Pagan Island, an idyllic Pacific Island in the Marianas, home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, some of them unique, and enjoying a perfect ecological balance, is facing Armageddon: in March of this year the US military announced its intention to use the Island as a live-fire training range. In plain English, they plan to blast it to pieces.

This is not the first time the US military will either take over an island or trash it, and then leave it uninhabitable for decades to come. It has happened before, countless times. It happened in San Clemente, it happened in Diego Garcia, it happened in Vieques, in Ka’ula, in Kaho’olawe, in Farallon de Medinilla, in Kwajelein, Enewetak and Bikini.

US to destroy Paradise Island. 51419.jpeg

 Now it is the turn of Pagan (pa-gán) Island.On March 14 this year the Department of the Navy made a statement in the Federal Register of its intention “to prepare the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Joint Military Training Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement… to establish a series of live-fire and maneuver Ranges and Training Areas (RTAs) within the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to meet this purpose.” (1)

 The entire island will be used, according to the documentation: “The U.S. military intends to use the entire island with a full spectrum of weapons and joint training activities.” (2)

 So, goodbye to the unique species which have inhabited this paradise for thousands of years and goodbye to the livelihoods of the Pagan Islanders, the indigenous population which has lived with and beside the endemic species in harmony for three thousand years. How many of the island’s rare birds, bats, insects and plants could be destroyed by toxins or by bombing campaigns?

 (1) http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-23/pdf/2013-09498.pdf

 (2) www.CNMIJointMilitaryTrainingEIS.com.

Food assistance benefits for over 45 million Americans will be slashed starting this Friday, in the first-ever nationwide reduction in benefits under the US government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), popularly known as food stamps.

The cuts total $11 billion over the next three years and amount on average to a month’s worth of food assistance. They will mean yet more privation for millions of working people, including the poorest and most vulnerable members of society—children, elderly people, the unemployed, the disabled and new mothers.

That this brutal cut takes place under conditions of continuing mass unemployment and economic slump, with record numbers of people living in poverty and homelessness and hunger on the rise, testifies to the ruthlessness of the American ruling class. The callous indifference of the media and the entire political establishment, beginning with the Obama White House, to the suffering of broad layers of the population is reflected in their virtual silence on the imminent cutback in benefits.

As far as the corporate-controlled media is concerned, snatching food from the mouths of hungry children is not even worth reporting. As for the politicians, Democrats as well as Republicans are saying virtually nothing because there is a bipartisan agreement to impose the cuts.

Meanwhile, the government bailout of Wall Street and corporate America continues unabated. The Federal Reserve is expected this Wednesday to announce the extension of its $85 billion-a-month subsidy to the stock market and the banks in the form of its “quantitative easing” money-printing operation. Trillions of dollars have been pumped into the financial markets and interest rates have been kept at near-zero to drive up share values to record highs in the midst of the deepest crisis in the real economy since the Great Depression.

This channeling of social wealth into the coffers of the super-rich has produced the highest levels of social inequality in nearly a century. The American financial aristocracy is choking on its own wealth. Just last week,Forbes magazine reported that the ten highest-earning individuals in the US in 2012 each took in more than $100 million, with the top two making more than $1 billion apiece.

The universal claim that there is “no money” to fund social services comes as corporations, awash in cash and profits, systematically avoid taxation. According to a USA Today report published Monday, one in nine corporations in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index paid no taxes last year. Among them are Verizon, which recently imposed new concessions on its workers, and the Murdoch-owned News Corp., which publishes the Wall Street Journal. The average effective tax rate on corporations in the S&P 500 was 12.6 percent—barely a third of the nominal corporate tax rate.

The starkest indicator of the real state of the US economy in the sixth year of the crisis that erupted in 2008—and the clearest refutation of the official claims of a “recovery”—is the staggering growth in the number of people dependent on food stamps. Their ranks swelled by 70 percent between 2007 and 2012 and they continue to grow.

The food stamp cuts scheduled for this week are the result of the expiration of the 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary increase in food stamp benefits. The increase was originally slated to last through 2015, when SNAP benefits are scheduled to rise, so as to ensure that there would be no reduction in benefits.

But in 2010, congressional Democrats used $14 billion that had been set aside for food stamps to fund other measures, vowing to return the money before the benefit hike expired. With the unspoken sanction of the White House and congressional Democrats, that never happened.

In current negotiations over a new farm bill, the Democratic-controlled Senate is proposing an additional $4 billion in cuts to the food stamp program over the next decade. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed a bill that would cut $40 billion from SNAP and force adults between 18 and 50 to either work or attend work training in order to reapply for benefits, as well as instituting drug-testing for recipients.

As always, the more draconian Republican proposal serves as the baseline for a “compromise” in which the Democrats, even as they posture as defenders of the poor, agree to increase the scale of cuts to a level that was likely agreed upon in advance by the White House and the two big business parties.

The slashing of food stamp benefits comes just weeks after a 16-day government shutdown that set the stage for a bipartisan deal to extend most of the social cuts included in the $1.3 trillion “sequestration” process that began last March. Those cuts are on top of another $1 trillion in cuts pushed through during the 2011 crisis over the US debt ceiling.

On January 1, the federal program that provides extended unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless is slated to expire, throwing millions more into poverty and outright destitution.

All of this is preparation for a bipartisan assault on the core social programs that date from the New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society of the 1960s—Social Security and Medicare.

What is involved here is a social counterrevolution, the aim of which is to uproot and destroy every social gain won by the working class over the past century—from pensions and health benefits to public education and child labor laws. The bankruptcy of Detroit, which is being used to gut city workers’ pensions and strip them of their health coverage, along with the sell-off of public assets such as the art work at the world famous Detroit Institute of Arts, are a foretaste of what is coming nationally—and internationally.

This is what capitalism has to offer the working class—mass poverty, accompanied by ever more bloody wars and increasing political repression.

The working class can halt this attack and defend its basic social rights—to a job, a decent wage, nutrition, education, health care, pensions, access to culture—only by mobilizing its vast social power in a political struggle against both parties of Wall Street and the ruling class whose interests they slavishly defend.

The resources needed to provide a secure job and decent standard of living for every person exist in abundance, but they can be mobilized and expanded only by putting an end to the economic despotism of the corporate-financial elite. The corporations and banks must be taken out of private hands and transformed into public institutions under the democratic control of the working population. The ill-gotten wealth of the financial parasites must be expropriated and used to meet social needs.

The wealth produced by the working class must be used for the benefit of society as a whole, not the personal accumulation of wealth by a tiny elite.

“Insanity in individuals is something rare but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”  - Friedrich Nietzsche

The spoils of Africa are being divided up again…

In review of the purported attack at the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) head, Gen. David Rodriguez and Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, claim that this latest terror incident “validates” US strategy in Africa.

Assistant Secretary Thomas-Greenfield echoed Gen. Rodriguez’s thoughts following the Westgate incident, taking part in a teleconference with The US State Department and reporters:

It highlighted to us we were pursuing the right strategy.”


IMAGE: Gen. David Rodriguez and Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

The idea of AFRICOM had been in the works since November of 2000 but didn’t fully come to fruition until 2008, after former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld formed a group to establish command of the African continent in 2006. By 2007, then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, along with former President George W. Bush, placed a plan in motion for the US AFRICOM mission.

AFRICOM’s stated goals seem akin to Orwell’s ‘ministries of Oceania’ promoting the agenda of the ruling party:

The United States Africa Command, in concert with other U.S. government agencies and international partners, conducts sustained security engagement through military-to-military programs, military-sponsored activities, and other military operations as directed to promote a stable and secure African environment in support of U.S. foreign policy.”

The last bit of that sentence is particularly important:

promote a stable and secure African environment in support of U.S. foreign policy.”

It all becomes clear ounce you understand the motivations of government agencies, as they indulge in nightmare fantasies of control within their own mission statements and programs.

U.S. Special Operations Command, Africa or SOCAFRICA, was also put in place in 2008, just before the official launch of AFRICOM and was given a green light to start in October of 2009. SOCAFRICA, is the covert brand of AFRICOM and is located in the very same place as AFRICOM’s headquarters, near Stuttgart, Germany.

SOCAFRICA’s objectives are to build operational capacity, strengthen regional security and capacity initiatives, implement effective communication strategies in support of strategic objectives, and eradicate violent extremist organizations and their supporting networks.”

SOCAFRICA controls much of AFRICOM’s direct missions, including the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, which conducts operations in East Africa to protect U.S. interests – (oil).


IMAGE: Eastern Africa – Containing the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Sudan).

During the ride to hell in creating AFRICOM, the US Congress approved of a $500 million dollar counter terrorism initiative supporting countries involved in ridding themselves of Al-Qaeda terror, some of those countries included Mali and Nigeria, both of which have seen a rise in terror related activity in recent years, with the terror outfit Boko Haram.

In a recent article by geo-political analyst, Tony Cartalucci, we are given a concise breakdown of how these terror outfits are used and funded by Western interests:

This cooperation between AQIM, Boko Haram, and Al Shabaab has been clearly bolstered by the immense influx of NATO-provided cash and weapons flowing into Libya first to overthrow the Libyan government, then to be shipped to Syria to overthrow the government there. NATO’s assistance in expanding Al Qaeda’s operational capacity in North Africa can only be helping terrorists like those behind the Kenya Westgate Mall siege carry out cross-border operations of this scale.”

That’s right, the very same command units that brought you Operation Odyssey Dawn and the NATO backed Operation Unified Protector during the takedown of Libya, through an imposed no-fly-zone, opened the door for terror outfits to control the oil-laden nation.  The ousting of Muammar Gaddafi has allowed terror linked rebels to form a shadow government in Libya. Abd-Rabbo al-Barassi, the purported head of the Barqa government, was recently quoted stating the goals of his new government:

The aim of the regional government is to share resources in a better fashion, and to end the centralized system adopted by the authorities in Tripoli.”

Barqa has the appearance of being a localized government rising up against a centralized system, however Barassi’s comments point to exactly the opposite, with his call to “share resources,” fitting in form and function to the desires of  a more global centralized system.

The truth is, Libya has been embroiled in conflict since the invasion in 2011 and has continued to spiral out of control after being supposedly liberated in the aftermath of Gaddafi’s rule.


IMAGE: A war torn Libya, this appears to be an apartment complex. 

Neo-Colonial Pursuits

During the past 150 years, Africa has been thrust into conflict, divided, enslaved and pillaged for its natural resources. Today we see the West and its allies use the guise of  ’humanitarian’ need in Africa, in order successfully secure oil contracts and other precious rare earth minerals. Through the AFRICOM mission, the military has and will be used to provide the muscle for land and resource control throughout the continent, we are witnessing an accelerated takeover through proxy wars and corrupt business deals – this is Neo-Colonialism.

North Africa to the Horn

Somalia has been ravaged by greedy oil pursuits and seemingly deliberate upheavals of violence for decades, AFRICOM, through its Western backing,  has allowed for the rise in military control. As security has grown, ironically, so has the terror.

In 2012, during the London Conference On Somalia British PM David Cameron, laid out a new future of growth in the region:

I’m delighted that Denmark, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands are joining us today in setting up a local stability fund, that will provide the support to previously neglected regions, including those emerging from conflict or from terrorist control.”

Cameron continues:

We’re helping to improve transparency and accountability by establishing a joint Financial Management Board, through which donors will work with the Somali government to make sure that revenue from key assets and international aid is used for the good of Somali people.”

Watch David Cameron’s YouTube video below, calling for more aid in Somalia during the London Conference On Somalia in 2012. What Cameron won’t tell you is what financial donors get in return for generous deposits given to the oil rich region.

In 2011, the National Audit Office (NAO) and the Independent Commission for Aid Impact ((ICAI) warned that there maybe risks that could lead to fraud and corruption from aid provided by the Department For International Development (DFID). The watchdog group ICAI claimed that there was a lack of oversight in funds given to volatile regions around the world:

Our assessment is that DFID’s current organisation of responsibilities for fraud and corruption is fragmented and that this inhibits a coherent and strategic response to this critical issue.”

Also in a report by the independent watchdog ICAI it was stated that:

This (report) inevitably will expose the UK aid budget to higher levels of corruption risk.”

The DFID is a coalition in charge of future development in Somalia, they are a large part of the “Financial Management Board” that Cameron refered to in the 2012 conference on Somalia.

We must examine the motivations of foreign aid given to destabilized regions of the world. What kind of  local compliance is expected from regions receiving aid? What do Western interests want in return and how are their funds appropriated?

In August of 2013, Soma Oil and Gas Exploration, overseen by Lord Michael Howard, a former leader of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, orchestrated a deal with Somalia, the first such deal with an international oil company. Twelve new oil blocks have been slated for Soma under the new agreement.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was put in place under Western and United Nations backing, helping to move the Soma deal forward.

Somalian oil exploration has been pursued from sometime, with Britain leading the way. Turkey, Norway, Qatar have also been clamouring for oil contracts in the region.


IMAGE: SOMA oil signing the first international oil deal in Somalia.

Just as new aid and oil deals are being made and an economic boom is supposedly rising in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, we’re told terror outfit Al-Shabab is also on the rise. How could this be, as “humanitarian aid” and the AFRICOM mission have contributed to new development in the region, opening the door for new oil trade?

Perhaps one key to this question was answered in a 21Wire article from September:

In 2011, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was apparently working with NGO’s to provide aid in Somalia but they had to work out a deal with the militant Al-Shabab because of the terror networks control over the region, so we’re told.”

The United States has expanded a licence issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), to protect NGO’s who provide international aid from Anti-terror laws.

Why would they need to abruptly change this law if there wasn’t something to hide? What did Al-Shabab expect in return, for supposedly transferring aid?

Controlling Kenya

Power play politics in Africa would not be complete without examining a deeper conspiracy that has sought to change the continent from within. In a YouTube video below published by swilliamism in early October, we see the inner workings of the Kenyan political climate,  much of Africa has undergone many such changes in oil and mineral-laced regions.

Watch as YouTube user swilliamism investigates critical changes to Kenya’s constitution, that seemingly benefit British institutions. Some very important questions are raised in the video titled “Who’s Nudging Kenya,” with some players reaching towards the top of the UK government.

A radical new constitution for the East African country.”

Kenya saw the first wave of a technocratic takeover in 1999, apparently spearheaded by paleontologist Richard Leakey and a government-sponsored class of technocrats from the private business sector.
After about two years this process failed to gain public backing, this led to other efforts to reform Kenya’s constitution in order to lay the ground work for technocratic control.

In the video above we see Kenya in its present state, with corporate elected technocrats, making massive reformations to their constitution and a central banking overhaul to entice more resource based businesses.

How is that a UK-based public relations firm called WPP, under the moniker of TNS International, had anything to do with the reformation of Kenya’s constitution?

Why is the British government employing the privatized Behavioural Insights Team to change policy empirically?

It appears as if the deck has been stacked against Kenya, due to British based insiders linked to Cameron’s cabinet, taking a foothold of government functions, presumably to gain easier access to precious resources.

The apparent attack in Kenya, is a door way to understanding the future of Africa

Mass Shootings in America: A Historical Review

October 29th, 2013 by Global Research News

by Jasmine Henriques

Mass-shootings
Source: Security Degree Hub

Mass Shootings

Mass shootings have been around for a long time in America. But public, random violence is on the rise.

Mass Murder:
One aggressor.
Kills at least 4 others.
In a 24 hour period.

The earliest
1913–Ernst August Wagner–Stabbed wife and four children, drove to Mühlhausen an der Enz, Germany. Open fired on 20, killing nine, several animals, and burning down several buildings.
1927–Stephanus Swart–shot eight before killing himself outside Charlestown, South Africa.
1938–Mutsuo Toi, a 21 year old, killed half of his small village in Japan. Killing 30 with shotgun, sword, and axe before committing suicide.
1954-1957–William Unek, on two separate killing sprees killed 57 people in Belgium Congo. 27 were killed by axe, 26 with gun, 2 with fire, and one by strangulation.

Note: There are words for mass-murderer in many languages, including ancient ones.

In America
Two trends:
1930-1960–most mass shootings familicides and felony related killings.
1960-present–most mass shootings are in public places against unknown bystanders.

Recently: 2000-2010[3]
84 Active Shooter Situations
Location:
37% businesses
34% Schools
17% Outdoor (public) places
12% other
Weapons:
60% pistols
27% rifles
10% shotguns
3% other
With 41% of shooters carrying multiple weapons
4% using body armor
and 2% using IEDS

Mass shootings in America
By decade:[4]
1900′s:0
1910′s:2
1920′s:2
1930′s:9
1940′s:8
1950′s:1
1960′s:6
1970′s:13
1980′s:32
1990′s:42
2000′s:28
2010-2013:14

Worst Years:
1991: 8
1999,2012:7

Increasingly Public Danger
Worst public mass shootings, 1980-present

The 80′s[1]
1982: Welding shop shooting: Junior high school teacher Carl Robert Brown, 51, opened fire inside a welding shop and was later shot dead by a witness as he fled the scene: 8
1984: Dallas Nightclub Shooting: Abdelkrim Belachheb, 39, opened fire at an upscale nightclub after a woman rejected his advances. He was later arrested: 6
1984:San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre: James Oliver Huberty, 41, opened fire in a McDonald’s restaurant before he was shot dead by a police officer:22
1986:United States Postal Service shooting: Postal worker Patrick Sherrill, 44, opened fire at a post office before committing suicide:15
1987:Shopping centers spree killings: Retired librarian William Cruse, 59, was paranoid neighbors gossiped that he was gay. He drove to several supermarkets, killing as he went before being captured by police and placed on death row:6
1988: ESL shooting: Former ESL Incorporated employee Richard Farley, 39, gunned down seven people at his former workplace. He was later arrested and now sits on death row at San Quentin:7
1989: Stockton Schoolyard Shooting: Patrick Purdy, 26, an alcoholic with a police record, launched an assault at Cleveland Elementary School, where many young Southeast Asian immigrants were enrolled. Purdy killed himself with a shot to the head:6
1989: Standard Gravure Shooting: Joseph T. Wesbecker, 47, gunned down eight people at his former workplace before committing suicide:9

The 90′s[1]
1990:GMAC Massacre: James Edward Pough, 42, opened fire at a General Motors Acceptance Corporation office before committing suicide. The day prior he shot a pimp and prostitute:10
1991:Luby’s Massacre: George Hennard, 35, drove his pickup truck into a Luby’s cafeteria and opened fire before committing suicide:24
1991:University of Iowa Shooting: Former graduate student Gang Lu, 28, went on a rampage on campus and then committed suicide at the scene:6
1991:Royal Oak Postal Shootings: Laid-off postal worker Thomas McIlvane, 31, opened fire at his former workplace before committing suicide:5
1992: Lindhurst High School Shooting: Former Lindhurst High School student Eric Houston, 20, angry about various personal failings, killed students and a teacher at school. After an eight-hour standoff he was captured then later sentenced to death:4
1992: Watkins Glen Killings: John T. Miller, 50, killed four child-support workers in a county office building before turning the gun on himself. Miller was upset about a court order garnishing his paycheck to cover overdue child-support payments: 5
1993: 101 California Street Shootings: Failed businessman Gian Luigi Ferri, 55, opened fire throughout an office building before he committed suicide inside as police pursued him:9
1993: Luigi’s Shooting: Army Sgt. Kenneth Junior French, 22, opened fire inside Luigi’s Italian restaurant while ranting about gays in the military. He was shot then arrested:4
1993: Long Island Railroad Massacre: Colin Ferguson, 35, opened fire on an eastbound Long Island Rail Road train as it approached a Garden City station. He was later arrested:6
1993: Chuck-E-Cheese Shootings: Nathan Dunlap, 19, a recently fired Chuck E. Cheese’s employee, went on a rampage through his former workplace and was arrested the following day. He now awaits execution on death row:4
1994: Air Force Base Shooting: Former airman Dean Allen Mellberg, 20, open fired inside a hospital at the Fairchild Air Force Base before he was shot dead by a military police officer:5
1995: Walter Rossler Company Massacre: Disgruntled former metallurgist James Daniel Simpson, 28, open fired throughout the Walter Rossler Company where he had worked. He then exited the building and committing suicide:6
1996: Fort lauderdale Revenge Shootings: Fired city park employee Clifton McCree, 41, opened fire on former coworkers he called “racist devils” inside their municipal trailer in an act of revenge after failing a drug test. He then committed suicide:6
1997: R.E. Phelon Company Shooting: Ex-con Hastings Arthur Wise, 43, opened fire at the R.E. Phelon Company in retaliation for being fired after an argument with a supervisor. He attempted suicide by ingesting insecticide, failed, and was executed by the state of South Carolina eight years later:4
1997: Caltrans Maintenance Yard Shooting: Former Caltrans employee Arturo Reyes Torres, 41, opened fire at a maintenance yard after he was fired for allegedly selling government materials he’d stolen from work. He was shot dead by police:5
1998: Connecticut Lottery Shooting: Lottery worker Matthew Beck, 35, gunned down four bosses over a salary dispute before committing suicide.:5
1998: Westside Middle Side Shootings: Mitchell Scott Johnson, 13, and Andrew Douglas Golden, 11, two juveniles, ambushed students and teachers as they left the school; they were apprehended by police at the scene:5
1998: Hurston High School Shooting: After he was expelled for having a gun in his locker, Kipland P. Kinkel, 15, a freshman at Thurston High, went on a shooting spree, killing his parents at home and two students at school. Five classmates wrestled Kipland to the ground before he was arrested:4
1999: Columbine: Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire throughout Columbine High School before committing suicide:15
1999:Atlanta Day Trading Spree Killings: Day trader Mark O. Barton, 44, who had recently lost a substantial sum of money, went on a shooting spree through two day-trading firms. He started at the All-Tech Investment Group, where he worked, then went on to Momentum Securities. He fled and hours later, after being cornered by police outside a gas station, committed suicide. (Two days before the spree, he killed his wife and two children with a hammer):9
1999:Wedgewood Baptist Church Shootings: Larry Gene Ashbrook, 47, opened fire inside the Wedgwood Baptist Church during a prayer rally before committing suicide:8
1999: Xerox Killings: Byran Koji Uyesugi, 40, a Xerox service technician, opened fire inside the building with a 9mm Glock. He fled and was later apprehended by police:7
1999: Hotel Shooting: Hotel employee Silvio Leyva, 36, gunned down four coworkers at the Radisson Bay Harbor Inn before killing a woman outside who refused to give him her car. He was arrested shortly after the shootings:5

The 2000′s[1]
2000: Wakefield Massacre: Michael McDermott, 42, opened fire on co-workers at Edgewater Technology and was later arrested:7
2001: Navistar Shooting: Fired employee William D. Baker, 66, opened fire at his former Navistar workplace before committing suicide:5
2003: Lockheed Martin Shooting: Assembly line worker Douglas Williams, 48, opened fire at his Lockheed Martin workplace in a racially motivated attack before committing suicide:7
2004: Damageplan Show Shooting: Nathan Gale, 25, possibly upset about the breakup of Pantera, gunned down former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell and three others at a Damageplan show before a police officer fatally shot Gale:5
2005: Living Church of God Shooting: Living Church of God member Terry Michael Ratzmann, 44, opened fire at a church meeting at a Sheraton hotel before committing suicide:7
2006:Goleta Postal Shootings: Former postal worker Jennifer Sanmarco, 44, shot dead a former neighbor then drove to the mail processing plant where she used to work. Inside, she opened fire, then committed suicide:8
2006: capital Hill Massacre: Kyle Aaron Huff, 28, opened fire at a rave after-party in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle before committing suicide:7
2006: Amish School Shooting: Charles Carl Roberts, 32, shot 10 young girls in a one-room schoolhouse in Bart Township, killing 5, before taking his own life:6
2007: Trolley Square Shooting: Sulejman Talović‡, 18, rampaged through the shopping center until he was shot dead by police:6
2007: VA Tech Massacre: Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho, 23, opened fire on his school’s campus before committing suicide: 33
2007: Crandon Shooting: Off-duty sheriff’s deputy Tyler Peterson, 20, opened fire inside an apartment after an argument at a homecoming party. He fled the scene and later committed suicide:6
2007: Westroads Mall Shooting: Robert A. Hawkins, 19, opened fire inside Westroads Mall before committing suicide:9
2008: Kirkwood City Council Shooting: Charles “Cookie” Lee Thornton, 52, went on a rampage at the city hall before being shot and killed by police:6
2008: Northern Illinois University Shooting: Steven Kazmierczak, 27, opened fire in a lecture hall, then shot and killed himself before police arrived:6
2008: Atlantis Plastics Shooting: Disgruntled employee Wesley Neal Higdon, 25, shot up an Atlantis Plastics factory after he was escorted out of his workplace for an argument with a supervisor. Higdon shot the supervisor outside the factory before opening fire on coworkers inside. He then committed suicide:6
2009: Carthage Nursing Home shooting: Robert Stewart, 45, opened fire at a nursing home where his estranged wife worked before he was shot and arrested by a police officer:8
2009: Binghamton Shootings: Jiverly Wong, 41, opened fire at an American Civic Association center for immigrants before committing suicide:14
2009: Ford Hood Massacre: Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, opened fire on an Army base in an attack linked to Islamist extremism. Hasan was injured during the attack and later arrested:13
2009: Coffee Shop Police Killings: Maurice Clemmons, 37, a felon who was out on bail for child-rape charges, entered a coffee shop and shot four police officers. Clemmons, who was wounded fleeing the scene, was later shot dead after a two-day manhunt:4

The 2010′s[1]
2010: Hartford Beer Distributor Shootings: Omar S. Thornton, 34, shot up his Hartford Beer Distributor workplace after facing disciplinary issues, then committed suicide:9
2011: Tuscon Shooting: Jared Loughner, 22, opened fire outside a Safeway during a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) before he was subdued by bystanders and arrested:6
2011: Ihop Shooting: Eduardo Sencion, 32, opened fire at an International House of Pancakes restaurant and later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound:5
2011: Seal Beach Shooting: Scott Evans Dekraai, 42, opened fire inside a hair salon and was later arrested:8
2012: Su Jung Health Sauna Shooting: Jeong Soo Paek, 59, returned to a Korean spa from which he’d been kicked out after an altercation. He gunned down two of his sisters and their husbands before committing suicide:5
2012: Oikos University killings: One L. Goh, 43, a former student, opened fire in a nursing classroom. He fled the scene by car and was arrested nearby a few hours later:7
2012: Seattle Cafe Shooting: Ian Stawicki, 40, gunned down four patrons at a cafe, and another person during a carjacking nearby, then shot himself as police closed in. (He died later that day in a Seattle hospital:6
2012: Aurora THeater Shooting: James Holmes, 24, opened fire in a movie theater during the opening night of “The Dark Night Rises” and was later arrested outside:12
2012: Sikh Temple Shooting: U.S. Army veteran Wade Michael Page, 40, opened fire in a Sikh gurdwara before he died from a self-inflicted gunshot would during a shootout with police:7
2012: Accent Signage Systems Shooting: Andrew Engeldinger, 36, upon learning he was being fired, went on a shooting rampage, killing the business owner, three fellow employees, and a UPS driver. He then killed himself:7
2012: Newtown Shooting: Adam Lanza, 20, shot his mother dead at their home then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary school. He forced his way inside and opened fire, killing 20 children and six adults before committing suicide:28
2013: Mohawk Valley Shootings: Kurt Myers, 64, shot six people in neighboring towns, killing two in a barbershop and two at a car care business, before being killed by officers in a shootout after a nearly 19-hour standoff:5
2013: Pinewood Village Apartment Shootings: Dennis Clark III, 27, shot and killed his girlfriend in their shared apartment, and then shot two witnesses in the building’s parking lot and a third victim in another apartment, before being killed by police:5
2013:Santa Monica Rampage: John Zawahri, 23, armed with a homemade assault rifle and high-capacity magazines, killed his brother and father at home and then headed to Santa Monica College, where he was eventually killed by police:6
2013: Hialeah apartment shooting: Pedro Vargas, 42, set fire to his apartment, killed six people in the complex, and held another two hostages at gunpoint before a SWAT team stormed the building and fatally shot him:7
2013:Washington Navy yard Shooting: Aaron Alexis, 34, a military veteran and contractor from Texas, opened fire in the Navy installation, killing 12 people and wounding 8 before being shot dead by police:13

Shooters of the last thirty years

65/67 shooters had mental health issues
55/67 obtained weapons legally
Location:
12/67 = School
20/67 = Workplace
3/67 = Religious
32/67 = Other Public Places

Mass shootings are a matter of public and mental health, and they’re increasing in frequency. Support preventative measures before it’s too late.

citations:

  1. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map
  2. http://news.discovery.com/history/mass-shootings-history-121220.htm
  3. http://alerrt.org/files/research/ActiveShooterEvents.pdf
  4. http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20130112/NEWS02/701129949
  5. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/16/us/20-deadliest-mass-shootings-in-u-s-history-fast-facts/index.html

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 The English who settled America brought English culture with them. The colonies were nothing but little Englands. When the colonists revolted, they were merely trying to get free of the tyrannical English monarchy, not trying to change the culture. They were perfectly happy with the English way of life. They carried on its practices and adopted the English system of common law.

That sixteenth century culture is alive and well in America today and is why America is in many respects a backward nation. Americans are living 500 years behind the times.

 One would like to believe that human institutions exist to enhance the lives of people, but there is very little evidence to support that view. If enhancing the lives of people is not the purpose of human institutions, what is? The American Constitution lists six goals the founders expected the nation to accomplish:

We the People of the United States, in Order to (1) form a more perfect Union, (2) establish Justice, (3) insure domestic Tranquility, (4) provide for the common defence, (5) promote the general Welfare, and (6) secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Unfortunately, no American government has ever tried to govern in a way that seeks to attain these goals. So the American government is either an unconstitutional, failed state or else the framers of the Constitution must be thought of as having engaged in unrealistic political propaganda. At any rate, the American government is not what the Constitution makes it out to be. The question is why? The answer is the stupid political economy!

The English who settled America brought English culture with them. The colonies were nothing but little Englands. When the colonists revolted, they were merely trying to get free of the tyrannical English monarchy, not trying to change the culture. They were perfectly happy with the English way of strife. They carried on its practices and adopted the English system of common law.

That sixteenth century culture is alive and well in America today and is why America is in many respects a backward nation. Americans are living 500 years behind the times.

The English were engaged in economic activities for hundreds of years before Adam Smith published his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nation; all he did was provide English merchants with a rationalization for what they had always done and wanted to do more of. Laissez-faire (let [them] do), to them, meant the ability to engage in economic practices without being subjected to governmental restrictions and tariffs. Then, like today, merchants wanted the freedom to profiteer by buying cheap and selling dear. Merchants, then or now, have had little interest in abstruse economic theory unless its models promise greater profit.

But buying cheap and selling dear applies to labor as well as materials, and the classical economists provide a rationalization for that maxim too. The subsistence theory of wages, advanced by classical economists, holds that the market price of labour always tends toward the minimum required for subsistence (that is, for basic needs such as food and shelter). Even Alfred Marshall, America’s first modern economist, was of the opinion that wages in the long run would tend to equal maintenance and reproduction costs. So when the Republican party seeks to eliminate regulations and keep the minimum wage low, they are acting just like sixteenth century English merchants and their boot-licking economists. Merchants become sheep dogs that herd human sheep, and our economists think nothing of it. They have adopted the British way of strife totally.

Although this impoverishment of labor is bad enough, in a globalized economy it is devastating. The classical economists held that a subsistence wage had to be high enough to enable the workforce to reproduce itself in order to maintain a labor supply; in a globalized economy, the workforce needed exists in underdeveloped countries. A domestic workforce is entirely unnecessary, so there is no need to even grant it subsistence wages or any other humane benefit. From a merchants’/economists’ point of view, domestic labor becomes expendable. Why pay it anything at all?

What a lovely world our economists advocate! Economics is not merely a dismal science, it is a murderous one.

Merchants and economists constitute a class of totally inhumane human beings. (Isn’t inhumane human a contradiction?) It seems as though two entirely different races have intermingled—the human race and an inhumane one. In the words of Pope Francis,

“A savage capitalism has taught the logic of profit at any cost . . . of exploitation without thinking of people.”

What kind of person would support this economy? Although they may revel in their fortunes and often act and speak like the rest of us, they are not like us. They are evil to the marrow of their bones. Logically, the inhumane are either not human or deranged.

One such person is Arnaud Costinot, an MIT economist, who uses the doctrine of comparative advantage to justify globalization. He is said to hold this:

“Ricardo thought that instead of trying to produce a wide range of goods, countries could grow by specializing in the goods they could produce most cheaply, and then trading those goods with other countries. This made sense, Ricardo claimed, even when a country could make multiple products more cheaply, in absolute terms, than other countries.

How? Suppose, Ricardo posited, that England produces cloth more cheaply than wine, while Portugal produces wine more cheaply than cloth. And suppose Portugal produces both products more cheaply than England does. Both countries could still benefit from trading in equal terms: England could specialize in making cloth, and trade that for wine. But Portugal could specialize in making wine, and trade that for England’s cloth — which would be the cheapest way to acquire cloth, even if Portugal’s own cloth was cheaper to make than England’s.”

Only thing is, Ricardo never wrote any such thing, and to describe what he wrote in this way is intellectual dishonesty at its worst. Ricardo never uses the word “cheaply.” He uses “the number of man hours needed to produce one unit of cloth or wine,” ‘Man hours worked’ is not a wage or a value of currency. The production may not be cheap. By deliberately misstating what Ricardo writes, economists advocate the exploitation and impoverishment of workers and ultimately their destruction—a truly evil and inhumane goal.

This is the only explanation for the right wing’s war on the poor. Beasts of burden are disposed of when they have lost their usefulness, so destroying the middle class is not to be lamented. When the labor of underdeveloped countries became available to manufacturers, the American middle class became expendable. That is the American Republican party’s goal. It seeks to shrink the size of government by eliminating the people who need to be taken care of.

Economists want us to believe that free trade makes everyone richer, but experience teaches us otherwise.

The Internet is replete with articles both pro and con, but the attitudes of people to offshoring is quite consistent. The peoples in underdeveloped nations involved in making products for the West chafe at the extent of the exploitation. Whether in Latin America, Bangladesh, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Czech Republic, or Poland exploited labor is never described as prosperous. Neither has prosperity blessed America’s laborers. Exploitation and prosperity are alien concepts. The exploited are never prosperous and the prosperous are never exploited. No nation can boast of its prosperity gotten by offshoring. The empirical evidence gotten anecdotally is better than the dubious statistical evidence cited by economists (see The Real Cost of Offshoring.) India’s laborers are not getting rich working for American companies. NAFTA has not brought prosperity to Mexican or American workers. A low-wage job is not a gainful (prosperous) one. Marx asked workers of the world to unite; Western corporate leaders tell them to be damned. Any economist who does not see what is happening is intellectually blind. Or perhaps, just plain evil.

In The Story so Far, the Economist put it this way:

ONCE UPON A time the rich world’s manufacturing firms largely produced in the rich world for the rich world, and most services were produced close to where they were consumed. Then Western firms started sending manufacturing work abroad on a large scale. By the 1980s this was well established. The movement was overwhelmingly in one direction: away from rich countries to places where workers with adequate skills were much cheaper.

Whether openly stated or not, lower labour costs were almost always the chief rationale.

To corporations, workers are likened to beasts of burden and the economic elite who advocate this economic practice are then likened to vicious dogs. What a wonderful world! It will not change until the welfare of mankind, rather than profit, becomes the goal of political-economy. If the human race is to survive, the welfare of human beings must be the goal of human institutions.

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.


Pagan Island, an idyllic Pacific Island in the Marianas, home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, some of them unique, and enjoying a perfect ecological balance, is facing Armageddon: in March of this year the US military announced its intention to use the Island as a live-fire training range. In plain English, they plan to blast it to pieces.

This is not the first time the US military will either take over an island or trash it, and then leave it uninhabitable for decades to come. It has happened before, countless times. It happened in San Clemente, it happened in Diego Garcia, it happened in Vieques, in Ka’ula, in Kaho’olawe, in Farallon de Medinilla, in Kwajelein, Enewetak and Bikini.

Now it is the turn of Pagan (pa-gán) Island.On March 14 this year the Department of the Navy made a statement in the Federal Register of its intention “to prepare the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Joint Military Training Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement… to establish a series of live-fire and maneuver Ranges and Training Areas (RTAs) within the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to meet this purpose.” (1)

The entire island will be used, according to the documentation: “The U.S. military intends to use the entire island with a full spectrum of weapons and joint training activities.” (2)

So, goodbye to the unique species which have inhabited this paradise for thousands of years and goodbye to the livelihoods of the Pagan Islanders, the indigenous population which has lived with and beside the endemic species in harmony for three thousand years. How many of the island’s rare birds, bats, insects and plants could be destroyed by toxins or by bombing campaigns?

(1) http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-23/pdf/2013-09498.pdf

(2) www.CNMIJointMilitaryTrainingEIS.com.

According to SPIEGEL research, United States intelligence agencies have not only targeted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, but they have also used the American Embassy in Berlin as a listening station. The revelations now pose a serious threat to German-American relations.

It’s a prime site, a diplomat’s dream. Is there any better location for an embassy than Berlin’s Pariser Platz? It’s just a few paces from here to the Reichstag. When the American ambassador steps out the door, he looks directly onto the Brandenburg Gate.

When the United States moved into the massive embassy building in 2008, it threw a huge party. Over 4,500 guests were invited. Former President George H. W. Bush cut the red-white-and-blue ribbon. Chancellor Angela Merkel offered warm words for the occasion.

Since then, when the US ambassador receives high-ranking visitors, they often take a stroll out to the roof terrace, which offers a breathtaking view of the Reichstag and Tiergarten park. Even the Chancellery can be glimpsed. This is the political heart of the republic, where billion-euro budgets are negotiated, laws are formulated and soldiers are sent to war. It’s an ideal location for diplomats — and for spies.

Research by SPIEGEL reporters in Berlin and Washington, talks with intelligence officials and the evaluation of internal documents of the US’ National Security Agency and other information, most of which comes from the archive of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, lead to the conclusion that the US diplomatic mission in the German capital has not merely been promoting German-American friendship. On the contrary, it is a nest of espionage. From the roof of the embassy, a special unit of the CIA and NSA can apparently monitor a large part of cellphone communication in the government quarter. And there is evidence that agents based at Pariser Platz recently targeted the cellphone that Merkel uses the most.

Photo Gallery: Spies in the Embassy

The NSA spying scandal has thus reached a new level, becoming a serious threat to the trans-Atlantic partnership. The mere suspicion that one of Merkel’s cellphones was being monitored by the NSA has led in the past week to serious tensions between Berlin and Washington.

Hardly anything is as sensitive a subject to Merkel as the surveillance of her cellphone. It is her instrument of power. She uses it not only to lead her party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), but also to conduct a large portion of government business. Merkel uses the device so frequently that there was even debate earlier this year over whether her text-messaging activity should be archived as part of executive action.

‘That’s Just Not Done’

Merkel has often said — half in earnest, half in jest — that she operates under the assumption that her phone calls are being monitored. But she apparently had in mind countries like China and Russia, where data protection is not taken very seriously, and not Germany’s friends in Washington.

Last Wednesday Merkel placed a strongly worded phone call to US President Barack Obama. Sixty-two percent of Germans approve of her harsh reaction, according to a survey by polling institute YouGov. A quarter think it was too mild. In a gesture of displeasure usually reserved for rogue states, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle summoned the new US ambassador, John Emerson, for a meeting at the Foreign Ministry.

The NSA affair has shaken the certainties of German politics. Even Merkel’s CDU, long a loyal friend of Washington, is now openly questioning the trans-Atlantic free trade agreement. At the Chancellery it’s now being said that if the US government doesn’t take greater pains to clarify the situation, certain conclusions will be drawn and talks over the agreement could potentially be put on hold.

“Spying between friends, that’s just not done,” said Merkel on Thursday at a European Union summit in Brussels. “Now trust has to be rebuilt.” But until recently it sounded as if the government had faith in its ally’s intelligence agencies.

In mid-August Merkel’s chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, offhandedly described the NSA scandal as over. German authorities offered none of their own findings — just a dry statement from the NSA leadership saying the agency adhered to all agreements between the countries.

Now it is not just Pofalla who stands disgraced, but Merkel as well. She looks like a head of government who only stands up to Obama when she herself is a target of the US intelligence services. The German website Der Postillon published a satirical version last Thursday of the statement given by Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert: “The chancellor considers it a slap in the face that she has most likely been monitored over the years just like some mangy resident of Germany.”

Merkel has nothing to fear domestically from the recent turn of affairs. The election is over, the conservatives and the center-left Social Democrats are already in official negotiations toward forming a new government. No one wants to poison the atmosphere with mutual accusation.

Nevertheless, Merkel must now answer the question of how much she is willing to tolerate from her American allies.

Posing as Diplomats

A “top secret” classified NSA document from the year 2010 shows that a unit known as the “Special Collection Service” (SCS) is operational in Berlin, among other locations. It is an elite corps run in concert by the US intelligence agencies NSA and CIA.

The secret list reveals that its agents are active worldwide in around 80 locations, 19 of which are in Europe — cities such as Paris, Madrid, Rome, Prague and Geneva. The SCS maintains two bases in Germany, one in Berlin and another in Frankfurt. That alone is unusual. But in addition, both German bases are equipped at the highest level and staffed with active personnel.

The SCS teams predominantly work undercover in shielded areas of the American Embassy and Consulate, where they are officially accredited as diplomats and as such enjoy special privileges. Under diplomatic protection, they are able to look and listen unhindered. They just can’t get caught.

Wiretapping from an embassy is illegal in nearly every country. But that is precisely the task of the SCS, as is evidenced by another secret document. According to the document, the SCS operates its own sophisticated listening devices with which they can intercept virtually every popular method of communication: cellular signals, wireless networks and satellite communication.

The necessary equipment is usually installed on the upper floors of the embassy buildings or on rooftops where the technology is covered with screens or Potemkin-like structures that protect it from prying eyes.

That is apparently the case in Berlin, as well. SPIEGEL asked British investigative journalist Duncan Campbell to appraise the setup at the embassy. In 1976, Campbell uncovered the existence of the British intelligence service GCHQ. In his so-called “Echelon Report” in 1999, he described for the European Parliament the existence of the global surveillance network of the same name.

Campbell refers to window-like indentations on the roof of the US Embassy. They are not glazed but rather veneered with “dielectric” material and are painted to blend into the surrounding masonry. This material is permeable even by weak radio signals. The interception technology is located behind these radio-transparent screens, says Campbell. The offices of SCS agents would most likely be located in the same windowless attic.

No Comment from the NSA

This would correspond to internal NSA documents seen by SPIEGEL. They show, for example, an SCS office in another US embassy — a small windowless room full of cables with a work station of “signal processing racks” containing dozens of plug-in units for “signal analysis.”

On Friday, author and NSA expert James Bamford also visited SPIEGEL’s Berlin bureau, which is located on Pariser Platz diagonally opposite the US Embassy. “To me, it looks like NSA eavesdropping equipment is hidden behind there,” he said. “The covering seems to be made of the same material that the agency uses to shield larger systems.”

The Berlin-based security expert Andy Müller Maguhn was also consulted. “The location is ideal for intercepting mobile communications in Berlin’s government district,” he says, “be it technical surveillance of communication between cellphones and wireless cell towers or radio links that connect radio towers to the network.”

Apparently, SCS agents use the same technology all over the world. They can intercept cellphone signals while simultaneously locating people of interest. One antenna system used by the SCS is known by the affable code name “Einstein.”

When contacted by SPIEGEL, the NSA declined to comment on the matter.

The SCS are careful to hide their technology, especially the large antennas on the roofs of embassies and consulates. If the equipment is discovered, explains a “top secret” set of classified internal guidelines, it “would cause serious harm to relations between the United States and a foreign government.”

According to the documents, SCS units can also intercept microwave and millimeter-wave signals. Some programs, such as one entitled “Birdwatcher,” deal primarily with encrypted communications in foreign countries and the search for potential access points. Birdwatcher is controlled directly from SCS headquarters in Maryland.

With the growing importance of the Internet, the work of the SCS has changed. Some 80 branches offer “thousands of opportunities on the net” for web-based operations, according to an internal presentation. The organization is now able not only to intercept cellphone calls and satellite communication, but also to proceed against criminals or hackers. From some embassies, the Americans have planted sensors in communications equipment of the respective host countries that are triggered by selected terms.

Read the complete article on Spiegel online

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/cover-story-how-nsa-spied-on-merkel-cell-phone-from-berlin-embassy-a-930205.html

India: Taken Over by Foreign Banks?

October 29th, 2013 by Kavaljit Singh

On October 12, Raghuram Rajan, the new Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, announced that the RBI will soon issue new rules allowing a more liberal entry of foreign banks in India. “That is going to be a big opening because one could even contemplate taking over Indian banks, small Indian banks and so on,” he stated in Washington at an event organized by the Institute of International Finance, a global banking lobby group.

The announcement of a reversal of long-standing regulatory policy for banking at an event organized by a lobby group is questionable as the wider developmental and regulatory concerns related to a liberalized entry of foreign banks are yet to be discussed in Parliament.

In the Indian context, the key policy issue is — do the benefits of foreign bank entry greatly outweigh the potential costs? Foreign banks have been operating in India for the past many decades and yet we find no evidence of the widely held notion that foreign banks add to domestic competition, increase access to financial services and ensure greater financial stability in the host countries. As witnessed during the global financial crisis of 2008, foreign banks reduced their domestic lending in India by as much as 20 per cent whereas the state-owned banks played a counter-cyclical role during the crisis.

Are Foreign Banks Discriminated in India?

It is widely believed that the entry of foreign banks in the Indian market is highly restricted and the regulatory framework discriminates against the foreign banks. Let us examine the ground realities. Currently, there are 41 foreign banks operating in India with 323 branches and 1414 ATMs. Another 46 foreign banks operate through their representative offices. It is often overlooked that even without branch licenses, foreign banks have been expanding business through off-site ATMs, non-banking finance companies and off-balance sheet exposures.

As per on-balance sheet businesses, foreign banks own 8 per cent of the total banking assets in India. However if one includes off-balance sheet businesses (e.g., forward exchange contracts and guarantees), then the ownership patterns dramatically reverse as foreign banks are the biggest players in the off-balance sheet businesses with a combined market share of 62 per cent in 2012. The total share of foreign banks as a percentage of the banking assets of India (both on- and off-balance-sheet items) was more than 40 percent in 2012.

As per India’s commitment at the World Trade Organisation, licenses for new foreign banks may be denied when the share of foreign banks’ assets in domestic banking system (including both on- and off-balance-sheet items) exceeds 15 per cent. Till date, India has not invoked the WTO commitments to deny the entry of foreign banks in the country. Rather, the number of branches permitted each year to foreign banks has been higher than the WTO commitments of 12 branches in a year.

In addition, foreign banks in India are free to undertake any banking activity (e.g., wholesale, retail, investment banking, foreign exchange, etc.) which is allowed to domestic banks. In Singapore, China and the US, strict restrictions have been imposed on the kind of businesses that could be carried out by foreign banks within their jurisdictions.

Where is Reciprocity in Market Access?

If India opens up its banking sector, how much market access Indian banks will get in return? The recent experience shows that market access to Indian banks is far from satisfactory. During 2003-07, India allowed US-based banks to open 19 branches (excluding the off-site ATMs). But, in the same period, the US did not allow a single Indian bank to open a branch or subsidiary or representative office in its territory despite many requests made by public and private sector banks.

Under the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (2005), the RBI allowed market access to three Singaporean banks as per the agreement but the Monetary Authority of Singapore refused to fulfill its time-bound commitment for providing full bank license (Qualifying Full Bank status) to three Indian banks. The MAS had imposed higher qualifying standards in the form of Asset Management Ratio on the Indian banks compared to other international banks operating in Singapore. Whereas the RBI does not discriminate between foreign and domestic banks on prudential and regulatory norms.

The Urban-centric Foreign Banks

Till date, most of branches of foreign banks are located in metropolitan areas and major Indian cities where bulk of premium banking business is concentrated. As on March 2012, out of total 322 branches of foreign banks, 246 branches (76%) were located in metros, 61 (19%) in urban areas and the rest 15 (5%) in semi-urban and rural areas. It is distressing to note that foreign banks such as Standard Chartered Bank and BNP Paribas have not yet opened a single branch in the rural areas despite operating in India for more than 150 years.

Further, foreign banks are reluctant to serve the poor and low-income people residing in metropolitan and urban areas. There is no regulatory ban in India on foreign banks to serve the urban poor and low-income people.

The Niche Banking Model

Typically, foreign (and some big private banks) are averse to provide banking services to the poor people because they find such clients less lucrative. The foreign banks “cherry-pick” the most profitable businesses and affluent customers residing in the metros and urban areas.

They tend to follow “exclusive banking” by offering services to a small number of clients. The foreign banks are mainly interested in serving three niche market segments in India: up-market consumer retail finance, wealth management services and investment banking.

Several foreign banks and their lobby groups have publicly expressed their discomfort in fulfilling the mandatory priority sector lending requirements. Rather they prefer a niche banking model with no riders in terms of social and developmental banking. Hence, the real issue is not xenophobic hostility towards foreign banks but their niche business model in India devoid of social and developmental banking.

Financial Inclusion or Exclusion?

Given their business model oriented towards niche banking, will foreign banks augment the reach of the banking system to 500 million Indian citizens who do not have access to basic banking services? What specialization and international experience do foreign banks have when it comes to providing basic banking services to small farmers, landless workers and urban poor dwellers?

 Recent studies have pointed out that 72 per cent of Indian farmers have no access to the formal banking system. One of the important factors behind rising farmer suicides in the countryside is lack of access to cheap credit from banks and institutional sources. Will the foreign banks open branches in the rural areas and compete with traditional moneylenders in the rural banking markets?

The contribution of foreign banks in the opening of “no frills” bank account under the financial inclusion program has been abysmal, as documented in various RBI reports. Can foreign banks be forced to meet the targets of financial inclusion for rural households, as suggested by the Committee on Financial Inclusion? Where would foreign banks open their branches in New Delhi? Friends Colony (an upmarket area of South Delhi) or Jahangirpuri (a low income group area of North Delhi)?

If the entry of foreign banks is allowed through acquisition of domestic banks, will it not lead to concentration of banking markets and loss of competition?

These are some of the important policy questions which need to be addressed before rolling  out the red carpet treatment to foreign banks.

Learning from International Experiences

Research studies conducted jointly by SOMO and Madhyam (available at www.madhyam.org.in) on the impact of banking sector liberalization in South Korea and Uganda offer several important policy lessons. In South Korea, foreign bank played an eminent role in building of short-term foreign borrowings which induced financial fragility and risks in the Korean banking sector before and after the 2008 financial crisis.

In Uganda, a rapid entry of foreign banks through acquisitions and takeovers has led to a situation where rural areas remain under-banked and the bulk of bank credit goes to trade. With foreign banks controlling 87 percent of Uganda’s banking assets, the rural households in Uganda are largely dependent on informal sources of finance to meet their consumption and investment needs.

In many Latin American countries such as Brazil, Mexico and Chile, there was a considerable decline in competition in the aftermath of liberal entry of foreign banks.

The global financial crisis has put a big question mark about the efficiency, “best practices” and state-of-the-art risk management models of big international banks.

The crisis has shown how many big international banks transmitted financial shocks across countries.

Several banks (including HSBC, UBS and Credit Suisse) have recently paid billions of dollars in fines for their alleged role in Libor rate-fixing scandal, money laundering and other corrupt practices. The JPMorgan Chase has been associated with several trading scandals in the recent past and has agreed to pay $5.1 billion to settle claims that it sold bad mortgages to two government agencies of the US (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) ahead of the financial crisis. According to media reports, JPMorgan may end up paying as much as $13 billion to settle all the pending claims over its reckless trading and market manipulative practices. Should India give such banks a free run?

Finally, we should not forget that the Indian banking system has remained insulated from global turmoil thanks to a limited presence of foreign banks, enlarged state ownership of the banking system, and a relatively strong regulatory framework.

Kavaljit Singh is Director of Madhyam, a policy research institute based in New Delhi (www.madhyam.org.in).

Arrest, investigation and prosecution of torture suspect Richard Cheney

Richard Cheney, former Vice President of the United States of America is scheduled to speak in Toronto Ontario on 31 October 2013 at the Toronto Global Forum, hosted by the International Economic Forum of the Americas at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Sunday, October 27, 2013
Toronto Chief of Police
William (Bill) Blair
[email protected]
Attorney General of Ontario John Gerretsen,

Ministry of the Attorney General
McMurtry-Scott Building
720 Bay Street, 11th Floor
Toronto, ON, M7A 2S9
[email protected]; [email protected]
Fax: 1 416 326 4007

Dear Toronto Chief of Police William Blair and Attorney General John Gerretsen;

Re: Duty to arrest Richard Cheney as a person suspected on reasonable grounds of authorizing, counseling, aiding, abetting and failing to prevent torture.

Richard Cheney, former Vice President of the United States of America is scheduled to speak in Toronto Ontario on 31 October 2013 at the Toronto Global Forum, hosted by the International Economic Forum of the Americas at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Once Richard (Dick) Cheney enters Canada:

• All of the torture alleged against and admitted by Dick Cheney, is deemed to have taken place in Canada, pursuant to (s. 7(3.7) of the Criminal Code of Canada (CC);
• criminal proceedings can be commenced against him in Toronto Ontario BC (CC, s. 7(5);
• Canada must ensure that Dick Cheney is either investigated and prosecuted for the indictable offence of torture in Canada or extradited to another country willing and able to do so (Convention against Torture, Art. 7);
• Toronto Police Service (TPS) officers are duty bound to arrest and detain Dick Cheney for investigation on suspicion of torture as part of Canada’s mandatory legal obligation to prevent and
punish torture globally;
• TPS officers are duty bound to arrest Dick Cheney to ensure the proper conduct of his investigation and prosecution for torture in Canada or his extradition to a country willing and able to prosecute;
• TPS officers are duty bound to arrest Dick Cheney to prevent him from escaping to the United States or some other jurisdiction where he will have ‘safe haven’ from prosecution for torture;
• the arrest of Dick Cheney can be carried out without warrant in advance of the commencement of criminal proceedings in Canada.

As you are aware, the common law duty of police officers including TPS officers to investigate and prevent crimes such as torture, have been enacted by statute. TPS officers also have a mandatory duty to prevent offences against the administration of justice such as enabling a torture suspect (in this case a person who has admitted to authorizing and failing to prevent torture) to escape prosecution.

The duty to investigate and prevent torture also arises from the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Program (War Crimes Program), established to meet the challenge of investigating crimes committed  outside Canadian territory. The mandate of the War Crimes Program is to “…support Canada’s policy to  deny safe haven to suspected perpetrators of [torture]… and to contribute to the domestic and international fight against impunity.” 1

The Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Section has received and is reviewing a request from Lawyers against the War to ensure that Dick Cheney, if he enters Canada, is prosecuted for torture.

We remind you that neither Dick Cheney’s status as former vice president of the United States nor his status as a guest of the Toronto Global Forum or the International Economic Forum of the Americas constitutes a defense to torture or confers on him any temporary immunity from Canadian law. As you are aware, TPS officers are compelled by law to ensure that the criminal law is administered in accordance with s. 15(1) guarantee that, “[e]very individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination…”

The prohibition on torture cannot be derogated from under any circumstances including a claim of comity and Canada’s duty to prevent and punish torture is a duty owed to individuals qua individuals and takes precedence over any duties owed to the US as a state.2

(See,  Inaction contravenes the Articles on Responsibility of States for International Wrongful Acts3 that prohibit states from recognizing as lawful a serious breach of an obligation arising under a peremptory norm of international law such as freedom from torture.

Evidence of Complicity in Torture

Evidence of Dick Cheney’s complicity in the widespread use of torture by the United States is well documented and widely available and Dick Cheney has publicly admitted to authorizing the use of
torture. For a review of some of the evidence we refer you to LAW’s letters of 30 September and 17 October 2013 or go to www.lawyersagaintthewar.org. These letters contain accurate summaries of the law and references to evidence of the widespread use of torture under the authorization and direction of Dick Cheney and other high-ranking members of the administration of G.W. Bush.

The words of Maj. General Antonio M. Taguba, author of the U.S. Army’s 2004 internal report on Abu Ghraib, have been echoed by many scholars, “… the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture….

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current [Bush] administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”4

The Law

1 Overview of Operations, mandates and Structure, Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program: http://www.justice.gc.ca/en/ps/wc/oms-ams.html.
2 Duty to Prevent and Punish Torture: Summary of International Instruments and Canadian Law, http://www.lawyersagainstthewar.org/tortureinfo/Duty_to_prevent_and_punish_torture.html
3 Adopted by the International Law Commission (53rd Sessions, 2001)
4 Maj. General Antonio M. Taguba (USA-Ret.), Preface to Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by U.S. Personnel and its Impacts, A Report by Physicians for Human Rights, June 2008. http://brokenlives.info/?page_id=69

Criminal Code of Canada; Under s. 269.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada, torture is an indictable offence bearing a sentence of up to 14 years imprisonment.

Aiding, abetting and counseling the use of torture are also offences.

Torture is also a crime under the Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act. Once Dick Cheney enters Canada, the torture (both the torture he has admitted to authorizing and the torture that he is accused of) are deemed to have been committed in Canada as determined by the Criminal Code of Canada s. 7(3.7).

Jurisdiction (3.7)

Notwithstanding anything in this Act or any other Act, every one who, outside Canada, commits an act or omission that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence against, a conspiracy or an attempt to commit an offence against, being an accessory after the fact in relation to an offence against, or any counselling in relation to an offence against, section 269.1
shall be deemed to commit that act or omission in Canada if  (e) the person who commits the act or omission is, after the commission thereof, present in Canada.

2. Protecting Civil Liberties:

Attached is the Protesters’ Guide to the Law of Civil Disobedience in BC:

Take Back our Communities Edition, Sept. 22, 2011, by Leo McGrady Q.C.. The guide explains what constitutes lawful assembly and expression as part of protests conducted in public places and the lawful role of police.

We understand that TPS officers may be under pressure to resort to exceptional measures to shield Dick Cheney from people lawfully protesting his presence in Canada and the refusal of the Attorney General of Canada and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to enforce the applicable law which include the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Criminal Code of Canada and other Canadian and binding international law prohibiting torture.

We remind you that the right to publicly protest is guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is therefore particularly important that TPS officers be adequately instructed to keep the peace during any citizens’ protest that takes place on 31 October 2013 by protecting and ensuring the right to protest rather than suppressing or violating those rights. We hope the guide attached will be made available to officers involved in policing at or near the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the site of the Toronto Global Forum.

We anticipate that protesters will be calling on the TPS to uphold and enforce Canadian law and Canada’s international law obligations to prevent and punish torture wherever it occurs, whatever the nationality and status of suspected perpetrators and whatever the nationality of victims. We anticipate that protesters may try to engage officers in conversation on this issue or otherwise persuade officers to act to detain Dick Cheney.

The right (and duty) of individuals to vigorously express criticism of government policies and practices (in this case the refusal to bar Dick Cheney from Canada) in public spaces is the foundation upon which democracy rests. As expressed by Cory, J. in R. v. Kopyto (1987), 24 O.C.A. 81. “… it is difficult to imagine a more important guarantee of freedom to a democratic society than that
of freedom of expression. A democracy cannot exist without the freedom to express new ideas and to put forward opinions about the functioning of public institutions.

These opinions may be critical  of existing practices in public institutions and of the institutions themselves. However, change for the better is dependent upon constructive criticism. Nor can it be expected that criticism will always be muted by restraint.

Frustration with outmoded practices will often lead to vigorous and unpropitious complaints. Hyperbole and colourful, perhaps even disrespectful language may be the necessary touchstone to fire the interest and imagination of the public, to the need for reform, and to suggest the manner in which that reform may be achieved.” As further noted by Mr. Justice Cory in the above noted decision, “History has repeatedly demonstrated that the first step taken by totalitarian regimes is to muzzle the media and then the individual in order to prevent the dissemination of views and opinions that may be contrary to those of the government.”

We are ready to arrange education sessions for your police officers as to their policing duties should Dick  Cheney–a foreign national suspected on reasonable grounds of authorizing widespread torture outside Canada—enter Canada via Toronto. Given the paucity of international humanitarian law education and training available to police officers across Canada, the failure to provide special training as to the requirements of the law in this situation, may well result in officers  isapprehending their duties.

We will make a summary of this letter available to interested members of the public and to officers attending any citizens’ protest.

Respectfully,

Gail Davidson

Copied to:

Solicitor General of Ontario Madeleine Meilleur
[email protected];

Toronto Police Services Board
Fax: 416 808 8082

Lawyers Against the War (LAW) is writing to inform you that Richard (Dick) Cheney, former Vice-President of the United States of America, is scheduled to speak at the Toronto Global Forum on October 30-31st 2013 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The event is hosted by the International Economic Forum of the Americas.

We are writing to confirm that Canada has an obligation to bar Cheney from entering Canada or arrest him on entry (LAW letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper: 30 Sept/1313)

To read complete text of letter click http://www.lawyersagainstthewar.org/letters/barcheney300913.pdf

Harper Government Ignores Torture Opponents’ Call to Ban Dick Cheney from Canada or Prosecute Him

Protest Planned on Halloween at Metro Toronto Convention Centre (Toronto) Lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild (U.S.), International Association of Democratic Lawyers, European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (Germany),  Brussells Tribunal (Belgium), International Initiative to Prosecute US Genocide in Iraq (Iraq, Egypt, Spain), Lawyers Against the War (Canada) and Rights International Spain (Spain) are urging Canada to either bar Dick Cheney from Canada – as a person credibly accused of torture – or to arrest and prosecute him on arrival, as required by the Convention against Torture. A letter from Lawyers Against the War (LAW) sent to Canada’s Prime Minister, Attorney General and Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Immigration has been gravely ignored.

“It is long overdue for Cheney and other Bush administration officials to be held to account for the high crimes of instituting and implementing the systematic practice of torture. This
record of impunity must not be allowed to stand.”

Azadeh Shahshahani, President, National Lawyers Guild.

Torture and war crimes suspect Dick Cheney is scheduled as a keynote speaker at the October 31st luncheon of the Toronto Global Forum, hosted by the International Forum of the Americas.
Should Cheney be allowed to freely enter Canada despite the illegalities involved, civil society groups are planning a rally beginning at 11:00 am on Halloween, Oct. 31st, outside the Metro
Toronto Convention Centre.

Excerpt of Press Release 16 Oct/13

Read full text at  http://www.lawyersagainstthewar.org/ArrestCheney.pdf

LAW letter of 17 Oct/13 

Request for Investigation of torture allegations

The letter is a request for an investigation. We request you to ensure that the Canada War Crimes Program and/or the Special and International Investigation Unit or other such divisions of the
RCMP and/or Ministry of Justice responsible for the investigation of allegations of torture, systematic or gross human rights violations, crimes against humanity or war crimes, to immediately take the following steps:  Begin an investigation of Richard Cheney for aiding, abetting, counseling and encouraging the use of torture by U.S. officials between 13 November 2001 and December 2008 at Guantánamo Bay prison in Cuba, Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Bagram prison in Afghanistan and at other locations outside the U.S.;  Advise the Prime Minister, Attorney General of Canada and Ministers of Immigration and Public Safety that the George W. Bush administration “…engaged in torture and other war crimes and crimes against humanity,” and therefore that Richard Cheney is also inadmissible under section 35(1) (b) of the IRPA;  Ensure that Richard Cheney will be arrested immediately upon entry to Canada in order to secure this person and prevent him receiving safe haven from prosecution; and,  Initiate a prosecution of Richard Cheney for torture under the Criminal Code of Canada.

LAW has advised the Prime Minister and the Ministers of Justice, Immigration and Foreign Affairs that, as a person credibly accused of torture and other offences under sections 4 to 7 of the
Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act (CAHWC), Richard Cheney is inadmissible to Canada under the following provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA):

Arrest, investigation and prosecution of torture suspect Richard Cheney

1. Section 35(1)(a) because of overwhelming evidence that he has “committed, outside Canada, torture and other offences referred to in sections 4 to 7 of the Crimes against Humanity and
War Crimes Act [CAHWC]”;

2. Section 34(1) (b) for, “engaging in or instigating the subversion by force of [Iraq and Afghanistan] any government.”; and, 3. Section 35 (1) (b) because he was a senior official of a government (the Bush administration) that engaged in “systematic or gross human rights violations, or a war crime or a crime against humanity within the meaning of subsections 6(3) to (5) of the [CAHWC].”

LAW letter of 17 Oct/13 Read full text at http://www.lawyersagainstthewar.org/lawtowarcrimes.pdf

See also

Reply from War Crimes 23 Oct/13 http://www.lawyersagainstthewar.org/reply.pdf

Reply from War Crimes 23 Oct/13 http://www.lawyersagainstthewar.org/reply.pdf

 Forward and distribute these materials as you see fit.

Also contact MPs, MPPs, media and express your opposition to Canada providing immunity to one of the world’s most notorious war criminals.

Damage Accumulating after US Loses Trust over Spying Activities

October 28th, 2013 by Prof. James Petras

Pocos días antes de la Asamblea general anual del Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) y del Banco mundial que ha tenido lugar del 11 al 13 de octubre de 2013 en Washington, el FMI ha vuelto a la carga. Concretamente en el Estado español, después de haber propuesto una bajada de salarios que suscitó una reacción desacostumbrada, reclama ahora que se reduzca el listado de productos que aplican tipos reducidos de IVA, lo cual afectaría a productos y servicios considerados básicos o de primera necesidad. Una receta como ésta es lo que provocó los famosos motines de hambre, llamados también ‘motines FMI’, en el Sur del planeta, cuando el precio del pan o de la gasolina subió de golpe en una noche hasta precios inalcanzables para la mayoría de la población. Entre otros ejemplos, es el caso famoso del‘Caracazo’ en Venezuela en 1989, cuando aplicaron el Plan del FMI; o de Perú en 1991, cuando el precio del pan se multiplicó por 12 mientras los salarios empezaron a bajar; de Zimbabwe en 2000; Argentina, Paraguay y Uruguay en 2001… La lista es larga, como lo es la historia del neocolonialismo económico de la institución de Washington.

En definitiva, el FMI sigue el mismo camino del austericidio que aplica en el Sur, donde estas políticas llevan fracasando desde décadas. Más allá de algunas nuevas propuestas sobre recaudación, no hay nada nuevo en la ideología de la institución. Ya en 1999, en un informe sobre los Efectos de las políticas de ajuste estructural en el goce efectivo de los derechos humanosla Comisión de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas decía sobre los planes de austeridad en el Sur lo que podemos aplicar para la actual crisis de deuda en el Norte:

Lamentablemente, tanto el FMI como el Banco Mundial tratan la gestión de la crisis de la deuda como actividad al margen de la importante tarea del desarrollo humano. El crecimiento acelerado del producto nacional bruto (PNB) o la reducción de la inflación no puede propiciar el desarrollo si no va acompañado de una redistribución de los ingresos que permita que una mayor parte de la población ejerza sus derechos económicos, sociales y culturales.

El austericidio, un proyecto político a escala internacional

Estas políticas de austeridad del FMI, además de violar la soberanía de los pueblos, echan por tierra los derechos más básicos de las personas. La propuesta de introducir un impuesto excepcional con una tasa de un 10% sobre el capital de todas las rentas disponibles de cada hogar, sean cuales sean sus ahorros, para aliviar la deuda pública en los países europeos hasta el nivel previo la crisis de 2007, no debe llevarnos a engaño. Por cierto, nos recuerda lo que ocurrió en Chipre, aunque en aquel caso era una tasa de un 47,5% sobre todas las cuentas que dispusieran de más de 100.000 euros. Pero parece más bien una medida desesperada que llama la atención para esconder medidas reales por venir. De igual manera, cuando afirma que queda margen para aumentar tipos de impuestos en los tramos superiores de ingresos, parece que, ante el caos que generan sus medidas, tiene que bajar el tono para que su política sea sostenible…y seguir el mismo camino capitalista. De hecho, como decía el mismo informe de la ONU de 1999 antes citado, hay que entender las políticas de austeridad más bien como un proyecto político a escala internacional:

El ajuste estructural va más allá de la simple imposición de una serie de políticas macroeconómicas a nivel nacional. Representa un proyecto político, una estrategia consciente de transformación social al nivel mundial, principalmente para hacer que el mundo sea seguro para las empresas transnacionales. En pocas palabras, los programas de ajuste estructural sirven de “cinta transmisora” para facilitar el proceso de mundialización, mediante la liberalización y la desreglamentación y reduciendo la función del Estado en el desarrollo nacional.

El 9 de octubre de 2013, tras la presentación del informe fiscal del FMI, Michael Keen, director de asuntos fiscales del FMI, dijo que España “no ha recurrido demasiado al impuesto del IVA” para incrementar los ingresos. ¿Sería el caso del sector de la Cultura, en el que los libros de texto o el material escolar experimentaron un aumento del IVA de 13 puntos, del 8 al 21%? Los españoles podrán agradecer la especial atención del FMI al respecto. Después de dos subidas brutales del impuesto regresivo más injusto, bajo el gobierno del PSOE primero, y del PP a continuación, las recomendaciones del FMI son escandalosas. Quieren curar la enfermedad matando al paciente.

El FMI, en su Fiscal Monitor de octubre de 2013, muestra una repentina preocupación por reducir la deuda pública hasta niveles precrisis de 2007, sin reconocer que la deuda pública en muchos casos, el español entre ellos, se ha disparado precisamente como consecuencia del rescate a la banca. Como solución, vuelve a hacer propuestas profundamente injustas y erróneas, como el mencionado impuesto único del 10% a la riqueza de los hogares (pag49). En su argumentario, el FMI advierte de “los riesgos de las alternativas” a esta propuesta, como “el repudio de la deuda pública”, un “riesgo” que para nosotras sería un primer paso para salir de la crisis.

Desde la Plataforma Auditoría Ciudadana de la Deuda, No debemos , no Pagamosdesarrollamos actividades para que la ciudadanía pueda plantear alternativas, definir criterios para calificar una deuda como ilegítima y no pagarla.

Jérôme Duval

F. Martín

This past Friday, October 25, marked the 30th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Grenada. There were many meanings and consequences of that invasion, not just for Grenada itself, or for the wider Caribbean region (including the increased militarization of the region in the aftermath, the importation of U.S. national security doctrine, and the scandalous collaborationism embodied by Dominica’s then Prime Minister, Eugenia Charles, and Barbados’ then Prime Minister, Tom Adams–and the advent of the Caribbean Basin Initiative), but also meanings and consequences for the onset of the “new world order” of the post-Cold War period which was just a few years away. (From a personal perspective, the revolutions in Grenada and Nicaragua, where I spent months in the 1980s, formed an important foundation of my own development and impelled me in certain directions with my own studies.)

Merely two days after the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut (October 23, 1983), Ronald Reagan ordered the invasion of Grenada. An opportunity for intervention presented itself after infighting in Grenada’s government exploded into full view, with the execution on October 19 of Maurice Bishop and seven others, including cabinet ministers, who were all executed by firing squad along with an unknown number of supporters of Bishop who had earlier freed him from imprisonment. The immediate culprits of this internal coup were the Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard (released from prison in 2009) and the head of the People’s Revolutionary Army, Hudson Austin. Reagan had prepared for action against Grenada, and now the time seemed ideal.

The Propaganda for a Manufactured Emergency

“In 1979 trouble came to Grenada. Maurice Bishop, a protégé of Fidel Castro, staged a military coup and overthrew the government which had been elected under the constitution left to the people by the British. He sought the help of Cuba in building an airport, which he claimed was for tourist trade, but which looked suspiciously suitable for military aircraft, including Soviet-built long-range bombers.” ~ Ronald Reagan, address to the nation, October 27, 1983.“In Grenada, our military forces moved quickly and professionally to protect American lives and respond to an urgent request from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. We joined in an effort to restore order and democracy to that strife-torn island. Only days before our actions, Prime Minister Maurice Bishop had been brutally murdered, along with several members of his Cabinet and unarmed civilians. With a thousand Americans, including some 800 students, on that island, we weren’t about to wait for the Iran crisis to repeat itself, only this time, in our own neighborhood — the Caribbean.” ~ Ronald Reagan, November 4, 1983.

grenada_reagan2

[The historical actor? Regan being apprised of the situation as the U.S. invasion of Grenada gets underway. Breakfast ensued.]

The U.S. clearly did not invade because of the rift in Grenada’s government. As Stephen Zunes explained on the 20th anniversary of the invasion, there were at least four U.S. rationalizations for launching “Operation Urgent Fury,” which had already been rehearsed on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques two years prior to the invasion, at the same time as the CIA began a campaign of destabilization and sabotage of Grenada, augmented by Reagan’s policy of blocking loans from international financial institutions to Grenada. Of the four justifications advanced by the Reagan administration for the invasion, all four were false (a modus operandi that may have served as an inspiration for the two Bush presidents and later Obama, in concocting fictions that supposedly justify intervention, but that never stand up to any serious scrutiny). These were:

  1. That 800 U.S. medical students in Grenada were in immediate danger, and required evacuation. In actuality, officials at the medical school refused to issue a call for help when the U.S. government tried to pressure them to do so; 500 parents cabled Reagan asking him to not undertake any aggression; 90% of the medical students said they were never in any danger and did not want to be evacuated; and even visiting U.S. diplomats from Barbados found no danger. The medical school was not even a priority for invading U.S. troops.
  2. The U.S. also claimed, again falsely, that there was a Cuban military buildup in Grenada, and that this somehow posed a direct threat to the U.S.
  3. Reagan also advanced the bizarre theory that a new airport under construction in Grenada, by a major British firm, to accommodate larger passenger jets needed to boost the tourism industry, would somehow become a base for Soviet “bear bombers”.
  4. The U.S. also tried to justify the invasion on the basis of an invitation issued by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (somehow this “invitation” was to be seen as legitimate, whereas the Afghan invitation to Soviet forces was not), in a direct violation of the OECS’ own charter. In fact, the OECS had no authority to issue such a request.

The End of the “Vietnam Syndrome”

grenadabishopcastroortega

[From left to right: Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua), Maurice Bishop (Grenada), Fidel Castro (Cuba).]

While it is a fact that the U.S. has been at war almost continuously since it gained independence from Britain, there have been brief periods of a few years every now and again in the past 200 plus years where U.S. troops were not mobilized on some international adventure. The period between the end of the Vietnam war and the invasion of Grenada was one such period, and Ronald Reagan was elected on a sweeping tide of bruised and thus ultra-jingoistic nationalism and fanatical anti-communism, with the promise of reversing what rightly appeared to be the start of a global tide rising against U.S. dominance. Not just literally fighting communists where it was feasible–as in very small and almost defenseless locales such as Grenada–Reagan also spearheaded the neoliberal era that continues to the present, with its rollback of trade unions and collective bargaining, the deregulation of the economy, the financialization and de-industrialization of the U.S., and the upward flow of capital toward the already wealthy.

In addition to the lasting political and economic damage inflicted by the invasion and occupation of Vietnam, ending in 1975, the U.S. was soon faced with a quick succession of events that its leadership read as either lethal threats or tactical defeats that required a response:

  1. The January-April 1979 revolution in Iran, that overthrew a U.S.-supported dictator in a region of the world that was/is critical to U.S. geopolitical and economic strategy. This was soon followed by the famous “hostage crisis” that lasted 444 days, and the superbly botched covert military operation ordered by President Jimmy Carter that failed to even come remotely close to rescuing the 52 U.S. Embassy hostages in Tehran.
  2. The March 13, 1979, revolution in Grenada, that swept out the de facto dictator (and UFO enthusiast) Sir Eric Gairy, and brought in a socialist government led by the New Jewel Movement (Jewel was an acronym meaning: Joint Endeavour for Welfare, Education, and Liberation) and the popular and charismatic Maurice Bishop. Grenada soon turned to Cuba for advice and assistance, and later also joined Nicaragua, in forming a regional bloc of revolutionary states that was a precursor of what Hugo Chávez would foster roughly twenty years later, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA).
  3. The July 19, 1979, victory of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in Nicaragua, which also allied itself with Cuba and Grenada, and tossed out a dictatorial dynasty long supported by successive U.S. administrations.
  4. The Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan beginning in December of 1979.

Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, promised to end the alleged “Vietnam Syndrome” that conveniently imagined the U.S. as suffering such debilitating moral and psychological trauma after Vietnam, that only vastly increased military spending and redeployment of U.S. military forces overseas could cure it. Reagan began a massive increase of defence spending which included the development of new weapons which are still in use by the military, from Tomahawk cruise missilesto B-2 stealth bombers, down to the Humvee and the Military Internet (MILNET), not to mention equipping U.S. troops with new helmets modeled on the Nazi German style. His paradigm of dominance through military power also became the template for successive administrations, with the attendant drain on the public budget, the minimization of social spending, and increased foreign indebtedness. Reagan was really quite the innovator.

Reagan, who developed such an obsession with “communism” in “America’s backyard,” that some officials said he spent the majority of his working hours in the White House dedicated to the defeat of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, could not tolerate that an English-speaking Prime Minister, in the British Commonwealth, in America’s Mediterranean, could so confidently stand up to Pax Americana. It was Maurice Bishop who declared (in words echoed 25 years later by Bolivian President Evo Morales):

“We are not in anybody’s backyard, and we are definitely not for sale. Anybody who thinks they can bully us or threaten us clearly has no understanding, idea, or clue as to what material we are made of. They clearly have no idea of the tremendous struggles which our people have fought over the past seven years. Though small and poor, we are proud and determined. We would sooner give up our lives before we compromise, sell out, or betray our sovereignty, our independence, our integrity, our manhood, and the right of our people to national self determination and social progress.” (source)

And it was Reagan who effectively declared that in Grenada, Caribbean socialism would meet its first literal graveyard. In a 1981 commencement address at West Point, Reagan declared the “Vietnam syndrome” to be a “temporary aberration,” ominously adding: “The era of self-doubt is over….Let friend and foe alike be made aware of the spirit that is once more sweeping across our land, because it means we will meet our responsibility to the free world. Very much a part of this new spirit is patriotism”. With that, Reagan launched the opening assault that would see an unbroken chain of presidential administrations to follow replicating, reproducing, or elaborating upon his template. George H.W. Bush called the conquest of Grenada “a proud moment,” onesupported by an overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens, judging the invasion part of a cure to the “legacies of Vietnam and Watergate [that] still haunted the conduct of our own foreign policy,” adding, “today America really feels the future is bright”.

As former New York Times correspondent and author Stephen Kinzer recently related,

An orgy of self-congratulation followed the triumph. A total of 8,612 medals were awarded to participants — most of them to desk officers who never came within a thousand miles of the island. “Our days of weakness are over!” Reagan exulted in a speech to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in New York. “Our military forces are back on their feet and standing tall.”

Of course, Grenada functioned as a convenient distraction for the massive loss of 241 U.S. Marines and other troops in Beirut just two days before the invasion of Grenada. The total death toll was nearly 300 that day, including French forces. Endless rows of U.S. caskets hardly looked like “standing tall,” thus best to stage a distraction that might give some meaning to the idea. Its reputation suffering badly after Vietnam, and its future less than assured, the Marine Corps benefitted particularly from the attack against Grenada.

Standing Tall Again: Dismissing International Law, Talking Humanitarianism

Reagan was utterly dismissive about the fact that the United Nations General Assembly voted 108 to 9 in condemning the U.S. invasion of Grenada as a deplorable and flagrant violation of international law. He said it didn’t even upset his breakfast. This would be the same callous disregard for international law shown by George H.W. Bush (Panama), Bill Clinton (Kosovo), George W. Bush (Iraq, Afghanistan), and Barack Obama (the drone wars, Libya, and the recently threatened aggression against Syria). Reagan’s template, of the U.S. as the world’s most powerful rogue state, was thus established.

What was also telling about the U.S. condemnation of international condemnation itself, was the (re)emergence of a “humanitarian” narrative for imperial intervention. State Department spokesman John Hughes stated: “We find it sad that the United Nations sees fit to deplore actions taken for humanitarian reasons, to save innocent lives and protect human rights”. Indeed, it was under Reagan that the concept of “humanitarianism” began to take many perverse terms, so that sustaining an army of brutal mercenaries to fight the Sandinistas in Nicaragua could be officially termed “humanitarian assistance”.

As for the morale of U.S. imperialism, blasting tiny Grenada was just what the doctor ordered. Endless chest thumping ensued, as if an elephant stomping on a mouse would impress the world as an impressive win. Obscenities were painted on the walls of the Cuban ambassador’s residence in St. Georges. With words carved into the cement wall of temporary mortuary at the airport, U.S. Marines declared: “Heaven can wait, because we’re raising hell.” U.S. journalists were banned from conducting live coverage of the invasion. U.S. PsyOps troops roamed Grenadian villages in their jeeps, with mounted speakers blasting “Eye of the Tiger“–presumably an effort to win local and hearts and minds by being as abrasive and obnoxious as possible. Yet, nothing–not even the spin of a second-rate Hollywood actor serving as President–could top the hilarious lunacy of this CIA comic book on Grenada:

grenadacia

[Part of the cover of the CIA’s propaganda comic book, “Grenada: Rescued from Rape and Slavery,” an example of the CIA’s “humanitarian” narrative. Click on the image for the complete pdf of the comic book.]

“Restoring Democracy”

grenada_democracy

[One side of a U.S. flyer distributed in Grenada by the invading forces.]

One of the purported goals of the U.S. invasion was to “restore democracy” to Grenada. Prior to Bishop, however, one could hardly paint a glowing picture of the successes of Western-imposed democracy. However, it was under Bishop that Grenada made some dramatic gains in realizing social and economic rights and popular democracy, like no other nation in the Caribbean at the time, and few in the world:

grenada_forward

[After the revolution, a billboard remains reminding Grenadians of the New Jewel Movement]

…while most Caribbean nations suffered terribly from worldwide recession, Grenada achieved a 9% cumulative growth rate. Unemployment dropped from 49% to 14%. The government diversified agriculture, developed cooperatives, and created an agri-industrial base that led to a reduction of the percentage of food and total imports from over 40% to 28% at a time when market prices for agricultural products were collapsing worldwide.The literacy rate, already at a respectable 85%, grew to about 98%, comparable to or higher than most industrialized countries. A free health care and secondary education system were established, the number of secondary schools tripled, and scores of Grenadians received scholarships for studies abroad. There were ambitious programs in the development of the fishing industry, handicrafts, housing, tourism, the expansion of roads and transport systems, and the upgrading of public utilities.…. the development of parish and zonal councils along with “mass organizations” insured a degree of grassroots democracy and a reflection of the government’s desire to create a “popular socialism.”

grenada_education

[Another billboard from the time of the New Jewel Movement and its revolutionary democratization of education.]

We should also be clear that while Sir Eric Gairy had been elected as Prime Minister of Grenada, leading the aptly-named GULP (Grenada United Labour Party), he was authoritarian by any sense of the word: political opponents were persecuted and jailed, and as if to echo Haiti’s Tonton Macoutes, Gairy had his own infamous “Mongoose Gang”.

For those interested in learning more about the Grenadian revolution, from the inside, please see the following 20-minute part of a 55-minute documentary which came out in 1984, Grenada: The Future Coming Towards Us, kindly made available by Asierramoore:

Grenada, a Template for the New Wave of International U.S. Assaults

There is much to be gleaned from the U.S. invasion of Grenada in terms of the reengineering of the new imperialist policy of the U.S. that has dominated since then. The main features of the Grenada template, in no particular order of importance, are:

  1. The creation of “urgency” and “emergency” out of a situation of seeming local chaos that somehow posed a threat to “U.S. interests”.
  2. Reestablishing the messianic vision of the U.S. as a “rescuer” of “oppressed” peoples in primitive countries.
  3. The fabrication of what Eldon Kenworthy called “carefully scripted docudrama”.
  4. The management of the media, and the conversion of war into spectacle.
  5. The adoption of the language of humanitarian rescue and human rights.
  6. “Restoring democracy” as a justification for regime change, with the calculated result being the fostering of regimes supportive of U.S. power.
  7. Armed aggression in open defiance of international law and the renunciation of peaceful, diplomatic engagement.
  8. The exploitation of local political divisions.
  9. The use of the financial institutions of global neoliberal policy as instruments of U.S. policy in securing regime change.
  10. Interventionism supported by a campaign of vastly increased military spending on the development of new weapons.
  11. Winnable wars abroad to better create unity at home.
  12. Justification for the maintenance, and enhancement, of the military-industrial complex.

However, Grenada was also somewhat of a bridge between “old” and the “new” U.S. imperialism previewed above. The “old” was represented by the fixation on “rolling back” international “Communism” as part of a series of proxy wars in the U.S.’ rivalry with the USSR. Also “old” was the language of “America’s backyard,” of the “natural” place to be occupied, with all those countries that Americans condescendingly refer to as “down there.” In addition, speaking directly and primarily of threats to U.S. interests, and to U.S. lives and property, harkens back to invasions and occupations that the U.S. had been undertaking in the hemisphere for several decades already.

grenada_freedom

[Always making time to praise themselves?]

Lessons for the Left of Today, From the Left of the 1980s

Another substantial change that occurred after the 1980s, and thus was not witnessed yet during the invasion of Grenada, was the emergence of a pro-imperialist Western left. This is now a “left,” that includes everyone from self-declared “Marxists” to anarchists to Trotskyists, who apparently believe that socialism will be fulfilled by adopting and internalizing the political agenda and discourses of liberal capitalism. Again, during the invasion of Grenada, this migration toward neoliberal ideological principles had yet to be observed. The left was unified in its anti-imperialism.

I say this in large part based on personal experience, as a direct and very active participant across a wide range of leftist groups present in Toronto at the time; everyone from the parliamentary New Democratic Party (NDP), to the the two Communist parties, the several Trotskyist factions, various Cuba and Nicaragua solidarity committees, and a range of Christian activist groups and student associations. I attended virtually every meeting, assembly, and rally that took place around Grenada, that also included a sizeable portion of the politically active West Indian community. Had I kept all of the printed materials generated from these events and organizing, it would be a small library. Thus I say with relative confidence that there was no discussion along these lines:

  • That maybe because Bishop had already been overthrown by his comrades, who had “killed their own people,” that we should support Grenadian freedom and democracy by treating the U.S. military as if it were a tool of our aspirations;
  • That anti-imperialism should take a back seat when human rights are threatened and, after all, the U.S. didn’t murder Bishop.
  • That because some Grenadians seemingly welcomed U.S. forces, that we should also support the invasion.
  • That our preferred ideals of democracy find expression in liberal democracy.

If anything, there was a firm belief that even with Bishop gone, the Grenadian revolution would have continued, largely following the same lines domestically, but with fewer attempted overtures to the U.S. Some even argued that the execution of Bishop was the direct result of years of U.S. destabilization, thus conceptually marrying the U.S. invasion with the overthrow of Bishop himself. Others, like Cuba itself, while denouncing the coup against Bishop, did not see this as in any way superseding or rendering irrelevant the opposition to U.S. imperialism and its designs on the region.

Therefore it is with considerable nostalgia that I look back on this period, this before the Western left’s spinal cord had been surgically removed and its head compressed into its waist, forming a monstrous human starfish that reaches out in all directions (having little of its own). However, to end on a more productive note, the Latin American left has never been stronger, more dominant, and more unified in significant part thanks to the legacy of Ronald Reagan and the repellent memories of Reagan’s rule that are still alive across Central and South America and at least parts of the Caribbean. As for that sinister airport in Grenada, it was built after all, and is now officially named after Maurice Bishop.

Select References

AP. (1983). “Reagan: Vote Loss in U.N. ‘didn’t upset my breakfast’.” The Spokesman Review, November 4.
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1314&dat=19831104&id=uDcSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=6O4DAAAAIBAJ&pg=5592,2048008

Bishop, Maurice. (1983). Maurice Bishop Speaks: The Grenada Revolution and Its Overthrow, 1979–83. Atlanta, GA: Pathfinder Press.

Cahill, Charolotte. (2008). Fighting the Vietnam Syndrome: The Construction of a Conservative Veterans Politics, 1966-1984. Ph.D dissertation, History, Northwestern University.
http://books.google.ca/books?id=S25iM9jicF0C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

CANA. (2009). “BISHOP’S HONOUR: Grenada airport renamed after ex-PM.” CANA News, May 30.
http://web.archive.org/web/20090612200521/http://www.cananews.net/news/131/ARTICLE/38264/2009-05-30.html

CIA. (1983). Grenada: Rescued from Rape and Slavery. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
http://openanthropology.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/grenadacia.pdf

Clines, Francis X. (1983). “Military of U.S. ‘Standing Tall,’ Reagan Asserts.” The New York Times, December 13.
http://www.nytimes.com/1983/12/13/nyregion/military-of-us-standing-tall-reagan-asserts.html

Government of Grenada. (2009). Biography: Maurice Bishop. The Official Website of the Government of Grenada.
http://www.gov.gd/biographies/maurice_bishop_bio.html

———- . (2010). The Grenada Revolution – March 13th 1979. The Official Website of the Government of Grenada.
http://www.gov.gd/articles/revolution/march_13th_1979.html

The Grenada Revolution Online. (n.d.).Maurice Rupert Bishop [1944-1983].
http://www.thegrenadarevolutiononline.com/bishopcopyrighted.html

Hayward, Steven F. (2009). The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counterrevolution: 1980-1989. New York: Random House.
http://books.google.ca/books?id=ARNBuL6zbN4C&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

Kenworthy, Eldon. (1984). “Grenada as Theater.” World Policy Journal, 1(3), 635-651.

Kinzer, Stephen. (2013). “30 years on: The legacy of Reagan’s invasion of Grenada.” Al Jazeera America, October 25.
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/10/25/invasion-grenadaronaldreagan.html

Magnuson, Ed. (1983). “Grenada: Getting Back to Normal.” TIME, November 21.
http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,926318-1,00.html

Miroff, Bruce. (2010). “The Presidential Spectacle. In Michael Nelson (Ed.), The Presidency and the Political System. Washingtonm DC: CQ Press.
http://books.google.ca/books?id=uLxswCGe4PgC&lpg=PA6&pg=PT209#v=onepage&q&f=false

Pilger, John. (2008). July 19, 1979: Nicaragua’s Sandinista revolution remembered — Video by John Pilger. LINKS–International Journal of Socialist Renewal.
http://links.org.au/node/530

Reagan, Ronald. (1981). Address at Commencement Exercises at the United States Military Academy, May 27. The American Presidency Project.
http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=43865#axzz2izj9S3xJ

———- . (1983). Address to the Nation, October 27. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
http://www.reaganlibrary.gov/major-speeches-index/31-archives/speeches/1983/2945-102783b

———- . (1983). Remarks to Military Personnel at Cherry Point, North Carolina, on the United States Casualties in Lebanon and Grenada, November 4. Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.
http://www.reaganlibrary.gov/major-speeches-index/31-archives/speeches/1983/2961-110483a

UNGA. (1983). 38/7–The Situation in Grenada. United Nations General Assembly, November 2.
http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/38/7&Lang=E&Area=RESOLUTION

UPI. (1984). “Campaign Notes: Bush Calls Grenada ‘Proud Moment’ for U.S.” The New York Times, February 25.
http://www.nytimes.com/1984/02/25/us/campaign-notes-bush-calls-grenada-proud-moment-for-us.html

U.S. DoS/DoD. (1983). Grenada: A Preliminary Report. Washington, DC: Department of State, Department of Defense.
http://web.archive.org/web/20130412235900/http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/International_security_affairs/grenada/153.pdf

U.S. News & World Report. (1983). “Marines: Cutting Edge of Tough New U.S. Policy–Heading for the scrap heap not long ago, the Corps today leads the way in flexing American muscle worldwide.”U.S. News & World Report, November.
http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/grenada/USN-11-83.htm

U.S. News & World Report. (1983). “A Strange Peace After A Strange War.” U.S. News & World Report, November.
http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/grenada/USN-11-28-83.htm

Zunes, Stephen. (2003). “The US Invasion of Grenada.” Foreign Policy In Focus, October.
http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/155/25966.html

As cleanup crews gear themselves up to begin the treacherous task of removing 400 tons of spent fuel from the Fukushima Daiichi Reactor No. 4 in the coming weeks, reports continue to flood in showing that radiation from the stricken plant is still causing major environmental damage all over the world.

Particularly on the West Coast of the U.S., a multitude of strange animal deaths, high radiation readings and other recent anomalies suggest that the Fukushima disaster is far from over. It is simply ludicrous, in other words, for anyone to suggest at this point that these Fukushima woes are dwindling, as fresh evidence suggests that quite the opposite is true.

A recent report by Michael Snyder over at TheTruthWins.com highlights 28 signs that the U.S. West Coast is still being torn up by nuclear radiation from Fukushima. Many of these signs include strange illnesses and mass deaths among sea creatures and other animals, as well as high radiation readings from dozens of monitoring stations.

“Every single day, 300 tons of radioactive water from Fukushima enters the Pacific Ocean,” writes Snyder about this one major sign. “That means that the total amount of radioactive material released from Fukushima is constantly increasing, and it is steadily building up in our food chain.”

Radioactive debris mass the size of California still impacting West Coast

Another obvious sign is the recent mass migration of radioactive debris the size of California across the Pacific Ocean. BBC News in the U.K. reported last year that literally millions of tons of radioactive debris had begun traveling across the Pacific Ocean, and that some of it had already impacted Hawaii and even the West Coast.

There has also been a series of strange animal deaths recently, including masses of sea lions, sockeye salmon and other sea creatures washing up on the shore. Many of the polar bears, seals and walruses observed along the Alaska coastline have also been found to have major fur loss and open sores, both of which are indicative of radiation poisoning.

Then we have the scientific reports that claim radioactive water will continue to impact the U.S. West Coast for many years to come, potentially doubling in strength over the next five or six years. Plankton, bluefin tuna and other sea life collected between Hawaii and California are already testing high for radiation, and these levels are expected to continue increasing.

“Look at what’s going on now: They’re dumping huge amounts of radioactivity into the ocean — no one expected that in 2011,” stated Daniel Hirsch, a nuclear policy lecturer at the University of California-Santa Cruz recently to Global Security Newswire. “We could have large numbers of cancer from ingestion of fish.”

Initial Fukushima radiation release more than 100 times larger than Chernobyl, confirms study

There will most certainly be a major uptick in cancer rates due to the Fukushima incident, as the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Meteorological Research Institute estimates that some 60 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium and strontium are being dumped into the Pacific Ocean every single day. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) also admits that as much as 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium have been released into the Pacific since the disaster began.

Those who still say that the Chernobyl disaster was worse than Fukushima may also want to consider that a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution study conducted in October 2011 concluded that Fukushima had already released up to 100 times more radiation into the environment than Chernobyl at that time. Today, this amount is likely astronomically higher, especially when you take into account all the airborne radioactive plumes that have been detected billowing across the ocean and over U.S. soil.

Be sure to read Snyder’s full report here:
http://thetruthwins.com.

Sources for this article include:

http://thetruthwins.com

http://www.washingtonsblog.com

http://readersupportednews.org

Former US vice president Dick Cheney is coming to Toronto. He is scheduled to give the keynote address to the International Economic Forum of the Americas on Halloween at 12 noon at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The Canadian Peace Alliance and the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War are organizing a rally at 11 am on the same day to to let him know that we don’t want war criminals in our city.

Thursday October 31 – 11 AM
Metro Toronto Convention Centre
255 Front Street West.

Cheney is best known as the war criminal who pushed for the war on Iraq and advocated and authorized the torture of detainees at Guantanamo bay Cuba.

“I was a big supporter of waterboarding, I signed off on it” Dick Cheney in 2010

According to Canadian and International law, anyone who supports torture is guilty of a criminal offence. In fact, Cheney has already been convicted of war crimes by a tribunal investigating the torture of detainees in Guantanamo bay.

The government of Canada, which has no qualms about denying entry to anti-war activists and is still trying to deport war resisters that refused to follow Cheney’s illegal and immoral orders, should ban this war criminal from entering Canada.

Join us and give this war criminal the welcome he deserves.

Organized by the Canadian Peace Alliance, Toronto Coalition to Stop the War. Endorsed by the War Resisters Support Campaign, Codepink, Lawyers against War, WarCriminalsWatch.org, WorldCan’tWait.net

Please share the Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/340271606118720/

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson urged the United States to coerce Iran by dropping a demonstration nuke in the desert followed by a blackmail threat that the next one would obliterate Tehran. But this idea of genocide-extortion has drawn no official U.S. condemnation, says Robert Parry.

When the largest donor to Republican political organizations urges the U.S. military to detonate a nuclear bomb in an Iranian desert with the explicit warning that “the next one is in the middle of Tehran,” you might expect that major American political figures and large U.S. media outlets would strongly denounce such genocidal blackmail.

After all, Tehran has a population of more than eight million people with millions more living in the suburbs. So, this threat to exterminate Tehran’s inhabitants from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson would be comparable to someone nuking an empty space in the United States as a warning that if Americans didn’t capitulate to some demand, a nuclear bomb would be dropped on New York City, the site of Adelson’s ugly threat.

The fact that the scattered outrage over Adelson’s remarks on Oct. 22 was mostly limited to the Internet and included no denunciations from prominent U.S. politicians, including leading Republicans who have benefited from Adelson’s largesse, suggests that many Muslims and especially Iranians are right to suspect that they are the object of obscene prejudice in some American power circles.

Indeed, HuffingtonPost published a vociferous defense of Adelson’s comments by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who organized the event at Yeshiva University where Adelson spoke. Boteach, who has been hailed as the “most famous Rabbi in America,” treated Adelson’s nuke threat as innocent hyperbole only underscoring how aggressively the world should treat Iran.

Instead of apologizing for letting Adelson go unchallenged as he mused about murdering millions of Iranians, Boteach expressed outrage over the few expressions of outrage about Adelson’s plan.

I found the reaction to his statement illuminating as to the double standards that are often employed on matters relating to Israel,” wrote Boteach, who then reprised the infamous false translation of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supposedly saying “that Israel must be wiped off the map.”

Boteach then added to the false quote the assumption that if Israel ceased to exist as a Jewish state, that would require “the murder of the six million Jews who live there [as] the precondition of such erasure.” However, there is the other possibility that Israel/Palestine could become like the United States, a country that has no official religion but that respects all religions.

To lay out only the two extremes – that Israel must be officially a Jewish state (with non-Jews made second-class citizens or stateless people) as one option and the other that all the Jews must be murdered – invites either apartheid or genocide.

Boteach also misrepresented recent comments by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei about destroying Tel Aviv and Haifa. The rabbi left out the context of Khamenei’s remark: the threat was predicated on Israel having first militarily attacked Iran. In other words, Khamenei was saying that if Israel destroyed Iranian cities, Iran had the right to retaliate against Israeli cities.

Israel’s Rogue Nuke Arsenal

But one thing that Iran has never threatened to do is to drop a nuclear bomb on Israel. First, Iran doesn’t have a nuclear bomb; has foresworn any interest in building one; has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allowing in inspectors; and has offered to accept even more intrusive inspections in exchange for removal of economic sanctions.

By contrast, Israel possesses one of the world’s most sophisticated nuclear arsenals, albeit one that is undeclared and existing outside international inspections since Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. I’ve also been told that Israel’s military contingency plan for possibly attacking Iran’s hardened nuclear sites includes use of low-yield nuclear weapons.

So, loose talk from a prominent American Zionist about the value of the United States launching a ballistic nuclear strike from Nebraska targeting an Iranian desert with the explicit follow-up threat that the next nuke would obliterate Iran’s capital could be read by the Iranians as a real possibility, especially considering Adelson’s close ties to prominent Republicans.

The fact that such a discussion was held in New York City with no meaningful repercussions for Adelson could be read further as a message to Iran that it might well need a nuclear deterrence to protect itself from such terroristic blackmail.

Boteach’s HuffingtonPost commentary also focused only on the part of Adelson’s remark about dropping a nuclear bomb in an unpopulated area of Iran, where only “a couple of rattlesnakes, and scorpions, or whatever” would be killed.

Treating the idea like some kind of humanitarian gesture, not a genocidal extortion threat, Boteach wrote, “Sheldon’s glib comments about nuking rattle snakes seemed to rattle many of the bloggers who were at our event even more than Ahmadinejad’s threats.”

But what made Adelson’s remark even more stunning than his idea of a demonstration nuclear attack in the desert was the follow-up warning: “Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development.”

At that point, the audience at Yeshiva University interrupted Adelson with applause.

The obvious problem with this kind of blackmail threat, of course, is that it requires the extortionist to follow through if the other side doesn’t capitulate. To be credible, you have to back up the warning – “you want to be wiped out?” – by actually wiping the other side out.

Republican Influence

If Adelson were simply an eccentric old billionaire spouting threats of genocide at some university forum in New York City, that would be bad enough. But Adelson is an important behind-the-scenes figure in the Republican Party.

Nearly singlehandedly, Adelson kept afloat the 2012 presidential campaign of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and then threw his vast financial resources behind the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who accompanied Adelson on a high-profile trip to Israel that was designed to highlight tensions between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Romney’s warm reception in Israel was seen as effectively an endorsement of his candidacy by Netanyahu, who has rattled many of his own military sabers at Iran. While in Israel, Romney delivered a belligerent speech suggesting that he, as U.S. president, would happily support an Israeli war against Iran.

Romney told an audience of Israelis and some wealthy pro-Israel Americans that he is prepared to employ “any and all measures” to stop Iran from gaining a nuclear weapons “capability,” a vague concept that arguably already exists.

Romney’s speech in Jerusalem was accompanied by a comment from his top foreign policy adviser Dan Senor seeming to endorse an Israeli unilateral strike against Iran. “If Israel has to take action on its own,” Senor said, “the governor would respect that decision.”

Romney said, “today, the regime in Iran is five years closer to developing nuclear weapons capability. Preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority. … We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option. We must lead the effort to prevent Iran from building and possessing nuclear weapons capability.

“We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded.”

By elevating Iran’s achievement of a nuclear weapons “capability” to America’s “highest national security priority” and vowing to “employ any and all measures” to prevent that eventuality, Romney was essentially threatening war against Iran under the current circumstances. In that, he went beyond the vague language used by President Obama, who himself has sounded belligerent with his phrasing about “all options on the table” to stop Iran if it moves to build a nuclear weapon.

However, the nuance was significant, since U.S. intelligence agencies – and even their Israeli counterparts – have concluded that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon even as it makes progress in a nuclear program that Iranian leaders say is for peaceful purposes only. Still, those lessons from a peaceful nuclear program arguably can give a country a nuclear weapons “capability.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “US/Israel: Iran NOT Building Nukes.”]

Though Romney lost the 2012 election, his point of view is common among pro-Israel hawks in Congress and throughout Official Washington’s think-tank and media communities. Adelson also wields real influence because he, along with his wife Miriam, has poured a fortune into the U.S. political process, calculated at $92.8 million to outside political groups during the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

And, it is his kind of crazy talk, not uncommon among extreme Zionists, that makes any political settlement of the Middle East disputes next to impossible.

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

Members of the Saudi special police unit perform during a parade in Mecca, on October 9, 2013, as more than two million Muslims have arrived in the holy city in the lead up to the annual hajj pilgrimage. (Photo: AFP -Fayez Nureldine)

Until two months ago, Saudi Arabia considered Moussa Koussa, the most prominent Libyan intelligence chief under Muammar Gaddafi, a major threat to its security. But it seems that Bandar bin Sultan’s return as Saudi’s spy chief helped reset Koussa’s record and recruit him for his team.

Koussa, the former head of Libyan intelligence, is suddenly no longer the same dangerous man accused of planning terrorist attacks against Saudi Arabia, as he had been under Gaddafi. Thanks to Bandar bin Sultan’s return, the book has been closed on Koussa’s anti-Saudi past.

Koussa has now been classified as “friendly,” as Bandar has enlisted Koussa’s important skills for his open-ended security operations in many parts of the world, especially Syria.

Reports indicate that over the past two months Riyadh subjected Koussa to the traditional procedures that Saudi uses to re-establish relations with certain figures. Accordingly, Koussa was invited by Saudi intelligence to perform the umra in Mecca, and then the hajj as a guest of the royal court.

During the two visits, Koussa held long meetings with Bandar, focusing on turning the page on the past and restoring confidence. For decades Saudi Arabia accused Koussa of involvement in at least two major cases, including the well-publicized attempt to assassinate King Abdullah on the direct orders of Gaddafi, following a spat between the colonel and the king during the 2003 Arab League summit in Sharm al-Sheikh.

Although Koussa had been promoted from intelligence chief to Libya’s foreign minister during that period, the Saudis still considered him the true authority of Gaddafi’s spy services, deeming his promotion a ploy to give his spy work a diplomatic cover.

The second, unpublicized Saudi accusation against Koussa involves what Saudi intelligence says is an important role assigned to the Libyan official by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to implement a plan to partition Saudi Arabia into five smaller states.

From Doha to Riyadh

Sources familiar with Koussa’s movements in the period that followed his defection from the Gaddafi regime following the Libyan uprising, say that the former intelligence chief had been based between Doha and London. In truth, it was the British government that is credited for taking Koussa’s name off the international list of wanted Gaddafi regime figures.

Koussa soon forged close ties with former Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim. Then, following Qatar’s withdrawal from the forefront in the war to topple President Bashar al-Assad, Riyadh, at Bandar’s initiative, opened a new chapter with Koussa, in return for his services on several issues considered vital by Saudi.

International Assignments

Questions arise: What is the nature of Koussa’s new Saudi-dictated assignments? What kind of assignment would justify Saudi putting aside its past reservations about the Libyan strongman?

There is speculation, according to informed sources, regarding the kind of political thinking currently prevailing in Saudi Arabia. Most prominently, Bandar is thought to be of the opinion that Saudi, as it is undergoing an era of unprecedented crisis in its international relations, especially with the United States and Russia, might need to restore Koussa’s role as an “international shadow broker,” this time working on behalf of Saudi.

Indeed, as a result of rubbing shoulders with many in the international intelligence community, Bandar realizes that Koussa is well-qualified for this kind of assignment. For one thing, Koussa engineered more than once solutions for Gaddafi’s problems with the West, concluding political deals on behalf of the Libyan dictator by finding security- and intelligence-related common grounds with his foes.

It seems that the head of Saudi intelligence intends to assign Gaddafi’s top security man to put his international intelligence relations to use to conclude political-intelligence deals on behalf of Saudi Arabia.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Among the things known to get Saudi Arabia’s ruling monarchy worked up into a lather—such as the idea of democracy or women driving cars—add to the list an American foreign policy that isn’t recklessly aggressive and militaristic.

Top Saudis have recently been throwing a diplomatic temper tantrum, making political and rhetorical moves that rebel against the United States’ Middle East foreign policy. Last week, Saudi Arabia turned down a seat in the United Nations Security Council. This week, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the kingdom’s intelligence chief, and Prince Turki al-Faisal have made public and not-so-public remarks denouncing American policies and threatening that a “major shift” in bilateral relations is in the pipeline.

These unprecedented maneuvers are, apparently, a result of the Obama administration’s policies toward Syria, Iran, Bahrain, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The Saudi establishment’s grievances, while understandable when seen from their perspective, are laughable and only demonstrate the kingdom’s quickly fading political relevance.

Syria and Iran represent extreme ideological and geostrategic rivals to the Wahhabist regime in Saudi Arabia, and it only makes sense that the country would wish to hasten their demise. Washington’s willingness to engage in diplomacy, negotiation, and general peacemaking with these two countries has now become a thorn in the side of the kingdom.

The United States’ reluctance to rain down cruise missiles on Damascus in support of their rebel proxies, many of whom are international jihadists supported by Saudi Arabia, has allowed the Assad regime to—at least temporarily—survive, continue quelling the uprising, and work toward the conflict’s resolution. Meanwhile, the West’s and the United States’ commitment to continue multinational negotiation with Iran’s new president Rouhani over the country’s nuclear program has given that regime a similar lease on life.

In Bahrain, the ruling Sunni monarchy has brutally cracked down on the Shiite majority’s version of the Arab Spring uprising, with significant security assistance from Saudi Arabia. Again, the Saudi establishment’s extreme Wahhabi ideology predisposes them to contempt for the Shiite sect, and means they have no qualms about intervening in a conflict in which numerous human rights violations against the country’s population have been documented. The United States’ reluctance to explicitly support this crackdown is not only reasonable, but morally necessary.

Finally, Prince Turki’s complaint of U.S. “dithering” on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is ludicrous. Secretary of State Kerry has already dedicated a large amount of time during his tenure to restarting negotiations. Toomuch, some officials and commentators have even said, arguing that it has come at the expense of other policy priorities.

Following meetings with the Saudi Arabian foreign minister, Secretary Kerry worked to address concerns about a fissure in U.S.-Saudi relations, saying, “I think there’s a clear understanding in our relationship going forward, and I have great confidence that the United States and Saudi Arabia will continue to be the close and important friends and allies that we’ve been.” [1] Despite such assurances, these recent Saudi actions seem to point to serious misgivings within the regime about their relationship with the U.S.

In the words of one Saudi analyst, “The message is: You need us. And we are not going to play ball with you until you wake up.” [2] Unfortunately for the kingdom, the relationship flows in just the opposite direction, and Saudi Arabia desperately relies on the U.S. to maintain its security and influence.

Ever since the Saudi kingdom’s formation at the behest of the British Empire, the West’s underwriting of the Saudi regime has played a large role in sustaining the kingdom’s legitimacy, viability, and regional influence. By threatening to withdraw from this relationship, the House of Saud has taken another step toward solidifying its position as a strategic liability and hastening its own downfall. If the kingdom begins uncoupling its foreign policy from Washington’s, especially at a time when the United States is working toward energy independence, it risks becoming a much less important ally and falling by the wayside.

Bryce White is an independent geopolitical analyst and student of political science residing in San Diego, and writes at warandbryce.wordpress.com.

Notes

[1] http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/10/215737.htm

[2] http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/23/us-saudi-usa-diplomacy-analysis-idUSBRE99M0XJ20131023

Members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party burn replica of Drone aircraft near Peshawar Press Club on May 14, 2011. Credit: Ashfaq Yusufzai/IPS

The Washington Post on Thursday reported what it presented as new evidence of a secret agreement under which Pakistani officials have long been privately supporting the U.S. drone war in the country even as they publicly criticised it.

Most news outlets picked up the Post story, and the theme of public Pakistani opposition and private complicity on the drone issue framed media coverage of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s declaration that he had called on President Barak Obama to end the drone war.

The CIA’s drone war was no longer concentrated from mid-2008 onward on foreign terrorists…Instead the CIA was targeting Islamists who had made peace with the Pakistani government.

But the Post story ignored a central fact that contradicts that theme: the Pakistani military leadership had turned decisively against the drone war for years and has been strongly pressing in meetings with U.S. officials that Pakistan be given a veto over targeting.

In fact, the leak of classified CIA documents to the Post appears to represent an effort by CIA officials to head off a decision by the Obama administration to reduce the drone war in Pakistan to a minimum, if not phase it out completely.

The Post article, co-authored by Bob Woodward, said, “Despite repeated denunciation of the CIA’s drone campaign, top officials in Pakistan’s government have for years secretly endorsed the program and routinely received classified briefings on strikes and casualty counts….”

The Post cited top secret CIA documents that it said “expose the explicit nature of a secret arrangement struck between the two countries at a time when neither was willing to publicly acknowledge the existence of the drone program.” The documents, described as “talking points” for CIA briefings, provided details on drone strikes in Pakistan from late 2007 to late 2011, presenting them as an overwhelming success and invariably claiming no civilian casualties.

It has long been known that an understanding was reached between the George W. Bush administration and the regime of President Pervez Musharraf under which the CIA was allowed to carry out drone strikes in Pakistan.

A WikiLeaks cable had quoted Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani as saying in August 2008, “I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly and then ignore it.”

That statement was made, however, at a time when CIA strikes were still few and focused only on Al-Qaeda leadership cadres. That changed dramatically beginning in 2008.

The Post articles failed to point out that that Pakistan’s military leadership shifted from approval of the U.S. drone campaign to strong opposition after 2008. The reason for the shift was that the CIA dramatically expanded the target list in 2008 from high value Al-Qaeda officials to “signature strikes” that would hit even suspected rank and file associated with supporters of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban.

The Post referred to the expansion of the drone strike target list, but instead of noting the impact on the Pakistani military’s attitude, the article brought in another popular news media theme – the unhappiness of Obama administration officials with the support of the Pakistan’s intelligence agency for the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan.

The Obama administration was well aware of the Pakistani military’s support for the Afghan Taliban movement, however, before it decided to escalate the war in Afghanistan – a fact omitted from the Post story.

The vast expansion of drone strikes in Pakistan engineered by then CIA Director Michael Hayden in 2008 and continued by his successor, Leon Panetta, was justified by targeting anyone in Pakistan believed to be involved in support for the rapidly growing Pashtun resistance to the U.S.-NATO military presence in Afghanistan.

That shift in targeting meant that the CIA’s drone war was no longer concentrated from mid-2008 onward on foreign terrorists and their Pakistani allies who had been waging an insurgency against the Pakistani government. Instead the CIA was targeting Islamists who had made peace with the Pakistani government and were opposing the Pakistani Taliban war against the government.

Two-thirds of the drone strikes in 2008 targeted leaders and even rank and file followers associated with Jalaluddin Haqqani and Mullah Nazeer, both of whom were involved in supporting Taliban forces in Afghanistan, but who opposed attacks on the Pakistani government.

At least initially, the CIA was not interested in targeting the Pakistani Taliban leaders associated with Baitullah Mehsud, who was leading the violent war against the Pakistani military. It was only under pressure from the new head of the Pakistani Army, Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, that the CIA began targeting Mehsud and his organisation in 2009, when Mehsud was killed in a drone strike.

That temporarily mollified the Pakistani military. But in 2010, more than half the strikes in Pakistan were against Hafiz Gul Bahadur, an ally of the Haqqani forces who had reached agreement with the Pakistan government that he would not shelter or support any Taliban militants fighting against the government.

Nearly all the rest of the strikes were against Afghan Taliban targets.

The original agreement reached under Musharraf was clearly no longer applicable. Kayani had clearly expressed his unhappiness with the drone war to the CIA leadership in 2008-09 and again in 2010, but only privately.

Then the January 2011 Raymond Davis incident, in which a contract CIA employee shot and killed two Pakistanis who he believed had been following him on motorcycles, triggered a more serious conflict between the CIA and ISI.

The CIA put intense pressure on ISI to release Davis from jail rather than allowing him to be tried by a Pakistani court, and ISI Chief Shuja Pasha personally intervened in the case to arrange for Davis to be freed on Mar. 16, 2011, despite the popular fury against Davis and the United States.

But the CIA response was to carry out a drone attack the day after his release on what it thought was a gathering of Haqqani network officials but was actually a meeting of dozens of tribal and sub-tribal elders from all over North Waziristan.

An angry Kayani then issued the first ever denunciation of the U.S. drone campaign by a Pakistan military leader. And when Pasha met with CIA Director Leon Panetta and Deputy Director Michael Morell in mid-April 2011, he demanded that Pakistan be given veto power over the strikes, according to two active-duty Pakistani generals interviewed in Islamabad in August 2011.

Reuters reported Apr. 16, 2011 that U.S. officials had said the CIA was willing to consult with Pakistan over the strikes, but that suggestions from the Pakistani military that the drone campaign should return to the original list of high value Al-Qaeda targets was “unacceptable”.

But the Pakistani military’s insistence on cutting down on strikes apparently had an impact on the Obama administration, which was already debating whether the drone war in Pakistan had become counterproductive. The State Department was arguing that it was generating such anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan that it should be curbed sharply or stopped.

Obama himself indicated in his May 23, 2013 speech at the National Defence University that he was thinking about at least reducing the drone war dramatically. Obama said the coming end of U.S. combat in Afghanistan and the elimination of “core Al-Qaeda militants” in Pakistan “will reduce the need for unmanned strikes.”

And in an Aug. 1 interview with a Pakistani television interviewer, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “I think the [drone] programme will end…. I think the president has a very real timeline, and we hope it’s going to be very, very soon.”

CIA concern that Obama was seriously considering ending the drone war in Pakistan was certainly the motive behind a clever move by CIA officials to create a story denigrating Pakistani official opposition to the drone war and presenting it in the best possible light.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Nobody Should Shed a Tear for JP Morgan Chase

October 28th, 2013 by Matt Taibbi

Was Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme really so different from what some of the biggest banks have done?

A lot of people all over the world are having opinions now about the ostensibly gigantic $13 billion settlement Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase have entered into with the government.

The general consensus from most observers in the finance sector is that this superficially high-dollar settlement – worth about half a year’s profits for Chase – is an unconscionable Marxist appropriation. It’s been called a “robbery” and a “shakedown,” in which red Obama and his evil henchman Eric Holder confiscated cash from a successful bank, as The Wall Street Journal wrote, “for no other reason than because they can and because they want to appease their left-wing populist allies.”

Look, there’s no denying that this is a lot of money. It’s the biggest settlement in the history of government settlements, and it’s just one company to boot. But this has been in the works for a long time, and it’s been in the works for a reason. This whole thing, lest anyone forget, has its genesis in a couple of state Attorneys General (including New York’s Eric Schneiderman and Delaware’s Beau Biden) not wanting to sign off on any deal with the banks that didn’t also address the root causes of the crisis, in particular the mass fraud surrounding the sale and production of subprime mortgage securities.

Those holdouts essentially forced the federal government’s hand, leading Barack Obama to create a federal working group on residential mortgage-backed securities (widely seen as the AGs’ price for okaying the $25 billion robosigning deal), headed up by Schneiderman, whose investigation of Chase and its affiliates led to the deal that’s about to be struck. Minus all of that, minus those state holdouts in those foreclosure negotiations, this settlement probably would never even take place: The federal government seemed more than willing previously to settle with the banks without even addressing the root-cause issues that are at the heart of this new Chase deal.

So let’s not forget that – that even this $13 billion settlement, which is actually a $9 billion settlement (see below), came very close to never happening. But now it is happening, and the business press is going nuts about how unfair it all is.

In fact, this deal is actually quite a gift to Chase. It sounds like a lot of money, but there are myriad deceptions behind the sensational headline.

Read Matt Taibbi’s Feature on the Gangster Bankers Who Are Too Big to Jail

First of all, the settlement, as the folks at Better Markets have pointed out, may wipe out between $100 billion and $200 billion in potential liability – meaning that the bank might just have settled “for ten cents or so on the dollar.” The Federal Housing Finance Agency alone was suing Chase and its affiliates for $33 billion. The trustee in the ongoing Bernie Madoff Ponzi scandal was suing Chase for upwards of $19 billion.

Obviously, those plaintiffs may never have gotten that kind of money out of Chase. But just settling the mere potential of so much liability has huge value for the bank. It’s part of the reason the company’s share price hasn’t exactly cratered since the settlement was announced.

Moreover, the settlement is only $9 billion in cash, with $4 billion earmarked for “mortgage relief.” Again, as Better Markets noted, we’ve seen settlements with orders of mortgage relief before, and banks seem to have many canny ways of getting out of the spirit of these requirements.

In the foreclosure settlement, most of the ordered “relief” eventually came in the form of short sales, with banks letting people sell their underwater houses and move out without paying for the loss in home value. That’s better than nothing, but it’s something very different than a bank working to help families stay in their homes.

There’s also the matter of the remaining $9 billion in fines being tax deductible (meaning we’re subsidizing the settlement), and the fact that Chase is reportedly trying to get the FDIC to assume some of Washington Mutual’s liability.

But overall, the key to this whole thing is that the punishment is just money, and not a crippling amount, and not from any individual’s pocket, either. In fact, the deal that has just been completed between Chase and the state represents the end, or near the end, of a long process by which people who committed essentially the same crimes as Bernie Madoff will walk away without paying any individual penalty.

What Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns (Chase’s guilty acquisitions) were doing in the mortgage markets was little more than an elaborate take on a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme. Actually, most of the industry was guilty of the same thing, but in the cases of these two banks in particular the concrete evidence of fraud is extensive, and the comparison to a Madoff-style caper isn’t a fanciful metaphor but more like evidentiary fact.

Madoff’s operational fiction was his own personality. He used his charm and his lifestyle and his social status to con rich individuals into ponying up money into an essentially nonexistent investment scheme.

In the cases of both WaMu and especially Bear, the operating fictions were broad, carefully-crafted infrastructures of bogus guarantees, flatlined due diligence mechanisms, corrupted ratings agencies and other types of legal chicanery. These fake guarantees and assurances misled investors about they were buying. Most thought they were investing in home mortgages. What they were actually investing in was a flow of cash from new investors that banks like Bear and WaMu were pushing into a rapidly-overheating speculative bubble.

These banks created huge masses of mortgage securities they knew to be highly risky and/or fraudulent. At Bear, one deal manager jokingly nicknamed one pool of mortgages, SACO-2006-08, the “SACK OF SHIT” deal. In another case, Bear’s securitization company, EMC, obtained a pool of mortgages from a sketchy mortgage originator called AHM, and found out that as much as 60 percent of the batch was delinquent.

Yet they continued to buy these mortgages and throw them into the great hamburger-machine, turning them into securities that would in turn be bought by everyone from pension funds to Fannie and Freddie. And then they pushed sales even harder, relying upon the influx of new buyers of these securities to keep the value of the old securities stable.

This is exactly what Bernie Madoff did, it’s what Charles Ponzi did, and it’s what Allen Stanford did – using cash from new investors to pay off the old investors. The supermarket-bank version of this game was just more elaborate, involved more moving parts and threatened indescribably greater damage.

Bernie Madoff ultimately caused about $18 billion in losses. When he got caught, the state threw the book at him, giving him a 150-year jail sentence.

Meanwhile, just the subset of Bear Stearns defendants, according to a complaint against Chase filed last year by Eric Schneiderman, caused $22.5 billion in losses in just two years, 2006 and 2007.

And while it is true that the federal government in this latest $13 billion settlement is ostensibly reserving the right to continue to pursue criminal charges, don’t hold your breath. The arc of this story suggests that the whole purpose of this agreement has been to find the highest price Chase is willing to pay to a) stay in business b) keep employees out of jail.

So again, $13 billion sounds like a lot of money. But Bernie Madoff is doing 150 years, and nobody in this cast of characters will personally pay a dollar in fines. Nobody will do one day in jail. That’s a huge, huge discrepancy.

Of course, Bernie Madoff today is reviled on Wall Street, even by papers like the Wall Street Journal. This is mainly because he ripped off other finance-sector hotshots, but also because he gave Wall Street a bad name.

Post-2009 coverage of Madoff from the financial press has focused intently on the failure of the government (and in particular the SEC) to aggressively investigate the scandal in a timely fashion. This has followed a rhetorical line that frequently emanates from the finance sector, in which white-collar crime is somehow less the fault of criminals than of the police who failed to stop it.

These “Where were the regulators?” cries generally never show up in financial-press coverage of Wall Street scandals until those same pundits have first exhausted all attempts to argue that no crime was ever committed by the bank/broker/hedge fund in question.

Remember, for instance, that there was a time when papers like the Journal thought Bernie Madoff was one of their own, didn’t want to make trouble for him, and bluntly refused to investigate him. The Journal was infamously given the whole seedy Madoff story by investigator Harry Markopolos in 2005 (see p. 16 of this devastating testimony), and though reporter John Wilke wanted to follow up on the piece, it appeared his superiors at the paper never gave him the go-ahead.

But after Madoff came forward weeping and confessing in late 2008, and there was no longer any possibility of denying his monstrous guilt, suddenly the Journalturned into an ardent critic of soft government enforcement, ragefully denouncing everyone from Eliot Spitzer to the SEC for failing to catch Madoff. In its December 17th, 2009 editorial, To Catch a Thief, for instance, the paper blasted the financial cops of the world for failing to protect Madoff’s investors and the good name of honest Wall Street business:

The real lesson is that financial enforcement nearly always fails to protect investors, and this Ponzi scheme is merely typical . . . In 1999, trader Harry Markopolos wrote that “Madoff Securities is the world’s largest Ponzi Scheme,” in a letter to the SEC. More recently, multiple SEC inquiries and exams in 2005 and 2007 found only minor infractions… Neither current AG Andrew Cuomo nor Mr. Spitzer appears to have had a clue about Mr. Madoff’s conduct.

As noted by multiple media outlets at the time, the paper conveniently left out of these thundering denunciations the damning fact that the Journal itself had been contacted by Markopolous years before, and had blown him off even more completely than the SEC.

So now we, and they, are talking about the Chase scandal. This is Madoff all over again, only on a much huger scale. Ten years from now, bet on it, the Wall Street Journal will be denouncing everyone from Eric Holder to Lanny Breuer to the SEC and DOJ officials in the Bush administration for failing to protect investors from predatory companies like Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual and their parent, JP Morgan Chase.

Right now, however, these papers are still stuck in the denial phase, which is to be expected, I suppose. But it doesn’t mean we have to take these ridiculous editorials about Chase’s victimhood seriously.

A few more notes on the deal. This latest settlement reportedly came about when CEO Jamie Dimon picked up the phone and called a high-ranking lieutenant of Attorney General Holder, who was about to hold a press conference announcing civil charges against the bank. The Justice Department meekly took the call, canceled the presser, and worked out this hideous deal, instead of doing the right thing and blowing off the self-important Wall Street hotshot long used to resolving meddlesome issues with the gift of his personal attention.

Only on Wall Street does the target of a massive federal investigation pick up the telephone and call up the prosecutor expecting to make the thing go away – and only in recent American history would such a tactic actually work.

Considering the scale of the offenses involved (one could make the argument that Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual by themselves did enough damage and cranked out enough toxic loans to cause the 2008 crash) the state could have taken the hardest of hard lines. Instead, they once again took a big fat check to walk away.

Papers like the Journal have particularly complained that Chase should not be held responsible for the offenses committed by companies long before Chase acquired them. What they forget is that Chase has made a fortune off its acquisitions of Bear and Washington Mutual, two purchases which were massively subsidized by the state. Nobody complained about potential liability back when all those two deals were doing for Chase was helping its executives buy overpriced art and summer homes.

And remember, this sort of liability was basically the only risk Chase took in these deals. The government took on most of the rest, in order to make the acquisitions happen.

Chase got to buy Bear Stearns with $29 billion in Fed guarantees, with the state setting up a special bailout facility, Maiden Lane, to unwind all of the phony-baloney loans created through Bear’s Ponzi-mortgage-mechanism described above. So Chase got to acquire one of the world’s biggest investment banks for pennies on the dollar, and then got the Fed to buy up all the toxic parts of the bank’s portfolio, essentially making the public the involuntary customer of Bear’s criminal inventory.

Later on, Chase took $25 billion in TARP money, bought Washington Mutual and its $33 billion in assets for the fire-sale price of $1.9 billion, and then repeated the Bear scenario, getting another Maiden Lane facility to take on the deadliest parts of Washington Mutual’s portfolio (including, for instance, a pool of mortgages in which 94 percent of the loans had limited documentation).

Incidentally, the notion that Chase was somehow dragged kicking and screaming by the government and forced to buy these two massive companies essentially for free is almost as laughable and ridiculous as the oft-cited explanation for the financial crisis, that the government forced banks to lend to the poor.

Chase, as has been reported by multiple outlets, had already tried on its own to buy both companies before the state arranged its infamous shotgun weddings. Only after both firms collapsed, the economy was in crisis, and Chase was able to get the Fed to eat the toxic portfolios of both companies did these already-longed-for acquisitions take place.

Chase was too big to fail before the crash, but it’s even Too-Bigger-To-Failier now, thanks to the expanded market share afforded by these two Fed-sterilized acquisitions. Bloomberg reported that Bear’s book value has soared by $36 billion since it swallowed up those two firms with the public’s help. Its retail banking earnings have soared nearly 1000 percent. It has more than doubled the size of its banking deposits. Chase didn’t have a single branch in Florida or California before this deal: It’s now a top-5 banking presence in both states.

So nobody should be crying for poor Chase now, just because it’s no longer able to simply sit back and collect gobs and gobs of essentially free cash from the ill-gotten market share “won” by its two crooked acquisitions.

Incidentally, I don’t remember hearing anything from Jamie Dimon at the time Chase was acquiring these banks about any reluctance to buy up two firms that had just spent years helping to blow up the world economic system with phony loans. As one friend of mine on Wall Street noted earlier this week, if there was a single document anywhere with Dimon’s name on it expressing reluctance about these new bedfellows, it would have been produced ages ago and “that dickhead Sorkin would have put it in his movie.”

These guys at Chase knew exactly what they were buying when they took on these companies. They just thought they were getting the deal of the century, by taking on the still-functioning businesses of two finance giants for a song, giving Chase a state-subsidized push into the pole position of American banking. And they figured, very nearly correctly, that they would never have to pay any serious freight for all the offenses committed by their new acquisitions.

Now they’ll have to write a big check, which sucks for them, but what about the victims? To those critics crying about a “shakedown”: Would you prefer that Chase merely be required to pay back every dollar to those investors wiped out by these schemes? Because that would be a hell of a lot more than $13 billion.

It would be great if everyone covering Wall Street could sign a pact, and agree: No more crying, please, about no-jail, no-individual-penalty settlements in which companies use shareholder money to pay fines at huge discounts relative to the actual damage they caused. And again, wake me up when even one of these guys goes to jail. There are only about a million Americans doing time for less.

Introduction

An important and little noted component of Abenomics, Japan’s information and communications technology (ICT) growth strategy propounded on June 14 2013, ostensibly aims at the evolution of a new model of efficient, resilient and green urban and rural infrastructures. General Electric’s leadership in applying ICT, or the “Industrial Internet,” to its power systems shows that what you can monitor, you can manage, and that it is possible to realize significant efficiencies as well as innovate other capacities such as predictivity.1

Together with domestic businesses, Japan’s central agencies, big local governments, and the Abe regime’s regulatory and fiscal initiatives have been working to deploy cutting-edge innovation in a swath of smart city initiatives as well as special zones. Although some observers deride these initiatives as comparable to failed technopolis policies of the 1980s, Japan’s initiatives may help us address the very real 21st century challenges of expensive energy, climate change, and the sobering “death” of stationarity (wherein past hydrologic and other data can no longer be used to predict the future).2 This latter is of deep concern to planners of water, power and other crucial infrastructures, which represent trillions of dollars of investment annually. The issues take on added urgency in light of climate denial whose effect has been to conceal the scale of the crisis from the academic community and attentive public. The loss of stationarity means we are essentially in uncharted waters concerning the stressors that our water, power, transportation, and other urban infrastructures need to be resilient against now and over time. The question is whether Abenomics can deal with the death of stationarity and help answer our urgent collective need for sustainability.

Climate Change

Global awareness of climate change risks has not kept pace with the science. This awareness deficit was seen in the run-up to, and aftermath of, the September 27 2013 release of the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report’s first installment and summary. The release was preceded by a sadly effective “denialist” media campaign that positioned the IPCC report as alarmist while also claiming that it showed the previous decade and a half had seen a “pause” in climate change.3 Indeed, a Der Spiegel poll released September 23, 2013 suggested that even the “Germans are losing their fear of climate change,” with those expressing fear dropping from 62% in 2006 to 39% in 2013.4 This disinformation campaign continued after the report’s release.5

The Der Spiegel poll seems a striking indicator of what might described as an “Alice in Wonderland” era, wherein as august a publication as the New York Times closed its environmental desk at the very moment that scientific evidence of the climate crisis mounted.6 The global public debate’s incredible disconnect with reality is dispiriting. But this unpleasant fact cannot be ignored here because it influences a wide range of funding and other decisions relevant to Humanities Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR). As we shall see, it even shapes many of the HADR agents’ understanding of how dire are our collective challenges.

Because of the widely held belief that climate change is only a catastrophe for coming generations (in itself, a morally odious complacency), let us review solid evidence that climate change is very much a present and rapidly worsening peril.

Geographically, the Global Climate Risk Index 2013 shows that the countries most affected in 2011 were Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, El Salvador and the Philippines.7 A more comprehensive and nearly real-time accounting of climate risk and adaptive capacity has been pioneered since 2011 by the Alliance Development Works/Bundnis Entwichlung Hilft, a coalition of German development and relief agencies.8 Working in conjunction with the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security,9 the Nature Conservatory,10 and others, they have compiled the World Risk Report. In addition to the worsening effects of climate change, the Report’s risk-weighting takes into account social and economic factors relevant to adaptation and disaster response.

..

Table 1: World Risk Index
Rank Country Risk (%)
1 Vanuatu 36.43
2 Tonga 28.23
3 Philippines 27.52
4 Guatemala 20.88
5 Bangladesh 19.81
6 Solomon Islands 18.11
7 Costa Rica 16.94
8 El Salvador 16.90
9 Cambodia 16.90
10 Timor Leste 16.85
11 Papua New Guinea 15.90
12 Brunei Darussalam 15.80
13 Mauritius 15.18
14 Nicaragua 14.89
15 Japan 14.10
Source: WeltRisikoBericht 2013 p 9

..

As is evident from Table 1, the World Risk Report 2013, released (in German)11 in September of 2013, indicated that the countries most at risk from the impacts of climate change were concentrated overwhelmingly in the Asia-Pacific.

Incredibly, Japan’s immense wealth – second only to that of the US – was not enough to offset its exposure, and its risk assessment placed it 15th. This is in sharp contrast with the other developed states, as the US is ranked at 127th (3.99%) and Germany is 146th (3.24%).

Figure 1: Sea Level Trends (mm/yr) for 1992 to 201014

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite measurements of trends in sea surface levels provides another arresting indication of the threat level in the Asia-Pacific. Figure 1 is taken from a December 2012 report compiled by the NOAA in conjunction with the United States Geological Survey, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Department of Defence Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP). The SERDP is co-managed by the Department of Defence, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, serving to bond these agencies, and is thus a key institution in the American military-centred green industrial policy initiative.12 These federal agencies continue to expand their collaboration, as we see in this December 2012 report, which was background material for America’s 2013 National Climate Assessment.13 Especially relevant to our purposes here, the SERPD et al. report warns that:

“[a] wide range of estimates for future global mean SLR [sea level rise] are scattered throughout the scientific literature and other high profile assessments, such as previous reports of the NCA [National Climate Assessment] and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Aside from this report, there is currently no coordinated, interagency effort in the US to identify agreed upon global mean SLR estimates for the purpose of coastal planning, policy, and management. This is an important gap because identifying global mean SLR estimates is a critical step in assessing coastal impacts and vulnerabilities.”

These agencies’ collaboration centres on satellite data and other objective measures. They show that sea-level rise from 1992 to 2010 was not uniform across the world ocean, but rather varied greatly by region. Figure 1 portrays that quite clearly. The various gradations of blue reveal areas where sea levels decreased from 1992 to 2010, while red indicates areas of sharp increase. To be specific, sea levels in the mid-oceanic area of the Pacific decreased over the relevant period, whereas the Western Pacific and South Asian regions saw dramatic increases. These regions’ trends in sea-level rise exceed those recorded elsewhere, and are one powerful indicator of increased vulnerability to storm surges, coastal erosion, and similar threats.

The IPCC report’s findings were labeled as alarmist by denialists bent on defining the limits of debate. Would that the IPCC were indeed an exaggerated account of what we collectively confront. But in fact the IPCC process omits from its purview such significant feedback effects as methane release from thawing permafrost,15 the dramatic increase in “anthropogenic” forest and bushfires, and other factors.16

Figure 2: Hot Spots: Global Temperature Rise SOURCE: Nature. GRAPHIC: Leonard Bernstein and Gene Thorp – The Washington Post. Published Oct. 9, 2013.

Yet another very pertinent oversight is detailed by urban planning expert Brian Stone in his 2012 book The City and the Coming Climate. He warns that climate scientists rely on about 6000 weather stations globally, and that scientists deliberately adjust the temperatures recorded at the urban-area stations in order to have them conform to temperature readings in nearby rural areas. Yet this adjustment of the data means that “climate scientists are effectively removing the known effects of land-use changes from the global temperature record.” As a result, their data do not reflect the absolute warming of the planet, but only that due to greenhouse gases. Stone points out that cities comprise only about 3% of the Earth’s surface, so this practice of adjusting the data does not mean that we are missing much of the big picture of warming per se. Rather, we are missing what is happening in cities: “global-scale climate trend analyses carried out by GISS [NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies] and other global climate research groups provide little insight into the pace and extent of climate change underway in urban environments.”

This oversight seems likely to be of enormous significance over the coming years. Most large cities lie on coasts, or near other bodies of water, and over 50% of the 7 billion global population now live in cities.17 This share is expected to increase to 60% urban by 2030 and 70% by 2050, the latter number representing some 6.4 billion people.18 Thus, under business as usual, most of humanity will be in heat islands close to increasingly dangerous shores. In spite of these sobering statistics, there are no regular surveys of urban-area warming being undertaken to fill in the gap left by the cautious smoothing of the weather-station data. Stone also notes that Tokyo is a special case among urban heat islands, as it actually produces more heat than it receives from the sun in winter.19 Considering the peril implied by this state of affairs, Stone appears right to depict this “approach to climate change monitoring that effectively ignores the most heavily populated regions of the planet” as “an irony seeming worthy of a Seinfeld skit: ask a climate scientist how rapidly the climate is warming and you will get an answer; ask a climate scientist how rapidly your city is warming and you will get a shrug.”20

Fig 3: Heat Absorption By Terrestrial Climate Systems. Source.

As of October 13, 2013, that shrug can be replaced with a sobering citation. In the wake of the IPCC Report’s release, a meta-analyses of climate trends sought to calculate “The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability.”21 The analyses used historical (1860 to 2005) temperature data for areas of the terrestrial surface, and then ran a meta-analysis of climate models to determine when any given area’s coolest monthly temperature would exceed the historical average for the hottest year. They determined that on average, with no mitigation of emissions, temperatures across the globe would exceed the historical norms by about mid-century. As Figure 2 reveals, the Indonesian city of Manokwari is expected to exceed its historic temperature norms by 2020, and Tokyo will follow roughly two decades later.

And contrary to the dangerously distracting denialist claims, there was no pause in climate change. Atmospheric temperatures plateaued at the 1998 peak, but the heat content of the world ocean did not. The ocean is roughly 800 times the density of air at sea level, covers just over 70% of the terrestrial surface, and comprises 98% of the 1.4 billion cubic kilometres of water on Earth.22 This immensity makes the world ocean the biggest element of the climate system, an element that absorbs well over 90% of the roughly 4 Hiroshima bombs per second of excess heat trapped by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.23 The percentages are depicted in Figure 3 below, which illustrates heat absorption by major climate system components over the period 1993 to 2003, as calculated by the IPCC’s 2007 report (AR4, Section 5.2.2.3.).24

The role of the ocean in absorbing heat over time – since 1960 – is portrayed in Figure 4. To repeat: the colossal role of the ocean is due to the fact that water is roughly 800 times the density of air at sea level and there is so much of it. Waves have 1000 times the kinetic energy of wind.25 These are just a few clues as to why the US Navy is a leader on climate change and renewable energy. It works in the water, and hence understands climate change as an empirical fact.


Figure 4: Trends in Climate System Heat Absorption, 1960-2008.Source.

Figure 5 from the US National Oceanographic Data Center gives an indication of trends in oceanic heat content, together with disturbing evidence of recent acceleration. These data are also confirmed by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts’ Ocean Reanalysis System 4 (ORAS4), using buoy and other data inputted into a highly sophisticated model. The ORAS4 assessment cautions that “recent warming rates of the waters below 700m appear to be unprecedented.”26

With this evidence in mind, the IPCC hardly seems alarmist. Indeed, in a startling demonstration of – to be frank – how hobbled the IPCC’s inherently conservative reporting process has become, its scenarios are generally ignored by SERPD and other agencies that require comprehensive and real-time assessments.27 The IPCC certainly deserves high praise as humanity’s biggest-ever collaborative scientific endeavor, and justly received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for its work. But the IPCC compiles its roughly septennial reports from already published research, several years old. It also has to reach a consensus. These and other problems leave it dangerously far behind the curve of scientific discovery. Hence, military and other institutions that see the world in terms of risk and are compelled to act have turned elsewhere. The global insurance industry, for one, has been emphasizing catastrophe modeling for over a decade, and is moving towards an “open modeling platform.”28 And as SERPD reveals, “In coordination with the efforts of the other federal science providers, SERDP’s goal is to ensure DoD [Department of Defense] has the necessary science and tools to support climate change-related vulnerability and impact assessment. A suite of SERDP projects are developing the methodologies and tools [emphasis added] needed to assess the physical effects of sea level rise and storm surge and the impacts to mission-essential infrastructure over a broad range of both geophysical settings and extant climate conditions.”29

Figure 5: Five Decades of Global Ocean Heat Content, Source.

That point deserves to be underlined. These US federal agencies, with the military at their core, are in the process of constructing analytical mechanisms to appraise and adapt to a multifaceted phenomenon of unprecedented speed and scale. They have good reason to: the current pace of climate change has recently been authoritatively assessed as “at least 10 times faster than any climate shift in the past 65 million years.”30 Most of the institutions of civil society and public governance – 19th century institutions using 20th century policy to address 21st century crises – are distracted by the well-funded denialist politics of climate change.31 But climate change’s increasingly expensive impact on energy, water and other infrastructure has forced military and other institutions sensitive to atmospheric and oceanic signals to respond. Most national governments are too beholden to vested interests in large swathes of the economy, leaving militaries, many cities32 and other actors to implement wide-ranging programs to reduce greenhouse gases and respond to environmental disasters.

Sayonara Stationarity

The OECD has provided a glimpse of the scale of the threat posed by the failure of national governments and their international agencies to prepare. Roughly co-incident with the September 2013 release of the IPCC summary, the OECD published the survey “Water and Climate Change Adaptation: Policies to Navigate Uncharted Waters.” The OECD study examined all 34 member countries and the European Commission’s policies on water and climate change adaptation. These surveys are usually quite dry and of interest only to a very few specialists. But fortunately the OECD framed the survey with a concise and cogent argument that “[c]limate change is to a large extent water change. Climate change affects all aspects of the water cycle and water is the main way through which the impacts of climate change will be felt.” The OECD also advises that there is a “growing recognition that climate change presents a singular challenge for water systems by rendering the historical assumption of stationarity increasingly irrelevant.” The best short definition of “stationarity” is “the idea that natural systems fluctuate within an unchanging envelope of variability.”33 In the OECD’s view, the end of stationarity “means that a fundamental assumption upon which water management, infrastructure design and planning, and ultimately many economic and resource management decisions are founded will no longer be a reliable basis for future planning and management.”34

This observation is profound in its implications. It not only backs up the meta-analysis of temperature shifts described above; it also details some of the implications. The end of stationarity means that expensive, multi-decadal infrastructure decisions lack reliable measures for how hardened they should be to contend with water, the biggest element of the climate system. Urban managers and others can have no confidence in future levels of precipitation as well as how rapidly to try and adapt. The loss of stationarity also means that past investments in roadways, waterworks, energy systems, and the like may be vulnerable. The global community saw a startling display of that possibility when Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in late October of 2012, knocking out its power grid and turning parts of its subway system into a sewer.35 More recently, in late August of 2013, 60% of the Philippine capital Manila was flooded by torrential rains that unleashed more than a month’s worth of precipitation in a single day.36 Much of the urban infrastructure that has been built and is being built – and, post-Sandy, is even being re-built – could become death-traps, particularly for children and the elderly, in the midst of natural disasters.37

The enormity of the disaster threat makes it difficult to exaggerate the degree of urgency when it comes to water. But on top of that, water has a huge and largely irreplaceable role in all aspects of conventional energy. Studies of water stress and interrelated resource crises in Asia highlight the vulnerability of China and India. These studies include work from such international agencies as the World Bank38 and the IEA,39 General Electric40 and other multinational firms, military think tanks, and national governments. The US Woodrow Wilson Center was among the first to caution that business as usual will see China’s northern provinces, the source of 70 percent of its coal and 20 percent of its grain, run out of water by the end of the present decade.41

The flip side is the growing vulnerability of conventional-energy infrastructure to water crises, even in very developed countries. For example, the US Department of Energy’s July 16 report on “U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather” details the impact that more frequent and severe floods, droughts, heat waves and other phenomena are delivering to America’s energy infrastructure and other aspects of its built environment.42 The July 2013 edition of Public Utilities Fortnightly also outlines America’s ever more visible and costly problem in a lengthy article on “The Growing Footprint of Climate Change.”43 The denialist campaign has diverted and impeded governments and their publics from paying attention and acting, but the evidence of dire crisis is thus tangible even in trade publications.

In short, the rapidly unfolding reality of climate change is expressed most palpably and dangerously through the hydrologic cycle. That unfolding is pressing on the urban and other infrastructures that were not designed with such stressors in mind. And the loss of stationarity means that it is unclear what to do, save to maximize resilience as rapidly as possible.

Figure 6: Change In Power Generation: 2010-2035. Source: IEA, World Energy Outlook 2012

So Is Abenomics Up to the Challenge?

If the Abe Regime is in fact interested in and aware of the above, it has yet to make that publicly known. Like many of its counterparts elsewhere, the Japanese national government, and especially the Abe cabinet, remains beholden to vested energy interests. In Japan, the nuclear village gained firm control of energy policy in the early 2000s, and was bent on an ambitious programme of new nuclear build as a way to increase domestic self-reliance as well as ramp down greenhouse gas emissions.

But as of late August, even the former Prime Minister who signed off on that energy policy, Koizumi Junichiro, has come out in dramatic opposition to the nuclear industry. Koizumi went on a fact-finding mission last August, with the heads of the major nuclear village firms’ nuclear engineering departments, giving them ample opportunity to convince him that their industry was sustainable. They did not, and what he saw in Finland and elsewhere convinced him of the opposite. He therefore has been mobilizing powerfully in Japanese politics since late August in opposition to nuclear power. His argument is that the PM Abe Shinzo must choose zero nuclear energy in order to move to a truly sustainable economy. Koizumi’s position is gaining increased support and attention within the governing Liberal Democratic Party and causing a great deal of consternation for the Abe Cabinet.44

Figure 7: The “first fuel”: contribution of energy efficiency compared to other energy resources consumed in 2010 in 11 IEA member countries. Source: IEA Energy Efficiency Market Report 2013, Figure 3.4

For its part, the nuclear village is desperate not merely for restarts of idled plant, but is openly pursuing a commitment to new nuclear build in the “basic energy plan” currently under deliberation.45 So this is a crucial time for the Japanese energy economy in particular as well as the overall economy. The more political, financial and other capital Japan invests in nuclear restarts as well as new nuclear build, the lower the demand for radical efficiency and renewables. As Figure 6 shows, the IEA’s 2012 World Energy Outlook suggests that Japan is not going to grow as a power economy over the ensuing two and a half decades. Indeed, its nuclear share is slated to decline.

So unlike the United States, where “all of the above” is the ostensible strategy of the Obama administration, Japan does not have the luxury of obfuscating choices. Japan’s energy politics is largely a zero-sum game, wherein turning back to nuclear power will reduce its incentives to deploy radical efficiency and renewables as well as further innovate new technologies and business models in these areas.

To reduce those incentives would be the height of folly. These new technologies and business models are key to capturing the lead in the global contest to spearhead the deployment of robust mitigation and adaptation models. The IEA Energy Efficiency Market Report 2013, released on October 16, shows how potent efficiency has become in an era of high energy prices. Figure 7 shows that efficiency has led to avoided energy use for 2010 in 11 IEA member countries46 that greatly exceeds even the consumption of oil.

Figure 8 shows that Japan’s performance in achieving efficiency gains between 1990 and 2010 was respectable. Japan achieved more than the Spaniards and the Italians, but it was not a leader comparable to the UK or Germany. Just as Japan’s renewable deployment was held back by flawed policies, the country has also lacked robust policies for efficiency.

Figure 8: Changes in aggregate intensities of 15 member IEA countries, Source: IEA Energy Efficiency Market Report 2013, Figure 3.10

Let us be very clear that Japan’s performance in the previous figure is not due to being the “wrung-out sponge” claimed by the business lobby Keidanren.47 Keidanren routinely makes this argument in insisting that Japan’s efficiency, especially its industrial energy efficiency, is number one in the world. Its rhetoric is aimed at fostering overseas sales as well as avoiding more stringent targets than its member firms decide via their voluntary action. Their efforts are to be lauded, but it would appear that more robust policies are in order. Figure 9 will help demonstrate that Japanese efficiency in industrial energy use per unit of value-added is matched or exceeded by a growing number of competitors.

Figure 9: Industrial energy use per unit of value-added for 20 IEA member countries, 1990 and 2010. Source: IEA Energy Efficiency Market Report 2013, Figure 3.11

Notwithstanding drawing-board fantasies of small-modular reactors, it seems very unlikely that a nuclear-powered model will become the mainstream resilient community. Like other centralized power, nuclear is reliant on lots of water as well as threatened by – at the risk of seeming glib – lots of water. Perhaps this is one reason – for all their professed interest in climate change – the nuclear village do not talk about the death of stationarity: addressing the reality of climate change highlights their centralized power plants’ vulnerability to the increasingly unpredictable elements. Moreover, there is no nuclear energy project that is not reliant on extensive and far more generous government subsidies than those directed to renewables, which in fact are already competitive – even against natural gas and coal – in parts of the United States, Australia, and elsewhere.48

At this critical juncture, for Japan to choose restarts, let alone more nuclear build, would likely see it evolve into a high cost, uncompetitive and environmentally unsustainable Galapagos. It would undermine its incentives to move ahead in renewables and efficiency. But were Japan to choose radical efficiency and renewables, with its ambitious ICT growth strategy at the core, and coordinated by a focused cabinet and Prime Minister, it could become the model for a sustainable and resilient 21st-century urban and rural economy. We have seen that Japan itself is threatened by climate change, along with its region overall, so building resilience into all infrastructures is truly in its own existential self-interest as well as its enlightened self-interest as an exporter. This argument has not yet gained the status of common sense in the overall policy debate, but Koizumi’s interventions suggest it is much closer to gaining that position than the nuclear-centered power economy. The nuclear-centered power economy was the reigning common sense of just a few years ago, but its apparent decline suggests how rapidly the structure of incentives and ideas can shift. Can Abenomics recognize this reality and effectively address the real challenge of climate change that threatens Japan and the world?

Andrew DeWit is Professor in the School of Policy Studies at Rikkyo University and an Asia-Pacific Journal coordinator. With Iida Tetsunari and Kaneko Masaru, he is coauthor of “Fukushima and the Political Economy of Power Policy in Japan,” in Jeff Kingston (ed.) Natural Disaster and Nuclear Crisis in Japan (forthcoming).

Recommended citation: Andrew DeWit, “Can Abenomics Cope With Environmental Disaster?” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 43, No. 1, October 28, 2013.

Related articles

•Andrew DeWit, “Data Will Change ICT,” But Will it Change the Abe Regime?

• Andrew DeWit Abe, Big Data and Bad Dreams: Japan’s ICT Future?

• Andrew DeWit, Green Shoot: Abenomics and the 3rd Arrow

• John A. Mathews, Mei-Chih Hu, Ching-Yan Wu, Concentrating Solar Power – China’s New Solar Frontier

• Andrew DeWit, Abenomics and Energy Efficiency in Japan

• Andrew DeWit, Distributed Power and Incentives in Post-Fukushima Japan

• John A. Mathews, The Asian Super Grid

• Andrew DeWit, Japan’s Energy Policy at a Crossroads: A Renewable Energy Future?

• Andrew DeWit, Japan’s Remarkable Energy Drive

• Andrew DeWit, Megasolar Japan: The Prospects for Green Alternatives to Nuclear Power

• Peter Lynch and Andrew DeWit, Feed-in Tariffs the Way Forward for Renewable Energy

• Sun-Jin YUN, Myung-Rae Cho and David von Hippel, The Current Status of Green Growth in Korea: Energy and Urban Security

• Son Masayoshi and Andrew DeWit, Creating a Solar Belt in East Japan: The Energy Future

• Andrew DeWit and Iida Tetsunari, The “Power Elite” and Environmental-Energy Policy in Japan

Notes

1 On Japan’s ICT strategy as well as GE’s “Industrial Internet,” see Andrew DeWit “Data Will Change ICT,” But Will it Change the Abe Regime?, The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 41, No. 4, October 14, 2013.

2 See P.C.D. Milly et al., “Stationarity is Dead: Whither Water Management?” Science, February 1, 2008.

3 A brief account of the tendentious claims of a “warming hiatus” is found in Douglas Fischer, “How climate scientists got Swift-boated,” The Daily Climate, September 27, 2013.

4 See Axel Bojanowski, Olaf Stampf and Gerald Traufetter “Warming Plateau? Climatologists Face Inconvenient Truth,” Spiegel Online, September 23, 2013.

5 See, for example, Steven F Hayward, “Pay No Attention to the Bad Data: Behind the curtain at the IPCC,” The Weekly Standard, Vol 19, No 6, October 14, 2013.

7Global Climate Risk Index 2013,” German Watch, November 2012.

8 On the composition of Alliance Development Works, see their organizational overview here.

9 The United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security has its own “Expert Working Group on Measuring Vulnerability

10 The Nature Conservatory was founded in 1951, and is primarily a science-driven (employing 550 scientists) “conservation by design” programme that is active in all US states as well as 35 countries. They describe “conservation by design” as “a systematic approach that determines where to work, what to conserve, what strategies we should use and how effective we have been.”

11 Note that the Nature Conservancy was not a party to the 2013 Report. The English version of the Report is slated for publication in October of 2013. The German title is WeltRiskoBericht, 2013, and the report is available at the Alliance Development Works/ Bundnis Entwichlung Hilft’s website.

12 See the SERDP’s introduction here. On the , see Andrew DeWit, “The US Military, Green Energy, and the SPIDERS at Pearl Harbor,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue 9, No. 5, March 4, 2013.

13 As of this writing, the US 2013 National Climate Assessment is in the revisions stage and slate for publication in early 2014.

14 The figure is from page 6 in “Global Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States National Climate Assessment,” NOAA Technical Report OAR CPO-1, December 6, 2012.

15 On this omission, see the UN Environmental Programme’s (UNEP) call for the IPCC to “consider preparing a special assessment report on how CO2 and methane emissions from thawing permafrost would influence global climate to support climate change policy discussions and treaty negotiations. All climate projections in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, due for release in 2013-14, are likely to be biased on the low side relative to global temperature because the models did not include the permafrost carbon feedback.” The UNEP warn that the failure to include this source of greenhouse gas emissions may lead to overshoot of the globally agreed 2C limit on warming, and that nations with significant permafrost (especially Russia, Canada, China and the US) risk being unprepared for the effect of permafrost degradation on critical infrastructure. The report is “Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost,” (lead author: Kevin Schaefer) UNEP, November 2012.

16 On the IPCC reporting process and omitted feedback effects, see the concise article by Australian National University Earth and paleo-climate scientist Andrew Glikson, “IPCC climate trends: blueprints for tipping points in Earth’s climate,” September 29, 2013.

17 The World Bank’s 2010 study on “Climate Risks and Adaptation in Asian Coastal Megacities: A Synthesis Report” notes that 13 of the world’s 20 largest cities lie of the oceanic coast, and nearly a third of the global population is within 160 kilometres of a coast. The report is available here.

18 On the estimates, see “Urban population growth,” World Health Organization, 2013.

19 From an e-mail communication with Brian Stone. Note also that Tokyo’s heat island problem is so intense that specialists are already concerned about the health of athletes and spectators at the 2020 Olympics. See “Tokyo heat raises worries for athletes and spectators at 2020 Olympics,” Mainichi Shinbun, September 23, 2013.

20 See Brian Stone Jr. The City and the Coming Climate, Cambridge University Press, 2012: pp. 80-1.

21 See Camilo Mora, et al. “The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability,” Nature 502, October 10, 2013.

22 See “Ocean Stratification” in the excellent lecture notes on “The Climate System” by Columbia and Barnard university professors Peter Schlosser, Stephanie Pfirman, Mingfang Ting, and Jason Smerdon.

23 The calculation in terms of Hiroshima bombs is in John A Chruch, et al “Revisiting the Earth’s sea-level and energy budgets from 1961 to 2008,” Geophysical Research Letters, Vol 38, L18601, 2011.

24 The orginal data are available at “Climate Change 2007: Working Group 1: The Physical Science Basis,” IPCC, 2007.

25 See “Wave Energy,” Ocean Energy Council.

27 One indicator of how urgent such assessments are is seen in the draft version of the US 2013 National Climate Assessment. The assessment’s chapter 29 lists research goals, and prioritizes – as “Research Goal 1” – “understanding the role of feedbacks, thresholds, extreme events, and abrupt changes that may disrupt natural and socioeconomic systems, as well as the implications of more gradual changes and also the degree and effectiveness of response actions.” See p. 1035 NCADAC Draft.

28 See Pilita Clark, “Catastrophe models give insurers insight into disasters,” Financial Times, September 30, 2013.

30 An overview of the study is at Bjorn Carey, “Climate change on pace to occur 10 times faster than any change recorded in past 65 million years, Stanford scientists say,” Stanford Report, August 1, 2013. For the research itself, see Noah S Diffenbaugh and Christopher B Field, “Changes in Ecologically Critical Terrestrial Climate Conditions,” Science, August 2013.

31 The best analysis of the denialist game plan and campaign is Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, Merchants of Doubt, London Bloomsbury, 2010.

32 On the role of cities, see the detailed and well-designed visual presentation from the C-40 cities “Global Leadership on Climate Change” group. The Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) is also focused on the threat to the Asian region.

33 PCD Milly, Julio Betancourt, Malin Falkenmark, Robert M. Hirsch, Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz, Dennis P. Lettenmaier, Ronald J. Stouffer, “Stationarity Is Dead: Whither Water Management?” Science, February 1, 2008.

35 John Metcalfe, “Newly Unflooded New York Subway Still Looking Pretty Horrible,” The Atlantic Cities, November 12, 2012.

36 See Hrvoje Hranjski, “Floods cover 60 percent of Metro Manila,” PhilStar, August 20, 2013.

37 Skewed incentives in insurance regimes compound willful blindness about climate change, leading to such absurd and grossly irresponsible outcomes as rebuilding the Jersey Shore as it was prior to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. See Scott Gurian, “In Rush to Restore the Shore, is NJ [New Jersey] Failing to Plan for Next Superstorm?” NJSpotlight, July 22, 2013.

38 Diego J Rodriguez, Anna Delgado, Pat DeLaquil and Antonio Sohns, “Thirst Energy,” Water Partnership Program, World Bank, June 2013.

39 Alex Morales, “Water Scarcity Threatens Energy Plans From US to China,” Bloomberg News, November 12, 2012.

40 General Electric has built 270 gas turbines, 70 steam turbines, 40 gasification turbines, and well over 1000 wind turbines in China. The company’s “China Technology Center” in Shanghai is one of GE’s four top global research centres. See “China,” General Electric, Energy, 2013.

41 Coco Liu, “Water Demands of Coal-Fired Power Drying Up Northern China,” Scientific American, March 25, 2013.

42U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather,” US Department of Energy, July 16, 2013.

43 See Michael Kintner-Meyer and Ian Kraucunas, “The Growing Footprint of Climate Change,” Public Utilities Fortnightly, July 2013.

44 On Koizimi’s fact-finding mission and subsequent interventions, see Suzuki Tsuyoshi “Koizumi’s call for nuclear-free Japan raises speculation about his intent,” Asahi Shimbun, October 2, 2013.

45 On this, see (in Japanese) “Let’s Go for New Nuclear Build: METI Holds Meeting on the Energy Basic Plan,” Nikkei Shimbun, October 16, 2013.

46 The countries are Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

47 On this and related matters, see Andrew DeWit, “Abenomics and Energy Efficiency in Japan,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 6, No. 2, February 11, 2013.

48 These facts have even been recognized by the Financial Times. See Pilita Clark, “Ibderola chief sees coal losing out to gas and renewable energy,” Financial Times, October 9, 2013.

– See more at: http://japanfocus.org/-Andrew-DeWit/4016#sthash.BcBLy3c0.dpuf

 The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has rejected a group’s bus ad showing Israel’s expropriation of Palestinian land over time, claiming the ad could incite anti-Jewish discrimination and violence. The ad, sponsored by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), is similar to others that have appeared in cities all over North America – including Vancouver. CJPME has said it is ready to appeal the censorship of the ad all the way to Canada’s Supreme Court.Palestinian loss of land

The centerpiece is a series of four maps that show the loss of control of Palestinian land to the Zionist movement and Israel between 1946 and the present. The ad also states: “This is unfair. It is also illegal under international law.” It includes an image of a Palestinian schoolgirl standing amid rubble resulting from an Israeli air attack in Gaza. The copy of the ad shown here was provided to The Electronic Intifada by CJPME.

But TTC spokesman Brad Ross said that the transit body did not accept that Israel’s confiscation of Palestinian land was either “unfair” or “illegal.”

“Making that statement may cause some … to then target Israelis and/or Jewish people. Some may view it as discriminatory, [and] could advocate for violence or hatred against Israel or the Jewish people,” Ross told The Toronto Star.

“There is no finding in our legal opinion of illegality around loss of land under international law … no court, no tribunal has ruled on loss of land being illegal,” Ross added.

Censors Rejoice

B’Nai Brith, one of Canada’s most prominent anti-Palestinian organizations, issued a statement “congratulating” TTC for banning the ad. Echoing the language used by the TTC itself, B’Nai Brith claimed that the ad was “misleading and inaccurate and could lead to hatred or violence against supporters of Israel and the Jewish community in particular.”

By conflating criticism of Israel and its policies with criticism of Jews, the TTC seems perhaps unwittingly to be promoting anti-Semitic canards that Jews are collectively responsible for Israel’s actions.

B’Nai Brith has a history of censorship and supporting intolerance. Last summer, Canada’s leading LGBTQ publication Daily Xtra revealed that B’Nai Brith had teamed up with Charles McVety, one of Canada’s most outspoken anti-LGBTQ campaigners, in an effort to persuade the city to defund Toronto Pride. B’Nai Brith was incensed that Toronto Pride had not banned Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from marching in the parade. [See “QuAIA at Pride 2012”]

CJPME Responds

CJPME has issued an action alert saying that the group “is ready to appeal this decision to the highest levels – including the Supreme Court.” It urged the public to contact the TTC and send a message protesting the ban of the “Disappearing Palestine” ad:

“The ads are both fair and accurate. Israel’s building of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories indeed does clearly violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and UN Security Council Resolution 465 (1980). All of these laws forbid occupying powers, such as Israel, to transfer their civilians to the territories that they militarily occupy. Why are TTC staff denying that this is the case?”

Ads “Lost”

CJPME also alleged that it has faced obstruction and discrmination in trying to place the ads. According to its website, it sent proposed designs of the ads to two transit authorities in June.

 “Sadly, through various strategies over the summer, the transit companies and ad agencies have tried to prevent the ads from being posted. Designs were ‘lost,’ employees told to ‘drop the ads,’ emails and calls ignored.”

 CJPME said that in September its lawyer “sent a letter to the TTC demanding that the transit authority respect CJPME’s constitutional rights to post the ads,” but instead it was notified on 21 October that the ad was rejected.

Illegal and Ongoing Land Confiscation

The TTC’s extraordinary finding runs wholly against international law, and even the nominal policies of Canada’s extremely pro-Israel Conservative government. It also seems to go far beyond the organization’s remit of providing public transport to Toronto.

Numerous UN Security Council Resolutions, including, for example, Resolution 465, state clearly that Israel’s annexation and colonization of Palestinian land occupied since 1967 is illegal.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice in the Hague found that the wall Israel has built in the occupied West Bank and its associated regime of land confiscation, is illegal and must be removed.

Moreover, when Israel was established in 1948, it conquered about twice the amount of land allocated to a putative Jewish state under UN resolution 181, a resolution which was never lawfully implemented. The property rights and right of return of Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948, and their descendants, have been reaffirmed by overwhelming majorities in the UN General Assembly annually.

The Canadian government states that “Canada does not recognize Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem.” The government also reaffirms its support for Resolution 465, among others, confirming the illegality of Israeli colonization and settlement.

Forced Displacement

Recently, more than ninety Canadian writers took a public position against Israel’s ongoing evictions of Bedouins from their lands in the south of present-day Israel.

In August, Human Rights Watch called on Israel to halt the forced displacement of Bedouins which is carried out “based on discriminatory laws and rules, and without respect for the Bedouins’ dignity or the country’s human rights obligations.”

Some 40,000 more Bedouins, nominally citizens of Israel, currently face expulsion under Israel’s Prawer Plan to ethnically cleanse and “Judaize” their traditional lands.

These are facts, but they are ones Toronto’s transit authorities do not want riders to know. •

Ali Abunimah is author of One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, where this article first appeared.

Fukushima is Here.300dpi.jpg

Fukushima is Here.300dpi (2).jpg500 people assembled on October 19th on Ocean Beach in San Francisco and formed the letters with their bodies to demonstrate their growing concern about eventual fallout on the west coast. Credit and More Information: FukushimaResponse.org

Radiation Levels Will Concentrate in Pockets at Certain  West Coast Locations

An ocean current called the North Pacific Gyre is bringing Japanese radiation to the West Coast of North America:

North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone FDA Refuses to Test Fish for Radioactivity ... Government Pretends Radioactive Fish Is Safe

The leg of the Gyre closest to Japan – the Kuroshio current – begins right next to Fukushima:

Kuroshio Current - Colour show water speed.  Blue slowest; red fastest

While many people assume that the ocean will dilute the Fukushima radiation, a previously-secret 1955 U.S. government report concluded that the ocean may not adequately dilute radiation from nuclear accidents, and there could be “pockets” and “streams” of highly-concentrated radiation.

Physicians for Social Responsibility notes:

An interesting fact for people living on the US west coast is also included in the UNSCEAR [United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation] report: only about 5% of the directly discharged radiation was deposited within a radius of 80 km from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station. The rest was distributed in the Pacific Ocean. 3-D simulations have been carried out for the Pacific basin, showing that within 5–6 years, the emissions would reach the North American coastline, with uncertain consequences for food safety and health of the local population.

The University of Hawaii’s International Pacific Research Center created a graphic showing the projected dispersion of debris from Japan.

Last year, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and 3 scientists from the GEOMAR Research Center for Marine Geosciences showed that radiation on the West Coast of North America could end up being 10 times higher than in Japan:

After 10 years the concentrations become nearly homogeneous over the whole Pacific, with higher values in the east, extending along the North American coast with a maximum (~1 × 10−4) off Baja California.

***

With caution given to the various idealizations (unknown actual oceanic state during release, unknown release area, no biological effects included, see section 3.4), the following conclusions may be drawn. (i) Dilution due to swift horizontal and vertical dispersion in the vicinity of the energetic Kuroshio regime leads to a rapid decrease of radioactivity levels during the first 2 years, with a decline of near-surface peak concentrations to values around 10 Bq m−3 (based on a total input of 10 PBq). The strong lateral dispersion, related to the vigorous eddy fields in the mid-latitude western Pacific, appears significantly under-estimated in the non-eddying (0.5°) model version. (ii) The subsequent pace of dilution is strongly reduced, owing to the eastward advection of the main tracer cloud towards the much less energetic areas of the central and eastern North Pacific. (iii) The magnitude of additional peak radioactivity should drop to values comparable to the pre-Fukushima levels after 6–9 years (i.e. total peak concentrations would then have declined below twice pre-Fukushima levels). (iv) By then the tracer cloud will span almost the entire North Pacific, with peak concentrations off the North American coast an order-of-magnitude higher than in the western Pacific.

***

(“Order-of-magnitude” is a scientific term which means 10 times higher. The “Western Pacific” means Japan’s East Coast.)

In May, a team of scientists from Spain, Australia and France concluded that the radioactive cesium would look more like this:
A team of top Chinese scientists has just published a study in the Science China Earth Sciences journal showing that the radioactive plume crosses the ocean in a nearly straight line toward North America, and that it appears to stay together with little dispersion:

On March 30, 2011, the Japan Central News Agency reported the monitored radioactive pollutions that were 4000 times higher than the standard level. Whether or not these nuclear pollutants will be transported to the Pacific-neighboring countries through oceanic circulations becomes a world-wide concern.

***

The time scale of the nuclear pollutants reaching the west coast of America is 3.2 years if it is estimated using the surface drifting buoys and 3.9 years if it is estimated using the nuclear pollutant particulate tracers.

***

The half life of cesium-137 is so long that it produces more damage to human. Figure 4 gives the examples of the distribution of the impact strength of Cesium-137 at year 1.5 (panel (a)), year 3.5 (panel (b)), and year 4 (panel (c)).

***

It is worth noting that due to the current near the shore cannot be well reconstructed by the global ocean reanalysis, some nuclear pollutant particulate tracers may come to rest in near shore area, which may result in additional uncertainty in the estimation of the impact strength.

***

Since the major transport mechanism of nuclear pollutants for the west coast of America is the Kuroshio-extension currents, after four years, the impact strength of Cesium-137 in the west coast area of America is as high as 4%.

Bluefin tuna on the California shore tested positive for radiation from Fukushima, and there are reports of highly radioactive fish in Canada.

The CBS show The Doctors warned that we should be moderate with our fish intake, and children and pregnant women should be especially careful

Tomorrow (Tuesday October 29) two children who were injured in a drone attack in North West Pakistan which killed their grandmother will appear, along with their father, at a briefing in the US Congress.

Rafiq ur Rehman – a teacher in a primary school in North Waziristan – and his children Nabila (9) and Zubair (13) will attend the briefing on drones called by Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-09).  Mr Rehman’s 67-year-old mother was killed in the same October 2012 strike which injured his children.  This will be the first time that members of Congress have heard testimony direct from civilian victims of the CIA’s covert drone campaign.

The family will be accompanied by Jennifer Gibson, attorney at human rights charity Reprieve.  The family’s lawyer, Reprieve Fellow Shahzad Akbar, was not granted a visa to the US in order to travel with them – a problem he has faced since 2011, when he began representing Pakistani victims of CIA drone strikes.

Congressman Grayson said: “When it comes to national security matters like drone strikes, it’s important that we hear not only from the proponents of these attacks, but also from the victims. They have a unique perspective to share with Congress, and I hope that my colleagues will attend this important event on October 29th.”

The briefing will take place on Tuesday, October 29, at 10 AM, Eastern Standard Time; it will be held at 2237 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Mossad’s credentials are notorious. They’re well known. It’s expertise is acknowledged. Its rap sheet is longstanding and nefarious.

Its tactics include targeted assassinations, satellite, drone and other type spying, hacking and espionage expertise, computer viruses, other cyber attacks, bombings, sabotage, and other lawless practices.

On October 25, France’s Le Monde headlined “The NSA’s intern inquiry about the Elysee hacking revealed.”

Edward Snowden connected important dots for millions. Documents he released included “a four-page internal NSA memo,” said Le Monde. It’s marked “top secret.” France sent it.

It said French secret service technical director Bernard Barbier and National Agency for IT systems security head Patrick Pailloux “are coming to ask their American counterparts, whom they suspect are (conducting Elysee Palace espionage) for an explanation.”

It’s the official French president’s residence. It includes his office. It’s where government ministers meet to discuss official business.

France “learn(ed) that none of the services capable of carrying out this type of electronic attack came from America, Britain or Canada.

Carefully chosen wording said the NSA “intentionally did not ask either the Mossad or the ISNU (Israeli technical administration services) whether they were involved.”

Penetrating Elysee began while Nicolas Sarkozy was president. Security systems were in place to detect electronic espionage.

The attack conducted wasn’t “part of an act of sabotage which was to be made public but of the desire to be permanently installed invisibly at the centre of the Presidency,” said Le Monde.

Initially, America was thought to be responsible. Tensions followed. In January 2012, NSA head General Keith Alexander was questioned about his possible role.

He denied responsibility. He offered to send two NSA NTOC (National Threat Operations Center) analysts to help identify the hacker.

“On the eve of their departure,” said Le Monde, “France cancelled their visit and hardened (its) tone.”

The top secret NSA document discusses its Office of Tailored Operations (TAO). Most agency employees and officials know little or nothing about it.

Extraordinary secrecy keeps its operations concealed. Only select NSA officials needing to know are fully apprised of its mission.

It involves targeting other nations. It seeks the most sensitive type information. Its tactics include sophisticated hacking. It’s able to develop information needed to destroy, damage, or otherwise compromise targeted sites.

The document France obtained said NSA, Britain, Canada and other close “second circle” allies weren’t involved in Elysee hacking.

It added that Israel’s Mossad has sophisticated technical expertise. Its involvement was suggested short of accusations. No investigation was conducted to learn for sure.

At the same time, reasonable suspicion exists. A top NSA official commented on Israel’s aggressive spying on America. The document France obtained explained, saying:

“France is not the only country to target the department of Defense using electronic espionage.”

“Israel also does this. On one hand, the Israelis are excellent partners in terms of sharing information but on the other, they target us to find out our positions on the Middle East.”

“It is the third most aggressive intelligence service in the world against the United States.”

“There is a chance that helping attribute the cyber attacks against the French Presidential network may reveal a US ally is responsible.”

NSA had Israel in mind.

On October 25, London’s Daily Mail headlined “Was ISRAEL behind the hacking of millions of French phones and NOT the US?” Information Le Monde reported suggested so.

“In the latest extraordinary twist in the global eavesdropping scandal, Israeli agents are said to have intercepted more than 70 million calls and text messages a month.”

France initially blamed America. Perhaps it pointed fingers the wrong way.

US and French intelligence work closely with Mossad. At the same time, suspicions cloud relations. Israel spies aggressively on allies.

A government spokesman lied, saying:

“Israel is a country which is a friend, ally and partner of France and does not carry out any hostile activity which could pose a threat to its security.”

France complained earlier about Israel using its territory for so-called black operations.

A notable 2010 Dubai incident involved assassinating Hamas Qassam Brigades co-founder Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh. Killing him succeeded after two earlier failed tries.

Israel is a notorious rogue state. International laws and standards don’t matter. They’re consistently violated. Anything goes is policy. Allies can be as vulnerable as foes.

Has Israel been intercepting 70 million French phone calls and text messages monthly? Did it penetrate Elysee security? Does it target its other close allies the same way?

Snowden released documents show aggressive global NSA spying. Perhaps Israel operates the same way.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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

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

Nearly a month after its rollout, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) web site is still plagued by massive technical problems. Despite the government’s initiation of a “tech surge” to resolve the situation at HealthCare.gov, the Obama administration has indicated the problems will not be resolved until the end of November.

As the fallout continues over the disastrous launch of the web site, the White House has yet to release figures on how many people have actually been able to access the site, register and enroll for coverage.

In recent days, it has come to light that the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is provoking another health insurance crisis. Private insurers are sending hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters to people who presently buy their own coverage and substantially raising the cost of premiums for new policies. Many of these people are being forced onto the federal insurance exchange at HealthCare.gov.

Under the legislation signed into law in 2010, individuals and families that are not insured through their employer or through a government program such as Medicaid or Medicare must obtain insurance or pay a penalty. Beginning January 1, 2014, the ACA also requires policies sold on the so-called “individual market” after March 2010 to cover ten “essential” benefits, such as preventive care, prescription drugs, mental health treatment, and maternity care.

The main reason insurers are canceling their coverage is because the plans do not meet these ACA standards. By forcing some of these more healthy self-insured people onto the insurance exchanges set up under Obamacare, the government and private insurers hope that the lower cost of covering them will offset the cost of providing insurance to those with preexisting conditions and other less-healthy individuals.

The Obama administration’s oft-repeated pledge that “if you like your plan, you can keep it,” is being exposed as a fraud for hundreds of thousands of the estimated 14 million Americans who purchase their own insurance because they don’t receive it through their job. These people are finding out that new coverage through their present insurer will be much more expensive, and that in most cases insurance offered through the insurance exchanges set up under Obamacare will either have more costly premiums or will include large out-of-pocket costs, while limiting choices. Many of these people will not be eligible for subsidies through Obamacare.

Insurance companies began sending out cancellation notices in August.Kaiser Health News reports that insurer Florida Blue is terminating about 300,000 individual policies in the state, about 80 percent of the total. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent termination notices to some 160,000 people, about half of its individual market business.

Blue Shield of California has sent out about 119,000 cancellation notices. Blue Shield spokesman Steve Shivinsky reports that about two thirds of these policyholders will see rate increases in their new policies.

In Pennsylvania, insurer Highmark is dropping about 20 percent of its individual market customers in Pittsburgh, while Independence Blue Cross, the major Philadelphia insurer, is dropping about 45 percent. According toKaiser Health News, both Independence and Highmark are canceling “guaranteed issue” policies sold to customers who had preexisting medical conditions when they signed up for coverage. While the ACA is supposed to guarantee that people with preexisting conditions cannot be denied coverage or be charged more for it, it appears that some insurers are doing precisely that.

Kaiser reports the case of Kris Malean, 56, who lives outside Seattle, Washington and received a cancellation notice from her insurer, Regence BlueShield. Her present policy costs $390 a month with a $2,500 deductible and $10,000 in potential out-of-pocket costs for doctor visits, prescriptions, hospital care and other services. As a replacement, Regence BlueShield is offering her a plan costing $79 more a month, with a deductible twice as large, but which limits potential out-of-pocket costs to $6,250 a year.

Los Angeles real estate agent Deborah Cavallaro received a cancellation notice from Anthem Blue Cross this month, the Los Angeles Times reports. Her insurer told her that a comparable Bronze plan on the federal insurance exchange would cost $484 a month, or about 65 percent more than her present policy. Cavallaro says she will most likely go uninsured because she cannot afford the increase.

Obama also promised that the ACA would mean reduced premiums and would “cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.” Many of those who opt to stay with their current individual plans, however, are seeing big premium hikes. Debra J. Sauders reports on her blog at the San Francisco Chronicle on a local architect who received a notice from Kaiser Permanente that his individual coverage will increase by $199.95 a month, or almost 80 percent. When coverage for his two sons is factored in, the increase is even greater.

In a related development, a CBS News analysis found that in many of the 15 health exchanges operated by the states, as opposed to the federal government, more people are enrolling in Medicaid than buying private insurance. If younger, healthier people do not sign up in sufficient numbers, insurers are certain to hike premiums to offset the cost of insuring older, less healthy enrollees.

The main driver of the policy cancellations and rate increases is that while Obamacare requires that individual insurers offer a certain level of coverage, and that customers cannot be discriminated against due to preexisting medical conditions, there is no meaningful oversight on what the private insurers can charge for their policies.

While the government-run Medicare program for the elderly and disabled and the Medicaid program for the poor—the latter jointly administered by the federal government and the states—involved a certain encroachment on the private insurance market, the Affordable Care Act is the opposite. From the beginning, it has been entirely tailored to the interests of the private insurers and aimed at slashing costs for the government and corporations while reducing care for the majority of ordinary Americans.

The price hikes by insurers in the individual insurance market, as well as the “sticker shock” many are experiencing on HealthCare.gov if they are actually able to log in, are the inevitable result of a program that proceeds from the interests of the giant insurers, pharmaceuticals and health care chains. Insurance companies will respond to any infringement on their profits connected to provisions of the ACA by either dumping customers or raising their premiums.

NSA Head Demands End to Spying Revelations

October 28th, 2013 by Patrick Martin

In an interview last Thursday, the head of the National Security Agency (NSA), General Keith Alexander, delivered a series of threats against whistle-blower Edward Snowden and those who sympathize with and support him, as well as against media outlets that have published Snowden’s revelations of massive government spying.

In the interview, taped by the Pentagon for posting on YouTube, Alexander repeated the official line that NSA spying on the American people and millions of others around the world is driven by the need to protect Americans from terrorism.

He claimed that exposure of the secret programs “means that terrorists now have an upper edge in conducting attacks, probably in Europe and potentially in the United States.” He continued: “And our ability to stop them is reduced. So when people die, those that are responsible for leaking it are the ones who should be held accountable.”

Given the sinister record of the American intelligence apparatus in financing and supporting the founders of Al Qaeda and the extensive evidence that US intelligence agencies allowed the 9/11 attacks to take place, this should be taken as a warning that similar provocations could be engineered to provide a pretext for shutting down any further publication of exposures of US government surveillance.

Alexander added an open threat against the media. “We’re taking this beating in the press because of what these reporters are putting out,” he said. “I think it’s wrong that newspaper reporters have all these documents, the 50,000—whatever they have, and are selling them and giving them out as if these—you know, it just doesn’t make sense. We ought to come up with a way of stopping it.”

The NSA chief did not detail what methods might be employed, referring only vaguely to possible court sanctions. However, for the US military/intelligence apparatus, there is no line that cannot be crossed—including the state killing of whistleblowers like Edward Snowden—in the effort to prevent the exposure of the buildup of an American police state.

Alexander’s statements underscore the prevalence within the highest echelons of the American state of a police state mentality that is utterly hostile to any conception of democratic rights. He speaks for an extensive layer of military and intelligence officials as well as politicians whose aim is to criminalize and silence those who expose the real criminals.

The vendetta against such courageous people as Snowden, Julian Assange and Private Bradley Manning has been met with general support from the entire political and media establishment. There is virtually no serious opposition from the erstwhile liberal establishment or any section of the Democratic Party.

On the contrary, under a Democratic president, Barack Obama, pervasive spying on the American people has been expanded well beyond what prevailed under Bush. This has been accompanied by an expansion of drone assassinations, including of American citizens, as well as legislation institutionalizing the indefinite detention of alleged terrorists without charge or trial.

Alexander’s attempt to defend police state spying with the all-purpose pretext of the “war on terror” has been rendered all the more absurd by the most recent revelations of NSA tapping of the personal telephones of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and dozens of other heads of government.

Neither Alexander nor any other defender of the mass surveillance programs attempts to present a serious argument that intercepting the phone calls and text messages of Merkel and the leaders of other major countries is a necessary part of a struggle against Al Qaeda terrorists.

It is obviously driven by the aggressive and hegemonic foreign policy objectives of the American ruling elite.

The trans-Atlantic uproar over spying by the NSA has dealt a blow to the political pretensions of American imperialism. It is increasingly difficult for Washington to posture either as the protagonist in a “war on terror” or as the leader of the “free world.”

As the comments of Alexander demonstrate, however, no amount of protest or pressure will curb the operations of the US military/intelligence apparatus. In the final analysis, the buildup of police state powers by the US government must be traced to the deepening social polarization within the United States—a process that is replicated, to a greater or lesser degree, in every capitalist country.

It is impossible to maintain democratic forms of rule and democratic rights in a society where a tiny handful of financial overlords control economic life and demand the destruction of jobs, living standards and basic social benefits for the working people, who are the vast majority.

Alexander’s threats must be taken as a warning. The defense of democratic rights requires the mobilization of the working class, in the United States and internationally, fighting for a revolutionary socialist program to put an end to the profit system. This is the only serious basis for a struggle against the emerging American police state.

 

This April 2010 path breaking article foresaw what is now unfolding in front of our very eyes: the repeal of civil liberties, privacy and personal freedoms, war without borders internationally…

Unfailingly, defense industry boosters and corporate media acolytes promote the disturbing hypothesis annunciated by former Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, that the nation is in peril.

In a February Washington Post op-ed, the latest version of the “grave and gathering danger” big lie repeated endlessly by former President Bush during the run-up to the Iraq invasion, McConnell claims that “the United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing.”

Since leaving the secret state’s employ, McConnell returned to his old beltway bandit firm, Booz Allen Hamilton, as a senior vice president in charge of the company’s national security business unit, a position he held after “retiring” as Director of the National Security Agency back in 1996.

Critics, including security system design experts and investigative journalists, question the alarmist drumbeat that promises to dump tens of billions of federal dollars into the coffers of firms like McConnell’s.

Indeed, Washington Technology reported two weeks ago that Booz Allen Hamilton landed a $20M contract to “foster collaboration among telecommunications researchers, University of Maryland faculty members and other academic institutions to improve secure networking and telecommunications and boost information assurance.”

While we’re at it, let’s consider the deal that L-3 Communications grabbed from the Air Force just this week. Washington Technology reports that L-3, No. 8 on that publication’s “2009 Top Ten” list of federal prime contractors, “will assist the Air Forces Central Command in protecting the security of its network operations under a contract potentially worth $152 million over five years.”

Or meditate on the fact that security giant Raytheon’s soaring first quarter profits were due to the “U.S. military demand for surveillance equipment and new ways to prepare soldiers for wars,” MarketWatch reported Thursday.

Chump-change perhaps in the wider scheme of things, considering America’s nearly $800B defense budget for FY2011, but fear sells and what could be more promising for enterprising security grifters than hawking terror that comes with the threat that shadowy “asymmetric” warriors will suddenly switch everything off?

As Bloomberg News disclosed back in 2008, both Lockheed Martin and Boeing “are deploying forces and resources to a new battlefield: cyberspace.”

As journalist Gopal Ratnam averred, the military contractors and the wider defense industry are “eager to capture a share of a market that may reach $11 billion in 2013,” and “have formed new business units to tap increased spending to protect U.S. government computers from attack.”

Linda Gooden, executive vice president of Lockheed’s Information Systems & Global Services unit told Bloomberg, “The whole area of cyber is probably one of the faster-growing areas” of the U.S. budget. “It’s something that we’re very focused on.”

Lockheed’s close, long-standing ties with the National Security Agency all but guarantee a leg up for the firm as it seeks to capture a large slice of the CYBERCOM pie.

The problem with a line of reasoning that U.S. efforts are primarily concerned with defending Pentagon networks reveals a glaring fact (largely omitted from media accounts) that it is the Pentagon, and not a motley crew of hackers, cyber-criminals or “rogue states” that are setting up a formidable infrastructure for launching future high-tech war crimes.

This is clearly spelled out in the DOD’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). In that document Pentagon planners aver that CYBERCOM “will direct the operation and defense of DOD’s information networks, and will prepare to, and when directed, conduct full spectrum cyberspace military operations. An operational USCYBERCOM will also play a leading role in helping to integrate cyber operations into operational and contingency planning.”

The QDR promises to stand-up “10 space and cyberspace wings” within the Department of the Air Force that will work in tandem with Cyber Command.

Last week, Antifascist Calling reported how the mission of that Pentagon Command is primarily concerned with waging offensive operations against “adversaries” and that civilian infrastructure is viewed as a “legitimate” target for attack.

In that piece, I cited documents released by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), publicly available, though buried within a mass of Broad Agency Announcements, that solicited bids for contracts by the various armed service branches from private defense and security corporations for the design of offensive cyber weapons.

Accordingly, the Air Force Research Laboratory-Rome issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA-10-04-RIKA) February 25, for “Full Spectrum Cyber Operations Technology” that will address issues related to “the integration and better coordination of the day-to-day defense, protection, and operation of DoD networks as well as the capability to conduct full spectrum cyberspace military operations.”

The BAA explicitly states that “research efforts under this program are expected to result in functional capabilities, concepts, theory, and applications ideally addressing cyber operations problems including projects specializing in highly novel and interesting applicable technique concepts will also be considered, if deemed to be of ‘breakthrough’ quality and importance.”

Unsurprisingly, “technical information relevant to potential submitters is contained in a classified addendum at the Secret level to this BAA.”

But the military aren’t the only players leading the charge towards the development of highly-destructive cyberweapons. Indeed, the Cyber Conflict Research Studies Association (CCSA), a Washington, D.C. based think tank is top-heavy with former intelligence, military and corporate officials doing just that.

The group’s board of directors are flush with former officers or consultants from the FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Air Force, National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security and the CIA. Other board members are top officers in the spooky “public-private” FBI-affiliated spy outfit InfraGard, the Council on Foreign Relations as well as high-powered firms such as General Dynamics, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Goldman Sachs.

Demonstrating the interconnected nature of domestic surveillance, repression and military cyberwar operations, CCSA’s Treasurer, Robert Schmidt, is currently a member of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Council on Domestic Intelligence and the secretive Intelligence and National Security Association (INSA). Additionally, Schmidt is the President/CEO of InfraGard and “leads the operational side of private sector involvement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s InfraGard program.” How’s that for a hat trick!

What that “operational side” entails has never been publicly disclosed by the organization, but as I wrote back in 2008, citing Matthew Rothschild’s chilling piece in The Progressive, martial law is high on InfraGard’s agenda.

Members on CCSA’s board of directors, like others whirling through the revolving door between government and the private sector were/are officers or consultants to the FBI, NSA, DHS and other secret state intelligence agencies. Others were/are key advisers on the National Security Council or serve as consultants to industry-sponsored associations such as the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and INSA.

Dovetailing with research conducted by the Pentagon and their Intelligence Community partners, one CCSA study will explore “the full spectrum of military computer network operations, defined as computer network defense (CND), computer network exploit (CNE) and computer network attack (CNA), and examines the potential synergies and tradeoffs between those three categories.”

As befitting research conducted by the Military-Industrial-Security-Complex (MISC), CCSA’s study “will involve key academicians, strategists, military and intelligence community leaders and operational cyber practitioners to analyze key dilemmas of doctrine, organization, training, and planning, particularly with respect to integrating cyber warfare capabilities with kinetic operations.”

Key questions to be answered, among others, include “How can cyberwarfare capabilities be best integrated with other military forces?” and “How can leaders and personnel for conducting cyberwarfare be trained, educated and grown?”

Clearly, these are not academic issues.

DARPA to the Rescue

The Pentagon’s “blue sky” research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is chock-a-block with programs investigating everything from Neurotechnology for Intelligence Analysts to Operationally-Focused Systems Integration (OFSI) “that align DARPA technologies with explicit opportunities for military operational impact.”

Certainly, given the precarious state of the global capitalist economy, the enfeebled nature of American democratic institutions, and with no end in sight to planet-wide imperial adventures to secure access to increasingly shrinking energy reserves and other strategic resources, technological “silver bullets” are highly sought-after commodities by corporate and military bureaucracies. Such technophilic preoccupations by the MISC all but guarantee that the “state of exception” inaugurated by the 9/11 provocation will remain a permanent feature of daily life.

Several, interrelated DARPA projects feed into wider Pentagon cyberwar research conducted by the Army, Navy and Air Force.

One component of this research is DARPA’s National Cyber Range (NCR). The brainchild of the agency’s Strategic Technical Office (STO), NCR is conceived as “DARPA’s contribution to the new federal Comprehensive National Cyber Initiative (CNCI), providing a ‘test bed’ to produce qualitative and quantitative assessments of the Nation’s cyber research and development technologies.”

While DARPA claims that it is “creating the National Cyber Range to protect and defend the nation’s critical information systems,” a “key vision” behind the program “is to revolutionize the state of the art of test range resource and test automation execution.”

While short on specifics, DARPA’s “vision of the NCR is to create a national asset for use across the federal government to test a full spectrum of cyber programs.”

Many of the military programs slated for testing at NCR are highly classified, including those that fall under the purview of Pentagon Special Access or black programs. As defense analyst William M. Arkin pointed out in Code Names, such programs are hidden under the rubric of Special Technical Operations that have their own “entire separate channels of communication and clearances.” STO’s “exist to compartment these military versions of clandestine and covert operations involving special operations, paramilitary activity, covert action, and cyber-warfare.” Arkin identified nearly three dozen cyberwar programs or exercises back in 2005; undoubtedly many more have since come online.

As Aviation Week reported in 2009, “Devices to launch and control cyber, electronic and information attacks are being tested and refined by the U.S. military and industry in preparation for moving out of the laboratory and into the warfighter’s backpack.”

But as “with all DARPA programs,” the agency “will transition the operation of the NCR at a later date to an operational partner. No decision has been made on who will operate the final range.”

Amongst the private defense, security and academic “partners” involved in NCR’s development are the usual suspects: scandal-tainted BAE Systems; General Dynamics-Advanced Information Systems; Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; Lockheed Martin; Northrop Grumman-Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems Division; Science Applications International Corporation; and SPARTA.

The aggressive nature of what has since evolved into CYBERCOM is underscored by several planning documents released by the U.S. Air Force. In a 2006 presentation to the Air Force Cyber Task Force, A Warfighting Domain: Cyberspace, Dr. Lani Kass unabashedly asserts: “Cyber is a war-fighting domain. The electromagnetic spectrum is the maneuver space. Cyber is the United States’ Center of Gravity–the hub of all power and movement, upon which everything else depends. It is the Nation’s neural network.” Kass averred that “Cyber superiority is the prerequisite to effective operations across all strategic and operational domains–securing freedom from attack and freedom to attack.”

Accordingly, she informed her Air Force audience that “Cyber favors the offensive,” and that the transformation of the electromagnetic spectrum into a “warfighting domain” will be accomplished by: “Strategic Attack directly at enemy centers of gravity; Suppression of Enemy Cyber Defenses; Offensive Counter Cyber; Defensive Counter Cyber; Interdiction.”

While the Pentagon and their embedded acolytes in academia, the media and amongst corporate grifters who stand to secure billions in contracts have framed CYBERCOM’s launch purely as a defensive move to deter what Wired investigative journalist Ryan Singel has denounced as “Cyberarmaggedon!” hype to protect America’s “cyber assets” from attack by rogue hackers, states, or free-floating terrorist practitioners of “asymmetric war,” CYBERCOM’s defensive brief is way down the food chain.

Indeed, “options for the Operational Command for Cyberspace” include the “scalability of force packages” and their “ease of implementation” and, as I wrote last week citing but two of the fourteen examples cited by the Senate, “research, development, and acquisition” of cyber weapons. This is attack, not defense mode.

Americans’ Privacy: a Thing of the Past

Situating CYBERCOM under the dark wings of U.S. Strategic Command and the National Security Agency, is a disaster waiting to happen.

As we now know, since 2001 NSA under dubious Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) findings that are still classified, and the despicable 2008 FISA Amendments Act, the Executive Branch was handed the authority the spy on American citizens and legal residents with impunity.

During his confirmation hearing as Cyber Command chief on April 15, NSA Director Lt. General Keith Alexander sought to assure the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) that “this is not about the intent to militarize cyber-space. My main focus is on building the capacity to secure the military’s operational networks.”

He told the Senate panel that if called in to help protect civilian networks, both NSA and Cyber Command “will have unwavering dedication to the privacy of American citizens.”

Alexander was far cagier however in his written responses in a set of Advanced Questions posed by the SASC.

While corporate media like the dutiful stenographers they are, repeated standard Pentagon boilerplate that the secret state has an “unwavering dedication” to Americans’ privacy, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding answers and the release of the classified supplement.

Alexander stated in his written testimony that although “U.S. Cyber Command’s mission will not include defense of the .gov and .com domains, given the integration of cyberspace into the operation of much of our critical infrastructure and the conduct of commerce and governance, it is the obligation of the Department to be prepared to provide military options to the President and SECDEF if our national security is threatened.”

He also defended the statement that “DOD’s mission to defend the nation ‘takes primacy’ over the Department of Homeland Security’s role in some situations.”

“Of greater concern” EPIC wrote in their brief, “may be the questions that Lt. Gen. Alexander chose to respond to in classified form. When asked if the American people are ‘likely to accept deployment of classified methods of monitoring electronic communications to defend the government and critical infrastructure without explaining basic aspects of how this monitoring will be conducted and how it may affect them,’ the Director acknowledged that the Department had a ‘need to be transparent and communicate to the American people about our objectives to address the national security threat to our nation–the nature of the threat, our overall approach, and the roles and responsibilities of each department and agency involved–including NSA and the Department of Defense,’ but then chose include that the rest of his response to that question in the ‘classified supplement’.”

“Most troubling of all” EPIC averred “is the classified nature of the responses to advance questions 27b) and 27c). After responding to the question of how the internet could be designed differently to provide greater inherent security by describing vague ‘technological enhancements’ that could enhance mobility and possibly security, Lt. Gen. Alexander responded to ‘Is it practical to consider adopting those modifications?’ and ‘What would the impact be on privacy, both pro and con?’ by referring the Senators to the ‘classified supplement.’ No answer to either question was provided in the public record.”

But in considering these questions, perhaps the SASC should have referred to ex-spook McConnell’s February Washington Post op-ed: “More specifically, we need to reengineer the Internet to make [it] more manageable. The technologies are already available from public and private sources and can be further developed if we have the will to build them into our systems and to work with our allies and trading partners so they will do the same.”

Is this a great country, or what!

 For all the enervating political tumult and shouting emanating from Washington these days, there is remarkably little to show for it except what has become virtually routine political paralysis.

None of the key differences that are fought over by the politicians seem to directly relate to these five most crucial and threatening specific issues confronting the American people:

 1. The erosion of American democracy by a political system flagrantly dominated by great wealth, the big corporations, Wall Street and the major banks. One person may have one vote, but a billionaire — by virtue of funding certain candidates — has the equivalent of thousands of votes on Election Day and in the federal and state legislatures and executive offices thereafter. This more closely resembles an oligarchy (rule by a small group of powerful people and interests) than genuine democracy.

 2. The grave weakening of civil liberties and the privacy rights of the American people by the Bush and Obama Administrations has in a dozen years transformed the United States into a global Surveillance State. Whatever happened to the “checks and balances” that were supposed to exist in the U.S. political system to protect the people from such abuses? Our postal mail, email, Internet practices, phones and other electronic devises are now hacked at will by the U.S. government and many law enforcement agencies. Somewhere in the U.S., a potential Big Brother regime is patiently waiting in the wings for conditions to ripen. The apparatus is at the ready.

In this connection the Washington Post reported Oct. 5: “David Sanger, the New York Times reporter who has spent two decades reporting in Washington, says that the Obama administration is the ‘most closed, control-freak administration’ he’s ever covered. That criticism comes from a forthcoming report on U.S. press freedom written by former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie Jr., in which he claims that national security reporters face “vast and unprecedented challenges” as a result of government surveillance, secrecy and “sophisticated control” of the news media’s access to government.

3. Rapidly rising economic inequality has reached the point where about half the population now is either low wage or poor while the middle class is being depleted and the top 1% to 5% is living like royalty. Meanwhile, unemployment and foreclosures remain high while social programs that benefit the people are on the chopping block. How can there be a healthy democracy if there isn’t even the semblance of economic democracy for the poor, the working class, the lower middle class and now large sectors of the middle class as well?

 4. Climate change is already upon us and yet — despite some recent White House mumblings about lowering greenhouse gas emissions — the U.S. will shortly become world’s largest crude oil and natural gas producer, thanks to Obama Administration policies and the proliferation of hazardous fracking. Washington always demands to be recognized the world leader, by force if necessary, and now it’s leading the world toward a disaster by ignoring the climate crisis for fear of disrupting corporate and financial profits.

 5. The U.S. government is determined to remain the world’s military superpower, spending over $600 billion a year on the Pentagon and an equal amount on various “national security” endeavors — more than an annual $1.2 trillion all told.  President Obama is currently fighting ground or drone wars in Afghanistan, West Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, while continuing to increase the military buildup against China. In addition, Obama is sending special military forces of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to scores of countries around the globe to advance U.S. interests — and most Americans have no idea this is happening.

 Obviously, from a left perspective, the main danger is the Republicans — the far right wing, the Tea Party reactionaries, most of big business and finance, libertarians, intimidated moderates, fundamentalist Bible thumpers, and remnant racists. They usually oppose abortion rights and deny global warming. Many want to “shrink” the federal government in order to eliminate Social Security and all social programs that benefit the people,  destroy all regulatory oversight of big business, and erect nearly insurmountable barriers against the labor movement.

 However, the five key issues listed above are the product of both the Republican and Democratic Parties. The Libertarians and the Tea Party strongly oppose the erosion of civil liberties. The libertarians are staunchly against imperialist war. Indeed, most Democrats seem to shrug off both issues when their party occupies the Oval Office.

 The Democratic Party is a secondary danger (or lesser evil, if you prefer). Despite controlling the White House and Senate for five years and the House for two of those years — it has proven itself incapable of mounting an effective counterattack against rampant right wing ideology, not least because the center-right Democrats have neither the political orientation, nor the will to adequately serve the needs of American working families. Both parties, after all, are wedded to a private enterprise system utterly based on economic inequality at home and imperialist wars abroad. Can this be honestly doubted by liberals and progressives, even as they undoubtedly will pull the lever for Hilary Clinton and more of the same in 2016?

 What has the Democratic Party done to halt the erosion of American democracy? What has it done to strengthen civil liberties? What has it done (in the last 50 years) to reverse the ever-widening inequality gap between rich and poor? What has it done to end wars and substantially reduce the bloated military/national security budgets in order to invest in social programs? What has it done to promptly take major steps to convert from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy? It has done nothing of significance.

 Our American society is swiftly changing for the worst. We all can see this. It has a way to go yet, and can be stopped and reversed before the rightist momentum becomes uncontrollable. To accomplish this, a new progressive/left politics is absolutely necessary. The march of the right wing must be halted and pushed back. The march of the left (not the center right lesser evil) must commence. All else, in our view, is wishful thinking.

A Timeline of CIA Atrocities

October 27th, 2013 by Global Research News

The following article was initially published in 1997. It is in part based on the work of William Blum. Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions since World War II, 1995 (GR Ed. M. Ch.)

By Steve Kangas

The following timeline describes just a few of the hundreds of atrocities and crimes committed by the CIA. (1)

CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment. So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: “We’ll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us.” The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy). It uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination. These efforts culminate in a military coup, which installs a right-wing dictator. The CIA trains the dictator’s security apparatus to crack down on the traditional enemies of big business, using interrogation, torture and murder. The victims are said to be “communists,” but almost always they are just peasants, liberals, moderates, labor union leaders, political opponents and advocates of free speech and democracy. Widespread human rights abuses follow.

This scenario has been repeated so many times that the CIA actually teaches it in a special school, the notorious “School of the Americas.” (It opened in Panama but later moved to Fort Benning, Georgia.) Critics have nicknamed it the “School of the Dictators” and “School of the Assassins.” Here, the CIA trains Latin American military officers how to conduct coups, including the use of interrogation, torture and murder.

The Association for Responsible Dissent estimates that by 1987, 6 million people had died as a result of CIA covert operations. (2) Former State Department official William Blum correctly calls this an “American Holocaust.”

The CIA justifies these actions as part of its war against communism. But most coups do not involve a communist threat. Unlucky nations are targeted for a wide variety of reasons: not only threats to American business interests abroad, but also liberal or even moderate social reforms, political instability, the unwillingness of a leader to carry out Washington’s dictates, and declarations of neutrality in the Cold War. Indeed, nothing has infuriated CIA Directors quite like a nation’s desire to stay out of the Cold War.

The ironic thing about all this intervention is that it frequently fails to achieve American objectives. Often the newly installed dictator grows comfortable with the security apparatus the CIA has built for him. He becomes an expert at running a police state. And because the dictator knows he cannot be overthrown, he becomes independent and defiant of Washington’s will. The CIA then finds it cannot overthrow him, because the police and military are under the dictator’s control, afraid to cooperate with American spies for fear of torture and execution. The only two options for the U.S at this point are impotence or war. Examples of this “boomerang effect” include the Shah of Iran, General Noriega and Saddam Hussein. The boomerang effect also explains why the CIA has proven highly successful at overthrowing democracies, but a wretched failure at overthrowing dictatorships.

The following timeline should confirm that the CIA as we know it should be abolished and replaced by a true information-gathering and analysis organization. The CIA cannot be reformed — it is institutionally and culturally corrupt.

1929

The culture we lost — Secretary of State Henry Stimson refuses to endorse a code-breaking operation, saying, “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.”

1941

COI created — In preparation for World War II, President Roosevelt creates the Office of Coordinator of Information (COI). General William “Wild Bill” Donovan heads the new intelligence service.

1942

OSS created — Roosevelt restructures COI into something more suitable for covert action, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). Donovan recruits so many of the nation’s rich and powerful that eventually people joke that “OSS” stands for “Oh, so social!” or “Oh, such snobs!”

1943

Italy — Donovan recruits the Catholic Church in Rome to be the center of Anglo-American spy operations in Fascist Italy. This would prove to be one of America’s most enduring intelligence alliances in the Cold War.

1945

OSS is abolished — The remaining American information agencies cease covert actions and return to harmless information gathering and analysis.

Operation PAPERCLIP – While other American agencies are hunting down Nazi war criminals for arrest, the U.S. intelligence community is smuggling them into America, unpunished, for their use against the Soviets. The most important of these is Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler’s master spy who had built up an intelligence network in the Soviet Union. With full U.S. blessing, he creates the “Gehlen Organization,” a band of refugee Nazi spies who reactivate their networks in Russia.

These include SS intelligence officers Alfred Six and Emil Augsburg (who massacred Jews in the Holocaust), Klaus Barbie (the “Butcher of Lyon”), Otto von Bolschwing (the Holocaust mastermind who worked with Eichmann) and SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny (a personal friend of Hitler’s). The Gehlen Organization supplies the U.S. with its only intelligence on the Soviet Union for the next ten years, serving as a bridge between the abolishment of the OSS and the creation of the CIA. However, much of the “intelligence” the former Nazis provide is bogus. Gehlen inflates Soviet military capabilities at a time when Russia is still rebuilding its devastated society, in order to inflate his own importance to the Americans (who might otherwise punish him). In 1948, Gehlen almost convinces the Americans that war is imminent, and the West should make a preemptive strike. In the 50s he produces a fictitious “missile gap.” To make matters worse, the Russians have thoroughly penetrated the Gehlen Organization with double agents, undermining the very American security that Gehlen was supposed to protect.

1947

Greece — President Truman requests military aid to Greece to support right-wing forces fighting communist rebels. For the rest of the Cold War, Washington and the CIA will back notorious Greek leaders with deplorable human rights records.

CIA created — President Truman signs the National Security Act of 1947, creating the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Council. The CIA is accountable to the president through the NSC — there is no democratic or congressional oversight. Its charter allows the CIA to “perform such other functions and duties… as the National Security Council may from time to time direct.” This loophole opens the door to covert action and dirty tricks.

1948

Covert-action wing created — The CIA recreates a covert action wing, innocuously called the Office of Policy Coordination, led by Wall Street lawyer Frank Wisner. According to its secret charter, its responsibilities include “propaganda, economic warfare, preventive direct action, including sabotage, antisabotage, demolition and evacuation procedures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world.”

Italy — The CIA corrupts democratic elections in Italy, where Italian communists threaten to win the elections. The CIA buys votes, broadcasts propaganda, threatens and beats up opposition leaders, and infiltrates and disrupts their organizations. It works — the communists are defeated.

1949

Radio Free Europe — The CIA creates its first major propaganda outlet, Radio Free Europe. Over the next several decades, its broadcasts are so blatantly false that for a time it is considered illegal to publish transcripts of them in the U.S.

Late 40s

Operation MOCKINGBIRD — The CIA begins recruiting American news organizations and journalists to become spies and disseminators of propaganda. The effort is headed by Frank Wisner, Allan Dulles, Richard Helms and Philip Graham. Graham is publisher of The Washington Post, which becomes a major CIA player. Eventually, the CIA’s media assets will include ABC, NBC, CBS, Time, Newsweek, Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Copley News Service and more. By the CIA’s own admission, at least 25 organizations and 400 journalists will become CIA assets.

1953

Iran – CIA overthrows the democratically elected Mohammed Mossadegh in a military coup, after he threatened to nationalize British oil. The CIA replaces him with a dictator, the Shah of Iran, whose secret police, SAVAK, is as brutal as the Gestapo.

Operation MK-ULTRA — Inspired by North Korea’s brainwashing program, the CIA begins experiments on mind control. The most notorious part of this project involves giving LSD and other drugs to American subjects without their knowledge or against their will, causing several to commit suicide. However, the operation involves far more than this. Funded in part by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations, research includes propaganda, brainwashing, public relations, advertising, hypnosis, and other forms of suggestion.

1954

Guatemala — CIA overthrows the democratically elected Jacob Arbenz in a military coup. Arbenz has threatened to nationalize the Rockefeller-owned United Fruit Company, in which CIA Director Allen Dulles also owns stock. Arbenz is replaced with a series of right-wing dictators whose bloodthirsty policies will kill over 100,000 Guatemalans in the next 40 years.

1954-1958

North Vietnam — CIA officer Edward Lansdale spends four years trying to overthrow the communist government of North Vietnam, using all the usual dirty tricks. The CIA also attempts to legitimize a tyrannical puppet regime in South Vietnam, headed by Ngo Dinh Diem. These efforts fail to win the hearts and minds of the South Vietnamese because the Diem government is opposed to true democracy, land reform and poverty reduction measures. The CIA’s continuing failure results in escalating American intervention, culminating in the Vietnam War.

1956

Hungary — Radio Free Europe incites Hungary to revolt by broadcasting Khruschev’s Secret Speech, in which he denounced Stalin. It also hints that American aid will help the Hungarians fight. This aid fails to materialize as Hungarians launch a doomed armed revolt, which only invites a major Soviet invasion. The conflict kills 7,000 Soviets and 30,000 Hungarians.

1957-1973

Laos — The CIA carries out approximately one coup per year trying to nullify Laos’ democratic elections. The problem is the Pathet Lao, a leftist group with enough popular support to be a member of any coalition government. In the late 50s, the CIA even creates an “Armee Clandestine” of Asian mercenaries to attack the Pathet Lao. After the CIA’s army suffers numerous defeats, the U.S. starts bombing, dropping more bombs on Laos than all the U.S. bombs dropped in World War II. A quarter of all Laotians will eventually become refugees, many living in caves.

1959

Haiti — The U.S. military helps “Papa Doc” Duvalier become dictator of Haiti. He creates his own private police force, the “Tonton Macoutes,” who terrorize the population with machetes. They will kill over 100,000 during the Duvalier family reign. The U.S. does not protest their dismal human rights record.

1961

The Bay of Pigs — The CIA sends 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Castro’s Cuba. But “Operation Mongoose” fails, due to poor planning, security and backing. The planners had imagined that the invasion will spark a popular uprising against Castro -– which never happens. A promised American air strike also never occurs. This is the CIA’s first public setback, causing President Kennedy to fire CIA Director Allen Dulles.

Dominican Republic — The CIA assassinates Rafael Trujillo, a murderous dictator Washington has supported since 1930. Trujillo’s business interests have grown so large (about 60 percent of the economy) that they have begun competing with American business interests.

Ecuador — The CIA-backed military forces the democratically elected President Jose Velasco to resign. Vice President Carlos Arosemana replaces him; the CIA fills the now vacant vice presidency with its own man.

Congo (Zaire) — The CIA assassinates the democratically elected Patrice Lumumba. However, public support for Lumumba’s politics runs so high that the CIA cannot clearly install his opponents in power. Four years of political turmoil follow.

1963

Dominican Republic — The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Juan Bosch in a military coup. The CIA installs a repressive, right-wing junta.

Ecuador — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows President Arosemana, whose independent (not socialist) policies have become unacceptable to Washington. A military junta assumes command, cancels the 1964 elections, and begins abusing human rights.

1964

Brazil — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the democratically elected government of Joao Goulart. The junta that replaces it will, in the next two decades, become one of the most bloodthirsty in history. General Castelo Branco will create Latin America’s first death squads, or bands of secret police who hunt down “communists” for torture, interrogation and murder. Often these “communists” are no more than Branco’s political opponents. Later it is revealed that the CIA trains the death squads.

1965

Indonesia — The CIA overthrows the democratically elected Sukarno with a military coup. The CIA has been trying to eliminate Sukarno since 1957, using everything from attempted assassination to sexual intrigue, for nothing more than his declaring neutrality in the Cold War. His successor, General Suharto, will massacre between 500,000 to 1 million civilians accused of being “communist.” The CIA supplies the names of countless suspects.

Dominican Republic — A popular rebellion breaks out, promising to reinstall Juan Bosch as the country’s elected leader. The revolution is crushed when U.S. Marines land to uphold the military regime by force. The CIA directs everything behind the scenes.

Greece — With the CIA’s backing, the king removes George Papandreous as prime minister. Papandreous has failed to vigorously support U.S. interests in Greece.

Congo (Zaire) — A CIA-backed military coup installs Mobutu Sese Seko as dictator. The hated and repressive Mobutu exploits his desperately poor country for billions.

1966

The Ramparts Affair — The radical magazine Ramparts begins a series of unprecedented anti-CIA articles. Among their scoops: the CIA has paid the University of Michigan $25 million dollars to hire “professors” to train South Vietnamese students in covert police methods. MIT and other universities have received similar payments. Ramparts also reveals that the National Students’ Association is a CIA front. Students are sometimes recruited through blackmail and bribery, including draft deferments.

1967

Greece — A CIA-backed military coup overthrows the government two days before the elections. The favorite to win was George Papandreous, the liberal candidate. During the next six years, the “reign of the colonels” — backed by the CIA — will usher in the widespread use of torture and murder against political opponents. When a Greek ambassador objects to President Johnson about U.S. plans for Cypress, Johnson tells him: “Fuck your parliament and your constitution.”

Operation PHEONIX — The CIA helps South Vietnamese agents identify and then murder alleged Viet Cong leaders operating in South Vietnamese villages. According to a 1971 congressional report, this operation killed about 20,000 “Viet Cong.”

1968

Operation CHAOS — The CIA has been illegally spying on American citizens since 1959, but with Operation CHAOS, President Johnson dramatically boosts the effort. CIA agents go undercover as student radicals to spy on and disrupt campus organizations protesting the Vietnam War. They are searching for Russian instigators, which they never find. CHAOS will eventually spy on 7,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations.

Bolivia — A CIA-organized military operation captures legendary guerilla Che Guevara. The CIA wants to keep him alive for interrogation, but the Bolivian government executes him to prevent worldwide calls for clemency.

1969

Uruguay — The notorious CIA torturer Dan Mitrione arrives in Uruguay, a country torn with political strife. Whereas right-wing forces previously used torture only as a last resort, Mitrione convinces them to use it as a routine, widespread practice. “The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect,” is his motto. The torture techniques he teaches to the death squads rival the Nazis’. He eventually becomes so feared that revolutionaries will kidnap and murder him a year later.

1970

Cambodia — The CIA overthrows Prince Sahounek, who is highly popular among Cambodians for keeping them out of the Vietnam War. He is replaced by CIA puppet Lon Nol, who immediately throws Cambodian troops into battle. This unpopular move strengthens once minor opposition parties like the Khmer Rouge, which achieves power in 1975 and massacres millions of its own people.

1971

Bolivia — After half a decade of CIA-inspired political turmoil, a CIA-backed military coup overthrows the leftist President Juan Torres. In the next two years, dictator Hugo Banzer will have over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, then tortured, raped and executed.

Haiti — “Papa Doc” Duvalier dies, leaving his 19-year old son “Baby Doc” Duvalier the dictator of Haiti. His son continues his bloody reign with full knowledge of the CIA.

1972

The Case-Zablocki Act — Congress passes an act requiring congressional review of executive agreements. In theory, this should make CIA operations more accountable. In fact, it is only marginally effective.

Cambodia — Congress votes to cut off CIA funds for its secret war in Cambodia.

Wagergate Break-in — President Nixon sends in a team of burglars to wiretap Democratic offices at Watergate. The team members have extensive CIA histories, including James McCord, E. Howard Hunt and five of the Cuban burglars. They work for the Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP), which does dirty work like disrupting Democratic campaigns and laundering Nixon’s illegal campaign contributions. CREEP’s activities are funded and organized by another CIA front, the Mullen Company.

1973

Chile — The CIA overthrows and assassinates Salvador Allende, Latin America’s first democratically elected socialist leader. The problems begin when Allende nationalizes American-owned firms in Chile. ITT offers the CIA $1 million for a coup (reportedly refused). The CIA replaces Allende with General Augusto Pinochet, who will torture and murder thousands of his own countrymen in a crackdown on labor leaders and the political left.

CIA begins internal investigations — William Colby, the Deputy Director for Operations, orders all CIA personnel to report any and all illegal activities they know about. This information is later reported to Congress.

Watergate Scandal — The CIA’s main collaborating newspaper in America, The Washington Post, reports Nixon’s crimes long before any other newspaper takes up the subject. The two reporters, Woodward and Bernstein, make almost no mention of the CIA’s many fingerprints all over the scandal. It is later revealed that Woodward was a Naval intelligence briefer to the White House, and knows many important intelligence figures, including General Alexander Haig. His main source, “Deep Throat,” is probably one of those.

CIA Director Helms Fired — President Nixon fires CIA Director Richard Helms for failing to help cover up the Watergate scandal. Helms and Nixon have always disliked each other. The new CIA director is William Colby, who is relatively more open to CIA reform.

1974

CHAOS exposed — Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh publishes a story about Operation CHAOS, the domestic surveillance and infiltration of anti-war and civil rights groups in the U.S. The story sparks national outrage.

Angleton fired — Congress holds hearings on the illegal domestic spying efforts of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s chief of counterintelligence. His efforts included mail-opening campaigns and secret surveillance of war protesters. The hearings result in his dismissal from the CIA.

House clears CIA in Watergate — The House of Representatives clears the CIA of any complicity in Nixon’s Watergate break-in.

The Hughes Ryan Act — Congress passes an amendment requiring the president to report nonintelligence CIA operations to the relevant congressional committees in a timely fashion.

1975

Australia — The CIA helps topple the democratically elected, left-leaning government of Prime Minister Edward Whitlam. The CIA does this by giving an ultimatum to its Governor-General, John Kerr. Kerr, a longtime CIA collaborator, exercises his constitutional right to dissolve the Whitlam government. The Governor-General is a largely ceremonial position appointed by the Queen; the Prime Minister is democratically elected. The use of this archaic and never-used law stuns the nation.

Angola — Eager to demonstrate American military resolve after its defeat in Vietnam, Henry Kissinger launches a CIA-backed war in Angola. Contrary to Kissinger’s assertions, Angola is a country of little strategic importance and not seriously threatened by communism. The CIA backs the brutal leader of UNITAS, Jonas Savimbi. This polarizes Angolan politics and drives his opponents into the arms of Cuba and the Soviet Union for survival. Congress will cut off funds in 1976, but the CIA is able to run the war off the books until 1984, when funding is legalized again. This entirely pointless war kills over 300,000 Angolans.

“The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence” — Victor Marchetti and John Marks publish this whistle-blowing history of CIA crimes and abuses. Marchetti has spent 14 years in the CIA, eventually becoming an executive assistant to the Deputy Director of Intelligence. Marks has spent five years as an intelligence official in the State Department.

“Inside the Company” — Philip Agee publishes a diary of his life inside the CIA. Agee has worked in covert operations in Latin America during the 60s, and details the crimes in which he took part.

Congress investigates CIA wrong-doing — Public outrage compels Congress to hold hearings on CIA crimes. Senator Frank Church heads the Senate investigation (“The Church Committee”), and Representative Otis Pike heads the House investigation. (Despite a 98 percent incumbency reelection rate, both Church and Pike are defeated in the next elections.) The investigations lead to a number of reforms intended to increase the CIA’s accountability to Congress, including the creation of a standing Senate committee on intelligence. However, the reforms prove ineffective, as the Iran/Contra scandal will show. It turns out the CIA can control, deal with or sidestep Congress with ease.

The Rockefeller Commission — In an attempt to reduce the damage done by the Church Committee, President Ford creates the “Rockefeller Commission” to whitewash CIA history and propose toothless reforms. The commission’s namesake, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, is himself a major CIA figure. Five of the commission’s eight members are also members of the Council on Foreign Relations, a CIA-dominated organization.

1979

Iran — The CIA fails to predict the fall of the Shah of Iran, a longtime CIA puppet, and the rise of Muslim fundamentalists who are furious at the CIA’s backing of SAVAK, the Shah’s bloodthirsty secret police. In revenge, the Muslims take 52 Americans hostage in the U.S. embassy in Tehran.

Afghanistan — The Soviets invade Afghanistan. The CIA immediately begins supplying arms to any faction willing to fight the occupying Soviets. Such indiscriminate arming means that when the Soviets leave Afghanistan, civil war will erupt. Also, fanatical Muslim extremists now possess state-of-the-art weaponry. One of these is Sheik Abdel Rahman, who will become involved in the World Trade Center bombing in New York.

El Salvador — An idealistic group of young military officers, repulsed by the massacre of the poor, overthrows the right-wing government. However, the U.S. compels the inexperienced officers to include many of the old guard in key positions in their new government. Soon, things are back to “normal” — the military government is repressing and killing poor civilian protesters. Many of the young military and civilian reformers, finding themselves powerless, resign in disgust.

Nicaragua — Anastasios Samoza II, the CIA-backed dictator, falls. The Marxist Sandinistas take over government, and they are initially popular because of their commitment to land and anti-poverty reform. Samoza had a murderous and hated personal army called the National Guard. Remnants of the Guard will become the Contras, who fight a CIA-backed guerilla war against the Sandinista government throughout the 1980s.

1980

El Salvador — The Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, pleads with President Carter “Christian to Christian” to stop aiding the military government slaughtering his people. Carter refuses. Shortly afterwards, right-wing leader Roberto D’Aubuisson has Romero shot through the heart while saying Mass. The country soon dissolves into civil war, with the peasants in the hills fighting against the military government. The CIA and U.S. Armed Forces supply the government with overwhelming military and intelligence superiority. CIA-trained death squads roam the countryside, committing atrocities like that of El Mazote in 1982, where they massacre between 700 and 1000 men, women and children. By 1992, some 63,000 Salvadorans will be killed.

1981

Iran/Contra Begins — The CIA begins selling arms to Iran at high prices, using the profits to arm the Contras fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. President Reagan vows that the Sandinistas will be “pressured” until “they say ‘uncle.’” The CIA’s Freedom Fighter’s Manual disbursed to the Contras includes instruction on economic sabotage, propaganda, extortion, bribery, blackmail, interrogation, torture, murder and political assassination.

1983

Honduras — The CIA gives Honduran military officers the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual – 1983, which teaches how to torture people. Honduras’ notorious “Battalion 316″ then uses these techniques, with the CIA’s full knowledge, on thousands of leftist dissidents. At least 184 are murdered.

1984

The Boland Amendment — The last of a series of Boland Amendments is passed. These amendments have reduced CIA aid to the Contras; the last one cuts it off completely. However, CIA Director William Casey is already prepared to “hand off” the operation to Colonel Oliver North, who illegally continues supplying the Contras through the CIA’s informal, secret, and self-financing network. This includes “humanitarian aid” donated by Adolph Coors and William Simon, and military aid funded by Iranian arms sales.

1986

Eugene Hasenfus — Nicaragua shoots down a C-123 transport plane carrying military supplies to the Contras. The lone survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, turns out to be a CIA employee, as are the two dead pilots. The airplane belongs to Southern Air Transport, a CIA front. The incident makes a mockery of President Reagan’s claims that the CIA is not illegally arming the Contras.

Iran/Contra Scandal — Although the details have long been known, the Iran/Contra scandal finally captures the media’s attention in 1986. Congress holds hearings, and several key figures (like Oliver North) lie under oath to protect the intelligence community. CIA Director William Casey dies of brain cancer before Congress can question him. All reforms enacted by Congress after the scandal are purely cosmetic.

Haiti — Rising popular revolt in Haiti means that “Baby Doc” Duvalier will remain “President for Life” only if he has a short one. The U.S., which hates instability in a puppet country, flies the despotic Duvalier to the South of France for a comfortable retirement. The CIA then rigs the upcoming elections in favor of another right-wing military strongman. However, violence keeps the country in political turmoil for another four years. The CIA tries to strengthen the military by creating the National Intelligence Service (SIN), which suppresses popular revolt through torture and assassination.

1989

Panama — The U.S. invades Panama to overthrow a dictator of its own making, General Manuel Noriega. Noriega has been on the CIA’s payroll since 1966, and has been transporting drugs with the CIA’s knowledge since 1972. By the late 80s, Noriega’s growing independence and intransigence have angered Washington… so out he goes.

1990

Haiti — Competing against 10 comparatively wealthy candidates, leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide captures 68 percent of the vote. After only eight months in power, however, the CIA-backed military deposes him. More military dictators brutalize the country, as thousands of Haitian refugees escape the turmoil in barely seaworthy boats. As popular opinion calls for Aristide’s return, the CIA begins a disinformation campaign painting the courageous priest as mentally unstable.

1991

The Gulf War — The U.S. liberates Kuwait from Iraq. But Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, is another creature of the CIA. With U.S. encouragement, Hussein invaded Iran in 1980. During this costly eight-year war, the CIA built up Hussein’s forces with sophisticated arms, intelligence, training and financial backing. This cemented Hussein’s power at home, allowing him to crush the many internal rebellions that erupted from time to time, sometimes with poison gas. It also gave him all the military might he needed to conduct further adventurism — in Kuwait, for example.

The Fall of the Soviet Union — The CIA fails to predict this most important event of the Cold War. This suggests that it has been so busy undermining governments that it hasn’t been doing its primary job: gathering and analyzing information. The fall of the Soviet Union also robs the CIA of its reason for existence: fighting communism. This leads some to accuse the CIA of intentionally failing to predict the downfall of the Soviet Union. Curiously, the intelligence community’s budget is not significantly reduced after the demise of communism.

1992

Economic Espionage — In the years following the end of the Cold War, the CIA is increasingly used for economic espionage. This involves stealing the technological secrets of competing foreign companies and giving them to American ones. Given the CIA’s clear preference for dirty tricks over mere information gathering, the possibility of serious criminal behavior is very great indeed.

1993

Haiti — The chaos in Haiti grows so bad that President Clinton has no choice but to remove the Haitian military dictator, Raoul Cedras, on threat of U.S. invasion. The U.S. occupiers do not arrest Haiti’s military leaders for crimes against humanity, but instead ensure their safety and rich retirements. Aristide is returned to power only after being forced to accept an agenda favorable to the country’s ruling class.

EPILOGUE

In a speech before the CIA celebrating its 50th anniversary, President Clinton said: “By necessity, the American people will never know the full story of your courage.”

Clinton’s is a common defense of the CIA: namely, the American people should stop criticizing the CIA because they don’t know what it really does. This, of course, is the heart of the problem in the first place. An agency that is above criticism is also above moral behavior and reform. Its secrecy and lack of accountability allows its corruption to grow unchecked.

Furthermore, Clinton’s statement is simply untrue. The history of the agency is growing painfully clear, especially with the declassification of historical CIA documents. We may not know the details of specific operations, but we do know, quite well, the general behavior of the CIA. These facts began emerging nearly two decades ago at an ever-quickening pace. Today we have a remarkably accurate and consistent picture, repeated in country after country, and verified from countless different directions.

The CIA’s response to this growing knowledge and criticism follows a typical historical pattern. (Indeed, there are remarkable parallels to the Medieval Church’s fight against the Scientific Revolution.) The first journalists and writers to reveal the CIA’s criminal behavior were harassed and censored if they were American writers, and tortured and murdered if they were foreigners. (See Philip Agee’s On the Run for an example of early harassment.) However, over the last two decades the tide of evidence has become overwhelming, and the CIA has found that it does not have enough fingers to plug every hole in the dike. This is especially true in the age of the Internet, where information flows freely among millions of people. Since censorship is impossible, the Agency must now defend itself with apologetics. Clinton’s “Americans will never know” defense is a prime example.

Another common apologetic is that “the world is filled with unsavory characters, and we must deal with them if we are to protect American interests at all.” There are two things wrong with this. First, it ignores the fact that the CIA has regularly spurned alliances with defenders of democracy, free speech and human rights, preferring the company of military dictators and tyrants. The CIA had moral options available to them, but did not take them.

Second, this argument begs several questions. The first is: “Which American interests?” The CIA has courted right-wing dictators because they allow wealthy Americans to exploit the country’s cheap labor and resources. But poor and middle-class Americans pay the price whenever they fight the wars that stem from CIA actions, from Vietnam to the Gulf War to Panama. The second begged question is: “Why should American interests come at the expense of other peoples’ human rights?”

The CIA should be abolished, its leadership dismissed and its relevant members tried for crimes against humanity. Our intelligence community should be rebuilt from the ground up, with the goal of collecting and analyzing information. As for covert action, there are two moral options. The first one is to eliminate covert action completely. But this gives jitters to people worried about the Adolf Hitlers of the world. So a second option is that we can place covert action under extensive and true democratic oversight. For example, a bipartisan Congressional Committee of 40 members could review and veto all aspects of CIA operations upon a majority or super-majority vote. Which of these two options is best may be the subject of debate, but one thing is clear: like dictatorship, like monarchy, unaccountable covert operations should die like the dinosaurs they are.

 

The Real Reason U.S. Targets WhistleblowersWashington’s Blog, October 27, 2013

 

 

iranus

The Iranian “Smoke and Mirrors Threat” and Washington’s “Human Rights Card”Sam Muhho, October 27, 2013

 

health

Obamacare Fallout. Medical Privacy Rights are ViolatedStephen Lendman, October 27, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

yemen

Does America have a “Licence to Kill”? US Drone War on Yemen Violates International LawGlobal Research News, October 26, 2013

 

 

 

 

Blood unites Iraqis, Al Ahram, October 26, 2013

 

 

 

gold

Gold WarsDr. Paul Craig Roberts, October 25, 2013

 

 

drone attack

Lawless Drone KillingsStephen Lendman, October 25, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

world vision fodd program

Haiti: World Vision’s Targeted Food Program Questioned – Food Aid is “More Negative than Positive”Haiti Grassroots Watch, October 24, 2013

 

 

Slavery in QatarGlobal Research News, October 24, 2013

 

 

 

Media Disseminated Myths about Obamacare

Fiasco Obamacare DebutStephen Lendman, October 24, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cocaine

Israel: Major International Cocaine Trafficking HubStephen Lendman, October 23, 2013

 


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On October 25, the US Nimitz class aircraft carrier USS George Washington entered Manila Bay. At the head of Carrier Strike Group Five, the aircraft carrier had spent the past week sailing the disputed waters of the South China Sea, visiting various regional claimants.

Washington is seeking, through this show of military force in the region, to shore up its slipping diplomatic position in the wake of Obama’s absence from the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits in early October.

Obama canceled his travel to Southeast Asia to deal with the government shut down. His absence at the summits was seen as a clear indication in Asia of the declining economic and diplomatic power of Washington. Beijing seized upon the opportunity afforded by Obama’s no-show to conduct a ‘charm offensive’ in South East Asia. Prime Minister Xi Jinping and Premier Li Kejiang traveled throughout the region meeting with heads of state and dispensing economic largesse in the form lucrative new trade deals and investments.

Obama’s absence raised questions about the seriousness of the US ‘pivot’ to Asia, which includes the shifting of the majority of US forces to the Indo-Pacific in a calculated strategy to encircle China. Countries throughout the region, most notably the Philippines and Vietnam, have engaged in increasingly aggressive assertions of their claims to the South China Sea, spurred on by Washington’s pivot.

In the wake of the ASEAN summit, the bourgeoisie throughout the region were left uncertain if, in the event of conflict with China, Washington would be willing to intervene militarily, and further, if it could afford to.

Unable to match the economic hand-outs of Beijing, Washington is shoring up its diplomatic and political power in the region through the escalation of its military presence. Every stop of the Fifth Carrier strike group was directed to this end.

The USS George Washington heads Carrier Strike Group 5, which is the largest such group in the US Navy. It includes two guided missile cruisers, a destroyer, a supply ship and a fast attack submarine. There are over 6,000 military personnel on board the aircraft carrier alone.

On Sunday, the USS George Washington was 200 miles off the coast of Danang, Vietnam. According to the Huffington Post, “a group of high-ranking Vietnamese military officials was flown onto the carrier Sunday along with other Vietnamese government officials and the U.S. ambassador to the country.” The location is highly symbolic as Danang was a key US airforce base during the American war in Vietnam, and US aircraft conducted bombing runs over Vietnam and Laos from the airbase.

Commander of the George Washington airwing, Captain Ross Meyers told the visitors: “The strategic implications and importance of the waters of the South China Sea and the freedom of navigation is vital to both Vietnam and the United States.” ‘Freedom of navigation’ has long been the code phrase used to justify Washington’s military drive against China in the region.

It was announced that the destroyer, USS John McCain, would make a port call to Vietnam later in the week, where it would engage in joint training exercises. The exercises were also to include three ships from the Japanese so-called Self-Defense Forces.

It was also announced that a military delegation from Hanoi, led by Deputy Defence Minister Lieutenant-General Nguyen Chi Vinh, would visit Washington on October 24 to conduct a ‘Defence Strategy dialogue.’

On Monday, General Vincent Brooks, Commanding General of the US Army in the Pacific, announced that the Pentagon was planning to hold the first-ever joint Army-Navy Maritime exercises in the Pacific theater. This move is a sharp escalation of Washington’s preparations for war against China. Brooks justified the move as “fitting” by citing the origins of US imperialism in the American war of conquest in the Philippines, saying, “the roots of our expeditionary experience in the Army were born in the Pacific.” Lieutenant Colonel Michael Donnelly, US Army Pacific spokesman further justified the joint Army-Navy exercises by saying: “The ground element of the Pacific rebalance is important to ensure the stability in the region.”

On Wednesday, the USS George Washington sailed to Malaysia. Sixteen ‘high-level’ Malaysian government officials were given a tour of the carrier, including Shakib Ahmad Shakir, deputy undersecretary of defense. The US defense attaché in Malaysia welcomed them to “1,100 feet of sovereign US Territory” while they sailed through the South China Sea and launched fighter jets.

File:USS George Washington (CVN-73) 001.jpg

The carrier group staged joint military and naval exercises with Malaysian forces.

Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein announced that Kuala Lumpur would be building a naval base on Bintulu in the South China Sea, just 60 miles from the disputed James Shoal where the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had staged amphibious landing drills earlier this year. The base will house Malaysian Marines who, it was announced, will receive support, training and expertise exchange from the US Marine Corps.

Washington has offered Kuala Lumpur the amphibious platform dock, USS Denver, after its decommission in 2014, and is also looking to sell Malaysia several AH-1Z Super Cobra attack helicopters, according to IHS Jane s Defense Weekly .

On the same day, the Los Angeles-class, fast attack submarine USS Santa Fe docked at Changi naval base in Singapore, showcasing to members of the Singaporean Navy its littoral combat capabilities. Leading Singaporean government figures were also flown out to the USS George Washington.

On October 24, while sailing in the midst of the South China Sea from Malaysia to the Philippines, Rear Admiral Mark C. Montgomery, commander of the USS George Washington held a press conference with reporters from BBC, CNN, AFP, and other news agencies on the flag bridge with fighter jets taking off in the background.

The ‘pivot’ has led to “an increase in surface combatant presence here in the Western Pacific… so these [US] ships are spread throughout those areas,” he stated. “Having more ships gives us more presence. It allows us to have a greater force.” The ‘pivot’ is “gaining strength,” he said.

According to AFP, Montgomery stated that “US defence budget cuts and the recent 16-day partial US government shutdown have not affected his command.” He continued: “The strategic rebalance is continuing in earnest … We have sufficient funds for our operations.”

Asked by a reporter about what would happen in the event of “military conflict in the region,” Montgomery stated, “I think the fact that we’re here (now) says a lot whether or not we will be here if there was a crisis.”

Just arrived in Manila Bay, it is reported that the USS George Washington will be hosting several hundred leading Philippine government, military and business leaders.

On Friday, the PLA issued a press release announcing that Chinese military forces had sailed out the Bashi Channel into the Pacific and were staging the “first open-sea drill with maritime and air forces from all three of China’s fleets taking part.” According to the Global Times, the drills were conducted to prepare for “open-sea combat” to “safeguard national security and maritime interests.”

The Real Reason U.S. Targets Whistleblowers

October 27th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

Hypocrisy as a Weapon

U.S. leaders have long:

  • Labeled indiscriminate killing of civilians as terrorism.  Yet the American military  indiscriminately kills innocent civilians (and see this),  calling it “carefully targeted strikes”.   For example, when Al Qaeda, Syrians or others target people attending funerals of those killed – or those attempting to rescue people who have been injured by – previous attacks, we rightfully label it terrorism.  But the U.S. government does exactly the same thing (more), pretending that it is all okay
  • Scolded tyrants who launch aggressive wars to grab power or plunder resources. But we ourselves have launched a series of wars for oil (and here) and gas

Can you spot a pattern of hypocrisy?

Indeed, the worse the acts by officials, the more they say we it must be covered up … for “the good of the country”.

For example, Elizabeth Goitein – co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice – writes:

The government has begun to advance bold new justifications for classifying information that threaten to erode the principled limits that have existed — in theory, if not always in practice — for decades. The cost of these efforts, if they remain unchecked, may be the American public’s ability to hold its government accountable.

***

The government acknowledged that it possessed mug shots, videos depicting forcible extractions of al-Qahtani from his cell and videos documenting various euphemistically termed “intelligence debriefings of al-Qahtani.” It argued that all of these images were properly classified and withheld from the public — but not because they would reveal sensitive intelligence methods, the traditional justification for classifying such information. The government did not stake its case on this time-tested argument perhaps because the details of al-Qahtani’s interrogations have been officially disclosed through agency reports and congressional hearings. Instead, the government argued that the images could be shielded from disclosure because the Taliban and associated forces have previously used photos of U.S. forces “interacting with detainees” to garner support for attacks against those forces. Even more broadly, the government asserted that disclosure could aid in the “recruitment and financing of extremists and insurgent groups.”

***

The government’s argument echoed a similar claim it made in a lawsuit earlier this year over a FOIA request for postmortem photographs of Osama bin Laden. A CIA official attested that these images could “aid the production of anti-American propaganda,” noting that images of abuse at Abu Ghraib had been “very effective” in helping Al-Qaeda to recruit supporters and raise funds. The appeals court did not address this argument, however, resting its decision on the narrower ground that these particular images were likely to incite immediate violence.

The judge in al-Qahtani’s case showed no such restraint. She held that the photos and videos were properly classified because “it (is) both logical and plausible that extremists would utilize images of al-Qahtani … to incite anti-American sentiment, to raise funds, and/or to recruit other loyalists.” When CCR pointed out that this result was speculative, the judge responded that “it is bad law and bad policy to second-guess the predictive judgments made by the government’s intelligence agencies.” In short, the government may classify information, not because that information reveals tactical or operational secrets but because the conduct it reveals could in theory anger existing enemies or create new ones.

This approach is alarming in part because it has no limiting principle. The reasons why people choose to align themselves against the United States — or any other country — are nearly as numerous and varied as the people themselves. Our support for Israel is considered a basis for enmity by some. May the government classify the aid we provide to other nations? May it classify our trade policies on the basis that they may breed resentment among the populations of some countries, thus laying the groundwork for future hostile relations? May it classify our history of involvement in armed conflicts across the globe because that history may function as “anti-American propaganda” in some quarters?

Perhaps even more disturbing, this justification for secrecy will be strongest when the U.S. government’s conduct most clearly violates accepted international norms. Evidence of human rights abuses against foreign nationals, for instance, is particularly likely to spark hostility abroad. Indeed, the judge in the al-Qahtani FOIA case noted that “the written record of (al-Qahtani’s) torture may make it all the more likely that enemy forces would use al-Qahtani’s image against the United States” — citing this fact as a reason to uphold classification.

Using the impropriety of the government’s actions as a justification for secrecy is the very antithesis of accountability. To prevent this very outcome, the executive order that governs classification forbids classifying a document to “conceal violations of law” or to “prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency.” However, a federal judge in 2008 interpreted this provision to allow classification of information revealing misconduct if there is a valid security reason for the nondisclosure. Together, this ruling and the judge’s opinion in the al-Qahtani FOIA case eviscerate the executive order’s prohibition: The government can always argue that it classified evidence of wrongdoing because the information could be used as “anti-American propaganda” by our adversaries.

Human rights advocates cannot rely on al-Qahtani to tell us what the photos and videos would reveal. The government asserts that his own knowledge of what occurred at Guantánamo — knowledge he gained, not through privileged access to government documents but through his personal experience — is a state secret. The words that Guantánamo detainees speak, once transcribed by their attorneys, are “presumptively classified,” and the government determines which of those words, if any, may be released. Legally, the government may classify only information that is “owned by, produced by or for, or is under the control of the United States Government.” Because the detainees are under the government’s control, so, apparently, are the contents of their memory.

That’s why high-level CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou was prosecuted him for espionage after he blew the whistle on illegal CIA torture.*

Obviously, the government wants to stop whistleblowers because they interfere with the government’s ability to act in an unaccountable manner. As Glenn Greenwald writes:

It should not be difficult to understand why the Obama administration is so fixated on intimidating whistleblowers and going far beyond any prior administration – including those of the secrecy-obsessed Richard Nixon and George W Bush – to plug all leaks. It’s because those methods are the only ones preventing the US government from doing whatever it wants in complete secrecy and without any accountability of any kind.

But whistleblowers also interfere with the government’s ability to get away with hypocrisy.  As two political science professors from George Washington University (Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore) show, the government is so hell-bent to punish Manning and Snowden because their leaks are putting an end to the ability of the US to use hypocrisy as a weapon:

The U.S. establishment has often struggled to explain exactly why these leakers [Manning, Snowden, etc.] pose such an enormous threat.

***

The deeper threat that leakers such as Manning and Snowden pose is more subtle than a direct assault on U.S. national security: they undermine Washington’s ability to act hypocritically and get away with it. Their danger lies not in the new information that they reveal but in the documented confirmation they provide of what the United States is actually doing and why. When these deeds turn out to clash with the government’s public rhetoric, as they so often do, it becomes harder for U.S. allies to overlook Washington’s covert behavior and easier for U.S. adversaries to justify their own.

***

As the United States finds itself less able to deny the gaps between its actions and its words, it will face increasingly difficult choices — and may ultimately be compelled to start practicing what it preaches. Hypocrisy is central to Washington’s soft power — its ability to get other countries to accept the legitimacy of its actions — yet few Americans appreciate its role.

***

American commitments to the rule of law, democracy, and free trade are embedded in the multilateral institutions that the country helped establish after World War II, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, and later the World Trade Organization. Despite recent challenges to U.S. preeminence, from the Iraq war to the financial crisis, the international order remains an American one. This system needs the lubricating oil of hypocrisy to keep its gears turning.

***

Of course, the United States has gotten away with hypocrisy for some time now. It has long preached the virtues of nuclear nonproliferation, for example, and has coerced some states into abandoning their atomic ambitions. At the same time, it tacitly accepted Israel’s nuclearization and, in 2004, signed a formal deal affirming India’s right to civilian nuclear energy despite its having flouted the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty by acquiring nuclear weapons. In a similar vein, Washington talks a good game on democracy, yet it stood by as the Egyptian military overthrew an elected government in July, refusing to call a coup a coup. Then there’s the “war on terror”: Washington pushes foreign governments hard on human rights but claims sweeping exceptions for its own behavior when it feels its safety is threatened.

***

Manning’s and Snowden’s leaks mark the beginning of a new era in which the U.S. government can no longer count on keeping its secret behavior secret. Hundreds of thousands of Americans today have access to classified documents that would embarrass the country if they were publicly circulated. As the recent revelations show, in the age of the cell-phone camera and the flash drive, even the most draconian laws and reprisals will not prevent this information from leaking out. As a result, Washington faces what can be described as an accelerating hypocrisy collapse — a dramatic narrowing of the country’s room to maneuver between its stated aspirations and its sometimes sordid pursuit of self-interest. The U.S. government, its friends, and its foes can no longer plausibly deny the dark side of U.S. foreign policy and will have to address it head-on.

***

The era of easy hypocrisy is over.

Professors Farrell and Finnemore note that the government has several options for dealing with ongoing leaks.  They conclude that the best would be for the government to actually do what it says.

What a novel idea …

* Note: That may be why Guantanamo is really being kept open, and even prisoners that the U.S. government admits are innocent are still being blocked from release: to cover up the widespread torture by keeping the evidence – the prisoners themselves – in a dungeon away from the light of day.

In a cycle of habit borne out repeatedly in the mainstream western media, demonization and fear mongering against Iran is picking up pace again in the face of attempts by the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to rebuild relations with the west and work toward international cooperation. The techniques and methodologies used by the west in perpetuating the geopolitically-motivated, neo-imperialist, agenda against Iran often come across in the media as clumsy and awkward in their reasoning. Before delving into the hard geopolitical reality, a much needed word on the disingenuous leveraging of human-rights against countries such as Iran is critical.

 Iran and the Western “Human Rights Card”

 In a recent Fox News report, Iran’s human rights record is criticized by Benjamin Weinthal, a Berlin-based fellow of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). His arguments are employed to argue against the feasibility of pragmatic negotiations with Iran as according to his logic, Iran is not a regime “worthy” of practical negotiation with. To use the reported human right violations against religious minorities and Christians and particular as geopolitical leverage to argue against diplomacy and negotiation with Iran wreaks of compromised, corporate-financier motivation, especially when juxtaposed with the intimate collaboration of the United States and its allies with one of the most repressive regimes in the Middle East (and the world), Saudi Arabia.

  While Iran is often berated for its short-comings, these short-comings pale in comparison to the atrocities perpetuated by the Saudis. In Saudi Arabia, no Jewish or Christian worship is allowed and possession of a Bible could warrant you various brutal punishments. Saudi Arabia has been notorious for rigid campaigns against Bible possession and religious symbols, especially in airport customs searches including the shredding of any Bibles found and in one case, harassing a nun who was passing through Jeddah on a transit flight.

Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with the United States, is currently promoting a sectarian-extremist-driven destabilization campaign in Syria whose byproduct has resulted in nightmarish lives for people across religious lines which can be described as nothing less than premeditated genocide with former CIA official Robert Baer predicting campaigns against Christians in Syria and Lebanon during an interview with Seymour Hersh for his excellent 2007 article, “The Redirection.”

What is rather ironic in light of western focus on Iran is that Baer stated that joint US-Saudi-Israeli machinations in Lebanon, which were generating radical Islamist groups, would necessitate the protection of Christians which would be done by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah and the Shiites as opposed to the US and France. Iran is predominantly Shiite and while conservative Islam is the norm, this conservatism is distinct from the twisted inventions and atrocities of radical Wahabism in Saudi Arabia which serve as the hotbed of global Al Qaeda activity.

Let it not be forgotten that Saudi Arabia is the primary underwriter of Al Qaeda’s proliferation throughout Eurasia, done admittedly and particularly in line with western imperialist designs of isolating Iran and serving as geopolitical pawns. It is noted that the Taliban and the Wahabi fundamentalists that constitute its ranks and the ranks of extremists from Nigeria to the Philippines would not exist without Saudi financing done purposefully to create a twisted brand of Islam and produce a “Swiss-Army knife” to be used against the targets of western foreign policy such as Syria today and previously against Afghanistan during the 1980s; it has since formed the cornerstone of the fake “war on terror” driven by western neo-imperialist interests. The largest arms sale in U.S. history has been to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia regularly conducts brutal executions through the means of hooded swordsmen including on religious charges of being accused of “sorcery and witchcraft” in the grimly-dubbed “Chop-Chop Square.” Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and foreign women cannot visit the country without being accompanied by a male guardian.  In addition to toeing the line of western corporate-financier geopolitical agendas in cooperation with Israel such as in Syria, the Saudi establishment interlocks with these interests as noted in points “6” and “7” in the article “Introducing the Gulf State Despots” by Tony Cartalucci.

Iran, which may have its shortcoming, has an unprecedented standard when compared to Saudi Arabia. Iranian Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians are guaranteed their own seats on the Iranian parliament in proportion to their population. Iranian Jews, roughly 30,000 in population, enjoy relatively peaceful lives in Iran with a Jewish hospital, two kosher restaurants in Tehran, 11 synagogues, many with Hebrew schools, and a Jewish library including 20,000 titles. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued edits in the 1980s stating that Iran’s Jewish and Christian populations be “protected.” Many of these points are noted by Benjamin Schett’s article “Debunking Anti-Iran Propaganda” which conflict with the gravely austere picture painted by western media. This short documentary by Journeyman Pictures gives a candid picture of Jewish life in Iran.

It is often claimed that Iran promotes institutionalized anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial but Benjamin Schett explains why this is not true. Ahmadinejad has made accusations against the reliability of the Holocaust but this does NOT represent the position of the Iranian state or people whose state-media even broadcasted a popular, Hollywood-quality film commemorating the suffering of the Jews and featuring the story of Abdol Hossein Sardari, an Iranian diplomat who helped save Jews from the Holocaust by giving them false passports to flee Nazi-occupied France. Iran’s former Jewish Member of Parliament, Moris Motamed, has criticized Ahmadinejad for his statements on the Holocaust and even held a press conference to denounce those statements. However, such sentiments must not be seen as reflecting the entirety of the Iranian society as clearly is not the case.

Criticism against Israel is mainstream and expected but not because of any religious animosity towards the Jews, as Ahmadinejad himself stated in a speech in Esfahan cited by Schett, but rather because of the complicated political issues surrounding the Palestinian plight.

Benjamin Schett notes that it is impossible to give 100% insight of life as a religious minority in a religiously conservative country without being in that position oneself but unlike in Saudi Arabia, at least such minorities openly exist. Of course, such minorities must not settle for the bare minimum and as a westerner, I’m in the tradition of the equality for all. If and where any cases of rights violations exist, such as those noted in the original Fox News article by Benjamin Weinthal, they must be openly addressed but done so in a manner unlike the western media’s purpose which is to highlight certain facts, at the expense of others, and use any incident they can as propaganda fodder for the sake of western geopolitical objectives aimed at stifling peace and diplomacy, substituting it with war-mongering, and covering up the west and its assets’ own serial crimes against humanity.

 Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD): Is it Really About Democracy?

Of particular interest in the Fox News article is that the author, Benjamin Weinthal, is listed as a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), an organization with a vested interest in promoting western corporate- financier objectives around the world with human rights simply employed as an easily-leveraged cloak for naked imperialism. I will assume good faith on the part of Benjamin Wienthal as many people drawn into organizations and NGOs that served western subversion are drawn it by honest intentions which is something that imperialist systems exploit as they have in history. Nevertheless, the overall bulk and existence of the FDD cannot be casually excused when one gets an insight into the interests and networks propping it up. Tony Cartalucci in his excellent article, “The War on Terror is a Fraud”, explains the FDD:

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a corporate and US State Department-funded policy institute that claims to be dedicated to promoting “pluralism, defending democratic values, and fighting the ideologies that threaten democracy.” It is decidedly “Neo-Conservative” and focuses almost exclusively on starting and maintaining wars at America’s expense.

FDD’s “executive team” includes James Woolsey and Clifford May, while its “leadership council” includes Bill Kristol – all signatories of a recent Foreign Policy Initiative letter addressed to House Republicans asking them to discard the UN mandate for NATO’s Libyan intervention and commit more support specifically for regime change. Acting Senator Joseph Lieberman also can be found on FDD’s “leadership council” and has been a chief proponent of war with Libya, as well as Syria and Iran, alongside John McCain. FDD has a myriad of publications expressing the elation of the “Neo-Conservative” establishment over current operations against Libya and the possible springboard the Libyan war serves toward US intervention in Syria and Iran. FDD’s only criticism of Obama is that more should be done, faster, and at a greater expense to America. Michael Ledeen, a “freedom scholar,” expresses this well in his article titled, “Lessons of Libya (and Syria, and, Some Day, Iran),” where he throws in his organization’s collective desire to intervene in both Syria and Iran, for good measure.

The Atlantic article, “Al-Qaeda Is Winning,” written by FDD “senior fellow” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, expresses the true contempt these individuals have toward their audience. In this piece reflecting on the last 10 years of the “War on Terror,” Gartenstein-Ross claims that Al Qaeda’s ability to use cheap means to provoke the United States into a multi-billion dollar defense is rendering an Al Qaeda victory through a “strategy of a thousand cuts.” Of course, the x-ray machines and other security apparatuses being installed across the United States and the tremendous amount of money being used to sustain combat operations around the world “hunting terrorists,” doesn’t go into a black hole. Instead, it goes into the pockets of the very people funding the work of Mr. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and his peers throughout his and other US and British think-tanks.

 

Those who have read my recent article on Libya will note the entirely illegitimate nature of the NATO campaign against Libya and the intellectually bankrupt mentality of those who shamefully perpetuate its talking-points. The FDD, at the top of the organization, is not merely concerned with human rights themselves but rather leveraging such concerns for their own sake, something the US government and the corporate-financier interests it represents have clearly done before with regards to China. It should be noted that the FDD is just one element in the neo-imperialist racket. Other corporate-financier, “globalist” think-tanks, who are the true underwriters of western policy, includes the Council on Foreign Relations, Chatham House, the International Crisis Group, and the Brookings Institute. In “Naming Names: Your Real Government”, Tony Cartalucci points out who truly controls the United States/NATO and lists the prominent individuals and corporations financing and directing them.

 Iran and the Western Geopolitical Struggle

The Brookings Institution is of particular concern among these think-tanks as it has been the primary facilitator in the drive for war against Iran founded on distortion and geopolitically-motivated propaganda. Contrary to media reports portraying Iran as an immediate, existential threat to US and Israeli security, the Brookings Institute released a policy report that was basically a handbook for overthrowing nations titled Which Path to Persia? (.PDF). It was written by six prominent analysts within establishment circles, including Kenneth Pollack, admitting that Iran poses not a threat to the survival of the United States and Israel’s security but their collective regional and geopolitical hegemony and interests across the region. It was noted that Iran was playing a strategy of firmness and even aggressiveness but not recklessness in combating western hegemony and imperialism as can be seen in its recent economic endeavors in the pipeline and gas politics of the region. It was also noted that Iran was deliberately avoiding a conflagration with the west and that any possible nuclear weapons capability for Iran (which is noted as unconfirmed and nonexistent in other reports) would be used as a deterrence for attack and protecting regional ambitions Iran has for the region (pg. 24-25).

 This is reconfirmed by the recent 2013 RAND Corporation report Iran After the Bomb which while noting that no evidence exists that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons according to the US intelligence community, envisions a post-nuclear scenario of Iran. RAND is another “globalist” think-tank that hosts compromised interests but manages to give an honest synopsis of the Iranian reality. It is also noted that Iran’s “supreme leader” Ayatollah Khamenei has issued religious decrees labeling nuclear weapons as “against Islamic principles.” Contrary to recent reports circulation by MEMRI TV and mainstream media, these fatwas are not fake and actually do exist. And contrary to some critics, they are not an example of taqiyya (deception) as Juan Cole notes. One thing that is very revealing is the following statement by RAND which sums up their insightful report:

The Islamic Republic [of Iran] is a revisionist state that seeks to undermine what it perceives to be the American-dominated order in the Middle East. However, it does not have territorial ambitions and does not seek to invade, conquer, or occupy other nations. Its chief military aim is to deter a U.S. and/or Israeli military attack while it undermines American allies in the Middle East [which includes the economic interests of the totalitarian kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Qatar whose atrocities in human rights dwarfs anything Iran is guilty of]… Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons will lead to greater tension between the Shi’a theocracy and the conservative Sunni monarchies [Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc.] However, Iran is unlikely to use nuclear weapons against other Muslim countries…The Islamic Republic views Israel in ideological terms. However, it is very unlikely that Iran would use nuclear weapons against Israel, given the latter’s overwhelming conventional and nuclear military superiority. (pg. vii)

The Brookings Institution not only enumerates transparently the similar points that Iran is not an existential threat but goes further to enumerate a list of strategies for US provocations against Iran to initiate a war that, according to the report, Iran does not want. It is even noted that an Iranian retaliation in the case of American airstrikes would not be inevitable and that Iran may deliberately refrain from retaliation in order to strategically “play the victim” (pg. 84-85, 95) Let it not be forgotten how the US and Britain staged the CIA “Operation Ajax” in 1953 to oust the democratically-elected Iranian president Mohammad Mosaddegh, who nationalized the country’s oil, in favor of the pro-American Shah who ruled as a brutal dictator. Similar plans for regime change are enumerated in the Brookings Institute report where it is admitted that the opposition “Green Movement” in 2009 was orchestrated by the US government through “civil society and NGOs” in order to provoke Iranian belligerence through regime change operations, capitalizing on internal dissent. This is not to deny any legitimate aspirations and calls for reform in Iran which are prevalent among student groups but merely to point out how such ambitions are co-opted and used by western interests for their own agenda (103-105, 109-110). See this excellent summary of all these critical points.

Other means proposed included playing upon sectarian and ethnic divisions inside Iran to destabilize the country and even funding radical Sunni militant groups, specifically the MEK, which has killed Americans in the past and is labeled by the U.S. state department as a “foreign terrorist organization”. Its ideology is described by analysts as radical “left-wing” Islamic-Marxism which makes it interesting to consider the US plans to fully employ this group as political assets. MEK has also collaborated with Saddam Hussein’s forces in guerilla warfare against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s (113, 117-118). The group is against the dominant Iranian establishment and it is noted that the US has worked covertly with them in the past and that in order to work overtly with them, the group had to be removed from the terrorist list (118).  Regarding the MEK on pages 117-118, Brookings states:

“Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.

In contrast, the group’s champions contend that the movement’s long-standing opposition to the Iranian regime and record of successful attacks on and intelligence-gathering operations against the regime make it worthy of U.S. support. They also argue that the group is no longer anti-American and question the merit of earlier accusations. Raymond Tanter, one of the group’s supporters in the United States, contends that the MEK and the NCRI are allies for regime change in Tehran and also act as a useful proxy for gathering intelligence. The MEK’s greatest intelligence coup was the provision of intelligence in 2002 that led to the discovery of a secret site in Iran for enriching uranium.

Despite its defenders’ claims, the MEK remains on the U.S. government list of foreign terrorist organizations. In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran. During the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, the group praised the decision to take America hostages and Elaine Sciolino reported that while group leaders publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks, within the group celebrations were widespread.

 Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MEK’s advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership’s main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001. At the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.”

 The compounded criminality of western and Israeli collaboration with MEK is emphasized here. It should be noted that the MEK has recently been removed from the US list of terrorist organizations as part of the next phase of using them as a proxy. MEK claims to have killed 40,000 Iranians in the past and has been trained on U.S. soil in a secret base in Nevada, published on the Huffington Post and cited here by Kurt Nimmo in an excellent and well-sourced article emphasizing the coordinated western agenda against Iran.

In culminating these abhorrent proposals, Brookings further notes the option of a military invasion and conventional war against Iran if the above proposals failed to accomplish western interests. This is the most alarming option especially in context to the following admission:

If the United States were to decide that to garner greater international support, galvanize U.S. domestic support, and/or provide a legal justification for an invasion, it would be best to wait for an Iranian provocation, then the time frame for an invasion might stretch out indefinitely. ..However, since it would be up to Iran to make the provocative move, which Iran has been wary of doing most times in the past, the United States would never know for sure when it would get the requisite Iranian provocation. In fact, it might never come at all (65)… it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes [as a catalyst for an invasion] before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it (85).

In all this certified criminality, which has obviously been at play even as the report was being published in 2009, it must not be forgotten that the Brookings Institution is of, for, and by big business and their collective agenda of integrating Iran into their international consensus and exploiting its 76 million population for their unipolar order. This is opposed to Iran’s attempts to foster national self-sufficiency and develop ties with nations strategic to western interests including India, Thailand, China, and Russia. Brookings Institution is funded by the likes of the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, The Carnegie Foundation, Goldman Sachs, and the Carlyle Group among others; their report even includes a special acknowledgement of financial support from the Smith Richardson Foundation upon which Zbigniew Brzezinski sits as an active governor as pointed out by Tony Cartalucci and easily verifiable in the report’s preface.

Such international criminality is magnified when Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh revealed in his article “Preparing the Battlefield” that the U.S. is cooperating with their anti-Iranian terrorist asset, Saudi Arabia, in order to fund radical, Al Qaeda-linked, Sunni-groups like the Jundallah to destabilize and destroy Iran as a viable geopolitical opponent. Al Qaeda, directed by the Saudis in cooperation with western geopolitical objectives, has been leveraged as a “Swiss army knife of destabilization” across the Middle East in the fake “war on terror” as Seymour Hersh exposed in another report  titled “The Redirection”  published in 2007. In that report, Hersh reveals that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been working since 2007 to destabilize Syria and Lebanon with a wave of sectarian-extremists currently being marketed in the media as a “political uprising” and a “revolution”. This is different from the legitimate internal political opposition in Syria that has collaborated with the Syrian government in a reform initiative and maintains distinctiveness from the extremist and terrorist elements that clearly constitute the bulk of the “Syrian rebels” supported by the west. In his report, Seymour Hersh states:

 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…[Saudi Arabia's Prince] Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis [Al Qaeda] to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.

 There is no doubt that there is an anti-Iranian proxy conflict being waged in Syria by a joint US-Saudi-Israeli effort to further the Wall Street-London geopolitical consensus. Undermining and destabilizing Syria would further isolate Iran and perpetuate the united geopolitical front against Iran that has been the objective of western politicians and think-tanks. Iran would ultimately serve as a vital door into central Asia and a springboard against Russia and China who are the ultimate target for absorption within the western design of a unipolar world order. Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who is an active agent in the networks of these machinations, makes it no secret in his book The Grand Chessboard that U.S. “global pre-eminence” (a euphemism for Wall Street/London geopolitical domination and a unipolar world order) is the agenda along with American influence in central Asia to which Iran is a doorway. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also spoken of hegemonic ambitions on the part of the west to establish a unipolar order at a 2007 Munich conference.

 In addition to this evidence of open subversion, it must be noted that Clinton Bastin, former director of US nuclear weapons production programs, has sent an open letter to President Obama in December 2011 claiming that there is no nuclear weapons threat from Iran, stating the following on Iran’s nuclear weapons program:

 The ultimate product of Iran’s gas centrifuge facilities would be highly enriched uranium hexafluoride, a gas that cannot be used to make a weapon. Converting the gas to metal, fabricating components and assembling them with high explosives using  dangerous and difficult technology that has never been used in Iran would take many years after a diversion of three tons of low enriched uranium gas from fully safeguarded inventories. The resulting weapon, if intended for delivery by missile, would have a yield equivalent to that of a kiloton of conventional high explosives.

As warmongering against Iran is expected to drastically pick up pace as western designs for domination across the Middle East show increasing signs of faltering, it is absolutely critical to be educated on these matters in order to undermine and extinguish the effects of the media propaganda echo-chamber. This is not to deny any human rights accusations against Iran altogether but one must guard themselves from being misguided and swayed by disingenuous corporate-financier, globalist interests seeking to expand their empire. It is imperative for people around the world to recognize the corporations and institutions perpetuating systematic atrocities and genocide across the planet and realize that once they eliminate the sovereignty of other countries, they will then turn their attention fully to the people within their own borders in the west.

A real revolution will come by boycotting the degenerate corporations and financier interests seeking to enslave humanity and building up our own communities to create a world order in our own image and not in the image of Wall Street and London.

Sam Muhho is a student of history and an advocate for anti-imperialism and anti-globalism. He can be reached at [email protected] and runs the Facebook page “Globalist Watch” at facebook.com/gwatch1776 in order to explain the reality at play in global affairs.

Obamacare Fallout. Medical Privacy Rights are Violated

October 27th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Obama’s signature program is rife with inequities. It makes a dysfunctional system worse.

It rations healthcare. It’s unaffordable. It leaves millions uninsured. It leaves millions more underinsured. It compromises privacy. A little noticed disclaimer states:

“You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transmitting or stored on this information system.”

Medical privacy rights are violated. NSA and other US spy agencies will have full access to Americans’ medical history. They have lots more than that. More information below.

On October 24, Infowars headlined “CIA-Funded Software Company Manages Private Data for Healthcare.gov,” saying:

In-Q-Tel is a CIA venture capital firm. It’s “heavily invested into Socrata. (It’s a) software company (providing) data collection and management for Healthcare.gov and Medicare.gov.”

It announced a “strategic investment and technology development agreement with In-Q-Tel (IQT).”

Both “entities will work together to further develop Socrata’s data consumerization platform for internal business analysts in data-rich organizations.”

“Users of Socrata’s technologies can transform raw data from multiple sources into more sophisticated and useful resources.”

Socrata will work with NSA, CIA and other US spy agencies. They’ll do so to transform raw data into what’s more easily used.

Healthcare.gov obtained information includes place of residence, social security number, bank account numbers, other financial information, medical history, place of employment, earnings, immigration status, military background, criminal record if any, phone numbers and email addresses.

US spy agencies get it all. They can use it any way they wish. Obamacare is more than ripoff healthcare. It violates core constitutional rights. It exploits unprincipally. It does so secretly. It does more harm than good.

On October 24, Acting Man.com headlined “Obamacare Side Effect – Doctors Abandon the Health Care Insurance System Altogether,” saying:

 Many apparently “had enough.” They’re opting out. They’re fed up with bureaucratic red tape. Obamacare makes it worse than ever. They’re going cash only.

They’re able to spend more time with patients. They don’t need extra staff help dealing with increasing amounts of paperwork.

Doing so requires treating more patients to cover costs. It results in less time spent on proper care.

Doug Nunamaker is a family physician. “The paperwork, the hassles, it just got (too) overwhelming,” he said. “We knew we had to find a better way to practice,” he added.

 He charges flat monthly fees. It’s the equivalent of cheap insurance. For children, it’s $10. For adults up to age 44, it’s $50. Seniors pay $100.

He advises patients to carry high-deductible insurance coverage. It’s needed in case emergencies, serious illness or expensive treatments.

His patient list numbers 400 – 600. Before it was 2,500 – 4,000. He needed volume to cover expenses. He’s comfortable with more time for treatment.

“My professional life is better than expected,” he said. “My family life and personal time are better. This is everything I wanted out of family medicine.”

Small numbers of doctors operate this way. Others join them annually. American Academy of Family Physicians data show 4% did so in 2012. In 2010, it was 3%.

A 2013 Medscape survey found 6% of physicians practicing this way. Burdensome Obamacare mandates suggest increasing numbers opting out ahead.

They want less bureaucracy. They want more time for patients. They don’t want Washington or predatory insurers telling them how to practice. They want doctors and patients alone deciding.

At the same time, healthcare advocates raise concerns. Cash only medicine perhaps will end up excluding many less well off patients. Everyone should have equal access. Universal single-payer alone provides it.

Bureaucratic red tape is eliminated. Insurers don’t provide healthcare. Doctors do. Medicare’s original design worked as intended.

Enrolling was simple. It still is. Enormous savings are achieved. Universal coverage assures comprehensive affordable care.

Predatory middlemen are excluded. Doing so saves $400 billion or more annually. Using it for care instead of profits covers everyone.

Marketplace medicine prioritizes profits. It does so at the expense of equitable treatment. It lets private insurers game the system. It lets them rip off enrollees freely.

Commodified healthcare falls short. It has no place in free societies. Obamacare makes it less equitable than ever.

Powerful interests blocked earlier US healthcare reform efforts. In 1917, 15 states introduced health insurance coverage for all legislation.

Eight others established commissions to study doing so. Proposals were weak and confusing. They were dead on arrival.

In the 1930 and 1940s, government-sponsored health insurance resurfaced. The issue remained contentious. Industry giants again blocked change.

Post-war, employer-provided coverage increased. Retirees, the disabled, unemployed, and others were uninsured. Years of debate followed. Medicare and Medicaid resulted.

In 1965, amendments to Titles XVIII and XIX respectively of the 1935 Social Security Act established them. Efforts to cover everyone failed. Prospects today are far dimmer than then.

Obamacare eliminates the possibility. Healthcare giants writing the law designed it that way. On June 28, 2012, a Physicians for National Health Program press release said:

 ”What is truly unrealistic is believing that we can provide universal and affordable health care in a system dominated by private insurers and Big Pharma.”

“The American people desperately need a universal health system that delivers comprehensive, equitable, compassionate and high-quality care, with free choice of provider and no financial barriers to access.”

Convoluted arguments upheld ACA’s controversial individual mandate provision. Americans have no say. They’re required to buy coverage from private insurers. They have to whether or not they want it.

 They’re cheated. They get much less than they pay for. Independent experts believe America’s least advantaged at left in no-man’s land.

Federal subsidies are woefully inadequate. They’ll get inadequate coverage at best. They’ll be denied expensive treatments if needed.

Imagine the world’s richest country mandating it. Everyone can get whatever they want based on the ability to pay. Inability means too bad, out of luck.

Ninety-year old Dr. Quentin Young is a longtime Physicians for National Health Program (PNHP) leading member. His newly released autobiograpy is titled “Everybody In, Nobody Out: Memoirs of a Rebel Without a Pause.”

 ”Had I been in Congress, I would have unequivocally voted against Obamacare,” he said. “It’s a bad bill.”

“We rather think because of its ability to enshrine and solidify the corporate domination of the health system, it’s worse than what we have now.”

Worse or better is immaterial, he stressed. “The health system isn’t working in this country – fiscally, medically, socially, morally.”

“I don’t have any sympathy for the idea that the president had to compromise because his opposition was strong.”

“Winning is not always winning the election. Winning is making a huge fight and then taking the fight to the people – re-electing people who are supporting your program and defeating those who aren’t.”

PNHP examined Obamacare mandate by mandate. It’s nightmarish in complexity. It’s fundamentally inequitable.

“To this day,” said Young, “much to the chagrin of many of our friends who wanted reform, I remain adamant in my rejection of Obamacare.”

Young and other single-payer advocates deplore private insurers. They game the system for profits. They deny or delay expensive treatments. They overcharge, underinsure, and exploit people unfairly.

Obama could have done things different, said Young. “He could have stuck to all the virtues of single payer.”

He acted polar opposite. He sold out the way he did to Wall Street. US consumers are stuck with what demands rejection.

 Millions will learn how much to their chagrin. Young expects a dirty fight ahead to change things.

“I’m sure the battle over health care reform isn’t going away,” he said. Odds against winning today perhaps are greater than ever.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

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

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

Nobody said that it would be easy, but it is necessary to try. And this is precisely what is being done through the Constituent Process in Catalonia, led by the Benedictine nun Teresa Forcades and the economist Arcadi Oliveres, along with many other people. To create social consciousness, to mobilize, to promote civil disobedience and to raise a political alternative that defies those who monopolize power.

Its objective is to construct a new politico-social instrument, based on popular self-organization, loyal to those of at the bottom and able to contribute, in diversity, to the social and political left as a whole. On the horizon, if things work out, it expresses the will to compete in the next elections to the Catalan Parliament, with a broad candidacy, the result of the necessary confluence of many people, some currently inside and others outside the Process, that aspires to transform social discontent into a political majority and to establish the bases to promote a constituent process, that allows us to collectively equip ourselves with a new political framework in the service of the majority.

Some will say that this is utopian, but it is more utopian, from my point of view, to think that those who have led to us to the present situation of crisis, from which, by the way, they obtain substantial benefits, will get us out of it. Breaking with scepticism, apathy and fear is the challenge that we have ahead. Knowledge that “we can” is the first step to obtaining concrete victories.

Ever since the Constituent Process went public last April, the support received has been wide The Process has connected with broad sectors of society who perceive, in the present context of crisis, the urgent necessity of changing things. Many people without too much political or organizational experience have identified with a discourse that appeals to something as essential as can be: justice.

Other social activists have seen in the Process an instrument to go beyond social mobilization per se and to consider a political-organizational perspective of change. Two years after the emergency of 15M, many perceive that no matter how much we occupy banks, empty houses, supermarkets, hospitals… those in power continue applying a series of measures that sink us into absolute misery. Resting on the essential struggle on the street, without which there is no possible change, the Constituent Process raises, at the same time, a challenge to the political-economic regime, as well as in the institutions. And to change the system by “occupying” these instances and giving them back to the social majority via a constituent process.

For sure there are no magical formulas but experiences like the constituent processes in Latin America (Ecuador, Bolivia, or Venezuela) or, closer to home, Iceland, in spite of their debatable evolutions, are experiences to consider deeply, not to imitate but to learn from their successes and errors. In Catalonia, the debate on the national question and independence opens an opportunity, as we could never have imagined, to be able to decide… and to decide on everything.

High participation

The high participation in public presentations of the Constituent Process, some led by Teresa Forcades and others by Arcadi Oliveres, with an average of between 400 to 700 people in municipalities like Vic, Sabadell, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Lleida, Girona, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Balaguer, Figueres, Blanes, Granollers, Terrassa, or even small municipalities like Santa Fe del Penedès or Fals, shows the capacity of attraction of this initiative, which has, in a few months, made more than one hundred presentations across the Catalan territory.

 

And more importantly, the interest of those who approach the Process does not reside only in listening to its two main promoters but in participating actively in the construction of this politico-social instrument. In this way, more than 80 local assemblies have already been set up across Catalonia. Also specific assemblies around such issues as education, health, feminism and immigration have started up. All of them are coordinated in a general assembly known as the Promotional Group, which meets monthly.

The forms of action of the Constituent Process also reflect this “other politics”. At most public events makeshift money boxes are passed around to collect what it costs to rent the PA apparatus, photocopies and so on. The presentations serve also to attract those present to attending local meetings and assemblies. The groups in the territory are organized according to their own priorities and are coordinated nationally. The Constituent Process still has some way to go, but it shows the potential of a political initiative able to connect with major social unrest. Although obviously there is still much to be done, perhaps the most difficult part: to consolidate the process and improve the coordination of the assemblies. This is a work in progress.

From bottom to top

The confidence generated by its principal promoters, Teresa Forcades and Arcadi Oliveres, is key to its success. But we know that this is an initiative that will only succeed if it is built from the bottom up. I was told the day both presented the proposal: “We two alone cannot do much”. Correct. Today, the Constituent Process has more than 44,000 people attached and multiple local and sector meetings. Teresa Forcades and Arcadi Oliveres, as has been said many times, do not want to be leaders of anything, but agree to put their credibility at the service of a just cause.

Criticisms of the Christian profile of both have been made, despite the secular nature of the Process. Which in part is not surprising. The social mobilization of the left, both in Catalonia and in the Spanish state, would not be understood, in part, without the contribution of ordinary Christians. Without going any further, one of the founders of the Field Workers Union was none other than the priest of the poor, Diamantino Garcia. Denying this reality means ignoring this part of our collective history. And both Teresa Forcades and Arcadi Oliveres have spoken repeatedly and at length before the Constituent Process, against the ecclesiastical hierarchy, for the separation of church and state and in defence of the right of women to decide on their bodies. Which, incidentally, has earned them widespread criticism by reactionary sectors of the church and its hierarchy.

Last October 13, the main event of the Constituent Process was being held in Barcelona, just six months after its introduction. I still remember how before the proposal someone commented: “Why go ahead with such a project. This is going to fail”. A colleague said: “Failure would be not to try.” How right she was.

*Translated by International View Point.

+info: http://esthervivas.com/english

 Government’s method of reducing number of schools and replacing them with fewer mega-schools as a way of addressing rot in education is clearly unscientific and bogus. Osun State has an average school age population (those between ages 2 and 15) of 1, 600, 000. With over 2, 100 public primary and secondary schools, it means an average of 700 pupils are expected in each school, while at least 23 teachers are expected per school at the ratio of a teacher to 30 students/pupils, or 53, 000 teachers for all schools.

The whole issue about school merger and reclassification policy of the Osun State government has been diverted to religious debate no thanks to the media and the religious groups especially the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). This has thus blurred the real analysis of the policy, with religion being placed at the centre of the debate.

This tends to suggest that immediately the religious diversionary issue is resolved, the policy is ok. This is clearly far from the truth. Indeed, the intervention of CAN in the debate and analysis is a disservice to the interests of several thousands, if not millions of Osun indigenes who are affected by this policy.

However, CAN’s position taken on both its face value and long-term implication is retrogressive and neo-colonial. CAN has as its main demand the return of schools to former missionary owners. This simply interpreted will mean privatization of education, leading to exclusion of vast majority of the children of the lowly; and stratification associated with the colonial missionary heritage. Inasmuch as these schools are public properties, attempt of religious groups to claim control over or ownership of any of these schools, under any guise, is tantamount to rolling back the wheel of history. It will deny people of different faiths and cultures their right to education by limiting their choices. However, the religious digression to the issue is caused by the government’s divisive policy and undemocratic approach on not only the merger, but also on other issues. For instance, government has been unduly promoting religious identities. This has generated unwarranted division, which this school merger policy only exacerbates. Therefore, the religious diversion of the policy actually reflects the failure of the merger policy.

This policy of school merger is ill conceived and undemocratic. It is indeed a superficial solution, if at all a solution, to myriads of problems confronting education in the state. While government’s claim that education in the state is bedeviled with chronic lack of quality is right, the approach of government is undemocratic and neo-liberal. It is deplorable that a government will introduce such far-reaching policy of merging, over two thousand schools without democratic involvement of teachers, education sector workers, students, parents and communities. Yet, these are the people who will implement or be affected by this policy. Organizations like Campaign for democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR), that tried to organize public debates on the issue were hounded down by the state security agents with the approval of the Osun State government.

 

On the contrary, government went ahead to implement the policy without even addressing the concerns of and discomfort to the people, especially students and teachers alike, relying on its propaganda machine. Without being equivocal, genuine reform should start from not just stocktaking but also democratic debate among the people about the direction education should take. However, this presupposes that government does not have hidden agenda vis-à-vis award of bogus contracts, as this democratic approach will expose any corrupt tendency. Government of course claimed to have organized an Education Summit at the inception of its tenure, but this was nothing short of a jamboree, as invitees and speakers are big people with little or no connection with the real conditions of education in the state. Meanwhile, genuine stakeholders, including education workers and their unions, students and communities were sidelined from the whole process or made mere passive participants as listeners and side commentators. Yet the government claims to be implementing the outcome of this summit!

 

Government’s method of reducing number of schools and replacing them with fewer mega-schools as a way of addressing rot in education is clearly unscientific and bogus. Osun State has an average school age population (those between ages 2 and 15) of 1, 600, 000. With over 2, 100 public primary and secondary schools, it means an average of 700 pupils are expected in each school, while at least 23 teachers are expected per school at the ratio of a teacher to 30 students/pupils, or 53, 000 teachers for all schools. Currently most of the schools have chronic shortage of teachers with the state having less than 12, 000 teachers. Most of the schools lack functional laboratories, libraries, computer facilities, not to mention nursery services. In fact, a survey of schools shows that most are unfenced, with no sanitary and first aid facilities.

What education need is not some 30 ‘mega’ schools which has taken the government three years to build, but holistic revamping of school infrastructures which will include expansion of physical facilities like well-stocked laboratories, libraries, workshops, sport and recreational facilities and adequate classrooms and staff rooms. It will more importantly involve massive staffing of schools with enough teaching and non-teaching workers, and continuous and systematic training of these staff. Government claims it plans to reduce number of public primary and secondary schools from current 2, 000 to 900 “mega-schools”. However, this, aside being bogus, sounds more like political propaganda than serious policy plan. If it takes three years to re-build 30 schools, how many years will it take it to build 900 schools? If in three years, the government could hardly employ more teachers into schools, how many years will it take it to employ at least an additional 15, 000 teachers to meet this population. The reclassification aspect of the policy is not only superficial but also farcical. Reclassifying decrepit schools is like painting a fracturing house.

  Government did not even wait to build at least half of its projected 900 mega-schools before closing down and merging schools. This means that many students will be studying in worsening conditions, as the schools into which students and teachers were transferred are overcrowded and in rundown state. This is aside problems posed for students and pupils, many of whom will now have to travel longer distance to get to their ‘new’ schools. Yet, there is no government provision to ease students’ transport problem. In fact, the trauma of settling down will take toll on students’ ability to learn. It is a different matter entirely if the students are moving to better schools with improved facilities. In this case, it is the contrary. This situation is similar to the colonial era where students travelled several kilometers to get educated in other areas. This school merger policy, among others may throw back the education sector in the state and mushrooming of private schools and examination/coaching centres.

A practical and revolutionary approach should have been government’s commitment to improve massively the conditions of current schools. This has said earlier, will involve massive expansion of facilities in schools, coupled with employment and retraining of more teaching and non-teaching staff. Where some structures or even a whole school have to give way, this can be done with direct involvement of affected communities i.e. teachers, students, parents and the communities, and government representatives. Based on this approach, government will be able to have a long-term plan that will take cognizance of expected population growth for the next, say 10 to 20 years. Where there is need to build new schools and facilities such as nursery schools, more technical colleges, and special need schools – which are either non-existent or grossly inadequate – this will be done without destroying the whole education system. On this basis, it can be possible to attract pupils from private schools – majority of which are substandard – back into public schools, while giving free but quality education to children of the poor. Consequently, government will be able to have long term and holistic developmental education programme while reducing financial burdens on parents.

 But genuine education reforms and programmes can only be carried out by a working people’s government with socialist orientation and programmes, committed to using huge public resources for public needs such as education, health, housing, jobs, water, industry, etc. This can be done through a democratic involvement of affected stakeholders and relevant professionals that will undertake public discussions, planning, executing and monitoring of these projects. For instance, over N15 billion to be expended on computer tablets for a small fraction of students (when even tertiary institutions do not have functional ICT facilities) can foot significant part of the bill of expanding facilities including functional computer facilities. Furthermore, by equipping public works department, huge cost of private contracting can be drastically reduced. Only democratic committees can genuinely plan and direct focus on priorities.

  A capitalist government that wants to compensate political cum business friends and patrons with bogus contracts and projects can never resolve education problems on a long-term basis.

 This is clearly visible in the government merger policy in which schools such as Fakunle high School, are being closed down and demolished to provide space for elitist facilities like shopping mall, privatized parking space and shopping complex!

Conclusively, the labour movement’s silence over the issue again shows the crisis of leadership in the labour movement, both in Osun State and nationally. Despite the serious implications the school merger will have on working conditions of teachers (which may include retrenchment), not to mention the effects on students and education as a whole, the teachers’ union, NUT and labour movement in the state simply maintained a suspicious silence. This questionable silence has given space to religious diversion of the debate over the ill-conceived policy. This again underscores the need for rank-and-file workers to get more interested in their unions, and take steps to rebuild their unions on democratic, principled and fighting basis.

  Kola Ibrahim is State Secretary, Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), [email protected]

The National Security Agency’s global spying activities have prompted 21 countries to seek a resolution against the United States at the United Nations.
The resolution would be the first major international effort aimed at restraining the spy agency’s surveillance programs against other nations, The Foreign Policy magazine reported.Brazil and Germany are circulating a draft copy of the resolution to diplomats representing 19 other countries.

UN member states are “deeply concerned at human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of extra-territorial surveillance or interception of communications in foreign jurisdictions,” according to the draft.

“Emphasizing that illegal surveillance of private communications and the indiscriminate interception of personal data of citizens constitutes a highly intrusive act that violates the rights to freedom of expression and privacy and threatens the foundations of a democratic society.”

The global outrage over US government surveillance further spiked after The Guardian — citing a confidential memo obtained from American whistleblower Edward Snowden – revealed that the NSA is illegally eavesdropping on phone conversations of 35 world leaders.

Close American allies like France, Germany and Mexico, as well as rivals like Cuba and Venezuela, are all targets of massive US surveillance, according to the document.

German newspaper Der Spiegel said German chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone had been listed by the agency’s Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002 and her number was still on a surveillance list in June 2013.

The German foreign ministry said the UN resolution would be about the protection of privacy in electronic communication.

“It is very general, but we think this is a very important topic, that’s why we are drafting it. It is still at a very early stage, so we don’t know when it will be presented or if other countries will join,” a German foreign ministry spokesman said.

On Friday, European leaders expressed “deep concerns” about the NSA’s widespread spying on world leaders.

“A lack of trust could prejudice the necessary cooperation in the field,” the leaders warned in a statement.

On Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney acknowledged that Washington’s alliances around the world have taken a hit from the revelations about the NSA programs.

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

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

On Friday, the State Department announced that the US initiated a review of its surveillance programs in order to “balance security needs with privacy concerns.”

However, individuals in the intelligence and defense community are concerned that the NSA’s spying activities have proven too damaging.

“This is an example of the very worst aspects of the Snowden disclosures,” a former defense official with deep experience in NATO told The Foreign Policy. “It will be very difficult for the US to dig out of this, although we will over time. The short term costs in credibility and trust are enormous.”

The UN resolution is expected to be presented in front of the United Nations General Assembly human rights committee before the end of the year.

Some U.S. Cities Have Higher Gun Violence Than Entire Countries

October 27th, 2013 by Global Research News

By Chris Miles 

When it comes to gun murders in America, some American cities rank among the most dangerous in the world — even when they’re compared to entire countries.

This map parallels the rate of gun murders in American cities to entire nations.

The bigger the dot, the worse it is.

For the United States as a whole, the rate of gun homicides is about 3 per 100,000 people. Honduras is the country with the world’s highest gun homicide rate, around 68 gun murders per 100,000 people.

The Martin Prosperity Institute compiled the data, building on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, additional data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and other sources collected by The GuardianThe statistics are budled and from a mix of international crime data (which can be incomplete) and homicide data (which is more reliable).

Each dot represents gun murders per 100,000 people. For the United States as a whole, the rate of gun homicides is about 3 per 100,000 people. Honduras is the country with the world’s highest gun homicide rate, around 68 gun murders per 100,000 people.

New York, with a population of more than 8 million, had 237 people killed by guns in 2012, for a rate of around 3 gun homicides per 100,000 people. New York is a comparatively small dot. Still, New York has more gun murders than Argentina, which has a population over 41 million.

What’s the most dangerous city in the world? That would be Honduras’ San Pedro Sula. Shockingly, San Pedro Sula had 1,218 murders for 719,447 inhabitants in 2012.

Here’s how things shake out:

- If it were a country, New Orleans (with a rate 62.1 gun murders per 100,000 people) would rank second in the world.

- Detroit’s gun homicide rate (35.9) is just a bit less than El Salvador (39.9).

- Baltimore’s rate (29.7) is not too far off that of Guatemala (34.8).

- Newark (25.4) and Miami (23.7) have gun murder statistics comparable to Colombia (27.1).

- Washington D.C. (19) has a higher rate of gun homicide than Brazil (18.1).

- Atlanta’s rate (17.2) is about the same as South Africa (17).

- Cleveland (17.4) has a higher rate than the Dominican Republic (16.3).

- Gun murder in Buffalo (16.5) is similar to Panama (16.2).

- Houston’s rate (12.9) is slightly higher than Ecuador’s (12.7).

- Gun homicide in Chicago (11.6) is similar to Guyana (11.5).

- Phoenix’s rate (10.6) is slightly higher than Mexico (10).

- Los Angeles (9.2) is comparable to the Philippines (8.9).

- Boston rate (6.2) is higher than Nicaragua (5.9).

- New York, where gun murders have declined to just four per 100,000, is still higher than Argentina (3).

- Even the cities with the lowest homicide rates by American standards, like San Jose and Austin, compare to Albania and Cambodia respectively.

The numbers give a stark portrait of American urban centers and the laws (or lack thereof) that seek to maintain safety in these cities. Other points on American gun culture itself, of course, can be teased out, but that’s a whole different story.

Copyright Policymic.com, 2013

http://www.policymic.com/articles/70199/some-u-s-cities-have-higher-gun-violence-than-entire-nations-check-this-map

There are new questions over how much President Obama knew about US spying on Angela Merkel. A newspaper report says that the US leader has been aware of NSA eavesdropping on the German chancellor since 2010.

On Saturday, Spiegel magazine reported that the NSA’s Special Collection Service (SCS) had listed Merkel’s mobile telephone since 2002, beginning under the George W. Bush administration, and that it had remained on the list weeks before Obama visited Berlin in June.

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Obama had told Merkel during a phone conversation on Wednesday that he had not known of the bugging. However, a report in Bild am Sonntag published Sunday cites an unnamed NSA official who said that the US leader instead ordered the program be escalated.

The newspaper reports that Obama knew that the NSA had been spying on Merkel’s mobile phone since at least 2010, when NSA chief Keith Alexander personally informed him of the operation.

Read the complete article on DW.de

http://www.dw.de/media-reports-suggest-obama-knew-nsa-spied-on-merkel/a-17185662

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

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

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

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

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

Destruction of the Electrical Power Generation System in Iraq

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Electricity Crises in Iraq: Environmental and Health Impacts

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

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

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

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

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

Environmental and Health Impacts Related to Electricity in Iraq

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

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

Other health impacts are:

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

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

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

         OILCHANGE International. 2008..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(PHOTO by Nemo GMN)

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

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

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

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

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

Whether any of the high-profile actors like John Cusack, and Maggie Gylle