UN Accepts Palestinians’ Bid to Join 13 International Bodies

April 12th, 2014 by Global Research News

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon waves as he arrives for the 4th EU-Africa summit on April 2, 2014 at the EU Headquarters in Brussels.

A bid by Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas to join international conventions for supporting Palestinians’ rights against Israel violations has been accepted by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

On Thursday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban had verified that the PA’s applications to join 13 international conventions were made “in due and proper form.”

Ban also informed all 193 UN member states of his decision to accept the Palestinian applications, according to the UN official.

The Israeli-PA talks reached a new deadlock when the Tel Aviv regime refused to free the last tranche of 104 Palestinian prisoners in late March according to a deal for the resumption of US-sponsored negotiations.

Regime’s defiance to halt its illegal settlement activities in occupied lands were also another cause of the talks’ failure.

The move prompted acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to respond by signing letters of accession to 15 international conventions on April 1. Thirteen of the letters were deposited at the UN, one in Geneva and one in the Netherlands.

On April 8, Riyad Mansour, the PA ambassador to the UN, said Palestine would officially become a state party to 13 of the 15 conventions on May 2.

Mansour also said that the Palestinian Authority is ready to submit more applications to join UN agencies, conventions and treaties in response to  the Israeli regime’s actions.

Meanwhile, the Tel Aviv regime has imposed fresh economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority following its decision to join the international conventions.

On Thursday, an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tel Aviv would deduct debt payments from tax transfers which the PA routinely receives, and limit its bank deposits in Israel.

Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, has lashed out at the Israeli regime for the imposition of economic sanctions, saying the move is tantamount to “theft.”

Earlier this week, Mohammed Shtayyeh, an aide to the PA chief, said that the Authority’s letters of accession to the UN agencies would not be withdrawn and that the step is irreversible, stressing that Palestinians were ready to widen their bid.

With Nelson Mandela’s death, news from South Africa seemed to have diedalong with the world’s most famous ex-political prisoner turned president.  It was as if the people there don’t deserve to be covered unless there is a larger than life celebrity or scandal to focus on. 

Happily for the media industry there is a now an anti-Mandela in the public eye—famous not for what he achieved, but infamous for killing his girlfriend, mistaking her for an intruder who he gunned down. It was either a tragic accident or the work of mad man.

 Oscar Pistorius’ trial is now getting far more coverage than the one that Mandela and his co-defendents went through in 1962 leading to his life sentence.  That’s partly because his late live-in lover, Reeva Steenkamp,  was a stunning blonde beauty known to local media, while he was a medal winning athlete dubbed the “blade runner” because he had been a double amputee since childhood and overcame adversityto won raceswearing prosthetic devices.

This story of white on white violence—although, note, it is never, described that way—is being given the fulltabloid treatment with cover stories in People Magazine and lots of hype by the networks.

Unlike the days of apartheid, a black judge is hearing this case with race rarely alluded to. Oscar had lived in a pricey gated community where fear of black burglers is legion, all an unstated reflection of the dramatic inequality that remains in that country, and another dimension of the back story about his fears and guilt that gets less press attention.

 If Pistorius had killed an unknown black intruder, instead of his celebrityparamour, this trial wouldn’t be news.

 The coverage of him as been mosty negative althoughhe has fought back with his own communications team with a Twitter feed, @OscarHardTruth, designed to give “factual updates” on the trial. Its profile reads, “Truth Shall Prevail. Innocent until Proven Guilty.” http://www.oscarpistorius.com . In just 24 hours, it had over 16 400 followers, but only follows 28 – mostly international media outlets.

South Africa’s Media Monitor, Media Tenor, said that the local media is trying him as well as the court. According to researcher, Minnette Nieuwoudt, “my instinct tells me the media likes a damsel-in-distress type of story. The outright victim is something that resonates with a lot of people. The fact that she was very beautiful, it made her a bit of an icon.

 Pistorius, on the other hand, started getting increasingly negative coverage over the months after the shooting.

“There seemed to be a slight change in the tonality. Also, with regards to Oscar, he was initially compared to fallen sport heroes — then this changed to a more the general criminal comparison. First, he was an athlete who stumbled. Now, he’s a criminal, who used to be an athlete,” said Nieuwoudt.”

But even as the world focuses on his courtroom tears and the aggressive and often bungled prosecution that aims to show the dark side of this Olympic hero, other issues of perhaps worst crimes in South Africa draw little interest from the global media machine.

 2014 is the twentieth anniversary of South Africa’s “freedom” and the coming of democracy. It is an election year with national campaign underway pitting President Jacob Zuma, who was once part of the African National Congress’s armed struggle, and a popular if controversial/detested politician seeking reelection  against a number of challengers.

 Zuma is carrying lots of baggage because of a current theft of public monies for private use scandal involving lavish improvements on his home compound, and an earlier rape case.

The ANC has a serious political challenge as well.

On the Center right, there’s the DA—the Democratic Alliance, now transitioning from its roots in all white politics into a multi-racial Party that holds power in the Western Cape Province with Cape Town as its capital.

 And, then there are two new outfits, among other players, contesting for seats in this Parliamentary democracy.  Businesswoman and educator Mamphela Ramphele, best known as the anti-apartheid icon Steve Biko’s girl friend and her Agang Party is focusing on corruption and attracting women, while former ANC Youth League Leader, Julius Malema has set up a militant radical sounding youth-oriented party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, and says the ANC died with Mandela.

South Africa’s powerful labor unions that have been in an alliance with the ANC for decades were expected to organize a worker’s party but they have been persuaded not to. None of these political divisions fall on strict left-right differences.

 Many on all sides have strong disagreements with the ANC’s neo-liberal economic policies, and complain about pervasive poverty and low growth.

Outside the traditional political party structure, dissent is heard daily in noisy press stories exposing corruption and the ‘politics of concealment’ by the ruling ANC party.

Long time activists and ANC members are incensed by the lack of transparency and arrogance in a political elite that seems more focused on enriching themselves than serving the public.

Now, a former Minister, Ronnie Kasrils, and supporters have launched a new Vote No campaign to put the issues of the ANC’s betrayal and corruption on the agenda.  They have just issued this release:

A one-time minister and a deputy minister in ANC governments are among a group of former anti-apartheid activists who are backing a campaign calling on voters to come out and vote by either spoiling their ballots or to voting tactically in protest against corruption and current government policies.

 Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge are among a number of prominent figures who have endorsed a statement headed:  Sidikiwe! (We are fed up) Vukani! (Arise/Wake up),Vote ‘NO’ that will be released at the Press conference.”

It criticises the economic policies of “both the ANC and the main opposition the DA for supporting a system that has caused such alienation.

 Many are struggle veterans and most of the signatories have supported the ANC throughout the years since the 1994 transition, but are appealing to the wider range of disillusioned voters.  Their statement concludes:  

 “The ANC needs to know that it can no longer take for granted its traditional support and we would be failing South Africa and our democracy by not voting. After the elections efforts will be intensified to build an inclusive and transformative political program premised on social justice, redistribution, clean governance and democratic principles.”

All of this textured opposition politics does not meet the celebrity smell test that seems to motivate international media to pay attention.

 Corruption stories in Africa are widely covered although the focus is rarelyever on the corruptor, just the corruptee. It is virtually never on the disasterousimpact of  western corporations, banks and international financial institutions.

 Years ago the anti-government song “Marching on Pretoria” was well-known. Today, with the media “marching on Pistorius,” the  deeper and critical issues of a deepening economic and political crisis have been supplanted by another distraction–what looks to all the world as another OJ Simpson trial focused on personal pain for audiences relishing more newstainment.

 News Dissector Danny Schechter edits Mediachannel.org and blogs at newsdissector.net. His latest book is Madiba AtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela (Madibabook.com). Comments to [email protected]

A recent TIME Magazine article featured the “US NGO” Roots for Peace, which it portrayed as a victim of a regrouping Taliban bent on subjugating a newly “democratized” Afghanistan. This organization, funded by the US State Department and USAID, claims to be turning “battlefields into bountiful orchards.” But a lack of transparency makes it unclear as to just how they are doing this. With USAID using “aid” to usher in the corporate colonization of Afghanistan through other “NGOs,” its involvement with Roots for Peace raises warranted suspicions.

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Already, the War in Afghanistan has given agricultural monopolies like Monsanto a multi-million dollar foothold in the landlocked Central Asian country. As part of efforts to eradicate poppy cultivation across the country, the United States insisted that Kabul sidestep health studies and sign off on an unpopular plan to spray millions of dollars worth of Monsanto’s “RoundUp” glyphosate herbicide across Afghanistan’s countryside. It should be noted that before NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, poppy cultivation was nearly eradicated under the Taliban.

In addition to fears that the mass spraying of Afghanistan’s countryside could negatively impact the health of the Afghan people, there were also fears that licit crops could also be destroyed, leaving farmers with failed harvests, anger, and a willingness to further align themselves with armed tribesmen, including the Taliban.

For America’s overarching plan, the eradication of licit crops alongside poppy was ideal. That is because while Monsanto RoundUp herbicide was to be sprayed indiscriminately over the heads of Afghans, its genetically modified, RoundUp Ready terminator seeds were to be sown beneath their feet. The Nutrition and Education International (NEI), a front set up by Western agricultural monopolies, set out to replace Afghanistan’s traditional crops with both Monsanto’s genetically engineered RoundUp Ready soybeans, as well as copious amounts of RoundUp ready herbicide.

The NEI boasts nearly a decade of “accomplishments” having reached every province while establishing a “soy seed market” in Afghanistan, a market that will be dominated by foreign corporations holding the intellectual property rights to a crop the NEI and its corporate sponsors, with the help of USAID, have intentionally made the Afghan people dependent on.

Roots for Peace hasn’t been the only USAID “NGO” attacked in Afghanistan. Also helping in the agricultural reordering of Afghanistan was Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI).

NPR reported in “Attack On USAID Compound In Afghanistan Kills 4,” that, “Multiple suicide bombers stormed a USAID compound in northern Afghanistan before dawn Friday, killing at least four people and wounding several others, officials said.  The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault on a compound in Kunduz province used by Development Alternatives, a Washington, D.C.-based contractor working for the U.S. Agency for International Development.”

DAI’s efforts to use “poppy eradication” and “economic development” to invite in foreign corporate monopolies are backed substantially by a large list of “clients” including Cargill and Monsanto, two giants of big-agriculture.

These corporations and their “NGO” fronts, along with the US government through agencies like USAID, are attempting to use “the eradication of poppies” and “malnutrition” to force upon the Afghan people an agricultural monopoly controlled by foreign corporations who will retain the “intellectual property” rights on each and every plant growing in Afghanistan, as well as the production, control, distribution, and sale of the chemicals required to sustain them.

Food being one of the most basic necessities of human survival, controlled entirely by foreign corporations, is not only dangerous, it is exploitative and usurps both the dignity and freedom of those found under this form of “corporate colonization.”

It will take years and careful observation to tell whether or not Afghanistan will succumb to this modern form of corporate subjugation. As NATO troops leave the country and its pro-Western government in Kabul faces what appears to be inevitable extinction, the efforts made by the West’s big-agricultural giants, while profitable in the short-term, may not last. Afghanistan’s status as a “client state” of Western interests will be judged in part by Kabul’s efforts to either rollback or push forward big-ag’s agenda in the Central Asian country. 

Globally, the success of corporations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan will validate both the effectiveness of modern Western imperialism, as well as the strength and vitality of the empire it seeks to build. 

Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

On my wall in London is my favourite photograph from South Africa. Always thrilling to behold, it is Paul Weinberg’s image of a lone woman standing between two armoured vehicles, the infamous “hippos”, as they rolled into Soweto. Her arms are raised, fists clenched, her thin body both beckoning and defiant of the enemy.

It was May Day 1985; the last great uprising against apartheid had begun. Twelve years later, with my thirty-year banning from South Africa  lifted, there was a pinch-me moment as I flew into Jan Smuts and handed my passport to a black immigration officer. “Welcome to our country,” she said.

I quickly discovered that much of the spirit of resistance embodied in the courageous woman in Soweto had survived, together with a vibrant ubuntu that drew together African humanity, generosity and political ingenuity — for example, in the dignified resolve of those I watched form a human wall around the house of a widow threatened with disconnection of her electricity, and in people’s rejection of demeaning “RDP houses” they called “kennels”; and in the pulsating mass demonstrations of social movements that are among the most sophisticated and dynamic in the world.

On the twentieth anniversary of the first democratic vote on 27 April 1994, it is this resistance, this force for justice and real democratic progress, that should be celebrated, while its betrayal and squandering should be understood and acted upon.

On 11 February, 1990, Nelson Mandela stepped out on the balcony of Cape Town City Hall with the miners’ leader Cyril Ramaphosa supporting him. Free at last, he spoke to millions in South Africa and around the world. This was the moment, an historic split-second as rare and potent as any in the universal struggle for freedom. Moral power and the power for justice could triumph over anything, any orthodoxy, it seemed. “Now is the time to intensify the struggle,” said Mandela in a proud and angry speech, perhaps his best, or the last of his best.

The next day he appeared to correct himself. Majority rule would not make blacks “dominant”. The retreat quickened. There would be no public ownership of the mines, banks and rapacious monopoly industries, no economic democracy, as he had pledged with the words: “a change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable”. Reassuring the white establishment and its foreign business allies — the very orthodoxy and cronyism that had built, maintained and reinforced fascist apartheid — became the political agenda of the “new” South Africa.

Secret deals facilitated this.  In 1985, apartheid had suffered two disasters: the Johannesburg stock market crashed and the regime defaulted on its mounting foreign debt. In September that year, a group led by Gavin Relly, chairman of the Anglo-American Corporation, met Oliver Tambo, the ANC president, and other liberation officials in Mfuwe, Zambia.

The Relly message was that a “transition” from apartheid to a black-governed electoral democracy was possible only if “order” and “stability” were guaranteed. These was liberal code for a capitalist state in which social and economic democracy would never be a priority. The aim was to split the ANC between the “moderates” they could “do business with” (Tambo, Mandela and Thabo Mbeki) and the majority who made up the United Democratic Front and were fighting in the streets.

The betrayal of the UDF and its most effective components, such as the National Civic Organisation, is today poignant, secret history.

 In 1987 and 1990, ANC officials led by Mbeki met twenty prominent members of the Afrikaner elite at a stately home near Bath, in England. Around the fireplace at Mells Park House, they drank vintage wine and malt whisky. They joked about eating “illegal” South African grapes, then subject to a worldwide boycott, “It’s a civilised world there,” recalled Mof Terreblanche, a stockbroker and pal of F.W. De Klerk. “If you have a drink with somebody … and have another drink, it brings understanding. Really, we became friends.”

So secret were these convivial meetings that none but a select few in the ANC knew about them. The prime movers were those who had profited from apartheid , such as the British mining giant Consolidated Goldfields, which picked up the tab at Mells Park House. The most important item around the fireplace was who would control the economic system behind the facade of “democracy”.

At the same time, Mandela was conducting his own secret negotiations in Pollsmoor Prison. His principal contact was Neil Barnard, an apartheid true believer who headed the National Intelligence Service. Confidences were exchanged; reassurances were sought. Mandela phoned P.W. Botha on the his birthday; the Groot Krokodil invited him to tea and, as Mandela noted, even poured the tea for his prisoner. “I came out feeling,” said Mandela, “that I had met a creative, warm head of state who treated me with all the respect and dignity I could expect.”

This was the man who, like Verwoerd and Vorster before him, had sent a whole African nation to a vicious gulag that was hidden from the rest of the world. Most of the victims were denied justice and restitution for this epic crime of apartheid. Almost all the verkramptes — extremists like the “creative, warm” Botha — escaped justice.

How ironic that it was Botha in the 1980s — well ahead of the ANC a decade later — who dismantled the scaffolding of racial apartheid and, crucially, promoted a rich black class that would play the role of which Frantz Fanon had warned — as a “transmission line between the nation and a capitalism, rampant though camouflaged”.

In the 1980s, magazines like Ebony, Tribute and Enterprise celebrated the “aspirations” of a black bourgeoisie whose two-garage Soweto homes were included on tours for foreigners the regime sought to impress. “This is our black middle class,” the guides would say; but there was no middle: merely a buffer class being prepared, as Fanon wrote, for “its historic mission”. This is unchanged today.

The Botha regime even offered black businessmen generous loans from the Industrial Development Corporation. This allowed them to set up companies outside the “bantustans”. In this way, a black company such as New Africa Investments could buy part of Metropolitan Life. Within a decade, Cyril Ramaphosa was deputy chairman of what was effectively a creation of apartheid. He is today one of the richest men in the world.

The transition was, in a sense, seamless. “You can put any label on it you like,” President Mandela told me at Groote Schur. “You can call it Thatcherite, but for this country, privatisation is the fundamental policy.”

“That’s the opposite of what you said before the first elections, in 1994,” I said.

“There is a process,” was his uncertain reply, “and every process incorporates change.”

Mandela was merely reflecting the ANC’s mantra — which seemed to take on the obsessions of a supercult. There were all those ANC pilgrimages to the World Bank and the IMF in Washington, all those “presentations” at Davos, all those ingratiations at the G-8, all those foreign advisers and consultants coming and going, all those pseudo-academic reports with their “neo-liberal” jargon and acronyms. To borrow from the comic writer Larry David, “a babbling brook of bullshit” engulfed the first ANC governments, especially its finance ministries.

Putting aside for a moment the well-documented self-enrichment of ANC notables and suckering of arms deals, the Africa analyst Peter Robbins had an interesting view on this. “I think the ANC leadership [was] ashamed that most of their people live in the third world,” he wrote. “They don’t like to think of themselves as being mostly an African-style economy. So economic apartheid has replaced legal apartheid with the same consequences for the same people, yet it is greeted as one of the greatest achievements in world history.”

Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission brushed this reality, ever so briefly, when business corporations were called to the confessional. These “institutional” hearings were among the most important, yet were all but dismissed. Representing the most voracious, ruthless, profitable and lethal industry in the world, the South African Chamber of Mines summed up a century of exploitation in six and a half derisory pages. There was no apology for the swathes of South Africa turned into the equivalent of Chernobyl. There was no pledge of compensation for the countless men and their families stricken with occupational diseases such as silicosis and mesothelioma. Many could not afford an oxygen tank; many families could not afford a funeral. 

 In an accent from the era of pith helmets, Julian Ogilvie-Thompson, the former chairman of Anglo-American, told the TRC: “Surely, no one wants to penalise success.” Listening to him were ex miners who could barely breathe.

Liberation governments can point to real and enduring achievements since 1994. But the most basic freedom, to survive and to survive decently, has been withheld from the majority of South Africans, who are aware that had the ANC invested in them and in their “informal economy”, it could have actually transformed the lives of millions. Land could have been purchased and reclaimed for small-scale farming by the dispossessed, run in the co-operative spirit of African agriculture. Millions of houses could have been built, better health and education would have been possible. A small-scale credit system could have opened the way for affordable goods and services for the majority. None of this would have required the import of equipment or raw materials, and the investment would have created millions of jobs. As they grew more prosperous, communities would have developed their own industries and an independent national economy.

A pipe dream? The violent inequality that now stalks South Africa is no dream. It was Mandela, after all, who said, “If the ANC does not deliver the goods, the people must do what they have done to the apartheid regime.”

This article originally appeared in the Sunday Times, Johannesburg. John Pilger is the author of Freedom Next Time. His 1998 film, Apartheid Did Not Die, is on his website www.johnpilger.com

Russia has to stop gas subsidies to Ukraine as it cannot keep supporting the bankrupt anti-Russian regime in Kiev, energy asset manager Eric Kraus told RT, adding that it will be the EU’s problem if Ukraine eventually starts stealing their transit gas.

RT: Ukraine says it wants heavily discounted gas from Russia. Does it have grounds to ask for that?

Eric Kraus: I think it is fairly absurd considering that you have a strongly anti-Russian regime which has been brought into place by the Europeans and by the Americans in Kiev. You can’t really ask the Russians to fund this regime, can you?

RT: On the other hand, Russia has doubled prices in the span of just a few months, perhaps some calling that too harsh?

EK: It is harsh, but basically what they did is not double prices. What they did is they removed subsidies.

Russia has been very heavily subsidizing Ukraine, since Ukraine became independent, because they needed a friendly, at least a neutral state at their border. Now if Ukraine wants to align itself with NATO and basically anti-Russian countries, then they are going to have to pay their own way.

RT: The US says Russia’s blackmailing Ukraine and Europe and says Moscow should not use gas as a political weapon. And president Putin reacted to the statements joking, it is bad to read other people’s correspondence. What is your reaction?

EK: First of all for the Americans to accuse anyone of using economic blackmail is a major case of the pot calling the kettle black. They have been threatening illegal sanctions against Russia for weeks. So, who is using the blackmail here? And secondly, yes, the letter was not addressed to the American president.

 

Reuters/Stringer

Reuters/Stringer

RT: Ukraine hasn’t paid for gas in three months. What are Russia’s options now?

EK: Try not paying your gas bill for three months and then see what happens. Basically at some point Russia says it sells gas for money and at some point if the client does not pay, they have to close it off.

The problem is then, the danger is that Ukraine will start siphoning off the Russian gas which is being provided to Europe. And the Europeans brought this upon themselves. It is a European problem. They’re going to have to solve it. They can simply pay for Ukraine’s gas if they wish.

RT: There have been reports that several petroleum companies have allegedly discovered a mother lode of shale gas in Western Ukraine, near the European border. What kind of implications could that bring to the table?

EK: We have been hearing about the Ukrainian shale gas for a long time. All of the attempts to produce thus far have been failures, as has been the case for Polish shale gas. The geology is somewhat different. I don’t know if this time it is for real, but it will have major implications for the European, at least for Ukrainian gas supply. But I would be very skeptical until we see this confirmed.

RT: Who do you think is to blame at the end of the day for the crisis in Ukraine?

EK: I think it has started as a democratic movement against particularly corrupt and incompetent president who was never Mr. Putin’s choice by the way. Mr. Putin never liked Yanukovich.

Unfortunately as the revolutionary movement progressed, it was replaced by a vanguard of neo-fascists of far right wing parties which then took power by violence ,and are now complaining of eastern Ukrainians seeking to take power by that same violence.

The problem has been that the Europeans and the Americans have been attempting to use this. They are not concerned with the interests of the Ukrainian people. There is a game of power politics here and they are trying to push Russia into a corner and Ukraine provides convenient means of doing so.

Comments (13)

 

Anna Charles 12.04.2014 13:21

Energy debs are called priority debts here in the UK because if you dont ay they have the power to disconnect you. Many people, especially those on benefits have been migrated across to pre-payment meters so that no debt ever arises and arrears can be clawed back incrementally.

 

browndirtusunum 12.04.2014 11:18

I see NATO using the pipeline to the EU as a way into securing and bordering Russia even more than ever. NATO will protect the EU’s interests by protecting the pipeline to ensure that the EU will not pay for gas siphoned from the pipeline somewhere in the Ukraine by Ukrainians. Soon thousands maybe 10′s of thousands of NATO soldiers will be opening a whole new saga into the future of Ukraine.

 

Dunbal 12.04.2014 10:26

BRICSIAN 12.04.2014 05:27

” I think it is fairly absurd considering that you have a strongly anti-Russian regime…..”

The Ukrainians , for some reason, believe getting subsidised gas from Russia is their birth-right.

  

Ty pical of any spoiled person. Take for example someone living on government aid. Or a rich trust fund baby. They moan like crazy if for some reason you take the money away and make them get a job. It’s no different on an aggregate scale.

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“The new feudalism reverses the trend of the past thousand years toward the assumption by the government of basic public amenities like policing, public roads and transport networks, and public schools. In the United States—to a degree unmatched in any other industrial democracy—these things are once again becoming private luxuries, accessible only to the affluent few.”Michael Lind 

“The privatization of schooling would produce a new, highly active and profitable industry.”—Milton Friedman

American schools are in crisis. This is especially palpable in the inner cities. Although stemming from larger social and societal problems—coupled with a federal policy that facilitates school disruption—the cause of the crisis has been leveled solely on teachers. On a largely bipartisan basis, the solution has been to fire teachers en masse, coupling this with a massive wave of school closings. Subsequently, these public schools are massively privatized, mostly in the form of charter schools. This chain of events, far from unconnected phenomena, are part of the overall project for privatizing public schools. It is an attempt, inter alia, at windfall profits and to overturn the centuries-long commitment of the state to free compulsory education. In other words, neo-feudalism.
Originally focusing on the advocacy of private school vouchers, the architects of school privatization have redirected their energies to the adoption of private charter schools. Since this crucial pivot, the movement has evolved into a much larger coalition, bringing together the forces of right-wing corporatism and Wall Street Democrats, the ostensible allies of labor. It is this convergence that existentially threatens the very notion of public education in America.
Couched in terms of genuine concern for children and through demagogic sloganeering such as “school choice” or even in terms as innocuous as “school reform,” proponents of privatization have presented themselves as the saviors of children. [1] Facing largely failing schools—again, due to larger societal factors and lack of school funding in many cases, sometimes deliberately withheld—many parents look favorably at the prospect of sending their children to private voucher or charter schools in the hopes it will provide a more viable alternative. But as the Black Agenda Report observes, “The charter school racket is the perfect Trojan Horse for corporate domination of the classroom, at public expense, opening up a new, wholly subsidized educational ‘market’ valued at hundreds of billions of dollars a year, in which the public pays and private parties profit.” Under the guise of empowering parents and communities, it transfers public assets into private hands.

Behind the scenes of the movement for the replacement of public schools with for-profit charter schools, we find legions of billionaire hedge-fund hyenas, Wall Street—the same rapacious forces that brought us the world economic depression—and cynically opportunistic political operatives working at the behest of corporate and conservative foundations. These are flanked by neoliberal Wall Street Democrats and Republicans, the strongest allies of corporate America. Wall Street wants charter schools. It wants privatization because corporate America sees a potential bonanza in profits, a multibillion dollar opportunity to loot American schools at public expense. Indeed, as Glen Ford notes, “Anyone who believes that the Lords of Capital would finance anything that puts real power in the hands of poor parents, is in need of remedial education.”

In addition to profits, it also affords a further opportunity to smash the remnants of labor unions in America. In a country where labor unions have been in a continual rout for the past four decades—under both Republican and Democratic administrations—teachers unions have become one of the last bastions of militant trade unionism. Privatizing or charterizing public schools continues the attenuation of labor because their proliferation eliminates teachers unions. In fact, the original project to privatize schools, as we shall see, held as paramount the goal of breaking the historic relationship between Black America—the most consistently progressive constituency in America—and labor unions, where blacks were represented disproportionately with respect to their percentage of the overall American population.

Right-Wing Corporate Agenda to Co-Opt Black America

The project for national school privatization largely began as a parochial right-wing initiative focusing primarily on vouchers for private schools. This was a project that, if adopted, would have exacerbated American class separation in addition to reversing the historic commitment to public education. Elite private schools could have—unlike public schools—raised tuition to price out all but the wealthiest students. This would work to cement already increasingly oligarchic tendencies in America.

Moving away from this narrow right-wing initiative, the project for school privatization undertook a dramatic shift beginning in the late 1990s. For years Republicans had tried unsuccessfully to gain legitimacy within the Black community. Republicans had manifold methods for attempting to penetrate the Black community—from running token Black Republicans to bankrolling faux Black intellectuals—all of which were ultimately unsuccessful. Hitherto, not one Black Republican had been elected to a black district since 1939. Eventually, the Right had an epiphany. It realized the cynical use of education was a method by which it could penetrate into the Black community. American Blacks, descendants of enslaved people—who in their plight faced its criminalization—consider education indispensable for social mobility.
Rather than directly attempt to co-opt Blacks through the Republican Party, it would make inroads by working through the Democratic Party itself, where Black America resides politically. School privatization could also potentially drive a wedge between labor and blacks. Towards this end, it would foster and bankroll Black political operatives and opportunists in favor of school privatization. To bring this to fruition the right-wing corporate forces created a synthetic movement for school privatization within the Black community, where hitherto such a demand never existed. This was because, in a paradoxical irony, the progenitors of privatization, by way of school vouchers, were white racists who opposed the integration of schools by the federal government. They wanted segregation academies. Because of this, Blacks, with good reason, associated vouchers with white racists. To make privatization palatable to the Black community would be an arduous task indeed. But the right-wing operatives were awash with money and a newfangled strategy to inveigle the Black community.

This newfangled right-wing strategy was best elucidated by Glen Ford in the pages of the Black Commentator in his exposé of then Newark mayoral candidate Cory Booker, who was an integral part of these efforts. In retrospect, the advent of Booker on the national scene is a historic watershed in American politics. It was an ominous harbinger of what was to come for Black American politics; henceforth Black politicians would come increasingly into the orbit of the corporate embrace. Ford’s article “Fruit of the Poisoned Tree: The Hard Right’s Plan to Capture Newark, NJ” thoroughly documents Booker as the willing front man of the Hard Right’s twofold plan to infiltrate Black Democratic politics and to implement school privatization via vouchers. The incisive article also tells a larger story. It traces the new strategy’s very origins.

Those origins ideologically and financially lie in the Bradley Foundation, a wellspring of ultra-conservative political causes, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Bradley is the ultra-conservative foundation par excellence—an organization that Republican President George W. Bush described as his “favorite” foundation. Bradley had between 1985 and 1999, according to one count, distributed $365 million to a myriad of right-wing organizations. School privatization was among the causes that it championed. For example, around 2002 it pledged $20 million for private schools in Milwaukee for the next decade, while giving a paltry $60,000 to the public school system in 2000.

The brainchild of the new strategy for co-opting Blacks via an education gambit at Bradley was Michael Joyce, its then president. Far from being interested in genuinely empowering Blacks, Joyce was a man who could care less about the plight of Blacks ill-served by the public education system. In fact, Joyce lauded Charles Murray, author of the infamous American Enterprise Institute (AEI) supported “Bell Curve” theory which posits the dubious notion that Blacks have inferior intelligence. Joyce once asserted “Charles Murray, in my opinion, is one of the foremost social thinkers in this country.” AEI, a favorite think tank of Bradley, was a recipient of $825,000 of Bradley money in 2000.
Bradley Foundation Creates Its Vessel: Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO)

For Michael Joyce, his efforts might have not succeeded were it not for his partner in privatization Dr. Howard Fuller, a Milwaukee based self-styled Black nationalist. [2] During the late 1960s and early 1970s Fuller had been part of an effort to create “Malcolm X Liberation University” in Greensboro, North Carolina. For financial reasons this effort proved abortive, with the institution lasting a mere four years. This lesson was not lost on Fuller though; to turn his quixotic Black nationalist desires into a viable movement, he would need money. Being from Milwaukee, he knew where that money resided. What resulted was a paradoxical alliance in which two forces who should be diametrically opposed to each other, worked in tandem. Without qualms, Fuller turned to the Bradley Foundation of Michael Joyce. In Milwaukee, his connections afforded him the opportunity to become superintendent of Milwaukee public schools. In close association with Bradley, he worked to establish seven of the first inner-city voucher private schools. His efforts were frustrated when he faced the Milwaukee school board, where four out of five candidates backed by teachers unions were elected.

 

After resigning from his position in consternation, Fuller redoubles his Bradley-backed privatization efforts. Fuller was promptly set up at Marquette University—a favorite campus of Bradley and its sister organization the Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of retail juggernaut Wal-Mart. Operating his own “non-profit” on a $900, 000 annual salary, training and indoctrinating cadre to promote what they sophistically call “school choice” in the Black community.

 

The Bradley-Walton-Fuller effort to promote voucher and later charter schools crested with the establishment of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). This group, according to one estimate, received $1.7 million from June 2001 to early 2002, while the Walton Foundation provided $900,000 for seed money. Such a gilded entrance on the political scene belies any notion of being a grassroots organization. As Glen Ford concludes: “The Black Alliance for Educational Options has no life independent of Bradley and its wicked sister, the Walton Foundation… In a December 2001, report, the liberal People for the American Way (PFAW) asked, rhetorically, is the BAEO a ‘Community Voice or Captive of the Right?’ Transparency in Media, which keeps track of right-wing foundations, describes the BAEO as ‘a project’ of the Bradley Foundation.”

 

As a testament to the true ideological underpinnings of Cory Booker, Fuller, and their ilk, a BAEO symposium attended by Cory Booker, received $30,000 from Milton Friedman—the intellectual patron saint of privatization and favored economist of Ronald Reagan, the hero of conservatives. Friedman had his own foundation follow up with $230,000 for ads promoting school vouchers. The subsequent media blitz which included TV, radio, and print ads was valued at $3 million, according to one estimate. Plainly, this was no grass roots phenomena of Black folks seeking “school choice”; it was a full-fledged ultra-conservative-backed bacchanalia. Indeed, once the BAEO was well-established, it would achieve a quasi-governmental status under the Republican regime of George W. Bush, becoming a recipient of millions in federal grant money during his tenure as part of Bush’s pro-voucher outreach to the Black community.

Cory Booker: The Corporate Right’s Great Black Hope

Cory Booker, the focus of Glen Ford’s exposé, represented the hopes and aspirations of the new right-wing strategy. The prospect of Booker in a solidly Democratic mayoralty would settle the question of whether or not the Hard Right’s newfangled strategy was a viable option to penetrate the Black political scene. As Ford framed it at the time:

The billionaires who fund the American Hard Right are salivating over the prospect of seizing control of City Hall in Newark, New Jersey, May 14.

They have found their champion: Cory Booker, Black mayoral candidate from the city’s Central Ward, a cynical pretender who attempts to position himself as the common people’s defender while locked in the deep embrace of institutes and foundations that bankroll virtually every assault on social and economic justice in America…

Booker owes his growing national prominence to this crowd, whose influence has provided the 32 year-old with a campaign war chest rivaling that of four-term incumbent Sharp James. Never has a Newark election been more closely watched by the super-rich and their political network. Booker is their Black Hope for electoral legitimacy. Although only a first-term councilman from a medium-sized city, the former Rhodes Scholar is already at the top of the Right’s list of New Black Leaders.

Booker’s anointment as a prince in the Hard Right’s pantheon is based on his support of public vouchers for private schools. This “movement,” the creation of right-wing paymasters like the Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, and the Walton Family Foundation, Bentonville, Arkansas, hopes to drive a wedge between urban Blacks and the teachers unions. Without amicable relations between these two Democratic pillars, the Party, as we know it, is finished….

 

Booker is the Right’s eager ally. He is adored in the corridors of the Heritage, Hoover, Manhattan and American Enterprise Institutes, think tanks that handle publicity and publication for the Bradley and Walton moneybags.

Normally, that Booker was allied with the fringes of Hard Right in support of school private vouchers might be received with alarm in the Black community. But Booker, much like Obama, ran on vague terms, with no mention of vouchers in his candidacy announcement speech. Instead, he portrayed his opponent, the incumbent mayor Sharpe James, as a tool of downtown business interests; Booker promised a “renaissance for the rest of us.”

If his true intentions were not sufficient to raise red flags, his tight partnerships with some of the most reactionary Republicans should have. Booker found good company with former Jersey City Mayor and failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler, another champion of private school vouchers. Along with wealthy Republican businessman Peter Denton, Booker and Schundler founded the non-profit Excellent Education for Everyone. Schundler had earlier received a $500,000 grant from the Walton Foundation for his “Scholarships for Jersey City Children” non-profit, a large part of which he merely used for his election campaign. Booker and Schundler were also notably present at the creation of the BAEO, making a pilgrimage to Milwaukee for a Bradley funded symposium. Booker would soon join the board of BAEO—along with a catalogue of other right-wing operatives and opportunists such as former congressman Floyd Flake of Queens, the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to openly endorse private school vouchers at the time. [3]

Most importantly for the fortunes of the young opportunist Booker as a servant of right-wing circles, his standing was his solidified when he delivered a speech to the Manhattan institute—a sort of New York media affiliate of Bradley for which it gave $250,000 in 2000. Here Booker obsequiously delivered on many of the ultra-right’s litany of key demands, inveighing against what he called the “old paradigm,” which Booker opined was about “race-based machines” securing “big entitlements.” A chorus of right-wing voices—spearheaded by noted conservative columnist George F. Will, champion of privatization—soon proceeded to trumpet the cause of Booker. A column by Will about what he called Booker’s ”renaissance” for Newark explained that Booker’s plans are “drawn from thinkers at the Democratic Leadership Council and Manhattan Institute think tank, and from the experiences of others such as Stephan Goldsmith, former Republican mayor of Indianapolis, a pioneer of privatization and faith-based delivery of some government services, and John Norquist, current Democratic mayor of Milwaukee, which has one of the nation’s most successful school-choice programs.”

 

What Will’s somewhat disingenuous column omitted was the role of Bradley in Milwaukee’s dubiously termed “successful” “school-choice” programs, and that the Democratic Leadership Council was the southern based conservative arm of the Democratic Party. Through Booker’s access to the right-wing moneybags, he was able to raise $3 million in contrast to the $2.5 million of incumbent Sharpe James. Will noted that Booker had raised his millions mostly via “reform-minded” (read exponents of privatization) “supporters in New York financial circles.” In truth, these are the same forces that fund corporate right-wing think tanks such as AEI, the Manhattan Institute.

Booker, in a later revelatory Freudian slip, again demonstrated where his true allegiances lie. During the 2012 presidential election season, Booker defended the “good” works done by GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, a predatory firm that had engaged in all manner of asset stripping and jobs destruction. Booker was “nauseated” by “unfair” attacks leveled at Romney and Wall Street. That same year, Booker, still the abject servant of the right-wing elements, delivered a speech on education “reform” (right-speak for privatization) in Jersey City. This big luncheon was paid for by ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) a political arm of the much-dreaded billionaire Koch brothers who fostered the obstructionist Tea Party. Booker was pari passu with Republican Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey (a close ally of Booker with whom he agrees with on many issues) and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana at the ultra-conservative luncheon. Booker’s rousing speech was laden with anti-union and anti-public school rhetoric, with some accounts stating it was even more ultra-conservative than those given by Jindal or Christie. To be sure, Booker was well in his right-wing element. Booker’s actions demonstrated that not only could a Democrat—albeit a nominal one—attack the institution of public schools and unions, but he could also partake in right-wing circles and defend Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, one of the most predatory moneyed interests in America.

 

 Obama Regime: A New Emphasis on Private Charter Schools

The school privatization effort has today reached its apex under the Obama regime. Since developing their early privatization agenda focusing on private school vouchers, the corporate and moneyed interests—the milieu which brought Cory Booker to power—changed their emphasis to “charter schools.” From their perspective it is a more viable proposition. Working inside the public school system, these are private institutions for which the public fits the bill. Thus, financially, it is a no lose proposition for their proponents. Charter schools are the faster route to wrest control of public schooling to privatizers than vouchers. The pace at which private voucher schools can be created—which is a one by one basis—is slower than the speed that charter schools can enter the public school system. The term ‘charter school,’ in truth, a misnomer, also avoids using the word “privatization” which is widely unpopular. Additionally, in terms of targeting the Black community, it obviates the stigma associated with vouchers. Lastly, but certainly not least among considerations, the ranks of the pro-privatization crowd have been bolstered after Wall Street and the Internet rich joined their ranks. As we shall see, Obama, a Democratic president heavily tied to Wall Street banking interests, has served as the front man for privatization via charter schools on the national level, making more strides toward this end than Bush could ever have dreamed of.

The only discernable difference between the Bush II regime and that of Obama vis-à-vis education is in their emphasis. With Bush, Republicans were committed to creating private school vouchers. Their second choice was the charter school, which is now the favored initiative of the Obama regime. Obama has facilitated the firings of teachers en masse in numbers beyond what Bush could have done. By virtue of him being a Democratic president, any potential backlash—that doubtless would have befallen a Republican regime—against his anti-teacher, anti-union and mass school closing polices is muffled. The national level teachers unions ill-served by his policies continue to provide support to him. To add insult to injury, his Teach for America Program uses what are, in effect, “scabs” to replace experienced unionized teachers. These professionalized teachers are replaced by less-paid young, mostly white, teachers, who graduate from a 5 week teacher program with a higher turnover rate than the teachers they replace.

The primary tool of the Obama regime to enact privatization is the “Race to the Top” initiative, its signature education policy. Taking Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program as his starting point, Obama’s “Race to the Top” program at its core is an instrument of coercion for privatization. It relies on the acquiescence of the states for privatization via charters. The “Race to the Top” awards federal education dollars based on the testing regime, how many teachers are fired, how many schools are closed. This incentivizing of school closings has resulted in an unmitigated wave of school closings involving perhaps hundreds—from Philadelphia to Chicago—in the inner cities. In order to make room for charter schools, there needs to be a rubble for them to replace. Towards this end, the charter school scam continues unabated.

 Chris Macavel is an independent political analyst based in Harlem, NY. He writes for the blog “The Nation-State” at thenationalstate.wordpress.com. He seeks to enlighten about the growing dangers of NATO imperialist ambitions and Wall Street domination in American political life. He is the author of the forthcoming book “Imperialism in the ‘Arab Spring’: How The West Guided the MENA Uprisings” 

Notes: 

 

[1] One propagandist film Waiting For Superman plays on this very notion.[2] Fuller also appears in the propagandist film Waiting For Superman to promote the privatization movement he helped to create. His ties and backing from ultra-conservatives is omitted completely from the narrative.[3] Floyd Flake would later create the Edison Schools private school network. Ford also profiles the catalogue of BAEO members in his exposé.

Sources:
“Arne Duncan at ED: Year One
“Cory Booker: Sellout or Dumbbell?” 
“Conflicts of Interests and the Race to the Top”
“Fruit of the Poisoned Tree: The Hard Right’s Plan to Capture Newark, NJ”
Newark: The First Domino? The Hard Right Tests Its National Black Strategy” 
“Glen Ford: Corporate Assault on Public Education”

NATO wants to justify it’s existence and what better way than to show a big build up of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border. Fact is that the pictures are from August 2013. The military adventures of recent years by NATO, shows that it likes to use fake pictures and videos in order to justify invasions and gaining support at home for unpopular wars

Russian troops on Ukraine's border in 2013

copyright NATO

“Satellite imagery of Russian troops allegedly amassed at present on the border with Ukraine dates back to August 2013, a high-ranking source in Russia,” General Staff said Thursday.NATO’s Headquarters of Allied Command Operations released earlier on Thursday a series of satellite photos showing large contingents of tanks, artillery, attack helicopters and war planes purportedly being observed by the Alliance in specific locations along the Ukrainian border.

“In reality, the images released by NATO show units of Russia’s Southern Military District taking part in various exercises last summer, including near the borders with Ukraine,” the source said.

The Southern Military District hosted a number of military drills last summer, including parts of large-scale Combat Commonwealth-2013 air defense exercise, which involved units from a joint air defense system of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

NATO is actively building its naval presence in the Black Sea in view of sharp aggravation of the Ukraine crisis, a Russian Defence Ministry source told the Russian news agency TASS on Thursday.

“Destroyer USS Donald Cook equipped with the Aegis combat missile defense system has just entered the Black Sea. According to our information, it is going to be joined by French reconnaissance ship Dupuy de Lome by April 11. French Navy’s destroyer Dupleix is expected to enter the Black Sea on April 14,” the source went on to say.

“Considering the presence of the French Navy’s rescue vessel Alize in the south-eastern part of the Black Sea since late March, we can say that NATO is building a naval grouping in the Black Sea in the vicinity of the Russian border for the first time since 2008,” the Russian Defence Ministry source said.

Every year in the first week of April Western media venues are flooded with stories that begin with statements about the anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, “where at least 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus died at the hands of Hutu extremists.”

Such stories recount the official narrative about the ‘Genocide in Rwanda’, a narrative that has five or six key elements that have been almost canonized and are repeated robotically by Western English-speaking news consumers from all walks of life, economic classes, and political leanings.

1. At least 800,000 people killed;
2. Mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus;
3. Slaughtered with machetes (and picks, hoes, adzes, other crude tools);
4. It was meaningless tribal savagery;
5. Committed by Hutu extremists;
6. In 100 days of genocide;
7. We (Westerners) were ‘bystanders’ and did nothing.

These jingoistic phrases have been systematically cemented into the minds of Westerners through more than 20 years of insidious Western media propaganda, including the printed word, radio programs, still photographs, video and film, and they are generally reproduced ad nauseum by emergent ‘social’ media.

There is little truth to the official narrative.

‘Tutsis as victims, Hutus as oppressors?’

Twenty years after the pivotal events of 1994, it is time that Western media ‘news’ consumers – scholars, peace workers, academics, clergy, politicians, humanitarian aid workers, everyone – took responsibility for their own participation in the ‘Rwanda Genocide’ hysteria or, as it is, industry.

Let’s set the stage for the so-called ‘100 days of Genocide’ that purportedly began April 6, 1994, and purportedly ended July 15, 1994, in Rwanda. We can offer some critical facts that anyone who wants to mourn and sob about life and death in Rwanda ought to understand before they open their mouths and display sheer ignorance.

To begin with, ‘Hutu’ and ‘Tutsi’ are socio-economic and socio-political categories: these are not ‘tribes’. Most of the ‘Rwanda Genocide’ narrative is mythology relying on simplifications, stereotypes and reductionisms about Hutus and Tutsis as tribal savages. This stuff is right out of Tarzan movies.

Prior to the imperial occupation that began after 1890, ‘Tutsi’ kings ruled Ruanda-Urundi. ‘Tutsi’ cattle herders comprised some 20 percent of the population, ruling over the 80 percent ‘Hutu’ majority with egregious violence. First the Germans (to 1916) then the Belgians (to 1960) ruled ‘their’ colony by nurturing a ‘Tutsi’ power structure to exploit the ‘Hutu’ masses. The ‘Tutsi’ comprador class served the colonial occupation, where brutality, slavery and terrorism were used to keep the ‘Hutu’ masses in the fields. A ‘Tutsi’ could lose all his cattle and descend into the ranks of the peasant ‘Hutu’ agriculturalists and, though far less likely, a ‘Hutu’ could gain cattle and join the Tutsi elites. The colonial fathers issued ID cards, measured noses and cranial dimensions, and duly clarified who be ‘Hutu’ and who be ‘Tutsi’. There was, of course, much money to be made.

 

A Rwandan woman carries a Swiss family's baby 09 April 1994 at Butare on the Rwanda-Burundi border where numerous foreigners were fleeing the civil clashes in Rwanda. (AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot)

A Rwandan woman carries a Swiss family’s baby 09 April 1994 at Butare on the Rwanda-Burundi border where numerous foreigners were fleeing the civil clashes in Rwanda. (AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot)

Witnessing the global ‘Third World’ independence (sic) movements of the 1950s, and supported by the Belgian Catholic priests, the ‘Hutus’ in Rwanda overthrew the ‘Tutsi’ monarchy in the ‘revolution’ of 1959-1960. Some people died, some people fled, some people stayed, and the next 30 years saw majority ‘Hutu’ rule, with Rwanda under constant attack by elite ‘Tutsi’ guerrillas.

Noting the winds of change, Belgium quickly swapped their support to the Hutu majority, established a comprador class of ‘Hutu’ elites, and protected their interests. There was, of course, much money to be made. Thousands of elite ‘Tutsis’ connected to the former power structure fled to Uganda, Tanzania, Europe and North America.

At the height of the Cold War, the elite ‘Tutsi’ refugees (sic) influenced the Non-Aligned Movement – newly-independent (sic) states like Brazil, India, Malaysia, etc. – screaming bloody murder and “We are the victims of imperial aggression!” all the while. This is the falsified history of ‘Tutsis’ as ‘victims’ inculcated by the arrogant elite ‘Tutsi’ rulers. These facts are key to the official narrative: Tutsis as victims, Hutus as oppressors.

Like any monarchy, the ‘Tutsi’ elites believe(d) they are God’s Chosen People, the Jews of Africa, the natural-born rulers over millions of Hutu (and Tutsi) peasants.

Adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement – funded, armed, trained outside Rwanda – the elite ‘Tutsi’ guerrillas attacked Rwanda throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, sowing the most egregious terrorism, usually under cover of night. Every time the ‘Tutsi’ guerrillas attacked Rwanda – whether from outside during the 1960s or from inside during the 1990s – the in-country French-speaking ‘Tutsis’ suffered reprisals. The ‘Tutsis as victims’ narrative continued to expand, and while the Hutus were blamed for atrocities, usually retaliatory, the ‘Tutsi’ were coddled and protected.

Guerrilla incursions involved bombings of cafes, nightclubs, bars, restaurants and buses. The very real suffering of the French-speaking ‘Tutsi’ people inside Rwanda – those who ‘stayed behind’ – was written off by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF, a ‘Tutsi’ political party created in 1987 by the Tutsi refugee diaspora in Uganda, now the ruling party in Rwanda) as collateral damage. The English-speaking Ugandans, the elite ‘Tutsi’ refugees (sic), who had Ugandan citizenship and high posts in the Ugandan military, defined them as Hutu collaborators. The RPF didn’t care whether they lived or died.

The foreign element

Enter, by coup d’etat, the Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana, who ruled Rwanda from 1973 to April 6, 1994, backed by France. Historically, France was to Africa what the United States was to Latin America. Britain and Portugal controlled a few protectorates, Belgium plundered the Congo and Ruanda-Urundi, but Francophone power in Africa was vast, deeply entrenched and militarily brutal.

Habyarimana ran a one-party dictatorship, but French-speaking Tutsis who stayed behind were able to achieve some economic status, though they were kept in check, given their small numbers. Of course, this wasn’t good enough for the elite ‘Tutsis’ outside Rwanda. The United States, Canada, Britain and Israel wanted more of the African pie, and Paul Kagame was the man to get it for them.

 

Rwandan refugees walk on the Byumba road as they flee from Kigali on May 11, 1994. (AFP Photo)

Rwandan refugees walk on the Byumba road as they flee from Kigali on May 11, 1994. (AFP Photo)

English-speaking ‘Tutsis’ who grew up in Uganda – Paul Kagame, James Kabarebe, Fred Rwigyema, Patrick Karegeya, Laurent Nkundabatware, and thousands of others – were the soldiers of Yoweri Museveni’s guerrilla army. They committed massive atrocities in Uganda, (1980-1985), where absolute terrorism was used to remove a socialist government run by an ungrateful Hutu. The victims in Uganda were also blamed for genocide, turning the truth upside-down. This is how Museveni and Kagame – his director of military intelligence – brought Uganda back in line with the geopolitical dictates of the West: aka disaster capitalism. There was, of course, a lot of money to be made.

They burned entire villages. The RPF deceived peasants into coming to meetings only to obliterate them coldly. The RPF even created crematoriums to ‘disappear’ the skeletons and skulls, until they realized the efficacy of the model of the Jewish Holocaust death camp memorials: pile up shoes, clothing, skeletons and skulls; create an industry whose currency is the moral outrage and psychological terror of ‘genocide’. And please do not be confused: nothing is more terrifying to the Western psyche. (Of course, the same ‘device’ was created and used by the Museveni terror apparatus in the Lowero Triangle of Uganda, but it was preceded by Cambodia, where Pol Pot was the preeminent demon of the day, and the carpet-bombing, napalm strikes, or terror operations like Project Phoenix are dismissed.)

Media war

The New York Times led the charge into Rwanda, and the Western media continued to beat the ‘Tutsis as victims’ drum roll. There was, after all, a lot of money to be made. Wall Street vultures began drooling. Military and intelligence operatives like David Kimche (Israel) and Roger Winter (USA) jockeyed for position – organizing logistics, maintaining supply chains, arranging weapons shipments – to support ‘our’ man Kagame and our proxy guerrilla army, the RPF. The Washington Post, Boston Globe, CNN, the Observer all described the RPF guerrillas as a highly ‘disciplined’ army: if any woman was raped or civilian massacred, it was an accident, a rogue soldier, and said soldier would be duly punished (of course, they never were).

Paul Kagame put into practice what his teachers, the military strategists at the US Army Command and Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (USA), taught him: psychological operations and how to overthrow a country.

As the English-speaking ‘Tutsis’ marched into Rwanda they conscripted and lured ‘Tutsi’ youth to the ‘freedom’ cause. These were young French-speaking Tutsis who were also subjected to Kagame’s ruthless modus operandi: many of them were tortured, killed, disappeared, but many survived the initiation into the RPF. Kagame and his elite Ugandan comrades didn’t trust Tutsis who had stayed behind, and they clearly sacrificed the French-speaking Tutsis of Rwanda for the cause of absolute military power.

 

Rwandan women and children are gathered 27 May 1994 at an International Red Cross center in Kabgayi. (AFP Photo)

Rwandan women and children are gathered 27 May 1994 at an International Red Cross center in Kabgayi. (AFP Photo)

While the power of the Rwandan Patriotic Army grew day by day, supplied from Uganda, funded by World Bank loans to Museveni, the Habyarimana government was attacked on all fronts, shackled with debt, weapons blockades, demonized by the international press, the humanitarians (sic) and world opinion.

Meanwhile, next door in Burundi, the elite ‘Tutsi’-dominated regime committed a genocide in 1972: some 200,000 to 300,000 mostly Hutu people were raped, tortured, and massacred, while hundreds of thousands more fled to neighboring countries, including Rwanda. The preeminent Africa scholar Rene Lemarchand describes this as a genocide ‘denied and forgotten’.

Instead of punishing the invading ‘Tutsi’ Ugandan forces, led by Kagame, the world punished the Habyarimana regime: political pluralism, multiparty elections, peace accords assuring power-sharing for the RPF: no diplomatic or political sacrifice was enough. Meanwhile, Kagame and the RPF grew in strength and numbers, better equipped, better trained, striking under cover of night like cockroaches – Inyenzi – the term that Tutsi guerrillas of the 1960s proudly self-identified with.

Just as Museveni had infiltrated, massacred and terrorized Uganda (1980-1985), the RPF infiltrated soldiers disguised as civilians into Hutu villages, Hutu political parties, even into Hutu youth groups organized to defend Rwanda from the invading terrorist guerrillas. While the RPF used the airwaves to terrorize the people, scapegoat and stereotype enemies real and perceived, and whip up fear of ‘Hutu power’ – the same kinds of nasty propaganda, often sexualized, used by the Kagame regime to demonize its detractors from the West even today – we only even hear about ‘Hutu power’ hate radio.

April 6, 1994, President Habyarimana, his chief of staff, the president of Burundi, the French pilots – all murdered over Kigali in the surface-to-air missile attack on the presidential jet. Here is another pivotal world event that should be commemorated and remembered: the RPF assassination of two presidents.

The Western media soon began describing this terrorist action as ‘a mysterious plane crash’ and, using the now-entrenched upside-down narrative that defined ‘Tutsis’ the victims and ‘Hutus’ as killers, the double-presidential assassinations were blamed on Hutu ‘extremists’.

The United States blocked every attempt to investigate the ‘plane crash’ and the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR) suppressed any evidence that emerged, even removing officials who touched the truth too closely. Kagame, all the while was crying crocodile tears, screaming “We are the victims of genocide,” confronting the West with its blatant ‘moral failure’ to abide the slogan ‘never again’.

Real Hutu extremists

What is a Hutu extremist? According to the official mythology, a ‘Hutu extremist’ is a Hutu who ruthlessly and coldly set out to wipe every Tutsi off the face of the earth. In reality, a Hutu ‘extremist’ was any Hutu who saw total war coming at the hands of their erstwhile elite Tutsi oppressors. A Hutu ‘extremist’ was someone who understood only too well that the elite ‘Tutsis’ invading from Uganda, the elite ‘Tutsis’ massacring thousands of people, the elite ‘Tutsis’ (read RPF) infiltrating of social, economic, military and political institutions in Rwanda, the elite ‘Tutsi’ Inyenzi bombings of public places and their assassinations of countless political figures and pesky Rwandan journalists, or the elite ‘Tutsis’ slaughtering of thousands of innocent Hutu men, women and children and wiping entire Hutu villages off the map, that these were very real certainties that Hutu’s had a right and necessity to defend themselves against.

What is a Hutu ‘moderate’? Any Hutu who believed that the RPF offered a democratic alternative to one-party dictatorship, that Paul Kagame was sincere in his proclamations of political pluralism, freedom and brotherhood. These were empty promises.

 

Rwandan Tutsi refugee camp pictured on April 30, 1994, in Niashishi, in south Rwanda, where more than eight thousands Tutsi are gathered under the protection of French soldiers. (AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot)

Rwandan Tutsi refugee camp pictured on April 30, 1994, in Niashishi, in south Rwanda, where more than eight thousands Tutsi are gathered under the protection of French soldiers. (AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot)

The genocide of the majority Hutu people, launched October 1, 1990, proceeded unabated during the RPF march to power in Rwanda, and it was even more clearly executed during the RPF hunting and slaughtering of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children – mostly Hutus – in the Congo. These were organized campaigns of genocide, with intent to rape, murder and disappear Hutu people because they were Hutu people, and the perpetrators were the elite ‘Tutsis’ from Uganda.

No such planning or organization of genocidal intent has been proven against the Hutu government of Juvenal Habyarimana – which, in any case, was decapitated on April 6, 1994 – or against the Interim Hutu government that briefly held sway after April 6, 1994, and the judges at the ICTR have found as such. There were indeed hundreds of thousands of French-speaking Tutsis raped, brutalized and massacred in what amount to very real acts of genocide in Rwanda, and these occurred over the now sacred ‘100 days of genocide’. But there were also hundreds of thousands of Hutus killed, and far more Hutu than Tutsi.

Hutu lands were cleared of their owners, taken by foreign ‘Tutsi’ who flooded in on the heels of the RPF. And by the way, practically everyone in Rwanda owns a machete; there were massive imports in January of 1994, by a British citizen; purchases of machetes occurred using World Bank funds, for agricultural use, not for an evil genocide conspiracy. Anyway, the RPF routinely killed people with machetes, to save on bullets, and disguise the perpetrators.

And today, terror reigns silently in Rwanda.

Facts don’t seem to matter however, because Western hysteria has been whipped up by the media, the Pentagon, the intelligence sector, and by the Kagame regime. The Western psyche has been indoctrinated to believe exactly what Kagame and his benefactors want us to believe. We stood by, we did nothing, we should have stopped ‘the genocide’.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

There was a coup d’etat in Rwanda. The victors, the oppressors, the killers have been applauded, shielded, and/or hidden from the eyes of the world. A proxy army of elite ‘Tutsis’ murdered with abandon in Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo, where they are still murdering with abandon.

The real coup d’etat has been the brainwashing of the Western mind and psyche, transforming rational discerning individuals into hysterical self-congratulatory humanitarians (sic), unable to separate truth from lie, and certain of their conclusions, no matter how erroneous. Just show them a machete, or a skull, or a weeping ‘Tutsi’ ‘survivor’ of ‘genocide’ and you can count on their compliance in commemorating the anniversary of ‘Genocide’ in Rwanda, and bowing at the feet of Paul Kagame. There is, of course, much money to be made.

Keith Harmon Snow, for RT

Keith Harmon Snow is a war correspondent and photographer who has worked in 16 African countries, including conflict areas in Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Sudan. A former genocide and war crimes investigator for Genocide Watch, Survivor’s Rights International and the United Nations, who has worked at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, testified at numerous US immigration asylum hearings for Rwandan and Congolese refugees and testified at the Audiencia Nacionale in Madrid, Spain, in support of the war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide indictments issued against the top 40 Rwandan Patriotic Front officers. He is persona non grata in Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Syrian army’s gains against foreign-backed militant groups along Lebanon borders has left the insurgents with so little space to enter more forces and weapons through Lebanon supply routes, a new report says.

Head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul Rahman, has told the Saudi daily al-Sharq al-Owsat that with Hezbollah’s activities in securing the border, “They [the militants] are now facing difficulties moving forces [across the border]”.

He said, increased security on the Syrian side of the border would lead to greater security in neighboring Lebanon, which has been adversely impacted by the three-year-long charged-war in Syria.

Retired Lebanese Army Brig. Gen. Amin Hoteit, an expert on Lebanese military and strategic affairs, told the paper: “Lebanon has now been separated from the Syrian crisis. This comes after the rebels withdrew from Qalamoun, and before this Al-Qusayr, Homs and Al-Zarah.”

Regaining Qusayr from the militants in May 2013, was Syrian army’s first major victory against the foreign-backed militants which used the town as their most important bastion for entering backup.

Hoteit says, some 90 percent of the approximately 365 kilometers of the common borders between Syria and Lebanon is now under the control of the Syrian army.

He added the Syrian army is seeking to create a “buffer zone” along the Lebanese border, securing its presence in the border area in order to “separate Lebanon from the Syrian crisis.”

Lebanon is linked to Syria via five legal crossings, along with approximately 18 illegal crossing points and 15 difficult-to-traverse tertiary crossing points, he said adding that with latest changes the militants are only able to cross mainly via three mountainous passageways that vehicles cannot navigate.

Syrian army has been fighting numerous multi-national militant groups for three years, each one of them with their own foreign-supporters.
Turkey which is an open supporter of war in Syria, has widely been criticized by the Syrian government for leaving its borders open to terrorist groups and foreign militants to enter Syria and join the insurgency.

Jordan’s common borders with Syria are another route for the militant groups, mostly used by CIA-backed militants who are trained in US training camps to come and fight against the Syrian army.

Improvements in blocking foreign supply routes have been considerable along Lebanon borders, with the help of Hezbollah resistance group which stepped in to help secure Lebanon form infiltrating terrorist groups.

 

Monsanto didn’t achieve $11.8 billion in sales and 404 facilities in 66 countries all on its own.

The company is valued at $60 billion in the marketplace with 525 million shares outstanding, but the three largest mutual fund shareholders, Vanguard, Fidelity and State Street, own nearly 16 percent of Monsanto stock. By comparison, the seed giant’s CEO Hugh Grant owns less than 1 percent.

This all means there’s a solid chance that the toxic law manipulator may be nestled somewhere in your mutual fund or 401(k) plan. Those findings are part of a six-month investigation by Food Democracy Now! that results in the launch of a global divestment campaign against Monsanto.

Whether it’s by contacting a financial advisor to dump Monsanto investments or strategically opting into funds that aren’t linked to Monsanto or other chemical or biotech companies, the organization is encouraging people around the world to divest.

“Monsanto is a ruthless corporation that operates beyond the ethical boundaries of what is acceptable for a healthy democratic society, said Dave Murphy, founder and Executive Director of Food Democracy Now!, said in a statement. “For decades its executives lied about the harm of its toxic chemicals, intimidated scientists and bullied farmers to put profits over human health and public safety.

“It’s time to broaden socially responsible investing to confront the significant harms that Monsanto has caused.”

The organization likens Monsanto to tobacco corporations like Philip Morris and RJR Reynolds that most never knowingly invest in.

Last year, Monsanto spent $4.5 million in opposition of a Washington State bill to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. In February, an International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health study linked Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer to a fatal chronic kidney disease impacting poor farming areas around the world.

Food Democracy bills its campaign as a way for people to stop unknowingly profiting from such activities and stop “financing them as they poison the planet, contaminate our food supply and corrupt our democracy.” Here’s an excerpt from the letter to executives at Fidelity, Vanguard and Street State that the organization is asking people to sign:

“As the manufacturers of Agent OrangeDDT, and PCBs, Monsanto’s corporate executives intentionally ignored the warning of their own scientists for decades regarding the harmful and even deadly effects these products had on their workers, communities where the chemicals were manufactured and even America’s veterans …

Remove Monsanto’s stock from any open-ended fund under your management.

I urge you to take this important step for people and the planet. 

It’s time to take a stand for future generations.”

The Weaponization of Western “Aid” for Syria

April 11th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

The UN and the United States have laid blame squarely on the Syrian government for blocking international aid convoys from reaching victims of Syria’s ongoing conflict. The BBC in its article, “Syria crisis: UN says no aid improvement despite vote,” claimed:

The UN has said that there has been no humanitarian improvement for millions of Syrians since the Security Council passed a resolution last month to increase aid deliveries.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said that much of the blame lay with President Bashar al-Assad’s government. She accused it of an arbitrary and unjustified refusal to grant aid convoys access to remoter areas. Baroness Amos said violence, including sexual violence, continued to increase.The Syrian government has yet to respond to her allegations but has consistently argued that it is doing its utmost to get food and medical supplies to people in less accessible areas. In February, the Security Council called on all parties to allow aid to cross conflict lines and borders.

However, what the UN and the US have both failed to mention is the disingenuous intentions, means, and methods behind these so-called “aid convoys” attempting to reach “people in less accessible areas.” These would be areas held by foreign-backed militants, including members of the US State Department designated terrorist organization, Jabhat Al Nusra – Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise and guilty of some of the worst atrocities carried out during the conflict real or imagined on either side.

To see how “arbitrary and unjustified” the Syrian government’s refusals are to grant access to remote areas controlled by terrorists by Western “aid convoys,” one must consider emerging evidence regarding the nature of these so-called convoys and the general practice of the West sending relief into a conflict of their own design.

Aid as “Trojan Horses”  

It was in confirmed leaked e-mails exposed by the Syrian Electronic Army that first established the use of Western “aid” ships to ferry militants to and from battlefields in both Libya and Syria. American contractor Matthew Van Dyke, while speaking to Western journalists, admitted that he was preparing to take a “free” aid ship from Libya to Turkey where militants have been staging, receiving cash and arms, and being transported to the Syrian border by NATO for 3 years now. Van Dyke and his company – being armed militants – traveling by way of aid ships should (and has) raise serious concern among the international community regarding the abuse of what are supposed to be humanitarian missions.

Other stories like Alakhbar English’s “Qatar Red Crescent Funds Syrian Rebel Arms,” also raises alarm regarding so-called “aid” flowing into Syria specifically to help those fighting the government.

The article reports:

Sources in the investigation team said that Mahmoud confessed to receiving around $2.2 million from Khaled Diab, a Qatar Red Crescent official. He was then to hand the money over to a Lebanese cleric identified as O.O., born in 1983 and affiliated with Muslims Without Borders, in the Bekaa village of Bar Elias.

“Through the cleric, Mahmoud was able to acquire 30 RPG launchers for $900,000 and 300 shells for $300,000, which were then transferred to Syria by a smuggler known as Anwar or his nom de guerre Abu Salah.” The smuggler then handed over the weapons to the Syrian national known as Abu Abdullah in the Damascus countryside.

Mahmoud also bought 100 Kalashnikovs and an ammunitions cache for $40,000 from the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon. The source added that Mahmoud entered the refugee camp with the Syrian national Mohammad Abdullah, known as Abu Hamza, under the guise of distributing humanitarian aid to refugees from Syria.

Both Russia’s Pravda and Iran’s Press TV carried similar stories involving Turkish ambulances being used to smuggle weapons into Syria. And while many will question the veracity of these claims considering both Russia and Iran’s relationship with Syria, together with Van Dyke’s leaked e-mails and more recent stories emanating from Western sources, it appears that systematic abuse of humanitarian aid destined for Syria is indeed a reality.

Most recently, the UK’s official Charity Commission warned in a post titled, “Syria and aid convoys – regulatory alert,” that:

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, is issuing this alert to charities as regulatory advice under section 15(2) of the Charities Act 2011 – it is particularly relevant for trustees of charities and charitable appeals which are organising or participating in humanitarian aid convoys to assist those affected by the Syria Crisis (“the Crisis”).

Recent media coverage has reported that a suspected British suicide bomber in Syria had travelled there as part of a humanitarian convoy. The Commission has and continues to be alert to the potential abuse of humanitarian aid efforts through facilitating travel for individuals for other purposes particularly to conflict zones where terrorist groups are known to operate or exert control.

There is a risk that charitable aid convoys to Syria may be abused for non-charitable purposes and facilitating travel for British foreign fighters.  This is of serious regulatory concern to the Commission and impacts on public trust and confidence in those charities responding to the Crisis and the charitable sector more generally.

Trustees of charities and charitable appeals providing humanitarian support need to carefully consider whether organising and/or participating in a convoy is really the most effective way to deliver aid to those in need.

Despite the candor of the Charity Commission – otherwise nonexistent across the rest of the UK’s political landscape – the Western media has chosen to remain silent on an issue that the Commission itself recognizes as a threat to both public trust and confidence. Russia’s RT would go on to cover the Commission’s well-warranted concerns in a video short titled, “Trojan Horses: Aid convoys help young Islamist fighters go to Syrian warzone.”

It appears that both the Syrian government and the UK’s Charity Commission are in agreement regarding whether “organising and/or participating in a convoy is really the most effective way to deliver aid to those in need,” – particularly convoys originating in nations that have created and are intentionally perpetuating the crisis in Syria in the first place.

The West Has Created Syria’s Catastrophe and is Using Aid as a Weapon 

It was in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” that prophetically stated (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.”

In 2011, these efforts aimed at arming and enabling sectarian militants to overthrow the Syrian government would begin in earnest. The corporate-funded think tanks that have engineered this geopolitical campaign have openly stated their desire to “bleed” Syria with protracted violence. The United States has admittedly been arming militants along Syria’s borders since at least 2012 according to the New York Times in their article, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition.”

Alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people was never the West’s goal. Since at least as early as 2007, the goal was regime change, and even then, apparently at any cost considering their stated willingness to arm militants tied to Al Qaeda. The goal to this day remains regime change – and to that end, “humanitarian aid,” in addition to being used as cover to smuggle in weapons and fighters, will also be used as a weapon against the Syrian government.

By applying sanctions to the Syrian government, the West has only succeeded in harming the Syrian people, leaving the government it was supposedly targeting relatively unscathed. This was demonstrated earlier in Iraq during the many years it was sanctioned, leaving both the military and the leadership strong and prepared for war while literally half a million children died of disease or malnutrition.

The effect in Syria is similar. The LA Times appeared to revel in the effects of biting sanctions imposed upon the Syrian people. In its report, “Sanctions against Syria hurting, Assad regime concedes,” it stated:

In an unusual acknowledgement of the pain inflicted by Western sanctions, Syria’s oil minister said Wednesday that U.S. and European curbs on its oil trade have cost the regime $4 billion and caused widespread shortages of cooking fuel and other essentials.

The concession by Oil Minister Sufian Allaw that “oppressive European and U.S. sanctions” were taking their toll surprised Middle East analysts. The government of embattled President Bashar Assad has sought to downplay the 15-month-old uprising as an annoyance provoked by outside forces.

The sanctions are designed specifically to reduce or eliminate the ability of the government to provide for its people. The “humanitarian aid,” funneled through opposition groups and into opposition held territory is designed specifically to allow the opposition to provide for people purposefully reduced to desperation and dependence via devastating conflict and accompanying sanctions.

This is revealed in the West’s own think tank policy papers and in editorial columns found across the Western media. In particular, in a Boston Herald’s op-ed titled, “Rubin: U.S. must arm rebels to save besieged Syrians,” it states (emphasis added):

During talks in Geneva in January and February, the regime let some food in, letting thousands of residents return. But as soon as the talks ended, Assad stopped the humanitarian aid convoys.

“I know the United States is one of the main donors,” Zakaria told me, “but the aid is going to organizations that work under the regime, which gives him (Assad) more cards to force civilians or rebels to surrender. They should find a way to get the aid into besieged towns.”

Qusai Zakarya is of course, a public relations officer working directly for the so-called “Syrian opposition and his comments represent the basic principles of wresting control of a country away from an established political order and handing it over to another - covered in depth by various US counterinsurgency manuals. The idea is clearly to use aid as a means of taking those “cards” mentioned by Zakarya from the Syrian government, and handing them to the opposition – not the immediate alleviation of human suffering, but the use of that pretext to further the geopolitical agenda of the West in Syria.

What’s Next For Syrians?  

Syria itself, its allies, and activists around the world must shine more light on the suffering the Syrian people are enduring through the intentional destruction of their economy. This destruction has been exacted through both the West’s premeditated and intentionally perpetuated attempt to violently overthrow the Syrian government, and the sanctions they have imposed upon the Syrian people. They have done this to intentionally create a desperate, dependent population that they hope will submit to a new pro-Western client regime.

While the West has created a torrent of propaganda fronts to justify its ongoing, full spectrum assault on Syria, including economic warfare, Syria and its allies must counter this with truthful reports and media projects that will have a stronger appeal to an increasingly distrustful public that has grown weary of the West’s extraterritorial adventures.

For independent activists and humanitarian aid workers worldwide, the West’s abuse of aid to augment its foreign meddling should be a cause for great alarm. The UK’s Charity Commission should not stand alone in its concern regarding the abuse of humanitarian aid. Such abuse does indeed stands to threaten the public’s trust and confidence in all humanitarian endeavors. A distrustful public that has no confidence in the traditional brokers of humanitarian aid will search elsewhere to invest their time, energy, and income – leaving aid organizations in perpetual decline. Restoring that trust and confidence will require both the exposure of abuse, and steps taken to rectify it.

Approaching the Syrian government directly with aid, and providing oversight on the ground to assess efforts to distribute it would be a positive first step. Working with nations that have demonstrably shown a desire to end the conflict, rather than perpetuate or even expand it until their desired “political transitions” take place would also be necessary.

While many humanitarian aid groups feel “tied” to the West – as the West’s designs unravel in Syria and irreversible decline begins, those “tied” to these special interests will be dragged with them. Sorting out the abuses of humantarian aid destined for Syria is therefore not just a literal matter of survival for the Syrian people, but also an organizational matter of survival for the aid groups involved.

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

Labels Attempt to Thwart NSA Spying “Draconian”

NSA spying is costing the U.S. tech industry tens of billions of dollars, and people around the world are trying to find non-U.S. companies to provide internet, cloud and computer products and services. And see this and this.

Numerous countries are trying to thwart NSA spying.

Many countries are planning to create their own communications infrastructures to bypass the U.S. altogether.  For example, economic powerhouse Germany is rolling out a system that would keep all datawithin Germany’s national borders.

The U.S. is trying to not only protect U.S. businesses, but also keep the NSA’s hand in the cookie jar by arguing (wait for it…) that closing borders to the NSA would violate trade law.

Specifically, the United States Trade Representative released a report Friday stating:

Recent proposals from countries within the European Union to create a Europe-only electronic network (dubbed a “Schengen cloud” by advocates) or to create national-only electronic networks could potentially lead to effective exclusion or discrimination against foreign service suppliers that are directly offering network services, or dependent on them.

In particular, Deutsche Telekom AG (DTAG), Germany’s biggest phone company, is publicly advocating for EU-wide statutory requirements that electronic transmissions between EU residents stay within the territory of the EU, in the name of stronger privacy protection.Specifically, DTAG has called for statutory requirements that all data generated within the EU not be unnecessarily routed outside of the EU; and has called for revocation of the U.S.-EU “Safe Harbor” Framework, which has provided a practical mechanism for both U.S companies and their business partners in Europe to export data to the United States, while adhering to EU privacy requirements.

The United States and the EU share common interests in protecting their citizens’ privacy [cough, sure, cough], but the draconian approach proposed by DTAG and others appears to be a means of providing protectionist advantage to EU-based ICT suppliers. Given the breath of legitimate services that rely on geographically-dispersed data processing and storage, a requirement to route all traffic involving EU consumers within Europe, would decrease efficiency and stifle innovation. For example, a supplier may transmit, store, and process its data outside the EU more efficiently, depending on the location of its data centers. An innovative supplier from outside of Europe may refrain from offering its services in the EU because it may find EU-based storage and processing requirements infeasible for nascent services launched from outside of Europe. Furthermore, any mandatory intra-EU routing may raise questions with respect to compliance with the EU’s trade obligations with respect to Internet-enabled services. Accordingly, USTR will be carefully monitoring the development of any such proposals.

What’s next?

The U.S. trade rep claiming that countries which don’t invite killer American reaper drones with open arms are unfairly competing against American weapons manufacturers?

Postscript: The U.S. Trade Representative is the same motley crew pushing the Trans Pacific Partnership, which would destroy the sovereignty of all nations which join.

U.S. Colonialism and Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Crisis

April 11th, 2014 by Victor M. Rodriguez

Puerto Rico, is usually thought of as a tourism destination or is usually invisible in the U.S. media. In recent times, its fiscal and economic crisis has led to show up in the business pages of the mainstream media with inaccurate comparisons with Detroit or Greece whose fiscal crisis had attracted much media attention. As usual, the mainstream press looks at the illness without looking at the root causes. And the comparisons are usually risky because they tend to ignore history and the nuances of each case. Unfortunately for Puerto Rico, its fuzzy political relationship with the United States is always described with euphemisms by the supporters of the governing Popular Democratic Party (“Commonwealth”) in order to avoid the undeniable truth: Puerto Rico is a colonial possession of the United States in the 21st century.

The colonial model that was developed after World War II is entering a stage of complete collapse and the colonial government has few alternatives to repair the economic crisis. Without the power to enter trade agreements, forced to use the U.S. Merchant Marine, no control over its currency Puerto Rico and inability to protect its economic sectors with tariffs Puerto Rico is like a ship adrift without the oars to set a direction. But the United States, and the Puerto Rican supporters of the colonial status, like an alcoholic, has always been in denial of the fact that a democratic nation should not have colonies. But in Puerto Rico the wall of denials is cracking and threatening to impact the U.S economy and national security.

In mid-march Puerto Rico’s colonial government chose to drink of the same medicine that has ailed its economy during the last five decades. After having its credit rating downgraded to junk status it negotiated with the Wall Street vultures and was able to finagle another emission of $3.5 billion in the municipal bond market at 8 per cent interest, one of the highest rates the island has ever paid for borrowing funds. In Wall Street they rang bells in celebration and Puerto Rican government officials with smiles in their faces were photographed celebrating the occasion. These funds, which would have been effective as a stimulus to the economy that could have increased employment by repairing the deteriorated infrastructure, including schools, highways, pipelines, energy, and funding higher education. Instead these funds will be used to pay the public debt.

And, in order to gain the trust of the Wall Street bond holders the Popular Democratic government, elected in an anti-neo-liberal wave in 2012 chose to “reform” the Teachers’ Pension Fund which reduces their benefits significantly. Despite the fact that there were less onerous possible measures the government, in order to appease the Wall Street interest chose to reduce the retirement to 75,000 teachers. This has caused that close to 7,000 will likely retire in August in order to get other jobs or emigrate. This will create a crisis in the public school system. The teachers went on a two-day strike in January and have their legal case pending in the Island’s Supreme Court.

More recently, the legislature is considering a euphemistically called reform of the public agency which produces electricity, a publicly-owned agency with strong unions, which will essentially privatize one of the last remaining bulwarks of the local “new deal” in the 1940s efforts to create local control over basic resources. This public agency, just like the Tennessee Valley Authority, created to provide the infrastructure for the economic development of the island by offering energy at reasonable prices. But, the colonial governments that have mishandled the economy in the last five decades chose to milk the agency by providing a subsidy their local cronies in municipal governments throughout the island, an outflow that has risen to $400 million a year. That is 95% of the $276 million loss the agency had in 2013. The colonial government has chosen a slippery slope that will only end when the economy and its people hit rock bottom. The most patent consequence of the crisis and the policies implemented by the colonial government is the gradual depopulation of the island.

Declining Population

An analysis performed by the Center of Puerto Rican Studies (2014) indicates that the population of Puerto Rico declined from 3,721,208 in 2010 to 3,615,086 in 2013. A decline rate of 1 per cent per year while at the same time the natural growth of the population has declined 13 per cent between 2012 and 2013. Also 200,000 have emigrated since 2000. The median age of the Puerto Rican population is 37.8 which means it is higher than the median of the U.S. population. Puerto Rico is the only area under the U.S. jurisdiction that has declined so dramatically in population. Florida is catching up on New York as a site of Puerto Ricans settlement. In fact, in the 2012 elections President Obama received the electoral votes of this state thanks to the Puerto Rican vote which nationally voted 83 per cent for Democrats.

But there is not a massive “brain drain” occurring in the emigration flow. In fact, most of the emigrants are less educated than the non-emigrant population according to a study covering 2000-2011 by Kurt Birson of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies of Hunter College, CUNY. While there are a significant number of professionals among the emigrants, only 15 per cent hold a bachelor’s degree and 5 per cent a graduate degree, a slightly smaller representation than the non-emigrant population. Many of these emigrants, especially those with lover levels of education, although U.S. citizens (Puerto Rican had U.S. citizenship imposed statutorily by the 1917 Jones Act) are finding themselves competing with undocumented workers in certain job markets in the south.

The Fiscal Debt of Puerto Rico

The basic problem of the Puerto Rico model is the failure of its economic system to provide the revenue to pay for services. While in the early stages of what was called “Operation Bootstrap” there was a closing of the gap in wages between Puerto Rico and the United States. But after the 1970s the gap began to expand. Part of the reason was the decline in unionization rates, and the decline in the economic development efforts which led to less revenues going to the government coffers. Since the 1970s, they began to rely on debt to pay for basic public services and to pay for previous debt. Since last February 4, 2014, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch have downgraded its debt to junk status, brushing aside a series of austerity measures taken by the new governor which were considered necessary but only helped to avoid a further lowering of the credit rating. Also, despite the announced radical measures by the governor of Puerto Rico’s Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla to reduce appropriations by $170 million and plans to have a balanced budget for 2015, Standard & Poor the government issued new debt and may have to return to the market to cover a 2015 deficit. This is a chaotic situation given that the public debt of Puerto Rico is $71 billion dollars or 102 per cent of the island’s GNP the highest of any state in the U.S. The debt income ratio is 83 per cent (Villamil, 2014) almost 14 times the same measure as New York, California or Illinois. The island is paying close to $3.7 billion a year to service the debt. To compound the situation the labor participation rate has declined to 41.3 per cent (one of the lowest in the world). In addition, the unemployment rate is 15.4 per cent, highest than any state of the U.S.

The Genealogy of the Crisis

In order to obtain some revenue from these newly incorporated “controlled foreign corporations” the colonial government instituted Law 154 to tax these corporations at a rate of 4 per cent, in an industry that has become addicted to low taxes this measure has not been received well. In 2012 the government received $1.8 billion dollars from this measure. A local economist Argeo Quiñones has argued that instead of this tax the government should legislate to increase the backward linkages of these enterprises. In other words to provide incentives so that they buy a higher percentage of their industrial inputs to infuse more money into the economy and further increase employment. Pharmaceutical corporations, for example, produce goods that are not available to the local retail drug establishments, this “crisscross” effect leads to these products being sent to their matrix in the U.S. and there re-sold to the local drug establishments.

Because of the reliance on local tax exemptions, “controlled foreign corporations” are not subject to federal taxes and at times they sell their intellectual rights (like Microsoft USA) to their local foreign owned subsidiary (since Puerto Rico is foreign for tax purposes) and are able to save billions of dollar in the sales in the U.S. market. The Congress Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (October 12, 2012), chaired by Senator Max Baucus found that: “In 2011, this corporate sleight of hand enabled Microsoft USA to shift 47 cent of every dollar in U.S. sales totaling $6 billion, to its Puerto Rican subsidiary, dodging payments of U.S. taxes on nearly half of its U.S. sales income.” In the meantime, foreign corporations in Puerto Rico, predominantly from the U.S. repatriated $33 billion in profits in 2012. The colony is good for U.S. businesses. It is also good for drug traffickers, Puerto Rico is a transshipment point for drugs into the United States that brought in $5 billion in drug trafficking activity in Puerto Rico in 2011.This is 10 per cent of the island’s gross domestic product (GDP). While 7 per cent of the U.S. bound cocaine trafficking came through the Caribbean in 2011, 14 per cent came along this route in 2013. Although irrational the United States decided to shut down a radar system the Over the Horizon Radar (OHT) located in Puerto Rico and Vieques that was used to track drug trafficking and spying.

The Eternal Status Issue

Recently, in 2012 the regular election included a referendum on Puerto Rico’s status. The referendum had two parts, one in which people had to choose whether they were satisfied with the present “territorial status” status, given the long term efforts to improve it the results of this vote were not a surprise. 54 per cent of the voters chose that they were not satisfied with the present colonial status. In the second part of the referendum people were given three choices but the present status of “commonwealth’ was not included. The purpose was to disperse the pro-commonwealth vote and highlight the pro-statehood vote. However, in protest for the language of the ballot the PPD asked its supporters to leave the ballots blank. In this round, while statehood received the highest percentage of the votes 44.4 per cent it is the lowest pro-statehood vote since 1998 and 1993. When the blank votes are added to the rest 54.7 per cent of voter rejected statehood. But in sum, these results have confused the issue for congress and while the Obama administration approved funding for another plebiscite and another bill is in Congress to ask voter “Yes or No” on statehood no reasonable observer expects any clear result from these efforts. Especially when the General Accounting Office (GAO) in March released a study where the consequences of statehood for Puerto Rico will be dismal, what remains of the manufacturing sector will leave and what will be left is a population dependent on federal subsidies.

Puerto Ricans need a clear path toward the resolution of their political status. This will have dire consequences for all, Puerto Rico and the United States.

Victor M. Rodriguez, Professor, California State University, Long Beach (AuthorLatino Politics in the United States: Race, Ethnicity, Class and Gender in the Mexican American and Puerto Rican Experience in the United States. Kendall-Hunt, 2012)

Notes

1. Jose R. Villamil. “Why Puerto Rico’s Economy Matters for U.S. Security.” Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic & International Studies, January 2014.

When Donald Rumsfeld used to hold press conferences about the Iraq war, the press corps would giggle at the clever ways in which he refused to actually say anything or answer any questions.

In a new film about Rumsfeld called The Unknown Knowns, the aging criminal is occasionally confronted with evidence that what he’s just said is false. He maintains a frozen grin and acts as if nothing has happened.  The film’s director, interviewing Rumsfeld, never presses the truly uncomfortable points.

The closest the film comes to asking Rumsfeld about the wrongness of launching a war on Iraq is with the question “Wouldn’t it have been better not to go there at all?”  Not “Wasn’t it illegal?” Not “Do you believe 1.4 million Iraqis were killed or only 0.5 million?” Not “When you sleep at your home at the Mt. Misery plantation where they used to beat and whip slaves like Frederick Douglass how do you rank the mass slaughter you engaged in against the crimes of past eras?” Not “Was it at least inappropriate to smirk and claim that ‘freedom is untidy’ while people were destroying a society?”  And to the only question that was asked, Rumsfeld is allowed to get away with replying “I guess time will tell.”

Then Rumsfeld effectively suggests that time has already told.  He says that candidate Barack Obama opposed Bush-era tactics and yet has kept them in place, including the PATRIOT Act, lawless imprisonment, etc.  He might have added that President Obama has maintained the right to torture and rendition even while largely replacing torture with murder via drone.  Most crucially for himself, he might have noted that Obama has violated the Convention Against Torture by barring the prosecution of those responsible for recent violations.  But Rumsfeld’s point is clear when he notes that Obama’s conduct “has to validate” everything the previous gang did wrong.

I’ve long included Rumsfeld on a list of the top 50 Bush-era war criminals, with this description:

“Donald Rumsfeld lives in Washington, D.C., and at former slave-beating plantation “Mount Misery” on Maryland’s Eastern Shore near St. Michael’s and a home belonging to Dick Cheney, as well as at an estate outside Taos, New Mexico. He took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for the New American Century.”

The National Lawyers Guild noted years ago:

“It was recently revealed that Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John Ashcroft met in the White House and personally oversaw and approved the torture by authorizing specific torture techniques including waterboarding. President Bush admitted he knew and approved of their actions. ‘They are all liable under the War Crimes Act and the Torture Statute,’ Professor [Marjorie] Cohn testified. ‘Under the doctrine of command responsibility, commanders, all the way up the chain of command to the commander-in-chief, 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. The Bush officials ordered the torture after seeking legal cover from their lawyers.’”

This doesn’t come up in the movie.  Rumsfeld does shamelessly defend abusing and torturing prisoners, and maintains that torturing people protects “the American people,” but he passes the buck to the Department of Justice and the CIA and is never asked about the White House meetings described above.  When it comes to Abu Ghraib he says he thought “something terrible happened on my watch” as if he’d had nothing to do with it, as if his casual approval of torture and scrawled notes about how he stands up all day and so can prisoners played no part.  (He also claims nobody was killed and there was just a bit of nudity and sadism, despite the fact that photos of guards smiling with corpses have been made public — the movie doesn’t mention them.)  Asked about abuses migrating from Guantanamo to Iraq, Rumsfeld cites a report to claim they didn’t.  The director then shows Rumsfeld that the report he cited says that in fact torture techniques migrated from Guantanamo to Iraq.  Rumsfeld says he thinks that’s accurate, as if he’d never said anything else.  Rumsfeld also says that in the future he believes public officials won’t write so many memos.

The central lie in Rumsfeld’s mind and our society and The Unknown Knowns is probably that irrational foreigners are out to get us.  Rumsfeld recounts being asked at his confirmation hearing to become Secretary of So-Called Defense “What do you go to sleep worried about?”  The answer was not disease or climate change or car accidents or environmental pollution or starvation any actually significant danger.  The answer was not that the United States continues antagonizing the world and creating enemies.  There was no sense of urgency to halt injustices or stop arming dictators or pull back from bases that outrage local populations.  Instead, Rumsfeld feared another Pearl Harbor — the same thing his Project for the New American Century had said would be needed in order to justify overthrowing governments in the Middle East.

Rumsfeld describes Pearl Harbor in the movie, lying that no one had imagined the possibility of a Japanese attack there.  The facts refute that endlessly repeated lie.  Then Rumsfeld tells the same lie about 9-11, calling it “a failure of imagination.”  What we’re going through is a failure of memory.  These words “FBI information … indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York” appeared in an August 6, 2001, briefing of President George W. Bush titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

The movie does a decent job on Rumsfeld’s pre-war lies.  Rumsfeld tells the camera that nobody in the Bush administration ever tied Saddam Hussein to 9-11.  Then the film shows old footage of Rumsfeld himself doing just that.  Similar footage could have been shown of numerous officials on numerous occasions.  Rumsfeld has clearly been allowed such levels of impunity that delusions have taken over.  He rewrites the past in his head and expects everyone else to obediently follow along.  As of course Eric Holder’s Justice Department has done.

Rumsfeld, in the film, dates the certainty of the decision to invade Iraq to January 11, 2003.  This of course predates months of himself and Bush and Cheney pretending no decision had been made, including the January 31, 2003, White House press conference with Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at which they said they were working to avoid war, after Bush had just privately proposed to Blair a string of cockamamie ideas that might get a war started.

Bizarrely, the film’s director Errol Morris asks Rumsfeld why they didn’t just assassinate Saddam Hussein instead of attacking the nation of Iraq.  He does not ask why the U.S. didn’t obey the law.  He does not ask about Hussein’s willingness to just leave if he could keep $1 billion, as Bush told Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar that Hussein had offered.  And even the question asked, Rumsfeld refuses to answer until he makes Morris complicit.  Morris had used the word “they,” as in “why didn’t they just assassinate him?” whereas he clearly should have used the word “you,” but Rumsfeld makes him repeat the question using the word “we” before providing an answer.  We?  We were lied to by a criminal government.  We don’t take the blame as servants to a flag.  Are you kidding?  But Morris dutifully asks “Why didn’t we just assassinate … ?”

Rumsfeld replies that “We don’t assassinate” and tries hard not to grin.  Morris says “but you tried” referring to an attempt to bomb Hussein’s location.  Rumsfeld excuses that by saying it was “an act of war.”  This is the same line that human rights groups take on drone murders.  (We can’t be sure if they’re illegal, because President Obama may have written a note and hid it in his shoe that says it’s all a part of a war, and war makes murder OK.)

Rumsfeld blames Iraq for not avoiding being attacked.  He pretends Iraq pretended to have weapons, even while blaming Iraq for not turning over the weapons that it claimed not to have (and didn’t have).  The veteran liar lies that he thought he was using the best “intelligence” when he lied about Iraqi weapons, and then passes the buck to Colin Powell.

Rumsfeld and the nation that produced him didn’t turn wrong only in the year 2001.  Rumsfeld avoided Watergate by being off to Brussels as ambassador to NATO, a worse crime one might argue than Watergate, or at least than Nixon’s recording of conversations — which is all that this movie discusses, and which Rumsfeld describes as “a mistake.”  Asked if he learned anything from the U.S. war that killed 4 million Vietnamese, Rumsfeld says “Some things work out, some things don’t.”  I think he expected applause for that line.  On the topic of meeting with Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, Rumsfeld is allowed to describe his mistake as having been filmed shaking hands with the man he calls a dictator.  But he’s never asked about having supported Hussein and armed and assisted him, including with weapons that would later (despite having been destroyed) form the basis of the pretended cause of war.

After giving the fun-loving sociopaths of fictional dramas a bad name for two hours, this real person, Donald Rumsfeld, blames war on “human nature” and expresses pretended sadness at future U.S. war deaths, as if 95% of the victims of U.S. wars (the people who live where the wars are fought) never cross his mind at all.  And why should they?

Late last month, over 100 teachers, students, and parents from across the country gathered in Denver for the United Opt Out National Spring Action, a conference aimed at growing the resistance to corporate education reform and high stakes standardized testing across the nation. Throughout the weekend, the education activists brainstormed and planned in area-focused work groups, interspersed with talks from, among others, a Finnish teacher and education scholar, a parent turned education activist, and a high school senior. All of it revolved around one central theme: organizing resistance to the global corporate education reform movement.

The event was organized by United Opt Out (UOO), an all-volunteer organization of parents, teachers, and students dedicated to ending the use of high stakes standardized testing in schools by creating organized, large-scale refusal to participate in high stakes testing regimes. UOO originally formed with the intention to increase the number of people “opting out” of high stakes standardized tests – whether parents preventing their students from taking them, students refusing to take them, or teachers refusing to administer them – but it has become much more.

While the opt out strategy remained central, the conference attendees participated in weekend-long discussion groups focused on devising even broader strategies to build a broad-based movement aimed not only at stopping the corporate education reform machine, but at transforming and democratizing public education as a whole. The groups focused on a number of areas from winning back local control of school boards to strengthening teacher unions to educating the broader public about the effects of corporate reform on their communities and their children’s futures. Their aim is nothing short of a revolution in the public education system.

Revolutionary Transformation of Education Developing

“This is the education revolution,” said high school senior and conference speaker Alex Kacsh. “We are creating a better tomorrow.”

How is not taking or administering a school test part of the revolution? High stakes standardized testing is the cornerstone of the neoliberalism’s corporate education reform agenda – and also its Achilles heel.

Reshaping of education systems as privatized, competition-based markets instead of public, collaborative infrastructures for educating a society’s young people all relies on high stakes standardized tests to measure “success.” Test scores then become the weapons that corporate reform policies use to privatize public schools, standardize curricula, break teacher unions, and pick winners and losers in the “competition” it creates among schools.

And as Dr. Ricardo Rosa, a Cape Verdean immigrant and scholar who spoke during the weekend, reminded the group, dismantling that weapon is striking a blow in the global fight against imperialism: the US has been exporting these education policies around the world not as a way to better educate the next generation, but as social and economic policies rigged against the people they’re foisted upon.

Defeating corporate education reform here in the US could save millions of young, critically thinking minds around the world. And figuring out how to grow a movement that can prevent the destruction of that vital resource for the revolution is what kept the education activists at the UOO gathering energized all weekend.

Growing Mile High Grassroots Resistance

Since it was formed parent and teacher activists in 2011, United Opt Out began a campaign of educating students, teachers, and parents across the country on strategies and protocols for opting their children out of state testing as well as supporting teachers who refuse to administer the test.

A staple of that campaign has been the annual UOO national conference, of which the Denver gathering was the third. The previous two gatherings served as educational and networking events where  parents, student, and teacher activists from across the country could support and learn from each other and share what was working and what was not. But this year, UOO came to Denver to take the opt out movement to the next level.

“This is our third gathering,” says Boston UOO organizer Ruth Rodriguez, “and we felt that we needed to move on. We’ve identified who the enemy is, we’ve identified what the issues are, so this weekend is about working for action.”

This year’s gathering was intended to be a time that the national UOO network could turn its attention toward planning and supporting local resistance in one place. Ceresta Smith, a veteran teacher from Florida and UOO co-founder, says that coming to Denver was a strategic decision. “Colorado was selected to begin to create a model for organizing and action implementation that can be replicated across the country,” Smith said during the gathering.

Colorado is often heralded by corporate reformers as a model for the country, with Denver being a key foothold that reformers want to secure. That made it the perfect place to host the gathering – if Denver is being made into a model for corporate reform, UOO wants to make it a model for resistance.

“We’re going try to take this type of activity to other areas in the country,” Smith says. “We’re not going just stop in Denver.”

Attendees were roughly half Colorado locals and half education activists from other parts of the country who came to reconnect and to add their ideas and resources to the local struggle in Colorado. The hope was that as strategies devised over the weekend play out, lessons learned in Colorado can be used to inform struggles starting up in other places. As Rodriguez put it, “From here, our hope is to galvanize communities all over the country to take on the task of fighting [the corporate reform movement].”

The UOO conference working groups focused on strengthening strategies to bring that fight to many fronts at once: working to support and grow models of social justice unionism among teachers, supporting parents in opting their children out, educating the public about corporate education reform, and looking to students for leadership in encouraging their peers to join the fight. UOO hopes to eventually distill the best of the ideas into a publication that can be used as an guide and resource for education justice activists across the country.

Spreading The Word, Getting Noticed

A key to those strategies taking hold has been UOO’s ability to share their knowledge and resources. UOO has used their website to compile years of research, with an archive of guides and tutorials for opting out tailored specifically to almost every US state being the highlight. Mobilizing the information strategically in this way has helped make UOO’s resistance increasingly widespread and effective.

Too effective, it appears, for their opposition not to notice.

“It’s clear we pose a serious threat,” Denver UOO organizer Peggy Robertson said, as she explained to others on the second day of the gathering that the UOO website had just been hacked into and destroyed – along with a great deal of their web-based educational tools. “It’s pretty clear that it’s not the typical hack job,” Robertson said after consulting with UOO’s online support provider, “it was malicious.”

While Robertson and other UOO organizers don’t know for sure who was responsible for attacking their website, judging from the timing, how the attack was executed, and what resources it destroyed, it was tempting to speculate that the attack was connected to those who profit from the current testing regime UOO seeks to undermine.

“Our site has been maliciously hacked and destroyed in an act of political sabotage” is how the placeholder website reads for now. “Please be patient while we rebuild the site, and get our Opt-Out resources back online.”

“It’s still really hard for me to fathom that this happened,” Robertson said. “But,” she added, the attempt to stop their work makes it obvious, “we are making headway.”

What Winning Looks Like

Despite setbacks, the opt out strategy is continuing to gain momentum, and the movement is being joined by growing numbers of teachers and students across the country.

In many school districts, opting out even a small percentage of students from a given test can effectively invalidate an entire school’s test scores, thus denying corporate reformers the test score leverage they could otherwise use against a school, its teachers, parents, or students. That small amount of disruption can be organized fairly simply, but it is especially powerful because it also hinders corporate reformers’ ability to  realize their major goal: profit.

“Without the testing,” Rodriguez says, “there is no profit to be made.”

And without that bottom line driving testing and data collection, the hope is that teachers, students, and communities would be able to regain control of their schools.

“Once you throw a monkey wrench in the profit machine,” says Smith, “You’ll have to go back to the old ways, back when [education policy] was very local. It was very close to that individual teacher – with her individual students in her individual class room – who can identify the weaknesses and address them.” At the very least, she says, “it will certainly stop the pilfering and robbing of public schools dollars that are channeled to [corporate reformers]… at the expense of teachers, taxpayers, and children.”

It is the re-establishment of that local control that former Denver school board member Jeannie Kaplan, who attended the weekend’s gathering, is hoping to see coming out of the plans made during the UOO conference.

“We need to beat the power,” Kaplan said. “And that’s done by taking back our schools to have really local control. My priority is to put students, parents, and teachers together, that’s really how it happens.”

The gathering ended with a palpable sense of optimism and determination, crystallized in the closing remarks from Kacsh, who – invoking the words of Assata Shakur – reminded the crowd that “It is our duty to fight, and it is our duty to win.”

When asked what comes next, Smith and other UOO organizers responded that they have lots of organizing to get started on in Denver and across Colorado. They are prioritizing support for Colorado teachers, students, and parents who  know something is wrong and want to stand up, even though they might be afraid, and are hoping it will encourage others around the country to join because they see that they are not alone.

“Our hopes from this weekend will be to get that nice strong model and to take that to other cities that need to be critically informed and become organized,” Smith stated. “Will we get push back? Yes, definitely. But we’re ready to stand up to it and take on the fight.”

If you would like to support United Opt Out in rebuilding their website after the cyber attack, they are soliciting donations, and you can contribute at http://www.gofundme.com/83if88.

Roshan Bliss is a student organizer, inclusivity & anti-oppression trainer, and democratic process specialist with a passion for empowering young people to defend their futures and democratize their schools. Bliss, a former occupy activist, serves as Assistant Secretary of Education for Higher Education for the Green Shadow Cabinet.

On the eve of the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, the New York Times Thursday published an article dedicated to whitewashing the failure of the FBI and other US intelligence agencies to detect and stop the perpetrators. This was despite warnings issued by the Russian government that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, now described as the ringleader of the attack, posed a serious threat of terrorism.

The article is based upon interviews with unnamed “senior American officials” on a report written by the inspector general of the Intelligence Community, the federation consisting of 17 separate US spy agencies.

Still secret, heavily redacted sections of this document are supposed to be made public before next Tuesday, the anniversary of the bombings, which occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon last April 15, claiming the lives of three people and wounding 264 others.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot killed in a shootout with police days after the bombing. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, was severely wounded and captured by police. He now faces a trial in which US prosecutors are seeking the death penalty

The thrust of the article—and, according to the Times, of the report itself—is summed up in its headline: “Russia failed to share data on suspect, report says.”

“The Russian government declined to provide the FBI with information about one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects that would have likely have led to more extensive scrutiny of him at least two years before the attack,” the inspector general’s report claims, according to the Times account.

It quotes one of the unnamed “senior American officials” as stating: “They found that the Russians did not provide all the information they had on him back then, and based on everything that was available the FBI did all that it could.”

This tendentious assertion manages to turn reality inside out, blaming the Russian government for the failure of US authorities to intercept Tsarnaev before he carried out a bombing on American soil.

The reality is that Moscow’s intelligence agency, the FSB, cabled the FBI in March 2011 with an explicit warning that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen, was associating with Islamist militants and posed a threat of terrorism.

The Times itself quotes the inspector general’s report as stating that the Russians warned the FBI that Tsarnaev “was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer” and that he “had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.”

While the FBI opened an investigation of Tsarnaev the same month as the first Russian warning, it formally closed it by June 2011, affirming that there no evidence of terrorist links. The Tsarnaev family, however, has reported that the FBI continued contacting Tamerlan, attempting to recruit him as an informer.

In September 2011, the Russians issued a second warning, asking that he be detained and questioned upon attempting either to leave or re-enter the United States.

A month later, Tsarnaev’s name was reentered in the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS) together with instructions that he be detained and “isolated” and that the National Counter-Terrorism Center be notified immediately upon his attempt to leave the US. Nonetheless, in 2012, he was able to take a six-month trip to Dagestan, where he attempted to make connections with jihadist elements, and return to the US with no attempt by authorities to detain or even question him.

The intelligence that the Times reports as having been withheld by the Russians from the FBI consists of the details about an intercepted telephone call between Tsarnaev and his mother in which he discussed his Islamist beliefs. Such detailed information is routinely kept secret by US intelligence agencies on the grounds that it would expose their “sources and methods.”

The spin placed by the Times and the inspector general’s report on the intelligence provided by the Russian FSB is contradicted by another report published in the Boston Globe Thursday quoting US Representative William R. Keating, a Massachusetts Democrat, who had access to the initial letter sent from Russia during a recent congressional trip to Moscow.

The congressman noted that the letter included a warning that Tsarnaev would attempt to change his name. Six months after the letter was sent, Tsarnaev did exactly that, filing a federal citizenship application, formally seeking to change his name to “Muaz,” that of an early Islamic martyr.

According to a government official cited by the Globe, in September 2012, three weeks after Tsarnaev filed the application, “the FBI ran a name check and indicated that Muaz was an alias for Tsarnaev.”

“It’s amazing how much information they did know, the Russians,” Keating said. “Look at everything that’s there. The change of the name, that’s corroborated. That he wanted to travel back to Russia, that’s been corroborated. That he wanted to enlist with extremists, that’s corroborated. I mean, everything that was in that [warning] has been corroborated.”

The attempted name change came eight months before the Boston bombings and followed Tsarnaev’s trip to Dagestan.

“The disclosure of the Russians’ specific warning about the name change raises additional questions about whether federal agencies missed another signal that the elder Tsarnaev brother was veering toward radical Islam after a six-month trip in 2012 to the restive Russian province of Dagestan,” theGlobe reported.

The account given by the inspector general’s report and the Times article differs from the more critical assessment made in a report prepared by the House Homeland Security Committee, which concluded that lessons from September 11, 2001 had not been learned by US intelligence agencies, which once again failed to “connect the dots” and share information. The panel’s chairman, Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, said at a hearing Wednesday that a number of “flags and warnings” had been missed by US intelligence agencies and “systemic problems” had led to Tsarnaev falling off their “radar.”

The Times article—however inadvertently—suggests another explanation for the FBI’s lack of response. At the time of the Russian warnings, the newspaper reports, “American law enforcement officials believed that Mr. Tsarnaev posed a far greater threat to Russia” than to the US itself.

In other words, it was not any disagreement with the FSB over whether Tsarnaev was a potential terrorist that led US authorities to adopt a hands-off approach as he freely traveled to and from Dagestan. Rather, it was Washington’s belief that his bombs would go off in Volgograd or Moscow and not in the streets of Boston.

There is strong evidence that US intelligence officials were basing themselves on more than a hunch. The Russians’ warning about the connection of the Tsarnaev family to radical elements in Chechnya would not have come as a surprise to US agencies. Ruslan Tsarni, the uncle of both Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, was the head of an organization known as the Congress of Chechen International Organizations, which he founded in 1995 to ship supplies to anti-Russian insurgents in Chechnya.

The organization was registered at the Maryland home address of Graham Fuller, the one-time vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council and the former CIA chief in Kabul, Afghanistan. Fuller had left the CIA and gone to work at the Rand Corporation, a major CIA contractor, at the time that Tsarni set up his organization. Previously, Tsarni, who married Fuller’s daughter, worked as a USAID contractor in Kyrgyzstan. The USAID is frequently used as a front for CIA operations.

The timing of the Times article and the inspector general’s report upon which it is based suggests a preemptive attempt to frame any public discussion on the first anniversary of the Boston bombings. The official narrative—that the FBI did all it could but was hindered by an uncooperative Russia—is designed to suppress any questioning of the links between the bombings, US intelligence and Washington’s covert operations aimed at destabilizing the Russian North Caucasus.

Yesterday the Russian President Vladimir Putin made public his Open letter to European politicians on dire economic situation in Ukraine and urgent need to coordinate an economic assistance package to this nation.

Transcript of full text of President Putin’s letter:

Ukraine’s economy in the past several months has been plummeting. Its industrial and construction sectors have also been declining sharply. Its budget deficit is mounting. The condition of its currency system is becoming more and more deplorable. The negative trade balance is accompanied by the flight of capital from the country. Ukraine’s economy is steadfastly heading towards a default, a halt in production and skyrocketing unemployment.

Russia and the EU member states are Ukraine’s major trading partners. Proceeding from this, at the Russia-EU Summit at the end of January, we came to an agreement with our European partners to hold consultations on the subject of developing Ukraine’s economy, bearing in mind the interests of Ukraine and our countries while forming integration alliances with Ukraine’s participation. However, all attempts on Russia’s part to begin real consultations failed to produce any results.

Instead of consultations, we hear appeals to lower contractual prices on Russian natural gas – prices which are allegedly of a “political” nature. One gets the impression that the European partners want to unilaterally blame Russia for the consequences of Ukraine’s economic crisis.

Right from day one of Ukraine’s existence as an independent state, Russia has supported the stability of the Ukrainian economy by supplying it with natural gas at cut-rate prices. In January 2009, with the participation of the then-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, a purchase-and-sale contract on supplying natural gas for the period of 2009-2019 was signed. The contract regulated questions concerning the delivery of and payment for the product, and it also provided guarantees for its uninterrupted transit through the territory of Ukraine. What is more, Russia has been fulfilling the contract according to the letter and spirit of the document. Incidentally, Ukrainian Minister of Fuel and Energy at that time was Yuriy Prodan, who today holds a similar post in Kiev’s government.

The total volume of natural gas delivered to Ukraine, as stipulated in the contract during the period of 2009-2014 (first quarter), stands at 147.2 billion cubic meters. Here, I would like to emphasize that the price formula that had been set down in the contract had NOT been altered since that moment. And Ukraine, right up till August 2013, made regular payments for the natural gas in accordance with that formula.However, the fact that after signing that contract, Russia granted Ukraine a whole string of unprecedented privileges and discounts on the price of natural gas, is quite another matter. This applies to the discount stemming from the 2010 Kharkiv Agreement, which was provided as advance payment for the future lease payments for the presence of the (Russian) Black Sea Fleet after 2017. This also refers to discounts on the prices for natural gas purchased by Ukraine’s chemical companies. This also concerns the discount granted in December 2013 for the duration of three months due to the critical state of Ukraine’s economy. Beginning with 2009, the total sum of these discounts stands at 17 billion US dollars. To this, we should add another 18.4 billion US dollars incurred by the Ukrainian side as a minimal take-or-pay fine.

In this manner, during the past four years, Russia has been subsidizing Ukraine’s economy by offering slashed natural gas prices worth 35.4 billion US dollars. In addition, in December 2013, Russia granted Ukraine a loan of 3 billion US dollars. These very significant sums were directed towards maintaining the stability and creditability of the Ukrainian economy and preservation of jobs. No other country provided such support except Russia.

What about the European partners? Instead of offering Ukraine real support, there is talk about a declaration of intent. There are only promises that are not backed by any real actions. The European Union is using Ukraine’s economy as a source of raw foodstuffs, metal and mineral resources, and at the same time, as a market for selling its highly-processed ready-made commodities (machine engineering and chemicals), thereby creating a deficit in Ukraine’s trade balance amounting to more than 10 billion US dollars. This comes to almost two-thirds of Ukraine’s overall deficit for 2013.

To a large extent, the crisis in Ukraine’s economy has been precipitated by the unbalanced trade with the EU member states, and this, in turn has had a sharply negative impact on Ukraine’s fulfillment of its contractual obligations to pay for deliveries of natural gas supplied by Russia. Gazprom neither has intentions except for those stipulated in the 2009 contract nor plans to set any additional conditions. This also concerns the contractual price for natural gas, which is calculated in strict accordance with the agreed formula. However, Russia cannot and should not unilaterally bear the burden of supporting Ukraine’s economy by way of providing discounts and forgiving debts, and in fact, using these subsidies to cover Ukraine’s deficit in its trade with the EU member states.

Gas pipelines in Ukraine .

Gas pipelines in Ukraine .

The debt of NAK Naftogaz Ukraine for delivered gas has been growing monthly this year. In November-December 2013 this debt stood at 1.451,5 billion US dollars; in February 2014 it increased by a further 260.3 million and in March by another 526.1 million US dollars. Here I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in March there was still a discount price applied, i.e., 268.5 US dollars per 1,000 cubic meters of gas. And even at that price, Ukraine did not pay a single dollar.

In such conditions, in accordance with Articles 5.15, 5.8 and 5.3 of the contract, Gazprom is compelled to switch over to advance payment for gas delivery, and in the event of further violation of the conditions of payment, will completely or partially cease gas deliveries. In other words, only the volume of natural gas will be delivered to Ukraine as was paid for one month in advance of delivery.

Undoubtedly, this is an extreme measure. We fully realize that this increases the risk of siphoning off natural gas passing through Ukraine’s territory and heading to European consumers. We also realize that this may make it difficult for Ukraine to accumulate sufficient gas reserves for use in the autumn and winter period. In order to guarantee uninterrupted transit, it will be necessary, in the nearest future, to supply 11.5 billion cubic meters of gas that will be pumped into Ukraine’s underground storage facilities, and this will require a payment of about 5 billion US dollars.

However, the fact that our European partners have unilaterally withdrawn from the concerted efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis, and even from holding consultations with the Russian side, leaves Russia no alternative.

There can be only one way out of the situation that has developed. We believe it is vital to hold, without delay, consultations at the level of ministers of economics, finances and energy in order to work out concerted actions to stabilize Ukraine’s economy and to ensure delivery and transit of Russian natural gas in accordance with the terms and conditions set down in the contract.We must lose no time in beginning to coordinate concrete steps. It is towards this end that we appeal to our European partners.

It goes without saying that Russia is prepared to participate in the effort to stabilize and restore Ukraine’s economy. However, not in a unilateral way, but on equal conditions with our European partners. It is also essential to take into account the actual investments, contributions and expenditures that Russia has shouldered by itself alone for such a long time in supporting Ukraine. As we see it, only such an approach would be fair and balanced, and only such an approach can lead to success.

Vladimir Putin

The flywheel of political repressions in Ukraine is gaining momentum these days. In sharp contrast with the liberal approach by president Yanukovych to the “Euromaidan” rout, the interim Kievan administration did not hesitate much about cracking down the public uprising against the “neo-Nazi regime” on the rise in the East and South of Ukraine. Today only in Kharkov at least 70 activists have been arrested during the so-called “anti-terrorist operation”. According to the reports, foreign mercenaries presumably from the US Greystone Ltd private military contractor firm were participating in the operation along with the National Guard (majorly consisting of the ultranationalist Pravy (Right) Sector fighters) and some loyal Interior Ministry units.

George Orwell was onto something when he coined the phrase, “war is peace,” to describe the groupthink of his fictional future totalitarian society.  He would have no trouble recognizing the propaganda on parade during the recent overthrow of the Ukrainian government, during which “peaceful protesters” engaged in killing, burning, and looting … and continue to do so now.

But the coup is not yet over – seizing power is one thing, but it’s something else to hold onto it.  And now we’re seeing the inevitable difficulties crop up: a little over a month ago the interim government in Kiev lost possession of Crimea and found itself faced with desperate resistance in Southern and Eastern Ukraine.

The new government arrived on the scene brandishing slogans such as: “peaceful protests,” “the struggle for democracy,” and “freedom of speech,” but began straight off with a purge of the opposition, establishing total control over television, radio, and the press, and using political repression to muzzle civil protests in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Anti-government protesters attack a deputy of the Party of Regions Vitaly Grushevsky outside the Ukrainian Parliament building in Kiev February 22, 2014. (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)

Overt physical crackdowns on any sign of dissent began during the very first hours of the coup: on Feb. 20 the pro-Maidan majority in the Supreme (Verkhovnaya) Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) used violence against the Communist and Party of Regions’ deputies.  Many were stripped of their voting cards, which were then used by others to cast the “needed” ballots.

Then came an attack on the TV channel Inter, which is watched throughout the country and enjoys the second highest ratings.  Armed men burst into the studio in the middle of a live broadcast.  The journalist Mustafa Nayyem (one of the organizers of Euromaidan) has already announced the new government’s plans … to nationalize the channel.  As you may recall, the TV station currently belongs to the oligarch Dmytro Firtash who was arrested in Vienna at the request of the FBI.

What’s priceless of course is that a few weeks before, Mustafa Nayyem and his accomplices at Hromadske (Public) TV (an Internet TV project that was launched using American grant money almost simultaneously with the start of the Euromaidan protests) took the opposite approach, “privatizing” part of the airways at the TV channel First National (which is state-owned).

The National Council for Radio and Television (after several unsuccessful half-measures) finally decided to completely ban all major Russian TV newscasts in Ukraine.  And all the television broadcasts originating from companies owned by Igor KolomoiskyVictor PinchukRinat Akhmetov, and Dmytro Firtash suddenly began working in unison as a well-oiled, centrally controlled propaganda machine.

Over the last month there have been dozens of attacks (both physical and cyber versions) on the editorial staff of the opposition media.  And on Feb. 27, the so-called People’s Self-Defense seized the office of the Golos.ua news agency, and severe pressure was put on the Ukrainian national TV channel Gamma that works closely with that agency.  Soon there was a raid on the newspaperCommunist, which is the official publication of the Communist Party of Ukraine.  The CPU website is also often down.  In the city of Vinnitsa, brazen force was used to seize the local TV station that worked with Ukrainian Communists.  The pro-Maidan journalists reported this information with undisguised joy.

An attack was also staged on the online publication Ukrainian Krivda, which parodies the pro-Maidan media and fact-checks the made-to-order dogma in their publications.  Their website is currently being blocked as well.

A group of journalists  of Ukrainian Pravda web-site led by the well-known political analyst Vladimir Kornilov was forced to choose between leaving the country or ceasing publication of their articles.  They were threatened with savage reprisals and death.

The last issue to be published by literally the only representative of the opposition media that is accessible throughout the country, the well-respected and very readable weekly 2000, appeared on March 14.  Publication halted because of pressure on its printer, the Press of Ukraine, where the paper is typeset in its usual format.  The printing house, which is a state-funded institution, unilaterally changed the conditions for printing the newspaper, placing the publication in an impossible situation.

And of course there was the notorious example of the visit paid by several members of the nationalist Svoboda party to First National TV’s office.  The beating of Aleksandr  Panteleimonov was captured on video and he was forced to write a letter of resignation after being subjected to threats and violence.

Although the Western media wrings its hands over the alleged “human rights violations in Crimea,” international observers are seemingly too busy to interest themselves in what’s happening in the rest of Ukraine.  For the curious, here are some facts that represent only the “tip of the iceberg” of political repression in Ukraine.

On Feb. 22 the first secretary of the Lvov Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Rostislav Vasilko, was falsely accused of “firing at Maidan” and subjected to brutal tortures.  According to eyewitnesses, he had needles shoved under his fingernails, his right lung was punctured, three ribs, his nose and other bones in his face were broken, and threats were made to wipe out his family.  He is currently undergoing medical treatment in Russia.

On Feb. 23, Alexander Pataman, the leader of the antifascist People’s Militia of Zaporozhye, was kidnapped.

On February 24, six members of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine were voluntarily sacked by the Supreme Rada “for violating the oath”. Some of them were subject to threats and physical coersion. Three days later the expelled judges adopted an appeal to international human rights institutions.

On February 28, the deputy governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Boris Filatov, posted an explanation on his Facebook page of how to properly handle members of the pro-Russian movement who are dissatisfied with the central government in Kiev: “offer those dirtbags any promises, guarantees, or concessions they want. And… we’ll hang them all later.”

On March 5, Andrei Purgin, one of the leaders of the pro-Russian organization, the Donetsk Republic, was captured in Donetsk and taken to an unknown destination.  The kidnapped man’s friends claim that he had received a visit the previous day, during which he was warned, “if he stays home today, his wife won’t become a widow,” but because others were expecting him, he went on to the public square anyway.  Andrei’s fate is now unknown.

On March 6, Vladimir Rogov, the leader of the Ukrainian civic organization, the Slavic Guard, was kidnapped.  Both are safe at the moment, but were forced to leave the Zaporozhye region and Ukraine.

Pavel Gubarev

On March 6, Pavel Gubarev, the “people’s governor” and leader of pro-Russian activists, was detained in Donetsk.  After being picked up, he was severely beaten, both on the road from Donetsk to Kiev, as well as in the detention facility of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU).  Pavel fell into a coma in mid-March and currently remains in a prison hospital.  Because of fears that his condition could be made public, he is not being allowed access to a lawyer.  His wife Ekaterina and three young children were forced to leave Ukraine after her husband’s arrest.

The “people’s governor” of the Luhansk region and leader of the Lugansk Guard, Alexander Kharitonov, has been under arrest and held in an SBU detension facility since March 14.

On March 17 the leader of the People’s Alternative, Anton Davidchenko, was detained by the SBU in Odessa, and he is also currently being held in an SBU prison in Kiev.

On March 17, a group of far-right members of the so-called “People’s Tribunal” in Vinnitsa brazenly demanded that Tatyana Antonets, the chief physician of the regional children’s hospital, voluntarily step down because she had neither publicly renounced the Party of Regions nor condemned “the crimes of the former government.”  The radicals claimed that if she did not obey their orders, the doctor would be held accountable “in accordance with the laws of draconian revolutionary times.”

After several threats had been made, on March 17, the car belonging to the leader of the Southeastern Front, Artyom Timchenko, was torched.  The public prosecutor for the Zaporozhye region, Alexander Shatsky, who had been newly appointed by Kiev, called the incident an example of “self-immolation.”

On March 19, approximately 300 armed men in Vinnitsa, led by activists from Right Sector, seized a local distillery belonging to the company Nemiroff.

On March 20 a group of activists from Right Sector assaulted some Hungarian schoolchildren who were on a field trip to Transcarpathia from the Hungarian city of Miskolc.  Armed extremists broke up a meeting of the Hungarian civic council in the town of Berehove in the Transcarpathian region and beat up the attendees. Two years ago the Ukrainian nationalists desecrated the monument on theVerecke Pass that had been erected to commemorate the passage of Hungarian troops across the Carpathians. They painted  “Death to Hungarians” and “This is Ukraine” on the podium.

On March 20 four Russian journalists from the Russia-1 TV channel were detained in Donetsk.  The Russians’ documents were seized and they were taken to the Vasilievka checkpoint, where they were kept for several hours without explanation before being expelled from Ukraine.

On March 20 the Ukrainian Security Service began an attempt to dissolve the Lugansk Guard civic organization that advocates for placing Ukraine under the authority of the federal government and for making Russian a state language.  Three activists were arrested and a search conducted of the organization’s offices and its members’ apartments.  One of the leaders of its youth wing,Anastasiya Pyaterikovaposted a public appeal on social networks, claiming that the SBU, along with a deputy from the Verkhovna Rada (a leader from the far-right Radical Party of Oleh Lyashko), organized a search for the members of the Lugansk Guard, and persecuted activists and members of their families.

VIDEO:Oleh Lyashko, Ukrainian politician, and the leader of the “Radical Party” kidnaps a deputy of the Lugansk city council Arsen Klinchaev.

On March 20 representatives of the so-called AutoMaidan movement attempted to extort fuel, cash, and other assets from the director of one of the branches of the Russian company Lukoil-Ukraine, in order “to feed the needs of the revolution.”

On March 20 a crowd in Kiev, wearing masks and armed with firearms and blades, broke into the building of the Ukrainian State Architectural and Construction Inspection Board.  Seizing offices on the seventh and eleventh floors, they pretended to be members of an “anti-corruption committee” and tried to confiscate folders containing archival documents.

On March 21 a house in the Kiev region was burned that belonged to Viktor Medvedchuck, a leader of the Ukrainian Choice movement.

On March 23 Euromaidan activists in Kiev attempted to occupy the building of Rossotrudnichestvo, a Russian agency that promotes ties with ethnic Russians abroad, and the car of one of its employees was stolen.   This stunt was intended to confiscate that office space and use it to house the headquarters of the People’s Self-Defense of Maidan.

On March 23 a group of Right Sector members armed with machine guns stormed a concert in Rovno that was being held as part of a local rock festival, brandishing their weapons and dispersing the attendees.

On March 23 in Zaporozhye, a few dozen militants, known as the Self-Defense of Maidan, attacked the participants in the Melitopol-Zaporozhye Friendship Road Rally with sticks, stones, and iron rebars.  People were beaten and cars were damaged.

On March 24, members of the Ukrainian border service once again forbade Aeroflot crew members from leaving their aircraft during stopovers at Ukrainian airports.   No explanation was given.  This type of discrimination on the part of the Ukrainian border guards, which has occurred several times in the past month at the airports in Kiev, Donetsk, and Kharkov, is in violation of accepted international practices and poses a danger to civil air traffic.  In recent days, Ukrainian border guards have forcibly turned back large numbers of air travelers from Russia.  Forty-three such cases have been reported at Aeroflot alone.  In 32 cases, Aeroflot was compelled to repatriate passengers at its own expense who had flown to Ukraine on one-way tickets.

Since mid-March at the Kharkov section of the Russian-Ukrainian border, Ukrainian border guards have stopped Russian citizens from entering Ukraine, each day turning back 120-130 people.

On March 26, Right Sector supporters in Dnepropetrovsk, Donetsk, and Kharkov physicallyassaulted anyone they found in the streets wearing the honorary St. George ribbons (the symbol of Soviet victory over Nazism).

On March 26 in the Kirovograd region, representatives of the local “people’s council” and members of the Svoboda party attacked the chief physician at the Ulyanovsk Central District Hospital,Aleksander Tkalenko, attempting to beat him in his own office.  The doctor’s only “sin” was his political affiliation (he was a member of the Party of Regions and had been appointed to his current position by the Yanukovych administration).

On March 26, the former mayor of Mirgorod (in the Poltava region) and chairman of the town councilVasily Tretetsky died in the hospital after being beaten and shot by assailants on March 16.

On March 26, activists from the Avtodozor social movement together with a hundred of militants from the Self-Defense of Maidan, picketed the offices of Russian banks on Kreshchatik street in Kiev (VTB, Alfa, Sberbank of Russia, and Prominvest), demanding that they be closed and all their Ukrainian divisions nationalized.  The Sberbank building was seized and looted.

On April 1, the Ukrainian Security Service searched the apartments of pro-Russian activists in Odessa.  In particular, they scoured the flat belonging to Alexei Albu, a deputy in the Odessa regional council.  “SBU staffers arrived at my apartment at 8:00 am, opened the door, and conducted a search.  They were carrying a court injunction.  The security officers themselves stated that they were looking for lists of activists from our organization and also for weapons.  However, in the end they were forced to sign a statement attesting that nothing illegal had been found in the apartment they searched.”  Alexei claims that he had been previously summoned by the Ukrainian special services for a “conversation.”

The ‘last and categorical warning letter’ sent to Rev. Alexander Shirokov by the Ukrainian Nazis urging him to stop “Moscovite propaganda” under the death threat.

The threats to Russian Orthodox priests is also a regretful commonplace in today’s Ukraine. The case of Rev. Alexander Shirokov, persecuted by non-registered National Socialist Workers’ Party of Ukraine, was made public thanks to the special statement of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The great number of other, less publicized cases of pressure imposed against the pro-Russian priesthood by the radical elements and local administrations loyal to the central Kievan interim authorities, are taking place.

Given this climate, the pro-Russian intelligentsia in Ukraine continues to emigrate en masse to Russia (including to Crimea).  According to the latest data, more than 30,000 people have been forced to flee their own country, which has been taken over by nationalists.

We can only guess at the source for the reports by international human rights organizations, since they document only the non-existent “violations” committed by one side – the Russians – while completely ignoring the instances of egregious anarchy so often found in Ukraine today.

In any event, it is clear that under these circumstances, what are being billed as the Ukrainian presidential elections cannot be held in anything resembling a normal atmosphere on May 25, and no ballot-box returns during this crisis will be recognized by Russia, the country that the majority of Ukraine’s citizens are counting on. 

This article was first published by WhoWhatWhy.

Maybe you heard: the Russians are responsible for the Boston Marathon Bombing. At least indirectly.

That’s what the New York Times says. Had the Russians told the Americans everything they knew about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the bombing might have been averted by the FBI. The Times knows this because it was told so by an anonymous “senior American official” who got an advance look at a report from the “intelligence community.”

***

Anyone who still entertains the fantasy that America is a vigorous, healthy democracy with an honest and reliable security apparatus and an honest, competent, vigilant media need only consider this major news leak just published as a New York Times exclusive. It pretty much sums up the fundamental corruption of our institutions, the lack of accountability, and the deep-dyed complicity of the “finest” brand in American journalism.

Killing Two Birds with One Stone

Just days before the first anniversary of the Boston bombing on April 15, some unnamed “senior American official” puts the blame for the bombing squarely on…Vladimir Putin.

It takes a keen understanding of certain members of the American media to know they will promote, without question, the latest “intelligence community” version of events. Which is that responsibility for the second largest “terror attack” after 9/11 should be pinned on the Russians, currently America’s bête noir over Ukraine.

Consider the cynical manipulation of public opinion involved hereThe government permits, presumably authorizes, a high official—the Attorney General or someone of that status, perhaps even the Vice President—to leak confidential information for no apparent purpose beyond seeking to put a damper on legitimate inquiries into the behavior of the American government at the most fundamental level.

And the world’s vaunted “newspaper of record”—its brand largely based on insider access and the willingness of powerful figures to give it “hot stuff” in return for controlling public perceptions— shamelessly runs this leak with no attempt to question its timing or provenance.

Let’s look at what this article actually says. Here’s the opening paragraph:

The Russian government declined to provide the FBI with information about one of the Boston marathon bombing suspects two years before the attack that likely would have prompted more extensive scrutiny of the suspect, according to an inspector general’s review of how U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies could have thwarted the bombing.

And here’s the “takeaway”:

While the review largely exonerates the FBI, it does say that agents in the Boston area who investigated the Russian intelligence in 2011 could have conducted a few more interviews when they first examined the information.

The FBI agents also could have ordered turkey sandwiches instead of pastrami, which surely would have been a little healthier.

***

So, New York Times, should we trust the anonymous individual, or more importantly, the report that none of us have seen?

The report was produced by the inspector general of the Intelligence Community, which has responsibility for 17 separate agencies, and the inspectors general from the Department of Homeland Security and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Now, the Times doesn’t offer any useful context on why these reviews took place, beyond a pro forma effort to respond to complaints from a handful of congressional members (see this and this). The article does not address the quality or credibility of this “self-investigation” and the overall track record of these investigators. Nor does it express undue interest in why the report appears to have been finished just in time for the anniversary of the bombing.

In our view, the article is one hundred percent “stovepiping.” That’s when claimed raw intelligence is transmitted directly to an end user without any attempt at scrutiny or skepticism. This is irresponsible journalism, and it is the kind of behavior (from The New York Times again) that smoothed the way for the U.S. to launch the Iraq war in 2003.

The Times doesn’t even point out how self-serving the report is, coming from an “intelligence community” that has been publicly criticized for its actions leading up to the Boston Marathon bombing and its behavior since. (For more on the dozens of major reasons not to trust anything the authorities say about the Boston Bombing, see thisthis, and this. For perspective on the media’s cooperation with the FBI in essentially falsifying the Bureau’s record throughout its history, see this).

Now let’s consider the core substance of the new revelations:

[A]fter an initial investigation by the F.B.I., the Russians declined several requests for additional information about Mr. Tsarnaev….

Did the Times ask the Russians about this? Did they find out if the Russians actually “declined” several requests, or whether they ever got back to the FBI?

The anonymous official notes one specific piece of evidence that the Russians did not share until after the bombing: that intercepted telephone conversations between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother included discussions of Islamic jihad. The official speculates that this information might have given the FBI greater authority to conduct surveillance of the suspects.

However, the reality is that the Russians had already warned that Tamerlan was an Islamic radical, and it is not clear how this additional information would necessarily have provided anything truly substantive to add to a request for spying authority.

It’s also highly questionable, based in part on Edward Snowden’s revelations, whether the FBI or the NSA were actually adhering to such restrictions on spying anyway.  Finally, it’s worth noting how truly remarkable it is that the Russians shared such intelligence at all. That they didn’t want to volunteer that they were capturing telephone calls is not that surprising, on the other hand.

Hiding the Real Story?

The Times does mention, almost in passing, what should have been the key point of an article: the timing of the “news” regarding the report:

It has not been made public, but members of Congress are scheduled to be briefed on it Thursday, and some of its findings are expected to be released before Tuesday, the first anniversary of the bombings.

This leak, which clears the FBI of all charges of incompetence or worse, comes just when the “American conversation” will again intensely focus on the nature of the “war on terror” and the trustworthiness of our vast secret state.

It also comes, most conveniently for the Bureau, at the precise moment when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s defense counsel has been seeking to learn the exact chronology and nature of the FBI’s interaction with the Tsarnaev family.

Months ago, we ran Peter Dale Scott’s rumination on whether the FBI could have recruited Tamerlan Tsarnaev as an informant, as it has done thousands of times before with other immigrants of a similar profile. Recently, the defense for Tamerlan’s younger brother, Dzhokhar, essentially claimed this was correct—that the Bureau at least attempted to recruit the older Tsarnaev. That has been cursorily reported by the major media, but no one seems to have connected the dots linking this claim to the new report that conveniently exonerates the FBI for failing to take action against the Tsarnaevs in time to stop the bombing.

A Curious Little Slip

As we have previously reportedit was the same duo of New York Times national security reporters, Schmidt and Schmitt, who had first, inadvertently it seems, raised a tremendously important question: when did the Tsarnaev family first come to the attention of the FBI?

The Russian warning to the US about Tamerlan Tsarnaev purportedly came in March 2011.

But according to an earlier article by Schmitt and Schmidt (along with a third reporter), the Bureau’s first contact with the Tsarnaevs came in January 2011. Though the Times did not make anything of this fact, it would be enormously consequential—because it would mean that the FBI was interacting with the Tsarnaevs two months before the Russians suggested the US take a close look at Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

If that was in error, the Times should have issued a correction. But it hasn’t. (Neither Schmidt nor Schmitt responded to WhoWhatWhy’s emails requesting comment.)

Interestingly, Schmidt and Schmitt, in subsequent articles, including the recent one, make no more mention of this early FBI contact. As it stands, the New York Times is on record of having asserted, again based on what sources told it, that the FBI was interacting with the Tsarnaevs before the Russians ever contacted it. If that early report was true, then by definition, the Inspector General’s report (and the leaked article about it) would be calculated parts of a cover-up about an FBI foul-up.

Conversely, if the early report was in error, then we need to know who provided it, or how they got that information wrong. Serious investigators know not to reject anomalies and “wrong” early reports as simply the result of haste or rumor without at least checking out the possibility that the early reports were right—but were later suppressed because they might cause problems to someone in power.

***

It is worth noting that the revelations in the new report—sure to be picked up by other media outlets that tend to repeat unquestioningly whatever the Times publishes—will be all the average American remembers about the FBI’s failure to prevent the Marathon bombing, and what may lie behind that failure.

Most members of the public will never know of the substantial indications that something is seriously wrong with what the government has put out about this affair. They will only recall that the FBI was somehow “cleared.” And they will probably remember that Putin’s Russia was somehow at fault.

In the final analysis, what we have just witnessed is the kind of arrant manipulation that shows the contempt of the “system” for the “people.” The “best” news organization gets another exclusive story. The US government gets to point its finger again at the Russian bogeyman. The FBI and the security apparatus get another free pass.

And the American people, once again, are fed pig slop and told to imagine sirloin.

Capture

Ukraine stands on the brink of civil war, as the unelected pro-Western regime that seized power this February in Kiev threatens a bloody crackdown on protesters occupying local government offices in cities across traditionally pro-Russian sections of eastern Ukraine.

Protesters are demanding a referendum to federalize Ukraine and limit the authority of the new, far-right regime in Kiev. Some protesters have also called on their areas to vote to join Russia, as the former Ukrainian region of Crimea did last month, or declared independent “people’s republics” in Donetsk and Kharkiv.

Andrei Senchenko, the deputy head of the presidential administration in Kiev, said his regime’s security forces would “shoot to kill” if protesters did not abandon buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv by today.

Senchenko’s threats echoed those of Irina Farion, a legislator from the Fatherland Party of US-backed Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk. She demanded death for the protesters saying, “Today’s reaction is unacceptable. The measures should be much tougher. Our people laid down their lives. That’s why those creatures that arrive here deserve only death.”

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said that a “special police task force” had arrived from western Ukraine to Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv, after local police units refused to launch a crackdown. He was apparently referring to the deployment to eastern Ukraine of units of the Kiev regime’s new National Guard and of the fascist Right Sector militia, which led the February putsch in Kiev that toppled pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Kiev’s reckless and hysterical calls for a bloody crackdown on pro-Russian forces in regions of Ukraine with large Russian populations threaten not only to tip Ukraine into civil war, but to lead to a direct clash between Ukraine and Russia. Last month, describing precisely a scenario of a crackdown in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he reserved the right to intervene militarily to defend Russians in the region.

“If we see such uncontrolled crime spreading to the eastern regions of the country, and if the people ask us for help, while we already have the official request from the legitimate president [Yanukovych], we retain the right to use all available means to protect those people. We believe this would be absolutely legitimate,” he said.

Under these explosive conditions, the NATO powers are backing Kiev and signaling their own military escalation, directly posing the risk of war with Russia, a nuclear-armed power.

Yesterday, photos in the Russian media and videos posted to YouTube showed columns of Ukrainian military trucks and towed artillery on the roads of eastern Ukraine.

Inhabitants of nearby towns who tried to block the convoys in the streets were assaulted. One woman told Russia Today, “At about 2pm, we received information that military hardware had arrived at our local train station. We went there and saw armored personnel carriers, military vehicles and troops. The whole town gathered nearby.” When townspeople blocked the vehicles, “The soldiers twisted the arms of pensioners, there were two men standing there and [soldiers] drove over their feet. I was pulled back by local coal miners when I tried to stop the vehicles.”

The Kiev regime is preparing an armed clash with protest groups and militias that have emerged across eastern Ukraine. Protesters in Donetsk—including thousands of pensioners, workers, and defectors from the Ukrainian army and police forces—strengthened barricades around the occupied government building and prepared weapons, including Molotov cocktails.

“In Donetsk airport, about a hundred people from the National Guard have been housed. Around a hundred Right Sector thugs are also in the city, as well as a hundred employees from a private US military company operating under contract with the Kiev junta. In total, there are around 300 professionals or well-trained and motivated fanatics. This is a major force, but we are ready to fight,” Sergey Tsyplakov of the Donbas People’s Militia told RIA-Novosti.

In Lugansk, where protesters stormed the SBU intelligence service’s city headquarters and took over the arsenal there, a group calling itself the Southeast Command issued a statement pledging to defend itself militarily against Kiev’s security forces.

“We represent veterans of the [Soviet] Afghan war, former border guards, and other peaceful trades, and we have just a single legitimate demand: we want a referendum,” it declared. “If you go against us, welcome to hell. We’ll make a decent stand. Godspeed, officers!”

US and European officials’ dismissals of the east Ukraine protests as small, unpopular conspiracies orchestrated by Russia are flatly contradicted by reports on the ground, which suggest they enjoy broader support in the population, though not from the Kremlin.

Ukrainian officials traditionally aligned with Russia are denouncing the protests and trying to end them. This week, Nikolai Levchenko—a Donetsk officeholder of the Party of Regions, Yanukovych’s former ruling party—demanded that protesters abandon occupied buildings and return home. “Those who have occupied buildings, especially those with weapons, pose a danger to everyone in Donbas,” he said, referring to the mining basin around Donetsk and Lugansk.

The German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung remarked yesterday on the social gulf separating the eastern Ukraine protests from the Western-backed, middle-class protests in Kiev’s Independence Square (Maidan) that led to the fascist putsch in February.

It wrote, “In Kiev, on the Maidan, there were youth, students, pro-European businessmen, start-up entrepreneurs, the middle classes. But here in the east, it is not a pro-Russian uprising, but a social revolt, according to Donetsk journalist Dennis Kasansky. He seems to be right.” The paper said protesters in the east were “the underprivileged, those who are called the losers of modernization by contemporary research.”

Responsibility for the escalating risk of bloodshed lies squarely with the aggressive policies of the Obama administration and its European allies. They incited and backed a putsch by fascist, anti-Russian forces like Right Sector, aiming to geo-strategically cripple Russia by installing a pro-Western, anti-Russian regime in Kiev. Now, the NATO powers are backing Kiev’s hysterical threats of a crackdown and calling for escalating Western military intervention in Europe.

NATO’s top military commander in Europe, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said he was preparing plans for a military build-up to surround Russia with NATO troops. “Essentially what we are looking at is a package of land, air and maritime measures that would build assurance for our easternmost allies,” Breedlove said in an interview with the AP. “I’m tasked to deliver this by next week. I fully intend to deliver it early.”

Asked if US soldiers would be posted to “frontline” states bordering Russia, he said yes: “I would not write off contributions from any nation.”

Breedlove based his call for a NATO build-up on claims that Russia is mounting its own massive military build-up and preparing to invade Ukraine, for which NATO had presented no evidence. Yesterday, however, it released a handful of pictures showing Russian fighter jets and helicopters on a runway, a Russian artillery unit, and a Russian Special Forces unit.

Breedlove’s claims that these proved the existence of 40,000 Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian were contradicted by Anthony Cordesman, the military analyst at the Washington, DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. AP cited him as saying “it’s unclear from the images how much of a buildup of Russian forces there has been in the border area.”

“They show there is a mixture of light and heavy forces and that they could go quickly … But that’s all they show,” Cordesman said.

CNN reporters traveling along the Russian-Ukrainian border earlier this week reported that they had seen no sign of the Russian army.

NATO Trains Terrorists to Destabilize Ukraine

April 10th, 2014 by The Voice of Russia

Contractors from private security companies are supposed to do what NATO cannot do openly, they train terrorists who contrbute to destabilizing Ukraine, Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization told RIA Novosti Tuesday.

 ”Those organizations (private security companies) will do what NATO cannot do openly. They can train people to be terrorists,” Chossudovsky said, adding that in Syria private contractors were training al-Qaeda.

“We are talking about the continuation of the US policy of military intervention in Ukraine and a preparatory stage for a massacre in southeastern Ukraine,” Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of the National Defense monthly Russian-language magazine said, adding that the deployment of mercenaries from a private company Greystone Ltd. may be financed by Ukrainian oligarchs and organized in coordination with the US State Department.

Michel Chossudovsky told RIA Novosti that mercenaries are normally hired by governments, but options are numerous as they operate covertly and do not identify themselves.

“Private contractors could be hired by NATO, or by Ukrainian government or by an intermediary. Anyone can hire Greystone, they operate covertly, they don’t identify themselves, and make money,” Chossudovsky said.

“Considering that Ukraine’s security services show their obvious incompetence, foreign mercenaries are supposed to suppress the protests in the southeastern part of the country,” Korotchenko said.

NATO trains terrorists who destabilize situation in Ukraine - analyst

Michel Chossudovsky expects Greystone to also  recruit Ukrainians for the operation and reminded that the company recruits different nationalities, who are trained by professional military personnel.

“Within the Ukrainian National Guard there are western military advisors, they have senior military people. They are supposed to train protective services, but in fact they train terrorists,” Chossudovsky said.

“NATO and the US won’t acknowledge the presence of these special forces. What is happening is an influx of special forces in Ukraine which are there with a view to sustaining the current government, but they also contribute to a process of destabilization,” Chossudovsky said stressing that mercenaries would infiltrate grassroots movements to trigger violence across Ukraine.

The Canadian expert also said that NATO advisors are already present in Ukraine and have been brought by Kiev authorities.

“We have reports that there were mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine in early March. Some of these mercenaries could possibly have been used for sophisticated sniper operations which characterize Euro Maidan,” Chossudovsky said, adding that the similar operations have been seen in other countries.

Greystone Ltd. is a private company registered in Barbados that “provides the skilled professionals and program management services necessary to deliver rotary wing, protective security and training solutions.”

It used to be a subsidiary of Blackwater private security services provider, and now operates as a separate entity but still has links to it.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has earlier voiced concerns over the buildup of Ukrainian forces in the southeastern part of the country involving some 150 American mercenaries from a private company Greystone Ltd., dressed in the uniform of the Ukrainian special task police unit Sokol. Moscow called this move violation of Ukraine’s legislation.

Read more:

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_04_09/NATO-trains-terrorists-who-destabilize-situation-in-Ukraine-analyst-4940/

“Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything Better than you.”— song from Annie Get Your Gun

The conventional wisdom is that democracy is the best form of government. As the imperialist demagogue Winston Churchill, put it, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.” But such conventional wisdom comes by default. No one has ever offered any evidence in support of it. In fact, no one even knows what such evidence could be. No established criteria exist for the comparative adjectives worst, worse, bad, good, better, and best when they are applied to governments.

Furthermore, that democracy is the best form of government has not always even been the conventional wisdom. Plato, who founded his Academy in Athens around 400 BCE, where democracy is said to have originated, writes, “Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy.” And at least some of those who wrote the American Constitution in the 1700s were well aware of democracy’s pitfalls and that no democracy had endured for any length of time. John Adams writes, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself.” Despite their knowledge, the Constitution’s writers persisted, believing that they could build a nation that avoided the faults that had destroyed earlier democracies. But they were wrong!

In fact, no genuine democracy has ever existed. The citizens of no nation have ever governed themselves. Lincoln’s “of the people, by the people, and for the people” is pure bombast. What has passed for democracy has always been some form of representational oligarchy. But no one can represent two different ideologies at once. Even the word ‘democracy’ has never been adequately defined. If you read the Wikipedia article, you will find numerous different forms of government described, all of which are named democracies but differentiated by a qualifying word. There is representative democracy, constitutional democracy, people’s democracy, etc. As George Orwell says, “It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it; consequently, the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning.” Talk about an unqualified democracy is nonsense.

Democracy’s weaknesses are well known. Electorates are poorly educated and inadequately informed. Politicians are corrupt. People are diverse; diversity leads to factions; factions are combative; the combativeness requires a resolution; oppression resolves it. As Mahatma Gandhi understood, “The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires a change of heart.” As present day India demonstrates, changes in heart seem to be impossible to achieve.

Between the two world wars, two Italians, Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca, claimed that democracy was an illusion that served only to mask oligarchic rule. They claimed that oligarchy is the result of apathy and disagreements among common people as opposed to the drive, initiative, and unity of those who really control society. Pareto’s and Mosca’s error is that they defined the oligarchy as ‘elite,’ and instead of empirically discovering what characteristics these people share, ideal characteristics are attributed to them. Such thinkers seem always to believe that those they believe rule are a select group with a certain ancestry, higher intellect, and wealth whereas if the characters of those in the ruling class were identified empirically, it would have been discovered that they are in reality egomaniacal, shallow, greedy, unimaginative, uncaring, and grossly immoral. Such people never perform good deeds. They are not the best and the brightest, but the worst and the dullest. Original ideas are not a product of their status quo attitudes. See my piece, “The Psychopathic Criminal Enterprise Called America.” Pareto and Mosca are right, however, in attributing superior organizational skills to the ruling class, skills which are especially useful in gaining political power.

But even the oligarchic democracies described in the Wikipedia article once gave a better appearance of rule “by the people” than they do now. Elections were held, ballots were counted, and the winners took office. Well-organized minorities are now unwilling to accept elected governments. The results of elections are merely rejected by the losers. I have written about it in a previous piece: “Demented Democracy.”

When this tendency began is uncertain, but it was certainly given a boost when the United States and its Western allies rejected the results of the election held in Palestine on January 25, 2006. The election was encouraged by the United States and its allies. They admitted that it was not fraudulent. Yet they rejected the result when Hamas rather than Fatah prevailed. The rejection exposed the West’s claim that it promotes and protects democratic movements as a lie. The West was only interested in the outcome. When the result was not what it favored or expected, that the result was determined democratically was irrelevant. If the great defender of democracy could turn its back on a valid democratic election, so could anyone else. Now the rejection of election results is a common practice. Egypt, Thailand, Turkey, Syria, Ukraine are well known examples.

In the countries where this is happening, those who lose elections are easily provoked into public demonstrations in attempts to foster regime change. Sometimes they succeeds; sometimes they don’t! But they always cause conflict. And even if regime changes occur, the regimes that come into power are not always the ones sought by the demonstrators. Just look at what happened in Egypt.

Egyptians began demonstrating in Tahrir Square and elsewhere on January 25, 2011, demanding that President Mubarak be removed from office. The demonstrations brought about the government’s fall. Mubarak was imprisoned. Elections were held, a Constitution was written by the winning followers of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mohammed Morsi prevailed. But the unwillingness of many urban Egyptians as well as many of the Mubarak government’s elite to accept the results of the election brought the anti-democratic, repressive military back in full force, likely destroying the prospect of democracy in Egypt for some time. President Morsi and other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood were rounded up and arrested. Egypt’s Monopoly gameboard has a square on it that says, “Win an election. Go straight to jail.” Not only was the revolution undone, tyranny follows. The consequence of this tendency of peoples to reject the outcomes of elections is bizarre. This attempt to bring about better government produces government which is worse! Of course, similar events can occur in Ukraine and elsewhere.

You see, a fundamental function of government everywhere is conflict resolution. But the oligarchic democracies the world has become accustomed to, those governments comprised of factions, cannot resolve conflicts. When an election is a contest between people representing contrary factions, unless one faction prevails in all contests, conflict in government is inevitable. The elections exacerbate the conflicts. Fundamental factional views cannot be compromised. Even when possible, compromises between those who want to do something and those who want to do nothing always result in ineffective policies which the factions can then use against one another. “Inadequate spending” becomes “wasteful spending,” for instance. Thanks to institutions like the Kochacola Court, these fundamental conflicts persist decade after decade. When Lincoln emancipated the slaves, he merely transformed the concept of slavery into the concept of racism. The people who were once enslaved were evermore to be considered as second class human beings. Separation of the parties or the oppression of one of them becomes the only solution to such fundamental conflicts. Government allowed people to oppress the blacks Lincoln freed to create a semblance of unity. Egypt’s military rulers are oppressing the Muslim Brotherhood for the same purpose. When governments can’t resolve conflicts, the conflicts are hidden by oppression.

The practices that nation’s use to stir the witches’ cauldron to bring about regime change are childish tit for tat games. Anything one government can do, another can do too. The practices do nothing more that generate conflict. When the tit for tat becomes the rat a tat tat of machine guns, we will all pay the price in pounds of flesh and gallons of blood. And absolutely nothing will ever be better for it. Generating conflict is dumb! Those who start wars often lose them.

The advocates of democracy who believe they can make things better by rejecting the results of elections make even our oligarchic democracies dumber than they already are. They are then undone by the emergence of tyranny. The well known history of democracy, which our ruling oligarchies have ignored, then repeats itself. Time marches on a treadmill.

Thanks to the proliferation of communications devices, disillusion with political leaders is spreading. In the United States, the approval ratings of government are dismal. There is a general dissatisfaction with the ruling class across much of Europe. The so-called “Spring” exhibits the disillusion in the Arab world. Disillusion is growing in India, Japan, and Turkey. Never has the world seen such disillusionment. No institutions have emerged to dissipate it. The ruling class is under fire almost everywhere; yet it is completely effete. The danger is that it will everywhere revert to tyrannical policies as it has throughout history. If the “change of heart” that Gandhi mentions was ever needed, it is needed now.

John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on http://www.jkozy.com/ and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage.

The Kiev government is having trouble holding power even in western Ukraine, where it should have firm control. Meanwhile it’s bringing in mercenaries to retake eastern areas, anti-war activist Daniel Patrick Welch told RT.

RT: With those latest events in Lvov, could it be that the interim government is losing support there?

Daniel Patrick Welch: I think the junta [in Kiev] is holding on to power very tentatively, although the people who took over the Lvov prosecutor’s office seem to be fascists as well, that’s what people in Kharkov and Donetsk are telling me. They see it more as an inter-fascist squabble. But the important thing that you can see from it is that they are having trouble holding power even in the West where they should have firm control.

RT: The protesters in Kiev were calling the former government corrupt. But now we see the new authorities appointing officials with questionable reputations. Why are they making such moves?

DW: They are simply trying to hold power. And I think they are losing legitimacy at an alarming rate for them. The point of Maidan was against corruption but it also had the element of a foreign intervention, as we know from Victoria Nuland’s involvement in the famous EU phone call. So what’s happening in the east is significantly different from that.

Participants attend the rally staged by supporters of the referendum on Donetsk Region's status in Donetsk.<br /><br /><br />(RIA Novosti / Irina Gorbaseva)<br /><br /><br />

Participants attend the rally staged by supporters of the referendum on Donetsk Region’s status in Donetsk. (RIA Novosti / Irina Gorbaseva)

RT: Let’s take a look at Eastern Ukraine now… The authorities have called the recent crackdown on anti-Kiev activists in Kharkov an ‘anti-terrorist’ operation. What does that harsh rhetoric mean?

DW: They always use ‘terrorists’ when they want to demonize the people. These are either Ukrainians who do not like to be ruled by fascists from Kiev and they are rising up because they are awake and they see who their enemy is, and they are not going to back down. The use of the word [terrorist] is always a political trick.

 

Participants in a rally at the Donetsk regional state administration. (RIA Novosti)

Participants in a rally at the Donetsk regional state administration. (RIA Novosti)

RT: When the protesters in Kiev were occupying government buildings there, they were praised as champions of democracy. But when the same happens in the East and South of the country dozens end up arrested and facing jail terms. Why such a distinction?

DW: What we are seeing is the immense hypocrisy involved not just from the Kiev coup [government], but from the West in general. There have been no denunciations of the violence which took place last night and which is probably taking place right now in Donetsk as we speak. People inside the administration building waiting for storm and they have barricaded themselves in. They really are heroes of democracy, they are standing up for their rights and their own people, and they are being defended by their own people. The fact that you bring in people from outside, including possibly the foreign mercenaries, shows that you are not even confident of your own position let alone trying to retake control of these areas.

RT: So what did Maidan achieve, with so many people voicing their discontent across the country?

DW: It’s hard to see now, isn’t it? The point of it was to establish a NATO beachhead in Ukraine. And I don’t think obviously that this is a catastrophic failure for the West and I see it as further unraveling. I think it’s a massive historic mistake on a part of the US meddling, and NATO, and there will be repercussions for years to come.

RT:Russia says it has evidence that US private security firm contractors are operating in Ukraine. What could that involvement mean?

DW: I think it’s definitely is true. I’m getting reports of 300 mercenaries from Greystone Ltd. in Donetsk and 100 in Lugansk. It’s extremely significant and dangerous development and it shows that the provocation is from the West, that Lavrov and the others have said “Russia is not the one who destabilizes Ukraine,” they are essentially correct. I think it will backfire. When you have to have foreign mercenaries to do dirty work, you are not a legitimate government.

by J. D. Heyes 

Brazil’s federal public prosecutor has requested that the Justice Department immediately suspend use of glyphosate, which is the most widely used herbicide in the country and a primary element of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide brand.

Also, according to reports in Brazilian media, the prosecutor is seeking a challenge to ban other potentially harmful chemicals as well.

Two actions have been filed. “The first measure seeks to compel the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) to reevaluate the toxicity of eight active ingredients suspected of causing damage to human health and the environment. On another front, the agency questions the registration of pesticides containing 2,4-D herbicide, applied to combat broadleaf weeds,” explained the prosecutor, on his website.

The actions request a preliminary injunction, calling on the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply to suspend the registration of products until a final determination is made about their toxicity by ANVISA.

The prosecutor’s civil suit asks that the National Biosafety Technical Commission be prohibited from releasing the commercialization of transgenic seeds resistant to the herbicides pending a final decision by ANVISA.

In March, the country’s Federal Appeals Court ruled to cancel use of Bayer’s genetically modified (GM) LibertyLink maize. Also last month, France banned the sale, use and cultivation of Monsanto’s GM MON 810 maize after new research found that insects in the U.S. are developing a resistance to the GM maize.

Regarding glyphosate, new evidence suggests that it can become very toxic to the human kidney once it is mixed with “hard” water or metals like arsenic, cadmium, magnesium, strontium and iron, as well as others. Glyphosate is toxic enough on its own.

Other nations banning as well

Glyphosate was developed as a herbicide by Monsanto in the early 1970s, and was brought to the market under the “Roundup” brand, which is now the most commonly used herbicide the world over.

However, as new research emerges indicating its potential to amplify toxicity, more nations are taking note — and taking action.

At the outset of March, the Sri Lankan government banned glyphosate over its links to kidney disease — known as “Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown etiology,” or CKDu, according to the Center for Public Integrity. The disease has killed thousands of agricultural workers, many in Sri Lanka and El Salvador.

El Salvador’s legislature approved a ban on glyphosate in September, as well as many other agrochemicals, but the measure is not yet law.

Source:

http://www.gmwatch.org

http://rt.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

Copyright J. D. Heyes , Natural News, 2014

Charter schools are the inventions of rightwing corporations and foundations, and serve as profit centers for the rich. Given that these are the people who run American society, it is no surprise that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio “got his head handed to him” when he clashed with charter school interests. “The mayor’s little nod to protecting public education was no match for big money.”

Every injustice in American life can be laid at the feet of the richest people in the country and the politicians who do their bidding. Nowhere is that terrible dynamic more obvious than in the destruction of public education by the charter school system.

The fix is officially in for charter schools in the state of New York. The legislature finished its session by giving these privately funded “public” schools more protection than they have almost anywhere else in the nation. Charter schools are allegedly public schools but that label is nothing more than public relations gimmickry. In March a New York state Supreme Court judge ruled that the comptroller had no standing to audit charter schools because they are educational corporations and not “units of the state.” The charter school executives who usually insist that they are running public schools were strangely silent and for once didn’t disagree when someone said their schools are not public after all.

Charter schools are a scam inflicted on black and Latino children and are meant to turn education into just another profit center. These schools take public money without being accountable to the public and they are funded by organizations like the Walton Family Foundation of WalMart fame and hedge fund chieftains. There is no data which proves that they provide superior education. They don’t have to accept children with special needs and often expel children who are struggling academically because they may bring down the all important test scores they use to justify their access to public dollars.

Bill de Blasio, New York City’s newly elected mayor, promised to slow down the process of co-locating schools, shoving charter schools into real public schools and depriving children of physical space and resources. At Public School 149 in East Harlem, special education students will literally not have a place in that school. A Success Academy charter school already in residence is expanding and the disabled children at P.S. 149 will have to be moved elsewhere.

Teachers at charter schools are akin to fast food workers. They are the least experienced and have a high rate of turnover, all of which happens by design. The hedge fund honchos and the Walton Family Foundation want to get rid of the teaching profession and make educators as insecure in their work lives as everyone else in the country.

The protections recently given to New York state charter schools are the result of cynical collusion between governor Andrew Cuomo, big money political donors and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. In the last weeks before he left office in December 2013, Bloomberg co-located an additional 45 new charters into public school buildings. The incoming mayor Bill de Blasio had a rather modest charter school reform agenda. He didn’t propose the radical steps that are needed to eradicate them, instead choosing only to ask that they pay rent for taking up public school space. He even approved 17 of the new co-location plans.

But the big money people were having none of it. They worked with the nominally Democratic Cuomo to make sure that charter schools would continue to take over as many public school buildings as they want and not pay one penny in rent. Not only that but they conspired to get even more funds for charter schools from the state budget.

Cuomo is running for re-election in November 2014 and depends on campaign donations from people like Daniel Loeb, founder of Third Point hedge fund and chairman of Success Academies charter schools. Together they and others developed a lobbying effort which demolished any hope of the small reforms de Blasio proposed. A previously little known group, Families for Excellent Schools, appeared on the scene with more than three million dollars worth of advertising featured black and latino parents making the case for charters. Families for Excellent Schools is certainly not made up of any New York City families. Its offices share an address with the infamous Michelle Rhee’s Students First organization.

It was obvious very quickly that the mayor’s little nod to protecting public education was no match for big money and his nemesis in the governor’s office. When Success Academy charters closed all twenty of its schools for one day, and brought 7,000 parents and children to a rally in the state capital, it was clear that they had won the day.

Kenneth Langone is the founder of Home Depot and chairman of Promise Academies. He is a Republican who nonetheless contributed $50,000 to Cuomo’s last campaign. “He said that when the governor asked him to lead a group of Republicans supporting his re-election, he agreed because of Mr. Cuomo’s support for charter schools. ‘Every time I am with the governor, I talk to him about charter schools,’ Mr. Langone said in an interview. ‘He gets it.’”

Cuomo gets to stay in office because Langone, Loeb and others like them keep him there. It is impossible to run a viable campaign for governor of New York state without raising at least $30 million. That means the rich will have access to promote charter schools or anything else they are interested in seeing come to fruition.

At the end of the day in New York state, charter schools and their wealthy backers got a very good deal. They not only won’t pay any rent for using public school space, but they can force the city to pay if they end up leasing space. They will also get a larger share of funds over the next three years, $250 per pupil in the first year, $350 in the second year and $500 in the third year.

As the saying goes, de Blasio got his head handed to him. More importantly however, the hopes for good public education have been dashed by the evil nexus of money and political ambition. It is unfortunate that the real families for excellent schools have again gotten the shaft. In the charter school business as in every other field, money talks and everything else walks. Education has now been brought down to the level of every other institution in American society and that is a sad turn of events.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as athttp://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

2014 is shaping up as a year of reckoning for the United States.

Two pressures are building on the US dollar. One pressure comes from the Federal Reserve’s declining ability to rig the price of gold as Western gold supplies shrivel and market knowledge of the Fed’s illegal price rigging spreads. The evidence of massive amounts of naked shorts being dumped into the paper gold futures market at times of day when trading is thin is unequivocal. It has become obvious that the price of gold is being rigged in the futures market in order to protect the dollar’s value from QE.

The other pressure arises from the Obama regime’s foolish threats of sanctions on Russia. Other countries are no longer willing to tolerate Washington’s abuse of the world dollar standard. Washington uses the dollar-based international payments system to inflict damage on the economies of countries that resist Washington’s political hegemony.

Russia and China have had enough.  As I have reported and as Peter Koenig reports Russia and China are disconnecting their international trade from the dollar. Henceforth, Russia will conduct its trade, including the sale of oil and natural gas to Europe, in rubles and in the currencies of its BRICS partners. 

This means a big drop in the demand for US dollars and a corresponding drop in the dollar’s exchange value. 

As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear, the US economy has not recovered from the downturn in 2008 and has weakened further. The vast majority of the US population is hard pressed from the lack of income growth for years. As the US is now an import-dependent economy, a drop in the dollar’s value will raise US prices and push living standards lower.

All evidence points to US economic failure in 2014, and that is the conclusion of John Williams’ April 9 report.

This year could also see the breakup of NATO and even the EU.  Washington’s reckless coup in Ukraine and threat of sanctions against Russia have pushed its NATO puppet states onto dangerous ground.  Washington misjudged the reaction in Ukraine to its overthrow of the elected democratic government and imposition of a stooge government. Crimea quickly departed Ukraine and rejoined Russia. Other former Russian territories in Ukraine might soon follow.

Protesters in Lugansk, Donetsk, and Kharkov are demanding their own referendums. Protesters have declared the Donetsk People’s Republic and Kharkov People’s Republic. Washington’s stooge government in Kiev has threatened to put the protests down with violence. http://rt.com/news/eastern-ukraine-violence-threats-405/  

Washington claims that the protests are  organized by Russia, but no one believes Washington, not even its Ukrainian stooges. 

Russian news reports have identified US mercenaries among the Kiev force that has been sent to put down the separatists in eastern Ukraine.  A member of the right-wing, neo-Nazi Fatherland Party in the Kiev parliament has called for shooting the protesters dead.

 Violence against the protesters is likely to bring in the Russian Army and result in the return to Russia of its former territories in Eastern Ukraine that were attached to Ukraine by the Soviet Communist Party. 

With Washington out on a limb issuing threats hand over fist, Washington is pushing Europe into two highly undesirable confrontations.  Europeans do not want a war with Russia over Washington’s coup in Kiev, and Europeans understand that any real sanctions on Russia, if observed, would do far more damage to Europeans. Within the EU, growing economic inequality among the countries, high unemployment, and stringent economic austerity imposed on poorer members have produced enormous strains. Europeans are in no mood to bear the brunt of a Washington-orchestrated conflict with Russia.  While Washington presents Europe with war and sacrifice, Russia and China offer trade and friendship.  Washington will do its best to keep European politicians bought-and-paid-for and in line with Washington’s policies, but the downside for Europe of going along with Washington is now much larger.

Across many fronts, Washington is emerging in the world’s eye as duplicitous, untrustworthy, and totally corrupt. A Securities and Exchange Commission prosecuting attorney, James Kidney used the occasion of his retirement to reveal that higher ups had squelched his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other “banks too big to fail,”because his SEC bosses were not focused on justice but “on getting high-paying jobs after their government service” by protecting the banks from prosecution for their illegal actions. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/09/65578/   

The US Agency for International Development has been caught trying to use social media to overthrow the government of Cuba. http://rt.com/news/cuba-usaid-senate-zunzuneo-241/  

 This audacious recklessness comes on top of Washington’s overthrow of the Ukrainian government, the NSA spying scandal, Seymour Hersh’s investigative report that the Sarin gas attack in Syria was a false flag event arranged by NATO member Turkey in order to justify a US military attack on Syria, Washington’s forcing down Bolivian President Evo Morales’ presidential plane to be searched, Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction,” the misuse of the Libyan no-fly resolution for military attack, and on and on.  Essentially, Washington has so badly damaged other countries’ confidence in the judgment and integrity of the US government that the world has lost its belief in US leadership. Washington is reduced to threats and bribes and increasingly presents as a bully.  

The self-inflicted hammer blows to Washington’s credibility have taken a toll.  The most serious blow of all is the dawning realization everywhere that Washington’s crackpot conspiracy theory of 9/11 is false.  Large numbers of independent experts as well as more than one hundred first responders have contradicted every aspect of Washington’s absurd conspiracy theory. No aware person believes that a few Saudi Arabians, who could not fly airplanes, operating without help from any intelligence agency, outwitted the entire National Security State, not only all 16 US intelligence agencies but also all intelligence agencies of NATO and Israel as well. 

Nothing worked on 9/11.  Airport security failed four times in one hour, more failures in one hour than have occurred during the other 116,232 hours of the 21st century combined. For the first time in history the US Air Force could not get interceptor fighters off the ground and into the sky. For the first time in history Air Traffic Control lost airliners for up to one hour and did not report it.  For the first time in history low temperature, short-lived, fires on a few floors caused massive steel structures to weaken and collapse. For the first time in history 3 skyscrapers fell at essentially free fall acceleration without the benefit of controlled demolition removing resistance from below. 

Two-thirds of Americans fell for this crackpot story.  The left-wing fell for it, because they saw the story as the oppressed striking back at America’s evil empire.  The right-wing fell for the story, because they saw it as the demonized Muslims striking out at American goodness. President George W. Bush expressed the right-wing view very well: “They hate us for our freedom and democracy.”

But no one else believed it, least of all the Italians.  Italians had been informed some years previously about government false flag events when their President revealed the truth about secret Operation Gladio. Operation Gladio was an operation run by the CIA and Italian intelligence during the second half of the 20th century to set off bombs that would kill European women and children in order to blame communists and, thereby, erode support for European communist parties. 

Italians were among the first to make video presentations challenging Washington’s crackpot story of 9/11.  The ultimate of this challenge is the 1 hour and 45 minute film, “Zero.” 

 You can watch it here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU961SGps8g&feature=youtu.be  

Zero was produced as a film investigating 9/ll by the Italian company Telemaco. Many prominent people appear in the film along with independent experts.  Together, they disprove every assertion made by the US government regarding its explanation of 9/11.

The film was shown to the European parliament.

It is impossible for anyone who watches this film to believe one word of the official explanation of 9/11.  

The conclusion is increasingly difficult to avoid that elements of the US government blew up three New York skyscrapers in order to destroy Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, and

 Hezbollah and to launch the US on the neoconservatives agenda of US world hegemony.

China and Russia protested but accepted Libya’s destruction even though it was to their own detriment. But Iran became a red line. Washington was blocked, so Washington

decided to cause major problems for Russia in Ukraine in order to distract Russia from Washington’s agenda elsewhere.  

China has been uncertain about the trade-offs between its trade surpluses with the US and Washington’s growing encirclement of China with naval and air bases.  China has come to the conclusion that China and Russia have the same enemy–Washington.

One of two things is likely: Either the US dollar will be abandoned and collapse in value, thus ending Washington’s superpower status and Washington’s threat to world peace, or Washington will lead its puppets into military conflict with Russia and China. The outcome of such a war would be far more devastating than the collapse of the US dollar.  

Amid the escalating conflict over the seizure of local government buildings by pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine, US officials and the American media are hypocritically denouncing Russia for allegedly inciting the actions. These charges, presented as facts but without any substantiation, are part of an intensification of the imperialist offensive in Eastern Europe, the aim of which is to isolate, humiliate and ultimately dismember Russia. The logic of this reckless and aggressive policy, spearheaded by Washington, is war between the West and Russia, a nuclear power.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov threatened yesterday to crush the protests in 48 hours, prompting the Russian Foreign Ministry to warn of “civil war” in Ukraine.

Washington responded by pushing for a crackdown and dismissing the protests as a Russian conspiracy to seize Ukraine. In an editorial yesterday calling for economic sanctions against Russia, the Washington Postdenounced the protesters as “rent-a-mobs.” The Post advised Washington and the European Union to “counter the Russian strategy in the short term by fully backing the Ukrainian government in taking the necessary measures to restore order.”

The day before, Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the protests in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declaring: “Quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary.”

What hypocrisy! As Kerry well knows, he is accusing Russia of doing precisely what Washington and its European allies did by backing the February putsch in Kiev: destabilizing and then toppling the elected, pro-Russian regime of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. One of the main US arguments for toppling Yanukovych was that he cracked down on the opposition—exactly what Washington is now pressing its right-wing puppet regime to do.

The US “rent-a-mobs” were bought-and-paid-for “democracy” activists and fascist thugs from the Right Sector and the Svoboda party, whose anti-Semitic and xenophobic politics were condemned in a vote of the EU parliament in December 2012. US State Department official Victoria Nuland boasted that since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Washington had spent $5 billion to build up such opposition groups in Ukraine.

Kerry and the unofficial state propaganda organs of the US media make no attempt to square their pose of righteous defenders of Ukrainian sovereignty and legality with the well-documented actions of the US government in subverting Ukrainian sovereignty to illegally install a client regime allied to fascist forces. Contemptuous of public sentiment, which is opposed to a war over Ukraine, they feel no need to convince, but instead seek to intimidate, bully, numb and confuse.

The record includes visits by top US politicians and State Department officials, including Nuland and the US ambassador to Ukraine, to Kiev’s Independence Square in the run-up to the coup to show support for the ultra-right paramilitaries who manned the barricades there. It includes official meetings between European, American and NATO officials and leaders of the anti-Russian opposition at the height of the destabilization campaign against Yanukovych. And it includes the infamous leaked telephone call in which Nuland and the US ambassador discussed who they wanted to head the puppet government that would supplant Yanukovych, agreeing on Arseniy Yatsenyuk (”Yats”), the current prime minister.

Having spent so much money on a putsch, Washington is very angry that it is not being accepted. The regions of eastern Ukrainian with close linguistic and industrial ties to Russia, which were Yanukovych’s power base, were deeply repelled by the new Kiev regime and its pledge to eliminate the status of Russian as an official language and impose austerity measures demanded by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. These grievances provided the fuel for pro-Russian protests by thousands of people in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv, as the few US media reports filed from the region admitted.

“Unlike the pro-Europe protest movement in Kiev, the stirrings in Donetsk have so far attracted little support from the middle class, and seem dominated by pensioners nostalgic for the Soviet Union and angry, often drunk, young men… Any crackdown that results in serious bloodshed would probably widen the appeal of the protesters in a mostly Russian-speaking region that has little liking for leaders in Kiev,” New York Times journalists wrote from Donetsk.

In the Ukraine crisis, it is Washington and its EU allies that are the aggressors. By threatening economic sanctions against Russia and an internal crackdown that could escalate into a bloody ethnic war against Russians inside Ukraine, drawing in Russia itself, they are signaling that they will stop at nothing, even the risk of global war, to assert their economic and geostrategic interests in the region.

Acknowledging this fact does not signify giving any political support to the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin or the perspective of ethnic partition of Ukraine. The Putin regime rests on the same type of gangster oligarchy that emerged in Ukraine from the theft of state property during the dissolution of the USSR and the restoration of capitalism.

Hostile to the working class, it has no basis for appealing to the only force, deeply opposed to war, that can stop the imperialist powers’ escalation in Ukraine: the working class of the former USSR, Europe and the United States.

Its moves to defend its interests in Ukraine against Western provocations, inciting Russian nationalism and raising the price it demands for Russian natural gas, will only further impoverish the working class in Ukraine and divide it along ethnic lines.

The American ruling class is able to count on a corrupt and docile media to disseminate its lies and promote is criminal foreign policy. Even as the major media black out Seymour Hersh’s latest revelations showing that US-NATO allegations of Syrian chemical weapons attacks were fabrications, they trumpet lurid claims that satellite images show 40,000 Russian troops massing on the Russian-Ukrainian border.

These allegations against Russia have no evidentiary basis. The Kremlin has denied them, and NATO refuses to release even the commercial satellite photos it claims to have. CNN reporter Phil Black, who traveled along the Russian-Ukrainian border, filed a video reporting that his team “can’t find any sign of the Russian army.”

The American people are fully entitled to conclude that reports of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine—like the pretexts used to package all the other unpopular wars US imperialism has launched over the last decade—are a pack of lies.

The endless stream of lies and provocations are not a sign of political strength, but of the profound crisis of imperialism. To the extent that workers in the United States and Europe see what is taking place, they are deeply hostile. This opposition must be mobilized and given a conscious expression in the form of an international movement of the working class against imperialism, its political representatives, and the capitalist system as a whole.

La «spending review» della Nato

April 10th, 2014 by Manlio Dinucci

Mentre nella «spending review» il governo promette una riduzione di 300-500 milioni nel bilancio della difesa, l’Italia sta assumendo nella Nato crescenti impegni che portano a un inevitabile aumento della spesa militare, diretta e indiretta.

La Nato non conosce crisi. Giunta al suo 65° anniversario dopo una vita agiata in cui ha speso decine di migliaia di miliardi di dollari in forze armate, armi e guerre, si sta costruendo un nuovo quartier generale a Bruxelles. Il costo previsto, 460 milioni di euro, è quasi triplicato salendo a 1,3 miliardi e continua a crescere. La Nato non bada però a spese per dare al suo staff centrale di 4mila funzionari una lussuosa sede, dotata delle più avanzate tecnologie.

Lo stesso è stato fatto in Italia, trasferendo poco più di un anno fa il Comando interforze (Jfc Naples) da Bagnoli a Lago Patria, dove con una spesa di circa 200 milioni di euro è stata costruita una nuova sede per uno staff di 2500 militari e civili. Agli ordini dell’ammiraglio statunitense Bruce Clingan – allo stesso tempo comandante delle Forze navali Usa in Europa, delle Forze navali Usa per l’Africa e delle Forze congiunte alleate – a sua volta agli ordini del Comandante supremo alleato in Europa, Philip Breedlove, un generale statunitense nominato come di regola dal presidente degli Stati uniti.

Tali spese sono solo la punta dell’iceberg di un colossale esborso di denaro pubblico, pagato dai cittadini dei paesi dell’Alleanza. Vi è anzitutto la spesa iscritta nei bilanci della difesa dei 28 stati membri che, secondo i dati Nato del febbraio 2014, supera complessivamente i 1000 miliardi di dollari annui, per oltre il 70% (735 miliardi) spesi dagli Stati uniti. La spesa militare Nato, equivalente a circa il 60% di quella mondiale, è aumentata in termini reali (al netto dell’inflazione) di oltre il 40% dal 2000 ad oggi.

La necessità di mantenere un’alta spesa militare è imposta all’Italia non da reali esigenze difensive, ma dal fatto di appartenere a un’alleanza che, superato il patto atlantico, ha demolito con la guerra la Jugoslavia e la Libia, ha occupato l’Afghanistan, prepara altre guerre in Medio Oriente e oltre, e si è estesa sempre più ad est provocando un nuovo confronto con la Russia. Sotto pressione degli Stati uniti, la cui spesa militare è pari al 4,5% del prodotto interno lordo, gli alleati si sono impegnati nel 2006 a destinare al bilancio della difesa come minimo il 2% del loro pil. Finora, oltre agli Usa, lo hanno fatto solo Gran Bretagna, Grecia ed Estonia.

L’impegno dell’Italia a portare la spesa militare al 2% del pil è stato sottoscritto nel 2006 dal governo Prodi. Secondo i dati Nato, essa ammonta oggi a 20,6 miliardi di euro annui, equivalenti a oltre 56 milioni di euro al giorno. Tale cifra, si precisa nel budget, non comprende però diverse altre voci. In realtà, calcola il Sipri, la spesa militare italiana (al decimo posto su scala mondiale) ammonta a circa 26 miliardi di euro annui, pari a 70 milioni al giorno. Adottando il principio del 2%, questi salirebbero a oltre 100 milioni al giorno.

Agli oltre 1000 miliardi di dollari annui iscritti nei 28 bilanci della difesa, si aggiungono i «contributi» che gli alleati versano per il «funzionamento della Nato e lo sviluppo delle sue attività». Si tratta per la maggior parte di «contributi indiretti», tipo le spese per «le operazioni e missioni a guida Nato». Quindi i molti milioni di euro spesi per far partecipare le forze armate italiane alle operazioni belliche Nato nei Balcani, in Libia e Afghanistan costituiscono un «contributo indiretto» al budget dell’Alleanza.

Vi sono poi i «contributi diretti», distribuiti in tre distinti bilanci. Quello «civile», che con fondi forniti dai ministeri degli esteri copre le spese per lo staff dei quartieri generali.  Quello «militare», composto da oltre 50 budget separati, che copre i costi operativi e di mantenimento della struttura militare internazionale. Quello di «investimento per la sicurezza», che serve a finanziare la costruzione dei quartieri generali (a Bruxelles e altrove), i sistemi satellitari di comunicazione e intelligence, la creazione di piste e approdi e la fornitura di carburante per le forze impegnate in operazioni belliche.

Circa il 22% dei «contributi diretti» viene fornito dagli Stati uniti, il 14% dalla Germania, l’11% da Gran Bretagna e Francia. L’Italia vi contribuisce per circa l’8,7%: quota non trascurabile, nell’ordine di centinaia di milioni di euro annui.  Vi sono diverse altre voci nascoste nelle pieghe dei bilanci. Ad esempio l’Italia ha partecipato alla spesa per il nuovo quartier generale di Lago Patria sia con la quota parte del costo di costruzione, sia con il «fondo per le aree sottoutilizzate» e con uno erogato dalla Provincia, per un ammontare stimato in circa 25 milioni di euro (mentre mancano i soldi per ricostruire L’Aquila). Top secret resta l’attuale contributo italiano al mantenimento delle basi Usa in Italia, quantificato l’ultima volta nel 2002 nell’ordine del 41% per l’ammontare di 366 milioni di dollari annui sotto varie forme: affitti gratuiti, riduzioni fiscali, costi ridotti delle forniture energetiche e altri servizi. Sicuramente oggi tale cifra è di gran lunga superiore.

Si continua così a gettare in un pozzo senza fondo enormi quantità di denaro pubblico, che sarebbero essenziali per interventi a favore dell’occupazione, dei servizi sociali, delle zone terremotate. E i tagli di 4,7-5 miliardi, previsti per il 2014, potrebbero essere evitati tagliando quanto si spende in poco più di due mesi nel militare.

Natural Society has been talking about the dangers of Aspartame for quite some time now. It is a dangerous artificial sweetener found in many of the foods we consume every day, including soft drinks, chewing gum, breakfast cereals, and jams. Now, it’s important to know that aspartame may be disguised as a new name in your favorite foods – aminosweet.

Used as a sugar substitute and often marketed as Nutrasweet and Equal, aspartame is an excitotoxin that destroys the brain and body. Its use has been a controversial subject since the 1980s when the CEO of Searle, Donald Rumsfeld, pushed for it’s approval to be sold on the market. Now, its name is being changed, with FDA approval, to try to dupe millions into purchasing and consuming this toxin once again.

Aspartame, even renamed Amino Sweet, is not safe. This substance is made using genetically modified bacteria in the US, but according to a Monsanto source, the UK market does not have to eat genetically modified bacteria excrement. Many ‘low-calorie’ foods contain GMO aspartame, however, even overseas. Aspartame may cause blindness, cancer, and brain tumors.

Just as a reminder of who is pushing this excrement – quite literally – on the consumers of the United states, it was Mr. Rumsfeld who went on to become George W. Bush’s secretary of Defense, and crony-Capitalist agenda-pusher. This one substance has continually been shown to cause harm to human health, so why is the FDA renaming it instead of banning it completely from the food supply? There is considerable evidence that artificial sweeteners cause cancer, including aspartame specifically – so why not name it something more appropriate at least? ‘Sickeningly Sweet’ might be more appropriate.

Even saccharin eventually had to be made with a label, mandated by Congress, that says, “Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals”. The FDA’s own toxicologist, Dr. Adrian Gross told Congress that without a shadow of a doubt, aspartame can cause brain tumors and brain cancer and that it violated the Delaney Amendment. Aside from cancers and tumors, top researchers have linked aspartame with the following symptoms and diseases:

  • Headaches
  • Memory loss
  • Seizures
  • Vision Loss
  • Coma
  • ADD
  • Lupus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Chrnoic Fatigue
  • Diabetes
  • Depression

Aspartame is Dangerous

European scientists have been telling us about the dangers of aspartame since 2005. Why on earth is it still allowed in our food? Partly? Because a politically biased FDA, then swayed by Rumsfeld’s corporation, said that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)’s decision about aspartame was not conclusive enough to prove that it was a dangerous substance, and that there was no “further review [on an] earlier scientific opinion on the safety of aspartame or [reason] to revise the Acceptable Daily Intake.”

The problem, and what more research concluded, is that aspartame breaks down into something called Phenylalanine, among other things. This can cause a disorder known as Phenylketonuria.

“. . .one in 15,000 people in the world has a genetic disorder called Phenylketonuria. Their body can’t metabolize synthesizde phenylalanine. As it builds up in the body, it causes all sorts of bad things to happen, such as mental retardation, seizures, and other brain damage. People suffering from Phenylketonuria (or PKU) are called phenylketonurics. They need to constantly monitor their protein intake. They are also warned about consumption of products containing aspartame – hence the warning on labels – ‘Phenylketonurics – contains phenylalanine.”

Not only that, but aspartame is also chemically addictive to the body, even though it damages it profoundly – just like other drugs. This is why food makers want to put it in their products – so you will buy more of them.

Aspartame, or Amino Sweet – its all the same toxic substance. Watch out for it on food labels. Eat honey, apple sauce, raw, non-GMO sugar, and other REAL food sweeteners instead. You deserve to live a sweet life without being a sucker.

Natural Society has been talking about the dangers of Aspartame for quite some time now. It is a dangerous artificial sweetener found in many of the foods we consume every day, including soft drinks, chewing gum, breakfast cereals, and jams. Now, it’s important to know that aspartame may be disguised as a new name in your favorite foods – aminosweet.

Used as a sugar substitute and often marketed as Nutrasweet and Equal, aspartame is an excitotoxin that destroys the brain and body. Its use has been a controversial subject since the 1980s when the CEO of Searle, Donald Rumsfeld, pushed for it’s approval to be sold on the market. Now, its name is being changed, with FDA approval, to try to dupe millions into purchasing and consuming this toxin once again.

Aspartame, even renamed Amino Sweet, is not safe. This substance is made using genetically modified bacteria in the US, but according to a Monsanto source, the UK market does not have to eat genetically modified bacteria excrement. Many ‘low-calorie’ foods contain GMO aspartame, however, even overseas. Aspartame may cause blindness, cancer, and brain tumors.

Just as a reminder of who is pushing this excrement – quite literally – on the consumers of the United states, it was Mr. Rumsfeld who went on to become George W. Bush’s secretary of Defense, and crony-Capitalist agenda-pusher. This one substance has continually been shown to cause harm to human health, so why is the FDA renaming it instead of banning it completely from the food supply? There is considerable evidence that artificial sweeteners cause cancer, including aspartame specifically – so why not name it something more appropriate at least? ‘Sickeningly Sweet’ might be more appropriate.

Even saccharin eventually had to be made with a label, mandated by Congress, that says, “Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals”. The FDA’s own toxicologist, Dr. Adrian Gross told Congress that without a shadow of a doubt, aspartame can cause brain tumors and brain cancer and that it violated the Delaney Amendment. Aside from cancers and tumors, top researchers have linked aspartame with the following symptoms and diseases:

  • Headaches
  • Memory loss
  • Seizures
  • Vision Loss
  • Coma
  • ADD
  • Lupus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Chrnoic Fatigue
  • Diabetes
  • Depression

Aspartame is Dangerous

European scientists have been telling us about the dangers of aspartame since 2005. Why on earth is it still allowed in our food? Partly? Because a politically biased FDA, then swayed by Rumsfeld’s corporation, said that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)’s decision about aspartame was not conclusive enough to prove that it was a dangerous substance, and that there was no “further review [on an] earlier scientific opinion on the safety of aspartame or [reason] to revise the Acceptable Daily Intake.”

The problem, and what more research concluded, is that aspartame breaks down into something called Phenylalanine, among other things. This can cause a disorder known as Phenylketonuria.

“. . .one in 15,000 people in the world has a genetic disorder called Phenylketonuria. Their bodycan’t metabolize synthesizde phenylalanine. As it builds up in the body, it causes all sorts of bad things to happen, such as mental retardation, seizures, and other brain damage. People suffering from Phenylketonuria (or PKU) are called phenylketonurics. They need to constantly monitor their protein intake. They are also warned about consumption of products containing aspartame – hence the warning on labels – ‘Phenylketonurics – contains phenylalanine.”

Not only that, but aspartame is also chemically addictive to the body, even though it damages it profoundly – just like other drugs. This is why food makers want to put it in their products – so you will buy more of them.

Aspartame, or Amino Sweet – its all the same toxic substance. Watch out for it on food labels. Eat honey, apple sauce, raw, non-GMO sugar, and other REAL food sweeteners instead. You deserve to live a sweet life without being a sucker.

Additional Sources:

NCBI

Hundreds of thousands of Greek workers took part in a 24-hour general strike Wednesday, the first public expression this year of the mass opposition to the austerity policies and mass unemployment imposed under the dictates of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

With this “troika” calling the shots, the right-wing government of Premier Antonis Samaras has slashed public spending to the point where Greece has now posted a “primary” budget surplus—that is, a surplus if debt repayment and interest are excluded—of 2.5 percent of GDP. The consequences for Greek workers have been horrific: unemployment at 27.5 percent, rising to 57 percent for young people; cuts in wages averaging 30 percent or more; the gutting of public services such as health care.

On the eve of the general strike, a free community clinic in Athens issued an appeal to the government against the cutoff of medication for uninsured patients with dangerous contagious diseases. The Metropolitan Community Clinic at Elliniko called the decision of the Health Ministry to cut off medicine for eight hepatitis B and C sufferers an “astonishingly irresponsible policy.” The clinic added, “Patients with serious and contagious diseases cannot be ignored.”

Only a week ago, the Greek parliament pushed through a new package of regressive measures, including another 4,000 public-sector job cuts, reductions in benefits for the unemployed, cuts in pensions, and the elimination of regulations to open up many types of small business, such as pharmacies, gas stations, bakeries and dairies, to ruinous competition by big corporations. The parliament also pledged to adopt a reform of the labor code by the end of 2014 that will drastically curb the right to strike.

The general strike takes place on the eve of two events that symbolize the devastation of Greece by the global financial aristocracy. On Thursday, the country is to return to the international capital markets, selling its first government bonds since it plunged into financial crisis in 2010. On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a key enforcer of austerity policies throughout Europe, arrives in Athens for talks with Prime Minister Samaras.

The one-day general strike targeted most public transport, including ferries to Greece’s numerous islands, buses and trains, although the Athens subway was only sporadically affected. Schools were shut throughout the country, as were most courts and other government offices. Pharmacies, hospitals and clinics were closed except for medical emergencies.

The two main union confederations, the private-sector General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and the public-sector Civil Servants’ Confederation (ADEDY), called a protest march in central Athens, which was attended by an estimated 6,000 workers, a tiny fraction of the number who joined the strike. A separate rally called by the Communist Party-controlled union federation PAME drew only a few hundred.

The union bureaucracies have been discredited by their collaboration in implementing the austerity policies of the past five years. The two main union confederations are tied to the social democratic PASOK party, which imposed ruthless cuts in jobs and spending when it controlled the majority in parliament (2009-2012), and continued in that role as a junior partner in the Samaras government (2012 to the present).

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos is deputy prime minister and foreign minister in the Samaras government.

As the Greek economy has descended into a depression worse than any in memory, the GSEE and ADEDY have limited their response to a series of toothless one-day and two-day strikes. These strikes have shown the potential power of the working class, but have been used to let off steam, obscure the role of the unions in supporting the cuts, and allow the attacks on jobs, living standards and social conditions to go forward unaffected.

Wednesday’s strike is no different. Even while the workers were striking and marching, the minister of administrative reform, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told Vima FM that it was time to end the guarantee of jobs for life for public-sector workers. The Greek constitution effectively forbids firing public workers except for disciplinary reasons. “Society is mature enough to discuss this,” Mitsotakis said.

Also Wednesday, the head of the agency charged with selling off government property to meet the demands of the “troika” for privatization said that a portfolio of as much as 500 million euros ($689 million) would be put on the auction block by the end of this year. Andreas Taprantzis, executive director of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, said the agency had sold off 5 billion euros in property, including 1.8 billion euros in real estate, over the past 14 months, including ports, airports, land and other assets.

Three giant European banks—UBS, Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas—are overseeing the sell-off. “There has been a huge shift in sentiment and, after sniffing around for quite a while, investors are now anxious to dig up Greek opportunities,” Taprantzis told Bloomberg News. “Look how stocks have performed.” The Athens Stock Exchange has jumped 175 percent since reaching a 22-year low in June 2012.

The stark contrast between the mass suffering of the general population and the self-enrichment of the financial elite was underscored by the announcement that Greece would return to the international capital markets the day after the general strike. The Samaras government touted its ability to sell 2.5 billion euros in bonds at a projected 5 percent interest rate as proof that its policies were succeeding.

But even the New York Times, which backs the austerity policies, was compelled to admit that “the gulf between financial optimism and the desperation of millions of unemployed Greeks and tens of millions of jobless people elsewhere in the euro zone and the broader European Union is proving difficult to bridge.”

In reality, the bond sale is a maneuver by Samaras and his European backers to give a political boost to the right-wing government and enable it to get through the municipal and European Parliament elections set for May 25 without suffering a crushing political defeat.

A commentary in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung Wednesday warned: “The government majority under the conservative Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, has fallen to 2 MPs. If his party loses at the local or Euro elections in May, this might lead to early parliamentary elections, which subsequently might lead to political instability and further crisis, which would also be a threat to the entire euro zone.”

The newspaper observed, “At this point, according to troika’s report, Greece will probably need a new loan of 16 to 17 billion euros until 2016, which will lead to a new bailout package. European politicians must be sincere and explain to the Greeks that their country will probably need a new bailout package. Angela Merkel’s visit to Samaras on April 11 might be a good opportunity for that.”

Any new bailout would be for the purpose of ensuring that Greece continues to repay its creditors: the funds will be recycled back to the European Central Bank and the major international banks and bondholders, while the austerity clampdown is tightened even further on the working people.

The response of the main parliamentary opposition party, the pseudo-left SYRIZA coalition, was to criticize the decision to sell bonds because it would “increase public debt” and give Greece the image of a country that was obliged to borrow.

In the run-up to the elections, Tsipras has repeatedly declared that a SYRIZA government would repay Greece’s debts to the billionaires and the European Central Bank, making payments while “renegotiating” the terms. The financial oligarchy would have the whip hand in any such process, as SYRIZA is committed to remaining within the euro zone and the European Union, thus enforcing the subordination of the Greek population to the demands of finance capital.

The author also recommends:

Greek parliament approves new attacks on workers
[1 April 2014]

SYRIZA’s pose of opposition to Greek austerity unravels
[10 February 2014]

Financial Tyranny in Puerto Rico

April 10th, 2014 by Timothy Alexander Guzman

Puerto Rico has hit a brick wall. A financial tyranny is slowly emerging as desperation is starting to reflect on the Puerto Rican Government. Not only Puerto Rico’s underground economy will face a tax burden that will be enforced by the government, but also businesses, both small and large. According to Reuters they claim that Puerto Rico is hiring “tax specialists” but it seems that they are much more than just tax specialists according to the article:

The Treasury is hiring about 200 more tax specialists. Some of those will be checking on the books of businesses across the island, but some will be mystery shopping – making purchases at specially selected stores without identifying themselves to check for violators. 

Sales tax evaders could get slapped with a maximum $20,000 fine.

But $20,000 for a small business could mean a hefty chunk of revenues. That means a delicate balance for the government: Changing attitudes so that more businesses register and pay their taxes and fees, while not piling so many bills onto small businesses that they collapse

Can you imagine a $20,000 fine imposed on both small and large businesses by the Puerto Rican Government? This will destroy business activities all across the island; even if they managed to collect half of the debt at $35 billion not counting the added interest rates that accumulates over time would help the debt burden:

From the western mountain town of Lares to the capital San Juan, officials are wrestling with how to bring the underground economy out of the shadows and onto the tax rolls without creating such an onerous financial burden that thousands of small and medium businesses can’t survive.

More than a quarter of the island’s economy is informal, some studies say, from large companies evading taxes to individuals selling items for cash at roadside stands. But estimates vary widely because the activity can be so hard to track. 

While not new, the problem has become urgent of late. The government desperately needs to find new revenue to bolster a budget full of holes and turn around an economy now eight years in recession. It is scrambling to avoid a painful debt restructuring some view as almost inevitable

Imposing tax collections or even adding new taxes while Puerto Rico is in a deep recession to meet Wall Street’s demands would destroy whatever is left of the economy. Foreign investors including American and European companies both small and large are becoming more hesitant to invest in Puerto Rican Industries and its real estate markets as the debt crisis continues to spark major concerns. The Associated Press also reported in February that the government has set up a task force that would “target” business owners and individuals. The report stated the following:

Treasury Secretary Melba Acosta said a task force has been set up to target both business owners and individuals, adding that authorities are investigating more than 100 cases and more are expected to follow. Puerto Rico currently has only a 56 percent “capture” rate on tax revenues that should be taken in, losing some $800 million annually as a result, economist Gustavo Velez says.   

The Treasury Department already has referred 12 cases representing a total of more than $8 million in unpaid taxes to the island’s justice department. “This money belongs to the people of Puerto Rico,” Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said. “It represents a teacher’s salary, a town’s road, a police officer’s uniform.”  

Two business owners have been charged with 36 counts of tax evasion and illegal appropriation, and officials warned that dozens of others could face similar accusations 

Puerto Rico’s government is in a bind. They are indebted to Wall Street and its Hedge Fund partners as they are to Washington. Hedge funds do not include Puerto Rico’s Government officials in their meetings. Bloomberg News reported that Jones Law Firm (who was one of the law firms restructuring Detroit’s bankruptcy) had a meeting that did not include Puerto Rican officials, “Commonwealth officials aren’t involved in the Jones Day meeting and didn’t call for it, according to the statement.” But Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank’s statement said that “We made significant progress in implementing our fiscal and economic development plans in 2013, and are determined to continue that progress in 2014.” The Puerto Rico government will proceed to actions dictated by Washington and Wall Street duopoly that will undermine the economy.

$70 Billion in debt will increase as the islands residents continue to flee towards other depressed states for job opportunities within the US, including Florida, New York and Chicago. All states mentioned have high unemployment rates, foreclosures as more business and individual bankruptcies continue to rise. Florida now leads the United States in what you would call “Zombie Foreclosures.” In a 2014 article by www.Bizjournals.com called ‘Florida leads nation in ‘zombie foreclosures,’ RealtyTrac says’ claimed that “RealtyTrac considers a “Zombie Foreclosure” when a homeowner abandons a house that is facing a pending foreclosure action. There are about 55,000 of those in Florida, more than triple the nearest state of Illinois.” An economic situation Puerto Ricans arriving in Florida would find to be as dire as it was in their homeland. Increasing tax collections on Puerto Rican businesses and people would only elevate the economic situation to an even worst state of economic affairs. This would create insecurities even among the small business owners who sell produce or ice cream on the road. As you tax more businesses to pay the States debts, you reduce profits that would be used to reinvest in equipment, supplies and even create or maintain jobs to grow the economy.

Not only would it place the burden on the Puerto Rican people, it would frighten foreign businesses, private investors and individuals from investing on the island’s economy that can create jobs. Puerto Rico’s government under Governor Padilla is just another administration under Washington’s rule. Taxing businesses and individuals was the only option the Puerto Rican Government had with regards to their enormous debt burden they face. Besides, Puerto Rico’s largest employer is the government; a bureaucracy that does not produce any goods for trade besides Pharmaceuticals and a handful of other products for the US market. The new actions taken by the Padilla government on behalf of the financial elites is at the expense of those who are financially struggling. It is just business as usual.

 The White House and State Department have engaged in brazen lying to EU governments regarding the ability of the US to supply more than enough natural gas to replace Russian gas deliveries. Recent statements by US President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are so patently false that it betrays an incredible desperation in Washington over the situation in Ukraine versus Moscow. Or it suggests that Washington is so out of touch with any factual reality she simply doesn’t care what she says. Either way, it suggests an unreliable diplomatic partner for the EU. 

 After his recent meeting with EU leaders Obama issued the incredible statement that the secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that is being secretly negotiated behind closed doors by the major private multinational companies would make it easier for the United States to export gas to Europe and help it reduce its dependency on Russian energy: “Once we have a trade agreement in place, export licenses for projects for liquefied natural gas destined to Europe would be much easier, something that is obviously relevant in today’s geopolitical environment,” Obama stated.

That bit of political opportunism to try to push the stalled TTIP talks by playing on EU fears of Russian gas loss after the US-orchestrated Ukraine coup of February 22, ignores the fact that the problem in getting US shale gas to the EU does not lie in easier LNG licensing procedures in the USA and EU. 

In other recent statements, referring to the recent boom in unconventional US shale gas, Obama and Kerry have both stated the US could more than replace all Russian gas to the EU, an outright lie based on physical realities. At his Brussels meeting Obama told EU leaders they should import shale gas from the US to replace Russian. There is a huge problem with that.

Shale revolution a failure

Number one, the “shale gas revolution” in the USA has failed. The dramatic rise in US natural gas production from “fracking” or forcing gas out of shale rock formations is being abandoned by the largest energy companies like Shell and BP as uneconomical. Shell has just announced a huge reduction of its exposure to US shale gas development. Shell is selling its leases on some 700,000 acres of shale gas lands in the major shale gas areas of Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Kansas and says it may have to get rid of more to stop its shale gas losses. Shell’s CEO,Ben van Beurden stated, “Financial performance there is frankly not acceptable … some of our exploration bets have simply not worked out.”

 A useful summary of the shale gas illusion comes from a recent analysis of the actual results of several years of shale gas extraction in the USA by veteran energy analyst David Hughes. He notes, “Shale gas production has grown explosively to account for nearly 40 percent of US natural gas production. Nevertheless, production has been on a plateau since December 2011; eighty percent of shale gas production comes from five plays, several of which are in decline. The very high decline rates of shale gas wells require continuous inputs of capital—estimated at $42 billion per year to drill more than 7,000 wells—in order to maintain production. In comparison, the value of shale gas produced in 2012 was just $32.5 billion.”

 So Obama is either being lied to by his advisers on the true state of US shale gas supplies, or he is willfully lying. The former is most likely. 

 The second problem with the US “offer” of gas to the EU to replace Russian gas is the fact that it requires massive, costly infrastructure in the form of construction of new Liquified Natural Gas terminals that can handle the huge LNG supertankers to bring it to similar huge LNG terminal harbors in the EU.

The problem is that owing to various US laws on export of domestic energy and supply factors, there exist no operating LNG liquefaction terminals in the US. The only one now under construction is the Sabine Pass LNG receiving terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, owned by Cheniere Energy, where John Deutch, former CIA head, sits on the board. The problem with the Sabine Pass LNG terminal is that most of the gas has been pre-contracted to Korean, Indian and other Asian LNG customers, not to the EU.

The second problem is that even were a huge port capacity installed to satisfy EU gas needs to replace Russian supplies, that would push domestic natural-gas prices higher and cut short the mini-manufacturing boom fueled by abundant, cheap shale gas. The ultimate cost to EU consumers of US LNG would have to be far more than current Russian gas pipelined over Nord Stream or Ukraine. The next problem is that the specialized LNG supertankers do not exist to supply the EU market. All this takes years, including environmental approvals, construction time, perhaps seven years on average in best conditions. 

 The EU gets some 30% of its gas, the fastest-growing energy source there, from Russia today. In 2007, Russia’s Gazprom supplied 14 percent for France, 27 percent for Italy, 36 percent for Germany, with Finland and the Baltic states receiving as much as 100 percent of gas imports from Russia.

The EU has no realistic alternative to Russian gas. Germany, the largest economy, has foolishly decided to phase out nuclear power and its “alternative energy”—wind power and solar–is an economic and political disaster with consumer electricity costs exploding even though alternatives are a tiny share of the total market. 

 In short, the chimera of shutting Russian gas and turning on US gas instead is economic, energy and political nonsense.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics , exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

Since 2011 the Syrian people have been fighting against a long-planned foreign conspiracy to violently reorder their nation.Fighting off tens of thousands of foreign-backed sectarian militants for 3 years, the Syrian people are finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.For those that have stood with Syria these last 3 years, we must keep standing strong.

For those just becoming aware of the Syrian crisis, join hands with the Syrian people and raise your voices to end this war.

For more news and analysis on Syria and across the Eastern World, please visit New Eastern Outlook http://journal-neo.org/

Kafka’s America: A Society At War With Itself

April 9th, 2014 by Patrick Henningsen

Society is in motion, only it’s heading backwards.

Many a thinker have wondered about the true meaning of the latin term status quo, which is short for ”in statu quo”. We use this term every day in discourse. It’s popularly understood as meaning “keeping the things the way they are presently.” The term in itself has become meaningless, because it is incomplete. That term was originally part of a longer phrase based on “in statu quo res erant ante bellum,” which translated means, “in the state in which things were before the war.” In the context of the 14th diplomatic latin language from which the term is derived, it’s referring to an end to a ‘Marshal Law’ scenario, or the withdrawal of enemy troops and the restoration of power to pre-war leadership.

In case you haven’t noticed, America, and Europe, we are presently locked into a permanent state of war, or war state. The question is, against who? As the existential enemy fades into irrelevance, the state has become fixated on its own people.

Societies and political cultures only have two directions to take – they either mature and thrive, or fester in a state of arrested, or negative development. In America, you can count on any political party in power - whether its a Democratic regime, or a Republican one, to always insist that “things have never been better” in the country. The same can be said between Labour and Conservative in Great Britain. We’ve all heard that tired old line, over and over again. It seems to be built into the political machine code in our ‘mature democracies.’ Why? Because no political advisor or head of communications wants to stick their neck out in the event that a strategy of realism triggers a slump in the polls, so they opt for the politically correct option, which is in their minds the easy way.

Americans especially, do not like realism – and mobs will almost always rail against it – even if what they’re hearing is true. Just look at what happened to Texas Congressman Ron Paul, taunted and crucified by media, Democrats and Republican, and even by the Israel lobby (Sheldon Adelson’s gang forked out roughly $5 million to run negative ad  campaigns against Paul during the 2012 primaries), all for being a realist. Establishment gatekeepers and culture makers are now attempting to make realism ubiquitous with their own derogatory term, ‘conspiracy theory.’

This present trajectory is comfortable for those clinging to administrative power, and ironically, it also suits the crowd too. For politicians, rejecting realism is simply an excuse to do nothing – so long as the cheques keep rolling in. For the crowds, rejecting realism means they can avoid risk by not initiating any action, boycott, strike, demonstration or applying pressure on politicians to the ’ethical thing.’ Neither group wants to stick their necks out, no matter what the long-term prognosis is. The net result is a fait accompli: a gradual degeneration of political life across the entire spectrum – politicians, voters and everyone in between. This is exactly where America is at today – entering into a void of ethics, terminally ill with malignant growths in a government that is medicating itself by passing an ever-increasing amount of new laws and regulations. The system is completely addicted to them. They need a new one every day it seems, to patch up the one they passed yesterday, and the day before that.


KAFKA AND WEBER: Drowning in a sea of administration.

In this legally medicated society, the fundamentals of ethics have become obscured. History has taught us (some of us anyway) how in a vacuous ethical epoch, a significant amount power becomes concentrated in the administrative class; government agencies, administrators, ‘law enforcement,’ third sector quangos, corporate charities, and private government contractors. Collectively, they are ”the man in the middle.” The more oppressive public life becomes, the more the man in the middle thrives. Even the political classes fear the man in the middle, who now form the largest voting bloc in the United States. The crowd fears the man in the middle because at any given moment in time, the administrative machine can ruin their life – with threats, tickets, fines, detention, restricted access, or social exclusion – the list is virtually endless.

What the political and administrative classes struggle to understand is that when the ethical meltdown goes radioactive, then things begin to mutate, and at this point anything is possible.

As much as in any other point in history, we’ve never been in more dire need for a in statu quo res erant ante bellum. The German writer Franz Kafka once remarked, “Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy.” Maybe what’s needed is not so much a revolution, but a restoration. So a restoration… of less government, less administration, less laws, in a society underpinned by common law, and based on common sense. Administrators and politicians won’t like it. It’s risky, sometimes messy and it guarantees nothing, but compare this to the present ‘in statu quo sins warranty’ (state of affairs during the war) which is already halfway down a dark Kafkaesque tunnel.

This story below illustrates everything that is wrong with western society today – where a New Jersey school child is steam-rolled by a low-empathy-staffed, politically correct administrative machine. Not only did he and his family not see it coming, but they never had a chance once it hit them. In America’s post-Sandy Hook culture is where PC now stands for ‘prison culture.’

“If you are old enough to remember, you may wake up one day only to realise the world you’re living in unrecognisable to the one you once knew.”

Kafka Middle School, New Jersey, Where Nothing Makes Sense, And Nobody Cares

Ethics Alarm

“I know you love these,” wrote the friend and reader who sent me the latest example of student abuse by school administrators who have lost their minds.

No, I really don’t. They make me sick and angry and leave me with the feeling of having just stepped off the curve and had a bus whiz by close enough for me to feel the breeze. If this happened to my son, I could see myself snapping and going for the responsible administrator’s throat. This was not an inconsiderable factor is choosing to home school.


Glen Meadow Middle School (in Vernon, N.J.) seventh grader Ethan Chaplin (photo, above) told reporters that he was twirling a pencil with a pen cap on in math class when a student who harassed him earlier in the day shouted, “He’s making gun motions! Send him to juvie!” 

As local school Superintendent Charles Maranzano explained, policy and law requires him to investigate any time a student is made  “uncomfortable” or threatened by another student.

Thus it was that Ethan was summarily stripped, forced to give blood samples (which allegedly caused him to pass out) and urine samples, so he could be tested for drugs.  Four hours later a social worker cleared him to return to class, but a doctors decreed that a five-hour physical and psychological evaluation was necessary before the boy would be allowed back in school.

The entire community is responsible for allowing schools like this to exist, administrators so challenged in basic concepts of common sense and justice to be hired, and their children to be educated in institutions so warped by fear and stupidity. A horde of lawyers should descend on Vernon and punish it severely, not only the school. Every single responsible parent should withhold their children from these insane abuse-factories until satisfactory reforms and  overhauls of staff can be assured. If this account is true, the institutionalized child abuse in Vernon should be as big a story as Chris Cristie’s bridge traffic scandal, or bigger.

This is the United States of America, dammit, and our children must not be treated this way.

Get your copy of this important book on the Global Research online store!

Last three or four years have seen a number of books, documentaries and articles on the dangers of Genetically Modified (GM) seeds. Majority has focused on adverse health and environmental impact; almost none on the geo-politics of GM seeds, and particularly seeds as a weapon of mass destruction. Engdahl has addressed this issue but the crop seed is one of the many “Seeds of Destruction” in this book.

Engdahl carefully documents how the intellectual foundations of ‘eugenics,’ mass culling of the sick, coloured, and otherwise disposable races, were actually first established, and even legally approved, in the United States. Eugenics research was financially supported by the Rockefeller and other elite families and first tested on Jews under Nazi Germany.

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It is purely by chance that world’s poorest nations also happen to be best endowed with natural resources. These regions are also the ones with growing population. The fear among European ruling families, increasingly, integrating with economic and military might of the United States, was that if the poor nations became developed, the abundant natural resources, especially oil, gas, and strategic minerals and metals, may become scarcer for the white population. That situation was unacceptable to the white ruling elite.

The central question that dominated the minds of the ruling clique was population reduction in resource rich countries but the question was how to engineer mass culling all over the world without generating powerful backlash as it was bound to happen. When the US oil reserves peaked in 1972 and it became a net oil importer, the situation became alarming and  the agenda took the centre stage. Kissinger, one of the key strategists of Nixon, nurtured by the Rockefellers, prepared what is known as National Security Study Memo (NSSM#200), in which he elaborated his plan for population reduction. In this Memo he specifically targets thirteen countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia,  Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey, Thailand, and The Phillipines.

The weapon to be used was food; even if there was a famine food would be used to leverage population reduction. Kissinger is on record for stating, “Control oil, you control nations; control food and you control the people.” How a small group of key people transformed the elitist philosophy, of controlling food to control people, into realistic operational possibility within a short time is the backdrop of Engdahl’s book, the central theme running from the beginning till the end with the Rockefellers and Kissinger, among others, as the key dramatis personae.

He describes how the Rockefellers guided the US agriculture policy, used their powerful tax-free foundations worldwide to train an army of bright young scientists in hitherto unknown field of microbiology. He traces how the field of Eugenics was renamed “genetics” to make it more acceptable and also to hide the real purpose. Through incremental strategic adjustments within a handful of chemical, food and seed corporations, ably supported by the key persons in key departments of the US Government, behemoths were created that could re-write the regulatory framework in nearly every country. And these seeds of destruction of carefully constructed regulatory framework- to protect the environment and human health- were sown back in the 1920s.

Pause to think: a normal healthy person can at the most go without food for perhaps seven days but it takes a full season, say around four months, for a seed to grow into food crop. Just five agri-biz corporations, all US based (Cargill, Bunge, Archer Daniels, et al), control global grain trade, and just five control global trade in seeds. Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, and Dow Chemicals control genetically engineered seeds. While these powerful oligopolies were being knocked into place, anti-trust laws were diluted to exempt these firms. Engdahl writes, “It was not surprising that the Pentagon’s National Defense University, on the eve of the 2003 Iraq  War, issued a paper declaring: ‘Agribiz is to the United States what oil is to the Middle East.’ Agribusiness had become a strategic weapon in the arsenal of the world’s only superpower.” (page 143)

The “Green Revolution” was part of the Rockefeller agenda to destroy seed diversity and push oil and gas based agriculture inputs in which Rockefeller’s had main interest. Destruction of seed diversity and dependence on proprietary hybrids was the first step in food control. (See my notes, Box 1)

It is true that initially Green Revolution technologies led to spurt in farm productivity but at a huge cost of destruction of farmlands, bio-diversity, poisoned aquifers and progressively poor health of the people and was the true agenda of ‘the proponents of Green Revolution.’

The real impetus came with the technological possibility of gene splicing and insertion of specific traits into unrelated species. Life forms could be altered. But until 1979, the US Government had steadfastly refused to grant patent on life form. That was changed [my comment: helped much by a favorable judgment in the US Supreme Court granting patent protection to oil eating bacteria developed by Dr Ananda Chakraborty]. Life forms could now be patented. To ensure that the world surrendered to the patent regime of the seeds corporations, the World Trade Organization was knocked into shape. How it conducted business was nobody’s business, but it forced the world to accept intellectual property right of these corporations. There is opposition but these firms are too determined as Engdahl describes.

“The clear strategy of Monsanto, Dow, DuPont and the Washington Government backing them was to introduce the GMO seeds in every corner of the globe, with priority on defenceless …..African and developing countries,” write Engdahl (page 270). However, Engdahl also describes how US and Canadian farmlands came under GMOs. It was suspected that GMO could pose serious threat to human and animal health and the environment, yet efforts at independent biosafety assessment were discontinued. Scientists carrying out honest studies were vilified. Reputed scientific establishments were silenced or made to toe the line that was supportive of the Rockefeller’s food control and mass culling agenda. The destruction of the credibility of scientific institution is yet another seed of destruction in Engdahl’s book.

Engdahl cites the example of a German farmer Gottfried Glockner’s experience with GM corn. Glockner planted Bt176 event of Syngenta essentially as feed for his cows. Being a scientist, he started with 10% GM feed and gradually increased the proportion, carefully noting milk yield and any side effects. Nothing much happened in the first three years but when he increased the feed to 100% GM feed, his animals “were having gluey-white feaces and violent diarrhea” and “milk contained blood.” Eventually all his seventy cows died. Prof Angelika Hilbeck of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology found from Glockner’s Bt 176 corn samples Bt toxins were present “in active form and extremely stable.” The cows died of high dose of toxins. Not if, but when human food is 100% contaminated should be a sobering thought.

In the US unlabelled GM foods were introduced in 1993 and that 70% of the supermarket foods contain GMOs in varying proportions in what should rightly be called world’s largest biological experiment on humans. While Engdahl has clearly stated that the thrust of US Government and the agi-biz is control over food especially in the third world, he has left it to the readers to deduce that American and European citizens are also target of that grand agenda. And there are more lethal weapons in the arsenal: Terminator seeds, Traitor seeds, and the ability to destroy small independent farmers at will in any part of the world, and these are powerfully presented in the book. Engdahl provides hard evidences for these seeds of final destruction and utter decimation of world civilizations as we have known.

It is a complex but highly readable book. It is divided into five parts, each containing two to four short chapters. The first part deals with the political maneuverings to ensure support to Seed and Agri-biz firms, the second deals with what should be widely known as ‘The Rockefeller Plan’, the third deals with how vertically integrated giants were readied for Washington’s silent wars on planet earth, the fourth part deals with how GM seeds were unleashed on unsuspecting farmers, and the final part deals with how the elites is going on destroying food, farmers that would eventually cause mass culling of population. He does not offer any solution; he can’t because it is up to the rest of the world, including Europeans and Americans, to wake up and take on these criminals head on. An essential read for anyone who eats and thinks.

Seeds of Destruction

The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation

by F. William Engdahl

Global Research, 2007 ISBN 978-0-937147-2-2

SPECIAL ONLINE AND MAIL ORDER PRICE  US$18.00 (list price $25.95)

This skillfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread. “Control the food and you control the people.”

This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO.  Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms.

The author cogently reveals a diabolical World of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.

Engdahl’s carefully argued critique goes far beyond the familiar controversies surrounding the practice of genetic modification as a scientific technique. The book is an eye-opener, a must-read for all those committed to the causes of social justice and World peace.

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 F. William Engdahl is a leading analyst of the New World Order, author of the best-selling book on oil and geopolitics, A Century of War: Anglo-American Politics and the New World Order,’ His writings have been translated into more than a dozen languages. 

What is so frightening about Engdahl’s vision of the world is that it is so real. Although our civilization has been built on humanistic ideals, in this new age of “free markets”, everything– science, commerce, agriculture and even seeds– have become weapons in the hands of a few global corporation barons and their political fellow travelers. To achieve world domination, they no longer rely on bayonet-wielding soldiers. All they need is to control food production. (Dr. Arpad Pusztai, biochemist, formerly of the Rowett Research Institute Institute, Scotland)

If you want to learn about the socio-political agenda –why biotech corporations insist on spreading GMO seeds around the World– you should read this carefully researched book. You will learn how these corporations want to achieve control over all mankind, and why we must resist… (Marijan Jost, Professor of Genetics, Krizevci, Croatia)

The book reads like a murder mystery of an incredible dimension, in which four giant Anglo-American agribusiness conglomerates have no hesitation to use GMO to gain control over our very means of subsistence… (Anton Moser, Professor of Biotechnology, Graz, Austria).

Order Now: Online or Mail Order 

List Price US$25.95 plus taxes

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An Inexpensive Fix to “Prevent Armageddon”

April 9th, 2014 by Washington's Blog

The Most Likely Armageddon Threat … Preventable for a Small Amount of Money

Well-known physicist Michio Kaku and other members of the American Physical Society asked Congress to appropriate $100 million to harden the country’s electrical grid against solar flares.  As shown below, such an event is actually the most likely Armageddon-type event faced by humanity.

Congress refused.

Kaku explains that a solar flare like the one that hit the U.S. in 1859 would – in the current era of nuclear power and electric refrigeration – cause widespread destruction and chaos.

Not only could such a flare bring on hundreds of Fukushima-type accidents, but it could well cause food riots globally.

Kaku explains that relief came in for people hit by disasters like Katrina or Sandy from the “outside”. But a large solar flare could knock out a lot of the power nationwide. So – as people’s food spoils due to lack of refrigeration – emergency workers from other areas would be too preoccupied with their own local crisis to help. There would, in short, be no “cavalry” to the rescue in much of the country.

In fact, NASA scientists are predicting that a solar storm will knock out most of the electrical power grid in many countries worldwide, perhaps for months. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

News Corp Australia noted in February:

A 2009 study by the National Academy of Sciences warned that a massive geomagnetic assault on satellites and interconnected power grids could result in a blackout from which the nation may need four to 10 years to recover.

***

In May 2012, a US Geological Survey report estimated a 6 percent chance of another Carrington event [referring to the solar flare of 1859 which was so strong that telegraph lines, towers and stations caught on fire at a number of locations around the world, and sparks showered from telegraph machines] occurring in the next decade.

***

But we do not know whether or not the Carrington event was as bad as sunstorms get.

[University of Kansas physicist Adrian ] Melott proposed that material from a solar megaflare 10 times the strength of the Carrington kind bombarded this planet around the year 775.

This is not just a theoretical fear: the Earth has narrowly missed being crisped by a large solar flare several times in the last couple of years. For example, the Los Angeles Times reported last month:

Earth barely missed the “perfect solar storm” that could have smashed into our magnetic field and wreaked havoc with our satellite systems, electronics and power systems, potentially causing trillions of dollars in damage, according to data from NASA’s STEREO-A spacecraft.

***

If the solar onslaught had occurred just nine days earlier, it would have rivaled the 1859 Carrington event …

“Observations of such a solar superstorm during a very weak solar cycle indicate that extreme events are not as infrequent as we imagine,” the authors wrote.

Meteorologist Jeff Masters notes:

We have the very real possibility that a geomagnetic storms of an intensity that has happened before–and will happen again–could knock out the power to tens of millions of Americans for multiple years. The electrical grids in Europe and northern Asia have similar vulnerabilities, so a huge, years-long global emergency affecting hundreds of millions of people and costing many trillions of dollars might result from a repeat of the 1859 or 1921 geomagnetic storms.

Masters points out that the U.S. electrical grid is extremely vulnerable:


Figure 2. Computer model study showing electrical systems that might be affected by a geomagnetic storm equivalent to the May 14-15, 1921 event. The regions outlined by the heavy black lines are susceptible to system collapse lasting months or years. A population in excess of 130 million might be affected, at a cost of $1-2 trillion in the first year after the event. The network of thin black lines shows the location of the nearly 80,000 miles long-distance heavy-hauling 345kV, 500kV and 765kV transmission lines in the U.S.–the main arteries of the U.S. electrical grid. The circles indicate magnitudes of geomagnetically-induced current (GIC) flow at each transformer in the network, and the color of the circle indicates the polarity of the current. Image credit: John Kappenman, Metatech Corp., The Future: Solutions or Vulnerabilities?, presentation to the space weather workshop, May 23, 2008.

 What would happen to nuclear power plants world wide if their power – and most of the surrounding modern infrastructure – is knocked out?   Nuclear power companies are notoriously cheap in trying to cut costs. If they are failing to harden their electrical components to protect against the predicted solar storm, they are asking for trouble … perhaps on a scale that dwarfs Fukushima. Because while Fukushima is the first nuclear accident to involve multiple reactors within the same complex, a large solar storm could cause accidents at multiple complexes in numerous countries.

Most current reactors are of a similarly outdated design as the Fukushima reactors, where the cooling systems require electricity to operate, and huge amounts of spent radioactive fuel are housed on-site, requiring continuous cooling to prevent radioactive release. (Designs which would automatically shut down – and cool down – in the event of an accident are ignored for political reasons.)

If the nuclear power companies and governments continue to cut costs and take large gambles, the next nucear accident could make Fukushima look tame.

A large solar storm which knocks out electrical grids over wide portions of the planet will happen at some point in the future.  Don’t pretend it is unforeseeable. The nuclear power industry is on notice that it must spend the relatively small amounts of money necessary to prevent a widespread meltdown from the loss of power due to a solar storm.

G2 Bulletin reports:

As scientists warn of an impending solar storm … that could collapse the national power grid, thrusting millions into darkness instantly, a debate has flared up between utilities and the federal government on the severity of such an event.

NASA and the National Academy of Sciences previously confirmed to G2Bulletin that an electromagnetic pulse event from an intense solar storm could occur any time …

They say it could have the effect of frying electronics and knocking out transformers in the national electric grid system.

Already, there are separate published reports of massive solar storms of plasma – some as large as the Earth itself – flaring off of the sun’s surface and shooting out into space, with some recently having come close enough to Earth to affect worldwide communications and alter the flights of commercial aircraft near the North Pole.

But in February, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which represents the power industry, issued a stunning report asserting that a worst-case geomagnetic “super storm” like the 1859 Carrington Event likely wouldn’t damage most power grid transformers. Instead, it would cause voltage instability and possibly result in blackouts lasting only a few hours or days, but not months and years.

NERC’s assertion, however, is at serious variance with the 2008 congressional EMP Commission, the 2008 National Academy of Sciences report; a 2010 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report; the 2012 report by the Defense Committee of the British Parliament, and others.

Even the British scientists who contributed to the parliament report came to their own independent assessment that a great geomagnetic storm would cause widespread damage to power grid transformers and result in a protracted blackout lasting months, or even years, with catastrophic consequences for society.

***

[The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or "FERC"], which regulates interstate electricity and other energy sales but has no authority now over local utilities to harden their grid sites, says that as many as 130 million Americans could have problems for years.

***

U.S. transformers on the average are more than 30 years old and are susceptible to internal heating, according to FERC experts.

***

There is ample evidence in the possession of the FERC revealing the damage to transformers from previous geomagnetic storms. For example, there was serious transformer damage to the Salem nuclear power plant in New Jersey in the aftermath of the same geomagnetic storm that caused the March 1989 Hydro-Quebec blackout.

Making Ourselves More Vulnerable to Terrorism

In addition, we’ve spent tens of trillions on the “war on terror”, but have failed to take steps to protect against the largest terrorist threat of all: an attack on the power supplies to nuclear power plants. An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which took out the power supply to a nuclear power plant would cause a Fukushima-style meltdown, and spent fuel pools are extremely vulnerable to terrorism.

Indeed, failing to harden our electrical grid invites a terrorist EMP attack because it is such an obvious vulnerability … its like waiving a red flag in front of a bull.

Unless we harden our electrical system to withstand electrical pulses, an EMP remains an attractive method for bad guys to bring the U.S. to its knees.

Bottom line:  Failing to harden our grid invites catastrophe from solar flares and terrorists.  It makes us doubly vulnerable.

There’s An Easy Fix … Are We Smart Enough to Take It?

Japan’s nuclear meltdown, the economic crisis and the Gulf oil spill all happened for the same reason: big companies cutting every corner in the book – and hiding the existence of huge risks – in order to make a little money.

There are relatively easy fixes to the threat from solar flares.

The head of the leading consulting firm on the effect of electromagnetic disruptions on our power grid – which was commissioned to study the issue by the U.S. federal government – stated that it would be relatively inexpensive to reduce the vulnerability of our power grid:

What we’re proposing is to add some fairly small and inexpensive resistors in the transformers’ ground connections. The addition of that little bit of resistance would significantly reduce the amount of the geomagnetically induced currents that flow into the grid.

***

We think it’s do-able for $40,000 or less per resistor. That’s less than what you pay for insurance for a transformer.

***

If you’re talking about the United States, there are about 5,000 transformers to consider this for. The Electromagnetic Pulse Commission recommended it in a report they sent to Congress last year. We’re talking about $150 million or so. It’s pretty small in the grand scheme of things.

Mechanical engineer Matthew Stein notes (footnotes omitted):

There are nearly 450 nuclear reactors in the world, with hundreds more being planned or under construction…. Imagine what havoc it would wreak on our civilization and the planet’s ecosystems if we were to suddenly witness not just one or two nuclear meltdowns, but 400 or more! How likely is it that our world might experience an event that could ultimately cause hundreds of reactors to fail and melt down at approximately the same time? I venture to say that, unless we take significant protective measures, this apocalyptic scenario is not only possible, but probable.

***

In the past 152 years, Earth has been struck by roughly 100 solar storms, causing significant geomagnetic disturbances (GMD), two of which were powerful enough to rank as “extreme GMDs.” If an extreme GMD of such magnitude were to occur today, in all likelihood, it would initiate a chain of events leading to catastrophic failures at the vast majority of our world’s nuclear reactors, similar to but over 100 times worse than, the disasters at both Chernobyl and Fukushima.

***

The good news is that relatively affordable equipment and processes could be installed to protect critical components in the electric power grid and its nuclear reactors, thereby averting this “end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it” scenario. The bad news is that even though panels of scientists and engineers have studied the problem, and the bipartisan Congressional electromagnetic pulse (EMP) commission has presented a list of specific recommendations to Congress, our leaders have yet to approve and implement any significant preventative measures.

***

Unfortunately, the world’s nuclear power plants, as they are currently designed, are critically dependent upon maintaining connection to a functioning electrical grid, for all but relatively short periods of electrical blackouts, in order to keep their reactor cores continuously cooled so as to avoid catastrophic reactor core meltdowns and fires in storage ponds for spent fuel rods.

If an extreme GMD were to cause widespread grid collapse (which it most certainly will), in as little as one or two hours after each nuclear reactor facility’s backup generators either fail to start, or run out of fuel, the reactor cores will start to melt down. After a few days without electricity to run the cooling system pumps, the water bath covering the spent fuel rods stored in “spent-fuel ponds” will boil away, allowing the stored fuel rods to melt down and burn. Since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) currently mandates that only one week’s supply of backup generator fuel needs to be stored at each reactor site, it is likely that, after we witness the spectacular nighttime celestial light show from the next extreme GMD, we will have about one week in which to prepare ourselves for Armageddon.

To do nothing is to behave like ostriches with our heads in the sand, blindly believing that “everything will be okay” as our world drifts towards the next natural, inevitable super solar storm and resultant extreme GMD. Such a storm would end the industrialized world as we know it, creating almost incalculable suffering, death and environmental destruction on a scale not seen since the extinction of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.

***

The federal government recently sponsored a detailed scientific study to better understand how much critical components of our national electrical power grid might be affected by either a naturally occurring GMD or a man-made EMP. Under the auspices of the EMP Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and reviewed in depth by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Academy of Sciences, Metatech Corporation undertook extensive modeling and analysis of the potential effects of extreme geomagnetic storms on the US electrical power grid. Based upon a storm as intense as the 1921 storm, Metatech estimated that within the United States, induced voltage and current spikes, combined with harmonic anomalies, would severely damage or destroy over 350 EHV power transformers critical to the functioning of the US grid and possibly impact well over 2000 EHV transformers worldwide.

EHV transformers are made to order and custom-designed for each installation, each weighing as much as 300 tons and costing well over $1 million. Given that there is currently a three-year waiting list for a single EHV transformer (due to recent demand from China and India, lead times grew from one to three years), and that the total global manufacturing capacity is roughly 100 EHV transformers per year when the world’s manufacturing centers are functioning properly, you can begin to grasp the implications of widespread transformer losses.

The loss of thousands of EHV transformers worldwide would cause a catastrophic grid collapse across much of the industrialized world. It will take years, at best, for the industrialized world to put itself back together after such an event, especially considering the fact that most of the manufacturing centers that make this equipment will also be grappling with widespread grid failure.

***

In the event of an extreme GMD-induced long-term grid collapse covering much of the globe, if just half of the world’s spent fuel ponds were to boil off their water and become radioactive, zirconium-fed infernos, the ensuing contamination could far exceed the cumulative effect of 400 Chernobyls.

***

The Congressionally mandated EMP Commission has studied the threat of both EMP [i.e. an electromagnetic pulse set of by terrorists or adversaries in war] and extreme GMD events and made recommendations to the US Congress to implement protective devices and procedures to ensure the survival of the grid and other critical infrastructures in either event. John Kappenman, author of the Metatech study, estimates that it would cost about $1 billion to build special protective devices into the US grid to protect its EHV transformers from EMP or extreme GMD damage and to build stores of critical replacement parts should some of these items be damaged or destroyed. Kappenman estimates that it would cost significantly less than $1 billion to store at least a year’s worth of diesel fuel for backup generators at each US nuclear facility and to store sets of critical spare parts, such as backup generators, inside EMP-hardened steel containers to be available for quick change-out in the event that any of these items were damaged by an EMP or GMD.

For the cost of a single B-2 bomber or a tiny fraction of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bank bailout, we could invest in preventative measures to avert what might well become the end of life as we know it. There is no way to protect against all possible effects from an extreme GMD or an EMP attack, but we could implement measures to protect against the worst effects. Since 2008, Congress has narrowly failed to pass legislation that would implement at least some of the EMP Commission’s recommendations.

***

Citizens can do their part to push for legislation to move toward this goal and work inside our homes and communities to develop local resilience and self reliance, so that in the event of a long-term grid-down scenario, we might make the most of a bad situation. The same tools that are espoused by the Transition movement for developing local self-reliance and resilience to help cope with the twin effects of climate change and peak oil could also serve communities well in the event of an EMP attack or extreme GMD. If our country were to implement safeguards to protect our grid and nuclear power plants from EMP, it would also eliminate the primary incentive for a terrorist to launch an EMP attack. The sooner we take these actions, the less chance that an EMP attack will occur.

 

Will we insist that these inexpensive fixes to our electrical grid be made? Or will we focus on over-blown dangers … and ignore the thing most likely to actually get us?

While some still believe the United States is the greatest democracy on Earth, the US is actually a plutocracy, a government ruled by the wealthiest. The recent Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon will subject us to an even stronger plutocracy that no one will be able to deny. The ‘rule of money’ will become more deeply entrenched at a time of economic and environmental crisis.

In the US today, a small group of people rule over hundreds of millions of us through a government corrupted by money; and controls the economy through mega-businesses that receive special treatment from that government, prevent entrepreneurial competition and control tens of millions of people through low wages and high debt. The plutocrats fund the only two parties allowed to run for office and the people are manipulated by fear to vote against their interests in a mirage democracy of rigged elections.

The legitimacy of the US government is now in question. By illegitimate we mean it is rule by the 1%, not a democracy ‘of, by and for the people.’ The US has become a carefully designed plutocracy that creates laws to favor the few. As Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissenting opinion, American law is now “incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy.” Or, as former president, Jimmy Carter said on July 16, 2013 “America does not at the moment have a functioning democracy.”

Even members of Congress admit there is a problem. Long before the McCutcheon decision, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) described the impact of the big banks on the government saying: “They own the place.” We have moved into an era of a predatory form of capitalism rooted in big finance where profits are more important than people’s needs or protection of the planet.

It is up to us to use McCutcheon to energize the movement against money-corruption of the government and economy. Throughout history, bad court decisions have helped energize movements; people power can make that happen again. Already there is a growing movement against the American plutocracy.

Predatory Capitalism Feeds on Public Dollars, Forced Debt

Where does the strength of the plutocrats come from? Their control of public policies has created a massive welfare state for the wealthy while the rest of us are driven into debt. Understanding this relationship is essential if we are going to end it.

This week Strike Debt, an off-shoot of Occupy Wall Street, published the second edition of The Debt Resisters’ Operations Manual. They open the manual by describing the pervasiveness of debt:

“Everyone is affected by debt, from people taking out payday loans at 400% interest to cover basic living costs, to recent graduates paying hundreds of dollars in interest on their students loans every month, to working families bankrupted by medical bills, to elders living in ‘underwater’ homes, to the teachers and firefighters forced to take pay cuts because their cities are broke, to people in the global South suffering due to their countries being pushed into austerity and poverty by structural adjustment programs. Everyone seems to owe something, and most of us are in so deep it’ll be years before we have any chance of getting out—if we have any chance at all.”

Strike Debt points out that “over three-quarters of us have some type of personal debt. At least 14% of people living in the United States are already being pursued by debt collectors, which is more than double from a decade ago.” Putting people into the debt of big banks is “a profoundly effective form of social control.” When students leave school anchored by massive debt, it limits their choices. When underpaid workers are in debt with credit card bills or mortgages, it makes it impossible for them to fight for fair treatment at work or to quit and risk not being able to find another job.

Why do we have these debts? Because the policies put in place by corporate-dominated political parties have created unjust laws over time that ensure we accumulate massive debt. As Strike Debt summarizes the situation:

“The reason you have tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills is that we don’t provide medical care to everyone. The reason you have tens of thousands of dollars of student loans is because the government, banks, and university administrators have contrived to cut government subsidies that support education while driving college costs through the roof. Unlike fifty years ago, it’s simply impossible for all but the wealthiest to attend college without them. Bubbles drive housing and food prices up, wages are kept artificially low so that they don’t keep up with inflation, and more and more of us rely on proliferating forms of ‘casual,’ ‘flexible,’ and part-time employment.”

The denial of basic services and education puts Americans from the poor through the upper middle class in economic peril. To add insult to injury, our public dollars that could pay for essential services and education are used instead to enable predatory behavior by big corporations. The biggest recipients of welfare are big business interests like Walmart and the big banks.

Walmart is the largest private employer in the US, with annual profits of over $15 billion. The six Walmart heirs have more wealth than the bottom 40% of all Americans combined. How did they get there? Massive government subsidies are central to Walmart’s business plan. These include tax breaks from state and local governments for each of their nearly 5,000 stores in the United States. And government subsidies to their employees for healthcare, food and housing because Walmart pays poverty wages. Of all retail outlets, Walmart is the largest recipient of government assistance in the country.

However, the biggest recipients of government assistance are the banks themselves. Through the private corporation known as the Federal Reserve, the banks have been given trillions of dollars in virtually no-interest loans. The banks then lend the money to the government at an immediate profit or to consumers and businesses for an even bigger profit. And then the banks borrow on those loans and expand their wealth even further, using the money to gamble on derivatives or other risky activities that put the economy at risk.

By giving the banks the governmental power to make money, a handful of Wall Street banks have become the dominant sector of the economy. Retaking the governmental power to create money would be a major step towards transforming the economy.

As if these subsidies aren’t enough, the banks and other large corporations also avoid paying taxes. One of many tax avoidance schemes is to keep money off-shore. A new report from ISI Research finds that U.S. S&P 500 companies now have $1.9 trillion parked outside the country. There have been proposals for a global tax on this income, but in our government owned by banks, these do not move forward.

While there are many predatory practices by the big banks against people in the United States, it is sometimes easier to see them when we look at behavior around the world.  As the Debt Resister’s Operations Manual points out, “in 2008, the world’s poorest countries were paying $23 million a day in interest payments to the rich industrial world, for loans where the original principal had often already been paid back several times over.” In the US and around the world, they point out that: “Debt … has become the primary form of extracting and accumulating wealth for the rich.”

As a result of World Bank policies, millions of people are being thrown off their land because large corporations are being given special rights. The World Bank is driving this destructive trend with its Doing Business rankings, which force countries to compete with each other to do away with things like environmental protections, worker’s rights and corporate taxes. “The World Bank is facilitating land grabs and sowing poverty by putting the interests of foreign investors before those of locals,” says Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute.

The other major international bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provides loans to countries that come with policy conditions, called Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), that require austerity and privatization of social services and resources. These SAPs undermine the government and economy, increase poverty and suffering and thus, lead to social unrest. Despite this, recent reports indicate the IMF is increasing the number of structural conditions and using its power to dominate highly sensitive, political policy areas (for example the recent $18 billion loan to Ukraine which will require cutting retirement benefits in half from roughly $100 to $50 per month).

All of these policies have had a dramatic and harmful impact. As economist Joseph Stiglitz testified recently “America has achieved the distinction of becoming the country with the highest level of income inequality among the advanced countries.” Strike Debt notes “the United States ranks 138th out of 141 countries in terms of wealth equality.” Stiglitz told the Senate Banking Committee there is “a vicious circle: our high inequality is one of the major contributing factors to our weak economy and our low growth.”

But even more stark than income inequality is wealth inequality, which is worsening. Due to debt, 47% of Americans have zero wealth while the “richest 0.1 percent of Americans have dramatically expanded their share of the country’s overall wealth in the last three decades.” Wealth is important because it represents ownership and control, “a higher concentration of wealth naturally implies that fewer individuals control the decisions made by firms in the economy,” according to Princeton’s Atif Mian and University of Chicago’s Amir Sufi.

The Revolt Against American Plutocracy

People are revolting against plutocracy in a variety of ways in the US and around the world. There are movements to eliminate the corrupting influence of money on politics, against austerity, for living wages, to end extreme energy extraction, to end insurance-based healthcare, to stop privatization of schools, to transform the Federal Reserve, to erase debt and many other issues.

The Debt Resister’s Manual points out that “Movements for debt resistance have a very long history. From ancient times, people have challenged the harsh penalties visited on defaulters, including branding, torture, imprisonment, and even slavery. In ancient Athens, the first known democratic constitution came about largely as a result of an outright rebellion of debtors…” And, they report we see protests growing: “Around the world, popular movements are beginning to rattle the chains, seeing debt for what it is—a form of domination and exploitation—and collectively rising up against it.”

People recognize that much of debt is illegitimate. The corrupt government allows usury interest rates and unfair loan practices. Cuts to social services and education force people into debt. The solutions are obvious, though we are told they are too radical. The Debt Resister’s Manual points out that “there was a kind of jubilee in Iceland after the 2008 economic crisis: instead of bailing out their banks, Iceland canceled a percentage of mortgage debt.”

In addition to resistance, people are building alternatives to corrupt big finance capitalism. The new economy that people are striving to create is defined by our values. Strike Debt summarizes:

“Our values will serve as our North Star: putting people and nature before profits; meeting need and not greed; empowering all and not just a few; becoming less alienated from our work and from each other; and creating more leisure time to spend with our loved ones.”

Jerome Roos of ROAR Magazine outlines the possibilities of a new finance system that was described at the Moneylab Conference in Amsterdam last week. He challenges his readers to think about money differently and to recognize that though our current monetary system is based on debt, it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Freelancer’s Union calls the growing new economy the “Quiet Revolution” and they invite people to map what their community is doing – cooperatives, collectives, local food networks. Another organization, the Democracy Collaborative, publishes a list of projects that we can all learn from on Community-Wealth.org. Next month we are holding a conference in Baltimore to work on creating a new local economy based on economic democracy that includes worker-owned businesses, new ways of structuring finance, affordable housing, clean energy and food security. One new form of urban agriculture that is taking off is the vertical farm.

People are discussing essential ideas that elected officials who represent the plutocrats will not even acknowledge. If we create new models, then they will eventually become the policy of the US and much of the world.  For example, when you recognize that wealth comes from the commons – built on infrastructure like roadways and the Internet that we all pay for, or the intellectual and technical knowledge that universities and government research grants have paid for – and that major growth in the economy has always had major government involvement from the railroads to the Internet, then it becomes evident we must all share the wealth that this commons has created.

And because robotics and other technology mean there will be fewer jobs, indeed in the future we will not have enough jobs, we have to figure out new ways to provide income so that all can participate in the economy. One solution that is being discussed by those outside the major political parties is a guaranteed minimum income. This is one example of why we need to be independent of the two parties and not be limited by the agenda of either ‘rule of money’ based party.

Time to Energize the Movement to End the Rule of Money

The ‘arc of justice’ does not bend toward plutocracy. People powered movements that are building today will end plutocratic rule.

Last week we reported on two campaigns that were announced for this spring, the Worldwide Wave of Action and the Global Climate Convergence. After we published that article, two more campaigns were announced. Reset the Net, seeks to restore privacy to the Internet by our own actions rather than waiting for the government. People are taking action now to push Internet providers to provide privacy. Many would go further and make the Internet a public utility whose mission is to serve the public.  Second, is a campaign against the abuses of international finance, particularly by the World Bank, Our Land Our Business. The IMF and World Bank have their meeting from October 10 to 12 in Washington, DC and actions are being urged around the world during that time period.

Rather than being despondent about the Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon, we should use it to energize and focus our efforts. Every issue is impacted by the corruption of the ‘rule of money.’ We know we cannot achieve the transformation that is needed so long as this corruption continues. A focal point of the ‘movement of movements’ must be to end the influence of money in US elections so it can be legitimately called a democracy.

The legitimacy of government is at the root of the founding of our nation. Our favorite ‘founder,’ Thomas Paine, put forward ideas that were ignored by those who wrote the Constitution, e.g. abolition of slavery, voting rights for all including woman and African Americans, healthcare for all and equitable sharing of the wealth of the nation. Now, 238 years later we are still fighting for some of his beliefs. In his article “We are Radicals at Heart: A New History Gets America Wrong,” Harvey J. Kaye writes that Paine told us “that history is not over, that prevailing inequalities and oppressions are not inevitable, and that we need to remember who we are and recognize that ‘We have it in our power to begin the world over again.’”

This will not be the first time in history that a corrupt court decision has inspired action. Indeed, the recognition that the British Crown was illegitimate came in part out of a court decision upholding the Great Writs – which allowed British authorities to search colonists at whim.

In 1761 James Otis argued against the Great Writs on behalf of Massachusetts colonists subjected to searches by British troops and Customs officials. He argued in a five hour oration before a packed State House, a speech that was printed in full in 1773 that searches without any oath for their basis allows the Crown’s authorities to “enter our houses when they please.” When the Crown court ruled against Otis in the Great Writs case, a young court reporter, John Adams, recorded the event writing “Then and there the child independence was born.”

Let us turn the corrupt decisions, Citizens United and McCutcheon, into our rallying cry for a government independent of the corrupting influence of money; and to create the kind of economic democracy and participatory government to which the ‘arc of justice’ points us.

This article is produced by PopularResistance.org in conjunction with AlterNet.  It is based on PopularResistance.org’s weekly newsletter reviewing the activities of the resistance movement.

Kevin Zeese, JD and Margaret Flowers, MD are participants in PopularResistance.org; they co-direct It’s Our Economy and co-host Clearing the FOG. Their twitters are @KBZeese and MFlowers8.  

new investigation by the Associated Press into a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) project to create a Twitter-style social media network in Cuba has received a lot of attention this week, with the news trending on the actual Twitter for much of the day yesterday when the story broke, and eliciting comment from various members of Congress and other policy makers. The “ZunZuneo” project, which AP reports was “aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government,” was overseen by USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). AP describes OTI as “a division that was created after the fall of the Soviet Union to promote U.S. interests in quickly changing political environments — without the usual red tape.” Its efforts to undermine the Cuban government are not unusual, however, considering the organization’s track record in other countries in the region.

As CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot described in an interview with radio station KPFA’s “Letters and Politics” yesterday, USAID and OTI in particular have engaged in various efforts to undermine the democratically-elected governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, and Haiti, among others, and such “open societies” could be more likely to be impacted by such activities than Cuba. Declassified U.S. government documents show that USAID’s OTI in Venezuela played a central rolein funding and working with groups and individuals following the short-lived 2002 coup d’etat against Hugo Chávez. A key contractor for USAID/OTI in that effort has been Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI).

More recent State Department cables made public by Wikileaks reveal that USAID/OTI subversion in Venezuela extended into the Obama administration era (until 2010, when funding for OTI in Venezuela appears to have ended), and DAI continued to play an important role. A State Department cable from November 2006 explains the U.S. embassy’s strategy in Venezuela and how USAID/OTI “activities support [the] strategy”:

(S) In August of 2004, Ambassador outlined the country team’s 5 point strategy to guide embassy activities in Venezuela for the period 2004 ) 2006 (specifically, from the referendum to the 2006 presidential elections). The strategy’s focus is: 1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.

Among the ways in which USAID/OTI have supported the strategy is through the funding and training of protest groups. This August 2009 cable cites the head of USAID/OTI contractor DAI’s Venezuela office Eduardo Fernandez as saying, during 2009 protests, that all the protest organizers are DAI grantees:

¶5. (S) Fernandez told DCM Caulfield that he believed the [the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations Corps'] dual objective is to obtain information regarding DAI’s grantees and to cut off their funding. Fernandez said that “the streets are hot,” referring to growing protests against Chavez’s efforts to consolidate power, and “all these people (organizing the protests) are our grantees.” Fernandez has been leading non-partisan training and grant programs since 2004 for DAI in Venezuela.”

The November 2006 cable describes an example of USAID/OTI partners in Venezuela “shut[ting] down [a] city”:

11. (S) CECAVID: This project supported an NGO working with women in the informal sectors of Barquisimeto, the 5th largest city in Venezuela. The training helped them negotiate with city government to provide better working conditions. After initially agreeing to the women’s conditions, the city government reneged and the women shut down the city for 2 days forcing the mayor to return to the bargaining table. This project is now being replicated in another area of Venezuela.

The implications for the current situation in Venezuela are obvious, unless we are to assume that such activities have ended despite the tens of millions of dollars in USAID funds designated for Venezuela, some of it going through organizations such as Freedom House, and the International Republican Institute, some of which also funded groups involved in the 2002 coup (which prominent IRI staff publicly applauded at the time).

The same November 2006 cable notes that one OTI program goal is to bolster international support for the opposition:

…DAI has brought dozens of international leaders to Venezuela, university professors, NGO members, and political leaders to participate in workshops and seminars, who then return to their countries with a better understanding of the Venezuelan reality and as stronger advocates for the Venezuelan opposition.

Many of the thousands of cables originating from the U.S. embassy in Caracas that have been made available by Wikileaks describe regular communication and coordination with prominent opposition leaders and groups. One particular favorite has been the NGO Súmate and its leader María Corina Machado, who has made headlines over the past two months for her role in the protest movement. The cables show that Machado historically has taken more extreme positions than some other opposition leaders, and the embassy has at least privately questioned Súmate’s strategy of discrediting Venezuela’s electoral system which in turn has contributed to opposition defeats at the polls (most notably in 2005 when an opposition boycott led to complete Chavista domination of the National Assembly). The current protests are no different; Machado and Leopoldo López launched “La Salida” campaign at the end of January with its stated goal of forcing president Nicolás Maduro from office, and vowing to “create chaos in the streets.”

USAID support for destabilization is no secret to the targeted governments. In September 2008, in the midst of a violent, racist and pro-secessionist campaign against the democratically-elected government of Evo Morales in Bolivia, Morales expelled the U.S. Ambassador, and Venezuela followed suit “in solidarity.” Bolivia would later end all USAID involvement in Bolivia after the agency refused to disclose whom it was funding in the country (Freedom of Information Act requests had been independently filed but were not answered).  The U.S. embassy in Bolivia had previously been caught asking Peace Corps volunteers and Fulbright scholars in the country to engage in espionage.

Commenting on the failed USAID/OTI ZunZuneo program in Cuba, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) commentedthat, “That is not what USAID should be doing[.] USAID is flying the American flag and should be recognized around the globe as an honest broker of doing good. If they start participating in covert, subversive activities, the credibility of the United States is diminished.”

But USAID’s track record of engaging in subversive activities is a long one, and U.S. credibility as an “honest broker” was lost many years ago.

Elections held this week in Afghanistan, while highly publicized as a showpiece in NATO’s lengthy intervention, will most likely not only achieve very little, but may be the first in a series of steps the nation undergoes as it slips back into regression and darkness. NATO’s inability to establish security even in Afghanistan’s urban centers bodes ill for whatever government takes over in Kabul, particularly as Western troops prepare to permanently withdraw.

Promises of a “democratic tomorrow”are more likely to be replaced at best with an uncomfortable, and perhaps only temporary accommodation between rural tribesmen (including the Taliban) and the new government in Kabul. In time, as rural tribesmen redirect resources from their fight with NATO’s departing troops, and against whichever government presides in Kabul, that accommodation may inevitably lead to a “Taliban” government once again ruling Afghanistan.

When Superficiality Becomes “Progress” 

The elections were praised by the UN and United States. The Washington Post in particular claimed it was a “milestone” particularly for Afghan women who were able to both vote and appear on the ballot. However, the Washington Post’s piece, “Afghan women make election strides,” is suspiciously short for such a supposedly historical breakthrough. Its brevity is due to the fact that any historical examination of women’s social progress in Afghanistan, or any social progress for that matter, would reveal Afghanistan not as a nation finally emerging for the first time into the light of modernization, but instead a nation mired in decades of darkness as the direct result of Western interference during the 1980s.

One must not dig deep to discover the truth of Afghanistan’s once promising past, the US-backed armed conflict that destroyed it, and the resulting dark age it suffered through as a direct result. PBS provides a timeline of women’s rights in Afghanistan that begins in 1907 and ends in 2011. The highpoint was in the 1960s and 70s when Afghanistan was the benefactor of Soviet influence. The rollback of these achievements occurred with the rise of the Taliban, an alliance that was bolstered militarily by the United States in its bid to challenge the Soviet Union via a costly proxy war.
According to “Citizenship: Reflections on the Middle East and North Africa” under a chapter titled, “The Saur Revolution and Women’s Rights in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan,” the shift from women as property, to women as human beings is described, with a particular focus being placed on improving women’s literacy, education, and their inclusion into the national workforce.

It states, “The DRA [Democratic Republic of Afghanistan] was attempting to implement what reformers and revolutionaries had done in Turkey, Soviet Central Asia (see Massell, 1974), and South Yemen, as well as to carry out what earlier Afghan reformers and modernizers had tried to do in the early 20th century but had failed (see Gregorian, 1969).”

These reforms included changes to marriage laws, the expansion of literacy, and the education of rural girls and were resisted by rural tribesmen, the very tribesmen the United States and its allies would use to counter Soviet influence in Afghanistan through a destructive, protracted armed conflict. When Western news articles today occasionally hint to Afghanistan’s promising past, with comments such as “…the first time women have voted in decades,” it is this period of Soviet influence they are referring to.

US-Armed Tribesmen, the Custodians of Afghanistan’s Dark Past, Present, and Future

Ironically, NATO troops, led by the United States, have been fighting the very tribesmen they had funded, armed, and trained for a decade in a proxy war with the Soviet Union. The common saying, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” is often the crutch proponents of US aid to these tribesmen cite, but in reality, the Soviets were attempting then to implement many national reforms generally considered “Western” and “progressive” in nature. The decision by the West to intervene by association with tribesmen who diametrically opposed these reforms, was based not on principles, but on a desire solely for geopolitical power.

And after their “enemy” was defeated in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the West’s “friend” rolled back hard-fought reforms, plunging Afghanistan into a dark age it is still struggling to reemerge from. Just as the Soviets struggled against rural resistance to reforms including the advancement of human rights, urban Afghans seeking to revisit these reforms today face a similar struggle, but with international partners far less dedicated to their cause. They are burdened with a corrupt, ineffectual government mired in scandal and tangled with foreign interests genuinely disinterested in principles and progress, and instead, only Afghanistan’s role among their greater geopolitical ambitions.

With the West withdrawing from Afghanistan, and the tribesmen they were fighting poised to quickly fill in the vacuum they leave, it appears that Afghanistan’s future is its past, with the superficiality of elections, women voting, and what US President Barack Obama calls the “democratic transfer of power,” all a temporary, fleeting present.

What might Afghanistan have looked like without billions of dollars in funds and weapons poured into rural tribesmen, eager to overturn reforms implemented by a Soviet-backed government in Kabul? Decades later would Afghanistan still be teetering between progress and regression, on the razor’s edge between a dark age and a renaissance?

For those around the world, particularly those who have followed the conflict in Afghanistan or have in fact, participated in it, suffered and sacrificed for it, eyes must begin to open and see that power, not principles, drive the West’s ambitions globally. They traded promising reforms being made in Afghanistan during the mid-20th century for regressive custodians who would oversee decades of darkness. They did so simply because they disliked under whom these reforms were being made, for economical and geopolitical reasons, and determined no reforms at all would be far more preferable.

The spite of Western foreign policy has and will continue to take its toll in Afghanistan and elsewhere their influence cannot be successfully thwarted. For the Afghan people, it may be decades more before they see even the level of freedom and progress they enjoyed briefly before the 1979-1989 war. For their Western occupiers, when true progress is not being sought, it will not be truly made. Afghanistan is a showcase of just this, not the success or failure of “Western democratization,” but the truth that ultimately lies behind disingenuous “democratization” in the first place.

Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

Long gone the days when the U.S.-led so-called “Friends of Syria” could plausibly claim that two thirds of Syria was controlled by rebel forces, that Syrian capital Damascus was under siege and its fall was just a matter of time and that the days of President Bashar al-Assad were numbered and accordingly he “should step down.”

  The war on Syria has taken a U-turn during the past year. Assad now firmly holds the military initiative. The long awaited foreign military intervention could not take off; it was prevented by the emerging multi-polar world order. Syrian and non-Syrian insurgents are now on the run. Assad stands there to stay.

  The thinly veiled UN legitimacy, which was used to justify the invasions of Iraq and Libya under the pretexts of the responsibility to protect on humanitarian grounds, failed to impose no-fly zones, humanitarian corridors and other instruments of foreign intervention; they foundered on the borders of Syrian national sovereignty.

  The official Syrian Arab Army (SAA), which was strategically organized and stationed to fight a regular war in defence against the Israeli occupying power in the western south of the country, was taken by surprise by an internationally and regionally coordinated unconventional attack on its soft civilian backyard where it had zero presence.

  Within a relatively short period of time the SAA succeeded in containing the initial attack, in adapting trained units to unconventional guerrilla war in cities and in winning over the support of the civilian population, without acceding any ground of its defence vis-à-vis Israel .

Ever since, the SAA was gaining more ground, liberating more civilian centers from insurgent terrorists, closing more border crossing points used for infiltration of foreign fighters into the country, cutting of their supply lines and besieging pockets of their presence in inner old cities and in their isolated concentrations in the countryside. The capital Damascus , more than 95% of the common borders with Lebanon and the central heart of Syria around Homs are now secured. Except the northern city of Raqqa , no where in Syria the insurgents can claim exclusive control. The SAA is winning all its battles.

The declared goal now of the U.S., Saudi, Qatari and Turkish financial, military and logistical support for the insurgents is no more the “regime change,” but creating a balance of power aimed at improving their standing in future negotiations with the regime. To do so, they claim they are extending their support to what they describe as the “moderate” insurgents.

  However, “moderate” rebels are a rare species in Syrian insurgency. Entering its fourth year now, the war on Syria has created a highly polarized war zone that has left no room for any moderates. Combatants are fighting now to death in a battle of life or death.

The fighting lines are strictly drawn between homeland defence and foreign intervention, between national forces and international terrorists and between an existing secular and civil state and a future state perceived to be governed by an extremist or, at the best, a moderate version of Islamist ideology supported by the most backward, tribal and undemocratic regional states with similar sectarian ideologies.

  During his testimony at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on last September 3, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry denied that the “moderate” Syrian rebels are infiltrated by the al-Qaeda terrorists as “basically not true.”

The Syrian “opposition has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership, and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority protecting constitution, which will be broad-based and secular with respect to the future of Syria,” Kerry testified.

 However, hard facts on the ground in Syria as well as statements by other U.S. high ranking officials challenge Kerry’s testimony as a politically motivated, far from truth and misleading statement.

 Last March, General David Rodriguez, head of the U.S. Africa Command, testified before the House Armed Services Committee that “ Syria has become a significant location for al-Qaeda-aligned groups to recruit, train, and equip extremists.”

The previous month, James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, called Syria a “huge magnet” for Islamic extremists in testimony prepared for the Senate intelligence committee.

 Last January, Clapper also told a Senate intelligence hearing that “training complexes” for foreign fighters were spotted in Syria and chair of the Senate intelligence committee Dianne Feinstein described Syria as “the most notable new security threat in the year” since the committee’s last meeting.

Matthew Olsen, director of the U.S. government’s National Counterterrorism Center , was on record to say that “ Syria has become really the predominant jihadist battlefield in the world.”

 Also on record was Jeh C. Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, who stated that the Syria war “has become a matter of homeland security,” former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell who identified Syria as “the greatest threat to U.S. national security,” FBI Director until last September Robert Mueller who “warned that an increasing flow of U.S. citizens heading to Syria and elsewhere to wage jihad against regional powers could end up in a new generation of home-grown terrorists.”

  All these and other high level U.S. conclusions do not testify to the existence of “moderate” insurgents in Syria and vindicate the official Syrian narration as much as they refute Kerry’s statement about the “democratic,” “secular” and “moderate” Syrian “opposition.”

“Moderate” rebels are either marginal or a rare species in Syrian insurgency and if they do exist they are already increasingly concluding “reconciliation” agreements with the Syrian government, according to which they disarm, join the government anti terror and anti “strangers” military and security campaign or simply recurring to attending to their personal lives.

 The Americans and their Saudi and Turkish bullies are left with the only option of artificially creating artificial “moderates,” whom they unrealistically and wishfully dream of turning into a credible leading force on the ground.

As part of his efforts to mend fences with Saudi Arabia , a persistent advocate of war and militarization in Syria , U.S. President Barak Obama seems to have pursued recently a two-pronged diplomatic and military policy.

  Diplomatically, he closed the Syrian embassy and consulates in the United States and restricted the movement of the Syrian envoy to the United Nations as a “down payment” ahead of his visit to the kingdom on last March 28.

  Militarily, he promised more arms to Syrian “moderate” rebels during his visit. After the visit he was reportedly considering arming those “moderate” rebels with more advanced weaponry, including anti-aircraft missiles or MANPADs.

While providing those “moderates” with MANPADs is yet to be confirmed, Israel’s Debkafile website on this April 7 reported that two moderate Syrian rebel militias – the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian Revolutionary Front – have been supplied with advanced US weapons, including armour-piercing, optically-guided BGM-71 TOW missiles, which enter the Middle East for the first time. Images of rebels equipped with these arms have begun to circulate in recent days. Both militias are coordinating and cooperating with the al-Qaeda offshoot the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, both listed as terrorist groups by the U.S. , Saudi Arabia Syria and Iraq .

About Time for U.S. to Reconsider

Within this context, the existing CIA-led program in Jordan for training pre-approved “moderates” will reportedly be expanded to raise the number of trainees from one hundred to six hundred a month.

 At this rate, according to Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Center in Qatar, writing on this April 3, “it would take close to two years to produce a force” that could numerically rival the extremist “Ahrar al-Sham” group and “it would take seven years” to create a force that could rival the extremist “Islamic Front,” let alone the mainstream groups of terrorist insurgents like the ISIS and the al-Nusra.

Going ahead with such a U.S.-Saudi training program in Jordan is tantamount to planning an extended war on Syria until such time that the regime changes or the country becomes a failed state, as the planners wishfully hope.

Moderate Syrian rebels are a U.S. mirage. With logistical vital help from Turkey , the Saudi and Qatari U.S. allies were determined to successfully militarize and hijack legitimate popular protests for change lest they sweep along their own people and spill over into their own territories.

It’s about time that the U.S. policy makers reconsider, deal with the facts on the ground in Syria and stop yielding to the bullying of their regional allies who continue to beat the drums of war only to survive the regional tidal wave of change.

  To contain this tidal wave of change, Qatar , Saudi Arabia and Turkey have sponsored an Islamist alternative as a counterrevolution. The Muslim Brotherhood International (MBI) was a version of this alternative. Unfortunately the U.S. got along with it. The MBI plan in Egypt has proved counterproductive. Its failure in Egypt pre-empted for good any hope for its success in Syria . The ensuing rift among the anti-Syria allies doomed the plan regionally.

President Assad’s statement on this April 7 that the “project of political Islam” has failed was not overoptimistic or premature. Neither was the statement of his ally, the leader of Lebanon ’s Hezbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, on the same day that “the phase of bringing down the regime or bringing down the (Syrian) state is over… They cannot overthrow the regime, but they can wage a war of attrition.” 

 The U.S. campaign for more than three years now for a “regime change” in Syria has created only a “huge magnet” for international terrorism, thanks to Saudi, Qatari and Turkish military, financial and logistical support.

  Peaceful protesters were sidelined to oblivion. More than three years of bloodshed left no room for moderates. “Regime change” by force from outside the country, along the Iraqi and Libyan lines, has proved a failure. U.S. and western calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down is now a faint cry that can hardly be heard.

All world and regional indications as well as military developments on the ground refer to one fact: Assad is there to stay. Change will come only under his leadership or his guidance. Understanding with him is the only way to internal and regional stability. More or less he has succeeded in turning the “huge magnet” for international terrorists into their killing field. His final victory is only a matter of time. Arming rebels, “moderates” or terrorists regardless, will only perpetuate the Syrian people’s plight and fuel regional anti-Americanism.

The sooner the United States act on this fact is the better for all involved parties.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. [email protected]

The thing about “international development” is that it’s a bit of a murky, catch-all term. It’s got a good feel to it – if you’re involved in international development, you’re more often than not seen as one of the good guys. It’s swirling about in a bucket of meaning alongside “foreign aid” and “disaster relief”. It’s about “doing good”, which is about helping people improve their situation, right? It could be helping people escape from the ruins of an earthquake or the ruins of economic mismanagement but that’s what “international development” is generally understood to be about.

How would you feel, then, if you could be convinced that “international development” was a term hiding something darker, less altruistic and far more self-interested? What if the people charged with leading global the development were actually doing more for the 1% than the 99%?

Because the World Bank, with its $30 billion annually budget, is doing just that, and causing misery and environmental destruction along the way.

The Bank’s mission is to “[E]nd poverty within a generation and boost shared prosperity.” Like almost all governments and multilateral institutions, the Bank subscribes to the current economic orthodoxy in as much as all of its models for poverty reduction have economic growth as a prerequisite. For the purposes of this argument, whether they are right or not is a secondary, albeit not irrelevant point. The primary point is that it is such a given that almost any sort of growth is considered positive. If it can go on a country’s books as growth – in the form of GDP – it’s good.

The next pillar of belief is that for developing countries to develop, they must be connected to global markets. They must be able to sell what they have to the people who want it. Oil, grain, rare earth, cotton, diamonds . . . in fact practically any natural resource, preferably in its raw form. And these days, one of the things that developing countries have that others want is arable land. Rich and powerful people aren’t stupid; much as political leaders may prevaricate over climate change politically, the 1% know what’s coming. They know that land – especially land connected to water – is going to become increasingly rare, and therefore increasingly valuable. It is already in huge demand, both by those looking to build industrial, often monoculture operations, and those looking to turn a quick buck by playing the market.

The thing is, practically all of the land being traded is already owned, mostly by smallholder farmers, pastoralists and Indigenous People; exactly the sort of people “international development“ is supposed to be about. Unfortunately, for millions of such people, from Cambodia to Ethiopia to Guatemala, however, they don’t have the right paperwork. The fact that they have been tending the same land for generations, or that they are already feeding 80% of the developing world, or that their methods are environmentally sustainable where industrial agriculture is hugely toxic, is irrelevant. No paperwork, no claim. Or, more to the point, no paperwork, therefore their land must belong to the government, and therefore it becomes visible to the world as a tradable asset.

Enter the World Bank.

Through a system called the Doing Business (DB)rankings, the Bank uses its considerable financial and political power to make it as easy as possible for these now visible and tradable assets to, well, be traded, in huge plots. And the only people with the capital to buy assets on that scale are the 1%, in the guise of foreign corporations or local elites. So the people the World Bank is helping are the 1%. But wait, you may well cry, investment brings jobs and tax revenue and expertise to a country; that is development! It would be if it did. In far to many cases, however, corporations are given tax breaks, and jobs and expertise are firstly often scant, because industrial farming is designed to operate with minimal human input, and secondly because even those few jobs that do exist are more often than not kept in a relatively closed loop of expat workers or a handful of local people. It does do one critical thing, though. It brings more economic activity into the country than previously existed, which registers as growth. Never mind that little or none of it actually benefits the country, as it is whisked away through tax havens as soon as it appears. It is, briefly, there. And so it seems perfectly logical to the World Bank because they are, in theory, helping developing countries connect to global markets, and thereby achieve economic – GDP – growth.

It works by technocrats in Washington awarding points to countries when they act in favor of the “ease of doing business” and then publishing an annual ranking in a report they are very proud to claim, “has served as an incomparable catalyst for business reform initiatives”. In other words, reforms that service the needs of intensive, large-scale international business are rewarded and ones judged to stand in its way are punished.

For example, the fewer regulations there are on the purchase land, the higher the rating, with maximum points being awarded to countries with total freedom of purchase. More modest corporate taxation gets some reward; most points are awarded for zero corporate taxation. Countries are even punished for offering their workers minimum wages. It is the neoliberal blueprint for economic development: low corporate taxation, low worker wages and protection, maximum privitisation and minimal standards of environmental protection. Everything, in other words, to maximize wealth extraction and concentration.

The World Bank claims that the rankings are merely about minimising bureaucracy, but even a brief look at what happens to countries as they move up and down the rankings clearly shows that they are little more than a bulldozer used to clear the path of smallholder farmers, and whatever local labour or environmental protections exist so that large western corporations or local elites can move in and start extracting the wealth of the country.

For example, in the 2012 rankings, Cameroon jumped four spots (from 165 to 161) because it made it easier to “start a business” by allowing company founders to produce only a sworn declaration instead of a hard copy of their criminal records.

Liberia was placed in the top ten DB reformers in 2008-2009 because of the measures it took (with the help of the doing Business reform advisory Team) in the areas of “starting a business,” “dealing with construction permits,” and “trading across borders.” an improvement in the DB ranking resulted in increased FDI from including investments from palm oil giants such as the British equatorial palm Oil in 2008, Malaysian Sime Darby in 2009, and Singaporean golden agri-resources in 2010, resulting in the corporate takeover of millions of acres of land and local populations’ loss of farms, resources, and livelihoods.

Sierra Leone has also been praised as a good reformer. Its DB ranking increased by 15 points between 2008 and 2010, with key steps taken in the area of “protecting investors” (up 22 points). Sierra Leone’s improvements in 2008 nonetheless mainly consisted of reducing companies’ tax burden and introducing flexible tax rates for investors, none of which helps Sierra Leone’s citizens.

Similar stories can be told about Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, Senegal, Honduras and the Philippines. In all cases, the needs of ordinary people have fallen under the tracks of the World Bank’s Doing Business bulldozer. Around the world, millions of people are being displaced, and their lives ruined, to help create a wealth they will ever see.

We’ve launched a campaign to try and get them to throw out this ranking system. The Bank has the first of two big meetings this year on April 11 – 13th. With farmers groups and civil society organizations from around the world, we’re going to use that moment to introduce them to the Our Land, Our Business campaign, and then work through till the Annual Meeting in October to get as many people, from as many countries as possible to hear about this and stand with us. With lots of signatures, press activity, off line protests and social media, we believe we can generate enough critical and very public attention to force them to abolish the Doing Business system. The Bank hates bad publicity and has changed its ways because of it in the past, so we’re going to give them some.

Martin Kirk is director of Global Campaigns Director for /The Rules, a new global campaign fighting against inequality and poverty, with a specific aim of highlighting the systemic damage caused by tax havens around the world. To take part, go to www.therules.org. On Twitter: @therulesorg. And follow Mark on Twitter: @martinkirk_ny

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

 The first step in subjugating a population is identifying their source of strength, undermining it, and eventually eliminating it. This textbook strategy employed by empires throughout human history is still busily being applied around the world as Wall Street and London seek to achieve global hegemony. In the past, it was done under the premise that the imposing empire was socially, economically, and militarily superior, and that by subjecting other nations, it was bringing them out of barbarism, and into civilization. Today, this brand of “civilization” includes the West’s “human rights” and “democracy” racket.

Thailand’s Source of Strength 

Fiercely independent and nationalistic, and being the only nation in Southeast Asia to avoid European colonization, Thailand’s sovereignty has been protected for over 800 years by its revered monarchy. The current dynasty, the House of Chakri, has reigned nearly as long as America has existed as a nation and the current king is regarded as the equivalent of a living “Founding Father.” And just as it has for 800 years, the Thai Monarchy today provides the most provocative and meaningful answer to the threats facing the Kingdom – including economic ruination and poverty.

The answer is self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency as a nation, as a province, as a community and as a household. This concept is enshrined in the Thai King’s “New Theory” or “self-sufficiency economy” and mirrors similar efforts found throughout the world to break the back of the oppression and exploitation that results from an interdependent globalized system created by immense corporate-financier monopolies.

Formulated in the wake of the IMF’s crippling economic “reordering” of Asia in the late 1990′s, the “New Theory” implored both communities and individuals to grow sustainably by avoiding debt and investing income into expanding tangible, technological assets to further diversify and enhance economic activity.

A self-sufficient nation, is a sovereign nation – one that chooses how it interacts with the rest of the world on its own terms, rather than one that is bent in servile dependence on foreign trade, “international institutions,” and foreign banking cartels. Such a nation is an anathema to the global hegemons of Wall Street and London.

For this mortal sin against globalization, Thailand has been long targeted first by the British and French empires, and then the subsequent Anglo-American order for destabilization, destruction, and reordering. In 1932, a British-backed military coup led by Pridi Banomyong ended Thailand’s absolute monarchy. In 1946, he was accused of assassinating the popular King Ananda Mahidol upon his return to Thailand. Pridi escaped with US and British assistance, returning breifly in 1949 to lead a failed second coup. He would then spend the rest of his life in exile. 

During the 1970′s and 1980′s, so-called “communists” would attempt to overthrow Thailand’s political order, including the monarchy. And most recently, US-backed billionaire, convicted criminal, accused mass murderer, and fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra has led a 10 year push to undermine and overthrow Thailand’s monarchy through a so-called “pro-democracy” movement.

Thailand’s “Pro-Democracy” Movement Oblivious 

The vast majority of Thaksin Shinawatra’s supporters revere and respect the Thai King. Oblivious utterly to Thaksin Shinawatra and his foreign sponsors’ designs, they believe their battle is one for democracy, better representation, and a bigger piece of the pie currently, so they are told, held by Bangkok’s “elite.” The regime of Shinawatra has been careful in its compartmentalization of its plans to reorder Thailand politically, feeding the majority of its supporters anti-monarchy propaganda incrementally while cultivating an inner circle of anti-monarchist extremists who advocate “French Revolution-style” solutions to seizing power and upturning Thailand.

However, recent and growing protests against Thaksin Shinawatra’s political machine, beginning in October 2013 and continuing presently, have dealt Shinawatra a mortal wound. In its chaotic death throes, the regime has revealed openly, perhaps inadvertently, its designs to directly confront and overthrow the Thai monarchy and Thailand’s indigenous institutions – replacing them with the US-backed regime of Thaksin Shianwatra which is for all intents and purposes a hereditary dictatorship many times more “monarchical” than the Chakri Dynasty it opposes.

In a wholly inaccurate VICE Magazine documentary titled, “Bangkok Rising,” pro-regime militant leader Wuthipong Kachathamkhun (Ko Tee) openly declared he is fighting Thailand’s King, whom he claims is the “mastermind” behind “everything,” despite the aging monarch spending much of his time confined to a wheelchair and in the hospital. Ko Tee continues by declaring his intention to begin an “all out war” in Thailand.

Despite Ko Tee’s hyperbole, the notion of a civil war in Thailand is fantastical. At the height of Shinawatra’s popularity, a miniscule 7% identified themselves as “red,” referring to Thaksin Shinawatra’s fanatical supporters who bill themselves as the “red shirts.” This was in 2010. Since then, his regime, led currently by his own sister, Yingluck Shianwatra, has gutted Thailand’s rice industry with a disastrous, ill-conceived vote-buying rice subsidy scheme that has since collapse, leaving thousands of farmers unpaid, destitute, and desperate. Once the foundation of Shinawatra’s political support, they have turned in droves against him, many blocking roads across his political stronghold in the nation’s north and northeastern regions, while others have traveled to Bangkok to join growing protests there.

Despite the impossibility of Ko Tee’s dreams of a violent insurrection aimed at overthrowing the Thai monarchy, what is left of Thaksin Shinawatra’s support base is most likely not interested in such a vision, many still adorning their homes, vehicles, and bodies with images of the revered King and his predecessors, utterly unaware of Shinawatra and his foreign backers’ true designs of demolishing Old World Thailand, and building a New Order vassal state. Recent efforts to carve out a “Thaksin Republic” in the north of Thailand have been met with backlash even among Shinawatra’s supposed supporters. Upturning the monarchy would probably turn that backlash into mutiny across what is left of his dwindling ranks.

Out with the Old, in with the “New?” 

While many may welcome the removal of Thailand’s constitutional monarchy as a sign of “progress,” even those in nations that are constitutional monarchies themselves, this is based on primarily Western perceptions of what a monarchy is – ignorant of how Thailand’s institutions are both different than Western monarchies and integral to Thailand’s long-standing sovereignty. Additionally, it is a perception based on ignorance of what seeks to replace it.

Thaksin Shianwatra, who held power from 2001-2006, has since maintained his iron grip on Thai politics through a series of nepotist proxies. His brother-in-law, Somchai Wongsawat, assumed power in 2008. His sisters hold various positions within his political party, and currently his youngest sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is serving as “prime minister” in his stead while he evades a 2 year jail term, multiple arrest warrants, and a long list of pending court cases.

In other words, what seeks to replace Thailand’s constitutional monarchy, is an overt hereditary regime, in which direct political power is monopolized by a single family. While fanatical Shinawatra supporters like Ko Tee claim without evidence that Thailand’s King is “the mastermind,” the Shinawatra family openly imposes its authoritarian rule upon Thailand as it seeks to rewrite the nation’s charter, grant themselves additional powers, and eliminate any and all checks and balances that may impede their political ascent.

With Thaksin Shinawatra grooming his petulant son, Panthongtae “Oak” Shinawatra, to eventually step into the political arena, what Thailand is faced with is the elimination of their sovereign indigenous constitutional monarchy, and its replacement by a foreign-backed autocratic hereditary regime. To gauge just how much foreign backing Thaksin Shinawatra has, one needs only to look at the long list of Washington lobbyists that have lined up behind him, including many tied to the Carlyle Group of which Shinawatra was an adviser to before taking office in 2001. 

Once again, the  “principles” of the West evaporate quickly revealing its naked pursuit of power at any cost – including replacing a revered, respected, but ultimately independent dynasty, with an increasing reviled hereditary regime bent in servile obedience to Western ambitions. 

For Thais on either side of the current political divide, they must understand the true ambitions of Thaksin Shianwata and the foreign designs he plays a part in. They must ask themselves if a hereditary regime serving foreign interests is really about “democracy” and “progress,” and if relinquishing their long-standing indigenous institutions in exchange for this insidious alliance is truly in their own best interests. It is safe to assume that should many of Thaksin Shinawatra’s “red shirt” followers, those that still remain, hear the words of Ko Tee, they would recoil just as many millions of their fellow Thais have long ago upon discovering and understanding the conspiracy against their nation

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

ZunZuneo – a now defunct social media platform similar to Twitter – was designed to undermine the Cuban government by two private contractors: Creative Associates International (CAI) from Washington DC and Mobile Accord, a Denver based company. Funding was provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Named after a Cuban hummingbird, the text message based system was launched in 2010 and hit a peak of 40,000 users before it shut down in June 2012 when funding ran out. CAI targeted a list of 500,000 Cuban phone numbers provided by an engineer from Cubacel, the government owned cell phone provider. Mobile Accord was tasked with tracking age, gender, “receptiveness” and “political tendencies” of individuals who signed up for the service.

Details of how ZunZuneo was created were brought to light last week by an Associated Press (AP) investigation. The reporters also uncovered a secret trail of funding that was channeled through the Cayman islands to companies in Spain in an apparent effort to hide the source of the money.

“There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement,” wrote Mobile Accord in a 2010 memo cited by the AP. “This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the Mission.”

The contract has been roundly criticized by members of the U.S. Congress. “That is not what USAID should be doing,” said Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform National Security Subcommittee. “If they start participating in covert, subversive activities, the credibility of the United States is diminished.”

“Why weren’t we specifically told about this if you’re asking us for money?” asked Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. “And secondly, whose bright idea was this anyway?”

USAID has defended the project. “Working on creating platforms to improve communication in Cuba and in many other parts of the world is a core part of what USAID has done for some time and continues to do,” Rajiv Shah, the head of USAID, told a Congressional hearing on Tuesday. “To the extent that the AP story or any other comment creates the impression that this effort or any other goes beyond that for other ulterior purposes, that is simply inaccurate.”

Yet the AP quotes from USAID documents which state specifically that ZunZuneo was created to “push (Cuba) out of a stalemate through tactical and temporary initiatives, and get the transition process going again.”

The project planners also offered the rationale that “text messaging had mobilized smart mobs and political uprisings in Moldova and the Philippines, among others,” write the AP. “In Iran, the USAID noted social media’s role following the disputed election of then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009 — and saw it as an important foreign policy tool.”

Both CAI and Mobile Accord have a prior history of being awarded contracts for U.S. government democracy initiatives in Third World countries.

Mobile Accord was founded by James Eberhard, a technology entrepreneur, to distribute bulk text messages for non-commercial purposes. The technology was used to to raise money for earthquake victims in Haiti and to create a social media platform called Humari Awaaz (which means “Our Voice”) in Pakistan on behalf of the U.S. State Department. (Like ZunZuneo the latter project folded when the funding was cut)

CAI, which was founded in 1977 by Charito Kruvant, a Bolivian national, is one of many “Beltway Bandit” contracting firms that make a living from U.S. government and multilateral agency contracts. “We work in areas where conflict is about to end and turmoil is about to begin, and we love it,” Kruvant told the Washington Post once.

For example, CAI was awarded $1 million sub-contract in 1989 to train Contra rebels, the anti-communist guerrillas in Nicaragua, in skills such as engine repair, first aid and road maintenance.

CAI’s contracts have come in for criticism in the past. For example, CAI won a 2003 contract to print textbooks and train teachers in Afghanistan, despite never having worked in the country before.

Raheem Yaseer, assistant director of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Afghanistan Studies, which also bid and lost, says he was surprised. “Our university has been involved in Afghanistan from the early 1970s, and had offices and programs during the war years,” Yaseer said.

Creative didn’t bother with supporting the local economy – instead it subcontracted the printing of the Afghan textbooks to an Indonesian company, and then airlifted them to Afghanistan.

The company has also been investigated by USAID for using insider influence to win contracts in Iraq. A June 2003 USAID memorandum detailing the findings said, “The documentation is clear that only one of the five contractors that were subsequently invited by USAID to bid on the contract participated in an initial roundtable discussion. In addition, we conclude that USAID Bureau officials did not adhere to the guidance on practical steps to avoid organizational conflicts of interest.”

A previous article discussed Eastern Ukrainian resistance. Thousands in Kharvov, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, Lugansk, Odessa, Nikolayev and elsewhere reject Kiev putschists.

They want local autonomy. They want Crimean-style referendum authority to decide.

They took over Donetsk’s Security Service building. They proclaimed a People’s Republic of Donetsk.

Kharkov protesters took over the Regional State Administration. They occupied the putschist UNIAN news agency building.

They proclaimed independence.

Protesters flooded streets. It’s happening across Eastern Ukraine.

On April 8, RT International headlined “Kiev cracks down on eastern Ukraine cities after two proclaim independence.”

Police arrested at least 70 activists. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said:

“The anti-terrorist operation has begun. The center of the city and Metro stations are closed. As soon as we finish the operation, we will unblock them.”

“The building of Regional State Administration is totally free from the separatists who seized it earlier.”

He threatened to sack 30% of Khakov’s police, adding:

“I said yesterday that a considerable number of police officers not so much had been serving their Motherland as sabotaging the process.”

“I believe at least 30% of Kharkov police will be dismissed.”

According to RT, police attacked protesters violently. They “used fire-hoses, stun grenades, and tear gas…”

In response, activists threw Molotov cocktails. They did so at the building. They avoided harming anyone. They set tires ablaze.

It spread on the building’s first floor. Fire crews extinguished the blaze. Minor damage was reported.

Eye-witnesses said putschist provocateurs triggered violence. Earlier, pro-EU elements clashed with federalization supporters.

Witnesses said demonstrators still control the building. RT said an activist used a loudspeaker.

He proclaimed Kharkov independence. He said a regional referendum will decide it up or down. Demonstrators responded supportively.

Protesters erected barricades around administrative buildings. They did so around Security Service headquarters.

Donetsk protesters reacted the same way. Mariupol Donetsk region port city conditions remain tense.

On Saturday, pro-Russian activists stormed the local prosecutor’s building. They demanded people’s mayor Dmitry Kuzmenko’s release.

Odessa residents protested against Kiev repression. Clashes erupted in Nikolaev. It’s in southern Ukraine.

Hundreds of activists tried storming the city’s administration building. Police attacked them with rubber bullets.

At least 15 injuries were reported. Eleven were hospitalized. Over 20 arrests were made.

Dnepropetrovsk authorities tried reason over violence. They moved to negotiate with protesters.

Boris Filatov is regional vice governor. Protesters agreed to refrain from “calls for separatist actions,” he said.

Authorities let them operate out of administrative building facilities. They provided free print media access.

On April 8, Voice of Russia (VOR) headlined “Tanks heading for Ukraine’s Lugansk on Kiev order,” saying:

Southeastern self-defense squads are readying “for an armed attack.” According to activist Yury Germes:

“Citizens are all wound up. Lugansk residents are demanding a referendum on self-determination. It was hard to negotiate with the interior ministry representatives.”

“We’ve just got info on six armored vehicles and soldiers heading for Lugansk. We will not give in. There must be a referendum!”

Donetsk mayor Alexander Lukyanchenko blamed Kiev. Fascist extremists ignited protests.

“New Ukrainian authorities do not quite understand what is happening in Donetsk now.”

“Indeed, the seizure of administrative buildings is illegal and bad. Separatist slogans that were voiced in city squares are unacceptable.”

“Yet all these problems are a consequence of the new authorities’ incorrect policy, their unwillingness to look into the problems to understand them.”

They have themselves to blame. Protesters reject them. They want their rights respected. Putschist extremists deny them.

On April 8, Itar Tass headlined “Federalization crucial for Ukraine – Russian lawmaker.”

According to Moscow’s lower house State Duma Education Committee chairman Vyacheslav Nikonov:

“It’s perfectly clear that if the Kiev authorities do not go the way of federalization, do not give official status to the Russian language and non-aligned status to Ukraine, it will probably be doomed as an independent and integral state.”

Growing thousands across Eastern Ukraine demand it. Protesting reflects “the extremely near-sighted nationalist policy pursed by so-called incumbent Kiev authorities,” Nikonov added.

Russia may have to intervene to avoid violence and bloodshed, he said. Doing so would exclude troops, he stressed.

Socioeconomic conditions alone are deplorable. IMF diktats assure far worse ahead. Plundering Ukraine is planned.

So is sacking thousands of workers. Increasing poverty exponentially is certain. Ukraine heads toward becoming Greece 2.0.

Horrific conditions reflect things. Growing human misery describes them. Expect angry Ukrainians becoming enraged ahead.

They’ve yet to feel neoliberal harshness full force. It’s coming. It’s planned. It’ll hit like a hammer on arrival. It’ll leave millions of Ukrainians on their own out of luck.

It remains to be seen how they’ll react. Perhaps not just in Eastern cities. Maybe nationwide. People take only so much before rebelling. A potential social explosion looms.

Maybe civil war. Maybe what opposition putschists can’t contain. Will US-led NATO forces intervene? Will mass slaughter follow?

Will Obama’s grand strategy fail? Will conflict spread cross-border? Will Russia be targeted? Will it be blamed for US-led lawlessness? These and other important questions remain unanswered.

Sergei Lavrov is a consummate diplomat. He shames John Kerry. He deserves Nobel Peace Prize recognition. War criminals alone get it. Obama is Exhibit A.

On April 7, Lavrov’s London Guardian commentary headlined “It’s not Russia that is destabilizing Ukraine.”

He called what’s ongoing a “profound and pervasive crisis.” It’s “a matter of grave concern,” he added.

External forces should be helping Ukraine, he stressed. At issue is “protect(ing) the foundations of civil peace and sustainable development…”

Moscow goes all-out to do it. Lavrov is front and center involved. Russia more than any other country. Best efforts are criticized.

Misguided Western ones substitute. Kiev was “undemocratically” seized. Putschists have no legitimacy.

No one elected them. Legal authority is absent. Self-appointing themselves mocks lawful governance. It reflects tyranny writ large.

At the same time, US-led NATO encroaches closer to Russia’s borders. Doing so is provocatively dangerous.

“No less troubling is the pretence of not noticing that the main danger for the future of Ukraine is the spread of chaos by extremists and neo-Nazis,” said Lavrov.

“Russia is doing all it can to promote early stabilisation in Ukraine.”

“We are firmly convinced that this can be achieved through, among other steps: real constitutional reform, which would ensure the legitimate rights of all Ukrainian regions and respond to demands from its south-eastern region to make Russian the state’s second official language; firm guarantees on Ukraine’s non-aligned status enshrined in its laws, thus ensuring its role as a connecting link in an indivisible European security architecture; and urgent measures to halt activity by illegal armed formations of the Right Sector and other ultra-nationalist groups.”

Moscow imposes nothing on anyone, Lavrov added. If policies benefitting all Ukrainians fairly aren’t implemented, crisis conditions may spiral out-of-control.

With “unpredictable consequences,” said Lavrov. Russia is ready to partner with Western nations. It urges “achieving (important) goals.”

Belligerent actions worsen things. Sanctions are counterproductive. They cut both ways. They’re stupid. They’re lose – lose.

“De-escalation should begin with rhetoric,” said Lavrov. It’s time to stop “whipping-up” tensions. He urges cooperation. Serious work remains unresolved.

It’s up to both sides to do it. Russia wants no less. It can’t pursue mutually beneficial policies without a willing partner.

It has none. Washington prefers confrontation. It drags its EU partners along. Doing the wrong thing assures its own punishment.

What’s worse than global war. Odds of it erupting increase with every Western provocation.

They repeat with disturbing regularity. Mainstream media echo Big Lies. Murdoch controlled Wall Street Journal editors are some of the worst.

Putin bashing writ large persists. On April 7, they headlined ”Putin’s Latest Escalation.”

He’s “back on the offensive,” they said. They lied claiming it. They outrageously blamed him for Eastern Ukrainian protests.

Moscow has nothing to do with them. Claiming otherwise hypes a Big Lie. It’s featured. It’s longstanding Journal editorial policy.

Truth is systematically buried. It’s verboten. It’s not tolerated. It’s opposite the acceptable narrative.

Journal editors suggest “bloodshed could provide the excuse Mr. Putin wants to order Russian forces to take over another chunk of the country, not that the Russian has shown he needs a pretext.”

They hyped the Big Lie about Russia invading Crimea and annexing it. Crimeans acted on their own. They did so overwhelmingly.

They voted 96.77% for reunification. Record turnout made it more impressive. Ordinary Crimeans chose. International law supports them. UN Charter principles endorse self-determination.

Washington can’t deny them. Nor Journal editors. Big Lies can’t hide truth. Calling Crimea’s referendum a “sham” doesn’t wash.

Nor blaming Russia for Eastern Ukrainian activism. It’s spontaneous. It’s self-generated. It’s real. It’s legitimate. It has legs.

It’s spreading. It may go nationwide. Obama’s new imperial trophy may slip from his grasp. Maybe he’ll go to war to save it.

Maybe Journal editors will cheerlead it. They’re in lockstep with all US imperial wars. Calling them humanitarian interventions turns truth on its head.

So does saying Putin uses Russia’s “military (for) leverage.” Claiming its parliament is “rubber-stamp.”

Suggesting “Russian forces (are) green-lighted…anywhere in Ukraine to protect Russian speakers.” Lying about them ready to invade Ukraine “at any moment.”

They bury legitimate voices. They give them no say. They quoted illegitimate/fascist extremist/self-appointed president Oleksandr Turchynov. He maliciously accused Russia of:

“Debstabilization, toppling the current government, thwarting elections and tearing the country apart.”

Things were stable until he and other putschists allied with Washington and Western partners. They wrecked Ukraine doing it.

They established illegitimate fascist rule. They plan sham May elections. They’ll be manipulated to install likeminded extremists.

Democracy is strictly verboten. Ukrainians have no say. Not according to Journal editors.

They praised coup d’etat “democracy.” They hailed a “prosperous alignment with the West.” They lied claiming Putin wants things his way.

His “troops on the border are a reminder of what can happen by force if Kiev declines the offer.”

Legitimate editors wouldn’t touch this rubbish. Journal ones feature it. Propaganda substitutes for required reading. War winds head toward gale force.

A Final Comment

On April 8, John Kerry testified before Senate Foreign Relations Committee members. He highlighted the Big Lie.

He blames “Russian provocateurs” for spontaneous Eastern Ukrainian protests. He claimed Moscow may use them as a pretext to invade cross border.

He cited nonexistent Russian special forces involvement. He mentioned intelligence operatives. He said they’re acting as catalysts. They’re stoking unrest, he claimed.

“Quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary,” he said.

It’s hard understanding why anyone takes him seriously. He’s transparently disingenuous. He hypes one Big Lie after another. He’s been caught red-handed many times.

He’s not deterred. He blames Russia for US crimes. He blames Syria and Palestinians the same way.

He mocks legitimate statesmanship. He lacks honor. Integrity isn’t his long suit. Nor credibility. Sergei Lavrov shames him by comparison.

Mismatch describes their relationship. A diplomatic giant v. a tactless incredibly shrinking pretender.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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

Many commentators – including both liberal and conservative  Supreme Court justices such as Sandra Day O’Connor -  believe that the Supreme Court wrongfully threw the election to Bush.  Many have called it the “worst Supreme Court decision in history”.

Liberals also believe that the “Brooks Brothers Riot” against the recount was a dirty trick by high-level Republican operatives (and see this):

http://www.truthmove.org/workspace/photos-content/preppy_riot.jpg

But the elephant in the room which most Democrats refuse to consider is election fraud.  This is odd, given that there is substantial evidence that election fraud has been widespread in the U.S. in recent years.

Why won’t they admit that election fraud is widespread?

Perhaps because they benefit from the false appearance of free and fair elections. As Sonoma State University and Project Censored Director Peter Phillips noted in 2005:

There is little doubt key Democrats know that votes in 2004 and earlier elections were stolen. The fact that few in Congress are complaining about fraud is an indication of the totality to which both parties accept the status quo of a money based elections system. Neither party wants to further undermine public confidence in the American “democratic” process (over 80 millions eligible voters refused to vote in 2004)…. Future elections in the US will continue as an equal opportunity for both parties to maintain a national democratic charade in which money counts more than truth.

A more cynical view: the Democratic “leadership” may simply hope to be able to outspend the Republicans in the election fraud arm’s race.

 Not only is Middle East “Peace Envoy”, Catholic convert and Butcher of Baghdad, Tony Blair gunning for another overthrow and mass destruction in Syria, he has recruited the son of an Archbishop to help him.

Not any old Archbishop either, Blair’s latest recruit is son of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England, who heads both the Church of England and the eighty million member Anglican Communion worldwide.

Blair has given Peter Welby “a key role” in his mega-funded Faith Foundation as: “a researcher for a new website … that will analyse the role of religion in conflicts around the world.”(1) Perhaps enjoining, as George W. Bush put it, a “Crusade” against majority Muslim countries might be an angle worth pursuing.

Twenty three year old Welby is clearly a faithful Blairite, having already hawkishly warned of President Putin’s “annexation” of the Crimea and that the British Government: “would be wise to consider reversing some defence cuts …” As a “researcher” he clearly has a bit to learn, since the Crimean referendum with a 83.1% turn out and near 97% vote to cede to Russia had clearly passed him by.

 He will surely fit well in his new post since the above exhibits a splendidly Blair-type mindset and abandonment scrutiny of facts – like weapons of mass destruction that can be unleashed “in forty five minutes.”

However, it is with Syria that he follows Blair’s line to the letter. The “Peace Envoy” embraces wars of aggression as a fish takes to proverbial water – courageously always traveling with an army of armed protection officers funded by the un-consulted British tax payer.

Blair’s determination to do for Syria what he did for Iraq is a litany, but here are a random four: Legality ditched again, he declared of President Assad: “He’s got to go …”   (CBS 19th April 2012.)

“We’ve got to look very carefully to what more we can do to ratchet up the pressure on Assad … “ (BBC “Today” Programme, 17th September 2012.)

There would be: “ ‘catastrophic consequences’ if the West fails to arm Syrian rebels to defeat the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.” (Daily Telegraph 19th June 2013.) Blair either missed or is cheering on, the unspeakable atrocities being committed by the (Western paid) foreign insurgents and terrorist groups.

As this was being written he popped up on the BBC’s “Today” Programme again, loftily attempting to justify the catastrophes of Afghanistan and Iraq in his “I’d do it all again” mode and saying of Syria that the strong opposition of the British people (he didn’t mention the “No” vote in Parliament) did not “invalidate” the need for action. As Stop the War put it: “We should invade Syria whether the British public want it or not.”

The cynic might ponder on whether, for a man for whom precious human lives lost in orders of magnitude are clearly very cheap indeed, there is an element of pay-back involved.

At the beginning of November 2001, three weeks after the invasion of Afghanistan, Blair went to visit President Assad: “the first ever visit to Damascus by a British leader, to enlist support for the bombing campaign. Instead he was subjected to a recital of … Western failures in the Middle East.”

 Rather than gather support for the bombing, he: “was forced to listen as the Syrian President heaped criticism on the killing of Afghan civilians.”

“We cannot accept what we see on television, the killing of innocent civilians, hundreds now dying every day”, Assad told Blair, adding that: “We are always against war” – and moreover, the West also placed little value on Arab lives.(2)

Whatever Blair’s motives, Peter Welby is firmly on side. On 31st March he wrote, in an article for the Faith Foundation’s website:

“Last week I went to a presentation by Emile Hokayem hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.” In a “fascinating” talk: “Hokayem argued that engagement with Assad is not the way to defeat jihadist forces in Syria – rather, engagement must be with rebels more favourable to Western interests …” (emphasis mine.) (3)

In a ramble about the complexities of terrorist groups in Iraq and their travels between Iraq and Syria, there is no mention that they were never there before in secular Iraq and Syria and, as mentioned previously, literally came in with Bush and Blair’s tanks, in their illegal invasion, which also left all borders wide open for all comers.

 

Hokayem, writes Welby unquestioningly, thought Assad’s victory “improbable”, but his money is basically on the thugs and: “peace is unlikely until one group is sufficiently dominant to take the others with it.”

No mention of countless beheadings, including children and of the numerous, unspeakable mediaeval atrocities meted out by these demonic, illegal immigrants.

 In fact, even the Washington Post is of the view that President Assad’s tide is turning and that: “He is in a stronger position than ever before to quell the rebellion” and indeed, to win a third term in the upcoming elections.(4)

Mr Welby’s temporarily absent researching skills have also perhaps missed that Mr Hokayem, who does not just lecture at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, but works for them, seemingly has a touching faith in Israel’s views, as evident in a recent tweet:

“Emile Hokayem __@emile_hokayem_ 34m Israeli intel reports recent Assad use of non-lethal chem agents. Before trashing news, remember: Isr intel was 1st to report CW use last yr”

Seymour Hersh’s latest meticulous piece (5) on the chemical weapons attack in Syria is summarily dismissed:

“Emile Hokayem __@emile_hokayem_ Apr 7

So, just as there was no reason to take his 1st LRB piece on Assad CW attacks seriously, there is no reason to do so with the 2nd one either

 Last year’s claim to which Hokayem refers, that Syrian government forces used chemical weapons at Ghouta has been widely discredited. Hersh’s piece seems to put the lid on any doubts.

 Perhaps, however, Peter Welby’s appointment by Blair is not so surprising. His father is seemingly a close friend of the self-styled “Vicar of Baghdad” Canon Andrew “I get most of my money from the Pentagon” White.

On Justin Welby’s appointment as Archbishop in November 2013 Andrew White commented: “What do you say when your friend and former colleague, the one who reopened St. George’s Baghdad with me, is announced as Archbishop of Canterbury?

“Bishop Justin Welby is a great and wonderful man of G-d. I count it as a great privilege to have had him as my closest colleague ever.”(6)

One man is incandescent about the appointment of Peter Welby and has written to his father in no uncertain terms.

Nicholas Wood is author of “War Crime or Just War? The Case Against Blair”, a meticulous legal compilation of just that. Wood, is also Secretary of the Blair War Crimes Foundation. He writes:

 The Archbishop of Canterbury.

Canterbury Cathedral.

Dear Sir,

I enclose my book on Blair, and also a letter to the Prime Minister on his criminality. Though quite why I bother to pay the postage I don’t know.

 I cannot comprehend that you are someone who is supposed to think every day of moral values but not realise that Blair is a very dangerous psychopath, who, as well as causing untold devastation and misery in Iraq, wishes to extend that violence into Syria and Iran to protect Israel.

If you read page 570 of his autobiography you might possibly see what I mean.”

Referring to Blair’s advisory position to various heads of State, including Uzbekistan, of which former Ambassador Craig Murray blew the whistle on mind numbing torture, he states: “ Your son will be benefiting, indirectly of coursei from money obtained from despots who boil their victims. This, under the guise of piety.

I was brought up as a child, a long time ago, to think of Thomas A Becket as a Saint, who resisted the power of a military state, and paid the price with his life. I cannot see you doing that.

I also was brought up to worship the medieval beauty of Canterbury, it’s stones and it’s stained glass. If stones could weep they would be weeping now.

 Yours faithfully,

Nicholas Wood, MA

Page 570 of Blair’s autobiography to which Wood refers contains a phrase which should surely grab the attention of any psychiatrist:

 “I had a vision for Britain. All the way I had believed I could and would persuade the country it was the right choice, the modern way, bigger than Iraq, bigger than the American Alliance, bigger than any one thing; a complete vision of where we should be in the early twenty first century; about how we finally overcome the greatness of our history to discover the full potential of our future.”

 

“Bigger than Iraq”? The nearing two million deaths since 2003? The five million orphans, million widows. five million displaced? On to Syria, Iran?

Nicholas Wood says in succinct understatement: “I suggest that such a  vision should be restrained before it is emulated and allowed free rein.”

 Notes

1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2594735/SEBASTIAN-SHAKESPEARE-Archbishop-Welbys-son-given-plum-job-Blair.html#ixzz2yCQeZ0QY

 2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/1361190/Assad-hits-at-Blair-over-war-deaths.html

 3. http://www.tonyblairfaithfoundation.org/blogpost/syria’s-fragmented-extremists

4. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/on-third-anniversary-of-syrian-rebellion-assad-is-steadily-winning-the-war/2014/03/14/f189649a-bd1a-4c9e-9060-755984ea92c8_story.html

5. http://www.lrb.co.uk/2014/04/06/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

6. http://www.breakingchristiannews.com/articles/display_art.html?ID=10743

 

In his speech yesterday outlining his political agenda, incoming Socialist Party (PS) Prime Minister Manuel Valls laid out plans for deep social cuts and made militaristic, law-and-order appeals to the neo-fascist National Front’s (FN) growing political base.

Valls’ speech testifies to the disintegration of bourgeois “left” politics in France and Europe as a whole. The Socialist Party’s response to its unprecedented defeat in last month’s municipal elections, due to popular anger over mass unemployment and austerity measures, is a violent shift to the right. Given the choice between making concessions to the working class or slashing workers’ living standards while stoking up pro-FN sentiment, the PS has chosen to promote the neo-fascists.

Valls, whose speechwriters evidently read the police reports he received in his previous post as interior minister, began by raising the existence of deep popular alienation from official politics. “I have seen many closed faces, shaking voices, tightened lips,” he said. “To say things more simply, many of our fellow citizens do not believe us anymore. They do not hear us anymore. For them, public life has become a dead letter.”

Valls then made a series of appeals to far-right sentiment, calling for targeting “delinquency” as well as “anti-Christian” acts, as part of a broader campaign supposedly targeting racism.

He saluted the French army and its wars in Mali and the Central African Republic, brazenly denying France’s well-documented support for the Rwandan Hutu regime’s 1994 genocide of the Tutsis. “Our voice—that of our head of state, our diplomacy, of our armies—is respected,” he said. “I do not accept unjust accusations that France might have been the accomplice of genocide, whereas France always stakes its honor on its role of separating belligerents.”

He grotesquely praised French chauvinism, declaring: “France is not obscure nationalism; it is the light of what is universal. France, yes, it is the arrogance to believe that what we do here is what the entire world should be doing.”

This right-wing trash is to be the pretext for a campaign to massively lower living standards, slash social spending, and funnel vast amounts of money to the rich. Valls pledged to meet this week with the trade union bureaucracy and employers’ groups to discuss new favors for business and the planned €50 billion cut in yearly public spending under President François Hollande’s so-called “Responsibility Pact.” This includes €19 billion in cuts to the public sector wage bill and €10 billion in health care cuts.

Valls openly stated that he aims to slash workers’ living standards, which he called the “cost of labor.” He said, “The time of decision has come. First of all, there is the cost of labor. It must fall. It is one of our main levers for competitiveness—not the only one, but a major one.”

He proposed tax incentives for businesses to hire workers on salaries between 100 and 130 percent of the minimum wage. These would include the elimination of taxes paid by businesses on their wages to fund health care and pensions. The aim of this policy is the development of France as a low-wage export economy—in which social programs would be systematically starved of funding and workers would have to step up the already widespread practice of buying private health insurance to supplement the national health plan.

Valls also laid out plans for a massive reorganization and cut in spending by authorities at the various levels of French local government, from regions to departments to communes or municipalities.

He called for cutting the number of regions in France by half and eliminating elected councils at the departmental level by 2021. He also called for eliminating the “general competence clause,” which stipulates that local governments can undertake projects on any subject of public interest, unless responsibility for it is specifically allocated to other authorities.

Valls’ predecessor, PS Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, had already called for this measure as part of a “simplification shock” to slash local government spending and more directly subordinate it to the central government and the banks.

Like the Responsibility Pact and his nationalist appeals, Valls’ calls for local government cuts are aligned with the demands of the financial aristocracy. They underscore the significance of investment bank JPMorgan’s calls last year for “political reforms” to better suppress opposition to social cuts across Europe. (See: JPMorgan calls for authoritarian regimes in Europe).

JP Morgan wrote that European political systems “were established in the aftermath of dictatorship, and were defined by that experience.”

It continued: “Constitutions tend to show a strong socialist influence, reflecting the political strength that left-wing parties gained after the defeat of fascism. Political systems around the periphery typically display several of the following features: weak executives; weak central states relative to regions; constitutional protections of labor rights; consensus-building systems which foster political clientelism; and the right to protest if unwelcome changes are made to the political status quo. The shortcomings of this political legacy have been revealed by the crisis.”

The PS’ moves to undermine labor rights, wages and public spending while simultaneously promoting the far right are taken directly from JPMorgan’s playbook for dismantling all the gains won by the working class in the post-World War II period. The fact that this is being carried out by the political descendants of the organizations JPMorgan called “left-wing,” such as the PS and the Stalinist French Communist Party (PCF), underscores the historical correctness of the International Committee of the Fourth International’s struggle against social democracy and Stalinism.

The Socialist Party’s public adoption of a platform of wage-cutting and social regression justified through appeals to far-right sentiment marks a further step in the decomposition of European bourgeois “left” politics. Like the discredited Greek PASOK party, the PS is setting up a confrontation between the working class and a capitalist elite that is rapidly shifting towards the far right.

The National Assembly voted 306 to 236 to approve Valls’ policy speech, with the bulk of the opposition coming from the right-wing Gaullist Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). Eleven PS, six Green, and three Left Radical deputies abstained, but the overwhelming majority of the bourgeois “left” deputies supported the speech.

This shows the empty hypocrisy of a demand by 100 PS legislators for a “contract” with Valls before they could endorse his government, and the Greens’ decision to withdraw from the PS-led government after the election defeat. Despite their feeble attempts to posture as critics of Valls, the PS and its various political allies all support Valls’ agenda.

As for the Left Front, the alliance of long-time PS allies led by the PCF and former PS minister Jean-Luc Mélenchon, their vote against Valls is an empty gesture that will be seen as such. Their members within the trade union bureaucracy will, in any case, soon be negotiating the next round of social cuts, as Valls made clear in his speech.

It is the suppression of deep popular opposition to the reactionary agenda of the ruling class by petty-bourgeois forces such as the Left Front and the New Anti-capitalist Party that allows the FN to rise, by posturing as the only opponent of attacks on the population.

The enormous power and destructive influence of financial markets became apparent after the global economic collapse of 2008. This event revealed a need for bringing the sector under democratic public ownership; failing that, stronger regulations for financial markets at the very least. But political will has been lacking on both counts. The sector enjoys massive financial resources and successfully translates them into political influence.

Many ordinary people might be wondering why governments have not curtailed the criminality of the financial sector on the back of the economic crisis which it created. Instead, billions of dollars, pounds and euros have been handed over to the sector, and governments continue to grant banks free rein and thus dictate national economic and social policies.

 If bankers and financiers are to be able to stuff their bulging suitcases with taxpayer handouts and to further loot economies, it is essential for them to have politicians in their pockets. One way by which this is achieved is shown in a new report, which indicates that the financial industry spends more than 120 million euros a year on lobbying in Brussels and employs more than 1,700 lobbyists to influence EU policy-making.

The report, ‘The fire power of the financial lobby’ has been released by Corporate Europe Observatory, ÖGB Europabüro (Brussels office of the Austrian Trade Union Federation), and AK EUROPA (Brussels office of the Austrian Chamber of Labour) .

Kenneth Haar from Corporate Europe Observatory says:

“Reform has proved difficult, and these numbers are an important part of the explanation. The financial lobby’s fire power to resist reform has been evident in all significant battles over financial regulation since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.”

 The report shows the financial industry commands tremendous lobbying resources and enjoys privileged access to decision makers. The financial sector lobbies EU decision-makers by means of over 700 organisations, including companies’ public relations offices, business associations, and consultancies.

 This figure outnumbers civil-society organisations and trade unions working on financial issues by a factor of more than five. And the imbalance is even greater when numbers of staff and lobbying expenses are compared. The report shows that the financial lobby massively outspends other actors by a factor of more than 30. In order to arrive at a safe estimate, the survey used the most conservative figures. The actual numbers – and the imbalance between different interests – are thus likely to be far higher. This underestimate is mainly due to the lack of a mandatory register of lobbyists at the EU level that would provide reliable information for proper monitoring.

The report also shows the presence of the financial industry in the EU’s official advisory groups that play a key role in helping to shape policy. And, here too, the financial lobby is massively over-represented here: 15 of the 17 expert groups covered by the study were heavily dominated by the financial industry.

 Oliver Röpke, from ÖGB Europabüro said:

“This situation represents a severe democratic problem that politicians must act on swiftly. A first step is to adopt effective rules on lobbying transparency and strong ethics rules against undue influence.”

Amir Ghoreishi from AK EUROPA said:

“The fact that the financial lobby is so dominant in advisory groups reveals that the European Commission feels that people representing the financial industry should be allowed to set the agenda. An arms-length principle should be applied immediately.”

The report is a damning indictment of the sector’s political influence. The sector continues to rake in unimaginable profits, while sucking the life out of economies. Ordinary people continue to pay the price via the privatization of public assets and ‘austerity’.

“The stench emanating from the financial system is a product of the decay of the entire profit system. That system must be replaced by a higher socio-economic order in which the vast wealth created by the collective labour of the world working class is deployed to meet human need. The expropriation of the banks and finance houses, placing them under public ownership and democratic control, is the first step in implementing such a program.” Nick Beams (1)

Read the full report here: http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/financial_lobby_report.pdf

 Note:

1) https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/02/08/pers-f08.html

The United States secretary of state, John Kerry, yesterday accused Russia of being behind separatist protests in east Ukraine and said Moscow must “publicly disavow the activities of separatists, saboteurs and provocateurs” if it is not to “incur further costs.”

Testifying before members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry said, “Quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilise a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary.”

The aim, he said, was to create a pretext for further Russian incursions into Ukrainian territory.

If Kerry’s hypocritical diatribe was not in furtherance of such a dangerous objective, it would be laughable—given that Ukraine is now led by a regime installed by Washington at the admitted cost of at least US$5 billion. But Kerry is seeking to create a pretext for US aggression against Russia.

Kerry has phoned Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to moot talks involving senior representatives from Russia, the US, Ukraine and the European Union (EU) supposedly aimed at defusing tensions. But in reality, Washington is continuing its military moves both in and around Ukraine.

Derek Chollet, assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs, told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday that the stay of the destroyer USS Truxtun in the Black Sea is being extended, and it will be joined by another ship in a week’s time.

“While we do not seek military confrontation with Russia,” he said the “unlawful” takeover of Crimea last month and continued “military threats” against Ukraine and other neighbouring states may cause the US “to reexamine its force posture in Europe,” the Washington Post reported.

Yesterday, Moscow accused the United States of supplying mercenaries to suppress by force the protesters demanding a referendum on becoming part of Russia in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Lugansk.

A statement by the Russian foreign ministry said that Ukraine intended to suppress the unrest with “tightened internal forces and National Guard units with participation of fighters from the illegal armed group Right Sector”, in cooperation with “150 American experts from the private military organisation ‘Greystone’” disguised as regular soldiers.

“We call for an immediate end to any military preparations, which threaten to trigger civil war,” the statement declared.

On Monday, Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksander Turchynov, and Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk both also accused Russia of staging the protests as a precursor to an armed seizure of Ukrainian territory. Turchynov blamed “separatist groups coordinated by Russian special services” for actions he said proved that “enemies of Ukraine are trying to play out the Crimean scenario,” while Yatsenyuk said that Russia was trying to split Ukraine and turn part of it into “a territory of slavery under a Russian dictatorship.”

NATO’s secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, speaking from Paris, warned Russia that if it were to “intervene further in Ukraine it would be a historic mistake”.

The pro-Western regime in Ukraine has mounted a brutal response to the pro-Russian protests. Described as an “anti-terrorist” operation, police arrested 70 demonstrators in Kharkiv on Tuesday, who had seized the regional state administration building. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook, “An anti-terrorist operation has been launched. The city centre is blocked along with metro stations. Do not worry. Once we finish, we will open them again.”

The interior ministry said that those detained faced charges of “illegal activity related to separatism, the organisation of mass disorder, damage to human health” and breaking other laws. Turchynov threatened that those who seized the buildings—precisely the tactic employed by the “protesters” in Kiev in the coup that brought the current regime to power—would be treated as “terrorists and criminals” and prosecuted with the full force of the law.

The previous evening, police used fire hoses, stun grenades and tear gas to push protesters back from the building, who responded by throwing Molotov cocktails which set the first floor of the building alight.

Victoria Siumar, Ukraine’s deputy national security chief, said earlier Monday that special forces had retaken control of the SBU state security services building in Donetsk. Those arrested in the clampdown had been taken to police detention centres in the cities of Poltava and Zaporijya and face charges relating to separatism, violence and taking part in mass protests, she said.

Donetsk is the hometown of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted by the US-backed coup in February. The protesters who occupied Donetsk’s regional government building called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine to be held by May 11—a demand also raised in Luhansk.

Talks were reported between the Donetsk protesters and local oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, who controls nearly half of Ukraine’s steel, mining and thermoelectricity assets. He too threatened protesters with a clampdown, but called for devolution to grant more powers to regions of Ukraine.

The government has said that “radicals” were keeping 60 people hostage inside the security service branch headquarters in Luhansk.

Meanwhile in parliament, the governing parties were passing legislation that will criminalise anyone supporting separation from Ukraine. Legislation outlawing groups and individuals who call for separatism was passed by 230 votes in the 450-member body. All members of the Communist Party, which was a backer of Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions, abstained from voting.

In the run-up to the vote, Vitali Klitschko, leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party, said that Ukraine was now facing a “real war” as a result of the events in Kharkiv and Donetsk.

Communist Party (CP) leader Petro Symonenko was physically attacked by members of the far-right Svoboda when he spoke in response to Klitschko. Referring to the pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine, he suggested that it was the nationalists who had set a precedent for seizing buildings during their protest against Yanukovych. “You are today doing everything to intimidate people. You arrest people, start fighting people who have a different point of view,” he said.

Proving his point, two deputies from Svoboda grabbed hold of him and tried to drag him from the rostrum. Fighting then broke out between CP parliamentarians and those from several other parties.

Yesterday, Lavrov said, “We are ready to consider a multilateral format, in which the Europeans, the US, Russia and the Ukrainian sides would be represented.” But he added that a draft of the new Ukrainian constitution needed to be presented before the meeting allowing for representation of Ukraine’s regions. He told reporters, “I do not think that the oligarchs who have been named governors of the regions will sufficiently represent the south and east of Ukraine.”

Writing in the Guardian Monday, Lavrov urged dialogue over Ukraine and denounced the US and the EU for rejecting cooperation in favour of confrontation. Russia had “supported Kiev’s wish for urgent consultations between Ukraine, Russia and the EU to discuss harmonising the integration process,” he stated, but this had been rejected due to “the unproductive and dangerous line the EU and US have been taking for a long time.”

He added that “massive support was provided to political movements promoting Western influence” so that “power in Kiev was seized…with the direct participation of ministers and other officials from the US and EU countries.”

Lavrov insisted that Russia is in favour of “a system of equal and indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic area,” but Western states have instead “carried out successive waves of NATO enlargement, moved the alliance’s military infrastructure eastward and begun to implement antimissile defence plans.”

How the Media Conned the Public into Loving the FBI

April 9th, 2014 by Global Research News

By Steve Weinberg 

This article was originally published by Who What Why

A review of “Hoover’s FBI and the Fourth Estate: The Campaign to Control the Press and the Bureau’s Image” by Matthew Cecil, University Press of Kansas, 355 pages, $34.95

Matthew Cecil, a communications professor at Wichita State University, has resolved a conundrum that’s bedeviled me since 1970, when I was a fledgling investigative reporter.

1I had just completed my first interaction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the supposedly crackerjack national law enforcement agency. But the crackerjack part escaped me. My initial experience suggested an agency that produced inaccurate information inefficiently, failed to respect the constitutional liberties of U.S. citizens, and often resorted to intimidation and lies to get their way. Yet many of my journalistic “betters” told me I was misguided.

Smart people who think they are well informed about a subject—say, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s role as the nation’s elite law enforcement agency—usually “know” what they think they know based on exposure to mass media—television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books. But when mass media have been corrupted, the reliability of the “knowledge” becomes suspect. That’s the case with the FBI.

As “Hoover’s FBI and the Fourth Estate: The Campaign to Control the Press and the Bureau’s Image” shows, the performance of supposedly first-rate FBI agents has been dismal time and again when the citizens of the United States needed them most, including perhaps most notably the run-up to the events of September 11, 2001.

1What the FBI excelled at, especially under its long-time chief J. Edgar Hoover, was a non-stop public relations campaign that portrayed the agency as a heroic band of G-men who skillfully tracked and felled dangerous criminals.

“Tales of the FBI’s infallible laboratory and army of honest and professional agents became part of popular culture,” Cecil writes. Thanks to mass media, “the FBI was widely considered to be an indispensable government agency.”

In fact, in all too many cases, dangerous criminals were eluding capture, while that “infallible” forensic laboratory wrongly analyzed evidence again and again, leading to the pursuit and convictions of innocent individuals.

J. Edgar’s 48-Year Reign

The publicity juggernaut to gild the FBI’s image began during the directorship of J. Edgar Hoover. He died in 1972, after 48 years at the helm. But the campaign he initiated was so pervasive, and the propaganda he peddled so appealing, that the image of incorruptible, invincible agent-heroes lives on in perpetuity.

Only gradually, since Hoover’s death, has the true story of the FBI begun to emerge. As Cecil explains, the course of events and countless investigations have exposed “a lawless and uncontrolled Bureau that expended enormous amounts of time and resources policing political thought rather than investigating violations of federal law… Hoover had ultimately transformed the Bureau into an American secret police force, even as he convinced the public and many in the news media that he was a trustworthy defender of civil liberties.”

Cecil says he wanted his book to reveal “how, in a nation so proud of its watchdog press, a high-profile federal agency managed to hide the reality of its activities for so long. The answer is as complex as the FBI’s decades-long deception, but it surely includes failings entrenched in the ideology of journalism and in readers’ and viewers’ often uncritical acceptance of news as truth.”

The reference to the “watchdog press” is central here. Yes, starting in the first decade of the twentieth century, what today we call “investigative reporting” began to take root in the U.S. media. But no more than a handful of media organizations ever practiced serious investigative journalism. The vast majority of journalists were too untrained or lazy or gullible or corrupt to seek the truth behind the FBI’s public-relations façade.

Unfortunately, as Cecil points out, many, probably most, consumers of news cannot or will not distinguish the excellent journalists from the untrained, lazy, gullible and corrupt ones and therefore have no idea whom to believe about the FBI. Through wise choice of media outlets and via pure luck, some consumers of mass media inevitably learned the ugly truth about the FBI—while most never did.

In the book’s Introduction, Cecil renders the abridged history of the FBI public relations campaign:

“After a few tentative steps into the realm of publicity during the late 1920s, the Bureau became a key element of FDR’s New Deal war on crime in the mid-1930s. Two journalists, independent author Courtney Ryley Cooper and Neil (Rex) Collier, collaborated with Hoover and his top lieutenants to create a template for FBI news stories emphasizing responsibility and science and featuring Hoover as America’s always careful and reliable top law enforcement officer. With the creation of the public relations-oriented Crime Records Section in 1935 and the establishment of clear lines of public communication authority, Hoover had both a public relations message and a management team to amplify and enforce it.”

During the mid-1930s, Collier, a Washington Star reporter, oversaw a comic strip called “War on Crime” that ran for two years in 80 newspapers across the United States.

Cecil summarizes the first six weeks of the strip: “Week one of ‘War on Crime’ focused on Hoover, who, Collier wrote in the comic strip’s text, ‘had the vision of a man twice his age.’ Hoover had cleaned up the Bureau, and ‘now he had men of unassailable integrity’ in the field.”

After touting the agents’ grueling training regimen and the cutting-edge science of the FBI’s crime-fighting laboratory, the strip focused on the Agency’s success in capturing criminals: “In the morgue of the Fingerprint Division are the cancelled records of criminals removed from circulation such as Dillinger, Floyd, and Nelson.”J. Edgar Hoover (left) with Sumner Blossom, Editor of The American Magazine, and journalist Courtney Ryley Cooper

J. Edgar Hoover (left) with Sumner Blossom, Editor of The American Magazine, and journalist Courtney Ryley Cooper

Cooper had worked as a publicist for a circus before turning to newspaper feature writing. He met Hoover in 1933, while rewriting a profile of the FBI chief for American Magazine. After completing the rewrite, Cooper suggested a more permanent arrangement to Hoover.  Soon, articles ghost-written by Cooper about the FBI began appearing in magazines and newspapers under Hoover’s byline. Other pieces appeared under Cooper’s name after FBI staff had carefully vetted them. Among the influential periodicals that published such public relations material as “news” were the respectable magazines Cosmopolitan and Saturday Evening Post.

Cecil notes:

“At a time when Americans were desperate for government to do something right, the FBI’s pursuit and elimination of John Dillinger and the other ‘Robin Hood’ outlaws of the Midwest provided a compelling hook on which to hang the Bureau’s reputation. Hoover built on that narrative, erecting an FBI built not only on real law enforcement innovation but also on a manufactured public relations foundation that hid mistakes and excesses from public view for nearly 40 years.”

Accused bank robber Bennie Dickson, for example, died on a St. Louis street during 1939 after he supposedly threatened to unload his weapon in the direction of four FBI agents. Cecil, relying in part on previously undisclosed FBI reports, shows that Dickson was actually trying to flee the scene when a trigger-happy agent shot him in the back.

The evidence appears overwhelming that in the aftermath of Dickson’s death, FBI agents coordinated their accounts, offered perjured testimony and threatened a key witness into silence after she had told the truth.

Cecil says that holes first began to appear in the FBI’s holier-than-thou image around 1940. Media accounts of agents falsifying testimony, conducting illegal wiretaps and raiding homes of Americans involved in the Spanish Civil War brought the agency unwanted attention.

Hoover found ways to fight back.  His staff maintained lists of hundreds of journalists, and categorized each as friend or foe. Foes were denied access to FBI information, while friends, like famed columnist Walter Winchell, got “insider” tips they could use, often unattributed, to spin coverage of specific investigations and to burnish the FBI’s overall reputation.

While most major media outlets willingly joined the pro-FBI chorus, low-circulation intellectual magazines like The Nation and The New Republic probed deeper.

Fred Cook’s critical reporting about the FBI filled the entire 58 pages of The Nation magazine for October 18, 1958. Cook questioned the American public’s “worship” of an agency that was “part heroic fact” to be sure, but also “part heroic myth.” Cook would expand the magazine tour de force into a 1964 book, “The FBI Nobody Knows.”

While trying without success to refute Cook’s facts, Hoover and his supporters accused him, and other critics, of being un-American—a charge that bore considerable weight during the Communist-hunting hysteria of the 1950s.

***

But even Fred Cook’s hard-hitting expose could not come close to neutralizing the Bureau-friendly “journalism” of Don Whitehead.

Whitehead had established his credentials as a newspaper reporter and war correspondent by the time he completed an “authorized” history of the FBI in 1956. “The FBI Story: A Report to the People” became a big seller. Whitehead had no qualms about FBI censors vetting his manuscript. In discussing the agency’s propensity for tapping telephones and bugging private homes and offices, Whitehead compared these actions to a potential employer examining “every possible source for information as to the honesty and reliability of a prospective employee.”

As Cecil sees it, “Whitehead sold out his own journalistic credibility to the heroic history of the FBI. Hoover counted on the public’s logical conclusion that a famed, objective journalist had reviewed the evidence and verified the Bureau’s history as it had always been told.”

1In 1959, Whitehead’s book “became the basis for a popular motion picture, also titled ‘The FBI Story,’ starring Jimmy Stewart. And when Hoover moved the FBI story into television in 1965, carefully selected scriptwriters were provided copies of Whitehead’s book.”

Under press liaison Louis B. Nichols, FBI staff “edited and rewrote news, feature, and magazine stories produced by cooperative reporters…[plus] rewrote scripts for radio, television, and film.”

In 1965, the hour-long television drama “The F.B.I.” started airing on the ABC network, a co-production of Warner Brothers and Quinn Martin. The dramatization of FBI cases reached millions of viewers each week, 241 episodes over a nine-year period, not including re-runs and syndication showings. An FBI agent worked on the set. FBI employees reviewed and rewrote the scripts line by line. The agency had the right to approve production crew members, performers and advertisers.

The FBI censors objected to scenes in which agents killed criminals, because that seemed to indicate a lack of responsibility.  “In addition to limiting violence…FBI reviewers rejected scripts that showed agents drinking alcohol, using diet pills to make their weight requirements, exercising poor judgment, losing their composure, and…demonstrating excessive compassion for criminals.”  The censors insisted any reference to wiretapping be omitted.

I watched episodes of the television drama while in my final year of high school and during my freshman year of college, and swallowed whole the idealized image of the FBI. But in the years since 1970 when I began my career as a professional journalist, I have cast a skeptical eye on all kinds of institutional glorification. I now know that much of the FBI story I bought qualified as… bullshit.

In this book, Cecil spells out how Americans were sold an image of an FBI beyond reproach. It’s not only a solid, fascinating work of history, it’s a cautionary tale against current and future attempts to mold public opinion about government actions in the face of inconvenient facts.

Steve Weinberg is author of numerous books, served as Executive Director of the association Investigative Reporters and Editors, and is an expert on wrongful convictions.

Copyright Steve Weinberg, Who What Why, 2014

http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/04/09/media-conned-public-loving-fbi-book-review#sthash.rtTD8azk.dpuf

The Militarization of Police State USA

April 9th, 2014 by Joachim Hagopian

You are sleeping in the middle of the night. The next thing you know you are suddenly jarred awake with the loud thud of your front door crashing down from a battering ram. What seems about a dozen or more armed men in full armor suits looking just like soldiers in an Afghanistan raid, all carrying assault weapons are invading your home.

Just roused from a deep sleep, this surrealistic drama unfolding before your sleep-filled, blurry eyes feels like a bad dream, an unreal nightmare that with the blink of your eye should send you back to unconsciousness for refuge. But these nameless, faceless armed invaders rushing through your home with weapons drawn barking out orders are very real. You are neither entering the Twilight Zone nor waking up from a bad dream, you are actually experiencing an all too real home invasion police assault.

If you instinctively, reflexively wish to protect your family, attempting to defend yourself and your loved ones by grabbing your nearest weapon in self-defense, these militarized police state henchmen will kill you in an instant right on the spot no questions asked. You are merely guilty of being an American trying to exercise your Second Amendment right to protect yourself in your own home. But since you have already been deemed an enemy by the state acting as your judge, jury and executioner, you do not have a chance. Within a flash you are suddenly laying dead in your own pool of blood with bullets that have just pierced your chest and brain. You have become another fallen statistic, another tragic fatality in what used to be fondly, nostalgically referred to as the land of the free, now turned land of the enslaved, dead and murdered. You have just become another brutalized now lifeless victim in the war against American civil liberties and freedoms, that since 9/11 have been insidiously stolen from US citizens by a tyrannical government turned militarized police state.

This very scary scenario might well be coming to a neighborhood near you, perhaps yours is next. Our homes are no longer safe, not so much from criminal thugs committing home invasion robberies but our local SWAT team police departments, big brother gone bad. While violent crime has actually gone down in this country, once again while we weren’t looking, paying enough attention or were asleep, our communities have become unsafe – not from the street criminals but from the very criminals we entrusted as our police forces that our taxes pay to protect us.

Before concluding this nightmare could never happen to you in your neighborhood or town, consider that it is currently happening in towns and cities across America as you read these very words. This horrific scenario is tragically occurring with increasing frequency with more and more regular, law biding citizens who have committed no crime, are clearly not enemy combatants or sympathizers or affiliated in any way with terrorist groups, but are simply decent, hardworking Americans who love their country just like you and me. And if it is happening to others so similar to you and me, next time it could just as easily be happening to you or me. The fact is none of us are safe from our out of control government that since 9/11 has betrayed and turned on all of us citizens with a vengeance. It appears that human history is doomed to repeat itself. Instead of living in the democracy we naively grew up in, today we find ourselves living in conditions not unlike prewar Nazi Germany, or even closer, the Orwellian nightmare that has unfortunately become present day, any place America. The old oligarch strategy of divide and conquer has Americans suspiciously turning on each other rather than recognizing the real culprits who have turned on us.

To bring it closer to home with a face, a name and a real live person who is now dead at the hands of such a militarized police assault, the case of 80-year old retired engineer Eugene Mallory is presented. Apparently the elderly man never even got out of bed before six bullets entered and riddled his body fired from an angle above him, substantiating his physical location of still laying in bed. For self-defense purposes undoubtedly fearing intruders had entered his home, the octogenarian had a weapon though he never even fired off a single round.

The Los Angeles County Sheriffs SWAT team member carrying a submachine gun who apparently killed the old man laying in bed initially claimed that he had ordered Mr. Mallory to drop his gun before shooting him. But from a taped recording of the incident last summer, the officer actually fired off six rounds killing his victim before saying “drop the gun.” The SWAT team was looking for a methamphetamine lab and instead had nothing to show for itself except one innocent dead old man and a small quantity of medically prescribed marijuana belonging to the victim’s grandson. The grieving family is presently pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams were originally formed in urban areas across America back in the 1970’s as first emergency responders to violent civil unrest, hostage, mass shootings or extremely dangerous situations. According to Eastern Kentucky University School of Justice Professor Peter Kraska, SWAT team deployments have proliferated and been used at an exponential rate from just 3,000 in the early 1980’s to 50,000 a year now. The current problem is that because those high profile events when SWAT assistance is really needed are so rare in occurrence, deployment of SWAT teams have become standard operating procedure in routine drug busts, high crime neighborhoods and any situation deemed dangerous, which might apply to nearly any and all incoming emergency 911 calls.

In both Baltimore and Dallas they have been misused to break up poker games. In New Haven, Connecticut a SWAT team was sent into a bar suspected of serving underage drinkers. In Orlando, Florida they were used to search barbershops looking for guns and drugs but instead arrested 34 barbers operating without a license. The case list of misuse and abuse goes on and on throughout this country and growing everyday because SWAT teams are currently used as the prescribed protocol for countless unnecessary minor situations. But in an effort to minimize risk to police, paramilitary operations are being grossly overused in America and many Americans are needlessly and tragically dying from these routine militarized assaults on our private residences throughout the nation. The exact same tactics deployed by US Special Operations military forces in over 134 countries around the globe have come home to roost here in police state America.

Or take the case that has gotten global attention this last month having gone viral of the mentally ill camper minding his own business in the hills outside Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 16th. A camera was mounted on one of the SWAT team member’s helmets that captured the entire two hour standoff between the 38-year old homeless man James Boyd and the armed assault team. The police noticed James holding a pocket knife that obviously posed no threat to the armed killers. The more than half dozen storm troopers posing as the Albuquerque police force dressed in full combat gear with police dogs in tow opened fire instantly killing the man in cold blood. The video shows the officers shooting the mentally ill man in the back many times all because the confused, frightened man failed to lay down as ordered.

This horror caught on video for the world to see became the rallying flag for throngs of outraged demonstrators converging onto the streets of Albuquerque in recent weeks to loudly protest the grotesque injustice of the city police force that already had a notorious reputation for its “shoot first, ask questions” later policy. Then to add insult to injury, another man who was unarmed was shot dead a few days later. Subsequently such high profile cases have now drawn attention from both the FBI and the State Department, each launching its own separate investigation of the incidents and the lethal force continually deployed in 25 killings in as many months by the Albuquerque Police Department. An estimated 75% of the 37 individuals shot by the Albuquerque police since 2010 have been mentally ill. Another exacerbating factor to enflaming protestors to even more outrage was the newly appointed city police chief’s premature calling of his police force conduct in the homeless man’s shooting within proper police protocol.

To further add to this growing menace sweeping our communities is the petty competitive drive to keep up with other neighboring police forces in small cities and towns across this land. The bigger is better syndrome has hit police chiefs across the country. And to keep up with the Joneses, leftover military equipment and weapons from multiple warfronts are being given away by the US military to every city and town police force that requests them at bargain basement prices. Thus, military tanks, helicopters, Armored Personnel Carrier vehicles (APCs) , Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles (MRAPs) are exchanging hands, most or all of which are not needed, much less properly used and maintained at costs most cities cannot even afford, yet they are falling into the wrong hands of both small and large cities all over this country at an unprecedented, never before seen rate with no oversight or accountability.

In the nine years from 2002 to 2011 the Department of Homeland Security issued grants to state and local police amounting to $35 billion, all of course under the guise of “the war on terror.” This gave police department plenty of bucks to buy the military weapons of mass destruction to be used on its own citizens. Another easy revenue for raising police money comes from selling off assets seized in the other disastrous war on drugs. So as the more than half of all US citizens’ tax dollars go for making Empire wars around the world (in the form of over half the annual defense budget), lots more go toward militarizing police departments making war on its own citizens.

The Pentagon, the US government and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have collectively made a calculated decision to militarize as many police forces in the US as possible. Police force tactics attacking peaceful protestors has become another disturbing criminal trend in this police state. When the Occupy Wall Street movement several years ago swept across the nation highlighting the growing disparity of inequality between the 1% superrich and the 99% of the rest of us, a nationalized mobilization of militarized police forces began bashing heads using tear gas (ruled a violation of international law) on its own population in places like Oakland. Police brutality was rampantly observed throughout the country in a centralized and concentrated wave of aggression orchestrated by the federal government as a crackdown on political activism. And unfortunately it was effective in crushing the Occupy movement.

The same human rights violations were observed at the 2008 Democratic party convention in Denver and the 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle. This increasing show of militarized force over time is but a statement of what becomes of those brave enough to assert their First Amendment rights in this so called democratic nation of ours.

It is not any stretch of imagination to speculate how police state tactics might be utilized in the near future in America. Under a false flag pretense or an economic collapse, or any natural disaster that presents a convenient excuse to declare martial law, it would in turn mobilize a massive campaign by both military and police forces to quell civil disobedience and unrest, or round up dissidents on growing NSA-government watch lists into waiting FEMA camps to finally fill all those countless refurbished empty prisons.

The two cases of gross injustice presented in this article happened to involve two Caucasian Americans, one a mentally ill homeless man and the other an elderly family man. Suffice it to say that cops are far more trigger happy killing younger men of color than whites in this nation where nearly half the prison population is black and over one fifth Hispanic. Police state tactics in the ghettos, barrios and inner cities of this country have long been a living, everyday nightmare and reality. It is a sad commentary that only after defenseless whites are brutally murdered that the public indignantly takes such fervent notice calling for radical change to police state USA.

As much as any single case, last month’s incident caught on tape in New Mexico illustrates what has gone so horribly wrong in America’s militarized security state where its citizens desperately need protection from their so called protectors. It has brought much needed public debate and awareness as well as issued a demand for justice and fundamental change in the way law enforcement operates. The people in Albuquerque have become social and political activists committed to working tirelessly for a national call to stop the needless tragic violence and an end to the militarization of America’s police forces and their police state warfare used on its own citizenry.

Moreover, they are acting as catalysts signaling to other communities, cities and towns across America to follow suit in solidarity. We citizens in our own communities need to mount our own pressing, long overdue campaign to reassess police forces across North America and the globe to facilitate necessary changes that will bring about different, more just and humane methods of police interfacing with the mentally ill, the homeless and all people everywhere. New standard policies of engagement with the public promoting safety for both the police and the citizens they serve, urgently need to be implemented that will restore our precious civil liberties and constitutional rights that bring justice for us all.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer.

His written manuscript based on his military experience can be consulted at http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/.
After the military Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and eventually became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century.

Twenty years after the 1994 Genocide, the role of financial institutions in the Rwandan tragedy fails to be fully understood. The World Bank in particular played  a central role.It should be noted that a devastating set of IMF-World macro-economic reforms was launched at the very outset of the RPF invasion from Uganda in September 199.

Development aid and foreign loans were channelled towards financing the military and paramilitary. The donors turned a blind eye. This report examines the role of multilateral and bilateral creditors including Western governments and the Bretton Woods institutions.

The mission was composed of Belgian Economist and Senator Pierre Galand (Mission head) and Canadian Economist Professor Michel Chossudovsky. The report, was based on field work conducted in Rwanda in 1996. The mandate of the mission was to identify the role of the international financial institutions, donors and creditors in relation to the genocide and ethnic massacres of 1994.

The mission was set up at the request of the Rwandan authorities, formally under UNDP auspices (PROJET RWA/95/005 RÉHABILITATION DES CAPACITÉS DE GESTION DE L’ÉCONOMIE (CAGE). 

Please note that the original text of this report is in French and that the English text contained herein is an unofficial translation, which has not be checked by the   authors. In analyzing and quoting this document, please always refer to the French original.  http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO403F.html

We are bringing this important study to the attention of World public opinion in the context of the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Rwandan Genocide. It is understood that at the time of writing this report, the truth behind the Rwandan genocide, including the role of  President Paul Kagame acting on behalf of Washington was not known.

I INTRODUCTION

1.1 The aim of this report is to study the profile of Rwanda’s foreign debt acquired during the period between 1990 and 1994 so as to advise the Rwandan Government on methods of negotiation with the donors.

1.2 The process of debt acquisition during the 1990-1994 period was an exception compared to the previous debts. The debts of the former government (1990-1994) were mainly used to finance the armed forces and civilian militia.

1.3 The mission noted the increase in the debt load during the period immediately prior to the genocidal killings and massacres. This showed the importance for the Rwandan authorities of establishing methods of negotiation specially related to debt contracted between 1990-1994.

1.4 Mindful of the circumstances experienced by Rwanda as a result of the genocidal killings and massacres of 1994 and the difficulties related to the reconstruction of the country, the approach taken is therefore aimed at the reduction and conversion of foreign debt to relaunch lasting economic development.

1.5 The motive for such an approach was clearly stated by the Rwandan Government, and taken over by participants of the donors Round Table held in Geneva on 21 and 22 June 1996.

1.6 At this meeting, M. G. Livi, spokesperson for the EU made the following proposals:

On one hand, we have observed that according to any criteria – World Bank Atlas, Index of UNDP Human Development, eyewitness of anyone visiting Kigali, – we are talking about an exceptionally poor country, if not the worlds most poorest. In doesn’t even take into account the tragedies lived by the Rwandan people during the last two or twenty years. On the other hand, this same country is faced with a financial crisis, with no prospect of recovery, a crises which runs the risk of making futile any long-term rehabilitation and development strategy. Note that I am saying no perspective. Because most of the debt in question is towards the international financial institutions, save some very recent and very general initiatives which will surely not get anywhere by the end of the century. – There is still no possibility of talking about the rescheduling of Rwanda’s multilateral debt. We simply cannot be blinded to this issue which risk compromising all the efforts made for the development of Rwanda.

1.7 Similarly, the IMF spokesman concluded his intervention as follows:

“Finally, the international approach for assisting Rwanda in the period ahead would also need to address the external debt service problem, which, as mentioned earlier, appears to be unsustainable unless exceptional external assistance is forthcoming.”

1.8 During the same meeting, the World Bank representative concluded his intervention by describing the weight of Rwanda=s foreign debt.

“We agree that pushing the debt repayment problem to other years is not a long term solution”.

1.9 The approach taken by the World Bank was stated in a letter to Mr. Pierre Galand sent on the 9th of September 1996. The letter was sent on behalf of President Wolfersohn, by the World Bank’s Vice President, Mr. Ishrat Husain. He stated:

“I would certainly agree with you that the conventional instruments that the World Bank has (and indeed other multilateral agencies have) are inadequate the challenge of reconstruction in such a situation”.

Experts Approach

1.10 Chapter II of this report shows a detailed analysis of the follow up documents of the Technical Committee for SAP in order to untangle the developments of the Defense Ministry budget, It also analyses correspondence between government and foreign creditor representatives concerning security expenditures. Chapter III analyses the purchasing of arms and weapons by the former regime, the use of various external financial sources, negotiations within the protocol and agreement of loans. The fourth chapter highlights the financing of military expenditure spent by the former regime following the genocidal killings of 1994, and the embargo imposed by the United Nations on arms sales. Chapter V presents the conclusions and recommendations.

II THE BUDGET OF MINISTRY OF DEFENSE

Economic Context

2.1 The Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) negotiated with the donors was put into practice while the country was still at war. The measures taken by the Bretton Woods institutions were obviously inappropriate.

2.2 On September 17 1990, before the outbreak of hostilities, the first devaluation was decided. This decision took place in Washington during a meeting between the IMF and a mission led by the Rwandan Finance Minister, Mr. Benoit Ntigurirwa. The main measures taken were applied only after the outbreak of the war. Following an IMF recommendation the Rwandan Franc was devalued (to 67%) in November 1990, merely six weeks following the outbreak. The usual formulations were made; liberalization of the market, currency devaluation, withdrawal of agricultural subventions, eventual elimination of the Equalization Fund, (used to buy coffee from planters), privatization of companies and public services, dismissal of officials….. Despite the beginning of war, none of the measures set up with the SAP were either reviewed or modified.

2.3 Inflation grew and real income slumped. The price of fuel and other necessities shot up. Inflation grew from 1% in 1989 until 19.2% in 1991. There was a deterioration of the balance of payments and negative economic growth. Foreign debt increased by 34.3 % between 1989 and 1992

2.4 Following the “green light” given by the IMF in November 1990, the army suddenly swelled from 5,000 to 40,000 men, thus supposing external financing despite budgetary austerity. Juvenile delinquents, resulting from an impoverished society were enrolled by the thousands into civilian militia, responsible for the genocidal killings and massacres.

2.5 External funds enabled the regime to acquire military material to organize and supply the militia with equipment. Besides the purchase of weapons, these imports included a steady flow of agro-foodstuffs, clothing, fuel, alcoholic beverages, etc, destined for members of the Armed Forces, the militia and their families

Inflated military expenditures

2.6 The austerity measures demanded by the donors under the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) affected exclusively non-military expenditures while the military expenditures took up a growing proportion of the State income and foreign loans (see table No. 2.1).

2.7 These cuts weighed on expenditures for education, health, infrastructure and production support. Economic reform resulted in the collapse of public services, famine, (hitting many areas since 1992), the shooting up of unemployment and an unstable social climate.

2.8 Developments of the budget structure is confirmed in a confidential letter from the Finance Minister to President Habyarimana relating to the 1991 National Defense Ministry budget estimate:

“the military expenditures brought about by the war contributed largely to the budget deficit. Military expenditures went up from 3.4 billion FRW in 1989 to 7.9 billion FRW in 1990 and from 12.7 billion FRW in 1991. Or an increase of respectively 132% and 274%.

The ratio of military goods and services on the total of goods and services went from 28% in 1989, to 60% in 1990 and 71 % in 1991. At the same time civil goods and services went from 4.013 billion RWF in 1989 to 3,900 billion FRW, or dropped from 2.8% following a devaluation of 66.7%

The ratio of total actual military expenditures went from 14% in 1989, to 26% in 1990 to 38% in 1991. This shows that other main administration services did not have the means and had a very difficult time functioning.

Compared to total income, regular military expenditures used 14% of income. With the war military expenditures represented 37% in 1990 and 51% in 1991 of total state income”.

 Balance of payments and imports of military equipment

2.9 In 1991, military expenditures had already soaked up around 51% of state earnings and 71% as total expenditure goods and services. Since 1990, these military expenditures have been reflected in the structure as the trade balance. (25.1 million USD in 1990 and 37.6 million USD in 1991). In 1992, 1993 and 1994, while the importation of military material was increasing, non-military imports were on an ever decreasing scale. Moreover, many so-called non-military imports were actually disguised military imports.

2.10 Imported merchandise and fuel sold on the local market was also used to generate counter-part funds to finance the military system.

2.11 On the other hand, as of 1990, export earnings were decreasing constantly. This was mainly due to the drop in the price of coffee which resulted in a fall in production. State services were in complete confusion, companies were going bankrupt, public services were collapsing, interest rates were shooting up; there was a freeze on purchase price of coffee, (in Rwandan francs) regardless of inflation (recommended by the IMF).

2.12 Fully aware of the situation, the donors covered a Afinancial gap@ owing to inflated military expenditures. According to figures from the Technical Committee for SAP Follow-up (CSTP), 96% of the Rwandan budget deficit was covered by foreign aid.

2.13 Furthermore foreign financing helped alleviate the increasing imbalance on the balance of payments owing to the imports destined for the Armed Forces and the militia.

2.14 The precarious state of public finance was confirmed in a governmental note which was widely circulated and titled “The 1991 budgetary problems and the SAP objective pertaining to public finance”.

“The SAP withheld the financial GAP foreseen at 13,111 million FRW of counter-part funds originating from the SAC (World Bank Structural Adjustment Credit) and contribution of donors participating in the SPA (Special Program for Africa – (France, Switzerland, Canada) and other donors (Austria, FAD, Belgium and The United States)”.

Misappropriation of funds

2.15 Confidential correspondence clearly highlights the different mechanisms used to divert funds in favor of the Defense Ministry. In his letter to President Habyarimana, the Finance Minister expressed the following:

“In his letter n 0122/01.1.5 of January 25 1991, the National Defense Minister conveyed to me the foreseen budget of his Department, estimated at 9.410,017,880 FRW. This amount was reviewed and lowered to 8,885,957,617 FRW following a credit transfer from his department from the Autility vehicles@ article to Avehicle equipment@ article of the Ministry of Public Works, Energy, and Water Ministry, in to acquire military trucks”

2.16 In this same letter, the Minister confirmed the existence of an AAgreement with the IMF and the World bank@ concerning the National Defense Ministry=s budget preview. Attention is also drawn to the former Head of State. According to him, although public accounts were manipulated to satisfy the demands of the IMF and the World Bank, as of September, the budget was to exceed 4 billion FRW.

“Your Excellency will recall that the foreseen budget of the National Defense Ministry, settled by both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank during the month of February 1991 amounts to 9,385 million FRW, 2,887 million FRW for salaries and 6,498 million FRW for goods and services (both imports and local merchandise).

According to this budget preview, salaries seem to be within the norm, but concerning goods and services the situation is alarming. Loans have already exceeded 345 million RFW. This risks serious problems for negotiating the 1992 budget with the World Bank and the IMF. We could even fear a freeze on our Structural Adjustment Programme”.

2.17 This misappropriation of funds (known by the donors) together with the obvious manipulation of public accounts had no effect on the commitments of the donors to the former government.

2.18 At the donor conference in Paris in March 1991, the World Bank committed itself to disburse that same year 120, 3 million USD of the promised total of 139,2 million USD. The World Bank and the rest of the lenders expressed their wish that the money be spent quickly.

2.19 In Paris, the World Bank representative Mr. Francisco Aguire Sacasa, pleaded in favor of the Rwandan Government. He claimed that the government was capable of controlling their country and that only some sporadic Alow-intensity@ fighting could take place in the North and North-East.

2.20 According to the official report of the conference passed on to President Habyarimana:

“The President of the meeting briefly went through recent economic developments in our country, then he was late in mentioning the content of our programme insisting on measures already taken, and particularly on the devaluation of our franc (NDLR figured at 67% between 1990 and 1991), the increase of interest rates, the liberalization of prices, and the adjustment on prices of petroleum merchandise (increase as of November 1990, of 79% on fuel prices, a liter of petrol was 1 USD in Kigali), reflecting the impact of the devaluation of the FRW.

It is recommended that, according to the commitment taken by Rwanda, it should be eligible for the Special Program for Assistance (SPA) for Sub-Saharan Africa at the next SPA meeting taking place in April 1991…

He informed the donors, having taken into account the WB and IMF credit facilities, decided that apart from the regular cooperation program, Rwanda still needs additional financing – of 110 million USD disbursement loans of 1991, meaning disbursing between 140 and 150 million USD. For this support to be as efficient as possible, Mr. Aguire Sacasa insisted that the resources should not be linked to any given characteristics or concessions, in order to finance various kinds of imports. Moreover these loans should be very quickly disbursed so as not to delay the set up of the liberalized imports system.”

2.21 At that same conference, the UNDP representative Mr. Jacques Loup launched an appeal to lenders for an Aadaptable@ aid to support government policies, especially in the financing of the balance of payments and of the State budget.

2.22 The Rwandan party was satisfied with the conclusions of the meeting and the Finance Minister assured his government colleagues (including the Defense Minister) in a confidential report-letter about the disbursement loans from the donors:

“With currency payments provided, we can assure the governments flexibility towards freely allocate money to imports, in order to rebuild reserves, or to pay other currencies”

2.23 In this same report-letter, the Minister confirmed that:

“Most of the aid toward the balance of payments will be carried out through imports, because the aid is either bound or entrusted to the World Bank. Actually some of the SPA (Special Programme of Assistance) countries entrusted loans to the World Bank to manage the SPA programme. Within the framework of the agreement settled with the World Bank, some donor countries entrusted to the World Bank, management of aid toward the balance of payments in favor of countries going through the adjustment phase. The World Bank is therefore in charge of settling all the importation invoices presented by the recipient country, through an ad hoc office in Washington. The practice of Acommon funds@ even though destined for importation aid, offers the beneficiary total flexibility regarding the imported products, and more so, regarding the use of counter-part funds to finance the budget.

Certain donor countries accepted the principal that aid managed by the World Bank partly served as retroactive payments of importation invoices, settled earlier by countries going though the adjustment phase.

The possibility of retroactive payment is limited to 20% as regards to the World Banks= Credit Adjustment Structure (CAS). Meaning, the day following the CAS approval of 45 million USD, Rwanda can rapidly disburse 9 million USD to increase reserve currencies”

2.24 The interest of such a proposal to the former government must be understood: To reduce budget deficit owing to inflated military expenditures by direct budgetary aid from donors.

2.25 This aid was granted by the International Development Association (IDA) and bilateral creditors by quick disbursing loans (detailed in chapter 3). According to a CTSP report published in 1991:

“This deficit is mainly financed by grants linked to projects and by exterior loans…Both sources proved to be insufficient, therefore benefited from external support within the framework of the SAP in 1991 through considerable direct aid. Initially foreseen at 13,111 billion FRW, the funds raised in 1991 would have been around 11 billion FRW”.

2.25 The report goes on to emphasize the excessive increase of outstanding payments of the National Defense Ministry, also the Ministry’s habit of spending sums beyond the regular procedures of control and verification standards.

“Following an investigation in different departments, a sum of about 6.5 billion FRW was uncovered, unknown to the finance Minister. This brings all the internal and external outstanding payments to a figure of 14.5 billion FRW. The investigation continues to put a stop to the increase of this amount. These overdue payments, which are of course unknown to the Finance Minister correspond to supplies or services provided without any order forms previously referred to by the General Financial Inspection Services”.

Evolution in the structure of public finances in 1992

2.26 In March 1992, the experts mission, dispatched by the IMF in order to prepare the 1992 program shows that the IMF could not support the government unless a “coherent package” of economic measures war presented to guarantee a positive increase of GDP, and a substantial reduction of the budget deficit in 1992. In June 1992 an additional devaluation occurred, advised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), followed by a new wave of inflation bringing about the collapse of internal production.

2.27 The Committee of the International Red-Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Organisation For Food and Agriculture (FAO) drew attention to the famine hitting the Southern provinces. Health and education programs collapsed; hospital structures and medical supplies were used mainly for the militia; infant malnutrition increased dramatically; most schools had no school books or paper…

2.28 In a confidential report by the SAP follow up Committee entitled: AThe continuation of the Structural Adjustment Programme is seriously compromised by the level of the budget instability@, the government found that the 1991 budget deficit added up to 13.1 billion FRW, that the SAP objectives for 1992 foresaw a surplus of 0.3 billion FRW would situate the deficit at 14.246 billion FRW, as for this year, given the lack of internal and external financing, the Afinancial gap@ will foreclose at 35 billion FRW.

2.29 The authorities stressed that the budget deficit was explosive, but all the while insisted on the indispensable role of international donors in financing the war.

“On one hand, a war economy is not an increasing economy even when generating public income. As foreseen by the SAP, military expenditures to ensure public security reached unbearable heights…

If we’ve lasted until now, thanks to external support agreed upon within the SAP framework, the threats faced by Rwanda to actually interrupt the programme may lead to heavy consequences”.

2.30 In a letter (April 1992) to the President of the World Bank Mr. Lewis Preston, General Habyarimana aimed to express his good faith by reassuring the donors:

“If it is true that since October 1 1990, because of the Ugandan war against Rwanda, military expenditure cannot be reduced as expected because the increase was based on an optimistic hypothesis to a quick ending of this aggression. It is also true that this heavy load carried because of the war, the overall public expenditures would have been perfectly within their expected limits; on the other hand we discovered a considerable sum of overdue invoices, of which a very large part were security expenditures. We are very disappointed by this discovery and the Government accepts most of the responsibility”.

2.31 From then on, the former regime insisted on its good intentions. In the same letter to the President of the World Bank, General Habayrimana appeals to donors to the come to the rescue of the Rwandan people:

“It is to avoid a fatal blow to all the efforts already made, sometimes so inhumanely difficult nevertheless accepted by the people and the government, for the success of the programme -a fatal blow which will come about if the Bretton Woods Institutions did not be in his favor..

2.32 General Habyarimana continues and announces that he is contemplating progressively reducing military expenditures:

“Our aim is to progressively reduce military expenditures to reach in 1995 the pre-war trend of October 1990 of 2% GDP”.

2.33 In his reply, President Preston affirms:

“I’m particularly worried that security expenditures have increased to the disadvantage of priority development expenditures, which are essential to encourage growth and relieve poverty. If you recall Mr. President of the Republic, it was at your personal request that the bank include a social “security net” in the first structural adjustment credit loan to protect the most penalized invoices in short term adjustment. Unfortunately, in 1991, social and priority economic development expenses were well under the aims agreed in the program. Social indicators, which in Rwanda were quite above those of the South-Saharan countries, decreased during the past ten years and are now compared to the rest of the continent. Unless an effort is made to overcome this trend, these indicators will continue to degrade.

Under these conditions, I will take note, as mentioned in your letter, of your intention to lower the military expenditures and I encourage you to do so, as a matter of urgency. This will clear enough resources for priority economic and development needs. Last February, in direct contact with the Rwandan authorities, the bank commissioned a review of your country=s= public expense program in order to identify priority needs.

As you know one of the underlying hypothesis of the adjustment programme is to reduce the States= role within the economy, to give a chance to the private sector. During the eighties, the presence and intervention of the State, both as controller and privileged competitor, discouraged private sector initiatives and thus became an obstacle for economic development. It is therefore necessary to accelerate both institutional reform, and regulations of public sector concerns. Liberalization policies of main economic sectors must move forward to create the necessary conditions for take-up in tenders. The bank is ready to support sectorial reforms in main areas through two quick disbursing loan operations: one credit adjustment in the financial sector and one credit adjustment in the agricultural sector.

However, we will not carry out these measures until the government and the Bretton Woods Institutions agree on a macro-economic framework reviewed to replace the one agreed upon in 1991 which was surpassed by the events”.

2.33 In 1992, the IMF demanded a reduction in the budgetary deficit of at least 7 billion, and threatened it would not pursue negotiations on the new macro-economic structure if this condition was not met. The World Bank also demanded that social expenditures such as health and education increase by 33.6% compared to 1991.

2.34 This double demand from the IMF and the World Bank in fact amounted to a demand for the reduction of military expenditures by the same amounts to more than 9 billion FRW. But by the end of 1992 military expenditures were in fact more that 14 billion FRW that is an increase of 1 billion FRW, compared to 1991, and 10 billion more that the aim of the SAP. Nevertheless following the devaluation of the FRW in 1992, a very slight decrease of security expenditures in foreign currency was noticed.

2.35 Of a total of 14 billion FRW, wages paid to the members of the Armed Forces and Defense Ministry personnel represented 3.442 million, or 26% of total expenditures. Local expenditures included, subsistence, fuel, technical materials amounted to 3.675 million FRW (28%). Arms imports, ammunition, vehicles, uniforms, etc. represented 46% of a total of 6.066 million FRW.

2.36 In a note to the government, it was proposed to resort to the make various persons redundant in order to reduce these budgetary positions by appointing a “control unit” for the Defense Ministry.

2.37 In addition, the government would have to resort to systematic distribution of State resources where there are Atoo many@ in certain civil services favoring the National Defense Ministry.

2.38 According to the testimony of the present Director General of the Health Ministry, recorded in August 1996 by the mission, since the World bank demanded an increase in health service expenditures, soldiers and militia drove around in health service vehicles and often helped themselves to a supplies of fuel vouchers from the above mentioned Ministry.

2.39 This behavior was carried out on a regular basis by the authorities of the former regime.

Macro-economic policies in 1993 and 1994

2.40 At the end of 1992, a joint mission of the IMF/WB in Kigali stated:

“to evaluate the macro-economic framework as defined by mid-year following the second devaluation. Data must be gathered to allow the elaboration of a new Structural Adjustment agreement for the 1993-1995 period”.

2.41 The responsible persons of the Plan Ministry were worried because of the worst ever preview of military expenditures, in spite of all the above-mentioned make-believe, the expenses were surpassed by the end of September 1992. Taking into account the urgent needs named by the National Defense Ministry, expenditures reached 20.4 billion FRW before the end of the year.

2.42 The news was not taken lightly by the World Bank representative Mr. F. Aguirre Sacassa, and he threatened to suspend all negotiations. In an urgent meeting, the government canceled an order for the purchase of arms, and of course without financial control, for an amount of USD 2,140,000. By announcing this, the government aimed to show its good faith toward the IMF and WB. It also announced that it would send public finance controllers to military units.

2.43 In his note, the Director General of the Plan, submitted that he doubted any possibility of negotiating a new 1993-1995 SAP agreement under such conditions. The same note also announced the reactions of bilateral donors, Canada and the EC refused to contribute anything to the Rwanda Treasury until follow-up on expenses was carried out.

2.44 In a very subtle manner, the author of this note suggested that the Ministry settle the deadlock by requesting counter-part funds from the European Union which could be allocated to the Finance Ministry (an amount of 800,000 ECU).

2.45 It is therefore, as in 1991, 1992 and 1993, made to believe that in spite of the budgetary deficit and economic diversion, the Structural Adjustment Programme is not only possible but necessary towards the recovery of a war-torn country. Pertaining to this there is a “consensus” between the donors and the former regime. According to the World Bank representative Mr. Aguirre Sacasa:

‘In our opinion the only option for your country in order to avoid deterioration of the human conditions and overall poverty, is an orientation towards an open society, in which the State, makes an effort to carry out its main role. This role is to set up an appropriate macro-economic framework and to fit surroundings for private investing; to supply basic services concerning infrastructure and the social sector. In this perspective the State can encourage private initiatives rather than take their place.”

2.46 At the beginning of 1993, the Minister for the Plan called directly on the Prime Minister to announce that the SAP technical follow-up committee was powerless in proposing to the World Bank and the IMF to take up talks on a new SAP, because, he says:

“The government should have no illusions concerning the leeway it has to reduce the budget deficit besides the revision to lessen the military budget.”

2.47. He insisted that there was no hope concerning public income. Tax rates in Rwanda were among the highest, compared to neighboring countries. The Prime Minister’s attention was drawn to the political risk of a third devaluation, which he judged unacceptable to the population, given the social impact of adjustment measures taken since November 1990.

2.48 This being said, he promised the Prime Minister to take up talks with the IMF and the World Bank “to obtain their understanding in order to relaunch the adjustment agreement”. (sic)

2.49 Meanwhile the World Bank and the IMF would stick to their position until September 1993 Annual Assembly in Washington, where the situation was still blocked. No IMF mission is foreseen until the end of 1994.

2.50 To meet the demands of the Bretton Woods Institutions the government tried to make gestures of supposed good faith. For example it prepared a decree to reduce food aid to the militia and their families. But it was only a facade, the decree-law in question was not put into practice until October 1993.

The Freeze of Civil Service salaries

2.51 In the same way, the government proposed to reduce the overall public service wage. To reduce the number of civil servants, numbered at 11,129, not including the militia. Also proposed was a 30% decrease of Auseless@ personnel and a 5 % decrease of Aineffective@ personnel.

2.52 Other measures demanded by the donors consisted of eliminating Auseless projects@ from the development budget (public investment program), which had not reached their objective and had been of no use. The Plan Minister advised that officials being of no use to other projects should also be fired. In doing so the former government could economize a billion FRW for military expenditures.

2.53 In fact, the Finance Ministry appealed for a special advance of 14.5 billion FRW from the BNR mainly to pay off the militia in Kigali, Ruhengeri-Byumba and technical expenditures of the National Defense Ministry.

2.54 Otherwise said, the Public Sector wage freeze and job cuts demanded by the Bretton Woods Institutions allowed the government to transfer money in favor of the Armed Forces and militia.

2.55 The same note also asked to arrange provisions for the same Ministry for an amount of 423,5 million FRW and for various supplies costing 300 million FRW. These expenses were mentioned under the same emergency clause as overdue interest rates of BAD, IDA, OPEP and Kuwaiti Funds.

The financing of the budget deficit

2.56 The analysis of chapter II confirms that the war was the main factor resulting in the State budgetary deficit. In their financial interventions, in their donations and loans, the international donors consciously agreed to meet the defense budgetary deficit, and by doing this financed the war and in the end the militia.

2.57 If the government manipulated the figures, the donors accepted the misappropriation of funds intended for development aid. This resulted in the serious deterioration of social conditions for the majority of the population. Private militia in this situation became key-elements in social control and the manipulation of social groups.

III FOREIGN FINANCING OF MILITARY EXPENDITURES

3.1 In this chapter we analyze the importation of military equipment along with its financing. We examine and highlight the disbursement mechanisms negotiated within the framework of the protocols and loan agreements. The objective is to identify how foreign aid supplied by the donors was put to use.

Importation of military equipment

3.2 The former regime had at its disposal an arsenal of military equipment, including 83mm missile launchers, French made ABlindicide@, Belgian and German made light weaponry, and automatic weapons such as kalachnikovs made in Egypt, China and South Africa. Their arsenal included 12 armored AML-60 vehicles, and 16 M3 French made vehicles.

3.3  The main arms suppliers during the 1990-1994 period were France, Belgium, South Africa, Egypt, and the Peoples= Republic of China. Data from the BNR indicates imported goods amounting to 83,056,115 USD during the 1991-1994 period. These imported goods were weapons, ammunition, military equipment, pyrotechnic supplies, explosives etc.

3.4 According to information and witnesses, gathered by the mission, the 83 million USD represented at least part of the expenses for military material. Many deliveries consisting of material destined for the Armed Forces were carried out by military planes without adhering to the required importation procedures or to government verification standards. Delivery of foodstuffs and civilian equipment provided for the Armed Forces (including the purchase of vehicles) are not included in the 83 million USD.

3.5 Furthermore, information gathered by the mission confirms that some of the arms purchases were negotiated outside of the military aid protocol through go-betweens and arms traders. Nevertheless, some of these purchases showed up on the regular State budget expenses. Aid granted towards the balance of payments in the form of quick-disbursing loans was the main instrument for financing the budget.

3.6 According to BNR data, Egypt granted a sum of six million dollars through an Agreement protocol. Furthermore, China also agreed to assist the militia under an interest-free loan of 1,500,000 USD.

3.7 The first orders for military material coming from Egypt was negotiated since the beginning of the civil war for a sum of $10,861,000 (from October 24 to April 4 1991) according to the BNR. South Africa provided arms to the former regime for a sum of 29,999,531 USD from October 29 1990 to May 29 1991 (bank transfer dates). Other purchase of arms from South Africa was carried out at a later date for an amount of 26,236,685 USD. The total bank transfers to South Africa amounted to 56,263,217 USD. The South African supplier was Nimrod International (Pty) Ltd. Transfers were made from the former government to the Belgolaise Bank (Brussels) and to the Banque National de Paris (BNP) to the Nimrod account, also to the Volkskas Bank Ltd. Pretoria.

Transfers toward Belgium and France amounted to BF 96,986,711 and FF 47,887,804 (from October 29 to August 14 1991).

3.7 Military material supplied by China to the former government included mortars, type-54, machine guns , multiple missile launchers 107mm type-63, mortar shells type-53 , missiles type-63, shells and grenades. These purchases supplied by China were regulated under a Agreement protocol signed in December 1989.

Supplying the Civilian militia

3.8 The Civilian militia were partly financed by counter-part funds in Rwandan Francs. Expenditure included foodstuffs and imports of machetes and various objects used during the genocidal killings and massacres.

3.9 According to BNR data, huge quantities of machetes were imported as of 1992 from China. These imports were funded by quick-disbursing loans supposedly destined for non-military expenses. (see Annex I).

3.10 Between 1991 and 1992, 581.000 kilos of machetes were imported with a total value of 725,669 USD. Imports during 1991-1994 of machetes, hoes, pickaxes, picks, axes, billhooks, scythes, sickles and spades used in the genocide, amounted to FRW 640,338,414 or 4,671,533 USD, according to information from the BNR.

Quick disbursing loans

3.11 These loans were granted to the former regime in June 1991 from the International Development Association (IDA), the African Development Fund (AFD), The European Development Funds and other bilateral donors including, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the United States, Belgium and Canada.

3.12 According to the terms of protocols and loan agreements were to support the civil economy. This was support for the balance of payments to help the country=s economic recovery and for the authorities to import highly necessary goods such as (inputs, agro-foodstuff products, equipment etc.).

3.13 The loan agreements explicitly specified the list of what was considered as Aeligible importation provisions@. Not included, were a certain number of goods classified according to headings in the CITS (Standard International Trade Classification).

3.14 In the majority of quick disbursing loan agreements, military expenditures on arms, ammunition other military material, (according to headings in the CITS), were part of the Anegative list@. In some cases, military expenditures were explicitly excluded from the Athe list of eligible importation provisions.

The IDA Credit

3.15 The agreement within the context of the International Development Association (IDA) and the World Bank specified the exclusion of Amaterial destined for military or paramilitary use ( see schedule 1.2 of the Development Credit Agreement with IDA, 27 June 1991, CREDIT IDA 2271 RW).

3.16 This last clause referred to the use of imported merchandise rather than the category it would come under (according to the heading in the CITSC). Otherwise said, the IDA Loan Agreement IDA June 27 1991, stipulated the exclusion of all imported merchandise destined for military and paramilitary use. Otherwise said, the clause not only excluded importation of military material (according to the heading in the CITSC) but all merchandise due for civilian use (fuel, agro-foodstuffs, medicine, clothing, boots, etc.) destined for the National Defense Ministry and the civilian militia.

3.17 The IDA credit loan heading (schedule 1.2) was applicable to the loans from Belgium and Switzerland. These two countries had an agreement with the IDA to manage their Structural Adjustment loans(co-financed with IDA).

Canada

3.18 The agreement with Canada in December 1990 stipulated that the grants could not be use to purchase Aarms, weapons, guns, ammunition, or other articles destined for military or police use@. (agreement protocol art. 6.b.)

Austria

3.19 The agreement with Austria imprecisely lists the eligible importation provisions as: Aassorted equipment, raw materials, and spare parts@. Seventy percent of the total grant should have been used for highly necessary imports stipulated in annex I of the Agreement; a) petrol and petrol product, b) pharmaceuticals including medical equipment, other equipment, raw materials and spare parts.

3.20 While military material was not explicitly excluded from this list, it nevertheless indicates that counter-part funds in FRW corresponded to the value of imports intended for civilian expenditures.

3.21 The second part of the Austrian loan was destined to reimburse part of the Government=s internal debt. i.e. to the Treasury.

Furthermore, the counter-part currency funds (Austrian Shilling) Aserved to finance the importation of other goods@ with no restrictions.

The European Community

The European Community grants were towards the balance of payments, granted on the September 23 1991 for the amount of 5.5 million ECU of which 3 million in the form of loans. These loans were allocated for importation of transportation equipment, medical supplies industrial supplies.

The fungibility of currency

3.22 The protocol and agreements on loans indicated precise procedure for the disbursement loans:

1) The donors deposited quick disbursement loans by installments on a “Credit Account”.

2) To withdraw from the Credit Account, the borrower had to justify invoices and bills to the National Bank of Rwanda proving “eligible importation provisions”.

3) These currency withdrawals from the Credit Account had to be deposited on a “Special Account”known and approved by the creditors.

3.23 Let us emphasize that invoices relating to these highly necessary products were used by the government to disburse hard currency funds from the Credit Account. Once deposited in the Special Account, the government could spend these sums freely while respecting (to the letter) the relevant clauses of agreements. These amounts in currency became completely “fungible”, thus allowing the former regime to allocate amounts required for the importation of military equipment.3.24 While this practice respected (legally) the relative clauses concerning the negative list of merchandise, it flagrantly violated the objectives of quick disbursement loans destined for the country=s economic and social support.

3.25 According to a negotiator, the donors turned a blind eye “nothing could be done to modify the fungibility currency mechanism”.

3.26 This application of the fungibility mechanism was applied to allow for the transfer of enormous sums (as part of the regular State budget) to the National Defense Ministry. On the other hand, while the imports were financed by contracting debt, the regime could also allocate considerable proportions of the export taking, particularly from coffee, to buy arms.

Retroactive payment systems

3.27 The former government could include within the retroactive payment systems, importation invoices concerning the period before the signing of quick disbursement loans. This procedure was included in several texts on agreement and protocol on loans including those with IDA, ADF, Belgium and Switzerland.

3.28 IDA Credit 2271-RW of June 1991 was granted in two installments, of 41,300,000 DTS and 26,200,000 DTS respectively. According to the clauses of IDA Credit, the borrower could withdraw sums of up to 13,500,000 (around one third of the value of the first installment) for expenses incurred before the date of the agreement, February 18, 1991. While on November 8 1991 IDA deposited an advance of 15,000,000 USD in the Special Account at the Banque Bruxelles Lambert (BBL).

3.29 According to an independent auditors report on IDA Credit 2271-RW the total disbursement loan in 1991, 23,821,061 USD was invoiced before the coming into force of the loan (p. 19). The total amount in Rwandan Francs (2,285,846,609 RFW) following retroactive financing went to the Treasury.

3.30 The retroactive payment system included in the loan agreements was a very efficient system allowing funds in hard currency to be unlocked immediately following the signing of the loan agreement. These funds being in hard currency could then be allocated to purchase military material.

3.31 The agreement with the ADF foresaw that 25 percent of the loan could be allocated to eligible expenditures incurred between July and December 1991 (Annex II)

3.32 The agreement with Switzerland and Belgium included the retroactive payment of invoices. This clause allowed the former government to allocate the total amount granted by these two countries to importation expenditures incurred between January and June 1991. In other words since the signing of the agreements, all the loans were deposited in special accounts of authorized commercial banks.

3.33 These retroactive payments made it possible to reimburse overdue payments for arms purchase carried out by the regime since the beginning of the civil war. We recall that in November 1990 the devaluation ordered by the IMF took place a mere six weeks after the beginning of the war. This devaluation gave the Agreen light@ to allocate short term commercial credit, therefore letting the regime immediately raise its military expenditures. Since November 1990, kalachnikovs, heavy artillery, and mortars were supplied by France along with the missiles Milan and Apila (not to mention the Mystere Falcon at the personal disposal of President Habyarimana).

Counter-part funds

3.34 The sale of imported merchandise on the local market made it possible to generate counterpart funds in FRW which could be allocated to non-military and military expenditures. These sales were applied to different categories of loans such as Food Aid and quick disbursing loans.

3.35 The ADF quick disbursement loan signed on January 27 1992 was mainly used to purchase substantial quantities of fuel, and part of this fuel made its way to the Armed Forces. Fuel sales on the local market also generated funds in FRW to be used without restriction for the budget of the Armed Forces and the militia.

3.36 The regime also generated counter-part funds from the sale of agro-foodstuffs supplied by different Food Aid programs. Moreover, agents associated with power sold consumer goods (eligible goods ) on the local market, imported with quick disbursement loans. The sales profit of the merchandise was then recycled towards financing the civilian militia.

Manipulation of eligibility criteria

3.37 The criteria for eligibility (negative list) were manipulated. The same invoices were used for the different donors allowing the former regime to withdraw from the Credit account. The audit report from the Company Chazal de Mee for 1991 underlines that:

“Some of the statements of expenses withdrawn did not corresponded to the amounts requested… (…) We cannot guarantee that imports financed by IDA are the same requests made to other donors”. (p.6.).

The audit report also underlined that:

“On more than one occasion, duplicates of currency payments were made out in favor of Rwandan commercial banks for the same imports”

Violation of the clauses pertaining to the negative list

3.38 Not only did the former regime use the fungibility of currency to finance military expenditures, but in several cases, mainly concerning importation, the clauses were not even respected. Invoices related to imports destined for non-military use but again found their way to the militia, with the consent of the donors as part of the IDA context. (Credit IDA 2271 RW).

3.39 The imports within the context of Credit IDA 2271 RW were considered eligible by the firm AAudit Mee@ hired by the government and approved by the World Bank. Though they contradicted schedule 1.2 (f) of the Agreement with the IDA this clause referred to the use of goods and not to the category they came under, it Aexcluded material destined for military or paramilitary use@.

3.40 Hundreds of thousands of machetes, hoes, pick axes, razor blades and other material (classified as civilian goods (non-military) stated by the CITC) were imported between 1992 and 1994 by various commercial agents such as Radio Mille Collines (ETS KABUGA FELICIEN) on October 19 1992 (See invoices annexed).

3.41 In other words, the former regime used the loan from IDA 2271 RW (Development Credit Agreement) to finance the militia responsible for the genocidal killings and the massacres.

3.42 It is worth mentioning that since 1992 the Bretton Woods Institutions demanded the liberalization of allocation of importation licenses. As a result of this decision, permission was given to the organizers responsible for the genocidal killings to import equipment without even having to go through the Aauthorized importers@ system.

3.43 According the BNR documents, several individuals acting as economic operators imported machetes as of 1992.

Mechanisms of follow-up and audit

3.44 The importation of machetes and other material used in the massacres and the genocidal killings did not show up in the independent audit of IDA Credit 2271-RW. For the financial exercise for 1992 they appeared to have escaped the notice of World Bank officials in charge of the SAP supervisory and follow-up missions. (This is in spite of carrying out five supervisory missions between June 1991 and October 1993, meaning over one mission every six months; see p. 11 par. 39, Implementation Completion Report, Structural Adjustment Credit, Credit N0. 2271-RW).

3.45 Our mission is of the opinion that these imports should have brought the World Bank, together with the donors to suspend, quick disbursing loans in hard currency as of 1992 following the massive importation of machetes. That decision would have necessarily led to the freezing of the special account at the Bank Bruxelles Lambert (BBL) which was to stay open and at the disposal of the former regime for over a month after the beginning of the genocidal killings and the massacres of April 1994. To our knowledge, no independent audit on the IDA agreement was carried out for the exercise of years 1993 and 1994.

3.46 Meanwhile the supervisory missions concentrated on the aims of the SAP and hardly looked into the use of funds at the disposal of the former regime. In other words, certain conditions pertaining to the implementation of economic reforms were not respected by the government and “certain objectives were not reached” the “tardiness”  and “slips-ups” the brought World Bank to suspend the second installment of the program in 1993 (its fifth follow-up mission). The amounts deposited before December 1993 in the Special Account at the Banque Bruxelles Lambert were nonetheless ued by the regime until May 31 1994.

The SAP final (completion) report

3.47 The SAP completion report carried out by the World Bank in 1995, highlights the Aslip-ups@, In other words, certain conditions pertaining to the implementation of economic reforms were not respected by the government and these Aslip-ups@ brought some of the donors, including the World Bank, to suspend their support to the program. There is no indication in this report of the use of consented funds or the misappropriation of funds by the former regime.

3.48 Otherwise said, this suspension had nothing to do with the use of foreign credit for the financing of the Armed Forces and militia. On the contrary, in the completion report carried out by the World Bank in 1995, it congratulates the former regime on its efforts.

“It made genuine major efforts– especially in 1991– to reduce domestic and external financial imbalances, eliminated distortions hampering export growth and diversification and introduce market based mechanisms for resource allocation…the war effort prompted the government to increase substantially spending, well beyond the fiscal targets agreed under the SAP”

3.49 While the World Bank expressed satisfaction concocted for the former regime, it demanded a new post-genocide government to justify the use of the special account during the 1991-1994 period.

“the Bank asked the Rwandan Government to justify the use of the special accounts funds, and it carried out several missions to determine the undisbursed balance and the expenditures made before and after April 6 1994 (the date the civil war broke out), [sic] identify substantiating documents, and reach an agreement with authorities on the settlement of the accounts”.

IV THE FINANCING OF THE FORMER REGIME AFTER APRIL 1994

4.1 According to the information gathered by the mission, accounts opened with the Correspondents of the BNR (authorized by the creditors of the former regime) were left open at the disposal of members of the former regime, established in Goma, until the end of August 1994, five months after the genocide.

4.2 According to data from the BNR a total of FRW, 5,362,729,319 (17,820,000 USD) was transferred by the former regime to various destinations between April and August 1994 (see table annexed; invoice no. 3: foreign currency commitments contracted by the former authorities). Added to this sum, was an amount of FRW 1,938,500,644 (6,440,200 USD) in travelers checks contracted by members of the former regime.

4.3 The total debited from various bank accounts and travelers checks was around 7,301,229,963 FRW, over 24 million dollars.

4.4 The former regime also made considerable transfers from their foreign currency accounts to commercial Rwandan Banks (the Bank of Kigali and the Commercial Bank of Rwanda). These amounts were transferred between May 3 and July 7 1994 to their foreign accounts. (see supporting documents annexed no. 3).

Purchase of weapons after April 6 1994

4.5 Several transactions carried out by the former regime after April 6 1994 are associated to the purchase of arms, notably from the British company MIL-TEC in London. These transactions were made from the Banque Belgolaise Brussels bank accounts for an amount of 1,621,901 USD.

4.6 A payment was also made to an account in Geneva, to the Banque Internationale de Commerce for an amount of 2,097,864 USD in favor of Dyl Invest.

4.7 Meanwhile, payments to the Chinese firm -Oriental Machinery- were made from the BNR account at Banque Bruxelles Lambert on May 16 1994 for an amount of 34,430,000 BEF. A second payment was made to Oriental Machinery of 1,000,000 USD from the BNR Citibank account.

4.8 We notice on the bank transfer balance sheets, that substantial amounts in French Francs (FF) were withdrawn from special accounts funds from the Banque de France and the Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP). These amounts were transferred to various destinations for payments to two French companies: Alcatel France and GME International (Paris). Alcatel is an important arms manufacturer. In total, over two billion French Francs (FRF 2,072,532,895) were transferred or withdrawn from these accounts between May and August 1994.

4.9 The destinations of debited BNP bank accounts were mostly unknown. Most of these operations were Aready money@ withdrawals or foreign exchange transactions (FRF against USD).

4.10 The last account appropriated was from a special account in the General de Banque on August 31 1994 for an amount of 280,000 ECU (157,864 USD) in favor of the Rwandan Embassy (of the exiled regime) in Kinshasa.

4.11 Since 1990, Egypt, South Africa and China supplied a substantial quantity of light arms and ammunition. In this light, it seems that transfers made by the former regime to its diplomatic missions in Pretoria, Cairo and Kinshasa, wete used to purchase weapons form their regular suppliers. The mission has no formal proof on this subject. Still to be known is the exact use of funds transferred to the embassies.

4.12 South Africa, China and France continued to sell arms to the self-proclaimed exiled Rwandan government.

4.13 According to a study by Human Rights Watch entitled AUnpunished Rearmament International support to the authors of the Rwandan genocide, May 1995:

A Following the imposed embargo, officials of the South African government, who were formerly arms deliveries coordinators to Rwanda, took part in the organizing and forwarding of arms to the Rwandan Armed Forces [of the former Regime]@.

4.14 According to the testimony of a high official of the exiled Rwandan government:

“officials rejected the plan to have arms sent directly from South Africa, in case violating the embargo, they had to arrange the dispatching via third persons’.

Delivery of weapons from France

4.15 According to Human Rights Watch, the French government supplied five cargoes of arms to the former Rwandan regime between May and June 1994. The report is based on the testimony of the vice-consul (honorary) of France to Goma, Mr. Jean-Claude Urbano. He confirmed these deliveries, as they were contracts negotiated before the imposed embargo by the United Nations on May 17 1994.

“During the whole operation >turquoise= the FAR continued to receive arms within French-controlled area via Goma airport… the French authorities did nothing to forbid this nor did they report this to the Commission formed under Resolution 918 of the United Nations Security Council”.

4.16 The above mentioned information shows that suppliers had already been paid before the genocide for deliveries of military material in May-June 1994. Consequently bank transactions in FRF (including payments made to French suppliers) to pay Alcatel made between May and August corresponded to arms supplied to the self-proclaimed government in exile, delivered probably later than June 1994.

4.17 On this, Human Rights Watch confirms that:

“The partisans of the ex-FAR and their militia had enough funds to purchase arms on the free market. Most of the currency reserves and other financial assets were stolen by former regime officials, and ex-FAR officers as well as militia who left the country last summer [1994]. Additional funds and possessions in foreign countries (including Kenya, Tanzania, Zaire and the Netherlands) were under the exiled government=s control and continued to be at the disposal of its leaders”

The amount of military imports

4.18 The former regime purchased (according of available data) various military equipment; machetes, for at least 12 million USD. This amount included the 83 million incurred between 1991 and 1994 for military equipment, almost 5 million USD for machetes, hoes, picks, axes and other supplies used during the genocide and massacres. An amount of over 24 million dollars, was withdrawn by the former regime on April 4 1996 from BNR foreign accounts. It is likely that the actual amount for these imports was considerably higher: several transactions were not accounted for and information relating to these imports is incomplete.

V CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.1 Our study confirms that the planning and implementation of the genocidal killings and massacres required substantial financial commitments. Not counting the huge expenditures of the Armed forces and the militia, the expenditures on military equipement, machetes and other equipment add up to more than 112 million dollars. This analysis, together with the various documents and invoices confirm the setting up by the former regime of a systematic procedure for the misappropriation of funds. Military expenditures were financed by foreign debt.

5.2 The donors on the one hand demanded total restitution of public funding for civilian expenditure while at the same time establishing budgetary goals to be reached for security expenditures.

5.3 Not only were the donors aware of what was going on but the World Bank and the IMF even gave technical support to the authorities through the SAP follow-up committee to establish budget objectives for the National Defense Ministry.

5.4 In other words, through intervening with loans and donations, the donors covered the National Defense=s budgetary deficit, and by doing so financed the war and, finally the civilian militia.

5.5 The mission was able to confirm that there was negligence on the part of the donors first of all concerning the management of the State budget and secondly on the follow-up procedures, verification and auditing of loan agreements.

5.6 The situation is particularly serious in that some of the quick disbursing loans were used under Aeligible importation provisions@, for importing huge quantities of machetes. No action was taken by the supervising and auditing missions to stop these imports.

5.7 This is where the question of responsibility comes in. Do the donors not have responsibility towards the victims of the genocidal killings and the massacres?

5.8 This responsibility not only brings up the formal legitimacy of foreign debt contracted by the former regime between 1990 and 1994 and the question of it=s cancellation, but it also obliges the donors and the International Community to contribute to a special, post-genocide reparation programme aiming to bring compensation to families of victims and survivors and the economic and social reconstruction of the country.

5.9 By the end of 1995, Rwanda’s foreign debt was around one billion dollars, which is unbearably heavy. Our mission is of the opinion that all the debt contracted during the 1990-1994 period has to be treated in a very special way so that the present government can be released from the commitments contracted by for the former authorities, responsible for the genocide.

5.10 Since most of these debts are multilateral, steps have to be taken going beyond the usual procedures concerning multilateral debt restructuring.

5.11 It must be understood that in this same view, the solutions proposed by the Group of Seven (G7) for the least developed countries, following the Lyon Summit in June 1996 and the meetings in Washington in September 1996 of the Bretton Woods institutions, are completely inappropriate to the situation in Rwanda.

5.12 The foreign debt load is so heavy that all the proposals made for special treatment (with conditionality) and new capital in form of loans and donations, are at this time insufficient to secure the debt service.

5.13 The new loans will be of no use to the reconstruction of the country without complete and unconditional cancellation of the 1990-94 loans. On the contrary, they will help maintain the country in its present state and make the debt load even heavier.

Recommendations

5.14 The arrangements should aim to obtain cancellation of the 1990-1994 debt from the multilateral funders, namely; IDA, IMF, ABD, IFAD, OPEC Funds and EIB.

5.15 Furthermore, it is requested that the bilateral creditors, namely Belgium, Canada, Kuwait, China, Japan, Austria, Libya, Switzerland (via IDA), Abudhabi and France initialize a total cancellation of the 1990-94 debt including co-financed loans with IDA (World Bank) and IFAD.

5.16 It must be understood that this programme would be an act of reparation and not aid. It should be exempt from the normal conditions laid down by the donors. It should be granted in addition to aid and loan programs. Canceling Rwanda=s debt must be unconditional. In other words it must above all not be linked to the implementation of the ESAF=s macro-economic reforms.

5.17 Concerning debt contracted prior to 1990, the mission proposes:

1) the full sum of all debt related to the above period should be converted into Special Funds for Rehabilitation and Reparation (SFRR) for the families of genocide victims.

2) the European Union together with the Rwandan Government should contribute (with the help of international experts) to the creation of this Special Fund with grants to mobilize young orphans and widows, survivors of the genocidal killings and massacres, and reconstruction by setting up civilian services workshops.

5.18 The mission also suggest that a special donors conference be planned to create a program for development aid specially adapted to Rwanda’s present situation and mobilize funds for this.

5.19 These steps taken by the donors would support a Programme for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Rwanda, set up by the government and different civil society groups with the aim setting a basis for long term economic and social development. This construction and rehabilitation programme requires not only that the debt be canceled and international aid unconditionally increased but also, that modifications be made to the main components of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) to protect local food production and secure the rural areas.

5.20 In preparation for the construction and rehabilitation program the authors of the present report suggest:

1. The protection of all reports and documents which allow for tracing back the history of Rwanda=s dark years, from the Plan and Finance Ministries, The National Bank of Rwanda, and the private banks.

2. The organization, with those in charge of these same Ministries and institutions, of a seminar to collect all information and carry out an investigation in the country to conceive a macro-economic and social plan for post-genocidal construction.

3. That the macro-economic model for the rehabilitation and construction of a new Rwanda is based on strengthening an economy answering to the primary needs of the population; work, health, education, collective infrastructure and decent housing.

4. That economic management leans toward rehabilitation, reinforcement and protection of agro-foodstuffs production to put a stop to the famine which is affecting many parts of the country.

5. That this program takes into account the huge health and mental health needs of the survivors, and the need for young persons (survivors, orphans, street children, handicapped children, young girls who have been abused, youngsters returning from camps in Tanzania and Zaire) to find coexistence, to make themselves useful, to build their future society based on memory, justice, and well-being, and the willingness of the Rwandan women, (survivors, widow, refugees), to take up an essential position in this program.

6. That this programme will include the needs for the demobilization and reintegration of the Armed Forces, those who committed no crime and young people who have joined the FPR Forces.

7. These objectives can only be attained by the participation of the people organized on the local level. This includes proposing areas for work groups, implementation, evaluation and monitoring. Civilian service work groups, linked together between villages, prefectures and at national level will allow distribution on income and, therefore boost consumption and internal trade.

For the State this will be the essential source for recreating and managing public finance and a way to reactivate economic production toward the satisfaction and the well-being of the population. It will also be a means for the State to direct its production in such a manner that the internal market has priority, while identifying new export openings.

That the Rwandan government and the donors agree on a progressive programme for external financing, which should start mainly with grants and subsequently find the right balance between grants and interest-free loans.


Note the documents below are contained are attached to the original reports. The are not included in the internet version of this report.

ANNEX: INVOICES (supporting documents) AND TABLES

End use certificates initialized licenses: importation of machetes and various supplies by KABUGA FELICIEN ETS and other importers.

Commitments in foreign currencies contracted by the former authority of the BNR following April 1994.

Summary tables of military imports by heading and importer

Summary tables of importation of machetes and various supplies.

Purchase and transfer of weapons; transfers towards Egypt, South Africa, Belgium, France and China.

Highlights of Michael Hourigan’s Sworn statement

The statement by the late Michael Hourigan is of crucial importance because it intimates, based on firm evidence, that Paul Kagame –who was supported by US– was instrumental in shooting down president Habyarimana’s aircraft on April 6, 1994.  This tragic event which led to death of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was a trigger in the onslaught of the massacres.  In turn the latter was decisive in Kagame’s  “final military campaign to seize state-power in Rwanda.”

Michael Hourigan had been granted a mandate by Judge Richard Goldstone (the then Chief Prosecutor) and Judge Honoré Rakotomana (the then ICTR Prosecutor) and Mr. Alphonse Breau (the then Director of Investigations) to focus on a number of issues including “the fatal rocket attack on 6 April 1994 killing President Habyarimana and all others on board”.

Hourigan and his “National Team” of roughly 20 investigators found three members of Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front who had volunteered the information that it was in fact Kagame’s RPF that on April 6, 1994, shot-down then-Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana’s jet as it approached the airport in Kigali, assassinating Habyarimana as well as President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, along with 11 others. Both Habyarimana and Ntarymira were Hutu; Kagame, to this day is still the president of Rwanda, is Tutsi. The shoot-down was the incident upon which Kagame’s RPF launched its final military campaign to seize state-power in Rwanda. In less than 100 days, Kagame’s RPF succeeded. David Peterson, Michael Hourigan Obituary, ZCommunications, December 13, 2013

Michael Hourigan had advised Louise Arbour that Paul Kagame was behind the plane crash. While first acknowledging Hourigan’s advice, Louise Arbour in a subsequent meeting was involved in ensuring that the evidence would be shelved and would not be an object of a followup investigation. The evidence and documents were confiscated by Judge Arbour.

Louise Arbour - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011.jpgLouise Arbour confiscated the Secret report, according to Hourigan. The detailed information on who was behind the shooting down of the plane would not get out and that there would be no followup.

This was not a civil war. It was an armed insurrection supported by the US and Britain, with a view to destabilizing and destroying an entire country.

Below are key excerpts from Hourigan’s sworn statement which refute the “official story” as to what actually happened. Scroll down for the complete statement. {GR Ed. M. Ch, emphasis added.]

In late January or early February 1997 members of the National Team were approached by three (3) informants (either former or serving member of the R.P.F.) claiming direct involvement in the 1994 fatal rocket attack upon the President’s aircraft. Their evidence specifically implicated the direct involvement of President Paul Kagame, members of his administration and military. The informants also advised that the Kagame administration was actively involved in covert operations aimed at murdering high profile expatriate Rwandans – once such murder was the death of Seth Sedashonga in Nairobi.

Commander Jim Lyons and I attended at the US Embassy in Kigali and I made a call to Judge Arbour at the US Embassy in the Hague using an encrypted (‘secure’) STU III telephone. I informed Judge Arbour in considerable detail about the information implicating President Kagame.” That information pertaining to the shooting down of the plane leading to the deaths of presidents of Rwanda and Burundi was suppressed.


I briefed Judge Arbour on the informants and their information regarding the involvement of President Kagame and members of the RPF in the downing of President Habyrimana’s aircraft.

I presented her with a copy of a memo I had prepared entitled ‘Secret National Team Inquiry – Internal Memorandum’ and this document which is undated is attached to this statement. This document detailed the information provided by the three informants.

To my surprise Judge Arbour was aggressive and questioned me about the source of the information regarding the informants and the quality and potential reliability of their information. I advised her that the information was given to me by members from my team – the National Team.

Judge Arbour then advised me that the National Team investigation was at an end because in her view it was not in our mandate. She suggested that the ICTR’s mandate only extended to events within the genocide, which in her view began ‘after’ the plane crash.

I was astounded at this statement. I pointed to the temporal mandate of the ICTR being 1 January 1994 until 31 December 1994 and this clearly covered the time of the plane crash. I also addressed the ‘terrorism’ and ‘murder’ provisions of the ICTR statute.

More particularly I also told her that this was the first time she had ever suggested that this was outside the ICTR mandate. I reminded her that I had personally briefed her before about our investigations  into the plane crash and that she had never ever expressed a view that this matter should [not] be part of an ICTR inquiry.

I expressed my strong view to her that these Rwandan informants were courageous and were deserving of our protection. I cautioned her that the UN had a history of abandoning informants in Rwanda and I specifically reminded her of the UN’s abandonment of Jean Pierre Turatsinze in 1994.

Judge then became hostile and asked me if I was challenging her authority to direct to end our investigations into the plane crash.

I told her that I was not questioning her authority only her judgement. I informed her that I was her servant and I would obey her direction.

 Judge Arbour then asked me if the memo that I had prepared for her was the only copy. I told her that it was and she said she was pleased to hear that and placed in her office filing cabinet.

She then asked me to leave the room.  …

I feel that unknown persons from within the UN leadership and possibly elsewhere [Washington] pressured Judge Arbour to end the National Team’s investigations into the shooting down of President Habyarimana.

According to Hourigan, there was only one copy of the ‘Secret National Team Inquiry – Internal Memorandum’. However in his a statement, he says that the Memo was attached.

Michael Andrew Hourigan passed away on December 13, 2013.  His sworn statement survives. The official story is a lie.

Michel Chossudovsky, GR, April 8, 2004

 


 

COMPLETE DOCUMENT

Date of document:                                          27 November 2006

Filed on behalf of the Plaintiff by:            

ichael Hourigan

Carrington House

61-63 Carrington Street

Adelaide South Austrlia 5000

AUSTRALIA

Ph: (08) 8237 0584

Mobile: 0415 668 732

Fax: (08) 8237 0555

Email: [email protected]                                                                    

Date and time of filing or transmission:    27 November 2006

AFFIDAVIT

I, MICHAEL ANDREW HOURIGAN Lawyer of 61-63 Carrington Street Adelaide 5000 in the State of South Australia Solicitor MAKE OATH AND SAY as follows:

1                    I am a qualified legal practitioner in the State of South Australia. I was also a former police detective before completing a law degree in 1995 after which time I took up a post as a Crown Prosecutor with the Director of Public Prosecutions (D.P.P. Adelaide).

2                    In April, 1996 I left the D.P.P. in Adelaide and took up a position as an investigator with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

3                    Soon after my arrival in Rwanda I was put made a team leader in charge of a team consisting of about 20 members and the team was to be known as ‘the National Team’.

4                    I was directed by Judge Richard Goldstone (the then Chief Prosecutor) and Judge Honoré Rakotomana (the then ICTR Prosecutor) and Mr. Alphonse Breau (the then Director of Investigations) to focus my teams investigations on the following matters:-

4.1.            investigate the criminal conduct of Colonel Theoneste Bagosora and then locate and arrest him;

4.2.            investigate the criminal conduct of Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva and then locate and arrest him;

4.3.            Investigate the murder of thousands of Rwandan elite in the first days of the genocide by the Rwandan Presidential.

4.4.            identify the person(s) responsible for the fatal rocket attack on 6 April 1994 killing President Habyarimana and all others on board;

5                    Together with my investigators we conducted investigations into these matters throughout the next year. During the course of 1996 I was called upon to brief Judge Goldstone and then his replacement Judge Louise Arbour and other senior prosecutors on the progress of our investigations into Bagosora, Nsengiyumva, the Presidential Guard and the rocket attack upon President Habyarimana’s aircraft.

6                    At no time did Judge Goldstone, Judge Arbour or any other member of the ICTR ever indicate to me that our investigations into the downing of the President Habyrimana’s aircraft were outside the ICTR mandate. On the contrary, it was made clear to me that our investigations into the rocket attack upon the President’s aircraft was an act of international terrorism which clearly fell within the ICTR statute Article 4 Violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions:-

Article 4: Violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II

The International Tribunal for Rwanda shall have the power to prosecute persons committing or ordering to be committed serious violations of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the Protection of War Victims, and of Additional Protocol II thereto of 8 June 1977. These violations shall include, but shall not be limited to:

a) Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, in particular murder as well as cruel treatment such as torture, mutilation or any form of corporal punishment;

b)

c)

d) Acts of terrorism;

e)

f)

g)

h)

7                    I am pleased to say that the National Team was successful and we achieved the following results:-

7.1.            Located, arrested and charged Colonel Theoneste Bagosora with Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity;

7.2.            Located, arrested and charged Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity;

7.3.            Gathered evidence against senior members of the Presidential Guard in relation to the killing of key Rwandan citizens, including but not limited to, UNAMIR-protected VIPS  Justice Joseph Kavaruganda, (President of the Constitutional Court) and Vice President  Lando Ndasingwa (the head of the Parti liberal);

7.4.            In late January or early February 1997 members of the National Team were approached by three (3) informants (either former or serving member of the R.P.F.) claiming direct involvement in the 1994 fatal rocket attack upon the President’s aircraft. Their evidence specifically implicated the direct involvement of President Paul Kagame, members of his administration and military. The informants also advised that the Kagame administration was actively involved in covert operations aimed at murdering high profile expatriate Rwandans – once such murder was the death of Seth Sedashonga inNairobi.

8                    With respect to the highly sensitive information from the three informants regarding the plane crash I immediately informed my Commander Jim Lyons. My Director Mr. Alphonse Breau was out of the country and I arranged for him to be told by telephone.

9                    The information from the sources was very detailed and seemed very credible. I was very concerned about the sensitivity of the information and arranged for an urgent ‘secure’ telephone call to Judge Arbour.

10                Commander Jim Lyons and I attended at the US Embassy in Kigali and I made a call to Judge Arbour at the US Embassy in the Hague using an encrypted (‘secure’) STU III telephone. I informed Judge Arbour in considerable detail about the information implicating President Kagame. She was excited by the break through and advised me that the information corroborated some other information she had just learnt from Alison Des Forge the week before. At no time did she suggest that our investigations were improper. On the contrary, I would describe her mood as upbeat and excited that at last we were making significant progress into the events surrounding the plane crash.

11                Judge Arbour was concerned about the safety of the informants and my men. I advised her that the informants’ identities had been kept secure and if she so directed me I would arrange for my investigators involved in the plane crash to leave Rwanda. She directed that my investigators should leave and I agreed to have them travel from the country on suitable inquiries inNairobi. As for me I declined to leave Rwanda and advised her that I wanted to stay with my team and assist them complete other important investigations. She consented to this  but asked me to keep in touch with her while she considered what to do with this sensitive information.

12                During the next week I was directed by senior members of the UN in Kigali that I was required to travel to the ICTY in the Hague in order to meet with Judge Arbour and brief on her on our investigations in the rocket attack upon President Habyarimana’s aircraft.

13                Some days later I was approached at the ICTR headquarters in Kigali by Mr. Michael Hall, UN Deputy Security (NY). He advised me that I would be flying to Arusha the next day on the ICTR aircraft and from there board an international KLM flight to Amsterdam. Mr. Hall asked me to give him any information that I had on air crash and he would convey it to the airport in a UN diplomatic pouch. I then gave Mr. Hall a single floppy disc containing a memorandum I had prepared for Judge Arbour.

14                The next day Mr. Hall conveyed me to the Kigali airport where I checked in for the UN flight. There Mr. Hall and I were told that the flight was overbooked and that I could not to Arusha. Mr. Hall became agitated and told the UN flight officer that the UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan had personally ordered my attendance in Arusha for an international connection the next day. As a consequence I was given a seat on the UN flight and flew to Arusha.

15                The next day I flew to the Hague and over-knighted in a hotel near the ICTY.

16                The following morning I met with Mr. Al Breau and briefed him on the information concerning the plane crash. Together we discussed forming a special ICTR investigations unit based outside of Kigali to investigate the plane crash.

17                Following breakfast Mr. Breau and I attended at the ICTY and met with Judge Arbour. Also present was Mr. Mohammed Othman, Acting ICTR Prosecutor.

18                I briefed Judge Arbour on the informants and their information regarding the involvement of President Kagame and members of the RPF in the downing of President Habyrimana’s aircraft.

19                I presented her with a copy of a memo I had prepared entitled ‘Secret National Team Inquiry – Internal Memorandum’ and this document which is undated is attached to this statement. This document detailed the information provided by the three informants.

20                To my surprise Judge Arbour was aggressive and questioned me about the source of the information regarding the informants and the quality and potential reliability of their information. I advised her that the information was given to me by members from my team – the National Team. Those members were Amadou Deme and Peter Dnistriansky. I advised her that I held both investigators in the highest regard. I did say that I was not able to provide any advice as to the reliability of their information as it had not been tested. However, I did suggest that it was very detailed and this is itself meant that it could be subjected to considerable forensic examination.

21                Mr. Al Breau also expressed his strong view that both Amadou Deme and Peter Dnistrianksy were highly effective and reliable men.

22                Judge Arbour then advised me that the National Team investigation was at an end because in her view it was not in our mandate. She suggested that the ICTR’s mandate only extended to events within the genocide, which in her view began ‘after’ the plane crash.

23                I was astounded at this statement. I pointed to the temporal mandate of the ICTR being 1 January 1994 until 31 December 1994 and this clearly covered the time of the plane crash. I also addressed the ‘terrorism’ and ‘murder’ provisions of the ICTR statute.

24                More particularly I also told her that this was the first time she had ever suggested that this was outside the ICTR mandate. I reminded her that I had personally briefed her before about our investigations  into the plane crash and that she had never ever expressed a view that this matter should be part of an ICTR inquiry.

25                I expressed my strong view to her that these Rwandan informants were courageous and were deserving of our protection. I cautioned her that the UN had a history of abandoning informants in Rwanda and I specifically reminded her of the UN’s abandonment of Jean Pierre Turatsinze in 1994.

26                Judge then became hostile and asked me if I was challenging her authority to direct to end our investigations into the plane crash.

27                I told her that I was not questioning her authority only her judgement. I informed her that I was her servant and I would obey her direction.

28                Judge Arbour then asked me if the memo that I had prepared for her was the only copy. I told her that it was and she said she was pleased to hear that and placed in her office filing cabinet.

29                She then asked me to leave the room.

30                I was extremely concerned at Judge Arbour’s decision and felt that it was wrong both in law and policy.

31                I returned to Kigali and a short time later resigned from the ICTR.

32                After my resignation from the ICTR I was offered a position as an investigator with the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in New York. Soon after taking up my appointment I was asked to provide OIOS  investigators investigating corruption within the ICTR with a statement re my service in Rwanda for the ICTR.

33                On 1 August 1997 I prepared an internal memorandum detailing various issues which I felt lay behind some of the difficulties with the ICTR. A copy of this memorandum is attached here.

34                The OIOS leadership were not at all interested in the memorandum and they expressed their concern at some of the contents of the document implicating the Secretary General in some of the serious events inRwandain1994.

35                I completed six months with OIOS and resigned.

36                I feel that unknown persons from within the UN leadership and possibly elsewhere pressured Judge Arbour to end the National Team’s investigations into the shooting down of President Habyarimana.

37                Following my resignation my National Team was dismembered – the National Team investigations into the plane crash were brought to an end.

38                I have suffered at the hands of Judge Arbour and the UN because my career with the ICTR was brought to an untimely and ignominious end. I was proud of serving with the ICTR but I felt that I could not work for Judge Arbour when, in my view, she acted for personal reasons against the interests of the ICTR, the UN and world community which we served.

39                I know the facts deposed to herein to be true of my own knowledge, information and belief except where otherwise plainly appears.

 

NATO and Turkey’s Genocidal War on Syria

April 8th, 2014 by Cem Ertür

“President [Obama] has been clear: Any [military] action that he might decide to take will be a limited and tailored response to ensure that a despot’s brutal and flagrant use of chemical weapons is held accountable.” [U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speech at the U.S. State Department, Washington D.C., 30 August 2013] 1

“What matters is to weaken the regime to the point where it gives up power. [...] What matters is to repeat here the Kosovo [War] precedent. Otherwise, [just] a 24 hours hit-and-run wouldn’t work.”[Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, press remarks at the Victory Day reception, Cankaya presidential residence, Ankara, 30 August 2013]2

On March 16, the third anniversary of the NATO-led covert war on Syria, the Syrian army won a landmark victory by taking back the Yabroud town on the Lebanese border.3 Hours later, NATO-backed ‘Al-Nusra Front in Lebanon’ retaliated by launching a false-flag bombing attack in Lebanon.4

On March 18-19, the Israeli army bombarded Syrian Army positions by tank and artillery fire and airstrikes.5

On March 21, NATO-backed mercenary forces and Turkish Armed Forces launched a massive offensive on the Syrian border town of Kasab in the Latakia province. The unprecedented overt military aggression by Turkey and its NATO allies is the clearest indication of their desperation in the face of Syria’s steady progress towards a decisive victory on all fronts.

This article details the flagrant war crimes committed by Turkey and NATO during the ongoing offensive on Kasab and puts them in a context.

The offensive on Kasab

Turkey’s Yayladagi-Kasab border crossing with Syria was unilaterally closed by Erdogan’s government in the aftermath of the May 2013 false-flag attacks in the border town of Reyhanli “to prevent the suspects from fleeing”.1 At the time, this was the only border gate along the border with Turkey which was controlled by the Syrian government and therefore the only legal and safe transit point for the civilians.7 Thanks to Turkey’s full support, NATO-backed mercenary forces are currently occupying nine out of twelve border gates between Syria and Turkey.8

In the early stages of the covert war on Syria, Erdogan’s government rendered the entire 877 kilometres-long border with Syria porous for the NATO-backed mercenaries who have been using it as a highway. In many areas along the Syrian border, fences and concrete barriers were removed and roads were stabilized to allow the passage of all sorts of vehicles, including those rigged with bombs.1

Furthermore, with hindsight, the motive behind the removal of some 615,000 landmines on the Syrian border was to ease the passage of mercenaries as well as military and intelligence officials of Turkey’s and allied NATO countries’ security forces. Planted with NATO’s support between 1957-1959, the activities to remove these landmines began in 2007, for which the help of NATO’s Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) was sought in 2009.10,11,12 Likewise, lifting mutual visa requirements with Syria in 2009 allowed Turkey to prepare the ground for destabilizing its neighbour.13 In November 2013, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad accused Turkey of letting terrorists from 83 countries to enter Syria to topple the government.14

Over the few months, mercenaries from Kosovo, the Balkans and other European countries had been deployed in Yayladagi and Samandag countryside in preparation for a cross-border offensive on the predominantly Armenian town of Kasab.15 Seven villages on Turkey’s border with Syria were evacuated and allocated to the mercenaries.16 Just before the offensive, power outages occurred along the route through which military vehicles moved towards the Syrian border.17

According to the local villagers, on March 21, backed up by the heavy artillery fire of the Turkish Armed Forces, over 1500 mercenaries launched a coordinated assault from at least five separate points across Turkey’s border with Syria. They were directly commanded by NATO’s radar base on Keldagi (Mount Aqraa) on the border and supported by the Turkish Armed Forces. 18,19,15 The mercenaries used pick-up trucks fitted with anti-aircraft weapons, tanks belonging to the Turkish Armed Forces, vehicles loaded with heavy weaponry and lorries.19,20 The primary and initial assault was the one launched from the Yayladagi border gate to the opposite Kasab border gate, during which masked Turkish special forces troops killed 15 Syrian border guards.20,21

Turkish Armed Forces are giving cover to the mercenaries through mortar, artillery and rocket shelling across the border by armored vehicles and coordinated heavy machine-gun fire by helicopters. They are also using long-range assassination weapons and intercepting the communication of the Syrian Army.22,23,24,15 This report by Alalam describes how Turkish Armed Forces’ tanks pounded Syria’s military bases in Kasab:

“[A] huge explosion was heard at a Syrian army base near Kasab after Turkish military targeted the area. The explosion has been followed with Turkish military firing several other rockets at Syrian army bases [...] Al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front have raised their flags over several Turkish military tanks near Kasab, as a sign of having the area under their control.”25

The ‘huge explosion’, whose impact was felt from 15 kilometres, was caused by a missile fired from Turkey.20 Furthermore, according to a Syrian general taking part in this battle, Turkish Armed Forces were among the mercenary forces attacking the strategic hilltop ‘Observatory 45’ in Kasab.26

The majority of the mercenaries fighting in Kasab are of Chetchen, Albanian, Saudi and Turkish origin.18 Ambulances are regularly crossing Turkey’s border with Syria to collect the wounded mercenaries and transport them to hospitals across Turkey’s Hatay province.17 In fact, local protestors in Hatay’s Harbiye district blocked the paths of those ambulances.27

On the other hand, by refusing entry to the mercenaries fleeing the attacks of the Syrian army, Turkey’s border guards are forcing them to continue the fighting.17On the fifth day of the offensive on Kasab, mercenaries based in the towns of Yayladagi, Altinozu, Antakya, Reyhanli, Osmaniye and other areas were still being deployed to Turkey’s border with Syria.18

The Syrian army was caught off guard as they were not expecting such an overt and extreme military aggression from Turkey.19 Nevertheless, Syria’s government still exhibits utmost restraint:

[Syrian] Foreign and Expatriates Ministry called on Wednesday26 [26 March] in two identical letters to the UN Secretary-General and Chairman of the UN Security Council to take all measures required to condemn the Turkish involvement in supporting the armed terrorist groups which attacked Kasab district from Liwa Iskenderun [i.e. Hatay province] and to compel the Turkish government to stop its aggression.

“Syrian government has drawn the attention of the UN Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon] and chairmen of the UN Security Council during the past three years to the acts and violations committed by the Turkish government against Syria’s security and stability through the Turkish involvement in organizing, receiving, funding and hosting tens of thousands of terrorists from various takfiri movements and facilitating their entry into the Syrian territories and giving them background bases on the Turkish territories.

“After the failure of the attempts of the Turkish regime to undermine Syria, the Turkish army moved by Turkish prime minister [Erdogan]‘s instructions to launch flagrant aggression on Syria as the Turkish army’s tanks and artillery took part directly in the attack on Kasab, north of Syria, and its surrounding “[said Syrian Foreign Ministry]”28

The Syrian government said that Turkish Armed Forces’ overt military participation for the first time represents a dangerous escalation”29:

“Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja’afari told reporters outside the UN Security Council on Wednesday [26 March] that Turkey was facilitating attacks against Syrian forces by al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups through the country’s northern borders and the Israeli regime was doing the same in the occupied Golan Heights.

“Ja’afari added that Syria has been the target of an orchestrated joint military operation conducted by the Turkish government and the Israeli regime as well as the terrorist groups operating both along Syria’s northern border and its southern border.” 30

As the offensive on Kasab entered its fourth week, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad has strongly condemned the United Nations’ deliberate and consistent policy of ignoring the existence of terrorism in Syria since Spring 2011 and made the following remark about the ongoing offensive: “The massacres of Erdogan government-backed terrorist groups against the residents of Kassab town are still a living example that appeals to every UN official to feel ashamed of having turned into a tool for supporting terrorism”31

The downing of the Syrian military jet

On the second day of the offensive on Kasab, a drone belonging to the Turkish Armed Forces was shot down by the Syrian army as it was flying over Kasab. This was one was among the drones and fighter jets used by the Turkish Air Force to collect intelligence for the mercenaries on the ground and intercept the communication of the Syrian army. Turkey’s politicians and media remained silent over this incident as the location where the drone crashed was 1,5 kilometres inside Syrian territory.18

On March 23, NATO radar base in Keldagi (Mount Aqraa) blocked a Syrian MIG-23 military jet’s contact with the air control tower. While flying over Kasab, the jet was hit by a missile fired from Turkey. Having survived the attack, the pilot of the Syrian jet gave a statement: “The Syrian pilot whose aircraft was shot down in Kasab area on Saturday said that a Turkish aircraft fired a missile at him while he was pursuing terrorists within Syrian territories. The pilot told Syrian TV that he was carrying out a mission of pursuing terrorists within Syrian territories, more than 7 kilometers away from the borders, and after arriving at the target’s location, establishing visual contact, and carrying out his mission, he turned around to return to base when a rocket fired by a Turkish aircraft hit his aircraft, so he left it using the ejector seat. He asserted his target was within Syrian territories and he parachuted inside Syrian territories”32

The downing of the Syrian military jet was broadcast live by Turkey’s private TV channel Habertürk from the border area which is forbidden military zone.20 This reveals the pre-meditated nature of this specific act of war. During his speech at a local election rally, Prime Minister Erdogan blatantly lied by claiming that Turkey’s airspace had been violated:

“Around 12:15pm today yet another Hashasi [assassin], a Syrian plane has violated our borders, our airspace. Our F-16 [jets] took off and hit this plane. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, our slap will be hard after that. So, I would like to congratulate the head of the Turkish Armed Forces [Necdet Ozel] in particular, our Armed Forces, those honourable pilots of ours and our Air Force in your presence.”33

By making a historical reference to the ‘Hashasi’ sect, Mr Erdogan tried to demonize both Syria and Iran.

True to form, the U.S. State Department declared its overt support for this act of war by Turkey:

“We are committed to Turkey’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We note that the Turkish Government has been fully transparent about the rules of engagement it is operating under”34

Local elections in Turkey

On the eve of the March 21 offensive on Kasab, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay implicated the Syrian state in a shooting attack in Nigde, which is located some 400 kilometres from the Syrian border:

“The word Syrian was mentioned in the briefing [note] I was given. The martyrdom of a soldier and a police officer of ours in the run up to the [local] elections is a very grave incident. It may be that some are trying to spoil the election atmosphere.”35

The next day, it turned out that, the perpetrators were two Albanians and a Kosovar mercenaries who were on their way back from fighting in the ranks of the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ against the Syrian state.36

On March 14, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu rehashed Turkey’s threat of launching a 25-kilometres border incursion of into Syria to defend a 10,000 square metres enclave that belongs to Turkey37:

“Any kind of attack towards there [i.e. the Suleiman Shah Tomb] which might come from the [Syrian] regime, the radical groups or another place would be equally retaliated and Turkey would take all sorts of precautions, without any hesitation, for the defense of that national territory.”38

Actually, as early as May 2011, a somewhat similar scenario was disclosed by the relentless propagandist Robert Fisk39 :

“Turkish generals have thus prepared an operation that would send several battalions of Turkish troops into Syria itself to carve out a “safe area” for Syrian refugees inside Assad’s caliphate. The Turks are prepared to advance well beyond the Syrian border town of Al Qamishli – perhaps half way to Deir el-Zour [...] to provide a “safe haven” for those fleeing the slaughter in Syria’s cities.”40

Three days before the March 30 local elections, the audiotapes of a meeting between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, National Intelligence Organization (MIT) director Hakan Fidan and the deputy head of the Turkish Armed Forces Yasar Güler was ‘leaked’ on YouTube.41 According to the transcript of the YouTube video, MIT director Fidan suggested staging a false flag attack on the aforementioned Tomb of Suleiman Shah to provide a justification for a possible war with Syria.42

Mr Erdogan implied that the leak was a U.S.-hatched conspiracy against his government and Turkey’s sovereignty. In a speech delivered after winning the local elections, he referred to those whom he accuses of collaborating:

“How [dare] you threaten our national security? Turkey is currently in a state of war with Syria. They are harassing our airplanes. The 10,000 square metres [land] of the Tomb of Suleiman Shah is our territory, [so] any attack on it is an attack on the 780,000 square metres [territory of Turkey]. Can we remain silent to this? The traitors eavesdropped this meeting and then leaked it to the world. They are even worse than the Hashasis.”43

Mr Erdogan’s insinuation of a U.S.-hatched conspiracy is lent credence by the leading global media corporation’s depiction of Erdogan, since the beginning of the anti-government protests in May 2013, as a leader who is deeply hostile to Western values and liberties. The motive behind this domestic and global disinformation campaign is to obfuscate the Erdogan government’s utmost complicity in the NATO-led genocidal war on Syria, not to mention the war crimes against Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is also worth noting that YouTube is notorious for censoring material that exposes the crimes against the people and government of Syria, whilst systematically promoting anti-Syria propaganda.44

Actually, this “leak” is a highly sophisticated WikiLeaks-style psy-ops which seeks to divert attention away from the utterly criminal cross-border offensive on Kasab by NATO-backed mercenary forces and the Turkish Armed Forces. Furthermore, on April 1 the Syrian government has revealed that the aim of the offensive on Kasab is to keep the Syrian army busy so that the mercenary forces in Damascus could carry out a false-flag chemical attack45 :

“Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari said that terrorist groups are planning to launch attacks using chemical weapons in Jobar area to accuse the Syrian government of it , as indicated by a phone call between terrorists monitored by the authorities. [...]

“There’s nothing called international community, unfortunately,” al-Jaafari said, “we directed two letters to the Security Council to have the countries that keep talking about the threats of chemical weapons to pressure the countries sponsoring and funding these terrorist groups – specifically the Turkish, Saudi, and Qatari governments – to prevent such terrorist acts by pressuring these gangs and terrorist gangs,” adding that now this matter is in the hands of the [U.N.] Security Council. [...]

“These terrorist groups came from Turkish territories and were covered by Turkish artillery, tanks and aircrafts so that they aren’t engaged by the Syrian Army in that area, with the purpose of the Turkish military involvement being an attempt to distract the Syrian Army form these terrorist groups so that they may commit their heinous acts,” he said.46

Over the last three years, Turkey and its NATO-led allies have totally exposed themselves and exhausted their credibility by blatantly resorting to all sorts of false-flag attacks imaginable against Syria in order to topple President Bashar al-Assad and/or instigate a war.

In fact, Turkey has a long history of false flag attacks on Syria, including a failed assassination attempt on the then-President Hafez al-Assad in 1996.47 A selection of news reports from 2011 and 2013 below offer a glimpse of Turkey’s utmost criminality.

Flashback to 2011

In late March 2011, only two weeks after the launch of the NATO-led covert war on Syria, CIA director Leon Panetta secretly visited Turkey’s border with Syria.48 A month later, Turkish newspaper Sabah announced Panetta’s visit and CIA’s cooperation with Turkey over Syria:

“CIA Director Leon Panetta made a surprise visit to Turkey at the end of March [2011]. Panetta’s 5 day visit to Ankara was hidden from the public opinion as a top secret. [...] Panetta met with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Hakan Fidan, as well as officials from the government and the General Staff of Turkish Armed Forces. [...] During the consultations, it was pointed out that Syria is at a “critical threshold” [...] that the country would be dragged into chaos if Assad doesn’t take urgent steps. Details of what was described as Turkey’s “classified” [plan] concerning Syria were also discussed. It has been pointed out that the “classified” [plan] entails regime change in Syria”49

The following day, Sabah revealed Turkey’s plan for toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad:

“In the face of the escalation of events in Syria, Turkey [has decided] to launch its classified “Plan B” instead of its Plan A which envisaged Assad to remain in power. “Plan B” covers the possibilities of chaos, civil war and migration. [...] [The border provinces of] Hatay, Sanliurfa, Kilis and Mardin have been designated for [setting up] reception camps and field hospitals.”50

What is particularly striking is that this plan of setting up five refugee camps (including two in Hatay) along some 600 kilometres-long segment of the Syrian border was conceived before any violent incident occurred in north Syria.

On May 31st, 2011 Turkey hosted a three-day ‘regime change’ conference in a five-star hotel in Antalya with the participation of some 300 members of the Syrian opposition.51,52

The first major false flag attack of the NATO-led covert war on Syria was orchestrated through the military and intelligence cooperation of the U.S. and Turkey. On June 6, 2011, 120 Syrian soldiers were brutally massacred by the Muslim Brotherhood mercenaries in the town of Jisr al-Shughour, located 10 kilometres from the border with Turkey.53 At the time, this report by SANA was largely ignored by the mainstream and alternative media alike:

“The Syrian TV broadcast photos of the brutal massacres perpetrated by organized armed terrorist groups against the civilians and the army, police and security forces groups in Jisr al-Shughour in the province of Idleb.

“Members of the terrorist groups used government cars and military uniform to commit their crimes of killing, terrifying people and sabotaging. They filmed themselves committing vandalism acts to manipulate the photos and videos and distort the reputation of the [Syrian] army.

“The terrorists attacked police and security centers as well as other governmental and private institutions, violated the streets, neighborhoods and houses and used rooftops to sniper and shoot at citizens and security forces. [...]

“They also set up ambushes for police and security forces, mutilated the bodies of some martyrs and threw the bodies of others into the Orontes River, in addition to putting barriers on the roads and terrifying people.

“The groups members also kidnapped a number of the martyrs’ bodies and buried them in the ground to later promote them as if they are mass graves with the help of the channels they are working with in inciting against Syria. [...]

“The number of the martyrs of police and security members exceeded 120 until Monday evening, who were killed at the hands of the armed terrorist groups in Jisr al-Shughour.”54

These two reports by Press TV provide details of Turkey’s complicity in the Jisr al-Shughour massacre:

“According to informed sources in Damascus that cited an unspecific classified report, the “unprecedented intensification” of unrest in Syria stems from deals between Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and some unknown groups in the region.55

“The Syrian government says the weapons used during clashes in Jisr al-Shughour were smuggled into the country from Turkey and that some members of the terrorist groups behind days of deadly clashes in the town have escaped to Turkey.

“Meanwhile, [Syrian] state TV broadcast a phone call between two members of the armed groups who committed terrorist acts in Jisr al-Shughour region, revealing that the armed men are planning to leave the area for Turkey as displaced local citizens.”56

Turkish Armed Forces troops crossed into Syria through the border under the guise of helping the fleeing civilians.53 The Jisr al-Shughour massacre occurred six days before the 2011 general elections in Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan has fully capitalised in the ensuing migration to Turkey:

“Syria is practically a domestic issue for us, I have said this many times. [...] Currently there are [people] entering Turkey through the Altinozu [district]. [...] We really cannot close our gates to people fleeing for their lives and seeking refuge in Turkey. We have to let them in. [...] [Assad’s brother Maher] is chasing after savagery. This [situation] is inevitably leading to the United Nations Security Council’s involvement”57

Flashback to 2013

The NATO-led coalition of countries had nearly succeeded instigating a war with Syria after NATO-backed mercenaries massacred civilians by launching a chemical false flag attack in East Ghouta on August 21, 2013.58 Editor Yossef Bodansky sheds some light on Turkey’s role in this mind-boggling conspiracy:

“On August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major and irregular military surge. Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and representatives of Qatari, Turkish, and US Intelligence [“Mukhabarat Amriki”] took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and their foreign sponsors. Very senior opposition commanders who had arrived from Istanbul briefed the regional commanders of an imminent escalation in the fighting due to “a war-changing development” which would, in turn, lead to a US-led bombing of Syria.

“The opposition forces had to quickly prepare their forces for exploiting the US-led bombing in order to march on Damascus and topple the Bashar al-Assad Government, the senior commanders explained. [...] [U]nprecedented weapons distribution started in all opposition camps in Hatay Province on August 21-23, 2013. In the Reyhanli area alone, opposition forces received well in excess of 400 tons of weapons [...] which were distributed from store-houses controlled by Qatari and Turkish Intelligence under the tight supervision of US Intelligence.”59

According to Mihrac Ural, the leader of the Latakia-based popular anti-imperialist militia force ‘Syrian Resistance’ (Muqawamat al-Suriyah), shortly before the false-flag chemical attack in East Ghouta, a similar plot had been foiled. Mr Ural sums up the testimony of a Dutch-Kurdish mercenary who is originally from Turkey and who was captured by the Syrian Resistance on August 16, 2013 whilst fighting in the Latakia countryside:

“[Turgay Yasar] explained that he brought the sarin gas from the Netherlands [to Turkey] via the VIP section [under the auspices of] the authorities from [Turkey’s ruling] Justice and Development Party (AKP) and handed them over to the al-Nusra Front. [He also disclosed that although the NATO-backed mercenaries] had made preparations to deploy the sarin gas on the Alawite [civilians] during the ongoing battles in the Latakia countryside, they haven’t had the opportunity in the face of a series of resounding victories by [the Syrian Resistance and the Syrian army]”60

Conclusion

All the available evidence indicates that U.S., U.K., Israel, Turkey, France and Saudi Arabia meticulously planned the genocidal covert war on Syria for years before actually launching it in 2011. Right from the beginning, Turkey has been at the epicenter of this war in every possible respect. In the face of the increasingly brutal and reckless attacks across all of its land borders, the Syrian state, army and people have been displaying an outstanding resistance, courage and solidarity.

As the prospect of a decisive victory by the Syrian army becomes ever more certain, the orchestrators of this genocide are disseminating all sorts of propaganda on a global scale to obfuscate and cover up their monumental war crimes. However, Turkey and NATO’s overt participation in the ongoing cross-border offensive on Kasab provides an incontrovertible evidence of these crimes for those who seek peace and justice for Syria and the entire humanity.

Cem Ertür is an independent researcher and peace activist, currently based in Istanbul. Some of his work is published at Global Research and all his Propaganda Alerts since November 2011 are published on Indybay.

Notes

  1. Statement on Syria, by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Department of State website, 30 August 2013
  2. Sinirli bir müdahale yeterli olmaz, Yeni Safak, 31 August 2013
  3. Syrian Army Wins decisive Battle in Yabroud, Secures Damascus, Cuts off Supply from Lebanon, nsnbc international, 16 March 2014
  4. Pre-determined Suicide Attack in Bekaa, Two Martyred (Updated), Al-Manar, 17 March 2014
  5. Foreign Ministry: Israeli new aggression is flagrant violation of Disengagement agreement and international law rules, SANA , 19 March 2014
  6. The Role of Turkey in the US-NATO-Israeli War on Syria, Turkey’s False-flag Operation against Syria Backfires: The Reyhanli bombing attacks in a larger context  by Cem Ertür, Global Research, 29 May 2013
  7. Hatay’in Yayladagi Sinir Kapisinin güvenlik gerekcesiyle kapatilmasina iliskin, by CHP member of Parliament Refik Eryilmaz, website of Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM), 6 February 2014
  8. Türkiye’ye baglanan tüm sinir kapilari…, Dogan Haber Ajansi, 24 March 2014
  9. Guta’da Kullanilan Gaz Türkiye’den Gitti, by Ferhat Aktas, Taha Haber, 1 September 2013
  10. Presentation (2) by the Turkish Delegation at the Second Intercessional Meeting of the Ottawa Convention, AP Mine Ban Convention website, 14 May 2003
  11. Suriye sinirdaki mayinlar temizlendi, by Ali Leylak, Hürriyet, 3 August 2007
  12. Turkey asks NATO to help clear mines near Syria,  Associated Press, 30 June 2009
  13. Turkey, Syria agree to lift visa requirements, Hürriyet Daily News, 17 September 2009
  14. ‘Turkey let militants from 83 countries in Syria’, Alalam, 6 November 2013
  15. Ucak Düsürme Hadisesinin Tüm Detaylari, by Fuat Ates, Taha Haber, 23 March 2014
  16. Savas sinir kapisindan iceri girdi, by Mustafa Seyfullah Kilic, Adim Dergisi, 25 March 2014
  17. Keseb’de neler oluyor?by Hamide Yigit, Sendika.org, 23 March 2014
  18. Keseb’te Son Bilanco: 200 Militan Öldürüldü, Ferhat Aktas’ interview with Mihrac Ural, Taha Haber, 5 April 2014
  19. Bilinmeyen Yönleriyle Keseb Saldirisi, Member of Turkey’s Parliament Mehmet Ali Edipoglu, Taha Haber, 26 March 2014
  20. ‘Savasin dügümü Lazkiye’, by Omer Odemis, Yurt, 27 March 2014
  21. Casa Bella – Lazkiye hatti, by Mehmet Serim, Yakin Dogu Haber, 26 March 2014
  22. Türkiye’den El Kaide Militanlarina Destek, Taha Haber, 22 March 2014
  23. Alevilerden Uyari: Atesle Oynamayin, Taha Haber, 22 March 2014
  24. Battles rage in Syria as army recaptures more places, Xinhua, 23 March 2014
  25. Exclusive: Turkish military pounds Syrian army bases near border, Alalam, 25 March 2014
  26. ‘Türkiye Kesab’a girdi’, Yurt, 26 March 2014
  27. Locals of Liwa Iskenderun block paths of ambulances carrying wounded terrorists from Kasab, SANA, 29 March 2014
  28. Syria calls on UN, UNSC to condemn Turkish involvement in supporting terrorist groups in Kasab district, SANA, 27 March 2014
  29. Al-Jaafari: Turkish army’s covering of terrorists operations in Kasab is dangerous escalation, SANA, 27 March 2014
  30. Turkey in league with Israel against Syria: Ja’afari, Press TV, 27 March 2014
  31. Mikdad: UN turned int’l terrorism into its spoiled son, just like Israel, SANA, 5 April 2014
  32. Syrian pilot: My aircraft was shot down by Turkish aircraft within Syrian airspace, SANA, 24 March 2014
  33. Türk F-16′lari Suriye ucagini vurdu, Anadolu Ajansi, 23 March 2014
  34. Daily Press Briefing, U.S. Department of State website, 24 March 2014
  35. Hükümet’ten Nigde’deki saldiriyla ilgili ilk aciklama, Besir Atalay: Bana gelen bilgilerde ‘Suriye’ notu var, Habertürk, 20 March 2014 [excerpt transcribed from video by the author]
  36. Nigde zanlilari El Kaide listesinde, by Fevzi Kizilkoyun, Radikal, 22 March 2014
  37. Turkey: NATO’s Neo-Ottoman Spearhead in the Middle East, by Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO, 7 August 2012
  38. Davutoglu: O türbeye saldirirsaniz…, Hürriyet, 14 March 2014
  39. Robert Fisk’s anti-Syria propaganda, by Cem Ertür, Indybay, 30 April 201
  40. Who cares in the Middle East what Obama says?by Robert Fisk, The Independent, 30 May 2011
  41. Media Neglect Turkish False Flag Attack Leak And Its Implications, Moon of Alabama, 28 March 2014
  42. Ses kaydina göre, Suriye ile savas cikarmaya calismislar, Evrensel, 27 March 2014
  43. Basbakan Erdogan’dan balkon konusmasi, Türkiye, 31 March 2014
  44. Youtube covers up militants’ crimes against Syrian nation: Analyst, interview with Mimi Laham, Press TV, 5 March 2013
  45. Identical letters dated 25 March 2014 from the Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary General and the President of the Security Council, United Nations website, 1 April 2014
  46. Al-Jaafari: Terrorists planning to launch chemical attack on Jobar to accuse the government, SANA, 1 April 2014
  47. Turkish Delight, by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, 16 June 1996
  48. ‘Syria armed groups flee to Turkey’, Press TV, 9 June 2011
  49. CIA Baskani’ndan ‘cok gizli’ ziyaret, by Yahya Bostan, Sabah, 26 April 2011
  50. Suriye icin B plani, Sabah, 27 April 2011Assad opponents decide to support regime change in Syria, Today’s Zaman, 3 June 2011
  51. Syrian activists demand Assad hand over power ‘immediately’, by Liz Sly, Washington Post, 3 June 2011
  52. A “Humanitarian War” on Syria? Military Escalation., Towards a Broader Middle East-Central Asian War?  by Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 9 August 2011
  53. Photos of Brutal Massacres against Army, Police and Security Forces Perpetrated by Armed Terrorist Groups in Jisr al-Shugour, SANA, 8 June 2011
  54. ‘Turkey behind Syria unrest’, Press TV, 9 June 2011
  55. ‘Syrian troops enter Jisr al-Shughour’, Press TV, 10 June 2011
  56. Turkey’s final warning to Syria: Tomorrow may be too late for reforms, by Cem Ertür, Indybay, 18 June 2011
  57. The Ghouta Chemical Attacks: US-Backed False Flag?, Killing Syrian Children to Justify a “Humanitarian” Military Intervention,  by Julie Levesque and Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 25 September 2013
  58. Did the White House Help Plan the Syrian Chemical Attack?, by Yossef Bodansky, Global Research, 1 September 2013
  59. “Sarin Gazini Ak Partili yetkilinin yardimiyla El-Nusra’ya ulastirdik”, Cesim Ilhani’s interview with Mihrac Ural, 7Sabah, 4 December 2013

The Twitter equivalent of a bickering married couple, Times newspaper columnist David Aaronovitch and Huffington Post Political Editor Mehdi Hasan, recently alighted on a point of agreement during one of their regular Twitter exchanges.

The US/Nato invasion of Afghanistan was “UN-sanctioned,” they both said.

But are they right? With British forces formally handing over the military command of Helmand to US forces, it seems a good point to look at the legal status of the bombing and invasion in October 2001.

Written in 2010, the official House of Commons Library briefing paper on the subject provides interesting reading:

“The military campaign in Afghanistan was not specifically mandated by the UN, but was widely (although not universally) perceived to be a legitimate form of self-defence under the UN Charter.”

The paper goes on to explain that Article 2(4) of the UN Charter prohibits the “threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

The accepted exceptions to this are where the security council authorises military action or where it is in self-defence under Article 51 of the Charter.

As the paper alludes, the UN security council did not authorise the military attack on Afghanistan.

Furthermore, there is reason to believe the US and Britain’s citing of Article 51 is suspect too.

Writing a month into the invasion, Marjorie Cohn, a professor of law at California’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law and a former president of the US National Lawyers Guild, described the US and

British attack as “a patently illegal use of armed force.”

The bombing was not a legitimate form of self-defence under Article 51 for two reasons, according to Cohn.

First, “the attacks in New York and Washington DC were criminal attacks, not ‘armed attacks’ by another state.” Indeed, as Frank Ledwidge argues in his new book Investment In Blood: The True

Cost Of Britain’s Afghan War, “the Taliban certainly were not aware of the 9/11 plot, and equally certainly would not have approved even if they had been.”

Cohn’s second criticism is that “there was not an imminent threat of an armed attack on the US after September 11, or the US would not have waited three weeks before initiating its bombing campaign.”

Michael Mandel, professor of law at Osgoode Hall Law School, is in agreement on the latter point, arguing: “The right of unilateral self-defence does not include the right to retaliate once an attack has stopped.”

Even if one were to agree the West’s attack was legitimate under Article 51, the House of Commons Library paper notes proportionality is central to the use of force in self-defence.

“It may not be considered proportionate to produce the same amount of damage” as the initial attack, the paper notes.

Writing in November 2001, Brian Foley, professor of law at Florida Coastal School of Law, maintained “these attacks on Afghanistan most likely do not stand up as proportional to the threat of terrorism on US soil.”

Having undertaken a systematic study of press reports and eyewitness accounts, Professor Marc Herold from the University of Hampshire found more civilians were killed during “Operation Enduring Freedom” than died on September 11 2001.

Moreover, the House of Commons Library briefing paper inadvertently highlights the crux of the issue.

“The USA might conceivably have gained specific legal support from the security council for its action in Afghanistan, but in the end did not seek such a resolution.”

With much of the world standing in sympathy alongside the US, why didn’t the US try to get UN security council authorisation for its attack on Afghanistan?

“An immediate need after 9/11 was to recover imperial prestige swiftly and decisively,” argue Sonali Kolhatkar and James Ingalls in their book Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords And The Propaganda Of Silence.

Speaking just after the bombing had started, the anti-Taliban Afghan resistance leader Abdul Haq concurred with this reason for the attack.

“The US is trying to show its muscle, score a victory and scare everyone in the world.”

The last thing a nation attempting to “recover imperial prestige” would want to be seen doing is asking the United Nations for permission to act — a sure sign of weakness to the watching world.

The likely illegality of the 2001 attack on Afghanistan remains one of the biggest secrets of the so-called “war on terror.”

No overt censorship is needed, just an intellectual culture and corporate-dominated journalism that has — often heated — discussion within a narrow set of factual and ideological boundaries.

But while it is perhaps right to be forgiving of those who lost their critical faculties during those days of high emotion immediately after September 11 2001, how should we judge the ignorance of two award-winning journalists repeating the official deception 13 years later?

Ian Sinclair is the author of The March That Shook Blair: An Oral History Of 15 February 2003, published by Peace News Press.

US Cold War Propaganda: How the CIA Made Dr. Zhivago into a Weapon

April 8th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

American Cold War propaganda had little, if anything, to do with the collapse of the Soviet Union.  However, by dramatizing Soviet mendacity it made the world blind to Washington’s mendacity.

When Soviet authorities refused to publish prominent Soviet writer Boris Pasternak’s masterpiece, Dr. Zhivago, the CIA turned it into a propaganda coup.  An Italian journalist and Communist Party member learned of the suppressed manuscript and offered to take the manuscript to the Italian communist publisher in Milan, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli,  who published the book in Italian over Soviet objections in 1957. Feltrinelli believed that  Dr. Zhivago was a masterpiece and that the Soviet government was foolish not to take credit for the accomplishment of its greatest writer. Instead, a dogmatic and inflexible Kremlin played into the CIA’s hands. 

The Soviets made such a stink about the book that the controversy raised the book’s profile. According to recently declassified CIA documents, the CIA saw the book as an opportunity to make Soviet citizens wonder why a novel by such a prominent Russian writer was only available abroad. 

The CIA arranged for a Russian language edition to be published and distributed to Soviet citizens at the World Fair in Brussels in 1958. The propaganda coup was complete when Pasternak received the Nobel Prize for literature in October 1958.

The use of Pasternak’s novel to undermine Soviet citizens’ belief in their government continued as late as 1961.  That year I was a member of the US/USSR student exchange program. We were encouraged to take with us copies of Dr. Zhivago.

We were advised that it was unlikely Soviet customs inspectors would know English and be able to recognize book titles.  If asked, we were to reply “travel reading.”  If the copies were recognized and confiscated, no worry. The copies were too valuable to be destroyed. The custom officials would first read the books themselves and then sell them on the black market, an efficient way to spread the distribution.

You can read the Washington Post’s report here: 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/during-cold-war-cia-used-doctor-zhivago-as-a-tool-to-undermine-soviet-union/2014/04/05/2ef3d9c6-b9ee-11e3-9a05-c739f29ccb08_story.html

The declassified CIA documents can be read here: 

http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/world/the-cia-and-doctor-zhivago-explore-the-cache-of-documents/924/  

What strikes me about the CIA memos is how similar the United States government is today to the Soviet government of 1958.  The chief of the CIA’s Soviet Division described in a July 1958 memo why Dr. Zhivago was a threat to the Soviet government.  The threat resided in “Pasternak’s humanistic message that every person is entitled to a private life and deserves respect as a human being.”

Tell that to the National Stasi Agency and to Homeland Security and to the detainees in Guantanamo and the CIA’s torture prisons. In the US individual privacy no longer exists. The NSA collects and stores every email, every credit card purchase, every telephone conversation, every Internet search, every use of social media of every citizen. Pasternak had far more privacy than any American has today. Soviet travelers were not subjected to genital groping and porno-scanners. Penalties Soviet citizens paid for uttering truths inconvenient for the government were no more severe than the penalties imposed on Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden.

Today Russian citizens are more free to have private lives than are Americans, and the Russian press is more lively and more critical of government than the American press.

As I wrote in one of my columns, when communist East Germany dissolved, the Stasi moved to Washington.

 

Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister

The profound and pervasive crisis in Ukraine is a matter of grave concern for Russia. We understand perfectly well the position of a country which became independent just over 20 years ago and still faces complex tasks in constructing a sovereign state. Among them is the search for a balance of interests among its various regions, the peoples of which have different historical and cultural roots, speak different languages and have different perspectives on their past and present, and their country’s future place in the world.

 Given these circumstances, the role of external forces should have been to help Ukrainians protect the foundations of civil peace and sustainable development, which are still fragile. Russia has done more than any other country to support the independent Ukrainian state, including for many years subsidising its economy through low energy prices. Last November, at the outset of the current crisis, we supported Kiev’s wish for urgent consultations between Ukraine, Russia and the EU to discuss harmonising the integration process. Brussels flatly rejected it. This stand reflected the unproductive and dangerous line the EU and US have been taking for a long time. They have been trying to compel Ukraine to make a painful choice between east and west, further aggravating internal differences.

Ukraine’s realities notwithstanding, massive support was provided to political movements promoting western influence, and it was done in direct breach of the Ukrainian constitution. This is what happened in 2004, when President Viktor Yushchenko won an unconstitutional third round of elections introduced under EU pressure. This time round, power in Kiev was seized undemocratically, through violent street protests conducted with the direct participation of ministers and other officials from the US and EU countries.

Assertions that Russia has undermined efforts to strengthen partnerships on the European continent do not correspond to the facts. On the contrary, our country has steadily promoted a system of equal and indivisible security in the Euro-Atlantic area. We proposed signing a treaty to that effect, and advocated the creation of a common economic and human space from the Atlantic to the Pacific which would also be open to post-Soviet countries.

In the meantime, western states, despite their repeated assurances to the contrary, have carried out successive waves of Nato enlargement, moved the alliance’s military infrastructure eastward and begun to implement antimissile defence plans. The EU’s Eastern Partnership programme is designed to bind the so-called focus states tightly to itself, shutting down the possibility of co-operation with Russia. Attempts by those who staged the secession of Kosovo from Serbia and of Mayotte from the Comoros to question the free will of Crimeans cannot be viewed as anything but a flagrant display of double standards. No less troubling is the pretence of not noticing that the main danger for the future of Ukraine is the spread of chaos by extremists and neo-Nazis.

Russia is doing all it can to promote early stabilisation in Ukraine. We are firmly convinced that this can be achieved through, among other steps: real constitutional reform, which would ensure the legitimate rights of all Ukrainian regions and respond to demands from its south-eastern region to make Russian the state’s second official language; firm guarantees on Ukraine’s non-aligned status enshrined in its laws, thus ensuring its role as a connecting link in an indivisible European security architecture; and urgent measures to halt activity by illegal armed formations of the Right Sector and other ultra-nationalist groups.

We are not imposing anything on anyone, we just see that if it is not done, Ukraine will continue to spiral into crisis with unpredictable consequences. We stand ready to join international efforts aimed at achieving these goals. We support the appeal by foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland to implement the 21 February agreement. Their proposal – to hold Russia-EU talks with the participation of Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership states about the consequences of EU association agreements – corresponds to our position.

 The world of today is not a junior school where teachers assign punishments at will. Belligerent statements such as those heard at the Nato foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on 1 April do not match demands for a de-escalation. De-escalation should begin with rhetoric. It is time to stop the groundless whipping-up of tension, and to return to serious common work.

 This article was amended on 8 April 2014. The sixth paragraph originally referred to “firm guarantees on Ukraine’s non-aligned status to be enshrined in its laws”. This was changed to “firm guarantees on Ukraine’s non-aligned status enshrined in its laws” as its status is already enshrined in law.

Turkey Busted for False Flag Terror

Pulitzer-prize winning investigative reporter Seymour Hersh (who uncovered the Iraq prison torture scandal and the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam) says that high-level American sources tell him that the Turkish government carried out the chemical weapons attacks blamed on the Syrian government.

Indeed, it’s long been known that sarin was coming through Turkey.

Turkey is a member of NATO. So we’re really talking about a NATO member launching a false flag attack against a non-NATO member, and then blaming it on the victim.

Indeed, a new tape recording of top Turkish officials planning a false flag attack to be blamed on Syria as a cassus belli was just leaked a couple of weeks ago, and confirmed by Turkey as being authentic.

In other words, since the last big Turkish false flag didn’t succeed in launching war against Syria, they’re going to try again.

This is not the first false flag by NATO members. For example:

  • Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest were actually undercover Quebec police officers (and see this)
  • At the G20 protests in London in 2009, a British member of parliament saw plain clothes police officers attempting to incite the crowd to violence

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April 8th, 2014 by Global Research

Kiev has hired foreign mercenaries to take over law enforcement duties as well as  covert operations in eastern Ukraine, as the country struggles to regain control of its security apparatus, economist Michel Chossudovsky told RT.

RT: Activists in Kharkov are saying that policemen from other Ukrainian regions arrived in the city and they were the ones, who provoked the violence. What were they trying to achieve in your opinion?

Michel Chossudovsky: First of all the Kiev government has lost control of its security forces, its law enforcement in Eastern Ukraine. And this, they’ve realized several weeks back, because Ukraine’s interim government confirmed they were hiring a private military company, named Greystone Ltd, a company that was founded by (former) British SAS in the heyday, but actually they’re bringing in private mercenaries, which are now most probably integrating with the police forces, but they are also acting outside the realm of official law enforcement agencies.

And witnesses said that these people came in, they could have been agents provocateurs, I suspect they were. They also integrate the US, NATO-supported military company which is acting in Eastern Ukraine.

At the same time there is also the role of the ultra conservative neo-Nazis factions in the government given the fact that we know that the two extreme right parties Svoboda and the Right Sector are in control of the committee for national security and defense, which plays a key role. And I would suspect that the government in Kiev is also divided between the ministry of interior on the one hand and the right wing extremists on the other.

Pro-Russian protesters gather at a barricade outside a regional government building in Donetsk, April 8, 2014.(Reuters / Maks Levin)

RT: With protests swelling up in the south-east of the country, Kiev is threatening ‘a harsh response’. What does that mean do you think?

MC: First of all that government does not really control the shots. It is an instrument of the puppet masters namely the US, NATO, and to a lesser extent the EU. They obey orders and we have seen the position, they’ve taken with regard to the IMF reforms. They simply stated, we will accept whatever reforms are proposed to us by the IMF.

And essentially what they have accepted is the impoverishment of the entire population, from West to East, because that reform package is going to create a further process of impoverishment of a country which has already been impoverished in the course of the last 20 years.

This reform package essentially destroys the livelihood of the Ukrainian population and the people in Eastern Ukraine are now protesting against this government which is committed to implementing the IMF program. And they actually have acknowledged that this is going to impoverish the population.

RT: The Russian foreign ministry said that the most troubling thing is that there are mercenaries from an American private security firm among them. What do you think about this?

MC: I’m going by a report that was published on March 25 by a Russian news agency. It was based on the statements made by the interim government to the effect that a US private military company, in fact it is not a US registered private military company, it is registered somewhere in the Caribbean, on an island. It is Greystone Ltd., and this particular company was hired with a view to essentially taking over law enforcement activities as well as most probably covert operations in eastern Ukraine.

It is not in the interest of Russian government to see this process erupting in the form of a violent protest movement or a process that will ultimately destabilize eastern Ukraine. There is no evidence that the Russian government is in any way interfering with the unfolding events in eastern Ukraine. This is a spontaneous movement which is emanating from the grassroots, which also has considerable support within the Ukrainian population of eastern Ukraine.