the people of Iraq are capable of rebuilding their nation and deciding the course of their future. 

THE IAON CALLS ON ALL SOLIDARITY, ANTI-WAR AND ANTI-IMPERIALIST MOVEMENTS AND ALL PEACE LOVING PEOPLE TO STAND WITH THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ IN THIS STAGE OF RESISTANCE.

PLAN OF ACTION

Our main goals in the coming period are:

  • to mobilize international awareness about and support for abolishing the political remnants of the occupation
  • to intensify international demands for Accountability and Justice for Iraq
  • to increase cooperation between solidarity forces and the Iraqi people to alleviate the suffering of the victims of war and occupation

Among the efforts the I.A.O.N. supports and will concentrate on in the coming period are:

  1. the continued spreading and exchange of information about the popular resistance to sectarianism and continued violations of human rights in Iraq.
  1. the coordination of efforts to lobby national and EU parliaments to encourage governments and UN bodies to forcibly oppose the continued systematic and widespread violations of human rights by the Iraqi authorities, especially the use of the death penalty, and to support the important recommendations in the report issued by the UN Human Rights Council*, including the re-instatement of a special UN rapporteur for Iraq to closely monitor respect for human rights
  1. the work to map out a legal strategy to hold those legally responsible for their crimes in Iraq and to demand compensation for their victims
  1. the work to bring about independent international investigations about the use of different kinds of weapons in Iraq and the increasing number of congenital birth defects in Fallujah, Basra and other places and about the use of Iraq territory as a dumping ground for dangerous chemical and radioactive substances
  1. projects of cooperation between different national groups and Iraqi organizations to aid those worst affected by the conflict.

The IAON strongly encourages all peace forces to join us in these efforts.

Lisbon October 13, 2013

You can read more in the UN document “Truth, justice and reparations for Iraq”

http://www.gicj.org/NOG_REPORTS_HRC_24/truth_item3.pdf

The European Union (EU) summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday was dominated by the NSA bugging of the cell phone of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The debate on these revelations was accompanied by plans for new social attacks on the working class across the continent.

Before the summit began, the German chancellor met with French President François Hollande for 15 minutes to discuss the latest reports on the international surveillance activities of the National Security Agency (NSA).

At the summit, all 28 EU leaders agreed that Merkel and Hollande should clarify the issues with US President Barack Obama and prepare a report for the next EU summit in December. A delegation of high-ranking government and intelligence officials will travel to Washington next week.

The purpose of such a delegation is not to expose the criminal activities of US intelligence agencies, but to assist in a cover-up. For months, all EU leaders have worked to suppress the revelations by Edward Snowden of the systematic monitoring of the entire world population.

The British, German and French intelligence work closely with US intelligence in their own surveillance activities.

The summit also decided against any sanctions against the US. It rejected demands raised earlier this week by the European parliament to suspend the Swift agreement on the transfer of bank data to the US, and also turned down calls to postpone negotiations currently taking place between the US and the EU over a free trade agreement. The summit even refused to discuss a revision of the EU Data Protection Regulation, which has been negotiated for over a year.

On the fringes of the summit, however, there were a number of pointed criticisms made of the United States. The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, declared that the US intelligence establishment was “out of control. … These are forces we got to know in the era of the Cold War.”

Following similar action by France and Germany, Spain summoned the US ambassador on Friday to clarify allegations of US spying on the Spanish government.

New aspects of the affair came to light during the summit. Documents from whistle-blower Edward Snowden make clear that the United States has bugged the phones of at least 35 heads of state. The released document only briefly details the operation and names no names. It is likely, however, that the number of leading politicians under NSA surveillance is significantly higher.

In the case of the monitoring of Merkel, a likely source is the US Embassy in Berlin. The Snowden documents show that the CIA and NSA set up an intelligence unit called the Special Collection Service (SCS) with a specific remit to bug embassies and consulates. Agents were disguised as diplomats and operated without the knowledge of the governments concerned.

Other documents published on Friday by the Italian newspaper L Espresso demonstrate that the British GCHQ systematically eavesdropped on the Italian government and companies in cooperation with the NSA, for purposes including the “benefit of the UK economy.” In addition, the GCHQ and NSA are alleged to have intercepted, saved, and evaluated all communications through the international network node in Sicily.

The Snowden revelations have sparked concern in the ruling class of Europe, which fears rising popular disquiet and anger over these revelations. Christian Social Union leader Horst Seehofer declared that he was “really angry” with the military and industrial espionage by the United States and the fact that such “a large, democratic nation quite obviously commits such violations.”

In the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the paper’s deputy head for foreign affairs, Hubert Wetzel, wrote a comment titled “Questionable friends”.

“America’s reputation as a credible power for protection and regulation is crumbling”, he wrote. Especially in the Middle East, the United States had “gone astray” and thereby “annoyed its allies”. By cancelling an offensive against Syria, Obama left France “hanging” and it remained to be seen if Merkel would ever trust the US president.

In the daily Die Welt, Claus Christian expresses the fear “that the tectonic plates could shift dramatically on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The Snowden revelations have shown that Europe has also built up the basis for a police state based on the total surveillance of public and private communications. This development throws into question the legitimacy of the actions of the bourgeois state for millions of people. Political leaders, therefore, seek to concentrate attention exclusively on the tapping of government leaders.

All of these leaders, however, are united in their determination to subject their respective populations to surveillance amid rising popular opposition to social cuts, layoffs and war. Already on Thursday evening, discussions took place at the summit to continue the assault on social rights and spending across the continent.

In advance of the summit, Merkel called for an extension of the European fiscal pact, which imposes balanced budgets on all EU members, to other areas of policy. In particular, structural reform of labor markets, spending on state institutions and taxation systems are to fall under EU control, Merkel declared.

The direct dictation of social policy by Brussels—which has already led to a social catastrophe in Ireland, Portugal and Greece—is to be extended to all of Europe.

In return, Merkel indicated that Germany would support moves towards a banking union, which Berlin has so far blocked. No definite decisions were expected on either topic by the summit, but the general direction was clear. In Greece, the EU Commission has just called for a fresh round of social attacks to plug the budget loopholes caused by the bank bailout.

The reactionary nature of the EU was most clear on the refugee issue. Despite the death of nearly 400 refugees off the Italian island of Lampedusa, summit participants rejected any change in the Dublin II agreement, which gives responsibility for refugees to those European countries they first enter. Instead, the summit agreed to a task force to seal off European borders more effectively.

Italian premier Enrico Letta’s demands that other EU states increase their intake of refugees were summarily rejected.

Benefit payments from the US government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, will be slashed drastically on November 1, the first across-the-board cut in food stamp benefits in US history.

The cuts will amount to $5 billion per year, and a total of $11 billion through 2016. The average household of three will receive a benefit cut of $29 a month, or $319 per year.

“The depth and breadth of the SNAP cuts that take effect in November are unprecedented,” wrote Dottie Rosenbaum and Brynne Keith-Jennings of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). “Past cuts have affected specific states or groups, but they have not affected all participants nor been as large as these cuts.”

The CBPP noted, “The cut is equivalent to about 16 meals a month for a family of three based on the cost of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s ‘Thrifty Food Plan.’” Once the cuts go through, SNAP assistance will amount to less than $1.40 per person per meal, according to the CBPP.

One in seven Americans receives food stamp assistance, up from 9 percent of the population in 2008 to nearly 15 percent in 2012. The program helps feed 48 million people, up from 26 million in 2007.

The cuts are the result of the expiration of the 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary increase in food stamp assistance, which neither the Democrats nor Republicans proposed seriously proposed to prevent.

The expiration of the extension was not scheduled to take place till 2015, when SNAP benefits are slated to increase. But congressional Democrats used $14 billion that was set aside for food stamps to fund other legislation. In 2010 the Democrats promised to restore the funding before the aid extension expired.

The Democrats have largely kept silent about the slated cut to food stamp aid, and the White House has made no official mention of the benefit cuts in the past week. The media has likewise blacked out the issue, with neither the New York Times, Washington Post or Wall Street Journal carrying stories on the scheduled cut to food stamp aid during the same period.

Over 80 percent of SNAP benefits go to households with incomes below the federal poverty line, an abysmally low $19,530 annually for a family of three, and 40 percent of recipients live in deep poverty, defined as below $9,765 annually for a family of three.

The share of food stamp recipients who are working has risen significantly. Nearly one third of SNAP recipients were working in 2010, up from less than 20 percent two decades before. Of those who do not work, the vast majority are disabled, elderly or under age. The number of people who receive food stamps will continue to rise through 2014, according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, three quarters of households who receive SNAP benefits “included a child, a person age 60 or older, or a disabled person.”

The typical household receiving SNAP had an income of $731 per month, or about $8,800 per year, not counting SNAP benefits, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The average SNAP payment per household that year was $287, or $4.30 per person per day.

Over 21 million children—more than 1 in 4—live in a household that receives SNAP benefits, according to the CBPP report, and nine million people with disabilities receive SNAP benefits.

The Democratic and Republican parties are planning even more draconian cuts to SNAP. The Democratic budget passed in the Senate earlier this year cuts over $4 billion from the program, and the Republican House of Representatives voted last month to cut nearly $40 billion from SNAP over ten years.

The Republican proposal would force adults between 18 and 50 to either work or attend work training in order to reapply for benefits, and would also institute drug testing for recipients. If the Republican proposal were accepted, it would cut 3.8 million people off the program in 2014.

The Democrats and Republicans this week entered conference committee negotiations over the food stamp bill, with the result likely to be some halfway house between the Democratic and Republican proposals. Whatever agreement is worked out will entail billions of dollars in additional cuts, taking the benefit reductions to be implemented next month as a starting point.

Food stamp usage has continued to swell even as the official unemployment rate has gone down because wages have fallen sharply, with the real incomes of the bottom 40 percent of income earners falling 6 percent between 2009 and 2012.

The cuts to food stamps are taking place amid other massive attacks on the living conditions of working people. The federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides extended unemployment benefits beyond the 26-week cutoff for most state unemployment assistance programs, is scheduled to expire in December.

In the aftermath of the government shutdown, the Obama administration and Congress are moving to slash hundreds of billions more from basic social programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

These vital programs are being cut even as the super-rich continue to grow ever wealthier. The top ten highest-paid CEOs in the United States each received more than $100 million in 2012, according to a survey by GMI Ratings released this week. Two chief executives—Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Kinder of energy firm Kinder Morgan—each received over $1 billion, and the combined pay of the top ten CEOs was $4.7 billion.

A  partnership between police departments and social media sites discussed at a convention in Philadelphia this week could allow law enforcement to keep anything deemed criminal off the Internet—and even stop people from organizing protests.

A high-ranking official from the Chicago Police Department told attendees at a law enforcement conference on Monday that his agency has been working with a security chief at Facebook to block certain users from the site “if it is determined they have posted what is deemed criminal content,” reports Kenneth Lipp, an independent journalist who attended the lecture.

Lipp reported throughout the week from the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference, and now says that a speaker during one of the presentations suggested that a relationship exists between law enforcement and social media that that could be considered a form of censorship.

According to Lipp, the unnamed CPD officer said specifically that his agency was working with Facebook to block users’ by their individual account, IP address or device, such as a cell phone or computer.

Elsewhere at the conference, Lipp said law enforcement agencies discussed new social media tools that could be implemented to aid in crime-fighting, but at the price of potentially costing citizens their freedom.

“Increasingly in discussion in workshops held by and for top police executives from throughout the world (mostly US, Canada and the United Kingdom, with others like Nigeria among a total of 13,000 representatives of the law enforcement community in town for the event),  and widely available from vendors, were technologies and department policies that allow agencies to block content, users and even devices – for example, ‘Geofencing’ software that allows departments to block service to a specified device when the device leaves an established virtual geographic perimeter,” Lipp wrote. “The capability is a basic function of advanced mobile technologies like smartphones, ‘OnStar’ type features that link drivers through GIS to central assistance centers, and automated infrastructure and other hardware including unmanned aerial systems that must ‘sense and respond.’”

Apple, the maker of the highly popular iPhone, applied for a patent last year which allows a third-party to compromise a wireless device and change its functionality, “such as upon the occurrence of a certain event.”

Bloggers at the website PrivacySOS.org acknowledged that former federal prosecutor-turned-Facebook security chief Joe Sullivan was scheduled to speak during the conference at a panel entitled “Helping Law Enforcement Respond to Mass Gatherings Spurred by Social Media,” and suggested that agencies could be partnering with tech companies to keep users of certain services for communicating and planning protests and other types of demonstrations. A 2011 Bloomberg report revealed that Creativity Software, a UK based company with international clients, had sold geofencing programs to law enforcement in Iran which was then used to track political dissidents. US Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) told Bloomberg that those companies should be condemned for being complicit in human rights abuses. And while this week’s convention in Philadelphia was for law enforcement agencies around the globe, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see American companies adopt similar systems.

“Is Facebook really working with the police to create a kill switch to stop activists from using the website to mobilize support for political demonstrations?” the PrivacySOS blog asked. “How would such a switch function? Would Facebook, which reportedly hands over our data to government agencies at no cost, block users from posting on its website simply because the police ask them to? The company has been criticized before for blocking environmentalist and anti-GMO activists from posting, but Facebook said those were mistakes. Let’s hope this is a misunderstanding, too.”

Lipp has since pointed to a recent article in Governing magazine in which it was reported that the Chicago Police Department is using “network analysis” tools to identify persons of interest on social media.

“95.9 percent of law enforcement agencies use social media, 86.1 percent for investigative purposes,” Lipp quoted from the head of the social media group for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Who Killed Michael Hastings?

October 26th, 2013 by Global Research News

Early in the morning on June 18, a brand new Mercedes C250 coupe was driving through the Melrose intersection on Highland Avenue in Hollywood when suddenly, out of nowhere, it sped up. According to an eye-witness, the car accelerated rapidly, bounced several times then fishtailed out of control before it slammed into a palm tree and burst into flames, ejecting its engine some 200 feet away.

A witness, Jose Rubalcalva, whose house stood adjacent to the crash, told Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks news network that no one could approach the burning car because it kept exploding. In a simulated full-frontal crash of a 2013 C250 coupe, the car doesn’t explode on impact nor does it launch its engine 200 feet.

In fact, said Nael Issa, a Mercedes Benz dealer in Long Beach, “The car has a crumble zone, so when it crashes it goes in like an accordion. And in some cases the engine drops down, so it doesn’t go into you.”

The driver in the fatal crash was Michael Hastings, a 33-year-old crack investigative reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, whose June 2010 article, “The Runaway General,” exposed the behind-the-scenes failure of top U.S. General Stanley McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan—and, even more damagingly, revealed McChrystal’s mocking attitude toward the Obama administration, which ultimately led to the general’s resignation.

Four months after Hastings’s so-called accident, and despite scant coverage in the mainstream media, new facts and evidence continue to emerge raising serious unanswered questions about whether the journalist was assassinated, the breadth of unconventional cyber-techniques that may have been used, and who might have been responsible.

Threats, Fears and Lies

Hastings’s pivotal article for Rolling Stone actually went beyond revealing Gen. McChrystal’s flawed leadership of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and his scorn for the Commander-in-Chief. In addition it drew on McChrystal’s former role as the commander of Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, a covert elite unit whose kill operations are routinely unaccountable to government, resulting in scores of civilian deaths by U.S. hands in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere that have gone unexamined and unpunished. (JSOC’s activities feature prominently in the book “Dirty Wars” by investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, which was subsequently made into an award-winning film that premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Hastings continued to report stories that illuminated the darker side of U.S. military actions, including an investigation into the Army’s deployment of psyops, or psychological operations, on U.S. senators visiting combat zones in order to secure more war funding.

In Hastings’s 2012 book, “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan,” Hastings wrote about being approached by one of Gen. McChrystal’s aides. “We’ll hunt you down and kill you if we don’t like what you write,” said the unnamed aide, who afterwards apologized to Hastings for his remarks.

Hastings later wrote, “I wasn’t disturbed by the claim. Whenever I’d been reporting around groups of dudes whose job it was to kill people, one of them would usually mention that they were going to kill me.”

But never did those fears escalate the way they did during the final days and moments of Hastings’s life.

L.A. Weekly interviewed Hastings’s neighbor, Jordanna Thigpen, who said Hastings was convinced that he was a target of surveillance after reading about the Department of Justice’s seizure of AP phone records in May. He became even more wary, she said, when details about the NSA’s domestic spying programs emerged in early June through former contractor Edward Snowden.

“He was scared, and he wanted to leave town,” Thigpen said.

The story that Hastings was working on at the time of his death centered around CIA Director John Brennan, the chief architect of President Obama’s foreign drone program. It related specifically to Brennan’s role as the administration’s point man tracking investigative journalists and their sources in Washington.

This email from Stratfor, a CIA-connected private security firm whose emails were hacked and released to the public by Wikileaks in February of last year, reveals that Brennan was indeed behind the “witch hunts of investigative journalists.”

The night of his death, Hastings had contacted Wikileaks attorney Jennifer Robinson and sent an email to his colleagues at the news site BuzzFeed, saying he was working on a big story and was “going off the rada[r],” citing fears over federal authorities interviewing his friends. Hastings blind-copied his friend, the Staff Sgt. Joe Biggs, whom Hastings had known from his time embedded in Afghanistan.

According to L.A. Weekly, just hours before the deadly crash Hastings had asked to borrow his neighbor’s Volvo because he suspected his own car’s computer system had been hacked.

The Los Angeles Police Department said repeatedly it suspects no foul play. Questioned after Hastings’s death, the FBI confirmed that the journalist was not under any investigation.

But those statements were directly contradicted in September when redacted FBI documents surfaced following a Freedom of Information Act request by the news network Al Jazeera, which showed that Hastings was in fact under investigation for a story in which he had interviewed a U.S. soldier who had been captured in Afghanistan.

Is This What Cyber-Assassination Looks Like?

In an era of unsanctioned drone warfare—where a man operating a joystick in New Mexico can carry out the remote-controlled assassination of any person worldwide who shows up on the President’s “kill list”—it may not be far-fetched to imagine that similar capabilities, and techniques, are being employed closer to home.

Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism chief under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, told the Huffington Post that Hastings’s crash looked “consistent with a car cyber attack.”

What did he mean? According to Stefan Savage, a computer science professor at the University of California, San Diego, any modern vehicle’s computer system made by any manufacturer can be hacked.

In a phone interview with Occupy.com, Savage described a series of experiments that he and his team conducted, in which they remotely hacked a car’s computer systems. “If you’re talking about where people have arbitrary control of a car, that takes a significant amount of time,” Savage said. “If you want to take it over and break it, that’s less complicated.”

Savage explained that all computers in a car are connected to one another, bridged by one component and compromised by that same component. As a result, he said, “We could listen to conversations in the car, and could take over everything in the drivetrain, like acceleration and brakes, through a cellular network.”

In terms of range and power to manipulate a vehicle remotely, he said, “We found vulnerabilities from 1,000 miles away.”

After the successful experiments were reported, Savage noted a huge response from manufacturers that spurred new innovations in cybersecurity for car computer systems. “They’ve spent millions of dollars on hiring new people, and acknowledged that [cybersecurity] is something they need to take seriously,” he said.

After the fiery crash, Hastings’s charred remains were quickly cremated, but not before the L.A. coroner released a report indicating the journalist had trace amounts of methamphetamine and marijuana in his system. Mainstream media jumped on the angle, eager to dismiss Hastings’s complex backstory in favor of the simpler line: he was another young, talented, but out-of-control drug addict who had tragically ended his own life.

Despite NBC Southern California plainly reporting that the drugs in Hastings’s body were ruled to have had nothing to do with the crash, it didn’t stop the media from smearing Hastings in its coverage.

“When Michael embarrassed [the media] by writing a story about what the military is actually up to, the universal refrain was, ‘How dare you!’” said Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks and a friend of Hastings. “Anytime someone sticks their head up and doesn’t go along, they’re universally despised by the establishment. They were jealous of him, too. The media was not a fan of Michael, at all.”

On a CNN segment broadcast shortly after Gen. McChrystal’s forced resignation, CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan said, “Michael Hastings has never served his country the way McChrystal has.” Hastings’s “Runaway General” article had drawn Pentagon apologists out of the woodwork, who condemned him for breaking what anonymous sources for the Washington Post and ABC News called unspoken journalistic ground rules.

As Uygur further explained: “All the large media conglomerates have some tie to getting contracts from the government. Whether Comcast needed approval for a merger, or GE needed a defense contract, every one of those giant corporations needs something from the government. So it’s become a synergistic environment—Comcast gives the government something, the government gives Comcast something else.

“The implicit message is: Don’t rock the boat, and keep the gravy train coming,” Uygur said.

A Chilling Brand of Outsourcing

In the last four months, amid heightened tensions over government spying and a widening pursuit of whistleblowers, many have speculated that Hastings’s death was the product of a conspiracy involving the CIA, NSA, FBI or other federal agencies. What has been less discussed is the possibility that Hastings was assassinated by private contractors—conceivably the same types who were involved or affiliated with operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, thousands of whom remain active today.

Even after private defense contractors committed gross and punishable offenses overseas, those same firms continue to receive no-bid contracts from the U.S. government with zero accountability for their crimes. KBR’s showers electrocuted troops while their administrators forced gang-rape victims to sign mandatory arbitration agreements that prevented them from suing. Halliburton overcharged the government by tens of millions of dollars. And Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater/Xe, was himself implicated in a murder and has spoken of leading an anti-Muslim crusade through his company.

This infographic shows the alarming amount of money—some $3.3 trillion—spent on private military contractors since 9/11. But what rarely gets discussed, beyond the dollars wasted and the crimes committed by private war-profiteering corporations, is the pervasive, growing sense of domination of these mega-firms in the past decade that have solidified their rule over U.S. military and foreign policy decisions.

The question that Hastings’s unexplained death poses is whether those same private, militarized forces may be bringing the war home as they deploy technology and battlefield-honed tactics to ensure that deeper truths remain unseen — and that nothing threatens the bottom line.

“The government empowers these private individuals and corporations to do almost everything they want,” continued Uygur, “including hiring them to kill people. And you’re going to be surprised when they keep doing that with the same impunity they’ve always had? It’s only a matter of time.”

Hastings was a frequent contributor to The Young Turks, and Uygur said when Hastings moved to Los Angeles, they often talked before and after each show. Uygur said there were a lot of private contractors who didn’t like Hastings.

“At some point,” Uygur suggested, “will they take the law into their own hands, and say, ‘Well, if we were hired to kill people in Iraq and Afghanistan, why not kill them over here?’ Have they done that? I have no idea.”

In Search of the Facts

Just south of the Melrose intersection on Highland Avenue, in Hollywood’s Hancock Park neighborhood, the palm tree where Michael Hastings’s car crashed and exploded in flames in June remains scorched black about 20 feet high. Parts of the car are buried in the base of the tree, where a poster is attached that reads, “THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE” on one line, and “#HASTINGS” on another. A military medal is also pinned to the tree, and these photos taken by a local woman of the Hastings memorial show it at its busiest earlier in the summer.

“His friends and family who know him, everyone says he drives like a grandma, so that right there doesn’t seem like something that he would be doing,” said Hastings’s friend, the Staff Sgt. Joe Biggs, in an interview with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly one week after the crash. “He had a lot of friends and family that cared about him. He had a good life to live. There’s no way he would be acting erratic like that and acting that out of control.”

Hastings’s last article, published on BuzzFeed, exposed Democratic Party leaders including President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin for their support of the same domestic spying programs they had criticized during the Bush years, but which they worked to expand under the Obama administration.

One of Hastings’s most remembered lines is this: “When writing for a mass audience, put a fact in every sentence.” And as facts go, the truth behind Michael Hastings’s death, whether he was intentionally killed and by whom, may be opening a much bigger, broader and more dangerous story than the Americans he was writing for are prepared to face.

Copyright Carl Gibson, Occupy.com, 2013

Four important reports relating to the use of armed drones have been published over the past ten day.  Two official reports by UN Special Rapporteurs examine the legal issues surrounding the use of armed drones.  These were closely followed by a detailed report from Amnesty International on the impact of drones in Pakistan and a related report by Human Rights Watch on the impact of drones in Yemen.  All four are important and worth reading in detail.

Here we focus on the two UN reports, particularly how they relate to the UK use of armed drones. Christof Heyns

Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, states that his report  is aimed at “clarifying the application of [international Law] rules and to reiterate their authority, from the perspective of protection of the right to life.”  In some ways, the 25-page report can be read as a direct challenge to the US use of drones for targeted killing in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.   Heyns challenges, for example,  the US position, most apparent in the leaked DoJ White Paper, of a much broader concept of ‘imminence’ which would mean in effect that no immediate threat is necessary with regard to using lethal force under self-defence rules.  Heyns states:

“The view that mere past involvement in planning attacks is sufficient to render an individual targetable even where there is no evidence of a specific and immediate attack distorts the requirements established in international human rights law.   [Para. 37]

Heyns also argues forcefully that only a State’s highest authority can give permission to another State to use force on its territory and if that permission is withdrawn, such force must cease (see Para. 82-84].  This is clearly a reference to arguments within the US that despite Pakistan Government announcements urging an end to US drone strikes, authority has previously been give or alternatively that secretly, Pakistan continues to give permission for the strikes through the ISI, the Pakistan security service.

Heyns also calls follow-up drone strikes, if aimed at the wounded, rescuers and medical personnel – dubbed  as ‘double-tap’  strikes by the media – war crimes [Para. 73].  There have been reports that US have carried out such strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

However Heyns does not just focus on the US use of drones for targeted killing in Pakistan but also  raises the wider questions about drones and their challenge to international peace and security

“The expansive use of armed drones by the first States to acquire them, if not challenged, can do structural damage to the cornerstones of international security and set precedents that undermine the protection of life across the globe in the longer term.”    [Para. 16]

“Given that drones greatly reduce or eliminate the number of casualties on the side using them, the domestic constraints — political and otherwise — may be less restrictive than with the deployment of other types of armed force. This effect is enhanced by the relative ease with which the details about drone targeting can be withheld from the public eye and the potentially restraining influence of public concern. Such dynamics call for a heightened level of vigilance by the international community concerning the use of drones.”    [Para. 18]

Heyns also challenges, as we have tried to do, the uncritical acceptance that drone are more precise than other weapons [Para. 75].  There is little if any empirical data in the public domain for such claims.  This leads to the main thrust of Heyns’ report – the need for greater transparency on the use of drones – not just from the US but from all States using armed drones.   Heyns says:

“The first step towards securing human rights in this context is transparency about the use of drones.  A lack of appropriate  transparency and accountability concerning the deployment of drones undermines the rule of law and may threaten international security. [Para. 96/7]

Ben Emmerson

The second report, from UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter terrorism, Ben Emmerson,  is an update on his inquiry on behalf of the UN into the use of drones in counter-terrorism operations, launched in January 2013.  The inquiry was originally to be completed in time for the UN General Assembly this month but has taken longer than expected and this is therefore only an interim report with the complete findings now not expected to be presented until 2014.

While originally focusing on  a sample of 25 ‘case studies’ of drone strikes, Emmerson says this has now been expanded to 33 case studies.  This has unfortunately been misreported by several news outlets as the UN having found only 33 drone strikes that have killed civilians.

Like Heyns, Ben Emmerson examines the “principal areas of legal controversy” surrounding the use of armed drones, focusing on when an individual may or may not be targeted and whether the US can be said to be acting in self-defence.

The report also reviews briefly the use of armed drones – and reports of civilian casualties –  in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Somalia and Gaza before examining how States investigate reports of civilian casualties.

Ben Emmerson met with senior MoD officials in Whitehall and the report contains some helpful information about the UK’s use of armed Reaper drones that clearly came from this contact.

With regard to weapon launches from Reapers and possible civilian casualties, the report states:

 “The Ministry [of Defence] has informed the Special Rapporteur that, under operating procedures followed by the United Kingdom in Afghanistan, every remotely piloted aircraft weapons discharge is the subject of internal review involving the senior qualified weapons instructor. A mission report is prepared and is then reviewed by the most senior British officer at the Combined Air Operations Centre in Afghanistan and his or her legal adviser.  This includes a review of video footage and communications reports. If there is any indication of civilian casualties, the incident is referred to the Joint Incident Assessment Team at ISAF, whose personnel are independent of the chain of command involved in any strike. Individuals are presumed to be civilian for this purpose unless it can be established that they were directly involved in immediate attempts or plans to threaten the lives of ISAF personnel. [Para. 49]

Further:

“While Israel has sometimes invoked the principle of proportionality to justify civilian casualties sustained in the course of lethal counterterrorism operations in Gaza, the United Kingdom has specifically informed the Special Rapporteur that in making targeting decisions involving the use of remotely piloted aircraft in Afghanistan it does not authorize strikes on the basis that the infliction of civilian casualties would be proportionate to a high-value military target. It is the policy of the Ministry of Defence that weapons should not be discharged from any aerial platform unless there is a zero expectation of civilian casualties, and that any individual or location should be presumed to be civilian in nature unless there is clear evidence to the contrary.  [Para. 74]

This is helpful to know and one wonders why the MoD has not stated this clearly and succinctly before.

The UK has acknowledged one UK drone strike in which Afghan civilians have been killed, but the government refuses to publish the investigation into the killings.

Like Christof Heyns, Ben Emmerson argues strongly for much greater  transparency around the use of armed drones, especially incidents where there have been reports of harm to civilians  He states:

“Put simply, there is an onus on any State using lethal force to account for civilian casualties…  Subject to redactions on grounds of national security, a full explanation should be made public in each case [of civilian casualties].  In the view of the Special Rapporteur, this obligation ought to be viewed as an inherent part of the State’s legal obligations of accountability under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”   [Para. 45]

Christof Heyns ends his report by urging civil society to “continue and, where possible, expand its assessment and monitoring of the use of drones.”  We, if we may be so bold, in turn thank Mr Heyns and Mr Emmerson for their work and urge them too, to continue to hold States using armed drones to account.

Blood unites Iraqis

October 26th, 2013 by Al Ahram

Despite the violence that continues to rip communities apart across Iraq, civil society organisations are coming together in the search for a better future, writes Nermeen Al-Mufti in Baghdad

Last Sunday, only one day before the Eid Al-Adha holiday, was one of the bloodiest days that Iraq has seen in recent months, with 13 car bombs and many road-side bombs being detonated in the central and southern provinces of the country, killing and wounding dozens of people, among them many women and children.

While the Iraqi security forces announced a code red alert for the Eid, the UN declared September to have been the bloodiest month in Iraq since 2008, with 979 people having been killed across the country.

The violence has been targeting mosques, markets, cafés and schools. The first day of the Eid began with more than 10 people killed and 28 wounded when an IED exploded as worshippers were leaving the Al-Quds mosque in Kirkuk after finishing prayers.

In order to protest against the ongoing violence, Dary for Relief and Medical Care, an NGO, has begun a campaign entitled “To be United through our Blood — Donate to Save your Brother,” the aim of which is not only to provide blood for the country’s blood banks but also to indicate that there are no real sectarian, religious and ethnic differences among Iraqis.

Donating blood is a way of expressing solidarity with the rest of the nation.

A group of young Iraqis have organised the work of the NGO, and though their sects, religions and ethnicities may be known through their names they refuse to answer questions regarding their origins. The only answer they give to such questions is that “we are all Iraqis.”

The first round of the campaign took place in the well-known Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, and these young Iraqis managed to collect 400 donors with the help of a number of activists and volunteers who believe in peace and humanity.

The second round took place in a car park in one of Baghdad’s mixed neighbourhoods, and here too they managed to collect hundreds of donors.

Young activist Ahmed Agha, who volunteered for this noble task, said that “the purpose of the campaign is to provide a reserve blood supply for hospitals in Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.”

He added that Iraqis were being targeted every day by terrorism, thousands were dying or being injured every month, and that every effort should be made to help the victims of terrorism and to spread the spirit of citizenship among Iraqis.

The idea began three years ago during the bloody sectarian war in the country that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. According to Agha, it was at this time that “we began working on this idea, and though we had to confront many obstacles we eventually found many specialised health workers who supported it.”

Miaad Khudayir Shimmery, then a medical student at Baghdad University and now a doctor, was among the first to support the idea. Agha added that “we worked together for months to set up an NGO that would provide eight health programmes for the poor. Many young Iraqis, both men and women, volunteered to work with us. Our first programme is to provide blood reserves for hospitals suffering from shortages because of the violence.”

“We have been publicising our work through Facebook, Twitter, on public transportation and among our own families, relatives and friends. We now have a list of 400 donors who are ready to donate blood at any time, day and night.”

Dary is financed by membership fees of $20 paid by every member. But despite their commitment, these young Iraqis still face many obstacles, some of them put in their way by the country’s politicians, and they suffer from an absence of governmental support.

To continue their work, Agha said, they need the support of the Iraqi Ministry of Health, the UN and international organisations working in the healthcare field. The group does not accept financial support from political parties because these do not give their support without conditions.

Despite the daily obstacles, Dary activists are proud of their humanitarian work to bring about a present and future Iraq that is not crippled by sectarian and ethnic differences.

Another group of young Iraqis are trying to do their best for the country by uniting the efforts of young Turkmens. Ali Turkmen Bayatli, one of the group’s leaders, is working with a group of other Turkmens to hold a conference in Baghdad.

“We are a group of young Turkmens who are not involved in politics, and we are looking for ways to go beyond the stumbling blocks that are dividing Iraq. We are independent, finance ourselves, and do not intend to repeat the faults committed by the politicians,” he said.

Although these young Turkmens are clear about the work they want to do, some Iraqi politicians, especially those who have gained from the power-sharing established in the country, are against them, thinking that they have their eyes on the March 2014 elections.

“We are not after parliamentary or any other political posts,” Bayatli said, adding that “through uniting the efforts of the young Turkmens we can save the future of the community and help protect the unity of Iraq.”

On their Facebook page, these young Turkmens have declared themselves to be against sectarianism and have said that they do not belong to any political party. The organisers are also spending hours explaining the targets of the forthcoming conference.

The Turkmens are the third largest ethnic group in Iraq, they say, and the first to raise the unity of Iraq as a slogan in April 2003. For Bayatli and his colleagues, the forthcoming Turkmen conference in Baghdad will help to show the contribution of young Turkmens in deciding their country’s future.

 Nuclear Reactors Worldwide Vulnerable to Earthquakes and Flooding

A 1-foot hightsunami hit the Fukushima coast today after a 7.3 earthquake struck around 200 miles off the Japanese coast.

Fortunately, there is no report of damage at this time.

Remember that Japanese seismologists warned that Fukushima was vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis long before the 2011 earthquake.  And the giant 2011 earthquake may have “awakened” the fault … increasing the likelihood of other big earthquakes in the region.

It’s not just Japan …

American reactors may be even more vulnerable to flooding and earthquakes than Fukushima. And here.

Outside the reality-distorting bubble of US corporate media, almost nobody believes the Syrian regime are the only ones who have sarin gas in that unhappy country, but the rebels are not included in its inspections protocols or threatened sanctions. And while the Syrian regime gets six months to dispose of all chemical weapons, why does the US need ten years to get rid of its own stockpile?

President Obama still wants his war in Syria. To get him what he wants, the language in the agreement signed by the US and Russia over chemical weapons in Syria is sown with vague terms having multiple and contradictory definitions and nearly un-meetable conditions, all presented in a framework of blatant lies.

The language in the framework agreement says the Syrians must hand over not just their chemical weapons, but all “delivery systems” for such weapons. Is this a reasonable condition in an era when virtually every artillery piece from mortars on up can be loaded with chemical weapons? Is the Syrian army supposed to strip itself down to rifles and small arms to somehow prove a negative – something they will no more be able to do than Saddam Hussein could?

Most glaringly of all, there are pockets of Syria under control of the so-called rebels, many of them mercenary jihadists, armed, supplied and financed by the US, the Saudis, the Turks and the Israelis. Syria’s rebels are widely believed to possess their own stocks of chemical weapons, and since they are losing the war, they have an urgent need to provoke the US into heavier involvement to rescue them from defeat by the Syrian regime. The rebels have not signed this agreement, or even been asked to.

Who will inspect the rebel zones and what, if any, sanctions will be applied if they do not surrender any chemical weapons in their possession? While the US says its clients are only the victims of chemical weapons, not their users, its evidence remains classified, with even US intelligence officials admitting that it’s “no slam dunk.”

The Russians on the other hand claim the Syrian rebels used sarin gas against civilians back in March 2013, apparently trying to provoke US intervention. Russia submitted a 100 page report, far more detailed than the sketchy American allegations, detailing their findings back in July, and asked the UN to follow up. By the time poison gas was used again in late August, UN inspection teams were already in Damascus awaiting the arrival of their supervisors so that inspections of the areas where gas was used months earlier, allegedly by the rebels, could begin. This is why much of the world believes the Assad regime is quite unlikely to have used chemical weapons, with UN inspections teams only a few miles away.

As for weaving a context of lies to justify an eventual war, vice president Joe Biden repeated just yesterday the ridiculous claim that Syria had the largest stock of chemical weapons in the world. Amazingly no major US media corrected him, and US media reports falsely claim that UN findings implicate the Syrian government. There’s a global treaty for the abolition of chemical weapons, under which the US is obliged to destroy its own chemical weapons. But the Pentagon says this will take 10 years, despite the existence of mobile units which are supposed to the job in Syria in a mere six months. Maybe after the mobile units finish up in Syria, the UN can send them here. We should hold our breaths till that happens.

The danger of war is not yet averted, and the agreement as it exists may yet give President Obama the excuse he needs to drop his bombs.

Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and is a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green party. Contact him via this site’s contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

Gold Wars

October 25th, 2013 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

I do not know what role facts, evidence, or a desire to know the truth any longer play in American lives. This article  confirms my experience as a scholar, journalist, public policy maker, and corporate director.  The vast majority of people believe what they want to believe. Facts and evidence have little to do with it. People believe what serves their hopes and self-interests as they perceive their interests (often incorrectly) and what validates their emotional commitments. A select few can think independently, but their voices are usually drowned out.

To help those who are capable of independent thought, I am posting with permission the Introduction to a new book, GOLD WARS by Kelly Mitchell, from Clarity Press.

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

I encourage you to order this book and to study it. American institutions are so corrupted that no leadership can rise from the political parties, media, corporations, or universities. We are on a many-faceted course of destruction. Leadership will have to come from non-traditional sources. Perhaps those who can think independently can produce the needed leadership.

The economics profession, Wall Street, and the financial media are committed to maintaining the status quo. There is no independent thought there. The voices maintaining the Matrix in which we live are far more numerous and loud than my voice and the voices of Michael Hudson, Herman Daly, John Williams (shadowstats.com), Mike Whitney, Nomi Prins, Pam Martens, Matt Taibbi, Gerald Celente, Dave Kranzler and the few others who endeavor to break people free of the false consciousness that blinds them to reality. “Free market” economists pretend that financial markets are efficient and do not need to be regulated. Kelly Mitchell shows us that financial markets are manipulated and serve narrow private interests at the expense of society.

Paul Craig Robert


 

Gold Wars

by Kelly Mitchell

published by Clarity Press

Introduction

Clarity Press

The world will soon wake up to the reality that everyone is broke and can collect nothing from the bankrupt, who are owed unlimited amounts by the insolvent, who are attempting to make late payments on a bank holiday in the wrong country, with an unacceptable currency, against defaulted collateral, of which nobody is sure who holds title – anonymous

At opening bell of April 30, 2012, an anonymous player sold short $1.24 billion worth of gold. At three quarters of a million ounces, the sale slammed through over 1000 bids, up to 8400 ounces apiece in a fraction of a second. Even the Wall Street Journal ran an article on manipulation – the dump exceeded an entire average day’s trading. The perpetrator broke the law and took rapid losses of $75 million as the gold price reasserted itself in a few hours.

The WSJ failed to note that these contracts were not longs liquidating, but naked shorts – a party selling gold they did not have. These are done without posting margin. The activity is blatantly illegal.

Nonetheless, sells of this type (though not this size) are fairly common. Many occur in a thinly traded period of the day – 3am – making it doubly suspect from a profit point of view. Without multiple buy orders to hold up the price, the seller gets less and less money with each bid filled. No trader would do this for profit – if they were seeking a profit, they would have parceled it out over a period to avoid dropping the price.

The Fat Finger has been offered as an explanation. A trader could have keyed in an extra zero after the number of contracts. While this is possible, it’s highly unlikely that a sophisticated trader or trading system would have no safeguards against hundred million dollar losses because of a single accidental keystroke. The accident theory is implausible. The move more or less screams manipulation. Somebody controlling a lot of money wanted to slam the price of gold and could afford to take a sizeable loss. But why do it?

One potential seller works at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). Mikael Charozé’s bio at the BIS listed “interventions [and]… proprietary positions on all currencies including gold,” until the Zerohedge website posted it. A few days later, those parts of his job description had been removed from the BIS site. It cannot be proved, of course, because everything lies under layers of what seems to be intentional confusion. And central banks have a wall of silent policy against any criticism, especially from the people they claim to serve. It’s all part of the gold wars.

The logic is simple enough from the bird’s eye view. A swiftly rising gold price reveals the mismanagement of the currency, like the expiring canary in the mine. Therefore it is suppressed surreptitiously. Because paper currencies rely totally on faith, central bankers take it as part of their duty to manage that faith and maintain confidence in the currency. If gold shot up to $10,000, world banks and investors would become very, very concerned about their dollar holdings. Most other items are openly managed – food and oil prices (through subsidies and reserves), inflation, inflation perception, interest rates, money supply and financial risk. Those who question the manipulation of gold should be asking the polar opposite question: why wouldn’t it be manipulated? It’s the key metric of faith-based currencies. Managing the gold price is a central banker’s job.

The gold wars are the cornerstone of a much larger overall context – currency, trade and actual wars. As part of the gold wars presentation, it’s important to establish that the financial system is secretive, corrupt and highly beneficial to a few. In short, it’s rigged. To prove this contention, it’s necessary to establish motive, means, and escape. The motive here is to preserve a failing system, the means is control of regulators, and escape from public detection is through control of public perception – the cover-up. People never know what really happened. The MF Global fiasco and other financial crimes that we will explore are an easy way to prove corruption and elite benefit. The Petrodollar/ global reserve currency system and its stunning hegemony over world politics is the principal motive. The primary means is by control of the currency. The secondary means include repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, emplacement of corporate execs into regulatory bodies, the entrenchment of too big to fail notions and policies, and countless other methods. The escape vehicles include the loss of independent media, consolidation of media into a few companies, ignoring the public, foot- dragging investigations, obfuscation, ridicule of opposition, and secrecy by claiming national security interests. These are among the topics to be covered.

The diminishing marginal productivity of debt in the US is scary. Around 1965, the debt to GDP ratio crossed 1:1. Before then, a dollar of debt created at least a dollar of GDP increase. That’s sustainable. Since then, the long-term chart is vicious and steadily downward. In 2010, it crossed the zero bound – more debt created no GDP increase. It’s actually been forced to occur sooner because of the enormous extent of monetary creation since 2008. The sharp jag below zero is clear and striking. Debt saturation is in full swing. Incomes have not kept pace – they can no longer service the debt. It’s tough to say what happens now, but probably (and strangely) new debt will contract GDP. As the zero bound is more clearly left behind, economic dislocations become more and more violent. Volatility goes haywire. The debt creation becomes a black hole. As this book shows, we’re already there.

The central economic problem in the world today is debt saturation. This is a direct offshoot of the current monetary system – fractional reserve banking. The public has almost no understanding of how money is created and that’s extremely unfortunate. “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system,” Henry Ford said. “For if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” Money, in today’s world, is created from debt. All money is created when a bank loans it into existence. It is extinguished when the loan is paid off, but sufficient money to also pay the interest (bank profit) is not created. Consequently, there is always much more debt than money to pay it – scarcity is built in to the system. Numerous problems result, some obvious, some not. We will explore this strange system in much greater detail, but one salient fact is most disturbing. It requires perpetual growth at an increasing rate to sustain the system without implosion because of the inbuilt shortages of money. It inevitably leads to a debt crisis, as Ludwig von Mises postulated six decades ago. He called it a systemic crack-up – a global reset. Leaders have greatly increased sovereign debt in response, but the solution to debt is not more debt. It is default. What cannot go on forever not only must but will end.

In the past, money was directly issued and backed by precious metals. Or it was coinage. This required no debt and no perpetual growth. It was stable. Gold systems are not perfect – no system is. However, they have proved far more durable and self-sustaining than debt based money. True gold standard economies do not need to be centrally planned – they have built in self-corrections to prevent modern excesses. Central bankers express great disdain for such systems publicly because they prevent excesses. Gold is the mortal enemy of modern money.

Without the gold anchor, the world economy has become seriously unbalanced. Greek one-year debt hit a high of 140% interest in 2011. Under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, the 2011 US deficit exceeds $5 trillion – far more than the government-accounted $1.5 trillion. The entire US obligations would be $60 to $200 trillion, depending on who did the estimating. The total of accounted for derivatives is $600 trillion by BIS measures and undisclosed bets might easily double that total to over a quadrillion – twenty times the world’s economy. Central bank balance sheets are bleeding red from buying worthless paper to prop up failing banks. Financial giants are leveraged at many times their reserve assets, making them insolvent in even a slight downdraft. The Federal Reserve has issued $23 trillion in zero interest loans since 2008. Something is seriously wrong. The global economic system is dying and the illness is being hidden from view.

Trust is one of the great missing elements of today’s system. That lack is a primary reason that precious metals will continue to steepen in demand –they alone require no trust. There are many components of trust necessary for a strongly functioning economic system. Virtually all of these components are now AWOL. A citizenry must believe that its leadership has their best interests at heart, even if the actions taken are less than perfect. If the leaders are seen not as flawed, but as corrupt, deeply self-interested, or worse, tyrannical, then many decades of trust will evaporate in a few years. We are close to that point.

Likewise, the citizens must believe the banks are functional utilities serving a basic societal need rather than profit-driven entities focused on investment and returns. Today, most people think that banks are wildly speculative enterprises, risking the nation’s very health. The truth is less important than the perception. Some make the case that in actuality leadership and finance have been utterly self-interested for a very long time and have simply managed to disguise that fact from the public through skillful and extensive PR. Because the increasing systemic strains are making it impossible to paper over, the truth is emerging. The evidence of long-scale deception is an interesting topic we will address.

One very strange lacuna in our civilization is the lack of monetary knowledge. In a well-educated system which prides itself on fundamental capitalist values, a knowledge of money would seem to be de rigeur. America lives and breathes money: it “makes the world go ’round.” Yet mysteriously, almost no one understands this most basic and essential fact of our lives. What is money? Where does it come from? The old saw that money does not grow on trees is no longer true – money is paper. Gold has been de-monitized. It is less than paper in the case of electronic money – it is just a number in a computer.

Why the ignorance? It seems fair to blame the educational system. According to John Taylor Gatto, the missing substance is deliberate. Gatto, named Teacher of the Year, the highest honor in education, condemned the system in his acceptance speech. He roundly criticized it for deliberate mal- education of the entire population. The Department of Education was more or less designed by large private endowments. Big capital, Gatto claimed, wants a society of citizens poorly informed about many things, especially money creation and its link to their exploitation and manipulation. Citizens are kept more compliant due to their ignorance and far less willing to question the system of big capital presently in place, or who benefits. This is breeding a society of workers, not entrepreneurs capable of innovative and nimble planning, whether on a micro scale suited to meager resources, or larger. We have a system of unbridled paper money creation, a citizenry totally ignorant of its mechanics, and a deliberate veiling of the powers that actually control it. If money is power, then the government-given authority to create it affords the exponential manifestation of that power. Keeping citizens uninformed safeguards the power holders from revolution – or at least, revolution directed at them. Cattle are easy to control.

The deeper implications of these facts are frightening when fully understood, and history bears this out many times over. Governments with too much centralized power – whether from misguided public trust or harsh repression – inevitably abuse the privilege of unbacked currencies. We’ll get into some instances in the hyperinflation section. The warfare/welfare state is as old as repressive government. Rome achieved citizen compliance through a system of public dole and extravaganzas, featuring slaughter of undesirables; historians called it ‘bread and circuses.’ Politicians buy loyalty or enforce obedience. Both are extraordinarily expensive, beyond a sound currency’s ability to support. Paper (or digital) currencies permit terrible abuses, including unrestrained war, and tyranny because there is no check on spending (or rather, printing.) The current system is out of all control. Black Swan events are causing bouts of alternating debt deflation and the policy response of firehose monetary inflation. The real economy is being destroyed by the far larger speculative economy. Short term solutions are only making the long-term problems worse.

There is now a tremendous amount of confusion, complexity, and uncertainty in the financial system. It might even be described as chaos. New terms are emerging – debt holocaust, Europocalypse, and financial Armageddon. Phrases such as “uncharted territory,” “never before seen conditions,” seem to be popping up all over the net and even in the mainstream. No one fully comprehends the depth and breadth of the issues – it’s too vast. Therefore no one can create a real solution to save the existing mechanisms. Indeed, no solution may be possible. The reset button has been hit before – four times in the twentieth century. But this time the problems are much larger and aggravated by real resource constraints. The planet is tapped out. Growth is at its maximum. The wall is right in front of us and we are flying towards it at full speed. The system may somehow muddle through, but fools ignore these problems at their peril. In such situations, vast wealth has a historical tendency to disappear. That’s because this paper-based wealth is largely illusory.

Some wealth denominators, like derivatives, are far more insubstantial than others, like the value of precious metals. Derivatives require trust in the system and the organizations holding the other end of the contracts. The system must hold fast the value of the currency, the other party must honor the letter and intent of a complex contract, a regulatory agency might be needed to enforce it, that agency must not be compromised, and the other institution must have both the solvency and liquidity to back it up. That’s actually a lot of links requiring trust. It’s been taken for granted – up to now. We will examine recent events that have shaken the system upside down. Hordes of honest investors and deep pockets are jumping out of major markets. They cite manipulation, lack of confidence, and even fear of outright theft.

Precious metals (PMs), held in one’s own possession, require very little trust. Gold is corruption insurance. It has no counterparty obligation. There is no other entity required to uphold the value of PMs – society as a whole is the guarantor of value (though a concern remains re their market manipulation). Metals have retained value for thousands of years – their manipulation is only short-term, and largely unsustainable. Unlike paper, gold never goes to zero. Other than that, the only risk is theft of actual physical holdings – a relatively low risk, especially if holdings are kept secret and are well-secured. In times of massive distrust, fear, and economic corruption, gold and silver become highly valued for many reasons. Systems which seek power and control hate gold. The gold wars are not new. In ancient China, people were put to death for refusing the paper currency and demanding gold. Likewise in 18th Century France. Examples are plentiful and we will cover some very instructive ones.

Nowadays, serious problems, even crises, are popping up more frequently. Fear and suspicion reign. Class war is raising its head. According to Warren Buffet, class war is already ongoing and his class, the wealthy, is winning. That’s because only the wealthy understand the need to pay attention to economics. This failure by the middle class is already destroying it. People who are otherwise well educated have lost their life savings in a puff of rehypothecated smoke. Today’s financial markets are little more than casinos. The long cold trade war between the uneasy great power allies – China and the US – is heating up. It is becoming a currency war. Bank runs are already happening silently (because uncovered by the mainstream media) in southern Europe. The Greek government has failed. Portugal, Spain, and even Italy are teetering on the cliff of default. The derivatives based on their sovereign bonds number in the hundreds of trillions of dollars – they’re like quicksand under the global banking system. Sovereign debt is going parabolic — rising at an ever-increasing rate. Realistic unemployment numbers are approaching Great Depression levels. Tent cities are appearing nationwide. Municipalities are going bankrupt. Bizarre crime is escalating.

States are beginning to rise against the Federal government. Federal laws like Obamacare and NDAA are being rejected by state governments as unconstitutional. Some even declare a right and intent to arrest federal agents enforcing unconstitutional laws. Ron Paul made a serious run at the presidency by bucking the establishment. He fathered a groundswell of public outcry to audit the Federal Reserve, even shut it down. Occupy Wall Street became a global movement against the bankers. Particularly targeted is Goldman Sachs, which has or has had former executives as head of the European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada, the NY Fed, the US Treasury, and in line for the Bank of England, as well as serving as unelected prime ministers of Greece and Italy, and as creators of the Euro currency. GSax has a less flattering moniker – the great vampire squid with its tentacles sucking blood from the world economy. The policy of too big to fail has created moral hazard on a scale that threatens the world’s financial system.

The drums of war beat louder every day against the oil-rich Middle East and especially Iran to forestall or divert attention from financial collapse. Bizarre political issues arise, such as birthers questioning Obama’s natural born citizenship status and claiming he is thereby an unconstitutional president. Meanwhile, the executive branch conducts wars without Congressional approval, burdening the nation with out-of-control debt. The world grows increasingly skeptical of US good intentions and perhaps more worrying for its leadership, of its capacity to enforce its will, leading to increasingly open hostility towards the United States. No one trusts anyone anymore. Amidst these situations, the idea of the world economy erupting in flames appears not only more and more possible. To those paying attention, it’s already happening.

And here is former Goldman Sachs executive Pam Martens on the impunity of the financial gangsters:

http://wallstreetonparade.com/2013/09/jpmorgan-found-to-have-violated-both-banking-and-securities-laws-in-920-million-settlement/

I am always amazed at how much time and energy is spent by those of European decent discussing “Africa’s development”. Birgit Brock-Utne, an astute European educator of Norwegian origin, wrote the following in her book[1] about those who insist on preaching to Africa about development:

 “… when Europeans came to Africa toward the turn of the fifteenth century, they found a prosperous civilization and enormous wealth. Agriculture and cattle rearing, iron-work, pottery, fishery, salt-mining, gold refining and ornament making, weaving, hunting, and long-distance trading were well advanced at a time and Europe was still relatively backward…From the fifteenth century on, however, the fate of the two continents reversed….Africa stagnated for over three centuries as a direct result of slavery and colonial conquests. This part of global history, for the sake of maintaining a correct historical perspective on Africa and Europe, must always be kept in mind when looking at the contemporary African situation…The bulk of the African people fought heroically against the imposition of slavery and colonialism, though there were some Africans who collaborated with the white slave-hunters and colonialists as well…”

History of post-colonial Africa is replete with shameful stories of African collaborators who worked to undermine the progress and development of their own peoples. The West’s “divide and rule” tactics resulted in intractable conflicts, destruction and devastation of Africa, leaving its people at the mercy of the neo-cons and their political and economic systems that have sustained poverty through poverty perpetuating programs. The Structural Adjustment Programs of the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are an example.

So it comes as no surprise when modern day collaborators such as Mo Ibrahim, the British Sudanese entrepreneur, undermine Africa and its leadership, for no other reason than to force African leaders to submit to Western economic and political ideology. Today, Mo Ibrahim tells us that in 2012 and 2013, there was no African leader that qualified for the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

Mo Ibrahim’s views regarding Africans and their leadership is evident in this report from the BBC[2], which said:

  “…Mr Ibrahim says the good governance prize is needed because many leaders of sub-Saharan African countries come from poor backgrounds and are tempted to hang on to power for fear that poverty awaits them when they leave office…”

Afraid of being poor…do European and American presidents also share that fear? 

Moh Ibrahim with Ethiopian cadre Redors Adhanom

Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim selection committee tried to explain why no African leaders was chosen for the prize in 2012 and 2013 when African economies were obviously on the rise and much progress was seen in the development arena. This is what he had to say:

“…The economy has been moving forward relentlessly. However, economic progress does not give us a reason to be a little complacent about participation and the human rights of people…”

For example, western agencies have gone to great lengths to tout Ethiopia’s “economic growth”, but most economists agree that Ethiopia’s economic growth, subsidized by billions of donor funds, is not sustainable, and most importantly, does not translate into the betterment in the lives of the Ethiopian people. Yes, opening up its markets has filled the pockets of the corrupt and lawless minority regime’s cadres and “investors” (private and state), but has been of little or no benefit to the majority of the Ethiopian people, who continue to suffer from disease, hunger and extreme poverty.

The Mo Ibrahim prize seems to be awarded only to those who tow the western line, stick to IMF and WB prescriptions for the development of their nations and most importantly, open up their markets to predatory multi-national corporations and leadership considered to be amenable to the west-systematic emasculation of Africa’s leadership.

Speaking of emasculation…Here is a man, a Moslem man… given the name Mohamed…presumably after the great Prophet Mohamed, but in trying to fit into his British image…he prefers to call himself Mo… I have never heard anyone referring to Jesus as Jessie or Jess…

For today, let us look at how awards, grants and prizes are used to emasculate Africans…

Africa’s Leadership

It was in April 2013 that Africaisacountry.com asked “Can African Heads of States Speak?” It was referring to a photo opportunity at the White House in which several African leaders were paraded in front of a gawking media, while Barack Obama sang their praises. According to the article:

“…These days, well-behaved African heads of state are rewarded by Barack Obama with the chance to meet with him in groups of four and have their picture taken with him. It’s like meeting Beyonce, but you get to call it a state visit. That’s what happened on Friday when Malawi’s Joyce Banda, Senegal’s Macky Sall, Cape Verde’s José Maria Neves and Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma were paraded before the White House press corps, sitting in star-struck silence as Barack reeled off a kind of wikipedia-level roll-call of their accomplishments. They beamed like competition winners. It was all very feudal… You get the sense that they were given a nice White House tote bag, perhaps a signed copy of Dreams from my Father, and were then patted on the head and sent off to inconsequential NGO-led roundtables…”

According to the East African[3]:

“…The meeting was to reward them for their support for US interests in Africa…”

Photo opportunities with the President of the United States and other western leaders, invitation to G7 and G8 meetings, are just a few examples of the rewards for servitude.

The one reward for servitude most employed by the western nations is “invitation to international forums”, and Meles Zenawi was chosen to serve as the “African face” on the Blair Commission for Africa and at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, in which he sold out Africa. Here is an excerpt from a 2009 report from IPS[4] that details Meles Zenawi’s betrayal of Africa:

“…Twenty-four hours of confusion stalled talks in the Africa Group following Zenawi’s joint appeal for a climate deal with French president Sarkozy yesterday. “Ethiopia representing Africa” had agreed on a maximum two degree temperature rise and called on the parties to make a $10 billion dollar start-up fund available, raved the French….what appeared to be an orchestrated move, US president Obama congratulated the Ethiopians on their “leadership”….But Ethiopia didn’t represent Africa’s position at all…”

In 2012, Ethiopians are incensed when Meles Zenawi was invited by Barack Obama to attend the G8 Summit in Camp David.  

No effort was spared to make a “statesman” out of Meles Zenawi, as the darling of the west and awarding him with various prizes was meant to bolster his reputation, and elevate his diminutive stature-both physical and mental-amongst his countrymen and his peers in Africa. Allow me to present a few examples of awards that have baffled the minds, embarrassed and insulted the intelligence of the peoples of Africa in general, and the people of Ethiopia in particular.

In 2002, the World Peace Council[5] awarded to Meles Zenawi, the lawless leaders of the minority regime in Ethiopia, its “top honor prize”. According to the news report at the time:

“…The council unanimously endorsed Meles as winner of the 2002 top honor prize for his contributions to bringing about peace in Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular…The council is awarding Meles for his efforts in the peaceful resolution of the Ethio-Eritrea border dispute, for his commendable work in revitalizing the process of national reconciliation in war-torn Somalia under the auspices of the Organization of African Unity… “

Meles Zenawi was awarded a “peace prize” despite the fact that he launched, with the tacit approval and support of the US Administration, a deadly war of aggression and occupation against Eritrea in which over 120,000 Ethiopians lost their lives as they were used as cannon fodder and minesweepers in his military adventures.

Despite signing the Algiers Agreements, which were witnessed and guaranteed by the US-led international community, the African Union, European Union and the United Nations, Zenawi continued to violate international law, reject the 13 April 2002 final and binding ruling of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC), and dozens of UN Security Council resolutions on the Eritrea Ethiopia border issue. To this day, Ethiopia, with the acquiescence of the US-led international community, refuses to vacate from sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme, the casus belli for the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict.

Meles Zenawi’s regime, at the behest of the United States, also invaded and occupied Somalia in 2006 causing the greatest humanitarian disaster in Somalia’s history. It undermined and orchestrated the dismantling of over 15 Transitional National Governments (TNG) in Somalia and is primarily responsible for the current dire situation in Somalia,which is threatening to Balkanize the Horn of Africa nation. Ethiopia has single handedly disrupted and exacerbated any chance for national reconciliation in Somalia by harboring, financing and supporting various factions to fuel the fratricidal conflicts that continue to rage in Somalia today.

In 2005, in yet another insult to the Ethiopian people, Yara International ASA, a leading Norwegian supplier of mineral fertilizers[6], awarded Meles Zenawi with yet another award. It said the following in its statements about the award:

“…The Yara Foundation Board recognizes Prime Minister Meles’ decisive steps towards increasing food production and reducing poverty in one of the poorest countries of the developing world. He has brought about political change in Ethiopia, and placed the rural poor first in the country’s development strategies…In spite of the fact that about 40% of the population is chronically malnourished, Ethiopia’s food security program aims at enabling 4-5 million chronically food insecure to attain food security within 3-5 years, a major step towards accomplishing the Hunger Millennium Development Goal…”

The facts show that Ethiopia is nowhere near achieving the Millennium Development Goals on eradicating hunger and may in fact be going backwards-yet its leaders are given accolades and awards by western agencies.

So what are the real facts on Ethiopia? Let us take a look at the 2013 World Food Program Report on Ethiopia. It says:

“…Ethiopia remains one of the world’s poorest countries, ranking 174 out of 187 countries on the 2011 UNDP Human Development Index. Twenty-three million people, 29 percent of the population, live below the national poverty line. Eighty-three percent of the population lives in rural areas, mainly the highlands, where 50 percent of the land is degraded… Population pressure, land degradation, poverty, limited non-farm income opportunities, market dysfunction, poor maternal and child care, poor access to social services and HIV remain the main drivers of food insecurity and child malnutrition…”

The WFP report also states the following:

“…44 percent of children under 5 are stunted and 29 percent are underweight, while the prevalence of wasting is 10 percent. Close to 800,000 people are living with HIV, mainly in urban areas, and about 1 million children are orphans having lost their parents due to AIDS. In Ethiopia, under nutrition contributes to 57 percent of deaths of children under 5. Eight million people living in rural areas are chronically food-insecure as they cannot meet their food needs even in years with a good harvest, and several millions are at risk of periodic acute food insecurity …”

Ethiopia under Meles Zenawi expanded the “villagization” and resettlement programs of the previous regime, in which villagers are displaced from their homes and villages to make way for multi-national corporations, in what is being touted as the largest land grab deals in Africa. 

According to a paper by the Oakland Institute, this policy led to the forcible relocation of indigenous communities to villages in the Gambella and Benishangul regions, where they were told they would be taught new techniques to produce food. Their land leased out by the government to multinationals in Saudi Arabia and India. The Institute’s research showed that more than three million hectares of land had been leased out to investors.

Simon Allison, who worked for the Mo Ibrahim Foundation from 2009-2011, writing for the Daily Maverick, said the following:

“…Ghana’s John Atta Mills and Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi could well have been contenders, but the prize is not awarded posthumously…”

What an insult to the people of Ethiopia…Such actions belie Mo Ibrahim’s high and mighty pronouncements about Africa and its leadership…and Ibrahim’s latest forays into Ethiopia and bids for lucrative industries there, says a lot about his motives and that of his sponsors.

By the way, Meles Zenawi was not the only African leader rewarded for his servitude to the West…obviously it took more than this one mercenary leader to bring Africa to the grim state that it is in today…

Intellectuals and Academics for Hire

Intellectuals are not especially well paid and it’s not only monetary compensation that they seek- what they really crave is recognition and adoration…and nobody knows that better than western governments who use academic institutions and hired intellectuals in their domestic and foreign policy formulation and delivery. They also use African intellectuals to advance their foreign policy, especially economic policies and agendas for Africa.

Let us take a look at what George Ayittey, a well known US based African academic, wrote about African academics and intellectuals in a 1996 article[7]:

“…The most painful and treacherous aspect of Africa’s collapse was the wilful and active collaboration by Africa’s own intellectuals, many of whom were highly “educated” with Ph. D.s, and who should have known better. Yet a multitude of them have prostituted themselves, selling off their principles and integrity to partake of the plunder, misrule and repression of the African people…So hordes of politicians, lecturers, professionals, lawyers, and doctors sell themselves off into prostitution and voluntary bondage to serve the dictates of military vagabonds with half their intelligence. And time and time again, after being raped, abused, and defiled, they are tossed out like rubbish — or worse. Yet more intellectual prostitutes stampede to take their places…Vile opportunism, unflappable sycophancy, and trenchant collaboration on the part of Africa’s intellectuals allowed tyranny to become entrenched in Africa. Doe, Mengistu, Mobutu, and other military dictators legitimized and perpetuated their rule by buying off and co-opting Africa’s academics for a pittance…”

A deceptive ploy to undermine African intellectuals and prevent them from standing up for their own nations, or does Ayittey really care about the well being of Africans?

I say it is a rotten case of the pot calling the kettle black…allow me to explain.

You see, George Ayittey is one of the members of the African Oil Policy Initiative Group, a Washington, DC lobby group. On January 2, 2002, a symposium was held to discuss African oil and Ayittey and his group came up with a document entitled “African Oil: A Priority for US National Security and African Development”.

Let us take a look at what the Christian Science Monitor Reported about that symposium and its recommendations:

“… the IASPS hosted a symposium in Houston, Texas, which was attended by government and oil industry representatives. An influential working group called the African Oil Policy Initiative Group (AOPIG) co-chaired by IASPS researchers Barry Schutz and Paul Michael Wihbey, which has been largely responsible for driving American governmental policy concerning west African oil, emerged from the symposium…Today, the African Oil Policy Initiative Group, a lobby group with members from the oil industry and various arms of government, will present a white paper in Washington. The document urges Congress and the Bush administration to encourage greater extraction of oil across Africa, and to declare the Gulf of Guinea “an area of vital interest” to the US…”

What about the politicians, lecturers (like himself), professional, lawyers, journalists and doctors who are today siding with the west to plunder and fleece Africa…are they any less sinful, dangerous to Africa’s development and the welfare of the peoples? Actually, they are not only insidious and ugly; they are far more detrimental to Africa’s long term recovery and reconstruction. Ayittey, has made denigrating African leaders his forte-and the subjects of his books and articles.  No doubt he knows who is buttering his bread….

Using nationals of targeted states to do their bidding is the latest modus operandi for neo-colonialists seeking to get a foot hold in the various regions of the world, and Africa is no exception.

Iraq’s Ahmed Chalabi is an example of such insidious individuals. Barry Lando, in his 17 December 2011 article, “Ahmed Chalabi: the Conning of America”, wrote:

“…Ahmed Chalabi, the brilliant, treacherous, endlessly scheming Iraqi refugee who, from 1991 to 2004, played a singular role in contorting U.S. policy towards Iraq…The book Arrows of the Night(Doubleday), written by 60 Minutes producer Richard Bonin… is a chilling chronicle of how this charismatic and totally amoral Iraqi exile, without any power base among his own people, was, at various times, able to con everyone from the New York Times, to the CIA, to the Defense Department, to Dick Cheney — even Iran’s intelligence chiefs — in his single-minded determination to overthrow Saddam Hussein and take power himself…It is also an alarming tale of how a feckless American president, George W. Bush, buffeted by conflicting counsels of feuding advisers, stumbled into one of the most disastrous military quagmires in America’s history…”

From using Ahmed Chalabi, a hired mercenary to bring down the Saddam Hussein’s, to the colored revolutions in the Balkans, hired mercenaries  of all kinds, have wrecked havoc in the lives of the Afghan, Iraqi, Syrian, Libyan, Tunisian, Egyptian and Somali people.

In addition to mercenary individuals and co-opted regional organizations, the west uses its own national agencies as well as international “NGOs” such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ),  the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and other related organizations, as well as the UN’s tentacle organizations such as the World Food Organization (WFO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), various policy crafting think tanks, foundations etc. to advance foreign policy agendas vis-a-vis Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The last 15 years has exposed Eritrea’s own “Chalabis”, those who work to undermine the people and government of Eritrea in order to advance their own selfish political agendas. Two greedy individuals recruited by the US intelligence community are Bereket Habte Selassie, who according to the archives was recruited as early as in the 1970s[8] and Paulos Tesfagiorgis[9] , who was recruited later, soon after leaving the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) in the late 80s. Both are multiple recipients of funds from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Fund for Peace. In addition to funding for their anti-Eritrea activities in Africa, Europe and the United States, both have been “awarded” with UN assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan. For today, let us take a look at the “awards” and prizes that have been given to Paulos Tesfagiorgis and individuals that he has recruited on behalf of western agencies.

Paulos Tesfagiorgis was also awarded the Rafto Prize[10] in 2003. This was after his recruitment and organization of the Berlin Group, self professed “Academics and Professionals”[11] and the production of the document known as the Berlin Manifesto, in which Tesfagiorgis and Bereket Habte Sellasie launched the first of many attacks on the President of Eritrea and his government. All members of the Berlin Group now work with the minority regime in Ethiopia to recruit and traffic Eritrean youth.  According to the Rafto site, Tesfagiorgis was awarded for:

“…his efforts to improve the rights and democratic influence of the people of Eritrea…”

The people of Eritrea who sacrificed life and limb for their own liberation and independence do not need lessons from such a vile individual. As for democracy, he may have fooled his handlers, but not the conscious people of Eritrean who can teach the world a thing or two about real democracy and freedom.

Let us move on…

Paulo’s Tesfagiorgis and Dan Connell recruited Eritrean students to serve as the “Eritrean faces” in the orchestrated defamation and vilification campaigns against the Eritrean government. The following three are the most prominent examples and their activities in the various Eritrean Diaspora communities are a matter of public record. While there are others that have been employed by these three to advance the anti-Eritrea agenda, for brevity’s sakes, only the three will be addressed in this sitting.

Daniel Rezene Mekonnen (now living in Europe) was one of several hundred Eritrean students sent to South Africa for higher education. Instead of returning to Eritrea and fulfilling his obligations to the country and people that educated him, he chose instead to work for Dan Connell and the US establishment for pittance. He formed the group called Eritrean Movement for Human Rights and Democracy (EMHDR in South Africa.  EMHDR received grants from the US State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the same group that financed Paulos Tesfagiorgis’ treasonous activities in Eritrea. 

EMHDR was paid to translate Gene Sharp’s manual on civil disobedience into Tigrinya, one of the Eritrean languages. In addition, EMHDR was also a recipient of funds from Dan Connell and his NGO, Grassroots International. Connell has been grooming members of the EMHDR who have formed other groups in the Diaspora with the hopes of effectuating regime change in Eritrea. More on Dan Connell, his work during the Eritrean struggle, his tenure in Eritrea and his anti-Eritrea activities will be reserved for another day…

Simon Mebrahtu Weldehaimanot, like Daniel Rezene Mekonnen, and several other members of the EMHDR have been given asylum in the US. Mebrahtu has been active in disseminating anti-Eritrea reports in academic journals and has participated in activities organized by Dan Connell and others at University of Arizona and other academic institutions. He has also worked with Sheila Keetharuth, the newly appointed UN Rapporteur on Eritrea and participated in forums in Ethiopia and other African states in which he has presented papers sponsored by her agency. In 2008, with Sheila Keetharuth at the helm of the IHRDA, with a generous support from the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), Simon M. Weldehaimanot developed and filed a self serving case on the right to free movement, and right of citizens to leave their own country.

Meron Estifanos, a person of interest, at the center of the criminal human trafficking ring that is, responsible for the suffering of Eritrean youth in the Sinai and beyond, is also a member of EMHDR. She is also one of the Eritrean students sent to South Africa for higher education. Estifanos is also now a member of the group calling itself EYSC, whose leaders in the US have been charged with crimes committed against Eritrean Communities in Oakland and other cities. EYSC members are suspected in the burning of three Eritrean Community Centers in Sweden and other hate crimes. Today, with Fr. Mussie Zerai, a Catholic priest hiding behind the walls of the Vatican, Estifanos is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of migrants who attempted to enter Italy thru the island of Lampedusa. Eritreans continue to call on the United Nations and the EU Commission to investigate her activities in the refugee camps of Ethiopia, Sinai and Libya, from where Eritrean youth are trafficked to Europe and beyond.

It’s not just Eritrean youth that have been recruited by Dan Connell and Paulos Tesfagiorgis; there is also a long list of Eritreans posing as “journalists”. Who are they and what became of them? The Eritrean Diaspora was introduced to these “journalists”, not through their works, but when the saga of the “independent press’ in Eritrea came to a head, resulting in the closing of the “independent press”, a little over a year after their establishment.  

Two “journalists”, Milkeas Mehreteab and Semere Taezaz, came to the United States, just days after the September 11 attacks. Supposedly, they made their way to Ethiopia and then to Sudan where they received landing visas for the US.  While in Sudan, they contacted Neil Skene, a journalism professor who was in Eritrea during the Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict. According to him, he was contracted by the US State Department to teach journalism in Eritrea.  

In 2001, shortly after the arrival of the two journalists to the US, the anti-Eritrea media campaigns began with Committee for the Protection of Journalist leading the attack.  Frank Smith, head of CPJ and a colleague of Dan Connell, participated in Eritrean Public Forums (EPF) held in cities across the US. These forums which featured the runaway defectors from Eritrea were also attended by Dan Connell, NED representatives and other US officials. CPJ continues to host such events and is organizing another anti-Eritrea program to coincide with Sheila Keetharuth’s visit and presentation at the UN this week.

Every single journalist that deserted Eritrea somehow found their way to Canada, Europe and the United States. But that is not all. Let us see what has become of Neil Skene’s “journalism students” who managed to leave Eritrea under suspicious conditions:

·         Milkias Mihreteab was awarded the Percy Qoboza Award from the U.S.-based National Association of Black Journalists and also Amnesty International’s 2002 Special Award for Human-Rights Journalism Under Threat. He was issued a US visa in Sudan and brought to the US just weeks after the September 11 attacks.

·         Khaled Abdu, co-founder and former editor in chief of Admas, became a recipient of Human Right Watch’s Hellman/Hammett grant. Now lives in Sweden and is an active member of the group calling itself the EYSC.

·         Aaron Berhane, writer and editor at Setit, now living in Canada is also a recipient of Human Right Watch’s Hellman/Hammett grant. After leaving Eritrea illegally, he smuggled his wife and children and brought them to Canada. Today, he is engaged with Meron Estifanos, Elsa Chyrum and Dan Connell in the trafficking of Eritrea’s youth. He is an active member of EYSC and has conducted seminars and workshops with Dan Connell of Freedom House in Canada and elsewhere. Most notably, he has engaged in the intimidation, harassment and terrorizing of the hard working Eritrean-Canadian Community and defiling their reputation through the local media.

  •  Semere Taezaz Sium, a reporter at Keste Debena was brought to the US and was awarded Human Right Watch’s Hellman/Hammett grant. Lives in the Washington, DC area and still engaged in anti-Eritrea activities, including the intimidation and harassment of the Eritrean Diaspora youth through social networking sites and cyber forums.
  • Biniam Simon was recruited by Reporters Sans Frontiers’ Vincent Laurent and smuggled into France. He now runs Radio Erena, an RSF sponsored outfit. Meron Estifanos also works for this outfit. Like his partners in crime, Simon has been engaged in the trafficking of Eritrea’s youth and uses his radio program to entice and lure gullible young Eritreans into committing crimes against their own people, and endangering their lives through illegal migration.

I have only mentioned the mercenaries from the Horn of Africa that I have followed since 2001…no doubt there are more out there that need to be exposed. For the most part, Eritreans know who they are, but some of those born and raised in the Diaspora do not…it is more so for their benefit that I decided to pen this piece for today…

So…if there are no recipients for the Mo Ibrahim Prize this year, it must be a good sign…it means the people of Africa are becoming more conscious and its leaders are rejecting western prescriptions for their countries. It means they are rejecting the emasculation of the continent and its people…it means hired mercenaries are no longer able to hide behind the cloak of “democracy”, “human rights”, and “Press freedom” to advance illicit political agendas.

Can’t respect others, if one has no self respect…

Notes

[1] Birgit Brock-Utne, Whose Education for All?: The Recolonization of the African Mind (New York: Falmer Press, 2000), 35

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19946106 accessed 10/20/2013

[3] http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/Obama-hosts-leaders-of-four-African-countries/-/2558/1735064/-/uxctl0z/-/index.html accessed 10/20/2013

[4] http://www.ips.org/TV/copenhagen/zenawi-out-on-his-own-in-africa/ 10/20/2013

[5] http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200207/16/eng20020716_99777.shtml accessed 10/20/2013

[6] http://www.yara.com/media/press_releases/1002979/press_release/200507/ethiopian-prime-minister-meles-zenawi-awarded-the-first-african-green-revolution-yara-prize accessed 10/20/2013

[7] http://freeafrica.addr.com/articles/africaselites/NoTearsForAfricasIntellectualProstitutes.html accessed 10/20/2013

[8] http://aad.archives.gov/aad/createpdf?rid=181771&dt=2474&dl=1345 accessed 10/20/2013

[9] http://socialhost05.inmagic.com/Presto/search/SearchResults.aspx?q=KEdyYW50LkNvdW50cnk6KGVyaXRyZWEpKQ==&qcf=MzBFMkQyQkQtRkI0Ny00OEZDLUFCODctNjY4NDJBQ0EzQkZB accessed 10/24/2013

[10]http://www.raftohuset.no/?page=38&show=47#2003 accessed 10/20/2013

[11] http://www.tesfanews.net/badme-a-political-pawn-for-the-eritrean-quislings-league-eql/ accessed 10/20/2013

The film is centered around the organizing efforts of more than 40 families of police brutality victims for a statewide march in Anaheim, Calif., on July 21, 2013–the one-year anniversary of the historic uprising against the Anaheim police after the killing of Manuel Diaz and a subsequent violent attack on neighbors who peacefully objected.

It features footage from significant demonstrations leading up to July 21; the organizing efforts of participants; interviews with families, attorneys, activists and leaders in the police brutality movement; and the powerful July 21 action that shut down the Anaheim police station.

This documentary was made by Los Angeles filmmaker Ben Huff. He also a teacher at the California Institute of the Arts. It was co-filmed and produced by ANSWER activist and organizer Krissana Limlamai.

 This film is an original documentary by Liberation News about the growth of a new, dynamic people’s movement against police brutality.

To order a copy of the DVD or to host a screening, call 323-394-3611 or email [email protected].

 

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‘No Justice, No Peace – California’s Battle Against Police Brutality and Racist Violence’ is an original Liberation News documentary about the growth of a new, dynamic people’s movement against police brutality.
The film is centered around the organizing efforts of more than 40 families of police brutality victims for a statewide march in Anaheim, Calif., on July 21, 2013–the one-year anniversary of the historic uprising against the Anaheim police after the killing of Manuel Diaz and a subsequent violent attack on neighbors who peacefully objected. It features footage from significant demonstrations leading up to July 21; the organizing efforts of participants; interviews with families, attorneys, activists and leaders in the police brutality movement; and the powerful July 21 action that shut-down the Anaheim police station.
This documentary was made by Los Angeles filmmaker Ben Huff. He is also a teacher at the California Institute of the Arts. It was co-filmed and produced by ANSWER activist and organizer Krissana Limlamai.
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What prevails is a well organized camouflage. The public health disaster in Japan, the contamination of water, agricultural land and the food chain, not to mention the broader economic and social implications, have neither been fully acknowledged nor addressed in a comprehensive and meaningful fashion by the Japanese authorities.

The crisis in Japan has been described as “a nuclear war without a war”. In the words of renowned novelist Haruki Murakami:

“This time no one dropped a bomb on us … We set the stage, we committed the crime with our own hands, we are destroying our own lands, and we are destroying our own lives.”

Several Global Research reports and background articles have outlined the dangers of Worldwide radiation resulting from the Fukushima disaster.

This disaster is now being sustained and aggravated by the incompetence of  TEPCO as well as political camouflage by the Abe government.

Fukushima and the Yakuza

There is another dimension: The coordination of the multibillion dollar Fukushima decontamination operation relies on Japan’s organized crime, the Yakusa, which is actively involved in the recruitment of “specialized” personnel for dangerous tasks.

“The complexity of Fukushima contracts and the shortage of workers have played into the hands of the yakuza, Japan’s organized crime syndicates, which have run labor rackets for generations.” (Reuters, October 25, 2013)

The Yakuza labor practices at Fukushima are based on a corrupt system of subcontracting, which does not favor the hiring of competent specialized personnel. It creates an environment of fraud and incompetence, which in the case of Fukushima could have devastating consequences. The subcontracting with organized crime syndicates is a means for major corporations involved in the clean-up to significantly reduce their labor costs.

Fukushima in the wake of the Tsunami, March 2011

This role of Japanese organized  crime also pertains to the removal of the fuel rods from Reactor no. 4. As documented in several GR articles, this undertaking –if mishandled– by careless workers under the lax supervision of corrupt subcontractors (linked to the Yakusa) creates an environment which could potentially lead to a massive radioactive fallout:

An operation with potentially “apocalyptic” consequences is expected to begin in a little over two weeks from now – “as early as November 8″ – at Fukushima’s damaged and sinking Reactor 4, when plant operator TEPCO will attempt to remove over 1300 spent fuel rods holding the radiation equivalent of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs from a spent fuel storage tank perched on the reactor’s upper floor.

 While the Reactor 4 building itself did not suffer a meltdown, it did suffer a hydrogen explosion, is now tipping and sinking and has zero ability to withstand another seismic event.

 To remove the rods, TEPCO has erected a 273-ton mobile crane above the building that will be operated remotely from a separate room….

A recent Reuters report documents in detail the role of Japan’s Yakuza and its insidious relationship to both TEPCO as well as agencies of the Japanese government including the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare:

 Nearly 50 gangs with 1,050 members operate in Fukushima prefecture dominated by three major syndicates – Yamaguchi-gumi, Sumiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai, police say.

Ministries, the companies involved in the decontamination and decommissioning work, and police have set up a task force to eradicate organized crime from the nuclear clean-up project. Police investigators say they cannot crack down on the gang members they track without receiving a complaint. They also rely on major contractors for information.

In a rare prosecution involving a yakuza executive, Yoshinori Arai, a boss in a gang affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai, was convicted of labor law violations. Arai admitted pocketing around $60,000 over two years by skimming a third of wages paid to workers in the disaster zone. In March a judge gave him an eight-month suspended sentence because Arai said he had resigned from the gang and regretted his actions.

Arai was convicted of supplying workers to a site managed by Obayashi, one of Japan’s leading contractors, in Date, a town northwest of the Fukushima plant. Date was in the path of the most concentrated plume of radiation after the disaster.

A police official with knowledge of the investigation said Arai’s case was just “the tip of the iceberg” in terms of organized crime involvement in the clean-up.

A spokesman for Obayashi said the company “did not notice” that one of its subcontractors was getting workers from a gangster.

“In contracts with our subcontractors we have clauses on not cooperating with organized crime,” the spokesman said, adding the company was working with the police and its subcontractors to ensure this sort of violation does not happen again.

In April, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare sanctioned three companies for illegally dispatching workers to Fukushima. One of those, a Nagasaki-based company called Yamato Engineering, sent 510 workers to lay pipe at the nuclear plant in violation of labor laws banning brokers. All three companies were ordered by labor regulators to improve business practices, records show.

In 2009, Yamato Engineering was banned from public works projects because of a police determination that it was “effectively under the control of organized crime,” according to a public notice by the Nagasaki-branch of the land and transport ministry. Yamato Engineering had no immediate comment.

In towns and villages around the plant in Fukushima, thousands of workers wielding industrial hoses, operating mechanical diggers and wearing dosimeters to measure radiation have been deployed to scrub houses and roads, dig up topsoil and strip trees of leaves in an effort to reduce background radiation so that refugees can return home.

Hundreds of small companies have been given contracts for this decontamination work. Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed in the first half of 2013 had broken labor regulations, according to a labor ministry report in July. The ministry’s Fukushima office had received 567 complaints related to working conditions in the decontamination effort in the year to March. It issued 10 warnings. No firm was penalized.

One of the firms that has faced complaints is Denko Keibi, which before the disaster used to supply security guards for construction sites. (Special Report: Help wanted in Fukushima: Low pay, high risks and gangsters, by Antoni Slodkowski and Mari Saito, Reuters, October 25, 2013)

(To Read Reuters article click:

http://ca.reuters.com/article/idCABRE99O04320131025?sp=true

In the face of ceaseless media disinformation pertaining to the dangers of global nuclear radiation, our objective at GR has been to break the media vacuum and raise public awareness, while also pointing to the complicity of  the governments, the media and the nuclear industry.

We call upon our readers to spread the word.

Lawless Drone Killings

October 25th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Two UN reports highlight the problem. More on them below.

Sixteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai is an activist for women’s education, a blogger, and Sakharov Prize winner. She’s a Pakistan National Youth Peace Prize recipient.

She was a 2013 Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Desmond Tutu nominated her for the International Children’s Peace Prize. On October 16, Canada said it plans to grant her honorary citizenship.

Obama invited her to the White House. Perhaps he wishes he hadn’t. She took full advantage. She didn’t hold back. “(D)rone attacks are fueling terrorism” she said.

“Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people.”

Predator drones sanitize killing on the cheap. Remote warrior teams operate computer keyboards and multiple monitors.

They murder by remote control. They target faceless victims. They kill indiscriminately. They do so unaccountably.

Drones are instruments of state terror. Studies show mostly innocent civilians are killed. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

A previous article discussed a joint Stanford University International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic (SU)/New York University School of Law Global Justice Clinic (NYU) report.

It’s titled “Living Under Drones.” The dominant Washington narrative claims drone strikes are precise and effective. Targeted killings “minimi(ze) downsides or collateral impacts,” it says. Doing so makes America safer, it alleges.

False! Drone attacks kill indiscriminately. Mostly noncombatant civilians are affected. “Living Under Drones” exposes what Washington won’t say.

Obama’s a serial liar. He falsely claims drones haven’t “caused a huge number of civilian casualties. They’re targeted, focused at people who are on a list of active terrorists trying to go in and harm Americans.”

Hard evidence proves otherwise. On site investigations and eyewitness testimonies are damning.

According to SU/NYU:

“US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury.”

“Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning.”

“Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities.”

Official statements about drone killings keeping America safe are false. SU/NYU evidence shows at most only 2% of victims are high-value combatants.

Others are mostly innocent civilians. Drone killings fuel resentment. They facilitate anti-American recruitment. Most Pakistanis call America the enemy. So do people in other affected countries.

Professor Christof Heyns co-directs the University of Pretoria’s Institute for International and Comparative Law. He serves as UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.

His September 13-dated UN report is titled “Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.” It omits offender country names. He clearly holds Washington responsible.

“The expansive use of armed drones by the first states to acquire them, if not challenged, can do structural damage to the cornerstones of international security and set precedents that undermine the protection of life across the globe in the longer term,” he said.

“The use of drones by states to exercise essentially a global policing function to counter potential threats presents a danger to the protection of life, because the tools of domestic policing (such as capture) are not available, and the more permissive targeting framework of the laws of war is often used instead.”

On October 25, General Assembly member states will discuss Heyns’ report. It calls for obeying international law. According to Heyns:

“Drones come from the sky but leave the heavy footprint of war on the communities they target.”

“The claims that drones are more precise in targeting cannot be accepted uncritically, not least because terms such as ‘terrorist’ or ‘militant’ are sometimes used to describe people who are in truth protected civilians.”

“Armed drones may fall into the hands of non-state actors and may also be hacked by enemies or other entities.”

“In sum, the number of states with the capacity to use drones is likely to increase significantly in the near future, underscoring the need for greater consensus on the terms of their use.”

Protecting against clear imminent threats to life alone are permissible.

“The view that mere past involvement in planning attacks is sufficient to render an individual targetable, even where there is no evidence of a specific and immediate attack, distorts the requirements established in international human rights law.”

Countries may not consent “to the violation of their obligations under international humanitarian law or international human rights law.”

Reprieve is a UK-based human rights group. It’s legal director Kat Craig said:

“This report rightly states that (America’s) secretive drone war is a danger not only to innocent civilians on the ground but also to international security as a whole.”

“The CIA’s campaign must be brought out of the shadows: we need to see real accountability for the hundreds of civilians who have been killed – and justice for their relatives.”

“Among Reprieve’s clients are young Pakistani children who saw their grandmother killed in front of them. The CIA must not be allowed to continue to smear these people as ‘terrorists.’ “

Ben Emmerson is UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism. His September 18-dated UN report is titled “Promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.”

UN investigations identified dozens of US drone strikes causing civilian deaths and injuries. Doing so clearly violates international law.

Emmerson wants Washington to declassify relevant information. He wants more clarity on America’s drone attacks. His report discusses incidents in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan and Gaza.

“While the fact that civilians have been killed or injured does not necessarily point to a violation of international humanitarian law, it undoubtedly raises issues of accountability and transparency,” he said.

Lack of information about CIA drone strikes creates “an almost insurmountable obstacle to transparency.”

“One consequence is that the United States has to date failed to reveal its own data on the level of civilian casualties inflicted through the use of remotely piloted aircraft in classified operations conducted in Pakistan and elsewhere.”

Obama lied saying “before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.” According to Emmerson:

If international laws are strictly followed, “remotely piloted aircraft (perhaps can) reduc(e) the risk of civilian casualties in armed conflict by significantly improving the situational awareness of military commanders.”

At the same time, “no clear international consensus” exists regarding drones used for targeted killing.

Washington must “further clarify its position on the legal and factual issues.”

It must “declassify, to the maximum extent possible, information relevant to its lethal extraterritorial counter-terrorism operations.”

It must “release its own data on the level of civilian casualties inflicted through the use of remotely piloted aircraft, together with information on the evaluation methodology used.”

It bears repeating. Drones are instruments of state terror. Killing is done extrajudicially. America bears most responsibility.

Obama’s kill list decides who, where and when. Human lives don’t matter. Nor do rule of law principles. Summary judgment means international, constitutional and US statute laws don’t apply.

Francis Boyle calls drone attacks “murders, assassinations, and extrajudicial executions.”

They constitute “a grave violation of international human rights law, the laws of countries where attacks take place, and US domestic law.

Pentagon/CIA drone attacks raise “serious problems of discriminating between civilians and insurgents engaged in armed conflict.”

The disproportionate number of civilians killed “raises the issue of war crimes accountability.”

Large numbers of civilian casualties suggests drones “can never be used in a manner consistent with the laws of war in actual war zones.”

According to Marjorie Cohn:

Unlawful drone strikes “not only undermine the rule of law, (they) prevent the United States from reasonably objecting when other countries (target their own) kill lists.”

“Obama’s ‘War on Al Qaeda has been used as an excuse to assassinate anyone anywhere in the world” on his say.

So-called “signature strikes” mean “bombs are being dropped on unidentified people (in areas) where (alleged) suspicious activity” exists or occurred.

Doing so “goes beyond the illegal practice of ‘targeted killing.’ People are being (indiscriminately) killed without even being an identified target.” Drone attacks violate well-established international law principles.

Former UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston calls targeted killings “intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force (against individuals) not in the physical custody of the perpetrator.”

They constitute grave international law breaches. They’re war crimes. The 1996 US War Crimes Act (WCA) calls them “grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions” committed against people they protect.

WCA applies if either victims or perpetrators (to the highest levels of government) are US nationals or armed forces members.

Penalties call for either life imprisonment or death. America remains unaccountable. Obama’s war on humanity rages. Lawlessness begets more of it.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/lawless-drone-killings/

The NSA not only spied on the leaders of GermanyBrazil and Mexico, but  on at least 35 world leaders.

The Guardian reports:

One unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately “tasked” for monitoring by the NSA.

That’s just one incident we know about.   The NSA also spies on the European Union, the European Parliament,  the G20 summit and other allies.

The NSA asked government agencies to share their Rolodexes, so the NSA would have phone numbers for top foreign political and military leaders.

A confidential government memo admits that the spying didn’t help prevent terrorism:

The memo acknowledges that eavesdropping on the numbers had produced “little reportable intelligence”.

Because the leaders of allies such as Germany, Brazil, Mexico, the EU and G-20 have no ties to Al Qaeda terrorists, the spying was obviously done for other purposes.

The NSA conducts widespread industrial espionage on our allies. That has nothing to do with terrorism, either.

Indeed, there is no evidence that mass surveillance has prevented a single terrorist attack. On the contrary, top counter-terror experts say that mass spying actually hurts U.S. counter-terror efforts(more here and here).

If NSA spying were really focused on terrorism, our allies and companies wouldn’t be fighting back so hard against it.

And even the argument that 9/11 changed everything holds no water.  Spying started before 9/11 … andvarious excuses have been used to spy on Americans over the years.   Even NSA’s industrial espionage has been going on for many decades. And the NSA was already spying on American Senators more than40 years ago.

Governments who spy on their own population always do it to crush dissent. (Why do you think that the NSA is doing exactly the same thing which King George did to the American colonists … which led to the Revolutionary War?)

Of course, if even half of what a NSA whistleblower Russel Tice says – that  (and see this) – then things arereally out of whack.

In comments to European diplomats last weekend, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan confirmed that his country’s decision last Friday not to accept a temporary seat on the UN Security Council was “a message for the US, not the UN.”

Having collaborated closely in the US-led war for regime change in Syria, Saudi Arabia reacted angrily to the Obama administration’s decision to pull back from an imminent missile and air attack on Syria last month. It also has concerns over Washington’s involvement in international talks with Iran, which Riyadh regards as its chief rival in the region.

“A source close to Saudi policy” told Reuters: “Prince Bandar told [European] diplomats that he plans to limit interaction with the US. This happens after the US failed to take any effective action on Syria and Palestine. Relations with the US have been deteriorating for a while, as Saudi feels that the US is growing closer to Iran.”

To date, the Saudi regime has collaborated closely with Washington in arming, training and financing Syrian militias fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Wall Street Journal reported: “Prince Bandar told them [the diplomats] he intends to roll back the partnership with the US in which the CIA and other nations’ security forces have covertly helped to train Syrian rebels to fight Mr Assad.” Saudi Arabia would instead work with other allies, including Jordan and France.

The Reuters source explained: “The shift away from the US is a major one. Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.” He also warned that there would be wide-ranging consequences, including on purchases of US arms and on oil sales.

The longstanding US-Saudi alliance has rested on the assumption that Saudi Arabia would supply oil and purchase American arms in return for a US guarantee of security for the autocratic Saudi monarchy. The Reuters article suggested that Riyadh might also scale back its purchase of US bonds and other dollar-denominated assets. “All options are on the table now, and for sure there will be some impact,” the source said.

Wall Street Journal article pointed to another recent source of Saudi bitterness. When asked by Riyadh for details of US plans to defend Saudi oil production during a US attack on Syria, “Americans told them US ships wouldn’t be able to fully protect the oil region.” Dissatisfied with the response, “the Saudis told the US that they were open to alternatives to their longstanding defence partnership, emphasising that they would look for good weapons at good prices, whatever the source.”

Saudi anger over the US decision to postpone its attack on Syria was confirmed in a speech by former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal in Washington on Tuesday. Speaking to the National Council on US-Arab Relations, he ridiculed a US-Russian deal to eliminate Syrian chemical weapons as “lamentable” and a “charade” designed “not only to give Mr Obama an opportunity to back down [from military strikes], but also help Assad to butcher his people.”

In an interview with Al Monitor, Prince Turki said there was “a high level of disappointment in the US government’s dealings, not just with Palestine, but equally with Syria.” He was also dismissive of US talks with the new Iranian government, saying: “It is up to the Iranians to show that their sweet and sensible talk is going to be translated into action.”

The Saudi regime has been fearful of the consequences for its own rule of the revolutionary eruptions that emerged in 2011 in Tunisia and Egypt. Among its grievances against Washington have been the token US criticisms of its brutal suppression of anti-government protests in Bahrain in 2011 and its failure to prop up Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak. When the Egyptian military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in July, Saudi Arabia, along with Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, promised billions of dollars in aid to the military regime.

The Saudi autocracy, which rests ideologically on the promotion of reactionary Sunni extremism, has fanned sectarian hatreds throughout the region against the influence of Iran’s Shiite clerical regime. Riyadh seized on the US intervention in Syria both as a means for suppressing the emergence of another revolutionary movement and for ousting the Assad regime, which is a key ally of Tehran and is based on the Shiite Alawite sect.

Saudi intelligence has actively supported the right-wing Islamist militias fighting Assad, and may have been involved in staging the August 21 chemical weapon attack near Damascus that provided the US with a pretext for attacking Syria. Now Washington has not only backed away from immediate military strikes, but is in talks with Riyadh’s arch-rival, Tehran.

US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal in Paris on Monday, but the tensions remain. The threat by Saudi intelligence chief Bandar to look elsewhere for arms, oil markets and investment opportunities is an indication of the far-reaching geo-political ramifications of any, even temporary, rapprochement between the US and Iran.

Saudi Arabia is not the only US ally in the region to have registered its displeasure with the Obama administration’s decision to delay an attack on Syria. Turkey has also been intimately involved in US-backed efforts to oust the Assad regime. It hosts a CIA base that coordinates the flow of arms, supplies and Sunni Islamist fighters into northern Syria from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

In early October, Turkey, which is a NATO ally, shocked Washington by announcing that it would purchase a sophisticated FD-2000 air defence missile system from China. To add to the insult, the arms are to be supplied by the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp, which is under US sanctions over its dealings with Iran, North Korea and Syria.

Washington has expressed “serious concern” about the deal, saying that Chinese-made missile system “will not be interoperable with NATO systems.” Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan brushed aside the criticism, however. He declared on Wednesday that, while a final decision is yet to be made, “nobody has the right to overshadow our understanding of [our] independence.”

Like Saudi Arabia, Turkey had been pinning its hopes on a massive US attack on Syria as the means for reversing the military defeats suffered by Al Qaeda-linked opposition militias, and ousting the Assad regime. Turkey remains a key NATO ally, but its decision to buy Chinese arms sends a message to Washington that its support cannot be taken for granted.

Conservative backbencher Julian Smith is leading the calls for the prosecution of the Guardian for publishing documents provided by former US National Security Agency Contractor Edward Snowden revealing mass state surveillance by the United States and Britain.

On Tuesday, Smith was granted a debate in parliament to make his claim that the Guardian should be prosecuted for aiding terrorism and endangering national security. Last week Prime Minister David Cameron urged a parliamentary inquiry into whether the Guardian had broken the law in publicising Snowden’s revelations.

The term “debate” when speaking of Tuesday’s events is a misnomer. Westminster Hall debates, adjacent to parliament’s main chamber, were established in 1999 by the Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair. They were designed to sideline contentious issues and “encourage constructive rather than confrontational debate.” The meetings are just 30 minutes in length, with the MP tabling the debate making a speech and the relevant government minister responding.

MPs wishing to speak have to ask permission of the MP or the minister responding, and there are no votes.

These proscriptions provided the government with the opportunity to make accusations against the Guardian without fear of them being seriously challenged.

Smith began by condemning the Guardian and demanding the police take action. He set the tone by slandering Snowden as a thief. “In the wake of the stolen Snowden files on America’s National Security Agency, it is right and proper that Parliament  debates the balance between national security and freedom of the press, and limits to and oversight of the power of our intelligence services,” he said.

“This debate,” he added, “focuses on a narrower and darker issue: the responsibility of the editors of the Guardian for stepping beyond any reasonable definition of journalism into copying, trafficking and distributing files on British intelligence and GCHQ.”

Smith cited the Terrorism Act and the Official Secrets Act as laws under which the Guardian could be prosecuted, stating that he had requested the Metropolitan Police Commissioner investigate whether the newspaper had breached them. Smith said he also asked the police “to ensure that The Guardian has been asked for a decrypted copy of all files to which it has access, so that we may protect our agents and operations.”

He was supported by Conservative Party MP Julian Lewis, a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee, who said, “If action is not taken, there will be direct results for our national security, now and in the future.”

Both were in turn backed to the hilt by James Brokenshire, Minister for Security at the Home Office, tasked with responding for the government. Brokenshire sits on the National Security Council.

His response amounted to a governmental threat to prosecute the Guardianunless it and the entire media acceded to official state censorship.

Brokenshire stated he would in future be “highlighting” the “huge damage to national security caused by reporting attributed to the highly classified material stolen by Edward Snowden.”

No lie was too big for the government, with Brokenshire claiming that theGuardian’s publications could result in a terrorist event on the scale of September 11, 2001.

“Once an adversary knows if and how we can read their communications, they will change their behaviour. When it was revealed that the US could read Osama Bin Laden’s communications in the late 1990s, we did not hear from him again until September 2001,” he said.

He made no attempt to back up how “national security” had been damaged, saying, “I cannot go into more detail of the damage done and the future damage, but we expect to lose coverage of some very dangerous individuals and groups.”

No opposition MP was allowed to intervene to oppose statements by Smith, Lewis and Brokenshire.

Labour MP David Winnick has voted strongly in favour of many of the anti-democratic laws carried out by the Blair government on the pretext of the “war on terror.” Attempting to speak on a point of order he said, “An orchestrated campaign is being launched against the Guardian to undermine that newspaper and to give the totally false impression that it is giving ammunition to terrorists.”

His point was dismissed by deputy speaker Martin Caton and he was prevented from continuing.

Labour MP Paul Flynn attempted to speak in response to Brokenshire “on a point of order.” This was denied but he managed to say to the deputy speaker, “You are the guardian of the reputation of this debate, and so far it has demeaned Parliament’s reputation, because we have had two speeches that were written and read with no attempt to engage us in debate. This is McCarthyite scaremongering that disgraces Parliament.”

A central aim of Tuesday’s circus was to push forward the government’s aim of bringing into law the previously aborted Communications Data Bill, to allow unhindered state spying on the population and give the government the power to retain data on any citizen without a specific purpose.

Brokenshire stated, “We remain absolutely committed to ensuring that law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the powers they need to protect the public and to ensure national security. Nothing that has been alleged about GCHQ’s capabilities changes that. Communications technologies continue to change, and we need to move with the times.”

In July, as the GCHQ spies oversaw the destruction of the Guardian’s computers, one of them said to its editor Alan Rusbridger, “We can call off the black helicopters.”

Tuesday’s debate was a clear warning that the government, by threats and legal action and by ongoing moves to regulate the media, will stop at nothing to ensure the illegal and criminal activities of its surveillance state. (See: “Main UK parties agree on statutory press control”)

The media has made clear that the government will meet no serious opposition to its plans to impose state censorship. For the most part, Britain’s newspapers and TV channels were silent on Tuesday’s extraordinary proceedings.

The Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Times reported it only in order to echo the government’s slurs. The nominally liberal Independent, who have fully complied with the government’s June 7 Defence Advisory Notice to the media not to report on Snowden’s revelations, did not report it at all.

Thousands of Tunisians have again protested against the Islamist-led government. Despite the PM’s promise to resign, journalist Abayomi Azikiwe believes deeply ingrained political divisions remain.

Abayomi Azikiwe is editor of the Pan-African Newswire, and says that small things could lead to all-out chaos. He mentions two recent political assassinations, but also sees an example of the stepping up of security force attacks on Islamist guerrillas, believing it to be a sign that Tunisia might still be on the way to becoming a military-controlled state.

To view video interview:

http://on.rt.com/n05vpg

Download video (30.97 MB)

RT: The government has started talks with the opposition and new elections are on their way. So why have people taken to the streets again?

Abayomi Azikiwe: There’s a very politically tense situation inside Tunisia. We had today the murder of several police officers as well as civilians. President Marzouki has declared days of mourning in the country.

Tunisia’s been racked over the last several months with two major political assassinations. There’s a total breakdown within the governing structures of the country, between the more moderate Islamists – who dominate the government at this point, and also the secular and left forces who want a stable government. But there seem to be very serious divisions inside this ruling coalition in Tunisia.

 

Tunisian people walk past security forces outside the Interior ministry on Tunis' central Habib Bourguiba Avenue where a demonstration takes place on October 23, 2013 to demand the resignation of Tunisia's Islamist-led government, ahead of a national dialogue aimed at ending months of political deadlock. (AFP Photo / Fethi Belaid)

Tunisian people walk past security forces outside the Interior ministry on Tunis’ central Habib Bourguiba Avenue where a demonstration takes place on October 23, 2013 to demand the resignation of Tunisia’s Islamist-led government, ahead of a national dialogue aimed at ending months of political deadlock. (AFP Photo / Fethi Belaid)

 

RT: Could you outline some steps the country has taken on the road to democracy, and are they in enough to get started in the right direction?

AA: I think it’s a good move that they’ve decided to step down from the current rule; distancing themselves to provide some breathing space for additional political debate, as well as a new national election. However, I believe if the tensions increase… and they’re increasing attacks by the security forces against the Ansa al-Shariya – an Islamic guerrilla organization which has been involved in armed conflict with the security forces in Tunisia – then [those forces] will play a much more involved role in political developments in the country.

RT: Negotiators will have one month to adopt a new constitution, lay out new electoral laws and to establish a timetable for new elections. Do you think we can have confidence that they will accomplish this? And what can we expect from future negotiations?

AA: Hopefully they will be able to reach an agreement to go forward with the coalition government. But at the same time there are still some very deep and protracted differences between the Ennahda party – which is the dominant political force over the last two years, since the first post-Ben Ali elections were held – and some of the more secular organizations on the left. The assassinations of Belaid and Brahimi earlier this year exacerbated political contradictions inside Tunisia. So I think it’s going to be an extremely difficult task, but I think it can be done. But I think it’s going to be a very slow process and if these armed attacks continue then there’s going to be one major obstacle on the way to having free and fair elections as well as open debate.

RT: Do you think the upcoming elections will give the people confidence that there can be a  stable government in a stable Tunisia?

AA: I think they’ve taken the correct step by dissolving the current government, but it remains to be seen whether the various contending political parties in the country are able to have trust among each other and also trust within the political system, so they can move forward on a stable basis, that is the only real solution I see.

 

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

by Andrea Germanos

An operation with potentially “apocalyptic” consequences is expected to begin in a little over two weeks from now – “as early as November 8″ – at Fukushima’s damaged and sinking Reactor 4, when plant operator TEPCO will attempt to remove over 1300 spent fuel rods holding the radiation equivalent of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs from a spent fuel storage tank perched on the reactor’s upper floor.

Fukushima Reactor 4

While the Reactor 4 building itself did not suffer a meltdown, it did suffer a hydrogen explosion, is now tipping and sinking and has zero ability to withstand another seismic event.

The Japan Times explained:

To remove the rods, TEPCO has erected a 273-ton mobile crane above the building that will be operated remotely from a separate room.

[...] spent fuel rods will be pulled from the racks they are stored in and inserted one by one into a heavy steel chamber while the assemblies are still under water. Once the chamber is removed from the pool and lowered to the ground, it will be transported to another pool in an undamaged building on the site for storage.

Under normal circumstances, such an operation would take little more than three months, but TEPCO is hoping to complete the complicated task within fiscal 2014.

A chorus of voices has been sounding alarm over the never-been-done-at-this-scale plan to manually remove the 400 tons of spent fuel by TEPCO, who so far has been responsible for mishap after mishap in the ongoing crisis at the crippled nuclear plant.

Arnie Gundersen, a veteran U.S. nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, warned this summer that “They are going to have difficulty in removing a significant number of the rods,” and said that “To jump to the conclusion that it is going to work just fine is quite a leap of logic.”  Paul Gunter, MD, Director of the Reactor Oversight Project with Takoma Park, Md.-based Beyond Nuclear, also sounded alarm on Thursday, telling Common Dreams in a statement that “Given the uncertainties of the condition and array of the hundreds of tons of nuclear  fuel assemblies, it will be a risky round of highly radioactive pickup sticks.”  Gundersen offered this analogy of the challenging process of removing the spent fuel rods:

If you think of a nuclear fuel rack as a pack of cigarettes, if you pull a cigarette straight up it will come out — but these racks have been distorted. Now when they go to pull the cigarette straight out, it’s going to likely break and release radioactive cesium and other gases, xenon and krypton, into the air. I suspect come November, December, January we’re going to hear that the building’s been evacuated, they’ve broke a fuel rod, the fuel rod is off-gassing. […]

I suspect we’ll have more airborne releases as they try to pull the fuel out. If they pull too hard, they’ll snap the fuel. I think the racks have been distorted, the fuel has overheated — the pool boiled – and the net effect is that it’s likely some of the fuel will be stuck in there for a long, long time.

 

The Japan Times adds:

Removing the fuel rods is a task usually assisted by computers that know their exact location down to the nearest millimeter. Working virtually blind in a highly radioactive environment, there is a risk the crane could drop or damage one of the rods — an accident that would heap even more misery onto the Tohoku region.

As long-time anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman explained, the

Spent fuel rods must be kept cool at all times. If exposed to air, their zirconium alloy cladding will ignite, the rods will burn and huge quantities of radiation will be emitted. Should the rods touch each other, or should they crumble into a big enough pile, an explosion is possible.

“In the worst-case scenario,” RT adds,

the pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and cause an explosion many times worse than in March 2011.

Wasserman says that the plan is so risky it requires a global take-over, an urging Gunter also shared, stating that the “dangerous task should not be left to TEPCO but quickly involve the oversight and management of independent international experts.”

Wasserman told Common Dreams that

The bring-down of the fuel rods from Fukushima Unit 4 may be the most dangerous engineering task ever undertaken.  Every indication is that TEPCO is completely incapable of doing it safely, or of reliably informing the global community as to what’s actually happening.  There is no reason to believe the Japanese government could do much better.  This is a job that should only be undertaken by a dedicated team of the world’s very best scientists and engineers, with access to all the funding that could be needed.

The potential radiation releases in this situation can only be described as apocalyptic.  The cesium alone would match the fallout of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs.  If the job is botched, radiation releases could force the evacuation of all humans from the site, and could cause electronic equipment to fail.  Humankind would be forced to stand helplessly by as billions of curies of deadly radiation pour into the air and the ocean.

As dire as Wasserman’s warning sounds, it is echoed by fallout researcher Christina Consolo, who told RT that the worst case scenario could be “a true apocalypse.” Gunter’s warning was dire as well.

“Time is of the essence as we remain concerned that another earthquake could still topple the damaged reactor building and the nuclear waste storage pond up in its attic,” he continued. “This could literally re-ignite the nuclear accident in the open atmosphere and inflame it into hemispheric proportions,” said Gunter.

Wasserman says that given the gravity of the situation, the eyes of the world should be upon Fukushima:

This is a question that transcends being anti-nuclear.  The fate of the earth is at stake here and the whole world must be watching every move at that site from now on.  With 11,000 fuel rods scattered around the place, as a ceaseless flow of contaminated water poisoning our oceans, our very survival is on the line.

 Now that the latest standoff between the U.S. treasury and Congress is over, it may be helpful to put it in some historical perspective.

Indeed, the outcome brings to mind the former treasury secretary Robert Rubin‘s understanding, when he faced a similar harrowing experience with Congress two decades ago, that the standoff was meant “to oppose us without stopping us.” [Rubin with Obama right]

For the sake of global capitalism, pardner.

One of the things that drove J. Maynard Keynes to distraction during the Bretton Woods negotiations – since he could never be certain when this was being deployed as a bargaining ruse or when it reflected a genuine fear of Congress – was the repeated recourse by his U.S. counterparts to arguments based on what Congress would or would not accept. As volume three of Robert Skidelsky’s marvellous biography of the economist also tells us, Keynes was well aware that it was less treasury secretary Henry Morgenthau’s attempts to appease Congress than a fundamental asymmetry in financial power that ensured that the outcome of the negotiations “reflected the views of the American, not the British, treasury.” Yet even after The Star-Spangled Banner was played at the final banquet on 22 July, 1944, for the delegates from 44 countries, it was only the U.S. treasury’s very elaborate public relations campaigns at home, including a promise that most capital exports would eventually “take place freely,” which ensured that Congress overwhelmingly passed the Bretton Woods Agreements Act.

Flash forward 50 years. By the time Rubin became U.S. treasury secretary, he could not but see himself – as is clear from his memoirs – carrying the main burden of responsibility for superintending a fully liberalized and globalized capitalist financial system. And with the other G7 finance ministers acting as a sort of informal imperial cabinet, it was now obvious to all how wrong it had been to regard the breakdown in the fixed exchange rate system in 1971 as representing the downfall of the dollar and the decline of U.S. hegemony. On the contrary, the integration and securitization of financial markets, alongside the widespread removal of capital controls and derivative-based risk management increasingly resting on U.S. treasury bonds, had made the world ever more dependent on what the U.S. treasury did or did not do.

Taking Centre Stage

But this only made the question of what Congress would or would not accept even more problematic. This was made all too clear in the baptism of fire Rubin went through as soon as he became treasury secretary at the beginning of 1995, as he attempted to cope with a banking crisis in Mexico (until then the poster child of financial and trade liberalization) that threatened to engulf not only Wall Street but the world’s inter-bank payment system. Dealing with what Newt Gingrich as well as the then IMF director Michel Camdessus called “the first crisis of the 21st century” required so large and rapid a bailout as to ensure that the treasury itself rather than the IMF had to take centre stage. Yet despite the treasury quickly mobilizing behind its historically unprecedented $40-billion rescue plan, as well as three former presidents and 17 former secretaries of the departments of state, commerce and the treasury, and also leading state governors such as George W. Bush of Texas, Congress balked.

Notably it was then the Democrats in the House of Representatives who were the main problem, with less than a quarter of them prepared to indicate they would vote for the plan. Although the common maxim inside the treasury was that of Congress “cutting off the water to the fire department when the city is burning down,” Rubin recognized, as he later put it in his memoirs, that “many members of Congress probably meant to oppose us without actually stopping us.” This indeed proved to be the case, as it would again more recently with congressional opposition to the treasury’s $700-billion Tarp (Troubled Asset Relief Programme) bailout to stem the 2008 financial collapse during the Bush administration, and with the debt-ceiling saga faced by the Obama administration in the summer of 2011.

However significant the current configuration of Tea Party hostility to the Obama administration, the continuing conflict between the treasury and Congress reflects a more enduring problem, namely the internal contradiction the American state faces in acting as both the state of U.S. society and the “indispensable” state of global capitalism. How much more straightforward it was for the Westminster parliament in the old British empire to play its part in sharing the imperial burden. Yet what is remarkable in the face of the repeated and even heightened frisson that attends each saga of congressional imperial denial is the continuing centrality of the U.S. dollar and treasury bonds in the global economy; the global determination of the U.S. treasury to play its appointed role in sustaining this; and the acceptance of it by the rest of the world. And this is itself indicative of how deep are the structural factors at play in sustaining the U.S. informal empire – for all of its apparent “dysfunctionality” – at the centre of today’s global capitalism.

Leo Panitch is the Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy at York University, and is the co-author of The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire (Verso, 2012). This article first appeared on the www.theguardian.com website.

Corporate imperial militarism controls U.S. society and wages destructive occupations abroad to serve the capitalist interests of the war-making, armaments manufacturing class whose bombs eradicate human beings for profit.

Externalized racism and depleted uranium radiation warfare smashes the aspirations of target victims in Afghanistan and Iraq, CIA drones slaughter civilians mercilessly in Pakistan, napalm and agent orange used in Vietnam is still effecting children with birth defects, hundreds of thousands in El Salvador and Guatemala miss their disappeared relatives that the U.S. military and CIA trained Latin American dictators and their police constabularies in racist anticommunist doctrine to murder and justify the imperial extraction of natural resources to protect the elite wealthy classes and rich landowner death squads using secret police assassination methods.

The CIA trains murderous guerillas as part of proxy sabotage whenever a government the U.S. imperial corporate war masters don’t like achieves advances in health care and education for their population while simultaneously offering land reform or industrialization beneficial to the population and plentiful jobs. Whether CIA-contra proxy mercenary guerilla insurgent violence against teachers, priests and peasant farmers supporting the Sandinista revolutionary government or NATO massive aerial bombardment of infrastructure and terrorization of the Libyan African population with jihadist barbaric killers, the goal is to undermine systems that are functioning for the majority of people and therefore undermining the control of the U.S imperial wall street armaments manufacturing oil mafia elite.

The U.S. massacre armaments machine didn’t like the Sandinista revolution because El Salvador and Guatemala were stable customers of armaments to terrorize their populations and one leftist regime left standing in the hemisphere perhaps might result in the strengthening of revolutionary upheavals in the neighboring colonies and therefore represented a threat to the sale of counterinsurgency equipment to these nations. Gaddafi’s Libya featured a free health care system, free university, public infrastructure projects for his population and this leader threatened to demand payment of his nations’ oil in gold rather than the dollar.

These nations are seen as targets for obliteration and destruction of the U.S. military corporate war imperial NATO masters who thrive on death and arms sales to profit their personal bank accounts.

The destructive apparatus known as the U.S. war machine builds bases all around the world for the private corporate profit of Halliburton, Kellogg Brown and Root and maintains concentration camps with emaciated prisoners cleared for release at Guantanamo who are being force fed and choked to maintain the profitability of running overseas prison garrisons for the sake of a bloody empire run by the rich.

Lies make money.

Lies are an immensely profitable undertaking.

A lying industry prevails in the United State serving the corporate military war factory interests that enriches the capitalist ruling class. Televisions and armaments factories are running in smooth operating precision as the conditioned masses are left to stare at their leaders who threaten to crash the global financial system and lie about a lack of funds for the civilian government while innocent civilians are blown to smithereens with National Security Agency reconnaissance assisted CIA-military piloted drones from the skies during a shutdown of basic services for the poor.

Mass media deception is a perpetual function of the armaments industry as it uses the avenues of print, electronic television and radio to sell the homicidal lies of the arms merchants who wanted to lay waste to Syria as part of the NATO/U.S. imperialist capitalist destruction of this land with Tomahawk missiles. A study of the mass media on http://public-accountability.org/ reveals that MSNBC, Fox, PBS and CNN television anchors interviewing former Bush national security advisor Stephen Hadley, who made various arguments in favor of a U.S./NATO military attack  against Syria, failed to mention that he is a director of Raytheon which manufactures the Tomahawk missile. Raytheon paid Hadley $128,500 in compensation last year, and he is owner of 11,477 shares of stock in this armaments company, worth $900,000. Out of the four times Hadley’s arguments for U.S. military violence against Syria were featured in mainstream media, including three televised interviews—on Bloomberg TV, Fox News and CNN and once in a Washington Post opinion editorial, media anchor or editorial personnel responsible for identifying a guest experts’ official title only mentioned his position as former national security advisor and nothing about his war profiteering affiliation with Raytheon.

A variety of other guests which appeared on the mainstream corporate networks and advocated for militarized violence against Syria during the attempted run-up for war are affiliated with munitions company or “defense” or intelligence contracting interests. The study shows that 22 different commentators with connections to defense and intelligence contractors or defense related investment firms made 111 appearances as quoted guests, experts on news shows or opinion editorial authors and mass media news personnel made only 13 attempts within the various media outlets to disclose the guest commentators’ connections to the military-intelligence weapons industry. Former Centcom commander Anthony Zinni expressed support for attacking Syria with NATO/U.S weaponry three times on CNN, once on CBS This Morning and in an opinion editorial in the Washington Post and none of the media personnel working in an interviewer or editorial capacity for these outlets mentioned that he is an outside director of BAE Systems, the third largest military services company in the world, based in London.

So much for the mass media serving as a fourth branch of government to check the powerful when reporters at media outlets that reach the vast majority of the population are completely bought off by the armaments industry and reporters who are actually doing their jobs are repeatedly spied on and more whistleblowers are persecuted than any other administration combined under the Espionage act of 1917.

Armament factory military corporate war interests of the U.S. Pentagon war machine cause Pakistani teenagers to commit suicide due to the ever present trauma of assassination squad drones hovering over their land. What does this say about the moral level of the United States when because of a lack of investment in socially uplifting employment prospects, students are now being channeled into this industry tainted with the blood of innocent men, women and children because of the massive influence of the military industrial armaments complex in shaping the educational institutions that are the main determinant in producing the array of occupations, industries goods and services that we call the economy? Newspaper columnists blurt obscenities of internalized racism such as murdering Pakistani children is better from an American standpoint because they could somehow harm U.S. citizens in the future.

How many of these future drone operators will work for humanitarian purposes such as rescuing people during disasters or delivering food to the homeless versus violating the fourth amendment of U.S. citizens with a constitutional right from unreasonable searches and seizures and, worse yet, political assassination of activists deemed criminals by an elite corporate militarized cabal? Perhaps this is an unknown, but we might ask how many of them are affiliated with progressive social causes or anti-racist, ant-imperialist views or know that imperialism is a process by which military empires extract natural resources for corporate profit as is the case with Afghanistan’s lithium as well as geostrategic positioning for oil pipelines and that U.S./NATO/ CIA military attacks against target nations always involve the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians.

Thirty thousand drones will fly over the U.S. by 2020. This war-surveillance machinery is already used in a global assassination campaign that denies both foreigners and U.S. citizens the right of trial before execution. Surveillance drones deny the target freedom from unreasonable searches, seizures and surveillance under the fourth amendment, domestically, not to mention the national sovereignty and lives of the targets of U.S-CIA-military imperial violence including scores of innocent civilians deemed “collateral damage,” or worse yet, associates of the target deliberately murdered for political assassination purposes. U.S. Imperialism—it’s no delight for the people of the world and increasingly not for U.S. citizens unaffiliated with the war machine either.

William C. Lewis is a journalist, researcher and writer from Yreka California.

Protest against Dick Cheney in Vancouver
Protesters outside the Vancouver Club.

 When Dick Cheney speaks in Toronto on October 31 he will be confronted by people from Canada and the United States demanding that the Canadian government arrest and prosecute him for torture and other crimes.

People throughout Canada are demanding that the Canadian government either bar Cheney or arrest him should he follow through with his plans to be a keynote speaker at an upcoming conference in Toronto. They are insisting that Canadian and international law require that Cheney be arrested if he comes to Canada.

 Cheney canceled a similar speaking engagement last April in Toronto because he feared the mobilization of the people. When Cheney was speaking months earlier in Vancouver he was confronted by angry demonstrators demanding that he be prosecuted.

Thousands of people were tortured based on Cheney’s and Bush’s instructions to the CIA and military. Kidnappings, renditions, torture and assassinations were sanctioned by Bush and Cheney. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died needlessly and millions became refugees. Tens of thousands of U.S. service members suffered life-changing injuries and more than 5,000 were killed..

Cheney jokes about torture

Cheney is a despicable character. He appeared on October 7, 2013, at the Plaza Hotel with Donald Rumsfeld in Washington, D.C., where the two of them swapped torture jokes from the podium, with Rumsfeld quipping that Cheney had even been waterboarding fish.

 These obscene displays about their crimes are an affront to humanity.

It is critical that we continue to act together to demand government accountability. Bush and Cheney cannot go anywhere in the United States or around the world without be challenged by this grassroots movement that is demanding that high officials who commit criminal acts be arrested and prosecuted.

 The Indict Bush Now movement is urging all of its supporters and friends who can to join or support the October 31 demonstration in Toronto. The protest will begin at 11:30am at the Metro Toronto Convention Center, 255 Front St. W – Toronto, Canada.

The Indict Bush Now movement is also joining with thousands of people this Saturday, October 26 in a march on the U.S. Capital demanding that the government dismantle the secret spying program against the people of the United States and the world. October 26 is the 12th anniversary of Bush signing the Patriot Act that has been used to create a surveillance state that is destroying basic personal freedoms and the right to privacy. Bush and Cheney started these programs but We The People can stop them. But we must act. Join us this Saturday at 11:30 am at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station in downtown Washington, D.C.

 Please continue to show your support with an urgently needed donation today.

– From all of us at IndictBushNow.org

 The story of Fukushima should be on the front pages of every newspaper. Instead, it is rarely mentioned. The problems at Fukushima are unprecedented in human experience and involve a high risk of radiation events larger than any that the global community has ever experienced. It is going to take the best engineering minds in the world to solve these problems and to diminish their global impact.

When we researched the realities of Fukushima in preparation for this article, words like apocalyptic, cataclysmic and Earth-threatening came to mind. But, when we say such things, people react as if we were the little red hen screaming “the sky is falling” and the reports are ignored. So, we’re going to present what is known in this article and you can decide whether we are facing a potentially cataclysmic event.

Either way, it is clear that the problems at Fukushima demand that the world’s best nuclear engineers and other experts advise and assist in the efforts to solve them. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds.org and an international team of scientists created a 15-point plan to address the crises at Fukushima.

 A subcommittee of the Green Shadow Cabinet (of which we are members), which includes long-time nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman, is circulating a sign-on letter and a petition calling on the United Nations and Japanese government to put in place the Gundersen et al plan and to provide 24-hour media access to information about the crises at Fukushima. There is also a call for international days of action on the weekend of November 9 and 10. The letter and petitions will be delivered to the UN on November 11 which is both Armistice Day and the 32nd month anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

 The Problems of Fukushima

There are three major problems at Fukushima: (1) Three reactor cores are missing; (2) Radiated water has been leaking from the plant in mass quantities for 2.5 years; and (3) Eleven thousand spent nuclear fuel rods, perhaps the most dangerous things ever created by humans, are stored at the plant and need to be removed, 1,533 of those are in a very precarious and dangerous position. Each of these three could result in dramatic radiation events, unlike any radiation exposure humans have ever experienced.  We’ll discuss them in order, saving the most dangerous for last.

Missing reactor cores:  Since the accident at Fukushima on March 11, 2011, three reactor cores have gone missing.  There was an unprecedented three reactor ‘melt-down.’ These melted cores, called corium lavas, are thought to have passed through the basements of reactor buildings 1, 2 and 3, and to be somewhere in the ground underneath.

Harvey Wasserman, who has been working on nuclear energy issues for over 40 years, tells us that during those four decades no one ever talked about the possibility of a multiple meltdown, but that is what occurred at Fukushima.

It is an unprecedented situation to not know where these cores are. TEPCO is pouring water where they think the cores are, but they are not sure. There are occasional steam eruptions coming from the grounds of the reactors, so the cores are thought to still be hot.

The concern is that the corium lavas will enter or may have already entered the aquifer below the plant. That would contaminate a much larger area with radioactive elements. Some suggest that it would require the area surrounding Tokyo, 40 million people, to be evacuated. Another concern is that if the corium lavas enter the aquifer, they could create a “super-heated pressurized steam reaction beneath a layer of caprock causing a major ‘hydrovolcanic’ explosion.”

A further concern is that a large reserve of groundwater which is coming in contact with the corium lavas is migrating towards the ocean at the rate of four meters per month. This could release greater amounts of radiation than were released in the early days of the disaster.

Radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean:  TEPCO did not admit that leaks of radioactive water were occurring until July of this year. Shunichi Tanaka the head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority finally told reporters this July that radioactive water has been leaking into the Pacific Ocean since the disaster hit over two years ago. This is the largest single contribution of radionuclides to the marine environment ever observed according to a report by the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety.  The Japanese government finally admitted that the situation was urgent this September – an emergency they did not acknowledge until 2.5 years after the water problem began.

How much radioactive water is leaking into the ocean? An estimated 300 tons (71,895 gallons/272,152 liters) of contaminated water is flowing into the ocean every day.  The first radioactive ocean plume released by the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster will take three years to reach the shores of the United States.  This means, according to a new study from the University of New South Wales, the United States will experience the first radioactive water coming to its shores sometime in early 2014.

One month after Fukushima, the FDA announced it was going to stop testing fish in the Pacific Ocean for radiation.  But, independent research is showing that every bluefin tuna tested in the waters off California has been contaminated with radiation that originated in Fukushima. Daniel Madigan, the marine ecologist who led the Stanford University study from May of 2012 was quoted in the Wall Street Journalsaying, “The tuna packaged it up (the radiation) and brought it across the world’s largest ocean. We were definitely surprised to see it at all and even more surprised to see it in every one we measured.” Marine biologist Nicholas Fisher of Stony Brook University in New York State, another member of the study group, said: “We found that absolutely every one of them had comparable concentrations of cesium 134 and cesium 137.”

In addition, Science reports that fish near Fukushima are being found to have high levels of the radioactive isotope, cesium-134. The levels found in these fish are not decreasing,  which indicates that radiation-polluted water continues to leak into the ocean. At least 42 fish species from the area around the plant are considered unsafe. South Korea has banned Japanese fish as a result of the ongoing leaks.

The half-life (time it takes for half of the element to decay) of cesium 134 is 2.0652 years. For cesium 137, the half-life is 30.17 years. Cesium does not sink to the ocean floor, so fish swim through it. What are the human impacts of cesium?

When contact with radioactive cesium occurs, which is highly unlikely, a person can experience cell damage due to radiation of the cesium particles. Due to this, effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding may occur. When the exposure lasts a long time, people may even lose consciousness. Coma or even death may then follow. How serious the effects are depends upon the resistance of individual persons and the duration of exposure and the concentration a person is exposed to, experts say.

There is no end in sight from the leakage of radioactive water into the Pacific from Fukushima.  Harvey Wasserman is questioning whether fishing in the Pacific Ocean will be safe after years of leakage from Fukushima.  The World Health Organization (WHO) is claiming that this will have limited effect on human health, with concentrations predicted to be below WHO safety levels. However, experts seriously question the WHO’s claims.

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Radiation is in the process of writing a report to assess the radiation doses and associated effects on health and environment. When finalized, it will be the most comprehensive scientific analysis of the information available to date examining how much radioactive material was released, how it was dispersed over land and water, how Fukushima compares to previous accidents, what the impact is on the environment and food, and what the impact is on human health and the environment.

Wasserman warns that “dilution is no solution.”  The fact that the Pacific Ocean is large does not change the fact that these radioactive elements have long half-lives.  Radiation in water is taken up by vegetation, then smaller fish eat the vegetation, larger fish eat the smaller fish and at the top of the food chain we will find fish like tuna, dolphin and whales with concentrated levels of radiation. Humans at the top of the food chain could be eating these contaminated fish.

As bad as the ongoing leakage of radioactive water is into the Pacific, that is not the largest part of the water problem.  The Asia-Pacific Journal reported last month that TEPCO has 330,000 tons of water stored in 1,000 above-ground tanks and an undetermined amount in underground storage tanks.  Every day, 400 tons of water comes to the site from the mountains, 300 tons of that is the source for the contaminated water leaking into the Pacific daily. It is not clear where the rest of this water goes.

Each day TEPCO injects 400 tons of water into the destroyed facilities to keep them cool; about half is recycled, and the rest goes into the above-ground tanks. They are constantly building new storage tanks for this radioactive water. The tanks being used for storage were put together rapidly and are already leaking. They expect to have 800,000 tons of radioactive water stored on the site by 2016.  Harvey Wasserman warns that these unstable tanks are at risk of rupture if there is another earthquake or storm that hits Fukushima. The Asia-Pacific Journal concludes: “So at present there is no real solution to the water problem.”

The most recent news on the water problem at Fukushima adds to the concerns. On October 11, 2013, TEPCO disclosed that the radioactivity level spiked 6,500 times at a Fukushima well.  “TEPCO said the findings show that radioactive substances like strontium have reached the groundwater. High levels of tritium, which transfers much easier in water than strontium, had already been detected.”

Spent Fuel Rods:  As bad as the problems of radioactive water and missing cores are, the biggest problem at Fukushima comes from the spent fuel rods.  The plant has been in operation for 40 years. As a result, they are storing 11 thousand spent fuel rods on the grounds of the Fukushima plant. These fuel rods are composed of highly radioactive materials such as plutonium and uranium. They are about the width of a thumb and about 15 feet long.

The biggest and most immediate challenge is the 1,533 spent fuel rods packed tightly in a pool four floors above Reactor 4.  Before the storm hit, those rods had been removed for routine maintenance of the reactor.  But, now they are stored 100 feet in the air in damaged racks.  They weigh a total of 400 tons and contain radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

The building in which these rods are stored has been damaged. TEPCO reinforced it with a steel frame, but the building itself is buckling and sagging, vulnerable to collapse if another earthquake or storm hits the area. Additionally, the ground under and around the building is becoming saturated with water, which further undermines the integrity of the structure and could cause it to tilt.

How dangerous are these fuel rods?  Harvey Wasserman explains that the fuel rods are clad in zirconium which can ignite if they lose coolant. They could also ignite or explode if rods break or hit each other. Wasserman reports that some say this could result in a fission explosion like an atomic bomb, others say that is not what would happen, but agree it would be “a reaction like we have never seen before, a nuclear fire releasing incredible amounts of radiation,” says Wasserman.

These are not the only spent fuel rods at the plant, they are just the most precarious.  There are 11,000 fuel rods scattered around the plant, 6,000 in a cooling pool less than 50 meters from the sagging Reactor 4.  If a fire erupts in the spent fuel pool at Reactor 4, it could ignite the rods in the cooling pool and lead to an even greater release of radiation. It could set off a chain reaction that could not be stopped.

What would happen? Wasserman reports that the plant would have to be evacuated.  The workers who are essential to preventing damage at the plant would leave, and we will have lost a critical safeguard.  In addition, the computers will not work because of the intense radiation. As a result we would be blind – the world would have to sit and wait to see what happened. You might have to not only evacuate Fukushima but all of the population in and around Tokyo, reports Wasserman.

There is no question that the 1,533 spent fuel rods need to be removed.  But Arnie Gundersen, a veteran nuclear engineer and director of Fairewinds Energy Education, who used to build fuel assemblies, told Reuters ”They are going to have difficulty in removing a significant number of the rods.” He described the problem in a radio interview:

“If you think of a nuclear fuel rack as a pack of cigarettes, if you pull a cigarette straight up it will come out — but these racks have been distorted. Now when they go to pull the cigarette straight out, it’s going to likely break and release radioactive cesium and other gases, xenon and krypton, into the air. I suspect come November, December, January we’re going to hear that the building’s been evacuated, they’ve broke a fuel rod, the fuel rod is off-gassing.”

Wasserman builds on the analogy, telling us it is “worse than pulling cigarettes out of a crumbled cigarette pack.” It is likely they used salt water as a coolant out of desperation, which would cause corrosion because the rods were never meant to be in salt water.  The condition of the rods is unknown. There is debris in the coolant, so there has been some crumbling from somewhere. Gundersen  adds, “The roof has fallen in, which further distorted the racks,” noting that if a fuel rod snaps, it will release radioactive gas which will require at a minimum evacuation of the plant. They will release those gases into the atmosphere and try again.

The Japan Times writes: “The consequences could be far more severe than any nuclear accident the world has ever seen. If a fuel rod is dropped, breaks or becomes entangled while being removed, possible worst case scenarios include a big explosion, a meltdown in the pool, or a large fire. Any of these situations could lead to massive releases of deadly radionuclides into the atmosphere, putting much of Japan — including Tokyo and Yokohama — and even neighboring countries at serious risk.”

This is not the usual moving of fuel rods.  TEPCO has been saying this is routine, but in fact it is unique – a feat of engineering never done before.  As Gundersen says:

 ”Tokyo Electric is portraying this as easy. In a normal nuclear reactor, all of this is done with computers. Everything gets pulled perfectly vertically. Well nothing is vertical anymore, the fuel racks are distorted, it’s all going to have to be done manually. The net effect is it’s a really difficult job. It wouldn’t surprise me if they snapped some of the fuel and they can’t remove it.”

Gregory Jaczko, Former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission concurs with Gundersen describing the removal of the spent fuel rods as “a very significant activity, and . . . very, very unprecedented.”

Wasserman sums the challenge up: “We are doing something never done before – bent, crumbling, brittle fuel rods being removed from a pool that is compromised, in a building that is sinking, sagging and buckling, and it all must done under manual control, not with computers.”  And the potential damage from failure would affect hundreds of millions of people.

The Solutions

The three major problems at Fukushima are all unprecedented, each unique in their own way and each has the potential for major damage to humans and the environment. There are no clear solutions but there are steps that need to be taken urgently to get the Fukushima clean-up and de-commissioning on track and minimize the risks.

 The first thing that is needed is to end the media blackout.  The global public needs to be informed about the issues the world faces from Fukushima.  The impacts of Fukushima could affect almost everyone on the planet, so we all have a stake in the outcome.  If the public is informed about this problem, the political will to resolve it will rapidly develop.

The nuclear industry, which wants to continue to expand, fears Fukushima being widely discussed because it undermines their already weak economic potential.  But, the profits of the nuclear industry are of minor concern compared to the risks of the triple Fukushima challenges.

The second thing that must be faced is the incompetence of TEPCO.  They are not capable of handling this triple complex crisis. TEPCO “is already Japan’s most distrusted firm” and has been exposed as “dangerously incompetent.”  A poll foundthat 91 percent of the Japanese public wants the government to intervene at Fukushima.

Tepco’s management of the stricken power plant has been described as a comedy of errors. The constant stream of mistakes has been made worse by constant false denials and efforts to minimize major problems. Indeed the entire Fukushima catastrophe could have been avoided:

“Tepco at first blamed the accident on ‘an unforeseen massive tsunami’ triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. Then it admitted it had in fact foreseen just such a scenario but hadn’t done anything about it.”

The reality is Fukushima was plagued by human error from the outset.  An official Japanese government investigation concluded that the Fukushima accident was a “man-made” disaster, caused by “collusion” between government and Tepco and bad reactor design. On this point, TEPCO is not alone, this is an industry-wide problem. Many US nuclear plants have serious problems, are being operated beyond their life span, have the same design problems and are near earthquake faults. Regulatory officials in both the US and Japan are too corruptly tied to the industry.

 Then, the meltdown itself was denied for months, with TEPCO claiming it had not been confirmed.  Japan Times reports that “in December 2011, the government announced that the plant had reached ‘a state of cold shutdown.’ Normally, that means radiation releases are under control and the temperature of its nuclear fuel is consistently below boiling point.”  Unfortunately, the statement was false – the reactors continue to need water to keep them cool, the fuel rods need to be kept cool – there has been no cold shutdown.

TEPCO has done a terrible job of cleaning up the plant.  Japan Times describes some of the problems:

“The plant is being run on makeshift equipment and breakdowns are endemic. Among nearly a dozen serious problems since April this year there have been successive power outages, leaks of highly radioactive water from underground water pools — and a rat that chewed enough wires to short-circuit a switchboard, causing a power outage that interrupted cooling for nearly 30 hours. Later, the cooling system for a fuel-storage pool had to be switched off for safety checks when two dead rats were found in a transformer box.”

TEPCO has been constantly cutting financial corners and not spending enough to solve the challenges of the Fukushima disaster resulting in shoddy practices that cause environmental damage. Washington’s Blog reports that the Japanese government is spreading radioactivity throughout Japan – and other countries – by burning radioactive waste in incinerators not built to handle such toxic substances. Workers have expressed concerns and even apologized for following order regarding the ‘clean-up.’

Indeed, the workers are another serious concern. The Guardian reported in October 2013 the plummeting morale of workers, problems of alcohol abuse, anxiety, loneliness, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression. TEPCO cut the pay of its workers by 20 percent in 2011 to save money even though these workers are doing very difficult work and face constant problems. Outside of work, many were traumatized by being forced to evacuate their homes after the Tsunami; and they have no idea how exposed to radiation they have been and what health consequences they will suffer. Contractors are hired based on the lowest bid, resulting in low wages for workers. According to the Guardian, Japan’s top nuclear regulator, Shunichi Tanaka, told reporters: “Mistakes are often linked to morale. People usually don’t make silly, careless mistakes when they’re motivated and working in a positive environment. The lack of it, I think, may be related to the recent problems.”

The history of TEPCO shows we cannot trust this company and its mistreated workforce to handle the complex challenges faced at Fukushima. The crisis at Fukushima is a global one, requiring a global solution.

In an open letter to the United Nations, 16 top nuclear experts urged the government of Japan to transfer responsibility for the Fukushima reactor site to a worldwide engineering group overseen by a civil society panel and an international group of nuclear experts independent from TEPCO and the International Atomic Energy Administration , IAEA. They urge that the stabilization, clean-up and de-commissioning of the plant be well-funded. They make this request with “urgency” because the situation at the Fukushima plant is “progressively deteriorating, not stabilizing.”

Beyond the clean-up, they are also critical of the estimates by the World Health Organization and IAEA of the health and environmental damage caused by the Fukushima disaster and they recommend more accurate methods of accounting, as well as the gathering of data to ensure more accurate estimates. They also want to see the people displaced by Fukushima treated in better ways; and they urge that the views of indigenous people who never wanted the uranium removed from their lands be respected in the future as their views would have prevented this disaster.

Facing Reality

The problems at Fukushima are in large part about facing reality – seeing the challenges, risks and potential harms from the incident. It is about TEPCO and Japan facing the reality that they are not equipped to handle the challenges of Fukushima and need the world to join the effort.

Facing reality is a common problem throughout the nuclear industry and those who continue to push for nuclear energy. Indeed, it is a problem with many energy issues. We must face the reality of the long-term damage being done to the planet and the people by the carbon-nuclear based energy economy.

Another reality the nuclear industry must face is that the United States is turning away from nuclear energy and the world will do the same. As Gregory Jaczko, who chaired the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the time of the Fukushima incident says “I’ve never seen a movie that’s set 200 years in the future and the planet is being powered by fission reactors—that’s nobody’s vision of the future. This is not a future technology.” He sees US nuclear reactors as aging, many in operation beyond their original lifespan.  The economics of nuclear energy are increasingly difficult as it is a very expensive source of energy.  Further, there is no money or desire to finance new nuclear plants. “The industry is going away,” he said bluntly.

Ralph Nader describes nuclear energy as “unnecessary, uneconomic, uninsurable, unevacuable and, most importantly, unsafe.”  He argues it only continues to exist because the nuclear lobby pushes politicians to protect it. The point made by Nader about the inability to evacuate if there is a nuclear accident is worth underlining.  Wasserman points out that there are nuclear plants in the US that are near earthquake faults, among them are plants near Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, DC.  And, Fukushima was based on a design by General Electric, which was also used to build 23 reactors in the US.

 If we faced reality, public officials would be organizing evacuation drills in those cities.  If we did so, Americans would quickly learn that if there is a serious nuclear accident, US cities could not be evacuated. Activists making the reasonable demand for evacuation drills may be a very good strategy to end nuclear power.

Wasserman emphasizes that as bad as Fukushima is, it is not the worst case scenario for a nuclear disaster. Fukushima was 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the center of the earthquake. If that had been 20 kilometers (12 miles), the plant would have been reduced to rubble and caused an immediate nuclear catastrophe.

Another reality we need to face is a very positive one, Wasserman points out “All of our world’s energy needs could be met by solar, wind, thermal, ocean technology.” His point is repeated by many top energy experts, in fact a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy is not only possible, it is inevitable.  The only question is how long it will take for us to get there, and how much damage will be done before we end the “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that emphasizes carbon and nuclear energy sources.

Naoto Kan, prime minister of Japan when the disaster began, recently told an audience that he had been a supporter of nuclear power, but after the Fukushima accident, “I changed my thinking 180-degrees, completely.” He realized that “no other accident or disaster” other than a nuclear plant disaster can “affect 50 million people . . . no other accident could cause such a tragedy.” He pointed out that all 54 nuclear plants in Japan have now been closed and expressed confidently that “without nuclear power plants we can absolutely provide the energy to meet our demands.”  In fact, since the disaster Japan has tripled its use of solar energy, to the equivalent of three nuclear plants. He believes: “If humanity really would work together . . . we could generate all our energy through renewable energy.”

To take action, click here.

This article was first published on Truthout

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host ClearingtheFOGRadio.org on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media and on UStream.TV/ItsOurEconomy, co-direct It’s Our Economy and are organizers of PopularResistance.org. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.

 

Music is everybody’s possession . It’s only publishers who think that people own it.  John Lennon

The Corporate Music industry has had a monopoly on what youths from all around the world listen to. 

They have been controlling the thoughts and beliefs of our youths and even adults through their control of the music industry.  The Music industry is a multi-billion dollar business. There are now “Big Three” record labels since 2012 that include Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group that dominate the market.  They control the artist and set what percentage of the sales receipts they keep as profits.  They also keep the competition between the major record labels at a minimum since they are already a monopoly.

There are many underground hip-hop artists that the political and corporate elite don’t want the public to know about.  They control what kind of music is produced and sold to the public.  In an interview with Jay Woodson, organizer of National Hip Hop Political Convention (NHHPC) in Philadelphia with online news source The Final Call:

FINAL CALL (FC): A recent study of rap songs and music videos on BET and MTV found that several major corporations advertise their products or services during programs that often expose explicit lyrics and images to children. I remember the time when the music industry and society held that rap and hip-hop music was just a fad that would pass. What’s happening now that “everyone” seems to be on board?

JAY WOODSON (JW): What our options are in this political economy are options for profit, which benefits large corporations. This includes the entertainment industry. They give a very narrow message and image of what Black life is. It’s materialistic, about death, it’s about violence, and it’s about misogyny and any diverse or alternative messages and images of that, they don’t seem to support because they don’t find it profitable to have diverse aesthetics within the entertainment industry for people to purchase and to view on television. A lot of time when it comes down to critiquing BET and Viacom, we really need to look at the policy of communications. Like, we understand that the airways are owned by people, who give licenses through the Federal Communication Commission. With legislation that was passed in the mid-90s under Bill Clinton, Congress narrowed the plan for people to tap into the media. A lot of larger media bought up media in smaller markets and it narrowed the choices for smaller media or even public access to have cable programming or even local radio stations. So you have these large corporations such as Clear Channel giving such small packages of 20 songs that are played over and over again.

Lauryn Hill is a Grammy award winning singer, songwriter, rapper and a former member of the Fugees explains how the music industry operates in a letter she wrote on Tumblr to the public about the music business and her tax evasion case where a judge sentenced her to 3 months in prison earlier this year:

For the past several years, I have remained what others would consider underground.  I did this in order to build a community of people, like-minded in their desire for freedom and the right to pursue their goals and lives without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda.  Having put the lives and needs of other people before my own for multiple years, and having made hundreds of millions of dollars for certain institutions, under complex and sometimes severe circumstances, I began to require growth and more equitable treatment, but was met with resistance.  I entered into my craft full of optimism (which I still possess), but immediately saw the suppressive force with which the system attempts to maintain it’s control over a given paradigm.  I’ve seen people promote addiction, use sabotage, black listing, media bullying and any other coercion technique they could, to prevent artists from knowing their true value, or exercising their full power.  These devices of control, no matter how well intentioned (or not), can have a devastating outcome on the lives of people, especially creative types who must grow and exist within a certain environment and according to a certain pace, in order to live and create optimally.

I kept my life relatively simple, even after huge successes, but it became increasingly obvious that certain indulgences and privileges were expected to come at the expense of my free soul, free mind, and therefore my health and integrity.  So I left a more mainstream and public life, in order to wean both myself, and my family, away from a lifestyle that required distortion and compromise as a means for maintaining it.  During this critical healing time, there were very few people accessible to me who had not already been seduced or affected by this machine, and therefore who could be trusted to not try and influence or coerce me back into a dynamic of compromise. Individual growth was expected to take place unnaturally, or stagnated outright, subject to marketing and politics.  Addressing critical issues like pop culture cannibalism or its manipulation of the young at the expense of everything, was frowned upon and discouraged by limiting funding, or denying it outright.  When one has a prolific creative output like I did/do, and is then forced to stop, the effects can be dangerous both emotionally and psychologically, both for the artist and those in need of that resource.  It was critically important that I find a suitable pathway within which to exist, without being distorted or economically strong-armed.  During this period of crisis, much was said about me, both slanted and inaccurate, by those who had become dependent on my creative force, yet unwilling to fully acknowledge the importance of my contribution, nor compensate me equitably for it.  This was done in an effort to smear my public image, in order to directly affect my ability to earn independently of this system.  It took a long time to locate and nurture a community of people strong enough to resist the incredibly unhealthy tide, and more importantly see through it.  If I had not been able to make contact with, and establish this community, my life, safety and freedom, would have been directly affected as well as the lives, safety and freedom of my family.  Failure to create a non toxic, non exploitative environment was not an option.

As my potential to work, and therefore earn freely, was being threatened, I did whatever needed to be done in order to insulate my family from the climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism that I was surrounded by.  This was absolutely critical while trying to find and establish a new and very necessary community of healthy people, and also heal and detoxify myself and my family while raising my young children.  There were no exotic trips, no fleet of cars, just an all out war for safety, integrity, wholeness and health, without mistreatment denial, and/or exploitation.  In order to liberate myself from those who found it ok to oppose my wholeness, free speech and integral growth by inflicting different forms of punitive action against it, I used my resources to sustain our safety and survival until I was able to restore my ability to earn outside of it!

When artists experience danger and crisis under the effects of this kind of insidious manipulation, everyone easily accepts that there was something either dysfunctional or defective with the artist, rather than look at, and fully examine, the system and its means and policies of exploiting/’doing business’.  Not only is this unrealistic, it is very dark in its motivation, conveniently targeting the object of their hero worship by removing any evidence that they ‘needed’ or celebrated this very same resource just years, months or moments before.  Since those who believe they need a hero/celebrity outnumber the actual heroes/celebrities, people feel safe and comfortably justified in numbers, committing egregious crimes in the name of the greater social ego.  Ironically diminishing their own true hero-celebrity nature in the process.

It was this schism and the hypocrisy, violence and social cannibalism it enabled, that I wanted and needed to be freed from, not from art or music, but the suppression/repression and reduction of that art and music to a bottom line alone, without regard for anything else.  Over-commercialization and its resulting restrictions and limitations can be very damaging and distorting to the inherent nature of the individual.  I Love making art, I Love making music, these are as natural and necessary for me almost as breathing or talking.  To be denied the right to pursue it according to my ability, as well as be properly acknowledged and compensated for it, in an attempt to control, is manipulation directed at my most basic rights!  These forms of expression, along with others, effectively comprise my free speech!  Defending, preserving, and protecting these rights are critically important, especially in a paradigm where veiled racism, sexism, ageism, nepotism, and deliberate economic control are still blatant realities!!!

Learning from the past, insulating friends and family from the influence of external manipulation and corruption, is far more important to me than being misunderstood for a season!  I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns!  I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival.  I conveyed all of this when questioned as to why I did not file taxes during this time period.  Obviously, the danger I faced was not accepted as reasonable grounds for deferring my tax payments, as authorities, who despite being told all of this, still chose to pursue action against me, as opposed to finding an alternative solution. My intention has always been to get this situation rectified.  When I was working consistently without being affected by the interferences mentioned above, I filed and paid my taxes.  This only stopped when it was necessary to withdraw from society, in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of myself and my family. As this, and other areas of issue are resolved and set straight, I am able to get back to doing what I should be doing, the way it should be done.  This is part of that process.  To those supporters who were told that I abandoned them, that is untrue.  I abandoned greed, corruption, and compromise, never you, and never the artistic gifts and abilities that sustained me.”

There are many “underground Hip-Hop artists that are politically conscious-driven such as Common, Flobots, Dead Prez, Rebel Diaz and many others.  Lowkey is another underground Hip-Hop artist, a former member of Poisonous Poets, lives in the UK and has traveled the world in support of Anti-war and human rights causes.  He announced last year that he will leave the Music Industry to pursue his studies.  Lowkey is a rapper that can easily be distinguished from main stream rappers.  He has numerous albums produced independently that include Dear Listener, Soundtrack to the Struggle and Uncensored.  One of his most popular songs is called ‘Obama Nation’.  He has toured the world with several rappers including Talib Kweli and Lupe Fiasco.  He is an influential part of the underground world of Hip-Hop music transforming how rap music can be used to inform and educate people not to turn them into consumers.  Lowkey is one of several rappers who are at the forefront.  The main stream media does not mention Lowkey, instead they continue to play Hip-Hop music from the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, Snopp Dog among many others.  Their Music has no substance or positive meaning behind the lyrics.  It is music that destroys the minds of urban youths.  But according to the media whether based in the United States, Great Britain and Israel, all criticize Lowkey.  The Jewish Chronicle Online describes in a 2011 article how Lowkey and other artists such as Elvis Costello can become a “Potential Nightmare” that can influence youths during an event organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign for the second anniversary of Operation Cast Lead and the Gaza conflict that killed thousands:

One expert studying anti-Israel activity described the increasing influence of performers such as Lowkey as a “potential nightmare,” and compared the impact of his backing for the campaign to the effect of artists such as Annie Lennox and Elvis Costello attacking the Jewish state.    

Lowkey was heavily criticized by the Jewish Chronicle when it said At last week’s rally he spoke of his pride at being an anti-Zionist and called Israel a “terrorist state”. The event organisers and audience later successfully persuaded him to perform his track “Long Live Palestine”, written during the Gaza conflict. It accuses Israel of bombing hospitals and mosques and criticises everyone from Barack Obama to Coca Cola and Huggies nappies. Fox news jumped on the bandwagon with Glen Beck mocking Lowkey when he danced and showed gang signs to his song “Terrorist?  In his Website www.glennbeck.com describes why he did what he did on his show:

Sometimes a story comes along and it’s almost impossible to find the words to really capture what’s happening. More often than not, the story involves tragedy, riots, and possibly some kind of new world order/Edward Bernays “conspiracy”. Sometimes Glenn just breaks down in tears because of, well, anything really. It could be the death of the Republic, uncensored pictures of the Alamo, or the latest Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy. And sometimes the stories that take the words away involve Glenn dancing and throwing up gang signs.

Is it a coincidence that big name rappers who are known throughout the world are sponsored by the biggest corporations in the world?  Hip-Hop music gets nominated for the Grammy awards based on the number of sales and popularity of the rappers.  Lowkey lives in London, the heart of the former empire known to support numerous causes especially the Palestinian struggle against Israel.  What drives Lowkey to focus his music on human rights issues?  In an interview conducted by ‘Ceasefire’ an independent political and cultural quarterly publication by Jody McIntyre, Lowkey was asked what has “hurt or inspired him the most?” He replied:

Well, I have been privileged enough to travel to many different countries, particularly doing what I do for a living, it is a real blessing. Recently I travelled to Australia, a nation founded upon the genocide of over 500+ separate nations, I heard some harrowing stories of what life has been like for the indigenous people of that land the last 223 years since Captain James Cook arrived there with a British flag. I learned that until the 1967 Referendum, the indigenous, native people of that land were considered “Fauna and Flora” ie Plants and Animals within Australian Law.  True justice can only come with acknowledgement of the historical context within which we live. The fact that his date of arrival on the land is still celebrated as “Australia Day” shows that justice for the indigenous people of that land is something we all must fight for, especially those of us who are British citizens. Travelling and touring throughout the United States alongside my friend Norman Finkelstein, showed me that despite the constant manipulation by the mainstream media in that country, there are millions of US citizens who do NOT believe US security is dependent upon on its supremacy and global dominance.

There are millions of US citizens who do not believe it is a good idea to have over 1,000 military bases worldwide from Japan to Colombia to Diego Garcia, these people are just so marginalised in the mainstream discourse that in the rest of the world it is easy to forget they even exist. Being detained twice in Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv was an interesting experience; particularly the second time, when I was held for 12 hours. It made me realise that a state which is built upon the foundations of injustice will never feel secure.  The ever-changing and diverse citizens of Israel will always be united by one thing and one thing only; fear. The IDF are a colonial force of scared teenage supremacists who would shoot at their own shadow. The worst thing about that, is that they are supplied with the most sophisticated weaponry on the face of this planet by the United States and Britain. Israel is a colonial supremacist state which is rapidly expanding, and the Zionist dream which Theodor Herzl had is still yet to be reached.

Many rappers in the West come from poor neighborhoods where crime, drugs and high incarceration rates affects their communities and do rap about “life in the ghetto”.  But many rap about sex, drugs, prison and money.  I have seen rap videos where they have numerous women on multi-million dollar yachts as Jay-Z’s video called ‘Big Pimpin’.  According to Dr. Carolyn West, associate professor of psychology and the study of prevention of  violence at the University of Washington said “What’s changed over time is the greater sexualization of hip-hop. Initially, it  started off as a revolutionary form of music. Now, large corporations produce  images that sell, and there is a blatant link between hip-hop and pornography” in a  Pittsburg Post-Gazette article in 2008 called ‘Researcher cites negative influences of hip-hop.’  Rappers promote business agenda’s for the music industry where advertisements and propaganda prevail over young minds.  Lowkey raps about real issues that affect life on earth.  He wants his music to make a change in society.  Why does the main stream media (MSM) and the Music industry criticize Lowkey?

Why does the Jewish Chronicle Online call him and other musicians of consciousness a “Potential Nightmare?”  Can Lowkey’s music inspire youth to seek change or the truth for that matter?  Yes, the MSM and the music industry want to keep youths interested in issues that don’t matter.  They want them to follow “Uninspiring rappers” who are about nothing.  The majority of rappers are used by the major labels to sell propaganda.  They use rappers to further demoralize people who have no idea what is happening in their communities and the world.  Do music fans who follow main stream rappers know who Lowkey is?  I doubt it.  But I will bet that the state of Israel does.  In 2009, Lowkey was detained in Israel, when he arrived in Tel Aviv’s airport for 9 hours.  According to www.nme.com:

The musician had been travelling to Tel Aviv to take part in a series of charity shows in the country, including sites in Palestine and Palestinian refugee camps, to raise funds to help rebuild the Gaza Strip.

He told NME.COM that his passport was confiscated at Tel Aviv airport on February 27, after which he was questioned, detained for nine hours then released.

“As soon as I stepped off the plane with my AA guide to Israel tucked under my arm, I was pulled away to the side and interrogated as to why I was in Israel, by a man who wore no uniform identifying himself as any type of security but was clearly heavily armed,” Lowkey explained.

“After this I carried on through to passport control. After giving over my British passport it was confiscated. I was then detained for nine hours. During this time I was interrogated about many aspects of my life, what the purpose of my trip was, where my parents are from and where I planned to go in Israel.

“Eventually I was told my story was a lie and was subjected to a bout of the Israeli polices paranoid mind games. I was eventually released, knowing that no matter how frustrating what I just went through was, I knew that it was not even a miniscule fraction of the degradation Palestinian people are subjected to on a daily basis.”

Lowkey and many other underground Hip-Hop artists are controversial to the corporate music world and even to average people who follow the main stream rappers.  Some people may not like his style.  People do have different tastes, styles or other musical preferences.  All legitimate reasons.

Hip-Hop is controlled by major corporations, they have a monopoly on several record labels mentioned earlier.  Singer Cee-Loo even commented on how and why corporate influence is relevant to hip-hop music.  In an interview with The Daily Beast, platinum recording artist, Cee-Lo commented on the current state of Hip-Hop and what is the agenda behind corporate control of the industry:

We don’t judge, but we acknowledge that acting and performing music are very kindred spirits. You write something down, go into a recording booth, and reenact the emotion onstage. At one point in time, there was a code of conduct: creed and credential. And I’ve said this before on Twitter, but hip-hop was once an Ivy League institution, and now it’s become a community college—you don’t need any qualifications to come on in. And, quite frankly, it can be a little embellished-upon. There’s a low entry level, and it’s become monotonous and congested. All you need to do is be able to rhyme “cat” and “hat,” and you can become an MC. But executives have a lot to do with the larger agenda to emasculate and colonize. I believe hip hop is being used in some mass way to influence underachievement. Maybe these individuals may not be aware of the larger agenda, and how they’re being puppeteered, but if they are, that’s even more shameful.

He is correct to point out that corporations “colonize” youth through music which promotes “underachievement” and depicts women in a negative way.

Lowkey is an example of what major corporate record labels do not want people to listen to. Down below is one of Lowkey’s music videos which I recommend to those who never heard his music before.  It is worth a listen.

So I ask the question once again, why does the music industry keep “hip-hop underground music” underground?

Here is Lowkey featuring Klashnekoff  in ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’:

The Libyan Puzzle in the Scramble for Africa

October 24th, 2013 by Sam Muhho

As a new era in history has begun to dawn on humanity, new doors are being opened in both opportunities and also in the realms of potential threats and conflagrations. This reality has been noted most clearly in the developing affairs of Africa, a continent that is on the verge of transformation through both technology and evolving international interactions. In the face of potential progress driven by Africa’s lucrative natural resources and economic potential, an ominous threat looms above Africa, the threat of the neo-imperialist, globalist agenda which has scarred the face of humanity with its continual drive of global hegemony. This “globalist agenda” is a militarized corporatism in a neo-imperialist system operating from all sides of the western political spectrum and representing the corporate elite of Wall Street and London; no clearer was the nefarious nature of these interests shown than in the subversion of Libya two years ago in 2011.

Before delving into the demise of Libya, it is necessary to understand neo-imperialisms’ ambitions for Africa; its goal is the subjection of Africa into its orbit in order to serve as a critical lynchpin in the establishment of a unipolar world order (including ousting potential Chinese competition). The unipolar world order is the creating of a single center of global economic, political, and military power coupled with the control of international trade and the distribution of resources as is admittedly the agenda noted by Dr. Carroll Quigley in his “Tragedy and Hope” among various other publications from western corporate-financier think tanks ranging from the Council on Foreign Relations to the Brookings Institute. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also spoken of hegemonic ambitions on the part of the west to establish a unipolar order at a 2007 Munich conference.

As Libya again takes prominence again in the media with the increasing unrest even provoking a mobilization of U.S. Marines from Spain to Italy, across from Libya, hinting a potential military involvement in the already decimated state, it is important to review the foundational history of the current Libyan dilemma before the “disinfo” echo chamber of the mainstream media begins a new full-throttle propaganda blitz. The increasing urgency for this review is news headlines even alleging a “new war” in Libya because of militia rivalries.

Libya has recently been ravished by increasing internal strife and ethno-tribal divisions that was the continuation of NATO’s systematic destruction of the nation-state in 2011. In  Dr. Webster Tarpley’s “Al Qaeda: Pawns of CIA Insurrection from Libya to Yemen”, it was explained that four primary factors contributed to the Libyan “revolution” in 2011 with the primary one being racist and monarchist elements among the eastern Libyan Harabi and Obeidat tribes found in the Benghazi-Darna-Tobruk corridor who had historically resented Gaddafi for toppling the western-backed King Idris which hailed from that region. This would explain why many of the protestors in eastern Libya were photographed carrying pictures of King Idris. That is not to say that all participants in the opposition were negative elements but it cannot be denied that negative elements had been pervasive as pawns of the western subversion and even culminated in the wide presence of Al Qaeda flags in Benghazi, even atop the Benghazi courthouse, reflecting the prominent role of radical Islamist militias that will be discussed below. It is not to be forgotten that insurrectionary activity is not new in this region as Gaddafi had witnessed continuous waves of strife and militarized opposition, often propped up by the west for geopolitical purposes, and this was reflected during an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, often with racial overtones. Tony Cartalucci in “Libya at Any Cost” documented the censored history of unrest in Libya driven by western interests:

1980′s: US-CIA backed National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) made multiple attempts to assassinate Qaddafi and initiate armed rebellion throughout Libya.
1990′s: Noman Benotman and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) wage a campaign of terror against Qaddafi with Osama Bin Laden’s assistance.
1994: LIFG kills 2 German anti-terrorism agents. Qaddafi seeks arrest warrant for Osama Bin Laden in connection to the attack but is blocked by MI6 who was concurrently aiding the LIFG.
2003: Upon Qaddafi’s abandonment of WMD programs, Libya’s collaboration with MI6 & the CIA to identify and expose the LIFG networks begins, giving Western intelligence a windfall of information regarding the group. Ironically this information would give Western nations an entire army to rebuild and turn against Qaddafi in 2011.
2005: NFSL’s Ibrahim Sahad founds the National Conference of Libyan Opposition (NCLO) in London England.
2011: Early February, the London based NCLO calls for a Libyan “Day of Rage,” beginning the “February 17th revolution.”
2011: Late February, NFSL/NCLO’s Ibrahim Sahad is leading opposition rhetoric, literally in front of the White House in Washington D.C. Calls for no-fly zone in reaction to unsubstantiated accusations Qaddafi is strafing “unarmed protesters” with warplanes.
2011: Late February, Senators Lieberman and McCain and UK PM David Cameron call for providing air cover for Libyan rebels as well as providing them additional arms.
2011: Early March; it is revealed UK SAS special forces are already operating inside Libya
2011: Mid-March; UN adopts no-fly zone over Libya, including air strikes. Immediately, the mission is changed from “protecting civilians” to “ousting Qaddafi.” Egypt violates the arms embargo of UN r.1973 with Washington’s full knowledge by supplying Libyan rebels with weapons, while Al Qaeda’s ties to the rebels are admitted by everyone including the rebels themselves.
2011: Late April; Documented evidence is revealed that Libya’s rebels are conducting a barbaric campaign, employing extrajudicial killings, indiscriminate military force, child-soldiers, landmines, and torture. New York Times blames a lack of support.
2011: Late April, early May; Followed by calls to assassinate Qaddafi, ordnance crash into his son’s home killing him and 3 of Qaddafi’s grandchildren. NATO concurrently seeks a new UN resolution authorizing ground troops while aggressor states seek to release seized Libyan assets to the rebels

This tribally-based resentment that categorized much of the violence in 2011 contributed to racially-driven atrocities committed against Libyan blacks that make up a third of the Libyan population and inhabit the western regions including the Fezzan tribes of the Libyan southwest. Dr. Webster Tarpley also documented the prominent role of Al Qaeda mercenaries in the Libyan conflict whose nest in eastern Libya had been a world-leading nurturing ground for extremism according to the US Military Academy at West Point’s “Combating Terrorism Center” (CTC) 2007 reports on foreign fighters in Iraq. The key rebel city of Darna, for example, was commandeered by a rebel terrorist triumvirate featuring Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, formerly of the Al Qaeda-tied “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group” (LIFG), who fought against NATO forces in Afghanistan. At his side were Sufian bin-Kumu, Osama bin Laden’s former chauffeur and an inmate at Guantánamo Bay for six years, as well as al-Barrani who is also a devoted member of LIFG.

Tarpley does an excellent job in demonstrating how such figures were not atypical but were the norm in a region that was the world’s “terrorist capital” according to the CTC. It is also disturbing to note the desperate attempts at damage control by the CTC in the wake of NATO’s disastrous intervention where previously documented facts were purposefully obscured and spun to cover NATO’s illegitimacy. Tarpley also documented the role of western assets such as the Libyan National Salvation Front as well as the French-assisted defection of top-Qaddafi associate Nouri Mesmari in 2010 who would later collaborate with the west in fomenting military mutinies against Gaddafi in northeast Libya.

Being the only African nation to rank as “high” on the Human Development Index and boasting a highly developed infrastructure, Libya under Gaddafi has become the globalists’ geopolitical gateway into Africa. To the detriment of all free humanity, this gateway has been trampled down by the illegal NATO war on Libya which revolved around verified propaganda regarding Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi’s alleged atrocities, a misrepresentation of the Libyan rebels, and a complete media blackout regarding geopolitical forces at play. These claims would culminate in international myths spun around Gaddafi who was claimed to be bombing his people, hiring African mercenaries, and staging mass rapes to terrorize opposition as the official dogmas justifying NATO’s aggression.

 Integral to the narrative justifying NATO’s intervention revolved around painting Gaddafi as a brutal tyranny launching a bloody crackdown against a “peaceful” movement with a host other atrocities ranging from hiring African mercenaries, using the air force against protestors, staging mass rapes, and threatening “genocide” against Benghazi. The NATO narrative of the revolution being the noble Libyan masses rising up against Gaddafi and his mercenaries was painted most clearly in the early March 14, 2011 Reuters article titled, “Libyan jets bomb rebels, France pushes for no-fly zone.” In this typical mainstream media report, rhetorical justification is given for the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine in sanctioning a no-fly zone in Libya based on the tired narrative of Gaddafi using air power to brutally suppress what is seen as an indigenous uprising, seeming to be heading down the pathos becoming a “tragedy for Libya.” A warning for an upcoming bloodbath against Gaddafi was sounded. Interestingly, even the “Independent” would later publish an article debunking this, pointing out the unreliability and factually-depraved basis for this propaganda among other accusations levied against Gaddafi. This baseless propaganda, already having poisoned western perception of what happened in Libya, would later be supplemented with reports involving the role of alleged mercenaries and mass rapes to whip up justification for intervention.

 In reality, such a narrative was factually bankrupt as masterfully documented by Maximillain Forte in his “Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya” which directly nails the illegitimacy of the NATO campaign. While Gaddafi is certainly no saint and while many groups did have legitimate grievances against him, he nonetheless had a solid support base in Libya while the rebels were overall lacking legitimacy and were being driven by Islamist radicals, exiled politicians with globalist ties, and decades of ethnically-based tension. Gaddafi had invested heavily into the infrastructure and the social structure of his country, bringing the country to nearly eradicating illiteracy and also combating homelessness which had previously been a constant problem. Women rights were also championed as women in Libya were allowed to study and work where they desired as even BBC noted.

While Gaddafi had invested in infrastructure, the globalists sought to offset this by asserting their presence in Libya through both the destruction of its infrastructure and seeking to bring Libya into their economic orbit. There was a concerted effort to undermine Gaddafi’s agenda of building a united, strong, and self-sufficient African community and strengthening African multilateral institutions. Furthermore, Libya provided a gateway into Africa for the Pentagon’s “AFRICOM” to undermine and oust Chinese economic interests on the African continent which were a major challenge for western corporate interests’ access to resources and economic hegemony. Another key point was Gaddafi’s goal of creating a single, gold-based, African currency called the “gold dinar” with which he planned to trade African oil for. This would have conflicted directly with western corporate and banking interests and their international fiat monetary system upon which the IMF and their “casino economy” is built. Countries’ purchasing power would be determined by the amount of gold they had as opposed to fiat paper currency that made no substantial backing.

 Regarding the specific claims of Gaddafi’s atrocities as parroted by the mainstream media, Forte gives many insights that help dismantle the myths behind the “humanitarian” war. For example, the claims of air strikes by Gaddafi are noted to have been a fabrication peddled by the BBC and Al Jazeera. The claims were completely unfounded and based on fake claims. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mullen would admit during a Pentagon press conference that they had seen no confirmation of such reports. David Kirpatrick of the New York Times would be cited by Forte as admitting that, “the rebels feel no loyalty to the truth in shaping their propaganda, claiming nonexistent battlefield victories…and making vastly inflated claims about his [Gaddafi’s] behavior”.

 The claims of African mercenaries, integral to portraying Gaddafi as being on one side against Libya as a whole, were perhaps the most atrocious and racist of the myths, sprung from the rebels’ own tribal animosities towards indigenous Africans in Libya and migrant African workers that were common throughout the country. Human Rights Watch would claim that it found no evidence at all of African mercenaries in eastern Libya where the rebellion and fighting were centered and even noted that Gaddafi had attempted to end discrimination against these people, contradicting, as Forte noted, the rabid claims made throughout the mainstream press including Time Magazine, The Telegraph, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. The Los Angeles Times also found no evidence of such mercenaries with the New York Times even pointing out the “racist overtones” involved in the conflict and the disinformation they helped spread. Amnesty International would later confirm that “mercenaries” put on display by the rebels had been undocumented African migrant workers and noted things like rampant discrimination and disproportionate detention of black Libyans in Az-Zawiya. Mainstream media and Al Jazeera would attempt to cover its crimes by pointing out, though briefly, the reality that Africans in Libya were being subjected to lootings, abduction, and killing by the rebels. All of this, of course, in light of the fact that Africans were an integral part of Libyan society, making up 33% of the population. A severe crime never to be forgotten is the ethnic cleansing of the beautiful black Libyan town of Tawargha, previously inhabited by 35,000 people, expelled by racist militants calling themselves, “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin.”Another crime was the systemic slaughter of blacks in western Libya by the eastern rebels advancing on Tripoli (see here as well).

Another hysteria peddled by the media revolved around Gaddafi’s alleged planning of mass rapes, often blamed on nonexistent “mercenaries, which was then used by the media to help garner sympathy to the rebels. The source for these claims, also adequately exposed by Forte, began with Al Jazeera, a propaganda outlet for the Wall Street-London backed Qatari regime, claiming that Gaddafi had distributed Viagra to his troops and ordered them to use rape against those who opposed him. These claims were then redistributed throughout the media and found their way to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo would later fraudulently claim that Gaddafi had ordered the rape of hundreds of women and that Gaddafi had personally ordered Viagra to be distributed. U.S. ambassador Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton would also make these allegations (see Forte’s article).

In reality, a UN rights inquiry in Libya headed by Cherif Bassiouni would find these claims a baseless “mass hysteria.” Bassiouni told of a woman to “claimed to have sent out over 70,000 questionnaires and received 60,000 responses, of which 259 reported sexual abuse.” Bassiouni would ask to see these questionnaires, but never receive them, casting doubt on the narrative. It was pointed out that it seems improbable that 70,000 questionnaires were sent out in March considering the fact that the postal service wasn’t working. Bassiouni whose team would uncover only 4 cases of sexual abuse in their study. The boxes of Viagra that Gaddafi supposedly distributed were found fully intact right next to burnt-out tanks, indicating staged propaganda (Forte). Further confirming this is Amnesty International and who further shamed the imperialist establishment and thoroughly shattered this lie. According to the “Independent”, “Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty, who was in Libya for three months after the start of the uprising, says that “we have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped”.

The most disingenuous claim peddled by the media to justify the Libyan war was the “save Benghazi” crusade. While it is true that Gaddafi had employed “overblown” rhetoric threatening to fight from house to house and “squash the cockroaches”, the media emphasizing these claims admits the radical-extremists nature of the hordes fighting among the rebels. The same media would also disregard Gaddafi’s “overblown” rhetoric when it was convenient to do so but attached to the Benghazi narrative as it seemingly gave justification for NATO to intervene. There is no evidence that Gaddafi had genocide planned as he only made the charges to the armed groups causing upheaval in the east of the country and even offered them amnesty and an open passage into Egypt across the border to avoid bloodshed. Professor Alan J. Kuperman exposed the propaganda talking-points of this argument, citing as evidence for the fact that Gaddafi had no genocide planned the reality that he did not perpetuate it in areas that he had captured fully or partially from the rebels including Zawiya, Mistrata, and Ajdabiya.

 The very actions of NATO itself would discredit the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine employed to justify NATO’s intervention as NATO would be directly responsible for the deaths of countless civilians. NATO would gun down civilians in the central square of Zawiya and “taking a fairly liberal definition of command and control” facilities by targeting a residential district, killing some of Gaddafi’s family members and three of his grandchildren. NATO was also responsible for targeting Libya’s state television, killing three civilian journalists and earning condemnation by international journalist federations (see Forte’s article).

 NATO oversaw the death of 1,500 refugees fleeing Libya by sea, mostly sub-Saharan Africans, the same people who were baselessly demonized as mercenaries. NATO would ignore their distress calls even though refugees would make contact with vessels belonging to NATO members. NATO also would launch numerous unjustifiable strikes against Libya furthering the damage toll. Above all, NATO was giving cover to rebels who were perpetuating verifiable genocide against cities, such as Sirte, with NATO backing and airstrikes to order, cutting off electricity, food, and water and using bombardment against civilians. Under this blueprint of destruction, scores of people would die in multiples of what was happening initially in Benghazi against armed rebel gangs which Gaddafi was fighting making a mockery out of the pre-text used to justify their globalist, faux-humanitarian war in the first place (Forte).

NATO and the globalist war on Libya was one bankrupt of any moral grounding or political justification. It was a war born of compromised interests that sought not the liberation of an oppressed people but rather the pillages of Libya which would later serve as a gateway into the heart of Africa. While the globalists attempt to sell their wars as moral and for the betterment of the world, they are at heart driven only by a desire to spread hegemony and consolidate control, with the ultimate goal being global hegemony. Any attempt to invoke a moral cover should be shunned in light of the barrage of fake atrocities attributed to Gaddafi and complementing crimes by NATO, best captured in the lies regarding Gaddafi massacring his people, hiring mercenaries, and staging mass rapes among other echo chamber distortions. Only when we tear down the media’s curtain of deception can we better understand the events at play and position ourselves intellectually to combat globalist imperialism which seeks to subvert us all.

 Sam Muhho is a student of history and a devoted anti-imperialist and anti-globalist advocate devoted to the work of Tony Cartalucci of the Land Destroyer Report and similar geopolitical analysts. He runs the Facebook page “Globalist Watch” at facebook.com/gwatch1776 in order to awaken people to the current state of world affairs.

With the blessing of the New York Times, the Obama administration has succeeded in cementing a dubious conventional wisdom about the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons last Aug. 21 — without presenting a shred of actual evidence.

In a front-page story co-written by Michael R. Gordon, who also co-wrote the infamous “aluminum tube” article falsely accusing Iraq of building nuclear centrifuges in 2002, the Times included the U.S. allegations about Syria’s chemical weapons use into its storyline as flat fact, not a point in serious dispute.

The Times reported on October 23 that the State Department warned the White House in June that Syrian officials would see inaction on initial chemical weapons incidents — that the U.S. government was also blaming on the Syrian government — as a “green light for continued CW use.” The Times then wrote that the State Department’s warning “proved to be prophetic. A devastating poison gas attack on Aug. 21 killed hundreds of civilians.”

The story continues in that vein, accepting as indisputable fact that the Syrian government was behind the Aug. 21 attack on a suburb of Damascus despite significant doubts among independent analysts, UN inspectors and, I’m told, U.S. intelligence analysts.

Indeed, the reported lack of consensus in the U.S. intelligence community helps explain why a four-page U.S. “Government Assessment” of the incident was released on Aug. 30 not by the Director of National Intelligence but by the White House press office and was touted not by the DNI but Secretary of State John Kerry. The U.S. government’s white paper contained no evidence to support its assertions blaming the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Though the Aug. 21 incident brought the United States to the brink of another Middle East war, the Obama administration has refused over the past two months to release any proof that it claims to possess, such as communications intercepts, images of rocket launches or even the basis for its precise count, “1,429,” of those supposedly killed by Sarin gas.

The U.S. government has even denied U.S. congressman Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, access to the supposed evidence under-girding President Barack Obama’s request for authorization to use force against Syria, a proposal that is now in abeyance pending Syria’s compliance with a Russian plan for destroying Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons.

Grayson, who has publicly questioned why the administration insists on withholding its evidence, was informed by the House Intelligence Committee that he would not be allowed to look at the intelligence because he gave an unrelated floor speech citing published charts about National Security Agency spying that were leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The committee chairman, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, also justified the denial, in part, because Obama’s request to use force is not currently before the House. According to an article in Politico, Rogers said requests to review intelligence information are weighed against “the sensitivity to the national defense or the confidential conduct of the foreign relations of the United States of the information sought … the likelihood of its being directly or indirectly disclosed [and] the jurisdictional interest of the member making the request.”

However, there remains the distinct possibility that the fluid developments in Syria could suddenly put Obama’s war resolution back before Congress amid demands for an immediate up-or-down vote, while leaving no time for a careful review of the dubious casus belli.

Time for Examination

In the heat of a new war fever, there would be little patience for unwinding the conventional wisdom blaming the Aug. 21 attack on the Syrian government. That’s especially true now that the New York Times and much of the mainstream U.S. news media has accepted the allegations as indisputable truth.

Ideally, the careful scrutiny that a case for war should demand would come when passions are tempered — as they are now — not at their hottest. But the Obama administration, the House Intelligence Committee and, indeed, the major U.S. news media seem to believe that the public and even members of Congress should just fall in line.

Over the past two months, I’ve heard repeatedly that the public shouldn’t expect to see the intelligence that justifies war despite the bitter and bloody experience of the Iraq invasion (not to mention a long and sorry history of other U.S. government lies and propaganda justifying wars).

President Obama has a curious understanding of the word “transparency,” by which he seems to mean: keeping the public in the dark and giving a peek at the “evidence” only to officials who won’t ask any tough questions. Though he is not the first president to obsess over secrecy, some presidents have shown more respect for American and world public opinion, even if that requires sacrificing some modest intelligence advantage.

Think of President John Kennedy exposing the U-2′s high-resolution-photo capabilities to show the world the Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962; President Ronald Reagan revealing the U.S. ability to intercept Soviet air communications after the KAL-007 shoot-down in 1983; even President George W. Bush authorizing Secretary of State Colin Powell to reveal phone intercepts in support of the Iraq invasion in 2003. Granted, some of those revelations (like the KAL-007 and Iraqi intercepts) were doctored to make a propaganda case, but exposure of the intelligence capabilities was real.

It’s hard to believe that the Obama administration’s sources and methods regarding the Aug. 21 incident are any more sensitive than the intelligence techniques released by earlier presidents. The world surely knows that the United States can intercept phone calls and has satellites that can record both visual and infrared images with great precision.

The only logical reasons why the Obama administration would refuse to release any U.S. evidence in support of its accusations on Syria — especially after the bogus case for invading Iraq — is that the evidence is weak to non-existent or provided by “sources,” such as Israel, Saudi Arabia or the Syrian rebels, who have a vested interest in drawing the United States into the Syrian civil war.

The UN Report

While refusing to release any of its own evidence, the Obama administration has argued that a 38-page report by UN inspectors contained indications that some non-governmental organizations and media outlets, including the New York Times, have interpreted as implicating the Syrian government.

But the UN report itself offered no findings of responsibility and actually contained information casting doubt on some U.S. claims, including finding no Sarin or other chemical weapons agents at one of two sites inspected outside Damascus. The inspectors also reported that they detected signs that people associated with the rebels had tampered with the two sites before the inspectors arrived. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Murky Clues from UN's Syria Report."]

In the field, Robert Fisk, a veteran reporter for London’s Independent newspaper, found a lack of consensus among UN officials and other international observers — despite the career risks that they faced by deviating from the conventional wisdom on Assad’s guilt.

“Grave doubts are being expressed by the UN and other international organisations in Damascus that the sarin gas missiles were fired by Assad’s army,” Fisk wrote. “Why, for example, would Syria wait until the UN inspectors were ensconced in Damascus on 18 August before using sarin gas little more than two days later — and only four miles from the hotel in which the UN had just checked in?… As one Western NGO put it … ‘if Assad really wanted to use sarin gas, why for God’s sake, did he wait for two years and then when the UN was actually on the ground to investigate?’”

New evidence also has surfaced on how the U.S. government worked aggressively over the past dozen years to ensure that the leaders of key UN agencies, including the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, will present findings in ways most favorable to U.S. policies. [See Consortiumnews.com's "How US Pressure Bends UN Agencies."]

Ideally, the role of the press corps should be to examine all such claims skeptically and to insist as much as possible that the various sides in a dispute present their evidence so the information can be carefully evaluated, especially when the issue is one of war or peace.

If a government refuses to present any evidence at all — even hiding the facts from a legislator like Grayson who isn’t just going to toe the line — that press skepticism should be ratcheted up even higher. Instead, the New York Times on Syria does what it did during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, simply make itself available as a willing propaganda vehicle.

The Elites’ Strange Plot to Take Over the World

October 24th, 2013 by Global Research News

The idea of a country seems pretty simple. I live in America, and I’m an American. She lives in France, and she is French. The Americans have a president who is their leader, the British have a prime minister, the French have their own president, and so forth.

But the way political decision-making around security issues ricochets around the world, from Western capital to Western capital, is making a mockery of commonly held conceptions of national sovereignty. In recent weeks, a British parliament vote on Syria forced the U.S. president to seek authorization from Congress, while leaked documents detailed extensive cooperation between the intelligence services of the U.S. and other nations. The president of Bolivia was forced to down his plane by Italy and France, just because he joked about having Edwards Snowden on board. And so on, and so forth.

This all demands the question: Why do we hold the conception that we live in separate nation-states? Well, it turns out that this question was actually asked after World War II, and the answer American leaders came up with was … we shouldn’t.

In fact, Western elites in America and Western Europe after World War II made a serious effort to get rid of nations altogether, and combine all “freedom-loving peoples” into one giant “Atlantic Union,” a federal state built on top of the NATO military alliance.

As odd as it sounds, the documentary evidence is clear. This movement did manage to create a “European Union,” which came from the same ideological wellspring as the “Atlantic Union.” Once we recognize that the Cold War saw the construction of a powerful international regime that explicitly sought to get rid of sovereign nations, these broad security architectures revealed by the Syria situation and the NSA spying revelations make a lot more sense.

The strange story of Atlantica

The effort to unite Europe and the U.S. started in 1939, with the publication of a book by an influential journalist, Clarence Streit. This influential book was called ”Union Now,” and had a galvanizing effect on the anti-fascist youth of the time, a sort of cross between Thomas Friedman’s “The World Is Flat” and Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine.” Streit served in World War I in an intelligence unit, and saw up close the negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles. He then became a New York Times journalist assigned to cover the League of Nations, which led him to the conclusion that the only way to prevent American isolationism and European fascism was for political and economic integration of the major “freedom-loving” peoples, which he described as America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and most of Western Europe. The Five Eyes surveillance architecture was created just a few years later, as was the international monetary regime concocted at Bretton Woods.

When Streit wrote “Union Now,” in 1939, the German threat was obvious, World War II was beginning, and fascism and communism had linked arms through the pact between the Nazis and the Soviets. Streit’s argument, that the West needed to combine its strength to fight totalitarianism everywhere, was a powerful draw. The youth of the 1930s — those who read Streit’s book — became the political and diplomatic leaders of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and many of them went on to craft the multilateral institutions and international policies of the Cold War.

Indeed, the congressional record is peppered with resolutions and hearings from the late 1940s to the 1970s pushing for Atlantic Union. For example, in 1971, the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives convened a hearing to discuss the prospect of combining the United States of America and Western Europe into one country. This “Atlantic Union” would be a federal union, very similar to the the one described in United States Constitution. Existing countries would become states under a federalist system, with the larger federal system having its own currency, military, interstate commerce regulation and foreign relations apparatus.

That day in 1971, the committee was discussing a specific piece of legislation, a resolution — House Concurrent Resolution 163 — to create an “Atlantic Union Delegation,” a committee of 18 “eminent citizens” to join with other NATO country delegations and negotiate a plan to unite. The subcommittee chairman presiding over the hearing, congressman Donald Fraser of Minnesota, described the specific goal of the legislation as convening an “international convention to explore the possibility of agreement on a declaration to transform the present Atlantic alliance into a federal union, set a timetable for transition to this goal and to prescribe democratic institutions under which the goal would be achieved.” It was to be a Constitutional Convention.

Similar legislation, he noted, “was considered by the full House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 1960, 1966, and 1968, with favorable reports in 1960 and 1968.” Congress even passed the resolution in 1960, and spent money to send a delegation to Paris for such a convention (though John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson ignored the delegation’s recommendations).

This proposal had a great deal of elite support. Nearly every presidential candidate from the 1950s to the 1970s supported it, as did hundreds of legislators in the U.S. and Western Europe. The context of first World War II, and then the Cold War, made such a proposal sound reasonable, even inevitable. 1971 was the tail end of the post-World War II era, during which there had been a frenzy of international institutional creation work designed to avoid a repeat of the Great Depression and the two world wars. A large multilateral military force formed of allied governments and millions of soldiers of all nationalities had recently defeated the fascist powers on three continents. Millions had an experience of international comity in the defeat of the Axis Powers — so the concept of political union was not so far-fetched.

Moreover, the specter of the failed diplomatic and monetary initiatives of the 1930s haunted postwar leaders, and caused them to think deeply and act decisively to weave together a system whose core was the economic, military and political interdependence of sovereign allies. The Depression was seen as a phenomenon borne of a failed international system based on short-sited nationalist objectives. Streit, the president of the International Movement for Atlantic Union, breathlessly advocated for a union lest history be repeated. A lack of a union would lead to a monetary crash, and then crushing poverty. As circumstances changed, Streit’s testimonials to Congress changed. Just after World War II, he noted that Hitler’s appeal came from fascists arguing for political totalitarianism under the slogan “you can’t eat freedom.” He argued, consistent with the anti-communism of the time, that such a union was the only way to beat the Soviet threat. Later, he pointed out that union was important because with nuclear weapons at hand, the world could not afford a repeat of pre-World War II foreign policy mistakes. Then, as Bretton Woods began breaking down in the 1960s, he argued that a 1930s-style financial crash was inevitable without union.

Streit and his fellow Atlanticists were pragmatic; they sought to build the Atlantic Union on top of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, the Atlantic military alliance. And there was momentum on the side of the Atlanticists; the post-WWII international institution-building was impressive. In 1944, officials from the U.S. and U.K. — primarily John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White — worked at Bretton Woods to create what would become the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. These institutions were designed to avert a monetary crisis such as the one that had occurred in the 1930s. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, was created in 1947, similarly, to avert a trade war. The United Nations was constructed to do what the League of Nations had not, to serve as a legitimate forum for nations of the world to continuously deliberate. NATO could apply the united military strength of the West. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or the OECD, served originally as a forum whereby the United States could funnel aid to Europe to create the European Union. And this is to say nothing of the collaborative Cold War spying apparatus.

Faced with a Soviet threat, it seemed only natural to think that the next step after all of this institution-building was an Atlantic Union. Richard Nixon in 1966 supported the “Atlantic Union resolution” as a “forward-looking proposal which acknowledges the depth and breadth of incredible change which is going on in the world around us.” President Dwight Eisenhower, upon leaving office, thought such a trans-Atlantic union was inevitable, and argued it could cut massive Cold War defense costs by half. Eugene McCarthy, just before entering the presidential primary race against Lyndon Johnson (who did not support the measure), cosponsored the resolution in the Senate. Bobby Kennedy, George McGovern and Estes Kefauver were ardent believers. Even Barry Goldwater supported it; Ronald Reagan was the only major national figure in the Republican Party who opposed it, and Lyndon Johnson was a significant opponent in the Democratic Party.

The far right hated this idea. Gunthler Klincke of the Liberty Lobby called it a scheme for a socialist world government, and Myra Hacker of a group called the “American Coalition of Patriotic Societies,” said proponents of this plan “distrust and despise the American citizen” and that it was a plan for “national suicide.” Though the proposal for Atlantic Union has been written out of liberal historical memory, there are echoes of this episode in right-wing rhetoric about One World Government. The irony of this is that, as liberals gently chuckle at right-wing paranoia about what they perceive as an imagined plot to create a world government, it is the conservatives who have a more accurate read on history. There was a serious plan to get rid of American sovereignty in favor of a globalist movement, and the various institutions the right wing hates — the IMF, the World Bank, the U.N. — were seen as stepping stones to it. Where the right wing was wrong is in thinking that this plot for a global government was also a communist plot; it wasn’t, it was motivated by anti-communism. The proponents of the Atlantic Union in fact thought that this was the only way to defeat the USSR.

Streit explained that uniting the countries of Western Europe and the United States would “give their union a hand strong enough to win for peace peacefully, a land that no combination of dictatorships could challenge — all four aces and the joker. By this I meant: The ace of spades or productive power; the ace of diamonds or raw material power; the ace of clubs, or armed power; the ace of hearts, or moral power; and the joker — their growing power, their ability to admit to this nuclear union of the free other nations that desired to enter it, and were willing and able to uphold its standards of liberty. These few freedom practicing peoples needed only unite federally to” achieve it.

The question of Atlantic Union, proposed in 1939, percolated as a catch-all answer to Western foreign policy problems, until the 1970s. There were two basic arguments for Atlantic Union. The architects of NATO and the OECD believed that closer interdependence of nations in the non-Soviet “free world” would isolate the USSR. And this same group recognized that the Bretton Woods system, whereby the United States held most of the world’s gold and operated its reserve currency, was breaking down as Western European nations rebuilt their economies and as U.S. banks sought to escape regulation domestically by parking dollars abroad in those newly prosperous economies. Combining Western Europe and the U.S. into one federal union with one currency and regulatory harmonization of “interstate commerce” could avoid this “Eurodollar” problem.

A formal Atlantic Union was not a realistic proposal, though it was not as unimaginable as one might think — American support for the now-existing European Union came from the same intellectual and political tradition. The State Department, and politicians in power like Lyndon Johnson, opposed global federalism. And as the years crept on, it became less and less realistic. The World War II generation had idolized “Union Now” in their youth, but they had to confront the failures of the war in Vietnam and the global colonial project that Streit ignored (or worse, embraced).  The new political generation drew their inspiration not from hoary pre-WWII tomes of global utopianism, with the implications of a global rich white man’s club. As one New Left-influenced witness in the 1971 hearing put it, “The 1960′s revolution of political consciousness within the United States means the rejection of Atlantic Union ideas or alliance structures such as NATO in the seventies.”

But Atlantic Union was an important part of the debate of how the postwar era would be structured. Think about the debate as follows. On the right, you have the Liberty League and the right-wing patriots, represented by politicians like then governor of California Ronald Reagan. These people wanted a return to an isolationist or hyper-nationalist model of foreign relations. Then you had the mainstream State Department liberal internationalists, the JFKs and LBJs, who built entangling institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, the U.N. and so forth. Even further on the globalist spectrum, you had the Atlantic Unionists. All three strands echo, today. Consider Larry Summers, who in 2000 as treasury secretary argued for allowing cheap Chinese goods into the U.S. as a way of establishing “a fifth column for openness” in that country. Failure to integrate China in the global system with trade concessions, he said, would not only cut the average American’s paycheck, but would “make it more likely his son will be in a war in Asia.” This Thomas Friedman-esque “The World Is Flat” argument owes an intellectual debt to Streit. Integrate, the case goes, or perish.

The formal concept of Atlantica cracked under the weight of Vietnam and the coming neoliberal revolution in finance. The United States didn’t maintain its monopoly on stores of gold, as Nixon repudiated Bretton Woods in the face of high inflation and monetary instability. But as first Jimmy Carter, and then Ronald Reagan, deregulated the banking industry, global capital flows once again became a reality. Only, global capital flows just weren’t run by nation-states, as the Atlantic Unionists and liberal internationalists imagined, they were run by institutions like Citigroup and politically captured regulatory entities such as the Federal Reserve.

Did the plan succeed?

The institutional framework of a world government composed of Western European and American states remains far more potent than we like to imagine, even beyond the security apparatus revealed by Snowden’s documents. For example, in every major free trade agreement since NAFTA, U.S. courts have been subordinated to international tribunals, which operate according to rules laid out either by the World Trade Organization, a division of the World Bank, or by a division of the United Nations known as UNCITRAL (the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law). These tribunals rule on consumer, labor, and environmental questions – not just trade. And they are trans-national, much as the supply chains of Apple, Ford, Toyota, or any other multi-national corporation are, or the technology that Google, Microsoft, or IBM promote all over the world.

There are other deep links. The Basil banking accords seek international harmonization of capital standards. Why? It’s not clear what the benefits are of having global standards for what banks should do. But the global elites push onward, regardless, towards a one world solution. And lest one think this is just theoretical, the Federal Reserve supported the European Central Bank with unlimited swap lines during the financial crisis, lending as much as $500B to the ECB in 2008 and 2009. European and other foreign banks drew liberally from the New York Federal Reserve’s discount window. The Fed became the central banker to the world.

Questions of sovereignty still exists – as just one of many examples, the U.S. still refuses to sign the Law of the Sea Treaty, which is a nod to the Liberty League. But the history and reflexive embrace of globalism is far more complicated than we want to admit. And it’s time to begin grappling with the international architecture that we have. This means recognizing that the Cold War involved constructing a “deep state” to partially subordinate national sovereignty, and therefore, voting populations, to transnational elites.

As the spying scandal, a truly global scandal, continues, activists, citizens and journalists are recognizing the powerful remnants of this Cold War-era global deep state. The players in the scandal hop from country to country, some safe zones and some not. The Guardian is a British newspaper, and is now partnering with the New York Times, to keep the global intelligence services at bay. Cyberspace is a new and strange transnational front combining elements of war, trade, journalism, finance, activism, surveillance and applied government power. The Syrian situation too is a global security problem, with the French and the British tied to the American political order. The American executive is finding himself buffeted by British debates that should be irrelevant in a sovereign state acting solely in its vital national security interests.

Streit never achieved his goal of having a formal “Atlantic Union.”  But with an international “intelligence community,” globalized supply chains, increasingly global free trade agreements that subordinate national court systems, and globalized private and central banks, all couched under the rubric of promoting “freedom,” he has as much claim to being the true animating force behind what we’re facing today as anyone else.

Copyright Salon, 2013

This is beginning to become a regular occurrence, and McCain has the arrogance to say he’ll run for another term as Senator in 2016. But it’s worse than that…

The absent-minded Senator was ambushed by an intelligent constituent…

“I’ve been told for 12 years al-Qaeda is my enemy Sir, why is my money going to al-Qaeda in Syria?”

“I am not some fool standing here in front of you Sir, and I know that our money and weaponry, and by the way I have friends and family in the Jordanian Army and I know what our troops are doing there, and any man who supports al-Qaeda, I don’t care if he is the president of the United States or a Senator from the great state of Arizona”.

1-John-McCain-owned-Syria

McCain went on to berate his constituent, displaying the condescending attitude which has become McCain’s hallmark in recent years.

McCain did one worse this time, however – he accused the concerned Phoenix resident of lying by denying the man’s claim. Of course the Phoenix resident was 100% correct, supported by the US government’s own admission on September 11, 2013, that the CIA has been running guns into Syria admittedly since the summer. As the Washington Post reported:

“The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures.” 

As 21WIRE revealed last month, in addition to John McCain, other US politicians have also pledged their loyalty to rebel commander Gen. Salim Idriss in Syria. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) gushed that he felt embarrassed when he met with Syrians in the field just three weeks ago. “It was humiliating (…)… The president had announced that we would be providing lethal aid, and not a drop of it had begun. They were very short on ammunition, and the weapons had not begun to flow.”

It’s not only the guns which the US taxpayer is picking up the bill for in Syria. US military personnel have been deployed in neighboring Jordan in order to prep Islamic fighters before they are deployed as part of terrorist gangs in Syria.

John McCain crossed into Syria to visit the rebel militant leader General Idris on May 27,2013. Opposition General Idris has under his command, a number of militant terrorist cells who have been engaged in wanton violence, including the slaughter of hundreds of innocent Kurdish villagers in Northern Syria.  Here is McCain himself, posing for a photo with known terrorists in Syria:

To prove that Washington is both colluding and running PR cover for the rogue Senator, a State Department official issued a statement afterward, admitting they were aware of McCain clandestine visit into Syria, but referred further any questions to McCain’s office. That’s a cover-up.

In the photo above, McCain is joined by at least one known criminals, kidnapper Mohamed Nour (center, behind McCain’s left shoulder) from terrorist group “Northern Storm”, confirmed by Beirut’s The Daily Star newspaper as being part of a group who kidnapped 11 Shia muslims in 2012.

Who paid for McCain’s illegal trip to Syria? Answer: the US taxpayer.

McCain should be, at the very least – out of public office. If the US system truly delivered justice however, he would be in prison serving out his sentence.

by Julianne Hing,

In 17 U.S. states, the majority of public school students are low-income. But the poverty isn’t distributed evenly across the country, according to a new report from Southern Education Foundation. Thirteen of the states are in the South, and the other four are in the West.

The situation is dire.

Researchers measure the landscape by the numbers of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch, a rough proxy for gauging poverty. Students are eligible for free or reduced meals if their family household income is 185 percent beneath the poverty threshold.

In 2011, a student from a single-parent home with an annual income of $26,956 or less would qualify for free or reduced lunch. In Mississippi, 71 percent of public school students qualify for free and reduced lunch. In New Mexico it’s 68 percent; in California 54; in Texas it’s 50 percent.

 

 

Percentages of low-income students in U.S. states Illustration: Southern Education Foundation

While 30 percent of white students attend schools where the majority of students are low-income, 68 percent of Latino students attend schools classified as such. And 72 percent of black public school students go to schools where the majority of students are low-income.

The situation has serious implications for the educational futures of the nation’s youth, especially as budget-crisis-stricken cities and states are cutting first and deepest from their public schools.

Read the report in full here.  Southern Education Foundation (SEF) report:

A New Majority: Low Income Students in the South and the Nation, finds that low income children are a majority of students in the public schools of 17 states across the nation – and 13 of those states are in the South. Without fundamental improvements in how the South and the nation educate low income students, the trends that this report documents will ricochet across all aspects of American society for generations to come.

As the world begins to digest the implications of intellectual property for online censorship, another IP issue threatens an even more fundamental part of our daily lives: our food supply.

Backed by legal precedent and armed with seemingly inexhaustible lobbying funds, a handful of multinationals are attempting to use patents on life itself to monopolize the biosphere.

Find out more about the process of patenting life and what it means for the food supply on this GRTV Backgrounder, originally aired February 15, 2012.

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Transcript and sources:

The oft-neglected legal minefield of intellectual property rights has seen a surge in public interest in recent months due to the storm of protest over proposed legislation and treaties related to online censorship.[1] One of the effects of such legislation as SOPA and PIPA and such international treaties as ACTA is to have drawn attention to the grave implications that intellectual property arguments can have on the everyday lives of the average citizen.

As important as the protection of online freedoms is, however, an even more fundamental part of our lives has come under the purview of the multinational corporations that are seeking to patent the world around us for their own gain. Unknown to a large section of the public, a single US Supreme Court ruling in 1980 made it possible for the first time to patent life itself for the profit of the patent holder.

The decision, known as Diamond v. Chakrabarty, centered on a genetic engineer working for General Electric who created a bacterium that could break down crude oil, which could be used in the clean-up of oil spills.[2] In its decision, Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger ruled that:

“A live, human-made micro-organism is patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101”

With this ruling, the ability to patent living organisms, so long as they had been genetically altered in some novel way, was established in legal precedent.

The implications of such a monumental ruling are understandably wide-reaching, touching on all sorts of issues that have the potential to change the world around us. But it did not take long at all for this decision’s effects to make itself felt in one of the most basic parts of the biosphere: our food supply.

In the years following the Diamond v. Chakrabarty decision, an entire industry rose up around the idea that these new patent protections could foster the economic incentive for major corporations to develop a new class of genetically engineered foods to help increase crop yields and reduce world hunger.

The first commercially available genetically modified food, Calgene’s “Flavr Savr” tomato, was approved for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration in the US in 1992 and was on the market in 1994.[3] Since then, adoption of GM foods has proceeded swiftly, especially in the US where the vast majority of soybeans, corn and cotton have been genetically altered.

By 1997, the problems inherent in the patenting of these GM crops had already begun to surface in Saskatchewan, Canada. It was in the sleepy town of Bruno that a canola farmer, Percy Schmeiser, found that a variety of GM canola known as “Roundup Ready” had infected his fields, mixing with his non-GM crop.[4] Amazingly, Monsanto, the agrichemical company that owned the Roundup Ready patent, sued Schmeiser for infringing their patent. After a years-long legal battle against the multinational that threatened to bankrupt his small farming operation, Schmeiser finally won an out-of-court settlement with Monsanto that saw the company agree to pay for the clean-up costs associated with the contamination of his field.

In India, tens of thousands of farmers per year commited suicide[5] in an epidemic labeled the GM genocide.[6] Sold a story of “magic seeds” that would produce immense yields, farmers around the country were driven into ruinous debt by a combination of high-priced seeds, high-priced pesticides, and crop failure. Worst of all, the GM seeds had been engineered with so-called “terminator technology,” meaning that seeds from one harvest could not be re-planted the following year. Instead, farmers were forced to buy seeds at the same exorbitant prices from the biotech giants every year, insuring a debt spiral that was impossible to escape. As a result, hundreds of thousands of farmers have committed suicide in the Indian countryside since the introduction of GM crops in 1997.

As philosopher, quantum physicist and activist Vandana Shiva has detailed at great length, the effect of the invocation of intellectual property in enabling the monopolization of the world’s most fundamental resources was not accidental or contingent.[7] On the contrary, this is something that has been self-consciously designed by the heads of the very corporations who now seek to reap the benefit of this monopolization, and the monumental nature of their achievement has been obscured behind bureaucratic institutions like the WTO and innocuous sounding agreements like the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

Although the deck appears to be stacked in favour of the giant multinationals and their practically inexhaustible access to lobbying and legal funds, the people are by no means incapable of fighting back against this patenting of the biosphere.

In India itself, where so much devestation has been wrought by the introduction of genetically engineered crops, the people are fighting back against the world’s most well-known purveyor of GMO foods, Monsanto. The country’s National Biodiversity Diversity Authority has enabled the government to proceed with legal action against the company for so-called biopiracy, or attempting to develop a GM crop derived from local varieties of eggplant, without the appropriate licences.[8]

Although resistance to the patenting of the world’s food supply should be applauded in all its forms, what is needed is a fundamental transformation in our understanding of life itself from a patentable organism to the common property of all of the peoples who have developed the seeds from which these novel GM crops are derived.

This concept, known as open seeds, is being promoted by organizations around the globe, including Dr. Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya organization.[9]

To be sure, it will be a long and arduous uphill battle to bring this issue to the attention of a public that seems to be but dimly aware of what genetically modified foods are, let alone the legal ramifications of the ability to patent life, but as the work of such organizations as Navdanya continues to educate people about the issues involved, the numbers of those opposed to the patenting of the biosphere likewise increases.

From seed-saving and preservation projects to an increased awareness of and interest in organic foods, people around the globe are beginning to take the issue of the food supply as seriously as the companies that are quite literally attempting to ram their products down the consumers’ throats.

As always, the power lies with the consumers, who can win the battle simply by asserting their right to choose where and how they purchase the food, a lesson that was demonstrated once again earlier this month in Germany.[10]

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8uO9bw1TNw
[2]http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/447/303/case.html
[3]http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidance…
[4] http://www.percyschmeiser.com/
[5] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4RA4hbNRkY
[6] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1082559/The-GM-genocide-Thousand…
[7] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYwOTLopWIw
[8] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmIBvA1Tf20
[9] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfNCCJECpss
[10] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqRbziwzVkk

Seeds of Destruction

Leery of Lies: American Distrust in Media Hits Record High

October 24th, 2013 by Global Research

“That’s why they call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.”
―George Carlin

Recently a poll was conducted among Americans to determine the extent to which people have faith in mainstream media to report the news accurately.

The result showed that a staggering sixty percent of Americans do not trust the media in the United States — an all-time record.

More and more people are realizing that mainstream media serve as nothing more than well-funded mouthpieces for corrupt leaders. They work hand-in-hand to deliver news that suits corporate agendas (namely, spin and lies). Mainstream media exists to parrot the drivel and propaganda of the global elite:

“Speaking figuratively is the preferred way of talking by officials who want to appear to be saying something substantive when they have nothing substantive to say. In many cases, it is meaningless trash talk, a hidden way of lying. President Obama is a master of it.” (See ““Talking Trash”: War, Economic Crisis and the Lies of History“)

The encouraging news is that alternative and independent media websites like Global Research are seeing an influx of new readers from around the world. It means that people are looking for news stories that reflect facts, not ones that are bought and paid for. As John Kozy writes:

“Those familiar with my work know that I believe that knowledge belongs to everyone, not just to those who discover it. So I post my pieces where anyone who wants to read them can access them freely. But although the knowledge is free, the means of promulgating it are not. Everyone knows that it is costly to design, print, and distribute books and magazines, but few seem to realize that it costs money to host and maintain websites too.

So if you appreciate the writings of authors that appear on a website, remember that supporting them requires that you support the site too, for the site is what makes it possible for you to read them. Supporting GlobalResearch.ca is not just an act of generosity, it is also an act of gratitude for what it makes available to you every day.”
John Kozy, Ph.D., retired professor of philosophy and logic (www.jkozy.com)
For list of articles by John Kozy, visit: http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/john-kozy

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New York Times Buries CIA Facts on Latin American Deaths

October 24th, 2013 by David Lindorff

Salvador Allende’s eyeglasses. Museo Historico Nacional, Santiago, Chile

The New York Times has a venerable history of eliding references to any US role in overthrowing governments or murdering foreign leaders. But an article in Thursday’s edition by Times reporter Simon Romero (“Latin America Brings Up Its Dead, Seeking Truth to Help Settle the Past”) raises the censorship bar.

Running at over 1200 words, the article describes the exhumation of the remains of the likes of leftist Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda, deposed leftist Brazilian Presidents Joao Goulart and Juscelino Kubitschek, ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende Gossens and his predecessor Eduardo Frei Montalva—all of whose deaths are viewed with suspicion by Latin Americans. Yet Romero manages to mention a possible US role only once, and then only indirectly and with reference to a half-century old case —when he notes that Brazil’s elected President Goulart had been ousted from office in a 1964 military coup “supported by the United States.”Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda (right)

That is the only reference to the US in the entire article.

Quite remarkably, given the amount that has been exposed over the years about it, Romero mentions the role of a Latin America-wide assassination program called Operation Condor—without once noting that the whole thing wasorchestrated or at least encouraged and enabled by the US.

Condor’s Wingmen

Eduardo Frei Montalva

Eduardo Frei Montalva (left)

Condor was a vast conspiracy that involved the cooperative efforts of the intelligence agencies of all the military dictatorships in the region which, during the 1970s and 1980s, killed as many as 35,000-50,000 people, mostly leftist leaders, labor activists, and opponents of those dictatorships.

This lapse is particularly outrageous given that in years past, even the New York Times itself reported on the intimate role of the US in the creation and operation of Operation Condor.

For example, in a March 6, 2001 article, the NY Times reported on a “recently declassified” US State Department document. It revealed that the US had facilitated communications among South American intelligence agency heads who were busy trying to eliminate left-wing opposition groups in their respective countries.  Part of the program involved going after opposition leaders who had fled coups and were living in neighboring South American countries.

Salvador Allende GossensSalvador Allende Gossens (right)

The document in question, a 1978 cable to then US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance from the US ambassador to Paraguay, Robert E. White, was unearthed by Professor J. Patrice McSherry of Long Island University, who called it “another piece of increasingly weighty evidence suggesting that U.S. military and intelligence officials supported and collaborated with Condor as a secret partner or sponsor.”

In this cable, Ambassador White reports on a conversation he had with the chief of staff of Paraguay’s military, General Alejandro Fretes Davalos, who he says informed him that the South American intelligence agencies involved in Operation Condor “keep in touch with one another through a U.S. communications installation in the Panama Canal Zone which covers all of Latin America.”  That communications station, he wrote, was “employed to coordinate intelligence information among the southern cone countries.”

White, in this memo to Vance, expresses a fear that the U.S. role in Operation Condor might be revealed during a then active criminal investigation into the assassination of former Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier and an American colleague, Ronni Moffitt—both of whom were killed by an explosive device placed in their vehicle in Washington, D.C.  “It would seem advisable,” writes White, “to review this arrangement to insure that its continuation is in U.S. interest.”

image002Another document discovered at the same time, this one a CIA cable concerning the Brazilian junta’s role in Operation Condor, refers to “Condor-Tel,”  described as the “communications network established by the Condor countries.” It also refers to “European operations” of the Condor countries, which likely involved assassination plots against ousted leaders and activists currently living in asylum there after fleeing their martial-law homelands in Latin America.

The Times Tango

The whole approach taken by Times journalist Romero, with the apparent cooperation or perhaps encouragement of the paper’s foreign editors, was to present the current exhumations of important leftist corpses (the ones he cites actually date from between 2004 and 2013) like Neruda’s, Goulart’s, Kubitschek’s and Frei’s—as part of some kind of delightful if arcane Latin American cultural tradition. It was an “exhumation fever,” as he puts it, even going so far as to write, “Scholars say the practice may be the secularized continuation of customs from the time of early Christianity, when a vibrant trade involved the body parts of saints.”

None of these exhumations, however, involve the selling of body parts. They are about looking for evidence that important leftist leaders and political figures, said to have died natural deaths, may have in fact been assassinated in conspiracies that, for the most part, could likely be traced back to the US and the Central Intelligence Agency. Romero mentions none of this.

Salvador Allende Gossens

Salvador Allende Gossens (right)

In the case of Chile’s President Frei, for example, who was president of Chile until the election of Marxist Socialist Allende, his death in 1982 had long been officially attributed to complications following an operation for a stomach ailment. But because by that time the retired Christian Democrat had become a sharp critic of martial law under Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the general who had led the coup against Allende, there werealways suspicions he had been murdered. In fact, as Romero reports, after his body was exhumed, forensics experts concluded that Frei had been poisoned by small doses of mustard gas and the highly toxic heavy metal element thallium.

Augusto Pinochet

Augusto Pinochet (left)

What Romero doesn’t report is that back in 1982, under President Ronald Reagan and CIA Director William Casey, Operation Condor was in full swing. It is unlikely that Pinochet—largely a US creation and puppet, whose coup in 1973 overthrowing Allende was the handiwork of President Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger—would have had Frei killed on his own, without US permission. (Even when he mentions the 1973 coup in Chile, Romero fails to say a word about the central US role in fomenting it.)

Goulart too, was said to have died of a heart attack back in 1976, when he was living in exile in Argentina. The exhumation of his body is being undertaken to see if he was actually poisoned. While Romero mentions that concern, he fails to mention who the prime suspects would be behind such a murder: Condor and, by extension, the CIAkissinger-pinochet1

Escalating the Disinformation

The New York Times has long censored its coverage of Latin America, particularly when it comes to the covert actions of the US government to undermine popular democracy in what Washington considers to be its “backyard.” But this particular piece by Romero takes that censorship to the level of the absurd.

He even fails to note, in an aside mentioning the recent exhumation of the body of the late Palestine Authority leader Yasser Arafat, who died mysteriously of unknown causes in 2004, that Swiss medical experts had found traces of the rare and highly toxic element Polonium on his clothing. Such a finding, which was published in the respected British medical journal, the Lancet, makes it probable that Arafat was poisoned. Only a limited number of intelligence agencies have ready access to Polonium, among them agencies in the US, USSR and Israel, the latter of which had long made its dislike of Arafat clear, at one point in 2002 threatening to bomb him as he holed up in the badly damaged Palestinian Authority headquarters.

Joao Goulart

Joao Goulart (left)

It should come as no surprise that Romero, a long-time South American correspondent for the Times who is currently posted to Brazil, would write such an article so blatantly censoring out the history of US covert action in Latin America. Romero also notoriously wrote an absurd scare story, based solely upon Defense Intelligence Agency data, purporting to show that Venezuela was becoming a regional military threat, though as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted, Venezuela’s military at the time was dwarfed by both Colombia’s and Brazil’s and was 1/500th the size of the US military.

To give Romero his due, though, the problem is larger than one reporter. Indeed, transforming the horrific doings of this country into “honey isn’t that fascinating” folkloric excursions is nothing new—and not limited to any oneTimesman or woman. Indeed, using “cultural tradition” to explain why anyone would want to exhume popular figures who died under suspicious circumstances is reminiscent of a previous New York Times article in which the author used pseudopsychology, and even neurology, to explain why some people believe in conspiracy. Another example would be the hiring of the popular filmmaker Errol Morris to make the assassination of John F. Kennedy a “delightful” example of coincidence in action via the strange case of the “Umbrella Man” on the Grassy Knoll (see this and this.)

***

When it comes to the political murders that underlie most of the current exhumations in Latin America, we have no way around what looks like theTimes’ deliberate failure to mention the potentially explosive issue of US sponsorship. That this astonishing oversight comes at a time of rising anti-American sentiment in many of the same Latin American countries seeking closure and justice cannot go unmentioned. And as we mourn these tragic deaths, we might add one more, right here in the United States: the slow death of honest journalism. It’s time to exhume the truth—everywhere.

A food distribution program aimed at expectant and new mothers and their babies may have increased the number of girls and women getting pregnant in and around the town of Savanette, located in Haiti’s Centre département(province).

That’s the perception of many residents and even beneficiaries of a USAID-funded World Vision “Multi-Year Assistance Program” (MYAP), running from 2008 through September 2013 here and in a number of communities in Haiti. As part of the MYAP, World Vision distributes food to pregnant women and mothers of children six to 23 months old (so-called “1,000 day programming”), as well as to vulnerable populations such as people living with AIDS, orphans, and malnourished children.

“There are some people getting pregnant every year” in order to get free food, claimed Carmène Louis, a former beneficiary. “That’s why there are more children around. If you want to get in the program, you can’t unless you are pregnant… You see youngsters [getting pregnant at] 12 or 15 years old! I think it’s a real problem for Savanette.”

But she also admitted that some of her neighbors were hungry, saying “things are getting worse, not better.”

While the lack of up-to-date statistics prevented Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) from verifying whether or not the birthrate had indeed risen in Savanette, an investigation carried out over the course of a year discovered that many in this village near the Dominican Republic border – including respected elders, community radio members, an agronomist, and several beneficiaries – believe the MYAP has caused girls and women to resort to pregnancy in order to receive the bulgur wheat, beans, vegetable oil, and flour at monthly distributions.

A USAID-funded report on food aid programs in Haiti appears to confirm the perception. Evaluators for the 2013 USAID-BEST Analysis noted “a rise in pregnancies in one rural area and the possibility of this phenomenon being linked to public perceptions of 1,000 days programming,” although the report did not name which “rural area.”

Like many others questioned, agronomist Ruben Louis Jeune swore to the phenomenon and expressed concern.

“There are people who get pregnant on purpose,” he said, noting that often “youngsters are making babies. The population is growing, people are having children but they will not be able to afford to take care of them or pay for school.”

Asked about the possible increased pregnancies, Haiti’s Secretary of State for the Revival of Agriculture said that, while he was not familiar with the case, it was not out of the question.

“I have worked in the Central Plateau for 15 years,” he told HGW. “If I talk to you just about the perverse effects of the programs I myself have seen in front of my eyes… there are so many!”

The World Vision MYAP program also provides pregnant women and young mothers with prenatal care as well as support for vegetable gardens, “Behavior Change Communication” education, and other benefits via “Mothers Clubs.” In addition, the program has many other aspects related to helping Haitian farmers improve their animal husbandry or crop output, including technical assistance and training for farmers associations, distribution of seeds and livestock, support for improving irrigation, and other help.

HGW did not look at those aspects of the program. Journalists focused only on the food aid and its real or perceived impacts in and around Savanette.

The food assistance program is an attempt by USAID to target vulnerable populations, especially children.

The Haitian government and foreign agencies say at least 21% of all children suffer from “stunting,” meaning they are under-weight and under-height for their age. Some provinces are worse than others, and rural children generally have a higher stunting prevalence.

Beginning in 2008, USAID funded MYAPs to be run by World Vision, ACDI/VOCA and Catholic Relief Services in three different regions of the country, providing money as well as food: about 14,000 metric tons (MT) of food aid per year during the 2011-2013 period. (The organizations received and distributed higher amounts in 2010 and 2011 as part of the earthquake response.)

...World Vision received 4,275 MT for FY2012 and approximately 3,830 MT for FY2013, which ended on September 30. The U.S.-based agency also received almost US$80 million for the grant, to which they added some of their own funding. The program cost over US$90 million for 2008-2012 and was extended for one year. (HGW could not find the cost of the additional year.)

World Vision’s food distribution programs on La Gonâve, the Central Plateau, and parts of the Artibonite province cost about US$4.5 million per year, according to the agency’s communications officer Jean-Wickens Méroné.

According to a World Vision evaluation of its own work, published in 2012, the food aid has had positive effects. During the first three years of the MYAP, the internal report says, the amount of “stunting” dropped for children aged six to 59 months went from 23.5% to 6%.

Food aid is “more negative than positive”

Some in and around Savanette are undernourished. In the last two years of FEWSNET reports, the Savanette region is pretty consistently considered “stressed,” which is #2 on a scale of #1 to #5, #1 being “no food insecurity” and #5 being “catastrophe/famine.”

“There is hunger here,” agronomist Jeune noted. “The distribution of food is not in and of itself a problem. It has a small positive impact, but when you investigate, you see that it is more negative than positive.”

Like Jeune, farmers and residents of Savanette have many questions about the program, which comes on of decades of food aid.

In addition to the real or perceived pregnancy increase, HGW also discovered that farmers and agronomists are convinced food aid has helped create a culture of dependence, discouraging people from working all of their plots and planting formerly important grains like sorghum. It has also encouraged consumers to buy imported rice rather than buy or grow sorghum, corn, and other crops, as in the past.

Even beneficiaries raised questions about the program. In the fall of 2012, HGW journalists queried 25 beneficiary families. All of them said they had land and were farmers. Two-thirds said that – given the option – they would prefer to receive seeds to food aid. (Some beneficiaries said they did receive a one-time donation of vegetable seeds.)

Merilus Derius, 71, said he thinks the younger generations do seem to want to farm, and he added that they not value some the foods he grew up eating.

“People are neglecting their fields!” the farmer told HGW. “Before, we used to be able to live off our land.”

While Derius admitted that environmental degradation and other factors have contributed to decreased agricultural output he also blamed the invasion of food aid and cheap foreign food, which people buy instead of local products.

“Now we have this food called ‘rice husks.’ In the Dominican Republic, they give it to animals. In Haiti, people eat it! But before, farmers grew sorghum and ground it. They grew Congo peas, planted potatoes, planted manioc. On a morning like this, a farmer would make his coffee and then – using a thing called ‘top-top,’ a little mill – he would crush sugar cane and boil the sugar cane water, and eat cassava bread, and he would have good health!” he said. “When you lived off your garden, you were independent… But when your stomach depends on someone else, you are not independent.”

World Vision does not believe its program creates dependency because most of the program is concerned with helping farmers improve their production.

“It is a program that encourages resiliency and independence, after a certain period,” World Vision’s Director of Operations, Lionel Isaac, told HGW.

Indeed, it would be unfair to blame the World Vision program for all of Savanette’s woes. Jeune, other agronomists, and farmers like Derius hope that the plethora of recently announced government and foreign agricultural projects will help their region, which is capable of producing sorghum, corn, many kinds of vegetables and fruits, tubers, and livestock products like milk. The area has a lot of potential, Jeune said, but archaic farming methods, with few or no agricultural inputs, keep it from being self-sufficient.

“All of the communes produce food,” Jeune noted. “If farmers had technical assistance, they would make more money and the quality would improve also.”

Questions About a Food Distribution

On March 18, 2013, HGW journalists observed a food distribution that raised questions about how beneficiaries are treated.

Food was handed out to people who had stood in line for many hours, sometimes to groups who would divide it up. Journalists witnessed shoving and even fighting, as well as older women sitting on the ground, picking individual lentil beans.

“At a lot of distributions, you see pushing,” Jeune told HGW. “Old people are sometimes hurt. Even if food is being handed out, basic principals should be respected.”

Questioned in 2012, about one-third of 25 beneficiaries said they had been mistreated during food distributions.

World Vision workers did not want HGW to videotape the March 18 distribution where – at the end of the distribution – some food had not been handed out.

“You can’t film here!” one of the men yelled, shoving the journalists. Along with others, he tried to force journalists to turn off their camera and leave.

Members of the community radio station and other bystanders protected the journalists, who were eventually allowed to continue their work. World Vision officials in the capital later apologized for the attack, saying they had disciplined the employees.

Haiti Grassroots Watch is a collaboration of two Haitian organizations, Groupe Medialternatif/Alterpresse and the Society for the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS), along with students from the Faculty of Human Sciences at the State University of Haiti and members of two networks – the network of women community radio broadcasters (REFRAKA) and the Association of Haitian Community Media (AMEKA), which is comprised of community radio stations located across the country. This series produced by HGW is distributed in collaboration with Haiti Liberté.

French President François Hollande has demanded answers from US President Barack Obama about the National Security Agency’s spying on French citizens.

In a statement, Hollande also expressed his deep disapproval of Washington’s eavesdropping on millions of French people’s phone calls. Hollande said spying activities between allies are not acceptable because it is a violation of French citizens’ privacy.

Meanwhile the US says some claims by the French press about its information-gathering are distorted. Earlier, the US State Department announced that it does not want to see its ties with France damaged due to the issue.

Transcript

Press TV: When the earlier revelations came by Snowden initially, it was understood that this was just the tip of the iceberg. However it seems the US is gaining the wrath of many, many governments around the world. What do you make of the recent revelations?

Schechter: Well Obama administration prided itself on its technological savvy and sophistication. Obama’s re-election was partly a function of their mastery of what is called big data.

They were able to use technology with great sophistication, but now they are being undermined by technology, a technology that they do not have under their control. One of the problems they are having is with the website for the Health Care Plan which Obama has vested his entire administration on. They cannot get people to sign up because the websites are not working and now this.

The NSA has become a global issue not just an American problem. You have revelations that have taken place in Brazil, in Mexico and now in France with people outraged when they have learned that the United States government is spying on them.

These are countries that are considered our allies. There were protest in France probably bigger and louder protest and there have been even in United States against NSA overreach, NSA spying on Americans and now people all over the world.

This is not good, not for the Obama administration because it seems that the entire NSA operation is out of control. Perhaps that is why General Alexander, the adman has suddenly stepped down. I am sure he was pushed and he did not do it voluntarily.

But you know this problem is not going to go away. Snowden has many more revelations to drop. There has been an announcement that a billionaire [Pierre] Omidar who is connected to eBay, who made a fortune on eBay is now financing Glenn Greenwald and other journalists who have been investigating this surveillance abuses.

So what we have to look forward to, if you want to call it that, is more revelations that are going to be damaging and embarrassing to the United States government. This cannot be very good.

Press TV: But Mr. Schechter, how concerned is the US government in actuality considering, with regards to this recent revelation the White house just responded, hey everybody does it?

Schechter: Well of course they are justifying, they are rationalizing. They are attempting to minimize the impact of it all, everyone does it, but everyone does not have the global reach of an NSA that is interfering.

You know I am sure that if we discover that the Chinese intelligence was investigating the habits and consumer practices of most Americans, there would be a tremendous outcry in this country. They have the capacity to do it possibly. Are they doing it? Probably not.

So the United States is involved in a high profiled espionage effort that is only causing more problems for the United States and I think we are going to see more revelations in the weeks and months ahead.


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Slavery in Qatar

October 24th, 2013 by Global Research News

Almost all of the Qatari labor force is made up of foreign workers.  They are several times more numerous than the normal citizenry.  These workers are employed under the kafala system, under which they are indentured to a Qatari sponsor.  A worker cannot leave the country or change employment, get a driver’s license, or rent a home without the sponsor’s consent.

The Qatari Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Abdallah Saleh Al Khulaifi has acknowledged inadequate enforcement of laws and regulations on conditions of workers.  The sponsor is prohibited from holding a passport after the worker has been cleared by Immigration.  He is required to pay wages promptly, and hours of work in extreme heat are limited.  Workers are to have access to drinking water and health care.  He said that his ministry would be hiring more inspectors to enforce the rules and more interpreters to be able to communicate with the workers.

Conditions of foreign workers have become an acute concern because Qatar is slated to be the venue for the 2020 world cup of soccer.

Some critics contend that Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers is so appalling that the venue should be shifted, especially since these workers are building the facilities for the games.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, charged, “Foreign workers in Qatar are modern-day slaves to their local employers.  The local Qatari owns you.”

The Reuters account spoke of withholding wages as well as passports, and work shifts which can be as long as 16 hours.  A Guardian article this month reported 70 Nepali construction workers having died since the beginning of last year.

British Prime Minister David Cameron pointedly noted that there were no deaths in construction for the 2012 Olympics in London.

According to Nepali Union officials, lack of safety equipment results in workers falling to their deaths.  Burrow said, “Scores are dying from heat exhaustion and dehydration after 12-hour shifts in blazing heat, often during the night in squalid and cramped labor camps with no ventilation and appalling hygiene.”

Some 340,000 Nepalis work in Qatar.  Their remittances make up more than 20% of Nepal’s Gross Domestic Product.  When it became known that Nepal’s ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma, had referred to Qatar as “an open jail,” the government, in response to Qatar’s complaint, recalled her for her inappropriate remarks.  Nepal’s government is led by self-described Maoists, who apparently love those remittances.  What would Karl Marx have said?

Will FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) stick with Qatar as the site of the 2020 world cup? It shouldn’t.

Copyright Canadian Charger 2013

The United States of War: An Addiction to Imperialism

October 24th, 2013 by Solomon Comissiong

The U.S. is Number One is weapons of war and domestic civilian gun deaths – and very little else. Historically, peace has not been a priority for the United States, which has waged war every decade since 1776. “The people must demand an end to war, not because it costs trillions of dollars, but because it cost millions of lives.”

A common description for the term addiction is, the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences, or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors…” This definition is most appropriate in regard to the world’s most destructive killing machine – the United States military. The United States government has long developed an acquired taste for war. And because much of the US population is completely obsequious to whatever their duplicitous government tells them, they, too, have become complacent to a perpetual state of war. Americans punch-drunk on nationalism fail to realize that “their” government is beholden to the interests of imperialism, not their general well being. Like well controlled puppets they chant, “USA number one”, over and over and over again, failing to ever question what “their” country is actually number one in.

The mental sickness of “American Exceptionalism” maintains the asylum known as American society. American Exceptionalism designs baseless sayings like, “USA number one.” US society is an extremely competitive and insecure environment. Ultimately, a place that encourages its citizens to ritualistically chant how good they are is not so sure of itself. Either that, or it does not wish the Hoi Polloi to ever question their government at all. The US is not number one in quality of life, education or overall healthcare. The USA is not even the happiest nation in the world, by a long shot. However, a few things the United States is number one in are: incarceration, gun related deaths and yes, military expenditure.

These are among some of the unsavory rubrics in which the US reigns supreme. If Americans meant any of those areas when they blindly chant, “USA number one”, then they would be spot on, especially when it comes to military “firepower.” With around 1,000 military bases, well over 10,000 nuclear warheads, and an almost constant state of war, the US is numero uno, without rival. The US is an imperialist monster with a voracious appetite for destruction. It has an uncontrollable appetite for war, caring little what it murders on its way toward global domination. This is evident in the vast number of civilians killed as a result of the US’s military campaigns. The vast majority of people murdered when the US decides to unleash its war machine, are, in fact, civilians. This is news to most Americans because they have been socially programmed to not even think about civilian casualties. They only worry about US military casualties as if those are the only lives that matter. Thinking about the catastrophic impact their government’s wars inflict upon innocent people, in “far off lands”, is well beyond many Americans’ social radar. This mode of thinking (or lack there of) has conditioned numerous Americans to lose vast segments of their humanity.

It is of little surprise that the United States government cares little about the “adverse consequences” that come with being constantly entrenched in war and global conflict. However, when the populace have adopted that inhumane way of thinking it paves a destructive road that we are traveling upon. The people are the ones whose responsibility it is to, not request, but demand an end to these wars of imperialism. Unfortunately, the United States’ mind control program, otherwise known as corporate media, has had a firm grip on the conscience of many Americans. This fact continues to prevent Americans from understanding that the people being terrorized by the US’s imperialist wars, are human beings – just like them. It especially prevents them from understanding that people in places like Afghanistan are, in fact, being terrorized by the US military.

Americans have bought into the orchestrated mythology that “their country,” when it enters/instigates a war, is doing so for some sort of benevolent reasons. Historically speaking, this could not be further from the truth, especially when we consider the number of civilians killed. Since World War I there has been a complete reversal of civilian deaths. During World War I, 10% of all casualties were civilians. During World War II, the number of civilian deaths rose to 50%. During the Vietnam War 70% of all casualties were civilians. In the war in Iraq, civilians account for 90% of all deaths. And when we look at the number of civilians killed by way of George Bush and Barack Obama’s drone strikes (alone), more that 90 percent of the victims have been civilians. However, don’t look at the fourth branch of the US government (the corporate media), to inform you of this. They, like the Pentagon and White House, could not give a damn about the number of innocent civilians killed. When former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and Secretary of State) Colin Powell was asked, in 1991, about the number of Iraqi civilians killed as a result of the US Gulf War against Iraq, he simply stated: “Its not a number I’m terribly interested in.” It is important to note that the Associated Press at the time quoted US military officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, estimating that the number of Iraqi dead at 100,000. However, other independent estimates place the number much higher. Not surprising, the Pentagon refused to provide an estimate of the number of dead Iraqi civilians.

The shear lack of regard for human life, especially that of civilians, is akin to that of a serial killer. The US military apparatus operates like that of a pathological killing machine with lust for war. The history of the United States more than backs up this assertion, especially when we consider the fact that since the US’s “founding” in 1776, this country has been at war 216 of those years. That’s right, out of the US’s 237 year existence it has been engaged in military conflict 216 of those years. If that is not an addiction to war, this author does not know what is. The US has never gone a decade without being engaged in some sort of military conflict.

United States imperialism is destroying the world, one nation at time. And within those nations are living breathing human beings. Is it really hard to fathom why many people despise the US? It has nothing to do with Americans’ so-called “freedoms” – instead, it has everything to do with the military destruction of their countries. The politicians that ultimately control the US military care little about the soldiers they command to fight in their capitalist conquests of wealth and resources. And they certainly could not give a damn about the innocent civilians in places like Libya, Pakistan and Yemen. They are not concerned with how they are perceived by much of the globe; they are only concerned with maintaining their imperialist advancements and control. You are either “with them” or “against them”; there is no middle ground. And for these reasons it should be crystal clear why people living within the United State must care.

Organized critical masses of concerned people must serve as the moral compass, and rehabilitation, needed to end the US’s addiction to war. Bluntly put, humanity depends on it. The people must demand an end to war, not because it costs trillions of dollars, but because it cost millions of lives. There is no dollar amount that can be used to measure a human’s life. All human life must be seen as invaluable, period. An American life is no more valuable than that of someone from any country in which the U.S. is waging war. The financial cost of war is enormous and is an issue, in and of itself – however, this cost pales in comparison to the cost of human life.

We must unite and be prepared to organize to end the culture of war within the US. Ending the culture of war in this country will pave the way for wars to cease globally, especially since the US global war footprint is virtually everywhere. Creating a culture of peace begins with changing our acceptance of the United States’ addiction to war. Demanding this radical, yet humane, change to take place is paramount if we are to mold a brighter future for subsequent generations. Peace starts with all of us. It is one of the most important tasks before us. We must be firmly against war, in addition to being for peace. They go hand in hand. Now is the time to start building that brighter and more humane future.

Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, and the host of the Your World News media collective (www.yourworldnews.org). Mr. Comissiong is also a founding member of the Pan-African collective for Advocacy & Action. Solomon is the author of A Hip Hop Activist Speaks Out on Social Issues. He can be reached at: [email protected].

As the US and NATO begin to pull out of Afghanistan what might wonder and attempt to fathom what they have achieved by invading and occupying the country for over a decade.

According to Voice of Russia regular Rick Rozoff, manager of Stop NATO website, the entire campaign has been a debacle. Mr. Rozoff is another voice repeating what has clearly been discovered to be the US strategy in the Middle East: import murderous terrorists and Al-Qaeda fanatical mercenaries into a country and use them to destroy it and divide it up.

Hello, this is John Robles, I am speaking with Rick Rozoff, the owner of Stop NATO and the Stop NATO international mailing list.

Rozoff: The US supports what are clearly unprovoked, armed attacks by insurgents who are in most instances based in outside countries, usually contiguous ones but not necessarily, and then they launch what are just murderous raids inside the country. When the government then takes measures to protect the civilian population and government personnel including elementary letter carriers or school teachers or police officers.

They are then accused of disproportionate use of force, of gross human rights violations and then the US, increasingly now and recent years under the so-called Responsibility to Protect proviso, then intervenes militarily on behalf of these armed brigands and bandits, calling them rebels in most cases. That’s what happened in Libya.

So what you had was for 19 days the fairly recently inaugurated US Africa Command, that’s the first overseas regional military command created by the United States since the end of the Cold War, we should note, has to then be tried out, has to be tested and it was. For 19 days they launched so-called Operation Odyssey Dawn and absolutely blistered Libya with Tomahawk cruise missile attacks, bombing raids, Hellfire missiles and drones, without any…long surpassing any pretense of their intervening to protect the civilian population, and then NATO picks up under Operation Unified Protector and launches something like 30,000 air sorties over the country, almost 10,000 combat sorties.

This is a small country of six million people. And this goes on for six months, of concentrated NATO air bombardment. And the end result is, not surprisingly, people like ourselves warned people exactly what was going to come out of this, which is what we see now: is that the country is divided into three basically, based on tribal and other differences, that rival militias and little armed groupings that may vary from day to day in terms of their allegiance or their composition are fighting over the spoils.

But at the same time, again, NATO was reiterated, just in recent weeks in the last two or three weeks, NATO has reiterated they’re prepared (NATO is prepared) to provide military training and guidance to the armed forces of Libya, where there are no armed forces of Libya, you indicated that in your comment.

So what you have instead is something, almost like the Thirty Years’ War in Europe in the early 1600s: Rival groups of looters fighting for dominance in a given area.

Robles: Let’s not denigrate the Libyan people too much here because I mean, there is an army in Libya. I mean it’s fragmented, it’s weak but there is a loyal core army in Libya but they are having a very difficult time fighting all these groups that were armed to the teeth.

Rozoff: Then NATO steps in and arms them and trains them, much as they did with the NATO Training Mission – Iraq, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, and they walk in and they train a central army, central armed forces in Libya, to fight the very same Islamic extremists that you indicated, that they bombed the country on behalf of for six months.

Robles: About NATO and Georgia, now it seems like they are focusing very closely on Georgia. Where do you see that going? Japan has been there recently. A post on your site says that they are going to be included in the Global Strike Force. Can you tell us about that?

Rozoff: Yes, Georgia remains a major linchpin for US and NATO interests. In the words of various pro-US Georgian officials, really proxies, like Mikhail Saakashvili, who has repeatedly referred to his country as being the gateway between Europe and Asia, which in fact it is geographically, and politically perhaps less so, but the intent is, the geopolitical purpose of Georgia, is to plant the US and its NATO allies squarely really where not only Europe and Asia meet but Europe and Asia and the Middle East meet with Africa not too far away, and of course we know there has been a whole series of pipelines: gas, natural gas, rail lines, other fairly strategic enterprises under way, or projects under way, of which Georgia is the pivot or the centerpiece. But what is happening most recently is just today one of the NATO websites announced that Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, announced Georgia will now join the NATO Response Force to bring this discussion full circle. That is, the global military expeditionary force that NATO is crafting, even though Georgia, of course, is not a full member of NATO at this point.

The other allusion you make is even more fascinating. The fact that the Japanese delegation met with the Defense Ministry, meet at the Defense Ministry in Georgia and the photograph on the Ministry of Defense of Georgia’s website showed a Japanese officer in a military uniform shaking hands with the defense minister of Georgia.

Japan has insinuated itself into Georgia for energy purposes. You know that ultimately the oil and natural gas that’s to flow from the Caspian Sea through Georgia into the Eastern Mediterranean or Eastern Europe…

Robles: Yeah, but Japan?

Rozoff: … could also go in the opposite direction, into East Asia.

Robles: I suppose. Very strange to see Japan in Georgia, I was quite astounded by that.

Rozoff: Well, this is where Japan and Germany finally link up, how many years later, almost 70 years later. Whatever they had intended during World War II, here they meet in the Caucasus. The German military influence already established there and a Japanese military official, that was the phenomenal thing about that photograph.

Had they even simply sent a civilian in Japanese defense (so-called Self-Defense Force), their equivalent of a defense ministry, over there, that’s one thing, but to send a military official suggests something is on their mind and in the post-Afghanistan world, post-Afghan war world, NATO in it’s own words -and I’m roughly paraphrasing it – is looking for some way of applying the lessons of Afghanistan elsewhere in the world and the Caucuses, the South Caucuses may indeed be where they intend to move.

Robles: The lessons of Afghanistan? A more than decade long quagmire!? What lessons are there to be applied? I think the main lesson to be applied is fight for peace and keep the soldiers at home. And stop invading other countries.

Rozoff: That&# 39;s how a sensible and sane and humane person would look at it, that’s precisely why NATO views it from the opposite perspective, and what NATO officials talk about, Rasmussen in the first place, is Afghanistan. This is something I’ve contended from the very beginning and we do have to note that as of October 7th, that is at least hear in Chicago three days ago, we are now in year 13 of the US and NATO war in Afghanistan. Year 13.

Robles: It’ s longer than Vietnam already.

Rozoff: It has been for a while, but this is certainly the longest war in American history. It’s NATO’s first war in Asia. It’s NATO first ground war.

Prior to this NATO essentially waged air wars over the Bosnian Serb Republic and then in Yugoslavia in 1999, but what NATO officials are alluding to is the fact that under the structure of the International Security Assistance Force, that NATO took over shortly after the invasion of the country, that troops from over 50 countries, over 50 countries were integrated into a common military command under NATO leadership and that’s something that the world has not taken note of sufficiently in my estimate, and it’s a fact that NATO in fact has reached that degree of integrating a global military force. And when the NATO officials talk about deriving the necessary lessons and so forth from Afghanistan that’s what they are talking about. They are talking about the ability to put out an integrated military command including troops in over a quarter of the countries in the world.

Robles: Another point I think that no one is paying attention to though: I would say, Afghanistan, was a complete failure.

Rozoff: Yeah, it has been a debacle, it truly has. You know, for a while I think there was a fallback position which was: the US and company didn’t want to win the war, they wanted to maintain military presence in that general area, but now it looks like they may well leave with their tails between their legs. And hundreds of thousands of Afghan people killed, maimed, displaced, traumatized, an entire generation of Afghan children who in many parts of the country never been to school, have no future. This is the legacy that they are going to leave behind. And they could leave, callously indifferent to the consequences of their intervention. But you know, the Afghan people are going to bear the consequences, of course.

Robles: Okay, Rick, I really appreciate you speaking with me.

Rozoff: Yes, thanks for the opportunity. I appreciate it. What I said about the invigorating conversations, the sort creating new ideas is absolutely the truth.

Robles: Thank you very much, Rick. I really appreciate it.

 

The U.S. pounced on the island nation of Grenada like an “elephant on a flea,” 30 years ago, to wipe out the remnants of a revolution. Adding insult to injury (and violation of international law), the U.S. pretended that Grenadians didn’t fight back. Instead, “for weeks, the Americans claimed to be chasing an elusive force of Cuban super-soldiers around island.”

Thirty years ago, on October 25, 1983, the United States sent 6,000 elite troops to overwhelm the Caribbean nation of Grenada, an island of less than 100,000 inhabitants that had been governed by the revolutionary New Jewel Movement since 1979. Although the announced pretext for the invasion was a nonexistent threat to American medical students on the island, Operation Urgent Fury had been rehearsed two years earlier, in a 1981 war game against the island nation of “Amber and the Amberdines,” a fictional stand-in for Grenada and the Grenadines.

Washington’s larger, strategic rationale for marshalling overwhelming force against an unoffending, 133 square mile pinpoint of a country off the coast of Venezuela, whose biggest export was nutmeg and whose security forces probably numbered no more than 1,200, was that Cuba and/or the Soviets were poised to turn Grenada into a military and/or “terrorist” base. A new and desperately needed airport was under construction, paid for by Britain, the former colonial master, Cuba, Libya, and Algeria, with Cuba supplying the bulk of construction workers. The runway, just south of the gorgeous arc of Grand Anse beach and the tiny capital city, St. George’s, would finally allow tourists to enter Grenada by commercial jet, replacing the perilous propeller drop into a narrow strip between a mountain and the ocean on the island’s northern shore.

Objectively, the old airport was the most dangerous thing about Grenada, where the mostly white medical school students constituted the largest foreign presence and life was laid-back, even by Caribbean standards. Grenada’s real threat was ideological. Its youthful, Marxist-oriented government, Washington feared, might serve as a model for others in the hemisphere – “another Cuba,” or Nicaragua, whose Sandinista revolutionaries had also come to power in 1979.

Although conquest of Grenada presented no real military challenge for the superpower, the island’s very minuteness made U.S. invasion politically problematical. The Reagan administration found itself oscillating between characterizing the aggression as a rescue mission to save American students, to an urgent strategic counter-move in the global fight against communism (“US Delegate in UN Calls Invasion an Act of Defense,” read the October 28 New York Times headline), or some combination of the two, as in the Washington Post’s October 26 headline, “Strategic Airport, Hostage Fear Led to Move.”

Operation Urgent Fury was most urgently opportunistic. A long-simmering political crisis within the New Jewel Movement led, disastrously, to the house arrest of popular Prime Minister Maurice Bishop by other members of the ruling party, on October 12. Bishop and a crowd of supporters later marched on army headquarters, at Fort Rupert, on October 19, in a bid to take back power. Many were killed in the fighting, Bishop and other officials were executed, and the country was placed under marshal law. U.S. forces, which appeared to have been made ready early in the Grenadian political crisis, hit the beaches and parachuted onto the unfinished airport runway on October 25.

The Grenadian armed forces put up what resistance they could, given the overwhelming firepower and numbers of the enemy and the fratricidal trauma the Grenadian nation had just undergone. However, the superpower could not allow itself to be seen as an elephant stomping on a flea. Therefore, all dead bodies recovered on the island were initially designated as “Cuban,” except for the 21 patients and staff killed in the U.S. bombing of the mental hospital, at St. George’s, in the first day of the invasion. The official line, dutifully parroted by the press, was that only Cuban soldiers – 1,100 of them – had resisted the American assault. In fact, Cuban nationals on the island numbered only about 700, most of them unarmed, pot-bellied construction workers. Cuban military personnel defended only their embassy. Twenty-four Cubans died in the early days of the invasion, along with probably several hundred Grenadian military. But, for weeks, the Americans claimed to be chasing an elusive force of Cuban super-soldiers around island. The New York Times relayed a U.S. military estimate that 500 Cubans had “fled into the hills.” These phantom Cubans live on in the 1986 Clint Eastwood movie Heartbreak Ridge, in which Eastwood and his platoon do battle with Castro’s men in the hills of the island. (For Fidel Castro’s remarks at the funeral of Cuba’s real-life casualties in Grenada, click HERE.)

By November 13, three weeks into the invasion, the New York Times was still reporting that Grenadians have been passive in the invasion of their own country. “Grenadians Toll Put by U.S. at 21: Americans Appear to Believe that All Combatants Killed in Battle Were Cubans.” The bombing of the mental hospital, where the only acknowledged Grenadian fatalities occurred, was an “accident,” said the Reagan administration. Indeed, the U.S. action was not an “invasion” at all, but an “intervention.” The New York Times loyally purged “invasion” from its vocabulary until the last phantom Cuban disappeared from the Grenadian hills.

The Grenada invasion was, in a sense, simply a continuation of U.S. “gunboat diplomacy” in the Western Hemisphere, as was practiced as late as 1965, in the invasion-intervention of the Dominican Republic, which was also undertaken under the hybrid rationales of “not another Cuba” and “rescue of American nationals.” However, Grenada may have been the first U.S. occupation in which members of the native government and armed forces that had evaded death or capture were immediately dubbed “fugitives” – outlaws in their own land, where they had been the lawful and recognized authority, only days before.

Today, the airport at Point Salines that represented such an imminent threat to U.S. national security is named for martyred Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, the revolutionary who was the villain of Ronald Reagan’s mock attack on “Amber and the Amberdines,” but whose death provided the opportunity for the actual invasion of his homeland.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected]. He authored the book, The Big Lie: Analysis of U.S. Press Coverage of the Grenada Invasion (IOJ, Prague), now out of print.

According to Kyunghyang Shinmun (Major daily newspaper in South Korea -Source), Oct. 21, 2013:

Japan‘s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, promoting Tokyo as the site for the 2020 Summer Olympics, said to the International Olympic Committee: “Some may have concerns about Fukushima. Let me assure you, the situation is under control. It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.” [...] To [journalist Hirose Takashi], Abe‘s words were a bald-faced lie. And he decided to make this lie known to the world, especially the world of sports. He has written A Letter to All Young Athletes Who Dream of Coming to Tokyo in 2020, and to Their Coaches and Parents: Some Facts You Should Know. [...] to conceal from them the truth about Tokyo today is not merely unkind; it is criminal. [...]

Excerpts from Hirose’s letter:

[...] Inside Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactors #1 – #3 the pipes (which had circulated cooling water) are broken, which caused a meltdown. This means the nuclear fuel overheated, melted, and continued to melt anything it touched. Thus it melted through the bottom of the reactor, and then through the concrete floor of the building, and sank into the ground. [...] for two and a half years TEPCO workers have been desperately pouring water into the reactor, but it is not known whether the water is actually reaching the melted fuel. [...] Only the fact that irradiated water is leaking onto the surface of the ground around the reactor is reported. But deep under the surface the ground water is also being irradiated, and the ground water flows out to sea and mixes with the seawater through sea-bottom springs. It is too late to do anything about this. [...] It’s a sad story, but this is the present situation of Japan and of Tokyo. I had loved the Japanese food and this land until the Fukushima accident occurred.

 

Fiasco Obamacare Debut

October 24th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is rife with problems. It’s a ripoff. It’s a boon to healthcare providers. It scams most enrollees.

It’s not universal as promised. It leaves millions of Americans uninsured. It leaves most others woefully underinsured.

US healthcare already is unaffordable. Obamacare makes it more so. It lawlessly invades privacy. It compromises a fundamental human right.

Martin Luther King once said:11

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in heath care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Obamacare mandates making a failed system worse. It guarantees inequality. It institutionalizes it. It does so legally.

Dr. Margaret Flowers is a universal single-payer activist. She’s a Physicians for a National Health Program congressional fellow. She’s US Green Shadow Cabinet Secretary of Health.

She’s a Healthcare-NOW! board member. It addresses America’s health insurance crisis. Obamacare made it worse. Dr. Flowers calls it “perhaps the greatest corporate scam ever.”

Healthcare giants wrote the law. It assures greater than ever profits. It’s at the expense of proper healthcare. “(S)hoddy products” insurers offer don’t provide it, said Dr. Flowers.

US-style healthcare doesn’t work. It’s the world’s most expensive by far. It provides the least bang for the buck. “It means that people only receive the health care they can afford, not what they need,” explains Dr. Flowers.

It “leaves tens of millions without coverage.” It “lowers the bar on what is considered to be acceptable insurance coverage.”

Most plans offered mandate huge deductibles and co-pays. Doing so means unaffordable out-of-pocket costs for tens of millions.

Federal subsidies for America’s poor are woefully inadequate. Millions live from paycheck to paycheck. Limited resources make expensive treatments unaffordable.

Medical expense debt is the nation’s leading cause of personal bankruptcies. Healthcare gets increasingly more expensive. Insurers scam the system for profit.

According to Dr. Flowers, “expect them to justify higher premiums and to push for lower levels of coverage or fewer required services. And we can expect (federal and state authorities to be) compliant, as they have been.”

Healthcare isn’t a commodity. It’s a fundamental human right. Privatizing it is polar opposite of what’s needed. “We need Medicare for all now,” says Dr. Flowers.

Everyone in! No one left out! Everybody gets identical coverage. Illness guarantees equal treatment. ACA assures separate and unequal. For many, it means pay or die.

October 1 was ACA rollout day. Web site access problems accompanied it. Millions needing to enroll in healthcare exchanges can’t do so. What should have been simple is nightmarish.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Washington had years to get ready. Failure perhaps is a metaphor for what never should been enacted in the first place.

On Monday, Obama acknowledged ongoing problems. At the same time, he minimized their severity. He didn’t explain what went wrong, why, when they’ll be fixed, or how to cope in the meantime.

Insurers are notifying customers their coverage is cancelled. It’s because they’re not complying with new ACA mandates.

Kaiser Health News said “Florida Blue is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80% of its individual policies in the state.”

Kaiser Permanente in California notified 160,000 customers they’re out. Pittsburgh’s Highmark dropped about 20% of its enrollees. Independence Blue Cross of Philadelphia cancelled about 45% of theirs.

Much the same thing is happening across America. ACA is barely three weeks old. Imagine how much worse things may get.

Obama lied saying if you like your coverage you can keep it. False! Force-fed options substitute. ACA institutionalized inequality.

Millions are denied a fundamental human right. Millions more won’t get enough of it to matter when they most need it.

New York Times editors were some of ACA’s biggest boosters. They shamed themselves in the process. Even they expressed outrage over its “chaotic debut.”

Unless serious problems are “fixed soon, they threaten to undermine” the entire system, they said.

“The administration created the Web site so the buck stops with high officials.” Health and Human Services and Obama “allowed this to happen.” They bear full responsibility.

Excuses offered don’t wash. Enrollment procedures were supposed to be easy. Technical problems weren’t supposed to happen.

Experts involved in fixing things say they’re extensive. Perhaps months are needed to resolve them.

Millions are justifiably angry. They’re frustrated. They’re not sure what to do. Accountability is largely absent. Putting lipstick on this pig doesn’t wash.

Obama’s signature initiative flopped on launch. Ahead expect things to get worse, not better. At issue isn’t enrolling.

It’s what’s covered, what isn’t, cost, affordability, insurers gaming the system, and providing expensive treatments only to those who can pay for them out-of-pocket.

Obamacare’s sick start reflects self-inflicted incompetence. Obama blamed snafus on system overloading. Search engines like Google handle billions of monthly visitors. They do so routinely.

Washington operates the world’s most sophisticated supercomputers. Failure to get things right initially suggests lots more trouble ahead. Confidence once lost is hard to regain.

Consumer Reports (CR) reacted. After three weeks of testing, it said “stay away from Healthcare.gov for at least another month if you can.” Abstain until major problems plaguing it are fixed.

“Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they’ve made.”

“The coverage available through the marketplaces won’t begin until Jan. 1, 2014, at the earliest, and you have until Dec. 15 to enroll if you need insurance that starts promptly.”

In ACA’s first week, CR estimates about 270,000 people enrolled successfully. Nearly 9.5 million others tried and failed.

A week after launch, CR called Healthcare.gov “barely operational.” On October 10, it said:

“(I)t’s still next to impossible to create a user name and password that you can actually use to sign in.”

“(F)ive times (failed) without success. Our readers report similar frustrations.”

One wrote:

“Have been trying for a week, at least 10 times a day.  Have yet to get through the process.”

Another said:

“Created account on 10/6 but unable to access it since then – get an error message saying that my account is not valid.’ What a waste of my time.”

“I have not been able to log in and I have tried 47 times,” said a visitor to CR’s Facebook’s page of its online interactive HealthLawHelper.org site.

The only good news, said CR, is that “consumers coming to Healthcare.gov are no longer stopped cold by an error message or a screen saying they’ve been put in a waiting line.”

On October 16, CR offered tips on Healthcare.gov registering. “We got advice from a pro software tester,” it said.

(1) “Follow instructions when creating a user name.”

It’s not easy. Instructions are garbled. They’re needlessly complicated.

(2) “Move on immediately from failed logins.”

“(D)on’t believe all the status and error messages. They may not always match reality.”

If what’s tried doesn’t work, use a different name, password and security question. Test to see if anything works.

(3) “Check your inbox frequently.”

If enrollment succeeds, “you should receive an ‘account activation’ e-mail (confirmation) within a few hours.”

“Answer it promptly.” Otherwise, “Healthcare.gov will time you out.”

If no email arrives, you’re back to square one. Start over.

(4) “Clear your cookies.”

If logging in to Healthcare.gov fails, most likely previous visits got your browser overloaded with them.

They exceed what the site can handle. It’s one of many design errors. “(E)ither delete the cookies from your browser or log back in from” an alternative one.

If that’s too much to handle, do nothing for several weeks. Then try again.

Marketplace coverage begins on January 1. Assuring it requires enrolling by December 15. Obamacare’s rocky start suggests doing so won’t be easy.

Millions already experienced error messages, delays, crashes, and stuck accounts.

Tech experts warned about problems in each enrollment step. According to healthcare consultant Dan Schuyler:

“There is grave concern that many individuals who are intent on securing coverage by (January 1) may not be able to do so by that date.”

If “problems persist another three or four weeks, those at the back of the line will not have coverage.”

Obamacare advocates knew they’d be problems. A pre-launch simulation test failed. It crashed. Federal officials went ahead as planned anyway.

Moments after midnight on October 1,  Healthcare.gov locked up. About 2,000 users couldn’t complete step one in enrolling.

When millions tried doing so, things went from bad to worse. None of this should have happened.

No one knows when problems will be resolved. It’s unclear how many bugs beset the system.  Millions wanting to enroll are stuck in limbo.

It remains to be seen what happens on January 1. Americans needing healthcare can’t wait. They need it now.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/fiasco-obamacare-debut/

New Internet Architecture to Thwart American Spying

October 24th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

New Telecommunications Infrastructure Is Being Built to Avoid American Spying

One of India’s largest newspapers – The Hindu – reports:

Most of Brazil’s global internet traffic passes through the United States, so [the Brazilian] government plans to lay underwater fiber optic cable directly to Europe and also link to all South American nations to create what it hopes will be a network free of US eavesdropping.

A consortium of telecom and undersea cable companies competing for the contracts for the proposed BRICS cable show what they think the project should look like:

 

netw_geo

(BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.)

The BRICS countries have the muscle to pull this off.  Each of the BRICS countries are in the top 25 largest economies in the world. China has the world’s second largest economy, India is 3rd, Russia 6th, Brazil 7th, and South Africa 25th.

As Reuters notes:

* The BRICS countries make up 21 percent of global GDP. They have increased their share of global GDP threefold in the past 15 years.

* The BRICS are home to 43 percent of the world’s population.

* The BRICS countries have combined foreign reserves of an estimated $4.4 trillion.

* Intra-BRICS trade flows reached $282 billion in 2012 and are estimated to reach $500 billion by 2015. In 2002, it was $27.3 billion.

* IMF estimates of GDP per member in 2012, China $8.25 trillion, Brazil $2.43 trillion, Russia and India at $1.95 trillion each, South Africa $390.9 billion.

China is also dropping IBM hardware like a hot potato due to security concerns.  Intel and AMD may not be far behind.

Economic powerhouse Germany is also rolling out a system that would keep all data within Germany’s national borders.

New Hardware Is Being Built to Thwart Spying

Anti-virus legend and wild man John McAffee claims that he has created a $100 hardware router which will block NSA snooping:

There will be no way (for the government) to tell who you are or where you are ….

FreedomBox has been developing a similar concept for years:

And numerous other competitors will soon jump into the fray.

Of course, one of the simplest hardware solutions is to unplug.  For example, by using an air gap, duct tape or a typewriter.

New Internet Architecture Is Being Developed to Minimize  American Spying

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the organization which controls domain names and internet addresses.

ICANN has long been a U.S.-controlled organization. Even after ICANN become more international on paper, it has still been dominated by America.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the Web.   For example:

W3C tries to enforce compatibility and agreement among industry members in the adoption of new standards defined by the W3C. Incompatible versions of HTML are offered by different vendors, causing inconsistency in how Web pages are displayed. The consortium tries to get all those vendors to implement a set of core principles and components which are chosen by the consortium.

Together, ICANN and W3C – along with groups like the Internet Society and the Internet Engineering Task Force – are largely responsible for administering the electronic “plumbing” of the Web.

In response to NSA spying revelations, all of these groups just told the U.S. to pound sand.  As Tech Crunch notes:

Key Internet stakeholders, including [ICANN, W3C , Internet Society, Internet Engineering Task Force and others] have released a statement condemning pervasive government surveillance and calling for an internationalization of the Internet’s underlying framework.

***

Post-NSA revelations, the United States has lost its standing as the Internet’s defender. Instead, it has been revealed that as a country we have systematically worked to undermine its encryption, and the inherent privacy that it grants users.

Instead of keeping the Internet safe, we have built an industry designed on its subversion. And now the Internet is ready to break up with us. From the joint statement:

[The parties] expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance. [...] They called for accelerating the globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing.

Indeed, the head of ICANN has thumbed his nose at the U.S. and expressed support for Brazil’s fight against American spying.  As Agence France-Presse reports:

 

Brazil, which has slammed massive US electronic spying on its territory, said on Wednesday it would host a global summit on internet governance in April.

President Dilma Rousseff made the announcement after conferring in Brasilia with Fadi Chehade, chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

“We have decided that Brazil will host in April 2014 an international summit of governments, industry, civil society and academia” to discuss Brazil’s suggestions for upgrading Internet security, Rousseff said on Twitter.

***

Chehade heaped praise on Rousseff for using her UN General Assembly speech in September to demand measures to thwart the massive US cyber spying operation revealed by US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

***

“She spoke for all of us on that day. She expressed the world’s interest to actually find out how we are going to all live together in this new digital age,” said Chehade.

“The trust in the global internet has been punctured and now it’s time to restore this trust through leadership and institutions that can make that happen.”

New Software Is Being Developed to Help Protect Against Spying

Google has just rolled out the beta version of an anonymizing proxy service, called uProxy.  I’m not sure I trust Google – a PRISM partner to the NSA – to protect me from government snoops. But there are many other proxy services which claim that they can help protect you from the prying eyes of the NSA.

 

SecureDrop is an open-source whistleblower submission system that media organizations can install to accept documents from anonymous sources.  It was created by privacy activist and Reddit founder Aaron Swartz, with assistance from Wired editor Kevin Poulsen and security expert James Dolan (a major security audit of SecureDrop has been conducted by security expert Bruce Schneier and a team of University of Washington researchers.)

AP notes:

From Silicon Valley to the South Pacific, counterattacks to revelations of widespread National Security Agency surveillance are taking shape, from a surge of new encrypted email programs to technology that sprinkles the Internet with red flag terms to confuse would-be snoops.

***

Developer Jeff Lyon in Santa Clara, Calif., said he’s delighted if it generates social awareness, and that 2,000 users have installed it to date. He said, “The goal here is to get a critical mass of people flooding the Internet with noise and make a statement of civil disobedience.”

University of Auckland associate professor Gehan Gunasekara said he’s received “overwhelming support” for his proposal to “lead the spooks in a merry dance,” visiting radical websites, setting up multiple online identities and making up hypothetical “friends.”

And “pretty soon everyone in New Zealand will have to be under surveillance,” he said.

Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Parker Higgens in San Francisco has a more direct strategy: by using encrypted email and browsers, he creates more smoke screens for the NSA. “Encryption loses its value as an indicator of possible malfeasance if everyone is using it,” he said.

***

This week, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University released a smartphone app called SafeSlinger they say encrypts text messages so they cannot be read by cell carriers, Internet providers, employers “or anyone else.”

 

Privacy companies are changing their encryption standards to try to get around the fact that NSA has been pushing compromised encryption standards as a way to break into encrypted communications.  For example, PC World reports:

The U.S. National Security Agency’s reported efforts to weaken encryption standards have prompted an encrypted communications company [Silent Circle] to move away from cryptographic algorithms sanctioned by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

New Legal and Social Norms Are Being Implemented to Rein In Spying

European lawmakers on Monday voted to approve new data protections aimed at shielding citizens’ private communications from the NSA. The new law will target companies that pass on personal details of Europeans to U.S. law enforcement and intelligence without proper legal documentation showing that the NSA needs the information on national security grounds.

The EU is considering pulling out of the SWIFT financial transfer system.

Foreign companies are using their non-American status as a competitive advantage in competing for cloud storage customers and web users. And see this.

 “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti, Asian Indian philosopher

Last weekend, I talked my two grandsons into joining me to watch “The Fifth Estate”, the new feature film about WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. The movie is being marketed as an “action thriller” and is reportedly having a hard time competing, revenue-wise, with two current block-buster movies, “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips”. (I don’t doubt that fact because, at the end of the Saturday afternoon screening, we were the only ones left in the theater; folks who had been in the audience at the beginning had bailed out, presumably for more mindless, more entertaining fare elsewhere in the multiplex theater.)

For those  readers who are not fully aware of what WikiLeaks really is, here is a good definition from a supporter:

“WikiLeaks is an international, online, non-profit organisation which publishes information submitted by courageous whistleblowers, people with conscience. Most whistleblowers prefer to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. Google what happened to Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. They are being hounded, hunted, criminalised, ostracized, ex-communicated by the very top people whose secret criminal deals and activities they have exposed.” The final sentence of that quote explains why tremendous courage is necessary to be a whistle-blower and why most of us are too frightened to speak out when witnessing injustice. The last phrase summarizes what is a major component of what constitutes “a profoundly sick society”.

I brought my grandsons to see the WikiLeaks film because I thought it was important to expose them to a movie about a historically important movement that was trying to respond to Krishmamurti’s concerns (about the western society he had witnessed in the first half of the 20th century). My busy, “wired-in” grandsons, like most distracted, computer game savvy, over-entertained adolescent students their age, seem to be relatively oblivious to pertinent past history – and even current events. I see the eternal truth of George Santanana’s powerful truism about the mistakes made by sick societies who are historically illiterate: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Whistle-blowers, who are all motivated by their consciences, might be our only hope.

At this point, it would be a good idea to step back to explain the title of the film [which will also illustrate the importance of Santayana’s quote]. A little background about the history of the French Revolution of 1789 is important.

Up until 1789, France had been ruled by a hereditary monarchy for centuries. French society was regarded at the time as having three groups that were subservient to the king. The three classes were known as the Three Estates. The first two “estates” represented the parasitic ruling classes that never paid taxes or contributed to French society’s economy in any significant way. The First Estate was the clergy, the Second Estate was the aristocracy/nobility and the Third Estate was comprised of the common people who did all the work. These commoners were, of course, the largest group and were also the taxpaying group, while the First and Second Estates (ruthlessly protected by an obedient, well-trained and indoctrinated professional military) never did any labor nor did they participate in the production of food or other consumer goods.  

Much later in history, elsewhere in the world, the media was given the title of The Fourth Estate, and journalists deserved the label when they were actually doing good investigative journalism by exposing the unethical behaviors and crimes of the ruling classes.

The title of the film, “The Fifth Estate”, refers to the hundreds of whistle-blowing groups like WikiLeaks, Occupy Wall Street, Catholic Worker groups, Democracy Now, Courage to Resist, antiwar groups, anti-nuclear groups, the 9/11 Truth movement, Earth First, etc, etc, all of whom have found themselves altruistically and courageously doing the dangerous investigations and protests in order to expose corrupt governments, corrupt militaries, corrupt law enforcement agencies, corrupt churches, corrupt national security institutions, corrupt financial institutions and other secretive planet-damaging corporations that the “disappeared” and virtually non-existent Fourth Estate has forsaken or been scared away from.

Here is a small sampling of courageous and often severely punished whistle-blowers – some famous and many that we don’t know or care about. The list includes Jesus of Nazareth, Paul of Tarsus,  Martin of Tours, Martin Luther, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, Smedley Butler, Dorothy Day (and the entire Catholic Worker movement), Gandhi, Martin Niemoller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, John Paul Vann, Ronald Ridenhour, Daniel Ellsberg, the Catonsville Nine, Frank Serpico, Gary Webb, Karen Silkwood, Mordechai Vanunu, Karen Kwiatkowski, Colleen Rowley,Sibel Edmunds, Greg Boertje-Obed,Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Pope Francis, etc, etc. See Wikipedia for a list of some of the others who are less well-known: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_whistleblowers

The movie was instructive and well worth seeing, although the Collateral Murder video (google it) was severely shortened and therefore its impact weakened. Still, I would recommend the movie for anyone, although, for those interested in a more thorough treatment of  the historical impact that WikiLeaks has had, it would be better to watch the documentary “Underground: The Julian Assange Story,” which is, I am told, the best factual documentary about WikiLeaks.

“The Fifth Estate” probably won’t have enough entertainment value to interest those who aren’t very curious about why the White House, the Congress, the NSA, the FBI, the CIA and the Pentagon are so freaked out about Assange, Manning and Snowden. Others who won’t appreciate this movie include those who desperately want to believe what they are told and who therefore trust the commercials on TV, trust the talking heads on the mainstream media and trust the official Pentagon, State Department or White House pronouncements.

Folks who aren’t very curious about what are the motivations behind the 9/11 Truth or the Occupy Wall Street movements probably won’t be interested in this movie either, now will those who don’t much care about the war, peace and justice issues that drive the multitudes of lesser-known anti-establishment folks to action.

 Whistle-blowers, in a nutshell, are, in one way or another, trying to resist, expose and perhaps turn around the sickest parts of our globalized, colonized, corporatized, militarized, economically-oppressed, and increasingly totalitarian surveillance state before the quasi-fascists who are working the levers behind the curtains destroy the planet and its inhabitants.

Please study the following inspirational quotes that keep the whistle-blower folks that are our most courageous neighbors working hard at attaining justice for all:

 “Individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity.” — The judges at the Nuremberg trials that tried and condemned as war criminals many upper echelon Nazis (whose actions were defended by their lawyers as totally legal and constitutional according to the rule of law in Nazi Germany)

”In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”– George Orwell

“Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither.”– Benjamin Franklin

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”  Voltaire

“We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”– Justice Louis D. Brandeis

“A great war leaves a country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.” — An anonymous German saying

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”– George Santayana

 “Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method. must choose lying as his principle.”–Mikhail Gorbachev

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”– Martin Luther King, Jr. 

“It may well be that the greatest tragedy of this period of social change is not the glaring noisiness of the so-called bad people, but the silence of the so-called good people.”–Martin Luther King. Jr.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”– Edmund Burke

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” — Abraham Lincoln

 ”The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, during times of great moral crisis, maintained their neutrality.” — Dante

 ”Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. It is the ruling class that declares the wars, and it is the working class who fights all the battles and furnishes the corpses. The ruling class continually talks about “patriotic duty”, but it is not their duty but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. There is a decided difference. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches.”– Eugene V. Debs

“We’re not made by God to mass kill one another, and that’s backed up by the Gospels. Lying and war are always associated. Pay attention to war-makers when they try to defend their current war; if they’re moving their lips they’re lying.”–Phil Berrigan

“Aggressive militarization under the rubric of defense against terrorism threatens to provoke a chain reaction among nuclear nations, big and small, that, once set in motion, may prove impossible to control. No military confrontation anywhere in the world is free from this ominous and ever-present danger.”– Helen Caldicott, in The New Nuclear Danger

“Globalization is but another name for colonization – nothing has changed but the name. And, just as the East India Company was the instrument for colonization, today’s corporation is the instrument for globalization.  And, corporatization is but another name for Fascism.”— Urban Kohler

“Those who take oaths to politically powerful secret societies cannot be depended on for loyalty to a democratic republic.”– John Quincy Adams

”Certified lunatics are shut up because of their proneness to violence when their pretensions are questioned; the uncertified variety (of lunatic) are given the control of powerful armies, and can inflict death and disaster upon all sane men within their reach.”– Bertrand Russell

“Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.”– Anonymous

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right….To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”– Theodore Roosevelt

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”–Edward Abbey

With the recommencement of nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers, hopes have been revived that more than a decade of conflict and dispute between the two sides can finally come to an end and the concerns over the possible diversion of Iran’s nuclear activities toward an atomic weapon will be completely allayed.

 The international observers hailed the latest round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States) on October 15 and 16 in Geneva as constructive, calling it a step forward on the path of finding a conclusive and definite resolution for Iran’s nuclear standoff.

 The Iranian negotiators demanded that the contents of the talks remain undisclosed until an agreement is reached. Their demand sounds reasonable as it will prevent the mass media from spreading falsehood regarding the details of the agreement yet to be reached and also impede the efforts made by the extremist and neo-conservative elements in the Western governments to bring the negotiations to a dead-end.

During the talks, Iran presented a three-phased PowerPoint proposal in English language entitled “Closing Unnecessary Crisis, Opening New Horizons” which drew a roadmap for the future of the talks. According to the proposal, Iran would remove the concerns of the P5+1 group of world countries through confidence-building measures and increased transparency in its nuclear activities, and in return, the Western powers will offer incentives to Iran by lifting the unilateral and multilateral sanctions on a step-by-step basis.

 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the reporters following the conclusion of talks in Geneva that “the negotiations will be done in the negotiating room, and not in the press.” He said that Iran is not after creating some kind of media hype over its proposal and rather takes a down-to-earth and practical approach toward the talks.

 Iran’s presentation was welcomed by the P5+1. According to Reuters, Michael Mann, the spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Iran made a “very useful” presentation during the talks. Even the United States that usually expressed disappointment over the nuclear talks with Iran in the past couldn’t hide its tacit satisfaction with the Iranian proposal. “The Iranian proposal was a new proposal with a level of seriousness and substance that we had not seen before,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

A senior U.S. State Department official also praised the negotiations, saying that “for the first time, we had very detailed technical discussions”

 The British Catherine Ashton who became the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union in 2009 and took lead as the coordinator of P5+1 in talks with Iran also underlined her “cautious optimism” but “a real sense of determination” toward the new round of negotiations with Iran.

 Since the details of the Iranian proposal didn’t leak out and especially after Iran rejected the allegations made by the Israeli military intelligence website, Debka File, that had claimed to be possessing information on the contents of the proposal put forward by Iran, it’s not sensible to make suggestions and gossips on what Iran has offered to the West, but what is clear is that Iran will be making reasonable compromises, in a balanced manner, which will not sacrifice its nuclear rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but ease the tensions with the West, and this is something which seems to be completely logical and fair. On the other side, what the Iranian nation expects to be high on the agenda of the P5+1 is the complete removal of the economic sanctions that have caused serious damages to their lives.

The sanctions which were imposed upon Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, especially following the escalation of controversy over Iran’s nuclear program in the past decade, are so diverse and extensive that it’s virtually impossible to elaborate on all of them in a single article, but it is worth alluding to some of them in passing. These sanctions have had such devastative impacts on the Iranian people that even a large number of American officials, think tanks and advocacy groups have called on the U.S. government and its European allies to freeze them.

 As an instance, the banking sanctions, which disrupt and block Iran’s access to international financing systems have prevented the Iranian companies from importing vital medicine for chronic disorders, and the Iranian patients suffering from different types of cancer, hemophilia, thalassemia, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and psychiatric disorders are struggling with dire conditions resulting from their inability to find medicine for their diseases.

 According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce on February 8, 2013, the exports of pharmaceutical products to Iran had decreased by half. This is while the United States claims that it doesn’t block the exports of medicine to Iran and that it has issued some licenses for the sale of medical goods and foodstuff to Iran; however, there have been several reports of deaths as a result of the scarcity or shortage of foreign-produced medicine in Iran. Even those patients who can find the medicine they need should buy them at extremely higher prices than before, simply because they are being imported through intermediaries and third parties, and this is the direct, undeniable impact of the anti-Iran sanctions.

The U.S.-based news, analysis website Al-Monitor published a report on July 29, 2013, detailing the pain and suffering of the Iranian patients who are grappling with the problem of finding medicine for their diseases.

 Hessam, a 27-year-old veterinary student with MS told Al-Monitor, “I have managed to buy Rebif every month, but the price has tripled over the past year.” He added, “Those who need to use other Western-made medicines, like Avonex and Betaferon, have been facing extremely serious problems buying them. Betaferon’s price has risen from 980,000 rials [$40] to 16,000,000 rials [$649] a box. You cannot find them even at this price at any drugstores.”

 The insufficiency of medicine and pharmaceutical products in Iran as a result of the sanctions is a fact endorsed and confirmed by different outlets. Joy Gordon wrote in an article for the Foreign Policy on October 18, 2013 that the sanctions have complicated the health conditions of the Iranian patients and are leading to a kind of humanitarian crisis which the International Crisis Group has also verified in a detailed, 70-page report published in February 2013 about the consequences and impacts of the anti-Iran sanctions.

“The most effective medicines to treat cancer and AIDS, which are manufactured only by Western pharmaceutical companies, can no longer be gotten within Iran. Ordinary commerce, as a matter of necessity, is now deeply dependent on the international criminal network in order to function at all,” wrote Joy Gordon in the Foreign Policy’s “The Middle East Channel” blog.

Citing reports published by Iran’s major pharmacies, BBC Persian published a report on November 11, 2012 that a 350% increase in the price of imported medicine had taken place at that time, and the majority of experts and analysts attribute this surge in the medicine prices to the sanctions.

 However, the human costs of the sanctions are not limited to the difficulties they create in terms of medical shortages for the ordinary people. The devaluation of Iran’s national currency, rial, as a result of the sanctions, has made it extremely difficult for thousands of Iranian students studying in the foreign universities to afford their tuition and accommodation fees. Their families in Iran cannot deposit into their accounts considerable amounts of financial assistance and many of such students have chosen to return to Iran to continue their education. The depreciation of rial has also made it quite unreachable for the Iranian citizens to travel abroad for personal purposes since the air fares have increased almost threefold in the past 3 years and many European carriers have stopped their flights to or from Iran.

 At any rate, they are the ordinary Iranian citizens who bear the brunt of the sanctions against their country, and one of their major demands is the complete lifting of all the unilateral, multilateral and private sanctions. This demand was echoed in their election of Dr. Hassan Rouhani as the Iranian President who had promised to work toward persuading the West to lift all the sanctions.

Iran and the P5+1 are slated to meet once again on November 7 and 8. Before the main meeting, nuclear and sanctions experts from the two sides will hold technical meetings to reach a consensus over a systematic framework for putting into practice the agreements reached in the first meeting in Geneva.

 It’s not in the interests of the six world powers to continue pushing for new sanctions, as some Republicans of the U.S. Congress did, or leaving the previous sanctions in place. It will not contribute to the course of negotiations positively and will simply add to the suffering and economic woes of the Iranian people and will further complicate the disputes.

The most rational decision which the United States and its European allies can take is to lift the sanctions for two reasons: first, to respect the demands of the Iranian people who feel it’s not righteous and justifiable to be under the pressure of unfair and cruel sanctions that are violating their basic rights according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and secondly because the lifting of the sanctions will be a great step on the path of striking a deal with Iran to close the nuclear dossier forever.

Top Ten American CEOs Take Home Over $100 Million Each

October 24th, 2013 by Andre Damon

The top ten highest-paid CEOs in the United States each received $100 million in 2012, according to a survey by GMI Ratings reported Tuesday by the Guardian newspaper. Two chief executives each received over $1 billion, and the combined pay of the top ten CEOs was $4.7 billion.

Even as the wages of working people sink, the incomes of the super-rich continue to soar, buttressed by a surging stock market driven by massive cash infusions from the Federal Reserve.

“I have never seen anything like that,” Greg Ruel, the author of the report, told the Guardian. “Usually we have a few CEOs at the $100m-plus level, but never the entire top 10.”

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the social media giant Facebook, received a staggering $2.27 billion, while Richard Kinder, head of energy company Kinder Morgan, took in $1.16 billion.

Three of the top earners headed technology companies, including Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, who received $143.8 million, and Marc Benioff of salesforce.com, who took in $109.5 million.

Two others headed media companies. Mel Karmazin of Sirius XM Radio received $255.3 million, while Gregory Maffei received $254.8 million as head of Liberty Media and another $136.4 million as head of its sister company, Liberty Interactive.

In the retail sector, Edward Stack of Dick’s Sporting Goods received $142 million, while Howard Schultz of Starbucks took in $117.5 million.

Frank Coyne, head of finance information company Verisk Analytics, received $100.4 million.

Zuckerberg received more than $6 million per day, or $5,133 per minute. With a base salary of “only” half a million dollars, the vast bulk of his compensation came from exercising over 60 million shares he received during Facebook’s initial public offering last year.

The other members of the top ten likewise accrued almost all of their income from gains in the stock market, receiving a total of $3.3 billion from stock options compared to cash pay of $16.2 million.

Despite the stagnant state of the real economy, stock values have soared, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by over 15 percent over the past year and more than 132 percent since 2009.

Ruel told the Guardian that a rising stock market “allows executives to reap large rewards, stemming from equity grants that number in the hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of units per grant.” He added that “compensation committees continue to grant large blocks of equity that will reward any increase in stock price.”

The poll by GMI found an average increase in compensation of 8.47 percent for the more than 2,000 CEOs it surveyed. The average pay for a chief executive of a Fortune 500 company hit $13.7 million, according to GMI.

According to the Forbes 400 report issued in September, the 400 richest people in America increased their wealth by 17 percent in 2013, their collective wealth rising from $1.7 trillion to just over $2 trillion.

The wealth of these 400 individuals is more than twice the amount necessary to cover the federal budget deficit, which is being used as the justification for slashing food stamps, education, housing assistance, and health care programs.

One statistic starkly illustrates the staggering growth of social inequality in America. The income share of the top one percent of society nearly doubled from 1979 to 2010, increasing from 10 percent to 19.8 percent.

The widening chasm separating the rich and the super-rich from everyone else is bound up with the decay of the productive infrastructure of American capitalism and the growing role of financial speculation. A recent study published in the American Economic Review found that between 1982 and 2011, the portion of the Forbes 400 who received their wealth from finance rose dramatically—from 4.4 percent to 20 percent.

The income of a typical household in the United States has fallen to the lowest level since 1989, while poverty is at the highest level in decades, according to a report issued by the US Census Bureau last month. Since 1999, the median household income has fallen by nearly ten percent, adjusted for inflation.

Poverty and social misery are reaching epidemic levels. A study released earlier this month by the Southern Education Foundation found that nearly half of public school children in the United States were in poverty in the school year that ended in 2011. Of the worlds 45 wealthiest countries, the United States has the second-highest level of child poverty, coming in after Romania.

Even as the Federal Reserve has continued to pump $85 billion into the financial system every month, the Democrats and Republicans have aggressively slashed spending on measures that benefit working people, including the $85 billion in “sequester” cuts this year alone.

Now, in the aftermath of the government shutdown, the Obama administration and Congress are conspiring to slash hundreds of billions more from basic social programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

A temporary increase in food stamp (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—SNAP) benefits introduced in 2009 is scheduled to expire at the end of this month, leading to benefit reductions of over $300 a year for a family of three. After the cuts, SNAP assistance will amount to less than $1.40 per person per meal, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Meanwhile, the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides extended unemployment benefits beyond the 26-week cutoff for most state unemployment assistance programs, is scheduled to expire in December.

The claim that “there is no money” to maintain these programs is belied by the obscene levels of wealth being monopolized by a tiny layer of parasites at the top.

The continued enrichment of the super-wealthy through government handouts to the financial markets, even as vital social programs are being gutted, reflects the complete subordination of the political system and both major parties to the corporate-financial elite. The existing—capitalist—system means poverty and social misery for ever wider sections of the population. The fight for the most elementary social rights—a decent-paying, secure job; education; housing; health care; a comfortable retirement—requires a conscious struggle by the working class for a system based on social equality—that is, socialism.

Over the past two years, the predatory character of NATO’s 2011 war against Libya has emerged most clearly in the looting of the heart of Libya’s economy: its massive oil industry. Virtually none of the frozen oil assets belonging to Muammar Gaddafi, his family and associates have been returned to Libya, and the country’s oil industry is the now subject to power struggles between rival armed groups and foreign oil corporations.

Oil workers have increasingly resorted to work stoppages to make their demands for higher pay and more jobs, bringing the oil industry to a near standstill in mid-September, and leading to a loss of $7.5 billion in exports.

At the same time, the conflicts between rival tribal, religious and ethnic groups used by NATO as its proxy forces continue to devastate the country. If the major Western energy conglomerates’ looting of the Libyan oil industry has not proceeded further than it has, it is largely because the profound instability and violence afflicting the country since the war has cut across their operations.

The looting began in the first days of the war, when the US and NATO froze oil revenues held in major international banks by Gaddafi and his family and associates.

Over the past two decades, only a tiny fraction of the funds expropriated from governments that had lost favor with European and American imperialism has been returned to their countries of origin. The UN and World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery (STAR) initiative estimates that between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion have been frozen under such initiatives since 1997. Only $5 billion of these funds were returned to their countries of origin over this period.

As Libya’s oil wealth sits frozen in foreign accounts, cities and public places leveled by the NATO bombing remain unrepaired, and conditions of life have only worsened. Unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, is higher than ever.

There has been no relief from continuous poverty and joblessness. The government is unable to ensure continuous access to basic utilities such as water and electric power, or the safety of citizens and residents from the violence of rival tribes and sects stoked by the NATO war. Thousands of prisoners are held without charges and are subjected daily to systematic torture.

The past year has seen a steady increase in work stoppages at Libyan oil and gas facilities. Oil extraction reached its lowest point in the second half of August, when six ports and terminals stopped exports and oil production sank to 575,000 barrels a day. Unable to fulfill its contract obligations, the government declared force majeure at the four eastern terminals of Brega, Sidra, Ras Lanuf and Zuweitina on August 19.

One of the longest work stoppages took place at the Zuetina oilfield between July 1 and September 3. Workers demanded removal of the current management, holiday pay and wage increases to compensate them for high risks on the job. Oil Minister Abdulbari Al-Arusi and other government officials met with the workers in mid-July and promised to meet their demands in a month’s time.

The Zuetina workers resumed gas production the next day, explaining their motivations on their Facebook page: “After the government claimed we were to blame for the recent power cuts, we decided to restart pumping the gas to prove that we are not responsible for them.”

The following day, the Zuetina oil terminal was stormed and shut down once again by unemployed workers bearing arms and demanding jobs the government had promised them a year earlier.

Oil Minister Arusi responded in a press conference, insisting, “The government cannot meet all of the Zueitina strikers’ demands.” Pumping and oil shipments resumed on September 3, when locals stormed the terminal and forced protesters to move outside the port.

The government managed to negotiate the reopening of other western and central oil ports and terminals last month, but not before major energy conglomerates, such as ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, withdrew their operations from the country.

Libyan officials are trying to reassure investors that improved contract conditions will be forthcoming, with the legal and political infrastructure established to safely loot their country.

Before the second Libya Forum, organized in Tripoli by the British-based CWC Group this June to bring representatives of foreign oil companies together with Libyan officials, Nurri Berruein, head of the National Oil Company, said that the forum’s priorities included a review of the basic contract model. In the new licensing rounds, he said, “Companies can expect attractive commercial fiscal terms founded on the basis of mutual interest, win-win relationships and maximizing partnership values.”

The central government in Tripoli has not been able to re-establish control of the oil-rich eastern part of the country, where the initial NATO-backed protests that led to the war began.

Ibrahim Jadhran, a former Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) commander who was fired from his post for insubordination, has reportedly taken over many of the eastern ports and oilfields. As head of the Political Bureau of the Cyrenaica Transitional Council, Jathran has demanded greater regional autonomy.

The government has responded by accusing the eastern guards of attempting to sell oil behind its back and warning that it would use force to prevent illegal sales. Libya’s prosecutor general has also issued a warrant for Jadhran’s arrest.

The government fears that the conflict with eastern guards could turn into an all-out war with the Al Megharba tribe, of which Jedran is a member. At the investor’s conference in London last month, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan pleaded with British Prime Minister David Cameron for greater Western assistance in building up the army and police to bring the country’s oil industry back under the control of the central government.

An Jadhran went on television on September 22 to announce that Naji Mukhtar, head of the congressional Energy Committee, had tried to bribe him with 30 million Libyan dinars to resume production in the east. Mukhar has claimed the money was his own and he was not acting with the direction and knowledge of the government. He has been withdrawn from any active role in negotiations and faces an internal congressional investigation into the bribery allegations.

This is just one of a series of scandals in recent months that have shattered what little semblance of unity remained in the NATO-installed puppet regime. In September, several members of congress accused members of the Justice and Construction Party of making illegal oil deals with the Muslim Brotherhood. Congressman Tuati Al-Aidha, one of the accusers, has been forced to resign from congress and the other accusers remain under investigation.

The International Monetary Fund published the findings of its official staff visit to Libya in July, reprimanding the government for granting public employees a pay raise. In response, a number of Libyan officials scrambled to distance themselves from the move and from Prime Minister Zidan’s government. There have been repeated calls for Prime Minister Zidan’s resignation in recent months, culminating in his kidnapping for several hours earlier this month, apparently in retaliation for the US operation to kidnap Abu Anas al-Liby.

At a Sunday press conference, Zidan said that militias and various unnamed forces had infiltrated the army and police force and were preventing them from being rebuilt. Consequently, he said, Libya was not a state “in the normal sense of word.”

Guns and Butter, for October 23, 2013 – 1:00pm

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Guns and Butter

“Dress Rehearsal for Government Privatization” with Michel Chossudovsky.  

Privatization of government operating through the process of fiscal collapse; black budgets; war and Wall Street; the Federal Reserve Bank; shock and awe economics; IMF structural adjustment; the Washington consensus; extreme austerity measures; the proxy state; speculative onslaught, regulatory capture; financial warfare against the American public.

https://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/96427

See the following Articles 

“Debt Default”: A Dress Rehearsal for the Privatization of the Federal State System? By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, October 12, 2013

Several overlapping political and economic agendas are unfolding. Is the shutdown –implying the furloughing of tens of thousands of public employees– a dress rehearsal for the eventual privatization of important components of the federal State system?

The Speculative Endgame: The Government “Shutdown” and “Debt Default”, A Multibillion Bonanza for Wall Street By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, October 16, 2013

 

 

Though Norway in June overtook Russia in total exports of natural gas to Europe, the balance of Russian gas to Europe comes through Ukraine, which itself is dependent upon Russia for 60% of its current gas consumption.

While Ukraine controls the transit of 90% of its gas to Europe, Russia is consistently trying to use its gas exports to Ukraine to gain greater control of the Ukraine transit system, which itself deems a strategic asset. The struggle for control of export to Europe and Ukraine’s own struggle to increase domestic production and move closer to Europe, with an European Association Agreement set to be signed in November this year, has put extreme stress not only on the energy independence of Ukraine but of Europe as a whole.

From an energy geostrategic standpoint, Europe needs Ukraine to move closer to Europe, “but for all its planning, Europe also knows retribution, in the shape of an energy squeeze, is likely from Russia.

Moscow, which has a long-standing disagreement with Ukraine over gas, has said it will raise Ukraine’s gas prices and officials do not rule out it doing the same for the EU, which gets nearly 40% of its gas from Russia. “The EU should not look at Ukraine as a business opportunity alone, particularly in light of currently lagging gas demand, but should examine the long-term future of European energy security and the key role Ukraine will continue to play in it. Partnership with the EU is not a silver bullet for the troubled Ukrainian energy sector, but it is certain to reduce the volatility of future pricing disputes and is perhaps the only solution that does not leave Ukraine’s fate entirely in Russian hands,” according to an article by Richard B Andres and Michael Kofman.

Ukraine has also done much in the past 18 months to increase its energy independence. Recent shale tenders with Shell and Chevron and with Exxon for the development of the Ukrainian Black Sea have the potential to greatly reduce the dependence Ukraine has on Russian exports and potentially for Europe as well. “While the full picture of unconventional gas is expected to be assessed in the coming years, the key to success, as is the case of Ukraine, is infrastructure. If the future of shale gas exploration is to be bright, a new infrastructure will have to be built to link the sources of unconventional gas with the grid to allow for the commercialization of the gas.

 “To ensure that the Energy Community brings results, once operationalized the shale gas opportunity should be extended to the Eastern Neighborhood. It would allow the Eastern Neighborhood, in particular Ukraine, to create stronger bonds between the EU and the region and, as a result, galvanize stronger energy interdependence between the EU and Russia by stabilizing Ukraine’s internal energy supply,” according to a policy paper from the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation (BST).

 Coup in the Making?

In the past five years, there has been significant growth in Europe’s LNG [ Liquefied Natural Gas] import capacity; however, high LNG prices driven by Japanese demand, and the higher oil-linked price that LNG receives in Asia has diverted much of this supply from the European market.

An agreement between Ukraine and Turkey for the transit of LNG through the Bosporus, as the gateway to the Black Sea, would be a major coup for European energy security. It would put downward pressure on current LNG prices due to the high demand and premium paid in Asia and would eventually provide Europe with cheap shale gas through a viable alternative marketplace.

It’s an idea developed by Robert Bensh , energy advisor to Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Yuriy Boyko, managing director of Pelicourt Limited and senior advisor for Cub Energy Inc., which operates in both Ukraine and Turkey.

The potential for LNG exports to Europe without a deal between Turkey and Ukraine for liquefied natural gas (LNG) through the Bosporus will fall flat, and Russia will continue to provide at least 30% of Europe’s natural gas through 2023.

“The European Union can and should play a more active role in shaping the Black Sea security environment. As a full regional player, it should promote cooperation on an equal footing, and refrain from acting as a sponsor as it does, for instance, in the Mediterranean. As a privileged partner of all countries of the region, the EU should use its bilateral relations with each of them, including Russia and Turkey, to contribute towards the emergence of a cooperative security environment in the Black Sea region,” according to a European Parliament briefing .

A CRS Report for US Congress agrees, stating:

“Development of more liquefied natural gas (LNG) transport and reception facilities from distant suppliers, such as Nigeria, into Europe could be another course of action. Coupled with the development of new oil and gas pipelines could be an offer from NATO (and/or EU) members to provide security for energy infrastructure in periods of unrest or conflict in supplier and transit countries.

 For both Ukraine and Turkey, such a deal would also be a political and economic coup of vast proportions, Bensh says.

 For Ukraine, LNG is the key to energy independence. For Turkey, LNG is the key to becoming one of the most important energy hubs between the Middle East and Europe. In combination with the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which will bring Azerbaijani gas from Shah Deniz through Turkey on to European markets, controlling the LNG segment through the Black Sea would give Turkey broader leverage than any other player in Europe. For both Ukraine and Turkey, it would mean greater access to the economic benefits of the European Union, control over Europe’s LNG market and a level of political leverage over the continent that would render both world-class strategic players.

The benefits to Ukraine and Turkey are significant:

Benefits to Ukraine

  • Independence from Russia
  • Greater access to the European Union, with Kiev able to be assertive on the terms
  • Political leverage in Washington, which is keen to see a Turkey-Ukraine LNG deal put through, especially one focused in part on Qatari gas as opposed to Iranian gas
  • Control of the European market for LNG
  • Economic prosperity by giving an edge to heavy gas-reliant industries
  • Strategic positioning and leverage that goes beyond Europe and into the Middle East/Gulf and especially between competitors Qatar and Iran

Benefits for Turkey

  • Control of the European LNG market
  • Rise as an energy hub between the Middle East and Europe, not just an energy transit country
  • Political leverage over Europe and access to the EU on Ankara’s terms
  • Political leverage with Washington
  • Strategic positioning as an energy hub that renders Turkey the decision-maker from Europe to the Middle East/Gulf
  • Diversification of supplies, with less reliance on Russian and Iranian deliveries, including from emerging African powerhouses such as Angola and Ghana

Timing is important, and the window of opportunity should be taken advantage of before new pipelines come online and while two of the world’s biggest gas players—Qatar and Iran—are in a desperate race to grab the European market. If an LNG agreement is solidified within this timeframe, it will dictate rather than serve as an afterthought to Europe’s gas future.

In this respect, Ukraine and Turkey together already have a certain amount of leverage at the negotiating table, particularly with respect to Qatari supplies, which are very eager to get to the wider European market. Timing is critical as Iran, suffering under economic sanctions that has caused widespread unemployment and a recession (the under 35 age group is thought to have unemployment of over 40%; a sobering thought in a period of Arab Springs) is attempting to have access to markets from which it currently is cut off from; and there is no better indication of this than the British government’s current reconsideration of the embargo on BP’s joint venture with the Iranian National Gas Company in the Rhum field. One additional factor in the conflict in Syria was, Qatari-versus-Iranian plans to run a pipeline through the country to Turkey, eyeing the European market.

In terms of critical timing, Ukraine and Turkey would be better positioned strategically were they to strike an LNG deal before the beginning of Phase Two production at Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field, and before TANAP begins operations. The price of LNG is more volatile due to the Asian market, and it would be more beneficial for LNG to secure this market, while natural gas futures for Shah Deniz supplies, which have already been contracted out for 25 years to nine European companies.

 Another Black Sea LNG project—the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector (AGRI) project—is also being delayed due to the perception that European demand is not ready for this project. This is a false perception that is driven by the Asian-driven LNG price spikes and the diversion of cargoes away from the European market. AGRI at present is languishing as it waits for the market to develop. This is an opportunity for a Ukraine-Turkey LNG agreement. The first to develop will control the market.

 The AGRI project is hoping to transport natural gas from the Caspian region (primarily Turkmenistan) to Europe designed as a part of the Southern Corridor and as the shortest direct route for Caspian gas to European markets. If realized, AGRI would transport Azerbaijani LNG from Georgia, across the Black Sea, to an LNG terminal planned for construction on the Romanian Black Sea coast, then piped through to Hungary through the interconnector with Romania and then further into Europe.

 Azerbaijan, Romania and Georgia signed the Memorandum of Understanding for this project in April 2010, but not much has happened since then. The project requires the construction not only of a regasification terminal in Romania, but also a liquefaction plant in Georgia.

 Competition for this strategic positioning will come from the development of Mediterranean LNG projects, which could also be a game-changer for Europe. Potential projects here (Cyprus and Israel, first and foremost) remain uncertain, but if realized they would offer gas to high-demand Southeastern European markets with attractive pricing. In the absence of an LNG agreement between Ukraine and Turkey, Cyprus and Israel have the potential to capture the European market from the Mediterranean side. Timing is critical and the advantage will go to the players who recognize the opportunity to fill the long-term LNG supply gap that has been created by the diversion of cargo to Asia. Ukraine, has the potential to fill this gap and control the market.

 LNG’S Role in European Energy Security

The European Market for LNG at a Glance:

  • Relative to 2011, LNG deliveries to the EU fell 31% in 2012, with imports from Qatar down 35%, Nigeria 31% and Algeria 18%, while imports to Asia have grown by up to 70%
  • So far for 2013, LNG deliveries are in line with this downward trend
  • For the first quarter of 2013, gas flowing out of LNG terminals into pipelines (LNG send-out to grids) in the UK, Netherlands and Belgium was down by 60% over the same period in 2012, and down 40% in France and 30% in Spain, Italy and Portugal
  • The average price of spot pipeline gas in Europe is around $10 per MMBtu, while the average spot LNG price is $11.40/MMBtu (there is a wide range of LNG pricing across Europe)
  • In Japan, LNG prices are about 40% higher (as of Q1 2013) than spot prices in the UK, for example

LNG in Europe, Present and Future

At the close of 2012, LNG accounted for 19% of Europe’s gas supply, while 81% was natural gas transported via pipeline.

 The Fukushima disaster in Japan forced European countries to reconsider their nuclear policies, and this has forced a stronger focus on coal, natural gas and LNG. Before Fukushima, LNG was favored over natural gas because supplies were greater at that time and prices were cheaper than piped-in gas. As a result of the Fukushima disaster and Japan’s resultant eschewing of nuclear power reliance, is a run on LNG by Japan and other Asian nations who are willing to pay higher prices. This has driven LNG prices up and diverted supplies to the Asian market. In addition, it has caused fewer LNG development projects to be pursued in Europe. This translates into future gas shortages when LNG supplies can no longer meet growing Asian demand and when there is a lack of long-term LNG commitment in Europe. This is the critical window of opportunity in the market for Ukraine and Turkey. (There is a certain counter-intuitive momentum to be grasped here.)

 Because Asia signs on to long-term LNG agreements with high, oil-linked prices, there are predictions that Europe will find itself with extremely restricted access to LNG in the near- to medium-term future, with a recovery in demand and a growing reluctance to rely on dirty coal for power generation.

 This past decade has seen global LNG supplies double and regasification and shipping capacity triple. The exception is Europe, where Ukraine and Turkey are singularly positioned to take advantage of this LNG gap before demand picks up and the opportunity for strategic positioning is weakened.

 The LNG market is set to expand globally over the next decade, and demand for LNG in Europe is most likely set to rise even without affecting natural gas supplies. Thus, TANAP and a Ukrainian-Turkish LNG agreement would work in tandem, not in competition, to control an even greater market share.

 If Russia ends up building natural gas storage facilities in Turkey—an idea for which Gazprom expressed interest earlier this year—Turkey will lose its chance for maximum political leverage. This past winter, Gazprom redirected natural gas from its storage facilities in Europe after a spike in demand in Turkey. This prompted a Russian justification for potentially building storage facilities in Turkey ostensibly to come to the rescue when supplies are insufficient. In theory, though, this would represent an increased Russian energy footprint in Turkey that would negatively impact Turkey’s energy hub ambitions and would only help to solidify its dependence on Russian supplies, which amount to about 58% of Turkey’s total supplies. An LNG deal with Ukraine would give Turkey greater access to additional alternative supplies, and this, combined with an anticipated increase in Azerbaijani supplies from Shah Deniz will allow Turkey to become a true, diversified energy hub.

 Qatar is heavily courting both Ukraine and Turkey for LNG through the Bosporus. From Qatar’s perspective, if Qatari LNG is allowed to pass through the Turkish-controlled Bosporus, this will deal a heavy blow to Iran. As such, Qatar recognizes Turkey’s role here as a key geopolitical power broker on the energy scene. Along this same line of thought, Qatar’s perception is that Russia is not capable at this time of preventing a Turkey-Ukraine energy deal focused on Qatari gas.

 For Turkey, though, such a deal would allow it to further diversify its supplies, reducing reliance on both Russian and Iran—the latter which has been unreliable in terms of supplies over recent years.

Such a deal also further underlines the extent of political leverage Ukraine and Turkey would enjoy well beyond Europe, and into the Middle East.

 Geopolitically, if Ukraine and Turkey were to bring Qatari gas through the Bosporus and on to European markets, this would help balance the power of a Russian-Iranian axis. It would reshape geopolitical dynamics, with Turkey the driving force through its strategic position as a Middle East-Europe energy hub.

 Turkish and Ukrainian interest can either merge, or diverge to be counter-productive both to their gas supply needs and to European energy security. The perceptions of competition between Ukraine and Turkey are there, however, it is only through the combined, complementary force of the two that we will see a new energy powerhouse emerge.

LNG is the future, and globally we are looking at a major upswing in demand, including for Europe in the medium-to-long term.

 As becomes clearer every year, pipeline gas delivery is hindered severely by economics and geopolitics. It limits room for consumer maneuvering, especially for those who are reliant on few, or single, sources. LNG can avoid much of these same hurdles, despite the investment cost associated with LNG facilities. There is a great deal of market flexibility to be found in LNG due to the absence of piping contracts.

LNG will become the key fuel of the future, and the forces that grasp the Black Sea market for LNG first will be among the most influential players on the global energy market. There is also the Black Sea marine industry to consider here, and the future is likely to see this converted to LNG—with new and converted transport vehicles and vessels running on LNG.

 Source: http://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/Europe/Ukraine-Turkey-The-European-Energy-Coup.html

 By. Oil & Energy Insider Analysts

This report is part of Oilprice.com ‘s premium publication Oil & Energy Insider . Oil & Energy Insider gives subscribers an information advantage when investing, trading or doing business in the energy sectors.  http://oilprice.com/premium

ReThink911: 911 Truth Confronts The New York Times

October 23rd, 2013 by Global Research News

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América Latina: temas urgentes de la coyuntura geopolítica

October 23rd, 2013 by Atilio A. Boron

El viernes pasado concluyeron en La Habana las deliberaciones de la Primera Conferencia sobre Estudios Estratégicos organizado por el Centro de Investigaciones de Política Internacional dependiente del Instituto Superior de Relaciones Internacionales (ISRI) del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba. Fueron tres días de productivas discusiones en los cuales se pasó revista a distintos aspectos de la coyuntura geopolítica internacional y el papel que en la misma juegan los países de América Latina y el Caribe.

Algunas reflexiones preliminares habían sido expuestas en un posteo anterior; a continuación se exponen algunas de las conclusiones más relevantes de la conferencia:

a) Necesidad de una respuesta mucho más tajante de nuestros países en relación a la agresión informática, el espionaje y los ciberataques lanzados por diversas agencias de inteligencia de Estados Unidos. De hecho, cuando Google, Yahoo, Skype, Facebook y otras grandes compañías del mundo de la Internet reconocieron públicamente que transferían sus archivos a los organismos de espionaje y seguridad de Estados Unidos todos esos programas deberían haber sido eliminados inmediatamente de los organismos gubernamentales de la región y reemplazados, en la medida en que ello fuera posible, por sucedáneos del software libre. Paralelamente tendría que haberse lanzado una gran campaña para desalentar su empleo en las organizaciones no-gubernamentales y el público en general, cosa que apenas se está haciendo en Brasil, víctima preferencial de esos ataques junto con Alemania y Francia, según recientes revelaciones.

Varios expertos coincidieron en señalar que los programas convencionales de anti-virus revisan y limpian todos los archivos de computadoras localizadas en tanto en El Cairo como Buenos Aires o Bangalore, pero que la labor se hace en Estados Unidos y que simultáneamente con la remoción o no de los virus esos archivos son copiados y mantenidos en gigantescos servidores controlados por el gobierno de Estados Unidos, donde son almacenados y revisados primeros por robots informáticos y, cuando aparecen contenidos, emisores o destinatarios sospechosos, por humanos. Conclusión: se impone acelerar el tránsito hacia el software libre y, además, desechar todas las computadoras hechas en Estados Unidos o por firmas norteamericanas radicadas en terceros países, de donde se desprende la importancia de desarrollar una industria latinoamericana de producción de hardwares de diverso tipo (computadoras de mesa, laptops, tabletas, etcétera).

b) Otra de las conclusiones se focalizó sobre La silenciosa y permanente agresión militar del imperialismo y el papel de la UNASUR. Uno de los graves problemas que enfrenta la región es que pese a estar cercada por 76 bases militares estadounidenses los gobiernos de la UNASUR no han sido capaces hasta ahora de consensuar una hipótesis de conflicto realista para la región. Hipótesis que debe responder a una pregunta bien simple: ¿quién es nuestro más probable agresor o quién es el que ya nos está amenazando? No obstante la abrumadora presencia de tantas instalaciones militares estadounidenses diseminadas a lo largo y a lo ancho de toda América del Sur esa respuesta todavía no ha sido siquiera esbozada y continúa siendo un tema tabú al interior de la UNASUR.

Obviamente que la heterogeneidad del mapa sociopolítico sudamericano conspira contra una tal iniciativa. Hay gobiernos que han asumido como su misión convertirse en los “Caballos de Troya” del imperio y obedecer incondicionalmente las directivas emanadas de Washington: en Sudamérica tal es la situación de Colombia, Perú y Chile, con la muy probable adición a esta lista del gobierno del Paraguay. Hay otros que pugnan por asegurar su autodeterminación y resistir a los designios y presiones del imperialismo: casos de Bolivia, Ecuador y Venezuela. Y otros, como Argentina, Brasil y Uruguay, que navegan a media agua: apoyan tibiamente a los segundos en sus proyectos continentales pero comparten con los primeros su vocación de instaurar en sus países un “capitalismo serio”, engañoso oxímoron que enturbia la conciencia de gobernantes y gobernados por igual. El resultado es la enorme dificultad de llegar a un acuerdo para, por ejemplo, exigir algo tan fundamental como el retiro de las bases militares extranjeras de América del Sur; o para mantener a esta parte del continente como una zona libre de armas nucleares, cosa que ahora es imposible de certificar. ¿Cómo saber cuáles son las armas que el Pentágono instala en sus bases? Hay sospechas muy fundadas de que en algunas que posee en Colombia, como Palanquero, o en la de la OTAN en Malvinas (base que cuenta con apoyo logístico y presencia militar estadounidense) puede haber armas de destrucción masiva. Pero la verificación in situ ha probado ser, al menos hasta ahora, imposible porque ni siquiera existe un acuerdo sobre la necesidad o conveniencia de llevar a cabo una inspección.

 

La silenciosa pero muy efectiva ingerencia de Washington sobre las fuerzas armadas latinoamericanas se traduce también en la insólita continuidad de los programas de “formación y adiestramiento” de militares y -¡cuidado con esto!- de fuerzas policiales en la región. Incluso en gobiernos claramente enfrentados con el imperialismo norteamericano la inercia de tantas décadas de formación en la Escuela de las Américas y otras del mismo tipo torna difícil sustraerse a la presión militar para continuar con esos programas. Pero cuando la costumbre y los incentivos crematísticos no son suficientes la Casa Blanca apela a la extorsión. Si un país decide no enviar sus oficiales a tomar cursos de formación en Estados Unidos en represalia Washington puede interrumpir el suministro de equipo militar a los países del área, sea bajo la forma de donaciones o ventas subsidiadas.

De ese modo el gobierno desobediente podría después ser acusado de “no colaboración” en la guerra contra el narcotráfico o el terrorismo, entre otras cosas por no contar con los equipos y armamentos adecuados para la tarea. Y es lógico pensar que quien se adiestra en Estados Unidos es entrenado para combatir a quienes ese país considere como sus enemigos. Y ya sabemos quienes son éstos para el imperio: precisamente los gobiernos y las fuerzas antiimperialistas de la región. En suma: los cursos, las armas y las doctrinas militares conforman una trinidad inseparable. Los países que envían a sus oficiales a entrenarse en Estados Unidos están también dejando en manos de ese país decidir quienes son los enemigos a combatir y cómo hacerlo.

 

En la misma línea debe señalarse la absurda sobrevivencia del TIAR, el Tratado Interamericano de Asistencia Recíproca desahuciado en los hechos por la colaboración brindada por Washington a Gran Bretaña en la Guerra de las Malvinas; o la continuidad de las periódicas reuniones de los Comandantes en Jefe o de la Junta Interamericana de Defensa; o la realización de operaciones conjuntas con fuerzas de Estados Unidos, siendo que éste es el único enemigo regional a la vista. Todo lo anterior se complementa, en el plano jurídico, con la aprobación en casi todos nuestros países de una legislación antiterrorista sólo inspirada en la necesidad de proteger la sigilosa ocupación de los Estados Unidos del territorio latinoamericano y de criminalizar a las fuerzas políticas y movimientos sociales que se oponen a los avances del imperialismo.

c) También surgió de la conferencia la necesidad de estudiar sistemáticamente al imperialismo norteamericano. Es preciso revertir una peligrosa tendencia muy presente en las fuerzas políticas y los movimientos antiimperialistas de la región y que se sintetiza en una consigna rayana en el suicidio: “al enemigo no se lo estudia sino que se lo combate.” Se exalta el fervor militante, lo que está bien, pero se subestima la necesidad de conocer científicamente, minuciosamente, al imperialismo, lo que está mal. Sin estudiar a fondo a Estados Unidos como centro nervioso del sistema imperialista; sin conocer cómo funciona; sin saber cuáles son los dispositivos mediante los cuales establece su predominio a escala mundial y quiénes son sus agentes operativos en los planos de la economía, la política y la cultura; desconociendo cuáles son sus estrategias y tácticas de lucha, sus artificios propagandísticos y sus concepciones ideológicas, y quiénes sus peones locales se torna casi imposible librar una batalla exitosa contra su dominación. Por eso tenía razón José Martí, uno de los grandes héroes de nuestras luchas antiimperialistas, cuando para fundamentar su diagnóstico sobre los ominosos designios de Estados Unidos le dijo a su amigo Manuel Mercado que “viví en el monstruo, y le conozco las entrañas.”

Pero el desconocimiento del imperio no es atributo exclusivo de la militancia antiimperialista. Lamentablemente en la academia de nuestros países el estudio de los Estados Unidos es una materia que brilla por su ausencia. Se cuentan con los dedos de una mano los centros de investigación que se dedican a estudiar a nuestros opresores, mientras que en Estados Unidos son alrededor de trescientos los centros y/o programas de enseñanza e investigación que tienen por objeto investigar nuestras sociedades. Estas preocupantes realidades deberían suscitar una rápida reacción de las fuerzas antiimperialistas de la región, recordando lo que con tanta razón observara Lenin al decir que “nada hay más práctico que una buena teoría”. Una buena teoría sobre el imperialismo contemporáneo que debe articular la tradición clásica, sobre todo la teoría leninista del imperialismo, con las novedades que asume el fenómeno un siglo después de que el revolucionario ruso escribiera su libro sobre el tema. Novedades entre las cuales no es precisamente la menor el desplazamiento del centro del sistema imperialista desde las potencias coloniales europeas a los Estados Unidos; novedades, también conviene subrayarlo, que lejos de refutar las previsiones y los análisis de Lenin no hicieron sino ratificarlos pero bajo nuevas formas que no pueden ser ignoradas si lo que se pretende es librar un eficaz combate contra tan perverso sistema.[1]

Necesidad, por lo tanto, de estudiar seriamente el funcionamiento del “complejo militar e industrial” norteamericano, y su insaciable voracidad. Es este entramado de gigantescos oligopolios lo que constituye el corazón de la clase dominante norteamericana y, por extensión, de la burguesía imperial. Para el “complejo militar e industrial” la paz equivale a la bancarrota: sin guerras no hay ganancias y sin ganancias no se puede financiar a la clase política de Estados Unidos. Perversa articulación entre la rentabilidad de la industria armamentística –una industria que sólo provoca destrucción y muerte- y las necesidades de los políticos norteamericanos de costear sus carreras políticas que inevitablemente terminan colocando a los vencedores al servicio de sus financistas. No sorprende, por lo tanto, constatar que las ventas de las industrias del “complejo militar-industrial” hayan aumentado en un 60 % entre 2002 y 2012, desde el comienzo de la gran contraofensiva militar después del 11-S hasta nuestros días.

Dato adicional: ¿se acuerdan que hace unos seis meses parecía que el mundo enfrentaba un inminente ataque atómico lanzado por Corea del Norte? ¿Qué pasó con eso? ¿Ahora los norcoreanos ya no ponen en jaque al planeta? Después se dijo que parecía que la obstinación de Irán de continuar con su programa nuclear ponía en peligro la paz muncial, y más tarde el problema de las “armas químicas” de Siria parecía colocarnos, otra vez, al borde de una Tercera Guerra Mundial. Conclusión: para la rentabilidad de sus negocios el “complejo militar-industrial” necesita garantizar que siempre haya crisis, y si no las hay las inventa, y si no las inventa las construye mediáticamente. Para eso está la prensa hegemónica que, cual la puta de Babilonia, se presta solícita a difundir esas patrañas que amedrentan a la población al paso que estimulan la producción de nuevos y cada vez más letales armamentos.

d) Diversas ponencias de la conferencia señalaron la continuidad de la política de la Casa Blanca hacia América Latina y el Caribe. En este sentido hubo un consenso prácticamente unánime en señalar la identidad existente entre las políticas latinoamericanas de las administraciones de George W. Bush y Barack Obama, razón por la cual conviene dejar de utilizar ese nombre –“administración”- y hablar mejor del “régimen de Washington”, para señalar de este modo la sistemática violación de la legalidad internacional y los derechos humanos practicada por el gobierno norteamericano, de cualquier signo.[2]

En lo que toca a Cuba si algo hizo el “régimen” norteamericano fue intensificar el bloqueo financiero, comercial y económico contra la isla, ajustando aún más los controles establecidos por la legislación estadounidense. No deja de ser sorprendente que no haya todavía surgido una queja universal en contra de la ilegal e inmoral extraterritorialidad establecida por la Enmienda Torricelli a la Ley Helms-Burton. Según esta monstruosidad jurídica -diseñada exclusivamente para perjudicar a un solo país en el mundo: Cuba- el gobierno de Estados Unidos está autorizado para aplicar sanciones a cualquier empresa nacional o de un tercer país (por ejemplo, una británica, japonesa o sueca) por el sólo hecho de comerciar con Cuba o iniciar emprendimientos económicos con la Isla, por ejemplo, en la explotación del petróleo.

En otras palabras, Estados Unidos “legaliza” al imperialismo mediante la despótica imposición de la ley estadounidense por encima de la de todos los países del globo. ¡Imaginemos lo que ocurriría sin país cualquiera pretendiera hacer algo igual, por ejemplo, universalizar su legislación prohibitoria de la pena de muerte y sancionara a aquél que, como Estados Unidos, aún la aplicara! Para quienes todavía dudan de que vivimos bajo un sistema imperial los ejemplos anteriores bastan y sobran para convencerlos de lo contrario.

Otro rasgo que demuestra la enfermiza persistencia de la agresión en contra de Cuba está dado por el hecho de que Washington continúa utilizando transmisiones ilegales de radio y televisión convocando al pueblo de la Isla a subvertir el orden constitucional vigente y a rebelarse en contra de su gobierno, con el objeto de lograr el largamente acariciado “cambio de régimen”. Dichas transmisiones no sólo divulgan propaganda sediciosa sino que, además, interfieren en el normal funcionamiento de las emisoras de radio y televisión cubanas. Se estima que el costo de estas actividades ilegales patrocinadas por Washington se eleva a unos 30 millones de dólares anuales.

Un informe reciente de la Auditoría del Gobierno estadounidense referido exclusivamente a las actividades de la USAID y el Departamento de Estado reveló además que entre 1996 y el 2011 esas agencias destinaron 205 millones de dólares para promover el derrocamiento del gobierno cubano. Muchos millones más fueron seguramente apropiados por la CIA, la USAID, el Fondo Nacional para la Democracia y otras instituciones afines para promover tan siniestros objetivos. Por lo visto le asistía toda la razón a Noam Chomsky cuando interrogado a fines del 2008 sobre su pronóstico acerca de la inminente inauguración del “régimen de Obama” respondió sarcásticamente que éste sería apenas el tercer turno de la Administración Bush.

Tenía razón, como lo demostró la historia, aunque se quedó corto: si se computa el número de muertes civiles ocasionadas por los aviones no tripulados norteamericanos, los “drones”, el inverosímil Premio Nobel de la Paz superó con creces el saldo luctuoso de su predecesor. ¡Ah!, a seis meses de las elecciones presidenciales venezolanas el muy distraído Obama todavía parece no haberse enterado que el triunfador de esa contienda fue el candidato chavista Nicolás Maduro y sigue sin reconocer oficialmente su victoria y alentando, de ese modo, los planes desestabilizadores de la oposición fascista en la República Bolivariana de Venezuela. Y los cuatro luchadores antiterroristas cubanos que purgan en las cárceles del imperio su osadía de pretender desmontar la máquina terrorista instalada en Miami -y protegida por el “régimen de Washington” – podrían ser puestos inmediatamente en libertad si Obama ejerciera las atribuciones del perdón presidencial que le confiere la constitución. Pero no lo hace. En cambio, sigue apadrinando a terroristas como Luis Posada Carriles o el ex presidente boliviano Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, cuya extradición es solicitada por la justicia de ese país por su responsabilidad en la masacre de 67 personas durante las jornadas de protesta popular que provocaron su caída.

Notas

[1] Sobre el tema consultar dos obras de nuestra autoría, de descarga gratuita en la web: Imperio & Imperialismo. Una lectura crítica de Michael Hardt y Antonio Negri (Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 5º edición, 2004, “Premio Extraordinario de Ensayo de “Casa de las Américas”), especialmente el capítulo 8 y la compilación que efectuara con el título de Nueva Hegemonía Mundial. Alternativas de cambio y movimientos sociales (Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 2004), po. 133-154. Pueden encontrarse el primero deestos libros en: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bx2YC3gJbq2TMjExMTU0MGUtMjY2ZC00ZDg0LTljOWUt ODIyMDZkNzM4YTRh/edit?usp=drive_web Y el segundo se encuentra en: http://biblioteca.clacso.edu.ar/clacso/se/20120507124307/nuevah.pdf

[2] Ver la nota en nuestro blog: www.atilioboron.com.ar o también en http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2013/09/19/the-obama-regime/