December 18th, 2014 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
December 18th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman
A previous article called Obama a war criminal.
Ruthless by any standard. Governing extrajudicially. Presiding over a homeland police state apparatus. Hardening what Bush instituted.
Serving monied interests exclusively. At the expense of beneficial social change. Using America’s resources for war-making. Corporate handouts.
Running the world’s largest gulag. At home and abroad. Filled with thousands of political prisoners.
Spying on everyone. Torturing innocent victims. At home and abroad. Unreported. Out of sight and mind.
What Intelligence Committee senators didn’t explain. Or that torture remains official US policy. Overall ruthlessness persists.
Fundamental freedoms are disappearing in plain sight. Permanent war on humanity rages. Possible nuclear war on Russia. Madness if launched. By false flag or other means.
On Monday, Obama spoke at Fort Dix, NJ. Where this writer entered military service in summer 1956.
When it was mandatory. Thankfully after Korea. Before Vietnam heated up. Fortunately served only domestically.
No overseas deployments. Especially to conflict zones. US forces always involved worldwide. Directly or indirectly.
From its global empire of bases. Far more extensive now than earlier. Using them to deploy special forces. In over two-thirds of world nations.
Not as good will ambassadors. As covert and overt operatives. They’re trained killers. Obama didn’t explain.
Or about America in Afghanistan to stay. Permanent occupation planned. Obama claiming he’s ending the nation’s longest war is false.
His latest Big Lie. Including earlier saying “(t)he United States did not seek this fight. “We went into Afghanistan out of necessity, after our nation was attacked by al Qaeda on September 11th, 2001.”
“We went to war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies with the strong support of the American people and their representatives in Congress; with the international community and our NATO allies; and with the Afghan people, who welcomed the opportunity of a life free from the dark tyranny of extremism. (W)e have struck significant blows against al Qaeda’s leadership, we have eliminated Osama bin Laden, and we have prevented Afghanistan from being used to launch attacks against our homeland. We have also supported the Afghan people as they continue the hard work of building a democracy.”
It’s hard imagining more mumbo jumbo rubbish. Afghanistan is Bush’s war. Obama continues it.
Naked aggression. Premeditated. A war of choice. Planned months before 9/11. Showing no signs of ending.
Not about striking “”significant blows against al Qaeda’s leadership.” Or eliminating bin Laden.
In December 2001, he died of natural causes. Kidney disease and other ailments. BBC and other major media reported it at the time. The New York Times months later.
Obama didn’t kill Osama. His Afghan war has nothing to do with US security. Or defeating Al Qaeda. Or other nonexistent threats.
It’s like all US wars. Advancing America’s imperium. Colonizing strategic territories. Controlling them. Installing puppet regimes. Subservient to Washington.
A previous article called Afghanistan a geopolitical prize. Strategically located. In Eurasia’s heartland. Near its vast oil, gas and other resources.
Straddling the Middle East. South and Central Asia. Perhaps the world’s largest land-based aircraft carrier.
Part of Washington’s plan to encircle Russia and China with US bases. Exploit Afghanistan’s extensive gas and mineral resources. Worth an estimated $1 trillion.
Plus the world’s largest opium supply. Flooding global markets with heroin. Providing enormous profits for Wall Street. Giving CIA access to billions of dollars in illicit drug money.
US state-sponsored 9/11 was a convenient pretext. The mother of all Big Lies. Bush and Obama wars followed.
Naked aggression by any standard. Killing millions. From violence. Deprivation. Disease.
Afghans are long-suffering. Perhaps worse off now than ever. From adversity. Poverty. Unemployment. Malnutrition. Lack of basic services. Extreme deprivation.
Largely on their own. With one of the world’s lowest life expectancies. Around 44 years. One of its highest maternal mortality rates.
Extremely high infant mortality. Over 20% of children perish before age five.
No one’s sure from day to day who’ll live or die. US drone attacks kill mostly noncombatants. Claims otherwise are Big Lies.
Millions are vulnerable to preventable diseases. Epidemic levels of malnutrition persist.
Vital infrastructure is lacking. Severe poverty overwhelming. So is environmental contamination.
Mass unemployment goes unnoticed. Healthcare, housing, education, proper sanitation and other vital needs are sorely lacking.
Human misery is a growth industry. So is hunger. Thousands starve to death for lack of food.
Millions suffer chronic malnutrition. Tens of thousands of children have protruding bones. Distended stomachs.
Begging in streets for whatever help they can get. Most Afghans can’t afford minimally healthy diets. Conditions media scoundrels ignore. America’s deplorable legacy.
Afghanistan democracy is fantasy. None whatever exists. Washington tolerates none. Elections when held are farcical.
Fraud substitutes for a free and open process. Voters have no say. Like in America. Powerful interests control things.
What they say goes. Expect no change end of December. “(M)arking an important milestone,” according to Obama.
“(T)ransiion(ing) (to let) Afghans…take full responsibility for their security,” he claimed. Saying “after more than 13 years, our combat mission…will be over. America’s war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end. (D)ecimating…core Al Qaeda leadership. (D)elivering justice to Osama bin Laden. Push(ing) back the Taliban. (T)raining Afghan forces to take the lead. (M)aking a historic election (possible. Afghanistan’s) “first (ever) democratic transfer of power.”
Despicable Big Lies. One after another. Polar opposite hard truths. Afghanistan is a dystopian wasteland. America’s longest war. Continuing. Without end.
Despite Obama claiming otherwise. With thousands of US combat forces remaining. More deployed as needed.
Obama lied claiming “(t)he time of deploying large ground forces with big military footprints to engage in nation-building overseas, that’s coming to an end. Going forward, our military will be leaner,” he added. Revealing America’s real intentions at the same time. Saying he’ll “make sure we keep you ready for the range of missions that we ask of you. We are going to keep you the best trained, the best led, the best equipped military in the history of the world because the world will still be calling.”
Continuing war without end in Afghanistan. Perhaps another decade or longer. In Iraq. Syria. Ukraine. Somalia. Yemen. Other areas.
Permanent war is official US policy. Peace is a convenient illusion. When America has no threats. Except ones it invents.
Justifying its war machine. Using it irresponsibly. Lawlessly.
Against humanity. Obama’s so-called “turning point” signifies possible global war.
Perhaps with nuclear weapons. For the first time since WW II. Risking the unthinkable. Possible armageddon.
Unnoticed by media scoundrels. Supporting all US wars. Others planned. No matter how lawless. Destructive. In lockstep with might makes right.
America left Afghanistan in ruins. Killed millions of its people. Many more daily. Caused unspeakable human misery.
Washington’s deplorable legacy. Polar opposite claims of success. Obama saying otherwise one of his many Big Lies.
Responsible for genocidal high crimes against peace. Continuing global wars. Risking direct confrontation with Russia. Possibly with nuclear weapons.
Impeaching him remains a national imperative. Prosecuting him in an independent tribunal.
Holding him accountable for high crimes too grave to ignore. Making world peace possible.
Needed more now than ever. Humanity’s fate hangs in the balance.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/
December 18th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci
It was reported recently that Germany’s broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) investigated what turned out to be hundreds of trucks a day carrying billions of dollars in supplies, flowing into Syria and directly into the hands of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS).
Turkey, a NATO member since 1952, has played a pivotal role in the destabilization and destruction of neighboring Syria. Since 2011, Turkey has allowed its territory to be used as a transit and staging point for sectarian terrorists flowing from around the world and into Syria in what could be described as a defacto NATO invasion by proxy.
In 2011, after the Libyan conflict drew to an end in favor of NATO, terrorists it had armed and provided air cover for in North Africa were promptly shipped to Turkey where they then slipped into Syria to engage the Syrian government and its military. Since then, an untold number of terrorists have used not only Turkey as a staging ground, but also Lebanon and Jordan.
In addition to literal terrorists being harbored in NATO territory, security agencies of NATO members including the US and UK, have been active along the Turkish-Syrian border arming, funding. and equipping what they call “moderate rebels.” These moderate rebels have recently been revealed as affiliates of or organized directly organized beneath both Al Qaeda and ISIS.
DW’s report does not implicate merely Turkey in aiding and abetting ISIS, but exposes the fact that ISIS’ supply lines lead from within NATO itself – in other words, ISIS is a creation, perpetuation, and agent of NATO.
Contrary to Western propaganda, Al Qaeda was intentionally organized and directed by the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel to engage in a regional confrontation aimed at Iran and its powerful arc of influence. Exposed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” it was stated explicitly that (emphasis added):
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
Clearly, ISIS is the verbatim fulfillment of Hersh’s 2007 warning.
And while some may question what took place between 2007 and the current disposition of ISIS today, those documenting the ongoing conflict in Syria starting in 2011 have noted substantial and continued state sponsorship of militants fighting in the Syrian conflict, many of which are now confirmed to be operating under the banner of ISIS.
Headlines over the past 3-4 years including, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” “First Syria rebels armed and trained by CIA ‘on way to battlefield’,” “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” and “Official says CIA-funded weapons have begun to reach Syrian rebels; rebels deny receipt,” reveal ongoing Western support, bridging the gap between the conspiracy exposed by Hersh in 2007 and the current torrent of supplies flowing to ISIS via NATO territory.
It is clear that the ISIS threat was NATO all along, the culmination of a conspiracy spanning at least two US Presidential administrations, and resulting in a regional conflict marked by some of the most horrific barbarism documented in modern history.
With NATO feeding the ISIS threat directly, no serious attempt to destroy ISIS in either Syria or Iraq can be attempted without first cutting its supply lines leading from NATO territory. Clearly the United States, NATO, or regional partners like Israel, Qatar, or Saudi Arabia have any intention of doing so. As indicated by DW’s report, Kurds operating on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border are attempting to seal off the flow of supplies leading from NATO territory.
The Syrian Arab Army, the Iranian forces supporting anti-ISIS fighters in Syrian territory, and the allies of both countries must insist that strict resolutions are passed to secure the border and stem the flow of ISIS’ lifeline. A clearly worded resolution, if voted down by the likes of the US and its NATO accomplices, will expose further the true nature of ISIS and the misanthropic agenda of the West it is a manifestation of.
If the West capitulates and the resolution is passed, further steps toward arming and aiding the Syrian and Iranian governments and their various allies in the securing of the Turkish-Syrian border can be made. From there, the proxy war engineered and executed by the West which has engulfed the region for years, may finally be brought to an end.
December 18th, 2014 by Eric Zuesse
In June, Shell Oil halted its newly dug shale-gas wells at the Yuzivska gas field in southeastern Ukraine, and gave as the reason the civil war there, though only after Ukrainian Government troops had ousted the local residents (who had opposed fracking) was Shell even enabled to dig the wells, so Shell’s departure was puzzling. Then, on 19 June 2014, Igor Alexeev at the oilprce blog presented the reasonable hypothesis of “The Real Reason Shell Halted Its Ukrainian Shale Operations”: “In reality, the truth may be closer to the fact that company is disappointed with the economic viability of what it once thought was a large shale deposit and is looking for a way out.”
The other big gas deal in Ukraine was with Chevron, and it was in the western part of the country, where there was and is no civil war. On Monday night 15 December 2014, Reuters headlined, “Ukraine says Chevron plans to pull out of $10 bln shale gas deal,” and reported that, “Chevron had told the government it was pulling out of the deal,” and that Chevron “declined to give further details.”
All of a sudden, the idea that Obama had taken over Ukraine in a bloody February coup in order to win Ukraine’s gas potential are beginning to sound a bit overblown, or else the White House, where Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and John Kerry’s friend and family-wealth-fund advisor Devon Archer were hired by a multibillionaire Ukrainian thug and gas-speculator Ihor Kolomoysky for the board of his Ukrainian gas-exploration company, must be very disappointed to have slaughtered so many people who live on the Yuzivska field, all those corpses for nothing.
Such are the risks of ‘entrepreneurship.’
Perhaps Obama and Kerry and other promoters of the coup and ethnic cleansing such as John McCain will now send a few flowers to funerals of at least a token number of the soldiers who are dying there so needlessly, and maybe even of some of the thousands of civilians in Ukraine’s southeast who have been killed by them — just to pay their respects, of course, not as any sort of commentary upon those U.S. officials’ sponsorship of the slaughters there. After all, Obama and Kerry and McCain aren’t Ukrainian officials. They’re just observers, and concerned American citizens regarding the misfortunes of America’s newest colony, which happens to be located right next-door to Russia and to have U.S.-selected rulers who crave for Russia to be nuked.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
December 18th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman
Another possible Bush presidency should rile freedom-lovers everywhere. He’s forming a leadership political action committee.
On Facebook, he said he’s doing so to “discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation.”
With “support leaders…” Exploring “ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.” More on his bid below.
The Bush family dynasty reflects a legacy of crime. Deceit. Serial lying. Public betrayal. Neocon extremism. Serving wealth, power and privilege exclusively. At the expense of social justice.
Disdain for human and civil rights. Mindless of rule of law principles. Imperial wars called liberating ones. Mass murder and destruction.
Anti-democratic color revolutions. Torture as official US policy. Operating the world’s largest gulag. At home and abroad. Waging war on humanity. For unchallenged world dominance.
Behind every Bush there’s a crime!
Ninety-year-old George Herbert Walker Bush was a former congressman. Ambassador. CIA chief. Vice president and president. Connected some believe to JFK’s assassination.
His September 11, 1990 joint session of Congress address became known as his “Toward a New World Order” speech.
Signifying a turning point in world affairs. After the Berlin Wall’s demolition. A year before Soviet Russia’s dissolution.
America embarking on a quest for unchallenged global dominance. Using overwhelming military might.
Especially in resource rich areas. Unconstrained by rule of law principles.
Bush I claimed since America won the Cold War, it was empowered to establish international order governing principles. Based on might makes right.
The 1991 National Security Strategy of the United States followed. So did the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance.
Claiming America entitled to bring “security and stability” to various world regions.
Its unilateral right to intervene in internal affairs of other nations. Despite internationald law prohibiting it. Except in self-defense if attacked.
In November 1991, a NATO summit convened in Rome. Washington proposed a so-called “New Strategic Concept.”
Involving US-led NATO taking a “more expansive and less defensive strategic military role.”
A self-declared right to conduct so-called “humanitarian interventions.” Supported by Britain. Code language for naked aggression.
Bush I’s 1989 war on Panama reflected this notion. Deposing Manuel Noreiga. Not convenient stooge enough. Replaced to maintain US control.
Gulf War aggression followed. In January 1991. Then 1990s Balkan wars. NATO’s rape of Yugoslavia. Bush II’s post-9/11 “war on terror.”
His preventive war doctrine. Ludicrously called just war. Justifying the unjustifiable. Advancing America’s imperium.
On the pretext of preventing regimes Washington opposes from acquiring WMDs. Combatting “terrorists.” Advancing nation-building notions.
In 1992, Defense Department officials Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis Libby proposed new US strategy. Saying containment and deterrence were obsolete.
America must remain the world’s only superpower, they maintained. Unchallenged.
Advocating preemptive force. Unilaterally if necessary to confront alleged US security threats. Eliminate them.
Policies Bush II adopted. Implemented by neocons Dick Cheney, Lewis Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and others.
Waging so-called “war on terror.” On “militant Islam.” On invented enemies. Advancing America’s imperium.
Taking full advantage of 9/11. US state-sponsored terrorism. The mother of all Big Lies. Multiple wars of aggression continue. Direct and indirect.
Bush II’s National Security Strategy of the United States endorsed preventive wars. America’s so-called right to intervene anywhere.
Using military force. Against any nation. Alleged terrorist or national security threats. Regardless of international, constitutional or US statute law prohibitions.
American interests come first. Obama a Bush clone and then some. Claiming moral justification for preemptive force. “Just war(s).” “Preventive” ones.
Saying “instruments of war have a role to play in preserving the peace.” Benjamin Franklin said “(t)here was never a good war or a bad peace.”
John Ellis (Jeb) Bush’s presidency assures more of the same. Wars without end. Preemptive aggression. The supreme crime against peace.
Continuing against invented enemies. New ones. Permanent war. Official US policy.
Media reports followed his announcement. Omitting what readers most need to know.
The New York Times headlined “Jeb Bush Takes a Step Toward a Presidential Run.”
Saying he’ll “actively explore” it. “(T)ying up donors whom other candidates are courting and forcing contenders to accelerate their own considerations for 2016.”
According to lobbyist Brian Ballard:
“If he runs, Jeb assumes the mantle of the center-right, establishment candidate, which, along with his family network, means he will have an incredible finance operation.”
Lobbyist/bundler Dirk Van Dongen added:
“Now that he has entered the ring, you will see others doing so fairly rapidly because there will be a race for funders.”
His campaign lawyer, Charles Spies, said his political action committee lets him employ staff.
Raise legally permitted amounts of money. More if he establishes a full-blown campaign committee.
The Washington Post headlined “Jeb Bush’s decision to explore presidential bid scrambles the 2016 GOP field,” saying:
A Bush candidacy would “severely undercut the financial backing for other possible 2016 contenders – especially New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.).”
Plus Mitt Romney if he decides to run again. Rand Paul a possible candidate.
“The most immediate impact of (Bush’s) decision is on the money race,” said WaPo. It’s “remained largely static as party donors waited to see what Bush would do.”
“(Large) numbers of center-right financiers (are) rushing to Bush. (D)raining the pool of financial backers available for other candidates.”
An unnamed GOP fundraiser said “Bush is certainly going to have a formidable fundraising machine…”
He grew up in Houston. Attended the University of Texas. Earned a Latin American affairs degree.
After his father’s election as vice president, moved to Florida. Served as Dade County Republican Party chairman.
In 1986, Florida’s Secretary of Commerce. Resigning in 1988. To help his father’s successful 1988 presidential campaign.
In 1989, served as hardcore neocon Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s campaign manager. Congress’ first Cuban-American member.
Disgracing the office she holds. Along with lots more ideologues infesting Congress. Mocking legitimate governance.
In 1994, Jeb lost his first gubernatorial run. At the time, he was asked what he’d do for African-Americans if elected. He responded saying:
“It’s time to strive for a society where there’s equality of opportunity, not equality of results. So I’m going to answer your question by saying: probably nothing.”
The same year brother George became Texas governor. In 1998, Jeb easily defeated Democrat Buddy MacKay. Served two terms as Florida governor.
He’s hardcore Republican. Like Bush I an II. Involved in various finance, real estate and private equity dealings.
In 1990, he interceded with his father for Orlando Bosch. A Cuban exile. CIA operative. Lawless Castro opponent.
Convicted at the time of firing a rocket at a Polish ship. On route to Cuba.
Released from prison. Granted US residency. Along with Posada Carriles, responsible for downing Cubana Airlines flight 455. Killing 73 people on board.
Earlier, Bush advised Lehman Brothers and Barclays. Served on various corporate boards. Including Tenet Healthcare. InnoVida. Swisher Hygiene. Rayonier.
Tenet reportedly paid him over $2 million. In April 2013, he wrote a Newsmax magazine article. Lying about Social Security and Medicare. Nonsensically claiming they risked collapse without major changes.
His “One Florida” initiative ended affirmative action admissions at state universities.
As governor, he prioritized business interests. Cut taxes by $19 billion. Reduced state government size. Vetoed $2 billion in new spending.
As part of a near $450 million line-item veto of state funding, cut $5.8 million in public library grants.
Pilot projects for library homework help. Web-based high-school texts. Funding for a joint-use Tampa library.
He set aside over a million acres for private purchase. Presided over 21 state-sponsored executions. Commuted no one sentenced to death.
Signed into law caps on medical liability non-economic damages.
Massively transformed Florida’s Medicaid program.
Cut spending. Let private companies decide how Florida’s most disadvantaged get healthcare.
Was involved in the controversial Terri Schiavo case. Massively brain damaged. On life support for over 15 years.
Her husband, Michael Schiavo, was legal guardian. Had power of attorney for her healthcare.
Wanted her suffering ended. By removing life support. Opposed by Terri’s parents. In court.
Bush signed “Terri’s law.” Authorizing him as governor to maintain life support. Florida’s Supreme Court later ruled the law unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court declined to hear Florida’s appeal. Bush serves as Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy co-chair. Along with his sister. Doris Bush Koch.
Is affiliated with the James Madison Institute. A Tallahassee-based right-wing free market public policy think tank.
He supports commodifying public education. Making it another business profit center.
He’s like virtually all Republican and Democrat aspirants. More suitable for a police lineup. Than legitimate political candidacy.
Especially for the nation’s highest office. “Corporatist (and) soulless,” according to Ralph Nader.
Pro-war. Pro-imperial dominance. Pro-bloated military budgets. Pro-police state ruthlessness. Pro-business. Pro-neoliberal harshness.
Anti-populist. Anti-organized labor. Anti-social justice. Anti-peace. Anti-government serving everyone equally.
Monied interests run America. Both parties replicate each other. In lockstep on issues mattering most.
No mystery about who’ll win in November 2016. Business as usual like always!
Making America what its claims to be requires dismantling a corrupted system. Starting over. Top to bottom.
No scattered reforms. A clean sweep. Total makeover. Organized people beating organized money. Nothing in between works!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III. http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.
December 17th, 2014 by Brandon Turbeville
n the aftermath of yet another highly publicized terror attack (or at least the potential for a high profile attack) in Australia by foreign-born jihadists, the Western public is once again experiencing a variety of emotional reactions that they have carefully been trained to experience whenever such events take place at home or abroad.
The xenophobic pro-war right is predictably using the attack as an example of how all Muslims are terrorists and how their total annihilation and implementation of police state tactics are the only solution. The pathetic left-wing is attempting to portray the gunman as a “lone nut” with no political motives as a justification for more “anti-terror” laws. The vast majority in the middle, however, believe the official mainstream version of events, quake in their boots, and move on to the next form of entertainment provided to them by the culture creators without a second thought.
Yet, as is almost always the case, there is much more to the story than is being reported by mainstream outlets. There exists a number of unanswered questions and unexplained inconsistencies with the story of “Man Haron Monis” and his hostage taking escapade in Sydney.
1.) Man Haron Monis (aka Manteghi Boroujerdi) is Shiia, not Sunni.
While the mainstream reports may suggest that Monis is yet another ISIS-style terrorist that finally attempted to rise and meet his destiny by engaging in terrorist attacks in the West, there are a number of problems with the presentation in terms of details.
Western media reports that, among other ludicrous demands, Monis requested to be provided with an ISIS flag while holding up the café in the Sydney business district. The problem, however, is that Monis is Shiia, not Sunni. Sunni, of course, is the brand of Islam that ISIS espouses. While both sects see their share of fundamentalism, the twain do not mix.
Why then, would a Shiia cleric (fundamentalist or otherwise) request an IS flag at the scene of his crime for all the world to see?
2.) Is Monis A “Liberal Muslim” Or A “Fundamentalist Muslim?”
While the absurd request for an IS flag during the course of an act of violence being committed by a Shitte Muslim is enough to convince the average spectator that Monis was a member of ISIS, there is a distinct lack of consistency in the way in which Monis has been portrayed in the Western media. Nearly ten years ago, Monis was presented as a “liberal Muslim” preaching a brand of tolerant and mainstream Islam. Since 2013, however, Monis has been presented as both a murderer and now a terrorist. While the latter may certainly be true, the presentations are nonetheless contradictory.
Indeed, as Tony Cartalucci of Land Destroyer reports in his article “Who Created Cartoon Character’Man Haron Monis’ Behind ‘Sydney Siege’ Crisis,” Monis has spoken glowingly of the West in the past; Canada, the United States, and Australia in particular. In an interview with The Religion Report of the Australian ABC, he stated,
…we can say Australia, Canada, England, USA, so many western countries, they are religious societies. They don’t say ‘We are religious’, but in fact the spirit of religion, we can see the spirit of religion in these societies. And some other countries in the Middle East, in Asia, they say ‘We are Islamic’ they have a name of Islamic, but in fact they are not religious societies and religious governments. Whenever I walk in the street, whenever I go out in Australia, I feel I am in a real religious society. I don’t want to say it is perfect, we don’t have a perfect society on the earth, but when we compare, if we compare Australia with Iran and other countries in the Middle East, we can say it is heaven.
These are hardly the words of an Islamic terrorist filled with hatred for the West. Yet that is exactly what Monis is portrayed as being in later years. Indeed, there is little evidence to the contrary that the assailant was, in fact, Monis. The question then, is why the contradictory behavior and media portrayal of Monis.
3.) Monis Served US/NATO/West’s Interests As Propaganda Tool Against Iran
Before Monis became the star of Sunday evening/Monday morning news, he served as a convenient agent of propaganda against the government of Iran, itself a major target of NATO and the West.
But before Monis/Boroujerdi’s recent run-ins with the law and his role as chief “Muslim boogeyman” in Australia, he was “Manteghi Boroujerdi,” a “victim” of the “Iranian regime” who was in love with Western society.
Australia’s ABC in its “Religion Report” dated January 31, 2001, introduced Monis/Boroujerdi as follows:
…while in Sydney we talk to Ayatollah Manteghi Boroujerdi, an Iranian cleric espousing a liberal brand of Islam – dangerously liberal, as his views have led to his wife and two daughters being held hostage in Iran.
The interview itself is used as yet another vehicle to carry along Western propaganda long-aimed at Iran. It claims Monis/Boroujerdi’s family is in grave danger and that Monis/Boroujerdi himself would be executed should he ever return to Iran. It quotes Monis/Boroujerdi several times including claims he was formally associated with Iranian intelligence:
In Iran, mostly I have been involved with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security.
And was in contact with the UN regarding security issues in Iran:
…more than four years I have not seen my family, and the Iranian regime doesn’t let them come out. In fact I can say they are hostage; as a hostage the Iranian regime wants to make me silent, because I have some secret information about government, and about their terrorist operations in the war. I sent a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and somebody on behalf of Mr Kofi Anan sent the answer, and they want to do something. I have hope and always I pray and ask God to solve my problem.
4.) Did Monis Love His Wife And Fear For Her Safety Or Did He Kill Her?
Notice in the statement above that one of Monis’ gripes with the Iranian government was that not only was he in personal danger as a result of his “liberal” teachings, but his family was in danger as well. Ironically, he stated that his family was being held hostage by the Iranian regime. However, fast forward to 2013, and Monis is facing charges on “accessory before and after the fact to the murder of [his ex-wife] Noleen Hayson Pal, 30, who was stabbed 18 times and set alight outside a western Sydney unit in April.”
While Monis would certainly not be the first man to kill his ex-wife, his concern for her safety at the hands of the Iranian government does not match up with the concern he allegedly showed her in Australia. If Monis was truly the “Hate Sheik” as he was presented in the articles regarding his ex-wife’s murder, then why was he first portrayed as such a loving liberal by the very same media?
It should also be noted that Monis recently made a reputation for himself by sending hate mail to the families of dead Australian soldiers who fought in Afghanistan. Monis’ letter writing campaign was used to stir up tension between the pro and anti-war factions in Australian society and cause quite the controversy publicly.
5.) Shiite Clerics In Australia Did Not Trust Monis
By 2008, Shiite religious leaders in Australia had asked Australian Federal security agents to investigate Monis and his activities. As an article in the Australian reported,
FEDERAL agents have been urged by the nation’s senior Shia leader, Kamal Mousselmani, to investigate an Iranian man purporting to be a prominent Islamic cleric.
Sheik Mousselmani told The Australian yesterday the mystery cleric – who has been identified as Ayatollah Manteghi Boroujerdi on his website after appearing under the name Sheik Haron – was not a genuine Shia spiritual leader.
He said there were no ayatollahs – supreme Shia scholars – in Australia and none of his fellow spiritual leaders knew who Ayatollah Boroujerdi or Sheik Haron was.
“We don’t know him and we have got nothing to do with him,” Sheik Mousselmani said. “The federal police should investigate who he is. It should be their responsibility.”
But it was the Australian media itself who introduced him publicly as an “Ayatollah” and the Australian government that vetted him and allegedly granted him political asylum. He was allegedly in contact with the UN and was used to stir up anti-Iranian sentiment in Australia. It is then highly suspicious that now both the Australian media and the Australian government appear to have no knowledge of who he is or where he came from.
Whatever the true nature of Monis may be – legitimate mental patient, patsy, or tool of Western intelligence agencies – there is clearly much more to the story than what the mainstream press is printing and promoting.
Regardless, the only thing that we can know with absolute certainty is that the Sydney Siege will be used as propaganda to the utmost effect by all Western and NATO governments in the push for further war abroad and an even greater police state at home.
Brandon Turbeville is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Francis Marion University and is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, and The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria. Turbeville has published over 300 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.
December 17th, 2014 by Nat Parry
A danger from the “war on terror” was always that it would encourage the spread of an authoritarian U.S. state, ignoring international law abroad and constitutional rights at home, a process that is now growing more apparent with impunity for both torturers and police who kill minorities.
‘As human rights advocates and civil libertarians have warned since the early days of the “war on terror,” human rights violations of terror suspects will eventually set the United States on a slippery slope in which authorities deem it optional whether to respect the human rights of anyone.’ (Photo: donkeyhotey/flickr/cc)
The international fallout from last week’s long-delayed release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 500-page executive summary of its still-classified 6,000 report on CIA torture could hardly be more intense, with calls coming from the United Nations, foreign governments and the human rights community for prosecutions of those who carried out or authorized the torture techniques described in the report, including senior officials from the Bush administration.
But judging from the self-assured comments of CIA and former administration officials, there is no real concern over the possibility of any criminal liability, a lack of accountability which has led to a palpable arrogance among those who would be behind bars if laws were actually enforced on an equal basis in the United States.
The above-the-law sense of entitlement was perhaps most clearly on display in former Vice President Dick Cheney’s appearance this Sunday on “Meet the Press,” stating that when it comes to using torture, “I’d do it again in a minute.”
When presented with gruesome details from the Senate report on torture – for example the newly revealed “enhanced interrogation technique” of “rectal feeding,” i.e., anal rape – and asked for his definition of what might constitute “torture” in a legal sense, Cheney retorted that torture is “an American citizen on his cellphone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the Trade Center in New York on 9/11.”
Short of this rather high bar, nothing, by definition, that the United States does to its detainees could conceivably be considered torture.
Similarly, when asked about the large number of innocent people (26 out of 119 CIA detainees, according to the report) who had tragically been detained and tortured in error, for example Gul Rahman – a victim of mistaken identity who was chained to the wall of his cell, doused with water and froze to death in CIA custody – Cheney stated indifferently that these individuals essentially don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The only problem that Cheney had was “with the folks that we did release that end up back on the battlefield.”
“I’m more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent,” he said. Taken to its logical conclusion, Cheney’s reasoning would seem to hold that it is preferable to indefinitely detain and torture a million innocent people than to allow one “bad guy” to slip through the cracks. The implications of this logic are, needless to say, chilling (not to mention completely at odds with the legal principle of presumed innocence).
A Courtroom Defense
At times, watching Cheney make these cold rationalizations on “Meet the Press,” it may have occurred to viewers that the more appropriate venue for this interview would have been on the witness stand of a courtroom. After all, what Cheney was defending was not just controversial policy choices, but clearly defined crimes of torture and murder.
Although he was sure to emphasize that “All of the techniques that were authorized by the President were, in effect, blessed by the Justice Department,” the fact remains that providing the cover of law to a crime makes it no less of a crime.
This is a point that UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism Ben Emmerson specifically made last week following the release of the report. In a statement, Emmerson said, “The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the U.S. government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”
Emphasizing that all individuals responsible for “the criminal conspiracy” described in the Senate report “must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” Emmerson noted that “international law prohibits the granting of immunities to public officials who have engaged in acts of torture.”
Judging from Cheney’s arrogant display on “Meet the Press,” however, there appears to be very little appreciation for the niceties of international law such as its expressed prohibition on official immunity when it comes to the crime of torture. He seems to be quite confident, indeed, that official immunity is unnecessary when there is an implied unofficial immunity that is granted to public officials in the United States, this being the case whether it pertains to CIA torture or police brutality.
The same arrogance that Cheney is so casually displaying can also be seen in the closely paralleled story of the recent spate of police shootings and killings of innocent or unarmed African-Americans, and the remarkable wave of demonstrations that has taken hold across the United States in response.
With large-scale protests happening in most major American cities over the past month – particularly since grand juries decided not to indict the police officers who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City – one might think that cops would be extra careful these days not to come across overly arrogant or obdurate. This, however, would not be the case.
In response to the NFL’s Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Andrew Hawkins taking the field on Sunday wearing a T-shirt protesting recent police shootings in Ohio – reading “Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford” on the front and “The Real Battle for Ohio” on the back – Jeff Follmer, president of the Cleveland police union, claimed the shirt was disrespectful and he disparaged the very idea of athletes holding opinions about anything other than sports.
“It’s pretty pathetic when athletes think they know the law,” Follmer said in a statement. “They should stick to what they know best on the field.” In other words, keep your opinions to yourself, boy, and just play football. Follmer also demanded an apology from the Clevelend Browns organization, which to their credit, the Browns did not extend.
Instead, the Browns fired back with a statement saying the organization endorses the rights of players “to project their support and bring awareness to issues that are important to them if done so in a responsible manner.”
Hawkins also weighed in with comments to the media that revealed, in fact, a deep knowledge and understanding of what law and justice mean (or should mean), contrary to Follmer’s condescending remarks. “Justice,” he said, “is a right that every American should have. Justice means that the innocent should be found innocent. It means that those who do wrong should get their due punishment.”
His six-minute locker-room monologue to reporters ended with him choking up while drawing a parallel between his own young son and the tragic death of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old boy shot by police in Cleveland on Nov. 22 while holding a toy gun.
“My number one reason for wearing the T-shirt was the thought of what happened to Tamir Rice happening to my little Austin. And that scares the living hell out of me,” he said.
Protests and Fears
This genuine, personal fear of police violence is one that has been widely expressed over the last several weeks of protests taking hold across the country. As Democracy Now’s Aaron Maté reported from New York’s “Millions March” on Saturday, one of the dominant themes being expressed on the streets was “a sense of not feeling safe, not feeling safe themselves and not feeling safe for their loved ones, people of color in heavily policed communities.”
Interviewing protester Darrell Greene, Maté asked him to explain his sign, which read “Me, my father, my son. Who’s next?”
Greene responded, “At this point, I know I’m a productive citizen, and I don’t feel safe in my own community. I’ve never been in trouble with law enforcement. And from what I’m seeing on the news and what’s been going on, I really wonder: Am I next? I’m wondering if the people in my community are next. We’re all productive citizens, and we’re in fear for our life. We feel like it’s open season on all minorities, and we want to know if we’re really safe.”
Protester Nilan Johnson echoed these sentiments. “I’m here because Americans, period, are being preyed on, right now,” he said. “African-Americans are once again fighting for the right to be human, and I think that’s horrible.”
Asked whether he feels, as a person of color, whether he is unsafe in his community, Johnson replied, “That’s – I feel that daily, so I feel that’s a preconditioned nature now. I feel threatened and marked and cornered. And everybody here feels the same way. And we’re trying to keep our humanity.”
If not a direct byproduct of the war on terror’s excesses and the impunity that law-breakers at the highest levels of government enjoy, this feeling of powerlessness, insecurity and injustice is certainly closely related. Indeed, as far back as 2007, civil rights leaders were drawing these connections, in particular in a report prepared for the United Nations entitled “In The Shadows Of The War On Terror: Persistent Police Brutality and Abuse of People of Color in the United States.”
Since 9/11, the report explained, “there have been dramatic increases in law enforcement powers in the name of waging the ‘war on terror,’” while simultaneously, counter-terrorism policies have “created a generalized climate of impunity for law enforcement officers, and contributed to the erosion of what few accountability mechanisms exist for civilian control over law enforcement agencies.”
This has led to an erosion of public discussion and accountability with respect to the use of excessive force against people of color, while at the same time, “systemic abuse of people of color by law enforcement officers has not only continued since 2001 but has worsened in both practice and severity,” according to the report. As a representative of the NAACP put it, “the degree to which police brutality occurs … is the worst I’ve seen in 50 years.”
Even establishment publications such as the Wall Street Journal have noticed the troubling trend of rising police violence and its connections with the war on terror. As a feature article in WSJ put it in August 2013, “the war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop – armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”
This threat to liberties is compounded when the justice system fails to hold accountable those who break the law and violate people’s rights. Whether it is Eric Garner in New York or Gul Rahman in Afghanistan, the victims of injustice must have redress, and “those who do wrong should get their due punishment,” in the words of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins.
As human rights advocates and civil libertarians have warned since the early days of the “war on terror,” human rights violations of terror suspects will eventually set the United States on a slippery slope in which authorities deem it optional whether to respect the human rights of anyone, including U.S. citizens. At that point, anyone is fair game, and all of us, including law-abiding Americans, may find ourselves at the mercy of an unsympathetic authoritarian state.
December 17th, 2014 by Julie Lévesque
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor in 1937 with Adolf Hitler.
Dr. Jacques Pauwels is not the kind of historian you often hear about in the mainstream media. He’s obviously not the kind of “expert” they refer to for historical facts. Actually, one crucial propaganda method consists in excluding current events from their historical context.
Listening to Pauwels makes one realize the scope of the lies we’ve been fed about the Second World War, fascism and democracy, and how myths related to previous wars need to be upheld in the mainstream discourse to satisfy never ending war propaganda needs.
In a speech held December 15 in Montreal, he explained that World Wars I and II were all about crushing mass revolutionary movements.
The myth of the Good War
Every time Westerners’ approval for war is required, the myth of the good war surfaces: the Second World War was a good war, a necessity to quench Hitler’s blood thirst. Pauwels tears this myth apart, uncovering the vicious nature of the western elite.
The reasons for the US involvement in World War II lie in the social-economic conditions of the time, not in an outpouring of compassion destined to save humanity from fascism. The US elite was actually in favor of fascism, a very convenient tool to crush the mass revolutionary movement embodied by the Russian Revolution and the USSR.
WWII was in fact a continuity of WWI. “We are always told that WWI started with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but it’s not true”, Pauwels says. It is indeed a well established myth carried on by various sources, whether history is written by “thousands of eminent experts, scholars, and leaders” like in Encyclopedia Britannica, or by just about anybody, like in Wikipedia:
The outbreak of war
With Serbia already much aggrandized by the two Balkan Wars (1912–13, 1913), Serbian nationalists turned their attention back to the idea of “liberating” the South Slavs of Austria-Hungary. Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević, head of Serbia’s military intelligence, was also, under the alias “Apis,” head of the secret society Union or Death, pledged to the pursuit of this pan-Serbian ambition. Believing that the Serbs’ cause would be served by the death of the Austrian archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Austrian emperor Francis Joseph, and learning that the Archduke was about to visit Bosnia on a tour of military inspection, Apis plotted his assassination. (World War I, Encyclopedia Britannica)
The immediate trigger for war was the 28 June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. This set off a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, and international alliances formed over the previous decades were invoked. Within weeks, the major powers were at war and the conflict soon spread around the world. (World War I, Wikipedia)
These wars were actually the best way for the western elite to cope with the ever growing revolutionary and democratic movements fueled by dire economic conditions and which threatened the established order.
In Nietzsche’s view for example, Pauwels says “war was the solution against revolution, since in a war, there are no discussions, like there is in a democracy. In a war, the minority, the elite, decides and the majority, the proletarians, obey.”
For members of the elite like Malthus, “the system could not be the cause of poverty since they were profiting from it. The cause of poverty was the poor: there were too many of them. Therefore the solution to poverty and threatening revolutionary movements was simply to eliminate poor people and what better solution than war to kill poor people?”
After WWI though, “revolution was no longer a simple idea but rather something concrete: the Soviet Union.” That’s when fascism came to the rescue. “Fascism was the instrument used by the elite to further the objectives of 1914, namely put an end to revolutions and communism.”
Communism and socialism were gaining worldwide momentum after WWI. “The German industrial and financial elite wished to crush the revolutionary movement and destroy the Soviet Union. Adolf Hitler was their instrument.”
According to popular belief Western leaders were defending democracy, engaged in a war against Germany to save humanity from fascism and the US involvement in the war led to the downfall of Hitler’s war machine. Nothing is further from the truth. “Hitler was supported by other European countries and the US because they wanted him to destroy the USSR, the cradle of the revolution.” The exact opposite occurred: it was the USSR that defeated Nazi Germany, losing over 20 million souls in the battle.
The US even recruited the best Nazi scientists, technicians and engineers to work for them after the war. That piece of history called Operation Paperclip (picture below) has yet to find its way in Encyclopedia Britannica.
WWII was the victory of American Imperialism, a term which is rarely used today even if it best describes the reality the world has been living in ever since.
But even more surprising is the surviving myth that we are going to war to save the world from evil dictators or terrorists and that the western world fights for freedom and democracy. Thanks to the “stenographers of power”, the tactic is still reliable and used several decades later.
December 17th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed Russian economist/political analyst Mikhail Delyagin expecting a possible anti-Russian nuclear false flag.
Fort Russ now cites intelligence “about impending terrorist attacks on Ukrainian strategic objects, which will justify an attack on Donbass.”
Foreign nationals and relatives of senior Ukrainian officials were evacuated from border areas, it says.
Armored vehicles with Russian and Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) symbols and flags were seen in Donbas territory controlled by Ukraine’s military.
Suggesting a planned provocation. Other intelligence “confirmed the arrival of large numbers of mercenaries, equipment and machinery from NATO countries.”
Ukraine’s general staff press service head, Vladislav Seleznev, announced possible resumed hostilities in so-called ATO (anti-terrorist operations) areas.
As well as “possible terrorist attacks by the militia on the objects of strategic importance.” Because socio/political/humanitarian conditions remain tense, he said. In ATO and bordering areas.
“There is also the risk of a resumption of active hostilities,” Seleznev added. “However, we do not eliminate the risk of terrorist and sabotage acts in these areas, at government and military facilities, as well as mass protests and civil disobedience.”
Earlier, illegitimate oligarch president Petro Poroshenko vowed to return Crimea to Ukraine. “Crimea will be back together with us,” he said.
US-installed NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg discussed Ukraine-supportive Alliance efforts with Kiev’s illegitimate putschist prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. On Monday. In Brussels.
Pledging “NATO stands with you.” Praising “Ukraine’s commitment to its partnership with NATO despite challenging circumstances, and pledged ongoing political and practical support.”
“Your visit just underlines the strong partnership between NATO and Ukraine. We also very much appreciate that we are able to develop our partnership. And especially because the people of Ukraine have chosen the path of democracy and closer cooperation with Europe. And we welcome that. We underline that the decision by the people of Ukraine has to be respected.”
Some cold hard facts. US-installed fascist putschists run Ukraine. With no legitimacy whatever.
Governing lawlessly. Enforcing hardline rule. Committing egregious civil and human rights violations. Waging naked aggression on its own people.
So-called Poroshenko’s silence regime reflects head-fake deception. According to the Voice of Sevastopol (accessed earlier, not now except in Ukrainian):
On Monday, artillery fire was heard. In Donetsk’s western outskirts. Ukrainian drones overflew the area.
During December 14 and 15 evening hours, “Ukrainian law enforcers attacked the airport of Donetsk…” DPR freedom fighters didn’t respond in kind.
Ukrainian forces attacked their Yasnoye positions. Northwest of Dokuchayevsk. In Beryozovoye municipality.
Artillery fire was heard in Lugansk. Fighting reported at Schastye. Self-defense force Prishib village positions were attacked.
Artillery fire was reported coming from Ukrainian army controlled Chernukhino, Gorodische and Zorinsk.
An Odessa explosion was reported. In the vicinity of its refinery. At the same time, Russian humanitarian aid keeps coming. A 10th convey is imminent. With vital supplies an Christmas gifts.
US-supported Kiev fascists threaten regional security. Perhaps world peace. The respected Colonel Cassad site quoted what it called Georgi Diimitrov’s “classic definition of fascism.”
Calling it “an open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, the most chauvinistic, the most imperialistic elements of the financial capital…”
“Fascism is neither the government beyond classes nor the government of the petty bourgeois or the lumpen-proletariat over the financial capital.”
“Fascism is the government of the financial capital itself. It is an organized massacre of the working class and the revolutionary slice of peasantry and intelligentsia.”
“Fascism in its foreign policy is the most brutal kind of chauvinism, which cultivates zoological hatred against other peoples.”
Kiev terrorizes opponents. Wants them eliminated altogether.
Tactics include “physical extermination, intimidation, hostage-taking, warrantless arrests, abductions, torture, and other elements of terror.”
Kiev putschists represent “the most radical forms of the Ukrainian integral nationalism and fascism…”
Monied interests run things. Billionaires contest with millionaires for power.
Monied interests and “fascist squads (are) its instruments for building the fascist system of government, which is built on a terrorist dictatorship.”
Russophobia is Kiev’s ideological cornerstone. “(O)penly advocat(ing) oppressing and exterminating people based on their ethnicity, culture, and language.”
Colonel Cassad site saying Ukrainian conditions are “a 100% match for Dimitrov’s classical definition. (F)ascism in its most classical and pure form.”
Threatening regional peace, stability and security. Pentagon sources confirmed military buildup along Russia’s borders.
To ensure regional “peace and stability.” NATO’s “collective security commitment.” In light of Russian “interference” in Ukraine.
Moscow accused NATO of significant air activity and intelligence flights over border areas. Unjustifiable provocations. As well as NATO’s nearby land and sea presence.
In Poland and Baltic countries. Black Sea naval exercises. The equivalent of Russia conducting its own in Mexican Gulf waters. Or off America’s east or west coasts.
Imagine Washington’s response. Screaming scoundrel media headlines.
Lt. General Mikhail Mizintsev heads Russia’s Defense Ministry joint military command.
He expressed concerns “over the significant increase of NATO military activity near the Russian borders.”
Including doubled flight activity. To about 3,000 missions this year. Flying in “dangerous proximity” to long-range Russian military aircraft.
At least 55 times in 2013 and 2014. At a distance of less than 100 meters. Lack of “any mutual exchange of information” ruined chances for trust.
“All achievements in the field of trust-building and voluntary transparency that NATO and Russia have formed over the years have ceased,” said Mizintsev.
All Russian missions were “in strict compliance with international rules.”
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained how NATO policy affects Russia.
Saying its military doctrine “says…the security risks for Russia, among other things, are NATO expansion to the East and the movement of military infrastructure of NATO closer to the Russian borders…”
“(N)ot NATO itself, but its militarized movement to the East is considered by the Russian military doctrine as a security risk and threat for Russia.”
Lavrov cited “serious reasons to believe” sanctions and other Western policies aim for regime change in Russia.
Including US-instigated oil wars. Taking advantage of weakening economic conditions. Hammering Russia’s ruble. Making its economy scream.
Wanting Putin supporters turned against him. Perhaps color revolution turbulence underway. A US specialty. Wanting Russia looking like Ukraine.
Risking open confrontation to achieve aims. Anything ahead is possible. Lavrov remains firm saying:
“I can assure you that Russia will not only survive, but will come out stronger out of this.”
“We have been in much worse situations in our history, and every time we were getting out of these fixes much stronger.”
America represents its most serious challenge. Much greater than during Cold War years. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) reasoning seems forgotten.
Lunatics making policy in Washington risk the unthinkable. Cooler heads so far unable to contain them.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/
December 17th, 2014 by Ezili Dantò
December 17, 2014 marks one hundred years since the United States invaded Haiti, stayed for 19 years, virtually re-enslaved Haiti with its white supremacist ideology, physical tyranny and at the point of guns carried out Haiti’s gold reserves. One hundred years later, Haiti continues the resistance. (See, 100 Years of Occupation – 100 Years of Resistance : Regional networks and organizations manifest solidarity with Haiti http://bit.ly/1A9cHLa )
Haiti continues its protest against foreign occupation and their puppet government. Calls for real elections are taking down the fake Martelly-Lamothe regime. But, Haiti freedom fighters are also keeping in mind that US-style electoral politics is false hope for the masses everywhere, including the United States.
This post is centered on the unseen powers in Haiti. The Mundele (Category One - the stranger/colonist/white nations/Mundele) that the Martelly-Lamothe regime (Category Zero/Bafyòti) serve as well as the deep politics Haiti citizens must confront regarding the global profit-over-people system.
The Bill Clinton/ NGOs, USAID and the UN are tools of empire (Ndòki) that will nullify the gains of the Haiti protestors after Martelly-Lamothe are gone. If there is to be a lasting change in Haiti, and in the living standards of the masses, Haiti must make plans beyond electoral politics.
To do this means facing not only Category Zero, the Black collaborators (Bafyòti) represented by the surface power of Martelly-Lamothe. But the deeper, economic power of an even bigger group of collaborators, the multibillionare Haiti oligarchs (Bafyòti) as well as the Ndòki- meaning the institutional forces of empire as represented by the NGOs, the (pèpè) educational system, the media, foreign religions, neoliberal economics, unfair trade, destruction of Haiti local economy, the world money changers/Banksters and plutocrats, et al…
See the video clip: The Beautiful Butchers of Haiti: Mrs. Clinton, Susan Rice, Cheryl Mills & The Arabs – http://on.fb.me/1wE3M3e .
In this clip, human rights attorney, Ezili Dantò discuss two slides from “The Quiet Genocide in Haiti” presentation.
Slide one: Is on the Clinton-nites in Haiti – Mundele Hillary Clinton, Bafyòti Susan Rice and Bafyòti Cheryl Mills – http://on.fb.me/1wE3M3e
Slide two: Is about the subcontracted Haitians who are middlemen for empire. They’re Haiti’s mercenary families.
The Haiti oligarchs – .05% own 98% of Haiti wealth through monopolies orchestrated and supported by foreign interests in Haiti http://on.fb.me/1wE3M3e
Haiti oligarchs are the wealthiest billionaires in the Caribbean. Make their living exploiting the poor in Haiti – their land, labor, resources, institutional underdevelopment. These Christian or Jewish “Arabs” (i.e. the families of Acra, Apaid, Bigio, Boulos, Baussan, Brandt, Mevs) are the middlemen for empire and require as much scrutiny and protests as the Laurent-Lamothe regime who serve them and Western imperialism. This – clip http://on.fb.me/1wE3M3e – was taken by cell phone by an audience member at a recent Ezili Dantò, university presentation, on Haiti.
One Hundred Years of Resistance
One hundred years ago on December 17, 1914 Citigroup (Citibank) stole Haiti’s gold reserves.
The US sent the Marines to Haiti to take Haiti’s gold reserves and transport it to the Wall Street vaults of what is now known as Citigroup.
On December 17, 2014 Haitians mark this theft of Haiti monies by the wealthy United States, demanding the US make reparations for that crime as well as the continued crimes of occupation and taking of Haiti assets under Bill Clinton
and his Wall Street cronies.
I post this video of US Senator Elizabeth Warren statements on Citigroup not as an approval of her bid for the US presidency in 2016 or an endorsement of the US politicos’ simplistic villain/hero pathology – their hypocritical Democrat/Republican duopoly, but simply to help explain how powerful Citigroup/Citibank is today…and how it continues its traditional colonial thievery. The US public still do not realize they’re the colonized subjects of
the US corporatocracy and their feudal lord lobbyists. (See video: Remarks by Senator Warren on Citigroup and its bailout provision. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJpTxONxvoo)
Unfettered capitalism doesn’t work, it must constantly steal. The new term for theft and Wall Street parasitic behavior is “bailout.”
The info shared in the Warren video reveal how the City bank boys operate worldwide, including being a good part of the reason why Haiti and the global South are kept contained in poverty.
These thieves and “money changers” are the same ilks digging up Haiti’s mountains to extract what’s left of its gold, copper, uranium, iridium. Strategically positioning to take its oil, coastal lands, deep water ports, offshore islands.
Warren speaks to the current situation with Citigroup. Its massive power, lobby and influence within the US government. It fleeces not Haiti gold now but gets half a trillion dollars in taxpayer bailout as 80% of the American people grind away beneath endless debts to these powerful banksters and the plutocrats with never a Main Street bailout.
Haiti’s central bank is currently OWNED by these banksters. Our border customs, port receipts are privatized into these same hands. The NGOs are spread out over the total Haiti landscape with concentrated power in every Haitian ministry. These are some of the issues Haiti must face after the fall of Martelly-Lamothe. Electoral politics can only do so much. Those who control Haiti’s economy must let go of Haiti as their cash cow. Desalin cannot be assassinated, once again. The Haiti revolution is not fulfilled until the assets of the country shall be equitably divided.
Two thousand years ago, a Hebrew named Jesus spoke of the “money changers” and how they must be thrown out of the temple. Well it’s not only the temple they must be thrown out of, but everywhere if humanity is to start fresh from greed
or placing profit over people.
Identifying the real obstacle, naming the enemy is a first step to winning any war.
(See the History of the “Money Changers” - http://www.iamthewitness.com/books/Andrew.Carrington.Hitchcock/The.History.of.the.Money.Changers.htm)
Haiti is today the recipient of the banksters’ altruism through the NGOs. The Robber Barons of the 20th century are the “philanthropists” of the 21st century.
Bill Clinton landed on Haiti’s back to “built Haiti back better!” Better for whom, the Haiti peasant ask? Why is Haiti the republic of NGOs. Why?
It’s not as if thinking Haitians do not know that Haiti soil is used as the epicenter for the CIA/UN/USAID drug trade that funds America’s eternal wars, the State Department’s weapon trafficking, and the banksters and plutocrats’ wealth these days.
The US Congress funds “port projects” in Haiti for drug transshipment, infrastructure and US/UN military planes are the means for flying in and out these contraband.
As Sibel Edmonds says (at 1:03:40 of this video): The number one place the United States puts its spies, its intelligence gathering officers and informants is through the NGOs.
The NGOs are the best operation base for the CIA. “US entices terror, US funds terror through the NGOs.” (45:06 – ) — Sibel Edmonds (Sibel Edmonds on Gladio B – Part 4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOCYMU3zYH0)
There’s no need to dissolve Haiti parliament. Bill and Hillary Clinton simply put Martelly-Lamothe as their subcontractors in charge through the false hope of electoral politics. They use their federal power and UN proxy military cover to nullify the protesting parliamentary members, while having the corporate media sing the altruism of the NGOs and Dr. Paul Farmer to fool the gullible US-Euro public.
The world can see what’s happening. Saw it in Bosnia. See the role of the NGOs since the fall of the Berlin Wall. But no one sees. The colonial narrative on Haiti comforts the stranger (Mundele) and his collaborators. The quiet genocide in Haiti unfurls in plain site (http://on.fb.me/1ul19BX) just as does for Black America, for Africa.
Haitians scream. Africa screams. The poor of all the constructed races scream in terror and abuse. In Haiti, our insides are burning from Clorox hunger, from years of psych ops warfare, from inhaling expired tear gas and 2002
expired chemical agents thrown at us for years and years and years by the UN/PMSC mercenaries and US militarized Haiti police.
On this one hundred year anniversary of the European colonist’s attempt to re-take Haiti by taking away our gold reserves, Haitians fight on. Die from the fight back, from the material deprivations, the psychic injuries. Or UN cholera or the basic denial of human rights. (See our the Ezili archives at https://www.ezilidanto.com and December 16, 2014 – Clashes in Haiti as anti-government protest turns violent. Video – operation Burkina Faso
From the womb to the tomb, our lives is about this David vs. Goliath struggle. But there is a life beyond Black oppression that Africans connected to the womb live that’s so rich in soul, our oppressors want to take climb into it too but without letting go of white supremacy! The Ancestors’ legacy: Liberty or death, keeps us sane and free. The Ancestors left us the template for beating white supremacy. It’s the Bwa Kayiman call that began the Haiti revolution centuries ago. It’s “Kanga Mundele, Kanga Bafyòti, Kanga Ndòki, Kango yo”. We must stop the white nations/settlers, the Black collaborators/opportunists and all their evil forces (Ndòki). We must tie up, stop, excise, marginalize all three to win lasting change for ourselves, for humanity.
No. We’ve not forgotten the Citibank boys theft one hundred years ago, carried out at the point of US Marine guns (Ndòki). Neither shall we forget the blood of the last Haiti demonstrator staining Desalin’s land to opposed despots, tyrants, enslavers – US occupation behind UN guns.
When we’re dust, the next Haiti generation will carry forth and avenge the injustices for the Starlights we’ll be and that same sacred Earthlight our generation gives voice to.
Moonlight’s great sun heralds Desalin worldwide. Pierre Sully lives on in every Haiti protestor facing Napoleon’s newest reincarnated colonial army, abroad and at home. Kapwa Lamò does not have the luxury to grieve what’s been lost. Think of the dignity his glory shines upon the awaken heart. Charlemagne Peralte, Haiti reMEMBERs itself in you.
Alaso Ayisyen, sa ki mouri nap vanje yo.
Ezili Dantò, HLLN
December 17th, 2014 by George Eliason
Can the murder of 3 million people go unnoticed by the entire world? Yes it can and unfortunately it has before. More than likely you have never even heard about it. By the end of 1941 the German and Ukrainian nazis killed over 1 million Jews. This was the beginning of the Holocaust. We all know this.
By the end of 1941 the German and Ukrainian nazis killed 3 million Slavic and Soviet prisoners by using the method Ukrainian nationalists describe as Holomodor or starvation death.
The Nazi Plan to Kill Slavic Peoples
The Nazi Plan for the East was first tried out on the Slavic and Soviet prisoners. This was their plan to destroy Slavic peoples which included central and southeast Ukraine. Prisoners suffered in the cold and famine conditions so harsh they wrote petitions for the nazis to be merciful and just kill them.
According to Professor Timothy Snyder- In the German POW camps in occupied Soviet Belarus, Soviet Ukraine and Poland, prisoners were not even registered by name. As the German quartermaster general of the German army indicated, prisoners who could not work “were to be starved”.
In Ukraine and Belarus Bandera’s Ukrainian SS nationalists ran the camps and starved millions of Ukrainians, Russians, and Belorussians to death. The world never even blinked.
It was wrong for the Ukrainian nationalists in the diaspora to develop the myth of the 1932-33 Holomodor famine their own families never suffered to become the centerpiece of Ukraine’s nation-building program under Yushchenko after using it so effectively in 1941 against Ukrainians and starving 3 million prisoners to death.
This makes even the idea that Ukrainian nationalists in Kiev would conceive using this weapon again on the families of the same population criminal. It has been proven clearly that the nationalists were not in the Soviet Union in 1931-32. It has been clearly proven that the Ukrainian nationalists in service to the 3rd Reich used starvation as part of their genocide program in Ukraine and Belarus in 1941.
The population that suffered under both famines were the families in central Ukraine and Donbass today.
Ukraine- Is the 3rd Time the Charm?
In Pervomaisk today conditions are so bad that people are given ¼ of a loaf of bread per day to live on. Many areas are not even getting this. Starvation deaths in different cities now number 20 or 30 weekly. Within 20 days deaths from starvation and exposure/ freezing in Donbass is going to jump exponentially. The most vulnerable which includes the children and chronically ill will be hit the hardest.
Within 40 days without decisive humanitarian action the winter weather will take its toll on people in the hardest hit areas by ultra-nationalist shelling and rockets. Many live in the ruins or root cellars at what used to be their homes. Disease will follow. The nationalists are counting on them dying or relocating.
Will the world stand by while the Ukrainian nationalists use the slow method of genocide they perfected in WW2? Will the world allow the US and Europe continue to try to push Donbass to its knees, calling the victim a criminal?
The war criminal Olexandr Turchynov formerly post coup- acting president stated bluntly in an interview on December 17th that even he does not think the world will sit by and watch the total blockade finish its work. He doesn’t say he is against it. He just states there will be objections to it.
Contrary to the lie Ukrainian nationalists tell about fighting for a free and independent Ukraine today or fighting Nazis and Communists after 1941; both then and now they rely on the fact that you won’t believe human beings will do these things to other people. They don’t think you will believe they are doing these things to people.
Bank runs and benefits cut in August
The blockade announced in mid November is a lie. The reality in Donbas is this blockade has been in place for almost 6 months now. The bank runs happened in the late spring through the mid summer. I was there as thousands of people stood in line literally for days in front of bank ATMs.
During this time a surcharge was added to every deposit in Donbass banks and the funds went to buy the bullets used to kill people here. When Kiev lost ground in the east mid summer they closed the banks altogether. The banks closed without warning all deposits were stolen and used to buy more bullets.
How is it possible to have a bank run in November when banks haven’t been open for 4 months?
The vulnerable, the dying, and the dead
Pensions and benefits to the elderly and disabled were also cut off in mid summer. State and oligarch owned businesses functioning and reaping profits stopped paying salaries. By early July retirees across the countryside were surviving on leftovers from the last harvest, unripened fruit, and help from their neighbors.
In August I started hearing about the starvation among the most vulnerable people which were the shut-ins. People that were bed ridden or because of disabilities could no longer leave their apartments died of starvation and thirst. Where were their neighbors?
In early summer the Ukrainian army started targeting apartment buildings and homes. Throughout the summer this never let up. At first Kiev denied it but later it didn’t matter anymore in the news. Kiev suspended the human rights of people in Southeast early in the spring.
The shelling of civilian homes had the effect Kiev was hoping for. It created a flood of terrified refugees that simply ran and almost overwhelmed the capacity to take care of them in Belarus and Russia.
I have watched people come to this decision. They don’t talk about it out of fear. They quietly slip away. The neighbors of the shut-ins thought someone else was staying and would look after them. In a lot of cases no one could. No one talked to anyone else, they ran.
Ukrainian nationalists popped up everywhere. In the cities groups like Pravy Sektor did random shootings. Paranoia ran wild. It didn’t help that until recently most people never understood what was really happening. How do you comprehend the country where your family has always lived in and you are a part of deciding you are less than human? How do you come to grips with your country wanting to kill you?
The shock that your own neighbor might want you dead for some incomprehensible reason caused this. That fear became justifiable when people turned their neighbors in to the punishers to be tortured and killed. I know one too many stories about a town drunk spinning tales for another bottle. Ukraine is a place where being a 2nd cousin to the militia back in June was enough for a death sentence for your entire family including your children even if you never spoke with them.
Every town has people from across the political spectrum just like yours does. People confused patriots with nationalists and vice versa.
The social net that Poroshenko cynically cut off in November has not existed since late spring. Kiev destroyed it with shells not democracy.
Medications for chronic life threatening illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and basic antibiotics became in short supply in late spring. Early on medication was transported by clearly marked vehicles with red cross insignia or ambulances. These became the favored targets of mercenaries and para military forces like Donbass battalion. In every major city hospitals have been prime targets the entire time.
The reality since summer is people dying because the medications they needed were kept out of their reach. No matter how how much effort is put into the humanitarian effort the population of over 7 million people are in a war zone that is constantly bombarded with rockets and shells.
Creating Famine Conditions
Beginning in the late spring the Ukrainian army set landmines across the grain fields needed to support the area for human and livestock consumption. The landmines set in grain fields aren’t in contested areas. They are not marked and the locals weren’t told to stay away by the Ukrainian army.
These are the fields where farmers make their living and produce the grain needed for bread. One of my neighbors hit a mine trying to harvest his wheat. It destroyed his tractor and he was lucky to be thrown clear. He woke to see his tractor burning. In early summer another neighbor on his tractor was used for sniper practice.
The Ukrainian army burnt grain and corn fields that were under their control. This continued throughout most of the summer as noted across many articles.
The scorched earth policy was geared at creating the current situation which will soon be mass starvation and the sicknesses associated with it. Tens of thousands of acres could not be harvested.
To make the point a few short weeks ago Kiev’s appointed Governor in the occupied Lugansk region stated bluntly that Kiev’s humanitarian blockade of Lugansk and Donetsk was geared to reproduce the effects of the Soviet Union’s 1932-33 famine in which millions across central and southeast Ukraine perished from starvation and sickness.
When the refugee problem started getting international attention in mid-summer president Poroshenko made a big deal about how Donbass refugees would be welcomed by the Ukrainians and how much money was set aside for them. It is Kiev of course and the money was stolen of like the donations for the families of Kiev’s heavenly hundred.
The refugees were set up in summer camps without utilities and for the most part no humanitarian aid. What humanitarian aid isn’t stolen goes to the soldiers. The men that ran from the war found themselves conscripted and sent back. The families sent to the summer camps still sit there in December with no heat. Many will perish from exposure.
Refugees that thought they were fortunate enough to make it to Kiev or other nationalist cities are denied jobs and benefits because they are from Donbass. They ran from the referendum, thought they were good Ukrainians, and yet are still Moskal. Kiev’s new laws take the children from their mothers so they can be raised in orphanages and become good Ukrainian nationalists.
Genocide by Conscription
When Kiev’s ATO started they were sure that the nationalists from Maidan and what became the core punisher groups would quickly pacify Donbass based on just enthusiasm. It took a while for them to realize the skills they learned at Maidan and the Odessa Trade Union Building wasn’t combat.
The nazi’s only succeeded in developing a taste for murder. In both well published cases as well as the rampant murder in smaller cities the victims were not combatants. They could not and did not fight back. At Maidan, the Berkut were unarmed and ordered to stand and take the punishment. The footage after the initial and controversial beginning says it all.
After this Kiev’s deployment policy to the ATO regions changed dramatically. Conscripts were questioned on their nationalist leanings and deployed according to their answers. People from cities like Odessa which suffered under mass murder in the spring and stood against nationalism were threatened, jailed, and sent into the ATO.
People that expressed Ukrainian nationalist leanings were sent in behind them or to areas where the there was no conflict.
This tactic was developed in the 1930′s by Stepan Bandera to make both his enemies and people that may eventually rise against Ukrainian nationalism fight and kill each other. This is happening today to the refugee conscripts from Donbass. It is the case today when the conscript is from the wrong city or gives the wrong answer when they enlist or get drafted.
The tactic is the same one used in WW2. The Ukrainian nationalists stood behind conscripts during WW2 and killed them when they refused to fight. The same then as is the case today, families were threatened so conscripts won’t refuse to fight.
The battle is truly brother to brother, cousin to cousin; with few ways out for the conscripts. The nationalist groups themselves get medals and positions for combat they never participate in.Kiev, Ukraine rewards are for the torture, murder, and sodomy they committed against civilians and conscripts.
What the World won’t Allow
The filtration or concentration camps at this point sit idle and more are under construction. The reason is Kiev forces don’t control enough of Donbass to make using them worthwhile. While the world sits by and cheers and jeers Kiev’s inept and thwarted attempts at mass genocide; having large scale bloody executions of normal people in anything called “a camp” broadcast worldwide would quickly dampen the enthusiasm in Europe and the US.
History has taught the nationalists what the world hasn’t learned. They know the world won’t stand by and allow the bloody or mass execution of millions without eventually demanding a price from someone. While the civilized nations will allow it to happen, the cost will be like the Nuremberg trials when the outrage that could have stopped it is belatedly expressed and acceptable.
Enough of the Double Talk Already
If the government in Kiev had any notion of reintegrating Donbass they would not have bombed, shelled, and murdered entire villages. They would not have allowed mass torture of civilians, or the rape and murder of women and children. These are not things a legitimate government allows for, never mind bestows medals on monsters that do these things to its own people.
If they were not nationalists, they would have stopped the ultras from the murders and calls for destroying every life in Donbass. Instead they rewarded it. Commanders guilty of mass murder and torture sit in the Ukrainian Senate and meet with the US Congress and the executive branch. Mass starvation in Donbass is a tactic to make people run, die slowly, or submit to the government that murders them.
The argument that the separatist rebels are getting what they deserve is intellectually retarded. Donbass wasn’t trying to separate, Kiev forced it through atrocity. The Ukrainian government made it impossible for Donbass and other areas to remain under their control.
The argument that there are no nazis in Kiev is a leap into the bizzarre. The people in Kiev’s government were educated in ultra-nationalist/nazi universities. Many had David Duke as a professor of history.
Ukrainian nazi ideology is so rigid it was easy to predict the brutality of the cleansing battalions before Maidan was over and the Coup leaders actually took government. It is so rigid it was easy to predict the turn it would take in Donbass which entails a regional cleansing of people. It was easy to predict how the conscription would be used to get rid of “others” that even remotely may be Moskal also.
It was easy to predict winter starvation would be used as a tactical weapon in June when I first wrote it would happen. Read Bandera’s ideological material. They follow it zealously and religiously. Ukrainian nazi’s are nothing if not predictable. They are also intractable liars. That’s part of the ideology too.
The nonstop shelling during the peace has done its work. Too many people’s homes are destroyed that were never involved in any fighting. Too many people cannot afford to purchase bread even it were available to them. The cold and snow of winter has set in.
The humanitarian effort needed is now monumental to stop mass death across the region. It will never come in fast enough or be enough. This time, which is the third time in less than 100 years the people of Donbass have suffered through forced starvation through callousness and as weapon of war- please consider helping.
December 17th, 2014 by Philip Weiss
Image: Netanyahu at Hanukkah candle-lighting
This morning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted pictures of his candle-lighting ceremony with an Israeli army unit on the first night of Hanukkah. His language at the event was bellicose and aimed at the murderous Palestinian Authority and in “defense of the most moral army in the world.” I was struck in particular by the dogs photo (as was Max Blumenthal, who passed it along). Hanukkah is the festival of lights, a time of joy. The prime minister of Israel tweets a photo of himself that looks like a jackbooted tyrant from the last century.
Israel will lose all American Jews but the crazies. That is the clear message of that photo, indeed of several recent events.
Israel didn’t look like this when I was growing up. Not to American Jews anyway. The synagogue gave me a Zionist archaeology book about Masada for my bar mitzvah (maybe that’s what turned me into a Jewish zealot?) while it gave my brother a record of Abba Eban’s speech after the ’67 War to the UN. I didn’t understand a word about what Eban was talking about, but we were proud of Israel. Eban spoke English better than the English, it was said, and Israel was a brand that almost all Jews wanted to be associated with. My father bought the novels of Agnon, David Grossman, and Amos Oz. Yes, Begin was a terrorist but he had a dignity to him. Shamir was from Bialystok and lost his family in the Holocaust. The peace martyr Rabin was an out-and-out hero in American Jewish life and his wife was a class act (no one talked about his orders to break children’s bones in the First Intifada). Even Sharon had his charms. Ehud Olmert got published in The New York Review of Books. Tzipi Livni could talk at J Street and AIPAC. Michael Oren went to Princeton. He wrote impressive books that got fancy reviews.
I’m talking about imagery and emotion, how things look, how they feel, and how they are passed on to the Jewish multitudes. Israel’s latest exports are drab or clueless and savage. The Finance Minister Naftali Bennett comes to Washington and dismisses world opinion as “a little thing called the rest of the world” and insults Martin Indyk, the courtliest man in the world, to the point that he talks about kicking Bennett’s ass, and Haim Saban, the leading Democratic fundraiser, is obviously angered by him. Caroline Glick shows up in the pages of the New Yorker as slightly unhinged, an impression she seeks to extend in a diatribe accusing European diplomats to their faces of anti-semitism for talking about the occupation.
The distinguished Oren has been replaced in the public mind by the two Rons, Prosor and Dermer. Ambassador Dermer has no tone. His father was the Miami beach mayor, and he’s a rightwinger who got his job because he had the trust and friendship of Netanyahu; and he’s only further alienated the Obama administration. Prosor gives a speech accusing Europe of anti-semitism for talking about the occupation. You failed us in the 1940s, you are failing us again, he says. How long can Israeli propagandists abuse the Holocaust without turning Americans’ stomachs? Not much longer, I don’t think. Ari Shavit was supposed to be the second coming of the literary greats. But there’s something off, he’s left a rightwing aftertaste.
The sense of Israel being represented by second-raters is advanced when you read the sassy tweets from Avi Mayer, or the Islamophobic propaganda of Matti Friedman. And meanwhile the kinds of Jewish minds we used to be so proud of in the American Jewish community, worldly thoughtful men like Shlomo Sand and Avraham Burg and Marcel Ophuls, are all publicly washing their hands of the Jewish state.
It’s not just imagery. Right now Israel has two giant substantive problems, the occupation and Gaza. It has done nothing to ameliorate the world’s bad opinion of these matters, it has just doubled down angrily against any criticism. The government looks to be moving further and further to the right and just who does Netanyahu think he is appealing to with this Hanukkah tweet?
The Obama administration can’t come out against Netanyahu, but the American Jewish community can. There has to be a crisis inside the offices of the Israel lobby. The 92d Street Y can’t sell this new Israel in that big hall with Jefferson and Maimonides and Moses incised in gilt at the top of the wall. The JCC’s don’t want pictures of muzzled attack dogs and commandos in balaclavas on Hanukkah; that’s a real nightmare, it can’t come here. Haim Saban can’t stand for the limitless contempt for European business, Bennett doesn’t understand how many people he alienated.
Israel will keep its lobby, but increasingly it will be the crazies, the hardcases, the fools. I predict an open uprising in the American Jewish community in the next few weeks before the election.
Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net
Washington Seeks an Excuse to Wage a Nuclear War on Russia? “We’re Close to the Precipice. Will the Public Remain Silent?”
December 17th, 2014 by Eric Zuesse
The world is more nervous about the drift toward nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia than at any time since 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis. When French President Francois Hollande urgently side-tracked his return-flight from a diplomatic mission recently, in order to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, at a private room that had been scoured ahead of time to eliminate any possible bugging devices, there was speculation as to what had caused Hollande’s sudden detour, and there were even rumors of a possible cause being an American “false-flag” event in the works to be blamed on Russia as a pretext for going to war against Russia, just as Russia had been falsely blamed for the Ukrainian military’s downing of Malaysia’s airliner MH17 onJuly 17th. All that was publicly released about the two-hour meeting were platitudes, hardly anything that would have justified side-tracking Hollande’s flight so as to surprise intelligence agencies and be able to meet the Russian leader in an untapped room.
The level of fear is certainly rising on both sides. On the U.S. side, the CBS News Poll in summer 2007 found 6% of Americans calling Russia an “enemy”; seven years later, that same figure was 22%. However, what is not rumor nor fear, but proven fact, by Obama’s own actions as will be documented here, is that he wants a war against Russia and is trying hard to get Europe (including Hollande) onboard with this goal in order to win it; and that America’s Republican Party want this at least as much as he does, though the American public do not.
The Democratic Party (in the House and Senate) are staying as quiet as possible about a ‘Democratic’ President pushing them toward World War III, which is a goal that Republicans have always been far more eager for than Democrats. (Republicans are famous for “Speak softly but carry a big stick,” and for swinging it as hard as they can, especially against Russians.) In fact, one of the reasons why Obama won the Presidency is that he criticized his 2012 Republican opponent Mitt Romney for saying of Russia, “This is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.”
That dissent by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Obama appealed to the U.S. public at the time, but not to America’s aristocracy, who are a mix of people some of whom hate Russians and others of whom don’t care about Russians, but none of whom are passionate opponents of nuclear war (a diverse group that they lump contemptuously with “peaceniks”).
For example, one major mouthpiece of Democratic Party aristocrats has always been The New Republic, and on 17 September 2014 they headlined “Obama Can’t Admit That Romney Was Right: Russia Is Our ‘Top Geopolitical Threat’.” Another one is the National Journal, the aristocracy’s version of its companion propaganda-operation (owned by the same aristocrat as) The Atlantic. On 7 May 2014 (just five days after Obama’s people hadmassacred pro-Russians in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa and thereby started the extermination-campaign against them, or “civil war” that’s still raging), the National Journal headlined “Mitt Romney Was Right: Russia Is Our Biggest Geopolitical Foe.”
Conservative ‘Democrats’ are just Republicans spelled with a “D”; but, when it’s an aristocrat, they know how to spell, and are just trying to deceive the ones who don’t. This is why ‘liberal’ magazines are prized possessions of the aristocracy — to deceive the ones who don’t know the difference and who think that it’s fine in a democracy for politics to be merely a choice between two conservative parties, one of which is called by a meaningless adjective ‘liberal.’
The people who fund both political Parties are virtually united in that fascist belief: they don’t even mind backing racist facists or “nazis”; many of them are precisely that themselves.
Obama is with them (and with Wall Street, and with Big Ag, and Big Oil, and Big Military), against the public. But he’s smart enough a politician to pretend otherwise, and his aristocratic funders respect this. (There were no hard feelings for his exploiting Romney’s politically stupid public assertion; they knew that it was an Obama pose: he’s a ‘Democrat,’ after all.)
For America’s elite, the Cold War never ended, because it was never really about communism versus capitalism — not for them. They are fascists, and they want global dominance. Capitalism, shmapitalism; all they really care about is dominating the world, destroying enemies, which means anyone who refuses to be controlled by them.
Aristocracy hasn’t changed since, well, long before the Bible began. Domination is the big thing, for the aristocracy. Russia threatens the vaunted global control by America’s aristocracy, their dominance over all other aristocracies, because Russia is the second-most-powerful military nation. Russia is the only nation that can say no to U.S. aristocrats and (maybe) get away with it. That’s what this conflict is all about. It’s why they ratcheted up the “enemy” figure for Russia from 6% to 22% in just the past seven years.
As President Obama’s speech at West Point, on 28 May 2014, propagandized for (i.e., rationalized) this conquer-Russia view on the part of America’s aristocracy: “Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us.” So, Obama made clear to the graduating West Point cadets that the BRIC countries are the enemy (Russia and its leading supporters of international independence, the enemies against a mono-polar or “hegemonic” world), from the standpoint of America’s aristocracy, whom the U.S. military now serves to the exclusion of any public interest. Ours want to crush the aristocrats in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Though it’s alright for those other countries to produce more, that’s true only if American aristocrats control the local ones there, like in any other international empire — not if the local nation’s aristocrats control the country. That’s not the way aristocrats in banana republics are supposed to behave. They’re not supposed to be independent countries. Not really.
The President who had invaded Libya and Syria, and re-invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and who perpetrated a violent overthrow and installed racist fascists (nazis) in control of Ukraine, is lecturing the world against “Russia’s aggression,” for its having accepted back into Russia’s traditional fold little Crimea, which craved to return to Russia.
He’s got some gall to do that, but in order to be a cadet at West Point (and thus be there hearing his speech) one needed to be either a sucker or else a cravenous tool of the aristocracy, as the military has traditionally served; so, Obama played them for being both, and they evidently liked it.
Obama knows how to speak down to an audience and fool them into thinking he respects them. But, to aristocrats, his respect is no mere act at all; he not only respects them, he lies for them, and he protects them, because he self-identifies with them, and not with the public (who just provide his voters, the people that are forced to choose between him versus Romney, or else to go for a mere token protest-vote or non-vote, such as American ‘democracy’ has degenerated into being).
Obama was enemy-izing (turning into enemies) nations that don’t want to serve as America’s banana republics. Similarly, for example, the British Empire didn’t wish for local aristocrats in India to be in control, but only for those client aristocrats to be of use. That’s what it means to be a client nation (or, in the American case, a banana republic).
Obama, in his speech, added, placing a clear hyper-nationalistic coloration on his promotion of America’s empire: “The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” (Hitler thought the same thing of Germany.) He promised to keep it that way: “That has been true for the century passed [sp.: past [[somebody at the White House didn’t know the difference between ‘past’ and ‘passed’]] and it will be true for the century to come.” (At least he wasn’t predicting there a Thousand-Year Reich.)
So: that’s historical background to Obama’s plan for using Ukraine as a stepping-stone toward conquering Russia — one of the few favors he hasn’t yet achieved for his sponsors, after having protected them from what he contemptuously calls (in private) the “pitchforks”; a.k.a., the public. (And he really did call us “pitchforks” there, in private. To him, the public were like the KKK; and the mega-bank CEOs whom he was confiding to were like the people KKKers lynched. That’s the type of ‘Black’ he actually is. Blacks should loathe him, but most people, black and white, can’t see beyond his skin-color and liberal platitudes. They’ve got their categories wrong, and the aristocracy-controlled media like that just fine. Stereotypes help aristocrats control political outcomes. It’s button-pushing for them.)
On December 11th, the U.S. Senate voted 100% (unanimously) to donate U.S. weapons to the Ukrainian Government in its war against Russia. On December 4th, 98% of the U.S. House had done likewise. Both bills also accuse Russia of having invaded Ukraine, and this accusation of an aggressive Russia provides a pretext for the U.S. to attack Russia, now that the Ukrainian Government has flipped from neutral (according to some estimations) or pro-Russian (according to others) to being clearly and publicly anti-Russian, by means of their U.S.-engineered coup that occurred in February of this year, when masked gunmen, who were actually hired mercenaries, dressed themselves as if they were instead Ukrainian security forces, and fired into a crowd of “Maidan” anti-corruption protesters and police, and the U.S. Government immediately blamed Ukraine’s then-President for doing that, and Ukraine’s parliament or “Rada,” who weren’t in on the scheme and didn’t know about it, promptly elected “Yats” Yatsenyuk, who had secretly been appointed 18 days prior to lead the country, by Victoria Nuland of the U.S. State Department. “Yats” immediately installed a far-right Government, filled with people who had already committed themselves to a Ukrainian war against Russia. They then promptly set about terminating Russia’s 42-year Crimean lease for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which is key to Russia’s security. Crimeans, who had always overwhelmingly considered themselves to be Russians and not Ukrainians, demonstrated against that Ukrainian move against them and against Russia, and Russian troops came into Crimea, to local applause, but to the condemnation from Washington and its allies.
Russia’s taking back Crimea was not aggression at all, though America’s noise-media say it was; it was instead protection of Crimeans against the CIA’s American invasion of Ukraine. When the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev donated Crimea from Russia to Ukraine in 1954, it was much to the consternation of Crimeans at the time, and ever since. Yet, one of the explicit alleged ‘justifications’ for war against Russia, that are listed in the Republican House’s bill (“Whereas the Russian Federation’s forcible occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea. …”) is a blatant lie, because Crimeans overwhelmingly wanted Russia’s protection against the new, Obama-imposed, Ukrainian regime, which Obama’s State Department and CIA had just installed when overthrowing the President for whom nearly 80% of Crimeans had voted. In fact, a poll that was issued by Gallup in June 2014 showed then that 71.3% of Crimeans viewed as “Mostly positive” the role of Russia there, and 4.0% viewed it as “Mostly negative”; by contrast, only 2.8% viewed the role of the United States there as “Mostly positive,” and a whopping 76.2% viewed it as “Mostly negative.” This wasn’t much changed from a year-earlier Gallup poll. The Republican Party (and thus the Republican-controlled House) is willing to lie blatantly (about this and other crucial matters) in order to justify invading Russia, as it did in invading Iraq in 2003 (and even in 1991); and Barack Obama is willing to lie blatantly too for the same reasons — such as about the source of the sarin gas attack in Libya, etc. — but there were enough Democrats in the U.S. Senate to block Obama’s getting such blatant lies into the Senate’s bill on Ukraine, so it’s much milder, even though it does give the Ukrainian Government $450 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money. However, when Republicans take over the Senate in January, their bill will match the House’s in its warmongering lies, and Obama will get all he wants for his planned war against Russia (not just the $450 million that the Democratic-controlled Senate bill has provided).
So, now, both the Senate and the House, plus the U.S. President (via his State Department, CIA, FBI, and entire Administration), are actually at war, a hot war not a cold war, against Russia, through their proxy, their made-in-Washington, racist-fascist or nazi, Government of Ukraine, which currently is doing the fighting and the killing and the dying, but which couldn’t do it but for that Western backing.
This should be analogized to Fidel Castro’s takeover of Cuba and his and Soviet leader Khrushchev’s attempt to base near the U.S., Soviet nuclear missiles aimed against America. At that time, in 1962, U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy said that we’d go to war against the USSR if necessary to prevent this; and today Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has implied, but not yet said, that his country will likewise go to war against the United States if necessary to stop its attempt to do against Russia what Khrushchev had been stopped from doing against the U.S. in 1962.
However, the U.S. is now already farther along the warpath than the USSR had been in 1962. Already, many thousands of deaths have resulted from Ukraine’s war against Russia and against its supporters inside what had previously been parts of Ukraine. In 1962, Cuba was at peace, except for a few bands of U.S.-backed Cubans, who were trying to overthrow Fidel Castro. Ukraine is today’s Cuba, but even more of a danger. And, this time, the United States Government is trying to impose nuclear supremacy; the Soviet Union and its communism no longer even exist, and Russia is up against the mortal threat that is being wrongfully perpetrated by the U.S. against them.
Clearly, U.S. President Obama was serious when he tossed out Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych; and clearly he has the full backing of the U.S. Congress (though with some hesitation on the part of Democrats) to go to war against Russia and finish the job that he has begun.
If it weren’t for the ongoing donations — officially loans, but ‘loans’ to an already-bankrupt Government are donations — by both U.S. taxpayers and EU taxpayers, that are channeled mainly through the U.S. and EU and IMF, Ukraine would simply stop its hot war against Russia and against its own ethnic Russians; and the Ukrainian Government that we installed in February would just collapse. The IMF and EU seem likely now to have ended their donations, but U.S. taxpayers certainly haven’t ended ours. We’ve barely even started, though, ever since 1991, U.S. taxpayers have already invested “over five billion dollars” in this scheme to bring ‘democracy’ to Ukraine, even before Obama’s successful February coup provided the capstone to that entire Orwellian effort: America’s aristocracy and its hired hands call this ‘democracy.’
The investigative journalist Wayne Madsen has published his analysis of the American aristocrats, ranging from the Kochs on the right to the Soroses on the left, who are lobbying for this campaign to get taxpayers to fund the American aristocracy’s military take-over of other nations’ aristocracies and resources. Madsen sees as being the few politicians in Washington who are resisting that, both Ron Paul (and definitely not his son Rand Paul) libertarians, and Dennis Kucinich progressives.
Madsen doesn’t note, however, that both of those men are now retired; so, they can afford to speak the truth without losing their jobs, since they’ve already lost them. Among the U.S. aristocracy that finances politicians into federal offices, there is no visible support whatsoever for such dissidents challenging the aristocracy: when one of them somehow manages to get into the political system, they’re removed from it, in one way or another, before they can do any damage to the U.S. aristocracy.
This is how it came to be that 98% of the House and 100% of the Senate voted for war against Russia, even though at least 67% of the American public who expressed an opinion about that in a Pew poll were opposed (and this 67% figure might have been far higher if the question had been more directly asked, such as: “Should the U.S. go to war against Russia in order to enable Ukraine to get back Crimea and conquer the rebelling regions in Ukraine’s own former southeast?”).
This America is supposed to be a ‘democracy,’ in which 99% of Congress and the President want taxpayers to be required to donate to the Ukrainian military, but less than one-third of the American public want to make those donations. Is it instead actually taxation without representation — a modern fascist form of the very oligarchy that America’s Founders went to war against and defeated in order to create America? How much more of a demonstration needs to be made that today’s America is a dictatorship, not a representative democracy or republic? Only media pretend it’s not a dictatorship, because they’re part of it, owned by the same people who heisted our Government and who trade favors with one-another against us. Clearly, this is an us-versus-them situation in which oligarchs are the aggressors, who destroyed American democracy, and from which a democracy now must again be seized, because it has been stolen from us and will not be retaken without a fight.
Madsen also has an interesting explanation as to why Israel is so passionately supportive of the racist-fascist, or nazi, Ukrainian political parties that the Obama Administration has placed in control of Ukraine.
Regardless of such speculations and evidence, however, there is nothing speculative about the American Government’s drive to nuclear war.
It’s part and parcel of the same deal that just passed in the U.S. Congress and was signed by the President, that in the event of any future U.S. financial crash, FDIC-insured bank accounts won’t be paid until and unless the mega-banks that hold derivatives contracts get full payment on all of those gambling policies they had bought — i.e, never. Granny’s savings account will get emptied out to pay Wall Street’s gambling-debts. (Not that the U.S. ‘news’ media ever made such things clear to the public. But how do you think we had managed to obtain a Congress and a President like these are? The public had to be fooled by the aristocrats’ propaganda, and the ‘news’ media had to help aristocrats fool them about it, because the ‘news’ media receive their funding from aristocrats, both as their owners and as their advertisers. The public are just pawns on their chessboard. This is what became of democracy: it’s merely the residual verbal shell — ‘democracy’ — an Orwellian opposite of the original meaning.)
As Obama told the mega-bank chiefs on 27 March 2009 in private, “I’m protecting you … My Administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”
He’s going to teach those granny-bank-account “pitchforks,” and such, a thing or two about “the one indispensable nation.” Namely: those people in it, the public, are dispensable, even if not quite as much so as are the people his forces are slaughtering (ethnically cleansing) in southeast Ukraine and other such places, where the ‘real riffraff’ live. The people in those areas are punished and killed for the crime of living where “the right people” want them simply to be gone (preferably dead, but otherwise refugees in Russia, until the ICBMs kill them).
“Sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.” But it’s long since gone, and is now aiming to clear out land elsewhere, especially southeast Ukraine, to place nuclear missiles there.
America’s ‘entrepreneurs’ have work to do, across the globe; and all the charred remains of the nuclear ‘victory’ will be passed on to their proud heirs.
It’s the new American way, the way of ‘entrepreneurs’ — a.k.a. “the aristocracy” — but actually only the ‘entrepreneurs’ who have been able to grab the most, who are billionaires. Only insiders can apply for admission. Outsiders can apply for a job, nothing more.
If you don’t think so, then how do you explain this, and this, and this, and this? Are those just innocent tragedies; and, if not, then who was the most indispensable person toward causing them to happen — causing them to be imposed by the Ukrainian Government that Obama’s coup imposed upon Ukraine? Obama’s decisions were essential in order to empower the people who are perpetrating this extermination-campaign, which is the bait intended to draw Vladimir Putin into a Ukrainian conflict so as to provide a pretext for an American nuclear attack against Russia — as if Russia doesn’t have even more of a legitimate national-security interest in its Ukrainian neighbor than the U.S. had in its Cuban neighbor in 1962, when we rightly threatened nuclear war over that type of provocation.
If the next U.S. President protects Obama from criminal prosecution for Ukraine like Obama protected Bush from criminal prosecution for Iraq, then the U.S. is hopelessly a lawless nation, no democracy at all.
Unfortunately, the nuclear bombs in the war that Obama and the other stooges of America’s aristocracy are building up to, will not be targeted against themselves and their psychopathic (often billionaire) sponsors. Those people will instead have their bomb-shelters, and their corporate jets.
Oligarchs are foreign to a democracy. Consequently, their servants in government, especially America’s current and former President, are foreign to the U.S. Constitution, and to their Oath of Office, and thus to this country, irrespective of their technical citizenship as ‘American.’ They should both be brought up on charges of treason against the United States of America; for, if they are not, then truly democracy is ended in this country, with no hope of restoration, and America’s Presidents are not subject to American Law, but instead stand above it, beyond it, and immune from it. That makes them dictators, but for whom, and against whom? The record speaks for itself.
Reader-comments to this commentary on the Global Research facebook page, pro-and-con, are invited regarding this conclusion, especially because a public forum to discuss this severe matter is needed now — a turning-point in American, and (sad to say), perhaps also (if a nuclear attack occurs) a turning-point in global history. That’s the case regardless of which side of this debate one is on. The fundamental character of this country is at stake now. The public should have a say in it (if that’s still even possible, given that 99% of the media are in the hands of oligarchs — the very same aristocrats who benefit from the status-quo).
Nuclear war is a serious matter, and the American Government must immediately halt their plan to provoke it. The time to force a halt to that is now, or else it will be never. Every step we get closer to nuclear war makes reversing the direction, which is toward war, even more difficult, and less likely, and makes nuclear war even likelier than it was before.
If the public is to take charge (assuming that doing so is still possible), it will happen sooner rather than later.
The public discussion will begin now, if it begins at all.
We’re close to the precipice. Will the public remain quiet?
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
December 17th, 2014 by Prof Peter Dale Scott
The last century has been, unfortunately, a century of holocausts. The documentary “The Act of Killing” revives the memory — for both Indonesians and Americans — of one of the greatest: the Indonesian mass slaughter of 1965, whose memory, for a half century, has been perhaps the most effectively suppressed. It is, in fact, virtually impossible to consider the film, or the massacre itself, without also considering, as did my poem Coming to Jakarta, the social functions of first suppressing the most excruciating victim memories, and then painfully beginning to recover them.
T.S. Eliot wrote, “human kind/ Cannot bear very much reality,”2 and I myself have called civilization “a great conspiracy/ of organized denial.”3 There is in truth so much violence and injustice in the world that to stay sane most of us have to ignore or suppress a good deal of it. But if we want to address the problems of violence and injustice, we have to seek out and deal with those crucial events of global significance, above all those in which we are involved – both directly and indirectly – and from which we can learn. If we are willing to face the truth.
“The Act of Killing” is about one of those crucial events, a half century ago and its reverberations down to the present. The film’s director, Josh Oppenheimer, has depicted not just the horror of the 1965 pogrom, but the weird craziness of today’s violent contemporary world. Chris Hedges has captured this craziness in his film review:
Oppenheimer, in the film’s strangest but most psychologically astute device, persuades the killers to re-enact some of the mass murders they carried out. They don costumes—they fancy themselves to be the stars of their own life movies—and what comes out in the costumed scenes of torture and killing is the vast disconnect between the image they have of themselves, much of it inspired by Hollywood gangster films, and the tawdry, savage and appalling crimes they committed.… The killers stage a scene at the end of the film in which actors playing their murdered victims hang a medal around the neck of [Anwar] Congo [the film’s protagonist] —who is dressed in a long, black robe and standing in front of a waterfall—and thank him for saving the country and “killing me and sending me to heaven.” This bizarre fantasy’s background music, specified by Congo, is the theme from the movie “Born Free.”4
There is a natural tendency for western viewers to blame this appetite for violence carried to bizarre extremes on the Indonesians. Indonesians themselves have done this. I quote in my poetic trilogy from the great Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who had earlier been imprisoned by the Dutch from 1947-49. He was not killed in the great slaughter of 1965, however, he was imprisoned for fourteen years in its aftermath. One of the conditions of his imprisonment was that he write a confession of his culpability, and here is part of what he wrote:
I myself am Javanese
I was educated to Javanese ideals
guided by the Mahabharata
at whose climax they bathe
in the blood of their own brothers
while other peoples who
have managed to slip their shackles
are the nations that rule the world
Even in the belly of Dutch power
Java still glorified
its narrow world culture
they bathed in the blood of their brothers
right up through 1966
And because Java was no longer
in the belly of European power
the slaughter reached an unlimited scale
without colonization my country
would have ceaselessly spilled
the blood of its sons and daughters
cultural integrity a bogey
for the countries stuffed with capital
by which free peoples are enslaved
the unemployed become murderers
with uniforms and badges of rank
vast forests are torn apart
It is necessary that I emphasize
the problem of power
that tends to turn people into bandits
above all if they have held it for decades
and without ever knowing Verlichting
Aufklaerung remain in thrall
everything that has happened
will live on for centuries
Once more — my apologies. 5
Pramoedya’s analysis has great merit: the Javanese culture in its dances and shadow plays indeed draws on a cultural tradition honoring bloodshed, warriors, and their instruments. He faults this tradition for never having experienced an 18th Century Enlightenment (Verlichting in Dutch, Aufklaerung in German) to temper its traditions with reason.
But it can be said that if Indonesia represented traditional culture without modern Enlightenment, Washington represented ruthless modern Enlightenment without culture. Washington assisted and paid for the violence because it acted in a spirit of amoral Staatsraison, or untrammeled calculation for state purposes, without any cultural restraints. The record is now clear that American officials welcomed the violence, and provided needed assistance to help carry it out and legitimate it. Historian Bradley Simpson, in his important book Economists with Guns, supplies much conclusive evidence for what he calls this “disgraceful performance.”6
The film itself has been faulted for not exploring Washington’s role in the killings. I am glad it did not: it is urgent that North Americans know what happened on the ground in Indonesia in 1965, and the truth, if it is to reach this audience, can only be revealed a little at a time. But for Americans in particular, it is important to come to terms with the American role in coup and killings.
In an excellent on-line essay by Errol Morris, one of the film’s producers and himself an astute film-maker, Professor Simpson is quoted as saying:
It was an extraordinarily rapid genocide and the Johnson administration knew about the events as they unfolded, and they made a very deliberate decision to intervene on the side of the génocidaires. The documentary record is clear-cut. And Kai Bird in his biography of the Bundy brothers has McGeorge Bundy saying, basically, “I have a clear conscience. We knew what we were doing. We did what we were doing because we thought it was the right thing to do, and I sleep easy at night knowing that we played the role that we did.”7
The Bundys were not alone. In June 1966, after the slaughter was over, the New York Times commented on it with the headline, “A Gleam of Light in Asia.” TheTimes’ leading political journalist, James Reston, compared the discouraging news from Vietnam with “the more hopeful developments in Asia,” chiefly what he called “the savage transformation of Indonesia from a pro-Chinese policy under Sukarno to a defiantly anti-Communist policy under General Suharto.” He added that
Washington is being careful not to claim any credit for this change in the sixth most populous and one of the richest nations in the world, but this does not mean that Washington had nothing to do with it. There was a great deal more contact between the anti-Communist forces in that country and at least one very high official in Washington before and during the Indonesian massacre than is generally realized.8
What were the Bundys and Reston celebrating? As Jonathan Weiner points out, it was a process whereby
paramilitary groups and assorted thugs deputized by the country’s soon-to-be dictator, General Suharto, executed at least half a million people [probably in fact more than a million]. Starving prisoners were dumped into rivers alongside corpses; women were molested and raped; victims were shot, beheaded with swords, and dismembered while still alive; thousands more, spared death, were forced [like Pramoedya] into concentration camps and prisons.9
I ask you to consider seriously, however, the fact that the irrationality and madness behind what was depicted in the film “The Act of Killing” were not confined to Indonesia.
To understand Reston’s remarks, we have to remember that this was the era not only of the Cold War but also of the Sino-Soviet split. All three of the world’s greatest powers feared each other; and, perhaps rightly, all three regarded Indonesia, whose Communist Party (the PKI) was the largest outside the Communist bloc, as a country whose allegiance would be an important factor in determining the Cold War’s outcome.
Indonesia, with its oil and other raw materials, was also a factor in America’s decision to launch a major war in Vietnam. And when the Indonesian Army moved to destroy the PKI, the US presence in Vietnam provided a shield against possible Chinese retaliation.10 American planning for Indonesia and Vietnam was synchronous and interrelated. As Bradley Simpson told Errol Morris,
[The U.S. Government’s] covert operations accelerated in the summer of 1964 in ways that connect with the expansion of the war in Vietnam. Johnson’s decision to sign off on expanded covert operations in Indonesia takes place right around the time of the Gulf of Tonkin incident. [In Washington] They were looking at all this as a piece.11
American policies for both countries were reviewed at an important conference of March 1965 in Baguio, the Philippines.
In the 1970s Washington used the techniques that overthrew Sukarno to assist a similar army coup against President Allende. In this coup a CIA-backed psychological warfare group explicitly used the ominous words Djakarta se acerca — Jakarta is coming – to terrorize, destabilize, and polarize Chile, which once had been South America’s most stable and progressive democracy. Washington’s support for the Indonesian regime was made clear again in 1975, when “Suharto managed to gain Washington’s backing” for his invasion of East Timor, resulting in a “decades-long blood-bath.”12
How Academic Modernization Theory Paved the Way for the Killings
I have written elsewhere about the role of the U.S. in encouraging the massacre and supplying facilitating equipment; like Simpson himself, I shall not repeat those arguments here. The point of this essay is not to look at CIA or Pentagon involvement in the Indonesian murders, but the role of American and Canadian universities, especially in preparing a neoliberal economic development model that would provide a rationale for the ensuing Suharto regime.13
Simpson has I think one accurate explanation of why Washington’s “best and the brightest” accepted what he calls the “deeply flawed authoritarian development model” (p. 3) urged on Indonesia by United States advisers and social scientists, and eagerly adopted by the military in Indonesia and elsewhere. This derived from a fundamental deficiency in U.S. social scientific thought:
By the early 1960s modernization theory dominated social science thinking about political and economic development in both the academic and political realms. Modernization theorists drew in expected ways on deeply embedded discourses that emphasized both the uniqueness and the appropriateness of America’s developmental model for the rest of the world and the cultural superiority of the West in general and the Anglo-Saxon tradition in particular.14
He adds, correctly in my view, that
Although modernization theory as a social science paradigm may have originated in the United States in the postwar period, it was part of a larger, widely dispersed fabric of thinking about the process of becoming modern, the origins of which stretch back to the Enlightenment.15
Ironically America, the Soviet Union, and China all contemplated aid programs designed to promote modernization in Indonesia. The chief difference was that Moscow and Beijing emphasized industrialization whereas the US regarded Indonesia above all as a source of needed raw materials, chiefly oil. Thus,
U.S. officials and modernization theorists performed impressive acts of intellectual gymnastics trying to criticize the legacy of European colonialism while advocating development plans that continued colonial trade structures.16
The modernization promoted by all three countries (above all Maoist China, which was about to be convulsed in 1966 by its Cultural Revolution) emphasized material development in ways that were destructive of traditional culture. But it was the U.S. whose influence was dominant in the wake of the coup.
The U.S. was destructive of traditional culture in its energetic distribution of popular American films. In 1953 alone, as part of the United States Information Agency (USIA’s) cultural diplomacy program, “U.S. embassy officials estimated that 10 million Indonesians saw American films screened from the back of USIA trucks traveling around the country.”17 One of the results of this cultural “modernization” is seen in the film “The Act of Killing,” when the film’s protagonist Anwar Congo celebrates the macho values of Hollywood, which taught him how to strangle his victims with a piece of piano wire.18
There is, as I said earlier, an instructive irony here. Pramoedya lamented the failure of Enlightenment rationalism (perhaps represented in his mind by the Marxist PKI) to rethink a traditional Javanese culture, with its emphasis on the ksatriya or warrior. For his part, Simpson sees the same Enlightenment as a source for an amoral social science paradigm that contributed to the massacre. (By the 20th Century the Enlightenment, like the church centuries earlier, had evolved from being a corrective of the status quo into a reinforcement of it.) So I believe one can say that a corrupted Indonesian culture without Enlightenment was being reinforced in the massacre by a debased Enlightenment lacking traditional culture.
During the Cold War, the paradigm of mindless and amoral modernization by violence was not uniquely American, but global. But of course American military and CIA plans and assistance were far more important than their counterparts from the Soviet Union and China to what happened in Indonesia in 1965. (Soviet aid was largely military; a projected steel mill was never constructed. Aid from China might have ensued after Subandrio’s return from Beijing in July 1965 with sixty Chinese economic advisers; but whatever projects they might have initiated were swiftly brought to an end after Gestapu in September.)19
For a decade and a half the same had been true of North American social scientists, who guided the thinking of their Indonesian counterparts. So much so, that when
Western-trained Indonesian technocrats and economists [who] readily accepted Soviet technical assistance, adopted a Soviet-style five-year development plan in 1957 [the plan was] written with the help of Canadian development economist Ben Higgins.20
At the time Prof. Higgins had moved from McGill University (where he was one of my professors and my father’s friend) to the Center for International Studies (CENIS) at MIT, a CIA-funded think tank. From this vantage point he became what Cornell Professor Benedict Anderson called “the doyen of the Indonesian economists.”21
We have to understand that, just as North American modernization specialists were a shaping force In Indonesia, so also Indonesia was a principal concern, or target, of North American development economists. It is not too much to say that the two – Indonesia and post-war development economics – helped shape each other.
I remember myself from my days at McGill in the 1950s accepting the claim that development economics was a science; but in retrospect I think we should see it also as a tool in the Cold War. And in many ways North American universities – not just those like McGill or MIT or Berkeley with close links to the CIA – were contributing to a mindset that was also part of the Cold War.
I was in the Canadian Foreign Service from 1957 to 1961. I recall that it was standard for my decent and honorable superiors to refer to most of the world as “backward” or “underdeveloped.” Those terms are more likely to be avoided now, but I would suggest that substitute terms, like “developing countries,” the “third world,” or even the “Global South,” perpetuate the same underlying thinking. For us North Americans to have called ourselves the “first world” – as if we were some kind of avant garde for the rest of the world to follow — seems to me now to be blatantly, even comically ethnocentric, or would be if its consequences were not sometimes tragic.
I say this after having lived parts of three years in Thailand, an experience that changed me profoundly. I came away thinking that though we have developed in many ways that can contribute to the well-being of Thailand, the reverse is also true: Thailand has a well-developed Buddhist culture from which the West can and perhaps must learn.22 And now, unfortunately, the conflict between culture and Enlightenment that convulsed Indonesia is afflicting Thailand as well in the wake of the 2014 military coup, though so far less violently.
Let us look anecdotally at how development economics flourished and was applied in Indonesia. The important Indonesian economist Subroto was selected to study in North America by Sumitro Djojohadikusoemo, a Dean at the University of Indonesia who was one of the CIA’s top assets in Jakarta. Subroto obtained his M.A. at McGill in 1956, then studied at MIT with Ben Higgins, then, with a Ford foundation Fellowship, studied at Harvard.23 It is relevant that at this time
Ford Foundation consultant Richard Bissell (who would later became special assistant to CIA Director Allen Dulles) and Chairman John McCloy conducted a series of financial transactions which enabled Ford Foundation money to be funneled into CIA organized fronts and vice versa.24
Returning to Indonesia, Subroto became one of five economists – all trained by the Ford Foundation – at the Indonesian Army Staff and Command School in Bandung , which served before the 1965 coup as a training-ground for the takeover of political power by the army. Civilians were also trained at SESKOAD, and U.S. officials have confirmed that the civilians, who themselves were in a training program funded by the Ford Foundation, became involved in what the (then) U.S. military attaché called “contingency planning” to prevent a PKI takeover.25
SESKOAD in this period had become a focal point of attention from the Pentagon, the CIA, RAND, as well as the Ford Foundation. And an important part of this program was “lectures in economics and business management” given by the five economists.26 After the coup, Suharto used the same five (by then known in the new government as the “Berkeley Mafia,” because four of them had trained at UC Berkeley under Prof. Guy Pauker) to implement IMF-style economic reforms; in this they were “working alongside Ford-sponsored American economists – this time from Harvard’s Development Advisory Service.”27
These efforts were of little benefit to Indonesians:
A Ford report in 1978 declared that despite “massive foreign investment” based on “concessions,” very few new jobs had been created. In addition, the armed forces “remain massively involved in illegal tax collection, smuggling and commercial activities.”28
One of the chief smugglers was Suharto himself, assisted by his civilian commercial partner Bob Hasan. Even before the coup,
Hasan worked with Suharto to develop a wide range of side businesses, controlled by the military, that provided much of the funding for the Division as well as extra income for its officers. After Suharto took the presidency in 1966, he initiated a massive expansion of Indonesian commercial logging, especially in the islands outside of Java. In the 1970s Hasan served as the required Indonesian “partner” for foreign companies wanting to harvest timber in Indonesia, working most notably with the United States corporation Georgia Pacific.29
Georgia-Pacific is a corporation notorious for clear-cutting, whose practices in Indonesia and elsewhere have been condemned by environmentalists:
Indonesia has over 60 percent of Asia’s tropical forests and harbors the largest number of endangered bird and mammal species in the world. … U.S.-based Georgia Pacific has dammed rivers, destroyed ancestral grave sites of the Dayak peoples, and stripped their forest habitats. Threats and intimidation have forced many of these people to protest with very little success. “In a haunting climate of fear, the Bentian are now trying to survive the forced seizure and clear-cutting of their forested land, the demolition of their gardens, and burning and bull-dozing of community grave sites.”30
What right have we to give the name “development” to these fruits of university and Ford Foundation efforts? Now that it is clear that the clear-cutting of forests has contributed to global warming, and that the fantasy of reshaping the world to the model of North American petroleum-based culture, is it not imperative that universities do more than they have been doing to change our notions of what constitutes development with an eye to protecting the environment and ultimately animal and human life?
University professors did not just offer a skewed notion of economic development; some of them also advocated military takeovers in order to achieve it. Before the 1955 Indonesian election, most US Indonesianists, above all those who were faculty at Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley, had naively assumed that U.S. advice and aid would enable Indonesia to evolve into a more and more western-oriented nation willing to engage in western-style economic development.31 The same naïve hope may have initially inspired those professors at the University of Chicago training the economists who implemented Pinochet’s privatization programs after the overthrow of Allende in 1973.32 (The program linking South Vietnam to Michigan State was however plagued with controversies from its outset, with one visiting economist subsequently suggesting that “a military coup may be the only means” of saving Vietnam.)33
By 1958, however, the PKI (the Indonesian Communist Party) had emerged as the largest mass movement in the country, and everyone expected that they might come to power in the next election. At this point Pauker and other American social scientists in the U.S. Air Force and CIA-subsidized “think-tanks” began to argue in favor of military-led economic development, and to urge this new notion, successfully, on their military contacts in Indonesia and Brazil.
began pressuring their contacts in the Indonesian military publicly, often through U.S. scholarly journals and presses, to seize power and liquidate the PKI opposition.40 The most prominent example is Guy Pauker, who in 1958 both taught at the University of California at Berkeley and served as a consultant at the RAND Corporation. In the latter capacity he maintained frequent contact with what he himself called “a very small group” of [Indonesian university] intellectuals and their friends in the army.34
A key event was an August 1959 conference organized by RAND on “The Role of the Military in Underdeveloped Countries,” which produced a book with the same title published by Princeton. In this book,
Pauker urged his contacts in the Indonesian military to assume “full responsibility” for their nation’s leadership, “fulfill a mission,” and hence “to strike, sweep their house clean.” Although Pauker may not have intended anything like the scale of bloodbath which eventually ensued, there is no escaping the fact that “mission” and “sweep clean” were buzz-words for counterinsurgency and massacre, and as such were used frequently before and during the coup. The first murder order, by military officers to Muslim students in early October, was the word sikat, meaning “sweep,” “clean out,” “wipe out,” or “massacre.”35
Eleven months before the coup, Pauker signaled even more blatantly in a RAND publication to his Indonesian army friends, expressing disappointment for their not “carrying out a control function,” and for lacking “the ruthlessness that made it possible for the Nazis to suppress the Communist Party, a few weeks after the elections in which the Communist Party won five million votes.”36
Such rhetoric in retrospect seems deplorable, even if not actionable under international law. The important point, however, is that I do not see that universities in general have yet emerged from old habits of Cold War thinking. In saying this I am not thinking of particular academics like the late Fouad Ajami, an advocate and defender of the Iraq War, or John Yoo, author of the so-called “Torture memos.” I am thinking primarily of institutions like Harvard’s Harvard Institute for International Development, which continue to devise ways of projecting American economic influence abroad. (A signal example of this was a privatization program in Russia under Yeltsin, which soon became corrupted and led to Justice Department charges, which Harvard and one of its professors settled for $26 million.)37
I raise this issue tentatively, as something for readers to ponder. Universities are part of an invaluable mixture of tradition and scientific inquiry. But because the role of the university is so very important, so also any problems or defects in university culture are also very important.
Peter Dale Scott is a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His latest book is The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. Democracy, published by Rowman & Littlefield. He is also the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War, and American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here.
1 An earlier version of this essay was a talk delivered March 27, 2014, as the F.R. Scott Memorial Lecture at Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, Quebec.
2 T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton,” in T.S. Eliot, Collected Poems, 1909-1962 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991), 176.
3 Peter Dale Scott, Minding the Darkness: a poem for the year 2000 (New York: New Directions, 2000), 137.
4 Chris Hedges, “The Act of Killing.”
5 Peter Dale Scott, Minding the Darkness: a poem for the year 2000 (New York: New Directions, 2000), 212-14; excerpting from Pramoedya Ananta Toer, “My Apologies, in the Name of Experience,” Indonesia, Volume 61 (April 1996), 1-14. I think that the translator merits credit.
6 Bradley R. Simpson, Economists with guns: authoritarian development and U.S.-Indonesian relations, 1960-1968 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008), 189. He quotes Howard Federspiel, the US State Department’s intelligence staffer for Indonesia, as saying, “No one cared, as long as they were Communists, that they were being butchered” (Ibid., citing Federspiel quote in Kathy Kadane, “Ex-Agents Say CIA Compiled Death Lists for Indonesians,” States News Service, May 19, 1990.
7 Bradley Simpson, in Errol Morris, “The Forgotten Mass Killings That Should Have Stopped the Vietnam War.”
8 New York Times, June 19, 1966.
9 Jonah Weiner, “The Weird Genius of ‘The Act of Killing’,” New Yorker Culture Desk, July 16, 2013.
10 Cf. General Bruce Palmer, Jr., The 25-Year War: America’s military role in Vietnam (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1984), 173: “The fact that the United States had committed its power in Vietnam was undoubtedly a major factor in the success of the countercoup.”
11 Errol Morris, “The Murders of Gonzago.”
12 Jussi Hanhimäki, The flawed architect: Henry Kissinger and American foreign policy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 401.
13 For the coup, see e.g. Peter Dale Scott, “The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967,” Pacific Affairs (Vancouver, B.C.) 58.2 (Summer 1985); Benedict R. O’G. Anderson, editor, Violence and the state in Suharto’s Indonesia (Ithaca, NY: Southeast Asia Program Publications, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, 2001); Peter Dale Scott, “Atrocity and its Discontents: U.S. Double-Mindedness About Massacre,” in Adam Jones, ed., Genocide, War Crimes and the West: Ending the Culture of Impunity (London: Zed Press, 2004). Simpson is quite dismissive of myself and other authors who have studied U.S. involvement in the coup itself (as opposed to its consequences), with this passing comment: “American historians in particular have spilled much ink on the question of Washington’s involvement in these events” (Simpson, Economists with Guns, 173; cf. 311n2).
14 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 6.
15 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 8.
16 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 26.
17 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 29.
18 Benedict Anderson, Impunity and Reenactment: Reflections on the 1965 Massacre in Indonesia and its Legacy, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 15, No. 4, April 15, 2013
19 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 149.
20 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 28.
21 Simpson, Economists with Guns, 85.
22 Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11: wealth, empire, and the future of America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), xii-xiv.
23 David Webster, Fire and the Full Moon: Canada and Indonesia in a decolonizing world (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009), 91. Subroto attended McGill on a fellowship from the CIA-funded World University Service (John Simons, the Executive Director of the WUS, was “a full-fledged CIA agent” (Karen M. Paget, “From Cooperation to Covert Action: The United States Government and Students, 1940-1952,” in Helen Laville and Hugh Wilford, eds. The US Government, Citizen Groups and the Cold War: the state-private network [London and New York: Routledge, 2006], 77). The WUS cannot be simply dismissed as no more than a CIA asset: In the 1970s, for example, it helped relocate in other countries numbers of Chilean academics who had fled from the Pinochet regime.
24 Naomi Verbong Roland, “Funding Transatlantic Exchange between the Arts and Politics“, Transatlanitc Perspectives, 12 September 2012 (updated 4 October 2012). Cf. Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (London: Granta Books, 1999), 134-43; Jason Epstein, “The CIA and the Intellectuals“, New York Review of Books, 20 April 1967.
25 Peter Dale Scott, “The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967”; citing former U.S. Military Attaché Willis G. Ethel.
26 Damien Kingsbury, Power Politics and the Indonesian Military (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003), 199.
27 Inderjeet Parmar, Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012). A parallel “McGill Mafia” of religious scholars worked to channel traditional Muslim energy into economic development. McGill graduate Abdul Mukti Ali, who became Suharto’s Minister of Religion, “called on local religious leaders (ulamas) to transform themselves into ‘heavenly technocrats’…. Technocrats trained at the planning bureau and American universities underpinned one part of the New Order’s structure of power; religious scholars trained at McGill’s Institute of Islamic Studies underpinned another” (Webster, Fire and the Full Moon, 160).
28 Parmar, Foundations of the American Century.
29 Wikipedia, “Bob Hasan.”
30 Dhirendra K. Vajpeyi, ed., Deforestation, environment, and sustainable development: a comparative analysis (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001), 10; citing Schwartzman and Kingston, 1997, 27-28.
31 In contrast most of the Indonesianists at Cornell, such as George Kahin, Ben Anderson, and Ruth McVey, adopted a more critical view. As a result these academics became in time increasingly alienated from both Jakarta and Washington.
32 See Juan Gabriel Valdés, Pinochet’s Economists : the Chicago School of Economics in Chile (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).
33 Frank C. Child, “Vietnam—The Eleventh Hour,” The New Republic (December 4, 1961), 14–16. After ensuing protests from Diem the MSU program was shut down in 1962.
34 Peter Dale Scott, “The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967.”
35 Scott, “The United States and the Overthrow of Sukarno, 1965-1967;” citing Guy J. Pauker, “The Role of the Military in Indonesia,” in John H. Johnson, ed., The role of the military in underdeveloped countries (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1962), 221-23.
36 Guy J. Pauker, Communist Prospects in Indonesia (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, November 1964, RM-5753-PR).
37 Janine Wedel, Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe 1989-1998 (New York : Palgrave, 2001) ..
December 17th, 2014 by Rey Ventura
1. Along the coast of Manila Bay in the Philippines, behind the grand Manila Hotel, there is a slum district called Baseco. Hidden by towering container yards and cargo ships, this shantytown had been virtually unknown until a few years ago when a television report broadcast nationwide put a red pin on the map of Manila.
Describing it as “a place where the people of damned souls (mga halang ang kaluluwa) sell their kidneys to survive,” Baseco brought to public attention the scandal of what is essentially a human organ farm.
This vote-rich village—where local and national politicians occasionally paid visits (and often made fantastic promises)—has been quietly providing fresh and healthy organs for moneyed foreign and local patients. Recipients have come from the Middle East, North America, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and most recently, Israel.
Originally the name of a shipping company where most of the men had worked as part-time stevedores, repairmen, and laborers, Baseco is a community of some twenty thousand people living literally on the margins of the sea and society.
2. There is no sign that leads to Baseco. Why should there be? Why would the Manila government waste its resources in drawing attention to a spot better hidden than seen? Nor is there any jeepney or bus on an officially sanctioned route to this place. Indeed, there is no single means of transport that says: “to Baseco” or “Baseco Express.” Baseco, it seems, simply does not exist. For the twenty years I have lived in Manila, I had not heard of Baseco. When I searched for it in December 2000, it took me two days to find it. It was only a thirty-minute drive from my parents’ residence!
3. He is walking on the narrow breakwater under the midday sun. Fire had just ravaged and reduced to coal and ashes a large part of the slums. Periodic fire often broke out here and many believe they had been deliberate and aimed at clearing the area of slum dwellers. Fire, occasionally, has been an absolute tool that the authorities employ when reason and force became inutile. The ruins are still smoldering and many residents are trying to salvage any piece of junk they could use to assemble a mosaic-like dwelling.
Leo is walking on the breakwater half-naked, wearing only a pair of loose basketball short pants. He has wrapped his head with a white towel. At a distance, he looks like just another skinny and undernourished young man living in the slums. But on closer look, after my guide had pointed it out, he bears the trademark of an operado—the foot-long, centipede-like scar on his left side. He had “donated” a healthy kidney! He wears his cut like a badge of honor or a brand of manhood. He was never ashamed of it nor even tried to make it less conspicuous. In fact, he is proud of it. He looks tough and confident.
4. He had “donated” his kidney on 8 June 1996. He was eighteen years old. His recipient was a Japanese man in his mid-twenties. His name, as far as he could remember, was Kusunori. And in gratitude for Leo’s heart of gold, Kusunori had handed him directly peso bills amounting to a hundred thousand pesos. The transplant operation had taken place at the world-class and elite St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City.
Leo’s education went as far as elementary school. He had no knowledge at all about organ transplant, organ donation, and much less about organ harvest. But of course, now that he has only one kidney, he knows a little better. Experience, after all, is the best teacher.
5. In addition, experience has taught him that if ever God would bless him with one more kidney, he would never ever part with it again. Not for any religious or ethical reasons, but for the simple and naked fact that to function as a normal human being, we need two kidneys. Now, he is only thirty-three but he already looks forty-three years old! He is toothless and his left eye is always red. He is skinny and every morning at dawn, especially when it is cold, he feels a stabbing pain in his abdomen. He is supposed to be in the prime of his life, but now he tires easily, just like an old castrated water buffalo. He used to work in the docks. Now, he can only do light errands for a sari-sari store.
6. Leo has lived in Baseco for over twenty years. His family came here when he was eleven. He is the eldest of three children. His father, from the province of Pampanga in central Luzon, was a junk collector and an itinerant vegetable and fruit vendor; his mother, Teresita, from Imelda Marcos’s city of Tacloban in the Visayas, was a laundrywoman. During their early years as squatters, Leo helped his mother do the laundry. His father eventually left them to live with another family. His two brothers sold newspapers and cigarettes in the streets of Divisoria in Manila.
Baseco was still an emerging squatter colony when Leo’s family decided to try their fate in this hidden edge of the city. He and his mother had struggled hard to erect the posts of a hut. Most of the materials were fashioned from bric-a-brac dregs from the city. They roamed the city and sifted garbage to collect materials. His two brothers were left in the streets of Tondo, selling tabloids and Marlboro. His father had the habit of appearing and disappearing like an urban guerilla. At a young age, Leo was already acting as the father to his younger brothers and partner to his mother. He never had a chance to give his affection to a girl; he was forced to take family responsibility at a young age.
7. One day in 1982, a tall, slim Japanese man in his forties known only as Fushimi came to Baseco with his teenage Filipino girlfriend. Fushimi’s young lover, who is from the Visayas like Teresita, had several relatives in Baseco. She introduced her cousins to Fushimi, who then asked her cousins if they would like to volunteer for blood tests. He promised three hundred pesos a day plus transportation expense for each volunteer. Several men instantly agreed. Three hundred pesos, after all, is not a bad idea for generally unemployed men. The blood tests remained blood tests. They did not lead to any further medical procedures.
In 1984, Fushimi came to Baseco again. This time, he was known as Dr. Fushimi, the Japanese doctor. He came with his girlfriend again. This time, a new person joined them. His nickname was Bakla, meaning “homosexual.” He was from the neighboring slum of Balut, Tondo. Fushimi gave Bakla the job of recruiting potential “kidney donors.” Bakla started to recruit in Baseco. Immediately, he found ten able-bodied men. One of them was James.
According to James who is forty-nine years old, Bakla brought the ten of them (now known locally as the Magic Ten) to a hospital in Pasay City. There, they met Fushimi and his girlfriend. The Magic Ten were subjected to thorough medical examinations: blood, urine, stool tests, ECG, CAT, and others. For a week, James and his fellow “hopefuls” were taken to different hospitals in Metro Manila for more tests. Each day, each of them was given a hundred pesos, exclusive of meals and transport expenses. Fushimi had paid all the medical fees.
“Nobody among us knew,” James said, “what the real objects of the tests were until the final day. Those who had passed all the tests satisfactorily were offered one hundred fifty thousand pesos (about US$7,000) for a kidney!”
James, who said he passed all the tests “with flying colors,” backed out at the last moment. A former soldier with a good build at 1.78 meters tall, he could have been an ideal specimen.
“I wanted the one hundred fifty thousand pesos,” he said, “but my mother refused it. ‘We are poor,’ my mother told me, ‘but I don’t want you to exchange for money what God has given you.’” James’s Christian belief prevented him from selling his kidney. At forty-nine, James, a carpenter, is still strong and fit and youthful. In fact, he looks a lot younger than many of the operados.
Kidney donors display their scars
8. James introduced me to Dalmacio, now fifty years old, another member of The Magic Ten. Dalmacio, who once lived in Baseco, is now living in another slum district in Quezon City. James and Dalmacio used to be neighbors until a furious typhoon devastated their dwellings along the breakwater. Dalmacio now lives with his children, stepchildren, and grandchildren.
Dalmacio has had several mild strokes, now stammers, and speaks in a childlike manner. Unlike James, Dalmacio did not pass the medical examinations. Though he wanted very much to sell his kidney, he was not considered a suitable donor. Despite this failure as a “volunteer donor,” he had discovered a scheme to make money. Like Bakla, be became a recruiter, eventually becoming Fushimi’s right-hand man in Baseco. From 1989 to 1999, Dalmacio confessed, he had recruited more than a hundred kidney donors for Fushimi. Most of the recipients of these kidneys, Dalmacio told me, were Japanese, Arabians, Koreans, and rich Filipino-Chinese.
Dalmacio’s first recruits were members of his immediate family. He started with his sons-in-law. Next, his stepsons (children of his wife by her two earlier husbands). Later he expanded to his relatives, neighbors, and friends. It was a double-edged nepotism—immediate family members were the first to benefit and the first to suffer.
The first recipient, he remembered well, was a Japanese patient named Mr. Kubota. The organ came from his son-in-law. The operation in 1989 was conducted at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Hospital. With his first client, Dalmacio had received twelve thousand pesos from Fushimi. “It was the biggest amount I had ever received in a single day,” he said.
And how did he spend his first “commission”?
“I love good clothes,” he said. “When I got the money, immediately I bought some clothes.”
Wearing his new clothes, Dalmacio and his family went to UST Hospital to monitor the progress of the transplantation. The operation was a success.
A day after Mr. Kubota received the new kidney; he raised his hands and said: “I’m already strong, I’m already strong.”
“We were all very happy,” Dalmacio said. “Mr. Kubota was like a member of our family.” They cheered him, told him stories, and cracked jokes with him.
But on the third day after the operation, Mr. Kubota suddenly became weak. And toward evening, he became unconscious. The following day, Mr. Kubota no longer opened his eyes, nor was he able to speak—he died. On the fifth day, Dalmacio and his family kept vigil at Mr. Kubota’s wake. They waited for his family to arrive from Japan.
The recipient of Dalmacio’s first recruit did not survive but his enthusiasm to find more “donors” did not die. For a decade, he scoured every small corner of Baseco and delivered more than a hundred “kidney donors” to Fushimi.
“Almost every month,” he said, “I have a donor. And after every transplant operation, we would have a good time. Fushimi loves young girls. I like brandy and Scotch. Now, I’m broke. No more good times.”
Penniless and partly paralyzed by strokes, he cannot work, nor does he have any savings. He depends on the mercy of his children and stepchildren.
“He is cursed,” James told me. “God had punished him for selling the organs of his fellow men.”
In 2007, he was laid to his final resting place in Bataan where he had moved with his own daughter.
9. Leo’s shanty stands by the sea. It is within spitting distance from the hut of Dalmacio who is better known as “Agent Baboy.” Baboy is always dressed like a politician, his hair heavily pomaded, and a Marlboro perpetually between his thumb and index finger. Every day he could be seen walking between the tiny gaps of houses in search of a potential “donor.” Moreover, there was never a dire shortage of more-than-willing and able-bodied young men wanting “to help” moneyed patients near death or with end-stage renal problems.
Baboy is a sweet talker. He wears his money on his sleeve; his look is money; he smells of money—and he displays it with outrageous flagrancy. He is always wearing brand-new shirts, double gold chains around his neck, and leather shoes. In the quicksand of squalor, shit, and filthy poverty in Baseco, Baboy stands out like a mushroom on cow dung.
Baboy promised Leo an amount if he agreed to “donate” his kidney. It is a figure that to Leo sounded like winning the lottery jackpot. Leo did not think twice. After all, he was not a newbie in selling parts of his body. He “donates” (i.e., sells) his blood.
During this time, Leo’s mother, Teresita, had been going in and out of the Philippine General Hospital—the biggest public hospital in Manila, if not in the country. Her face was bloated and her entire body was swollen. Her neighbors believed she was a victim of witchcraft and there was no use taking her to a hospital. But Leo loved his mother dearly. With the little cash he was earning as a dockworker, he was giving almost everything to her. But each visit to the hospital was a financial struggle. Although the basic consultation fee was free, Teresita could not afford the foreign-brand medicine prescribed. Each treatment was at most consultative in nature. She could not afford a continuous or comprehensive treatment. On her last confinement, her doctor advised her to be admitted lest it would be too late. Leo made the biggest decision in his life—to “donate” his kidney for his mother’s sake.
Nobody in the family knew about his decision. Not his brothers, not his mother. He did not want to aggravate his mother’s suffering. Only he and Baboy knew about the plan.
10. Leo had already “donated” blood several times before, more than a gallon in all. At a blood bank in Santa Cruz, Manila, he and his fellow stevedores had periodically made trips for “blood donation.” Every time he and his friends were out of cash, they would take a trip to a blood bank somewhere in the city. They were like occasional prostitutes; they would do this once every three months just for kicks. So when Baboy asked what his blood type was, he confidently replied: “O.” An “honorarium” of five hundred pesos (five hundred yen) would be given to him for every five hundred cubic centimeters (cc) of blood extracted from him. He had “donated” his blood ten times. After each session, he would always feel weak and dizzy. He would always eat lots of vegetable tops and balut (salted duck’s embryo) to expedite his recovery.
He was not a newbie to making a “blood donation” but he was shocked to know that a kidney too could be “donated.”
11. He wore his treasured pair of imitation Levi’s that he had custom-tailored in an underground shop in Quiapo, Manila. He topped it with an equally brand-new white T-shirt. He had his hair cut like a skinhead. He looked like a skinny high school kid just starting military training.
Instead of going to school, Baboy took him to St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City, Metro Manila to begin his medical philanthropy and missionary work. Agent Baboy delivered an O “donor” to the exclusive hospital. Leo was shocked at the grandness of the facility.
“Napakalaki!” he exclaimed, amazed at the size. “Ang ganda. Aircon lahat ng kuwarto.” He was all praises for the hospital’s air-conditioned rooms and impressive looks.
“Are you sure you really want to ‘donate’ your kidney?” Baboy confirmed one more time as they entered the hospital compound. “There’s no turning back, okay?”
“Lalaki akong kausap mo,” Leo invoked his masculinity as a guarantee of trust. “You are talking to a man.”
They entered through the main entrance of the hospital. Leo was a little a nervous. He had never been in a hospital of the rich and powerful before. Baboy led him to the basement and knocked at a door with a sign that read: Renal Unit. A tall, sensual lady in miniskirt opened it. She was Lady M, the transplant doctor’s secretary. Dr. R, the surgeon—described Leo—was a short, dark, elderly lady with short, black hair; she had a round face and she wore glasses. Upon seeing Leo with Baboy, she fired:“Ano’ng type ka?” She asked Leo’s blood type. “Are you O?”
She did not bother to greet or ask her “donor’s” name. Of course, she was more interested in blood type and kidney. Leo’s name was only incidental. A name, it seemed, was only something you used to distinguish a thing or person from another, a tool to aid the memory or a tool against forgetting.
Even before Leo could respond to the honorable doctor’s interrogation, she had fired another question: “You sometimes sell your blood, don’t you?”
“Opo,” was all he could meekly say to confirm the allegation.
He was surprised to hear the doctor use the word “sell” instead of “donate.” He had wanted to believe, despite the cash he was promised, that what he was doing was an act of altruism and a real help to someone very ill. But the old lady surgeon extinguished that illusion of philanthropy with one swish of her bladed tongue.
“How often do you sell?”
“Every three months, Doctor,” he said honestly.
Baboy must have filled her in about Leo’s visits to blood banks.
On the other hand, as a veteran doctor, she could tell a person’s state of health at a glance.
At the reception, about a dozen patients were waiting. Most of them, Leo thought, were Chinese-Filipinos. Most of them were very pale, their faces deprived of cheerfulness, and there was a lack of luster in their eyes.
Lady M took a sample of Leo’s blood. She extracted 5 cc. The sight of the syringe did not scare him at all. “It felt just like an ant’s bite,” he said. After the first test, Leo and Baboy had lunch at the cafeteria. Leo had a soup dish of vegetables and Baboy had pork adobo. Before they left, Lady M pulled Baboy to one side.
“Find me a Type B,” she whispered. “This is urgent.” Baboy nodded several times. Lady M pulled an envelope from her drawer and counted eight hundred pesos on Baboy’s palms. Baboy then gave Leo three hundred pesos.
12. Three days later, Baboy and Leo returned to St. Luke’s Hospital. Leo was subjected to more blood tests. He was examined for Hepatitis A and B. He had chest X-rays, ECGs (electrocardiography), and MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). After the check-up, Baboy gave him a share of three hundred pesos; again, he pocketed the five hundred pesos. Though his share was a pittance, Leo was content. It was much easier than going to Santa Cruz and “donating” blood. For every test he was subjected to, he would always ask himself: “Can I pass? Can I pass?” He was worried that if he did not pass, his mother would not be able to get medical treatment.
That night, after a battery of tests was administered to him, he wanted to test his strength. He wanted to prove he was healthy and strong. Therefore, he joined a gang of nightshift stevedores. From sunset to sunrise, they unloaded steel bars on the docks. He earned a thousand pesos. At noon, Leo and his fellow stevedores started drinking gin. Baboy joined in the “early celebration.” They drank to their last penny and to the last drop of their glasses until the last seconds of the day. They drank to their hearts’ content.
“If you pass all the tests,” Baboy reminded his recruit, “never forget my ten thousand pesos.”
Leo was promised one hundred thousand pesos. For him it was a fortune. He then promised to give the “first fruit” of his kidney to Baboy.
13. On his third visit to the hospital, Leo went through another series of intensive examinations. His lungs, heart, and kidneys were thoroughly checked.
The fourth time, he was tissue-typed. How compatible his tissues would be with his yet-unknown recipient was examined minutely. All this time, Baboy was always with him and they always went back home together. But after this check-up, he suddenly bade him goodbye.
“I have to go and find more money,” he said, grinning like a politician confident of winning the elections. “This one is already done.” He gave Leo a thumbs-up sign. Leo did not know what the gesture meant at that time. He followed Baboy to another room.
A young man in his mid-twenties was seated in a chair. He was short, fair-skinned, skinny, with his long hair swept back. He was wearing a white short-sleeved shirt. He looked so pale, and very yellow, Leo said. Standing beside him was a tall elderly man who looked just like him. He was the father. But he looked sad and deeply worried. Not far from the father was Lady M, smiling seductively and quite triumphantly.
Baboy gave the father and son a thumbs-up sign and another one to Lady M. Leo was bewildered. What were they thumbs-upping for, he thought. What were they agreeing about? Why couldn’t they say them in words? Why were they talking in gestures?
Lady M spoke in English.
“Kusunori-san, this is Leo, your donor.”
The young man stood up, shook hands with Leo, and gave Leo a friendly thumbs-up. His hand was so smooth and soft, Leo felt. Leo returned his thumbs-up gesture. Only then did he realize he had passed all the tests. He felt a surge of joy and fear. He took comfort in the thought that hundreds of Baseco men had already done the same and they had survived.
He thought he would be giving his kidney to a Filipino patient. Baboy never told him a single word about his would-be recipient. It never occurred to him he would be “donating” his young kidney to an equally young foreign man, to a Japanese.
It was already seven in the evening and Leo wanted to go home.
“Dito ka na lang,” Lady M said asking him to stay in the hospital and not to go home anymore.“Huwag ka nang umuwi.”
Lady M wanted to be absolutely certain Leo would not chicken out at the last minute. Leo could not resist the bewitching seduction of Lady M. He was admitted, to be precise, seduced to be admitted. In the past, some prospective “donors” had escaped at the last minute before the transplantation. But Leo was dead-set. His mother was the raison d’etre of everything and Leo was ready to give away his kidney.
14. Leo was given a room. It had a TV set with access to SkyCable, a refrigerator, a phone, a stereo set, and air conditioning. It had everything— the dream of a Filipino family. It was a dream room. However, it was a room with its walls painted in blinding white and did not have a single window for you to even get a glimpse of the gray sky. It felt like a prison, Leo said, a fancy prison. It was the first time ever in his life to stay in such a different and so alien a world and to taste such luxury.
He watched pro-wrestling all night on cable television. The stereo was also at full volume. There was so much food: fried chicken, fried fish, vegetables, bananas, sweets, and bread. Room service was also available.
On the third day, his younger brother and a cousin came to see him. Baboy had asked them to keep him company while he was being confined. These two men were also recruits of Baboy but Leo dissuaded both of them. “One among us is enough,” he said. Leo asked his younger brother especially not to proceed with his plans. At night, they would sneak out of the hospital and buy a few bottles of beer. “It was like staying in a hotel,” he said. “And everything was free. I was like a congressman!” But this sweet life lasted only four days.
Because on the fifth day, at six in the morning, a male doctor came to his room and ordered him to take a white tablet. He took it without asking whether it was poison or a miracle drug. He immediately felt sleepy. He got scared. He felt dizzy and his vision became hazy. He was laid on an operating table and his hands and feet were restrained as though he was going to be electrocuted. “I couldn’t move. I couldn’t shout. I couldn’t protest,” he said.
“Swallow your saliva,” the doctor ordered him and he made him turn on one side.
Leo saw a three-inch long syringe—the longest needle he had ever seen. The shot felt as though he was being nailed to the cross, he said. After the injection, complete darkness descended on him. He lost his entire consciousness.
“I died at that moment,” he said. He went under the knives, scalpels, forceps, scissors, and needles. A foot-long cut was carved on his right side. A huge window was surgically opened and his young bean-shaped organ was plucked or “harvested,” as transplant surgeons would say.
When they wheeled him to the operating room, Leo was already unconscious. He could not know if Kusunori, his recipient, was in the same “operating theater” as he was or if he was in a separate room. The operation took six hours.
Leo regained consciousness at noon the next day. Lights, blinding as the naked sun, surrounded him. He opened his eyes. He felt a distinct and excruciating pain in his back. He touched it—it was wrapped in bandage. He felt as though his body had been halved. He was surrounded by men and women in green robes wearing masks and caps.
“Akala mo pinaligiran ako ng mga aliens. Nakatingin sila lahat sa akin,” he said. It was a surreal scene, he said. It felt as though aliens had surrounded him and were staring at him in wonder.
“Para akong binangungot,” he said. It seemed he woke up from a nightmare.
Writhing in pain and minus a kidney, he was wheeled back to his room like a losing rooster in a cockfight. He was not applauded or congratulated for successfully “donating” an organ. Nobody said anything to him. Nobody said “thank you.” His value was already used up.
In his room, he started to contemplate what had become of his body. He could not turn his back to one side for the sheer agony of it.
“Wala na ang isang bato ko.” He rued his absent kidney. “Ano kaya ang mangyayari sa akin?” What might happen to me, he wondered.
He was very sleepy the whole day. He was amazed at the potency of the liquid injected in him.“Hayop sa tapang,” he said.
The following day, Lady M brought a new lady into his room. The equally voluptuous woman introduced herself as Joy and said she was a friend of Kusunori. She was tall, “very white,” adorned with rings, a watch, a gold bracelet, a thick gold chain around her neck, and she was wearing very, very tight-fit Levis jeans.
“Salamat,” she thanked him. “Binigyan mo ng buhay ang kaibigan ko.” She expressed gratitude for “giving life to her friend.”
From her shiny black bag, she took out a manila envelope. Before Leo’s unbelieving eyes, she took out its contents: two bundles of five hundred-peso notes. She handed them to him as though she was a First Lady distributing dole outs to her indigent constituents. Leo received them with joy.
“Gagaling na Nanay ko,” he whispered to himself. With this money, he thought, his mother would get well soon. He asked his brother to keep the brown envelope.
Joy came to see Leo not only once but almost every day during his post-surgical confinement. She was grateful and her gratitude was a little touching.
“Lagi siyang nagpapasalamat. Pasalamat nang pasalamat. Ako na nga ang nahihiya,” he said. She was always saying thank you. It was making him feel embarrassed.
A day after the transplant, Baboy came to visit. Entering the room he went straight to the refrigerator. He ransacked all the leftover food: oranges, apples, chicken, bread, ice cream, and beer.
“So,” Baboy finally asked him after satisfying his hunger, “how are you?”
“I am now one kidney less,” Leo replied. “Why are you here?”
“I just brought a Type B,” he replied matter-of-factly. “Give me my ten now.”
Over his still heavily sedated body, Leo’s brother counted twenty yellow Ninoy Aquino notes. Baboy collected them as though he was collecting takings from a poker game at a wake in Baseco. He then left abruptly.
Leo stayed seven days in the hospital after the operation. Each day, nurses and doctors took turns coming to check his condition. And each day seemed as long as a year. He was dying to escape from his air-conditioned room so he could immediately take his mother to the Philippine General Hospital for treatment.
On the third day after the operation, he asked his older brother and cousin to go out and buy some gin. Of course, he was forbidden to drink while his wound was still raw and fresh. But as with life in Baseco, everyday was an exercise of ingenuity and wit. Every day created by God was a struggle to outwit and outsmart the powerful and the privileged. So, each time his brother and cousin went out and came back to the hospital, the guard would always query and check what they were bringing in. And they would always show two bottles of clear mineral water. Two bottles of gin in bottles of eau de mineral—the poor shotgun-armed guard would never have imagined that touch of genius, not in his wildest dream.
Years later, each time Leo and his fellow “donors” would gather for a drink, this particular episode would be a great source of laughter, and endless variations would be created by each operado on the same theme. To live despite oppression, exploitation, and agony and still come out with a good story, it seemed, made life more bearable for many of the operados in Baseco.
Leo was a man of very few words. Unless spoken to, he would not initiate a conversation or approach and talk to you. Every time his group would gather and have a drink, he would always act as the tanggero—the toaster, the giver of drinks. He would offer each person seated in the circle a swig and would quietly keep the flow of gin and lime going on smoothly. He was also the youngest.
15. Three days after the transplantation, he was dying of thirst for gin. He, his brother, and a cousin decided to have an early celebration. They filled their glasses to the brim. They toasted the very “cooperative” security guard.
Although still very weak and in pain, he had pretended to his doctors that he was already well. Wearing only an undershirt and a pair of short pants and looking thin as a tingting (mid-ribs of coconut leaves), he requested a discharge. Though reluctant, the attending physicians granted his request. Together with his brother and a cousin, they took a taxi—a very rare thing for him. The cab driver was a little suspicious—they did not look like they could afford treatment at the most expensive hospital in the archipelago. Moreover, when they mentioned “Baseco” as their destination, the driver got scared. He said he could not take them there because he was headed the opposite way, bound for the garage. Leo’s brother then offered a bribe: five hundred pesos—four times the average fare. The once-terrified taxi driver became more courageous at the thought of becoming a few hundred pesos richer, so he stepped on the accelerator. He drove his “suspicious-looking” passengers to the shores of Manila Bay, just beside the derelict and stinking shipyard. From there, the three hired an outrigger ingeniously powered by a septuagenarian generator that had been salvaged from a junk shop.
16. They reached the end of the breakwater. Leo walked slowly on the narrow path like a survivor of a shipwreck. He appeared like a newly circumcised schoolboy treading carefully, avoiding contact with his own clothes and passersby lest they hit his fresh wound.
He arrived at their precarious hut. His mother was lying in bed. Her body was still swollen all over. Her face, arms, and legs were bloated and pale. His mother asked him where he had been. He said: “St. Luke’s.” The name was sufficient for her to know where her son had been and what had happened to him. In Baseco, the name is synonymous with “kidney donation.”
“You shouldn’t have done it,” she said with a tone of anger and sadness. “I won’t be here long.”
Putting on a brave face to avoid showing any hint of sadness, Leo asked an aunt to take his mother to PGH the next day. Teresita, for the first time after her long lingering illness, was given a thorough medical check-up. She was also able to buy all the medicine prescribed to her. She spent about two thousand pesos. But a week later, her situation did not improve. She went back to the government hospital again, was examined again, and some drug was prescribed again. She spent another two thousand pesos. She went for the third and fourth time. Nevertheless, her condition was fast deteriorating. The fifth time, Teresita refused to seek any further medical help. She refused to get up from bed. “My time is coming,” she said.
On a stormy roaring night, Teresita bade goodbye to Baseco and to her children. She was only thirty-eight years old. For her funeral, Leo spent twenty-five thousand pesos. The rest of his money he had used up to buy a television set, a karaoke set, battery for power generation, six pairs of Levi’s style tailor-made jeans, and four T-shirts. He had also bought materials for house repair. With the remaining twenty thousand pesos, he started a business—buying and selling fish. Stevedore that he was and not a vendor or fisherman, his maiden business venture ended up like driftwood on the shore after a typhoon. Furious winds blew away the newly roofed and walled hut. Raging fire the following summer finished off the remnants of it.
17. The slum village of Baseco faces west. On a clear day, the sunset in Manila Bay is one of the finest in the world. It seems the setting sun here is twice the size in diameter—its glow the most passionate on earth, its hue the most intense—the sky burning, the city of Manila the luckiest, and Baseco the most beautiful place on earth.
Baseco children at play
I’m having a drink with a group of operados. We are right along Baseco Beach—a long stretch of rubbish-strewn, industrial dregs-contaminated, dog and human waste-scattered along the shore. I’m watching Leo mix the last tall and fat pair of gin and lime that I had bought as a present for them. After taking the lids off, he let the Gilbey’s stand on a flat surface and secured it. In a fraction of a second, he fastens the lip of the lime to the lip of the Gilbey’s. The two bottles are welded together in a tight and amorous kiss. After several minutes, gin and lime—like natural lovers—blend and dissolve into one harmonious and potent drink. Leo hands me the first shot in a glass of Nescafe. It’s an honor to have the first swig. Careful not to disappoint them, I drink it bottoms up.
Fifteen years after he had “donated” his young kidney to a Japanese young man named Kusunori, Leo is still alive despite having only one kidney. But he now has long hair, eyes that are always red, a missing set of dentures, and a tattoo of a rose on his left arm (with black leaves and stalks and red petals). His ubiquitous trademark—a foot-long incision on his left side—is a lifetime reminder of that excruciating but memorable day. He remains single and always passes the night on a wooden bench in front of a sari-sari store.
“Kumusta na kaya ang bato ko?” he says as he hands me another shot when my turn comes. He wonders what became of the “stone” he had “donated.” Is it still functioning? And how is Kusunori? Is he still alive?
I have read, I say, that five years is the longest lifespan of a transplanted organ.
“So probably,” he says, “my kidney’s twin is gone.”
“Maybe. Maybe not.”
The sky is smoldering in orange and red. The Manila Bay sunset from Baseco beach is at its best. We all stand up as if it is a countdown.
Leo is standing beside me. His naked torso has become golden. Emboldened by the spirit of gin and lime, he waxes lyrical: “This is my life—always waiting for the sunset here every day. I pass the time watching the ships, fishermen, and stevedores. As for my living, I can’t be a dockworker anymore. I get tired easily. I must take care of my one remaining kidney. The setting sun is always pretty but it makes me lonely. My life is sunrise and sunset. It’s the same every day.”
Brave man, you are, I say. Good man.
This article is adapted from Rey Ventura, Cherry Blossoms in the Time of Earthquakes and Tsunami, published earlier this year by Ateneo de Manila Press.
Writer, filmmaker Rey Ventura is the author of Underground in Japan (1992) and a sequel, Into the Country of Standing Men (2007). His film “Dekasegi” (Migrant Workers, 1989) debuted at the Yamagata International Film Festival. His work has profiled life at the margins in the Philippines and Japan.
December 17th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman
As this is written, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude down to below $56 a barrel. Brent at $61. From a high of $115 in January.
Heading for $40 or lower, some analysts believe. Shaking market stability. Reflecting global economic weakness.
Market manipulation. Saudi overproduction a big contributor. Protecting its market share. Targeting US shale oil production.
Hitting Russia hard. Per secret agreement between John Kerry and Saudi King Abdullah.
Washington wanting Moscow’s economy to scream. Urging other nations cut economic ties.
Abdullah likely angry about Putin declining a major 2013 arms purchase. Worth around $15 billion. Other generous investments.
Plus a pledge not to challenge Russian gas sales. In return for scaling back support for Assad. At the time, an unnamed Arab diplomat said Putin listened politely.
Expressed no interest. Said Moscow geopolitics remain unchanged. More on Russia below.
America now the world’s largest oil and liquid natural gas producer. Around 11 million barrels daily. Overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Low oil prices hit shale producers hard. According to Zero Hedge, at current prices, only four of 18 shale regions remain economically viable. Maybe none if prices keep falling. As many expect.
Compounded by reduced shale oil well output. Forcing producers to drill deeper. At higher cost. For diminishing returns.
Unless more wells are tapped to maintain output. Affecting an industry producing over half of US oil.
Struggling to keep production up. Increasingly tough with less or unavailable financing. Because of falling prices.
Junk bonds financed America’s shale boom. Producing a $550 billion mania, according to Zero Hedge.
Expecting this one to end badly. All bubbles pop. “Anything that becomes a mania ends badly,” warned a bond manager.
Bloomberg warned about the danger of stimulus-induced bubbles. Playing out in energy company debt. High-yield spreads near 1,000bps.
An investment boom created by artificially sustained rock-bottom interest rates. Plunging oil prices may cause massive high-yield defaults.
CreditSights predicts around 8% in 2015. Double this year’s rate. Moody’s Investors Service found corporate debt investor protections at an all-time low.
With average junk bond yields lower than investment-grade bonds before credit crisis conditions hit. Since mid-year, energy companies’ borrowing costs skyrocketed.
Compared to the past five years. Companies rated B or lower are “virtually shut out of the market,” according to CreditSights oil and gas analyst Brian Gibbons.
They’re forced to “rely on a combination of asset sales” to raise cash. Moody’s Analytics economist Chris Lafakis called multiple Fed bond buying rounds “a gift to small companies in the capital-intensive energy industry that needed cheap borrowing costs to thrive.”
Quantitative easing “has been one of the keys to the fast, breakneck pace of the growth in US oil production which requires abundant capital.”
Blowback is here. Distortions affect multiple markets. Center for Financial Stability president Lawrence Goodman says conditions are “like a Whac-A-Mole game.”
“You don’t know where (trouble will) pop up next.”
Magnum Hunter Resources CEO Gary Evans says “(o)il companies that have high funding costs in the Eagle Ford and the Bakken shale plays are the ones that are most exposed right now due to lower crude prices.”
He expects other at-risk energy borrowers to be squeezed next March or April.
“(W)hen banks re-calculate how much they may borrow under their credit lines based on the value of their oil reserves.”
Deutsche Bank analysts estimate around a third of companies rated B or CCC may be unable to meet their debt obligations.
If oil prices drop to $55 or lower. In other words, bottom line reality is much uglier than deceptive claims about economically beneficial low oil prices.
WTI below $60 a barrel sustained long enough risks pushing the entire high-yield sector into trouble.
A possible widespread default rate, according to Deutsche Bank analysts. A shock this great could trigger broader high-yield defaults.
High-yield JP Morgan Chase analyst Tarek Hamid thinks up to 40% of energy junk bonds will default at $65 a barrel oil sustained for around three years.
Energy companies currently comprise the fastest-growing high-yield bond market segment.
In recent years, around 18%. Double their 2009 market share. Even if at-risk companies cut costs. Sell assets to raise cash. Up to 25% of HY energy bonds could default. A scenario Hamid calls “very dire.”
The Financial Times reported investors fleeing US junk bond debt. “(A) sell-off that started in low-rated energy bonds last month has now spread to the broad corporate debt market amid fears of a spike in default rates.”
Plunging oil prices hit Russia hard. On December 16, RT International reported record low ruble prices. Falling 20% in a day.
Facing intense selling pressure. Tuesday afternoon trading at 72 per dollar. Modestly better than 78.5 per dollar hours earlier. About 100 per euro.
The ruble down over 60% from January valuations. Tuesday’s slide came despite Russia’s central bank hiking rates from 10.5 – 17%.
An astonishing same-day increase. Trying to aid ruble valuations positively. By higher returns. Compared to virtually nothing holding dollars.
Russia’s stock market “went haywire,” said RT. Down 15% at 2:30PM Moscow time. Down 11% Monday.
Russia’s central bank chairwoman Elvira Nabiullin said:
“We must learn to live in a new reality, to focus more on our own resources to finance projects and give import substitution a chance.”
Citing weak oil prices. Less access to Western capital markets. Because of sanctions.
Nabiullina said Russia’s central bank has special tools. Able to aid internal development.
Finance investment projects. Including small and medium-sized business and commodity exporters.
Her worst case scenario: Negative 4.5% Q I growth. Recession.
According to Sberbank CIB analyst Vladimir Pantyushin:
“If anything there will be support, not stimulus for banks. It is a priority of the Central Bank to maintain and stabilize this sector.”
He doesn’t see Russia defaulting. Like 2008. Its robust budget can withstand hard times.
Russia’s currency reserves stand at $415 billion. Compared to $15 billion in 1998.
In 2014, Moscow spent $80 billion defending the ruble. Before announcing it would float freely.
Oil drives things. A combination of oversupply. Market manipulation. Global economic weakness. Especially commodity prices. Key industrial activity indicators.
According to RBC Capital Markets analyst Robert Sluymer:
“Oil is a hugely traded financial asset. It links through the financial system and as it breaks down it becomes a huge tipping point.”
It’s hard knowing for sure what’s next. Doing so isn’t simple. Hindsight the best foresight.
Proving only Cassandra was good at calling market tops and bottoms. Mere mortals often try and fail.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/
December 17th, 2014 by Alternet
In the wake of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report, released last week, 51% of respondents said that they think the CIA was justified using the methods in question, which included water boarding, rectal feeding, and sleep deprivation.
Only 29% of Americans said that torture was not justified. Another 20% said they did not have an opinion. The survey of 1,001 adult Americans was conducted December 11-14.
Despite the Senate report, which said torture provided no actionable intelligence that couldn’t be found elsewhere, poll respondents disagreed; 56% of them said that torture did provide intelligence that prevented terrorist attacks. Only 28% concurred with the intelligence committee report that torture didn’t provide this type of intelligence.
Respondents were almost evenly split on whether the Senate Intelligence Committee should have released the report. Forty-three percent said that the decision was not justified, while 42% said it was the right thing to do.Republicans were much more likely to approve of the CIA’s use of torture, with more than two thirds saying that it was justified. Democrats could not agree on this issue, while 46% said that the CIA’s methods were wrong, 37% said that they were justifiable.
Most white Americans (57%) found the CIA’s methods justified, while blacks and Hispanics were more divided. Younger respondents (under 30) were less likely to say the CIA’s methods were justified than those over 50 years of age. Men were more supportive of torture than were women.
However, the public didn’t seem to pay much interest in the matter. While it was one of the most reported news stories of the week, just 23% of respondents said that they followed news about the torture report closely. By contrast, 35% said that they were paying close attention to the demonstrations around the country in the wake of two grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men.
Most Americans are fine with the CIA’s torture methods used in the wake of 9/11, according to a new poll conducted by Pew Research.
December 17th, 2014 by Andrew Korybko
The latest anti-Russian bill to come out of Washington does a lot more than simply arm Ukraine, although that’s destabilizing enough as it is. Contained within the Act are powerful provisions that expand NATO’s influence in Russia’s backyard and continue the War on Syria.
The Ukrainian Freedom Support Act (UFSA) is essentially the actionable successor to the recently passed House Resolution 758, which itself has been referred to as the declaration of the New Cold War. It’s exceptionally noteworthy for fulfilling John McCain’s threat to arm Ukraine, but it’s the other decrees within it that have gone unnoticed by the mainstream media, although they’re just as troubling, if not more so. And unsurprisingly, Congress somehow found a way to group its War on Syria into the UFSA, showing that it truly exploits any opportunity to push through its agenda of regime change there even if it has absolutely nothing to do with the bill at hand.
The Three Amigos
The UFSA is just as much about Moldova and Georgia as it is about Ukraine, as all three countries are collectively grouped together except for when it comes to assisting with internally displaced persons. For example, when it comes to ‘the three amigos’, UFSA says that sanctions will be imposed if:
- Russia (or any actor affiliated with it) sends “defense articles” to those countries without the consent of its government’
- And Russia “withholds significant natural gas supplies from countries such as Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova” and NATO members.
And that the three are to be ‘rewarded’ with:
- Major non-NATO ally status (which allows them to purchase weapons only reserved for NATO allies);
- And a prioritized information campaign run by Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, where these countries are given a greater focus than the other former Soviet states.
Putting it all together, it is clear that the US has strategically incorporated Moldova and Georgia into its legislation about Ukraine, providing proof that it is Washington and not Moscow which is ‘widening the battlefield’ of the New Cold War. This isn’t the first time either, as all the amigos were first lumped together in May when the so-called Russian Aggression Prevention Act of 2014 was unveiled, which served as the predecessor of House Resolution 758.
The reasoning for this is rather simple, actually. The US wants to coordinate its push against the former Soviet periphery and is pulling out all the stops along the way. The primary objective is NATO expansion all the way to the Russian border, as well as the destabilization of Russian interests in or near these countries. Russia has a military base in the de-facto independent Transnistrian region of Moldova, while the historic reunification of Crimea and Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia’s independence from Georgia are well known. It is these precise interests and territories that the US wants to threaten with the Act.
The Big Tent
Another observation that’s lost on the mainstream media is that the Act creates a ‘big tent’ of American interests in Eurasia. When addressing the non-consented transfer of Russian defense articles to “specified countries”, other than the three amigos, it describes these as being “any other country of significant concern for purposes of this Act, such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and the Central Asia republics.” It’s obvious that the US would place its NATO allies under this designation, but to spread the umbrella over the Central Asian republics is a strategy that has more to it than originally meets the eye.
Russia in no way supports separatism in Central Asia, and aside from neutral Turkmenistan, it actually has constructive military and anti-terror relations with all of the regional states as a result of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). This group has explicitly stated its opposition to terrorism, separatism, and extremism, and all of its members are now watching the violent situation in Afghanistan with the trepidation that it may move northward next year.
Within this context, the US is sending smoke signals to those governments that it is open for cooperating with them, but with the implicit understanding that they have to abandon their alliance with Russia and accuse it of the fantasy-driven treachery of arming separatist groups. The purpose here is to expand the reach of NATO’s 12,000 or so troops that will stay behind in Afghanistan and use them to push Russian influence (no matter how beneficial to anti-terrorist operations and regional stability) out of Central Asia.
Slick Talking About Syria
Congress understood that the current anti-Russian climate meant that the UFSA was surely bound to pass, so it added a completely irrelevant clause relating to Syria in order to strengthen the war effort against it. Specifically, the Act mandates that sanctions be imposed against any Russian company or related individual that sells defense articles to Syria. This is the complete opposite standard that it is applying to the ‘big tent’ countries. Congress says that Russia can’t
As we’ve already become accustomed to, the rebels have been armed by the US.
transfer such units to the ‘big tent’ without the consent of their governments, but such transfers are prohibited to Syria when its government consents to it.
So what’s going on here?
The US and its allies don’t recognize the legitimacy of the Syrian government, despite President Assad having been democratically re-elected with 88.7% of the vote back in June, and the fact that they support regime change within the country. They’d rather give weapons to the insurgents fighting to overthrow the government (even if such arms sometimes end up in the hands of terrorists) than approve of Russia’s continued support for the government’s anti-terrorist war. The Syrian Arab Army is once more on the upswing (backed by Russian support), so it’s not coincidental that such a provision was made at this time. Nonetheless, such bullying by the US will never result in Russia abandoning its support for Syria, especially at this critical time, and should be seen as nothing more than the naked intimidation tactic that it is.
Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow.
December 17th, 2014 by Anthony Bellchambers
There is an ever-increasing dichotomy between the Zionist military leaders of the Likud government in Israel and the brilliant talent of Jewish American and British television and film professionals; world-acclaimed stars, directors, composers, musicians and producers. On the one hand, there are those who consistently create versus those who tragically destroy.
The wealth of talent in the entertainment field – such as Mike Nichols, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lisa Kudrow, Paul Simon, Daniel Day-Lewis, Art Garfunkel, Helena Bonham Carter, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Douglas, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Jessica Parker, David Baddiel, Harrison Ford, Daniel Barenboim, Mila Kunis, Steven Spielberg, Billy Crystal, Simon Cowell and so many others in the West, set against the violent policies of power-hungry politicians like Binyamin Netanyahu – is without parallel in the modern world within a group of people born to the same faith but who are as different as water is to wine.
Here we have those who ‘build-up’ against those who ‘tear-down’: those who show respect for human and civil rights and those who deny those rights. It is a dichotomy that itself is denied by one side but confirmed by the other – an ideology that now poses a very specific threat to global peace.
Likud Zionism is a secular political movement that flies in the face of Judaism and human and civil rights. It should be condemned by all who value justice and freedom.
December 17th, 2014 by Ernst Wolff
The following text is the forward to Ernst Wolff’s book entitled : Pillaging the World. The History and Politics of the IMF, © Tectum Verlag Marburg, 2014, ISBN 978-3-8288-3438-5, www.tectum-verlag.de. The book is available in English and German
No other financial organization has affected the lives of the majority of the world’s population more profoundly over the past fifty years than the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Since its inception after World War II, it has expanded its sphere of influence to the remotest corners of the earth. Its membership currently includes 188 countries on five continents.
For decades, the IMF has been active mainly in Africa, Asia and South America. There is hardly a country on these continents where its policies have not been carried out in close cooperation with the respective national governments. When the global financial crisis broke out in 2007, the IMF turned its attention to northern Europe. Since the onset of the Euro crisis in 2009, its primary focus has shifted to southern Europe.
Officially, the IMF’s main task consists in stabilizing the global financial system and helping out troubled countries in times of crisis. In reality, its operations are more reminiscent of warring armies. Wherever it intervenes, it undermines the sovereignty of states by forcing them to implement measures that are rejected by the majority of the population, thus leaving behind a broad trail of economic and social devastation.
In pursuing its objectives, the IMF never resorts to the use of weapons or soldiers. It simply applies the mechanisms of capitalism, specifically those of credit. Its strategy is as simple as it is effective: When a country runs into financial difficulties, the IMF steps in and provides support in the form of loans. In return, it demands the enforcement of measures that serve to ensure the country’s solvency in order to enable it to repay these loans.
Because of its global status as “lender of last resort” governments usually have no choice but to accept the IMF’s offer and submit to its terms – thus getting caught in a web of debt, which they, as a result of interest, compound interest and principal, get deeper and deeper entangled in. The resulting strain on the state budget and the domestic economy inevitably leads to a deterioration of their financial situation, which the IMF in turn uses as a pretext for demanding ever new concessions in the form of “austerity programs”.
The consequences are disastrous for the ordinary people of the countries affected (which are mostly low-income) because their governments all follow the same pattern, passing the effects of austerity on to wage earners and the poor.
In this manner, IMF programs have cost millions of people their jobs, denied them access to adequate health care, functioning educational systems and decent housing. They have rendered their food unaffordable, increased homelessness, robbed old people of the fruits of life-long work, favored the spread of diseases, reduced life expectancy and increased infant mortality.
At the other end of the social scale, however, the policies of the IMF have helped a tiny layer of ultra-rich increase their vast fortunes even in times of crisis. Its measures have contributed decisively to the fact that global inequality has assumed historically unprecedented levels. The income difference between a sun king and a beggar at the end of the Middle Ages pales compared to the difference between a hedge fund manager and a social welfare recipient of today.
Although these facts are universally known and hundreds of thousands have protested the effects of its measures in past decades, often risking their lives, the IMF tenaciously clings on to its strategy. Despite all criticism and despite the strikingly detrimental consequences of its actions, it still enjoys the unconditional support of the governments of all leading industrial nations.
Why? How can it be that an organization that causes such immense human suffering around the globe continues to act with impunity and with the backing of the most powerful forces of our time? In whose interest does the IMF work? Who benefits from its actions?
It is the purpose of this book to answer these questions.
The Bretton Woods Conference:
Starting out with Blackmail
While the Second World War was still raging in Europe, in July 1944, the United States invited delegations from 44 countries to the small ski resort of Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. The official aim of the conference, held for three weeks in the luxurious “Mount Washington” hotel, was to define the basic features of an economic order for the post-war period and to provide the cornerstones of a system that would stabilize the world economy and prevent a return to the situation that had existed between the two world wars. The 1930s in particular were distinguished by high inflation, trade barriers, strongly fluctuating exchange rates, gold shortages and a decline in economic activity by more than 60 %. Furthermore, social tensions had constantly threatened to break down the established order.
The conference had been preceded by several years of secret negotiations between the White House and Downing Street which had already been working on plans for a new world monetary order since 1940. A recorded comment from the head of the British delegation, the economist Lord Keynes, sheds light on the former elite’s attitude towards the interests and concerns of smaller countries: “Twenty-one countries have been invited which clearly have nothing to contribute and will merely encumber the ground… The most monstrous monkey-house assembled for years.”
It did not take long before their contemptuous attitude rebounded on Lord Keynes and his compatriots. During the course of the conference, it became increasingly clear how much the global balance of power had shifted to the disadvantage of Great Britain. Excessive war spending had turned the country, already severely weakened by the First World War, into the world’s biggest debtor and pushed it to the brink of insolvency. Great Britain’s economy was on its knees and the rise of the liberation movements around the world already heralded the final breakup of its once global colonial empire.
The undisputed victor of the Second World War, however, was the United States. Having become the largest international creditor, it held nearly two-thirds of the world’s gold reserves and commanded half of all global industrial production. In contrast to most European countries its infrastructure was intact and while its delegation engaged in negotiations at Bretton Woods, the US army’s general staff planned a nuclear assault on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to emphasize America’s claim to global dominion.
As a result of this new balance of power, Lord Keynes’ plan for a new economic order was flatly rejected. Representing a country with substantial balance of payments problems, he had proposed an “international payments union” that would have given countries suffering from a negative balance of payments easier access to loans and introduced an international accounting unit called “Bancor” which would have served as a reserve currency.
The US, however, was unwilling to take on the role of a major creditor that Keynes’ plan had foreseen for it. The leader of their delegation, economist Harry Dexter White, in turn presented his own plan that was finally adopted by the conference. This “White Plan” conceptualized a world currency system never before seen in the history of money. The US dollar was to constitute its sole center and was to be pegged to all other currencies at a fixed exchange rate while its exchange relation to gold was to be set at $ 35 per ounce of fine gold. The plan was supplemented by US demands for the establishment of several international organizations designed to monitor the new system and stabilize it by granting loans to countries facing balance of payments problems.
After all, Washington, due to its size and rapid economic growth, had to move ahead in order to obtain access to raw materials and create global sales opportunities for its overproduction. This required replacing the hitherto most widely used currency, the British pound, by the dollar. Also, time seemed ripe for replacing the City of London by Wall Street, thus establishing the US in its new position as the focal point of international trade and global finance.
The gold-dollar peg and the establishment of fixed exchange rates partially reintroduced the gold standard, which had existed between 1870 and the outbreak of World War I – albeit under very different circumstances. By fixing all exchange rates to the US dollar, Washington deprived all other participating countries of the right to control their own monetary policy for the protection of their domestic industries – a first step towards curtailing the sovereignty of the rest of the world by the now dominant United States.
The distribution of voting rights suggested by the US for the proposed organizations was also far from democratic. Member countries were not to be treated equally or assigned voting rights according to the size of their population, but rather corresponding to the contributions they paid – which meant that Washington, by means of its financial superiority, secured itself absolute control over all decisions. The fact that South Africa’s racist apartheid dictatorship was invited to become a founding member of the IMF sheds a revealing light on the role that humanitarian considerations played in the process.
The US government sensed that it would not be easy to win over public opinion for a project so obviously in contradiction with the spirit of the US constitution and many Americans’ understanding of democracy. The true goals of the IMF were therefore obfuscated with great effort and glossed over by empty rhetoric about “free trade” and the “abolition of protectionism”. The New York Herald-Tribune spoke of the “most high-powered propaganda campaign in the history of the country.”
The IMF’s first task was to scrutinize all member states in order to determine their respective contribution rates. After all, the Fund was to exert a long-term “monitoring” function for the system’s protection. The US thus claimed for itself the right to be permanently informed about the financial and economic conditions of all countries involved.
When half a year after the conference the British insisted on an improvement in their favor to the contracts, they were unambiguously made aware of who was in charge of the IMF. Without further ado Washington tied a loan of $ 3.75 billion, urgently needed by the U.K. to repay its war debts, to the condition that Great Britain submit to the terms of the agreement without any ifs, ands, or buts. Less than two weeks later Downing Street gave in to Washington’s blackmail and consented.
On December 27, 1945, 29 governments signed the final agreement. In January 1946, representatives of 34 nations came together for an introductory meeting of the Board of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank in Savannah, Georgia. On this occasion, Lord Keynes and his compatriots were once again left empty-handed: Contrary to their proposal to establish the headquarters of the IMF, which had in the meantime been declared a specialized agency of the United Nations, in New York City, the US government insisted on its right to determine the location solely by itself. On March 1, 1947, the IMF finally took up its operations in downtown Washington.
The rules for membership in the IMF were simple: Applicant countries had to open their books and were rigorously screened and assessed. After that they had to deposit a certain amount of gold and pay their financial contribution to the organization according to their economic power. In return, they were assured that in the case of balance of payments problems they were entitled to a credit up to the extent of their contribution – in exchange for interest rates determined by the IMF and the contractually secured obligation of settling their debts to the IMF before all others.
The IMF finally received a starting capital of $ 8.8 billion from shares of its member states who paid 25 % of their contributions in gold and 75 % in their own currency. The United States secured itself the highest rate by depositing $ 2.9 billion. The amount was twice as high as Great Britain’s and guaranteed the United States not only double voting rights, but also a blocking minority and veto rights.
The IMF was run by a Board of Governors, to whom twelve executive directors were subordinated. Seven were elected by the members of the IMF, the other five were appointed by the largest countries, led by the US. The offices of the IMF as well as those of its sister organization, the World Bank, were set up on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington within walking distance from the White House.
The original statutes of the IMF state that the organization’s objectives were, among others,
- To promote international cooperation in the field of monetary policy,
- To facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade,
- To promote exchange rate stability and assist in the establishment of a multilateral system of payments,
- To provide member countries facing balance of payments difficulties with temporary access to the Fund’s general resources and under adequate safeguards,
- To shorten the duration and lessen the degree of disequilibrium in the international balances of payments of member countries.
These official terms make it seem as if the IMF is an impartial institution, placed above nations and independent of political influences, its main objective consisting in running the global economy in as orderly a manner as possible, swiftly correcting malfunctions. This is no coincidence. This impression was intended by the authors and has in fact achieved its desired effect: It is exactly this notion that has been conveyed to the global public for more than six decades by politicians, scientists and the international media.
In actual fact, the IMF has, from the very beginning, been an institution launched by, controlled by, and tailored to the interests of the United States, designed to secure the new military superpower economic world domination. To conceal these intentions even more effectively, the founding fathers of the IMF in 1947 started a tradition which the organization has held to this day – appointing a non-American to the post of managing director.
The first foreigner, selected in 1946, was Camille Gutt from Belgium. As finance minister of his country during World War II, the trained economist had helped the British cover their war expenses by lending them Belgian gold. He had aided the war effort by supplying his government’s allies with cobalt and copper from the Belgian colony of Congo and supporting the US government with secret deliveries of Congolese uranium for its nuclear program. In 1944 he had carried out a drastic currency reform (later known as the “Gutt operation”) that had cost the working population of Belgium large amounts of their savings.
Gutt headed the IMF from 1946 to 1951. During his time in office he largely focused on the implementation and monitoring of fixed exchange rates, thus ushering in a new era of hitherto unknown stability for US and international corporations when exporting goods and purchasing raw materials. He also paved the way for major US banks seeking to deal in credits on an international scale and opened up markets all over the world for international finance capital searching for investment opportunities.
The world’s major political changes after World War II caused considerable headaches for the IMF, because they limited the scope of the organization. Above all, the Soviet Union took advantage of the post-war situation, characterized by the division of the world among the major powers and the drawing of new borders in Europe. Still relying on the socialization of the means of production by the Russian Revolution of 1917, Stalin’s officials sealed off the so-called “Eastern bloc” from the West in order to introduce central economic planning in these countries. The Soviet bureaucracy’s primary objective, however, was not to enforce the interests of working people, but to assure the subordination of the Eastern Bloc under its own interests for the purpose of pillaging these countries. In any case, the fragmentation of Eastern Europe meant that Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and several other markets became blank areas for international financial capital.
The seizure of power by Mao Zedong in 1949 and the introduction of a planned economy in China by the Communist Party deprived Western investors of another huge market and eventually led to the Korean War. Implementing their policy of “containment” of the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence, the US tacitly accepted the loss of four million lives only to deliver a clear message to the rest of the world: that the largest economic power on earth would no longer remain passive if denied access to any more global markets.
The Post-War Boom: The IMF Casts its Net
The post-war years were characterized by the rapid economic growth of all leading industrial nations, referred to as the “Wirtschaftswunder” (“economic miracle”) in Germany. Although IMF lending played only a minor role during this time, the organization’s leadership did not remain inactive. On the contrary: the second IMF chief Ivar Rooth, a former Governor of the Swedish Central Bank and ex-Director of the Basel Bank for International Settlements, set out on a course that was to acquire major significance in the later history of the organization – introducing conditionality, i.e. establishing obligatory requirements for granting loans.
Harry Dexter White had already made a proposal along these lines at the Bretton Woods Conference, but encountered fierce resistance from the British. Meanwhile, however, Britain’s position had continued to deteriorate. Former colonies, mainly in Africa, were fighting for their independence, and in the Middle East the Suez crisis was looming – providing the US with an opportunity to advance its own interests in the IMF more forcefully.
By establishing so-called “stand-by arrangements”, Ivar Rooth added the principle of “conditionality” to the IMF’s toolbox. The granting of loans was now subjected to conditions that went far beyond the specification of loan deadlines and the level of interest rates.
In implementing these measures, which were tightened after Britain’s defeat in Suez led to a rise of tensions in Anglo-American relations, the IMF’s strategists developed a strategy that helped them to cleverly deceive the public. Starting in 1958, they obliged the governments of debtor countries to draw up “letters of intent” in which they had to express their willingness to undertake “reasonable efforts” to master their balance of payments problems. This made it seem as though a country had itself proposed the measures that were actually required by the IMF.
But even that did not go far enough for the IMF. As a next step, loans to be disbursed were sliced into tranches (“phasing”) and thus made conditional upon the respective debtor country’s submissiveness. In addition, the IMF insisted (and still insists) that agreements between the IMF and its debtors should not be considered international treaties and therefore should not be subject to parliamentary approval. Finally, the IMF decreed that any agreements with it were not intended for the public eye and had to be treated as classified information – a scheme that applies to this day.
Conditions were to be continually tightened in the course of the IMF’s history and would prove to be a crucial mechanism for increasing foreign domination of developing countries. They also contributed to the growing power of the IMF, because the World Bank, most governments and the vast majority of international commercial banks from now on only granted loans to those countries which, on the basis of the fulfillment of the IMF’s criteria, had received its “seal of approval”.
In 1956 a meeting was held in Paris that was to win landmark importance for the later development of the IMF. Struggling to repay a loan, Argentina had to sit down with its creditor countries and representatives of the IMF in order to have new conditions dictated to it. The meeting took place in the offices of French Finance Minister Pierre Pflimlin, who also chaired it. It did not remain the only one of its kind. In subsequent years, meetings between IMF representatives, creditors and debtors were held frequently in the same place, gradually developing into fixed monthly conferences that were to become known as the “Paris Club”. A scope of extremely important decisions were taken within this framework – without parliamentary consent and hidden from the eyes of the public. Commercial banks around the world soon recognized the importance of these conferences, and therefore started their own “London Club”, whose meetings usually took (and still take) place simultaneously with those of the Paris Club.
Barely noticed by the global community, the IMF subsequently turned to a field of activity that was to boost its power massively in a relatively short time. The wave of declarations of independence by African states at the beginning of the 1960s marked the beginning of a new era. Countries that had been plundered for decades by colonialism and lay in tatters economically, now had to find their proper place in the world and especially in the world economy under rapidly changing conditions. Their governments therefore needed money. Since most of these countries offered commercial banks too little security due to social tensions, political unrest and barely existing infrastructure, the IMF took advantage of the situation and offered its services as a creditor.
Although most African countries were so poor that they were only granted relatively modest sums, even these had consequences. The maturity dates of interest and principal payments relentlessly ensured that states that had just escaped from colonial dependence were seamlessly caught in a new network of financial dependence on the IMF.
As credit lending required the debtor’s membership in the IMF, the organization, whose founding members had only included three African countries – Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Africa – was joined by more than 40 additional African states between 1957 and 1969. In 1969, 44 out of 115 members were African. Although they made up more than one third of the overall organization, their voting rights that same year amounted to less than 5 %.
Embarking upon the Path of Neoliberalism
The beginning of the 1970s marked the end of the post-war boom, a twenty-five year period of economic expansion in which workers in the leading industrial nations had been granted great social concessions and experienced a hitherto unknown improvement of their living standards. It was the internal disintegration of the Bretton Woods system that brought about the end of that period. As a result of rising US investment abroad and escalating military spending – particularly for the Vietnam War – the amount of dollars globally in circulation had continually increased. All attempts by the US government to bring this proliferation under control had failed because US capital had blended with foreign capital and no nation on earth was capable of reining in this massive concentration of financial power.
In 1971, the United States, for the first time in its history, ran a balance of payments deficit. At the same time the imbalance between the global dollar supply and US gold reserves stored in Fort Knox assumed such dimensions that even raising the gold price to $ 38.00 and then to $ 42.20 could no longer guarantee its exchange against an ounce of gold. On August 15, 1971, US President Nixon pulled the brakes and severed the link between gold and the dollar, displaying the typical arrogance of a superpower by not consulting a single ally.
In December 1971, a conference of the G10 group, founded in 1962 by the world’s top ten industrialized nations, decided on an alignment of exchange rates, which brought about a readjustment of the dollar’s value against other currencies. This led to a devaluation of the dollar, ranging from 7.5 % against the weak Italian lira to 16.9 % against the strong Japanese yen. In February 1973, the dollar was devalued again, but it soon became clear that the system of fixed exchange rates could no longer be upheld. In March 1973, the G10 and several other industrialized countries introduced the system of flexible exchange rates to be established by the central banks – without consulting a single country outside the G 10 and despite the fact that the new regime blatantly contradicted article 6 of the founding document of the IMF on fixed exchange rates and monetary stability.
The abolition of fixed exchange rates historically terminated the core tasks of the IMF. The only role left for it was that of a lender in charge of the allocation of funds and their conditionality, entitled to inspect the accounts of applicants and thus exercise direct influence on their policies. However, it was exactly this function for which extremely favorable conditions would soon arise.
In 1973, the members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which had been founded in 1960, used the Yom Kippur War between Egypt and Israel to curb the amount of oil supplied to the West (“oil embargo”) and drastically raise oil prices. This led to a huge increase in the profits of oil companies and oil-producing countries. These gains ended up in commercial banks, which in turn tried to use them for profitable investments. As the global economy slipped into a recession in 1974 / 75 and investment opportunities in industrialized countries dwindled, the lion’s share of the money took on the form of loans to third world countries in Asia, Africa and South America, which – due to their increased expenditures after the rise in oil prices – urgently needed money. The IMF itself responded to the increased credit needs of developing countries by introducing the “Extended Fund Facility” in 1974, from which member countries could draw loans of up to 140 % of their quota with terms of four and a half to ten years.
Although the facility had been specifically set up to finance much-needed oil imports, the IMF – as well as the banks – cared little about what the money was actually spent on. Whether it went straight into the pockets of dictators such as Mobutu in Zaire, Saddam Hussein in Iraq or Suharto in Indonesia – who either squandered it, transferred it to secret foreign accounts or used it for military purposes, in each case driving up the national debt – did not matter to the IMF and the banks as long as they received their interest payments regularly.
However, the situation changed abruptly when Paul Volcker, the new chairman of the US Federal Reserve, raised its prime rate (the interest rate at which commercial banks can obtain money from central banks) by 300 % in order to reduce inflation in 1979. The United States slipped into another recession, which meant that fewer raw materials were needed due to lower economic activity.
For many developing countries the combination of receding demand, falling raw material prices and skyrocketing interest rates meant that they could not meet their payment obligations to international banks. A massive financial crisis loomed. The debt burden of developing countries at the beginning of 1980 amounted to a total of $ 567 billion. A payment default of this magnitude would have led to the collapse of many Western banks and therefore had to be prevented at all costs.
It was at this point that the IMF was given its first great chance to enter the stage as a lender of last resort. While its public relations department spread the news that the organization was working on bail-outs in order to “help” over-indebted countries, the Fund took advantage of its incontestable monopoly position and tied the granting of loans to harsh conditions. In doing so, it was able to draw on two different experiences gained in the preceding years.
Firstly, a CIA-supported military coup in Chile in September 1973 had ended socialist president Salvador Allende’s rule and brought fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet to power. Pinochet had immediately reversed Allende’s nationalizations, but found no remedy against galloping inflation. In an attempt to regain control of the situation, he had turned to a group of 30 Chilean economists (known as the “Chicago Boys” because they had studied at the Chicago School of Economics under Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman) and proposed to them a clearly defined division of labor: He would provide for the suppression of any kind of political and trade union opposition and crush all labor disputes, while they were to carry out a radical austerity program on the basis of neoliberal ideas.
Within a few weeks an extensive catalog of measures was developed. It called for a drastic limitation of money supply, cuts in government spending, layoffs in the public sector, privatization in health care and education, wage cuts and tax increases for working people, while at the same time lowering tariffs and corporate taxes. The program was openly referred to as a “shock therapy” by either side.
Both Pinochet and his partners, who were presented to the public as a “government of technocrats”, fulfilled their side of the agreement to the hilt. While the dictator violently smashed any opposition to the government’s drastic measures and ensured that many political dissidents disappeared forever, the “Chicago Boys” launched a frontal assault on the working population. They drove up unemployment, which had stood at 3 % in 1973, to 18.7 % by the end of 1975, simultaneously pushing inflation to 341 % and plunging the poorest segments of the population into even deeper poverty. The impacts of the program actually aggravated the problem of social inequality for decades to come: In 1980, the richest 10 % of the Chilean population amassed 36.5 % of the national income, expanding their share to 46.8 % in 1989, while at the same time that of the poorest 50 % fell from 20.4 % to 16.8 %.
During his bloody coup, Pinochet had fully relied on the active support of the CIA and the US Department of State under Henry Kissinger. When implementing the toughest austerity program ever carried out in a Latin American country, the “Chicago Boys” received the full backing of the IMF. Regardless of all human rights violations, IMF loans to Chile doubled in the year after Pinochet’s coup, only to quadruple and quintuple in the following two years.
The IMF’s other experience concerned the UK. Great Britain’s inexorable economic decline over two and a half decades had made the country the IMF’s largest borrower. From 1947 to 1971, the government in London had drawn loans totaling $ 7.25 billion. After the recession of 1974 / 75 and speculative attacks on the pound, it had come under even greater pressure. When in 1976, the British government once again turned to the IMF for help, the United States seized the opportunity to demonstrate their power. Allying themselves with the resurgent Germans, they forced the Labour government under Prime Minister Harold Wilson to limit public spending, impose massive cuts in social programs, pursue a restrictive fiscal policy, and refrain from import controls of any kind. This drastic intervention represented a hitherto unknown encroachment on the sovereignty of a European borrower country, resulting in the fact that no leading Western industrialized country ever again applied for an IMF loan.
December 17th, 2014 by Nicola Nasser
Overtly, the Israeli superpower of the Middle East has been keen to posture as having no role whatsoever in the four-year old devastating conflict in Syria, where all major regional and international powers are politically and militarily deeply involved and settling scores by Syrian blood.
In his geopolitical weekly analysis, entitled “The Islamic State Reshapes the Middle East ,” on November 25 Stratfor’s George Friedman raised eyebrows when he reviewed the effects which the terrorist group had on all regional powers, but seemed unaware of the existence of the Israeli regional superpower.
It was an instructive omission that says a lot about the no more discreet role Israel is playing to maintain what the Israeli commentator Amos Harel described as the “stable instability” in Syria and the region, from the Israeli perspective of course.
Friedman in fact was reflecting a similar official omission by the US administration. When President Barak Obama appealed for a “broad international coalition” to fight the Islamic State (IS), Israel — the strongest military power in the region and the well – positioned logistically to fight it — was not asked to join. The Obama administration explained later that Israel ’s contribution would reflect negatively on the Arab partners in the coalition.
“Highlighting Israel’s contributions could be problematic in terms of complicating efforts to enlist Muslim allies” in the coalition, said Michael Eisenstadt, a senior fellow at AIPAC’s arm, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Covertly however Israel is a key player in prolonging the depleting war on Syria and the major beneficiary of neutralizing the military of the only immediate Arab neighbor that has so far eluded yielding to the terms dictated by the U.S. – backed Israeli regional force majeure for making peace with the Hebrew state.
Several recent developments however have brought the Israeli role into the open.
First the latest bombing of Syrian targets near the Damascus international civilian airport on December 7 was the seventh major unprovoked air strike of its kind since 2011 and the fifth in the past 18 months on Syrian defenses. Syrian Scientific research centers, missile depots, air defense sites, radar and electronic monitoring stations and the Republican Guards were targeted by Israel .
Facilitating the Israeli mission and complementing it, the terrorist organizations operating in the country tried several times to hit the same targets. They succeeded in killing several military pilots and experts whom Israeli intelligence services would have paid dearly to hunt down.
Foreign Policy on last June 14 quoted a report by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki – moon as saying that the “battle – hardened Syrian rebels … once in Israel, they receive medical treatment in a field clinic before being sent back to Syria,” describing the arrangement as a “gentleman’s agreement.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in February this year visited this “military field hospital” and shook hands with some of the more than 1000 rebels treated in Israeli hospitals, according to Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).
Foreign Policy quoted also Ehud Yaari, an Israeli fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as saying that Israel was supplying the rebel – controlled Syrian villages with medicines, heaters, and other humanitarian supplies. The assistance, he said, has benefited civilians and “insurgents.” Yaari ignored the reports about the Israeli intelligence services to those “insurgents.”
Israel facilitates war on UNDOF
Second, the latest quarterly report by the UN Disengagement Force (UNDOF) to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on December 1 confirmed what eight previous similar reports had stated about the “interaction … across the (Syrian – Israeli) ceasefire line” between the IOF and the “armed members of the (Syrian) opposition,” in the words of Ki-moon’s report to the Council on December 4.
Third, Ki-moon in his report confirmed that the UNDOF “was forced to relocate its troops” to the Israeli side of the ceasefire line, leaving the Syrian side a safe haven zone for the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, which the UNSC had designated a “terrorist group.”
UNDOF’s commander Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha told the UNSC on October 9 that his troops were “under fire, been abducted, hijacked, had weapons snatched and offices vandalized.” Australia was the latest among the troop contributing countries to pull out its forces from UNDOF.
UNDOF and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) operate in the buffer zone of about 80 km long and between 0.5 to 10 km wide, forming an area of 235 km². The zone borders the Lebanon Blue Line to the north and forms a border of less than 1 km with Jordan to the south. It straddles the Purple Line which separates the Israeli – occupied Golan Heights from Syria . The west Israeli side of this line is known as “Alpha”, and the east Syrian side as “Bravo.”
Speaking at the U.S. military base Fort Dix on Monday, President Obama warned those who “threaten America ” that they “will have no safe haven,” but that is exactly what Israel is providing them.
Israeli “interaction” has practically helped the UNDOF “to relocate” from Bravo to Alpha and to hand Bravo as a safe haven over to an al-Nusra Front – led coalition of terrorist groups.
Al-Nusra Front is officially the al – Qaeda affiliate in Syria . U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Committee on Foreign relations on this December 9 that his administration considers the IS to be a branch of al – Qaeda operating under a different name. Both terrorist groups were one under the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and only recently separated. Whoever accommodates either one is in fact courting the other.
“The 1,200-strong UN force is now mostly huddled inside Camp Ziouani , a drab base just inside the Israeli – controlled side of the Golan Heights . Its patrols along the de facto border have all but ceased,” the Associated Press (AP) reported on last September 18.
Israeli air force and artillery intervened several times to protect the al-Nusra Front’s “safe haven” against fire power from Syria, which is still committed to its ceasefire agreement of 1974 with Israel. Last September for example, Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet that was bombing the Front’s positions, only three weeks after shooting down a Syrian drone over the area.
Israel is not violating the Syrian sovereignty only, but violating also the UN – sponsored ceasefire agreement and the UNSC anti-terror resolutions. More important, Israel is in fact undermining the UNDOF mandate on the Israeli – occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
This situation could only be interpreted as an Israeli premeditated war by proxy on the UN presence on the Golan Heights .
“Israel is the most interested in having (UN) peacekeepers evacuated from the occupied Golan so as to be left without international monitoring,” Syria ’s permanent envoy to the UN, Bashar al- Jaafari, told reporters on September 17.
The UNSC seems helpless or uninterested in defending the UNDOF mandate on the Golan against Israeli violations, which risk the collapse of the 1974 ceasefire arrangements.
Syrian Foreign Ministry was on record to condemn these violations as a “declaration of war,” asserting that Syria reserves its right to retaliate “at the right moment and the right place.” Obviously a regional outbreak is at stake here without the UN presence as a buffer.
Upgrading unanimously Israel ’s status from a “major non – NATO ally” to a “major strategic partner” of the United States by the U.S. Congress on December 3 could explain the UNSC inaction.
The undeclared understanding between the Syrian government and the U.S. – led coalition against the self – declared “Islamic State” (IS) not to target the latter’s forces seems to have left this mission to Israel who could not join the coalition publicly for subjective as well as objective reasons.
The AP on September 18 did not hesitate to announce that the “collapse of UN peacekeeping mission on Golan Heights marks new era on Israel – Syria front.” Aron Heller, the writer of the AP report, quoted the former Israeli military liaison officer with UNDOF, Stephane Cohen, as saying: “Their mandate is just not relevant anymore.” Heller concluded that this situation “endangers” the “status quo,” which indeed has become a status quo ante.
Israeli strategic gains
The emerging fait accompli seems very convenient to Israel , creating positive strategic benefits for the Hebrew state and arming it with a pretext not to withdraw the IOF from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights and Palestinian territories.
In an analysis paper published by The Saban Center at Brookings in November 2012, Itamar Rabinovich wrote that, “Clearly, the uncertainty in Syria has put the question of the Golan Heights on hold indefinitely. It may be a long time until Israel can readdress the prospect of giving the Golan back to Damascus .”
Moreover, according to Rabinovich, “the Syrian conflict has the potential to bring the damaged Israeli – Turkish relationship closer to normalcy … they can find common ground in seeking to foster a stable post – Assad government in Syria.”
The hostile Turkish insistence on toppling the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, the concentration of the IS and other rebel forces in the north of the country and in central, eastern and southern Syria are diverting the potential and focus of the Syrian Arab Army northward and inward, away from the western front with the Israeli occupying power on the Golan Heights.
The protracted war on the Syrian government is depleting its army in manpower and materially. Rebuilding the Syrian army and the devastated Syrian infrastructure will preoccupy the country for a long time to come and defuse any military threat to Israel for an extended time span.
On the Palestinian front, the rise of the IS has made fighting it the top U.S. priority in the Middle East, which led Aaron David Miller, a former adviser to several U.S. administrations on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, to warn in Foreign Policy early in September that the rise of the IS would pose “a serious setback to Palestinian hopes of statehood.”
The expected fallback internally of the post – war Syria would “hopefully” relieve Israel of the Syrian historical support for the Palestinian anti – Israeli occupation movements, at least temporarily.
Netanyahu on Sunday opened a cabinet meeting by explicitly using the IS as a pretext to evade the prerequisites of making peace. Israel “stands … as a solitary island against the waves of Islamic extremism washing over the entire Middle East,” he said, adding: “To force upon us” a timeframe for a withdrawal from the Israeli – occupied Palestinian territories, as proposed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the UN Security Council, “will bring the radical Islamic elements to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and to the heart of Jerusalem. We will not allow this.”
Israel is also capitalising on the war on the IS to misleadingly portray it as identical with the Palestinian “Islamic” resistance movements because of their Islamic credentials. “When it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas,” Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on September 29.
Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories ([email protected]).
December 17th, 2014 by Mark Blackwood
Britain’s armed forces are returning to the Middle East, reversing an earlier withdrawal from Iraq after more than a decade of war.
In September, there was a huge cross-party parliamentary vote to join the US-led war in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIL or ISIS). Since then, the Royal Air Force (RAF) has been carrying out air strikes and British troops, based in Iraqi Kurdistan, have been training the Peshmerga militia.
On Sunday, the Conservative/Liberal-Democrat government announced more troops will be sent back to Iraq. This followed the briefing earlier this month that a new British naval base will be constructed in Bahrain.
This military build-up should be viewed in the context of intensifying imperialist rivalries, as the world’s major powers seek to assert their interests in the Middle East and throughout the Eurasia region. Iraq is once again becoming the epicentre in this scramble for domination.
In November, as part of a rapid escalation of the war in Iraq and Syria, President Obama announced that the US would send another 1,500 troops to Iraq, effectively doubling the size of the US deployment. Just days prior to Britain’s Iraq troops disclosure, the German tabloid Bild reported that Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere are putting forward draft legislation allowing for a significant expansion of the Bundeswehr (German army) deployment in Iraq. The report noted that the legislation provides for the posting of more than 100 armed German soldiers in the Kurdish region of Iraq.
How many British troops will be sent back to Iraq to support Washington’s Operation Inherent Resolve and where they will be based are to be decided by the UK National Security Council, comprising cabinet ministers, military chiefs and heads of intelligence. Reports suggest that up to 200 trainers, “force protection” paratroopers and Royal Armoured Corps personnel will be based in four camps to help rebuild and train the Iraqi National Army, which collapsed this year in the face of ISIS attacks.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the force could also include a unit of combat-ready soldiers. Speaking to the Telegraph , Fallon boasted that RAF aircraft had flown a “huge number” of missions “second only to the United States, five times as many as France.”
He told reporters: “Our role now, apart from air strikes, is increasingly going to be on training. In particular, it will mean dealing with car and truck bombs and roadside devices, as well as basic infantry skills.”
He added, “We are now looking to help them with that equipment and to run training with them in the four main training centres that the Americans are establishing.”
The UK also expects to be involved in training the Free Syrian Army, which has virtually collapsed, “taking them away from the front lines to Jordan or Saudi. We’re scoping that at the moment,” Fallon said.
The return to Iraq comes amid news that the International Criminal Court is to consider hundreds of new cases accusing British soldiers of abuse and torture of Iraqi men, women and children and the publication this Wednesday of an official report into mistreatment and deaths of Iraqi prisoners captured by the British Army in 2004.
The British Foreign Office unveiled plans for a new £15 million military base at Bahrain’s Mina Salman Port in the Persian Gulf. The move will massively expand the current capabilities of the port by 2016 and enable the UK government to secure permanent command of a forward operating base (FOB) for the Royal Navy.
The news was greeted by protests from the Shia majority in Bahrain, who view the new base as a reward for Britain turning a blind eye to human-rights abuses. Nabeel Rajab, head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, who is currently on bail for posting “offensive tweets,” said, “We have been struggling for many years and the British government has always taken the side of the oppressive regime and all the dictators in the Gulf region.”
Although the expansion of the port base will be funded by the Bahraini authorities, it will create the first permanent British military base in the Middle East since the UK formally withdrew from the region in 1971. This was the long-term outcome of the Suez crisis of 1956, in which Britain was forced into a humiliating retreat in the face of US pressure.
The phrase “East of Suez” is an expression in British political and military conversation that refers to imperial interests beyond the European theatre. As such, a permanent return to the region signifies a revival of the imperialistic ambitions of the British bourgeoisie. Fallon described the 1971 withdrawal as “short-termist” and proclaimed, “This is an extremely important region for us. We have commercial interests here but also political interests.”
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond declared that Britain would have to play a greater role in helping Middle East states remain “stable” because of the US “pivot” towards the Asia-Pacific region. Prime Minister David Cameron referred to the Royal Navy as keeping “the arteries of trade of the global economy from hardening”
The new facilities will strengthen British military operations in the Persian Gulf, via the deployment of the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers, frigates and aircraft carriers, including the two new flagship carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales. Both are currently under construction and have been described as “the biggest and most powerful warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy.”
It also “means you can have bigger air support to bring into the battlefield,” according to Riad Kahwaji, founder and chief executive of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai. The “bigger air support” Kahwaji describes will come from the Lockheed Martin F35 short take-off and vertical landing stealth jetfighter. The British government has placed 40 of these killing machines, described as “the world’s most advanced stealth fighter bomber,” on order.
General Sir Nicholas Houghton, the head of the British armed forces, said, “It’s the strategic importance of this. Rather than just being seen as a temporary deployment to an area for a specific operational purpose, this is more symbolic of the fact that Britain does enjoy interests in the stability of this region.”
A 2013 report published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) military think tank outlined the future trajectory of Britain’s imperial ambitions. Titled, “A Return to East of Suez? UK Military Deployment to the Gulf,” the report discusses the Royal Navy’s “active interest in Bahrain.”
It goes on to explain that the RAF was set to use the Al-Minhad air base in Dubai as “a hub not only for the 2014 draw-down in Afghanistan, but as an overseas base of some standing in the future.”
The air base would go some way to meeting concerns that withdrawal from Afghanistan has badly affected the ability of British troops to maintain their readiness for “hot and dry conditions warfare.”
The RUSI document outlined the potential of Britain’s return to the Gulf by arguing that it “could be seen as a new geopolitical expression of the US-UK special relationship–perhaps designed to emphasise to Washington the value of an enduring, if changed, special relationship with the UK.”
It predicted that the return to the Gulf will be a prelude to further British military expansion, declaring that it “will likely create opportunities for further engagement in the region incorporating the Indian Ocean and the sub-continent.”
December 17th, 2014 by Ewan Robertson
Late on Wednesday the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to introduce sanctions against Venezuela.
The bill was also passed by the Senate on Monday, and White House officials have indicated that President Barack Obama will sign the bill into law, although it was not specified when.
The Venezuelan Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act seeks to sanction high ranking Venezuelan officials accused of being responsible for human rights abuses during the opposition unrest movement earlier this year. Primarily, it will sanction such officials with a visa ban and a freeze on any U.S. assets they possess.
Democrat senator Robert Menendez, the Act’s main sponsor, said of the bill’s passage that, “The absence of justice and the denial of human rights in Venezuela must end, and the U.S. Congress is playing a powerful part in righting this wrong”.
The Act also calls for a U.S. government strategy to increase funding for and availability of anti-government media in Venezuela, including utilizing the Voice of America for this end. The bill states that U.S. foreign policy should aim to “continue to support the development of democratic political processes and independent civil society in Venezuela”.
Investigative journalist Eva Golinger has documented how over the last twelve years U.S. government agencies have provided well over $100 million to opposition groups in Venezuela for their activities.
The Venezuelan government rejects the Act’s narrative of the opposition’s unrest movement from February to May this year, which led to 43 deaths, including members of security forces and supporters of both sides. It states that the opposition was responsible for violence against civilians and public infrastructure, and that the unrest was aimed at provoking a state coup.
Officials also argue that members of security forces accused of abuses against opposition activists were investigated and detained.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro slammed the proposed sanctions yesterday, stating, “If the crazy path of sanctions is imposed, President Obama, I think you’re going to come out looking very bad…Who is the U.S. Senate to sanction the homeland of (independence leader Simon) Bolivar?”
The U.S. bill comes on top of other sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Venezuela this year, namely a tightened restriction on “military end use” exports to the South American country in November, and the application of a visa ban on a group of unnamed Venezuelan officials by presidential order in July.
The sanctions policy stands at odds with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, which have either backed Nicolas Maduro’s administration or have supported efforts to establish fresh dialogue between the government and opposition.
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which counts Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua among its members, issued a statement on Thursday opposing the proposed U.S. sanctions.
“The countries of the ALBA wish to emphasise that they won’t allow the utilisation of old practices already applied in the region which are directed at fomenting a change in political regime. In this sense, we express our deepest support and solidarity with the people and government of Venezuela,” read the strongly worded statement.
The Venezuelan officials who would be sanctioned by the bill have not been named, however Republican senator Marco Rubio recently issued a list of 27 names he suggested should be included.
One of those on Rubio’s list is Jose Vielma Mora, the socialist party governor of Tachira state, which was one of the epicenters of the opposition’s militant street barricades during the unrest earlier this year.
“In some ways I’m happy to be on that list, because it means that I will become a Venezuelan patriot that defended peace and true democracy,” he said to local media in response to the news of the proposed sanctions.
The diplomatic pressure by the U.S. comes at a difficult economic moment for Venezuela, as a 38% fall in oil prices squeezes the country’s finances and compounds problems of product shortages and high inflation.
According to Bloomberg, Venezuelan bond prices have fallen to levels not seen in 16 years, while Wall Street estimates the probability of default at 93%.
In response to the high interest rates on borrowing this entails for Venezuela, Maduro said on Monday, “There is a financial blockade against Venezuela meant to impede our access to the financing we need to overcome the decrease in petroleum revenue”. He also denounced the “psychological and political” manipulation of Venezuela’s position in the global market.
December 17th, 2014 by Michael Collins
The shoot down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 came into greater focus with theDecember 15 YouTube video featuring a former crew member of BUK self-propelled fire installation, number 312 (BUK 312). Ukraine’s government and others maintained that the BUK 312 unit shot down MH17 while manned by a resistance crew. The Obama administration championed that narrative holding both the resistance and Russia responsible for the 298 deaths on July 17. The interview was conducted by investigative journalist Anatoly Sharij and translated by Marina Stewart (see full test in English at end of this article). (Image: BUK 312 in Kiev junta territory – Anatoly Sharij)
The 23-year-old former BUK 312 crew member revealed that the missile unit was in fact manned by the Ukraine military. He outlines the missile system’s location and how it operated. The former sergeant also offered analysis and research indicating the very low probability that the 312 crew shot down MH17.
Claims that the eastern Ukraine resistance shot down MH 17 with a BUK system rely on a Ukraine government audiotape in which resistance commanders allegedly admit to the shoot down. The tape lost credibility when it was discovered that a key part of the recording was made hours before the crash. In addition, the tape was patched together, not a continuous conversation.
The Ukraine secret service (SBU) claimed to produce photographs of a Russian BUK 312 missile system fully capable of knocking MH17 out of the skies. When that evidence failed to pass muster, an “open source” investigation by Eliot Higgins (also known as Brown Moses) allegedly produced evidence that the BUK 312 system was in the town of Snizhne in the Donetsk region controlled by the resistance.
If the BUK 312 was in Snizhne, as claimed, with a capable resistance crew, both doubtful assumptions, we would need to believe that the crew did nothing to protect Snizhne on July 15 (just two days before the MH17 shoot down) when Ukraine’s air force leveled major sections of the city (BBC, July 15).
The real story of who, how, and why MH 17 was destroyed is emerging over time. The interview adds evidence that deserves serious consideration. The former soldier, known as “A,” described his role in the Ukraine military and how the BUK 312 unit was staffed:
“I am 23, and I have been in contract service with the Ukrainian army. Last summer the contract term came to an end, but I was not dismissed from service for reasons well known to you. My duty station was the exact BUK self-propelled fire installation (Russian abbreviation transliterated as SOU – translator) number 312…”
A says that BUK 312 unit had a four member crew. He was the “deputy commander.” The unit started out in “Lugansk and [was] relocated to Kramatorsk. Donetsk.” The former deputy commander explains the origin of the 312 label:
This is how you decipher 312:
3 stands for the third (Lugansk) division,
1 stands for the battery number, ours was no. 1,
2 stands for one of the 2. service units in each battery, ours was no. 2.
Interviewer Sharij asks: “This BUK 312 was said to be a Russian missile launcher.”
A responds: “No. This BUK is 100% Ukrainian one. … It made us all laugh, the way SBU presented this as BUK of the rebels or Russian BUK.”
AS: What do you think about this BUK downing the Malaysian Boeing?
A: No clue. By the time it happened I was transferred to Avdeevka division. I only heard SBU [Ukraine secret police] say this particular missile launcher with board number 312 downed the Boeing. All I know it couldn’t have done this. I spoke with my ex-comrades in arms and they said they didn’t do it.
In the days after the shoot down, Robert Parry reported government sources saying that their evidence indicated that a Ukrainian missile crew shot down MH 17. Reporting by Eric Zeusse followed up indicating credibility to the claim that a Ukraine fighter jet shot down the civilian airliner.
The speculation over the BUK 312 system may have just been a smokescreen to divert attention away from the real culprit, whomever that may be. A review of the full interview shows the value of direct testimony by involved parties.
FULL TRANSCRIPT – Anatoly Sharij interview with former BUK 312 crew member Posted Dec 17, 2014, YouTube Translation Marina Stewart
Anatoly Sharij: You may still remember the BUK which photo was published by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) as a Russian one. You may also remember me dwelling on it. I received a lot of feedback saying I was lying etc. Here’s an interview with Ukrainian contract sergeant crossing “t’s” and dotting “i’s”.
Anatoly Sharij (AS): Good afternoon.
A: Good afternoon. Good to be talking to you. I have been watching your videos for quite some time now, and I have to say you do uncover the truth.
I am 23, and I have been in contract service with the Ukrainian army. Last summer the contract term came to an end, but I was not dismissed from service for reasons well known to you. My duty station was the exact BUK self-propelled fire installation (Russian abbreviation transliterated as SOU – translator) number 312 you made your video about, I happened to recently come across it on the Internet.
The SOU has 4 crew members: service commander, me as deputy commander, driver and operator. This SOU 312 you made your video about was dislocated in Lugansk and your video shows it being relocated to Kramatorsk. Donetsk has a surface-to-air missile regiment having these BUK M1 on the inventory. The regiment consists of three divisions:
(1) in Avdeevka
(2) in Mariupol
(3) in Lugansk
This is how you decipher 312:
3 stands for the third (Lugansk) division,
1 stands for the battery number, ours was no. 1,
2 stands for one of the 2. service units in each battery, ours was no. 2.
BUK is a complex of 4 specialized military vehicles: command post, mobile target detection and assignment station, loading and starting station, self-propelled fire installation.
At the time the Boeing was downed I was out of army already, so I can’t say anything about it, but when it all began in the Crimea, this capture of military units, we’ve been ordered to leave our permanent disposition in Lugansk.
AS: This BUK 312 was said to be a Russian missile launcher.
A: No. This BUK is 100% Ukrainian one. The photo I sent you, the one with Yubileynaya mines on the background, has been made in Lugansk. (3’49”)
Our military unit was dislocated in Metallist settlement, on the upland near Lugansk, and this is the view from there. It made us all laugh, the way SBU presented this as BUK of the rebels or Russian BUK.
AS: What do you think about this BUK downing the Malaysian Boeing?
A: No clue. By the time it happened I was transferred to Avdeevka division. I only heard SBU [Ukraine secret police] say this particular missile launcher with board number 312 downed the Boeing. All I know it couldn’t have done this. I spoke with my ex-comrades in arms and they said they didn’t do it.
The first relocation of our Lugansk division was to Kramatorsk military airdrome. We’ve been allocated barracks there. In a month we’ ve been moved into the fields in Dnepropetrovskaya Oblast, Novaya Grigorievka village.
The photo you showed in one of your videos, the bad quality one (5’50”) was taken when our SOU commander decided to drive it, but the electric wiring inside the SOU ignited. The missiles nearly exploded, but luckily firefighters came on time to put the fire down. That’s why it was moved on the low-base semi-trailer as seen in the picture.
Let me tell you some about the Ukrainian army. While in the fields, the officers were boozing heavily, while soldiers and sergeants were not allowed to go to the nearby shop. I was actually planning to quit after my first contract term, but they wouldn’t let me. Being a straight shooter, I was outraged at this, so they started to pressure me, pitted other soldiers against me. The situation in general was very depressing, people kept deserting, many went over to the rebels, I, too, went to the hospital in Kharkov and just didn’t come back. The border is close there.
AS: What do you think was the purpose of using BUK at all in the combat area?
A: I don’t know. Initially this withdrawal may have been done to avoid BUK capture. Then, I suppose, this may have been due to shortage of manpower on the front…
A: But this is
A: But this is my guess only, for even officers didn’t know it, so it seemed, may be only commanding officer and chief of staff knew the reason. I am still unaware why would they want to do this, for BUK air missile launchers are deployed against airborne targets, the rebels have no aviation, so we are useless for ATO [“anti terrorist operation[ purposes. They did move some people from our division to ATO, a major general came to talk to those who were unwilling to take part in this campaign, I said I don’t want to go as I see no sense in it, besides, I already served my term, so I was transferred 80 kilometres away, to Vasilkovka village, to where 1st Avdeevka BUK division was.
When we left Lugansk, only three unusable complexes remained there, and those which did leave Lugansk, also broke down right after leaving the city, some were repaired en route, others were transported on low-base semi-trailers. Those which were left in Lugansk, lacked whole equipment units.
AS: but one must be able to use these…
A: So far as I could gather they do have professionals there. My friends in Lugansk when passing the military unit saw through the fence rebels trying to repair the complexes.
AS: What’s your opinion as a professional, who may have downed the Boeing?
A: Judging by firing zone, Ukrainian army did it.
AS: And the purpose?
A: No idea. I only know the kind of professionals they are, it could have happened unintentionally.
AS: What do you mean, unintentionally? They should have been given coordinates, the height, the speed of the target etc., it isn’t just a matter of pressing a button, is it?
A: Exactly. There’s a friend or foe comms exchange between the complex units, so you are right, it couldn’t have happened accidentally.
AS: Why firing at all then? They couldn’t have thought it was the rebels jet fighter, right?
A: I agree.
In general Ukrainian army lacks qualified manpower badly, many people just left the army, my friends are in Moscow, Novosibirsk, Rostov, elsewhere…
One can’t get dismissed from service no matter what he does. If you abstain from entry on duty or, say, curse everyone, you won’t be dismissed. Many people just desert the army.
AS: And how are they accounted for? As missing?
A: It’s a mystery to me. But we had 15 sergeants and now only three are left, all of them are in ATO zone. They used to send some people to ATO from all our divisions before, now one of the divisions in full is there. I can’t make out why would they want BUK divisions there, rebels still don’t have jet fighters. It must really be shortage of soldiers, you have a video on rioting conscripts having exceeded their term of service by 8 months.
AS: Yeah, they have all been labeled Kremlin spies when they raised this issue with their commanders. A real Ukrainian should be willing to serve in the army for 2, 3, 5 years…
A: …for 154 hrivnyas a month…
I am not scared of anything and I have nothing to conceal.
Wish you new uncovering videos!
END of transcript
Michael Collins - Michael Collins is a Washington DC area writer, researcher, and citizen journalist. Today, Collins is focused on the propaganda and massive deception by the Obama administration and its NATO partners regarding the coup in Ukraine and attack by the U.S. supported government against its own people. Collins is a featured contributor to OpEdNews, one of top 100 political web sites on the internet. His home page ishttp://opednews.com/michaelcollins
December 17th, 2014 by Keith Jones
A terrorist attack Tuesday by the Tehreek-e-Taliban or Pakistan Taliban on a military-supported public school in Peshawar in north-west Pakistan left more than 150 people dead—the vast majority of them children.
The attack was clearly designed to inflict the maximum loss of civilian life. It reportedly involved seven men, several or all of them wearing suicide bombs. Around 10 a.m. local time, the assailants hopped a wall to gain access to the school, then stormed inside. On entering a first-floor assembly area filled with students, they opened fire. Explosions followed.
The school became the scene of a firefight, as Pakistan’s military forces, which have facilities nearby, intervened and set about capturing the school.
Exchanges of gunfire continued for hours. Only at the end of the afternoon did Pakistani authorities announce they had secured the school.
How the attack ensued or even how the attackers were ultimately killed remains almost completely unknown. A Reuters report noted: “It was not clear whether some or all of the children were killed by gunmen, suicide bombs or in the ensuing battle with Pakistani security forces trying to gain control of the (school) building.”
The dead include at least 132 children—most reportedly 13, 14 and 15 years-olds; nine teachers and school staff; one Pakistani military commando; and the seven attackers. The attack also left more than 120 wounded, many seriously.
The Army Public School and College receives financial support from the military and is attended by sons and daughters of military personnel stationed in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. However, it is a public school open to the general population and most of its more than 1,000 students hail from civilian families.
In claiming responsibility for the horrific attack, a Pakistan Taliban spokesman said it was in retaliation for the Pakistani military’s offensive in North Waziristan and more recently Khyber, two districts of Pakistan’s Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). “We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” declared Muhammad Umar Khorasani. “We want them to feel the pain.”
The military’s brutal assault in North Waziristan, at the behest of Washington and in close partnership with the Pentagon and CIA, is the unreported war. The Western media did report its launch last June, but since then have not deemed it worthy of coverage.
Yet this war has the hands of the US all over it. It is being waged with the aim of militarily squeezing the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network, another Islamist militia opposed to the US occupation of Afghanistan and the US client regime in Kabul.
For a decade, the US has demanded that Pakistan subjugate the traditionally autonomous FATA, so as to deny the Afghan Taliban a “safe haven.” The first military offensive, ordered by the US-back dictator General Musharraf in 2004, gave rise to the Pakistan Taliban—a FATA-based, Pashtun anti-Pakistan government Islamist insurgency that is in alliance with, but distinct, from the Afghan Taliban.
Last June, without any warning to the civilian population, Pakistan’s military launched aerial and artillery bombardments of alleged terrorist hideouts in North Waziristan, many in densely populated areas. Three days later, the military ordered a pause, but only to order the district’s entire population to evacuate the area within little more than 48 hours. Those who did not flee, announced the military with the government’s full support, would be considered terrorists—in other words targeted for death.
Once its evacuation deadline passed, the military, which is notorious for its human rights abuses, including “disappearances” and collective punishments of FATA residents, resorted to its standard practice of indiscriminate attacks, flattening schools and whole villages. Later, the offensive was extended to parts of Khyber, resulting in a new flood of internal refugees.
Six months on, most of North Waziristan’s almost one million residents remain displaced. While some have found shelter with family or friends in neighbouring districts of Pakistan or even Afghanistan, at least 700,000 people are living in squalid refugee camps. Due to a combination of callous indifference and incompetence, the refugees have little government support and remain housed in tents, despite the onset of winter.
Washington’s close involvement in the military offensive is underscored by the fact that just days before its launch, the US conducted its first drone strikes in Pakistan in six months, with multiple attacks in North Waziristan.
US drones have continued to rain down death ever since, slaughtering women, children and other non-combatants, and terrorizing the population, as has been documented in numerous studies, including from the UN.
Pakistan’s political and military leaders were quick to seize on yesterday’s atrocity as the pretext for intensifying the offensive. “The fight will continue,” vowed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “No one should have any doubt about it. We will take account of each and every drop of our children’s blood.”
In the evening, a Pakistan military spokesman tweeted that the military had carried out raids and ten air strikes in Khyber.
Western leaders also sought to exploit yesterday’s tragic events to justify aggression, including the US’s new war in the Mideast. US President Barack Obama, who has presided over drone strikes that have killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Pakistanis and who has ordered the US national-security apparatus to arm Islamists to spearhead regime change in Libya and Syria, producing a vortex of sectarian conflict and chaos, feigned outrage. “By targeting students and teachers in this heinous act, terrorists,” Obama said, “have once again shown their depravity.”
Obama pledged to strengthen the reactionary alliance between Washington and Islamabad that has seen the US back one Pakistani military dictator after another and use Pakistan as a satrap in its predatory foreign policy for the past six decades.
The Washington-Islamabad axis has proved ruinous for the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Taliban, whether in Afghanistan or Pakistan, are among its products.
During the 1980s, the US, in league with Pakistani intelligence and the Saudi monarchy, organized, financed and armed the Afghan mujahedeen, from which the Taliban ultimately emerged, to fight the pro-Soviet government in Kabul, as part of Washington’s renewed offensive against the Soviet Union.
This policy also entailed full-throated US support for the Pakistani dictator Zia-ul-Huq, who conducted a massive Islamization campaign so as to build up a reactionary counter-weight against the Pakistani working class.
Then in 2001, the Bush administration seized on the 9/11 attacks to implement a predetermined policy of imperialist aggression, aimed at shoring up US global hegemony amid a huge decline in its economic strength. Under threat of US attack, Pakistan broke its ties to the Taliban and became the military-logistical beachhead for Washington’s invasion of Afghanistan.
The ensuring 13 years have only seen crime piled upon crime. The US and its allies have waged a dirty colonial-style war to sustain a corrupt puppet regime in Kabul, while prevailing on Pakistan’s government to turn much of the country’s north-west into killing fields so as to bolster the Afghan occupation.
Workers’ outrage at yesterday’s attack should be directed first and foremost at those responsible, through decades of imperialist oppression, violence and geo-political machinations, for Islamist terrorism, beginning with the US elite, their Western co-conspirators and the venal communalist Pakistani bourgeoisie.
December 17th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci
Taliban militants stormed an army public school in the northern city of Peshawar, killing over 100, including many young students. It is believed up to 10 militants took part in the attack, dressed as soldiers to first infiltrate the school’s grounds before beginning the attack.
While the details of the attack are forthcoming, the background of the Taliban and the persistent threat it represents is well established, though often spun across the Western media.
Who Put the Taliban into Power? Who is Funding them Now?
In the 1980′s the United States, Saudi Arabia, and elements within the then Pakistani government funneled millions of dollars, weapons, equipment, and even foreign fighters into Afghanistan in a bid to oust Soviet occupiers. Representatives of this armed proxy front would even visit the White House, meeting President Ronald Reagan personally. (see image below)
The “Mujaheddin” would successfully expel the Soviet Union and among the many armed groups propped up by the West and its allies, the Taliban would establish primacy over Kabul. While Western media would have the general public believe the US rejected the Taliban, never intending them to come to power, it should be noted that the Afghans who visited Reagan in the 1980′s would not be the last to visit the US and cut deals with powerful American corporate-financier interests.
In 1997, Taliban representatives would find themselves in Texas, discussing a possible oil pipeline with energy company Unocal (now merged with Chevron). The BBC would report in a 1997 article titled, “Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline,” that:
A senior delegation from the Taleban movement in Afghanistan is in the United States for talks with an international energy company that wants to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan.
A spokesman for the company, Unocal, said the Taleban were expected to spend several days at the company’s headquarters in Sugarland, Texas.
Image: Unocal, now merged with Chevron, had attempted to build a pipeline across Afghanistan in cooperation with the Taliban and with the expressed backing of the US government – then operating under the Clinton administration.
However, it was already claimed by the US that the Taliban had been “harboring” Osama Bin Laden since 1996, and had branded the Taliban’s human rights record as “despicable.” The Telegraph in an artile titled, “Oil barons court Taliban in Texas,” would report (emphasis added):
The Unocal group has one significant attraction for the Taliban – it has American government backing. At the end of their stay last week, the Afghan visitors were invited to Washington to meet government officials. The US government, which in the past has branded the Taliban’s policies against women and children “despicable”, appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to clinch the lucrative pipeline contract. The Taliban is likely to have been impressed by the American government’s interest as it is anxious to win international recognition. So far, it has been recognised only by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
It is clear that to the West, as they were during the proxy war against the Soviets, and during attempts to forge an oil pipeline across Afghan territory, the Taliban remain a tool, not an ally – to be used and abused whenever and however necessary to advance Wall Street and Washington’s agenda – a self-serving Machiavellian agenda clearly devoid of principles.
This can be seen in play, even now as the Taliban serve as a proxy force to torment the West’s political enemies in Pakistan with and serve as a perpetual justification for military intervention in neighboring Afghanistan.
The Global Post would reveal in a 2009 investigative report that the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan was mostly funded via redirected US aid. The report titled, “Who is funding the Afghan Taliban? You don’t want to know,” would state:
It is the open secret no one wants to talk about, the unwelcome truth that most prefer to hide. In Afghanistan, one of the richest sources of Taliban funding is the foreign assistance coming into the country.
The report would also reveal that Taliban members were in the capital city of Kabul, directly involved in redirecting the funds, apparently under the nose of occupying NATO forces:
A shadowy office in Kabul houses the Taliban contracts officer, who examines proposals and negotiates with organizational hierarchies for a percentage. He will not speak to, or even meet with, a journalist, but sources who have spoken with him and who have seen documents say that the process is quite professional.
The manager of an Afghan firm with lucrative construction contracts with the U.S. government builds in a minimum of 20 percent for the Taliban in his cost estimates. The manager, who will not speak openly, has told friends privately that he makes in the neighborhood of $1 million per month. Out of this, $200,000 is siphoned off for the insurgents.
But the narrative of the “accidental” funding of Taliban militants in Afghanistan is betrayed when examining their counterparts in Pakistan and their source of funding. While the US funds roughly a billion USD a year to the Taliban in Afghanistan “accidentally,” their allies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia are confirmed to be funding the Taliban in Pakistan.
In the Guardian’s article, “WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists,” the US State Department even acknowledges that Saudi Arabia is indeed funding terrorism in Pakistan:
Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton.
“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups,” says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” she said.
Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Pakistani terror organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – which maintains ties to the Taliban – has also been financially linked to the Persian Gulf monarchies. Stanford University’s “Mapping Militant Organizations: Lashkar-e-Jhangvi,” states under “External Influences:”
LeJ has received money from several Persian Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates These countries funded LeJ and other Sunni militant groups primarily to counter the rising influence of Iran’s revolutionary Shiism.
Astonishingly, despite these admission, the US still works politically, financially, economically, and even militarily in tandem with these very same state-sponsors of rampant, global terrorism. In fact, Wall Street and Washington are among the chief architects and beneficiaries of this global terrorism.
Just as in Libya and Syria where the US and its Persian Gulf allies funded terrorist fronts in bids to overthrow each nation’s respective governments, this unholy alliance is working in Pakistan to create a militant front with which to menace political groups in Islamabad and reorder the country to reflect and serve their collective interests. And just as in Syria now, where the US feigns to be locked in battle with terrorists of their own creation, the fact that the US is funding their own enemy billions of dollars while allegedly fighting them in Afghanistan creates a perpetual conflict justifying their continued intervention in the region – overtly and covertly.
It appears, just as in Libya, Syria, and Iraq, the West and its allies are waging a proxy war in Pakistan as well. Attempts to exploit the tragedy in Peshawar compound this insidious agenda. Those across Pakistan’s political landscape must understand that their is no line these foreign interests are unwilling to cross in achieving their agenda – be it a line crossed at a perceived ally’s expense, or a perceived enemy’s expense.
December 17th, 2014 by Pam Martens
Citigroup is the Wall Street mega bank that forced the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999; blew itself up as a result of the repeal in 2008; was propped back up with the largest taxpayer bailout in the history of the world even though it was insolvent and didn’t qualify for a bailout; has now written its own legislation to de-regulate itself; got the President of the United States to lobby for its passage; and received an up vote from both houses of Congress in less than a week.
And there is one more thing you should know at the outset about Citigroup: it didn’t just have a hand in bringing the country to its knees in 2008; it was a key participant in the 1929 collapse under the moniker National City Bank. Both the U.S. Senate’s investigation of the collapse of the financial system in 1929 and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) that investigated the 2008 collapse cited this bank as a key culprit.
The FCIC wrote:
“…we do not accept the view that regulators lacked the power to protect the financial system. They had ample power in many arenas and they chose not to use it. To give just three examples: the Securities and Exchange Commission could have required more capital and halted risky practices at the big investment banks. It did not. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and other regulators could have clamped down on Citigroup’s excesses in the run-up to the crisis. They did not. Policy makers and regulators could have stopped the runaway mortgage securitization train. They did not…Too often, they lacked the political will – in a political and ideological environment that constrained it – as well as the fortitude to critically challenge the institutions and the entire system they were entrusted to oversee.”
The words above from the FCIC also perfectly describe what just happened in Congress and the Oval Office. Citigroup snuck its deregulation legislation into the $1.1 trillion Cromnibus spending bill that will keep the government running through next September. (It’s called Cromnibus because it’s part Continuing Resolution or CR and part omnibus spending bill.) Just as the FCIC wrote about the reasons for the financial collapse, Citigroup was able to pass this outrageous deregulation legislation because the majority of Congress and the President “lacked the political will” and the “fortitude to critically challenge the institutions and the entire system they were entrusted to oversee.”
What Citigroup has now done with the willing participation of Congress and the President is to set the country up for the next financial collapse in which it appears destined to play another starring role, seeing that the Fed gave it a failing grade on its stress test this year. The legislation that was just passed by Congress allows Citigroup and other Wall Street banks to keep their riskiest assets – interest rate swaps and other derivatives – in the banking unit that is backstopped with FDIC deposit insurance, which is, in turn, backstopped by the U.S. taxpayer, thus ensuring another bailout of Citigroup if it blows itself up once again from soured derivative bets.
According to Bloomberg data, over the past five years – when Dodd-Frank financial reform was supposed to be making these mega banks safer – Citigroup has increased the notional amount of derivatives on its books by 69 percent. As of this past June, according to Bloomberg, “Citigroup had $62 trillion of open contracts, up from $37 trillion in June 2009.” That’s trillion with a “t.”
How much might Citigroup need from the taxpayer if it blows up again? According to the General Accountability Office, Citigroup received more bailout assistance than any other bank in the last collapse. On October 28, 2008, Citigroup received $25 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. Less than a month later it was back with hat in hand and received another $20 billion. But its finances were so shaky that it simultaneously needed another $306 billion in government asset guarantees. And on top of all that, the New York Fed was secretly funneling it over $2 trillion in emergency loans at interest rates frequently below 1 percent.
December 17th, 2014 by President Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with the President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sergei Katyrin to discuss the organisation of international business forums, particularly within the framework of the SCO and BRICS, and prospects for the development of the exhibition industry in Russia.
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Katyrin, you are heading the business councils of two international organisations – theShanghai Cooperation Organisation and BRICS – that bring together business community representatives of the organisations’ member states. How are things going there? Do you need any support from presidential agencies or the Government?
PRESIDENT OF THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION SERGEI KATYRIN: Thank you, Mr President.
You are right. We have a unique opportunity this year both on the political level and on the Business Councils in connection with our presidency of the two organisations. We would like to make use of this primarily in the interests of Russian business. Therefore, our proposals are somewhat unusual.
We have an extensive programme both for the SCO Business Council and BRICS, though we would like to divide the main events into two parts.
First, we would like to hold the SCO and BRICS business forums simultaneously and invite businessmen to the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Before the Forum will begin its work, we suggest holding a meeting of the business circles on the forum’s sidelines on its first day.
The second thing we would like to do is also not quite usual, though it may become a tradition. In addition to the traditional working groups functioning within BRICS and the SCO, we would like to invite representatives of the member states’ main exhibition sites.
We have set several targets here. First, we would like to establish an information exchange on who is holding exhibitions and when. Then, based on this information exchange, we could synchronise our activities, adjust our schedules so as not to stand in each other’s way at major international exhibitions and congresses, especially when these are held in neighbouring countries. Thirdly, we would like this meeting of the exhibition community to consider any joint exhibitions that could be arranged for SCO and BRICS states, or possibly both, by joining our efforts in areas that are of interest to the business community. The countries could take turns hosting some of the exhibitions. This could apply to the existing schedules of the main exhibitions venues and sites in our countries.
And fourthly, we would like to discuss the possibility of establishing a council that would coordinate exhibitions, congresses and fairs both within BRICS and the SCO.
We are currently working on these programmes and discussing them with our colleagues. I believe we will succeed, but apart from that, we will offer our colleagues attending this meeting the opportunity to take part in the SPIEF’s key events that will begin on the following day.
Naturally, we would like to invite not only businessmen from the BRICS and SCO states and members of the business councils, but also our partners from the SCO observer nations. We could invite them to this meeting via our partners’ chambers of commerce and industry or via the main unions and associations we cooperate with. This would offer great opportunities for Russian businesses and new contacts for the visiting entrepreneurs. I hope they would like to meet both Russian business representatives and those who come to attend the SPIEF.
We suggest holding the second part of this event in Ufa – that it the BRICS and SCO Business Council meeting itself. And here we have a request for you. There is a tradition, as you may know, for the BRICS leaders to meet with the BRICS Business Council. We want to ask you to include a meeting with BRICS business representatives on the Ufa event’s agenda. They made this request as well. We support it and we would like you to schedule this meeting.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Do you mean a meeting of the heads of BRICS member states’ delegations?
SERGEI KATYRIN: Yes. I am sure our colleagues on the business councils would like to have this meeting as much as we do.
As you may remember, at our previous meeting in Fortaleza this year we presented all the leaders with the annual report. The next report will also be prepared. In February, we are meeting with our partners in Brazil. Their presidency is not over yet, they will pass it on to us in February and among other things, we will discuss the annual report that we intend to present to state leaders in Ufa.
We also maintain remote contact with our BRICS colleagues – they are rather far away and it is not so easy to communicate with them. As was suggested by the Russian delegation last year, when we were working with the South Africans on a number of issues, we agreed to communicate using the Internet and telecommunications.
We get together at meetings; we remotely draft documents, including the annual report and its sections, within working groups. Then we meet to discuss them. At the meeting in Brazil in February, we will have such a discussion of everything we will have developed by that time and what we will later present to the heads of state.
In other words, we are working on these two blocks in addition to the existing programmes (for various working groups and so forth). We have coordinated our actions with the Foreign Ministry and had discussions with the Presidential Executive Office. We have reached full mutual understanding and support on these issues, and our only request is to schedule a meeting with the business community. They would like this very much.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Fine.
SERGEI KATYRIN: I would also like to discuss a few issues pertaining to exhibitions, if I may.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, of course.
SERGEI KATYRIN: As you may know, Mr President, in Soviet times the development of exhibition sites and venues in the regions (not only in the Soviet Union, but in Russia as well) was not very active. All the exhibition sites were located mainly in two cities: Moscow and St Petersburg. In Moscow, this was the Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy, the Expocentre and the Sokolniki, and in St Petersburg we had Lenexpo.
Today we have started developing exhibition sites on the territory of the Russian Federation practically from scratch after Soviet times. Our opportunities here are limited so far, firstly because these things take time to build, and secondly because we intend to do it strictly on a public-private partnership basis.
When you took part in the Board meeting of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, you instructed the Industry and Trade Ministry jointly with the CCI to develop a concept for developing exhibition and fair activities in the Russian Federation. Together with the Ministry, we have prepared the concept and the Government of the Russian Federation approved it.
However, we are currently having certain problems implementing it. Today, property tax (the tax on land and assets) is based on cadastral value. This value nowadays is such that the burden on certain facilities has grown significantly, thus the tax burden on the Expocentre has gone up 2.4 times this year, and it will grow another 2.75 times next year and so on. For taxation purposes, exhibition sites are equal in terms of their cadastral value to commercial, office or residential space. Obviously, the profitability of those spaces and of exhibitions is different.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Have you discussed this with the Government?
SERGEI KATYRIN: Yes, we have, and not only with the Government. We had a discussion with the Russian Popular Front (ONF) prior to their forum, though we did not have a chance to raise it with you during the meeting.
Cadastral value is a concern for many, for small businesses and others. However, we are raising it in regard to exhibitions…
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I see, the profit rate is different.
SERGEI KATYRIN: Yes, the rate of return is different.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Have you documented it in any way?
SERGEI KATYRIN: Yes, we have prepared our proposals.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let us see them.
December 17th, 2014 by Kim Ives
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe resigned at almost midnight on Sat., Dec. 13, culminating a tumultuous week of demonstrations, diplomatic theater, and backroom political maneuvering.
But the move, which some opposition leaders had known was coming for about two weeks, was too little, too late. Another giant march of thousands surged through Port-au-Prince on Dec. 16, the 24th anniversary of the 1990 landslide victory of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, demanding President Michel Martelly’s resignation and the immediate withdrawal of the remaining 6,600 United Nations military occupation troops deployed in Haiti since June 2004 as the UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH).
“Lamothe was just the smallest part of a trinity holding Haiti down,” said Oxygène David of the Dessalines Coordination (KOD), a party formed in February. “The other two elements are Martelly and MINUSTAH. They also must go for Haiti to have democracy and sovereignty.”
Jordanian MINUSTAH soldiers fired leveled weapons at a huge anti-Martelly demonstration on Dec. 12 in Port-au-Prince, killing one man, Jean Mario, and wounding several others, including Monvil Gétro, Vladimir Castry, and Jeanel Pierre. Several videos,which have already had tens of thousands of views, show UN soldiers pointing and shooting directly at protestors, who respond with jeering, chanting, and rock-throwing.
The demonstrations of Operation Burkina Faso, as the uprising is called, continued in the capital on Dec. 13 but were dispersed by police gunfire and teargas at the Champ de Mars in downtown Port-au-Prince. A video by Le Nouvelliste shows the body of a demonstrator who had been clearly shot through the chest. According to the Miami Herald, police spokesman Gary Desrosiers said “no one died” and “there were no great incidents,” claiming that police were investigating the death. He told the Herald it looked like people “put the body there.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry cancelled his planned Dec. 12 visit to Haiti due to the unrest and the failure of two State Department officials, Thomas Shannon and Thomas Adams, to broker a deal during their visit last week trying to keep the Martelly regime from crumbling.
Praise for Lamothe from U.S. Ambassador Pamela White and former President Bill Clinton also helped fan the flames of rebellion. “This is the most consistent and decisive government I’ve ever worked with across a broad range of issues,” Clinton told the Herald, enraging many Haitians.
There were also demonstrations on Dec. 12 and 13 in Cap Haïtien, Gonaïves, Ouanaminthe, and Petit Goâve, where daily demonstrations block National Road #2 to the south. Martelly partisans such as former Sen. Youri Latortue in Gonaïves, deputy Kenston Jean-Baptiste in Cap Haïtien, and deputy Luckner Noël in Ouanaminthe tried to disperse demonstrators by firing weapons from official vehicles, wounding several people. But the uprising is in full swing, and such repression, like that of the Tonton Macoutes trying to save the Duvalier dictatorship in early 1986, is just gasoline on the fire.
In his resignation speech, which was broadcast just after 1:30 in the morning, Lamothe made no mention of the demonstrations rocking the country but just listed the supposed accomplishments of his 31 months in office, during which he burned through $5.5 billion in international aid to Haiti while the population fell deeper into poverty and hunger. It sounded more like a campaign speech for the presidential run many expect he will mount in late 2015.
In a Dec. 15 interview with Bloomberg News, Lamothe said that “the opposition, of course, is never going to want the government to succeed” and blamed the political crisis on six senators who “have been sitting on the electoral law for the past nine months… so Haiti cannot have elections.” He also struck a martyr-like pose, saying he had made the “ultimate sacrifice” to “clear the way forward for elections” and had no plans “right now” for any presidential bid.
“As I always said, I would never be part of the problem, and I would always be part of the solution to Haiti’s problems,” Lamothe said. “Being Prime Minister for 31 months, actually the longest serving Prime Minister, it was never about, you know, myself, it was always about Haiti and about the country moving forward.”
(One of the gems of the interview came from the Bloomberg interviewer herself who asked: “The fact that the opposition party, just as you said, will never want to see the government succeed, why don’t we focus on that? Shouldn’t that be a reason to nullify this opposition party? Because you need a strong government…”)
“Lamothe was in fact one of the links in the chain of catastrophes which have battered the country since May 14, 2011,” when Martelly was inaugurated, wrote Berthony Dupont in Haïti Liberté’s editorial this week. “But nothing has really been accomplished as long as Martelly remains in power.”
December 17th, 2014 by Michael Snyder
The 8th largest economy on the entire planet is in a state of turmoil right now. The shocking collapse of the price of oil has hit a lot of countries really hard, but very few nations are as dependent on energy production as Russia is. Sales of oil and natural gas account for approximately two-thirds of all Russian exports and approximately 50 percent of all government revenue.
So it should be no surprise that the fact that the price of oil has declined by almost 50 percent since June is absolutely catastrophic for the Russian economy. And when you throw in international sanctions, wild money printing by the Central Bank of Russia and unprecedented capital flight, you get the ingredients for an almost perfect storm. But those of us living in the western world should not be too smug about what is happening in Russia, because the nightmare that is unfolding over there is just a preview of the economic chaos that will soon envelop the whole world.
So far this year, the Russian ruble has fallen nearly 50 percent against the U.S. dollar. That is a monumental shift. And as the collapse of the ruble has accelerated in recent days, we are seeing scenes in Russia that are reminiscent of the Weimar Republic. For example, just consider the following excerpt from an article that just appeared in the New York Times…
Scenes that Russians hoped had receded into the past reappeared on the streets: Currency exchange signs blinked ever-changing digits, and Russians rushed to appliance stores to buy washing machines or televisions to unload rubles.
“We are seeing an economic crisis,” Natalia V. Akindinova, a professor at the Higher School of Economics, said in a telephone interview. “We are seeing a sharp devaluation of the ruble at a time when the central bank doesn’t have the reserves to influence the market, as it did in the past crises.”
In a desperate attempt to stop the bleeding, the Central Bank of Russia made an astounding move. Last night it raised its key interest rate from 10.5 percent all the way up to 17 percent.
It was hoped that this desperate move would keep the ruble from plummeting any further.
And it did work for a few minutes, but then the collapse of the ruble resumed. This is how Zero Hedge described the carnage…
For those wondering if the CBR’s intervention in the Russian FX market with its shocking emergency rate hike to 17% overnight calmed things, the answer is yes… for about two minutes. The USDRUB indeed tumbled nearly 10% to 59 and then promptly blew right back out, the Ruble crashing in panic selling and seemingly without any CBR market interventions, and at last check was freefalling through 72 74, and sending the Russian stock market plummeting by over 15%.
So why is this happening now?
Well, the biggest reason for the freefall of the ruble is the fact that the Central Bank of Russia just printed up about 625 billion rubles and gave it to their friends at Rosneft.
Rosneft is an absolutely massive oil company that is controlled by the Russian government. For months, Rosneft has been asking for a bailout (sound familiar?) to refinance loans that can no longer be rolled over with western banks because of economic sanctions.
And on Friday they got one.
In an attempt to quietly slip this massive injection of new money past everyone, Rosneft issued 625 billion rubles worth of new bonds just before the weekend and the Central Bank of Russia gobbled most of those new bonds up with freshly created money. Unfortunately for Rosneft and the Central Bank of Russia, the rest of the world took notice…
With the oil giant in a bind, the central bank ruled that it would accept Rosneft bonds held by commercial banks as collateral for loans.
Rosneft issued 625 billion rubles, about $10.9 billion at the exchange rate at the time, in new bonds on Friday. The identities of the buyers were not publicly disclosed, but analysts say that large state banks bought the issue.
When these banks deposit the bonds with the central bank in exchange for loans, Rosneft will have been financed, in effect, with an emission of rubles from the central bank.
So that is what led to the panic selling that we witnessed on Monday.
Meanwhile, money is being pulled out of Russia at an absolutely staggering pace. As confidence in the ruble and in the Russian financial system disappears, wealthy people are feverishly trying to protect their wealth by moving it somewhere else. The following is an excerpt from an editorial that Mohamed A. El-Erian recently penned for Business Insider…
Rather than bring in buyers at these substantially cheaper levels, Russian currency weakness is inducing more selling, including by a growing number of worried bank depositors who, instead of holding their savings in ruble, are opting for safer dollars. The larger the extent of this “currency substitution,” the bigger the scope for capital flight out of Russia. This puts even greater pressure on the currency, aggravating the output contraction, imported inflation, and the general sense economic and financial instability.
It has been estimated that total capital outflows for 2015 will reach an astounding $128 billion.
And this could just be the beginning of the economic troubles for Russia.
If the price of oil stays this low or goes even lower, the Russian economy will shrink. The only question is how much it will contract…
The Bank of Russia said Monday that the country could sink into a deep recession next year if oil prices remain at $60 a barrel. GDP could contract by as much as 4.7% in 2015, and then by a further 1.1% in 2016 unless oil prices pick up.
Sadly, it isn’t just oil producing nations such as Russia that are going to be devastated by the coming crisis.
Eventually, the entire globe is going to feel the pain.
Last week was the worst week for global financial markets in three years, and so many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed just prior to the great financial crisis of 2008 are happening once again. We have been living in a false bubble of relative stability for the past couple of years, but now time is running out. The next great financial crisis is rapidly approaching, and 2015 promises to be the most “interesting” year that we have seen in ages.
Gold Repatriation and The Monetary Crisis: Austria, Belgium and The Netherlands Want Their Gold Back
December 17th, 2014 by Bill Holter
To say that events are now taking place at the speed of light is an understatement. It was just last Monday, I wrote a missive entitled “The Mother of all Bank Runs”. In it I wrote about the German and Dutch repatriations of gold which was then followed by the Belgians beginning discussions on the same topic. As a final speculation, I mentioned that “logically the Austrians would be next”. There was no way you could have told me it would be less than one week until the same news would actually come out of Austria! Unlike the Germans, Dutch and Belgians who have gold held in N.Y., Paris, and London, Austria holds 80% of their 280 tons of gold concentrated in London. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/
First, “why”? Why is there all of a sudden this rush by Holland, Belgium and Austria to follow Germany’s lead in asking for their gold back. The obvious answer is trust, or better said, lack of trust. For years there have been questions as to whether or not “official gold” has been leased into the markets. These questions have arisen because of the simple math of supply and demand. If China, India and Russia have been gobbling up 100% of current mine supply… then where is the supply coming from to meet the demand from the rest of the world? If there was no trust issue whatsoever, these central banks would not “bother” with where this gold is being held because it brings up questions central banks would prefer you not think about. These questions would obviously include “why” move the gold if it is already “safe”? It also brings up the question of why bother if gold is really not important in today’s financial world …as many central banks will have you believe?
You see, for central banks to ask for their gold must mean it has some importance to them, right? For that matter, why have these countries not asked for dollars, pounds or euro’s (from France) for the values of the gold held? Why are these central banks asking for the actual metal? The answer of course is because they know gold is real money and there is no substitute… in other words, there is nothing “as good as gold” when it comes to money. I cannot stress enough how big these actions are because these are central banks bringing publicity to gold in a manner showing just how important the gold really is to them! Let’s move on to other questions rather than rehash last weeks missive. Why and why now are the main questions but I believe these two are wrapped up by “why these four countries”? What this obviously leads us to is the very real potential that the Eurozone which is an imperfect union, will now be “splittable”! These four countries are the center of the “have’s” with the rest of Europe being “have nots” for the most part. These four country’s gold reserves amount to roughly 4,000 tons. Officially they would be number two in the world behind the U.S., assuming the U.S. has not already divested their gold (I believe we have), “unofficially” this 4,000 tons would make them number two behind China if you believe they 8,000 tons of gold or more (which I do). These four countries with reserves of 4,000 tons will have the ability to set up a northern or “Nordic euro” …especially if China revalues gold and re sets the world’s financial system which looks very probable in my eyes.
Repatriating their gold also does something else which few have thought of so far. Actually having their gold in hand may just allow them to purchase energy from Russia. Remember, Russia is testing their own clearing system to bypass the West’s SWIFT system. Would Russia possibly refuse Western currencies for their energy exports if they had a system up and running which could clear rubles and yuan? You bet they would, especially during a time of financial war. Is gold a western currency? Is it an eastern currency? No, gold is the ULTIMATE currency, even Alan Greenspan concedes this! This theory of a possible European breakup into northern and southern euros has more legs if Russia were to accept the new Nordic” for trade but refuse the “southern euro”. Would Russia have more “confidence” and thus be more likely to accept the northern euro …if it is supported by gold? Gold that is actually accounted for and held within these countries own vaults as opposed to vaults controlled by N.Y. and London?
The answer of course is “yes” but it also brings up another question which has a very humorous answer! For a little background before I ask the question, do you remember why all of this gold was moved to London and New York all those years ago? That’s right, there was a fear Stalin or one of his successors would roll tanks across Europe and take the gold …so the further away from Russia this gold was …the better! Fast forward to present day, isn’t Mr. Putin and Russia the “scary and aggressive” potential invaders of Europe? Why would these countries want their gold within their borders at this EXACT point in time if they have any worries of an aggressive neighbor called Russia? Does this make any sense at all? It does, and the humor is that these four countries apparently trust Mr. Putin and Moscow more than they do the U.S., Britain and the West!
Let me wrap this up and speculate a little as to what I believe is happening because it is clear something IS happening. It can be no coincidence these four core European countries want to repatriate their gold. It is also clear this action signals a change of some sort in their “relations”. For this “block” of countries (which is exactly what I believe they will be seen to be) to remove gold from the West and placing it within marching distance from Moscow tells me they trust “us” less than they fear Russia. I also believe they know where this whole game is headed and who is leading it. I believe China will back their currency with a “re marked” price of gold with Russia as their right hand energy man. The game is going toward gold, not away, this Nordic group is simply positioning themselves for when the starting gun is fired.
While the West has tried to “isolate” Russia, we will have succeeded only in isolating ourselves and creating the “cause” for a run on our own banking system. I am not talking about the paper Ponzi scheme banking system as this will also fall, I am talking about an old fashioned and REAL run on the bank! This “run” started slowly and ran for years as China accumulated what we foolishly “gave away”. Now, it looks like the “run” is accelerating and the “core four” are taking the attitude “he who panics first panics best”! None of this had to happen but it has and is, simply because the West has done dirty business and ruined credibility. There is absolutely no rationale whatsoever for these banks to ask for their gold back if it is truly safe and they have full and complete faith in the U.S. as custodian and enforcer of the rule of law.
Please understand, the “core four” IS Europe. Other than Britain, Europe is supposed to be America’s number one ally. It is obvious allegiances all over the world are changing. It is also obvious what is considered as “important” as far as money and currencies are concerned is also changing, otherwise these countries would accept dollars in lieu of their gold.. The West has bled gold, trust and thus credibility while the East (and new northern Europe partners?) has accumulated gold, trust and thus also credibility. “Power” has always followed gold wherever it went.
If gold is leaving London and New York, it is for a very good reason. I believe we may very well see a “Nordic euro” that trades primarily with Russia and China as opposed to the U.S. and Japan. No one has ever run their bank “just for fun”, there has to be a reason. I can see no reason for these four countries to act in unison on this issue unless trust is being questioned and/or a break away from the other deadbeat EU nations is planned …we will see shortly.
Bill Holter, Miles Franklin associate writer.
December 17th, 2014 by Binoy Kampmark
Can the United States, and the world, for that matter, tolerate another Bush in the White House? Jeb Bush is placing his toes in the contesting waters, and suggesting that he just might be in it. As David Freedlander declared in the Daily Beast (Dec 16), the two-time governor of Florida was “considered a White House hopeful since back in the days when his brother was still thought of as an alcoholic oil man destined to play out his Freudian fights with his father in a Kennebunkport backyard.”
The candidacy for the Presidential office is already taking a populist, and absurd shape, and while many contenders are bound to fall on their ill-directed swords in due course, a few have already deserved their short entries in the political who’s who. Vermin Supreme, a seemingly permanent campaigner, deserves his spot as lunatic supreme, or eccentricity divine, with his suggestion that every American receive a pony – gratis.
Showing that a good deal of mirth can be found amidst the serious undermining of the American political process, Supreme has suggested an amendment that will involve, “A well regulated Pony Militia, being necessary to the security of a free Pony State”. Whether doing so will enable “this country to bite back”, as he suggested in an address filled with dental metaphors, is quite another thing. Better that, perhaps, than the insatiable, and heavily fanged military industrial complex.
Then came tentative Jeb Bush, not so much roaring from the fold as moving underneath it by means of a Facebook post, suggesting that he would “actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States” after Thanksgiving chatter with friends and family. A leadership PAC is being proposed, one that “will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans”.
While the language of Jeb shows a few contortionist hallmarks of his brother (“thinking about” running for office and “actively exploring” running for office comes close), it has had its stirring effect. At most, it will have the potential to unhinge others in the GOP running pack, who have heard nothing so much as a squeak from the Bush dynasts over candidature prospects.
The public relations specialists have had to say otherwise, but establishment conservatives such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the failed previous candidate Mitt Romney will be looking over shoulders and backs. The populists will also have to take note. Everyone’s knives are going to be sharpened even as they count their donor dollars.
Several matters on the Jeb platform are deemed troubling for any chances. Common core curricula will be a grand saddling weight, a policy platform endorsed by his troubled non-profit, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and by such moves as joining the group Conservatives for Higher Standards.
Conservative activists, such as the enduring octogenarian Phyllis Schlafly of the religious right, have warned against adopting the Common Core, seen as having the centralist evils of the standard mongers. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have openly declared their position against it, asking for an immediate cessation of federal funding. They might just as well as smirked at the idea that anything involving Jeb Bush and appropriate standards of excellence was misguided.
The continuing narrative of the local being the good continues. The usual sovereignty-clipping measures are put forth by the antagonists. Common Core will see the internationalist, UN-backed agenda infiltrate US schools with standards, not to mention such conventions as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Agenda 21, and the UN Law of the Sea Treaty (Mother Jones, Apr 18).
Suspicions of elitism also prevail – the Common Core scheme was cooked up by two Rhodes scholars, the classicist David Coleman and physicist Jason Zimba, suggesting an Oxford taint and a rude pointer against philistinism. Then come the funding incentives from the US Department of Education, with a sweetener of $4.35 billion in cash from the Race to the Top program, and money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Whether the Common Core factor actually cuts into a Jeb Bush electoral performance is something else. He has little to worry about, suggests the latest number crunching of Nate Silver, given that most Republican voters are either ignorant about it, nor find it so reprehensible. Besides, Bush’s own Foundation for Excellent in Education has been found wanting by the IRS for disguising travel payments as “scholarships”, while appointed officials have been caught improving upon test scores and inflating grades. Standard curriculums can easily fall into standard practices of corruption.
Bush’s opponents will also find much to have a good hack at. They are the old foibles as a prep schooler at Andover, featuring pot and a brief membership of the socialist club. There is the heavily wearing family legacy – George W’s own is stifling and the sons dysfunctional.
Then come those, and these are but a sampling, shady dealings with Camilo Padreda, a former counterintelligence officer of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista regarding financing of buildings with money from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development-backed loans (Mother Jones, Sep 9); and the successful lobbying of father Bush in 1989 to release Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch, alleged to be behind the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 73 people.
On others, Bush is entirely in step with the frightened core of the GOP shell. Women’s liberation has yet to enter his argot. The 1994 campaign saw the contender argue that women on welfare “should be able to get their life together and find a husband.”
Climate change will receive its usual dismissive sneers. Giving the impression of being a Socratic explorer of the fine questions of the age, Jeb B has declared himself to be sceptic. In 2009, he told Esquire that he thought “science has been politicised. I would be very wary of hollowing out our industrial base even further.”
As for the rest, the un-anointed, and the near irrelevant voting constituency who have become spectral in the political contest behind the Presidency, Jeb will be another hollow man meditating over God, the threatened country and wars of sanctimonious deliverance. The pony state protected by constitutional amendment looks deludingly comforting.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]
December 17th, 2014 by Jonathan Cook
Here are two intriguing, related articles in the Guardian on the Scottish independence referendum that achieve two seemingly contradictory goals.
First, they reveal that under pressure from the British PM, David Cameron, the Queen intervened in the referendum back in September by staging a “spontaneous moment” in which she suggested publicly to a well-wisher she had great foreboding about a yes vote for independence.
Second, the articles, while clearly alerting us to the news of this violation of Britain’s supposed constitutional and democratic principles, at the same time present this act by the Queen as “no biggy”.
It’s this kind of reporting that illustrates how the Guardian creates an aura of “leftishness” that wins it plaudits and online clicks precisely while it plays down the true implications of the news it has discovered. To get a sense of how successful a formula it is one only needs to read the talkback section below the news article, where the gravity of what has just been revealed to readers appears to go over most of their heads .
That is because the three authors subtly suggest (against the evidence) both that this was a one-off political intervention by the Queen and that the stakes were so grave that any right-thinking person would have approved of the move.
The mood of the pieces is created through the repeated claim that the Queen is “scrupulously impartial”. Here, early in the news story, for example, we find the line:
The Queen, who has been scrupulous during her 62-year reign in observing the impartiality expected of a constitutional monarch, intervened publicly on 14 September.
I shouldn’t need to point out that that sentence does not qualify as “objective” news reporting by any of the usual definitions accepted in professional journalism.
It could easily have been rephrased in a way that would have maintained the necessary critical distance: e.g.
The Queen, who is supposed according to her constitutional role as monarch to remain impartial at all times, intervened publicly on 14 September.
See how differently that second formulation reads: the language is far more neutral, but it is also far more damning because it juxtaposes the Queen’s supposed role with the fact of her intervention.
Notice also this next par:
She spoke out after senior Whitehall figures, who were apprised of David Cameron’s concerns that the yes camp was developing an ominous momentum in the final period of the campaign, suggested to the palace that an intervention by the Queen would be helpful.
Remove that one word “ominous” and absolutely nothing is lost of what needs to be conveyed. Add it and the reader is left with the subtle impression that the Guardian agrees with Cameron and the Queen that the yes campaign’s late “momentum” was ominous.
This becomes a nervous tic throughout the two pieces, with the writers adopting the perspective of the Queen and Cameron. With a poll showing a surge of support for the yes campaign,
The news was even worse that Sunday morning as the prime minister and his wife came down to breakfast with the Queen.
Worse, for whom? The Scottish people?
Look at this par too:
It turned out that it was not just the prime minister who had his work cut out that week, as No 10 went into “meltdown” – in the words of one senior Downing Street source – as the full (peaceful) force of the British state was mustered to save the union. Senior figures in Whitehall were so worried by the prospect of a collapse of the union that it was suggested to the palace that it would be immensely helpful if the Queen could say something publicly.
Look at how respectful the language used here is: “work cut out”, “mustering peaceful force”, “saving the union”, “immensely helpful”, “say something publicly”. All of this Guardian curtseying conceals the reality of the situation: over the marmalade, Cameron and the Queen were plotting to subvert a democratic referendum.
I am not suggesting that the Guardian writers and editors are involved in some sort of linguistic conspiracy here. But I am suggesting that we need to examine examples like this of their unthinking use of language (and there are dozens of examples every day in the paper’s news reports) to understand the deeper values of the paper.
The Guardian is billed as the most “leftwing” newspaper in Britain and yet the concerns I raised above occurred to none of its most senior staff – those who wrote this piece, edited it, lawyered it and approved it (including Alan Rusbridger himself). How is that possible in a truly leftwing newspaper?
It isn’t. And that is because the senior staff of the Guardian are part of the outer fringes of the establishment. They may be critical of particular instances of misdeeds by British institutions and individual office holders, but such criticism invariably occurs within a wider respect, often verging on reverence, for the system itself.
December 17th, 2014 by J. D. Heyes
No doubt in a sop to their corporate masters, a bipartisan group of lawmakers reached a deal just days ago to allow, for the first time, pension benefits of current retirees to be severely cut.
As reported by The Washington Post and MSN, the deal was necessary, say its backers, in order to save some of the most distressed pension plans. But what it will really do is pull the economic rug out from underneath millions of aged retirees when the economy remains sluggish and they are at their most vulnerable.
2014 Spending Bill last-minute attachment saves pension plans, not pensioners
The Post reported:
The rule would alter 40 years of federal law and could affect millions of workers, many of them part of a shrinking corps of middle-income employees in businesses such as trucking, construction and supermarkets.
The amendment was attached – without prior publication or announcement, of course – to the $1.01 trillion spending bill just passed by the House and Senate.
The rule change will “apply to multi-employer pensions, where a group of businesses in the same industry join forces with unions to provide pension coverage for employees. The plans cover some 10 million U.S. workers,” said the Post.
Millions will lose benefits when they can least afford to
The paper reported that, overall, there are about 1,400 multi-employer pension plans in existence, and many still remain in good fiscal condition. Those would not be affected by the deal. But several dozen plans have failed while several more larger plans are facing insolvency.
Over the next 20 years, as many as 200 multi-employer plans that cover 1.5 million workers are in danger of running out of funds. And half are believed to be in such bad shape that they are likely to ask for permission to reduce pension payments to recipients in the very near future.
“We have to do something to allow these plans to make the corrections and adjustments they need to keep these plans viable,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., who, with Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., led efforts to hammer out a deal. Naturally no congressional pension plans are in danger of running out of funds – not as long as taxpayers continue to fund them.
As you might have guessed, the provision has angered retirement security advocates. They say that giving pension plans permission to cut benefits and payments will only lead to additional cuts later.
“After a lifetime of hard work to earn their pensions, retirees don’t deserve to receive a bad deal, in which they have had no say, cut behind closed doors and excluding the very people who would be impacted the most,” Joyce Rogers, a senior vice president for AARP, the lobbying giant lobbying group for older Americans, said in a statement, as reported by the Post.
Worse, there are some unions and retirement fund managers – those who supposedly stand up “for working Americans” – supporting this deal (the Post said they are “reluctantly” supporting it, but it is support nonetheless). They have said they see the deal as necessary to prevent the plans from running out of money (which, as our editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, says will happen anyway – more on that in a moment).
“This bipartisan agreement gives pension trustees the tools they need to maintain plan solvency, preserves benefits for the long haul, and protects the 10.5 million multiemployer participants,” Randy G. DeFrehne, executive director of the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans said in a statement, according to the Post. “With time running out on the retirement security of millions of Americans, moving this bipartisan proposal forward now is not only timely, but necessary.”
A year-and-a-half ago, in a piece for Natural News, Adams predicted the decline and fall of pensions – private, for sure, but also public pensions. With the declaration of bankruptcy by the city of Detroit in the headlines, Adams wrote:
Yes, Detroit owes former government employees – teachers, firefighters, cops and more – a whopping $3.5 billion in current and future payments. Except Detroit doesn’t have $3.5 billion to pay the pensions. The city is in a state of economic collapse. Remember, the U.S. government used billions in taxpayer money to help General Motors move its manufacturing offshore to countries like China. As a result of economically-insane actions and criminal mismanagement, a city that used to be the hub of industrial output in America has become a ghost town of abandoned buildings, crumbling infrastructure and financial destitution.
But even as all this was becoming apparent, the government workers there continued to collect fat paychecks and pensions, all based on the promise that endless population growth would outpace the rise in pension obligations. Many pensioners are owed over $100,000 a year from the government, and this is true across California, Illinois and many other states as well.
Chicago, for example, owes $19 billion in pension payments that it doesn’t have, and the city of Los Angeles is more than $30 billion in the hole. The story is much the same in every major U.S. city.
Read the Health Ranger’s full report here.
December 17th, 2014 by Marjorie Cohn
Reading the 499-page torture report just released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was a disgusting experience. Even after many years of writing books and articles about the Bush torture policy, I was unprepared for the atrocious pattern of crimes our government committed against other human beings in our name.
One of the most hideous techniques the CIA plied on detainees was called “rectal rehydration” or “rectal feeding” without medical necessity – a sanitized description of rape by a foreign object. A concoction of pureed “hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts and raisins” was forced into the rectum of one detainee. Another was subjected to “rectal rehydration” to establish the interrogator’s “total control over the detainee.” This constitutes illegal, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a humiliating outrage upon personal dignity.
Several detainees were waterboarded, a technique whereby water is poured into the nose and mouth to cause the victim to think he’s drowning. One detainee in CIA custody was tortured on the waterboard 183 times; another was waterboarded 83 times. Waterboarding has long been considered torture, which is a war crime. Indeed, the United States hung Japanese military leaders for the war crime of torture after World War II.
One of the most hideous techniques the CIA plied on detainees was called “rectal rehydration” or “rectal feeding” without medical necessity – a sanitized description of rape by a foreign object.
Other “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EIT) included being slammed into walls, hung from the ceiling, kept in total darkness, deprived of sleep – sometimes with forced standing – for up to seven and one-half days, forced to stand on broken limbs for hours on end, threatened with mock execution, confined in a coffin-like box for 11 days, bathed in ice water, dressed in diapers. One detainee “literally looked like a dog that had been kenneled.”
The executive summary of the torture report was made public, but the 6,700-page report remains classified. The summary depicts the CIA at best, as keystone cops, at worst, as pathological, lying, sadistic war criminals. The CIA lied repeatedly about the effectiveness of the torture and cruel treatment. Interrogations of detainees were much more brutal than the CIA represented to government officials and the American public.
Bush’s CIA directors George Tenet, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden should be charged with crimes, along with their minions who carried out the torture.
Obama Violates Constitutional Duty
In light of the gruesome revelations in the torture report, it is high time President Barack Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty to enforce the law. The US Constitution states the president ”shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed.” Yet Obama refuses to sanction prosecutions of those responsible for the torture.
When the United States ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Geneva Conventions, we promised to prosecute or extradite those who commit or are complicit in the commission of torture.
The report documents torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, all of which violate US and international law. The War Crimes Act punishes torture as a war crime. The Torture Statute (Statute) provides that whoever “outside the United States” commits or attempts to commit torture shall be imprisoned for not more than 20 years “and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”
The statute defines torture as an “act intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering upon another person within his custody or physical control.”
When the United States ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Geneva Conventions, we promised to prosecute or extradite those who commit or are complicit in the commission of torture. A ratified treaty is part of US law under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Yet the Obama administration persists in its refusal to bring the culprits to justice.
On January 11, 2009, nine days before Obama was sworn into office, George Stephanopoulos of ABC News confronted the newly elected president with the “most popular question on your own website, change.gov”- whether Obama would investigate torture by members of the Bush administration. Obama responded:
“I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand, I also have a belief that we need to look forward, as opposed to looking backward . . . At the CIA, you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders, lawyering up . . . “
Now we know that many of those people at the CIA were using their extraordinary talents to devise new and more horrific ways to torture, humiliate, degrade and mistreat the people under their control.
To his credit, shortly after he was inaugurated, Obama signed an executive order banning torture. But hunger strikers at Guantánamo are still force-fed, a practice that violates the Torture Convention, according to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT).
In 2009, US Attorney General Eric Holder ordered an investigation headed by veteran prosecutor Assistant US Attorney John Durham. But, two years later, Holder announced that his office would investigate only the deaths of Gul Rahman and Manadel al-Jamadi, who died while in CIA custody. Holder said that the US Department of Justice had “determined that an expanded criminal investigation of the remaining matters is not warranted.” With that decision, Holder made clear that no one would be held accountable for the torture and abuse except possibly for the deaths of Rahman and al-Jamadi.
Torture is who President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are.
Ultimately, the Obama administration gave a free pass to those responsible for the two deaths. Rahman froze to death in 2002, after being stripped and shackled to a cold cement floor in the secret Afghan prison known as the Salt Pit. Al-Jamadi died after he was suspended from the ceiling by his wrists, which were bound behind his back. Military police officer Tony Diaz, who was present during al-Jamadi’s torture, said that blood gushed from his mouth like “a faucet had turned on” when he was lowered to the ground. A military autopsy determined that al-Jamadi’s death was a homicide.
Nevertheless, Holder said that “based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths, the department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Torture is Who They Are
After the report was made public, the White House issued a statement calling the CIA interrogation program “harsh” and the treatment “troubling” – a study in understatement. Obama said that torture “is contrary to who we are.”
But torture is who President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are. Under the well-established doctrine of command responsibility, commanders are liable for war crimes if they knew, or should have known, their subordinates would commit them and they did nothing to stop or prevent it.
In 2008, ABC News reported that the National Security Council Principals Committee consisting of Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Tenet and Ashcroft met in the White House and micromanaged the torture of terrorism suspects by approving specific torture techniques such as waterboarding. Bush admitted in his 2010 memoir that he authorized waterboarding. Cheney, Rice and Yoo have made similar admissions.
Indeed, Cheney recently admitted on Fox News that Bush “was in fact an integral part of the interrogation program, and he had to approve it.” Cheney added, “We did discuss the techniques. There was no effort on our part to keep him from that.” Karl Rove told Fox News that Bush was “intimately involved in the decision” to use the EIT. Rove said Bush “was presented, I believe, 12 techniques, he authorized the use of 10 of them, including waterboarding.”
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice should be should be prosecuted for their crimes.
The Senate report contains example after example of why “the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation.” It says: “Multiple CIA detainees fabricated information, resulting in faulty intelligence . . . on critical intelligence issues including the terrorist threats which the CIA identified as its highest priorities.” Yet the CIA continually lied that the EIT “saved lives.”
The Legal Mercenaries Should Be Prosecuted
The report says the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) relied on the CIA’s numerous misrepresentations when crafting OLC memos authorizing the techniques.
Yoo, Bybee and company knew very well that the techniques the CIA sought to employ were illegal.
But the report gives OLC lawyers, including Deputy Assistant US Attorney General John Yoo (now a law professor at Berkeley) and Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee (now a federal appellate court judge), free passes by failing to connect the dots leading to their criminal responsibility as war criminals.
The OLC’s infamous “torture memos” contain twisted legal reasoning that purported to define torture more narrowly than US law allows. The memos advised high Bush officials how to avoid criminal liability under the War Crimes Act.
Yoo, Bybee and company knew very well that the techniques the CIA sought to employ were illegal. Their August 1, 2002, memo advised that attention grasp, walling, facial hold, facial slap (insult slap), cramped confinement box and the waterboard passed legal muster under the act. They knew these techniques constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in violation of the Torture Statute, and the Torture Convention.
The report also fails to connect the dots to the Pentagon.
The Torture Convention is unequivocal: ”No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.” In light of that clear prohibition, the OLC lawyers knew that “necessity” and “self-defense” are not defenses to torture. Whether the CIA was being forthright about the necessity for, or effectiveness of, the techniques was irrelevant to the faulty legal analysis in the torture memos.
Moreover, after the report was released, Cheney told The New York Times: “The program was authorized. The agency did not want to proceed without authorization, and it was also reviewed legally by the Justice Department before they undertook the program.”
Bush’s attorneys general, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft and Michael Mukasey, who oversaw the DOJ, should be criminally charged, together with the OLC’s legal mercenaries.
“The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in [the Senate] report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.”
The report also fails to connect the dots to the Pentagon. In December 2002, Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques that included the use of dogs, hooding, stress positions, isolation for up to 30 days, 20-hour interrogations, deprivation of light and sound, using scenarios to convince the detainee that death or severely painful consequences are imminent for him and/or his family, and using a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation.
And the report gives short shrift to the extraordinary rendition program, where detainees were illegally sent to other countries to be tortured. The report refers to “renditions,” which are conducted with judicial process. But detainees were rendered to black sites in Syria, Libya and Egypt in order to avoid legal accountability.
“The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in [the Senate] report must be brought to justice and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes,” according to Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism and Human Rights. And the UN’s CAT said the Obama administration has failed to investigate the commission of torture and punish those responsible, including “persons in positions of command and those who provided legal cover to torture.”
A special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate those from the CIA, the DOJ, and the high officials of the Bush administration who violated, or aided and abetted the violation of, our laws banning torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The full 6,700-page Senate report should be declassified.
“Torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction. The perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country they may travel to.”
But Obama said, “Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong – in the past.” Yes, these crimes were committed in the past. Crimes are always prosecuted after they are committed. Obama should be reminded of his constitutional duty to enforce the law.
If we don’t bring the offenders to justice, they could eventually get their due when other countries prosecute them under “universal jurisdiction.” Some crimes are so atrocious that countries can punish foreign nationals, the way Israel tried, convicted and executed Adolph Eichmann for his crimes during the Holocaust, even though they had no direct connection to Israel. Emmerson also said, “Torture is a crime of universal jurisdiction. The perpetrators may be prosecuted by any other country they may travel to.”
The only way to prevent others from using torture and cruel treatment in the future is to bring those responsible to justice.
The following grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions constitute war crimes punishable under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), when committed as part of a plan or policy: torture, willful killing, inhuman treatment, and willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health. The Senate report documented instances of willful killing (death); great suffering (hysterical, asking to die, attempts at self harm); and serious injuries (placed on life support, hallucinations) caused by the EIT. Yoo admitted in his 2006 book that the denial of Geneva protections and coercive interrogation “policies were part of a common, unifying approach to the war on terrorism.”
Although the United States is not a party to the ICC, other countries could prosecute US nationals under universal jurisdiction for the core crimes in the Rome Statute.
Obama declared, “Hopefully, we don’t do it again.” But Obama’s hopeful sentiments won’t do the trick. The only way to prevent others from using torture and cruel treatment in the future is to bring those responsible to justice. We must send a message to would-be torturers that they will not enjoy impunity for their crimes. Torture has no statute of limitations.
In light of the torture report, the responsibility for the US targeted killing program – by drones and manned bombers – should be removed from the CIA, which cannot be trusted with such awesome responsibility.
Indeed, the entire targeted killing program should be the subject of the next congressional report. Anticipating the imminent release of the torture report, Obama stated, “We did a whole lot of things that were right,” after September 11, “but we tortured some folks.”
The Bush administration did torture some folks. But we are still doing other things that are not right. The Obama administration has avoided adding detainees to the Guantánamo roster by illegally assassinating them without judicial process. For this, members of Team Obama should also find themselves as criminal defendants someday.
Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, a former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and deputy secretary general for scientific work of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse; Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law; and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. She testified twice before Congress about the Bush administration torture policy.
December 17th, 2014 by Global Research News
Syria denounced yesterday’s statement made by EU foreign ministers on the situation in Syria as stressing the deep European involvement in the plot targeting Syria.
The EU statement, an official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said, also affirms the European complicity in shedding the Syrians’ blood.
In a statement to SANA, the Foreign Ministry source dismissed what came in the EU statement as “allegations and lies,” saying they assert that the European Union is apparently going forward with its policy of “systematic misinformation” despite the fact that the entire world now realizes the reality of the aggression against Syria being carried out by armed terrorist groups.
The source highlighted that those groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra, are receiving “unlimited support” by some regional countries and international major powers.
Being “back with former stances” will lead nowhere as far as reaching a solution to the crisis in Syria is concerned, the source stated.
While the EU “is shedding crocodile tears” on the humanitarian suffering of the Syrians, the source said, it overlooks that it is the EU’s policy of backing terrorism in Syria, the economic sanctions imposed on it and the repeated attempts to abort the efforts seeking a way out are the causes behind having Syria’s crisis still dragging on.
Those very causes, the source stressed, are what led to the growth of the terrorist activities that have come to pose a serious threat to the regional and international peace and security, activities which involve thousands of terrorists who came from European states undeterred and under the nose of those states’ intelligence services.
The source went on saying that the stance of the European Union proves that it is “unworthy of having a decent status in the international arena having accepted to be subordinate to the others’ policies and a payer of their bills and a model of hypocrisy with it renouncing the very values it advocates.”
The Foreign Ministry source stressed that the EU’s statement and other similar statements will only make the Syrian people and army more confident and determined to achieve victory while they are “proudly” confronting the forces of the obscurantist takfiri terrorism.
December 17th, 2014 by Mike Whitney
“John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price. That would help explain why the price has been falling at a time when, given the turmoil in Iraq and Syria caused by Islamic State, it would normally have been rising.” (Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia, Larry Eliot, Guardian)
U.S. powerbrokers have put the country at risk of another financial crisis to intensify their economic war on Moscow and to move ahead with their plan to “pivot to Asia”.
Here’s what’s happening: Washington has persuaded the Saudis to flood the market with oil to push down prices, decimate Russia’s economy, and reduce Moscow’s resistance to further NATO encirclement and the spreading of US military bases across Central Asia. The US-Saudi scheme has slashed oil prices by nearly a half since they hit their peak in June. The sharp decline in prices has burst the bubble in high-yield debt which has increased the turbulence in the credit markets while pushing global equities into a tailspin. Even so, the roiled markets and spreading contagion have not deterred Washington from pursuing its reckless plan, a plan which uses Riyadh’s stooge-regime to prosecute Washington’s global resource war. Here’s a brief summary from an article by F. William Engdahl titled “The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria”:
“The details are emerging of a new secret and quite stupid Saudi-US deal on Syria and the so-called IS. It involves oil and gas control of the entire region and the weakening of Russia and Iran by Saudi Arabian flooding the world market with cheap oil. Details were concluded in the September meeting by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Saudi King…
..the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been flooding the market with deep discounted oil, triggering a price war within OPEC… The Saudis are targeting sales to Asia for the discounts and in particular, its major Asian customer, China where it is reportedly offering its crude for a mere $50 to $60 a barrel rather than the earlier price of around $100. That Saudi financial discounting operation in turn is by all appearance being coordinated with a US Treasury financial warfare operation, via its Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in cooperation with a handful of inside players on Wall Street who control oil derivatives trading. The result is a market panic that is gaining momentum daily. China is quite happy to buy the cheap oil, but her close allies, Russia and Iran, are being hit severely…
According to Rashid Abanmy, President of the Riyadh-based Saudi Arabia Oil Policies and Strategic Expectations Center, the dramatic price collapse is being deliberately caused by the Saudis, OPEC’s largest producer. The public reason claimed is to gain new markets in a global market of weakening oil demand. The real reason, according to Abanmy, is to put pressure on Iran on her nuclear program, and on Russia to end her support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria….More than 50% of Russian state revenue comes from its export sales of oil and gas. The US-Saudi oil price manipulation is aimed at destabilizing several strong opponents of US globalist policies. Targets include Iran and Syria, both allies of Russia in opposing a US sole Superpower. The principal target, however, is Putin’s Russia, the single greatest threat today to that Superpower hegemony. (The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria, F. William Engdahl, BFP)
The US must achieve its objectives in Central Asia or forfeit its top-spot as the world’s only superpower. This is why US policymakers have embarked on such a risky venture. There’s simply no other way to sustain the status quo which allows the US to impose its own coercive dollar system on the world, a system in which the US exchanges paper currency produced-at-will by the Central Bank for valuable raw materials, manufactured products and hard labor. Washington is prepared to defend this extortionist petrodollar recycling system to the end, even if it means nuclear war.
How Flooding the Market Adds to Instability
The destructive and destabilizing knock-on effects of this lunatic plan are visible everywhere. Plummeting oil prices are making it harder for energy companies to get the funding they need to roll over their debt or maintain current operations. Companies borrow based on the size of their reserves, but when prices tumble by nearly 50 percent–as they have in the last six months– the value of those reserves falls sharply which cuts off access to the market leaving CEO’s with the dismal prospect of either selling assets at firesale prices or facing default. If the problem could be contained within the sector, there’d be no reason for concern. But what worries Wall Street is that a surge in energy company failures could ripple through the financial system and wallop the banks. Despite six years of zero rates and monetary easing, the nation’s biggest banks are still perilously undercapitalized, which means that a wave of unexpected bankruptcies could be all it takes to collapse the weaker institutions and tip the system back into crisis. Here’s an excerpt from a post at Automatic Earth titled “Will Oil Kill the Zombies?”:
“If prices fall any further, it would seem that most of the entire shale edifice must of necessity crumble to the ground. And that will cause an absolute earthquake in the financial world, because someone supplied the loans the whole thing leans on. An enormous amount of investors have been chasing high yield, including many institutional investors, and they’re about to get burned something bad….. if oil keeps going the way it has lately, the Fed may instead have to think about bailing out the big Wall Street banks once again.” (Will Oil Kill the Zombies?, Raúl Ilargi Meijer, Automatic Earth)
The problem with falling oil prices is not just mounting deflation or droopy profits; it’s the fact that every part of the industry–exploration, development and production — is propped atop a mountain of red ink (junk bonds). When that debt can no longer be serviced or increased, then the primary lenders (counterparties and financial institutions) sustain heavy losses which domino through the entire system. Take a look at this from Marketwatch:
“There’s ‘no question’ that for energy companies with a riskier debt profile the high-yield debt market “is essentially shut down at this stage,” and there are signs that further pain could hit the sector, ” senior fixed-income strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, Dan Heckman told Marketwatch. “We are getting to the point that it is becoming very concerning.” (Marketwatch)
When energy companies lose access to the market and are unable to borrow at low rates, it’s only a matter of time before they trundle off to extinction.
On Friday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) renewed pressure on prices by lowering its estimate for global demand for oil in 2015. The announcement immediately sent stocks into a nosedive. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost 315 points by the end of the day, while, according to Bloomberg, more than “$1 trillion was erased from the value of global equities in the week”.
The world is awash in cheap petroleum which is wreaking havoc on domestic shale producers that need prices of roughly $70 per barrel to break-even. With West Texas Intermediate (WTI) presently headed south of 60 bucks–and no bottom in sight–these smaller producers are sure to get clobbered. Pension funds, private equity, banks, and other investors who gambled on these dodgy energy-related junk bonds are going to get their heads handed to them in the months ahead.
The troubles in the oil patch are mainly attributable to the Fed’s easy money policies. By dropping rates to zero and flooding the markets with liquidity, the Fed made it possible for every Tom, Dick and Harry to borrow in the bond market regardless of the quality of the debt. No one figured that the bottom would drop out leaving an entire sector high and dry. Everyone thought the all-powerful Fed could print its way out of any mess. After last week’s bloodbath, however, they’re not nearly as confident. Here’s how Bloomberg sums it up:
“The danger of stimulus-induced bubbles is starting to play out in the market for energy-company debt….Since early 2010, energy producers have raised $550 billion of new bonds and loans as the Federal Reserve held borrowing costs near zero, according to Deutsche Bank AG. With oil prices plunging, investors are questioning the ability of some issuers to meet their debt obligations…
The Fed’s decision to keep benchmark interest rates at record lows for six years has encouraged investors to funnel cash into speculative-grade securities to generate returns, raising concern that risks were being overlooked. A report from Moody’s Investors Service this week found that investor protections in corporate debt are at an all-time low, while average yields on junk bonds were recently lower than what investment-grade companies were paying before the credit crisis.” (Fed Bubble Bursts in $550 Billion of Energy Debt: Credit Markets, Bloomberg)
The Fed’s role in this debacle couldn’t be clearer. Investors piled into these dodgy debt-instruments because they thought Bernanke had their back and would intervene at the first sign of trouble. Now that the bubble has burst and the losses are piling up, the Fed is nowhere to be seen.
In the last week, falling oil prices have started to impact the credit markets where investors are ditching debt on anything that looks at all shaky. The signs of contagion are already apparent and likely to get worse. Investors fear that if they don’t hit the “sell” button now, they won’t be able to find a buyer later. In other words, liquidity is drying up fast which is accelerating the rate of decline. Naturally, this has affected US Treasuries which are still seen as “risk free”. As investors increasingly load up on USTs, long-term yields have been pounded into the ground like a tentpeg. As of Friday, the benchmark 10-year Treasury checked in at a miniscule 2.08 percent, the kind of reading one would expect in the middle of a Depression.
The Saudi-led insurgency has reversed the direction of the market, put global stocks into a nosedive and triggered a panic in the credit markets. And while the financial system edges closer to a full-blown crisis every day, policymakers in Washington have remained resolutely silent on the issue, never uttering as much as a peep of protest for a Saudi policy that can only be described as a deliberate act of financial terrorism.
Why is that? Why have Obama and Co. kept their mouths shut while oil prices have plunged, domestic industries have been demolished, and stocks have gone off a cliff? Could it be that they’re actually in cahoots with the Saudis and that it’s all a big game designed to annihilate enemies of the glorious New World Order?
It certainly looks that way.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].
December 17th, 2014 by Steven MacMillan
Israel is pushing for the European Union (EU) to approve the construction of a pipeline running from the Middle Eastern country to supply Cyprus, Greece and Italy with natural gas. The proposed EastMed pipeline will carry gas from the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields located in the Mediterranean Sea, to Southern Europe. As the Times of Israel reported in an article titled, Israel pitches “massive” natural pipeline to Europe:
Israel has proposed that EU countries invest in a multi-billion euro pipeline to carry its natural gas to the continent, noting that the supply from Israel would reduce Europe’s current dependence on natural gas from Russia… The project would require a multi-billion euro investment from Europe to build a pipeline from Israel’s Mediterranean cost to Cyprus, from where the gas would be carried on to Greece and Italy.
The Cypriot energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis, along with his Greek counterpart Yiannis Maniatis, have both publicly supported the initiative in recent weeks, with officials estimating that the pipeline will have a relatively small capacity of 8-12 billion cubic meters. Construction of the pipeline also presents some technical difficulties as sections of the route would run through deep waters, resulting in EU officials requesting feasibility studies to be conducted.
The West is lacking options with regards to reducing dependence on Russian gas in the foreseeable future and is desperately (and unsuccessfully) trying to find alternatives. Gazprom supplied Europe with a whopping 161.5 billion cubic meters of gas in 2013, whichgives the government in Moscow important leverage over many European nations due to their dependence on Russian energy. This is not going to change in the near future, as the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies concluded in a recent report,: “There is limited scope for significantly reducing overall European dependence on Russian gas before the mid-2020s”,with the report citing only a “combination of LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) and pipeline gas from Azerbaijan” as possible alternatives.
With Bashar al-Assad still in power in Syria, Qatar is blocked from constructing a natural gas pipeline from the South Pars/North Dome gas field in the Persian Gulf to Turkey, which would potentially be extended to supply the European market. Turkey also appears to be moving closer to Russia in recent months, which if true, will reduce the likelihood of Ankara cooperating with any further pipelines being allowed to run through Turkish soil which undermines Moscow, signifying a tectonic shift in Eurasian energy geopolitics.
As relations become increasingly frosty between the belligerent EU and Russia, many in the Washington now seek to split Moscow from Brussels, in attempt to isolate Russia. This strategy will only serve to drive Russia closer to Asia however, and strengthen the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) alliance. Vladimir Putin recently announced the death of the South Stream pipeline due to pressure from Washington and EU Commission bureaucrats on the Bulgarian government, at the same time energy deals were struck with Turkey and India.
Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller was in Ankara at the start of December where he signed a memorandum of understanding on building an “offshore gas pipeline across the Black Sea towards Turkey”. Turkey is Gazprom’s second largest market in Europe with the Russian energy giant supplying 26.7 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2013. Turkey’s political orientation is of vital geopolitical importance in today’s world and it is becoming somewhat of a tug-of-war between Russia and the West over who wields the greatest political influence, with Ankara showing signs of leaning East in recent months despite its membership in NATO.
Putin has also recently visited India where he has cemented bilateral relations between the two nations, agreeing deals in the energy, nuclear and defence sectors. The Indian conglomerate Essar Group, has just signed a $10 billion energy deal to import Russian oil for 10 years beginning in 2015, as the Russian leader is positioning Russia as “a reliable energy supplier to the Asian markets”. Putin said in a statement:
Historically, Russia has exported most of its hydrocarbons to the West. However, European consumption is increasing too slowly, while political, regulatory and transit risks are on the rise.
These deals follow an array of momentous energy deals being signed between Moscow and Beijing in 2014, as well as Russia building stronger ties with Tehran this year.
December 17th, 2014 by RT
No end seems to be in sight for the plight of the Russian ruble, which slumped to new record lows against hard currencies Tuesday. The EUR traded at 93.5 against the ruble, and the USD at 75.
The Russian stock market also went haywire, dropping more than 15 percent as of 2:30pm Moscow time, after it dropped 11 percent the day before. Sberbank, the country’s largest lender, lost 17.77 percent, and VTB, the second biggest bank, fell by 14.29 percent. State-owned oil and gas companies Gazprom, Rosneft, and Surgut also saw shares plummet.
The emergency interest rate hike to 17 percent has failed to halt the ruble’s landslide tumble against hard currencies. The rate increase only calmed the ruble temporarily.
It has accelerated its descent in November and December along with falling oil prices. Investors have been pulling capital out of Russia over geopolitics since earlier this year, and sanctions levied by the US and EU have essentially cut Russia off from Western lending.
Most analysts agree that Russia will enter recession in the first quarter of 2015, including the Economy Minister Aleksey Ulyukaev, and the Central Bank.
Ruble on the run, losing more than 20% against the USD Tuesday, hitting 73.82. Source: Forexlive.com
On Tuesday, the CBR chief Elvira Nabiullina said a higher rate should put an end to investor speculation that has been hitting the ruble.
“We must learn to live in a new reality, to focus more on our own resources to finance projects and give import substitution a chance,” the bank chief said in a televised address Tuesday.
Source: RBK quotes
However, neither the rate increase nor the comments have had a big impact on ruble trading as it continued to slide. Russia’s currency has lost more than 55 percent against the dollar this year, mostly to external factors such as slumping oil and sanctions against Russia.
December 16th, 2014 by Binoy Kampmark
US police forces have been caught off guard by the ground swell of protests against their tactics, notably against minorities. The wearily grim figures of casualties among coloured communities is the primary cause. “Even if we didn’t know a Ferguson, or an Eric Garner or a Michael Brown… They were going on,” claimed Oprah Winfrey on TheGrio.com. The difference now is that such people have ceased to be nameless, assuming haunting forms in the protests that have swept various US cities. Banquo’s scolding ghost is here to stay.
The celebrity drive, spearheaded by such figures as Samuel L. Jackson, who has called upon citizens to protest the grand jury decision not to prosecute Daniel Pantaleo for his lethal chokehold of Eric Garner, is unnerving figures of authority. But for all this, defenders of the police can still be found.
Freshly elected Colorado congressman, Rep. Ken Buck, is one such individual. The United States, he would have people think, is besieged within by criminality – the sort that is going unreported by the terrified. “When was the last time you heard someone call 911 to report an intruder in their home and ask for a congressman to come and help them?” (Raw Story, Dec 15).
For Buck, the police are to be lionised rather than demonised. “Have we forgotten 9/11?” 23 New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority officers paid with their lives on that day. “As district attorney, I see that courage everyday from our law enforcement officers and know the price they pay.”
The New York Police Department itself, or at the very least, its technical side, revealed a form of that skewed courage when its Twitter account almost boastfully reproduced the words of Jack Nicholson’s character from A Few Good Men. The film examines the death of a US marine arising from a Code Red, a disciplinary action deemed illegal by the military, but used with lethal effect in the film. “You can’t handle the truth,” is certainly a statement that cuts both ways, and the tweet vanished in due course. So much for the antics of “motivational Monday”.
In the aftermath of Garner’s death, the NYPD message board, Thee Rant, was filled with fears about an ill-tempered populace. “To all the active cops working, be alert. Put your cellphones away and watch each other’s backs.” An Officer Joe Bolton displayed a genuine degree of tone deafness to the sentiments, penning a message extolling the virtues of the jury system – and the exoneration process. “This is our jury system, and it’s not a lynch mob, it’s a democratic process” (BBC, Dec 4).
Similar points were found on the law enforcement website, PoliceOne. One post features the old notion of individual will, which is a rather seedy way of suggesting that Garner brought it all upon himself, a fateful miscalculation. “Every now and then we win one. Horrible situation, man lost his life but like in the Ferguson case he controlled his own destiny.” Besides, he had pre-existing conditions (read, he was fat).
The Garner killing brought to mind another act of devastating brutality, in 2008, when a thinly built Carl Anne Gotbaum was fairly well smothered at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport by what were termed “corpulent cops”. Whatever the build, the aggression will out, showing that police can be “equal-opportunity offenders” when they choose to be.
A crucial feature of just policing is proportion, tempered by protocols of engagement that preserve, rather than destroy, their target. The militarisation of the police forces in the United States, who often resemble paramilitary entities armed to the teeth, reflects poorly on that balance. The first instinct is to arrest and apprehend – violently. A man illegally selling loose cigarettes on a street corner in Staten Island can pay with his life when brutally manhandled and choked.
The roots of this violent disposition reflect various operating rationales that revolutionised approaches to policing in New York in 1994. John Podhoretz, writing in Commentary (Dec 3), insists that the hallmarks of that revolution in approaching crime – one he claims was “correct” – involved treating the monstrous criminals, and the petty ones, as essentially one and the same. “Someone who jumped a subway turnstile, or someone who sold loose cigarettes, was more likely than not to be wanted for a more serious offence.”
Major criminals, by virtue of this reasoning, get away – there is no fish small enough to fry by the law enforcement authorities. “This inspired strategy helped save New York City, and its adoption across the country helped save the nation from the most pressing domestic problem it faced from the 1960s to the 1990s.” While Podhoretz does admit that the treatment of Garner was inappropriately, and needlessly brutal, he also warns against the temptation to “defang cops”, something which is bound to invite “a return to trouble.” This, despite a supposedly dramatic fall in crime over the last two decades.
Such assumptions fly in the face of empirical rules, showing the bind that often happens when approaching criminality. Rather, it becomes a rule of supposition – if a person is committing a small offence, he is bound to be a really bad egg in need of breaking. It is precisely that supposition that is being challenged.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]
December 16th, 2014 by Michael Hudson
Transcript of video interview with Prof. Michael Hudson (scroll down for video)
SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.
President Vladimir Putin is on his way to India to discuss a gas and arms deal. Last week, he was in Turkey talking about diverting what was to be a South Stream pipeline away from Southern Europe to Turkey. At the APEC summit, he was squaring off deals with China for oil and gas. It is clear that Russia is pivoting to Eurasia.
Here to discuss all of this is our regular guest Michael Hudson. Michael Hudson is distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His latest books are The Bubble and Beyond and Finance Capitalism and Its Discontents.
Thank you so much for joining us, Michael.
MICHAEL HUDSON, PROF. ECONOMICS, UMKC: It’s good to be here.
You’re right. Since the last time we talked, which was almost a month ago, the entire world’s geopolitics, its trade patterns and its military alliances, have radically changed. And as you point out, most of this is because Russia has given up on Europe and reoriented its oil and gas trade, and also its military technology and its military alliances, towards Eurasia.
Last week, President Putin gave a speech saying there was no point in his talking to the European leaders anymore; he was going to go to the people who pay them, the United States. He said, as long as they take their advice from the U.S. administration, he might as well pay for the people who are–talk to the people who were controlling them. And that’s what he’s doing.
So the result of these changes is the opposite of what American strategy was based on for the last half-century, the idea of dividing and conquering Eurasia by setting Russia against China, by isolating Iran, by preventing India, the Near East, and other Asian countries from joining together to create some kind of alternative to the dollar area. In fact, the American sanctions and the new Cold War policy of the neocons are driving these Asian countries together, in association with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as an alternative to NATO, and the BRICS are trying to make an alternative to dealing with the dollar area and with the IMF and the World Bank that represent U.S. policy.
So, regarding Europe, America’s insistence that it join this new Cold War policy by imposing sanctions on Russia, and especially by blocking Russian oil and gas imports, is–aggravated the Eurozone’s austerity, and it’s just turning it into a dead zone. And, a few days ago, a number of German leading politicians, diplomats, and cultural celebrities wrote an open letter in the newspaper Excite to Angela Merkel protesting her pro-U.S. policy and saying that America’s NATO policy and the new Cold War, it threatens just to wreck not only the German economy, but to split up Europe. So, instead of integrating sort of American power and breaking up the rest of the world, Europe and Asia, American policies overplayed its hand and is actually driving all of the rest of the world in a defensive alliance to what they look at as a danger of war. The whole idea of NATO was supposed to be to protect Europe for more. And now, with all of its saber rattling and its offer of heavy weapons to the Ukraine, NATO’s putting Europe in military danger. And this is just–it’s reversed a whole half-century of American foreign policy. And there’s been no discussion of what’s happening in the United States.
Yeah, as you point out, Turkeys already moving out of the U.S.-European orbit by turning to Russia for its energy needs. The South Stream pipeline has been redirected away from Southern Europe to Turkey. Iran is also moving into an alliance with Russia, not only for oil and gas, but for atomic energy and for weaponry and becoming a participating member in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. And now, as you pointed out, India is negotiating trade.
So instead of really hurting Russia, the sanctions have convinced Russia that they have to be independent of manufacturing, independent of Europe, independent of importing food needs from France and other European countries. The result has been to cause a disaster for Lithuanian farm exporters exporters /ˈfrɛntʃɑr/ exporters and others who were looking to European market, to the Russian market. And, in fact, the whole last 20 years, ever since the end of the Soviet Union, the whole idea was to bring Western Europe and Russia together into a market. America has broken that up.
Well, what this does is reverse everything that you’re taught in the political science textbooks. The textbooks say that countries shouldn’t have enemies or friends; they should simply have national interests. America said to Europe, forget your economic interests; you have a friend in us. That means you do what we tell you. You have an enemy in Russia. That means that you have to give up your hope to import oil and gas in Russia, give up your hope of exporting manufacturers in food to pay for this oil, and turn to us. It’s sort of a dream that is technologically impossible, because there simply are no facilities to deliver enough American gas and oil to meet Europe’s energy needs. So the whole neocon strategy of trying to bluff Russia is in danger of backfiring.
The basic idea was very narrow. I think the Obama administration saw that Russia wanted to turn to Europe ever since the Sochi Olympics. President Putin was talking about a closer alliance with Europe. But then Putin opposed the Obama administration’s plan to attack Syria. And this led the neocons to say, okay, we’ve got to attack Russia, and the best way to attack it is to pry Ukraine away. And either that’s going to provoke a Russian invasion, and we can then say, look, Europe needs NATO, you have to depend on us, and the condition is you have to turn against Russia, or else it’s going to just drag Russia down, it’s going to cause the currency to collapse, and Putin will become unpopular, and finally we can get the regime change we want–we can get another Yeltsin in there instead of Putin.
HUDSON: The ruble has indeed taken a dive. But this has not affected the Russian economy very much, because the Russian economy operates on rubles, not on dollars. Putin over the last two years has moved to make the ruble independent of the dollar, just as China and other countries are making their currencies independent of the dollar. So the effect now is that, yes, Russia has fewer dollars, but it doesn’t need dollars because it’s re-denominated its foreign trade in rubles, it’s re-denominated them in Chinese yen. So the Russia-China trade, the Russia-Turkey trade, the trade of all of these non-dollar countries is taking place without dollars. So there’s really no need, particularly, for dollars at all.
The effect of the ruble falling is to increase the price of imports to Russia. And so Russia’s response has been, okay, if we have to pay more for our food, then we’re going to subsidize our own growing of food. And Russian farm output has been rising very rapidly to replace the imports that it was making from Lithuania, from France, and from other European countries. Putin was also saying, now we’re going to begin to subsidize our manufacturing. We cannot depend upon the Germans, the French, or the Europeans for their manufacturing. We’re going to depend on China, on Turkey, and most of all on our own manufacturing. And the sanctions against Russia have actually proved to be a godsend, because it enables Russia to do essentially what it would have liked to do but couldn’t do under international law: to subsidize and protect its own industry. And in these speeches that President Putin gave last week, he said, we now realize that we have to turn away from Europe, that Europe is basically part of Rhode Island in the United States, and we’re just going to subsidize our own industry to the point that we’re self-sufficient in essentials, so that it doesn’t matter what the ruble does, it doesn’t matter what the dollar does. We’re putting together our own banks clearing system as an alternative to the U.S. system. We’re putting together our own currency swaps with other countries. So, essentially Russia and the rest of Asia have been insulating their economies from the United States, just the opposite of the U.S. strategy of trying to make them more dependent on the United States.
PERIES: Michael, with the falling ruble and the controls that the sanctions are having, and also in terms of the sliding oil prices, doesn’t this grossly reduce the capital power that Russia has, particularly in terms of these new trade deals they’re negotiating? Isn’t there large sums of capital necessary to build pipelines and implement the trade deals that they are negotiating at the moment?
HUDSON: The capital to build the pipelines takes two forms. One, it takes the forms of domestic currency. And Russia’s central bank can create enough rubles to defray all of the domestic costs. Russia doesn’t need dollars for domestic ruble costs. And the rest of the costs will be supplied by China. And instead of the Europeans or the Americans making this deal and the other raw materials for the pipelines, China’s making all of this. And China’s providing this on credit. And in exchange for the credit that China and other countries are providing, they’re taking their payments in future oil and gas. So, essentially, Russia’s–doesn’t need the dollar credit and it doesn’t need financial credit. It’s making a currency swap that it’s paying off in future oil and gas deliveries. So what America believed to be a threat turns out to be a paper tiger. It’s a paper financial tiger, something that has almost zero effect on Russia.
PERIES: Right. Michael, I thank you for joining us, as always.
HUDSON: It’s good to be here.
PERIES: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Michael Hudson is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His two newest books are The Bubble and Beyond and Finance Capitalism and its Discontents. His upcoming book is titled Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy.
December 16th, 2014 by Global Research News
Haitian police and UN peacekeepers have attacked protesters with live ammo and chemical agents as several thousand opposition supporters tried to march on the presidential palace, demanding new leadership. Clearly, UN peacekeepers aren’t used to protecting human rights.
December 16th, 2014 by Lloyd Burrell
Cell phones emit microwave radio-frequency radiation. Fact.
This radiation has the ability to penetrate our bodies. Fact.
Our governments do virtually nothing to protect us from these dangers. Fact.
And yet there is strong evidence, multiple peer reviewed studies, to indicate that cell phones cause cancer and other diseases.
Take a look for yourself at these facts.
But first let’s just consider what cancer is.
Cancer And DNA
The National Cancer Institute says,
“Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues…..all cancers begin in cells……cells grow and divide in a controlled way to produce more cells as they are needed to keep the body healthy. When cells become old or damaged, they die and are replaced with new cells. However, sometimes this orderly process goes wrong. The genetic material (DNA) of a cell can become damaged or changed, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division. When this happens, cells do not die when they should and new cells form when the body does not need them.”
So cancer typically involves abnormal cell division and DNA damage and in some cases cells may form a mass of tissue called a tumor.
Types Of Brain Tumor
In the studies done to date cell phone radiation exposures are principally linked to two types of brain tumor, gliomas and acoustic neuromas.
Gliomas, a type of tumor that starts in the brain or spine are typically malignant. Gliomas are particularly deadly. Most people survive only 1 to 3 years after diagnosis.
|Free Download: thousands of studies link cell phone radiation exposures to many different types of cancer. That’s why I’ve put together this summary ‘Cell Phones Can Cause Cancer – 10 Good Reasons’ click here to download.|
The 44 Reasons
1. Cellular Damage: Telecoms giant T-Mobile in Germany commissioned an independent study to review all relevant research on the health risks from wireless telecommunications. It was concluded that,
“On the cellular level, a multitude of studies found the type of damage from high frequency electromagnetic fields which is important for cancer initiation and cancer promotion.”
Brain Tumors And Brain Cancers
2. Significantly Increased Risk of Glioma: Gliomas are becoming increasingly common. The $25 million Interphone Study found that:
“regular use of a cell phone by adults can significantly increase the risk of gliomas by 40% with 1640 hours or more of use (this is about one half hour per day over ten years).”
Source: Table 2 INTERPHONE Study Group. Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use: results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study. Int J Epidemiol (2010); 39(3):675-694.
3. Tumor Risk on Cell Phone Side of Head: Again from the Interphone Study – currently the big daddy of cell phone radiation studies it being the largest and longest study on the link between cell phones and brain tumors – it also found, “tumors were more likely to occur on the side of the head most used for calling”.
4. Harmful Association Between Cell Phone Radiation and Tumors: A review of 23 epidemiological studies by 7 scientists on the link between cell phones and cancer concluded, “harmful association“. One of the reports authors commenting the study results said, “although as a whole the data varied, among the 10 higher quality studies, we found a harmful association between phone use and tumor risk. The lower quality studies, which failed to meet scientific best practices, were primarily industry funded.”
5. Increased Risk For Glioma and Acoustic Neuroma: the studies performed by the Hardell Research Group are widely regarded as being amongst the best. This recent study finds, “A consistent pattern of increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma associated with use of wireless phones.” These findings are consistent with their earlier studies.
6. Temporal Lobe & Glioma Risk: A recent French study found evidence of an increased risk of glioma and temporal lobe tumors. The study found that, “risks were higher for gliomas, temporal tumours, occupational and urban mobile phone use. “. According to EMF watchdog Powerwatch this is an important paper, “that confirms existing studies and which should help move the IARC RF evaluation strongly towards a Group 2A – ‘probable human carcinogen’“.
7. Increased Risk of Acoustic Neuroma in Long-Term Users of Cell Phones: A recent study on 790,000 middle aged women in the UK found that, “women who used cell phones for ten or more years were two-and- a-half times more likely to develop an acoustic neuroma. Their risk of acoustic neuroma increased with the number of years they used cell phones.“
8. Increased Risk of Acoustic Neuroma: Research conducted by Lonn suggests, “an increased risk of acoustic neuroma associated with mobile phone use of at least 10 years’ duration.”
9. Brain Tumor Risk is Higher on ‘Cell Phone’ Side of Head: A research paper that reviewed 11 studies found, “a link between prolonged cell phone usage and the development of an ipsilateral [same side of head as cell phone] brain tumor”.
10. Meningioma: This Swedish study looked at adult brain tumor cases diagnosed over a two year period. Although the study concluded that, “no conclusive evidence of an association between use of mobile and cordless phones and meningioma was found“. The studies authors did say, “an indication of increased risk was seen in the group with highest cumulative use“.
11. Malignant Brain Tumors: Recent work by Hardell looked at long-term use of mobile and cordless phones. In conclusion it was found that, “this study confirmed previous results of an association between mobile and cordless phone use and malignant brain tumours. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that RF-EMFs play a role both in the initiation and promotion stages of carcinogenesis“.
Other Cancers And Tumors
12. Cancer of the Pituitary Gland: The pituitary gland, considered by many to be the “master gland” of the body, is a pea sized organ located in the middle of the base of the brain that produces hormones that play a major role in regulating vital body functions and general well-being. This study (already referenced above) also found that,
“the risk of cancer of the pituitary gland more was more than twice as high among women who used a cell phone for less than five years as compared to never users“.
13. Thyroid Cancer: The thyroid gland is situated in the neck. Using a cell phone against your ear exposes your thyroid to cell phone radiation. A recent Israeli study observing that, “the incidence of thyroid cancer has been on the rise in Israel for more than a decade which matches the rise in the use of cellphones” collected human thyroid cells from healthy patients and subjected them to radiation. The study found, “evidence of changes in thyroid cells in response to electromagnetic radiation”.
14. Melanoma Risk: Melanoma is a cancer that starts in a certain type of skin cell. A Swedish study found “a very clear association between increasing use of mobile phones and increasing rates of head melanoma [ ] in Nordic countries“.
Image: Örjan Hallberg
15. Stem Cell Cancer: In a controversial US study on 29 cases of neuroepithelial tumors, cell phone users accounted for 11 of them. These initial results indicated a near tripling in the risk of neuroepithelial tumors through cell phone use. The published results were revised to reflect a doubling of risk and then reported as not ‘statistically significant’.
16. Oral Cancer: An Israeli study on 460 cases of parotid gland tumors found, “based on the largest number of benign PGT patients reported to date, our results suggest an association between cellular phone use and PGTs [parotid gland tumors].” The parotid is the salivary gland near the cheek where many users hold their cell phone.
17. Parotid Malignant Tumors: Another Israeli study analyzed deaths as recorded on the National Cancer Registry over a 36 year period found, “the total number of parotid gland cancers in Israel increased 4-fold from 1970 to 2006 , whereas other major salivary gland cancers remained stable“.
18. Leukaemia: A comprehensive review of over a dozen studies including studies on exposures from cell tower radiation, TV and Radio broadcast towers concluded, “cancer, especially brain tumour and leukaemia, but all other cancers also“.
19. Lymph Node Cancer: In an Australian study one hundred mice were exposed to RF radiation for two 30-minute periods per day for up to 18 months. The authors called the increased incidence of lymphoma “highly significant”. They added that “it is very unlikely that the faster onset of cancer was due to chance“.
20. Multifocal Breast Cancer: American researchers studied four young women with breast cancer. They found that, “all patients regularly carried their smartphones directly against their breasts in their brassieres for up to 10 hours a day, for several years, and developed tumors in areas of their breasts immediately underlying the phones“.
21. Eye Cancer: A German Study has established a link between uveal melanoma and cell phone radiation and similar exposures. The study “found an elevated risk for exposure to radiofrequency-transmitting devices“. Another study found ocular symptoms and sensations in long term users of mobile phones.
22. Diverse Cancerous Tumors: A Brazilian Study established a direct link between various cancer deaths such as tumors in the prostate, breast, lung, kidneys and liver in Brazil’s third largest city, and cell phone tower radiation exposures. The study found that, “more than 81 percent of people who die in Belo Horizonte by specific types of cancer live less than 500 meters away from the 300 identified cell phone antennas in the city“.
This same study also lists more than a dozen other research papers that have found a link between different cancers and cell phone/cell tower radiation exposures.
Cell Phone Subscriptions And Brain Tumors
23. Cell Phone Subscription Link to Brain Tumors: A U.S. study analyzed the number of cell phone subscriptions and brain tumors in nineteen US states, they concluded,
“the very linear relationship between cell phone usage and brain tumor incidence is disturbing and certainly needs further epidemiological evaluation.“
24. Brain Cancer Incidence Increases Over Time (U.S): another U.S. study of brain cancer incidence trends in relation to cell phone use in the United States found, “there was a statistically significant increasing trend between 1992 and 2006 among females but not among males.The recent trend in 20–29-year-old women was driven by a rising incidence of frontal lobe cancers“.
25. Brain Cancer Incidence Increases Over Time (Europe): Studies carried out in Norway, Finland and the U.K. have identified a similar trend of an increase in the incidence of brain cancer over time. In the UK study the incidence of malignant brain tumors close to where you hold your phone was highlighted.
Source: Mobile Phone Use and Cancer Risk – Research on a Group 2B Carcinogen. Joel M. Moskowitz Ph.D.
Other Effects On the Brain
26. Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) Permeability: The BBB is a membrane which prevents toxic materials from the blood from entering the brain. It was first discovered in 1975 that RF radiation causes the BBB to leak, since then at least a dozen laboratories around the world have corroborated this effect. There’s no consensus on the link between BBB damage and cancer but some studies elude to this.
27. Brain Cell Loss: A Turkish study on adult female rats that were exposed to a 900 MHz electromagnetic field found that, “EMF exposure caused a significant decrease of the…….cell number…… additionally, cell loss can be seen……“. In their conclusions the researchers drew parallels between these exposures and teenagers’ brains that are exposed to cell phone radiation.
28. Brain Activity: Researchers in China exposed 18 participants to RF radiation (LTE) for 30 minutes which was well within international (ICNIRP) cell phone legal limits. They concluded that, “30min LTE RF-EMF exposure modulated the spontaneous low frequency fluctuations in some brain regions.“
29. Brain Blood Flow Affected: This Finnish brain imaging study found that “that the EMF emitted by a commercial mobile phone affects rCBF [regional cerebral blood flow] in humans“. This suggests that cell phone radiation affects neuronal activity.
30. Texting Affects Memory: An Australian study on young adolescents found “students who reported making or receiving more voice or SMS calls per week, and in particular more of both, demonstrated shorter response times on learning tasks, but less accurate working memory”.
One way cancer and other diseases are believed to develop is when the DNA (genetic information) in a cell becomes damaged. This damage mutates the DNA. There are many studies linking cell phone radiation exposures to different types of DNA damage.
31. Single and Double-Strand DNA Breaks: In pioneering work a University of Washington team found DNA single strand breaks from RF radiation exposures on rats in an initial study. A subsequent study found single and double-strand DNA breaks.
32. Various Genetic Effects: An Austrian study analyzed the results of 101 different published articles on the effects of radio frequency EMFs on DNA. The study concluded that, “there is ample evidence that RF-EMF can alter the genetic material of exposed cells“.
33. Increased Rates of Micronuclei: Micronuclei proliferation indicates a type of DNA damage strongly associated with cancer.A Brazilian study found that, “electromagnetic field irradiation [low level cell phone type exposures] during pregnancy leads to an increase in erythrocytes micronuclei incidence in rat offspring“. Several studies have found increased rates of micronuclei in the body following exposures to RF radiation.
34. Heat Shock Proteins (HSPs) Production Decreased: A U.S. study exposed chick embryo’s to RF radiation. They concluded that, “this EMF-induced decrease in HSP70 levels and resulting decline in cytoprotection suggests a mechanism by which daily exposure (such as might be experienced by mobile phone users) could enhance the probability of cancer and other diseases“.
35. Oxidative DNA Damage: the Guler study in Turkey exposed female and male infant rabbits to 1800 MHz radio frequency radiation and found, “GSM-like RF radiation may induce biochemical changes by increasing free radical attacks to structural biomolecules.” Free radical damage is associated with the development of cancer.
36. DNA Strand Breaks: this Austrian study exposed human and rat cells to mobile phone radiation and found, “DNA single- and double-strand breaks”.
37. Changes in Gene Expression: the Belyaev study found that, exposing the “rat brain to 915 MHz GSM microwaves induces changes in gene expression”. Other studies suggest that, “subtle changes of gene expression associated with [disease]”.
38. Genotoxic Effects: the Schwarz study exposed human cells to 1,950 MHz UMTS. It concluded that “UMTS exposure may cause genetic alterations in some but not in all human cells in vitro.”
39. Neurotransmitters Impacted: this Bavarian study followed 60 people over one and a half years following the installation of a new cell phone base station in their village. The study concluded that, “the effects showed a dose-response relationship“, that it had “occurred well below current limits for technical RF radiation exposures” and that these effects have “great relevance for health and [are] well known to damage human health in the long run“. In other words the more people were exposed to cell phone type radiation the bigger the impact on their health.
40. Chromosome Damage: a Belgian study reviewed 16 expert gene monitoring studies from around the world. In 13 of the 16 independent studies performed worldwide it was found that, “RF-exposed individuals have increased frequencies of genetic damage (e.g., chromosomal aberrations)“.
41. Central Nervous System: US based researcher Dr. Henry Lai comments that there are several studies which show that repeated RF exposure at relatively low power caused morphological changes in the central nervous system, “changes in morphology, especially cell death, could have an important implication on health. Injury-induced cell proliferation has been hypothesized as a cause of cancer.“
Reading Between The Lines
The studies don’t tell all of the story. Here are some other things you need to know.
42. Latency Period Before Diagnosis: To put this in the words of researcher Dr. Martin Blank “cancers do not form overnight”. In almost all cases cancerous tumors take many years to form and metastasize” Dr. Martin Blank: Overpowered. This would suggest that we might be sitting on a cell phone radiation cancer time bomb.
43. Cell Phone Radiation Cancer Time Bomb: To give a sense to what this latency period could mean in terms of the incidence of brain tumors in the years to come, researcher Lloyd Morgan produced this alarming graphic showing that brain tumor cases could reach epidemic proportions within the next decade:
44. Flawed Research: Not all of the research points to a link between cell phone radiation and cancer. But then that’s hardly surprising given the lengths some researchers go to, to skew the results. This research paper also lays bare the phenomenon of study bias. This can take many different shapes and forms; insufficient latency time, incorrect definition of “regular” cellphone user, cell phones radiating higher power levels in rural areas not investigated, exposure to other transmitting sources not considered, exclusion of brain tumor cases due to death or illness, etc.
The Tip Of The Iceberg
There is lot of interest surrounding the link between cell phone radiation and cancer. But cancer is only the tip of the iceberg.
Microwave radio-frequency radiation exposures of the type emitted by cell phones are also linked to many other diseases and potentially life threatening illnesses, including:
- sperm damage & male infertility
- vaginal discharge
- vascular system disease
- childhood cancer
- sleep problems
- memory loss
- concentration difficulties
- dizziness and fatigue
- suicidal tendencies
- heart attacks
- bone marrow interference
- altered calcium level in cells
- reduction in night-time melatonin
- suppression of the immune system
- skin symptoms
- lymphatic diseases
- hearing problems
December 16th, 2014 by Jonathan Cook
The floodgates have begun to open across Europe on recognition of Palestinian statehood. On Friday the Portuguese parliament became the latest European legislature to call on its government to back statehood, joining Sweden, Britain, Ireland, France and Spain.
In coming days similar moves are expected in Denmark and from the European Parliament. The Swiss government will join the fray too this week, inviting states that have signed the Fourth Geneva Convention to an extraordinary meeting to discuss human rights violations in the occupied territories. Israel has threatened retaliation.
But while Europe is tentatively finding a voice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, silence reigns across the Atlantic. The White House appears paralysed, afraid to appear out of sync with world opinion but more afraid still of upsetting Israel and its powerful allies in the US Congress.
Now there is an additional complicating factor. The Israeli public, due to elect a new Israeli government in three months’ time, increasingly regards the US role as toxic. A poll this month found that 52 per cent viewed President Barack Obama’s diplomatic policy as “bad”, and 37 per cent thought he had a negative attitude towards their country – more than double the figure two years ago.
US Secretary of State John Kerry alluded to the White House’s difficulties this month when he addressed the Saban Forum, an annual gathering of US policy elites to discuss the Middle East. He promised that Washington would not interfere in Israel’s elections.
According to the Israeli media, he was responding to pressure from Tzipi Livni, sacked this month from Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, triggering the forthcoming election, and opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog, of the centre-left Labor party.
The pair recently made a pact in an effort to oust Netanyahu. Their electoral success – improbable at the moment – offers the White House its best hope of an Israeli government that will at least pay lip service to a renewal of peace negotiations, which collapsed last April. They have warned, however, that any sign of backing from the Obama administration would be the kiss of death at the polls.
US officials would like to see Netanyahu gone, not least because he has been the biggest obstacle to reviving a peace process that for two decades successfully allayed international pressure to create a Palestinian state. But any visible strategy against Netanyahu is almost certain to backfire.
Washington’s difficulties are only underscored by the Palestinians’ threat to bring a draft resolution before the UN Security Council as soon as this week, demanding Israel’s withdrawal by late 2016 to the 1967 lines.
Given the current climate, the Palestinians are hopeful of winning the backing of European states, especially the three key ones in the Security Council – Britain, France and Germany – and thereby isolating the US. Arab foreign ministers met Kerry on Tuesday in an effort to persuade Washington not to exercise its veto.
The US, meanwhile, is desperately trying to postpone a vote, fearful that casting its veto might further discredit it in the eyes of the world while also suggesting to Israeli voters that Netanyahu has the White House in his pocket.
But indulging the Israeli right also has risks, bolstering it by default. That danger was driven home during another session of the Saban Forum, addressed by settler leader Naftali Bennett. He is currently riding high in the polls and will likely be the backbone of the next coalition government.
Bennett says clearly what Netanyahu only implies: that most of the West Bank should be annexed, with the Palestinians given demilitarised islands of territory that lack sovereignty. The model, called “autonomy”, is of the Palestinians ruling over a series of local councils.
The Washington audience was further shocked by Bennett’s disrespectful treatment of his interviewer, Martin Indyk, who served as Obama’s representative at the last round of peace talks. He accused Indyk of not living in the real world, dismissively calling him part of the “peace industry”.
Bennett’s goal, according to analysts, was to prove to Israeli voters that he is not afraid to stand up to the Americans.
Given its weakening hand – faced with an ever-more rightwing Israeli public and a more assertive European one – Washington is looking towards an unlikely saviour. The hawkish foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman used to be its bete noire, but he has been carefully recalibrating his image.
Unlike other candidates, he has been aggressively promoting a “peace plan”. The US has barely bothered examining its contents, which are only a little more generous than Bennett’s annexation option, and involve forcibly stripping hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Israel of their citizenship.
Lieberman, however, has usefully created the impression that he is a willing partner to a peace process. At the weekend he even suggested he might join a centre coalition with Livni and Herzog.
Lieberman is cleverly trying to occupy a middle ground with Israeli voters, demonstrating that he can placate the Americans, while offering a plan so unfair to the Palestinians that there is no danger voters will consider him part of the “peace industry”.
That may fit the electoral mood: a recent poll showed 63 per cent of Israelis favour peace negotiations, but 70 per cent think they are doomed to fail. The Israeli public, like Lieberman, understands that the Palestinians will never agree to the kind of subjugation they are being offered.
The Israeli election’s one certain outcome is that, whoever wins, the next coalition will, actively or passively, allow more of the same: a slow, creeping annexation of what is left of a possible Palestinian state, as the US and Europe bicker.
A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi.
December 16th, 2014 by Washington's Blog
One of the 2 main architects of the American torture program – Air Force psychologist James Mitchell (who personally waterboarded detainees) – still claims that torture produced actionable intelligence:
Mitchell, who admitted he is “biased,” said valuable intelligence was obtained, particularly in the case of Abu Zubaydah, who Mitchell said provided interrogators with the operational structure of al Qaeda that the CIA continues to rely upon.
The claim is not entirely surprising. As shown below, Abu Zubaydah was the poster boy for the alleged necessity and effectiveness of the torture program.
There’s just one wee little problem with his claim …
The Washington Post documents that Abu Zubaydah was literally crazy – as he had suffered a serious head injury years before 9/11 – and that the FBI agent involved in interrogating Abu Zubaydah and reviewing documents at his house (Daniel Coleman) said that everyone knew that Abu Zubaydah was an unreliable source for information.
“This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.”
Indeed, the government has since backed away from all claims that Abu Zubaydah had any role in Al Qaeda or 9/11. For example – in September 2009 – the U.S. government admitted in writing in a court proceeding that Abu Zubaydah had never been a member or associate or supporter of al-Qaeda, was not involved in 9/11, and had no prior knowledge of 9/11:
The Government has not contended in this proceeding that Petitioner [Abu Zubaydah] was a member of al-Qaida or otherwise formally identified with al-Qaida.
Respondent [The United States Government] does not contend that Petitioner was a “member” of al-Qaida in the sense of having sworn a bayat (allegiance) or having otherwise satisfied any formal criteria that either Petitioner or al-Qaida may have considered necessary for inclusion in al-Qaida. Nor is the Government detaining Petitioner based on any allegation that Petitioner views himself as part of al-Qaida as a matter of subjective personal conscience, ideology, or worldview.
The Government has not contended in this proceeding that Petitioner had any direct role in or advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
The Government has not contended that Petitioner had any personal involvement in planning or executing either the 1998 embassy bombings… or the attacks on September 11, 2001.
And yet Abu Zubaydah is a centerpiece of the government’s entire narrative about 9/11, torture and spying.
Kevin Ryan – who has interviewed 9/11 Commissioner Lee Hamilton, Abu Zubaydah’s attorney and other knowledgeable people – documents how central Abu Zubaydah is to the 9/11 Commission Report(footnotes omitted; see original for documentation):
The 9/11 Commission (falsely) called Zubaydah an “al Qaeda lieutenant.” The Joint Congressional inquiry did the same, calling him “al-Qa’ida leader Abu Zubaydah,” and the “Bin Ladin lieutenant captured in March 2002.” As late as 2006, the Justice Department’s Inspector General report on the 9/11 attacks called Zubaydah a “Bin Laden lieutenant.”
When Zubaydah was captured, in March 2002, U.S. government officials touted him asthe biggest catch of the War on Terror, at least until the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM). FBI Director Robert Mueller stated that Zubaydah’s capture wouldhelp deter future attacks. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that Zubaydah could provide a treasure-trove of information about al-Qaeda. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed that Zubaydah was “a man who knows of additional attacks”, who has “trained people to do this”, and was a big fish who had a fountain of knowledge.
The extensive allegations against Zubaydah went on and on, and included that he was:
- along with KSM, one of “Al Qaeda’s top operational managers” – “Counterterrorism Czar”Richard Clarke, in his book Against All Enemies
- “sinister” and “there is evidence that he is a planner and a manager as well. I think he’s a major player.” – Former State Department director of counter-terrorism, Michael Sheehan
- “extremely dangerous” and a planner of 9/11. – State Department legal advisor John B. Bellinger III in a June 2007 briefing.
- a trainer, a recruiter, understood bomb-making, was a forger, a logistician, and someone who made things happen, and made “al-Qaeda function.” – Former CIA station chief, Bob Grenier
- “a close associate of UBL’s [i.e. Bin Laden], and if not the number two, very close to the number two person in the organization. I think that’s well established.” -Donald Rumsfeld
- “a very senior al Qaeda official who has been intimately involved in a range of activities for the al Qaeda.” – Donald Rumsfeld
- a “very senior al Qaeda operative.” – Donald Rumsfeld
- a “key terrorist recruiter and operational planner and member of Osama bin Laden’s inner circle.” – White House spokesman Ari Fleischer
- someone whose capture was a “very serious blow” to al-Qaeda and therefore one of al-Qaeda’s “many tentacles” was “cut off.” – White House spokesman Ari Fleischer
- “one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States.” –President George W. Bush
- “one of al-Qaeda’s top leaders” who was “spending a lot of time as one of the top operating officials of al Qaeda, plotting and planning murder.” –President George W. Bush
- “al Qaeda’s chief of operations.” – President George W. Bush
- “one of the top three leaders” in al-Qaeda. – President George W. Bush
- someone whose interrogation “led to reliable information”, a “prolific producer” of information, with whom originated roughly 25 percent of the information on al Qaeda that came from human sources. – [National Security Agency Director] Michael Hayden
- one of three individuals “best positioned to know about impending terrorist atrocities.” – Michael Hayden
As the myth of Zubaydah grew, it was reported that he was –
- “worth a ton of guys at Gitmo.”
- a “senior bin Laden official” and the “former head of Egypt-based Islamic Jihad.”
- “played a key role in the East Africa embassy attacks.”
- listed as a “trusted aide” to bin Laden with “growing power.”
- in control of al-Qaeda.
- an aide of bin Laden who ran training camps in Afghanistan and “coordinated terror cells in Europe and North America.”
- a “key terrorist recruiter, operational planner, and member of Osama Bin Laden’s inner circle.”
- “bin Laden’s CEO”, and “a central figure in Al Qaeda”
- Bin Laden’s “travel planner.”
- “one of a handful of men entrusted with running the terrorism network in the event of Osama bin Laden’s death or capture.”
- a senior bin Laden lieutenant who was believed “to be organizing al Qaida resources to carry out attacks on American targets.”
- the fourth ranking member of al Qaeda behind Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Muhamed Atef.
- someone who knew the identities of “thousands” of terrorists that passed through al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan
- a colleague of Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber.
- one of bin Laden’s top planners of terrorist operations who knew of al Qaeda plots and cells.
- the “connection between bin Laden and many of al-Qaida’s operational cells.”
- the source of information that UAL Flight 93 was intended to hit the White House.
Because we now know that Zubaydah was never an al Qaeda operative, or even an al Qaeda associate, we are forced into the stunning realization that all of this was false. The questions that should arise from that realization include: How much of what we know about al Qaeda, and how much of the War on Terror, was built on the torture testimony of a man who clearly could not have known anything about al Qaeda at all? [We’ve already documented that Cheney, Rumsfeld and the boys are guilty of war crimes for falsely using 9/11 as a justification for the Iraq war, and noted that Cheney admits that he lied about 9/11.]
But as we know now, the CIA reportedly told Abu Zubaydah during his interrogation that they discovered he was not an al-Qaeda fighter, partner, or even a member. Still, KSM and Bin Alshibh were caught and tortured too.
Given the apparent “mistakes” related to Zubaydah being represented as an al Qaeda leader, there appears to be some serious revision required in the official account of 9/11. However, realistically, at this late date the information attributed to Zubaydah cannot likely be untangled from the official myth behind the War on Terror and the associated actions of the U.S. government. That’s because the torture of Zubaydah was used in support of unprecedented policy changes and actions.
- President Bush personally used the perceived value of Zubaydah’s capture and torture to justify the use of the CIA’s torture techniques as well as the detention of suspects in secret CIA prisons around the world.
- The U.S. government used the questionable intelligence obtained from Zubaydah in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. Officials stated that the allegations that Iraq and al-Qaeda were linked through training people on the use of chemical weapons came from Zubaydah. There was no independent verification of these claims.
- Zubaydah’s torture testimony was also used to justify the use of military tribunals, moving the trial of alleged al Qaeda suspects out of the open civil courts. President Bush asked Congress in a speech in September 2006 to formulate special rules in order to try Abu Zubaydah via military commission in Guantanamo Bay. In fact, in late April 2002 less than one month after Abu Zubaydah’s capture, Justice Department officials stated Abu Zubaydah “is a near-ideal candidate for a tribunal trial.” Ironically, Zubaydah may be the only leading suspect to never face trial.
- In addition to justifying the use of illegal torture techniques, the Bush administrationused Zubaydah’s capture as justification to accelerate its domestic spying program. The claim was that it would allow quick action on the phone numbers and addresses seized during Zubaydah’s capture.
As the Senate torture report notes:
“At times Abu Zubaydah was described as ‘hysterical’ and ‘distressed to the level that he was unable effectively to communicate’. Waterboarding sessions ‘resulted in immediate fluid intake and involuntary leg, chest and arm spasms’ and ‘hysterical pleas’. In at least one waterboarding session, Abu Zubaydah ‘became completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.’”
And Guardian editor Alex Koppelman points out that the Senate torture report shows that Abu Zubaydah became as compliant as a trained dog after being repeatedly tortured … and yet they still kept torturing him:
Abu Zubaydah was so compliant he was basically a trained dog and still they kept torturing him.
How can the cases for torture or mass surveillance stand when poster boy Abu Zubaydah was as nutty as a fruitcake years before 9/11? And then they kept on torturing him until he totally lost his mind and became like a brain-dead, trained dog?
The Other Main Sources of Information Were Also Unreliable
Abu Zubaydah was not an isolated case …
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (“KSM”) – the self-confessed “mastermind” of 9/11, the other main source for the 9/11 report – also confessed to crimes which he could not have committed.
He later said that he gave the interrogators a lot of false information – telling them what he thought they wanted to hear – in an attempt to stop the torture. We also know that he was heavily tortured specifically for the purpose of trying to obtain false information about 9/11 – specifically, that Iraq had something to do with it.
(Interestingly, Abu Zubaida – the crazy guy discussed above – was the one who fingered KSM as an Al Qaeda mastermind in the first place.)
And the other sources for the 9/11 report were tortured, too ..
Susan J. Crawford – the senior Pentagon official overseeing the military commissions at Guantánamo –told Bob Woodward:
We tortured Qahtani. His treatment met the legal definition of torture.
The chief lawyer for Guantanamo litigation – Vijay Padmanabhan – said that torture of 9/11 suspects was widespread.
According to NBC News:
- Much of the 9/11 Commission Report was based upon the testimony of people who were tortured
- At least four of the people whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators information as a way to stop being “tortured”
- One of the Commission’s main sources of information was tortured until he agreed to sign a confession that he was not even allowed to read
Moreover, the specific type of torture used was also expressly designed to create FALSE confessions.
And – as if that’s not bad enough – it’s hard to know what the tortured detainees really said. Specifically, the 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on third-hand accounts of what tortured detainees said, with two of the three parties in the communication being government employees.
As the 9/11 Commission Report itself states:
Chapters 5 and 7 rely heavily on information obtained from captured al Qaeda members. A number of these “detainees” have firsthand knowledge of the 9/11 plot. Assessing the truth of statements by these witnesses-sworn enemies of the United States-is challenging. Our access to them has been limited to the review of intelligence reports based on communications received from the locations where the actual interrogations take place. We submitted questions for use in the interrogations, but had no control over whether, when, or how questions of particular interest would be asked. Nor were we allowed to talk to the interrogators so that we could better judge the credibility of the detainees and clarify ambiguities in the reporting.
In other words, the 9/11 Commissioners were not allowed to speak with the detainees, or even their interrogators. Instead, they got their information third-hand … where CIA interrogations were usually one of the links. We know how honest CIA has been about all matters torture.
New York Times investigative reporter Philip Shenon Newsweek noted in a 2009 essay in Newsweek that the 9/11 Commission Report was unreliable because most of the information was based on the statements of tortured detainees:
The commission appears to have ignored obvious clues throughout 2003 and 2004 that its account of the 9/11 plot and Al Qaeda’s history relied heavily on information obtained from detainees who had been subjected to torture, or something not far from it.
The panel raised no public protest over the CIA’s interrogation methods, even though news reports at the time suggested how brutal those methods were. In fact, the commission demanded that the CIA carry out new rounds of interrogations in 2004 to get answers to its questions.
That has troubling implications for the credibility of the commission’s final report. In intelligence circles, testimony obtained through torture is typically discredited; research shows that people will say anything under threat of intense physical pain. [Top military interrogation experts agree.]
And yet it is a distinct possibility that Al Qaeda suspects who were the exclusive source of information for long passages of the commission’s report may have been subjected to “enhanced” interrogation techniques, or at least threatened with them, because of the 9/11 Commission….
Information from CIA interrogations of two of the three—KSM and Abu Zubaydah—is cited throughout two key chapters of the panel’s report focusing on the planning and execution of the attacks and on the history of Al Qaeda.
Footnotes in the panel’s report indicate when information was obtained from detainees interrogated by the CIA. An analysis by NBC News found that more than a quarter of the report’s footnotes—441 of some 1,700—referred to detainees who were subjected to the CIA’s “enhanced” interrogation program, including the trio who were waterboarded.
Commission members note that they repeatedly pressed the Bush White House and CIA for direct access to the detainees, but the administration refused. So the commission forwarded questions to the CIA, whose interrogators posed them on the panel’s behalf.
The commission’s report gave no hint that harsh interrogation methods were used in gathering information, stating that the panel had “no control” over how the CIA did its job; the authors also said they had attempted to corroborate the information “with documents and statements of others.”
But how could the commission corroborate information known only to a handful of people in a shadowy terrorist network, most of whom were either dead or still at large?
Former senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat on the commission [one of the 9/11 Commissioners], told me last year he had long feared that the investigation depended too heavily on the accounts of Al Qaeda detainees who were physically coerced into talking. …
One of the primary architects of the 9/11 Commission Report – Ernest May – said in May 2005:
We never had full confidence in the interrogation reports as historical sources.
And as NBC News notes, the 9/11 Commission itself doubted the accuracy of the torture confessions, and yet kept their doubts to themselves
Government Cover-Up of Unreliability of Witnesses
Moreover, certain government personnel went to great lengths to cover up how unreliable the information was.
For example, the CIA videotaped the interrogation of 9/11 suspects, falsely told the 9/11 Commission that there were no videotapes or other records of the interrogations, and then illegally destroyed all of the tapes and transcripts of the interrogations.
9/11 Commission co-chairs Thomas Keane and Lee Hamilton wrote:
Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.
What was on those tapes? Remember, the specific type of torture used was also expressly designed to create FALSE confessions. Is there evidence of that – coaching falsehoods – on the tapes?
Postscript: The 9/11 Commissioners publicly expressed anger at cover ups and obstructions of justice by the government into a real 9/11 investigation:
- 9/11 Commission co-chair Lee Hamilton says “I don’t believe for a minute we got everything right”, that the Commission was set up to fail, that people should keep asking questions about 9/11, and that the 9/11 debate should continue
- The 9/11 Commission chair said the Commission was “set up to fail”
- The Commission’s co-chairs said that the CIA (and likely the White House) “obstructed our investigation”
- 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that “There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn’t have access . . . .”
- 9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer said “We were extremely frustrated with the false statements we were getting”
- 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland resigned from the Commission, stating: “It is a national scandal”;“This investigation is now compromised”; and “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up”
- The Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission (John Farmer) – who led the 9/11 staff’s inquiry – said“At some level of the government, at some point in time…there was an agreement not to tell the truth about what happened“. He also said “I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described …. The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years…. This is not spin. This is not true.”
And the Co-Chair of the official Congressional Inquiry Into 9/11 – and former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee – has “I think at simplest terms, there’s a cover-up. The 9/11 Report is a joke”
- A 29-year CIA veteran, former National Intelligence Officer (NIO) and former Director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis (William Bill Christison) said “I now think there is persuasive evidence that the events of September did not unfold as the Bush administration and the 9/11 Commission would have us believe (and see this)
- A number of intelligence officials, including a CIA Operations Officer who co-chaired a CIA multi-agency task force coordinating intelligence efforts among many intelligence and law enforcement agencies (Lynne Larkin) sent a joint letter to Congress expressing their concerns about “serious shortcomings,” “omissions,” and “major flaws” in the 9/11 Commission Report and offering their services for a new investigation (they were ignored)
- A decorated 20-year CIA veteran, who Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh called “perhaps the best on-the-ground field officer in the Middle East”, and whose astounding career formed the script for the Academy Award winning motion picture Syriana (Robert Baer) said that“the evidence points at” 9/11 having had aspects of being an inside job
- The Division Chief of the CIA’s Office of Soviet Affairs, who served as Senior Analyst from 1966 – 1990. He also served as Professor of International Security at the National War College from 1986 – 2004 (Melvin Goodman) said “The final [9/11 Commission] report is ultimately a coverup”
- Former Deputy Secretary for Intelligence and Warning under Nixon, Ford, and Carter (Morton Goulder), former Deputy Director to the White House Task Force on Terrorism (Edward L. Peck), and former US Department of State Foreign Service Officer (J. Michael Springmann), as well as a who’s who of liberals and independents) jointly call for a new investigation into 9/11
- Former Federal Prosecutor, Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Department of Justice under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan; former U.S. Army Intelligence officer, and currently a widely-sought media commentator on terrorism and intelligence services (John Loftus) says “The information provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11 was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either the CIA or FBI to assert a defense of incompetence”
- The Group Director on matters of national security in the U.S. Government Accountability Office said that President Bush did not respond to unprecedented warnings of the 9/11 disaster and conducted a massive cover-up instead of accepting responsibility
- Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Ronald Reagan (Col. Ronald D. Ray) said thatthe official story of 9/11 is “the dog that doesn’t hunt”
- Several key employees for the defense department say that the government covered up their testimony about tracking Mohammed Atta before 9/11
- The former director of the FBI (Louis Freeh) says there was a cover up by the 9/11 Commission
Some other examples of obstruction of justice into the 9/11 investigation include:
- An FBI informant hosted and rented a room to two hijackers in 2000. Specifically, investigators for the Congressional Joint Inquiry discovered that an FBI informant had hosted and even rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House. As the New York Times notes:
Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused the White House on Tuesday of covering up evidence ….The accusation stems from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to allow investigators for a Congressional inquiry and the independent Sept. 11 commission to interview an informant, Abdussattar Shaikh, who had been the landlord in San Diego of two Sept. 11 hijackers.
- The chairs of both the 9/11 Commission and the Official Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 said that Soviet-style government “minders” obstructed the investigation into 9/11 by intimidating witnesses
- The 9/11 Commissioners concluded that officials from the Pentagon lied to the Commission, and considered recommending criminal charges for such false statements
- The tape of interviews of air traffic controllers on-duty on 9/11 was intentionally destroyed by crushing the cassette by hand, cutting the tape into little pieces, and then dropping the pieces in different trash cans around the building as shown by this NY Times article (summary version is free; full version is pay-per-view) and by this article from the Chicago Sun-Times
December 16th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci
Suspect had multiple aliases, granted political asylum by Australian government, interviewed by Australian media, spent years as fake pro-Western “Shia’a cleric” condemning Iran and Syria before recently “converting” to Sunni and supporting ISIS.
Another embarrassing chapter has unfolded for Western intelligence and security communities in the wake of the so-called “Sydney Siege.”
The suspect named by the media as “Man Haron Monis” also has gone by the names “Manteghi Boroujerdi” and “Mohammad Hassan Manteghi” and was an individual now confirmed to have long been on the radar of the Australian government, media, law enforcement, and court system since his arrival on Australian shores almost two decades ago.
Claiming he was a “lone wolf” attacker whose violence and extremism could not have been foreseen is betrayed by an extensive criminal record including murder, preceded by the suspicious circumstances that brought him to Australia to begin with.
Two-Decades in the Spotlight
He fled Iran in 1996 for unknown reasons, claiming in a 2001 Australian ABC interview that he was formerly of Iran’s “Ministry of Intelligence and Security.” He claimed in the same interview to have been in contact with the UN about “secret information” he had regarding the Iranian government.
The 2001 interview titled, “New Cardinals for Rome, George Bush, Muslims in Australia,” as part of ABC’s “Religion Report,” quoted Boroujerdi/Monis/Manteghi as claiming:
In Iran, mostly I have been involved with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security.
the Iranian regime wants to make me silent, because I have some secret information about government, and about their terrorist operations in the war. I sent a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and somebody on behalf of Mr Kofi Anan sent the answer, and they want to do something.
He would also profess his love for the West, and in particular his belief that the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia in particular were “religious societies” claiming:
If we explain about the meaning of the word ‘Islamic’ as a religious society, if we say Islamic society is a religious society, and a society which has a relation with God, and wants to be honest, we can say Australia, Canada, England, USA, so many western countries, they are religious societies. They don’t say ‘We are religious’, but in fact the spirit of religion, we can see the spirit of religion in these societies. And some other countries in the Middle East, in Asia, they say ‘We are Islamic’ they have a name of Islamic, but in fact they are not religious societies and religious governments.
Whenever I walk in the street, whenever I go out in Australia, I feel I am in a real religious society. I don’t want to say it is perfect, we don’t have a perfect society on the earth, but when we compare, if we compare Australia with Iran and other countries in the Middle East, we can say it is heaven.
ABC itself introduced Boroujerdi/Monis/Manteghi as follows:
People in Sydney walking past the State Parliament buildings on Macquarie Street in recent weeks might have noticed a tall Muslim cleric who has taken up residence in a tent on the footpath outside. He is Ayatollah Manteghi Boroujerdi, a liberal cleric who fled Iran four years ago after being very critical of the Iranian regime. Ayatollah Boroujerdi’s wife and two daughters are now under house arrest in Iran, and he’s hoping the Howard government will put pressure on the regime there to let his family join him here in Australia.
Far from an extremist – Boroujerdi/Monis/Manteghi instead posed as the perfect poster child for the ongoing anti-Iran, pro-war propaganda building at the time – propaganda that continues to this very day and is an integral part of current efforts to overthrow both the Syrian and Iranian governments.
He was a “liberal Iranian” fleeing the “Iranian regime” who held his family “hostage.” He professed his admiration of Western society and praised it as “heaven.” “Heavenly” could have also described his propaganda value to the West at the time.
The Shape-Shifting Sheik
Over the years, however, Boroujerdi/Monis/Manteghi would shape-shift, coincidentally along the same unsavory lines Western pro-war rhetoric shifted – first by helping discredit anti-war sentiment in Australia by sending abusive letters to the families of fallen soldiers, then discrediting Islam itself through cartoonish acts of rhetorical extremism. And just like a shape-shifter, the character Boroujerdi/Monis/Manteghi would don many different costumes.
At times he would appear as a secular liberal dressed in Western, if not outdated attire, at other times a “Shai’a cleric” wearing traditional robes. Most recently, to help sow ISIS hysteria, he impersonated an ISIS supporter, claiming to have “converted to Sunni Islam” a month ago, wearing Wahabi-inspired terrorist attire. And in his final act amid the “Sydney Siege,” he would produce the flag often carried by Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra in Syria – a terrorist front that has in fact drawn many Australian’s from Sydney over the course of the recent Syrian war.
His alleged ideological causes were as contradictory as his attire. First claiming for years to be a pro-Western “liberal Shia’a,” dressed as a Shia’a cleric, his recent shift to supporting ISIS terrorists would mean he was backing a terrorist front of Wahabists – enemies of Iran and the Shai’a communities across the entire Muslim World that depend on Tehran for protection. It would also mean he was adopting an ideology that at least rhetorically claims to stand in complete opposition to the West he had previously claimed to admire.
While Australian authorities seemed perfectly comfortable with Boroujerdi/Monis/Manteghi’s continuously disruptive behavior, genuine leaders across Australia’s Muslim community implored the Australian government to investigate him. In a 2008 Australian article titled, “Call to probe mystery Shia cleric,” it was reported that:
FEDERAL agents have been urged by the nation’s senior Shia leader, Kamal Mousselmani, to investigate an Iranian man purporting to be a prominent Islamic cleric.
Sheik Mousselmani told The Australian yesterday the mystery cleric – who has been identified as Ayatollah Manteghi Boroujerdi on his website after appearing under the name Sheik Haron – was not a genuine Shia spiritual leader.
He said there were no ayatollahs – supreme Shia scholars – in Australia and none of his fellow spiritual leaders knew who Ayatollah Boroujerdi or Sheik Haron was.
“We don’t know him and we have got nothing to do with him,” Sheik Mousselmani said. “The federal police should investigate who he is. It should be their responsibility.”
What could have possibly motivated the Australian government to continue giving a clear and persistent menace to society free reign?
The Current Narrative Doesn’t Add Up
It could be argued that Boroujerdi/Monis/Manteghi was mentally unstable, and the New York Times in an article titled, “Gunman in Sydney Had Long History of Run-Ins With the Law,” would even claim Iran itself warned of his mental instability stating:
The state-run Iranian news agency, Fars, quoted a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marziyeh Afkham, as saying that it had warned the Australian authorities about Mr. Monis.
“The history and mental-psychological conditions of this individual, who sought political asylum in Australia more than two decades ago, had been discussed with Australian authorities many times,” Ms. Afkham was quoted as saying.
However, were that the case, and had Iran warned Australian authorities of this man, one wonders why he would be allowed political asylum in the first place, let alone allowed to occupy the spotlight amid Australia’s divisive political landscape for so long, especially in light of his many alleged criminal offenses.
Considering the global surveillance state Australia finds itself a willing partner in, how is it possible to claim Boroujerdi/Monis/Manteghi was a “lone wolf” terrorist? Surely if Australians are being surveilled without probable cause, so too was Boroujerdi/Monis/Manteghi, and yet he was apparently able to obtain weapons, travel freely with them, all while publicly supporting terrorist organizations including ISIS.
Vox Media would report in its article, “Sydney hostage taker Man Haron Monis pledged allegiance to ISIS on his website,” that:
According to a portion of his now-deleted website (which you can see here) … Monis pledged allegiance to ISIS before the attack.
Vox would go on to cite Washington-based Neo-Conservative pro-war, anti-Iranian think-tank, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy (FDD) to claim Boroujerdi/Monis/Manteghi had no ties to ISIS and that he was simply a “fruitcake.” No evidence was provided.
However, this “fruitcake” was credible enough to be granted political asylum by the Australian government in 1996, credible enough to serve the West’s propaganda campaign against Iran in 2001, and then play along with the West’s coordinated strategy of tension designed to discredit anti-war sentiment during Australia’s participation in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, and more recently ratchet up anti-Islamic sentiment and help justify continued Western military intervention in nations like Syria and Iran against which both Boroujerdi/Monis/Manteghi and the FDD are/were clearly opposed to.
In fact, if unable to convince Australians to back “liberals” like himself in opposition to the Iranian government, perhaps he and his handlers felt posing as an extremist to provoke support for direct military intervention in Syria and in turn, Iran, was the next best bet.
One thing is for sure, for a man in Australia’s political and legal spotlight either for good or for bad for nearly two decades, it is highly unlikely he was able to put together this plot without Australian security and intelligence agents knowing. After several recent “anti-terror” operations carried out across Sydney based on intercepted communication, why hadn’t federal agents also visited a suspected murderer openly pledging allegiance to ISIS?
The Western media’s eagerness to dismiss Boroujerdi/Monis/Manteghi’s actions amid the “Sydney Siege” before a full investigation reeks of a cover-up and whatever the truth may be – what is being insisted upon by the media, government, and corporate-funded think-tanks now certainly isn’t it.
America on a War Footing: Three Members of Congress Just Reignited the Cold War While No One Was Looking
December 16th, 2014 by Dennis Kucinich
Late Thursday night, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a far-reaching Russia sanctions bill, a hydra-headed incubator of poisonous conflict. The second provocative anti-Russian legislation in a week, it further polarizes our relations with Russia, helping to cement a Russia-China alliance against Western hegemony, and undermines long-term America’s financial and physical security by handing the national treasury over to war profiteers.
Here’s how the House’s touted “unanimity” was achieved: Under a parliamentary motion termed “unanimous consent,” legislative rules can be suspended and any bill can be called up. If any member of Congress objects, the motion is blocked and the bill dies.
At 10:23:54 p.m. on Thursday, a member rose to ask “unanimous consent” for four committees to be relieved of a Russia sanctions bill. At this point the motion, and the legislation, could have been blocked by a single member who would say “I object.” No one objected, because no one was watching for last-minute bills to be slipped through.
Most of the House and the media had emptied out of the chambers after passage of the $1.1 trillion government spending package.
The Congressional Record will show only three of 425 members were present on the floor to consider the sanctions bill. Two of the three feigned objection, creating the legislative equivalent of a ‘time out.’ They entered a few words of support, withdrew their “objections” and the clock resumed.
According to the clerk’s records, once the bill was considered under unanimous consent, it was passed, at 10:23:55 p.m., without objection, in one recorded, time-stamped second, unanimously.
Then the House adjourned.
I discovered, in my 16 years in Congress, that many members seldom read the legislation on which they vote. On Oct. 24, 2001, House committees spent long hours debating the Patriot Act. At the last minute, the old bill was swapped out for a version with draconian provisions. I voted against that version of the Patriot Act, because I read it. The legislative process requires attention.
Legislation brought before Congress under “unanimous consent” is not read by most members simply because copies of the bill are generally not available. During the closing sessions of Congress I would often camp out in the House chamber, near the clerk’s desk, prepared to say “I object” when something of consequence appeared out of the blue. Dec. 11, 2014, is one of the few times I regret not being in Congress to have the ability to oversee the process.
The Russia Sanctions bill that passed “unanimously,” with no scheduled debate, at 10:23:55 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2014, includes:
1. Sanctions of Russia’s energy industry, including Rosoboronexport and Gazprom.
2. Sanctions of Russia’s defense industry, with respect to arms sales to Syria.
3. Broad sanctions on Russians’ banking and investments.
4. Provisions for privatization of Ukrainian infrastructure, electricity, oil, gas and renewables, with the help of the World Bank and USAID.
5. Fifty million dollars to assist in a corporate takeover of Ukraine’s oil and gas sectors.
6. Three hundred and fifty million dollars for military assistance to Ukraine, including anti-tank, anti-armor, optical, and guidance and control equipment, as well as drones.
7. Thirty million dollars for an intensive radio, television and Internet propaganda campaign throughout the countries of the former Soviet Union.
8. Twenty million dollars for “democratic organizing” in Ukraine.
9. Sixty million dollars, spent through groups like the National Endowment for Democracy, “to improve democratic governance, and transparency, accountability [and] rule of law” in Russia. What brilliant hyperbole to pass such a provision the same week the Senate’s CIA torture report was released.
10. An unverified declaration that Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, is a nuclear “threat to the United States” and should be held “accountable.”
11. A path for the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty, which went into force in 1988. The implications of this are immense. An entire series of arms agreements are at risk of unraveling. It may not be long before NATO pushes its newest client state, Ukraine, to abrogate the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Ukraine signed when it gave up its nuclear weapons, and establish a renewed nuclear missile capability, 300 miles from Moscow.
12. A demand that Russia verifiably dismantle “any ground launched cruise missiles or ballistic missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers …”—i.e., 300 and 3,300 miles.
Read the legislation, which Congress apparently didn’t.
As reported on GlobalSecurity.org, earlier that same day in Kiev, the Ukrainian parliament approved a security plan that will:
1. Declare that Ukraine should become a “military state.”
2. Reallocate more of its approved 2014 budget for military purposes.
3. Put all military operating units on alert.
4. Mobilize military and national guard units.
5. Increase military spending in Ukraine from 1 percent of GDP to 5 percent, increasing military spending by $3 billion over the next few years.
6. Join NATO and switch to NATO military standards.
Under the guise of democratizing, the West stripped Ukraine of its sovereignty with a U.S.-backed coup, employed it as a foil to advance NATO to the Russian border and reignited the Cold War, complete with another nuclear showdown.
The people of Ukraine will be less free, as their country becomes a “military state,” goes into hock to international banks, faces structural readjustments, privatization of its public assets, decline of social services, higher prices and an even more severe decline in its standard of living.
In its dealings with the European Union, Ukraine could not even get concessions for its citizens to find work throughout Europe. The West does not care about Ukraine, or its people, except for using them to seize a strategic advantage against Russia in the geopolitical game of nations.
Once, with the help of the West, Ukraine fully weighs in as a “military state” and joins the NATO gun club, its annual defense budget will be around $3 billion, compared with the current defense budget of Russia, which is over $70 billion.
Each Western incitement creates a Russian response, which is then given as further proof that the West must prepare for the very conflict it has created, war as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
That the recent Russia sanctions bill was advanced, “unanimously,” without debate in the House, portends that our nation is sleepwalking through the graveyards of history, toward an abyss where controlling factors reside in the realm of chance, what Thomas Hardy termed “crass casualty.” Such are the perils of unanimity.
December 16th, 2014 by Christina Sarich
Are you aware that genetically modified mosquitoes are being set for release worldwide? Right after GM mosquitoes were let loose in Brazil, dengue fever cases spiked. Now, the Florida Keys are in danger of facing a similar fate. The mosquitoes haven’t even been officially approved, but Oxitec, the British company who created the mosquitoes, has already shipped them to Florida. The only hope is a very vocal grassroots effort to tell the Governor of Florida that these mosquitoes will ruin tourism and possibly turn the natural ecosystem there on its head.
The GM mosquitoes could be released in the Keys as early January or February of next year. Though the approval process is still underway, Oxitec is so sure they will have its way that it shipped the mosquitoes in anticipation.
So far, there are no reported cases of dengue fever in Florida this year, so why do they need GM mosquitoes meant to prevent the spread of such diseases? When they were used in Brazil, they increased dengue fever while upsetting the ecological balance of the area. They did not ‘pave the way for dengue fever protection’ as Oxitec propagandized. A state of emergency actually had to be declared in the town where the GM mosquitoes were released.
Why on earth would Floridians want to be subject to the same possibility?
Not one environmental or human health study has been conducted on the GM mosquitoes. Once they are released, it isn’t as if you can round them all up again if there is a problem. Just like with GM crops, they can also interbreed with non-GM mosquitoes passing on the same traits. Oxitec’s own website explains:
“Oxitec’s genetically sterile male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes will mate with the wild (non-sterile) Aedes aegypti females.”
The company claims that its approach is different than other genetic manipulations because it is self-limiting, but how in the world could this be so? Since when can you track or alter how mosquitoes mate in the wild?
Director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD), Michael Doyle is responsible for keeping the 44 inhabited islands of the total 1,200 that spread across the Florida Straits free from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. He believes that releasing male GM mosquitoes, specifically designed to pass down a suicide gene that kills their own offspring into the wild, will kill the dengue-carrying mosquito population and prevent new outbreaks.
As Aljazeera reported:
“We have tried everything from chemical fumigations to parasitic nematodes, dragonflies, everything you could think of,” Doyle said.
Last summer the agency deployed a 2-pound drone, hoping the aircraft could help spot potential water breeding grounds in remote areas.
“It’s very difficult to spray everywhere where this mosquito hides and breeds,” said Gene Lemire, director of Martin County Mosquito Control. “It’s very sneaky.”
Of course Oxitec isn’t the only company that assumes it can control Nature’s balance with GM mosquitoes. Though it has already let GM mosquitoes loose in the Cayman Islands, and Malaysia with no success.
“. . . all of these recent attempts to turn mosquitoes into malaria- and dengue-killing machines have something in common: The modified mosquitoes need to have lots of sex to spread their altered genes through the wild population. They must live long enough to become sexually active, and they have to compete successfully for mates with their wild peers. And that is a problem, because we still know surprisingly little about the behavior and ecology of mosquitoes, especially the males.”
Heather Ferguson from the University of Glasgow studies mosquito ecology. She points out that in the 1970s and 1980s, several companies tried to control the mosquito population by releasing sterile males that would engage females in fruitless sex. The vast majority of the experiments failed.
While it may seem that “it’s a more ecologically friendly way to control mosquitoes than spraying insecticides,” at least according to Coleen Fitzsimmons, a spokeswoman for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, this is a presumptuous statement considering researchers have no idea how the mosquitoes affect an ecosystem or human health over the long term.
GE mosquitoes are touted as a “vital weapon against malaria,” but they are really just a vital weapon against nature. Why do Oxitec’s ‘scientific papers’ show up sneakily online without the scientific community or the public being aware until they’ve already released the mosquitoes into a habitat? It certainly doesn’t lend to Oxitec’s credibility.
Why did they secretly release GE mosquitoes that could bite humans in Grand Cayman Island? Local there had no idea that Oxitec was completing field trials and releasing these untested GM mosquitoes on their island.
What Could Possibly go Wrong with Biotech Mosquitoes?
- They could cause havoc within the human genome by creating “insertion mutations” and other unpredictable types of DNA damage by getting into the human blood stream – just as has been proven with glyphosate-resistant plants. According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, “’Insertion mutations’ can scramble, delete or relocate the genetic code near the insertion site.” Large-scale mutations often occur with genetic modification; it doesn’t matter if it was a plant or a bug that was altered with biotechnology.
- A geneticist from University of Hawaii, Alfred Handler, states that the GM mosquitoes could develop a resistance to the lethal gene, and then spread it inadvertently (sound familiar?) Entomologist Todd Shelly, another expert from U of H, said that 3.5 percent of the GM mosquitoes survived adulthood despite carrying the ‘lethal’ gene that is supposed to render them ineffective.
- Male GM mosquitoes grown in a lab are often less vital than non-GM mosquitoes that are born in the wild, so they are less likely to be able to compete with the non-GM varieties. This mean that any ‘sterile’ offspring are likely going to die, and the non-GMO mosquitoes normally responsible for transmitting dengue or malaria will live on, possibly with mutated genes (received from their GM parents) that make them even stronger.
- Because GM Mosquitoes were produced to die in the presence of antibiotics like tetracycline, and our water supplies are now infected with antibiotics, GM mosquitoes are likely going to thrive as antibiotic resistant bugs, much like ‘glyphosate-resistant’ crops – which have really only created super weeds.
In the very least, Florida should delay the release of these mosquitoes (even if Oxitec has to lose a crop of GM bugs) in order to more accurately assess their safety.
Here’s How You Can Take Action:
Tell the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District to stop the GE mosquito experiments: http://keysmosquito.org/contact-us. You can also call & email at this address: Phone: 305.292.7190 Email: [email protected]
You can also SIGN a petition.
December 16th, 2014 by Paul Joseph Watson
Police departments across the United States are now using a program that mines Internet comments and social media posts to determine the “threat score” of a suspect before cops arrive on the scene.
Reuters reports that law enforcement authorities have utilized an application called Beware since 2012 that takes just seconds to crawl billions of records in commercial and public databases to assign a threat rating to an individual – green, yellow or red.
“Yet it does far more — scanning the residents’ online comments, social media and recent purchases for warning signs. Commercial, criminal and social media information, including, as Intrado vice president Steve Reed said in an interview with urgentcomm.com, “any comments that could be construed as offensive,” all contribute to the threat score.”
The program also “allows the routine code enforcement of a nanny state,” allowing homeowners who have failed to trim their trees to be targeted, as well as being used for fishing expeditions and revenue generation.
An annual subscription to Beware costs police departments around $36,000 dollars a year, the majority of which is covered by federal grants. The program represents another step towards “predictive policing,” with the report noting that one recent speaker at a national law enforcement conference “compared future police work to Minority Report, the Tom Cruise film set in 2054 Washington, where a “PreCrime” unit has been set up to stop murders before they happen.”
The report notes that the program could also produce any number of false positives if the system has failed to update who lives at a particular residence, potentially transforming, “a green rating into a red rating — turning a midday knock on the front door into a nighttime SWAT raid.”
Given that any number of different comments made online in the heat of the moment could be “construed as offensive” to someone yet not indicate that a person is violent at all, this program should alarm civil liberties advocates.
There are innumerable stories of police overreacting to social media posts, while the most shocking stories revolve around people being harassed for sharing strong political opinions.
In 2012, former Marine Brandon Raub was kidnapped from his home by police, FBI and Secret Service agents and forcibly incarcerated in a psychiatric ward by authorities in Virginia in response to Facebook posts which the FBI deemed “terrorist” in nature.
In reality, Raub’s posts, which included rhetoric about ‘taking the Republic back’, were tame in comparison to actual instances of terrorist propaganda and referenced figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.
December 16th, 2014 by Prof. James Petras
The US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorist suspects raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the State, the relationship and the responsibility of the Executive Branch and Congress to the vast secret police networks which span the globe – including the United States.
CIA: The Politics of a Global Secret Police Force
The Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg. The Report omits the history and wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA has been and continues to be involved. CIA organized large scale death squad activities and extreme torture in Vietnam (Phoenix Project); multiple assassinations of political leaders in the Congo, Chile, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the Middle East, Central America and elsewhere; the kidnapping and disappearance of suspected activists in Iraq and Afghanistan; massive drug-running and narco-trafficking in the “Golden Triangle” in Southeast Asia and Central America (the Iran-Contra war).
The Senate Report fails to locate the current acts of CIA terror and torture in a broader historical context – one which would reveal the systematic use of torture and violence as a ‘normal’ instrument of policy. Contrary to White House and Senate claims that torture was a “policy error” committed by “incompetent” (or deranged) operatives, the historical record demonstrates that the long term extensive and intensive use by the CIA of torture, assassinations, kidnappings are planned and deliberate policies made by highly qualified, and experienced policymakers acting according to a global strategy approved by both Executive and Congressional leaders.
The Report treats torture as a “localized” set of events, divorced from the politics of empire building. In point of fact, torture is and always has been an integral part of imperial wars, colonial military occupations and counter-insurgency warfare.
Imperial wars and occupations provoke widespread opposition and nearly unanimous hostility. ‘Policing’ the occupied country cannot rely on community-wide support, least of all providing voluntary ‘intelligence’ to the imperial officials. The imperial armed forces operate out of fortresses surrounded by a sea of hostile faces. Bribes and persuasion of local collaborators provides limited information, especially regarding the operations of underground resistance movements and clandestine activists. Family, neighborhood, religious, ethnic and class ties provide protective support networks. To break this web of voluntary support network, the colonial powers resort to torture of suspects, family members and others. Torture becomes “routinized” as part and parcel of policies sustaining the imperial occupation. Extended occupation and intensive destruction of habitation and employment, cannot be compensated by imperial “aid” – much of which is stolen by the local collaborators. The latter, in turn, are ostracized by the local population, and, therefore, useless as a source of information. The “carrot” for a few collaborators is matched by tortureand the threat of torture for the many in opposition.
Torture is not publicized domestically even as it is ‘understood’ by ‘knowing’ Congressional committees. But among the colonized, occupied people, through word and experience, CIA and military torture and violence against suspects, seized in neighborhood round-ups, is a weapon to intimidate a hostile population. The torture of a family member spreads fear (and loathing) among relatives, acquaintances, neighbors and colleagues. Torture is an integral element in spreading mass intimidation – an attempt to minimize co-operation between an active minority of resistance fighters and a majority of passive sympathizers.
The Senate Report claims that torture was “useless” in providing intelligence. It argues that victims were not privy to information that was useful to imperial policymakers.
The current head of the CIA, John Brennan rejects the Senate claim, while blithely admitting “some errors” (underwater submergence lasted a minute too long, the electric currents to the genitals were pitched to high?), he argues that “torture worked”. Brennan argues that his torturer colleagues did obtain “intelligence” that led to arrests of militants, activists and “terrorists”.
If torture “works” as Brennan claims, then presumably the Senate and the President would approve of its use. The brutalization of human life, of family members and neighbors is not seen as, in principle, evil and morally and politically repugnant.
According to the explicit rules of conduct of Brennan and the implicit beliefs of the Senate, only “useless” torture is subject to censure – if an address is obtained or a torture victim names a colleague a ‘terrorist’ to avoid further pain, then by the criteria of the Senate Report torture is justified.
According to the operational code of the CIA, international law and the Geneva Conventions have to be modified: torture should not be universally condemned and its practioners prosecuted. According to the Senate only torture that “doesn’t work” is reprehensible and the best judge of that is the head of the torturers, the CIA director.
Echoing Brennan, President Obama, leaped to the defense of the CIA, conceding that only some ‘errors’ were committed. Even that mealy mouth admission was forcibly extracted after the President spent several years blocking the investigation and months obstructing its publication and then insisting on heavily editing out some of the most egregious and perverse passages implicating NATO allies
The Senate Report fails to discuss the complicity and common torture techniques shared between Israel’s Mossad and the CIA and Pentagon. In defense of torture, the CIA and White House lawyers frequently cited Israel’s Supreme Court ruling of 1999 which provided the “justification “for torture. According to Israel’s Jewish judges, torturers could operate with impunityagainst non-Jews (Arabs) if they claimed it was out of “necessity to prevent loss of or harm to human life”. The CIA and Harvard law professor and uber-Zionist zealot, Alan Dershowitz echoed the Israeli Mossad “ticking time bomb” justification for torture, according to which “interrogators can employ torture to extract information if it prevents a bombing”. Dershowitz cited the efficiency of Israel’s torturing a suspect’s children.
The CIA officials frequently cited the Israeli ‘ticking bomb’ justification for torture in 2007, at Congressional hearings in 2005, and earlier in 2001 and 2002. The CIA knows that the US Congress, under the control of the Zionist power configuration, would be favorably disposed to any official behavior, no matter how perverse and contrary to international law, if it carried an Israeli mark of approval or ‘logo’.
The US CIA and Israeli’s Mossad share, exchange and copy each other’s’ torture methods. The US torturers studied and applied Israel’s routine use of sexual torture and humiliation of Muslim prisoners. Racist colonial Israeli tracts about techniques on destroying the ‘Arab Mind’ were used by US intelligence. Israeli officials borrowed US techniques of forced feeding hunger strikers. Mossad’s technique of ‘Palestinian hanging’ was adopted by the US. Above all, the US copied and amplified Israel’s extra-judicial ‘targeted’ killings – the center piece of Obama’s counter-terrorism policy. These killings included scores of innocent bystanders for every ‘successful target’.
The Senate Report fails to identify the intellectual authors, the leading officials who presided over and who ultimately bear political responsibility for torture.
Top leaders, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Senate Intelligence Committee chairperson, Diane Feinstein, resort to the Nazi war criminals plea “we didn’t know”, “we were misled” and “the CIA didn’t tell us”.
No judge at the Nuremberg Trials believed them. Nor will any international court of law believe US political leaders’ pleas of ignorance of the CIA’s decade-long practice of torture – especially after former Vice President Cheney lauded the practice on US television and boasted he would implement the same policies again. (One has to wonder about the ‘source’ of Cheney’s transplanted heart…)
During the administration of President Bush, Jr., CIA leaders submitted detailed reports on intelligence, including the sources and the methods of obtaining the information, on a routine basis – with videos and ‘live feeds’ for the politicians to view. Nothing was ‘held back’ then and now, as current CIA head John Brennan testifies. From 2001 onward torture was the method of choice, as testimony from top military officials revealed during the Abu Ghraib investigation.
National Security Agency (NSA) meetings, attended by the President, received detailed reports extracted from CIA “interrogations”. There is every reason to believe that every NSA attendee ‘knew’ how the ‘intelligence’ was obtained. And if they failed to ask it was because torture was a ‘normal, routine operating procedure’.
When the Senate decided to investigate the “methods of the CIA”, half a decade ago, it was not because of the stench of burning genitals. It was because the CIA exceeded the boundaries of Senate prerogatives –it had engaged in pervasive and hostile spying against US Senators, including the Uber-Senator Feinstein herself; CIA crimes were compromising client regimes around the world; and most of all because their orgy of torture and dehumanization had failed to defeat the armed resistance in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Syria.
The Senate Report is an exercise in institutional power – a means for the Senate to regain political turf, to rein in CIA encroachment. The Report goes no further than to chastise “inappropriate” techniques: it does not proceed from crimes of state to prosecute officials responsible for crimes against international and domestic laws.
We know, and they know, and as every legal authority in the world would know, that without the punishment of political leaders, torture will continue to be an integral part of US imperial policy: Impunity leads to recidivism.
Richard Cheney, Vice-President under President George W. Bush, notorious war criminal on many counts, and prime advocate of torture, publically declared on December 10, 2014 that President Bush specifically authorized torture. He bragged that they were informed in detail and kept up to date.
In the political world of torture, practiced by Islamic extremists and US imperialists, how does the decapitation of non-combatant prisoners, match up with the CIA’s refrigeration of naked political suspects? As for “transparency”, the virtue claimed by the Senate Report publicists in publishing the CIA’s crimes, as “refurbishing the US image”, the Islamists went one step further in “transparency”: they produced a video that went global, revealing their torture by beheading captives.
The Senate Report on CIA torture will not result in any resignations, let alone prosecutions or trials, because over the past two decades, war crimes, police crimes, spy crimes, and financial swindles have not been prosecuted. Nor have any of the guilty officials spent a day in court. They are protected by the majority of political leaders who are unconditional defenders of the CIA, its power, techniques and especially its torture of captives. The vast majority of Congress and the US President repeatedly approve over $100 billion annual budgets for the CIA and its domestic counterpart, Department Homeland Security. They approved the annual budget voted on December 10, 2014, even as the “revelations” rolled in. Moreover, as the tempest over CIA torture proceeds, Obama continues to order the assassination by drone of US citizens “without ever crossing the door of a judge”.
Despite over 6,000 pages of documents and testimony, recording crimes against humanity, the Senate Report is unlikely to trigger any reforms or resignations. This is not because of the actions of some mysterious “deep state” or because a ballooning national security apparatus has taken power. The real problem is that the elected officials, Presidents and Congress people, Democrats and Republicans, neo-liberals and neo-conservatives, are deeply embedded in the security apparatus and they share the common quest for world supremacy. If Empire requires wars, drones, invasions, occupations and torture, so be it!
Torture will truly disappear and the politicians will be put on trial for these crimes, only when the empire is transformed back to a republic: where impunity ends justice begins.
James Petras latest book, The Politics of Imperialism: The US, Israel and the Middle East (Atlanta: Clarity Press 2014)
December 16th, 2014 by Joseph Fitsanakis
The public controversy surrounding the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s summary-report on detentions and interrogations continues to feed media headlines. But, as veteran intelligence correspondent Jeff Stein notes in his Newsweek column, there is one crucial aspect missing from the debate: historical precedent. Stein observes what many commentators have missed, namely a reference in the 500-page document to KUBARK. KUBARK is in fact a coded reference used by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1950s and 1960s to refer to itself.
The KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation manual was produced by the Agency to train civilian and military intelligence officers in what the CIA called “coercive counterintelligence interrogation of resistant sources”. The document actively promoted the use of aggressive interrogation techniques and went so far as to make references to the use of electric shocks. The manual is believed to have been used by the CIA on several occasions, including in the interrogation of Yuri Nosenko.
A colonel in the Soviet KGB, Nosenko first made contact with the CIA in Vienna in 1962, while he was accompanying a Soviet diplomatic mission to the Austrian capital. In 1964, he asked to be exfiltrated to the United States, at which point he was placed in a ‘grinder’, a CIA safe house, where he was interrogated at length. After failing two polygraph tests administered to him by his CIA handlers, some in the Agency began to believe that he might be a ‘dangle’, a double agent sent deliberately by the Soviets to spread confusion in the CIA’s Soviet desk. He was aggressively interrogated and detained until 1969, when the CIA formally classified him as a genuine defector and released him under the witness protection program.
An updated version of the KUBARK manual resurfaced during the war in Vietnam, when the CIA operated an extensive complex of interrogation centers in South Vietnam. As Stein notes, the detention centers were “chiefly designed to extract information from captured communist guerrillas”. The Agency blamed several known instances of torture of prisoners of war on the US Army or on overzealous South Vietnamese interrogators. In the closing stages of the Cold War, the CIA was also implicated in having authored the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual, which was used to train interrogators in a host of US-supported Latin American military regimes, including most controversially Honduras.
One could go back even further, to Project MKNAOMI/MKULTRA, a joint effort by the CIA and the US military to study the effects of substances such as heroin and LSD on the human brain, for the purposes of —among other things— interrogation. The program was marred by repeated instances of forced medication of prisoners, mental patients, prostitutes, and others. It resulted in the 1953 death of Dr. Frank Olson, a specialist in biological warfare working for the US Pentagon, who studied the effects of toxic substances on the brain. All that is to say that the public discussion on torture techniques and the CIA has long historical roots and appears to be going in circles —something which does not appear about to change.
December 16th, 2014 by Abayomi Azikiwe
Berrien County Judge Sterling Schrock sentenced the leader of the Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO), Rev. Edward Pinkney, to 30-120 months in prison based on five felony counts of forgery by an all-white jury. The charges stemmed from a successful recall petition drive against Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower who is perceived as a tool of the Whirlpool Corp. and the political power structure in the area.
Pinkney has been a longtime activist in Berrien County where Benton Harbor is located and his work in the state of Michigan has drawn national attention. This is the second time in seven years that the BANCO leader has been convicted on charges related to efforts to hold local officials accountable to the people.
Prosecutor Michael Sepic requested a 42-month sentence based on the previous convictions in years prior extending back to the 1980s. Atty. Tat Parish, who defended Pinkney during the highly politicized trial and sentencing, requested that the judge exercise discretion by sentencing the activist to probation.
Over 130 people sent letters to the Judge Schrock requesting that he set aside the verdict and release Pinkney. Although the jurist acknowledged the letters he also sought to minimize their significance.
Atty. Parish stressed that the letters came from notable figures from around the country. “Although these people may hold ideas that we may not agree with they are good people who say that the community needs Pinkney,” the defense lawyer told the court.
Outside the courtroom Parish told supporters of Pinkney that he appreciated the role they had played during the difficult trial. “A criminal appeal lawyer, one of the best in the state, will take over the case for the next phase.”
Activists present from various cities were outraged at what they perceived as a total travesty of justice carried out by the local courts. They pointed out that police who have been videotaped killing African Americans were allowed to go free while Pinkney had been convicted and sentenced to prison without any material evidence.
During the prosecution’s presentation of its case against Pinkney during Oct. and Nov., there was no eyewitness testimony that would implicate the Berrien County activist in the alleged crimes committed. Even though the prosecutor and judge said the evidence was circumstantial, there were no clear cut motivations articulated which would place Pinkney in a position to change the dates on the recall petitions.
No handwriting experts testified who could determine that it was Pinkney who changed the dates. A series of witnesses called by the prosecution stated unequivocally that they circulated the recall petitions based upon their desire to replace Hightower who opposed a tax measure that would provide corporate resources for the rehabilitation of Benton Harbor in the interests of its poorest residents.
The courtroom was full for the sentencing hearing while people lined the hallway during the proceedings which lasted for over two hours. Armed white Berrien County sheriff deputies stood up during the entire proceeding guarding the doors and during later portions of the hearing, one of the officers moved to stand behind the prosecutor.
Two other unidentified white men sat next to the prosecutor during the proceedings. After the conclusion of the hearing Pinkney was placed in handcuffs and taken into detention.
People had traveled to St. Joseph from around the United States. Ralph Poynter of the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee based in New York City was on hand for the sentencing. Delegations were also at the courthouse from Berrien County, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Nebraska, East Lansing, among other cities.
Rev. Pinkney Addressed the Court
Prior to the sentencing Rev. Pinkney spoke to the court saying that he was not guilty and “would not admit to something I did not do. I am hurt that this jury convicted me without any evidence.”
He later turned to prosecutor Sepic pointing at him saying “you know I did not do anything illegal.” Prior to sentencing Judge Schrock lectured Rev. Pinkney saying that his sentencing is designed to send a message.
Although the judge said that people have a right to seek the recall of a public official, he then turned to sentence the community leader to a lengthy prison term. Later the judge accused Rev. Pinkney of misrepresenting the political situation in Berrien County.
The area has an extensive history of racism and police repression. Benton Harbor’s African American community faces conditions of poverty, unemployment and police brutality.
BANCO through its organizing efforts has exposed the corporate entities in the county in their mad drive to maximize profits at the expense of the most oppressed and exploited within this region of southwestern Michigan. The ominous atmosphere of racism and criminal justice bias permeated the preliminary hearings, the trial and the sentencing phase.
Supporters Protest Convictions as National Struggle Escalates
After the hearing concluded supporters of Pinkney stood and comforted Mrs. Dorothy Pinkney, his wife. When asked outside the courthouse about where her husband would be detained, she said that “I have been told nothing.”
In the parking area supporters held a prayer vigil, an impromptu press conference and demonstration. People began to chant “Free Rev. Pinkney.”
Soon enough police cars began to arrive on the scene. Security personnel from inside the courthouse came out and told protesters that they would have to clear the area where cars drove into the county complex to park.
Law-enforcement vehicles from the city police force and state police were deployed.
Activists and defenders of Pinkney placed the sentencing within the broader context of the racist attacks against African Americans from Ferguson, Missouri and New York City all the way to California. Since the killing of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, the U.S. has been hit by a continuous wave of anti-racist demonstrations and rebellions.
Since late Nov. and early Dec., these manifestations have taken an even more mass character where protesters have drawn the links between police repression, judicial misconduct, the grand jury system and the corporate rule over U.S. cities and suburbs. These demonstrations have closed down streets, shopping malls, highways and low-wage employment centers.
The blatant acts of the capitalist corporations and their agents in government are causing greater political consciousness and intolerance among African Americans and many people of goodwill. In Berrien County and throughout the state of Michigan, majority African American municipalities, including the largest city of Detroit, have been taken over by politicians operating on behalf of the banks and multi-national firms–where fundamental voting rights and due process guarantees have been terminated.
These efforts by the racist power structures in cities, states and at the federal level are taking place without a response from the oppressed and working people. The demonstrations which have drawn hundreds of thousands into the streets across the U.S. will increase in their numbers and militancy.
New alliances and organizations will emerge to provide a consistent and ideologically directed focus to the burgeoning struggle. The racist capitalist system can no longer hide from the penetrating analysis of the growing mass movement against racism and capitalist exploitation.
Developments in Berrien County, Michigan serve to illustrate the character of the current crisis and the willingness of people to resist this renewed onslaught by the ruling class.
December 16th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman
Western media reported what happened as expected. Muslims are their targets of choice.
Saying an Islamic gunman took hostages in a Sydney cafe. A black and white flag with Arabic writing like those used by Islamic State (IS) terrorists reportedly visible.
Raising fears of radicalized Islamic militants running wild. Home-grown or of Middle East origin.
Planning other attacks. Australia on high alert. Mindless of a flag unrelated to IS. Or its message saying:
“There is no God but Allah, and Mohamed is his messenger.” Hardly a call to violence. Urging widespread terror attacks.
Islam teaches love. Not hate. Peace. Not violence. Charity. Not selfishness. Tolerance. Not terrorism.
Its five pillars include profession of faith. Prayer five times daily. Fasting during Ramadan.
Charity. Performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime for those able to afford it.
No matter. Muslims are stereotypically portrayed as dangerous gun-toting terrorists. Hate messages repeat regularly. Fear stoked.
Imperial wars target Muslim countries. Western homeland ones are vilified. Persecuted for their faith. Ethnicity. At times, prominence. Activism. Charity.
Relentlessly targeted. Hunted down. Rounded up. Held in detention. Treated like common criminals.
Held on secret evidence. Convicted on bogus charges. Given long prison sentences. Without just cause.
Australia like America and much of Europe. A police Martin Place operation began. In Sydney’s central business district. Including heavily armed SWAT teams.
People advised to avoid the area. Trains and buses halted. Roads blocked. Surrounding streets sealed off. Helicopters overflew Sydney.
A portion of its central business district on lockdown. Affecting its New South Wales Parliament. Reserve Bank. Opera house. Law courts. State library.
Sydney Harbor Bridge traffic halted. A Martin Place bomb threat reported. Reports said Australian authorities focused on cracking down on radicalized Islamists.
Scare headlines included the Washington Post claiming “Australia’s jihadist problem is much bigger than Sydney’s hostage crisis.”
Things lasted 16 hours. Gunman called a self-styled sheikh. Things ended when heavily armed police stormed the downtown cafe Tuesday pre-dawn.
Live television showed what happened. Reported intense gunfire. At least two deaths followed. Including the gunman.
At 2:45AM, Sydney police twittered: “Sydney siege is over. More details to follow.”
Prior to its ending, reports said at least six hostages escaped. The hostage-taker identified as Man Haron Monis.
A miid-50s Iranian man. Allegedly calling himself Sheikh Haron. Australian media reporting his lawyer saying he acted alone.
According to Australian national broadsheet The Age, he was free on bail. Involving two separate criminal cases.
Charged with being an accessory before and after the fact. In the murder of his former wife – Noleen Hayson Pal. Reportedly stabbed. Her apartment set ablaze.
Also charged with sexually assaulting a woman in western Sydney. In 2002.
Police claimed he self-styled himself a spiritual healer. Conducted business openly. On Station Street at Wentworthville.
In 2013, he pled guilty to 12 charges. Related to sending so-called poison-pen letters. To families of Australian servicemen. Killed overseas. In NATO war theaters.
A web site reportedly connected to him includes US and Australia condemnations. For military action against Afghanistan and Iraq.
Sydney Muslim community leader, Jamal Rifi, was quoted saying “everything he stands for is wrong.” His actions have nothing to do with Islam.
He’s “never been associated with any mainstream mosque, and he is not associated with any of our religious leaders whatsoever. He is self-proclaimed.”
Rifi knows Monis’ family well. Not him personally. He’s not a sheikh, he said. His dress is traditional. Including a beard. Common everywhere. Including in Western countries.
Media reports say it’s unclear if had accomplices. Australia remained transfixed for hours. So did many other parts of the world. Featuring what happened. Ignoring other news.
Australia’s right-wing Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, went on national television. From Canberra. Australia’s capital. Before things ended.
Saying “an armed person claiming political motivation” is involved. It’s “profoundly shocking that innocent people should be held hostage. This is obviously a deeply disturbing incident.
“But all Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner.”
Earlier Abbott convened a cabinet security meeting. Considering how to respond to what happened. Almost as though Australia was invaded. Or faced an imminent major threat.
Lindt Cafe’s Lindt & Sprungli CEO Stephen Loane at first thought a holdup was in progress. Maybe gone awry. When he arrived on site, he realized otherwise.
Throughout the siege, television coverage was non-stop. Nearby buildings were evacuated. Including Washington’s consulate. A block away.
People nearby remaining inside were told stay away from windows.
Islamophobia grips Australia. Fear-mongering persists. Without just cause. It bears repeating. Like in America. Much of Europe. Israel.
Dozens of Australian Muslim men had their passports revoked. On suspicion of planning to join Islamic State terrorists. In Syria or Iraq. Despite no credible evidence proving it.
Early Monday, Federal Police arrested a 25-year-old man. From suburban Sydney. On suspicion of financing terrorism. Authorities called him unconnected to hostage siege conditions.
Islamic Council of Victoria general manager, Nail Aykan, expressed concern about “repercussions for prejudice-motivated crime. We don’t want a domino effect in wider society,” he said.
University of Wollongong terrorism researcher Professor Adam Dolnik called what happened either “a lone wolf sympathetic to the issues of the Islamic State and the goal of jihad more generally” or a case of “psychopathology in search of a cause.”
Australia is home to around half a million Muslims. Half or more in Sydney. Many fleeing 1970s/80s Lebanese violence.
Ordinary people. Some prosperous. Assimilating well. With community members. People of other faiths.
Imagine a different scenario. If an average-looking Anglo-Saxon white male committed the same act. In Australia. A European country.
Especially America. Militarized police terrorize people of color. Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies Professor Peter Kraska estimates around 50,000 annual nationwide SWAT raids. Around 137 daily.
Not in Middle American white communities. Or downtown business districts. In cases similar to what happened in Sydney.
If an average-looking Anglo-Saxon white male suspect was involved. Media coverage would be local. If any. Not non-stop. Blocking out other news.
Obama wouldn’t go on national television. Commenting like Tony Abbott. Or convene his national security team. Or dispatch National Guard forces.
Most people if asked wouldn’t know what happened. Wouldn’t care. No connection to radicalized terrorists would be cited.
Or imminent threats. No scare headlines. Or downtown lockdowns. Or community ones.
Calm would return. Life would go on normally. Polar opposite if a Muslim was involved. An entire community would share blame.
Vilifying people for their faith would continue. More justification for America’s war on terror. Scapegoating Muslims for their faith.
Federal, state and local authorities take full advantage. Expect the worst of things to continue.
Expect Sydney’s hostage siege to affect Muslims in America adversely. Rogue states operate this way.
December 16th, 2014 by Jim Miles
Evan Solomon, of CBC’s The House, recently had an interview with NATO’s current leading figure, four star General Philip Mark Breedlove, the seventeenth Supreme Allied Commander Europe. It was a fairly benign interview with no hard questions posed to the most powerful person in Europe. The answers were much more rational than someone from the Republican right domestically may have provided, but they demonstrate the understandable bias of the ‘western’ views vis a vis NATO, ISIS, and Russia/Ukraine.
Breedlove does not come across as someone who is itching for a fight with Russia, nor for the aerial bombing of Syria, perhaps cognizant of his audience which may not be quite as patriotically or geopolitically committed to having NATO contain and dismantle Russia and Syria.
The usual western bias runs through the interview. It is hard to tell whether Solomon’s soft questioning is due to deference to the power of General Breedlove or due to his own inability to understand the overall geopolitical structures and events surrounding these two areas of military confrontation. The corollary could hold true, that Breedlove was deferring to a possible more pacifist audience than he might consider if he were addressing a Republican party convention. Or more than likely, both: the questions were vetted before agreement was made for the interview, and the responses were well considered before the interview.
Part I – Terrorists first
After introducing the idea of the ISIS video tape from Canadian John Maguire espousing radical Islam, Solomon ask what is the General’s “response to threats like this?” The response evoked “history…all the way back to 9/11” a sure point in which to start any talk about terror. It identifies the speaker as one who accepts the official view that the demolition of the three Trade Center buildings was the work of mostly Saudi’s flying planes into two of the buildings. Most of the world does not accept the official version, and most of the world is certainly aware of terrorism well before 9/11.
When asked if domestic terror was on the rise, Breedlove responded that all are “concerned with foreign fighters bringing back the trade-craft, the approaches, and – frankly – the attitudes that they have adopted.” Well, dang those attitudes! If they had different attitudes, they could have been on our side using their trade-craft and approaches on our enemies – but wait, perhaps they are, when an enemy of my enemies’ enemy is my….uh….friend? After all, ISIS is begotten from al-Nusra with al-Qaeda, from Iraq, begot from al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, begot from the Taliban and from the mujahideen of the “freedom fighters” of the Reagan Era. All supported by our wonderful ally, Saudi Arabia (but wait, did they not attack the WTC?).
When asked if NATO’s approach changes because of that situation, Breedlove provides a ‘nice’ sounding answer about “greater cooperation and communications among like-minded nations” for “understanding the movement and addressing the threats that are created in our home nations.” As for Iraq, if invited in, NATO’s efforts would entail “building partnership capability, helping the Iraqi army, training it to help it reconstitute and become a more capable fighting force.” Hmmm, did they not already try that once, over a period of ten years, an obvious massive failure? Not only a failure but one that was a prime tap root for the development of al-Qaeda in Iraq and thus ISIS.
It is when Solomon asks about timelines that a real glimpse of the overall geopolitical picture looms into view, root causes and all. The response is definitive, sort of,
“This is a long term not a short term fight. Until we address the root causes of these kinds of issues, we can expect to have to deal with these kinds of issues so much like we put great pressure on the problem in Afghanistan and we see it now erupt in sub-Saharan Africa, the eastern part of Africa, Iraq, Syria – so, um, my estimation is this is a long term issue not a short term issue.”
Wow, there is a lot to deal with there:
pressure in Afghanistan (how’s that working out for you now, in consideration of pipelines and resources and Russia and China among other problems); obviously did not work (or did it?) as things are now “erupting” elsewhere (how convenient for the long war and the long arms of the Pentagon-NATO-CIA et al) and don’t forget Saharan Africa, the wonderful democracy you brought to Libya and the coup d’etat you supported in Egypt.
Solomon followed up with a logical question, one that leans towards tough, when asking about root causes, “What exactly are your referring to when you say that?”
The response is both disingenuous and biased towards the standard western misconceptions about causes of terrorism. The disingenuity comes from Breedlove’s first comment that “I’m not the smart guy here, but what I’ve heard smart people talk about….” Okay, you’re not the smart guy, but you’re in charge of all NATO forces? Of course, both of those may be true….
But moving on, Breedlove continues,
“…until we understand how to bring jobs, how to bring education, how to make governments responsive to their people, how do we have nations that meet the expectations of safety, health, and education of their people and other things, we will end up with those that can be easily radicalized, so we have to get at some of the root issues.”
The same idea is repeated in a followup question about radicals domestically, terror “may be more about radicalization than it is about root causes of poverty, health and lack of a responsive government.”
Wonderful, nice sentiments, well spoken – and wrong.
Studies from diverse groups, left and right wing think tanks, identify social alienation as being the underlying ‘root’ of people who become ‘radicalized’, who become terrorists. Poverty has little if anything to do with it, nor does – obviously then – jobs. Education does have something to do with it as the majority of terrorist/suicide bombers are generally considered generally well educated people.
The root cause that is never brought up by the west, for obvious reasons, is the alienation of a person socially, generally highlighted by identifying with the subjects of colonial settler imperialism, either in its original form as in Israel/Palestine, or in its latter day geopolitical fight for control of global resources in order to protect the empire’s power and dominance.
Of course, taking Breedlove’s comment on root causes domestically – about education, safety, health and responsive governments – it would certainly be well and good if all those ideas were applied at home first. That part of the discussion finished, the questions were then turned to the Ukrainian situation as it affects NATO.
Part II – Russia/Ukraine second
For what it does say, the interview section on Russia/Ukraine is pretty innocuous within its western oriented bias, but it is more of what it does not say that is truly important – which is why lots of material – and lots of possible questions - was probably left out altogether.
The first question requested a response to Putin’s comment that a ceasefire may be agreed upon soon. The response was essentially that would be good with the pro-west caveat that (implied) Russia should “cease fueling the conflict in eastern Ukraine and that includes Mr. Putin and his military which continues to push across supplies and capabilities into eastern Ukraine.” Okay, but there are greater omissions in this statement.
But first, Solomon’s next set of questions clearly delineates the western bias towards Russia as the aggressor,
This is subject to lots of propaganda and misinformation. What is Russia doing in eastern Ukraine? Are they sending in supplies? Do they control places like Donetsk, Luhansk? Is eastern Ukraine essentially one step away from this kind of Crimean situation?
The non-contextual answer – relatively accurate, but fully one-sided – indicates “we see overt and not overt resupply happening all the time….they provide the backbone to the Russian backed forces who are there fighting the Ukrainian forces in this Donbas region.” Again, okay, but with greater omissions in this reply.
Using more biased language when discussing the increase in Russian military flights in international airspace, Solomon refers to them as “incursions” with “provocative routes” before asking “What are the Russians doing?”
The generally non-committal and non-aggressive response prompted a follow up question, “But what are they trying to say? What is Putin trying to say when he is flying aircraft so provocatively towards NATO countries?” C’mon Evan, “provocatively towards NATO” – surely you know better, and if you don’t – then your whole interview with the NATO top gun becomes nothing more than ignorant propaganda.
The response is again well considered, “I agree with those who say he is messaging us, that he has the capability to do this and that his military has the capabilities to bring these pressures to bear on its neighbours.”
Solomon then turns the questions towards the NATO “spearhead” force, with the response indicating it is more of a political show than a truly military one – if indeed it would take “days” to activate in case of war, that would simply be too late. In relation to this a question is posed concerning Canada’s contributions as a part of the financial costs of military operations. the obvious answer is yes, the NATO chief would like Canada to commit more, but then provides the red herring argument that NATO spending is down 20 per cent, while Russia’s spending is up 50 per cent.
Sounds extremely lopsided unless one considers that Russia is recovering from – or was before the Saudi oil war – the economic losses incurred by the collapse of the Soviet Union. At the same time, NATO does include the U.S., the world’s largest military budget by far, increasing from $300 billion in 1990 to over $700 billion in 2013, not including all those items outside the actual budget such as the nuclear complex and all the spy and surveillance agencies. While NATO may be down 20 per cent, U.S. spending is up 200 per cent over the same time period. All of NATO combined supplied budgets of over one trillion dollars (all US$ for comparison) against Russia’s 90 billion dollar budget.
The final question concerns what is seen for 2015. Breedlove accurately responds that is a very short time line, and simply indicates the same old situations, “problems with the Islamic State and other Islamic extremists around the area…try to normalize our relationship in the eastern European nations….address the issues of the Donbas, to address the issues of Crimea,” mostly “much of the same.”
There is so much that is not discussed in this interview, which is what makes me believe that it was a vetted discussion for both parties. Most of what was not discussed was the greater context. Perhaps the following could have been asked,
Does the U.S. support the neo-Nazi members of the current Ukrainian government?
Did the U.S. participate in any way in the Maidan coup d’etat? What is it contributing to Ukraine now?
How long has the U.S. been preparing the dissolution of the Ukrainian government in order to gain control for NATO expansion and economic exploitation in the EU?
Why did NATO expand its boundaries to be adjacent to those of Russia after they had agreed that, with the unification of Germany, NATO would not expand eastward?
Why has the U.S. positioned anti-ballistic and nuclear missiles in eastern Europe if Iran – the excuse – has neither atomic weapons nor the capability of delivering any?
Is the U.S. willing to pull back on its military displays of force around the world in order to get Russia to end its flights around the world in international air space?
What will be the effects of Congress’ passing the Ukraine Freedom Support Act 2014 that authorizes Kyiv defense weapons worth $350 million?
…and there are many more questions that could be asked, about pre-9/11 terror (mostly centred on Israel/Palestine), about U.S. alliances with theocratic tribal Saudi Arabia and its fundamentalist supporters of terrorists, about the various pipelines that run through Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran – imagine – all those countries the U.S. has attacked and occupied or wishes to attack and occupy.
Russia-Ukraine and Syria-ISIS are not separate sets of incidents but are fully entwined within U.S. drives towards global hegemony. It is the dying empire’s attempt to guard the petrodollar and its power as it has always maintained that power, through military and financial manipulations pretty much everywhere in the world. NATO is a pawn in that world.
Overall, I am much more impressed by Breedlove’s generally benign responses, considering the man’s position in the global power structure. I am much less impressed with Solomon’s questions and their biased leading language and intent.
December 16th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman
On Sunday, chief PLO negotiator/long time Israeli collaborator Saeb Erekat said resolution text language will be submitted Monday to Security Council members.
To end Israeli occupation within two years. Recognize Palestinian statehood. Within 1967 borders. With East Jerusalem its exclusive capital.
He’ll meet with John Kerry and Egyptian diplomat/Arab League secretary-general Nabil Elaraby.
Early this week. Reportedly Tuesday in London. Erekat saying:
“We want a clear and specific resolution for a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, resolving all the final status issues, releasing all detainees and refugees and labeling settlement activity illegal and should be stopped immediately, including in Jerusalem.”
Diplomats involved say negotiations on reviving Israeli/Palestinian peace talks accomplished nothing.
In November, Jordan submitted draft Palestinian statehood text language to Security Council members. Setting a November 2016 occupation ending deadline.
Categorically rejected by Washington. Claiming it lacked balance. One-sidedly supporting Israel.
In November, France, Britain and Germany indicated joint efforts for resolution language acceptable to all 15 SC members.
So far without success. France proposed an international conference. To launch new peace talks. Dead on arrival each time before.
Palestinians hope voting on their proposed text will occur before yearend. Calling for resuming negotiations.
Achieving Palestinian statehood. Ending Israeli occupation by 2016. Two states co-existing side-by-side in peace. More on this below.
John Kerry and Netanyahu are meeting Monday in Rome. After Palestinians said they’ll submit their Jordanian-backed resolution text for Security Council consideration.
Before leaving, Netanyahu said “Israel won’t accept any unilateral, time-defined measures. We will repulse all efforts to bring terrorism into our homes.”
Code language for rejecting Palestinian statehood. Refusing to end occupation. Spurning regional peace and stability efforts.
A senior Israeli official accompanying Netanyahu said his government rejects attempts dictating unilateral moves.
“International support for such a unilateral measure would open the door for Hamas to enter the West Bank,” he said.
Ludicrously claiming “(s)uch a step could be destructive for Israel and the Palestinians.”
“Demands are being made of Israel without being made of the Palestinians, and that it why we will oppose” them.
Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On supports good faith negotiations, saying:
“Israel must support Mahmoud Abbas’ efforts for recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN, and to conduct negotiations between the two governments as equal partners. Netanyahu has lost all international influence. Country after country has recognized a Palestinian state, while Israel has stuck its head in the sand like an ostrich. The result will be Israel’s inability to determine its own future borders as part of a negotiated agreement.”
An estimated 134 nations recognize Palestinian statehood. Sweden the latest to join ranks with others. The first EU country to do so.
Britain, France, Spain and Portugal extended unofficial/symbolic parliamentary recognition. Ireland’s lower house did last Wednesday.
Unanimously. Sponsored by Sinn Fein. Following upper house recognition in October. Denmark was expected to follow suit.
Last Thursday, a parliamentary majority rejected Palestinian statehood. Perhaps temporarily.
Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard saying Denmark is prepared to recognize Palestine with or without a two-state solution in place.
“We are in line with the many countries who feel that this is such an important decision that we should wait to make it until we feel like it can actually affect the peace process,” Lidegaard explained. “We don’t think that is now, but on the other hand we don’t necessarily think that we need to wait until the end of the peace process.”
European parliamentary members proposed formally recognizing Palestinian statehood. Following increasing continental support. Even though symbolic.
Despite Israeli and German opposition. European Parliament recognition depends on how its 28 members vote.
Late November consideration was postponed. Reportedly until December 18. For lack of consensus.
Because of wording disagreements among member-states. Diplomats involved believe they’ll be resolved. Resolution passage could follow. A symbolic gesture.
Important along with growing numbers of European countries doing the same thing.
At some point, official recognition may follow. Unlikely soon. Eventually perhaps the way things are going. Despite vehement Israeli/US rejection.
In late November, Israel’s UN envoy Ron Prosor blasted European countries. Those supporting Palestinian statehood. During a General Assembly discussion on Palestine.
Invoking the long ago-discredited notion of unique Jewish suffering, saying:
“Israel is tired of hollow promises from European leaders. The Jewish people have a long memory. We will never ever forget that you failed us in the 1940s. You failed us in 1973. And you are failing us again today.”
Turning truth on its head claiming European parliaments recognizing Palestinian statehood are “giving the Palestinians exactly what they want – statehood without peace.”
“By handing them a state on a silver platter, you are rewarding unilateral actions and taking away any incentive for the Palestinians to negotiate or compromise or renounce violence. You are sending the message that the Palestinian Authority can sit in a government with terrorists and incite violence against Israel without paying any price.”
It’s hard imagining more convoluted rubbish. Typical Israeli trash talk. Polar opposite truth.
Israel ignores dozens of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. Ones it disagrees with. Violating international law. Ignoring world consensus.
Rejecting decades of genuine Palestinian peace efforts. Refusing to negotiate in good faith.
Remaining all take and no give. Rendering talks dead on arrival each time. More hardline now than ever.
Peace remains a distant hope. So far, a convenient illusion. Israel operates extrajudicially. Ignoring fundamental rule of law principles.
Violating virtually all humanitarian and human rights laws. Wages naked aggression at its discretion.
Maintains illegal militarized occupation harshness. Continues stealing Palestinian land. Terrorizes legitimate resistance.
Blames victims for its crimes. Commits virtually every one imaginable and then some. Rogue states operate this way.
None match US/Israeli ruthlessness. None more gravely threaten world peace. Or more urgently need to be stopped.
Abbas, Erekat and other top PLO officials could have had Palestinian statehood years ago.
They never tried. Rhetoric substituted for achievable action. Themselves alone to blame. Unconcerned about pursuing what’s easily within reach.
A majority of world nations support it. The Security Council only recommends new members. The General Assembly admits them by a simple two-thirds majority.
Of voting states. Minus those abstaining. The 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution 377 is key.
Empowering General Assembly members to override Security Council rejection. If Washington uses its veto as expected.
Abbas/Erekat et al need only invoke Resolution 377 to achieve official UN statehood recognition. Why not years earlier they’ll have to explain.
It begs the question. How serious are they now? Will they let a virtually certain US veto stop them? Will their resolution even come to a vote?
It bears repeating. Abbas, Erekat and other top PLO officials are longtime Israeli collaborators. Providing enforcement services.
For its illegal occupation. Betraying their own people. Spurning promises made. For special benefits derived.
Is this time different? If past is prologue, don’t bet on it.
A Final Comment
A Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) Fact Sheet (not yet posted on its web site as this article is written) explains daily horrors Gazans face. Ignored by media scoundrels.
Israel systematically violated Cast Lead, Pillar of Cloud, Protective Edge ceasefire terms. Agreed on by both sides following its last three Gaza wars.
Premeditated naked aggression by any standard. Gazans wrongfully blamed for Israeli crimes. Continuing regularly.
On land. Offshore. Israel attacks Gazan farmers. Children. Others on their own land. Up to 1.5 km from Israel’s border.
Well inside its so-called buffer zone. Illegally instituted. Constituting around 17% of Gazan territory.
Over one-third of its arable land is virtually off-limits. Accessed at great risk. Potential death or injury.
Israeli soldiers and border guards licensed to kill. Even young children posing no threat.
Gazan fishermen are routinely attacked at sea. Oslo permitted accessing up to 20 nautical miles (nm). Israel incrementally cut it. Unilaterally. With no authority to do so.
In 2007, down to three nm. Back to six in November 2012. Following Pillar of Cloud aggression. In February 2013, an “unknown” number.
In March 2013, 3 nm. In May, 6 nm. Weeks later down to 3 nm. Following Protective Edge in August 2014, restoring 6 nm. Increasing to 12 nm by yearend.
It doesn’t matter. Gazan fishermen are routinely attacked in their own waters. Injuries or deaths risked. Vessels and equipment damaged or confiscated.
Gazans waters a virtual war zone. Unsafe at all times. Depriving fishermen of their livelihoods. Palestinians of badly needed fish.
According to PCHR:
“Palestinians are completely prevented from accessing 85% of the Palestinian maritime areas recognised in the 1994 Gaza Jericho Agreement. Approximately 3,700 fishermen work under high personal risk every day at sea. Approximately 8,200 persons work in the fishing industry. Approximately 65,000 persons, including individuals who work in the fishing industry and their dependents, are affected by the ‘buffer zone’ restrictions at sea.”
Close to shore coastal waters are way-overfished.
Israeli land and sea attacks occur regularly. Virtually unreported by Western media. Ignoring Israeli crimes. Demanding accountability.
In November alone, six shelling incidents occurred. Twenty-three shootings. Two incursions. Two land levelings.
Twelve detentions. Including three children. Thirty-nine total incidents. Crimes against humanity. Over one per day.
One Gazan killed. Six minors injured. Five incidents involved property damage or destruction.
Israeli ruthlessness continues daily. Gazans are defenseless against it. Western leaders able to intervene responsibly do nothing.
December 15th, 2014 by Global Research News
This video production provides a historical insight on CIA torture practices in Latin America directed against “Communist terrorists”. This record is of particular relevance in relation to the Senate report on CIA torture committed during the Bush administration.
”The media has been glorifying the CIA. Our job was to promote repression (Phil Agee, former CIA).
USAID served as a front organization.
December 15th, 2014 by Robert Parry
Fox News host Andrea Tantaros is facing some well-deserved ridicule for refuting the stomach-turning Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture by declaring that “The United States is awesome. We are awesome” and claiming that the Democrats and President Barack Obama released the report because they want “to show us how we’re not awesome.”
Tantaros’s rant did have the feel of a Saturday Night Live satire, but her upbeat jingoism was only a slight exaggeration of what Americans have been hearing from much of their media and politicians for decades. At least since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, any substantive criticism of the United States has been treated as unpatriotic.
Indeed, a journalist or a politician who dares point out any fundamental flaws in the country or even its actual history can expect to have his or her patriotism challenged. That is how debate over “how we’re not awesome” is silenced.
Fox News may be the poster child of this infantile anti-intellectualism but the same sentiments can be found on the Washington Post’s neocon editorial pages or in the higher-brow New Republic. If you dare point out that America or one of its favored “allies” has done some wrong around the world, you’re an enemy “apologist.” If you regularly adopt a critical stance, you will be marginalized.
That’s why so many serious national problems have lingered or gotten worse. If we don’t kill the messenger, we denounce him or her as un-American.
For instance, the data on racial disparities in police killings and prison incarcerations have long been available, but the vast majority of whites seem oblivious to these continued injustices. To point out that the United States has still not done the necessary hard work to correct these history-based imbalances makes you seem out of step amid the happy-face belief that whatever racism there was is now gone. We have a black president, you know.
So, when white police shoot or otherwise apply excessive violence against blacks at a wildly disproportionate rate to whites, many white Americans just shrug. They even get annoyed if black athletes join in some symbolic protests like raising their hands as Michael Brown did before he was shot to death in Ferguson, Missouri. Many people hate to have the real world intrude on their sports entertainment.
In reaction to such events, Fox News and much of talk radio find reasons to ridicule the victims and the protesters rather than address the real problems. The unwelcome evidence of racism is just another excuse to roll the eyes and infuse the voice with dripping sarcasm.
On a more mundane level in Arlington County, Virginia, where I live, many whites simply don’t see the racial disparities though they are all around. While overwhelmingly white North Arlington benefits from all manner of public investments, including a state-of-the-art subway system which cost billions upon billions of dollars and amenities likes a $2 million “dog park renovation,” racially diverse South Arlington, the historic home of the County’s black population, is systematically shortchanged, except when it comes to expanding the sewage treatment plant.
When the County Board finally approved a much cheaper light-rail mass-transit plan for South Arlington’s Columbia Pike and voted for a public pool complex in another South Arlington neighborhood, North Arlington residents rose up in fury. The local newspaper, the Sun-Gazette, which doesn’t even distribute in much of South Arlington – due to the demographics – rallied the political opposition.
Before long, the County Board was in retreat, killing both the public pools and the light-rail plan, all the better to free up taxpayer money for more North Arlington projects. Yet, when I have noted the racial component to how the two halves of the county are treated, many Arlington whites get furious. They simply don’t see the residual racism or don’t want to see it. They view themselves as enlightened even as they favor neglecting their black and brown neighbors.
After I wrote a column about the history of Columbia Pike, which became an African-American freedom trail after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and ex-slaves escaped up the roadway toward Washington, one reader complained that I had slighted Robert E. Lee by saying he had “deserted” the U.S. Army when his fans prefer saying that he “resigned his commission,” which sounds so much more proper.
The point is interesting not only because the commenter didn’t seem nearly as concerned about the fate of the African-Americans, some of whom joined the U.S. Colored Troops to fight for the final defeat of slavery. And not only because General Lee violated his oath as a U.S. officer in which he swore to “bear true allegiance to the United States of America” and to “serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States.”
But the commenter’s point is also interesting because it underscores how white Americans have excused and even glorified the Confederate “heroes” who were fighting to protect a system based on the ownership of other human beings. If you have any doubt about the glorification, just visit Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia, where towering statues of Confederate generals dominate the skyline.
Or, if you’re in Arlington and driving on Route One, you might notice that it is still named in honor of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy who was a fervent white supremacist and a major slaveholder. And, if President Davis and General Lee had been successful in their war of secession, it could have meant that slavery might never have ended. Yet, these protectors of slavery are treated with the utmost respect and any slight toward them requires a protest.
My writings about Thomas Jefferson also have elicited anger from some people who wish to idolize him as a noble philosopher/statesman when the reality was that he was a crude racist (see his Notes on the State of Virginia) who mistreated his Monticello slaves, including having boys as young as ten whipped and raping one and likely other of his slave girls. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Thomas Jefferson: America’s Founding Sociopath.”]
Much like the defender of Robert E. Lee who preferred more polite phrasing about the general’s betrayal of his oath, defenders of the Jefferson myth expressed much more outrage over my pointing out these inconvenient truths about their hero than they did about the victims of Jefferson’s despicable behavior and stunning hypocrisies.
Which gets us back to Andrea Tantaros and how “awesome” America is. The context for her remarks was the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report which detailed what can no longer be euphemized away as “enhanced interrogation techniques” or EITs as CIA officials prefer.
The only word that can now apply is torture, at least for anyone who has read the page-after-page of near drownings via waterboard, the hallucinatory effects of sleep deprivation, the pain inflicted by hanging people from ceilings, and the sexual sadism of keeping detainees naked and subjecting them to anal rape under the pretext of “rectal rehydration” and “rectal feeding.”
The various apologists for this torture – people like Tantaros, Vice President Dick Cheney and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer – prefer to counterattack by questioning the patriotism or the intellectual consistency of those Americans who are outraged at these actions. The torture defenders excuse the behavior because we were scared after 9/11 and wanted the Bush administration to do whatever it took to keep us safe.
All of these excuses are designed to prevent the sort of soul-searching that one should expect from a mature democratic Republic, a country that seeks to learn from its mistakes, not cover them up or forget them.
Instead of Americans confronting these dark realities of both their history and their present – and making whatever amends and adjustments are necessary – the torture apologists or those who don’t see racism would simply have us wave the flag and declare how “awesome” we are.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.
December 15th, 2014 by Patrick Martin
The interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program Sunday morning showed both the unapologetic savagery of American imperialism and its deepening crisis.
Cheney defended the Bush administration’s CIA torture program against its partial exposure through the release last week of a Senate Intelligence Committee report that documents the criminality of CIA operatives and their political masters, including George W. Bush and Cheney himself.
Asked about particular torture methods, Cheney repeatedly defended such horrific and illegal actions as waterboarding, hanging prisoners by their arms from an overhead bar for 22 hours straight, and the procedure described as “involuntary rectal feeding,” which he claimed was “done for medical reasons.”
One remarkable exchange with interviewer Chuck Todd went as follows:
Todd: Let me read you another one here. With Abu Zubaydah, over a 20-day period, aggressive interrogations. Spent a total of 266 hours, 11 days, two hours, in a large coffin-sized confinement box, 29 hours in a small confinement box, width of 21 inches, depth of 2.5 feet, height of 2.5 feet. That’s on page 42. Is that going to meet the standard of the definition of torture?
Cheney: I think that was, in fact, one of the approved techniques.
When asked about the CIA’s own admission that at least one-quarter of the prisoners detained and abused at its secret “black sites” were innocent of any connection to terrorism, Cheney replied, “I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective.” He reiterated, “I’d do it again in a minute.”
The former vice president seemed especially incensed by the suggestion that the CIA had lied to the White House about what it was doing at its secret prisons. He went out of his way to declare, even boast, that he and President George W. Bush were fully informed of what the CIA was doing and approved it every step of the way.
Again from the “Meet the Press” transcript:
Cheney: The notion that we were not notified at the White House about what was going on is not true. I sat through a lengthy session in ‘04 with the inspector general of the CIA as he reviewed the state of the program at that time. The suggestion, for example, that the president didn’t approve it, wrong. That’s a lie, that’s not true… There would be special meetings from time to time on various subjects that he would be directly involved in. This man knew what we were doing. He authorized it; he approved it.
These statements should be entered as evidence at a future war crimes prosecution of Bush, Cheney and all those associated with the American torture enterprise.
When faced with the suggestion by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture that Bush administration officials—including himself—should be prosecuted, Cheney was contemptuous, but also defensive. He described it as “an outrageous proposition” that former US government officials even had to answer such questions.
On at least five occasions—particularly when pressed to respond to a specific method of torture—he tried to change the subject to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which have become the all-purpose excuse for every crime committed by American imperialism.
Cheney cited as proof that the Bush administration did not torture the legal opinions issued the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that “specifically authorized and okayed… exactly what we did.” In other words, the president’s own lawyers, acting on his instructions, found that his orders to the CIA were legal. (In the same fashion, the Obama White House engineered a finding by the Office of Legal Counsel that the president could legally order the drone missile assassination of an American citizen.)
There was little to distinguish Cheney’s arguments from the type of self-justification offered by the Nazi defendants at the Nuremberg Tribunal following World War II. Every action they took, Goering, Keitel, Frank and others declared, was justified by the necessities of war against a savage enemy. Every action was in accordance with the legal principles laid down by the Third Reich.
Those further down the Nazi chain of command, like the CIA operatives and contractors who actually carried out the torture at the secret prisons, would plead that they were “just following orders.”
There is no reason to limit this comparison to the officials and operatives of the Bush administration. The Obama administration too consists of war criminals and their apologists. As one Bush defender pointed out in the panel discussion that followed Cheney’s appearance, under Obama, the US government is using drones to blow up its targets “and their families at picnics and weddings,” rather than capture them and torture them.
Obama himself reassured the torturers and murderers of both administrations that there would be no consequences for their actions, declaring within months of taking office that he would “look forward, not backward” on the crimes of the Bush era. This gave the green light to the CIA to shift its focus from waterboarding to drone missile assassinations.
The Obama Justice Department issued an official statement after the release of the 528-page unclassified executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee study, saying it had found no new information in either it or the full 6,700-page report. “Our inquiry was limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offenses were committed,” the department said.
The Justice Department added that if a foreign court took action against former or current US government officials, citing the evidence provided by the Senate report, the United States would raise “jurisdictional and other legal defenses to prevent unwarranted prosecution …”
These statements confirm that no government of the American financial aristocracy will take action against the crimes committed in its name. In order to hold the war criminals, murderers and torturers accountable, it is necessary to build up a mass movement from below, based on a turn to the international working class.
December 15th, 2014 by Mike Head
A police siege of a Sydney city cafe today, in which a man was reportedly holding hostages, has been used to set in motion a massive police operation, locking down parts of the city’s CBD, amid sensational media claims of Islamic terrorism.
The state and federal governments carefully avoided describing the incident as a terrorist attack. Yet far-reaching security protocols have been activated in the CBD as well as elsewhere in Sydney and other Australian cities.
The only indication of any Islamic connection was a black flag inscribed with Arabic text, briefly displayed in the cafe window. According to various experts, the flag is not related to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and displays an Islamic creed that appears throughout Islamic communities, including on the Saudi Arabian flag.
Image: Scores of police vehicles at Hyde Park
Prime Minister Tony Abbott twice convened meetings of the National Security Committee of cabinet and gave two nationally-televised addresses. In his first, he declared: “We have to appreciate that, even in a society such as ours, there are people who would wish to do us harm.” In his second, he said the person involved claimed “political motivation,” but gave no detail.
The New South Wales (NSW) state government and its police commanders stated there was no confirmation that the incident was terrorist-related. Nevertheless, they deployed heavily-armed para-military units, flooded Sydney streets with police and imposed a sweeping lockdown. Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said “hundreds and hundreds” of police were involved.
Questions surround the origins of the siege, which began at a Lindt cafe in Sydney’s central Martin Place at about 9.45 this morning. The Guardian reported that a woman outside the cafe saw a man carrying a sports bag with what appeared to be a gun inside. She informed police, who approached the man, who then entered the cafe.
Within minutes, a police Tactical Assault Team entered the building with gas masks and guns drawn, carrying M4 automatic rifles. Several city streets were blockaded off, major buildings were evacuated, and thousands of office workers, even two kilometres away, were ordered to stay inside their buildings, and keep away from the windows. Some train services were halted, and people were told to leave the city by bus because bombs might be planted in the subway system.
The Sydney Opera House was evacuated and surrounded by barricades, with a police helicopter circling overhead, after a false report that a suspicious package was sighted. All public schools within a one-kilometre radius of the CBD were placed in “lockout” mode, which prevented anyone from entering the schools or children leaving. The parliament building was evacuated, together with law courts, the NSW Art Gallery and the State Library.
Hundreds of police were mobilised throughout the city, and many more were deployed to create a visible police presence in working-class suburbs across the metropolitan area, including in Fairfield and Cabramatta, which are about 30 kilometres from the CBD.
Large numbers of police were also called out onto the streets in other states, including neighbouring Victoria and Queensland, where the police chief claimed to have information that explosive devices were involved in the Sydney siege.
Just before 4 p.m., NSW Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said the police had activated Counter Terrorism protocols, under the direction of the Counter Terrorism and Security Command, which coordinates federal and state police and military units. “We’ve set up our command and control protocols,” she announced, while still not confirming any terrorist connection.
Long before any facts were known, sections of the mass media, notably the Murdoch publications, linked the incident to terrorism. A special edition of the tabloid Daily Telegraph was headlined: “Death Cult CBD attack” with an accompanying “The instant we changed forever.” Without providing a shred of evidence, it declared that ISIS was responsible. “IS takes 13 hostages,” it claimed.
Another news.com.au web site headline declared: “Martin Place long identified as a terrorist target.” The article recalled sensational police and media claims in September of an Islamist plot to behead someone in a public place, possibly Martin Place. The alleged plot provided the pretext for the largest police raids ever conducted in Australia on September 18, which featured the seizure of a ceremonial sword—later revealed to be plastic.
Unsubstantiated links to terrorism were echoed around the world. The BBC, for example, connected the siege to “Australia’s terror threat timeline.”
The Australian government’s allies in the “war on terrorism” and the US-led war in Iraq and Syria did not wait for any evidence either. A White House official said Lisa Monaco, President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor, had spoken to Obama about the events in Sydney. Canada’s and New Zealand’s prime ministers sent messages of support to the Abbott government.
Both the Labor Party and the Greens rushed to underscore the unity of the parliamentary establishment behind the government and the police operation. Labor Leader Bill Shorten offered Abbott “the Opposition’s full support at this time,” adding, “we are one when it comes to keeping Australians safe.” Greens acting leader Adam Bandt said his party’s thoughts were “with the police and security forces managing” this “terrifying situation.”
As this article was posted, the circumstances surrounding the siege and its likely outcome remained unclear. Five people have emerged from the café. The police have confirmed that negotiations are underway with an armed person inside but have refused to provide details or indicate how many hostages are involved.
Image: Police and emergency vehicles near Martin Place
However, the massive operation has provided another glimpse, following the police-military operation at last month’s G20 summit in Brisbane, of the police-state measures being prepared in Australia, with the unanimous backing of all the parliamentary parties, under the guise of dealing with terrorists. The media scaremongering is aimed at conditioning the public to the rolling out of such police lockdowns.
The real target is the mounting social and political disaffection in the working class with the deepening assault on living standards and preparations for war. Today, while the public was bombarded with terrorist scares, the Abbott government also handed down its mid-year economic review, outlining further social spending and job cuts to impose the burden of a deepening economic downturn on working people.
December 15th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky
لحرب التي تقودها الولايات المتحدة ضد “الدولة الإسلامية” مجرد كذبة كبرى. وما ملاحقة “الإرهابيين الإسلاميين”، وشن حرب وقائية في جميع أنحاء العالم، لـ”حماية الوطن الأمريكي”، سوى ذريعة لتبرير أجندة عسكرية.
“داعش” صنيعة المخابرات الأمريكية، وأجندة واشنطن لـ “مكافحة الإرهاب” في العراق وسوريا تتمثل في دعم الإرهابيين. ولم يكن اجتياح قوات “داعش” للعراق، ابتداءً من يونيو 2014، سوى جزءًا من عملية استخباراتية عسكرية مخطط لها بعناية، وتحظى بدعمٍ سريّ من الولايات المتحدة وحلف شمال الأطلسي وإسرائيل.
وعليه فـ”مكافحة الإرهاب” ليست سوى ضرب من خيال؛ فأمريكا هي “الدولة الراعية للإرهاب رقم واحد في العالم”.وتنظيم “الدولة” يحظى بحماية الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها، ولو أرادوا القضاء على هؤلاء المسلحين، لكان بإمكانهم قصف شاحناتهم الصغيرة، من طراز تويوتا، عندما عبروا الصحراء من سوريا إلى العراق في يونيو، كما يظهر في الصورة التالية:
فالصحراء السورية-العربية عبارة عن أرض مفتوحة (انظر الخريطة أدناه)، ومع توافر طائرات مقاتلة (F15، F22 Raptor، CF-18) كان الهجوم- من وجهة نظر عسكرية- سيكون عملية جراحية سريعة ومبررة.
في هذا المقال، نتناول 26 معلومة تفند هذه الكذبة الكبرى، التي صوَّرتها وسائل الإعلام باعتبارها التزامًا إنسانيًا، بينما هي ليست في الواقع سوى عملية عسكرية واسعة النطاق ضد العراق وسوريا، أسفرت عن إزهاق أرواح عدد لا يحصى من المدنيين. وبدون الدعم الراسخ الذي منحته وسائل الإعلام الغربية لمبادرة أوباما، باعتبارها عملية لـ”مكافحة الإرهاب”، لم يكن من الممكن أن يحدث ذلك كله.
* الجذور التاريخية لتنظيم القاعدة
(1) دعمت الولايات المتحدة القاعدة وفروعها طيلة نصف قرن، منذ ذروة الحرب الأفغانية-السوفييتية.
(2) أقامت وكالة الاستخبارات الأمريكية (CIA) معسكرات تدريب في باكستان، وجنَّدت خلال عشر سنوات (1982-1992) قرابة 35 ألف جهاديّ من 43 دولة إسلامية؛ للقتال في صفوف الجهاد الأفغاني. ”ودفعت الـ CIA ثمن الإعلانات التي ظهرت في الصحف والنشرات الإخبارية في جميع أنحاء العالم لتوفير الإغراءات وتقديم المحفزات للانضمام إلى الجهاد”.
(3) دعمت واشنطن الشبكة الإرهابية الإسلامية منذ إدارة ريجان، الذي وصف الإرهابيين بأنهم “مقاتلون من أجل الحرية”، وزودت بلاده المقاتلين الإسلاميين بالأسلحة. وكان كل ذلك لسبب وجيه، هو: “قتال الاتحاد السوفيتي، وتغيير النظام، ما يؤدي إلى تقويض الحكومة العلمانية في أفغانستان”.
(رونالد ريجان يلتقي المجاهدين الأفغان في البيت الأبيض عام 1984- “أرشيف ريجان”)
(4) نشرت جامعة نبراسكا الكتب الجهادية. ”وأنفقت الولايات المتحدة ملايين الدولارات لتزويد أطفال المدارس الأفغانية بالكتب المدرسية المليئة بصور العنف، والتعاليم الإسلامية المتشددة”.
(5) جندت وكالة الاستخبارات المركزية مؤسِّس تنظيم القاعدة، ورجل الفزع الأمريكي، أسامة بن لادن، عام 1979 في بداية الحرب الجهادية، التي حظيت برعاية أمريكية ضد أفغانستان. كان عمره حينها 22 عامًا، وتلقى تدريبًا في مراكز تدريب حرب العصابات التابعة لـ CIA. ولم يكن تنظيم القاعدة هو الذي يقف وراء هجمات 11 سبتمبر 2001، بل استخدم الهجوم كذريعة لشن حرب ضد أفغانستان باعتبارها دولة راعية للإرهاب، وداعمة للقاعدة. وكان لهجمات سبتمبر دور فعال في صياغة “الحرب العالمية على الإرهاب”.
* تنظيم “الدولة”
(6) تنظيم “الدولة” في الأصل هو أحد فروع الكيان الذي أنشأته الاستخبارات الأمريكية بدعم من المخابرات البريطانية MI6، والموساد الإسرائيلي، وجهاز الاستخبارات الباكستانية ISI، ورئاسة المخابرات العامة السعودية GIP.
(7) شاركت قوات تنظيم “الدولة” في التمرد الذي تدعمه الولايات المتحدة والناتو في سوريا ضد حكومة بشار الأسد.
(8) كان حلف شمال الأطلسي (NATO) والقيادة العليا التركية مسؤولان عن تجنيد مرتزقة “الدولة” و”النصرة” منذ بداية التمرد السوري في مارس 2011. ووفقًا لمصادر استخباراتية إسرائيلية، تألفت هذه المبادرة من: “حملة لتجنيد آلاف المتطوعين المسلمين من دول الشرق الأوسط والعالم الإسلامي للقتال إلى جانب المتمردين السوريين. على أن يقوم الجيش التركي بإيواء هؤلاء المتطوعين، وتدريبهم، وتأمين مرورهم إلى سوريا”، (الناتو يمنح المتمردين أسلحة مضادة للدبابات”- ديبكا، 14 أغسطس 2011).
(9) توجد قوات خاصة وعملاء مخابرات غربيين في صفوف “داعش”، كما شاركت القوات الخاصة البريطانية ومخابرات MI6 في تدريب المتمردين الجهاديين في سوريا.
(10) درب متعهدو العقود العسكرية مع البنتاجون الإرهابيين على استخدام الأسلحة الكيماوية، حيث “يستخدمهم المسؤولون الأمريكيون، وبعض الحلفاء الأوروبيون؛ لتدريب المتمردين السوريين على كيفية تأمين مخزونات الأسلحة الكيماوية في سوريا، حسبما صرَّح مسؤول أمريكي رفيع المستوى، والعديد من الدبلوماسيين الكبار (تقرير CNN، 9 ديسمبر 2012).
(11) قطع (داعش) للرؤوس هو جزء من برنامج تتبناه الولايات المتحدة لتدريب الإرهابيين في السعودية وقطر.
(12) عدد كبير من مرتزقة “داعش” جندهم الحليف الأمريكي السعودي. فهم في الأصل سجناء محكوم عليهم بالإعدام أفرجت عنهم المملكة شريطة الانضمام إلى ألوية “داعش” الإرهابية.
(13) قدَّمت إسرائيل دعمًا لـ ألوية “داعش” و”النصرة” من مرتفعات الجولان. واجتمع مقاتلون جهاديون مع ضباط الجيش الإسرائيلي ورئيس الوزراء بنيامين نتنياهو. وهو الدعم الذي يعترف به كبار ضباط الجيش الإسرائيلي ضمنيًا.
وتُظهِر الصورة أدناه “رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي بنيامين نتنياهو، ووزير الدفاع موشيه يعلون، إلى جوار أحد المرتزقة المصابين، داخل مستشفى ميداني عسكري إسرائيلي في مرتفعات الجولان على الحدود” ( 18 فبراير 2014)
* سوريا والعراق
(14) قوات “داعش” هم جنود المشاه التابعين للتحالف العسكري الغربي. ومهمتهم غير المعلنة هي تخريب وتدمير سوريا والعراق، بالنيابة عن راعيهم الأمريكي.
(15) اجتمع السناتور الأمريكي جون ماكين مع قادة الإرهاب الجهادي في سوريا (انظر الصورة أدناه)
(16) تواصل الولايات المتحدة دعمها السري، وتقديم المساعدة العسكرية لمليشيات “داعش”، المفترض أنها هدفٌ مزعومٌ للحملة الجوية التي تشنها أمريكا والناتو في إطار “مكافحة الإرهاب”.
(17) الغارات التي تشنها أمريكا والناتو لا تستهدف “داعش”، بل تقصف البنية التحتية الاقتصادية في العراق وسوريا، بما في ذلك المصانع ومصافي النفط.
(18) مشروع “الخلافة” الذي تتبناه (داعش) هو جزء من جدول أعمال السياسة الخارجية التي تتبناها أمريكا منذ فترة طويلة لتقسيم العراق وسوريا إلى أجزاء منفصلة: (أ) خلافة إسلامية سنية، (ب) جمهورية عربية شيعية، (ج) جمهورية كردية.
* الحرب العالمية على الإرهاب
(19) ترتدي “الحرب العالمية على الإرهاب” قناع “صراع الحضارات”، باعتبارها حربًا بين متنافسين على القيم والأديان، بينما هي في الواقع حرب احتلال صريحة، تسترشد بالأهداف الاستراتيجية والاقتصادية.
(20) نُشِرَت ألوية إرهابية، تابعة لتنظيم القاعدة (وتحظى بدعم المخابرات الغربية سرًا) في مالي والنيجر ونيجيريا وجمهورية إفريقيا الوسطى والصومال واليمن.
(“الحرب الأمريكية على الإرهاب” لـ ميشيل شوسودوفسكي)
هذه الكيانات المتنوعة التابعة للقاعدة في الشرق الأوسط وإفريقيا جنوب الصحراء وآسيا هي “أصول استخباراتية” ترعاها الـ CIA، وتستخدمها واشنطن لإثارة الفوضى وخلق صراعات داخلية وزعزعة استقرار الدول ذات السيادة.
(21) بوكو حرام في نيجيريا، والشباب في الصومال، والجماعة الإسلامية المقاتلة في ليبيا (تلقوا دعمًا من الناتو في عام 2011)، والقاعدة في المغرب الإسلامي، والجماعة الإسلامية في إندونيسيا، إلى جانب فروع القاعدة الأخرى تتلقى دعمًا سريًا من المخابرات الغربية.
(22) تدعم الولايات المتحدة أيضًا منظمات إرهابية تابعة للقاعدة في إقليم شينجيانج الصيني ذاتي الحكم؛ والهدف الأساسي هو إثارة الاضطراب السياسي في غرب البلاد. وتشير التقارير إلى أن “تنظيم “الدولة” قام بتدريب الجهاديين الصينيين من أجل شن هجمات هناك. والهدف المعلن لهذه الكيانات الجهادية (التي تخدم مصالح الولايات المتحدة) هو إقامة خلافة إسلامية تمتد إلى غرب الصين (“الحرب الأمريكية على الإرهاب” لـ ميشيل شوسودوفسكي- جلوبال ريسيرتش، مونتريال 2005، الفصل 2).
* إرهابيون محليون
(23) رغم أن الولايات المتحدة هي المؤسِّس غير المعلن لتنظيم “الدولة”، فإن مهمة أوباما المقدسة هي حماية أمريكا ضد هجمات “داعش”.
(23) الإرهاب المحلي مختلقٌ، وتُرَوِّج له الحكومات الغربية عبر وسائل الإعلام؛ بهدف إلغاء الحريات المدنية وتثبيت أركان الدولة البوليسية. ينطبق ذلك على الهجمات التي يشنها الجهاديون- بزعمهم- كما التحذيرات الإرهابية، سواءً بسواء؛ كلها مختلقة لخلق جو من الخوف والترهيب.
وفي المقابل، تعزز الاعتقالات والمحاكمات والأحكام الصادرة على “الإرهابيين الإسلاميين” شرعية حالة الأمن القومي الأمريكي، وأجهزة تطبيق القانون، التي تجري عسكرتها على نحو متزايد. والهدف النهائي، هو: إقناع ملايين الأمريكيين بأن العدو حقيقيّ، وأن الإدارة الأمريكية سوف تحمي أرواح مواطنيها.
(25) ساهمت حملة “مكافحة الإرهاب” ضد تنظيم “الدولة” في شيطنة المسلمين، الذين ينظر إليهم الرأي العام الغربي على نحو متزايد باعتبارهم متورطين مع الجهاديين.
(26) أي شخص يجرؤ على التشكيك في صحة “الحرب العالمية على الإرهاب” سوف يوصم بأنه إرهابيّ، ويخضع لقوانين مكافحة الإرهاب. والهدف النهائي من “الحرب العالمية على الإرهاب” هو إخضاع المواطنين، ونزع الطابع السياسي تمامًا عن الحياة الاجتماعية الأمريكية، ومنع الناس من التفكير، وصياغة المفاهيم، وتحليل الحقائق، وتحدي شرعية النظام الاجتماعي الاستقصائي الذي يحكم أمريكا.
وفي سبيل ذلك، فرضت إدارة أوباما توافقًا شيطانيًا بدعمٍ من حلفائها، ناهيك عن تواطؤ مجلس الأمن التابع للأمم المتحدة، واحتضان وسائل الإعلام الغربية لهذا الإجماع، ووصفها الدولة الإسلامية كما لو كانت كيانًا مستقلًا، وعدوًا خارجيًّا يهدد العالم الغربي.
وهكذا تحوّلت الكذبة الكبرى إلى حقيقة.
ودورك أن تقول: “لا” لـ”الكذبة الكبرى”، وأن تنشر هذه المعلومات.. فـ”الحقيقة” في نهاية المطاف سلاح لا يُستهان به.
المصدر : جلوبال ريسيرش
ترجمة: علاء البشبيشي