On the heels of Russia’s potential “holy grail” gas deal with China (2), the news of a Russia-Iran oil “barter” deal (3), it appears the US is starting to get very concerned about its almighty Petrodollar

*U.S. HAS WARNED RUSSIA, IRAN AGAINST POSSIBLE OIL BARTER DEAL

*U.S. SAYS ANY SUCH DEAL WOULD TRIGGER SANCTIONS

*U.S. HAS CONVEYED CONCERNS TO IRANIAN GOVT THROUGH ALL CHANNELS

We suspect these sanctions would have more teeth than some travel bans, but, as we noted previously, it is just as likely to be another epic geopolitical debacle resulting from what was originally intended to be a demonstration of strength and instead is rapidly turning out into a terminal confirmation of weakness.

As we explained earlier in the week, Russia seems perfectly happy to telegraph that it is just as willing to use barter (and “heaven forbid” gold) and shortly other “regional” currencies, as it is to use the US Dollar, hardly the intended outcome of the western blocakde, which appears to have just backfired and further impacted the untouchable status of the Petrodollar. …

If Washington can’t stop this deal, it could serve as a signal to other countries that the United States won’t risk major diplomatic disputes at the expense of the sanctions regime,”

  And here is Voice of Russia, “Russia prepares to attack the Petrodollar:

 The US dollar’s position as the base currency for global energy trading gives the US a number of unfair advantages. It seems that Moscow is ready to take those advantages away. (4)

The existence of “petrodollars” is one of the pillars of America’s economic might because it creates a significant external demand for American currency, allowing the US to accumulate enormous debts without defaulting. If a Japanese buyer want to buy a barrel of Saudi oil, he has to pay in dollars even if no American oil company ever touches the said barrel. Dollar has held a dominant position in global trading for such a long time that even Gazprom’s natural gas contracts for Europe are priced and paid for in US dollars. Until recently, a significant part of EU-China trade had been priced in dollars.

 Lately, China has led the BRICS efforts to dislodge the dollar from its position as the main global currency, but the “sanctions war” between Washington and Moscow gave an impetus to the long-awaited scheme to launch the petroruble and switch all Russian energy exports away from the US currency .

The main supporters of this plan are Sergey Glaziev, the economic aide of the Russian President and Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, the biggest Russian oil company and a close ally of Vladimir Putin. Both have been very vocal in their quest to replace the dollar with the Russian ruble. Now, several top Russian officials are pushing the plan forward.

 First, it was the Minister of Economy, Alexei Ulyukaev who told Russia 24 news channel that the Russian energy companies must should ditch the dollar. “ They must be braver in signing contracts in rubles and the currencies of partner-countries, ” he said.

Then, on March 2, Andrei Kostin, the CEO of state-owned VTB bank, told the press that Gazprom, Rosneft and Rosoboronexport, state company specialized in weapon exports, can start trading in rubles. “ I’ve spoken to Gazprom, to Rosneft and Rosoboronexport management and they don’t mind switching their exports to rubles. They only need a mechanism to do that ”, Kostin told the attendees of the annual Russian Bank Association meeting.

Judging by the statement made at the same meeting by Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, it is safe to assume that no resources will be spared to create such a mechanism. “ Some ‘hot headed’ decision-makers have already forgotten that the global economic crisis of 2008 – which is still taking its toll on the world – started with a collapse of certain credit institutions in the US, Great Britain and other countries. This is why we believe that any hostile financial actions are a double-edged sword and even the slightest error will send the boomerang back to the aborigines,” she said.

It seems that Moscow has decided who will be in charge of the “boomerang”. Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, has been nominated to chair the board of directors of Saint-Petersburg Commodity Exchange, a specialized commodity exchange. In October 2013, speaking at the World Energy Congress in Korea, Sechin called for a “global mechanism to trade natural gas” and went on suggesting that “ it was advisable to create an international exchange for the participating countries, where transactions could be registered with the use of regional currencies “. Now, one of the most influential leaders of the global energy trading community has the perfect instrument to make this plan a reality. A Russian commodity exchange where reference prices for Russian oil and natural gas will be set in rubles instead of dollars will be a strong blow to the petrodollar.

Rosneft has recently signed a series of big contracts for oil exports to China and is close to signing a “jumbo deal” with Indian companies. In both deals, there are no US dollars involved. Reuters reports, that Russia is close to entering a goods-for-oil swap transaction with Iran that will give Rosneft around 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day to sell in the global market. The White House and the russophobes in the Senate are livid and are trying to block the transaction because it opens up some very serious and nasty scenarios for the petrodollar. If Sechin decides to sell this Iranian oil for rubles, through a Russian exchange, such move will boost the chances of the “petroruble” and will hurt the petrodollar.

It can be said that the US sanctions have opened a Pandora’s box of troubles for the American currency. The Russian retaliation will surely be unpleasant for Washington, but what happens if other oil producers and consumers decide to follow the example set by Russia? During the last month, China opened two centers to process yuan-denominated trade flows, one in London and one in Frankfurt. Are the Chinese preparing a similar move against the greenback? We’ll soon find out.

Finally, those curious what may happen next, only not to Iran but to Russia, are encouraged to read “From Petrodollar To Petrogold: The US Is Now Trying To Cut Off Iran’s Access To Gold.” (5)

Notes

(1)www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-04/us-threatens-russia-sanctions-over-petrodollar-busting-deal

 (2)www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-21/petrodollar-alert-isolated-west-putin-prepares-announce-holy-grail-gas-deal-chin

 (3)www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-02/whither-petrodollar-russia-iran-announce-20-billion-oil-goods-deal

 (4)http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_04_04/Russia-prepares-to-attack-the-petrodollar-2335

 (5)www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-16/petrodollar-petrogold-us-now-trying-cut-irans-access-gold

Kiev Sniper Shootings: Lies v. Truth

April 5th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Ukraine putschist authorities are illegitimate. Arsen Avakov is interim interior minister. On Thursday he lied. He pointed fingers the wrong way.

He outrageously accused Ukraine’s legitimate President Viktor Yanokovych, his interior minister Vitali Zakharchenko, and Russian security elements of direct involvement in Kiev sniper shootings.

“The former government of the country gave criminal orders and a huge number of people suffered in the ‘mincer’,” he said.

He cited no evidence whatever proving it. None exists. He said a dozen Ukrainian so-called Black Unit Berkut police officers were detained on suspicion of what happened.

In late February, putschist authorities disbanded the Berkut. Its force numbered around 4,000. At the time, Avakov said “Berkut no longer exists.”

Its officers complained about neo-Nazi provocations. They and their families were threatened.

One former Berkut officer said threats painted on houses they used said “You’re dead” or “We’ll hang you and kill all your family one by one.”

Donetsk and Sevastopol residents called Berkut elements heroes. Sevastopol Mayor Aleksey Chaly said they “d(id) their duty with dignity. (They) show(ed) themselves to be true men.”

They’re “now being thrown to the gang of nationalists…” They deserve better than they got.

They had no involvement in sniper shootings. Their own ranks were targeted. Putschist snipers shot them from occupied buildings.

They killed them. At the time, they were doing their job with restraint. They’re heroes, not villains.

Clear evidence shows Kiev putschists recruited Euromaidan snipers. They bear full responsibility for what happened. Claims otherwise are lies. More on this below.

Illegitimate Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Valentyn Nalivaichenko head lied. He claimed Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) elements collaborated with Yanukovych’s security service SBU authorities in December and January.

Russian citizens were present at SBU headquarters, he alleged. Moscow delivered explosives and weapons to Kiev, he claimed.

(Phantom) planes loaded with over 5,000 kilograms of Russian explosives and other materials delivered them, he said.

“They brought the means of organizing the shooting and destruction of our protesters on Maidan,” he added.

No corroborating evidence was cited. None exists. Outrageous charges have no legitimacy. Avakov turned truth on its head. Lies substituted.

An FSB press service statement added: “Let these statements remain on the conscience of (Yanukovych’s) SBU.”

On Thursday, illegitimate putschist prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk outrageously accused Yanukovych of direct involvement in planning Kiev sniper shootings.

He issued a statement saying “as a politician, I can state that the former president is personally responsible and we would like to bring (him) to justice.”

“It is unacceptable when the Russian Federation covers for a man who is under investigation for the charges of mass murder and crimes against humanity.”

Russia categorically denied sniper shootings involvement. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was clear and unequivocal.

He cited hard evidence showing putschist Right Sector responsibility for what happened. “(A) good deal of facts…point to” this conclusion. Moscow informed Western authorities, he said.

“I cannot say I’m 100 percent sure, but there are a slew of facts that indicate just as much,” he added. “Of course, they should be double-checked.”

“(S)weep(ing) (truth) under the rug” is unacceptable. Substituting lies is worse.

Kiev authorities ignored hard evidence, said Lavrov. Legitimate investigation into what happened was whitewashed.

Independent analysis was ignored. Kiev authorities turned a blind eye to Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet’s comments.

On February 25 , he and EU foreign policy Catherine Ashton spoke.

They were monitored. They didn’t know it at the time. Their discussion was leaked. Paet commented on what he heard in Kiev.

He confirmed putschist involvement in sniper shootings. He said “there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition.”

“All the evidence shows” they were shooting at people from both sides. They targeted police and protesters. Yanukovych was wrongfully blamed.

Paet spoke to Kiev doctor Olga Bogomolets. She’s a Bogomolets National Medical University professor.

She said snipers shot protesters and police. Paet called Dr. Bogomolets’ evidence “quite disturbing.”

She showed him photos. They revealed “the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened,” said Paet.

Around 100 people were killed. Another 900 were injured. Paet blamed putschists for cover-up. They refuse to investigate, he said.

They want evidence suppressed. Snipers were neo-Nazi hitmen. Yanukovych and others in his government had no involvement.

On March 12, former Ukrainian Security Service head Aleksandr Yakimenko confirmed Paet’s assessment. He blamed putschist official Andrey Parubiy. He’s a neo-Nazi Svoboda party leader.

“Shots came from the Philharmonic Hall,” he said. “Maidan Commandant Parubiy was responsible for this building.”

“Snipers and people with automatic weapons were ‘working’ from this building on February 20. They supported the assault on the Interior Ministry forces on the ground who were already demoralized and had, in fact, fled,” he added.

“When the first wave of shootings ended, many have witnessed 20 people leaving the building.”

They were carrying military-style bags used for sniper and assault rifles with optical sights.

Many witnesses saw them. Foreign elements may have been involved. Perhaps CIA, US special forces, and secret service operatives.

What happened was well planned in advance. “These were the forces that carried out everything that they were told by their leadership – the United States,” Yakimenko stressed.

Maidan leaders practically lived at Washington’s embassy, he added. As security chief, he was ready to order Ukrainian troops to enter the building and remove the snipers, he said.

He needed approval from Parubiy to do it, he explained. Otherwise, so-called “self-defense” elements would have attacked him, he believes.

“Parubiy did not give such consent,” he said. He controlled access to weapons used in Independence Square.

Moscow wants an independent investigation. It wants full disclosure of what happened. Deep East/West divisions remain.

Russia and independent analysts are on its own to investigate. Evidence revealed will be buried.

Ukraine’s dark future is planned. It remains to be seen how ordinary Ukrainians react. Perhaps Euromaidan protests 2.0 will follow. The battle for Ukraine’s soul continues.

A Final Comment

On Thursday, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said 25 ultranationalist Ukrainians were detained. They’re held on suspicions of planning terrorist attacks in seven Russian regions.

They include Rostov, Vogograd, Tver, Orel, Belgorod regions, as well as Kalmykia and Tatarstan republics.

An FSB statement said:

“As a result of measures taken on the basis of information about the preparation of terrorist acts on the territory of the Russian Federation by activists of the so-called Right Sector movement during the period from March 14 to March 16, some 25 Ukrainian citizens have been detained.”

They admitted intentions to do so. They said Ukraine’s SBU sent them to photo survey Russian military exercises. They were told to establish contacts with Russian radicals.

They were detained “before committing any illegal actions damaging Russian security,” the statement added.

At least three Right Sector members were involved. Expect similar provocations ahead. Washington’s dirty hands are likely involved.

Confronting Russia irresponsibly continues. A US navy warship was deployed to Black Sea waters. Pentagon authorities didn’t confirm what vessel was sent.

Two US destroyers are nearby – the USS Donald Cook and USS Ramage. They’re involved in eastern Mediterranean exercises with Greek and Israeli navies.

According to US European Command Capt. Gregory Hicks:

“We are making plans to meet the intent vocalized by (US and NATO officials) to lay out a sustainable maritime presence in the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea, but we do not have anything to announce at this time.”

US naval forces operate provocatively in Black Sea waters and others nearby. Lavrov criticized Pentagon deployments responsibly.

They violate Montreux Convention provisions, he said. It’s a 1936 international agreement.

It restricts naval warships’ passage through the Bosporus Straits and Dardanelles. It pertains to non-Black Sea area nations.

Lavrov issued a statement saying:

“There exists the Montreux Convention, which gives extremely clear criteria limiting the deployment of warships not belonging to the Black Sea governments in regard to tonnage and length of stay.”

“We have noticed that US warships have extended their deployment beyond the set terms a couple of times lately, and at times they did not always comply with the regulations that are set within the Montreux Convention.”

Washington ignores international laws, conventions and treaties. Its own rules alone apply. It does what it wants. It operates extrajudicially.

Escalating tensions threaten potential conflict with Russia. The worst of all possible outcomes could follow.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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

In an interview with Reuters, General Philip Breedlove, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, painted a foreboding picture of an imminent Russian threat. Breedlove claimed that there are 40,000 troops massed on the Ukrainian border. He went on to claim that the troops are in a high level of readiness and that all the required components of an invading force are in place, including the required mix of personnel and materiel. He claimed they could achieve their strategic goal within three to five days.

Russia has repeatedly downplayed any threat, claiming that the troops are involved in routine exercises.

Breedlove continued to speculate what the ‘goal’ of this force might be, and offered three possible scenarios:

1. Russian forces remain deployed on the border as a plausible military threat to help secure Russian interests in the unfolding situation in the Ukraine.
2. The force is deployed to secure a land-bridge between Russian and the Crimea.
3. The force is deployed to sweep across the South of Ukraine via Odessa and link up with the isolated Russian enclave in Trans-Dniester, on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border.

Breedlove did not speculate that Russian forces may be used to secure Eastern Ukraine – a favourite topic of speculation in the western media following the secession of Crimea. He went on to explain that the NATO council had asked planners to come up with a range of military options by April 15, including potential deployments of sea, air and land forces.

In the meantime, the US has sent F-15′s and F-16′s to Poland and the Baltic states.

NATO also continues to step up the diplomatic pressure on Russia. On April 1st NATO announced suspension of a range of military and civil joint-ventures with Russia. This will impact a number of joint programs in Afghanistan, including counter-narcotics and some military supplies to the Afghan army.

A team from NATO is due to visit Ukraine next week in response to a ‘request for help’ from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. A team of 16 senior Ukrainian officers has joined NATO for military exercises in Bulgaria.

NATO is the world’s most powerful military bloc. It was supposedly founded as a collective security bloc in which each member undertook to come to the aid of a fellow member in appropriate circumstances. The 28 members that currently make up NATO are responsible for 70% of global defence expenditure, and 70% of that expenditure is accounted for by the USA. In 2012, NATO accounted for $1.02 trillion in defence expenditure, compared to China’s $166 billion, and Russia’s $90 billion. (See recent report by Stripes.com)

USSR had Proposed Joining NATO in 1955

The imperialist and anti-communist nature of NATO was exposed in 1955 when the USSR proposed joining. Documentary evidence demonstrates that the proposals were genuine . The USSR had earlier proposed a European collective security arrangement that would have excluded the USA. When this elicited a negative response from the UK and France, the USSR floated the idea of joining NATO. The suggestion was never even seriously considered by the West. The USSR went on to form the Warsaw Pact.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO has overseen military interventions in Bosnia in 1994/5, Kosovo in 1999, Afghanistan from 2003, and Libya in 2011. In the same time period, Russia has been involved in the Chechen Wars of 1994 and 1999, and the short South Ossetia war of 2008.

NATO’s military operations have had a wholly different character to Russia’s. NATO’s military interventions have been imperialist exercises in regime destabilisation and regime change, executed under cover of ‘humanitarian interventions’. In each case, when the democratic and internationalist verbiage is cast aside, the underlying geopolitical reality is that the US and its clients assumed the right, irrespective of the UN, to overthrow a foreign government by military force.

Russia’s military operations, on the other hand, have been typical cases of a major power defending its internal integrity and local interests. Russia is not acting as if it has the right to overthrow any regime it takes a dislike to. It has been involved in conflicts arising from internal ethnic and religious separatism (Chechnya), and border disputes triggered by the perceived need to defend Russian populations with irredentist aspirations (South Ossetia, Trans-Dniester, Crimea).

NATO has been expanding since 1999. In that year the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland became full members. In 2004 they were joined by Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, and in 2009 by Albania and Croatia.  There is a multi-stage accession process which requires members to comply with political and military governance criteria. Currently, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia are in the ‘Membership Action Plan’ stage – the final stage pending full accession.

The Ukrainian crisis has created new opportunities for the USA and its client states to further isolate Russia from the rest of Europe. US geopolitical strategy has always feared the emergence of a Eurasian bloc that might challenge US hegemony. In the post-cold war era, this has driven an expansion of NATO and the EU up to the Russian border.

Alongside the political-military strategy of NATO and EU expansion, the economic strategy is to  the break the reliance of Europe on Russian gas and oil by developing the port and storage infrastructure to support shipping LNG between the USA and EU. This would be a lucrative trade for the US corporate interests that are driving the shale gas revolution in the USA. The same corporate interests are also busy snapping up European exploration contracts for shale reserves – including in the Ukraine, which is believed to have major shale deposits. In addition to this, the intention is to re-rout supply of pipeline gas from the eastern corridor -  from Russia via the Ukraine – to the southern corridor – from the Caspian basin via Turkey.

Washington and Brussels played a critical role in sponsoring and supporting the February coup that brought the nationalist Yatsenyuk regime to power in the Ukraine. It is difficult to believe that Washington analysis and intelligence was so poor as to be caught completely unawares by the Russian response. On that basis the Western role in the Ukrainian coup can be seen as a direct provocation to Russia that is designed in part to further isolate Russia while strengthening US hegemony in Europe.

General Breedlove’s musings about Russian intentions should be assessed on that basis.

Lionel Reynolds is an independent analyst based in Australia. He runs the blog www.dispatchesfromempire.com

Humanitarian intervention or just another imperialist campaign?

In 2011, Western politicians such as US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and other members of the NATO alliance praised what they believed was a successful campaign to oust the murdered Muammar al-Gaddafi. Three years later, this Western intervention has created another failed state, yet Western leaders refuse to admit their mistake. Libya is now run by extremist militias, the same people that were supported and armed by the West to carry out the illegal regime change operation. Right now, Libya’s parliament agrees on little, its interim government has no army to enforce security let alone impose its will, and a new constitution meant to forge a sense of nation remains undrafted. For many Libyans, who were duped into trusting and supporting Western intervention, life has now become unbearable. Libya has descended into a scramble over the future shape of the nation, with ex-rebel commanders, former exiles, Islamists, tribal leaders, and federalists all jostling for position.

Libya is now a failed state

In Benghazi, in the country’s east, three key ports have been seized by a group of former oil security forces who defected with their leader Ibrahim Jathran, a former Gaddafi fighter, last summer. They want more autonomy for the region. The two most powerful groups in the country are the militias west of the capital, one in the mountain town of Zintan and the other in the port city of Misrata. Bristling with weaponry and a sense of entitlement, the rivals both claim the mantle of champions of the revolution. Each brigade is loosely allied to competing political factions, and neither shows any sign of disarming or falling in behind the government in Tripoli. Ultimately, Libya has no authoritative government or any legitimate institutions.

Violence is also rife in Libya. Car bomb attacks take place frequently. The Libyan future remains highly uncertain at present, with several scenarios plausible: partition based on fundamental ethnic and regional enmities, essentially creating two polities, one centred in Benghazi, the other in Tripoli; a perpetuation of tribal rivalries with governing authority appropriated by various militia, and likely producing a type of low-intensity warfare that creates chaos and precludes both meaningful democracy and successful programs of economic development; or a failed state that becomes a sanctuary for transnational extremist violence and then becomes a counter-terrorist battlefield in the manner of Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Mali, the scene of deadly drone attacks and covert operations by special forces.

One fact is clear however – the West opened another can of worms when it intervened in Libya. Similarly to Iraq and Afghanistan, the false feeling of superiority has led the Western powers to create another state where people have no hope for a better future. If the West was truly serious about humanitarian assistance, it would have pro-actively helped Libya to re-build and get back on its feet. Instead, Libya has been left to wither away by itself, which begs the question – was the Libyan intervention really about protecting civilians, or was it just another geopolitical and imperialist campaign to remove a leader who opposed the Western economic system. Before his bloody assassination, Gaddafi had pledged to fund three ambitious African projects — the creation of an African investment bank, an African monetary fund and an African central bank. Africa felt that these institutions were necessary to end its dependence on the IMF and the World Bank.

It is probable that Gaddafi’s plans to disassociate Libya from the IMF was the main reason for Western intervention. We must therefore remember one fact: the Libyan case has illustrated once again that Western interventions cannot be trusted and do not work, and in fact, cause more harm than good. For this reason it is imperative to continue to oppose NATO and any future imperialist campaigns.

Alexander Arfaoui is the founder of Global Political Insight, a political media and research organisation. He has a Master’s degree in International Relations. Alexander works as a political consultant and frequently contributes to think-tank and media outlets.

 

The European Union and the unelected Western-backed regime in Ukraine are intensifying their efforts to bring the fascist Right Sector under state control in the run-up to presidential elections planned for May 25.

For the past week, Right Sector members have been besieging the Ukrainian parliament demanding the resignation of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, whom they blame for the death of Right Sector deputy leader Alexander Muzychko. Muzychko, also known as Sasha Bilyi, was gunned down by police on March 24 in Rivne, in an action that has all the hallmarks of a contract killing ordered by the Ukrainian state.

The Right Sector played a key role in the Maidan protests that culminated in the ousting of the pro-Russian regime of President Viktor Yanukovych. They crushed Yanukovych’s riot police and, during the putsch, surrounded Ukrainian state buildings and terrorized the state apparatus and parliamentarians of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions into supporting the Western-backed opposition.

A significant proportion of the $5 billion funnelled to opposition groups by Washington will have gone to bolstering the disparate fascistic outfits that make up the Right Sector. Its leader, Dmytro Yarosh, has acknowledged that his organisation successfully “recruited” members of the army and security forces in the weeks when the Maidan protests occurred.

Since the deposing of Yanukovych on February 22, however, the ties between the supposedly new and “democratic” regime installed by Washington and fascist bands has become increasingly problematic.

Thugs beating up politicians, stirring up anti-Russian chauvinism, and carrying out various criminal acts while sporting weapons and Nazi symbols too obviously contradicted the Western powers’ cynical claims that the Maidan protests were a democratic revolution. The imperialist powers saw it as a major factor in strengthening the hand of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While they moved to incorporate the fascists as a key basis of the new regime, the Ukrainian opposition and its imperialist backers have increasingly sought to discipline Right Sector and more closely bind it to their agenda.

Yarosh was offered the post of deputy head of the National Security Council by the transitional regime, to serve under Andrey Parubiy, a co-founder of Svoboda’s forerunner, the Social National Party of Ukraine. Yarosh turned down the request in order to run for the post of president of Ukraine, however.

The entire Right Sector was then urged to disarm and take their place in a newly created National Guard and to end their independent activity—which they have so far refused to do.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph on March 28 attributed the origins of this demand to the European Union. It reported that the EU is “deeply worried that the situation is playing into the Kremlin’s hands. The Telegraph has learnt that two recent EU communiqués on Ukraine were supposed to include a clause demanding ‘the dissolution of paramilitary structures’. Officials then deleted the clause, because of fears it would provide a ‘propaganda coup’ to President Vladimir Putin.”

Deleted clauses notwithstanding, the EU’s guiding hand is clear. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton has condemned the Right Sector protests outside the building of the Verkhovna Rada as “against the democratic principles and rule of law.” She insisted that the fascists “need to hand over any unauthorised arms to the authorities immediately.”

To underscore Ashton’s message, following their meeting at the end of March in Weimar, the Foreign Ministers of Germany, France, and Poland issued a joint appeal requesting the Ukrainian government “distance itself from extremist groups,” arguing that such a move was necessary in order to “re-establish the state monopoly on the use of force.”

The Ukraine regime has heeded its masters’ voice. Referring to the Right Sector, Ukrainian MP Serhiy Sobolev told France 24 this week, “We have to be clear—if this is a political party it should focus on political activity… If these are combatants who want to serve their country, they can do so in the army or in the new National Guard.”

Avakov offered the Right Sector an opportunity to go to the front lines in the confrontation with Russia: “We told them, the war is finished. If you would like to participate in defending the country, go and join the National Guard of Ukraine.”

Calling upon the Right Sector to end their occupation of several buildings in central Kiev, Avakov advised them to “Go to the border regions in Ukraine and secure Ukraine.”

The killing of Muzychko was a clear warning to the fascists of the potential price of failing to heed to call to work under the supervision of the state. He was famously captured on video threatening the representatives of a regional parliament with violence and death. An official inquiry this week brazenly ruled that he accidentally shot and killed himself in the heart as police tried to wrestle him to the ground.

On Tuesday the Ukrainian parliament used an incident the day before to pass a resolution ordering the Ukrainian security service (SBU) and the interior ministry to disarm paramilitaries.

In the incident, a member of Right Sector was involved in a shooting near the city centre on Monday evening that wounded three people. The man was arrested and his group were ordered to leave the hotel in the centre of Kiev they had turned into their headquarters. Armed police officers then surrounded the headquarters of Right Sector at the Hotel Dnipro in the city centre.

The abandoning of the Right Sector’s hotel base hardly constitutes an end to its independent activity. It still possesses substantial weaponry, which it reportedly acquired from an Interior Ministry depot—though it remains unclear whether they were given the weapons by sections of the security apparatus during the protests, in the run-up to the putsch. The Right Sector has largely ignored a government deadline to hand over its arms.

In any event, despite banner headlines such as the BBC’s “Kiev takes on the Far Right”, neither the Ukraine regime nor its backers in the United States and Europe have any problem with collaborating with right-wing and fascist forces. They do not seek the elimination of the Right Sector, but its incorporation into the state under their orders.

In addition, no less than six leading posts, including deputy premier, in the new regime are occupied by members of Svoboda. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is the nominee of Fatherland whose figurehead, Yulia Timoschenko, has called for the nuclear liquidation of Russians living in Ukraine.

The newly appointed head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) is Valentine Nalyvaichenko. Photos available on the Internet show him addressing the annual rally of the “Trident” organization—the faction of the Right Sector headed by Yarosh, who is pictured alongside Nalyvaichenko—in 2011. The meeting was convened on the grounds of Zarvanitsa, the main complex of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

These are the forces, which according to the wishes of the EU and US State Department, are to be entrusted in Ukraine with the “state monopoly of force.”

The Obama administration has scrambled to deflect criticism and ridicule sparked by an Associated Press story exposing a failed attempt by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to set up a Twitter-like social media network as an instrument for regime change in Cuba.

The operation, dubbed ZunZuneo—a Cuban term used to describe the call of a hummingbird—consisted of mass text messaging to Cuban subscribers, who numbered 40,000 before the venture was shut down for lack of funding in 2012.

The AP report, published on Thursday, makes it clear that USAID was running a covert operation aimed at promoting political upheavals in the island nation. Conscious that the so-called economic reforms being instituted by the Castro government to encourage foreign investment and private enterprise will deepen social inequality and promote social unrest, Washington sought to set up a communications platform to allow it to manipulate these developments to promote its own strategic aims.

Working through a labyrinth of dummy companies and foreign computer servers located in Spain, Costa Rica, Ireland and the UK, and an offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands, the overriding aim of the operation was to conceal the US government’s responsibility for ZunZuneo’s creation and operation, not merely from the Cuban government, but from the tens of thousands of Cubans who were signed up as subscribers. The phone numbers themselves were turned over to the US government by an American “asset” inside the Cuban government.

The text messages sent via ZunZuneo were for the most part restricted to weather reports, sports scores and items on music and celebrity trivia. One of the thousands of pages of documents obtained by AP, however, said that the plan was to “gradually increase the risk” through the introduction of antigovernment political content and, ultimately, to be able to mobilize “flash mobs” during “critical/opportunistic situations.” It described its ultimate aim, regime change, euphemistically, as a plan to “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.”

Also concealed from ZunZuneo’s Cuban users was that USAID and its contractors were using the operation to gather personal information aimed at determining who among them could prove useful to US operations on the island. The US agency, according to the AP report, was classifying Cubans according to five categories, ranging from the “democratic movement,” which it described as “still (largely) irrelevant,” to the “Talibanes,” the term used to describe firm supporters of the Cuban regime.

A statement issued by Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Relations charged that the episode “demonstrates once again that the government of the United States has not renounced its subversive plans against Cuba, which have the clear purpose of creating situations of destabilization in the country to provoke changes in our political order and to which it continues dedicating multi-million dollar budgets each year.” It demanded that Washington “cease its illegal and covert actions against Cuba, which are rejected by both the Cuban people and international public opinion.”

The State Department, USAID and the White House all attempted Thursday to deny that the ZunZuneo project had been a “covert” operation, rather merely a “discreet” one.

“There was nothing classified or covert about this program,” State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters. “Discreet does not equal covert. Having worked for almost six years at the CIA, and now here, I know the difference.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said at a press conference: “In implementing programs in non-permissive environments, of course the government has taken steps to be discreet. That’s how you protect the practitioners and the public. This is not unique to Cuba.” He added, “It was not a covert program. It was debated in Congress.”

And Matt Herrick, USAID’s media director stated, “It is…no secret that in hostile environments, governments take steps to protect the partners we are working with on the ground.”

All of these rationalizations fly in the face of the fact that the secrecy surrounding the program was designed not to keep just the Cuban government—whose state-owned telephone company was being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for text-messaging fees—in the dark, but to conceal the origins and aims of ZunZuneo from the Cuban workers and youth who were using it. The fear was that any knowledge of its control Washington would utterly discredit the project, given the long and shameful record of US intervention on the island.

As for the claim that it was “debated in Congress,” this came as a surprise to several Congressmen of both parties, including chairs of committees overseeing USAID appropriations, who said they knew nothing about it.

Senator Patrick Leahy (Democrat, Vermont), who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the USAID budget, was particularly critical. “If you’re going to do a covert operation like this for a regime change, assuming it ever makes any sense, it’s not something that should be done through USAID,” he said.

Leahy also expressed consternation over the fact that the program was launched in the immediate aftermath of the Cuban government’s arrest of Alan Gross, a USAID contractor who was caught smuggling spy-grade satellite communications and computer gear into Cuba. Gross worked for Development Alternatives, Inc., which in 2008 was awarded a $40 million contract to run a “Cuba Democracy and Contingency Planning Program.”

Leahy and others in Washington clearly fear that the episode will further discredit USAID, endangering its usefulness as an instrument of US foreign policy.

USAID describes itself as “the lead US Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.”

The agency, however, has a long and bloody record, particularly in Latin America, in promoting regime change and carrying out other crimes against the region’s population. In the 1960s and 1970s, its Office of Public Safety (which has since been shut down) trained Latin American police forces in counterinsurgency tactics including torture and assassination. Among its more infamous officials was Dan Mitrione, who working under the cover of an agricultural advisor, conducted sessions in Brazil and Uruguay in which he had homeless men dragged off the streets, torturing them to death before assembled police officers.

President Evo Morales expelled USAID from Bolivia last year, charging that the agency was funding nongovernmental organizations, opposition groups and some peasant unions for the purpose of destabilizing the government. Ecuador followed suit, with President Rafael Correa similarly charging that the agency was funneling money to his political opponents and intervening in the country’s internal politics.

In Venezuela, USAID, its Office of Transition Initiatives and the National Endowment for Democracy have poured millions into efforts to destabilize the governments of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. Those most prominent in the organization of the violent protests that have taken place in the country over the last two months have been major recipients of this funding.

In Syria, USAID has been the lead agency in funneling money to the so-called rebels and in financing the operations of the so-called Local Coordinating Committees, which have been touted by pseudo-left groups like the International Socialist Organization as some sort of “revolutionary” alternative.

In Ukraine, USAID has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars through its own operations and those of the NED into right-wing parties and organizations, helping prepare the recent fascist-led, pro-NATO coup.

As Washington postures as the defender of small nations and champion of national sovereignty in its confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, the operations of USAID and its contractors and conduits from Ukraine itself to Cuba expose the real role of US imperialism in carrying out illegal and violent interventions all over the globe to impose regimes subordinate to American interests.

The United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Wednesday to remove the cap on the total amount of money individuals can contribute to political campaigns, eliminating yet another constraint on the direct domination of the financial oligarchy over political life.

The ruling in the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission overturns a 1976 Supreme Court decision that upheld the limit, currently at $123,000 on total campaign contributions during each two-year election cycle. While the ruling leaves in place the limit on contributions to individual candidates, currently set at $2,600 per candidate per election, it is only a matter of time before this too is struck on the basis of the same logic.

In a dissent from the bench, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer noted that the ruling increases the maximum amount of political contributions to “the number infinity.” He added that “today’s decision may well open a floodgate” to campaign contributions by the rich.

Instead of being limited to donating $48,600 to federal candidates and $74,600 to state and local political party committees per election cycle, the decision means that a wealthy donor who wanted to give the maximum legal contribution to every local and national candidate in their party could donate up to $6 million per election, according to Reuters.

The ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, offers an oligarchic and anti-democratic reinterpretation of the First Amendment. Roberts argues that, in effect, under the guise of defending “freedom of speech,” the First Amendment protects the right of tiny layer of the population to unfettered control over the political system.

Roberts writes that “we have made clear that Congress may not regulate contributions simply to reduce the amount of money in politics, or to restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others.” It adds, “Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects.”

The ruling is the latest in a series of anti-democratic decisions relating to election law. It is an extension of the reactionary principles expressed in the 2010 ruling Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Supreme Court ruled that for-profit corporations are “persons” that can not be restricted in “independent” political expenditures. That decision paved the way for the proliferation of “Super-PACs,” funded by the ultra-rich, which now have the ability to spend unlimited funds to manipulate elections.

In June of last year, the Supreme Court effectively overturned the 1965 Voting Rights Act by removing the law’s enforcement mechanism, which requires states to pre-clear any changes in voting procedures with the federal government. Immediately following the decision, the states of Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Virginia all announced new measures aimed at excluding workers, the poor and minorities from voting.

Such decisions solidify a process in which elections in the United States are contests between various agents of big business, Democrats and Republicans alike, over who can raise the most money from millionaire and billionaire donors. Ever-greater sums are raised by candidates to fund enormous marketing operations designed to sell big business politicians to an increasingly disinterested and hostile population. In the 2012 election cycle, including both the presidential and congressional elections, candidates spent a staggering $6 billion, more than twice what was spent in 2000.

Government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” as proclaimed by Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address just over 150 years ago, has become government “of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.” Not only are the politicians controlled by the wealthy, they are increasingly drawn directly from the ruling class itself. Earlier this year, the Center for Responsive Politics reported that, for the first time in history, most members of the US Congress are millionaires.

The terminal decay of the election system is part of a broader collapse of all democratic norms in the United States. This collapse extends back decades, but was escalated immensely following the theft of the 2000 elections and the installation, by several of the same justices that voted in this week’s ruling, of a candidate who lost the popular vote.

Every fundamental constitutional protection has been gutted, under Bush and then Obama, by a government that declares the right to spy on the population, torture and assassinate US citizens without due process. All of these attacks are expressions of a state that functions ever more nakedly as an instrument of the financial aristocracy, determined to meet any opposition with military and police repression.

The split in the Supreme Court over the ruling reflects concerns from sections of the ruling class about the far-reaching political implications of these developments. “Today’s decision,” wrote Breyer, “eviscerates our nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.”

Breyer’s concerns about “grave problems of democratic legitimacy” are well-founded. All the institutions of bourgeois rule—from Congress, to the presidency, to the high court itself—are deeply discredited, with a growing understanding among the population as a whole that the state is nothing more than an instrument of the rich.

Whatever the qualms of liberals such as Breyer, however, there is no solution to this problem within the framework of the capitalist system that they defend. The collapse of democratic forms is the political expression of profound social processes—the decline of American capitalism, the growth of parasitism, the relentless attack on the social conditions of the working class and, above all, the incredible growth of social inequality.

Genuine democratic forms cannot be established within the framework of the existing institutions, but only through the overthrow of these institutions through the revolutionary mobilization of the working class, in the United States and internationally, as an independent force. The aim of this political movement must be the restructuring of the social and economic relations, replacing the domination of the corporate and financial elite with social equality and the democratic control of economic life on the basis of social need, that is, through the establishment of socialism.

Andre Damon

“We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.” – Coretta Scott King, married to Martin for 15 years, worked to communicate the facts of his assassination by the US government for 31 years: King Family Press Conference, Dec. 9, 1999.

Today’s US government and media “leaders” are criminally complicit among Martin’s killers because they ongoingly cover-up the assassination year-after-year with known lies.

The following summary of documentation from the King Family 1999 civil trial’s verdict of US government guilt for Martin’s execution prove that ongoing lies from government and corporate media “leaders” were obviously required and planned in their conspiracy to assassinate Martin. Without ongoing cover-up, the damning facts the King family brought to trial would expose US government and corporate media oligarchs conspired to murder one of the most powerful, loving, and virtuous Americans in history.

Justice requires Americans to demand arrests of today’s leaders as not merely accessories after-the-fact, but ongoing principal actors required to assassinate Dr. Kingby lying about the evidence, and also directly involved today for the reason to assassinate Martin in 1968: to stop the occupation of Washington DC until the unlawful Wars of Aggression of his day were ended, and full resources committed to economic prosperity and ending poverty.

Martin’s speech to end a US unlawful War of Aggression, the Vietnam War, speaks to us today with our inclusion of the legal argument that these US wars are not even close to lawful, based on lies known to be false as they were told, and with criminal conspiracy of corporate media to both lie and hide these fundamental facts from US military and public.

Martin would be thrilled to know of economic answers to fully fund economic prosperity in America and around our beautiful but dominated planet: monetary reform, public banking and credit, and CAFR reform.

Today’s leaders’ lies extend to psychopathically “praising” Martin on the national holiday created after killing him. In these presidents’ hypocrisy, we can find truths to empower the 2014 Worldwide Wave of Action (in fairness to Reagan, I conclude he was largely unaware how he was being used):

  • “During his lifelong struggle for justice and equality, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions, offered a redemptive path for oppressed and oppressors alike, and led a Nation to the mountaintop. Behind the bars of a Birmingham jail cell, he reminded us that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’… I encourage all Americans to… appropriate civic, community, and service projects in honor of Dr. King.” – Obama (2014)
  • “Those who advocate a course that I have called ‘cutting and running’ have not studied the wisdom of the Rev. King. Peace, he understood, cannot come as the fruit of cowardice or the failure of will.” –Bush (2007)
  • “… we are still far from achieving the world for which Dr. King struggled, toiled, and bled. He did not live and die to create a world in which people kill each other with reckless abandon… If we are to be faithful to Dr. King’s vision, we must each seize responsibility for realizing the goals he worked so tirelessly to fulfill.” - Clinton (1995)
  • “In his words and deeds, Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded all Americans of the stern admonition issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1858, when he warned the people of Edwardsville, Illinois, of the tragic consequences that continued tolerance of slavery could hold for the United States. President Lincoln, like great Americans of all generations, knew that our Nation’s strength lies in the conviction that every human being is of inestimable worth and that the only legitimate end of government is to protect the God-given rights of each individual. ‘Destroy this spirit,’ Lincoln warned, ‘and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.’ – Bush Senior (1990)
  • “Let all Americans continue to carry forward the banner that 18 years ago fell from Dr. King’s hands… Today we honor him with speeches and monuments. But let us do more. Let all Americans of every race and creed and color work together to build in this blessed land a shining city of brotherhood, justice, and harmony. This is the monument Dr. King would have wanted most of all.  – Reagan (1986)

The 2014 Worldwide Wave of Action (and here) begins on the April 4 anniversary of Martin King’s assassination by the US government (civil court trial verdict), with this operation completing ~July 4 (Martin’ 2-minute plea to you).

Purpose of this operation:

Dr. Martin Luther King’s family and personal friend/attorney, William F. Pepper, won a civil trial that found US government agencies guilty in the wrongful death of Martin Luther King. The 1999 trial, King Family versus Jowers and Other Unknown Co-Conspirators, is the only trial ever conducted on the assassination of Dr. King. The King Center fully documents the case, with full trial transcript.

The King family’s attempts for a criminal trial were denied, as suspect James Ray’s recant of a guilty plea were denied. Mr. Ray said that his government-appointed attorney told him to sign a guilty plea to prevent the death penalty for his part in delivering the murder weapon for Dr. King’s assassination, and to prevent arrests of his father and brother as probable co-conspirators. Mr. Ray produced a letter from his attorney stating the promise that Mr. Ray would receive a trial. When Mr. Ray discovered that he was solely blamed for Dr. King’s assassination and would never receive a trial, the King family’s and Mr. Ray’s subsequent requests for a trial were denied.

The US government also denied the King family’s requests for independent investigation of the assassination.

Therefore, and importantly, the US government has never presented any evidence subject to challenge that substantiates their claim that Mr. Ray assassinated Dr. King.

US corporate media did not cover the trial, interview the King family, and textbooks omit this information. Journalist and author, James Douglass:

“I can hardly believe the fact that, apart from the courtroom participants, only Memphis TV reporter Wendell Stacy and I attended from beginning to end this historic three-and-one-half week trial. Because of journalistic neglect scarcely anyone else in this land of ours even knows what went on in it. After critical testimony was given in the trial’s second week before an almost empty gallery, Barbara Reis, U.S. correspondent for the Lisbon daily Publico who was there several days, turned to me and said, “Everything in the U.S. is the trial of the century. O.J. Simpson’s trial was the trial of the century. Clinton’s trial was the trial of the century. But this is the trial of the century, and who’s here?” ”

For comparison, please consider the media coverage of O.J. Simpson’s trials:

“Media coverage of the Simpson trial, which began in January 1995, was unlike any other. Over two thousand reporters covered the trial, and 80 miles of cable was required to allow nineteen television stations to cover the trial live to 91 percent of the American viewing audience. When the verdict was finally read on October 3, 1995, some 142 million people listened or watched. It seemed the nation stood still, divided along racial lines as to the defendant’s guilt or innocence. During and after the trial, over eighty books were published about the event by most everyone involved in the Simpson case.”

The overwhelming evidence of government complicity introduced and agreed as comprehensively valid by the jury includes:

  • US 111th Military Intelligence Group were at Dr. King’s location during the assassination.
  • 20th Special Forces Group had an 8-man sniper team at the assassination location on that day.
  • Usual Memphis Police special body guards were advised they “weren’t needed” on the day of the assassination.
  • Regular and constant police protection for Dr. King was removed from protecting Dr. King an hour before the assassination.
  • Military Intelligence set-up photographers on a roof of a fire station with a clear view to Dr. King’s balcony.
  • Dr. King’s room was changed from a secure 1st-floor room to an exposed balcony room.
  • Memphis police ordered the scene where multiple witnesses reported as the source of shooting cut down of their bushes that would have hid a sniper.
  • Along with sanitizing a crime scene, police abandoned investigative procedure to interview witnesses who lived by the scene of the shooting.
  • The rifle Mr. Ray delivered was not matched to the bullet that killed Dr. King, and was not sighted to accurately shoot

The King family believes the government’s motivation to murder Dr. King was to prevent his imminent camp-in/Occupy at Washington, D.C. until the Vietnam War was ended and those resources directed to end poverty and invest in US hard and soft infrastructure. 

This conclusion is consistent with US history, past and recent, for US “leaders” to lie and kill for wars of choice. These lies are then “covered” by corporate media in news and history texts.

Please watch this six-minute video of the evidence from the trial, and this eight-minute video on the FBI’s disclosures of covert operations against Dr. King, including confirmation from his closest friends and advisors.

Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s wife, is certain of the evidence after 30 years of consideration from the 1968 assassination to the 1999 trial:

“For a quarter of a century, Bill Pepper conducted an independent investigation of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. He opened his files to our family, encouraged us to speak with the witnesses, and represented our family in the civil trial against the conspirators. The jury affirmed his findings, providing our family with a long-sought sense of closure and peace, which had been denied by official disinformation and cover-ups. Now the findings of his exhaustive investigation and additional revelations from the trial are presented in the pages of this important book. We recommend it highly to everyone who seeks the truth about Dr. King’s assassination.” — Coretta Scott King.

The US Department of Justice issued a report in 2000 that explains their investigation into their own possible guilt in the assassination found no evidence to warrant further investigation. Dr. King’s son issued the following statement rebuking a “self-study” rather than the independent investigation the King family assert the evidence demands:

“We learned only hours before the Justice Department press conference that they were releasing the report of their results of their “limited investigation,” which covered only two areas of new evidence concerning the assassination of Dr. King. We had requested that we be given a copy of the report a few days in advance so that we might have had the opportunity to review it in detail. Since that courtesy was not extended to us, we are only able at this time to state the following:

1. We initially requested that a comprehensive investigation be conducted by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, independent of the government, because we do not believe that, in such a politically-sensitive matter, the government is capable of investigating itself.

2. The type of independent investigation we sought was denied by the federal government. But in our view, it was carried out, in a Memphis courtroom, during a month-long trial by a jury of 12 American citizens who had no interest other than ascertaining the truth. (Kings v. Jowers)

3. After hearing and reviewing the extensive testimony and evidence, which had never before been tested under oath in a court of law, it took the Memphis jury only one (1) hour to find that a conspiracy to kill Dr. King did exist. Most significantly, this conspiracy involved agents of the governments of the City of Memphis, the state of Tennessee and the United States of America. The overwhelming weight of the evidence also indicated that James Earl Ray was not the triggerman and, in fact, was an unknowing patsy.

4. We stand by that verdict and have no doubt that the truth about this terrible event has finally been revealed.

5. We urge all interested Americans to read the transcript of the trial on the King Center website and consider the evidence, so they can form their own unbiased conclusions.

Although we cooperated fully with this limited investigation, we never really expected that the government report would be any more objective than that which has resulted from any previous official investigation.”

Let’s summarize: Under US Civil Law, covert US government agencies were found guilty of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was the leading figure of the Civil Rights Movement, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and widely recognized as one of the world’s greatest speakers for what it means to be human. The family’s conclusion as to motive was to prevent Dr. King from ending the Vietnam War because the government wanted to continue its ongoing covert and overt military operations to control foreign governments and their resources.

It is therefore a factual statement that under US Civil Law, the US government assassinated Dr. King.

People of sufficient intellectual integrity and moral courage to apply critical thinking skills will embrace the trial evidence and testimony, jury conclusion, and King family analysis as appropriate and helpful information in seeking the facts.

People who at least temporarily reject challenging information out of fear might say something like, “The government killed Dr. King? That’s a crazy conspiracy theory!”

Let’s consider that statement.

When someone says that a body of evidence is “crazy,” or a “conspiracy theory” (meaning an irrational claim easily refuted by the evidence) that’s a claim. With a claim comes a burden of proof. In this case, the person would have to demonstrate command of the facts to explain and prove why the evidence from the civil trial is somehow “crazy” and refute the evidence.

If the person can do this, it would be tremendously helpful in understanding the facts. However, we know from our experience that such statements almost always have zero factual support, and that the person making such a claim literally doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

We also know from our experience, a person making such a statement is really voicing an emotional reaction something closer to the spirit of, “The government killed Dr. King? Ok, I read and understood the paragraphs about the trial and evidence. I read Mrs. King’s and her son’s statement. I haven’t invested the time to verify how valid that information is. I’m not stupid, but because the implications of what that means is so disturbing, I’m going to deny anything about it could possibly be true as my first response. If I’m going to continue being in denial and refuse to discuss the evidence, I’ll attack the messenger.”

We also need to consider the lack of coverage by US corporate media of this compelling evidence, trial verdict, and King family testimony from over 30 years’ analysis of the facts. Recall the evidence of US corporate media reporting being infiltrated by CIA agents to propagandize Americans’ access to information. This included the Director of the CIA’s admission to Congress that they have over 400 agents working in corporate media to make the US public believe what the CIA wants them to believe.

In 2006, George Washington University used a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the US military’s “Information Operations Roadmap.” This formerly secret and approved document details present US government strategies to generate propaganda, and then attack Internet alternative media that provides dangerous facts and discussion. The military promoted the term, “Fight the net.”

Although I won’t enter the burden of proof here, you may know that there are similar and related bodies of evidence that the US government assassinated other American leaders. The 1975 Senate Church Committee disclosed that the US government initiated and helped assassination attempts on multiple foreign heads of state.

If we were discussing how the population of some other nation could employ critical thinking skills to understand current events from anytime in history, we would certainly understand the importance to anticipate disinformation from government, danger of controlled media, and assassination as a political weapon.

Failure to do so would appropriately elicit the label attributed to the first dictator of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin. Such people who believe what their government tells them when the history and present have overwhelming objective evidence to explain, document, and prove that the government is typical of so many other historical self-serving oligarchies are:

“Useful idiots.”

To the extent the United States today is any different from all other nations and all other times is up to your exercise of critical thinking skills. And that said, think and choose carefully: choices have consequences, especially our most important ones.

Consider the power of your choices during the April 4 to July 4 initial window of the 2014 Worldwide Wave of Action.

Petras pulled no punches saying “(i)n an electoral system, run by and for a corporate oligarchy, deception and demagoguery are essential elements – entertaining the people while working for the wealthy.”

Every US president does it. All congressional leaders. It’s “de rigueur” to pretend to be “everyman.” It persists while committing “war crimes worthy of prosecution.”

It’s play-acting. It’s duplicity. Obama is the “master of deceit.” He lacks an honest bone in his body.

He condemns torture while practicing it. He denounces Wall Street excess while supporting it. He wages one war after another while promising peace.

He backs Palestinian rights while trashing them. He supports the worst of Zionist militancy. He ignores institutionalized Israeli racism.

His word isn’t his bond. He broke every major promise made. He’s “hands down” the “greatest con-man president in American history,” Petras explains.

His predecessors pale by comparison. “(T)he enormous gap between style and substance, promise and performance, peace and war, capital and labor, has never been greater,” he added.

He continually promises one thing and does another.

He betrayed loyal constituents who supported him. He did so without a second thought. He’s more racist than most white Americans.

He reflects the worst of demagogic duplicity. He defends the indefensible. He’s a weapon of mass destruction. It bears repeating. He made America unfit to live in.

The Two Faces of a Police State: Sheltering Tax Evaders, Financial Swindlers and Money Launderers While Policing the Citizens

Petras cuts to the chase saying “(n)ever in the history of the United States have we witnessed crimes committed on the scale and scope of the present day by both private and state elites.”

Never has so much harm been done to so many to benefit an elite few.

Never was extreme wealth been accumulated more easily at the expense of countless millions harmed.

Never have so-called civilized societies so egregiously trashed longstanding cherished values.

Never was grand theft more institutionalized. Never were amounts involved as great as now.

Never did pillage more greatly become the national pastime. Never did so-called democratic governance more swindle its own people.

Never before did so many mega-crooks go unpunished. Never was high-crime more common practice.

Never was government in bed with business for stakes this great. Never were more people harmed in the process.

Guiding US doctrine endorses “too rich for jail, too big to fail,” said Petras. Ordinary people alone suffer.

Steal a billion, two or three and stay free. Steal a loaf of bread for hungry children and face prison time. Doing it three times perhaps means for life.

Law and order don’t exist. Judicial unfairness is official policy. Ordinary people haven’t a chance. Monied interests control things.

The Power of Israel in the United States

Israel Buys the US Congress: Sabotaging the US-Iran Peace Negotiations.

War or peace hangs in the balance. Thirty-five years of anti-Iranian hostility persists. Zionist power wants the Islamic Republic destroyed.

It wants all Israeli regional powers removed. It wants unchallenged military dominance.

It wants Israel given the right to steal Palestinian land freely. It wants it permitted to wage aggressive wars with impunity.

Attacking Iran risks regional or global war. Since WW II, “Israel has bombed, invaded and occupied more countries in the Middle East and Africa than any previous colonial power, except the US,” says Petras.

Its victims include “Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Sudan and Yemen.” Its terror attacks and targeted assassinations include numerous other countries.

Israel operates lawlessly with impunity. America partners in its crimes. It provides billion of dollars in annual support.

Red lines, timelines, deadlines, sanctions, sabotage, subversion, cyber attacks, assassinations, saber rattling, warmongering, spurious accusations, manipulated to fail P5+1 talks, and inflammatory headlines up the stakes for war.

Pretexts are easy to invent. False flags precipitate them. Zionist power in America buys political support. It owns Congress. It gets most everything it wants.

Mainstream media march in lockstep. Truth is systematically buried. Unflinching Israeli backing substitutes. Fifty-two major US Zionist organizations exert enormous influence. Political Washington bows to their will.

Obama with Israel Against the World

America is a dictatorship, says Petras. Constitutional law is null and void. It’s “presidential toilet paper!”

“Legal hacks and whores scratch their backsides and regurgitate the previous illegal executive orders in order to ‘legitimize’ new arbitrary powers to declare war” and destroy fundamental freedoms.

Abuse of power demands impeachment. It’s a national imperative. America’s Declaration of Independence states:

“(W)hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, (it’s the right of the people, it’s) their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Straightaway as president, Obama violated his sacred trust. He betrayed his constituents. He trashed rule of law principles.

He’s guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. He spurns fundamental civil and human rights. He mocks democratic values.

He threatens humanity. He’s heading America for WW III. Removing him is top priority. The alternative is potentially grim.

Fifteen Minutes An American President

Obama’s 2009 inaugural address promised “a new approach with a new emphasis on respect and a new willingness to talk.”

Ravaging one country after another followed. So did overthrowing democratically elected leaders. Numerous other high crimes define his tenure.

He’s a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Neocons infest his administration. Peace is a four-letter word. Rule of law principles don’t matter.

Diktat power runs things. Humanity is more than ever threatened. It may not survive on his watch. America is the real evil empire. No nation ever matched its ruthlessness. Perhaps none ever will.

Israel’s Willing Executioners: AIPAC Invades Washington

“When a country, like the United States, is in decline, it is not because of external competition: declining competitiveness is only a symptom,” says Petras.

“It is because of internal rot. Decline results when a nation is betrayed by craven leaders, who crawl and humiliate themselves before a minority of thuggish mediocrities pledged to a foreign state without scruples or moral integrity.”

AIPAC is the most prominent face of US Zionist power. It fronts for Israel. It’s an unregistered foreign agent. It calls itself “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby.”

Virtually no one in Congress confronts it. Doing so is a career-ender.

It has virtual veto power over war and peace, trade and investment, multi-billion dollar arms sales, enormous handouts to Israel, and all Middle East policies affecting the Jewish state under Democrat and Republican administrations alike.

It’s a weapon of mass destruction. It supports Israel’s worst crimes. Its annual meetings are “the most outrageous public display of Zionist-Jewish power as it shapes US foreign policy,” says Petras.

“The sole purpose of AIPAC is to ensure Israel’s unchallenged military and political power over a huge region from North Africa to the Persian Gulf.”

Presidents, top administration officials, and congressional leaders pay homage to its power.

They march to the same drummer. They collaborate in high crimes. They support what demands condemnation.

They disgrace themselves in the process. They betray their constituents at the same time.

Fifty-two Major American Zionist Organizations control them. They serve a foreign government.

They do so against the interests of ordinary Americans. They do it “without scruples or moral integrity,” says Petras.

The Great Transformation of Jewish American Charities

Charity no longer defines them. Over time, they shifted disgracefully. They did so, Petras said, from:

  • “social aid for working Jews, poor immigrants and elderly Holocaust victims to political influence peddling at the service of the highly militarized state of Israel;
  • from engaging in social welfare for American Jews to political lobbying for military transfers to Israel;
  • from grassroots leaders sharing life styles and struggles with their rank and file donors to millionaire CEOs entertaining Zionist billionaires and banging tables for Israel at the White House while paying off the Congressional influential; and
  • from reaching out and aligning with Americans working for peace with justice in the Middle East to embracing every tin horn monarch and dictator who signs off on Israeli annexation of Palestinian land.”

In the process, they lost their popular mass base. Members resigned in protest. Others were forced out.

They’re no longer Jewish community representatives. They front for lawless Israeli power. They do so without ethics or integrity.

Imperial and Zionist Wars and Terror in the Middle East: Palestine, Iran, Syria and Yemen

Israeli Terror: The “Final Solution” to the Palestine Question (page 130/31)

Longstanding ethnic cleansing reflects official Israeli policy. Palestinians are systematically dispossessed.

For decades, Israel “confiscat(ed) their lands, destroy(ed) (their) homes, bulldoz(ed) (their) orchards and (established) ‘Jews-only’ colonial settlements serviced by highways, electrical systems and water works for the exclusive use of the settlers and occupying soldiers,” said Petras.

Israel is the only nation without declared borders. Its Greater Israel objective explains why. It wants them expanded.

In 1982, Oded Yinon prepared ”The Zionist Plan for the Middle East.” The Association of Arab-American University Graduates called it “the most explicit, detailed and unambiguous statement to date of the Zionist strategy in the Middle East.”

“Its importance…lies not in its historical value but in the nightmare which it represents.”

It states for Israel to survive, it must dominate the region. It must become a world power.

Doing so requires balkanizing Arab nations along ethnic and sectarian lines. It involves making them Israeli satellites.

Israel wants all historical Palestinian land, said Petras. It wants non-Jews “expel(led).” It wants Jews alone granted rights. It denies Palestinians entirely.

It commits high crimes too grave to ignore. It does so daily. It literally gets away with murder with impunity. So-called peace talks mock legitimate ones.

Palestinians are largely on their own to survive. Besieged Gazans suffer most of all. Israel keeps them isolated illegally.

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is a longtime Israeli collaborator. So are other PA officials. They’re Israeli enforcers.

They betray their own people for generous benefits derived. They’re complicit in causing enormous human suffering.

Obama at the General Assembly: Sacrificing Palestine for Zionist Campaign Funds

Petras discussed his September 21, 2011 address. He “overt(ly) pander(ed) to Israel,” he said. He’s done it at AIPAC conferences.

He supports lawless Israeli policy. He spurns fundamental Palestinian rights. He’s indifferent to their vital needs.

“From the angle of satisfying the US Zionist power configuration (ZPC) and securing a massive flow of re-election financing, Obama’s (2011) UN speech was a smashing success,” Petras explained.

He grovels before Zionist interests. He supports hugely destructive ones. He turns a blind eye to Israel’s settlement project.

He finances its wars of aggression. He vetoes all justifiable anti-Israeli Security Council resolutions

He supports wrong over right. He’s a war criminal multiple times over. He disgraces the office he holds.

Israeli Bombers: Al Qaeda’s Air Force

Israeli history reflects multiple crimes of war, against humanity and slow-motion genocide.

Generations of leaders deplored peace. They thrive on war. “Its foreign policy depends on perpetual regional wars and political instability,” said Petras.

Fifty-two Major American Zionist Organizations endorse its lawlessness. Israel is partnered with Obama’s war on Syria.

It wants another regional rival removed. Iran’s turn awaits. In 2014, Israel budgeted nearly $3 billion dollars for war on the Islamic Republic.

Waging it would be madness. It remains to be seen what follows. It doesn’t matter what Israel does most often.

“The entire Zionist power configuration in Washington has lined up to support the Jewish state,” said Petras.

“When Israel commits an act of war against its neighbor, no matter how unjust and brutal the act, Zionists from the most religious to the most secular, the ‘peacenik’ and neo-cons, all form a united chorus in praise of the righteous and moral ‘Jewish Bombs’ even as they fall on the besieged people of Syria today and Iran tomorrow.”

Peace remains elusive. It’s nowhere in sight so far nor benefits accrued if it arrives.

The Bloody Road to Damascus: The Triple Alliance’s War on a Sovereign State

Syria is Obama’s war. Proxy death squad invaders are used. So far they lack an air force. Obama likely plans Libya 2.0.

Plans to initiate it last summer were postponed. They weren’t cancelled. Full-scale war on Assad may be one major false flag incident away.

It remains to be seen what Obama plans. He wants another imperial trophy. Plans to oust Assad are firm.

The road to Tehran runs through Damascus. It’s “paved with lies,” Petras explains. It bears repeating. Iran’s turn awaits. Perhaps regional war will follow.

Saudi Arabia: A Retrograde Rentier Dictatorship and Global Terrorism

Saudi Arabian governance mocks legitimacy. It “has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela,” said Petras.

It’s “governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents.”

It “finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, the ‘Wahhabi’ sect of Sunni Islam.”

It’s a valued US ally. America supports some of the world’s most ruthless despots. It targets independent governments for regime change.

It want subservient pro-Western puppet leadership replacing them. It spurns democracy at home and abroad.

It’s waging terror wars on humanity. It’s spending trillions of dollars doing so. It lets vital homeland needs go begging. It wants unchallenged global dominance.

Iran-US Interim Agreement: Historic Breakthrough of Historic Sellout?

American agreements aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. US history reflects it. Native Americans suffered through centuries of heroic lost struggles. From 1492 to today, they experienced promises made and broken.

Winning the West involved betraying them. One US treaty after another was violated. Imperialism works this way. Things haven’t changed. Today they’re worse than ever.

Earlier US policy makers sought sea to shinning sea dominance. Today they want it globally. They want it unchallenged. They’ll stop at nothing to get it.

Obama is America’s latest rogue leader. He’s a moral coward. He’s a serial liar. His word isn’t his bond. Petras asked if the so-called “historic (Geneva) breakthrough” was real or a mirage.

Does it end 34 years of Iran bashing? Or is it the latest US betrayal dressed up in diplomatic mumbo jumbo?

The Big Lie about an Iranian nuclear threat persists. It’s fake. It’s a red herring. US intelligence reports say so.

It’s common knowledge in Washington. It doesn’t matter. Congressional Iran bashing continues. So do punitive administration actions.

Petras said Geneva ostensibly “is directed toward undermining Iran’s potential ‘capacity’ to have a nuclear program: there are no weapons to destroy, no weapons plans exist, no war plans exist and there are no strategic offensive military operations on the Iranian ‘drawing board.’ ”

“We know this because repeated US intelligence reports” say so.

“So the entire current negotiations are over weakening Iran’s ongoing peaceful, legal nuclear program…”

They aim to “undermin(e) any future advance in nuclear technology that might protect Iran from an Israeli or US attack…”

Longstanding US/Israeli policy prioritizes destroying Iranian independence. It’s replacing it with pro-Western puppet governance.

It’s advancing US/Israeli imperialism. It’s eliminating all rival states. It’s establishing unchallenged control. It’s going all out by whatever means necessary.

Iran sought normalized relations with Washington and other Western countries for decades. It offered major concessions.

Its sincere efforts were spurned. Is this time different? Has Washington turned a page? Obama has all the proving to do. If past is prologue, don’t expect it.

The Assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki by Fiat

Obama ordered death by drone missile. He murdered a US citizen abroad. He did so without justification.

He committed cold-blooded murder. For sure not for the first time. Or the last. He governs by diktat authority. He ignores fundamental rule of law principles.

Bill of Rights protections are gone. International law doesn’t matter. Washington rules alone apply. Hegemons operate that way.

So do rogue leaders like Obama. It bears repeating. He exceeds the worst of his predecessors.

Oligarchs, Demagogues and Mass Revolts…Against Democracy

US democracy exists in name only. Most other European ones operate the same way. Monied interests alone matter. Ordinary people have no say.

So-called “color-coded ‘mass revolts’ in Eastern Europe (including former Soviet republics) featured (duplicitous) popular leaders who exhorted the masses in the name of ‘independence and democracy…,” said Petras.

They were “pro-NATO, pro(Western) (imperial stooges) liked to neoliberal elites.”

Modern-day “oligarchs privatized and sold off the most lucrative sectors of the economy, throwing millions out of work.”

“They dismantled the welfare state and handed over their military bases to NATO for the stationing of foreign troops and the placement of missiles aimed at Russia.”

They betrayed their own people in the process. Things are worse now than ever.

Washington’s history reflects backing governments spurning the needs of their own people. Western monied interests alone matter.

Hard times inflict enormous punishment. Wars compound the worst of conditions. Things continue going from bad to worse. A race to the bottom harms countless millions.

Petras concludes saying “understanding imperial politics requires:

  • analyzing its changing structure and operational code;
  • identifying its ideology and technological innovations;
  • analyzing the domestic foundations of empire and the interplay between overseas expansion and internal decay; and
  • locating idiosyncratic domestic political configurations which influence and direct the particular policies and strategies of empire builders.”

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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

An unprecedented wave of anti-Russian propaganda has dominated the German media in the wake of the US- and German-backed coup in Kiev. Leading publications such as Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitun g and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, but also so-called “alternative” media outlets such as the taz (which has close links to the Greens) are loudly demanding military action against Russia, outdoing one another with menacing attacks on Russian President Vladimir Putin who they describe as a new Hitler and aggressor.

This propaganda campaign, reminiscent of the conformist press of totalitarian dictatorships, has so far had a limited effect. Many readers are repulsed by the campaign and have responded angrily. This is reflected in the letters pages of newspaper and online comment pages.

On 19 March the editorial office of the Berliner Zeitung was forced to admit: “German newspapers and radio stations have received bags of letters and readers’ comments complaining about one-sided reporting. Russia’s intervention in the Crimea has been met with a great deal of understanding. The German media, on the other hand, is accused of conducting an anti-Russian campaign.”

Even the conservative Berliner Tagesspiegel noted that 80 percent of the 12,000 readers who took part in an on-line survey regarded official criticism of Moscow as “hypocritical”. A mere 4 percent favored “military intervention by NATO,” or Russia’s exclusion from the G8.

A poll by the ARD television channel, released in early March, found that 82 percent of respondents were against the use of military force against Russia. Two-thirds rejected economic sanctions against Russia.

In letters and comments to editorial offices, many readers and radio listeners refer to the active role played by the US, EU and Berlin on Independence Square, which led to the coup against the elected government in Kiev.

A reader of the Münchener Merkur comments: “In my opinion, the demonstrations in Kiev, with Klitschko to the fore, are controlled logistically and financially by the West (i.e. US and Europe) – the former Treasury Secretary of US President Reagan referred to $5 billion. Since the reintroduction of capitalism in Eastern Europe the US has sought to weaken and isolate Russia, and eliminate it as a superpower.”

The comment continues: “The US and EU have now brought the Baltic States and almost all of the countries of the former Eastern Bloc into NATO and the EU. Now they are going to move ahead with the proposed admission of Ukraine, up to the western border of Russia, and provoke the Russian Black Sea Fleet.”

Many readers are disgusted with the trivialisation of the role of the fascist Svoboda party, and the assertion that the events in Kiev’s Independence Square had something to do with democracy. A number of reports and YouTube videos available on the Internet clearly reveal the role played by ultra-violent fascist forces.

On 10 March the Münchener Merkur published a comment by Dr. K.H.B. who wrote: “The first casualty of war is the truth. It is war, and therefore I believe neither the Russian mainstream press, including state television, nor ours.”

Another reader is outraged by an article in the Thüringer Allgemeine of 18 March; “The annexation of Crimea is reminiscent of [Hilter’s invasion of] Sudetenland” and writes, “Once again the attempt is being made to shamelessly equate Putin and Hitler.”

An angry listener wrote to Radio Germany: “I must tell you that I’m tired of listening to the half-truths and biased reports on everything to do with Russia transmitted by your station. If I am correctly informed Radio Germany is the direct successor to the RIAS radio station, which had a reputation for agitational propaganda. It seems to me you have remained true to your heritage.”

E. P. from Erfurt referred to allegations that Russia is an “aggressor using methods from the 18th Century” as “deliberate slander”.

Concerns over the escalating danger of war are universally felt. H.M., who still hopes that NATO countries will limit themselves to verbal threats, writes that no one is interested in “dying on behalf of the interests of the Kiev extremists. An economic war with the resource-rich Russia would also have fatal consequences for all sides.”

In his letter to the Braunschweiger Zeitung H.S. warns: “Is a war on the horizon? This must be avoided at all costs!”

In response to the article “Merkel warns Putin” in the Badische Zeitung, UK writes: “Attention! Especially in Germany it should be clear: humiliation in bilateral and multilateral policy can have terrible consequences! The humiliating Treaty of Versailles in 1919 were the cause of the Second World War …”

Several listeners of Radio Germany drew direct parallels to the fascist propaganda of the World War II era: “I have the impression that your transmitter is once again calling for a war against Russia. Your station is replicating the megalomania of the Greater German Reich.”

Another comment added, “Whoever listens to the ‘Stahlhelm [i.e. Nazi] station on a daily basis, i.e. the campaign by Radio Germany against Russia, aimed at keeping the public fixated on NATO’s course, then one fears for our security and peace in Europe.”

In the latest outburst of violence in the US, an army soldier who had been deployed to Iraq and was under psychiatric care for possible post-traumatic stress shot and killed three military personnel at the Fort Hood post in Texas and wounded 16 others Wednesday before turning the gun on himself.

According to law enforcement and military sources, the gunman was 34-year-old Army Specialist Ivan Lopez. A native of Puerto Rico, Lopez was a member of the island’s National Guard from 1999 to 2008. He was deployed in 2007 as part of a multinational force in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for 13 months before joining the active duty Army in 2008 as an infantry soldier. According to a military spokesman, Lopez was sent on his second deployment to Iraq as a truck driver for four months in 2011.

Lopez reportedly arrived at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas in February after transferring from Ft. Bliss in El Paso. He moved into an apartment with his wife and young daughter a little more than a week before the shooting.

In a press briefing Lt. Gen. Mark Milley said the soldier suffered from “mental issues,” was on medication and was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “He was undergoing behavioral health, psychiatric treatment for depression and anxiety and a variety of other psychological and psychiatric issues,” Milley said. “He was not diagnosed, as of today, with PTSD, he was undergoing a diagnosis process to determine if he had PTSD. That is a lengthy process.”

Describing what was known about the shooting, Milley said at around 4 p.m. local time the gunman “walked into one of the unit buildings, opened fire, got into a vehicle, fired from [the] vehicle, got out of the vehicle, walked into another building, opened fire again and was engaged by local law enforcement here at Fort Hood.”

Milley said a female officer confronted Lopez in a parking lot near the second building. He approached the officer but stopped about 20 feet from her and put his hands up. Then, Milley said, the gunman reached into his jacket and pulled out his weapon. As the officer opened fire, the man shot himself in the head.

A soldier told local news outlet KENS 5 that Lopez fired about 20 rounds outside near the transportation motor pool and then went into the medical brigade building, where more bursts of gunshots were fired after an apparent standoff. Milley said there was no indication of an argument at the WTU, the so-called Warrior Transition Command where wounded, ill and injured soldiers are “taught resilience skills,” according to CNN.

Authorities say there is no indication that Lopez was targeting specific soldiers. The wounded include eight men and one woman, according to local news reports, ranging in ages from their early 20s to mid 40s. Most have gunshot wounds or injuries from shrapnel debris.

The military was quick to announce that Lopez did not see combat in Iraq. His records “show no wounds, no direct involvement in combat … or any injury that might lead us to further investigate battle-related TBI (traumatic brain injury),” Army Secretary John McHugh told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. However, Lt. Gen. Milley said Lopez “self-reported” suffering a traumatic brain injury while deployed, according to a CNN report.

Fort Hood was the scene of a mass shooting in November 2009 when Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 people. Hasan, the son of Palestinian immigrant parents, worked as a liaison between wounded soldiers and the psychiatric staff at the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC, where he turned hostile to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was vilified as a “terrorist” by the Obama administration and convicted and sentenced to death by a military tribunal in August.

Two years later, authorities arrested an AWOL army private, Naser Jason Abdo, after he bought gunpowder, shotgun shells and a handgun from the same gun shop outside the base where Hasan (and later Lopez) bought their weapons. The police said Abdo was plotting to attack a restaurant popular with Ft. Hood personnel.

The eruption of violence at military bases, like throughout all of American society, has become more commonplace. In September 2013, a dozen people were shot dead and at least 14 others injured when a gunman opened fire on military and civilian employees at the Washington Navy Yard, located in southeast Washington, DC. Police shot and killed the gunman, 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, a civilian contractor for the Navy from Fort Worth, Texas.

President Obama made predictable and perfunctory comments after the latest shooting, telling reporters at an impromptu appearance inside the Chicago Cut Steakhouse, “Obviously, this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago,” he said. “We know these families. We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make.”

In fact, the unceasing wars by the United States have left a large portion of the 2.2 million soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 psychologically damaged and suffering from alcohol and drug abuse, and suicidal tendencies, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. A June 2012 NAMI report on military personnel, veterans and their families states that one in five active duty service members experienced symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS), depression and other mental health problems.

Rates of PTS in veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars range from 5 to 37 percent, while rates of depression were found to be as high as 27 percent. The Veterans Administration has treated more than 400,000 of these veterans for mental health problems, but tens of thousands of others go untreated.

The current wars have involved longer and more frequent deployments than at any other time since the military became an all-volunteer force in 1973. Military suicide is a “national crisis,” the report declares, with one active duty soldier taking his or her own life every 36 hours and one veteran every 80 minutes—or more than 20 a day.

Suicide has also increased within the National Guard and Reserve, the NAMI report notes, “even among those who have never been officially ‘activated’ and are not eligible for care through the Veterans’ Administration.”

Drug abuse, including prescription drugs, increased from 5 percent in 2005 to 12 percent in 2008. Drug or alcohol abuse was involved in one-third of the Army suicide deaths from 2003 to 2009, the report notes.

These and other malignant problems in the US military, including domestic violence and sexual abuse, are inevitable given the horrors that soldiers have witnessed or participated in. There is a vast gulf between the government and media promotion of soldiers as selfless heroes and liberators and the daily realities of the colonial-style wars and occupations, in which they are involved in the bloody suppression of hostile populations.

The mayhem at Ft. Hood is the latest and tragically will not be the last example of the collateral damage inflicted by American imperialism, which has not only perpetrated unspeakable crimes on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq but left American society itself deeply scarred.

Global Research’s Ukraine Report: 100+ articles

April 4th, 2014 by Global Research News

Las Marchas de la Dignidad se congregan en Madrid

April 4th, 2014 by Jérôme Duval

En España, diga lo que diga el gobierno en cuanto a crecimiento y relanzamiento de las exportaciones, no faltan motivos para mostrar descontento. Como botón de muestra, según el informe de Cáritas, en este momento hay tres millones de personas que viven con menos de 307 euros al mes. Esta cifra es el doble de la que había al principio de la crisis en 2007. Los tejemanejes políticos del gobierno son causa de un conflicto social permanente; la cólera del pueblo provocada por los sembradores de miseria del poder crece sin parar.

Exasperados por tantas injusticias sociales, activistas venidos de todas las regiones de España decidieron emprender una larga marcha reivindicativa hacia Madrid. Las Marchas de la dignidadcomenzaron su andadura el 28 de febrero en protesta contra los austeros recortes presupuestarios aplicados para hacer frente al pago de la deuda, recortes que han degradado los servicios sociales básicos. El Manifiesto hizo un llamamiento a la movilización contra este “sistema injusto de producción y distribución de la riqueza”. Las consignas “¡Fuera los gobiernos de la Troika!”, “¡Pan, trabajo y techo para todos y todas!” o “¡No al pago de la deuda!” se multiplicaron en las pancartas de los manifestantes. Fueron por ciudades y pueblos relacionándose con las personas que se encontraban en el camino y transformaron la exasperación en acción: la célebre consigna surgida de las acciones victoriosas contra los desahucios, “¡Sí se puede!”, resurgió con fuerza. Las columnas se fueron engrosando poco a poco, y nuev@s caminantes se sumaron al cortejo. La energía estuvo ahí, en ebullición, pero los grandes medios de comunicación no reflejaron lo sucedido: el día de la llegada de las marchas a Madrid prefirieron abrir los boletines de noticias con la muerte de Adolfo Suárez, el que fuera primer presidente tras el dictador Franco.
Movilización de masas

Se trató por tanto de una de las movilizaciones más importantes del año que reagrupó al movimiento 15M; las múltiples “mareas” –blanca para los sectores en lucha de la sanidad, verde para la enseñanza, azul por la defensa del agua, negra para defender las condiciones de trabajo de las funcionarias y contra los recortes presupuestarios, e incluso violeta por los derechos de las mujeres—; la PAH, Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca; los combativos pensionistas de los “yayoflautas”; numerosos sindicatos, entre ellos el Sindicato Andaluz de los Trabajadores (SAT); partidos políticos situados a la izquierda de la izquierda liberal; los trabajadores y trabajadoras de la empresa Panrico, en huelga ilimitada desde el 13 de octubre; l@s de Coca-Cola contra el cierre de fábricas y los planes de despido; los bomberos de Madrid; la Coordinadora 25S, conocida por la convocatoria “Rodea el Congreso” del 25 de septiembre de 2012… En total, fueron varios centenares de organizaciones, movimientos sociales y colectivos profesionales los que convocaron esta manifestación.

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Mariano Rajoy with the President of the CEOE, Juan Rosell, the Employment Minister Fatima Báñez, the Secretary General of the UGT (General Union of Workers, affiliated to the Socialist party), Cándido Méndez and the Secretary General of CCOO (Workers’ Commissions, the largest trade union), Ignacio Fernández Toxo

No deja de ser llamativa la ausencia de los dirigentes de los sindicatos mayoritarios CCOO y UGT, sin duda demasiado ocupados en negociar con la patronal y el gobierno. La foto de estos dirigentes sindicales (Toxo y Méndez) sentados en torno a la mesa de negociaciones por el “diálogo social” con Rajoy y Juan Rosell de la CEOE (entidad que representa a los empresarios) en el preciso instante en que las marchas entraban en Madrid resulta chocante. Es todo un símbolo. Una movilización de masas de este calibre, transversal, diversa, al margen de los grandes aparatos sindicales y del PSOE, aglutinando conscientemente a l@s de abajo, parece marcar un giro hacia la radicalización del movimiento social de izquierda. El 22M ha marcado el camino a seguir para agrupar al Estado español, cuyos territorios se han unido por la dignidad y contra la austeridad.
Por otra parte, las Marchas de la Dignidad han sido una piedra en el zapato para el Partido Popular en el poder. El presidente de la Comunidad de Madrid, Ignacio González, incluso se atrevió a decir que las políticas que estimulan la economía y frenan el paro constituyen “la mejor manera de dar dignidad a los españoles”, y que las reivindicaciones de las Marchas se encontraban en el programa del partido neonazi griego Amanecer Dorado. El actor Willy Toledo, que participó en las Marchas, le respondió con razón que si buscaba nazis, no tenía más que echar un vistazo a las listas de su propio partido, el PP, plagado de franquistas |1| .
El 22 de marzo las columnas se unieron y convergieron hacia Atocha, próxima al centro de la capital: la columna noroeste procedente de Asturias, Galicia, Cantabria y Castilla y León; la columna norte desde La Rioja, Euskadi y Burgos; la columna noreste que venía de Aragón, Navarra y Cataluña; la columna de Andalucía por el sur, y la del oeste, de Extremadura y Castilla-La Mancha. La afluencia fue enorme. Comenzó así la gran manifestación hacia la plaza de Colón, donde se congregaban varios cientos de miles de personas.
Según la comisión de comunicación de las Marchas, se fletaron 754 autobuses —de los cuales cerca de un centenar sufrieron retrasos por culpa de la policía en las inmediaciones de la capital— y cuatro trenes para la última etapa que unía a las distintas marchas. La comisión legal del 15M (movimiento “indignado”) de Madrid puso en marcha un equipo de 30 abogados de guardia mientras el gobierno desplegaba un dispositivo récord de 1700 agentes antidisturbios (Unidad de Intervención Policial, UIP), muchos más que el 25 de septiembre de 2012 para la movilización “Rodea el Congreso” contra la aprobación del presupuesto antisocial del gobierno.
Mucho antes de que concluyera la manifestación legalmente autorizada, y mientras el coro y la orquesta de la Solfónica seguían actuando en la Plaza de Colón, la policía intervino violentamente irrumpiendo en la plaza. Los servicios de limpieza se pusieron en marcha y el campamento improvisado de manifestantes quedó también arrasado por la policía. Los grandes medios de desinformación hicieron el resto para desacreditar a un movimiento de masas profundamente pacífico, aunque los enfrentamientos del final de la manifestación se saldaran con un centenar de heridos —de los cuales 17 personas tuvieron que ser hospitalizadas— y 29 detenciones por “agresión a las fuerzas del orden y vandalismo”.


Pero esta no fue la enésima manifestación-procesión sin consecuencias, sino un proceso constructivo y orientado a la acción. A la mañana siguiente, una asamblea popular reunió a cerca de un millar de personas y decidió organizar otras asambleas en las plazas de los barrios de todos los lugares posibles en apoyo a l@s inculpad@s. Una de estas asambleas se transformó en manifestación esa misma tarde en la emblemática plaza de la Puerta del Sol, cuya estación de metro fue rebautizada en mayo de 2013 con el nombre de “Vodafone Sol”. Igualmente, todo un símbolo…

Jérome Duval

Traducido por Ana Atienza  http://www.tlaxcala-int.org/article…

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April 4th, 2014 by Global Research

Since the overthrow of the Yanukovych government in Ukraine at the end of February 2014, the mainstream media en masse has attempted to whitewash the nature of the current Ukrainian government. This has occurred even in some progressive publications and websites, e.g., a recent two-part series in Rabble.ca.

As soon as this government took over, the New York Times referred to it as a new wave of democracy, and this then set the tone for the media in the West. Although here and there it’s sometimes mentioned that Svoboda, a member of the coalition government, “once had some quasi-fascist inclinations,” that’s as far as it goes. All else about Svoboda and the paramilitary Right Sector has been effectively swept off into Orwell’s memory hole.

This is not to say that no one on the Internet has commented on the true nature of Svoboda. To their credit a number of well qualified observers have had no problem spelling out that Svoboda has a solid neo-nazi fascist basis, and not just “inclinations” towards these beliefs. For example, consider the views of Max Blumenthal, Professor Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Francis Boyle,Professor Michel Chossudovsky,Dr. Inna Rogatchi, David Speedie, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Oleg Shynkarenko, Andrew Foxall and Oren Kessler.

Rather than simply plead ignorance about the depth of fascist-racist beliefs   in the Svoboda membership, the least the mainstream media could have done was to mention that the European Parliament took the unusual step in December of 2012 to pass a resolution of concern about the unsavory nature of Svoboda.The Parliament’s resolution #8 states as follows:

[The European Parliament] is concerned about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda Party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada; recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU’s fundamental values and principles and therefore appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party.

Svoboda was founded in 1991 as the Social National Party of Ukraine – its name unmistakably being an intentional reference to Adolph Hitler’s National Socialist party and it used the Nazi Wolfsangel logo which closely resembles a swastika. In 2004, with the arrival of OlehTyahnybok as leader, the party changed its name to Svoboda to somewhat moderate its image while nevertheless retaining its neo-Nazi core. Also to soften its image it changed its Nazi logo to a stylized three-finger salute.

From its very beginnings as the Social National Party, Svoboda has idolized Stepan Bandera, a Nazi collaborator who formed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and organized the Ukrainian Waffen SS Galician Division – from 82,000 initial Ukrainian volunteers, the Nazis trained only 13,000 for battle. The division was then sent to fight the Russian and Ukrainian Soviet army, but this unit was decimated at the 1944 Battle of Brody, leaving only 3,000 who went on to form the nucleus of a further rebuilt SS division, later to become the core of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

Aside from fighting the Soviet army, Bandera’s forces assisted the Nazis by willingly killing off tens of thousands of Poles and Jews, and actively took part in the BabiYar massacre and the Holocaust in general. Although Bandera had some disagreements with the Nazis and was imprisoned for a while, he and his followers never disagreed with the Nazi Jewish policy in Ukraine, which eventually killed over 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews.

Bandera had the delusional idea that if Ukrainians helped the Nazis to fight the Soviet forces and that if the Nazis won the war and conquered the USSR, Bandera would somehow manage to establish a “free Ukraine,” independent from the Nazi regime. This was an utter delusion which disregarded Hitler’s Lebensraum objective and the fact that the Nazis considered all Slavs to be sub-humans (untermenschen).

Despite all this, Svoboda’s current leader Oleh Tyahnybok remains totally unrepentant. In 2004, in a speech at the grave-site of a commander of the UPA, he urged Ukrainians to fight against the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia” and lauded the World War II Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists for having fought “Muscovites, Germans, Jews and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.”Tyahnybok’s deputy, Yuri Mikhalchishin,a Svoboda ideologist, has founded a think tank called the Joseph Goebbels Political Research Centre. He has also translated and published articles of Hitler regime “classics” and has named the Holocaust as a “bright period” in European history.

It is worthy of note that what separates Germany from the Bandera Nationalists in Ukraine is that Germany has taken responsibility for the atrocities they committed. Contrast this to Lviv, Ukraine, where surviving members of the WW2 Galician SS, willing participants in genocide, still parade on holidays, proudly displaying medals given them by the German Third Reich. In July of 2013 the Svoboda party organized a rally to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the 14thWaffen SS Division. And on January 1, 2014, to commemorate Bandera’s 105th birthday, about 15,000 Svoboda supporters marched through Kyiv, some wearing Nazi SS Waffen army uniforms.

It is because of these incontestable facts that the European Parliament took the unusual step to pass a resolution of concern about the alarming nature of Svoboda. Recently, an American mainstream publication, Foreign Policy, stated:

“The uncomfortable truth is that a sizeable portion of Kiev’s current government –and the protesters who brought it to power – are, indeed, fascists. . . . Party leader OlehTyahnybok is on record complaining that his country is controlled by a ‘Muscovite-Jewish mafia,’ while his deputy derided the Ukrainian-born film star Mila Kunis as a ‘dirty Jewess.’ In Svoboda’s eyes, gays are perverts and black people unfit to represent the nation at Eurovision, lest viewers come away thinking Ukraine is somewhere besides Uganda.”  Yuri Syrotyuk, speaking on behalf of Svoboda, made a further racist comment: “Millions of people who will be watching will see that Ukraine is represented by a person who does not belong to our race.”

Not only does the mainstream media fail to deal with the underlying fascist beliefs of Svoboda, most extend the cover-up by glibly pointing out that right-wing parties exist in several European countries, so this is no big deal. In saying this, they studiously avoid disclosing that in all these countries the right-wing parties are totally excluded from any role in government,  but  this is not the case now in Ukraine. For the first time since the Nazi era, a basically fascist movement has entered a European government and holds key positions of power. Interestingly, so far there hasn’t been a peep about this from the European Parliament who very recently (as cited above) urged the Ukrainian Rada“not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party.”

Dmitry Yaroch (centre), leader of Right Sector

Although many in the media dismiss the Right Sector (Pravy Sektor) as insignificant, this body was formed in 2013 as an umbrella organization that included several paramilitary groups, including the Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO) whose members dress in uniforms modelled on Hitler’s Waffen SS and have been fighting Russia for years, including in Chechnya.

As of March 22, 2014, all these individual groups have coalesced into the Right Sector and have declared themselves to be an official political party, with Dmytro Yarosh as their presidential candidate in the coming election.  In the meantime, Russia has put Yarosh on an international wanted list and charged him with inciting terrorism after he urged Chechen terrorist leader Doku Umarov to launch attacks on Russia over the Ukrainian conflict. Yaroshhas also threatened to destroy Russian pipelines on Ukrainian territory.

In trying to downplay the significance and role of Svoboda and the Right Sector, the media usually point out that Svoboda has only 8 percent of the seats in the Rada and that the Right Sector doesn’t have any elected members, thus making it appear that these parties are of little consequence. The startling fact not revealed is that Svoboda has seven members within the government’s 21-member cabinet, so they compose one-third of the cabinet – all in the most key and powerful positions. Moreover, the Right Sector has a role in government as well; its leader DmytroYarosh is in charge of the police as the Deputy Secretary to the Minister of National Security.

As such, these two neo-Nazi parties have been entrusted with key positions which grant them de facto control over the Armed Forces, Police and National Security. Certainly this information is of the utmost importance – but it is practically never mentioned in the media. Why is this? Essentially, reporting of this type puts forth a very favourable propaganda image of the provisional government. In reality, in putting forth propaganda, what is not said is often every bit as important as what is said. At the very least this is damaging misinformation.

Because the issue of the role of Svoboda in Ukraine’s government is so fundamentally important, let’s take a look at the cabinet membership.

Oleksandr Sych– Deputy Prime Minister, a Svoboda parliamentarian, the party’s chief ideologist, and a virulent anti-abortion activist

IhorTenyukh – Minister of Defence, member of Svoboda’s political council, and formerly commander of Ukraine’s navybut was dismissed from his post when he tried to help Georgia following its military attack on South Ossetia which Russia quickly rebuffed.

AndriyParubiySecretary of the National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU), co-founder of the Social-National Party of Ukraine (Svoboda). This is a key position which oversees the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. The RNBOU is central decision-making body. While it is formally headed by the president, it is run by the Secretariat with a staff of 180 people including defense, intelligence and national security experts. Parubiy was the head “kommandant” of the MaidanRight Sector forces and directed the masked armed men who battled the police.

OlehMakhnitsky – Prosecutor-general, Svoboda member of parliament. With this appointment Svoboda will control the judicial process.

IhorShvaika – Minister of Agriculture, an agro-oligarch and a member of Svoboda. As one of the richest men in the country, his massive investments in agriculture would seem to indicate a slight conflict of interest.

AndriyMoknyk – Minister of Ecology, Deputy Chairman of the Svoboda party and a member of their Political Council, and has been Svoboda’s envoy to other European fascist parties.

SerhiyKvit –Minister of Education, a leading member of Svoboda, noted for his efforts to glorify those who inspiredthe Bandera fascists in World War II.

DmytroYarosh – Deputy head of the National Security Council, to be in charge of the police. Yarosh is the founder-leader of the paramilitary “Right Sector,” and together with Parubiy they directed the demonstrations at Maiden.Years back, Yorash fought alongside Chechen Islamists, and proudly claims that he personally killed a large number of Russian soldiers.

So although Svoboda has only 8 percent of the members in the Ukrainian parliament, they, along with the Right Sector, compose more than a third of the government’s cabinet, including some of the key positions. Hence they have a totally disproportionate share of power, and to compound the problem, Svoboda have no elected members from the entire southeastern part of Ukraine, which has more than half of Ukraine’s population.

A further problem is that it appears there are few, if any members, from southeastern Ukraine in the entire cabinet. As such, over half the country’s population has little or no representation in the interim government’s cabinet, so on this basis alone it lacks legitimacy.

As an indication of how this fascist-inspired government would function, the day after it came into power its very first action was to pass a bill to revoke Ukraine’s very tolerant multicultural language law. In effect the bill banned the use of Russian, Hungarian, Moldovan and Romanian in any official capacity. The bill also includes a provision to ban all Russian language media in Ukraine. Immediately afterwards the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on Ukraine’s new regime to respect the rights (and languages) of its minority population. Following this outcry and condemnation, Interim President OleksandrTurchynov vetoed bill and asked that it be rewritten to be more acceptable.

But the damage was done and this mean-spirited action alerted all minority groups to what the future would hold, especially since some Svoboda members have threatened to ban the Russian language completely and even strip the Ukrainian citizenship of the nation’s Russian speakers. Moreover, a further bill has been advanced that would overturn a law that forbids “denying or excusing the crimes of fascism”. All this is surely asign of possible future discrimination against minority groups.

To put this issue in perspective for Canadians, just imagine if a newly installed government in Ottawa would suddenly ban the use of French as an official language in Canada. How long would it take for Quebec to call for a referendum and then proceed to secede from Canada? In actuality, this is exactly what happened in Crimea, where the bulk of the people speak Russian. They called for a referendum and on March 16, with a turnout of over 80 percent, there was a 97 percent vote to secede from Ukraine. Since ethnic Russians form only 58 percent of the population, it means that the bulk of Ukrainians and Tatars in Crimea also voted to secede from Ukraine.

In Ukraine about 8.3 million people, almost one-fifth of the population, described themselves in the country’s last census as ethnic Russians. However, the Russian language is spoken by at least one quarter of the population and perhaps by as much as 40 percent.  Russian speakers are especially concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine. With respect to the prevalence of Russian language, Dr. VitalyChernetsky, a Slavic languages professor at the University of Kansas, has noted if one looks at an average Ukrainian newsstand, one will find that about 90 percent of the publications are in Russian, even in areas where the majority of the population speaks Ukrainian. “The Russian language also dominates the radio,” he said. “The only segment of the media where the Ukrainian language predominates is the national-level television channels.” Hence for this new government to put drastic restrictions on Russian media and the language is a fanatical bizarre course of action.

Going back to how this new government was formed, it is invariably made to appear that there had been a legitimate transfer of power at the end of February. It is usually pointed out that Victor Yanukovych was impeached by a unanimous vote of 328-0, or by 73 per cent of the deputies of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada. What is seldom revealed is that Ukraine’s constitution stipulates that it requires a 75 percent vote of the members of the Rada to legitimately impeach a president. Given this, although Yanukovych was removed from office, it was done in violation of Ukraine’s constitution, and as such this was not a legal impeachment – it was plainly and simply a coup d’état. Furthermore, what preceded this vote was a semi-riot in the Rada brought on by an invasion of armedRight Sector protestors. It is because of this that more than a quarter of the members of the Rada fled, in fear of their lives – hence the insufficient number for the impeachment vote.

A matter that is seldom mentioned is the February 21 agreement, brokered by Germany, France and Poland, between the Yanukovych government and the protestors to end the three-month long confrontation. The agreement was signed by President Yanukovych and the three opposition party leaders Arseny Yatsenyuk, Vitalty Klitchko, and Oleh Tyahnybok. The agreement called for early parliamentary and presidential elections, the return of the 2004 constitution and the formation of a temporary government of national unity. If an early election were held it was certain that the Yanukovych government would have been defeated.

When the agreement was announced to the protestors in Maiden Square, the leaders of the armed paramilitary Right Sector immediately rejected a peaceful settlement, and were determined to carry on with their armed protest. Despite this, the blundering Yanukovych inexplicably ordered the police to withdraw from guarding the parliament and government buildings, and he himself flew to a prearranged meeting in the city of Kharkov. As such the compromise agreement for a peaceful settlement did not last a single day – on February 22 the Right Sector armed mobs stormed the government buildings and staged a coup in the parliament. And the rest is history as they say.

Strangely, there were no protests from the governments of Germany, France and Poland on behalf of their emissaries who had arranged for a peaceful transition of power in Ukraine. Instead, the obvious coup d’état was never acknowledged and the coup government has been accepted as legal, and the inclusion of fascist elements in a European government for the first time since Hitler left the scene is seemingly no cause for alarm. So much for the warnings from the European Parliament “not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party (Svoboda).” And it seems that even the Right Sector . . . is all right.

True to form, many in the media ridicule the idea that the USA had any role in helping to foment the demonstrations which resulted in the overthrow of a corrupt but nevertheless legally elected government. As Diana Johnstone in a recent article has stated:

“The U.S. Undersecretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, Victoria Nuland, has openly boasted that the United States has spent five billion dollars to gain influence in Ukraine – in reality, in order to draw Ukraine away from Russia and into the U.S. military alliance.”

Indeed, the mainstream media has been so effective that as Ms Johnstone puts it

“much of public opinion seems to accept the notion that the villain of this story is the Russian president, who is accused of engaging in unprovoked aggression against Crimea – even though he was responding to one of the most blatant provocations in history.”

At the time of the dissolution of the USSR, the USA assured Gorbachev that NATO would never extend into any of the buffer states bordering Russia. This promise was violated almost immediately and NATO has expanded into all these bordering states, except so far into Ukraine.

It would be naive in the extreme to assume that the Orange Revolution of 2004 and the recent U.S. gambit led by Victoria Nuland was not aimed at bringing Ukraine, including the main Russian naval base at Sebastopol, into the NATO orbit. This is in spite of the fact that polls in Ukraine as a whole show that about70 percent of the population is against joining NATO. The strategic function of placing missiles in Ukraine would be to provide the United States with a hypothetical nuclear first strike capacity against Russia. Putin is no fool and that is why he took advantage of the overwhelming desire of thepeople of Crimea to secede from Ukraine.

The issue of the sniper killings in Maidan Square has been downplayed by the media – with the exception The Guardianand the RT television channel there was initially no mention of the intercepted phone conversation between the Estonian foreign minister and the EU foreign affairs chief. The Estonian foreign minister related that he had been told that the snipers responsible for killing police and civilians in Kiev last month were protest movement provocateurs rather than supporters of then-president Viktor Yanukovych. This is vitally important information but somehow this was ignored by the entire American media. It was only after Russia made appeals to the European Union to investigate who was responsible for the killings (which included police and protestors) that the new Ukrainian government made a move to start an investigation. So far nothing has come of this except for the original account that this had been ordered by Yanukovych, with the most recent suggestion that this was the work of Russian agents.

This matter raises the question cui bono? The killings occurred on February 21, the very day that the European emissaries were trying to work out a peaceful resolution to the three-month protest movement. Why would Yanukovych or Russia want to scuttle the possibility of a peaceful resolution? On the other hand, the last thing the heavily armed hardcore fascist Right Sector paramilitary mob wanted was a peaceful solution – they kept demanding the overthrow of the government. Moreover, these were the people who brandished assault rifles and they occupied and controlled most of the tall buildings surrounding the square – buildings from which the shots were fired. How could it be possible for Yanukovych’s police or Russian agents, armed with assault rifles, to pass unnoticed through the crowds of protestors and enter buildings occupied by the protestors?

The sniper killings changed the entire tone of the protest movement. If the protests had been violent before, after the sniper killings the violence escalated. It was at this point that the parliamentary leaders announced to the enraged mob that they had reached an agreement with the government to have an early election and that the protest should end. These leaders were booed and DmytroYarosh, the head of the Right Sector, vowed to carry on until the government was defeated. The next day, with the police no longer on the scene, the armed mob took over all government buildings and the parliament. And the rest we know – a legally elected government (no matter that it was corrupt) was deposed by means of a coup d’état. But the word “coup d’état”is verboten in all of our media, with the sole exception of RT, which is prepared to call a spade a spade.

As for the investigation about the sniper killings, ironically, Dmytro Yarosh, the leader and founder of the Right Sector is now a deputy minister . . . in charge of the police!AndriyParubiy was the official“kommandant” of the Right Sector forces and the person in charge of all the occupied tall buildings surrounding the Maidan Square . . . but he is now the headNational Security and Law Enforcement. But of course there will be a thorough investigation into the sniper killings . . .

With Ukraine now having Europe’s first government since Hitler’s time to include fascists in high profile cabinet positions, one might wonder how their presence affects the operation of the government. On the very first day when this government“impeached” Yanukovych (legally invalid because the Rada lacked the proper quorum to do so), this video shows the rowdiness and intimidation that occurred in Ukraine’s parliament at that time. A further video shows the decorum and behaviour of this new element in the operations of the government. In an unnamed regional parliament a Right Sector “enforcer” came in with a Kalashnikov and lectured the members, saying,“Who wants to take away my machine gun, my pistol, my knives?” The scene was filmed and the video went viral, racking up more than 50,000 views in the first three days.

Another Right Sector video shows one of their members, Olexandr Muzychko, as he barged into a prosecutor’s office in the Rovno Oblast and proceeded to threaten and rough up the official, much in the line of Hitler’s brownshirts in a different era.

A prominent figure in Svoboda,Muzychko has publicly vowed to fight “against Jews, communists, and Russian scum” for as long as he lives. And finally, and equally ominous, on March 18 several Svoboda members of Parliament, including the deputy head of Ukraine’s committee on freedom of speech, stormed their way into the offices of the president of the National Television Company of Ukraine and after beating up the official they forced him to resign.

They were furious and called it treasonous that the national TV companyshowed Russian President Putin signing a bill to make Crimea part of Russia. This would be the equivalent of Canadian MPs forcing the president of the CBC to resign. Instead of protesting this fascist behaviour, Canada’s Prime Minister Harper visited Kiev recently to offer Canada’s full support for a regime that includes neo-nazis.

There are many other significant matters that the mainstream media has ignored. To put these issues in better perspective, here are a few salient points from Katrina vandenHeuvel, editor of The Nation:

“Yanukovych’s decision to postpone the EU’s association agreement was not irrational. It would have forced Ukraine to decide between Russia and the EU, flatly rejecting Putin’s offer of a tripartite arrangement that would allow the country to sustain its ties with Russia. Quite apart from Putin’s December offer of financial rescue, Ukraine is heavily dependent economically on Russia, which supplies and subsidizes much of its energy and is its largest trading partner. The EU and the United States, for all their bluster, are not about to replace that deep connection with Western aid and trade . . . . Even as it seeks closer ties with Europe, Ukraine can’t afford to turn its back on its huge eastern neighbor. For starters, it gets more than half its natural gas from Russia. The EU couldn’t help much if Moscow turned off the tap—though it’s unlikely to do so, since Russia ships gas to Western Europe via Ukrainian pipelines. Nor can the EU suddenly absorb the $15 billion in iron, steel, grain, and other products that Ukraine annually sells Russia, its biggest trade partner. And for all the anti-Moscow rhetoric heard during the recent protests, the two countries have deep historical and cultural ties.”

It is important to note that some of the interim government’s top ministers were also ministers in previous governments and were participants in policies that created the country’s current economic basket case. During all these years they had failed to curb rampant corruption or tackle economic inefficiency. In fact, the EU has provided Ukraine with $19.1 billion in grants and loans since 1991, and together with IMF and other aid it pushes the total well over $30 billion. And despite Ukraine’s current antagonistic rhetoric, the country has received massive aid from Russia in the form of discounted natural gas—a subsidy totaling $200 billion to $300 billion since 1991. So where has all this money gone? “Into the pockets of an incredibly corrupt political elite and oligarchs,” says Emily Holland, a specialist on energy policy at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin.And with all the brouhaha about corruption by the protest movement, the new fascist-tainted regime has appointed some of the worst oligarchs to key regional government posts in eastern Ukraine. So what are the realistic prospects for this essentially failed state?

At the basis of the continuing political turmoil in the country is the fact that Ukraine consists of two fundamentally different regions – its eastern part and its western part. A possible solution would be the creation of a loose confederation with two autonomous regions. One autonomous region would be free to become more economically connected with the European Union while the other with Russia. In addition to other proponents for such a sensible solution, ironically, this proposal has been put forth byRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who on March 20 said:

“. . .a constitutional reform should be held, so that interests of all Ukrainian citizens and regions are respected. This is the only basis for forming legitimate authorities, legislative and executive, central and regional . . . we are convinced that thesituation in the country can be stabilized only through making Ukraine a federal state.”

An apropos concluding comment on this complex matter are the words of Katrina vandenHeuvel:

“The [US] president would be well advised to investigate whether the European Union, Russia and the United States can join together to preserve Ukraine’s territorial unity; to support new and free elections; and to agree to allow Ukraine to be part of both the European Union and Russian customs union, while reaffirming the pledge that NATO will not extend itself into Ukraine. It is time to reduce tensions and create possibility, not flex rhetorical muscles and fan the flames of folly.”

John Ryan, Ph.D., Retired Professor of Geography and Senior Scholar, University of Winnipeg. In studying for his Ph.D. at McGill, Dr. Ryan specialized in the economic and political geography of the USSR. He then taught courses on the USSR for more than 30 years at the University of Winnipeg. He can be reached at [email protected]

Earlier this year, the United States and the Gulf monarchies initiated a propaganda effort designed to sanitize the image of the mercenaries fighting to topple the Syrian government. According to The Telegraph, mercenary groups “best equipped to take on the extremists” were given millions of dollars to go up against al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS), which was said to have “hijacked” the foreign effort to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Gruesome video: U.S. proxy, al-Nusra, beheads a Christian priest.

The British newspaper reported Jamal Maarouf, with the help of the CIA and Saudi and Qatari intelligence, created the Syrian Revolutionary Front (SRF), a collection of “moderate” fighters who reportedly launched attacks against the ISIS and its jihadist allies.

As it turns out, the war against ISIS is not what the establishment media in the West make it out to be. On Wednesday, Maarouf told The Independent the fight against al-Qaeda was “not our problem” and admitted the mercenaries he leads with U.S., Saudi and Qatari help conduct joint operations with Jabhat al-Nusra, seen as the de facto al-Qaeda branch in Syria. Maarouf told the newspaper he does not have a problem working with al-Qaeda so long as the objective is the ouster of the al-Assad government.

In fact, according to Maarouf, his benefactors told him to provide al-Nusra with weapons despite the aforementioned propaganda campaign designed to give the impression “moderates” are fighting the good fight against al-Qaeda in Syria. He said if “the people who support us [U.S., Saudis, Qataris] tell us to send weapons to another group, we send them. They asked us a month ago to send weapons to Yabroud so we sent a lot of weapons there. When they asked us to do this, we do it.”

According to Barak Barfi, a research fellow for the globalist funded New America Foundation, al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda-linked group known for summarily executing Syrian soldiers and other atrocities (including beheading Christians; see the video above), receives weapons indirectly from SRF.

Maarouf’s revelation, however, is not news. In December, The Washington Post and other establishment media outlets reported the United States and its partners are involved in a “cold-war style of warfare” which includes the use of “proxies to punish Assad.” The mention of the term Cold War alludes to covert intelligence operations, the hallmark of decades of undeclared warfare against the Soviet Union.

In an effort to minimize the fact the United States is colluding with an enemy aligned with a terrorist organization allegedly responsible for attacking the United States, the Post reported:

The United States government knowingly contributed to the territorial gains of radical Islamists allied to our gravest enemy in an effort to hijack the Syrian Revolution and install Sharia Law in a very rich and very powerful country. In an effort to thwart the fear of the public that the U.S. would be supporting radical Jihadists, the secretary of state made a statement that he was certain that only 25 percent of the rebels were Jihadists. There are roughly a hundred eighty thousand Syrian Rebels, and as of now an estimated one hundred thousand of those rebels fall under the command of the Islamic Front.

In other words, in an effort to subvert a sovereign nation and decide who will rule over it (and who will cooperate with the financial elite), the United States is only partially collaborating with declared enemies. This is, we are assured, better than fully cooperating with them.

Once again, this is sheer and transparent propaganda designed to minimize the obvious fact the United States does not differentiate between enemies and allies (who often, as Taliban did, become tomorrow’s sworn enemies if so declared by geopolitical imperatives decided upon by the global elite).

“For half a century the United States and many of its allies saw what I call the ‘Islamic right’ as convenient partners in the Cold War,” writes Robert Dreyfuss in his book, Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. The Afghan Mujahideen, enthusiastically supported by the CIA in its successful covert war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, would ultimately produce both al-Qaeda and the Taliban, a fact admitted by Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, CIA director and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Naturally, this fact – the United States not only creates and supports the likes of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra, to name but two, but itself constitutes the largest, most organized, well-funded and dangerous terrorist organization in the world – is never mentioned by the establishment media, even when U.S. proxies, headed up by war profiteers such as Jamal Maarouf, admit they are in league with brutal sadists who behead innocents, execute prisoners of war, and desecrate Christian churches.

NATO is provacatively seeking to install its forces on Russia’s borders, moving to recruit Georgia and Ukraine’s unelected, pro-Western regime to the military alliance, a move that threatens a NATO-Russia war.

NATO and Georgian officials met yesterday in Brussels to plan talks on a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to admit Georgia into NATO as early as September.

“As a country aspiring to join our Alliance, Georgia is a special partner to NATO,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He also thanked Georgia for being “the largest non-NATO troop contributor to our mission in Afghanistan,” where Georgia has deployed 1,560 personnel to assist NATO in its bloody war of occupation.

Rasmussen’s special representative, James Appathurai, added: “Georgia will become a member of NATO, this policy has not changed, and no one wants to change it.”

“At the meeting of foreign ministers in June, we will examine the progress being made by all four candidate countries on the path of rapprochement with NATO,” he said, referring to Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. “We will present a report related to this issue, and a decision to forward will be adopted at the summit.”

This is part of an aggressive military escalation by NATO, which is planning troop deployments and military exercises all along Russia’s western borders—in Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. Its moves to directly ally with Georgia, a country in the Caucasus that borders on Russia and attacked Russian forces in 2008, underscores the danger of a Russia-NATO war posed by this escalation.

The NATO meetings with Georgia followed comments by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday, signaling US interest in including both Ukraine and Georgia in NATO. He said, “The United States joins our allies in reaffirming that NATO’s door remains open to any European country in a position to undertake the commitments and obligations of membership, and that can contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area.”

He did not explicitly mention Georgia or Ukraine, as some NATO countries, like Germany and France, reportedly still oppose rapidly admitting Georgia—a position they took amid the 2008 Georgian war provoked by US-backed Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili’s attack on Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, both Berlin and Paris backed the installation of an unelected pro-Western government in Ukraine in a fascist-led putsch in Kiev this February.

The Russian Foreign Ministry replied to Kerry by pointedly warning Ukraine not to join NATO. It said that previous discussions of membership in NATO “led to freezing of Russian-Ukrainian political communications, to headaches in the relationship between NATO and Russia and, what is the most dangerous, to the deepening of the split of Ukrainian society, the majority of which doesn’t support the idea of Ukraine entering NATO.”

The statement added that future cooperation between Ukraine and Russia, including on economic issues, “will largely depend on the actions Ukraine takes in its foreign policy.”

By moving ahead towards a formal military alliance with Georgia, NATO effectively dismissed these Russian warnings. They are escalating pressure on Russia by signaling that each ethnic powder keg on Russia’s borders can be turned into a pretext for war. Were Georgia to join NATO, Washington and the major European Union (EU) powers would be committed under Article 5 of the NATO treaty to go to war with Russia if fighting broke out again between Russia and Georgia.

NATO’s offer of such guarantees to the regime in Kiev, where six ministries are controlled by violent anti-Russian Ukrainian fascists from the Svoboda Party or the Right Sector militia, would throw open the doors to countless provocations against Russia. Such provocations are all the more likely, in that the pro-Western Ukrainian regime is highly unstable, pledged to carry out deep and unpopular austerity measures against the Ukrainian working class.

Ukraine’s unelected Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk has boasted that his government consists of “political suiciders,” because its domestic policies will arouse such popular opposition.

The NATO moves directly raise the danger of world war, should Ukrainian or Georgian provocations trigger mutual escalation between Russia and the imperialist alliance. This underscores the devastating geo-strategic implications of the dissolution of the USSR, which has thrown the entire region open to reckless maneuvers by the Western imperialist powers and their fascistic local proxies in various ex-Soviet republics.

The 2008 Georgian war, as recounted by US diplomat Ronald Asmus in his book A Little War That Shook the World, gives a stark example of how a pro-Western regime can launch a military assault on Russia to deal with its own internal tensions. He recounts the Saakashvili regime’s response to the Russian declaration of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia—itself a response to the Western powers’ declaration of the independence of Kosovo from Serbia.

Saakashvili, Asmus writes, acted on “his conviction that he would never survive politically if he stood by and did nothing. That still did not mean it was a wise choice. President Saakashvili began a war his allies had warned him not to start, a war they would not support, and a war that he could not win.”

According to Asmus, Saakashvili modeled his plans on offensives like Operation Storm, the 1995 Croatian military offensive that carried out the ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Croatia.

Saakashvili, in fact, did enjoy the close support of Western governments and political operatives, however. “A large part of what was referred to as the ‘mafia’—a loose collection of American and European think tanks, pro-democracy NGOs, journalists, and other veterans of the [NATO] enlargement debate of the 1990s—now found itself gathering at conferences and workshops in Tbilisi [the Georgian capital] and neighboring capitals, debating how the West should respond,” Asmus notes.

This Western “mafia” was well aware of Saakashvili’s plan for military aggression against Russian peacekeepers and regularly discussed them with Georgian officials. “Many of us referred to it as the ‘land grab’ scenario. Such conversations usually took place in private settings—at Saakashvili’s home, in his chancellery late at night, or during one of Georgia’s favorite pastimes: drinking. Maps were brought out or drawn on napkins as Georgian officials thought out loud about what-they-would-do-if scenarios,” Asmus writes.

Ultimately, the drunken speculation of Saakashvili and his contacts in the Western “mafia” about how to best carry out ethnic cleansing and military aggression led to a poorly coordinated offensive and a predictable Georgian defeat at the hands of Russia. The NATO powers declined to get involved in a conflict with Russia that could rapidly escalate into nuclear war.

The moves to include the Kiev regime and Georgia in NATO are designed to change this situation, by presenting Russia with a situation where the NATO powers are diplomatically compelled to intervene on the side of their right-wing proxies.

They are creating a situation where the desperate regime of “political suiciders” in Kiev, acting on its own drunken plans worked out with the Western mafia, might similarly launch military provocations against Russia in an attempt to extricate itself from its internal crises, triggering a military escalation leading to global war.

Al Qaeda: Friend or Foe? The US Cannot Have It Both Ways

April 3rd, 2014 by Joachim Hagopian

The US government needs to be confronted with the untenable position of maintaining al Qaeda as America’s enemy while for decades it has been creating, funding and promoting al Qaeda.

What’s it going to be? Friend or foe? Trick or treat? Ally or enemy?

This line of questioning has no greater relevance than the US government’s rather ambiguous relationship to the so called al Qaeda terrorists.

On the one hand, war criminals Bush and Cheney insisted al Qaeda was the identified enemy that changed our world forever on 9/11, when allegedly 19 box cutting al Qaeda Moslem terrorists killed nearly 3000 Americans. Bush and Cheney convinced Americans that al Qaeda was the reason behind the US invading Afghanistan in October 2001 and less than a year and a half later Iraq. Al Qaeda is the reason President Obama is still justifying fighting that same war in Afghanistan thirteen years later. Al Qaeda is the reason why the Department of Homeland Security was suddenly created to make sure those al Qaeda enemies were kept out of the US, dedicated and committed to protecting American citizens from another 9/11.

Al Qaeda is the enemy of America, and that has not changed from the early Bush days right up to the present Obama presidency. You ask any American over the last decade and a half who the enemy is in the global war on terror and virtually every one of them will readily rattle off “al Qaeda.” Repeatedly drilled into our brains, the American public has been forever reminded that it is the al Qaeda terrorists who are America’s longtime sinister nemesis constantly plotting to kill us Americans every chance they get.

This is the commonly accepted explanation given by the US government to promote and justify waging America’s longest lasting wars in its history, fighting and dying on multiple war fronts and allocating unprecedented amounts of US taxpayer dollars bleeding a shaky, faltering economy dry, while financing annual Defense budgets greater than the entire rest of the world combined. That’s how much al Qaeda is our sworn enemy. Giving away our hard earned tax dollars to the detriment of a shrinking middle class and a swelling underclass of disenfranchised poor increasingly unable to make ends meet. The American public has made a very grave self-sacrifice in its post-9/11 lost civil liberties, all for the sake of so called security at home so American Empire can keep us safe from those swarthy mean looking Muslim terrorists who will gladly die for Allah just to kill us.

Yet if the designated al Qaeda enemy is so much against America and wishes to kill the American people, why over the last three years are more of our tax paying dollars going to Al Qaeda fighting America’s proxy war in Syria against Bashar al Assad’s government forces? And why was al Qaeda the first hired guns on the ground to go into Libya right after the US-NATO bombings three years ago? And why to this day after removing the supposed bad guy Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi are al Qaeda still in control in Libya? Why are our taxpaying dollars for years at a time filling our supposed enemy al Qaeda’s pockets in places like Syria and Libya? And why does al Qaeda keep showing up as US’s surrogate troops on the ground in nations around the world, wherever US foreign policy agenda calls for destabilization and regime change? This line of questioning is just as valid and in need of answering as much as the opening paragraph ones. And though I cannot answer the first questions, answers to the latter questions can be formulated based on confirmed fact.

A brief digression seems in order here. Historically US foreign policy is synonymous with American Empire firmly rooted and immersed in US imperialism. By the end of overt European colonialism and independence of scores of developing nations after World War II, the US government’s cold war power grab began opportunistically filling the imperialistic void. And as a result, through countless acts of covert terrorism executed primarily by the CIA, coups and assassinations of even democratically elected leaders became routine around the world. Most notably in 1953 Iran and 1973 Chile, CIA with US military intelligence murdered leaders imposing regime changes in a host of ill fated sovereign independent nations with democratically elected leaders. US imperialism emerged at the forefront of American foreign policy during the cold war years always as a so called counterpoint to the threat of expanding Communism.

Hence, Operation Gladio was born. Gladio was part of the post-World War II campaign designed by CIA and NATO to undermine and neutralize Soviet communist invasions and influence in Italy and Western Europe. But in reality, it was nothing more than a state-sponsored right-wing terrorist network involved in false flag operations and the subversion of democracy. And just as it was then and still is today, covert acts of terrorism and false flag operations have come to characterize US foreign policy even more so today, from the heavy, protracted counterinsurgency war losses in Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan to virtually every Third World nation on the planet.

A decade ago President Reagan’s National Security Council Director Lt. General William Odom said:

“Because the United States itself has a long record of supporting terrorists and using terrorist tactics, the slogans of today’s war on terrorism merely makes the United States look hypocritical to the rest of the world. By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ’78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation.”

In the rush to answer the Soviet Empire’s expansion into Afghanistan in December 1979, US foreign policymakers bankrolled a young, unknown upstart named Osama bin Laden and the Afghan mujahideen throughout the Soviet’s 1980’s decade long “Vietnam” in Afghanistan. Both Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and then CIA Director and later G.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates publicly admitted that the US made the decision to both organize and support Osama bin Laden and the mujahideen as the al Qaeda “forefathers” that ultimately defeated the overextended Soviet Empire that in turn led to its crumbling apart in 1991.

Ronald Reagan with Representatives of the Mujahideen, White House, 1980s

Thus from the beginning the United States government maintained only a supportive and positive relationship with Al Qaeda and its original mastermind leader Osama bin Laden. Back in the 1980’s when Russia was fighting in the land called the graveyard of empires, it was the Saudi black sheep of the bin Laden family Osama who was the CIA’s darling deploying his burgeoning brand of terrorism as an “Arab mujahideen” in Afghanistan, proving himself a pesky thorn in the expansionist Soviet Union Empire.

In a July 2004 article entitled “Al Qaeda’s Origins and Links” BBC wrote,

“During the anti-Soviet jihad bin Laden and his fighters received American and Saudi funding. Some analysts believe bin Laden himself had security training from the CIA.”

Meanwhile throughout that 1980’s decade, American university textbooks as part of the series underwritten by a USAID $50 million grant to the University of Nebraska among others, kept churning out books extolling the virtues of jihad and of killing the Communists for Afghan children.

Bin Laden stated the name al Qaeda originated

“as a camp to train youth to fight against the oppressive, atheist, and truly terrorist Soviet Union. We called that place al Qaeda – in the sense that it was a training base – and that is where the name came from.”

Al Qaeda’s Arabic meaning often refers to the base as in military base. The term was first used in 1989 just two years before the Soviet Union’s breakup following its withdrawal from its own costly, protracted Afghan quagmire.

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Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda’s joint mission was to recruit Islamic fundamentalists from the entire Arab world to come together for the common cause of fighting to liberate fellow Muslims from oppression in nations throughout the world. Soon after the Soviet war was won in Afghanistan, Osama sought his next terrorist campaign and soon found it in the Balkans in the 1990’s liberating fellow Muslims in Yugoslavia. As long as al Qaeda’s enemies happen to be US enemies like the Soviet Union, the US government never has a problem providing financial support sponsoring al Qaeda terrorism. Be it during the Republican Reagan years of the 1980’s Afghanistan or the Democratic Clinton years of the 1990’s and beyond in the Balkans, the US government secretly funneled a steady flow of American taxpayer dollars in support of continuous al Qaeda operations.

Without authority from either the UN Security Counsel or any international law, for 78 straight days in the spring of 1999 the US-NATO forces rained tons of outlawed cluster bombs as crimes against humanity down on the people of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. Four years after the bombing campaign to “liberate” Kosovo ended, under the auspices of UN Security forces, a December 2003 Toronto National Post article chronicled the deteriorating conditions with mounting evidence of ethnic cleansing, drug and human smuggling, and rampant violent crime and vandalism. Ethnic Albanian Moslem militia and Middle Eastern al Qaeda terrorists combined forces to kill and drive out Christian Serbs in a concerted effort to gain independence from Serbia.

At the Hague Tribunal trying him for war crimes and genocide, Yugoslavian dictator Slobodan Milosevic presented a Congressional statement from the FBI dated December 2002 documenting that al Qaeda militants began arriving in 1992. This statement was corroborated by Simon Fraser University Professor Lenard Cohen who stated, “Al Qaeda migrated to Bosnia hoping to assist their Islamic brethren in a struggle against Serbian [and for a time] Croatian forces.” Naturally the Bosnian Moslems welcomed al Qaeda terrorists giving them an edge against their Serbian enemy.

Using money from smuggling heroin from Afghanistan through Turkey to Kosovo in addition to covert US financial aid, al Qaeda mujahideen set up terrorist training camps in Bosnia. An undisclosed Western military source claimed al Qaeda was also financed by wealthy US allied oil nations Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. In the years before the 1999 bombing campaign, al Qaeda moved its well funded operations to the southern Serbian province of Kosovo to fight alongside ethnic Albanians comprising the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) against their common enemy the Serbs.

Clinton, US Congress and NATO commander General Wesley Clarke supported US state sponsored terrorism by al Qaeda, the Bosnian Army and the KLA against the common enemy Milosevic’s Serbian Army. Though the US ensured Milosevic was tried for genocidal war crimes at the Hague and subsequently executed in 2006, the Muslim terrorists were committing the same war crimes of ethnic cleansing toward the Serbs but both the US and UN simply condoned them, hypocritically choosing to look the other way. After all, by that time the US had been consistently investing millions of US tax dollars on al Qaeda terrorists in both the Afghanistan and Balkan Wars for nearly two decades.

Thus, even after the horror of 9/11, after the Neocons declared to the world that the al Qaeda network were the perpetrators, the US continued to secretly support al Qaeda operations in eastern Europe although insider fears of blowback were beginning to grow. So Bush, Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld simply battened down their hatches doing their powerful best in waging a propaganda disinformation war to conceal their countless treasonous skeletons in their closet.

To this day an international movement is pushing louder than ever to indict these war criminals for their crimes against humanity. In this regard, the Washington blog refers to the United States War Crimes Act of 1996 that stipulates no statue of limitation exists for any military or civilian national who violates the Geneva convention by committing acts of torture (the widely known, widely practiced waterboarding under the Bush-Cheney regime even Obama agrees constitutes torture), inhuman treatment and murder.

Of course Obama has only continued to carry out Neocon policies and, as such, is a repeated violator of the Geneva Convention as well. Despite all the Bush Administration lies, there are still numerous cracks in their stonewalling of the truth. So from one war criminal to the next, last August Obama’s Department of Justice filed a request to grant immunity to George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz for knowingly entering a war under false pretenses.

For decades the bin Laden family has enjoyed close business ties with the Bush family as well as the US government. On the morning of 9/11 while Americans were jumping out of windows in New York City, Bush senior was busily wining and dining the bin Ladens in a meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in DC and later that same day while all planes in the US were grounded, the bin Laden family was quietly escorted out of the country flying safely home to Saudi Arabia.

Further substantiation of this all too cozy a relationship with Osama after al Qaeda fought Russians in Afghanistan came from former FBI translator and whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. She stated in a June 2009 interview that she came across classified material proving that the US government lied in its denial of maintaining “an intimate relationship” with bin Laden, al Qaeda and the Taliban “all the way up to September 11th.”

It appears that the neocons never stopped working with bin Laden and al Qaeda right through 9/11. In a symbiotic relationship, they needed him as much as he needed them. Considering the neocon plan to invade Iraq has been documented to exist long before the alleged 9/11 attack, and the proven utter lack of credibility and corruption of the entire Bush Administration, in the post-cold war era Osama bin Laden gladly became their convenient face of the enemy in America’s sudden new “war on terror.”

A couple weeks after 9/11 that same war criminal then retired General Wesley Clark revealed in 2007 the ambitious neocon plan to take out seven sovereign nations within the next five years in North Africa and the Middle East. Those countries targeted for regime change are Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Syria and Iran. The Neocons no longer viewed the purpose of the US military strictly in terms of national defense but simply to start wars and take out existing governments, replacing them with US controlled, weak and corrupt puppet governments. Of course the first two countries on that infamous list were Afghanistan and Iraq. So the US launched invasions resulting in decade long costly wars ostensibly to track down and defeat the Al Qaeda enemy. 
 
Of course we all are painfully aware of the lies of the neocon’s false flag operation that got America stuck fighting a winless war in Iraq for a decade. Again without UN Security Council backing and in clear violation of every international law, the Bush doctrine of launching pre-emptive, unilateral wars using the sole global superpower’s exceptionalism and the “might makes right” mentality, with prefabricated, calculated lies contending Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and terrorist 9/11 ties, Iraq was invaded in March 2003 to replace the onetime US ally turned convenient enemy Saddam Hussein.

Back during the eight year bloody war between Iraq and Iran also during Reagan 1980’s, the US poured military hardware and US military intelligence giving Saddam the distinct advantage of knowing where his enemy’s troop movements were. Thus supplying him with the chemical weapons the US knew he would eagerly use not only on Iran soldiers but his own people the Kurds in northern Iraq, again without conscience the US government was supporting more state sponsored terrorism and crimes of humanity to the worst degree. Another reason the neocons had to bring Hussein down was his grumblings demanding to be paid no longer in US dollars for his oil but in gold. So another friend turned foe bad guy was extinguished in more cutthroat American imperialism.

And what does America have to show for its three trillion dollar war in Iraq? After the decade long tragedy of US occupation and ongoing war leaving 4,486 American soldiers dead, the US’s parting gift to the Iraqi people is an indefinite sectarian civil war with no end in sight, a completely desecrated nation full of deformed babies at 17 times the prewar rate (worse than the postwar Japanese atom bomb rates at Hiroshima-Nagasaki). Cancer rates over the years with the two US wars in Iraq are surging off the charts from depleted Uranium war rubble and the chemical white phosphorus used in US military assaults on cities like Fallujah and Basra. Iraq’s pre-Gulf War cancer rate in 1991 was just 40 out of 100,000 people. After the Gulf War in 1995 it jumped up to 800 out of 100,000 and by 2005 still early in the latest war, cancer had already stricken twice the earlier rate at 1600 out of 100,000 Iraqis. Obviously the rates are far higher nearly a decade later than that last statistic. Finally the tragic death toll to Iraq’s population at the hands of America’s aggression from 2003 through 2012 is nearly two million fellow human beings. And this is just from the US’s latest war in Iraq. More than 4000 more Iraqis are dying each year since the US left.

A January article written by CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen reads “Al Qaeda controls more territory than ever in Middle East.” This is the unanimous consensus from both English and Arab news sites that include jihadist websites. Covering a 400-mile stretch from northern Syria all the way to central Iraq, the so called enemy occupies and controls more territory now than it has in its entire history. Having retaken Fallujah and Anbar province in Iraq, al Qaeda now controls one third of Iraq territory. Al Qaeda is busily setting up massive bread distribution centers winning the local people’s hearts and minds, something General Petraeus’ Counterinsurgency manual failed to practice what it preached.

Considering that the whole pretext for invading Iraq aside from the phantom WMD’s, was Saddam and Iraq having direct ties to both the 9/11 attack and al Qaeda, then of course the world subsequently learned the hard way that was just another neocon lie. This latest pathetic turn of events only begins making sense when taking the overall bigger picture view that al Qaeda has always been the US government’s friend in as much as it is a self-serving tool to manipulate and sic on our worst enemies. Only to the American people has it been put that al Qaeda is our enemy. So much for how our government feels about us. And that said, so much for America winning its global war on terror. The old expression comes to mind… “with enemies like you, who needs friends?” Or more apropos, “with friends like you, who needs enemies?” After Iraq and Afghanistan, that’s the over four trillion dollar question, never mind Libya, Syria and the rest of the Moslem world where al Qaeda apparently is not only alive and well, but evidently thriving and growing. A revent Harvard study’s conservative estimate is anywhere from over four to seven trillion dollars.

The longest US war in history – the Afghanistan War – is fairing no better. More than a dozen and a half years after the US invasion, like the al Qaeda “enemy,” the Taliban enemy is also expanding its territorial control and hold within the country. With the presidential election looming this Saturday, it marks the end of the ex-CIA operator-oil company advisor Hamid Karzai’s reign of corruption playing both sides. He has been busily meeting regularly with the Taliban while refusing to sign the security agreement to retain US troops in the country. Karzai has maintained lucratively warm ties with the Taliban enemy, and may be betting on team Taliban poised and ready to pounce and take over once the US military presence officially departs at the end of December. And since it will no longer be his government to lose, he is choosing to circumvent the US altogether in attempts to reach a peace settlement. Outside the capital particularly in the southern provinces, the Taliban occupies more control than the 200,000 man Afghanistan National Army that the US military is handing over the reigns to. The US government is confident that the newly elected president will sign the agreement to retain of 12-15,000 US security forces in 2015 and longer. Despite the reduced troop size, the war budget is slated to be $79.4 billion. Many American generals and politicians are warning that without US troop support beyond this year, the Taliban will once again rule.

Though technically the Taliban is different from al Qaeda since its domain of interest is far more localized to Afghanistan and less ambitious than al Qaeda’s, for propaganda purposes both are Islamic extremists sharing the same enemy America in common. And apparently since the Taliban has been steadily resurging in power in recent years, al Qaeda is less needed in Afghanistan than other Middle Eastern hot spots like Syria, Libya and Iraq where its presence is far more pervasive and dominant.

Speaking of Syria, nowhere is it more puzzling and bewildering to reconcile the glaring discrepancy between America’s sworn enemy Al Qaeda terrorists, steadily funded by US tax dollars fighting in Syria, certainly not for our interests but only for the US-Saudi-Israeli axis of power’s implementation of the 1% war profiteering oligarch plan for a New World Order.

Obama’s false flag blaming the chemical weapons attack on Assad’s government last August when it was in fact US backed al Qaeda rebels’ doing, demonstrates the fixated agenda of US foreign policy to vanquish the Syrian government. Gaining a foothold in Syria as the gateway to the final prize of Iran would be the planetary game changer that would effectively cut off Russia and China to full oil-gas pipeline access supplying the rest of the world. The US will use al Qaeda as its paid mercenaries to fight anywhere that will limit the East’s power. The former Soviet outer states of Central Asia so rich in gas and oil reserves is the fertile ground that Special Ops and al Qaeda mercenaries are destined to play an integral part in this global destabilization plan firmly underway. Thus to the US government and transnational corporations, al Qaeda has been a friendly weapon of mass destruction and simply another con job of an enemy to the American people.

Yes, there are angry Islamic fundamentalists that since 9/11 due to US foreign aggression have been given justifiable reason to hate America. Every time Special Operations terrorize and murder families throughout the Third World by raiding homes in the middle of the night, detaining and torturing male family members in prison camps, leaving surviving family members to understandably seek revenge. In this way our brutal foreign policy ensures a fresh supply of so called al Qaeda enemies for its permanent global war on terror.

Of course the other favorite twenty-first century warfare in US Empire’s arsenal is the massive deployment of remote controlled drone strikes that again terrorize and murder more innocent people around the world than so called terrorist bad guys. Losing family members of course also serves the function of recruiting more jihadists committed to avenging the deaths of their relatives by fighting the holy war against America the aggressor. Whether employed as US hired guns by proxy or surviving family victims recruited to fight the war on terror, al Qaeda is serving the self-interest of only the US government, and certainly not us Americans.

Clearly the tiny nation of Syria has never posed any threat to the security of US citizens. Yet just over a month ago a number of Congress members and Homeland Security head went on mainstream media announcing that the greatest threat to America’s security now is Syria. They contend that many Americans and Europeans with legitimate passports are currently traveling in droves to Syria for secret jihadist terrorist training with intentions of returning to America and Europe to commit heinous acts of terrorism.

If what these fear mongers are saying is true, then it is on the US government for creating this “greatest security threat” by financing al Qaeda mercenaries to go in droves to Syria in the first place. For several years now America has been backing many Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria posing as anti-government rebels fighting the US proxy war for regime change. They are fighting to bring Islamic extremism to every nation in the Middle East and beyond and the US government has created this monster by promoting it for years now. The Assad military is gaining the edge in a stalemated war. They are too busy defending their nation against all the al Qaeda mercenaries America keeps sending there. So the terrorist trainers that all these warmongering Chicken Little’s must be talking about are these same US financed al Qaeda militants.

It is among the oldest Gladio tricks in the deception game to use false flags to hype up the fear factor in order to justify more war and greater profits for the military industrial complex. And it is this kind of hype and deception that most often occurs when the opponent is gaining the upper hand, just like last August’s false flag with the chemical attack. The US government has been secretly funding the same al Qaeda for many decades past, first in Afghanistan, then the Balkans, then more recently in Libya, Egypt, and Syria. The high stakes that Obama and his neocon plan for regime change place on this Middle Eastern nation are anything but inconsequential. This latest reality only confirms that Obama and his neocons are only getting more desperate, perhaps creating a new false flag with this latest terrorist training scenario.

This rash of fear mongering occurred in February but apparently it turned out to be just more false flag waving hype. But then last week another false flag event surfaced, this time the guilty party being exposed was US longtime ally Turkey. A leaked tape was released on youtube with the Turkish intelligence chief, a general and a deputy foreign minister discussing a plan to stage a false flag attack on Turkey in order to falsely blame Syrian government forces that would justify a military air strike on Syria. It is unclear when this recorded conversation took place but believed to be either late last year or early this year. Not surprising it received very little mainstream media coverage as this incident comes as yet another embarrassment to the US-NATO alliance (of which Turkey is a member) on the heels of the Ukraine crisis where Russia annexing Crimea was viewed as a defeat. Obama and the West keep reeling from a series of foreign policy blunders going back to the infamous chemical weapons false flag in Syria last August and September.

It appears that in the face of so many recent setbacks, the urgency and desperation to step up the war in Syria is more than likely increasing pressure coming from way up on high, the banking cabal that stands alone to gain from these constant campaigns being waged internationally with agendas to destabilize every nation not already in complete submission to US Empire hegemony. And Syria and Iran remain the final two holdouts on that original pre-9/11 take down list of seven. Only by examining the global geopolitical chessboard does the impatient New World Order emerging become plainer to see.

Another post-regime change nation to look at is Libya. When another onetime ally Muammar Gaddafi envisioned a developing solidarity of African power starting with their own currency off the standard US fiat dollar, he too like Saddam was a dead man walking, but not for long. NATO air bombing pulverized the country into oblivion that set the stage for the US government to send in its first boots on the ground large numbers of rag tag al Qaeda militants and mercenary thugs. They looted and plundered Gaddafi’s gold and silver reserves as well as his arsenal of weapons. Key al Qaeda leaders from all over the Middle East paired up with Libyan al Qaeda affiliates, and rewarded by CIA and US Special Ops, were placed into bullying roles in all major cities. Lawlessness and chaos prevail to this day.

Also participating in the Saudi-Israeli-US war by proxy, under Hillary Clinton’s State Department cover, a massive arms smuggling operation went down shipping guns through Turkey to be used against Syrian government forces. The 9/11/12 murder of Ambassador Christopher Stephens and three other Americans less than two months prior to the November presidential elections became a hidden at all cost liability to Obama, Hillary and then CIA Director Petraeus.

If the real truth had been told right after those four Americans were murdered in Benghazi instead of the Administration lie that an obscure anti-Moslem video caused the attack, it would have been over for all three of the world’s most powerful war criminals. Obama, Clinton and Petraeus refused to come to the aid of the ambassador despite his desperate requests for increased compound security that began months in advance of the Benghazi attack. Why? Because Hillary’s State Department was acting as the main cover for the gun smuggling operation out of Benghazi. Last August CNN reported that the CIA operatives and Special Ops personnel stationed at the Benghazi annex have been threatened harm to both them and their families should any of them reveal the truth of what was really going on. Additionally each one of them must undergo a lie detector test every month to ensure that they all remain silent or else.

So the US government wants America to continue to fear the al Qaeda enemy that still desires to kill Americans yet simultaneously the US government also wants to continue bankrolling the enemy to do its dirty work fighting for regime changes around the world. This presentation points out the fallacy of wanting your cake and eating it too. The US government can no longer play both sides and expect to not be called for it. The relentless hypocrisy, deception and making up its own psychopathic rules while using others for one’s own selfish gains without any consideration for short or long term negative consequences, this malevolent and destructive endgame must stop. It is up to us citizens to set limits for a government that is out of control.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. Having written a manuscript based on his military experience, the link is below:
http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/.

After the military Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and eventually became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century.

 

CIA Torture and the Threat of Dictatorship

April 3rd, 2014 by Patrick Martin

Only one conclusion can be drawn from the report published in the Washington Post Tuesday giving grisly details of CIA torture of prisoners and systematic lying by government officials to cover it up: the US ruling elite as a whole is guilty of war crimes for which it must be held accountable.

The Post report, based on leaks from unnamed “US officials,” describes the findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the operation of CIA “black sites”—the secret prisons in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania, Thailand and other countries where prisoners were held for “interrogation,” i.e., waterboarding, sleep deprivation, beatings, stress positions, induced hypothermia and other forms of torture.

The article provides only a brief extract of the material compiled in the massive committee report, which the CIA has been fighting for more than a year to suppress. On Thursday, the Senate committee is expected to vote to seek the declassification and publication of a 400-page executive summary.

The bulk of the report, which runs to 6,300 pages, is never to be made public, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate panel. The Postarticle describes its text as divided into three volumes, one giving a full chronology of the secret interrogations, a second contrasting what CIA officials said about the program with what they knew was really happening, and a third giving a detailed accounting of nearly all of the roughly 100 prisoners held at “black sites” between 2002 and 2006.

According to a McClatchy News Service follow-up to the Post report, more than half of the 100 prisoners were subjected to some form of torture, and as many as five died during interrogation. These included Gul Rahman, who died of hypothermia after being doused with freezing water and then left in a cold cell with only a scrap of clothing, and Manadal al Jamadi, who died after his head was wrapped in a plastic bag and he was hung on a wall crucifixion-style.

What the report describes is not “excess” or the actions of “rogue” individuals, but a systematic, organized, fully authorized program, endorsed by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. The cover-up, in turn, continues to this day, with the active involvement of the Obama administration, implicating top officials up to and including the president. Directly involved is CIA Director John Brennan—a former top aide in the Obama White House and official in the Bush administration.

After initial reports of the torture program began to surface, despite the best efforts of the American media to cover it up, the Bush administration officially declared it over. The prisoners in CIA cells were transferred either to Guantanamo or to the prisons and torture chambers of their countries of origin (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.).

Obama ordered an end to waterboarding and other forms of torture in 2009, while blocking any prosecution of the agents and officials responsible for the torture program. This was part of a shift in tactics against suspected Islamist militants, from detention and interrogation to extermination by drone-fired missile.

All these methods of state brutality and murder are illegal under international law and the Geneva Conventions, as well as in violation of the US Constitution and laws prohibiting torture and assassination. These are not blemishes on an otherwise healthy military-intelligence apparatus, but the products of a depraved and deeply criminal American ruling class.

The Washington political establishment consists largely of those who have ordered murder and torture, those who facilitate, enable and cover up for murder and torture, and those who draft legal rationales and media apologias for the first two groups.

Overseeing this entire political apparatus is an intelligence agency that operates outside any legal constraint, a fact revealed by the systematic efforts of the CIA to block the release of the torture report. The agency went so far as to spy on the Senate Intelligence Committee itself, as revealed by committee chair Dianne Feinstein last month. Speaking on the floor of the Senate, Feinstein accused the agency of violating “the separation-of-powers principle embodied in the United State Constitution.” She further accused the CIA of violating “the Fourth Amendment, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, as well as Executive Order 12333, which prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.”

Feinstein went on to charge the CIA with attempting to intimidate her committee and override the principle of congressional oversight of the executive branch—implicitly accusing the CIA of attacking the constitutional foundations of the United States.

Feinstein is not a principled opponent of the crimes of the intelligence apparatus. She is among the most adamant defenders of the illegal surveillance of telecommunications and the Internet by the National Security Agency, as exposed by Edward Snowden. She has refused to elaborate on her criticism of the CIA since her Senate speech and collaborates closely with both the intelligence agencies and the Obama White House.

No different are the liberal “critics” of the NSA program within the Democratic Party, such as senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, who sit on the Intelligence Committee. Both hailed the cosmetic changes to the NSA collection of telephone metadata announced last week by the Obama administration. They are concerned not that these police state methods threaten democratic rights, but that the Snowden exposures are generating a powerful and growing opposition from the American people.

No section of the American ruling elite will lift a finger to defend democratic rights. That is because their own class interests are at stake. The fundamental driving force of the police-state buildup is the colossal growth of social inequality. In the final analysis, a relative handful of multi-millionaires and billionaires can maintain their wealth and privileged position against the masses only through methods of political dictatorship and state repression.

Among the revelations contained in the Senate report is the fact that the CIA repeatedly lied about the results of the torture, falsely claiming that it produced information that prevented terrorist attacks. What then, is the real motivation behind the torture programs? It is the establishment of a system of illegal repression directed at all opposition to the policies of the American ruling class—above all, within the United States itself.

The defense of democratic rights, in the United States and every other country, depends on the political mobilization of the working class, the most powerful social force. This requires the building of a mass political party of the working class, based on a socialist and internationalist program.

 

It’s Petras at his best. It’s important reading. It covers vital topics. Petras tells readers what they need to know. His analysis is masterful. Below is an account of what he said.

Washington and Israel are longstanding imperial partners. Petras does some of the best analysis explaining it.

Overview: The State of the Empire

In the 1990s, imperial adventurism increased. Post-9/11, it accelerated. One war after another followed. They continue “unhampered by congressional or large-scale public opposition,” said Petras.

At least so far. Popular opinion against Obama’s Syria war postponed it. Resuming it could happen any time. Perhaps it’s one major false flag attack away.

Other wars may follow. Iran’s turn awaits. Ukraine’s full-blown crisis and regime change aftermath happened largely beyond the timeline of Petras’ book.

He’s a valued contributor to a forthcoming Clarity Press (CP) account of Ukraine’s crisis. It promises to be the definitive analysis of what happened, why it matters, and what may follow. Watch for CP’s announced publishing date.

Zionists and militarists define their current imperial objectives as follows, says Petras:

“(1) destroying regimes and states (as well as their military, police and civil governing bureaucracies) which had opposed Israel’s annexation of Palestine;

(2) deposing regimes which promoted independent nationalist policies, opposing or threatening the Gulf puppet monarchist regimes; and

(3) supporting anti-imperialist, secular or nationalist-Islamic movements around the world.”

Resistance was greater than they thought. Washington’s Afghan war is its longest in history. It shows no signs of ending.

Iraq and Libya remain cauldrons of violence. Obama’s war on Syria enters its fourth year.

Israel’s goal isn’t creating “political vacuum(s).” It’s devastating its enemies. What follows is someone else’s problem.

Tel Aviv loves getting Washington to wage its wars. The one Israel most wants most is destroying Iran. Whether America will oblige remains to be seen.

US economic conditions were different earlier than now. Overreach makes US leaders pause before undertaking what may cause more harm than good.

At the same time, public opinion is tired of wars. Enormous sums spent waging them harm their well-being.

A late 2013 Pew Research report confirms the gap between “elite and public opinion,” says Petras.

“By a vast margin (52% to 38%), the public agree that the US ‘should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own,’ ” he explained.

In 2002, a scant 30% opposed foreign entanglements. Times changed dramatically.

Over 80% of Americans oppose Washington’s Afghan war. Heading toward 14 years is too much.

Large majorities want domestic issues addressed. They want current jobs protected. They want new ones created. They want better ones. They want living wages. They want government serving their interests equitably.

They despise Wall Street. They reject new imperial wars. Whether they’ll stop is another matter entirely.

America is addicted to war. It’s the national pastime. Policymakers  believe war is peace. Out-of-control imperialism reflects it.

At the same time, public antipathy to Obama’s wars weakened his ability to wage new ones. Whether 9/11 2.0 can change things perhaps remains to be seen.

In 2001, public appetite for war was keener than now. “Intervention fatigue,” says Petras, makes most Americans crave peace.

They’re tired of endless imperial adventurism. They’re suffering under the weight of pursuing it. According to Petras, they began to:

“(1) prioritize their choice of places of engagement;

(2) diversify their diplomatic, political and economic instruments of coercion; and

(3) limit large-scale, long-term military intervention to regions where US strategic interests are involved.”

Washington isn’t going soft by any means. A new page wasn’t turned. Making the world safe for war profiteers is still policy.

Fear is stoked. It’s used to manufacture consent. It’s much tougher than before. It doesn’t stop imperial rampagers from trying. Lots more effort is required.

Large-scale ground invasions are avoided. “Proliferation of special forces” substitutes. So do an array of destabilizing policies.

Ukraine is Exhibit A. Around $5 billion was spent replacing democratic governance with ultranationalist fascist extremists.

It’s pocket change compared to trillions spent on Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s changing Kiev on the cheap.

It doesn’t always work. Wars remain a bottom line option. Libya is the optimal model. Shock and awe supplemented proxy ground forces.

Plans perhaps intend similar tactics against Syria. Objectives remain the same. Petras identified “at least eleven major or minor conflicts today engaging US empire builders to a greater or lesser extent.”

They include “Ukraine, Thailand, Honduras, China-Japan-South Korea, Iran-Gulf States/Israel, Syria, Venezuela, Palestine-Israel, Libya, Afghanistan and Egypt.”

Obama is more selective in choosing new targets. He’s only got so much money to spend.

Debt reduction curtails open checkbook warmaking. Special forces in over 120 countries do it on the cheap if needed. So do CIA elements operating virtually everywhere.

China and Russia comprise Washington’s bottom line targets. It’s hard imagining planned war on either of them.

Co-opting neighboring states substitutes. So does surrounding them with US military bases. Weakening and isolating them matters most.

Perhaps regime change by a thousand cuts is policy. Strategy is longterm. Overreach may defeat Washington’s agenda.

Perhaps China and Russia intend letting America overspend until bankruptcy. They’ve got their own problems to resolve at the same time.

Unity between them with likeminded allies is their best defense. America makes more enemies than friends. It’s influence is declining.

China’s star is rising. Russia hopes to ascend at the same time. How it weathers things over Ukraine remains to be seen. Whether America prevails is unclear.

The battle for Ukraine’s soul continues. It’s longterm. Russia drew a red line. It’s defending its vital issues responsibly. Putin isn’t rolling over for Washington. Nor should he.

Obama has a tiger by the tail. He’s in bed with fascist extremists. They’ve got a mind of their own. He may have bitten off more than he can chew.

Putin’s patience may best him. Public Ukrainian anger may defeat him. It’s unclear how things will go. Knowing either way won’t happen soon. Nor in other parts of the world.

Even superpowers can’t prevail everywhere, all the time. Eventually they learn. Some do the hard way.

Obama’s wars made America weaker. New ones may be counterproductive. Nothing will be resolved any time soon. Major struggles are longterm.

Modern day Spartas may succumb like earlier ones. Living by the sword usually means perishing the same way. America may spend itself to death. Hegemons risk overreaching and failing.

Obama “relied on a wider variety of interventions than (his) predecessor,” said Petras. He subcontracted more to European allies.

France took the lead in Africa. Washington wants Japan and South Korea bearing a greater Asian burden.

It’s “part of the long-term US strategy to encircle and limit China’s economic expansion,” said Petras.

Middle East control and “undermining Iran” is prioritized. “The principal strategic weakness in US empire building policy lies in the absence of domestic support.”

Zionist power remains the wild card. It’s deeply embedded in Washington. Media support is overwhelming. So are powerful monied interests.

War is their national pastime. Aroused public opinion is the best defense against it. Revving it up now is needed more than ever.

The Obama Regime’s Military Metaphysics Rejects Diplomatic Opportunities

Obama prioritizes belligerence over diplomacy. He never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to pursue peace.

Replacing independent governments with subservient pro-Western ones is prioritized. Adversaries are ravaged and destroyed. Hegemons operate this way.

Opportunities for peace are spurned. Bullying takes precedence. Obama sacrificed a “Grand Bargain” with Iran to serve Israel.

Israeli “land-grabbing” overrode Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Destabilizing Venezuela is prioritized. Regime change matters more than normalized relations.

“Obama’s Snowden caper revive(d) the Cold War,” said Petras.

Obama’s war on Syria rages. He’s allied with perhaps uncontrollable death squad extremists.

Afghanistan is a bottomless pit of war. It could continue for another decade or two. Taliban fighters show no battle fatigue.

Containing China may end up a losing proposition. Lost US opportunities overall may not resurface. At least not in the short run.

“The world view of the Obama regime is one of mirror looking in an echo chamber,” said Petras. “(I)t cannot visualize and accommodate the interests of rivals, competitors or adversaries, no matter how absolutely central they are to any meaningful compromise.”

“The give and take of real world politics is totally foreign to the world’s Chosen People.” They only know how to ” ‘seize power’ and create military facts, even as they then spend a dozen years and billions of dollars and millions of lives in endless wars, bemoaning lost markets amidst serial diplomatic failures.”

“The epitaph for the Obama regime will read:

They fought the Wars.

They lost.

They turned friends

into enemies.

Who became

Friends of our enemies.

They stood alone, in splendid isolation,

And said it was their only choice.”

The Decline of the US (and everyone else…)

Post-9/11, America “suffered a series of military defeats, experienced economic decline, and now faces severe competition and the prospect of further military losses,” said Petras.

Some analysts believe US decline began decades earlier. The greater it overreaches, the faster its political and economic advantage wane.

America makes more enemies than friends. It aims to isolate Russia, China and other independent states. It may end up shooting itself in the foot trying.

Latin American countries reject US aggressiveness. They overwhelmingly oppose efforts to oust Venezuela’s government.

In late March, Organization of American States (OAS) members  refused to hear fascist legislator Maria Corina Machado discuss ongoing Washington manipulated violence.

She opposes democratic governance. She backed the aborted April 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez.

She’s involved in instigating ongoing violence. Venezuelan National Assembly members want her investigated.

They want her charged with treason and incitement to crime. She’s provoking civil war, they said. She’s a Washington favorite.

Washington lost Asian influence to China. At the same time, it forged closer military ties with Japan, the Philippines and Australia.

The same holds in other areas. Empires don’t fade easily. At the same time, they don’t last forever.

In the end, they all die. America won’t be an exception. None existed earlier.

Washington stands “totally alone” against Cuba, says Petras. OAS nations are “no longer a US haven.”

At the same time, reports of US imperial decline are “overstated…(T)here is no alternative imperial or modern anti-imperial tendency on the immediate horizon,” Petras explains.

Longer-term tells a different story. The 21st century began as America’s. It may end as China’s.

Cyber-Imperialism: The Logic Behind Mass Spying: Empire and Cyber Imperialism

Edward Snowden revelations about NSA spying connected important dots for millions. He’s a gift that keeps on giving.

He explained what everyone needs to know. Doing so “provoked widespread protests and indignation and threatened ties between erstwhile imperial allies,” said Petras.

Obama presides over a homeland police state apparatus. “One of (its) essential components (is) an all-pervasive spy apparatus operating independently of any legal or constitutional constraints,” he explained.

Big Brother watches everyone. Claims otherwise don’t wash. Electronic and telecommunications surveillance is sweeping.

It’s pervasive. It targets everyone of potential interest. It operates globally. It’s a power unto itself. It’s unaccountable.

As technology advances, it promises worse ahead. No one can escape its spying eye. It monitors world leaders. It cracks encryption protections.

It listens to phone calls. It monitors emails and text messages. It accesses financial and medical records.

It conducts espionage to get a leg up on foreign competitors. It does so with electronic ease.

Huge stakes are involved. Empires need to do more to hold on to what they have. They want their power enhanced.

They want total unchallenged control. They want what’s not easy to get.

The ” ‘Global War on Terror” (GWOT), became an open-ended formula for the civilian warlords, militarists and Zionists to expand the scope and duration of overt and covert warfare and espionage,” said Petras.

It “provided the ideological framework for a police state based on the totalitarian conception that ‘everybody and everything is connected to each other’ in a ‘global system’ threatening the state.”

“This ‘totalistic view’ informs the logic of the expanded NSA, linking enemies, adversaries, competitors and allies.”

A Big Brother world is no fit one to live in. It exists. It seeks omnipotence. It wants total control. Civil liberties and human rights are discarded in the process. They’re disappearing in plain sight.

Police State: The Domestic Foundation of Empire – Fabricating Terror Conspiracies

America’s only enemies are ones it creates. Its war on terror is fake. It’s waged to stoke fear.

Supportive propaganda rages. Mainstream media march in lockstep. They hype what demands denunciation.

They do it without supportive evidence. None exists. They regurgitate official lies. They repeat them ad nauseam.

Alleged global and domestic threats are fraudulent on their face. Warnings repeat anyway. Lies substitute for truth. They wore thin long ago.

Most people are fooled anyway. Many pay no attention either way.

“By evoking a phony ‘terrorist threat’ abroad and its detection by the NSA, Obama hopes to re-legitimize his discredited police state apparatus,” says Petras.

At the same time, he “seeks to cover-up (his) most disreputable policies, despicable ‘show trials’ and harsh imprisonment of government whistle blowers and political, diplomatic and military defeats and failures which have befallen the empire in the present period.”

Petras calls Obama “the Master of Deceit.” He’s polar opposite what supporters want. He wages multiple imperial direct and proxy wars. He plans new ones.

He wrecked the economy. He looted the nation’s wealth. He consigned millions to unemployment or underemployment.

Poverty, homelessness and hunger increased on his watch. He heads America toward full-blown tyranny.

Monied interests own him. He supports wealth, power and privilege. He let popular needs go begging.

He destroyed hard-won labor rights. He wants education commodified. He wants it made another business profit center.

He wages war on whistleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, Latino immigrants, and environmental and animal rights activists called terrorists.

He’s a con man. Petras nailed him before taking office. He called him “the perfect incarnation of Melville’s Confidence Man. He catches your eye while he picks your pocket. He gives thanks as he packs you off to war.”

He spurns human need. He ignores rule of law principles. He deplores democratic values. He tolerates none at home or abroad. He wages war on freedom.

The Rise of the Police State and the Absence of Mass Opposition

Recent US history witnessed “the virtually unchallenged rise of the police state,” said Petras. Diktat power rules. No mass pro-democracy movement confronts it. It rages out-of-control.

Bipartisan complicity supports it. So do mainstream media. It reflects McCarthyism writ large. Anyone can be targeted for any reason or none at all.

Constitutional rights don’t matter. Arbitrary rule replaced them. Police state powers reflect it.

It’s “the dominant reality in US political life today,” says Petras. It’s largely unchallenged. Dismissiveness substitutes for mass outrage.

Obama gets away with murder and much more. Mainstream media hype state-sponsored fear-mongering. Fake threats persist. Dissent is increasingly criminalized. Wars substitute for peace.

Part II continues discussing Petras’ new book.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

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

There is an irony in this. On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia, Sino-Malaysian ties are at their lowest ebb.

In the wake of the MH 370 tragedy, relatives of some of the Chinese passengers on that ill-fated flight, a segment of the Chinese media and a section of the public have chosen to vent their anger against Malaysia. Malaysian leaders and MAS officials have been labelled ‘liars’ and ‘murderers’; Malaysian celebrities with a following in China have been verbally abused; a demonstration has been held outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing; and there have been calls to boycott Malaysian products. At the same time, there are Chinese citizens who have come out in defence of Malaysia.

The anger and frustration among relatives of some of the passengers is understandable to a point. 153 of the 227 passengers were Chinese nationals. For some of them the loss of a son or daughter means the end of the family line, given the one-child policy of the last few decades. Besides, Malaysian authorities in the initial days also exacerbated the angst and agony of the relatives through some contradictory statements about the lost airliner. They have also not been able to explain satisfactorily why an “unidentified object” captured on Malaysian military radar in the early hours of the 8th of March — later confirmed as the missing aircraft — did not evoke a prompt response from the Malaysian air force. This is an issue which Chinese relatives have repeatedly raised at MAS briefings in Beijing.

Nonetheless, our shortcomings do not warrant the sort of harsh and aggressive reaction we have been witnessing from some overly emotional and irrational Chinese in the last three weeks. Everything considered, Malaysian authorities have — after some early fumbles — managed the flow of information with as much transparency as possible in an extraordinary situation characterised by an incredible dearth of evidence. They have also offered care and counselling services, financial assistance, hotel accommodation in Malaysian cities and Beijing, and free flights to aggrieved family members, as part of the humanitarian support that typifies Malaysian hospitality.

How Malaysia has been responding to Chinese nationals and others affected by the MH 370 tragedy has to be viewed in the larger context of Malaysia’s bilateral ties with China. Malaysia was not only the first non-communist state in Southeast Asia to recognise China in 1974, it has also consistently refused to be drawn into any military or security arrangement that would directly or indirectly impact adversely upon China. On the question of both the Straits of Melaka and the South China Sea — strategic routes in China’s geopolitical map — Malaysia has adopted positions which are more benign to China’s interests than the approach taken by almost all its other neighbours. There is no denying that over the last 40 years Malaysia has emerged as one of China’s most trusted friends.

This is why a lot of Malaysians are deeply disappointed with the hostility and antagonism shown by some sectors of Chinese society towards us in the wake of the MH 370 tragedy.

This deplorable attitude has to be understood against the backdrop of China’s conflicts with a number of its neighbours in recent times. Even when there is a certain degree of historical justification for aspects of the Chinese position in some of its conflicts with Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines, there is a tendency on the part of the Chinese to display such self-righteous indignation that it often borders on jingoism. This is true even in the case of its conflict with the Philippines — a conflict which is not as historically rooted nor as multi-dimensional as China’s conflict with Japan — where the uncompromising stance of the Chinese on the Spratly Islands has limited the options available to the Philippines. Indeed, on issues of territorial sovereignty pertaining to the South China Sea as a whole, it is partly because of China’s unyielding approach that those who dispute its claims have not been able to arrive at some settlement with their giant neighbour to the north.

The Chinese approach to its neighbours raises some disturbing questions about bilateral and multilateral relations. As China wields more economic and political clout, is it also becoming less accommodative of the interests of its neighbours? Is its assertiveness a manifestation of a psychology that privileges its own interests even to the extent of marginalising the well-being of others? Is this some sort of ‘Middle Kingdom Complex’ that is inherently incapable of according the same degree of rights and respect to the other as it demands for itself?

As someone who for many years has defended the peaceful rise of China as a global power as a positive development that will lead to the emergence of a more equitable multi-polar international order, I  feel that it is imperative that China demonstrates greater sensitivity towards its neighbours. It should never be seen as a nation with a narrow, blinkered view of its own interests with little empathy for the honour and dignity of other people, especially those who are its true and tested friends.

The MH 370 tragedy has brought this issue to the fore.

This article was first published by the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

The sentencing of over 500 Muslim Brotherhood members to death in Cairo – many in absentia – for their role in the attack, torture, and murder of an Egyptian policeman is the culmination of an all encompassing security crackdown across Egypt. The move has created a chilling effect that has left the otherwise violent mobs of the Muslim Brotherhood silent and the streets they generally terrorize, peaceful and empty.

The move by the Egyptian courts has attracted the predictable condemnation of the US State Department. The Washington Post’s article, “Egyptian court sentences 529 people to death,” quoted US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf as claiming the US was “deeply concerned,” and “shocked.” She also claimed that the move “defied logic.”

The move was, however, exceptionally logical.

While the US continues to feign support for the government in Cairo, it was fully behind the so-called “Arab Spring,” the Muslim Brotherhood-led regime of Mohamed Morsi that came to power in its wake, its mobs in the streets, and the networks of NGOs inside Egypt supporting and defending their activities.

How Egypt Got Here 

Egypt’s current turmoil is a direct result of the 2011 so-called “Arab Spring.” While nations like Libya lie in ruins with the “revolution” a “success” and the Libyan people now subjugated by pro-Western proxies, and Syria as it continues to fight on in a costly 3 year conflict that has cost tens of thousands of lives, Egypt has taken a different path.

When violent mobs began inching Egypt toward violence of Libyan and Syrian proportions, the Egyptian military, who has been the primary brokers of power in Egypt for decades, bent with the winds of change. Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power and the military tolerated the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood itself into power. However, before they did so, they laid the groundwork for its eventual undoing.

The military leadership bid its time patiently, waiting for the right moment to unseat the Brotherhood and swiftly shatter its networks politically and militarily. It was a masterstroke that has so far saved Egypt from the same fate suffered by other nations still burning in the chaos unleashed by the “Arab Spring.”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Resurrection 

The Muslim Brotherhood is a faux-theocratic sectarian extremist movement – a regional movement that transcends national borders. It is guilty sowing decades of violent discord not only in Egypt, but across the Arab World and it has remained a serious threat to secular, nationalist states from Algeria to Syria and back again. It is the factor of chaos of choice by the West and its regional collaborators, who generously fund it, arm it, and provide it with a steady stream of political recognition.

Today, the Western press decries Egyptian and Syrian efforts to curb these sectarian extremists, particularly in Syria where the government was accused of having “massacred” armed Brotherhood militants in Hama in 1982. The constitutions of secular Arab nations across Northern Africa and the Middle East, including the rewritten Syrian Constitution, have attempted to exclude sectarian political parties, especially those with “regional” affiliations to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda affiliated political movements from ever coming into power.

And while specter of sectarian extremists taking power in Egypt or Syria may seem like an imminent threat to Western (including Israeli) interests – it in reality is a tremendous boon.

Despite a long campaign of feigned anti-American, anti-Israeli propaganda during the Egyptian presidential run-up, the Muslim Brotherhood had joined US, European, and Israeli calls for “international” intervention in Syria. Egypt had also broken off diplomatic relations with Syria in an attempt to further isolate the nation – however these ties wererestored almost immediately after Morsi was finally ousted from power.

The Syrian Connection 

To understand the Muslim Brotherhood’s designs in Egypt, one must first understand the Brotherhood’s role in the West’s proxy war against Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Syrian affiliates have been funneling weapons, cash, and foreign fighters into Syria to fight Wall Street, London, Riyadh, Doha, and Tel Aviv’s proxy war since 2011. The Brotherhood had prepared for this role since at least as early as 2007.

In Reuters ‘May 6, 2012 article titled, “Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood rise from the ashes,” it stated:

“Working quietly, the Brotherhood has been financing Free Syrian Army defectors based in Turkey and channeling money and supplies to Syria, reviving their base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians, opposition sources say.”

The Muslim Brotherhood was nearing extinction in Syria before the latest unrest, and while Reuters categorically fails in its report to explain the “how” behind the Brotherhood’s resurrection, it was revealed in a 2007 New Yorker article titled, “The Redirection” by Seymour Hersh.

The Brotherhood was being directly backed by the US and Israel who were funneling support through the Saudis so as to not compromise the “credibility” of the so-called “Islamic” movement. Hersh revealed that members of the Lebanese Saad Hariri clique, then led by Fouad Siniora, had been the go-between for US planners and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Hersh reports the Lebanese Hariri faction had met Dick Cheney in Washington and relayed personally the importance of using the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in any move against the ruling government:

“[Walid] Jumblatt then told me that he had met with Vice-President Cheney in Washington last fall to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of undermining Assad. He and his colleagues advised Cheney that, if the United States does try to move against Syria, members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would be “the ones to talk to,” Jumblatt said.”

The article would continue by explaining how already in 2007, US and Saudi backing had begun benefiting the Brotherhood:

“There is evidence that the Administration’s redirection strategy has already benefitted the Brotherhood. The Syrian National Salvation Front is a coalition of opposition groups whose principal members are a faction led by Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian Vice-President who defected in 2005, and the Brotherhood. A former high-ranking C.I.A. officer told me, “The Americans have provided both political and financial support. The Saudis are taking the lead with financial support, but there is American involvement.” He said that Khaddam, who now lives in Paris, was getting money from Saudi Arabia, with the knowledge of the White House. (In 2005, a delegation of the Front’s members met with officials from the National Security Council, according to press reports.) A former White House official told me that the Saudis had provided members of the Front with travel documents.

Jumblatt said he understood that the issue was a sensitive one for the White House. “I told Cheney that some people in the Arab world, mainly the Egyptians”—whose moderate Sunni leadership has been fighting the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood for decades—“won’t like it if the United States helps the Brotherhood. But if you don’t take on Syria we will be face to face in Lebanon with Hezbollah in a long fight, and one we might not win.”

Syria’s Chaos is a Warning of Egypt’s Possible Future 

While the US decries the recent court decision in Cairo – sentencing over 500 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death – claiming the move “defies logic,” considering what the Brotherhood laid the groundwork for in Syria, the Egyptian government has made a very logical move.  Appeasement, accommodation, and leniency were already tried both in Libya and Syria.

One must consider Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and his release of prisoners hailing from Al Qaeda’s Libyan franchise, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in 2008. Among them was Abdel-Hakim Belhaj who upon his release would simply return to the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, raise an army of Western-armed terrorists, and go on to overthrow Qaddafi, decimate the nation, and plunge Libya into a sectarian bloodbath that is still raging to this day.

The same destabilization, step-by-step that was carried out in 2011 in Syria and Libya is now being carried out in Egypt and once again through sectarian extremist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Legions of terrorists are waiting in Egypt’s Sinai region for the Brotherhood to lay the groundwork in Egypt’s population centers so that they can be infiltrated and destroyed, just as has been done in Syria and Libya.  And behind it all is the West, desperately trying to dislodge the Egyptian military from power with a combination of unpalatable carrots and broken sticks.

The West has often expressed its desire to see the Egyptian military cut down to size, and removed entirely as a political power broker, just as has been done in Turkey. This is best articulated by Saudi Arabia’s Al Monitor, a clearinghouse for Western political spin, in its article, “Egypt’s Second Revolution a Blow to Turkey,” which states (emphasis added):

The Egyptian army considers Turkey’s Justice and Development Party to be a political rival and an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. Moreover, the Egyptian military establishment views the Turkish model of limiting the power of Turkey’s military establishment by means of an alliance with Washington as a model that threatens the presence and interests of the Egyptian army.

Other US foreign policy think tanks and editorial columns are awash with comparisons between Egypt and Turkey and how Egypt can be transformed through the elimination of its politically influential military into a proxy state more like Turkey – a NATO member permanently bent to the will of Wall Street, London, and the European Union.

While the West attempts to portray the Egyptian government as “brutal,” it is clear the West’s designs for Egypt are nothing short of absolute brutality – the same absolute brutality that has left Libya and Syria’s cities in ruins, tens of thousands dead, and millions more either maimed, displaced, or otherwise affected by strife that has now lasted over 3 years in both nations.

The Egyptian military’s lightning fast moves to shatter the Muslim Brotherhood’s networks has for now thwarted a foreign-driven, armed, and dangerous attempt to subvert Egypt’s stability. It is a model that had Syria or Libya followed, tens of thousands of lives could have been spared, and the lives of millions more left unscathed by years of bloodshed and war.

For those who understand geopolitical developments with little hindsight and absolutely no foresight, condemning Egypt’s moves are easy. For those that remember Libya, see Syria, and can foresee Egypt with its larger population joining them in protracted armed conflict – today’s seemingly “brutal” efforts to stem the Muslim Brotherhood and the conspiracy they are playing a willful role in, are reasonable steps to prevent a much more brutal and tragic future.

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

The conversation between the U.S. president and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia did not last very long. The ninety-year-old king walks with the help of a walker; during his meeting with Obama, a respirator was standing by for the monarch in the next room. However, besides the king, the two highest-ranking representatives of the dynasty also took part in the negotiations – Crown Prince Salman and the foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, whose words are sufficient for the making of any decisions in the Kingdom.

Even a brief list of the main points of the agenda speaks of the importance of the meeting: relations with Tehran, changes in the approaches to the civil war and foreign intervention in Syria, future policy with regard to Cairo and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, joint actions in Lebanon, «anti-terrorism» operations in Yemen, the situation in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), and, finally, the question of questions: joint plans with regard to diversifying supplies of energy resources to NATO member countries and agreeing on actions for lowering gas and oil prices.

The official commentary on the visit boils down to assurances of the inviolability of the strategic alliance between America and Arabia. In terms of bilateral sales volumes (52 billion for the first three quarters of 2013), the Saudis are among the top ten most important trade partners of the U.S. Military cooperation between Riyadh and Washington under the 338 contracts currently in force is worth 96.8 billion dollars. The U.S. military contingent has been withdrawn from the Kingdom, but American instructor and «consultant» missions continue active operation, especially in the security field, in close cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Internal Affairs, intelligence and anti-terrorism divisions, conducting joint operations in Yemen. Finally, almost 74,000 Saudi students are studying in the U.S.; these are the future executives, whose talent pool, ideology and value systems are established in America.

With such a level of cooperation and intertwinement of capital (U.S. companies have around 400 joint projects with the Saudi dynasty in the Kingdom with a total volume of approximately $44 billion), there is no question of any serious disagreements between the American establishment and the Saudis. It is more accurate to speak of disagreements between the ruling dynasty and the Obama administration. But here during the visit a serious shift took place, and satisfaction literally oozes between the lines of the official commentaries on the negotiations.

The parties are to maintain the volumes of military and technical cooperation and increase coordination of military intervention in Yemen, the situation in which is a key factor for the security of Saudi Arabia and at the same time a threat to the ruling dynasty. Washington also approved the monarchy’s actions in «subduing» Qatar; the mass repressions in Bahrain which, according to the Saudis, is now the front line in resisting Shiite expansion into the countries of the Persian Gulf; and the expansion of Saudi presence in Lebanon for the same «anti-Shiite» (read: anti-Iran) purposes.

However, these are questions of a mostly tactical nature. The strategy of joint actions is defined in the questions of Egypt, Syria and oil. Each of them is significant not only for the Middle East, but for the rest of the world as well.

American-Saudi disagreements with regard to Egypt came to the surface last year, and the reason for them, according to the official American explanation, was  Obama’s non-acceptance of the overthrow of Muhammad Morsi in a military coup. Like most American explanations, this one has little in common with reality. It is well known that on the day of the coup both Morsi and the Egyptian military spent several hours in telephone negotiations with Riyadh and Washington (the same thing happened, incidentally, in Qatar during the dynastic reshuffle), only after which did the military began to take key objects in Cairo, Port Said and Alexandria under its control. Yes, one of the first to congratulate new acting president of Egypt Adli Mansur was King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia. However, the U.S., although it sent no congratulations, also reported a day later that it was prepared to give the new Egyptian leadership «all possible support».

Differences between Washington and Riyadh on the Egyptian question arose from the scale of the repressions which the Egyptian military leaders, who had undergone training in U.S. academies, rained down on the Muslim Brotherhood. Washington was counting on the participation of the Brotherhood in a coalition government and using the organization’s capabilities in its other geopolitical configurations, for example, in Turkey or Syria. But Cairo and Riyadh did not plan on leaving such loopholes for their political opponents, preferring to «pull the weed out roots and all», including the recent death sentences pronounced against over five hundred Brotherhood members.

During Obama’s recent visit, the «misunderstandings» on Egypt were resolved. Riyadh promised that the repressions would be scaled down and that the further development of Egypt would follow the path of «building democratic institutions and reforming the economy in accordance with market demands», for which the Saudis, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have already allocated over 15 billion dollars in aid and loans, and they recently signed an agreement with the Egyptian military leadership on 40 billion dollars for a long-term housing construction program.

The topic of Syria dominated the negotiations between Obama and Abdullah, as here the greatest number of disagreements had accumulated with regard to how to overthrow al-Asad. However, it seems that the main disagreements have now been resolved.

For the most part, the Saudis only wanted one thing from the U.S. with regard to Syria: approval for supplying the rebels with heavy weaponry, including anti-tank systems and MANPADs. Riyadh believes that expanding the list of deliverables will create the main condition for victory over al-Asad. Indeed, changing the balance of power in favor of the rebels will make it possible to solve the two main problems at once. First, military successes achieved by the «secular opposition» with a new level of armament will seriously weaken the position of the radical Islamists, with whom the «secular» rebels are now fighting just as zealously as with the government troops. Second, those same military successes will enable the rebels to finally establish themselves in one of the regions bordering on Turkey and create a support base for the «new democratic government of Syria» there. This «government», naturally, will be recognized by many countries, and it will be able to obtain any kind of armaments on a legal basis, as it were. But the main thing is that it will be able to just as «legally» create a «no-fly zone» over the territory it controls before an attack on Damascus by the coalition of rebels and «foreign volunteers».

Official sources report that during the negotiations with King Abdullah, President Obama only rejected the idea of direct U.S. military strikes against Syria.  Obama considered everything else, including the delivery of MANPADs to the rebels, to be possible. White House representatives do not speak plainly about this; they begin to prevaricate, but the question can essentially be considered resolved. After the negotiations, it is clear that this summer Riyadh and Washington, in partnership with other «friends of Syria», will once again try to use weapons to «close the issue» of al-Asad and of the Syrian Arab Republic in its current form…

As a result of Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia there is news for Russia as well. The time when Washington and Riyadh agreed, albeit grudgingly, to Russia’s participation in the Middle Eastern process, with Moscow having the indefinite status of «cosponsor of peaceful regulation», has ended, and it ended after the Crimean referendum and the reunification of Crimea and Russia. All regional-level issues discussed in the Royal Garden in Riyadh were discussed as if Russia was no longer a factor in the region, and Moscow was a hindrance which must be removed from the region once and for all. As for the question of Saudi participation in the fight to lower prices on energy resources and the Gulf monarchies substituting their oil and gas for the volume Russia now provides to other strategic partners of the U.S., it was decided to consider that separately. Essentially, the Saudis have given their consent on this. The question will be worked out on the level of informal expert groups, which will be the ones who propose a plan for this fight to lower prices. Russia has approximately a year to develop and implement countermeasures in the field of energy strategy. Later, when the informal agreements are formalized in plans and protocols, Russia could end up in a defensive position, which is clearly worse…

Disinformation succeeds because so many people and interest groups across the political spectrum find that it serves their agendas as well as the agenda of the government. Consider for example the explanation of 9/11 that blamed Muslim terrorists for the attack. This served the interests of the neoconservatives, the private armaments companies, the US military, the private security companies, government security agencies such as the CIA, the left-wing, the right-wing, the Israel Lobby, and the print and TV media. 

The official explanation gave the neoconservatives the “new Pearl Harbor” that they needed for their program of invasions of Middle Eastern countries.  The private armaments companies could look forward to decades of high profits. Wars always bring the military rapid promotions and higher retirement benefits. Private manufacturers of security equipment and spyware enjoy a rising demand for their products and have grown fat from the products sold to the TSA and NSA. Homeland Security has vastly expanded the federal workforce and administrative positions. The left-wing has proof of “blowback” caused by US interference in the internal affairs of other countries. The right-wing has proof that America has enemies against whom defense at all costs is necessary. The Israel Lobby has the US to overthrow the regimes in the way of Israel’s territorial expansion. The media has the story of the century with which to boost ratings and curry the favor of government.

These are formidable interests arrayed against the mere obvious truth, obvious, that is, to any educated person. The 2,100 Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth have no vested interest in any explanation of 9/11.  Indeed, they are harmed by disproving, as they have done, the government’s explanation.  None of them will ever again get a government contract, and many of their former clients have turned their backs on “those damn anti-Americans who don’t believe their own government!”  Cass Sunstein, a Chicago and Harvard law professor who sold out his integrity, if any, to the Obama regime by accepting an appointment and arguing that the federal government should infiltrate the 9/11 truth movement with agents and set-up truth-tellers so that they could be discredited, possibly even prodding them into actions for which they could be arrested. 

In other words, the government’s story cannot stand the light cast by the facts and independent experts, and the government’s false story must be protected by shutting down the truth-telling experts.  The government, Sunstein argued, needs to either gain control over these experts or to shut them down.

Just as many different collections of interest groups and people have stakes in the Obama regime’s story of the killing of Osama bin Laden by US Navy SEALS in Abbottabad, Pakistan. This story and its selling by an enthusiastic media guaranteed Obama’s reelection. It served the emotions of super patriots desperate for revenge who wear their gullibility on their sleeves. It served the myth of CIA and NSA prowess. It served the reputation of the killing power of US Special Forces teams. It proved that America won even though it lost the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All the trillions of dollars spent were worth it.  We got revenge on the guy who did 9/11. 

No one remembered that the US government, unable to find bin Laden for 10 years, had settled on a different “9/11 mastermind,” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and had him water-boarded 183 times until he confessed to being responsible for 9/11.

If Khalid Sheikh Mohammed “was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z,” why were SEALS sent, illegally, into Pakistan to murder bin Laden?  As the FBI says, there is no evidence that bin Laden is responsible for 9/11.  That is why bin Laden was not wanted on that charge by the FBI, as the FBI publicly stated.

How was bin Laden, who was known in 2001 to be suffering from terminal illnesses, including renal failure, and whose death was widely reported in 2001 still alive ten years later to be murdered by SEALs?

What sense does it make that the greatest terrorist leader of our time only had two unarmed women to protect him. What sense does it make that the US would murder the terrorist mastermind with all the plots in his head instead of capturing and questioning him? How can anyone be so gullible as to believe such a nonsense tale as told to them by Obama and the presstitute media?  Is America really a nation of utter fools? 

Like the 9/11 story, the story of bin Laden’s murder is losing credibility with the US population. Pakistani National TV shot Obama’s story down with an eyewitness interview that reported that not one single person, dead body, or any piece of evidence left Abbottadad, because the only helicopter that landed blew up when it attempted to leave and there were no survivors.  No other helicopters landed.  So there was no dead bin Laden to be buried at sea (there are no known witnesses to the alleged burial) and no photographs of a dead bin Laden.

Yet the nonexistent photos of a dead bin Laden have now emerged in controversy. Allegedly, the US government had photos of bin Laden’s corpse after he was blown away by trigger-happy SEALs who didn’t have enough sense to keep the “mastermind” alive for questioning. The tough macho SEALs were so threatened by two unarmed women that they just opened fire. 

Judicial Watch has been trying to pry the (nonexistent) photos of a dead bin Laden from the government’s hands.  For “national security reasons” the US government does not want anyone to see evidence that supports its far-fetched tale of bin Laden’s murder.  The photographic evidence of a successful raid are off limits.  They are like the alleged videos of the airliner hitting the Pentagon that we are not permitted to see for “national security reasons.”

In other words, the photos and videos do not exist and never did. No government, not even the American one, would be so totally stupid as to withhold the evidence for its claims.

The government, seeing its unbelievable stories lose believability at home and abroad used Judicial  Watch’s lawsuit to boost the credibility of its story. Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for the photos that the Obama regime alleged to have of the murdered bin Laden but refused to release.  Obviously, the government has no such photos and never had any such photos.  But the government does not need evidence when it can rely on the gullibility of the American people.

As the government had no photos to release, the US government decided to use the opportunity presented by Judicial Watch to bolster its story that photos of bin Laden murdered and dead were once in its possession. The government released to Judicial Watch a document under the Freedom of Information Act that is an order from Special Operations Commander Admiral William McRaven to “destroy immediately” the photos of the dead bin Laden. 

Judicial Watch took the bait. Instead of realizing that there was no reason whatsoever for the government to destroy the only evidence that might support its claim to have murdered bin Laden, Judicial Watch focused on the illegality of destroying the evidence.

Judicial Watch says that “Federal law contains broad prohibitions against the ‘concealment, removal, or mutilation generally’ of government records.” http://www.globalresearch.ca/top-pentagon-leader-ordered-destruction-of-bin-laden-death-photos/5368389

Judicial Watch played into the government’s hands. Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton was maneuvered by the government into defining the scandal as the destruction of evidence, “revealing both contempt for the rule of law and the American people’s right to know.” To the contrary, the real scandal is the massive lie that bin Laden was killed by a SEAL raid and the acceptance of this lie by the American people and Judicial Watch. 

By damning the government for destroying evidence, Judicial Watch has given credibility to the government’s claim that SEALs murdered Osama bin Laden.

The SEAL team credited with bin Laden’s murder was quickly eliminated when the team was loaded onto a 1960s vintage helicopter in Afghanistan.  Apparently the team members were asking one another, “Were you on that mission that killed bin Laden?”

Of course, no one was, and this information was too dangerous for the Obama regime.

Africa Beware of Imperialism’s Fatherly Advice

April 3rd, 2014 by Mark P. Fancher

Washington’s military tentacles daily tighten their grip on Africa, in ever deepening collusion with France. “Allowing the U.S., France and others to essentially take charge of Africa’s militaries creates or maintains an almost childlike dependence on imperialist forces.”

Throughout Africa, supposedly sovereign, independent countries are teeming with western military personnel who claim to be friends, advisors or partners with Africans. In truth, they create paternalistic relationships that lock a continent into submissive, subordinate facilitation of its own domination and exploitation.

Perhaps no entity flings “partnership” rhetoric with greater frequency and abandon than U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). An AFRICOM statement says: “AFRICOM’s Theater Security Cooperation programs (TSCP) remain the cornerstone of our sustained security engagement with African partners, are focused on building operational and institutional capacity and developing human capital, and provide a framework within which the command engages with regional partners in cooperative military activities and development.”

Nevertheless, it is France and not AFRICOM that is the undisputed master of paternalism in Africa. During the colonial era, a French government official boasted of a strategy to transform “the best indigenous [African] elements into complete Frenchmen.” Even during the period of decolonization France presented itself as a benevolent guardian and attempted to strong-arm its colonies into a continuing master-servant relationship. At the time, only the people of Guinea had the pride and character to sever ties with the colonizer. In recent years France has maintained an active military presence in Africa, particularly in places like Mali and Libya. It is therefore troubling that through AFRICOM the U.S. is now formally making common cause with France, which unlike the U.S. makes no efforts to disguise its troops in Africa as advisors.

A French Special Forces officer said: “The Americans want to get involved in Africa. That’s good for us. We know that with the Americans it will be more efficient. We use American logistics – that’s what we are missing. On the other hand, we provide the local knowledge.” With respect to support the U.S. is supplying France, Reuters reported: “The United States fast-tracked the sale of 12 Reaper drones to France last year, the first two of which started operating in Niger in January alongside U.S. drones already there.”

In return for U.S. support, France takes on the large, sustained military operations in Africa that are off-limits to the U.S. because of military budget cuts and a U.S. public that is increasingly war weary. The U.S. military is left to lurk in Africa’s shadows training and manipulating African armies and staging occasional quick-hit raids on alleged terrorists.

Although the U.S. must remain committed to the militarization of Africa in order to preserve its empire, the situation is nevertheless awkward. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo said: “It’s a balancing act. Many of these [African] countries consider the U.S. a partner and strong ally, but they have serious concerns about what our footprint looks like.”

Africa’s concern should extend beyond what the U.S. footprint “looks like.” At issue is the continent’s dignity. Horrific, devastating attacks such as the recent murders of dozens of children at a Nigerian boarding school by the group Boko Haram, make it easier for western countries to persuade African governments that they lack the expertise and resources to counter terrorism. But allowing the U.S., France and others to essentially take charge of Africa’s militaries creates or maintains an almost childlike dependence on imperialist forces. Africa should have enough pride to engage in an independent analysis of its own circumstances. In some cases it is likely the solutions won’t require a military approach at all.

Human Rights Watch researcher Eric Guttschuss told a UN news service the “root causes” of support for Boko Haram are “poverty and unemployment, driven by poor governance and corruption.” Guttschuss added that one of the group’s former leaders rallied support “by speaking out against police and political corruption [on behalf of Nigeria’s] vast numbers of unemployed youth.”

Abdulkarim Mohammed, another Boko Haram researcher, noted: “Boko Haram is essentially the fallout of frustration with corruption and the attendant social malaise of poverty and unemployment…The young generation sees how [the nation’s resources] are squandered by a small bunch of self-serving elite which breeds animosity and frustration, and such anger is ultimately translated into violent outbursts.”

Thus, African leadership has the capacity to address the root causes of the Boko Haram crisis without inviting western military involvement. A regional, if not continental focus on the needs of the most desperate elements of African societies would do much to eliminate the pool of recruits for groups engaged in violent attacks on civilians. Long-term, the solution is certainly the elimination of neo-colonial governments and a continent-wide, unified approach to the mass control and use of Africa’s natural resources. However, when Africa begins to walk down that path it will almost certainly find that its current western military “partners” will become fierce military adversaries.

Mark P. Fancher is an attorney who writes frequently about the U.S. military presence in Africa. He can be contacted at [email protected].

Obama seemed so traumatized by his Middle East blunders he decided to take a break, giving Ukraine a try instead. The distraction was just what the president needed. And the U.S. media followed obediently, while barely glancing at the flames in the rear-view mirror — until another explosion piqued their interest. The predictable break down of peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians occurred when the Palestinian Authority backed out of a “peace process” they had zero to gain from.

 Yet another failure after a string of Middle East fiascoes: Obama’s failed “surge” in Afghanistan, his disastrous bombing campaign and regime change in Libya (an international crime initially cheered as a “success” in the U.S. media), and his catastrophic proxy war in Syria, which grinds on with no end in sight and which helped re-ignite the Iraq conflict — another “success” turned disaster for U.S. foreign policy.

Obama has turned away in denial from the chaos he helped create, but the Middle East is still there, still in crisis, and balancing on a razor’s edge: Israel has bombed Syria and the Palestinian territories several times in recent months; while al-Qaeda style extremists still dominate giant swaths of Iraq and Syria (thanks to Obama’s Syrian proxy war). Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt are especially combustible, though one could make such an argument for every single country in the region. Obama’s proxy war in Syria is acting as the fuel.

 Having turned away from the Middle East, Obama has been throwing fresh flames at Russia; perhaps Obama’s policy in Ukraine — backing a fascist-filled provisional government — will be more successful than his policy in Syria — supporting a Jihadi-packed political opposition.

Like President Bush, Obama prefers the role of arsonist to firefighter.

Obama’s current silence on Middle East issues should be unsettling; he is, of course, not going to simply pack his bags and forget about the region. His so-called “pivot” to Asia — to set China ablaze — has been delayed, there is simply too much at stake in the Middle East, and the U.S. military is stretched too thin.

But what about the peace process Obama started with Syria and Iran? Obama saved face by backing off of his bombing threat in Syria by agreeing to Russia’s plan of removal of Syrian chemical weapons, and later beginning peace talks with the regional power Iran. This process has stalled, no doubt due to the right-wing pressure in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and in the U.S. corporate elite.

The recent lack of action in the Middle East reflects the crisis of U.S. foreign policy — Obama simply has no idea what to do next; he’s continued the Bush-era policy of tearing the region asunder and, like Bush, he doesn’t have the political-military power to put the smoldering jigsaw back together again — at least not in a way favorable to “U.S. interests.”

The president is under immense pressure from his base: the U.S. corporate elite — especially the military-industrial complex — is demanding that he act tough, especially after he’s been humiliated by his lack of power in Syria and with Russia. The sanctions against Russia are his first timid steps back in the ring after getting his nose bloodied in Syria.

The globe’s only super power will not react to these affronts by adopting a foreign policy of peace. And peace could be easily achieved. The U.S. still has immense diplomatic power in the region, which Obama has used thus far to pressure his Middle East allies — the Gulf monarchy dictatorships — to pursue the Syrian proxy war, as Obama directs the politics and military arms running behind the scenes.

A fair and equitable peace could easily be achieved, and as author Franklin Lamb recently pointed out, Syria and Iran are fulfilling their end of their diplomatic agreements with the U.S.  Will Obama respond in kind? Or will he escalate tensions for the sake of re-enforcing “U.S. regional power?”

Unfortunately, peace is never as profitable as war. If Obama leaves the Middle East, Russia and China will fill in the gaps, slurping up the profits that would have otherwise gone to U.S. corporations. And if U.S. corporations felt that they were making enough profit at home, they’d politely bow out of the contest, especially since U.S. foreign policy has been one Godzilla-like disaster after another.

But U.S. corporations remain starving for overseas profits; the U.S. domestic economy is still struggling towards the endlessly promised land of “recovery,” and the really big profits of U.S. corporations have come from foreign investments, using the cheap Fed-printed dollars to speculate in foreign currency and foreign raw materials — an obviously unsustainable strategy. At home U.S. corporations are largely continuing their investment strike, waiting for cheaper labor, additional tax breaks, fewer regulations, and larger guaranteed opportunities for profit than currently exist, which is why corporations are refusing to invest over $7 trillion of hoarded dollars.

A just and fair peace with Iran and Syria would thus be especially infuriating for the corporate U.S. war hawks, since treating Iran and Syria in a fair way would imply that they deserve to be “equal partners” in the foreign policy world, again making the U.S. seem weak, unable to push around “inferior” nations into unequal political and economic arrangements favorable to U.S. corporations — violating the spirit of imperialism.

 Another equally vexing problem with creating a fair peace with Iran and Syria is getting “buy in” from their regional rivals, Israel and Saudi Arabia — the two most important regional allies of Obama’s, regardless of their rampant violations of human rights and violent foreign policy.

Egypt, too, has slid out of the grasp of the U.S., which Saudi Arabia is no doubt using as an important regional bargaining chip to lure the U.S. back in the fight against Syria and to crush the Iran peace process. Nothing Obama can do will solve the current dilemma he’s put himself into.

Ultimately, it’s safe to say that Obama is incapable of accomplishing the peace process he started with Iran, Syria and Israel-Palestine. The domestic profit rate of U.S. corporations is too thin, while Saudi Arabia and Israel are determined to go down swinging. All working and poor people have a direct interest in achieving peace in the Middle East, for their own future and the future of the millions suffering from decades of the U.S. foreign policy nightmare of unending war.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at [email protected]

Notes

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/02/middle-east-peace-talks-john-kerry-edge-collapse

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/03/19/israel-syria-airstrikes-army/6598085/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eugene-robinson-ukraines-ultra-nationalists-present-a-need-for-us-caution/2014/03/10/2bdfd92a-a890-11e3-8d62-419db477a0e6_story.html

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2014/01/us-fight-jihadists-syria-isis-islamic-front.html http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/world/middleeast/arms-airlift-to-syrian-rebels-expands-with-cia-aid.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2014/03/24/assad-and-khomeini-are-keeping-their-word-will-obama-keep-his/

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324034804578348131432634740

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101354173

The Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) between the US and EU aims to ‘protect’ investment and remove ‘unnecessary regulatory barriers’. Corporate interests are driving the agenda, the public have been sidelined and unaccountable, pro-free-trade bureaucrats are facilitating the strategy (1). 

 There is growing concern that the negotiations could result in the opening of the floodgates for GMOs and shale gas (fracking) in Europe, the threatening of digital and labour rights and the empowering of corporations to legally challenge a wide range of regulations which they dislike.

One of the key aspects of the negotiations is that both the EU and US should recognise their respective rules and regulations, which in practice could reduce regulation to the lowest common denominator. The official language talks of ‘mutual recognition’ of standards or so-called reduction of non-tariff barriers. For the EU, that could mean accepting US standards in many areas, including food and agriculture, which are lower than the EU’s.

Even the leaders of the US Senate Finance Committee, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, made it clear that any agreement must reduce EU restrictions on genetically modified crops, chlorinated chickens and hormone-treated beef.

Food lobby group Food and Drink Europe, representing the largest food companies (Unilever, Kraft, Nestlé, etc.), has welcomed the negotiations, with one of their key demands being the facilitation of the low level presence of unapproved GM crops.

The TAFTA negotiations are shrouded in secrecy and are closed to proper public scrutiny (2,3,4). They amount to little more than grubby back room deals, while striving to give the appearance of somehow being democratic, and effectively constitute part of the ongoing corporate hijack of democracy and the further restructuring of economies in favour of elite interests (5,6,7).

However, despite claims by the European Commission that there is no secrecy (8), the notes of European Commission meetings with business lobbyists released to Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) under the EU’s freedom of information law were heavily censored. The documents showed that the EC invited industry to submit wish lists for ‘regulatory barriers’ they would like removed during the negotiations. There is no way for the public to know how the EU has incorporated this into its negotiating position as all references have been removed (4). The documents show clearly that removing differences in EU and US regulations is the key issue in the talks: in other words, a race to the bottom in setting the lowest barriers possible.

A leaked EU document (9) from the winter of 2013 shows the Commission proposing an EU-US Regulatory Cooperation Council, a permanent structure to be created as part of the TAFTA deal. Existing and future EU regulation will then have to go through a series of investigations, dialogues and negotiations in this Council. This would move decisions on regulations into a technocratic sphere, away from democratic scrutiny. Also, there would be compulsory impact assessments for proposed regulation, which will be checked for their potential impact on trade. This would be ideal for big business lobbies: creating a firm brake on any new progressive regulation in the very first stage of decision-making.

As if all of this isn’t bad enough, there is also the highly contentious trade-investor dispute settlement provision in TAFTA. It would enable US companies investing in Europe to bypass European courts and challenge EU governments at international tribunals whenever they find that laws in the area of public health, environmental or social protection interfere with their profits. EU companies investing abroad would have the same privilege in the US.

This constitutes a charter for the systematic destruction and dismantling of legislation that exists to protect the hard-won rights of workers and ordinary people.

Across the world, big business has already used such investor-state dispute settlement provisions in trade and investment agreements to claim massive sums in compensation.  Tribunals, consisting of ad hoc three-member panels hired from a small club of private lawyers riddled with conflicts of interest, have granted billions of euros to companies, courtesy of taxpayers (10).

EU and US companies have used these lawsuits to destroy any competition or threats to their profits by for example challenging green energy and medicine policies, anti-smoking legislation, bans on harmful chemicals, environmental restrictions on mining, health insurance policies and measures to improve the economic situation of minorities.

If governments and parliaments fail to act to protect the public’s interests, powerful corporations will acquire carte blanche to rein in democracy and curb policies devised for the public good.

Despite such major concerns, campaigners from the Seattle to Brussels Network (11) have criticised the European Commission’s recently implemented consultation on the investor rights in the EU-US trade deal as a mock consultation aimed at selling its pro-industry agenda, rather than an honest attempt to have a much-needed open debate on the issue.

Roos van Os of the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), a member of the Seattle to Brussels Network, has said:

“Those who reject the undemocratic and dangerous investor-state dispute settlement system will have no opportunity in this consultation to voice their opposition because the Commission’s biased questions provide no option for that. The Commission should make itself available for a real debate, not a cowardly advertising campaign for its corporate agenda.”

In meetings with the Commission, members of its civil society advisory group on the EU-US trade deal had stressed the need for the consultation to be intelligible for non-experts and for there to be balanced questions. But the Commission’s consultation questionnaire only contains questions about its agenda for minor reforms to salvage the controversial investor-state dispute settlement system, in a 40-page legalistic text which will be difficult for members of the public to understand.

Marc Maes of the Belgian development organisation and also a member of the Seattle to Brussels Network:

 “The Commission’s so-called reform agenda does nothing to address the basic flaws of the investor-state dispute settlement system. Therefore foreign companies will continue to have greater rights than domestic firms and citizens. And international tribunals consisting of three for-profit lawyers will continue to decide over what policies are right or wrong, disregarding domestic laws, courts and democracy.”

Analyses of leaked investment texts from the EU-Canada trade negotiations indicate that the EU’s approach to investment protection does very little to protect the right to regulate (in fact it sometimes does the exact opposite) and it will establish an arbitration system that is far inferior to domestic legal systems in the EU and North America (12).

Pia Eberhardt, trade campaigner with CEO, another member of the Seattle to Brussels Network, said:

“The investor-state arbitration system cannot be tamed. Profit-greedy law firms and their corporate clients will always find a way to attack countries for actions that threaten their profits. The corporate super-rights should be abolished – and people in Europe should not miss this crucial opportunity to tell the Commission to do so.”

To enhance public scrutiny and democratic debate about the controversial investor rights in EU trade agreements, members of the Seattle to Brussels Network have set up a website to publish leaked negotiating texts and critical analyses of these texts: http://eu-secretdeals.info/

The network is also inviting civil society organisations and members of the public to participate in ongoing online actions against the dangerous corporate rights in EU trade deals.

Be informed and take action:

Seattle to Brussels Network: http://www.s2bnetwork.org/themes/eus-free-trade-agreements/eu-us-transatlantic-trade-and-investment-partnership-ttip.html

Corporate Europe Observatory: http://corporateeurope.org/tags/ttip

Stop the Crop: http://www.stopthecrop.org/

Notes

1) http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-eu-free-trade-agreement-a-corporate-stitch-up-by-any-other-name/5339789

2) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-us-eu-transatlantic-free-trade-agreement-tafta-big-business-corporate-power-grab/5352885

3) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eu-india-free-trade-agreement-corporate-driven-neocolonial-plunder/5338049

4) http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-eu-transatlantic-free-trade-agreement-more-secrecy-and-more-duplicity-revealed/5369272

5) http://www.globalresearch.ca/free-trade-agreements-the-bypassing-of-democracy-to-institute-economic-plunder/5354197

6) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-us-eu-transatlantic-free-trade-agreement-tafta-big-business-corporate-power-grab/5352885

7) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eu-india-free-trade-agreement-india-up-for-sale-to-western-corporate-capital/5332214

8) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/18/wrong-george-monbiot-nothing-secret-eu-trade-deal

9) http://corporateeurope.org/trade/2013/12/regulation-none-our-business

10) http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-4150-Clear-and-present-danger-to-democracy

11) The Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) includes development, environmental, human rights, women’s and farmers’ organisations, trade unions and social movements working together for a truly sustainable, just and democratic trade policy in Europe. www.s2bnetwork.org

12) See, for example: IISD (2014): A Response to the European Commission’s December 2013 Document “Investment Provisions in the EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement (CETA)”, http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2014/reponse_eu_ceta.pdf; Seattle to Brussel Network (2014): Investment in CETA – A response to a lobby document by DG Trade, http://eu-secretdeals.info/upload/2014/03/S2B-Marc-Maes-CETA-Investment_Response-to-DG-Trade-claims-March-7-2014_v2.pdf.

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April 2nd, 2014 by Global Research

The U.S.-European “Left’s” tepid – and even supportive – response to NATO’s destabilization of Ukraine reveals the deep workings of white supremacy on the “western” mind. We face the specter of a “left-right convergence” to save the global imperial project. How else to explain widespread “leftist” acceptance of racist doctrines like “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect?”

Some years ago Italian anarchist Camillo Berneri suggested that while not always visible in the social practices of everyday European life, the racist foundation for European fascism was still present, safely confined to a space in the European psyche but always ready to explode in what he called a racist delirium.

Today, white workers and the middle classes in Europe and the U.S., traumatized by the new realities imposed on them by the decline of the Western imperialist project and the turn to neoliberalism, are increasingly embracing a retrograde form of white supremacist politics.

This dangerous political phenomenon is developing in countries throughout the European Union and in the U.S. Just recently, the National Front, a racist, authoritarian party that labored on the fringes of French politics for years, has emerged as one of the dominant forces in French politics. The Tea Party in the U.S., Golden Dawn in Greece, the People’s Party in Spain, the Partij Voor de Vrijheid in the Netherlands – in these and other countries, a transatlantic radical racist movement is emerging and gaining respectability.

The hard turn to the right is not a surprise for those of us who have a clear-eyed view of Euro-American history and politics. In all the 20th Century fascist movements in Europe, two elements combined to express the fascist project: 1) the rise of far-right parties and movements as the political expression of an alliance of authoritarian, pro-capitalist class forces bankrolled by sections of the capitalist class and constructed in the midst of capitalist crisis; and 2) racism grounded in white supremacist ideology.

The neo-fascism that is now emerging within the context of the current capitalist crisis on both sides of the Atlantic has similar characteristics to the movements of the 1930s but with one distinguishing feature. The targets for racist scapegoating are different. The targets today are immigrants: Arab, Muslim and African in Europe; Latinos and the never-ending target of poor and working class African Americans in the U.S.

What makes the rise of the racist radical right even more dangerous today is that it is taking place in a political environment in which traditional anti-racist oppositional forces have not recognized the danger of this phenomenon or for strategic reasons have decided to downplay the issue. That strategy has been tragically played out in the “immigrant rights” movement in the U.S.

The brutal repression and dehumanization witnessed across Europe in the 1930s has not found generalized expression in the U.S. and Europe, at least not yet. Nevertheless, large sectors of the U.S. and European left appear to be unable to recognize that the U.S./NATO/EU axis that is committed to maintaining the hegemony of Western capital is resulting in dangerous collaborations with rightist forces both inside and outside of governments.

The manufactured crisis with Russia over the issue of Ukraine is a case in point. The incredible recklessness and outrageous opportunism of the U.S./NATO/EU axis in destabilizing Ukraine – knowing that the driving forces on the ground were racist, neo-Nazi elements from the Right Sector and the Svoboda party – demonstrated once again the lengths that this axis is prepared to go to achieve its geo-strategic objective of full-spectrum economic and political global domination.

Yet strangely, not only did many radicals in the U.S. and Europe not see the potential threat that this situation represented but they seemed unable to penetrate the simplistic cold-war propaganda that suddenly reemerged to frame events in Ukraine.

Instead of being concerned that as a direct consequence of U.S. actions a government came to power in Europe that for the first time since the 1930s included ultra-nationalist, racist neo-Nazis in key positions, the left along with the general population allowed the corporate media and U.S. propagandists to turn the narrative away from U.S./EU destabilization of Ukraine to Putin’s supposed expansionist aspirations.

The ease with which the corporate media was able to flip that script and to make Putin the new face of evil has been truly astonishing. And the fact that that narrative was embraced by most liberals and large sectors of the white left in the U.S. only affirmed that having abandoned class analysis, anti-imperialism and never really understanding the insidious nature of white supremacist ideology, the U.S. left has no theoretical framework for apprehending the complexities of the current period.

The inability to extricate itself from the influences of white supremacist ideology has to be considered as one explanation for the strange positions taken by large sectors of the white liberal/left over the last few years. How else can one explain the bizarre incorporation of the discourse of humanitarian intervention and the obscenely obvious racism of the “responsibility to protect?

Could it be that many white radicals have fallen prey to the subtle and not-so-subtle racial appeal to a form of cross-class white solidarity in defense of “Western values,” civilization and the prerogative to determine who has the right to national sovereignty that is at the base of the rationalization of the “responsibility to protect” asserted by the white West?

The apparent incapacity of white leftists to penetrate and understand the cultural and ideological impact of white supremacy and its powerful effect on their own consciousness has weakened and deformed left analysis of U.S. and European foreign policy initiatives. It has also resulted in the U.S. and European left taking political positions that either objectively championed U.S./NATO imperialist aggression or provided tacit support for that aggression though silence.

As a consequence of the abandonment of anti-imperialism and an active class/racial collaboration with the Western bourgeoisie, an almost insurmountable chasm has been created separating the Western left from its counterparts in much of the global South.

Instead of more resolute anti-imperialist solidarity, broad elements of the white left in the U.S. and Europe have consistently aligned themselves with the policies of the U.S/NATO/EU axis that are giving support to right-wing forces from Ukraine to Venezuela.

Exaggeration, racial paranoia, an overly simplistic and a divisive, even “racist” assessment of the liberal/left will be the charge. We accept those charges. We accept them because we know they will come. For those of us living outside the walls of privilege, who must nevertheless accept the realities of the colonialist/imperialist-created global South, we don’t have the luxury of comforting illusions. Our lived experiences negate the false history of Europe’s benevolent civilization. We see developing in Europe and the U.S. a very real possibility of a left-right racial convergence fueled by crisis, leftist ideological confusion and what appears to be a mutual commitment to maintaining the global structures of white supremacy.

Understanding the violent history of the Western project and the pathological nature of white supremacy, we are forced to see with crystal clarity that within the context of the volatile economic and social conditions in Europe, giving legitimacy to neo-fascist forces like the ones in Ukraine might just be the fuel needed to ignite that racist, fascist delirium Berneri referred to.

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist and organizer. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. His latest publications include contributions to two recently published books “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA” and “Claim No Easy Victories: The Legacy of Amilcar Cabral.”

On Sat., Mar. 29, 2014, the anniversary of the 1987 Haitian Constitution, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and Haiti’s second largest city, Cap-Haïtien, to demand the unconditional departure of President Michel Joseph Martelly, despite a strange reticence from the Lavalas Family party’s Executive Committee.

The Lavalas Family put out the original call for a march to commemorate the Constitution with the ambiguous slogan: “Mobilization or death,” and then called for Prime Minister Lamothe’s departure, but not Martelly’s, in a statement issued after the demonstration.

Meanwhile, in Cap-Haïtien, the initiative to demonstrate for Martelly’s departure was taken by the Movement for the Liberation of Haiti, a popular organization supported by another opposition current, the Patriotic Movement of the Democratic Opposition (MOPOD).

The new party, the Dessalines Coordination (KOD), for its part, in a Mar. 27 press conference at the International Lawyers Office (BAI), announced that it would also participate in the Port-au-Prince mobilization.

Dessalines did not give us this nation for colonists to come back to whip us as they did in the days of the colony and slavery,” said KOD spokesperson Manette Chery at the press conference. “So on Mar. 29, just as we are saying NO to Martelly remaining in power, we will also be saying NO to the UN’s continued occupation of Haiti. We say 10 years is enough! It is too much! There can be no credible election in an occupied country!

In Port-au-Prince, protesters gathered at two different points: the Church of Perpetual Help in Belair and St. Jean Bosco Church in La Saline.

At about 10 a.m., the protesters gathered outside the Church of Perpetual Help marched down the hill towards St. Jean Bosco, where they arrived around 10:30 a.m., creating a huge crowd in the city center. The protesters, mostly from the grassroots organizations, marched peacefully but noisily down several streets accompanied by riot police of the National Police of Haiti (PNH).

Among the many slogans on posters and banners were: “Down with Martelly! Down with Lamothe! Down with MINUSTAH [UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti]! Down with [Catholic Cardinal] Chibly Langlois! Down with the El Rancho Agreement [which created a bogus political compromise between Martelly-friendly parties]. Down with domination! Down with exploitation! Down with hunger! Vive Haiti!

These slogans showed the large political divide between the Lavalas Family’s Executive Committee and the Lavalas grassroots organizations which have historically made up the party’s base.

The KOD contingent carried its own posters denouncing the Martelly-Lamothe regime and the occupation of the country in these terms: “KOD demands the departure of  Martelly-Lamothe and MINUSTAH!“, “KOD says there can be no free and fair elections under occupation!“, and “KOD says elections and occupation are lemon and milk!

Like the KOD contingent, most protesters were adamant in their demands for the departure of Martelly and Lamothe, rejection of the El Rancho agreement, and MINUSTAH’s withdrawal. They also sent a clear message to the international community, saying: “The dew dances as long as the sun has not risen. Sooner or later, things have to change in the country. Down with the El Rancho Accord between the little friends Martelly and [Sen. Steven] Benoit. We are proving to the international community that we are stronger, more numerous, and we are not playing. We are here, we don’t have Galils [assault rifles], we don’t have weapons, we are not involved in kidnappings, we are not in so-called dialogue. But we have the 1987 Constitution in our hands.

Demonstrators also pointed to former U.S. President Bill Clinton, his wife Hillary, and current U.S. President Barack Obama as all having conspired against Haiti. They placed a “mental slave” like Michel Joseph Martelly at the head of the first black republic to keep the country under their control and that of so-called leaders in their service. The failure of the Martelly/Lamothe regime is also their failure, demonstrators said.

The model imposed on Haiti since 2004 has two elements,” said former Organization of American States ambassador to Haiti Ricardo Seitenfus in a long interview published in French in Haïti Liberté just days before the march. “On the one hand, there is the military presence through MINUSTAH, and on the other the civil presence in the form of the [Transnational Non-governmental organizations] TNGOs and the alleged private development corporations. Added to these are the bilateral strategies of the member states in the so-called Group of Friends of Haiti.”

Dr. Maryse Narcisse, the coordinator of the Executive Committee of the Lavalas Family Political Organization, has called for the departure of Lamothe and his ministers, but, it must be emphasized, she did not call for Martelly’s departure. The party’s statement said: “Lamothe must go. He symbolizes corruption, waste of national resources, poverty, unemployment, insecurity, impunity, lying, and kidnapping.” This focus soley on Lamothe’s departure is also the position of Deputy Arnel Belizaire Delmas, a leader of FOPARC (Patriotic Front for Respect of the Constitution), which only helps, objectively, to strengthen the Martelly/Duvalier camp.

The position of the Lavalas Family leadership and Deputy Bélizaire reflects nothing more than an internal contradiction between two factions within the Martelly regime: the Duvalierist wing, represented by the Mayard-Paul brothers, Gregory and Thierry, and the pocket-patriot  bourgeoisie represented by Lamothe. This position to give Martelly a pass while demanding Lamothe’s resignation reflects the sad fact that the Executive Committee of the Lavalas Family party is now dominated by politicians from the two wings of the ruling class, the bourgeoisie and the big-landowners, many of whom ironically supported the two coups, in 1991 and 2004, against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The KOD, on the other hand, took a very different position. “Michel Martelly is an illegal president,” the party said in its press conference. “It’s Bill and Hillary Clinton, the OAS, the United Nations, and Washington which gave him power so he can sell the country to the multinationals. Martelly and Lamothe are two agents, two servants of imperialism. We of the Dessalines Coordination we say loudly: Down with Martelly! Down with Lamothe! Down with the occupation! Martelly is an illegal president; the Provisional Electoral Council never signed for President Martelly to become president. It is MINUSTAH’s chief Edmond Mulet and the U.S. Embassy which decided who would be the president of Haiti in the last election.

Despite these differences, Mar. 29 was the first large demonstration uniting all of the anti-Martelly opposition currents since last year. “If [the march on the U.S. Embassy] of Nov. 29 2013 divided us, we are please to say that the demonstration of Mar. 29, 2014 has again united all of us against the regime” said Rony Thimoté, a spokesman for FOPARC, which is a somewhat renegade base organization of the Lavalas Family party. It is clear that this unity among the people must be strengthened and consolidated to maintain a general mobilization against the regime.

Many prominent political figures representing different political currents also joined in the Mar. 29 demonstration: Senator Moïse Jean Charles, Deputy Arnel Bélizaire, former Senator Turneb Delpé, former Deputy Serge Jean-Louis, and former Minister of Women’s Affairs and Rights Marjorie Michel.

The demonstration ended without the usual police repression such as the firing of tear-gas at protestors. However, a serious incident occurred at the march’s final rally on Champ-de-Mars’ Constitution Square, where Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles was physically accosted by two Lavalas Family second-tier leaders, Duclos Bénissoit and Dounnaxient “Engineer” Bastien.

Mr. Bastien, ironically, is a former member of the Mobilization for the Progress of Haiti (MPH), a party headed by Samir Georges Mourra, a right-wing bourgeois leader of both the 1991 and 2004 coups. Today Mr. Bastien has ostensibly converted himself into a henchman for the Lavalas Family party. Mar. 29 was not the first time he has acted as a provocateur and agent of destabilization. On Sep. 29, 2013, he attempted to disrupt a KOD-sponsored “Popular Forum” which was working out how to arrive at a provisional government to replace Martelly. He also, along with Duclos Bénissoit and former Sen. Gérard Gilles, assaulted Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles at the studios of Radio Zenith earlier in March. He is a classic example of someone who says he is defending the people but who, in reality, objectively or knowingly, is working on behalf of the people’s enemies.

Nonetheless, such stunts only reveal those working against the people and do little to derail the growing mobilization. On the contrary, the masses appear to be gaining strength in their struggle for their two key demands: Martelly must go! MINUSTAH must go!

As things stand, the banks are the permanent government of the country, whichever party is in power.”  – Lord Skidelsky, House of Lords, UK Parliament, 31 March 2011)

On March 20, 2014, European Union officials reached an historic agreement to create a single agency to handle failing banks. Media attention has focused on the agreement involving the single resolution mechanism (SRM), a uniform system for closing failed banks. But the real story for taxpayers and depositors is the heightened threat to their pocketbooks of a deal that now authorizes both bailouts and “bail-ins” – the confiscation of depositor funds. The deal involves multiple concessions to different countries and may be illegal under the rules of the EU Parliament; but it is being rushed through to lock taxpayer and depositor liability into place before the dire state of Eurozone banks is exposed.

The bail-in provisions were agreed to last summer. According to Bruno Waterfield, writing in the UK Telegraph in June 2013:

 Under the deal, after 2018 bank shareholders will be first in line for assuming the losses of a failed bank before bondholders and certain large depositors. Insured deposits under £85,000 (€100,000) are exempt and, with specific exemptions, uninsured deposits of individuals and small companies are given preferred status in the bail-in pecking order for taking losses . . . Under the deal all unsecured bondholders must be hit for losses before a bank can be eligible to receive capital injections directly from the ESM, with no retrospective use of the fund before 2018.

As noted in my earlier articles, the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) imposes an open-ended debt on EU member governments, putting taxpayers on the hook for whatever the Eurocrats (EU officials) demand. And it’s not just the EU that has bail-in plans for their troubled too-big-to-fail banks. It is also the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other G20 nations. Recall that a depositor is an unsecured creditor of a bank. When you deposit money in a bank, the bank “owns” the money and you have an IOU or promise to pay.

Under the new EU banking union, before the taxpayer-financed single resolution fund can be deployed, shareholders and depositors will be “bailed in” for a significant portion of the losses. The bankers thus win both ways: they can tap up the taxpayers’ money and the depositors’ money.

The Unsettled Question of Deposit Insurance

But at least, you may say, it’s only the uninsured deposits that are at risk (those over €100,000—about $137,000). Right?

Not necessarily. According to ABC News, “Thursday’s result is a compromise that differs from the original banking union idea put forward in 2012. The original proposals had a third pillar, Europe-wide deposit insurance. But that idea has stalled.”

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, speaking before the March 20th meeting in the Belgian capital, hailed the compromise plan as “great progress for a better banking union. Two pillars are now in place” – two but not the third. And two are not enough to protect the public.As observed in The Economist in June 2013, without Europe-wide deposit insurance, the banking union is a failure:

[T]he third pillar, sadly ignored, [is] a joint deposit-guarantee scheme in which the costs of making insured depositors whole are shared among euro-zone members. Annual contributions from banks should cover depositors in normal years, but they cannot credibly protect the system in meltdown (America’s prefunded scheme would cover a mere 1.35% of insured deposits). Any deposit-insurance scheme must have recourse to government backing. . . . [T]he banking union—and thus the euro—will make little sense without it.

All deposits could be at risk in a meltdown. But how likely is that?

Pretty likely, it seems . . . .

What the Eurocrats Don’t Want You to Know

Mario Draghi was vice president of Goldman Sachs Europe before he became president of the ECB. He had a major hand in shaping the banking union. And according to Wolf Richter, writing in October 2013, the goal of Draghi and other Eurocrats is to lock taxpayer and depositor liability in place before the panic button is hit over the extreme vulnerability of Eurozone banks:

European banks, like all banks, have long been hermetically sealed black boxes. . . . The only thing known about the holes in the balance sheets of these black boxes, left behind by assets that have quietly decomposed, is that they’re deep. But no one knows how deep. And no one is allowed to know – not until Eurocrats decide who is going to pay for bailing out these banks.

When the ECB becomes the regulator of the 130 largest ECB banks, says Richter, it intends to subject them to more realistic evaluations than the earlier “stress tests” that were nothing but “banking agitprop.”  But these realistic evaluations won’t happen until the banking union is in place. How does Richter know? Draghi himself said so. Draghi said:

 “The effectiveness of this exercise will depend on the availability of necessary arrangements for recapitalizing banks … including through the provision of a public backstop. . . . These arrangements must be in place before we conclude our assessment.”

Richter translates that to mean:

The truth shall not be known until after the Eurocrats decided who would have to pay for the bailouts. And the bank examinations won’t be completed until then, because if any of it seeped out – Draghi forbid – the whole house of cards would collapse, with no taxpayers willing to pick up the tab as its magnificent size would finally be out in the open!

Only after the taxpayers – and the depositors – are stuck with the tab will the curtain be lifted and the crippling insolvency of the banks be revealed. Predictably, panic will then set in, credit will freeze, and the banks will collapse, leaving the unsuspecting public to foot the bill.

What Happened to Nationalizing Failed Banks?

Underlying all this frantic wheeling and dealing is the presumption that the “zombie banks” must be kept alive at all costs – alive and in the hands of private bankers, who can then continue to speculate and reap outsized bonuses while the people bear the losses.

But that’s not the only alternative. In the 1990s, the expectation even in the United States was that failed megabanks would be nationalized. That route was pursued quite successfully not only in Sweden and Finland but in the US in the case of Continental Illinois, then the fourth-largest bank in the country and the largest-ever bankruptcy. According to William Engdahl, writing in September 2008:

 [I]n almost every case of recent banking crises in which emergency action was needed to save the financial system, the most economical (to taxpayers) method was to have the Government, as in Sweden or Finland in the early 1990’s, nationalize the troubled banks [and] take over their management and assets … In the Swedish case the end cost to taxpayers was estimated to have been almost nil.

Typically, nationalization involves taking on the insolvent bank’s bad debts, getting the bank back on its feet, and returning it to private owners, who are then free to put depositors’ money at risk again. But better would be to keep the nationalized mega-bank as a public utility, serving the needs of the people because it is owned by the people.

As argued by George Irvin in Social Europe Journal in October 2011:

[T]he financial sector needs more than just regulation; it needs a large measure of public sector control—that’s right, the n-word: nationalisation. Finance is a public good, far too important to be run entirely for private bankers. At the very least, we need a large public investment bank tasked with modernising and greening our infrastructure . . . . [I]nstead of trashing the Eurozone and going back to a dozen minor currencies fluctuating daily, let’s have a Eurozone Ministry of Finance (Treasury) with the necessary fiscal muscle to deliver European public goods like more jobs, better wages and pensions and a sustainable environment.

A Third Alternative – Turn the Government Money Tap Back On

A giant flaw in the current banking scheme is that private banks, not governments, now create virtually the entire money supply; and they do it by creating interest-bearing debt. The debt inevitably grows faster than the money supply, because the interest is not created along with the principal in the original loan.

For a clever explanation of how all this works in graphic cartoon form, see the short French video “Government Debt Explained,” linked here.

The problem is exacerbated in the Eurozone, because no one has the power to create money ex nihilo as needed to balance the system, not even the central bank itself. This flaw could be remedied either by allowing nations individually to issue money debt-free or, as suggested by George Irvin, by giving a joint Eurozone Treasury that power.

The Bank of England just admitted in its Quarterly Bulletin that banks do not actually lend the money of their depositors. What they lend is bank credit created on their books. In the U.S. today, finance charges on this credit-money amount to between 30 and 40% of the economy, depending on whose numbers you believe.  In a monetary system in which money is issued by the government and credit is issued by public banks, this “rentiering” can be avoided. Government money will not come into existence as a debt at interest, and any finance costs incurred by the public banks’ debtors will represent Treasury income that offsets taxation.

New money can be added to the money supply without creating inflation, at least to the extent of the “output gap” – the difference between actual GDP or actual output and potential GDP. In the US, that figure is about $1 trillion annually; and for the EU is roughly €520 billion ($715 billion). A joint Eurozone Treasury could add this sum to the money supply debt-free, creating the euros necessary to create jobs, rebuild infrastructure, protect the environment, and maintain a flourishing economy.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

Radioactive seafood isn’t foreign to Canadian grocery stores, but we have no research and development professionals to thank for that information—just a 10th grader from Alberta.

Bronwyn Delacruz of Grande Prairie Composite High School in Alberta made her discovery with the help of a $600 Geiger counter her father purchased and the need to complete a science project. She told Metro Canada that she decided to test the radioactivity of seafood—mostly seaweed—because she was shocked to learn that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) stopped testing imported foods in that manner the year after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

“Some of the kelp that I found was higher than what the International Atomic Energy Agency sets as radioactive contamination, which is 1,450 counts over a 10-minute period,” she said. “Some of my samples came up as 1,700 or 1,800.”

Since the Canadian stopped testing seafood for radiation, an Alberta teenager took matters into her own hands. Photo credit: AP / Ahn Young-joon

Since the Canadian stopped testing seafood for radiation, an Alberta teenager took matters into her own hands. Photo credit: AP / Ahn Young-joon

 According to the Daily Herald TribuneBronwyn tested more than 300 seaweed samples, including 15 brands exported from Japan, China, California, Washington, New Brunswick and British Columbia. Her work earned her gold honors at a regional science fair in Peace River, Alberta. In May, she will compete nationally in Ontario.

“I’m kind of concerned that this is landing in our grocery stores and that if you aren’t measuring it, you could just be eating this and bringing home to your family,” Bronwyn said.

The CFIA’s website says that it found more than 200 seafood samples in 2011 and 2012 that were “found to be below Health Canada’s actionable levels for radioactivity.” That was enough to lift the country’s enhanced import controls.

“No additional testing is planned,” the site reads.

According to Miles O’Brien, it’s the same scenario in the U.S. One of his recent PBS reports revealed that scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute were turned down after requesting minimal federal support by five agencies. There are no federal agencies conducting comprehensive, on-the-ground analyses of how much Fukushima radiation has made its way into the air and oceans of the U.S.

In October, Dr. David Suzuki predicted that it would take three years from the time of the incident for the radiation plume to reach the West Coast. That would have been in the past month. That concept wasn’t lost on young Bronwyn.

“The way the currents and the radiation would arrive in Canada, it wouldn’t arrive until now, about 2014 or 2013,” she said.

In 2012, the Vancouver Sun reported that cesium-137, the radioactive form of cesium, was found in various seafood products that were imported from Japan, including:

• 73 percent of the mackerel

• 91 percent of the halibut

• 92 percent of the sardines

• 93 percent of the tuna and eel

• 94 percent of the cod and anchovies

• 100 percent of the carp, seaweed, shark and monkfish

“Any amount of leaked radiation is harmful to the planet and the health of all species, including humans,” Suzuki wrote. “A major release of radioactivity, such as that from Fukushima, is a huge concern, with unknowns remaining around long-term health risks such as cancers.”

The new Iran-IAEA agreement on the EBW issue raises the question of whether IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano is now ready to reach a deal with Iran, despite having staked his own reputation on the November 2011 report on intelligence claims of covert Iranian nuclear weapons research coming from Israel. Credit: International Students’ Committee/cc by 3.0

The Barack Obama administration appears to have rejected a deal-breaking demand by Israel for an Iranian confession to having had a covert nuclear weapons programme as a condition for completing the comprehensive nuclear agreement.

Pro-Israeli commentators have openly criticised the Obama administration for failing to explicitly demand that Iran confess to charges by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of a covert nuclear weapons programme.

All the intelligence in question can be traced back to Israel, and investigation of it has shown that the documents and reports that have been most widely publicised betray multiple indications of having been fabricated.

Demanding such a confession would be an obvious deal-breaker, because Iran has consistently denied those past charges and denounced the documents and intelligence reports on which they were based as fraudulent.  In fact, the failure of the talks appears to be precisely the Israeli intention in pressing Washington to make that demand.

All the intelligence in question can be traced back to Israel, and investigation of it has shown that the documents and reports that have been most widely publicised betray multiple indications of having been fabricated, as reported by IPS.

A “senior administration official” told reporters after the Nov. 24 Joint Plan of Action was announced that the United States had “made clear” in the negotiations that “the Security Council resolutions must still be addressed…and that Iran must come come into compliance with its obligations under the NPT and its obligations to the IAEA.”

The U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 of Jun. 9, 2010 says Iran “shall cooperate with the IAEA on all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme….”

The term “possible military dimensions” had been used by the IAEA in referring to the claims publicised by the agency over the past six years of covert Iranian nuclear weapons development projects, including an alleged facility at Parchin for testing nuclear weapons designs.

The administration thus seemed to suggest that some kind of Iranian admission to past nuclear weapons work is a condition for a final agreement.

But the Obama administration’s rhetoric on resolving IAEA claims of a nuclear weapons programme appears to be less about forcing Iran to confess than responding to pressures from Israel and its supporters in the United States.

The first explicit indication of Israeli pressure on Obama to demand an Iranian confession as part of any diplomatic settlement came in a September 2012 article by Patrick Clawson and David Makovsky, then both senior staff members of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), whose analysis and recommendations reflect Israeli government policy.

“Given Iran’s past undeclared activities,” Clawson and Makovsky wrote, “a particular concern is that Iran will develop clandestine nuclear facilities.  Tehran’s coming clean about the past will therefore be an important determinant of whether it has any hidden capabilities.”

The demand that Iran “come clean” on its alleged nuclear weapons program entered into the Obama administration’s public posture for the first time after consultations with Israel in advance of the October 2013 round of negotiations with Iran.

The new Iran-IAEA agreement on the EBW issue raises the question of whether IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano is now ready to reach a deal with Iran, despite having staked his own reputation on the November 2011 report on intelligence claims of covert Iranian nuclear weapons research coming from Israel. Credit: International Students’ Committee/cc by 3.0

Secretary of State John Kerry declared in Tokyo Oct. 3 that Iran would “have to prove it’s willing to come clean about the nuclear programme”.

That same day, Ambassador James Jeffrey, a senior fellow at WINEP, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Iran “must come clean on its nuclear-related military research”.

By the time the negotiations on the joint Plan of Action were completed in November, however, the State Department adopted language on the issue that harkened back to Kerry’s testimony at his Senate confirmation hearings in January 2013.  Kerry had said then that “questions surrounding Iran’s nuclear weapons programme” had to be “resolved”.

It quickly became apparent that Israel had wanted the United States to demand not only a pro forma confession by Iran but the details of its alleged work on nuclear weapons.  On the very day the agreement was announced, however, Robert Satloff, the executive director of WINEP, expressed his unhappiness that the deal did not include “getting Iran to come clean on all its past clandestine programmes….”

Also on Nov. 24, Mark Dubowitz and Orde Kittrie of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which is well known for expressing Israeli policy on Iran, criticised the Joint Plan of Action in the Wall Street Journal for failing to “make clear reference to Iran revealing its past nuclear weapons research.”

The following day WINEP managing director Michael Singh complained in the Wall Street Journal objected again to the same U.S. failure to demand all the details of Iranian work on nuclear weapons. “Without insight into the full extent of Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities,” Singh wrote, “no amount of monitoring and inspection can provide confidence that Iran lacks a parallel programme beyond the inspectors’ view.”

Along with Kerry’s initial adoption of the “come clean” rhetoric, these sharp criticisms of the U.S. refusal to call explicitly for a confession indicate that the Obama administration had initially went along with Israel’s  in calling for Iran to “come clean”, but concluded that such a demand risked a premature breakdown in the talks.

Since the interim agreement, moreover, the State Department has avoided language that would commit it to requiring anything resembling an Iranian confession.  In Israel Feb. 22, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, who is the primary negotiator with Iran, said, “What we have said to Iran is that [the 'possible military dimensions' issue] will have to be addressed in some way.”

Sherman suggested for the first time the possibility of a less than complete and clear-cut outcome of the process. The IAEA was “very much focused on working through PMD with Iran,” said Sherman. “And the more Iran can do with the IAEA, which is where this belongs, the more likely we will have successful comprehensive agreement.”

A former U.S. official who had worked on Iran suggested in a recent off-the-record meeting that the “possible military dimensions” issue could not be resolved completely, but that one or more parts could be clarified satisfactorily.  The rest could be left for resolution by the IAEA after the comprehensive agreement is signed, the ex-official said.

That possibility arises because Iran and the IAEA agreed in February to work on the “Exploding Bridgewire” (EBW) issue – the claim published by the IAEA that Iran had carried out experiments on high explosives developed for the purpose of detonating a nuclear weapon.

That claim was based on a document that was part of the large collection originally said by anonymous intelligence sources to have come from the laptop computer of a participant in a purported Iranian nuclear weapons research project.

The documents were actually turned over to German intelligence by the Iranian terrorist organisation Mujahedin-E-Khalq, which had close links to Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad.

Iran provided the IAEA with an account of its actual EBW development programme in 2008. The Iranian account, cited by the agency in its May 2008 report, indicated the rate of explosions in its experiments, which was just one-eighth the rate mentioned by then IAEA deputy director Olli Heinonen in a briefing for member states in 2008.

But instead of acknowledging that fact in its report, the IAEA suggested repeatedly that Iran had acknowledged carrying out the EBW experiments described in the purported document from the secret weapons programme while claiming it was for non-nuclear applications.

The new Iran-IAEA agreement on the EBW issue raises the question of whether IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano is now ready to reach a deal with Iran, despite having staked his own reputation on the November 2011 report on intelligence claims of covert Iranian nuclear weapons research coming from Israel.

Such an agreement might be based on the IAEA’s stating accurately the Iranian explanation for the EBW – and thus implicitly admitting that the agency had distorted the issue in the past. Other issues might be left to be resolved quietly after the negotiations on a comprehensive agreement are completed.  

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. His new book “Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare”, was published Feb. 14.

 

Last week, Bank of America became the latest major financial institution to announce a multi-billion-dollar settlement with US regulators of charges related to the 2008 financial meltdown. In a settlement worked out with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the bank agreed to pay $5.83 billion in fines and buy back $3.2 billion in mortgage-backed securities from the government-sponsored mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to whom it sold the toxic assets in the run-up to the Wall Street crash. The settlement involves the largest fine levied by a single federal regulator in US history.

The agreement adds to the more than $100 billion in fines that have been levied by US regulators on major American and global banks since the financial crisis, more than half of which has been imposed over the past year.

The record size of the settlements points to the pervasiveness and scale of the criminality of the banks and their top officials. And yet, not a single leading bank executive has been criminally charged.

This is not for lack of evidence. The 2011 reports by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission document in considerable detail the fact that the 2008 crash was triggered by criminal wrongdoing by bank executives. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said that the committee had found “a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest and wrongdoing.”

The most egregious crimes by Wall Street and international banks that have led to financial settlements with US regulators include the following:

  •  Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase and other banks sold mortgage-backed securities they knew to be virtually worthless, helping to trigger the 2008 crash. Even as the banks were selling these securities to investors, they were making huge profits by betting against the same securities, without telling those to whom they were palming off the securities.
  •  Major US banks, including Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, illegally processed and even forged home mortgage documents in order to more quickly foreclose on the homes of families that had fallen behind on their mortgage payments. The number of people illegally foreclosed on will never be known because the Obama administration put a stop to the tally, but the figure is likely in the millions.
  •  Nearly all of the major US and international banks manipulated the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), the benchmark global interest rate used to set rates on some $350 trillion in financial assets, including mortgages, credit cards, student loans and bonds. By falsely reporting the interest they paid for loans from other banks, these institutions concealed their losses and increased their profits—at the expense of individual retirees, home and car owners, pension funds and municipalities all over the world.
  •  Major banks, including JPMorgan and UBS, were key partners in the $65 billion Ponzi scheme operated by Bernard Madoff. Earlier this year, JPMorgan, Madoff’s main banker, agreed to pay $2 billion to settle charges that it knowingly profited from Madoff’s scam. The deal shielded JPMorgan and its CEO, Jamie Dimon, from criminal charges through a “deferred prosecution” provision.

The settlements themselves were worked out between the banks and their regulators so as to have the maximum public relations effect, creating the appearance that the banks were being held accountable while minimizing the financial impact on the companies. The banks write off the fines—many of which are tax deductible—as part of the “cost of doing business.”

Not only have no top bankers been prosecuted, no major US banks have been broken up or nationalized. The big banks have grown even bigger and more powerful and have recovered their previous levels of profitability. Even taking into account the settlements with regulators, the six largest US banks made $76 billion in profits last year, just under the record set in 2006 and eclipsing every other year since 2008.

Wall Street pay, too, has hit record levels. The average bonus payout for Wall Street employees grew by 15 percent in 2013, reaching its highest level since the crash. Last week, both Bank of America and Morgan Stanley announced they were nearly doubling the pay of their respective chief executives for 2013.

Prior to the great democratic revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries, Europe was dominated by an entrenched economic and political aristocracy that enjoyed special privileges and immunities—enshrined in law—that set it apart from the rest of society.

What has emerged today in the United States and the other capitalist countries is a new, financial aristocracy, consisting of multimillionaires and billionaires who make their wealth through financial speculation and manipulation, diverting untold resources from the development of the productive forces, infrastructure and the well-being of the population into their own bank accounts and stock portfolios.

The refusal of the government of the United States or that of any other major industrialized country to prosecute the bankers whose illegal operations triggered the crash of 2008 and subsequent global recession, or take any action against the banks that they head, demonstrates that society is once again dominated by a parasitic elite that, like the aristocrats of old, is above the law.

The government serves not to oversee and regulate the financial elite, let alone hold it accountable. It is their servant and protector. The regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission, are themselves filled with former or future employees of the banks they are supposed to regulate.

The Hill reported last week that over two dozen officials who worked on the Obama administration’s Dodd-Frank financial overhaul have moved on to “lucrative jobs in the private sector,” with many working for law firms and consultancies that advise banks how to avoid the very regulations they drafted.

Democracy in America and around the world is collapsing under the weight of immense and ever-growing levels of social inequality, bound up with the domination of a financial mafia that uses its political power to enrich itself at the expense of society. Congress, the White House, the courts, the regulators, the Democrats and Republicans are all subservient to this financial aristocracy.

Holding to account the criminals who are responsible for the crisis is a vital part of the defense of the social rights of the working class and the struggle to break the grip of the financial kleptocracy on social and political life.

This cannot be carried out through appeals to Congress, the courts or the Democratic Party, which is no less subservient to the banks than the Republicans. The stranglehold of the financial aristocracy can be broken only through a mass political offensive by the working class. Such a movement must be based on the perspective of reorganizing society on a socialist basis, in which the banks and corporations are removed from private ownership and control and transformed into publicly owned utilities under the democratic control of the people.

A still-classified Senate Intelligence Committee report contains damning information on both the extent of US torture methods and the lies of top CIA officials about these programs, according to information in a Washington Post article on Monday.

The government torture methods revealed by the Post, based on information from anonymous administration officials, include sadistic forms of inflicting pain that are associated with the most brutal police state and fascistic regimes.

According to the Post, the Senate report “concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years—concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques.”

The terms utilized by the Washington Post in its article—“brutal” torture methods, “excruciating” pain, “sprawling” black sites—gives an indication of the chilling and deeply criminal character of a torture operation directed by the highest levels of the CIA as a matter of official state policy. The original crimes and their subsequent coverup, by both the Bush and Obama administrations, are all impeachable and prosecutable offenses.

The report details how one prisoner, Ammar al-Baluchi, was taken from Pakistan in 2003 to a CIA black site called “Salt Pit” near Kabul, where he “endured a regime that included being dunked in a tub filled with ice water. CIA interrogators forcibly kept his head under the water while he struggled to breathe and beat him repeatedly, hitting him with a truncheon-like object and smashing his head against a wall, officials said.”

After he endured torture at “Salt Pit,” Baluchi was transferred to a CIA torture chamber in Romania where he was held until 2006. He was then taken to Guantanamo Bay, where he remains today. Military prosecutors have opposed a Senate Intelligence Committee request for Baluchi’s medical records.

Anonymous US officials also pointed to the similar case of Hassan Ghul, an alleged al-Qaeda operative who was captured in Iraq, tortured at the black site in Romania, turned over to Pakistani authorities and eventually released, before being killed by a CIA drone strike in 2012.

Other prisoners had buckets of ice water poured into their noses and mouths and over their bodies until they felt they were suffocating, and until they were close to dying of hypothermia.

CIA-employed “doctors” would monitor vital signs so as to ensure that prisoners did not die and thereby prevent further interrogation.

So heinous were some torture methods that in at least one case lower-level CIA officials walked off the job when forced by their superiors to inflict pain in a manner that even they saw as unconscionable. According to the Post, “The report also cites cases in which officials at CIA headquarters demanded the continued use of harsh interrogation techniques even after analysts were convinced that prisoners had no more information to give.”

The material leaked to the Post also makes clear that the inhumane treatment of prisoners did not lead to a significant increase in the amount of “intelligence information” gathered by the CIA. Such a revelation contradicts the chorus of lies used by the Bush administrations to justify the programs, and by the Obama administration to cover up for their blatant unconstitutionality.

Current CIA Director John Brennan (then in the private sector after a stint in the Bush administration) told CBS News in 2007, “There have been a lot of information [sic] that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the [Central Intelligence] Agency has in fact used against the real hard-core terrorists who have been responsible for 9/11, who have shown no remorse at all for the deaths of 3,000 innocents.”

The Post cites one US official who said, “The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives. Was that actually true? The answer is no.” Criticism of the efficacy of torture has been raised by sections of the political establishment, as well as officials in the FBI.

The report details how the CIA lied about statements made by a suspected al-Qaeda operative named Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded 83 times by the CIA after his capture in 2002. Videotapes of these and other torture interrogations were later destroyed by the agency. Though the CIA has claimed that Zubaydah gave-up valuable information upon being waterboarded, the Senate report contains evidence that “almost all of the critical threat-related information from Abu Zubaida was obtained during the period when he was questioned… at a hospital in Pakistan, well before he was interrogated by the CIA.”

On top of this, the CIA inflated the importance of many prisoners in order to justify their torture. The Senate report reveals that several “masterminds” and “senior al-Qaeda operatives” were only recruiters or foot soldiers.

The appearance of the Post article and the possibility that some or part of the Senate report will be declassified, or leaked by whistleblowers, sharpens the crisis that has emerged within the state over the program itself and the unconstitutional efforts of the CIA and the Obama administration to spy on Senate investigators, to suppress the report and to intimidate Congress and Congressional staff into halting their investigation.

The dispute began three weeks ago, when Senator Dianne Feinstein delivered a speech in which she charged the CIA with violating the separation of powers doctrine in the Constitution and of breaking laws by spying on Senate staff carrying out an investigation of the CIA torture program.

A week later, Senator Harry Reid issued a letter to CIA Director Brennan, informing Brennan that he had instructed the Senate Sergeant at Arms to perform a “forensic examination” of the computer network used by Senate staff for their investigations.

The CIA and the Obama administration have ignored Senate requests for an assurance that such illegal surveillance and intimidation will not occur again. The Obama administration has given its full support to the CIA, with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney explaining that President Obama has “great confidence in John Brennan and confidence in our intelligence community and in our professionals at the CIA.”

The administration has itself withheld over 9,000 top-secret documents from the Senate investigators.

Whatever may come of the developing crisis within the state apparatus, no genuine support for the democratic rights of the population will come from the likes of Feinstein and Reid, whose proclivities for state surveillance are made clear by their avid support for the spying programs of the National Security Agency. In line with this approach, the Senate has kept the chilling content of the report secret and has proceeded with closed-door appeals to the CIA, made entirely behind the backs of the American public.

Moreover, according to the Post, “U.S. officials said the committee refrained from assigning motives to CIA officials whose actions or statements were scrutinized. The report also does not recommend new administrative punishment or further criminal inquiry into a program that the Justice Department has investigated repeatedly.” The recent Senate report even keeps secret the locations of hitherto unknown black sites and the names of those guilty of committing torture.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is due to vote on Thursday to send the Obama administration an executive summary of the report. If it is declassified at all, that process will take many months and will be subjected to redaction and censorship.

But the recent revelations raise another question: If torture does not lead to intelligence gathering, as the CIA previously claimed, then what purpose does the program serve and why did it continue? The reality that is beginning to emerge is that the barbaric torture regime initiated and legitimized by the state under the auspices of the events of September 11 is aimed not simply or even primarily at perceived challenges from “terrorists” abroad, but at developing methods of fear and state oppression that will be directed at all opposition to the policies of the ruling class, abroad and at home.

Venezuela is torn between the destabilising attempts of the right-wing, the limits of the Bolivarian process and the possibility the working class and the popular movements will advance the revolutionary project, but not without tensions and contradictions.

The following is an interview by Valeria Ianni, first published in Spanish by Rebelion, with Franck Gaudichaud, member of the editorial team of Rebelión.org, a doctor of political science and author of several books on Latin America, with a directed research by Michael Löwy on people power and industrial ties under the Allende government in Chile (1970 -1973).

How can you characterise the current situation in Venezuela? What is the issue here?

Franck Gaudichaud: As a starting point, we must recognise that we are in the midst of a tremendous global media war against the Bolivarian process. It’s therefore essential to create spaces of counter-information. To start with, in front of so much misinformation, we must again emphasise that the Bolivarian process is a long term process of broad social gains (health, education, reducing inequality), democratisation (the new constitution), growing empowerment and inclusion of the popular classes, in a very tense relationship with the charismatic leader that [Hugo] Chavez had been.

This process has also been instrumental in the establishment of new popular national sovereignties in the creation of ALBA, UNASUR and CELAC. Thus, a relapse and a neoliberal regression in Venezuela would have important, immediate collateral effects on the entire region. All this seems obvious, but it is essential to stress the essential relations and geopolitical forces, [particularly] at a time when the mainstream media, and the Venezuelan opposition are talking about a “Castro-communist dictatorship” and a “genocide in Venezuela …”

The current situation is extremely tense because the most reactionary sectors of the opposition have wagered on violence and destabilisation from the street. In this context, there is a tendency within the rank and file of the leftists to simplify our understanding of the circumstances, expressing opposition to imperialism or support of the coup against the “fascist” state. To me, this binary reading [of the situation] seems disastrous. Of course, the united manner of the right-wing’s “insurrectionist” intentions must be denounced and opposed.

We know that the United States has clear geopolitical interests in this destabilisation. The link between Washington “hawks” and the faction of the opposition led by Leopoldo López in Venezuela isn’t a conspiracy theory, but is an objective fact. There is also a real intervention from Colombia and Uribismo,  and paramilitary incursions, especially in the border state of Táchira. These factors are important. Now, is there a coup in the style of April, 2002? […] I think not. Firstly, the real power relations differ from 2002. The armed forces and military chiefs clearly support the government without division – for now – and the big bourgeoisie aren’t betting on the violence or an unconstitutional exit [from the Maduro administration]. Fedecámaras and its masters (like Polar’s [head, Lorenzo] Mendoza) are participating in the peace conference with Maduro and condemning the violence in the streets. In other words, the key elements of the situation of April, 2002 aren’t part of the current situation today. Mind you, there is a sector of the opposition around Leopoldo López that clearly is betting on street violence [and] calling to overthrow Maduro.

Worryingly, this sector has succeeded in holding very significant demonstrations – in the state of Tachira, in Merida with the student movement, but also in the streets of Caracas. It’s true that the participants of these demonstrations essentially come from the wealthy neighbourhoods, from the upper and middle classes; but now [protesters] also come from the less wealthy middle class. Violent sectors have gained space in society, using violence against the workers and barrio militants, constructing barricades (the “guarimbas”); they’re responsible for the majority of killings in recent weeks. The neoliberal opposition is partially fragmented, but each [faction of the opposition] plays its role against the [revolutionary] process; from Henrique Capriles or COPEI (Political Electoral Independent Organisation Committee) that say they back dialogue after successive electoral defeats, to parties like Leopoldo López’s Voluntad Popular or like the organisation Súmate and the legislator María Corina Machado. [The latter] back the creation of a semi-insurrectionalist climate without awaiting the next elections. Other analysts like Ignacio Ramonet have noted the existence of a “slow coup” based on the destabilisation theories of Gene Sharp.

However, I think from the anti-capitalist left, the key issue isn’t just to denounce all this, without also continuing to think “downwards and to the left” in a manner both critical and dialectical; [and] who are the elements within Chavismo that allow such expression of discontent in various strata of society – not just from the student movement. In this sense, we also have to explore the contradictions and weaknesses of the Bolivarian revolution and listen to the critical voices of the popular and revolutionary movement, within and outside of Chavismo. At Rebelión, we have published various Venezuelan authors that go in this direction: Roland Denis, Simón Rodríguez P., Javier Biardeau, Gonzalo Gómez, etc.

What are these main weaknesses of Chavismo?

First you have to differentiate between the governmental Chavismo and the working Bolivarian people. I understand there are tensions here, especially a year after the departure of the central manager of the [revolutionary] process, Hugo Chavez; [who was] capable of oscillating between the vertical leader and the horizontal-ness of popular participation. In the era of “Chavismo wihout Chavez”, Maduro has the legitimacy of electoral democracy. He won the [April, 2013] presidential election in a just manner, and the [December, 2013] municipal elections confirmed a new Bolivarian victory at the ballot box (with 17 victories in 18 elections). But, Maduro doesn’t have the charismatic leadership of Chavez, while at the same time a degradation of the economy accelerated. Of course, much is said about insecurity, particularly from the right-wing, though this is also a significant, daily concern for the popular classes. [However,] most of the recent problems appear on the economic level. The Central Bank of Venezuela [BCV] acknowledges a scarcity level of [consumer] goods above 28% and in 2013 inflation of 56% eroded the salaries of the workers. Poor economic and [currency] exchange management reinforces speculation, the black market and hoarding on the part of the bourgeois consumer on a greater scale.

Other Marxist economists like Manuel Sutherland or Víctor Álvarez speak of the greatest capital flight from South America. Several Marshall Plans are escaping to Miami. It’s true that inflation and scarcity are products of an offensive from the ruling classes, but they’re also [caused by] inefficient economic policy. Corruption is another underlying issue after 15 years of the Bolivarian process. How to pretend to build “socialism of the 21st Century” in these conditions of bureaucratic corruption? Faced with a phenomenon of this nature, a model of petro-rentier capitalism is still hegemonic [i]. It’s not enough to have a ministry of “popular power”* [see editor's notes]. I don’t see a solution other than to create control from below, [with] participatory democracy, workers’ councils [and a] strengthening of the existing communal councils. Otherwise, how is the right-wing offensive to be lastingly stopped? With dialogue and peace with the ruling sectors, with the Democratic Unity Roundtable [MUD], with [Venezuelan-born media mogul and billionaire Gustavo] Cisneros and the boli-bourgeoisie**?

Moreover, remember impunity that continues today for those responsible for the coup of April, 2002 and the April, 2013 killings. The impunity facing the anti-unionist killings that take place in the country are also very concerning, along with the the level of repression against some labour strikes and the growing militarisation of some regions (which caused distress and the distancing of the public from the Bolivarian governor of Tachira). These days, President Maduro and the Attorney General have acknowledged the responsibility of the National Guard and the Bolivarian Police in the death and mistreatment of demonstrators. Hopefully this doesn’t go unpunished, because the state has to be the guarantor of basic [human] rights.

Here you have referred critically to the path being taken by the government to stop the right-wing’s offensive. For you, what is the most effective way to confront the right-wing?

Without doubt, as proposed by some Venezuelan anti-capitalists, the best defense for the deepening of the revolution and the achievements of the [revolutionary] process is to strengthen a critical, popular and independent view of the bureaucracy or the boli-bourgeoisie, pointing to an empowerment from below. I think this perfectly justifies the intent of the government to pour cold water on the street violence, [and] call for dialogue and peace. Now, dialogue and peace, yes, but for what and with whom? Hopefully, the dialogue prioritises the mobilisation of the popular sectors, the organised workers that search for the paths of popular power, the … [rural poor and agricultural workers] that want agricultural reform, the indigenous people, together with more concrete announcements to improve the economic situation. Of course, Maduro has already announced a front to face the “economic war”, but as well as the “law of just prices”, positively, were measures to adjust [economic policy] and devaluation. To the contrary, small [political] currents like Marea Socialista and others outside Chavismo (libertarians, Marxists [and] Trotskyists) propose dealing with the neoliberal right by taking revolutionary measures: for example, taking control of foreign trade, but with citizen oversight (to prevent corruption), strongly combating speculation and centralising foreign currency exchange, intervening to bring the banking system under social control so that oil revenue isn’t partially captured by hoarders, supporting more decisions by the communal councils, [supporting] national food production, [creating] a national, democratic system of planning etc. I emphasise, I’m only reiterating the declarations of Bolivarian collectives and anti-capitalist Venezuelans.
Certainly, progress in this direction also means starting to think about the internal contradictions the popular movement – its weaknesses and limitations, as well as the weight of the political bonapartism present in the PSUV, for example.

What similarities and differences do you find between the process of Chile during the Allende government and that of Venezuela? More than anything, the role of the relationship between the spaces of popular organisation and a state that – despite all the changes – remains a capitalist state.

First, this seems essential to me: there still exists a capitalist state in Venezuela, though with a new institutionalism that’s more democratic. Predominantly, [there is] state-rentier capitalism and more than 70% of GDP is in the private sector. To strategically orient [ourselves], first we must know where we stand. Like in Venezuela, in 1973 Chile the Unidad Popular signified great democratic and social conquests, empowerment from below, as well as support from a very well organised working class on the union and political level. Actually, the big deficiency in Venezuela is the inability to build a democratic movement that is working and union class-conscious, independent of the state bureaucracy. Another interesting aspect of the Chilean experience is the tense relationship between the popular movement and the Allende government. I studied the industrial ties [ii] as sui generis [unique] forms of popular power, and, at various moments, elements were able to stand against Allende and claim revolutionary measures. Another point of debate is just how much we can trust the institutions, the possibility of  “using” the state to reform society from above. That is, if we build socialism from the state or build socialism from the popular constituent power, workers’ control and citizen participation. When in Venezuela, for example, joint management initiatives [between the state and workers] such as Sidor have been rapidly suffocated. It’s the same with the extremely complicated issue of political violence, the role of imperialism and the armed forces.

The fact is that in Venezuela, unlike the Chilean way, the process has been thought as “peaceful, but armed”. In Venezuela there is a very different civil-military dynamic [compared] to the Chilean experience. Beyond that, the Bolivarian revolution updates an unresolved debate of Unidad Popular: what can we do with the state, and what kind of state? To what extent are the government [and] elections tools of democratic conquest, and how to support this using grassroots organising to advance. How to deal with the rightists and imperialism from the best relationship that’s as strong as possible?

Valeria Ianni is an Argentinian historian, and member of the collective “Hombre Nuevo”. 

Translated for Venezuelanalysis by Ryan Mallett-Outtrim.

 

*All Venezuela government ministries include the words “Popular Power” in their official titles; eg, Ministry of Popular Power for Education.
** Boli-bourgeoisie (boliburguesía) is a colloquial term mostly used to describe wealthy, corrupt Chavista bureaucrats.

References (in Spanish)

[i] Ver: F. Gaudichaud, “Las tensiones del proceso bolivariano: nacionalismo popular, conquistas sociales y capitalismo rentista”, Rebelión, dic. 2012, www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=160554.

[ii] Ver: F. Gaudichaud, Poder popular y cordones industriales en Chile, Santiago, LOM, 2004.

Ukraine and NATO representatives on Tuesday discussed the possibility of sending NATO military instructors to Ukraine to train Ukrainian civil defence forces, Ukraine’s acting Defence Minister Andrei Deshchitsa said after a meeting of the NATO -Ukraine commission on Tuesday.

“We discussed a possibility of sending mobile groups of instructors to Ukraine to train its civil defence forces,” he said.

NATO’s former Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen did not rule out sending mobile groups of military instructors to Ukraine. However, he excluded the possibility of sending NATO’s armed forces to Ukraine.

In the meantime, NATO has stopped all practical military and civilian cooperation with Russia over Ukraine’s crisis, the NATO Council at the level of foreign ministers said in its final statement on Tuesday.

However, the Russia-NATO Council will continue meeting at the level of ambassadors and at a higher level in order to keep the door open for a dialogue with Russia.

Media Narrative: Witnessing Boston’s Mass Casualty Event

April 2nd, 2014 by Prof. James F. Tracy

In recent developments, US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that federal authorities will “seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev if he is found guilty of the Boston Marathon bombing last April.”

This article by professor James Tracy first published in the week following the bombings, sheds light on the nature of this tragic event. 

*    *    *

“For the most part we do not first see, and then define,” Walter Lippmann observed in 1921, “we define first and then see. In the great blooming, buzzing confusion of the outer world we pick out what our culture has already defined for us, and we tend to perceive that which we have picked out in the form stereotyped for us by our culture.”[1]

A founding member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Lippmann looked with suspicion to the potential dangers the hopelessly uninformed public posed in the unfolding “Great Society.” Along these lines, a veteran mind control expert interviewed in 2001 by investigative journalist Jon Rappoport observes,

The media gives you the illusion that you are seeing something. That’s the billion‐dollar key to mind control … 90% of all the mind control in the world is done by the media, and it is all based on the viewer or the reader never seeing anything really beyond the surface of what is presented.”[2]

What exactly took place on April 15 at the Boston Marathon is unclear, yet what is now evident is a stark divergence between the narrative description of excessive carnage meted out as a result of the explosive devices and at least a portion of the video and photographic documentation of the bombing itself.

The corporate media proceeded in lockstep with dutifully propagating the authorized narrative of a combat-like environment at the marathon finish line. “Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said Monday night that the death toll had risen to three,” CNN told its viewers.

Scores were injured at the scene. One of the dead was an 8-year-old boy, according to a state law enforcement source. Hospitals reported at least 144 people are being treated, with at least 17 of them in critical condition and 25 in serious condition. At least eight of the patients are children. At least 10 people injured had limbs amputated, according to a terrorism expert briefed on the investigation. Several of the patients treated at Massachusetts General Hospital suffered injuries to lower limbs that will require “serial operations” in the coming days, trauma surgeon Peter Fagenholz said Monday night. Some injuries were so severe amputations were necessary, Fagenholz added.[3]

Much like the 24-hour cable news coverage, more prestigious venues such as the New York Times provided a graphic account alongside disturbing images of the aftermath, under the April 16 headline, “BLASTS AT BOSTON MARATHON KILL 3 AND INJURE 100.”

“These runners just finished and they don’t have legs now,” said Roupen Bastajian, 35, a Rhode Island state trooper and former Marine. “So many of them. there are so many people without legs. It’s all blood. There’s blood everywhere. You got bones, fragments. It’s disgusting … We put tournquets on,” Mr. Bastajian said. “I tied at least five, six legs with tourniquets.”[4]

Testimony in the newspaper of record from another eyewitness relates similarly gory details.

Deidre Hatfield, 27, was steps away from the finish line when she heard a blast. She saw bodies flying out into the street. She saw a couple of children who appeared lifeless. She saw people without legs. “When the bodies landed around me I thought: Am I burning? Maybe I’m burning and I don’t feel it,” Ms. Hatfield said … She looked inside a Starbucks to her left, where she thought a blast might have occurred. “What was so eerie, you looked in you knew there had to be 100 people in there, but there was no sign of movement.”[5]

The country’s commander-in-chief then publicly confirmed how the federal government would avenge the violence and bloodshed.

President Obama, speaking at the White House, vowed to bring those responsible for the blast to justice. “We will get to the bottom of this,” the president said. “We will find who did this, and we will find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”[6]

Does a compelling description of a terrorist attack replete with “eyewitness accounts” of the terrifying scene and official pronouncements constitute an actual event? The available video evidence reveals an explosion occurring at 2:50PM across Boylston Street from the finish line bleachers, the exact point where the national media’s camera lenses were transfixed. The abundant media presence alongside personal cellphone cameras have provided abundant footage of the event and its immediate aftermath.

Despite the seemingly formidable explosions very few bodies and no severed limbs are observable on the ground, even though there are numerous people exhibiting bewilderment and apparent injuries. In short, the event closely resembles a mass-casualty drill, many of which are for training purposes designed to be as lifelike as possible. Since it is mediated, however, and primarily experienced from afar through the careful assemblage of words, images, and the official pronouncements and commentary of celebrity journalists, it has the semblance of being for all practical purposes “real.”

Here is footage of a “mass casualty exercise” conducted at the Community College of Aurora in Colorado that includes explanation and commentary from emergency drill and response experts coordinating the exercise.

Below is another video of a similar drill shot at Bagram military base in Afghanistan produced by US Army personnel .

Reports arising in the Boston bombing’s aftermath suggest how local authorities in possible coordination with the Department of Homeland Security were in the process of carrying out such drills, complete with the announcement of bombs being detonated and bomb-sniffing dogs present at the start and finish lines

For example, University of Mobile’s Cross Country Coach, found it unusual how there were bomb sniffing dogs at the event’s start and finish lines. “They kept making announcements to the participants do not worry, it’s just a training exercise,” Stevenson remarked.[7]

Alternative news media have also pointed to the presence of what appear to be private military contractors in matching civilian apparel operating in coordination with an unmarked SUV close to the Marathon finish line. Identically-dressed men are observable before the bomb blasts in the immediate proximity of where the first bomb exploded and across the street thereafter.[8]

With the above in mind, photographic evidence of the event suggests the possibility of play actors getting into position after the detonation of what may in fact have been a smoke bomb or similarly benign explosive. The photo album from which the following photos are taken is available here.

Viewing at the immediate bomb blast from the following angle, one can see a dearth of people where the explosive is set off, suggesting how the immediate area may have been cleared before detonation.

Further, there is whispy smoke with no sign of any shrapnel piercing the smoke, the race sideline fabric, or anything outside of the sidewalk perimeter.

If this is the case the highly-circulated photo showing an orange-hued “fireball” explosion may have been embellished.

-MARATHON-BOSTON-BLAST
The photo below shows what appears to be either a man with his legs blown off or an amputee with his stump curled around the head of a woman. A man in a “hoodie” jacket is also sitting upright behind the woman. The injured man or amputee, later identified in major media outlets as Jeff Bauman Jr.[9] who also participated in helping the FBI identify the alleged bombers,[10] appears preoccupied with something in his hands that are close to his face. This is unusual behavior for a man who has just sustained a severely traumatic and mortal injury.
blast6
The third and fourth photos show the man wearing the hoodie garment apparently helping the injured man/amputee with his right leg. Could he be removing this man’s prosthetic?
blast 7
blast9
In the next photo it appears as if the injured man/amputee is absent but he may be obscured behind the black woman who appears in earlier photos. One can see what looks like his “bone” protruding behind the woman’s head. In contrast to the above shots, the man wearing the hoodie jacket appears at ease after what may have involved assisting the injured man/amputee with his limbs and/or makeup.
Further, in the next two photos there are far fewer than the reported 3 dead and 170 additional casualties. No bones or severed limbs are evident anywhere on the sidewalk pavement.
-boston-marathon-bombings
The next photo is especially unusual given the apparent sequence of events: the amputee is lying on the ground still unattended after the less-severely wounded black woman appears to have been taken away by emergency response workers. Others, such as the man sporting the hoodie, having likewise sustained far less serious injuries, yet are among the first to be carted away to receive medical attention.
amputee 3
The use of a wheelchair to aid and transport an individual with such severe injuries–who amazingly is still conscious and discharging little-if-any blood–runs counter to common emergency medical procedure.
http://willyloman.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/boston-5.jpg?w=468&h=663

Much is still unknown about the tragic bombing to draw any concrete conclusions. However, much like 9/11, Oklahoma City, Aurora, and Newtown, an official storyline complete with the execution and/or capture of bad-guy culprits has been forged and vigorously drummed into the public mind.

In the law enforcement panic that followed martial law was declared and militarized police were unleashed in a paradoxical attempt to reestablish the order that was disrupted through their own incompetence or coordinated intent, another startling flash of the unfolding police state’s severity.

The upshot will be a continued program of more intensified repression at taxpayer expense alongside a corresponding erosion of civil liberties. All the while, future terror-inducing events magnified through the corporate news media’s falsifying prism reinforce our cursed tendency to welcome the illusion—to define first, and then see.

Notes

[1] Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion, New York: New Press, 1979 (1922).

[2] Jon Rappoport, “Jon Rappoport Interviews Jack True (alias),” March 23, 2001. In Jon Rappoport, The Matrix Revealed Vol. 1 (CD), 2012, http://nomorefakenews.com/

[3] Josh Levs and Monti Plott, “Boy, 8, One of Three Killed in Bombings at Boston Marathon,” CNN.com, April 18, 2013.

[4] Tim Rohan, “War Zone at Mile 26; ‘So Many People Without Legs,’” New York Times, April 16, 2013.

[5] Ibid.

[6] John Eligon and Michael Cooper, “Blasts at Boston Marathon Kill 3 and Injure 100,” New York Times, April 16, 2013.

[7] John Dzenitis, “UM Coach: Bomb Sniffing Dogs, Spotters on Roof Before Explosion,” NBC Local15, April 15, 2013.

[8] Tony Cartalucci, “Contractors at Boston Marathon Stood Near Bomb, Left Before Detonation,” Infowars.com, April 19, 2013.

[9] Connor Adams Sheets, “Meet Jeff Bauman,” International Business Times, April 16, 2013.

[10] Katherine Bindley, “Jeff Bauman, Double Amputee, May have Helped FBI With Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation,” Huffington Post, April 19, 2013.

-Andrew Whooley contributed ideas and research for this article. Mr. Whooley is an independent researcher originally from New Zealand who resides in Perth, WA, Australia.

The Boston Bombing Web of Lies

April 2nd, 2014 by Julie Lévesque

In recent developments,  United States Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that “federal authorities will seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev if he is found guilty of the Boston Marathon bombing last April.” Below is a GR’s Julie Levesque’s analysis and selection of GR articles published in the immediate wake of the April 2013 bombings

As with many “terrorism” related events since 9/11, the Boston bombing official narrative proves to be a web of lies as important facts are revealed. It turns out that the FBI has lied about its knowledge of the alleged suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, already being presented as guilty not only in the mainstream press but by the President himself.

According to the suspects’ mother, the FBI had been following them for years:

The FBI originally feigned ignorance over the identity of the two Boston bombing suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, as they appealed to an unwitting public to help them “identify” and “find” the suspects. […]

Russia Today, in an article titled, “‘They were set up, FBI followed them for years’- Tsarnaevs’ mother to RT,” stated of the suspects’ mother:

But her biggest suspicion surrounding the case was the constant FBI surveillance she said her family was subjected to over the years. She is surprised that having been so stringent with the entire family, the FBI had no idea the sons were supposedly planning a terrorist act.

She would say of the FBI to Russia Today:

They used to come [to our] home, they used to talk to me…they were telling me that he [the older, 26-y/o Tamerlan] was really an extremist leader and that they were afraid of him. They told me whatever information he is getting, he gets from these extremist sites… they were controlling him, they were controlling his every step…and now they say that this is a terrorist act! Never ever is this true, my sons are innocent!

[…] The FBI would then be forced to concede that indeed it had interviewed the suspects, in 2011, two years before the Boston bombings.  (Tony Cartalucci Boston Bombing Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev Reported Killed, Was Alive When Detained: Tamerlan’s Aunt, Global Research, April 22, 2013.)

We were also told that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in an exchange of gunfire after he and his brother had robbed a 7-Eleven:

When the shootout ended, one of the suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, a former boxer, had been shot and fatally wounded. He was wearing explosives, several law enforcement officials said. (Katharine Q. Seelye, William K. Rashbaum and Michael Cooper 2nd Bombing Suspect Caught After Frenzied Hunt Paralyzes Boston, The New York Times, April 19, 2013.)

With a bomb strapped to his chest, one of the Boston Marathon suspects was killed early Friday after he and his accomplice brother robbed a 7-Eleven, shot a police officer to death, carjacked an SUV and hurled explosives in an extraordinary firefight with law enforcement, authorities told NBC News. (Pete Williams, Richard Esposito, Michael Isikoff and Erin McClam, NBC News, One Boston Marathon suspect killed; second suspect, his brother, on loose after firefight, NBC News, April 19, 2013.)

The events surrounding Tamerlan’s death reported by the media are simply not true. It turns out that Tamerlan’ aunt identified him as a  “naked, cuffed, clearly alive and well detainee seen in video aired by CNN”:

Tamerlan Tsarnaev in custody

Was Tamerlan Assassinated?

The Boston Globe confirmed that Marathon Bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was in custody, contradicting earlier reports that he had been killed in crossfire. If he was in custody and is now dead, does that not suggest that he might have been the object of  an extrajudicial assassination? The circumstances of his death remain to be clarified.

Moreover, the 7-Eleven robbery was actually unrelated to the Tsarnaev brothers:

There was a 7-Eleven robbery in Cambridge last night, but it had nothing to do with the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

Margaret Chabris, the director of corporate communication at 7- Eleven, says the surveillance video of the crime was not taken at a 7-Eleven and that the suspect that did rob the 7-Eleven does not look like Tamerlan or Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

“The suspect in the photos for that particular 7-Eleven robbery looks nothing like the suspects,” Chabris says. “The police or someone made a mistake. Someone was confused.”

[…] Again, they might be guilty. But as Glenn Greenwald notes:

The overarching principle here should be that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is entitled to a presumption of innocence until he is actually proven guilty. As so many cases have proven – from accused (but exonerated) anthrax attacker Stephen Hatfill to accused (but exonerated) Atlanta Olympic bomber Richard Jewell to dozens if not hundreds of Guantanamo detainees accused of being the “worst of the worst” but who were guilty of nothing – people who appear to be guilty based on government accusations and trials-by-media are often completely innocent. Media-presented evidence is no substitute for due process and an adversarial trial. (Washington’s Blog, Boston Terror Narrative Starts Falling Apart, Global Research, April 23, 2013)

On April 19 Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested and brought to a hospital. According to Reuters, “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was wounded during at least one of two gun battles with police on Friday, suffering gunshot wounds to his head, neck, legs and hand [...]“. On April 24, the Huffington Post reported:

Two U.S. officials say the surviving suspect in the Boston bombings was unarmed when police captured him hiding inside a boat in a neighborhood back yard.

Authorities originally said they had exchanged gunfire with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for more than one hour Friday evening before they were able to subdue him. (Adam Goldman and Pete Yost, Boston Bombing Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Reportedly Unarmed When Arrested In Boat, Officials Say, Huffington Post, April 24, 2013.)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was unarmed and obviously brutalized by police 

We still don’t know what really happened in Boston and who committed the attacks even though the mainstream media report that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has admitted being guilty. What we know for sure is that the official Boston bombing narrative is filled with lies and that since 9/11 and in the context of the fictitious “War on Terror”, Western governments, intelligence agencies and mainstream media have proven to be untrustworthy sources of information on alleged “terrorist attacks” or “foiled terrorist plots”.

Canada’s Complicity in the War on Terror

Three days after Boston was locked down, invaded by a colossal police-military apparatus on a surreal “teenagehunt”, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police made a very timely announcement: they had foiled a terrorist plot targeting a Via Rail passenger train. Or so they say.

In a very absurd press conference where three RCMP officers repeatedly answered questions with “we cannot comment as the investigation is ongoing”, the only information they seemed very eager to disclose was that the suspects “received guidance from Al-Qaeda in Iran”.

RCMP press conference

While the Canadian mainstream media take these RCMP allegations at face value, independent news outlets suspect hidden political motives behind the highly publicized announcement:

Neither the police nor government have given any reason as to why, after allowing the accused to remain at large for months, they were suddenly arrested Monday afternoon and in a very high-profile manner. […]

Speaking Tuesday after Jaser’s arraignment in a Toronto court, his lawyer, John Norris, drew attention to the timing of the police-government announcement that they had uncovered Canada’s first “al-Qaeda-sponsored” terror plot. Said Norris, “The timing of the arrest is a bit of a mystery and certainly I would like to hear the RCMP’s explanation for that. They have been very clear that there is no risk of public safety and it is surprising to say the least that this arrest would be made now, close on the heels of what happened in Boston and timed perfectly with what was happening in the House of Commons yesterday.”

On Friday, the Conservative government announced that it was changing the House of Commons’ agenda, scheduling third and final reading of its “Combating Terrorism Act” (Bill S-7) to begin Monday and conclude this week. Bill S-7 gives the state vast new powers. These include: the right to hold terrorism suspects for 72 hours without charge, to convene “investigative hearings” at which those believed to have information about an imminent terrorist attack are stripped of their right to remain silent, and the power to place restrictions for up to a year on the movements and rights of persons deemed by the state to be terrorist suspects but against whom they have insufficient evidence to lay charges. […]

US authorities have been quick to trumpet the Canadian claims of a thwarted terrorist attack—claims that boost their own efforts to portray North America as under siege from terrorists and justify a vast expansion of the national-security apparatus and coercive powers of the state. The US ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, issued a statement Monday saying the arrests of Esseghaier and Jaser “were the result of extensive cross-border cooperation” and had underscored “that we face serious and real threats.” […]

At Monday’s press conference, the RCMP asserted that Esseghaier and Jaser had acted under the “direction and guidance” of “al-Qaeda elements located in Iran.”

The RCMP said that they had no evidence of Iranian government involvement. […]

The Harper Conservative government, which has declared itself Israel’s strongest ally and has expanded Canada’s decades’ old military-strategic alliance with Washington, broke off diplomatic relations with Teheran last summer. In justifying this action, Conservative Foreign Minister John Baird labeled Iran “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.” (Keith Jones Canadian Government unveils “Terror Plot” as it Adopts Draconian New Law, World Socialist Web Site, April 24, 2013.)

We may recall a “terrorist plot” revealed in late November 2001. According to mainstream reports, Ahmed Ressam, who was convicted of plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport in 1999, had also planned to bomb a Montreal area with “the most visible concentration of Jews in Canada — a vibrant area of some 5,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews who stand out because of their traditional outfits of black coats and hats for men, long skirts and wigs for women. » (Ingrid Peritz, Montreal’s brush with terror, The Globe and Mail, November 30, 2001.)

The Globe stated further:

Members of the Hasidic community in Outremont responded with shock after hearing that Mr. Ressam and Samir Ait Mohamed wanted to detonate a bomb in the area because it was predominantly Jewish.

The stated choice of explosives — a bomb on a gasoline truck — evoked the detonating power of the fuel-laden planes that ripped through the World Trade Center. (Ibid.)

Samir Aït Mohamed happened to be a fake Algerian refugee and “an informant for Canadian law-enforcement authorities [RCMP].” (Mike Carter, Montreal bomb plot revealed in Ressam case documents, Seattle Times, November 30, 2001.)

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) was also involved in a terrorist plot. Joseph Gilles Breault, a.k.a. Youssef Mouammar or Abou Djihad, had threatened to attack the Montreal metro with a biochemical weapon in 1998. He was a CSIS agent.

With that in mind, the latest RCMP “exploit” raises even more questions on this revived Al-Qaeda threat focused on Iran. Who’s behind Al-Qaeda in Iran?:

As the FBI reels from what now appears to be revelations it was directly involved in the Boston Marathon bombings, a deluge of FBI “success” stories have been “serendipitously” splashed across Western headlines. Among them was an allegedly “foiled” terror attack in Canada, reported to be the work of terrorists supported by “Al-Qaeda operatives in Iran.” The Globe and Mail, in its report, “Canada joins U.S. in alleging al-Qaeda has operatives based in Iran,” states:

[…] The Sunni-based al-Qaeda and Shia Iran belong to different branches of Islam that have been at odds historically. But in recent years U.S. officials have formally alleged that Iran has allowed al-Qaeda members to operate out of its territory.”

[…] Hersh in his 2008 New Yorker piece titled, “Preparing the Battlefield: The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran,” spelled out a damning indictment of US involvement in bolstering, arming, and funding terror organizations, not linked to, but described as actually being Al Qaeda [...]:

One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, which describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran. “This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,” Nasr told me. “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture.” The Jundallah took responsibility for the bombing of a busload of Revolutionary Guard soldiers in February, 2007. At least eleven Guard members were killed. According to Baer and to press reports, the Jundallah is among the groups in Iran that are benefiting from U.S. support. (Tony Cartalucci, Who is Behind “Al Qaeda in Iran”?, Global Research, April 23, 2013.)

Otherwise the brothers’ links to Chechen terrorists makes very little sense, since the latter, like many other terrorist groups and/or so-called freedom fighters depending on the strategy of the day, have been supported by the US:

What is abundantly clear is that the US government is not committed to fighting terrorists.

Quite the opposite. US intelligence has been recruiting and grooming terrorists for more than thirty years, while at same time upholding the absurd notion that these terrorists, who are bona fide CIA “intelligence assets”, constitute a threat to the American Homeland.  These alleged threats by “An Outside Enemy” are part of a propaganda ploy behind the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT).

[...] The development of an Islamist terrorist militia in different countries around the World is part of an intricate US intelligence project.

While the Tsarnaev brothers are casually accused without evidence of having links to Chechen terrorists, the important question is who is behind the Chechen terrorists?

In an utterly twisted logic, the protagonists of the ‘Global War on Terrorism” directed against Muslims are the de facto architects of “Islamic terrorism.” (Michel Chossudovsky, BOSTON TRUTH: The “Chechen Connection”, Al Qaeda and the Boston Marathon Bombings, Global Research, April 22, 2013.)

Even former US Ambassador Craig Murray says the “Chechen Connexion” story is surreal:

We are asked to believe that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was identified by the Russian government as an extremist Dagestani or Chechen Islamist terrorist, and they were so concerned about it that in late 2010 they asked the US government to take action. At that time, the US and Russia did not normally have a security cooperation relationship over the Caucasus, particularly following the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. For the Russians to ask the Americans for assistance, Tsarnaev must have been high on their list of worries.

In early 2011 the FBI interview Tsarnaev and trawl his papers and computers but apparently – remarkably for somebody allegedly radicalised by internet – the habitually paranoid FBI find nothing of concern.

So far, so weird. But now this gets utterly incredible. In 2012 Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who is of such concern to Russian security, is able to fly to Russia and pass through the airport security checks of the world’s most thoroughly and brutally efficient security services without being picked up.

He is then able to proceed to Dagestan – right at the heart of the world’s heaviest military occupation and the world’s most far reaching secret police surveillance – again without being intercepted, and he is able there to go through some form of terror training or further Islamist indoctrination. He then flies out again without any intervention by the Russian security services.

That is the official story and I have no doubt it did not happen. I know Russia and I know the Russian security services. Whatever else they may be, they are extremely well-equipped, experienced and efficient and embedded into a social fabric accustomed to cooperation with their mastery.

This scenario is simply impossible in the real world. (Craig Murray, The Boston Bombings and the FBI: “Official Tsarnaev Story Makes No Sense”, 21st Century Wire, April 22, 2013.)

The idea that Tamerlan was, in fact, a US intelligence asset seems closer to the truth, since according to a Russian newspaper, he attended a US-sponsored workshop in the Caucasus, the goal of which was to destabilize southern regions of Russia:

Today, Russian newspaper Izvestia alleges that the older Boston Tamarlan bombing brother attended a workshop – sponsored by an American organization – on destabilizing the Russian satellite states:

At the disposal of “Izvestia” has documents Counterintelligence Department Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, confirming that the Georgian organization “Fund of Caucasus” [here's their website], which cooperates with the U.S. non-profit organization “Jamestown” (the board of directors of NGOs previously entered one of the ideologists of U.S. foreign policy, Zbigniew Brzezinski), was engaged in recruiting residents North Caucasus to work in the interests of the United States and Georgia.

According to the reports of Colonel Chief Directorate Counterintelligence Department Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia Gregory Chanturia to the Minister of Internal Affairs Irakli Garibashvili, “Caucasian fund” in cooperation with the Foundation “Jamestown” in the summer of 2012 conducted workshops and seminars for young people of the Caucasus, including its Russian part. Some of them attended Tsarnaev Tamerlane, who was in Russia from January to July 2012.

“Caucasian fund” writes Tchanturia was established November 7, 2008, just after the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, “to control the processes taking place in the North Caucasus region.” Accordingly, the Department of the Interior Ministry counterintelligence case was brought intelligence operations called “DTV”. Main purpose is to recruit young people and intellectuals of the North Caucasus to enhance instability and extremism in the southern regions of Russia. (Washington’s Blog, Was Boston Bomber “Radicalized” at a U.S. Sponsored Counterterrorism Workshop, Global Research, April 24, 2013.)

Overall, the Boston tragedy is clearly and sadly being exploited to revamp the “War on terror”, justify the police state apparatus in the US and other Western countries such as Canada, and legitimize attacks on our rights and liberties.

Global Research brings to the attention of its readers a list of articles on this very important topic.


SELECTED ARTICLES

Boston Truth: Both FBI & CIA Watched Boston Bombing Suspects for YearsTony Cartalucci, April 26, 2013

The Roots of Terror: FBI’s Fingerprints All Over the Boston BombingsBill Van Auken, April 24, 2013

“Boston on the Tigris”: Iraq’s Unreported Terror Event. Twenty-six Car Bombs…Dirk Adriaensens, April 23, 2013

Terrorists “R” UsStephen Lendman, April 23, 2013

Martial Law in Boston: American Democracy in ShamblesBarry Grey, April 23, 2013

Boston Truth: The Suspects – Who Is Behind al Qaeda?Bonnie Faulkner and Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Canadian Government unveils “Terror Plot” as it Adopts Draconian New LawKeith Jones, April 24, 2013

Was Boston Bomber “Radicalized” at a U.S. Sponsored Counterterrorism WorkshopWashington’s Blog, April 24, 2013

Political Opportunism. The Boston Marathon Tragedy Used as a Pretext To Extend the “Global War on Terrorism”Colin Todhunter, April 24, 2013
The Roots of Terror: FBI’s Fingerprints All Over the Boston Bombings
Bill Van Auken, April 24, 2013

Terrorists “R” UsStephen Lendman, April 23, 2013

Who is Behind “Al Qaeda in Iran”?Tony Cartalucci, April 23, 2013

Martial Law in Boston: American Democracy in ShamblesBarry Grey, April 23, 2013

Boston Terror Narrative Starts Falling ApartWashington’s Blog, April 23, 2013

The European Homeland Security State. EU Anti-Terror Drills and Fear CampaignsR. Teichmann, April 23, 2013

The Boston Bombings and the FBI: “Official Tsarnaev Story Makes No Sense”Craig Murray, April 22, 2013

Boston Bombing Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev Reported Killed, Was Alive When Detained: Tamerlan’s AuntTony Cartalucci, April 22, 2013

In the Wake of the Boston Bombings: America’s War on Islam 2.0Stephen Lendman, April 22, 2013

Chechen Terrorists and the NeoconsColeen Rowley, April 22, 2013

Boston Bombers: Role of CIA in Chechen TerrorKurt Nimmo, April 22, 2013

BOSTON TRUTH: The “Chechen Connection”, Al Qaeda and the Boston Marathon BombingsProf Michel Chossudovsky, April 22, 2013

Boston Bombings Suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev “Has No Rights” and Should be Categorized as an “Enemy Combatant”Patrick Henningsen, April 21, 2013

19 Year Old Student in Custody: President Obama has already delivered a Guilty Verdict to Suspected Boston BomberPatrick Henningsen, April 21, 2013

Boston Suspect Arrested Stripped Naked so WHEN was he shot and killed?Global Research News, April 21, 2013

Boston Black Ops: Manufacturing Terror?Stephen Lendman, April 21, 2013

Boston Bombing Suspects: It was a Set Up. They were Framed by the FBIGlobal Research News, April 20, 2013

Boston Bombing Suspects Were on FBI Radar for YearsTony Cartalucci, April 20, 2013

19 year Old Boy Suspect: Why does Boston Celebrate Martial Law with Chants of ‘USA, USA’?Patrick Henningsen, April 20, 2013

 

Thailand: Thaksin’s Red Shirts and the Ongoing Violence

April 2nd, 2014 by Global Research News

by Michael Pirsch

March marked the beginning of the sixth month of protests against the corrupt proxy government of Thaksin Shinawatra, the fugitive former prime minister of Thailand, who currently micro manages Thai government affairs through his youngest sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the proxy Phuea Thai political party. He lives in Dubai, but frequently travels to the region around Thailand to give orders to his proxies.

Image: Explosive Ordnance Disposal experts comb the aftermath of a pro-regime attack on protesters in the Thai province of Trat.

2 children were killed in the attack – an attack the regime’s “red shirts” cheered upon hearing about at a rally taking place simultaneously in another province.

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However, the start of the sixth month was not a festive occasion because a large dark cloud has enveloped Thailand since February 22, 2014. In the early evening hours, unknown gunmen fired grenades and automatic weapons at the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) demonstration in the province of Trat. They targeted the area on the perimeter of the demonstration, killing two five-year-old girls who were helping their respective mothers at their noodle stands.

At the same time the little girls were shot and killed, the core members and leaders of Thaksin’s red shirt supporters were meeting in Nakhon Ratchasima. One of the Red Shirt leaders, “Dab Daeng” took the stage and proceeded to announce: “I have good news to tell my red shirt brothers and sisters from all provinces. The PDRC members of Suthep at the protest stage in Khao Saming (Trat) were deservedly given a reception by the locals. Five PDRC people were killed and over 30 injured. The locals welcomed them because they love Suthep a lot…” [1]

Upon hearing this news, many of the Red Shirts cheered, pumping their fists in the air and applauding. While the Red Shirts were cheering the cold blooded murder of two five year old girls, the rest of Thailand wept. This was Saturday night, February 24, 2014.

For Thai people, crying time was not over. On Sunday afternoon, three people, including two more children, were murdered in front of a shopping mall they had just left. They were waiting to get on a “tuk-tuk” to return home when they were blasted apart by M-79 grenades. This took place at the far edge of a central Bangkok rally location. Thailand continued to weep. To this date (March 25) no one has been arrested.

These same Red Shirt cheerleaders of hate and violence have emerged as the greatest threat to peace in Thailand since the demonstrations began in October, 2013. The protesters have exhibited a long term commitment to peaceful protest in addition to performing acts of civil disobedience directed at government agencies. The demonstrators have stayed peaceful even though their protest sites, the homes of protest leaders and homes of Democrat Party leaders have been shot at with grenade launchers and automatic weapons dozens of times since November 2013. This is still ongoing.

Image: Weapons seized by police from “red shirts” outside the National Anti-Corruption Commission building in northern Bangkok.

The building has come under frequent gunfire and has been targeted by M-79 grenades – both weapons systems can be seen on the table above in addition to RGD-5 hand grenades which have been responsible for several attacks on protesters in recent months. 

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Buildings housing the Criminal Court, the National Anti Corruption Commission (NACC), and the Constitution Court have recently been targeted with bombs and grenades late at night. No one has been arrested or charged by the police for these acts of terrorism. The attacks and seeming indifference on the part of the police have resulted in the military setting up checkpoints in the vicinity of the four remaining protest sites and the recently targeted court buildings. Following the murder of four children, PDRC leaders decided to close three protest sites in the interest of providing a safer environment for the protesters. This hasn’t stopped the terrorists as they have continued to attack the remaining three sites, mostly late at night. They have never been caught by the police.

These attacks mirror the acts of terrorism against the army during the 2010 Red Shirts demonstrations in Bangkok. The Red Shirt demands in 2010 were to overthrow the Democrat Party led coalition; to allow Thaksin to return to Thailand without having to face justice for his 2008 abuse of power conviction; to drop all charges against Thaksin from over 25 corruption cases; and to return his money confiscated as a result of the 2008 conviction. The Red Shirts accomplished one of those objectives when Thaksin’s proxy won the 2011 election following Abhisit’s dissolution of parliament. The remaining objectives are all about Thaksin’s wealth and legal standing. However, these objectives are hidden in claims of defending democracy.

The largest group of Red Shirts in 2010 were ordinary people from each region of the country. The next largest were the Red Shirt guards who were modeled after the “Thahaan Phran,” a paramilitary army tasked with terrorizing members of the Communist Party of Thailand in the 1970s. A much smaller group, the Black Shirts, were described to Human Rights Watch by journalist Oliver Sarbil: “…their job was to protect the Red Shirt protestor, but their real job was to terrorize soldiers… these guys were fearless. They operated mostly at night, but sometimes during the day. They went out in small teams [to confront the Army]…”They weren’t really ‘black-shirts’ – they were sometimes in green military uniforms and others dressed like Red Shirt protestors. They…weren’t interested in dealing with the Red Shirt leaders…The guys I met knew how to move and shoot. They also had experience handling explosives…The Black Shirts didn’t come to try and take territory – they shoot and then they leave, they hit [the soldiers] and retreat.” [2]

The Black Shirts and the Red Shirt guards were organized by army Major General Khattiya Sawasipol at Thaksin’s request. [3] In addition, the speeches of the Red Shirt leaders advanced violent solutions rather than peaceful solutions. [4] The leaders advocated widespread arson and looting in order to defend Thaksin. Notably, when the army began its operation to take back the Red Shirt rally site on May 19, 2010, the same leaders deserted the Red Shirt protestors, fleeing to the safety of the headquarters of the Royal Thai Police which was less than 100 meters from the rally stage. The protestors were left to fend for themselves and more than 55 were killed that day. None of the Red Shirt leaders were killed or wounded.

Image: Record low 2014 turnout shatters the myth of Thaksin’s “popularity.

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The mood of the anti-Thaksin protestors is different. There is no talk of burning down Bangkok; no talk of “rivers of blood” in the streets; there is only talk of enacting much needed reforms before elections can be held.

On Friday March 21, the Courts ruled the February 2 election invalid as the Constitution requires the election to be held in one day. With the Democrat Party boycotting the election, it was impossible to meet the constitutional requirement. In fact, prior to the elections, the Election Commission asked the proxy government to postpone the elections – which Thaksin refused to do. The February 2 election saw less than 50% of eligible voters take part compared to over 67% in 2011. Even in the proxy government strongholds, the turnout was less than 2011. Many of those who voted, voted no or caused their ballot to be invalidated. The election was an expensive farce. Now it appears there is a chance of exacting reforms before scheduling new elections, providing Thaksin agrees, which is highly doubtful. Instead, rhetoric has taken a turn toward violence exploiting the sharp divisions in Thailand.

Time Magazine ran a story on January 16, 2014 revealing, “…members of the Red Shirts…are readying a cache of arms in case the 46 year old premier (Yingluck) is forced from office by either military or judicial intervention.” The article also quoted an unnamed Red Shirt as saying, “There are strong anti-coup and anti-court sentiments among the Red Shirt mavericks who are familiar and experienced with weapon use.” [5]

The Economist in its January 25, 2014 issue highlighted the possibility of a break-up of Thailand, reporting, “Thus most Red Shirts in the north and northeast now contemplate – indeed they seem to be preparing for – a political separation from Bangkok and the south. Some can barely wait.” [6]

 At the same meeting where the Red Shirts cheered the murder of two five year old girls, members of the proxy caretaker government appeared on stage making violent threats against the country. Nattawut Saikua, caretaker deputy minister of commerce endorsed setting up a caretaker government “in exile” in the north or northeast and announced the Red Shirt movement was set to go to 100% combat mode. [7]

Those present also proposed that Thaksin’s proxy government commit itself to civil disobedience against “unjust” rulings and decisions by independent agencies, i.e. the court system.[8] This is a unique concept whereby a government announces its decision not to adhere to any court decision not favorable to itself.

Additional threats to the military and courts were made by the proxy caretaker minister of the interior, Charupong Ruangsuwan, who said ten million guns were legally owned by Thai people, “These guns are for self defense. If anyone underestimates the power of the people, you’ll know about it. I believe that we must be prepared to enter a decisive situation….In today’s fight, lives are at stake. It is not the kind of fight we watch on cinemas. In this fight when people die, it is for real. But I am confident we won’t die and we will win.”[9] His comments were interpreted by many on both sides of the divide as an endorsement of secession, just as the Economist predicted in January.

Following this meeting, Red Shirt leaders expressed their support of using violence to “protect democracy.” In Chiang Mai, Red Shirt leaders threatened violence against anybody who blew a whistle, signifying opposition to the proxy government. [10] Also in Chiang Mai, patrons of night clubs were threatened with violence if the club employed musicians who appeared on any of the stages at the Bangkok demonstrations. In 2009, these same Red Shirts prevented a gay pride HIV/AIDS awareness march from marching. The marchers were herded into an enclosed area while Red Shirts threw rocks and verbally abused the marchers. We have to keep in mind all this is being done to “protect democracy.”

The Red Shirt’s reputation as stalwart defenders of democracy was blown apart on Saturday March 15 when it was suddenly announced that Red Shirts chairwoman Thida Tawornseth had resigned as leader and Jatuporn Promphan was “appointed” – not elected – to replace her. Democracy is defined as “rule by the governed.” Thus, basic democracy must involve the governed in determining the direction and policy of the government or organization. Democracy requires a well educated population. Thailand’s education system fails to provide the tools necessary for critical thinking. There are no institutions in Thailand which practice democracy, such as democratic labor unions. Thida’s resignation and Jatuporn’s ascension were not the result of democracy, but more characteristic of top-down decision-making. The Red Shirts are not a grassroots organization; it is controlled by a few at the top absent any policy-making direction from the bottom.

Many believe Thaksin Shinawatra is the shot caller of the Red Shirts. His vice-like grip on Thai politics is well known, most particularly with the current proxy caretaker government. For example, the 2011 election campaign posters of Phuea Thai Party promised, “Thaksin Thinks; Phuea Thai Acts.” In addition, stories have been written by Forbes Magazine, New York Times, Der Spiegel amongst others which describe how he continues to micro-manage the proxy government led by his youngest sister, Yingluck. [12] No one elected him in 2011 because he was not on the ballot. He was not on the ballot because he is a fugitive from the Thai judicial system. A government which is tightly controlled by a fugitive from justice is not democratic.

Thaksin reportedly even tries to micro-manage the government’s response to the protests. On February 17, 2014, Wassayos Ngamkhom reported in the Bangkok Post that on at least two occasions Thaksin, from Dubai, ordered the arrest of protest leader Suthep who was eating lunch at a restaurant near the Democracy Monument and ordered the dispersal of a demonstration site. Thaksin was not concerned there could be clashes and “losses.” The second order reported by Wassayos was to attack the NSPRT (Network of Students and People to Reform Thailand) stage near the Government House. Police were summoned to the office of Chalerm, the head of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO), to carry out the orders from the man in Dubai. The Police leadership balked at carrying out these orders out of concern that large-scale violence would break out. Although the man in Dubai was reportedly not concerned about “losses,” the Police leadership apparently was. [13]

Bombings and shootings directed at individuals and institutions continue. Armed gunmen have come out to protect demonstrators on three occasions after demonstrators had come under attack, once by the police and twice by the 2014 model of the Black Shirts. It is this deterrent which has frustrated efforts to cause so much violence the military would have to intervene. An overwhelming number of Thai people do not want the military to intervene, although there may be some who want an intervention in order to justify civil war.

Failing to draw the military into the fray, gunmen are now launching grenades at court buildings and last week fired several grenades at the home of a member of the Constitution Court on the eve of its decision to invalidate the 2011 election. Considering the Red Shirt demand for the government to commit to civil disobedience against court actions, it appears civil disobedience is the carrot and grenades are the stick. Kraisak Choonhavan, former Thai senator, argues the “People’s Courts” are under attack due to their effectiveness and that is why “they are loathed by corrupt politicians, arrogant civil servants and avaricious corporate despoilers of our environment.” [14]

Arguably the appropriate term to describe the political nature of Thaksin’s proxy government, would be “dictatorship of the majority.” The proxy government did not receive the majority of votes in the 2011 election; they were forced to recruit smaller parties to form a parliamentary majority. The proxy Pheua Thai Party has ignored long standing protocols and rules directing the operation of Parliament since taking the reins. It cuts off debate prematurely. Arbitrarily cutting off debate in violation of the operating rules and practices of parliament was one of the grounds two attempts to amend the Constitution were ruled unconstitutional. It is arrogance in the practice of “dictatorship of the majority” that has brought unfavorable court rulings against the government.

The most virulent attacks on the courts have been directed at the National Anti Corruption Commission (NACC). It has been investigating the rice pledging scheme enacted by this government in 2011. The policy was supposed to pay rice farmers 40-50% over market price for their rice harvest. To date, this scheme has caused losses to the government of between 10-15 billion dollars because the government has not been able to sell the rice at those inflated prices. The government has falsified sales on a government to government basis with China and it still refuses to release all documents relating to sales, citing business secrecy reasons. The money has gone somewhere, but not to the rice farmers who are now coming into their seventh month without payment for rice already delivered. It is safe to say a substantial number of Pheua Thai votes in 2011 came from rice farmers excited about Thaksin’s promise of a windfall.

The NACC warned the government when the bill was passed in 2011 about the necessity of transparency in the program which was duly ignored by the “dictatorship of the majority.”

In September 2013, the opposition Democrat Party filed a no-confidence motion against the proxy prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The motion was based on the apparent corruption and losses related to the rice pledging scheme. Again, “dictatorship of the majority” intervened. She was unwilling to answer questions and unwilling to provide needed government documents about the scheme because she held a majority.

 Now she has been charged with dereliction of duty regarding the rice scheme. She named herself chairwoman of the rice pledging committee so she should be on top of all related matters. Instead, when charged with dereliction of duty by the NACC, she pleaded for more time to respond. She and her supporters accused the NACC with being unfair.

 She has had plenty of time and opportunity to prepare. She chose not to. She was not transparent about the rice scheme during the no-confidence debate. She didn’t need to because she enjoyed protection by the “dictatorship of the majority.” However, the judicial system is not parliament.

Image: Pro-Thaksin “red shirts” assault a monk who allegedly condemned their mob in passing.Violence against those who merely speak up against the means, methods, and mission of the red shirts is one of their infamous trademarks.

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That is apparently why there are increasing numbers of middle of the night bombings directed at court buildings and a group of Red Shirts are blockading the building housing the NACC. This week, a group from the Red Shirt blockade beat up a Buddhist monk who admonished them about beating up another person. Thaksin’s supporters, known or unknown to him, are beating up Buddhist monks, killing children, and terrorizing areas of Bangkok with late night bombings in what appears to be a repeat of the lead-up to the death and destruction of the 2010 protests.

 Is Thailand suffering simply so Thaksin Shinawatra can get his money back and have his convictions and more than 25 corruption charges dismissed? A virulent anti-democracy movement, the Red Shirts, masquerades as “protectors of democracy.” As options run out for Thaksin, a change in Red Shirt leadership appears out of nowhere with no input from grassroots Red Shirts. The new leader, Jatuporn, still faces charges of terrorism relating to his role in the 2010 violence. Along with his appointment, caretaker government ministers and deputy ministers speak openly about “combat mode” and secession. Even the proxy caretaker prime minister got into the act melodramatically proclaiming, “I’m also the defense minister meaning I’m like a soldier who has to do his duty until the last minute. A soldier has to keep the last stronghold and die on the battlefield. I will die in the democratic battlefield.”[15]

The proxy government’s corruption has caught up with it, rendering the party virtually powerless. Now that the parliamentary path is closed, it appears supporters of the man in Dubai are becoming more violent and dangerous. The leadership of the anti-government protests announced they will call off their protests if the Red Shirts start killing protestors. The numbers who are willing to fight and die in order that Thaksin get his money back and all charges and conviction dropped are diminishing over time.

Thailand deserves much better. Choosing between two sets of elites benefits no one. The idea of reform before elections is now more likely than not. It seems to depend on how much divisiveness and bloodshed the Red Shirts employ. It would be a great benefit if the sensible Red Shirts start thinking about how low income people nationwide can participate on an equal basis in this reform effort. Thailand has a short window of opportunity to address a myriad of serious problems. It is time to recognize the serious problem that has most of the population existing outside of the decision-making process in the Kingdom.

Notes

[1].http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/39672/red-shirt-celebration-of-fatal-attack-on-protestors-in-trat-repugnant-says-veera-prateepchaekul

[2].Human Rights Watch, “Descent Into Chaos: Thailand’s 2010 Protests and Government Crackdown”, May 2011, http://hrw.org/reports/2011/05/03/descent-chaos-0 pp 43-46

[3].IBID. pp. 43-46

[4].IBID. p. 5

[5].http://www.world.time.com?2014/01/16/bangkok-shutdown-yingluck-supporters-prepare-to-fight-for-democracy

[6].http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21594989/thailands-very-unity-under-threat-you-go-your-way-ill-go-mine#sthash.e85302mt.dpbs

[7].http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Redshirt-threats-get-political-tension-boiling-30227587.html

[8].IBID. Nation Multimedia Group

[9].http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/24/world/asia/deadly-violence-strikes-antigovernment-rallies-in-thailand.html?-r=0

[10].http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/398810-blowing-up-a-storm

[11].http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/politics/3971921

[12].http://www.forbes.com/sites/timferguson/2012/10/30/qa-thaksin-sits-down-with-forbes/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/world/asia-thaksin-shinawatra-of-thailand-wields-influence-from-afar.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/spiegel-interview-with-thaksin-shinawatra-Thailand-must-be-united-again-a-768492.html

[13]. http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/crime/1395415/

[14].http://bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/394330/judicial-activism-in-thepeoples-court-comes-of-age

[15].http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/Pm-ready-to-die-on-the30228118.html -democratic-battlefield-ying-3022804.html

Criminalizing Criticism of Israel in Canada

April 2nd, 2014 by Michael Keefer

The international campaign calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, as a peaceful means of persuading that state to abandon its systematic violations of international law and its policies of apartheid dispossession, colonization, and blockade in the occupied Palestinian territories, has recently enjoyed a burgeoning number of successes.1

In early February 2014, The Economist noted that BDS “is turning mainstream,”2 and former Israeli Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg wrote in Haaretz that the “BDS movement is gaining momentum and is approaching the turning point [.... at which] sanctions against Israel will become a fait accompli.”3

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a point of indicating that he and his allies would respond vigorously to this trend. Some of the reports about a cabinet meeting where “tactics” were discussed revealed more about internecine divisions than about the substance of the meeting: “Netanyahu convenes strategy meeting to fight boycotts”—but he deliberately excluded some senior ministers:

“Left Ministers Kept Out of Secret Cabinet BDS Session.”4

Yet although Israeli media indicated “that ‘the discussion was held in secret’, with an imposed ‘media blackout’,” one source that reported this fact was able to give a fairly precise sense of what went on behind closed doors:

Ideas apparently discussed by senior ministers included lawsuits “in European and North American courts against [pro-BDS] organizations” and “legal action against financial institutions that boycott settlements … [and complicit] Israeli companies”. There is also the possibility of “encouraging anti-boycott legislation in friendly capitals around the world, such as Washington, Ottawa and Canberra”, and “activat[ing] the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S.” for such a purpose.5

This kind of “lawfare,” as it is sometimes called, is nothing new (nor, one can add, is the notion, also discussed at this meeting, of bolstering surveillance of pro-BDS organizations by military intelligence, the Shin Bet Security Service, and the Mossad). It’s also evident that the pro-Israel lobby has been active in mobilizing politicians in the “friendly capitals” of Washington, Ottawa, and Canberra for many years.

Recent fruits of that labour have included, in Canberra, threats made in June 2013 by Julie Bishop, a senior member of Julia Gillard’s incoming Australian government, that “supporters of an academic boycott of Israel” would have their “access to public research funds summarily cut off.”6 In Washington, a bipartisan “Protect Academic Freedom Act” that would deny federal funding “to colleges and universities that participate in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions or scholars”7 has been brought before Congress.

 But what of Canada, whose Prime Minister is Mr. Netanyahu’s most faithful friend?8

This essay will argue that revisions to the Canadian Criminal Code proposed by the Harper government contain wording that is designed to enable lawfare prosecutions of human rights activists in precisely the manner desired by Mr. Netanyahu and his associates.

1. Bill C-13 and its deceptions

Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, received first reading in the House of Commons in November 2013. In a web page devoted to “Myths and Facts” about this bill, the Department of Justice rejects the “myth” that “Bill C-13 is an omnibus crime bill that deals with more than cyberbullying.”

 Bill C-13 is not an omnibus crime bill. It combines a proposed new offence of non-consensual distribution of intimate images to address cyberbullying with judicially-authorized tools to help police and prosecutors investigate not only the proposed new offence, but other existing offences that are committed via the Internet or that involve electronic evidence. [....] The Bill does not contain the former Bill C-30′s controversial amendments relating to warrantless access to subscriber information and telecommunication infrastructure modification.9

However, Dr. Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, has observed that Bill C-13 does indeed retain provisions that permit an increased warrantless access to personal information, far beyond what is envisioned by the current Criminal Code.10 Criminal lawyer Michael Spratt has denounced the bill as a “digital Trojan horse for the surveillance state”:

most of C-13 has little to do with protecting victims [of cyber-bullying]. This bill would recklessly expand the surveillance powers of the state. It sacrifices personal privacy. It limits or eliminates judicial oversight. It is inconsistent with recent Supreme Court jurisprudence. It’s a dangerous bill.11

The Department of Justice’s claim that “Bill C-13 is not an omnibus crime bill” is transparently false. As another critic, Terry Wilson, has remarked, despite being promoted “as legislation to prevent online bullying, the bill actually has very little to do with bullies and has sections ranging from stealing cable, hacking, surveillance, to terrorism (cyberbullying accounts for 2 out of the 50 pages in the bill) [...]. The bill even includes ‘hate legislation’….”12

In this latter respect Bill C-13 incorporates, once again, a Trojan horse. The bill adds wording to the Hate Propaganda sections of the Criminal Code that seems, on the face of it, to do no more than to bring these sections into conformity with other parallel texts—with several important documents of international law, and with a sentencing provision later in the Criminal Code where the same wording already appears. But a second intention is also arguably at work in this part of Bill C-13, for there is good reason to believe that the new wording is intended, while deceptively avoiding any public debate over the matter, to make it possible to prosecute human rights discourse and advocacy relating to the oppressive treatment of Palestinians by the state of Israel as hate speech or incitement of hatred.

This view of the intention underlying Bill C-13 is supported by Prime Minister Harper’s speech to the Israeli Knesset on January 20, 2014 (which will be discussed below). It can draw support as well from the fact that an identical change to the wording of the French penal code made in 2003 by the so-called Lellouche Law has permitted the conviction of some twenty French human rights activists for incitement of racial hatred.13

The results in France have been paradoxical. France is, like Canada, a High Contracting Party of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949—whose first article states that “The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances.”14 The people convicted for incitement of racial hatred under the Lellouche Law are participants in a movement that has been consistent in its firm rejection of antisemitism and all other forms of racism.15 This movement advocates a peaceful exertion of economic pressure with the aim of persuading the Israeli state to end its multiple and systematic violations of international law, including in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention, which Israel has been repeatedly been condemned for flouting by UN committees and reports, as well as by independent agencies such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The facts of the matter are thus unambiguous: in enforcing the Lellouche Law, and redefining human rights activists as people guilty of hate crimes, the French state has simultaneously been violating its prior solemn commitment “to respect and to ensure respect for” the Fourth Geneva Convention “in all circumstances.”

One of the aims of Bill C-13 appears to be to place Canada in a similar situation of openly violating one of the central instruments of international law.

 2. Alterations to the meaning of Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code

Section 12 of Bill C-13 proposes several small additions within that part of the Criminal Code (Sections 318-321.1) that carries the subtitle “Hate Propaganda.” Section 12 reads as follows:

12. Subsection 318.(4) of the Act is replaced by the following:

(4) In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or mental and physical disability.16

(The emphasis here indicates the wording being added to the current Criminal Code by Bill B-13.)

These proposed additions within Section 318 of the Criminal Code, which is concerned with the crime of “Advocating genocide,” also have an impact on the meaning and application of Section 319, which is concerned with the crimes of “Public incitement of hatred” and “Wilful promotion of hatred,” and in which—as Subsection 319.(7) states—“’identifiable group’ has the same meaning as in section 318”. The relevant clauses in Section 319 read as follows:

319. (1) Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of

 (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

 (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

 (2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of

 (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

 (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.17

 The most noteworthy addition to the concept of “identifiable group” is that of the category of national origin, which has no evident connection to the ostensible purpose of Bill C-13, but may be understood as linked to another agenda that was forcefully enunciated by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his January 20, 2014 speech to the Israeli Knesset—namely, that of re-defining criticism of the policies and behaviour of the nation-state of Israel in relation to its Palestinian citizens and to the inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian Territories as hate propaganda.

 As a February 2014 report in the leading Israeli newspaper Haaretz indicated, the hate-crime convictions in France several months previously of twelve human rights activists, supporters of the international campaign advocating boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, were secured under the Lellouche Law, which “extended the definition of discrimination beyond the expected parameters of race, religion and sexual orientation to include members of national groups.”18

 3. The Lellouche Law: another Trojan horse?

 Whether intentionally or not, the Lellouche Law has functioned as a kind of Trojan horse. Dr. Jean-Yves Camus has remarked that this law, “passed on 3 February 2003, in the wake of an unprecedented wave of anti-Semitic violence, allows judges to impose harsher sanctions upon perpetrators of racist violence, than those they would normally receive in the case of a similar act of violence not motivated by racism.”19 As the Haaretz report on the criminalization of BDS activism in France indicates, the law’s ostensible purpose, at a time when the openly antisemitic, anti-immigrant and neofascist Front National of Jean-Marie LePen had been attracting increased support, in southern France especially, was “to strengthen French republican values and counter sectarian tendencies”:

The law was passed in 2003, shortly after unprecedented gains by the far right National Front party in the presidential election.

 The measure was designed to respond to a social climate of not only mounting anti-Semitism, but also anti-Arab discrimination and xenophobia.20

 The “Outline of motives” that prefaced the Lellouche Law when it was presented to the Assemblée Nationale in November 2002 was explicit in its repeated statements that the additions to the Penal Code proposed by this law were primarily intended to target openly racist violence:

“violences ouvertement racistes,” “actes de violence intentionellement racistes,” “violences à caractère raciste,” “agressions à caractère raciste.”21

Although this text specified that racist violence could be “moral” as well as physical,22 the two recent examples it offered to the deputies of the Assemblée Nationale were the “openly racist murder” of a young Frenchman of Moroccan origin in northern France in October 2002, and racist aggression directed against young students of a private Jewish school in the 13th arrondissement of Paris in early November.23 Noting that existing French laws already targeted racial discrimination, the incitement of hatred or violence, and Holocaust revisionism, the prefatory outline defined the purpose of this law as being to significantly enhance the penalties imposed in cases where attacks on people or property are racist in character—as when racism is involved in acts of torture and barbarism, violence resulting unintentionally in death, and acts leading to mutilation or permanent disability, as well as acts involving damage to or the destruction of property.24

Despite this explicit statement of intention, the Lellouche Law has been applied in another manner altogether—on the pretext that in eight of its nine articles it includes the category of “nation” in the definition of groups that can be understood as victimized. As the Haaretz report indicates, this law “has been invoked repeatedly against anti-Israel activists. France has seen 10 trials against BDS supporters based on Lellouche.”25

Pascal Markowitz, head of the BDS legal task force of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), is frank in his assessment of the Lellouche Law’s instrumental value. He is quoted by Haaretz as saying that “the law is ‘the most effective legislation on BDS today.’ ‘We had only one acquittal, so the statistics are looking good,’ he said.”26 But other political figures in France have taken a different view of the matter:

“These convictions are unconscionable,” Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, a French member of the European Parliament, said at a special session on the case in Strasbourg in 2011. “Governments are doing nothing to end Israel’s illegal occupation [of the Palestinian territories] and the French court is wrongfully denying citizens from acting through BDS.”27

 It’s important to understand what is meant, in the present context, by a “Trojan horse.” In every version of the ancient story, from Homer to Virgil,28 the essential point is the same. The hollow wooden horse was a duplicitous stratagem used by the Greek army that had for ten years been besieging Troy; it succeeded because the horse was deceptively dual-purpose in nature. Pretending to abandon their siege, the Greeks left this huge artefact behind: its plausible overt function was as an offering to the gods, which the Trojans were persuaded to drag into their city in celebration of their supposed victory. But it also had a second concealed function—as a treacherous means of getting a body of armed Greeks inside the walls of Troy, so that they could open the city gates at night when the rest of their army returned.

 The Lellouche Law has served as a Trojan horse because when it was passed it seemed an appropriate and plausible means of dealing with an increase in racially motivated violence in France that coincided with an upsurge in support for a frankly racist far-right political party. But the law has since been used for a quite different purpose: that of criminalizing the discourse of human rights activists who speak out in support of respecting and ensuring respect for international humanitarian law.

 4. The insertion of “national” into Sections 318 and 319: just “housecleaning”?

 According to a report by Paul McLeod of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the addition of the word “national” to Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code is explained by the Department of Justice as being “designed to match the wording of a protocol from the Council of Europe, a human rights organization.”29 The reference is to the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems, adopted in Strasbourg in January 2003. In Chapter I, Article 2.1 of this text the word “national” occurs in a definition of the groups understood to be victimized by “racist and xenophobic material.”30

 McLeod indicates that some legal experts have proposed that the change is “likely a mere housecleaning amendment to bring the Criminal Code in line with the wording of other statutes.”31 The word “national” does indeed occur in similar contexts in the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 20, and in Article 2 of the UN Convention on Genocide. Moreover, Bill C-13 brings Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code into conformity with the sentencing provision in Section 718, which already includes all the groups (national origin, age, sex, and mental and physical disability) that were not included in Section 318.(4) but have now been added.

A “housecleaning” explanation of the changes is thus entirely plausible.

 However, the housecleaning has not actually been very thorough. In its current form, Section 318 of the Criminal Code, which defines the appropriate punishment for the crime of advocating or promoting genocide, is a somewhat peculiar text—for its subsection 2, while clearly derived from Article 2 of the UN Convention on Genocide, omits clauses (b), (d), and (e) of that article’s definition.32

 David MacDonald and Graham Hudson have remarked that when Parliament ratified the Convention on Genocide in 1952, it excluded some of the clauses of Article 2 from Canada’s Criminal Code, on the grounds that matters such as the forcible removal of children are not relevant to this country. (Given the existence of Canada’s system of church-run residential schools, into whose custody native children were forcibly transferred, it seems obvious that the last clause of the Convention’s Article 2 was excluded in bad faith.) MacDonald and Hudson note as well that when in 2000 Parliament adopted the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, it thereby made the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (which includes the Convention on Genocide’s full definition of genocide) a part of Canadian statutory law.33 Section 318 of the Criminal Code is thus anomalous in its current form, in that its definition of the crime of genocide excludes clauses which are nonetheless part of Canadian statutory law because of their incorporation into the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act.

 In a thorough housecleaning of this part of the Criminal Code, the inclusion of the three omitted clauses from Article 2 of the Convention on Genocide would have been an obvious step to take.

I mention this not because it tells with any force against a “housecleaning” explanation of Bill C-13′s insertion of the word “national” into Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code: as noted above, that explanation remains wholly plausible. But what this example does suggest is that the framers of Bill C-13 may not have been single-mindedly focused on housecleaning.

Prime Minister Harper’s January 20, 2014 address to the Israeli Knesset leads us toward a second explanation of the purpose of Bill C-13′s insertion of the word “national” into the definition of groups that can be victimized by hate propaganda. In suggesting that this speech reveals with some clarity the thinking that underlies this addition to the text of the Criminal Code, I do not mean to imply that the primary and overt explanation of the change as a “housecleaning” matter is displaced by this second underlying intention—for that is not how Trojan horses work.

A Trojan horse is by its nature duplicitous, but that duplicity can only be successful to the degree that the horse’s overt and primary purpose remains plausible.

5. Prime Minister Harper’s January 20, 2014 address to the Israeli Knesset

In this speech the Prime Minister asked, rhetorically, what it is today that threatens societies that, like Israel, embrace “the ideals of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.” His answer was sweeping:

Those who scorn modernity, who loathe the liberty of others, and who hold the differences of peoples and cultures in contempt. Those who, often begin by hating the Jews, but, history shows us, end up hating anyone who is not them. Those forces, which have threatened the state of Israel every single day of its existence, and which, today, as 9/11 graphically showed us, threaten us all.34

This might seem imprecise. But as Prime Minister Harper went on to explain, “we live in a world where [...] moral relativism runs rampant.”

And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can easily be planted.

And so we have witnessed, in recent years, the mutation of the old disease of anti-Semitism and the emergence of a new strain.

We all know about the old anti-Semitism.

It was crude and ignorant, and it led to the horrors of the death camps.

Of course, in many dark corners, it is still with us.

But, in much of the Western world, the old hatred has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society.

People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East.

As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil-society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel.

On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students.

Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state.35

In the Prime Minister’s view, any profound criticism of Israeli policies and governance can only be a product of antisemitic hatred, spewed forth by people who are simply looking for further ways of victimizing Jews. By this account it is, very precisely, as members of a national group—as potential or actual citizens of Israel—that Jews are being victimized by these devious, sophisticated new antisemites. Canadian Jews could be counted among those victimized in this manner, for those who do not actually hold Israeli citizenship are all potentially Israeli nationals, under Israel’s Law of Return.

This claim that criticisms of Israel are motivated by a “new strain” of antisemitism, and can therefore legitimately be categorized and stigmatized as a form of hate propaganda, is not an invention of the Prime Minister. As the historian Norman G. Finkelstein wrote in 2005, “the allegation of a new anti-Semitism is neither new nor about anti-Semitism”: it is, rather, an ideology formulated in the early 1970s for the explicit purpose of deflecting pressures on the state of Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank that had been captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Days War.36

The following sections will show that the ideology and rhetoric of the “new antisemitism” have been decisively rejected by many contemporary Jewish scholars and public intellectuals, a significant number of whom have come to recognize in the moral debate within the Jewish community over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians a reason for adding their support to the growing international support for the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. This division within the Jewish community provides further grounds for recognizing the Prime Minister’s claims as misleading and untrue. It will be shown as well that the judgment that Israel has become an apartheid state (which Mr. Harper regards as the ‘most disgraceful of all’) has in fact been endorsed by prominent scholars and public figures both in Israel and internationally—including in South Africa, a country whose legal experts and public figures could surely claim with some cause to know better than Mr. Harper what apartheid is.

6. Refuting the so-called “new antisemitism”

The “new antisemitism” can be briefly defined as a rhetorical gambit which consists in claiming that the tropes of antisemitism, one of whose traditional functions has been (and continues to be) to justify the exclusion of Jews from the full rights of citizenship in whatever country they inhabit, are now being turned against the “collective Jew,” as embodied in the state of Israel—with the purpose this time of excluding Jews as a national collective from enjoying their full rights of participation in the family of nations. The aim of this rhetorical turn is to defend Israeli policies and actions by proposing that their critics are only pretending to be acting on the basis of universal principles of justice and equity; these people are instead antisemites who in a “sophisticated” manner have redirected their hatred against the Jewish nation-state.

We can sample the workings of this gambit in three recent instances involving attributions of a re-deployment of some of the most vicious traditional tropes of antisemitism: the ‘Jew’ as embodiment of abjection, filth and excrement; the ‘Jew’ as a contaminating presence or poisoner (most especially of communal water sources); and the ‘Jew’ as child-murderer.37 Over the centuries, antisemites have used all of these foul accusations, especially the third (known as the “blood libel”), to arouse mob violence and state persecutions of Jewish communities.

 The first of these tropes was turned against English journalist Johann Hari when he wrote in 2008 that he could not join the celebrations of the sixtieth year since Israel’s founding because of Israel’s well-documented mistreatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories, which has included the flushing of untreated sewage from illegal hilltop settlements onto Palestinian farmland, and an embargo on equipment needed to repair Gaza’s sewage system, resulting in potentially catastrophic health hazards. Britain’s Community Security Trust (parallel in some respects to B’nai Brith Canada) accused Hari of “us[ing] the themes of Israeli ‘raw untreated sewage’ and ‘shit’ to help explain why he could not bring himself to celebrate 60 years since Israel’s creation”—thus leaving readers to suppose, since no mention was made of Hari’s on-site reporting and references to reports on the subject, that he had engaged in a literally filthy piece of antisemitism aimed at the Jewish collectivity of Israel.38

 The second trope was activated by former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler in a paper on “Human Rights and the New Anti-Jewishness,” published in the Jerusalem Post in 2004, in the course of which he declared that “in a world in which human rights has emerged as the new secular religion of our time, the [UN] portrayal of Israel as the metaphor for a human rights violator is an indictment of Israel as the ‘new anti-Christ’—as the ‘poisoner of the international wells’….”39 It is noteworthy that Cotler provides no indication of these antisemitic tropes being used by anyone in the UN committees he attacks—and one can only regret that a legal expert who earned an international reputation as an advocate of human rights has turned against that discourse to the point of caricaturing it as a pseudo-religion suffused with antisemitism.

The third trope was used on March 22, 2009 by Jonathan Kay, when he complained in the National Post that “From the opening days of the Gaza campaign [i.e. Operation Cast Lead], the blood-libels of ‘massacre’ and ‘genocide’ have flown thick and fast”; on the same day Melanie Phillips, writing in the Spectator, accused the Israeli newspaper Haaretz of a blood libel for having reported the testimony of Israeli soldiers that they had witnessed and participated in war crimes against Gaza civilians.40

 Common to all three cases is a deliberate avoidance of the material evidence relating to allegations of Israeli wrong-doing: any such evidence is conveniently made to vanish by a rhetorical inversion which turns the state of Israel from the victimizer of Palestinians into the victim of its antisemitic accusers, and turns the human rights activist or journalist who has gathered or reported on evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity into someone who must instead answer to charges of being an antisemitic disseminator of hatred.

 The rhetorical strategy of this ideology of the “new antisemitism,” in short, is to move expeditiously away from material evidence and into the domain of rhetorical inversions and slander. In 2009, Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, explained at the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem how to go about it. The capital letters are his:

 We must repeat again and again these basic facts—TO BE ‘anti-Israel’ IS TO BE ANTI-SEMITIC. TO BOYCOTT ISRAEL, ISRAELI PROFESSORS and ISRAELI business, these are not political acts, these are acts of hate, acts of anti-Semitism! Anti-Israel hysteria is anti-Semitic hysteria. They are one and the same.41

 Leading Jewish intellectuals have been dismissive of the ideology out of which this rhetoric of a “new antisemitism” arises. Of the many who could be mentioned, I will cite just two.42 University of Oxford philosopher Brian Klug wrote in an essay on “The Myth of the New Antisemitism” that “when every anti-Zionist is an anti-Semite, we no longer know how to recognize the real thing—the concept of anti-Semitism loses its significance.”43 And American philosopher and literary theorist Judith Butler, while insisting that one must “refuse to brand as anti-Semitic the critical impulse or to accept anti-Semitic discourse as an acceptable substitute for critique,” has analyzed with characteristic lucidity the manner in which a false charge of antisemitism “works to immunize Israeli violence against critique by refusing to countenance the integrity of the claims made against that violence.” She has called for “a certain collective courage” to enable the public to “speak out, critically, in the face of obvious and illegitimate violence….”44

 An attempt to re-activate this already-refuted ideology of the “new antisemitism” was undertaken in Canada between 2009 and 2011 by a group of MPs, led by Irwin Cotler and by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, who formed themselves into a Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA). This attempt failed. Evidence given by senior police officers and university administrators to the inquiry held by the CPCCA refuted its claims that Canada is experiencing a surge of antisemitic incidents, and that Jews (especially those supportive of Israel) are routinely persecuted and harassed on Canadian campuses. The CPCCA, which had initially had all-party representation, lost its Bloc Québécois members, who resigned over the CPCCA’s refusal to give space in its hearings to human rights groups whose views differed from those of its principal organizers. The CPCCA’s final report was delayed for many months due to dissension prompted in part by the Conservative Party’s disgraceful attempts (for which Jason Kenney refused any apology) to undermine Irwin Cotler in his own riding with robocalls and a whispering campaign that charged him, ironically, with being insufficiently supportive of Israel. And although the CPCCA took pains not to accept any submission to its inquiry that was critical of its own announced presuppositions, eighteen of those submissions were published in a book that appeared many months before the CPCCA’s own belated report, and that was recommended in the Globe and Mail as late-summer reading “for Tories willing to learn.”45

7. The debate among Jews over the morality of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians

As mentioned above, many Jewish scholars and public intellectuals, both in Israel and internationally, have placed themselves firmly in opposition to Israel’s policies of apartheid treatment of the Palestinians and of ongoing colonization of the occupied territories. The mere fact that this is so, and that in Canada and elsewhere they are joined in this by many Jewish citizen activists, amounts to a living refutation of Prime Minister Harper’s repetition of the rhetoric of the “new antisemitism.”

 As one might expect, Israeli opinions as to the value of Harper’s speech were not unanimous. In confident anticipation of Harper’s declarations, Benjamin Netanyahu called him “a friend who always stands by us.”46 Other Israelis, though they are certainly in a minority, think differently. Uri Avnery, a former member of the Knesset, a founding figure in Israel’s (sadly faltering) peace movement, and an internationally respected journalist, dismissed Harper’s speech as “ridiculous.”47

 A fortnight after that speech was delivered, one of Israel’s leading sociologists, Professor Eva Illouz of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, published a long essay in Haaretz that explored the depth and significance of the division in Jewish opinion over the moral issue of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. The title of that essay, “47 years a slave: a new perspective on the occupation,” is striking enough;48 Illouz’s analysis is more so.

Illouz begins by remarking that on any given day, half or three-quarters of the news items in Haaretz “will invariably revolve around the same two topics: people struggling to protect the good name of Israel, and people struggling against its violence and injustices.” She points to two surprising features of this struggle: first, that while it involves copious mudslinging, “this mud is being thrown by Jews at Jews”; and secondly, that “the valiant combatants for the good name of Israel miss an important point: the critiques of Israel in the United States are increasingly waged by Jews, not anti-Semites.”49

Claiming that “If Israel is indeed singled out among the many nations that have a bad record in human rights, it is because of the personal sense of shame and embarrassment that a large number of Jews in the western world feel toward a state that, by its policies and ethos, does not represent them anymore,” Illouz cites the observation of Peter Beinart that “the Jewish people seems to have split into two distinct factions….”50

Unlike most communal divisions in history, this one, she says, has occurred over a moral issue, that of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Both sides claim to be impelled by moral imperatives. What she calls the “security as morality” group feel that “because Jews were the super victim of history and because of Israel’s inherently vulnerable state amidst a sea of enemies,” Israel “is twice morally beyond reproach.” The second group  derives its positions from universal standards of justice, and from the observation that Israel is fast moving away from the pluralistic, multiethnic, pacific democracies of the world. Israel stopped being a valid source of identification for these Jews not because they are self-hating, but because many of them have been actively involved, in deed or thought, in the liberalization of their respective societies—that is, in the extension of human, economic and social rights to a wider variety of groups.51

Illouz then argues, at length, that the best historical analogy for understanding this communal division is the nineteenth-century debate in the United States over slavery.

Two factors make this analogy persuasive. The first follows from the view of Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson, “a specialist in the history and sociology of slavery,” that the central fact about slavery is not that people are bought and sold as property, but rather that they are forced to endure a condition of “permanent, violent and personal domination” and of being “natally alienated and generally dishonored.”52 Illouz observes that “what started as a national and military conflict” between Israelis and Palestinians  has morphed into a form of domination of Palestinians that now increasingly borders on conditions of slavery. If we understand slavery as a condition of existence and not as ownership and trade of human bodies, the domination that Israel has exercised over Palestinians turns out to have created the matrix of domination that I call “a condition of slavery.”53

As she explains in detail, this matrix of domination includes subjection to arbitrary arrest, incarceration, and torture; the imposition of a Kafkaesque legal system quite unlike the one under which Jewish Israelis live; military attacks (which have included using Palestinians as “human shields”), as well as violence and property destruction inflicted with impunity by settlers; severe restrictions on movement and an accompanying economic strangulation; restrictions on marriage, and a systematic undermining of property ownership; and the imposition of “a permanent sense of dishonor” on people who “conduct their lives without predictability and continuity, live in fear of Jewish terror and of the violence of the Israeli military power, and are afraid to have no work, shelter or family.”54

The second factor is the shocking degree to which an ideology of inherent Jewish superiority to Arabs—fully analogous to the biblically-supported doctrines of white supremacy preached by pro-slavery advocates in nineteenth-century America—has been adopted in Israel to legitimize the subjugation of Palestinians, in a now-mainstream settlers’ discourse. “Like the whites in the American south,” Illouz writes, Israeli Jews “view themselves as obviously more moral, superior, civilized, technologically and economically far more accomplished than the inferior Arabs”; and “exactly like their southern 19th-century counterparts the settlers have abundantly sanctified the land through Bible narratives and see themselves, like the proslavery owners, as executing God’s will.”55

As a responsible scholar, Illouz explains very precisely both the limitations of this analogy and also—through extended analysis and citation that unfold full details of the conditions of slavery endured by Palestinians and the discourse of domination that has become implanted in Israel—its explanatory power.

Her conclusions are indeed forceful. Israel, although it is “the most security-conscious state on the planet,”  has failed to make its conflict with the Palestinians into a military one. Instead, it has been dragged into a humanitarian disaster that has provoked a moral war and unbridgeable rift within the Jewish people. The public relations strategies of the state will not silence this moral war.

This also implies an increasing international isolation:

Israel is dangerously sailing away from the moral vocabulary of most countries of the civilized world. The fact that many readers will think that my sources are unreliable because they come from organizations that defend human rights proves this point. Israel no longer speaks the ordinary moral language of enlightened nations. But in refusing to speak that language, it is de facto dooming itself to isolation.56

It should be obvious how strongly Professor Illouz’s essay tells against the false pieties of Stephen Harper’s Knesset speech. On the most basic level of fact, Mr. Harper’s claim that critics of Israel’s policies and governance are by definition antisemites is exposed as wretchedly untrue—and one might hope that the analogy Professor Illouz develops at such length and with such precision would make even someone of his moral obliquity to squirm.

 8. Most disgracefully of all … an apartheid state

In the concluding section of her essay, Eva Illouz remarks that Israelis fail to understand the nature of their colonization and occupation “because language has itself been colonized.” Most Israelis interpret the occupation in terms of “terrorists and enemies, and the world sees weak, dispossessed and persecuted people. The world reacts with moral outrage at Israel’s continued domination of Palestinians, and Israel ridicules such moral outrage as an expression of double standards….” Because of this “colonization” of discourse, “the debate dividing the Jewish people is more difficult than the debate about slavery, because there is no agreement even on how to properly name the vast enterprise of domination that has been created in the territories.”57

There is in fact quite widespread agreement—at least on the “universal standards of justice” side of the divide analyzed by Professor Illouz—as to an appropriate name.58

The term “apartheid” was applied with clinical accuracy by Marwan Bishara in 2001 to describe what Israel has done in the occupied territories from the early 1990s onward, “physically and demographically divid[ing] up the West Bank and Gaza into islands of poverty, or bantustans, while maintaining economic domination and direct control over Palestinian land and natural resources.”59 It was re-used by former US President Jimmy Carter in 2006—a usage validated in 2007 by Israel Prize laureate and former Minister of Education Shulamit Aloni.60 And in January 2010, Henry Siegman, the former Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress and current President of the US/Middle East Project of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote that Israel’s “relentless” construction of new settlements “seems finally to have succeeded in locking in the irreversibility of its colonial project. As a result of that ‘achievement,’ one that successive Israeli governments have long sought in order to preclude the possibility of a two-state solution, Israel has crossed the threshold from ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ to the only apartheid regime in the Western world.”61

As Dr. Jason Kunin has remarked, there is a pungent irony to the fact that while Canadian university administrators—not to mention politicians—denounce as unacceptable any application of the term “apartheid” to the structures of land theft, cantonment, and racialized subjugation, separation, and oppression of a subject-population that characterize Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, “South African legal scholars, who might be expected to have a more immediate understanding of the nature of apartheid, have not hesitated to describe the state of Israel’s behaviour in the occupied Palestinian territories as ‘a colonial system that implements a system of apartheid.’”62 (His reference is to a report by South African scholars and jurists published by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa in May, 2009: Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A reassessment of Israel’s policies in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law.)63

A finding that the state of Israel has implemented a system of apartheid has consequences under international law—in which apartheid is defined as a crime against humanity. It is scarcely surprising, then, that as Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has observed, “Some people are enraged by comparison between the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and what happened in South Africa….” But as Tutu went on to insist, “For those of us who lived through the dehumanizing horrors of the apartheid era, the comparison seems not only apt, it is also necessary [...] if we are to persevere in our hope that things can change.”64

This comparison does not involve any claim that the Israeli system of apartheid is identical to the one that existed in South Africa. In the words of Naomi Klein,  the question is not “Is Israel the same as South Africa?”, it is “do Israel’s actions meet the international definition of what apartheid is?” And if you look at those conditions which include the transfer of people, which include multiple tiers of law, official state segregation, then you see that, yes, it does meet that definition—which is different than saying it is South Africa.65

But supporters of Israeli policies would be mistaken to think that they can draw consolation or encouragement from the differences between the Israeli and the South African systems. In the words of Ronnie Kasrils, who was one of the many South African Jews who struggled honourably against apartheid, and who subsequently served as a minister in Nelson Mandela’s government:

 [W]ithout a doubt, we South Africans who fought apartheid have been unanimous in finding Israel’s methods of repression and collective punishment far, far worse than anything we saw during our long and difficult liberation struggle. Israel’s indiscriminate, widespread bombing and shelling of populated areas, with scant regard for the civilian victims, was absent in South Africa, because the apartheid system relied on cheap black labor. Israel rejects outright an entire people, and seeks to eliminate the Palestinian presence entirely, whether by voluntary or enforced “transfer.” It is clearly this that accounts for Israel’s greater degree of sustained brutality in comparison to apartheid South Africa.66

Perhaps, in view of Eva Illouz’s analysis, we should supplement the term “apartheid” by speaking as well of “conditions of slavery.” But whether or not we accept this intensification of the term, we should remember something else that is underlined in a recent article by Professor Jake Lynch, Director of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. As he notes, the South African Human Sciences Research Council report that found Israel to be in breach of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid also declared that such a finding obliges governments to “co-operate to end the violation; not to recognise the illegal situation arising from it; and not to render aid or assistance to the State committing it.”67

There seems no need to comment on Prime Minister Harper’s view that it is disgraceful to apply the term “apartheid” to what Israel is doing. Uri Avnery may be right in thinking that the best response to such vapourings is ridicule.

9. Conclusion

But something more than ridicule is required to deal with an evident threat to the right of citizens to engage in nonviolent protests, boycotts, and the like when they find it necessary to draw public attention to the failure of our government (and many others) to fulfil their formal obligations under international law.

Two actions seem appropriate in response to what I have argued is a Trojan horse in Bill C-13′s revisions to Sections 318 and 319 of the Canadian Criminal Code. The first should be uncontroversial, and can be undertaken at once. Section 12 of Bill C-13 (the section that contains these revisions) can simply be amended to include the statement that “Nothing in this Section shall be interpreted as conflicting with Canada’s responsibility, in accordance with Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, ‘to respect and ensure respect for’ that Convention ‘in all circumstances’; nor shall anything in this section be interpreted as conflicting with Canada’s responsibilities under other instruments of international humanitarian law of which Canada is a signatory.”

The second action I would recommend is for Canadians to replace the government that engages in Trojan-horse lawfare of this kind with a better one.

Michael Keefer is Professor Emeritus in the School of English and Theatre Studies of the University of Guelph. A graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, the University of Toronto, and Sussex University, he is a former president of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English, a member of the Seriously Free Speech Committee, and an associate member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada.

Notes

1See, for example, Michael Deas, “Norway’s pension fund divests from Israel’s largest real estate firm,” The Electronic Intifada (19 June 2012), http://www.electronicintifada.net/blogs/michael-deas/norways-pension-fund-divests-israels-largest-real-estate-firm; “Major US pension fund divests ethical fund from Veolia,” BDS Movement (22 November 2013), http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/tiaa-cref-social-choice-veolia-11431; “Veolia Campaign Victories: Total value of lost Veolia contracts: €18.122 billion ($23.97 billion),” Global Exchange (c. February 2014), http://www.globalexchange.org/economicactivism/veolia/victories; Asa Winstanley, “Dutch pension giant divests from 5 Israeli banks,” BDS Movement (13 January 2014), http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/dutch-pension-giant-divests-from-5-israeli-banks-11594; Elena Popina, “SodaStream Drops Amid Sanctions Over Jewish Settlements,” Bloomberg (3 February 2014), http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-03/sodastream-slumps-on-sanction-campaign-over-jewish-settlements.html.

2“Sanctions against Israel: A campaign that is gathering weight,” The Economist (8 February 2014), http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21595948-israels-politicians-sound-rattled-campaign-isolate-their-country/.

3Avraham Burg, “What’s wrong with BDS, after all? Israel will be helpless when the discourse moves from who’s stronger/tougher/more resilient to a discourse on rights and values,” Haaretz (3 February 2014), http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.572079; quoted from Rev. Robert Assaly, “BDS movement scores huge in Superbowl victory over Sodastream,” NECEF: Near East Cultural & Educational Foundation (20 February 2014), www.necef.org.

4Herb Keinon, “Netanyahu convenes strategy meeting to fight boycotts,” Jerusalem Post (10 February 2014), http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Netanyahu-convenes-strategy-meeting-to-fight-boycotts-340904; Gil Ronen, “Leftist Ministers Kept Out of Secret Cabinet BDS Session,” Arutz Sheva 7 (10 February 2014), http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/177294#.UwZ3FkJdUfJ. The fact that figures like Tzipi Livni can be described as “leftist” is one sign of a far-right skewing of the Israeli political spectrum.

5“Israeli ministers discuss using lawyers and Mossad to fight BDS,” Middle East Monitor (10 February 2014), https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/9666-israeli-ministers-discuss-using-lawyers-and-mossad-to-fight-bds.

6Jake Lynch, “Coalition plans to punish those who boycott Israel,” The Drum Opinion (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) (25 June 2013), http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4778144.html.

7Abdus-Sattar Ghazali, “Academic Freedom Act threatens academic freedom?” OpEd News (16 February 2014), http://www.opednews.com/articles/Academic-Freedom-Act-threa-by-Abdus-Sattar-Ghaza-Academic-Freedom_Associations_Backlash_Boycott-140216-464.html.

8Campbell Clark, “Netanyahu calls Harper a ‘friend that always stands by us’,” Globe and Mail (19 January 2014, updated 20 January 2014), http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/harper-arrives-in-israel-on-inaugural-middle-east-visit/article16398905/.

9“Myths and Facts: Bill C-13, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act,” Department of Justice Canada (November 2013, modified 5 December 2013), http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/news-nouv/nr-cp/2013/doc_33002.html.

10See Michael Geist, “The Privacy Threats in Bill C-13, Part One: Immunity for Personal Info Disclosures Without a Warrant,” Michael Geist (25 November 2013), http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/7006/125/; and “The Privacy Threats in Bill C-13, Part Two: The Low Threshold for Metadata,” Michael Geist (11 December 2013), http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/7028/125/.

11Michael Spratt, “C-13: A Digital Trojan horse for the surveillance state,” iPolitics (28 November 2013), http://www.ipolitics.ca/2013/11/28/c-13-a-digital-trojan-horse-for-the-surveillance-state/.

12Terry Wilson, “The Dangers Hidden in Bill C-13 ‘Protecting Canadians From Online Crime Act’,” Canadian Awareness Network (23 November 2013), http://www.canadianawareness.org/2013/11/the-dangers-hidden-in-bill-c-13-protecting-canadians-from-online-crime-act/.

13“BDS a hate crime? In France, legal vigilance punishes anti-Israel activists,” Haaretz (15 February 2014), http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/1.574361.

14Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949, http://www.icrc.org/ihl/nsf/385ec082b509e76c41256739003e636d/6756482d86146898c125641e004aa3c5, Article 1.

15See, for example, Omar Bargouti, “Besieging Israel’s Siege,” The Guardian (12 August 2010), http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/aug/12/besieging-israel-siege-palestinian-boycott: “Created and guided by Palestinians, BDS opposes all forms of racism, including antisemitism, and is anchored in the universal principles of freedom, justice and equal rights that motivated the anti-apartheid and US civil rights struggles.”

16Bill C-13. An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Docid=6311444&File=4.

17Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46. Act current to 2014-01-14 and last amended on 2013-12-12, Justice Laws Website, http://www.laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/c-46/FullText.html.

18“BDS a hate crime?” Haaretz (15 February 2014). Italics added.

19Dr. Jean-Yves Camus, Racist Violence in France (Brussels: European Network Against Racism, 2011), http://www.cms.horus.be/files/99935/MediaArchive/Racist%20Violence%20Report%20France%20-%20online.pdf, p. 4.

20“BDS a hate crime?” Haaretz (15 February 2014).

21“Proposition de loi visant à agraver les peines punissant les infractions à caractère raciste et à renforcer l’efficacité de la procédure pénale,” N° 350, Présentée par MM. Pierre Lellouche et Jacques Barrot, Députés, Assemblée Nationale (7 novembre 2002), htttp://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/12/propositions/pion0350.asp, “Exposé de motifs.”

22Ibid.: “Morales ou physiques, les violences racistes offensent non seulement les personnes qui en sont victimes, mais elles portent aussi atteinte à la cohésion national et aux valeurs essentielles de la Nation.”

23Ibid.: “Reste que le phénomène peut à tout moment resurgir, comme l’attestent plusieurs cas récents, particulièrement préoccupants, tels l’assassinat ouvertement raciste au mois d’octobre d’un jeune Français d’origine marocaine dane le département du Nord, ou l’agression perpetuée début novembre contre les jeunes élèves d’une école privée juive du XXXe arrondissement de Paris, du seul fait de leur confession.”

24Ibid.: “L’objet de la présente proposition, sans créer de nouvelles incriminations dans le code pénal, vise à prendre en compte l’intention raciste, et dès lors à aggraver lourdement les peines encourues par les auteurs d’atteintes à la personne humaine et aux biens lorsqu’elles ont un caractère raciste. Ces aggravations de peines sont appelées à s’appliquer aux actes de torture et barbarie, aux violences ayant entrainé la mort sans intention de la donner, une mutilation, une infirmité permanente ou un incapacité de travail, ainsi qu’aux actes de destruction, dégradation et déterioration de biens.”

25“BDS a hate crime?” Haaretz (15 February 2014).

26Ibid.

27Ibid.

27Ibid.

28The earliest version of the Trojan horse story is in Homer’s Odyssey, Books IV. 271-89, and VIII. 492-520. The story was re-told by later poets, among them Quintus Smyrnaeus, in The Fall of Troy, Books XII. 104-520, and XIII; and Virgil, in his Aeneid, Book II. 13-267.

29Paul McLeod, “Hate law favours Israel, critics charge,” Chronicle-Herald (19 March 2014), http://www.thechronicleherald.ca/canada/1194592-hate-law-bill-favours-israel-critics-charge?from=most_read&most_read=1194592.

30 Additional Protocol…, http://www.conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/189.htm, Ch. I, Art. 2.1: “For the purposes of this Protocol: “racist and xenophobic material” means any written material, any image or any other representation of ideas or theories, which advocates, promotes or incites hatred, discrimination or violence, against any individual or group of individuals, based on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, as well as religion if used as a pretext for any of these factors.”

31 McLeod, “Hate law favours Israel, critics charge.”

32 In the Criminal Code, 318.(2), “’genocide’ means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part any identifiable group, namely, (a) killing members of the group; or (b) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.”

Article 2 of the Convention on Genocide declares that “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” (See Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Adopted by Resolution 260 [III] A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948, https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%2078/volume-78-1-1021-English.pdf.)

33David MacDonald and Graham Hudson, “The Genocide Question and Indian Residential Schools in Canada,” Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue Canadienne de Science Politique 45.2 (June 2012): 427-49, http://www.journals.cambridge.org/action/display/Abstract?fromPage=online&aid=8649111; see especially pp. 434-38. MacDonald and Hudson remark that the 2000 Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act explicitly excluded the possibility of retroactive prosecutions for genocidal crimes committed in Canada prior to 1998.

34“Read the full text of Harper’s historic speech to Israel’s Knesset,” The Globe and Mail (20 January 2014), http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/read-the-full-text-of-harpers-historic-speech-to-israels-knesset/article16406371/?page=1.

35Ibid.

36Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), pp. 21 ff.

37Following the example of Brian Klug, I have referred to “the ‘Jew’” in quotation marks in order to make it clear that what is being referred to in this sentence is the fantasy-figure generated by antisemitic stereotyping. See Klug, “What do we mean when we say ‘antisemitism’?” Plenary lecture at the Jewish Museum, Berlin, 8 November 2013, YouTube (21 November 2013), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytzSZxIS3OI, quoting Shoah survivor Imre Kertész: “In a racist environment, a Jew cannot be human, but he cannot be a Jew either, for ‘Jew’ is an unambiguous designation only in the eyes of the antisemite.”

38This incident is discussed in Michael Keefer, “Data and Deception: Quantitative Evidence of Antisemitism,” in Keefer, ed., Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (Waterloo, ON: The Canadian Charger, 2010), pp. 183-85. See Johann Hari, “Israel is suppressing a secret it must face,” The Independent (28 April 2008), http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-israel-is-suppressing-a-secret-it-must-face-816661.html; Hari, “The loathsome smearing of Israel’s critics,” The Independent (8 May 2008), http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-the-loathsome-smearing-of-israels-critics-822751.html; and Community Security Trust, Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2008 (CST, 2009), http://www.thecst.org.uk.docs/Antisemitic%20discourse%20Report%202008.pdf, p. 24 (italics in the original text).

39See Keefer, “Desperate Imaginings: Rhetoric and Ideology of the ‘New Antisemitism’,” in Antisemitism Real and Imagined, pp. 212-15; and Irwin Cotler, “Human Rights and the New Anti-Jewishness,” Jerusalem Post (5 February 2004); available at SPME: Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, http://www.spme.net/cgi-bin/articles.cgi?ID=128.

40Ibid., p. 211; see Jonathan Kay, “Here is the difference between Israel and its Arab enemies,” National Post (22 March 2009), http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/03-kay-here-is-the-difference-between-israel-and-its-arab-enemies-aspx; and Melanie Phillips, “The Ha’aretz Blood Libel,” Spectator (22 March 2009), http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/3464331/the-haaretz-blood-libel.html.

41Quoted in Keefer, ed., Antisemitism Real and Imagined, “Introduction,” p. 15.

42Others who could be cited include Shulamit Aloni, Max Blumenthal, Noam Chomsky, Marc Ellis, Richard Falk, David Theo Goldberg, Neve Gordon, Amira Hass, Tony Judt, Sir Gerald Kaufman, Baruch Kimmerling, Naomi Klein, Joel Kovel, Gideon Levy, Ilan Pappe, Harold Pinter, Yakov Rabkin, William I. Robinson, Jacqueline Rose, Israel Shahak, Avi Shlaim, and David Shulman. (Many of these people have also been supporters of BDS.)

43Brian Klug, “The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism,” The Nation (15 January 2004), http://www.thenation.com/article/myth-new-anti-semitism.

44Judith Butler, “The Charge of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel, and the Risks of Public Critique,” in Precious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (2004; rpt. London and New York: Verso, 2006), pp. 126-27.

45Gerald Caplan, “A Mideast reading list for Tories willing to learn,” Globe and Mail (27 August 2010, updated 15 November 2010), http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/a-mideast-reading-list-for-tories-wlling-to-learn/article1314259/. The book, Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, contains in the first of its three parts eleven submissions by scholars and human rights activists (a majority of them Jewish, as it happens), and in its second part, rejected submissions by seven human rights organizations; the third part consists of three essays by the editor (whose submission to the CPCCA had also been rejected).

46Campbell Clark, “Netanyahu calls Harper a ‘friend that always stands by us’,” Globe and Mail (19 January 2014). This statement was made a day before Harper’s address to the Knesset. But as Netanyahu knew, Harper’s statements on Israel-Palestine echo what he has been saying for years. In March 2014, Netanyahu declared to AIPAC that supporters of BDS “should be opposed because they’re bad for peace and because BDS is just plain wrong. Those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot. They should be exposed and condemned” (video clip reproduced by Lia Tarachansky, “Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase,” The Real News [23 March 2014], http://www.therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=11633).

47Uri Avnery, “Nothing New Under the Sun,” Gush Shalom.org (25 January 2014), http://www.zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1390578868.

48Eva Illouz, “47 years a slave: a new perspective on the occupation,” Haaretz (7 February 2014), http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/.premium-1.572880. Illouz is the author of eight books and more than eighty articles and book chapters; her work has been widely translated, and has won major awards in Germany, France, and the United States, including, in 2013, the Anneliese Meier Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. She has also been, since 2012, President of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, her country’s national arts academy.

49Ibid.

50Ibid. Illouz is referring to Peter Beinarts essay “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” New York Review of Books (10 June 2010), http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jun/10/failure-american-jewish-establishment/; and perhaps also to his book The Crisis of Zionism (New York: Times Books, 2012).

51Ibid.

52These words are quoted by Illouz from another internationally respected authority on slavery, David Brion Davis, who cites Patterson in his book Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006). Orlando Patterson’s books include the classic study Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1982).

53Illouz, “47 years a slave.”

54Ibid.

55Ibid.

56Ibid.

57Ibid.

58The two following paragraphs are repeated from my essay “Desperate Imaginings: Rhetoric and Ideology of the ‘New Antisemitism’,” in Antisemitism Real and Imagined, p. 231.

59Marwan Bishara, Palestine/Israel: Peace or Apartheid (2001; 2nd ed., London and New York: Zed Books, 2002), p. 4.

60Jimmy Carter, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006; rpt. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007); see also “Canada’s withholding funds from Palestinians ‘criminal’: Carter,” CBC News (9 December 2006), http://www.cbca/ca/canada/story/2006/12/08/carter-israel.html; and Shulamit Aloni, “Yes, There is Apartheid in Israel,” CounterPunch (8 January 2007), http://www.counterpunch.org/aloni01082007.html. Aloni is also the author of Demokratia ba’azikim [Democracy or Ethnocracy] (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 2010).

61Henry Siegman, “Imposing Middle East Peace,” The Nation (7 January 2010), http://www.thenation.com/doc/20100125/siegman.

62Jason Kunin, “Freedom to Teach, Freedom of Speech: Israel-Palestine,” in Antisemitism Real and Imagined, pp. 58-59 n. 2.

63Middle East Project of the Democracy and Governance Programme, Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A re-assessment of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law (Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, May 2009), 302 pp.; available at http://www.electronicintifada.net/files/090608-hsrc.pdf.

64Quoted by Ronnie Kasrils, “Sour Oranges and the Sweet Taste of Freedom,” in Audrea Lim, ed., The Case for Sanctions Against Israel (London and New York: Verso, 2012), p. 109 (quoting from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “Realizing God’s Dream for the Holy Land,” Boston Globe [26 October 2007]). See also “Palestinian ‘humiliation’ by Israel reminds Tutu of apartheid,” Mail & Guardian (10 March 2014), http://www.mg.co.za/article/2014-03-10-palestinian-humiliation-by-israel-reminds-tutu-of-apartheid.

65“Transcript of Naomi Klein Lecture in Ramallah,” BDS Movement (10 July 2009), http://www.bdsmovement.net/2009/transcript-of-naomi-klein-lecture-in-ramallah-465; quoted by Ken Loach, Rebecca O’Brien, and Paul Laverty, “Looking for Eric, Melbourne Festival, and the Cultural Boycott,” in Lim, ed., The Case for Sanctions Against Israel, p. 200.

66Ronnie Kasrils, “Sour Oranges…,” in Lim, ed. The Case for Sanctions Against Israel, pp. 109-110.

67Jake Lynch, “Coalition plans to punish those who boycott Israel,” The Drum Opinion (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) (25 June 2013)l. The relevant section of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid is Article IV: “The States Parties to the present Convention undertake: (a) To adopt any legislative or other measures necessary to suppress as well as to prevent any encouragement of the crime of apartheid and similar segregationist policies or their manifestations and to punish persons guilty of that crime….” The text is available at http://www.oas.org/dil/1973%20International%20Convention%20on%20the%20Suppression%20and%20Punishment%20of%20the%20Crime%20of%20Apartheid.pdf.

Social Fracture and the Rise of Racism in France

April 2nd, 2014 by Annamaria Rivera

The crisis of the European Union is not only economic and financial; it is also, perhaps first and foremost, a political-ideological crisis, as reiterated by Slavoj Zizek. One of the most manifest and alarming expressions of this crisis is the presence in Europe of growing sectors of public opinion voicing intolerant attitudes toward others; of populist political parties sharing anti-immigrant and anti-Roma programmes and rhetoric; as well as of fringes that are openly racist, neo-Nazi, and often homophobic.

Almost everywhere the growth of intolerance is fostered by the social effects of the economic crisis and the increasing fracture that divides the class of the super wealthy from the multitude that comprises the poor, wage earners, the unemployed, the socially declassed, and those who live in fear of social declassment. Also important is the crisis of representation, and in great measure, what has been defined as democratic racism, practiced by parties of the centre, and even of the Left, who attempt to regain popularity and electoral approval by competing with the Right.

An exemplary case is present-day France, an increasingly segmented society, marked by increasing difficulties in coexistence between its diverse people; beset also by a serious crisis of identity. Here the spectacular electoral advance of the Front National, led by Marine Le Pen, has triggered a rush to the right by the parties of the centre and even of the Left on the subjects of ‘national identity,’ immigration, the presence of Roma, and the role of Islam. Le Pen had the cunning to embellish her discourse with rhetoric defending secularism and republican values, making her programme more easily digestible, which, even so remains essentially racist.

It was in the vain attempt to counteract the rise of the Front National, by depriving the Lepénistes of the securitarian sceptre, that Nicolas Sarkozy, at the outset as president of the Republic, hardened immigration policies and fostered a debate on ‘national identity,’ whose basic idea, implicitly, is to purify the nation from the debris of foreigners.

The mediocre presidency of Sarkozy under the banner of law-and-order – only for others, since he is at the centre of numerous political and economic scandals – left a profound impression on public opinion and on the political class. Consider the torsion in his party, the UMP, in the direction of intolerance, in some cases open racism, and of the policies that the Socialist Party conveys on the questions regarding immigration and above all the ‘Roma question.’

When one considers that the Roma population in France does not exceed 20,000 persons, of which half are children, one can grasp how this ‘question’ is skilfully inflated, reviving widespread anti-gypsy hostility; a feature constitutive of French history, like the tendency to make the Roma a scapegoat. It is enough to recall the law of 16 July 1912, which established the requirement for an anthropometric document reserved solely for ‘nomads,’ with a photograph, fingerprints and information such as eye colour, length of right ear, left foot, middle finger, and left elbow, etc.

This infamous law was only abrogated in 1969, substituting the document with an obligatory “right of movement.” In 2010 Le Monde revealed that OCLDI (Central Office for the Fight against Mobile Organized Crime Groups), an agency of the French gendarmerie, created and maintained until 2007, completely illegally, a catalogue of Roma, with genealogical data for the mapping of “gypsy families” and “groups at risk”; almost to reaffirm the old racist biological theorem that classified the Roma as delinquent by nature.

In particular, from the presidency of Sarkozy up to the current one of Hollande, racist statements or acts otherwise disrespectful of basic human rights against the Roma increased exponentially. This includes the mass expulsions of persons, despite being citizens of the European Union, and even attacks with corrosive acid, in the heart of Paris, against Roma adults and children on the part of “exasperated people.” To say nothing of the violent clearing of informal settlements, sometimes requested by mayors of the Left and Far-Left, as in the case last November with the mayor of Saint-Ouen, Jacqueline Rouillon, of the Front de Gauche.

While advocating for the removal of the word “race” from the constitution, the ‘socialist’ Interior Minister, Manuel Valls,[1] rehabilitated the ‘good old’ racism legitimizing, on 24 September 2013, the theory of the non-assimilability of the Roma. This is in continuation, at bottom, with what a couple of months before Gilles Bourdouleix, of the UDL (Union of Democrats and Independents), another so-called centrist party recently established, dared to declare publically: “Hitler did not kill enough of them.”

“The name is erased in order to make the unmentionable reappear,” observed the philosopher Michel Feher in an interview in Les Inrocks on 26 September 2013. The demure racism of the bien pensants, differentialist, as we have defined it, now often gives way to that which is expressed, even coarsely, with ‘classic’ racist attacks and insults, as for example, those against minister Christiane Taubira, who was depicted several times with ape-like features, and even mocked by a group of children shaking bananas, incited by parents hostile to “marriage for everybody.”

In the meantime, as reported by the most recent report prepared by the CNCDH (National Consultative Commission on Human Rights), 2012 witnessed, next to as always a progression of islamophobia, “a disturbing return” of anti-Semitism, and for the third consecutive year, an increase in racist acts against persons presumed to be religiously Muslim, identified only with North Africans and considered “a separate social group.” This is the old colonial spectre, still present in the imagination of the French political class and a section of the citizenry.

Data from the report brings to light “the growing rejection of foreigners, perceived increasingly as parasites if not as a menace,” at the bottom of an alarming spread of xenophobia and intolerance, and of a “public liberation of racist discourse”: fostered, in turn, by the instrumental use of themes such as French identity, immigration, and secularism on the part of the political class. Further proof that popular racism is always nurtured and/or exploited by the dominant elites.

In times of economic crisis and increasing social despair, like in the present one, only in the short term can this strategy serve to divert public attention from real problems and from the inadequacy of the elites to resolve them. In the long and medium term it is a highly dangerous game, as history teaches us.

Annamaria Rivera is an anthropologist, activist and writer. This article originally appeared in MicroMega. A slightly shorter version was published by Sbilanciamoci and Il Manifesto.

 Translations by Sam Putinja.

Image: Marine Le Pen

Let’s hope that the solemn blow taken by the socialists in the French municipal elections erases the vapid smiles from the big faces of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, until now untouched by doubt that the policies of austerity pursued by the European Commission would benefit right-wing parties. And not the type of Right, to be clear, of Mario Monti, but of the extreme and fascist(-ized) parties. It is pointless to acknowledge that one such figure is, without pretence, the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, who held the European presidency for six months. These are also the forces that are everywhere smashing the residual bipolarities between the ‘democratic’ right and left. The latest sensational case is France where on Sunday, March 23rd, elections took place in 36,000 municipalities, and where the Front National of Le Pen, anti-Semitic, xenophobic and anti-European, not only became – where it was present – the first place party, but drove the Socialist Party, which was in the lead in the presidential election two years ago, not into second but into third place, while the Communist Party and the front of left-wing parties frequently slipped to fourth place.

 

Marine Le Pen on the campaign trail, with her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of Front National, by her side.

This was to be expected when unemployed and precarity affects four million French citizens; not much different than Italy. For a couple of years now, almost daily, a large or medium-sized French firm relocates or closes, and the Holland government, who had won pledging to fight against finance, has not been able to defend employment, neither in general nor when a firm shuts or relocates while announcing lavish profits. The workers emerge from their departments determined to fight; they receive the solidarity of the mayor if, as often, the effected company was also the most important in the surrounding region. The usual result is that at the end of three weeks one has to be content with negotiating a so-called ‘social plan,’ other and for the most part distant jobs or compensation, and with the condolences of trade union centrals and the ministries concerned. Last week, three days before the municipal elections, the firm La Redoute shutdown. It was the oldest and most famous catalogue mail order company, which alone accounted for a large share of the consumption by the middle classes, but now drags entire industrial cities into ruin, eroding the possibilities for consumption by the mass of workers and the petite bourgeoisie.

Was all this visible and predictable? Yes, except for a socialist government, similar to our PD (Democratic Party) in Italy, for whom treaties dictate non-interference in order to avoid disturbing free competition; and for a government that hopes to get away with costly and difficult military endeavours in the former French imperial colonies in Mali and in the Central African Republic. This while the president and the foreign minister Laurent Fabius clamour for a heavy hand against Putin in Crimea; as if the well-known nationalism of l’Hexagone could make people forget the growing conditions of impoverishment.

Confronted with the results last night the entire staff of the Socialist Party was taken aback, while Marine Le Pen was rolling in the triumph of the blue wave that carried her name. Satisfied with the result is also the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) of Sarkozy, assured that the government will call for national antifascist unity, legitimating the vote for the republican Right, like at the time of the fall of Lionel Jospin in the presidential elections of 2002. Will the European Commission take note? Will the heads of the EU take note of the evidence that the Europe of monetarism and austerity is reviving the extreme Right for the first time since the Second World War? And that the Front National is becoming the leading populist party in France? Will the many in Italy take note, who are benevolently observing Matteo Renzi and the game of three-card monte, which consists of (maybe) putting more into the pay checks of low income earners who will then lose out in public services cuts and in local taxes?

The PD is in fact following the same path as Hollande, and its feeble internal Left does not appear capable of getting it to change course. And what of the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL) of Susanna Camusso, who is in an uproar after recently having approved a labour relations accord with Confindustria (Italian Employers’ Federation) considered too extreme even for our battered neighbour? And what of the FIOM (Metal Workers Union) of Maurizio Landini, which, isolated, is also hopeful of Matteo Renzi?

In short, we can only hope that the hard blow in France, difficult to recover from in the second round, will function as a severe lesson against the excesses of folly during the last twenty years in Europe.

Rossana Rossanda is a journalist and leading figure of the Italian Left. Her memoir The Comrade from Milan is published by Verso. This article was originally published in Sbilanciamoci.

A turn to reactionary politics is nowhere more clearly seen than in a formerly independent voice moving away from criticism of the high and mighty towards attacks on little people. That is precisely what happened when Media Watch (the media watchdog of Australia’s public broadcaster, the ABC) bought into the propaganda war on Syria.

Media Watch had gained a reputation for making corporate monopolies squirm when their lies and manipulations were exposed. This was best done by lawyer Stuart Littlemore, who started and presented the show for much of the 1990s. Since then the program, run by ABC journalists, became tamer and more sensitive to political criticism.

The ABC itself was subject to a witch-hunt style inquiry in 2003, after the Howard Government accused it of biased reporting of the Iraq invasion. That inquiry upheld 17 of the government’s 68 complaints. Several management reshuffles and a fair degree of self-censorship later and the ABC is much less likely to ‘rock the boat’ over any new Washington-led war.

Nevertheless, it was surprising to see the near compete turn-around in ‘A Syrian Homecoming’ (Media Watch), ostensibly the critique of a story about a young Syrian-Australian woman’s visit to Syria, published in the Good Weekend magazine (‘Cry my father’s country’). In practice this was a savage personal attack on a young woman who opposed the foreign-backed war.

The Good Weekend story profiled Reme Sakr, who visited Syria last December both to see her father and to participate in an Australian solidarity delegation to Syria. This writer was also part of that 11 member group. Freelance journalist Chris Ray, who accompanied the delegation, wrote several articles on matters that emerged from our meetings with political, religious and community leaders; but the Good Weekend article was commissioned as a personal profile.

This long and well written piece covered Reme and her journey to visit her father in the Druze area of Sweida, after her work with the delegation. Reme had gone to school there and her father had returned home from Australia, after he retired. She was worried about him and Sweida, after hearing of attacks on Sweida by the western-backed al Qaeda groups.

The story therefore humanised a young woman and her family in the context of a war which has been characterised by many well-publicised atrocities by the western backed ‘rebels’, and a series of highly contested accusations of war crimes by the Syrian Army.

Media Watch researcher Emily Watkins asked Reme, Chris and the Good Weekend several questions before the program, but the narrative by veteran journalist Paul Barry, was one-eyed and relentless. Unusually, he focussed on subject of the story much more than the journalist, attacking Reme for her support of the Syrian Government.

Paul Barry, a journalist who made a fair amount of money on the side writing tame books on Australian media moguls Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer, seemed keen to re-ingratiate himself with the Murdoch stable. He quoted The Australian and Prime Minister Tony Abbott, as authority figures who had condemned Reme and her fellow travellers.

The program inexplicably attacked her for her minority Druze origins, falsely claimed she had received special favours from the Syrian Government, falsely claimed the story had covered up her active opposition to the war on Syria, and falsely claimed she was part of a group which was personally committed to President Assad and had covered up war crimes.

Media Watch also criticised the Good Weekend story for ‘sidestepping’ the alleged crimes of the ‘Syrian regime’ and for ignoring the ‘moderate Syrian opposition’. However author Chris Ray responded in a letter: “I wrote about and identified rebel groups who attacked Malek Sakr’s district and the road between Damascus and Druze territory in Sweida. Should I have written about other rebels who did not attack Druze territory? … Who is the moderate opposition anyway? The rebellion is dominated by Islamists who differ mainly in the extent of their sectarian intolerance.”

Outraged by the misrepresentations of the story, Reme wrote a two page reply to Media Watch; at the time of writing this letter was not posted on their website.

To the disgrace of the ABC, in the course of trying to de-humanise Reme and re-assert the western media line on Syria, presenter Paul Barry told several lies.

1. Barry said: “A couple of things seemed not right. The father turned out to be a leader of the minority Druze community”. This was both false and an ethnic slur. As Reme said in her letter ‘It is simply not true – and a complete fabrication on your part – to claim my father is a leader of the Druze. He is a religious man, an ‘Uqqal’ … [but] in no way is he a community leader … And why does belonging to the Druze, a religious minority, seem “not quite right” to you? Does it devalue my family’s story or our position regarding the conflict in Syria?’

2. Paul Barry said: “Reme Sakr clearly received special favours on her trip”, referring to a letter of safe passage she had from the government, when travelling to Sweida. This ‘special favour’ claim was untrue; and the Media Watch researcher didn’t even bother to ask Reme about it. In fact, as her Syrian ID card had expired, she needed a temporary identity document to travel through areas with many army checkpoints. Providing her with such a travel document and assisting with her safety, in these circumstances, is a duty that governments owe to their citizens.

3. The Media Watch presenter said Reme was “a leading light in Hands off Syria, which backs President Assad, refuses to admit he’s used chemical weapons.” This was another deception. Reme has publicly spoken out against the war on Syria and the Good Weekend story noted that her delegation had met with several Syrian ministers, including the Prime Minister and the President. Reme responded: “Since when did speaking out in support of a cause we believe in ever make us … less deserving to have our stories told?” The false suggestion was that Reme or the story had somehow covered up her anti-war activism.

Hands off Syria for its part, has always made it clear that it supports the Syrian people and their nation, not any particular political leader. Barry repeatedly misrepresented Hands off Syria and the delegation as “backing Assad” or expressing “solidarity with Assad”. Reme responded: “While many Syrian-Australians do back President Assad, Hands off Syria as an organisation supports principles rather than personalities – especially the principle that Syria has the right to self-determination free from aggressive interference by foreign powers and foreign-backed terrorists.” That distinction was lost on Media Watch.

4. In an effort to back up its claim that Hands off Syria and Reme “paint the popular uprising as a foreign invasion”, Media Watch showed three video clips of Reme speaking at rallies and referring to “foreign militants” and “foreign militants who are destroying the country of my mother and father”. The evidence presented does not support the deceptive claim that she suggested a Bush-style “invasion” was underway. Further, no evidence was cited to back the claim that the sectarian Islamist groups were part of a “popular uprising”. Indeed analysts for NATO, after more than two years of war, said President Assad probably had 70% support. The sectarian groups themselves have admitted that they have little popular support. Paul Barry’s claim that there was a “popular uprising” was baseless war propaganda.

5. Barry twice claimed that President Assad and his government had used chemical weapons, and that Hands off Syria and Reme had tried to cover this up. He cited a UN report from February 2014. This is highly misleading. While it is true that UN investigators (in most case conducting interviews from outside Syria) have “accused both sides of war crimes”, they have not accused individuals nor have they moved into any prosecutions. Further, no UN body has accused the Syrian Government of using chemical weapons. Indeed the available evidence is quite the reverse. It was the Syrian Government that first invited UN inspectors to visit and investigate chemical weapon use in Syria, after several attacks on Syrian soldiers and civilians. The NATO-backed groups tried to turn that around with the East Ghouta incident, launching an attack precisely when the inspectors were in Damascus. The UN’s report of December 2013 was not mandated to allocate blame, but did conclude that 3 of the 5 attacks were “against soldiers” as well as civilians – that is, they were attacks carried out by opponents of government soldiers. The February 2014 report said: “In no incident was the commission’s evidentiary threshold met with respect to the perpetrator”.

The independent evidence, which Media Watch ignores, was stronger. With the exception of the Washington-based Human Rights Watch (in lock step with the Washington establishment, as regards Syria), almost all independent reports on chemical weapon attacks in Syria tell a very different story. Gavlak and Ababneh (MINT PRESS, 29 Aug) reported that residents in East Ghouta blamed the Saudis for providing chemical weapons to untrained ‘rebels’. The ISTEAMS group led by Mother Agnes-Mariam provided a 17 September report which analysed video evidence of the attacks and said the massacre videos preceded the attack, and that staged and fake images were used. Seymour Hersh, the famous US journalist, wrote on 19 December that US intelligence was fabricated “to justify a strike” on Syria. The Peace Association and Lawyers for Justice group in Turkey issued a report in December saying that “most of the crimes” against Syrian civilians, including the East Ghouta attack, were committed by “armed rebel forces in Syria”. The New York Times in December retreated from its telemetry evidence claims, admitting the earlier vector analysis was ‘speculative’; and MIT investigators Lloyd and Postol reported on 14 January that sarin gas “could not possibly have been fired … from government controlled areas”. In its zeal to back the war on Syria, Media Watch covered up all these reports.

The scale of independent reporting which undermines claims against the Syrian Government stands in stark contrast to the open and boastful publicity given to atrocities (beheadings, mutilations, public executions including executions of children for blasphemy, launching of chemical canisters on rockets, attacks on civilian airliners, bombing of hospitals, destruction of mosques and churches) committed on an almost daily basis by the western backed terrorist groups.

6. Finally Paul Barry, who quoted The Australian to label the Syrian President “dictator and accused war criminal Bashar al-Assad”, took it one step further. He wrapped up by saying that the Syrian President was “a man the UN has branded a war criminal”. This is false and must be a deliberate lie. No UN body has “branded” President Bashar al Assad “a war criminal”. This may be wishful thinking, but dishonest journalism.

In her unpublished letter, Reme Sakr concludes:

“Contrary to what you tried to imply, I have no ulterior agenda in supporting one side or another in this war, but unlike you … I see Syria being pillaged and burnt to the ground by foreign-sponsored terrorists, I see my family fearing for their lives every time they leave their homes, and I see young women, just like me, being raped and made to watch as their fathers and brothers are beheaded.”

 If Reme and Hands off Syria really have served as “useful propaganda for the Syrian Government” then, equally, Paul Barry and Media Watch have served as useful propaganda for the al Qaeda groups, which boast of their atrocities, often blaming them on the Syrian Government.

There was no hint of any controversy over the atrocity claims, in the Media Watch polemic. Given their experience and the time they had to investigate, we can safely conclude that Paul Barry lied repeatedly, as an exercise in war propaganda which served to cover up the crimes of western-backed al Qaeda style forces.

Far from the action of a media watchdog, this was the pits of tabloid, propaganda journalism. Rupert Murdoch’s media dynasty will be well pleased to see that the ABC’s former ‘watchdog’, on this particular dirty war, has pulled its own teeth.

References

 Cosimer Marrina (2003) ABC loses points in Alston’s ‘bias’ plea, SMH, online: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/10/10/1065676163446.html

 Chris Ray (2014) ‘Cry my father’s country’, 1 March, online: http://www.smh.com.au/national/cry-my-fathers-country-20140224-33b69.html

 Media Watch (2014) A Syrian Homecoming (and see the published responses), ABC, 24 march online: http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3970590.htm

 Paul Barry (2013) Breaking News: Sex, lies and the Murdoch succession, Allen and Unwin

 Peace Association and Lawyers for Justice in Turkey (2013) War Crimes Committed Against the People of Syria, December, online: http://www.barisdernegi.org/en/war-crimes-committed-against-people-syria-report-peace-association-turkey-and-lawyers-justice

Human Rights Watch (2013) ‘Attacks on Ghouta: Analysis of Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria’, 10 September, online: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/09/10/attacks-ghouta-0

 Robert Parry (2013) ‘NYT Backs Off Its Syria-Sarin Analysis’, Global Research, 30 December, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/nyt-backs-off-its-syria-sarin-analysis/5363023

 ISTEAMS (2013) ‘Independent Investigation of Syria Chemical Attack Videos and Child Abductions’, 15 September, online: http://www.globalresearch.ca/STUDY_THE_VIDEOS_THAT_SPEAKS_ABOUT_CHEMICALS_BETA_VERSION.pdf

 Seymour M. Hersh (2013) ‘Whose Sarin?’, London Review of Books, Vol. 35 No. 24, 19 December, 9-12, online: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n24/seymour-m-hersh/whose-sarin

 Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh (2013) ‘EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack’, MINT PRESS, August 29, online: http://www.mintpressnews.com/witnesses-of-gas-attack-say-saudis-supplied-rebels-with-chemical-weapons/168135/

 Richard Lloyd and Theodore A. Postol (2014) ‘Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013’, Jan 14, online: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/01/15/214656/new-analysis-of-rocket-used-in.html

 

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership ( TTIP – previously known as TAFTA, Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement) is a trade agreement that is presently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.

There is growing concern that the negotiations could result in the opening of the floodgates for genetically modified organisms and shale gas (fracking) in Europe, the threatening of digital and labour rights and the empowering of corporations to legally challenge a wide range of regulations which they dislike. The negotiations are shrouded in secrecy and, while striving to give the appearance of somehow being democratic, effectively constitute part of the ongoing corporate hijack of democracy and the further restructuring of economies in favour of elite interests (1,2,3,4,5,6).

 A European alliance of over 50 civil society organizations (7) are in the process of launching the ‘Alternative Mandate’ pledge campaign (8), calling on European Parliament election candidates to make EU trade and investment policy serve people and the planet, not just the profit of a few large corporations.

 Lyda Fernanda Forero of the Transnational Institute, a member of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance says:

“The EU’s current trade and investment policy is a recipe for disaster for people around the world. The EU is leading an aggressive agenda to open markets for global agri-business. This is wiping out small farmers and is a major cause of hunger. Excessive investor rights take away much needed policy space. We need to break away from this corporate driven agenda.”

The online pledge campaign will run in six EU languages (EN, FR, ES, DE, GR, HU) and will enable activists and citizens to ask candidates to pledge in support of a paradigm shift in EU trade and investment policy. The website will monitor which candidates have supported different parts of the pledge.

MEP candidates will be asked to support measures that enable people to control their own local food systems as well as core labour standards and human rights’ assessments of EU trade and investment policy. Candidates will also be asked to oppose the controversial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism and to call on the European Commission to immediately publish all texts from trade and investment negotiations with third countries such as, for example, the United States.

Sergi Corbalán, executive director of the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, a member of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance:

“EU trade deals are negotiated behind closed doors in the interests of a few rich corporations. People who are affected by these deals, both in the EU and abroad, are not consulted. We need MEPs to stand up for an open and democratic EU trade policy-making process which is controlled by the people of Europe and their elected representatives, rather than being driven by unelected technocrats and corporate lobby groups.”

The pledge campaign is the result of a four-year process of public workshops held all over Europe during which the Alternative Trade Mandate was developed; it is a 20-page civil society proposal to democratise EU trade and investment policy and put environmental protection as well as human and labour rights at its heart (9). Some MEPs have already supported the proposal via video messages (10).

Amélie Canonne, co-ordinator of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance:

 “At a time of multiple global crises, the European Parliament needs MEPs who will support trade rules that work for people and the planet. We need MEPs who will bring trade deals out of the shadows and into the light. We call on MEP candidates to stand up for democratic trade and investment rules that serve people, the economy and the environment at large – not just the profit interests of a few.”

Notes:

1) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-us-eu-transatlantic-free-trade-agreement-tafta-big-business-corporate-power-grab/5352885

2) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eu-india-free-trade-agreement-corporate-driven-neocolonial-plunder/5338049

3) http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-eu-transatlantic-free-trade-agreement-more-secrecy-and-more-duplicity-revealed/5369272

4) http://www.globalresearch.ca/free-trade-agreements-the-bypassing-of-democracy-to-institute-economic-plunder/5354197

5) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-us-eu-transatlantic-free-trade-agreement-tafta-big-business-corporate-power-grab/5352885

6) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eu-india-free-trade-agreement-india-up-for-sale-to-western-corporate-capital/5332214

7) Current members of the Alternative Trade Mandate Alliance are: Afrika Kontakt (Denmark), Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (Germany), AITEC (France), Alternative Trade Network (Greece), Attac Austria, Attac France, Attac Germany, Attac Hungary, Attac Spain, Bothends (Netherlands), CAWN, CNCD (Belgium), Colibri (Germany), Comhlamh (Ireland), Commission of Filipino migrant workers (Netherlands), Corporate Europe Observatory (Belgium), Ecologistas en Accion (Spain), European Milkboard, Fair Trade Advocacy Office (Belgium), Fairwatch (Italy), FDCL (Germany), FIAN Germany, Food & Water Europe, Germanwatch (Germany), GMB (UK), Misereor (Germany), No Patents on Life! (Germany), Oxfam Germany, Philippinenbuero (Germany), Platform Aarde Boer Consument (Earth, Farmer, Consumer – Netherlands), Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe, PowerShift (Germany), Seattle to Brussels Network, SOMO (Netherlands), Terra Nuova (Italy), Trade Justice Movement (UK), Transnational Institute (Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), Vedegylet (Hungary), War on Want (UK), WEED (Germany), World Development Movement (UK), Za Zemiata (Bulgaria), 11.11.11. (Belgium)

Supporter organisations: ActionAid Netherlands, Africa Roots Movement (Netherlands), Afrikagrupperna (Sweden), Africa-Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN), Afrikagrupperna (Sweden), ASEED Europe, Attac Denmark, CEE Bankwatch Network (headquatered in the Czech Republic), Clean Clothes Campaign Netherlands, Confédération paysanne (France), Dutch section of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF – Netherlands), European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), FAIR TRADE HELLA (Greece), FIOM-CGIL (Metalworkers Federation – Italy), FIAN Netherlands, FNV Netherlands, France Amérique Latine (France), Friends of the Earth Europe, Glopolis (Czech Republic), Hegoa (Spain), Indian Committee of the Netherlands, Milieu Defensie (Netherlands), National Peace and Justice Network (UK), OIKOS (Netherlands), Philippinenbüro (Germany), Platform Aarde Boer Consumer (Netherlands), Platform for an economy based on sustainability and solidarity (Netherlands), Respect Network in Europe, STRO (Netherlands), Supermacht (Netherlands), Traidcraft (UK), Transnational Migrant Platform (TMP), TRUSTED Migrants (Netherlands), La Via Campesina Europe, Wemos (Netherlands), XminY (Netherlands)

 8) Visit the pledge campaign website at: www.alternativetrademandate.org

9) Download the Alternative Trade Mandate in English ( http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Trade-time_for_a_new_vision-JAN14-PRINT.pdf), Spanish (http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Time_for_a_new_vision-ES-JAN14-PRINT.pdf), French (http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Time_for_a_new_vision-FR-PRINT.pdf) and Dutch (http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Time_for_a_new_vision-NL-PRINT.pdf)

 

10) Why support the Alternative Trade Mandate? Responses from trade justice activists, http://www.alternativetrademandate.org/why-supporting-the-alternative-trade-mandate-some-responses-in-video/

 

Zbigniew Brzezinski, an originating Trilateralist along with David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger, has called for the European Union to step up to the plate and increase its involvement in Ukraine.

“If the EU is serious about playing a role in the world, it has to start here. And that means putting up the money to help stabilize Ukraine’s teetering economy,” Brzezinski told The World Post last month.

“Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire,” Brzezinski wrote in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives.

“If the EU is serious about playing a role in the world, it has to start here. And that means putting up the money to help stabilize Ukraine’s teetering economy,” Brzezinski told The World Post last month.

“Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire,” Brzezinski wrote in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives.

On Tuesday, the EU’s economy boss, Olli Rehn, a Bilderberg attendee and also vice president of the European Commission, said the EU will soon lavish a nearly bankrupt Ukraine with cash as part of the ongoing effort to yank it out of the Russian orbit.

The EU, which has imposed austerity on its member states, will fork over 11 billion euros to the junta in Kyiv as part of a package cooked up by the International Monetary Fund.

Late last month the junta, led by former central banker Arseniy Yatsenyuk, voted to impose draconian austerity measures on the Ukrainian people as part of an IMF package designed to facilitate neoliberal looting of the economy and impoverish millions of Ukrainians.

Speaking from Athens, where the standard of living is set to fall by fifty percent by the end of the year as a result of EU and IMF-imposed austerity measures, Rehn said it “is in the interests of Ukraine and Europe to maintain peace and stability on our continent.”

Meanwhile, NATO has announced it will advance “peace and stability” in Ukraine and Eastern Europe by stationing forces in the Baltic states and stepping up military exercises on Russia’s border.

Rehn also admitted economic sanctions are unlikely to modify Russia’s reaction to a hostile, partially fascist regime in Ukraine and provocative moves by NATO to ratchet up tension along its frontier. “As regards sanctions, no sensible European would want to see economic sanctions,” he said.

Although the EU and the United States have attempted to impose sanctions on Russian and Crimean officials, it has stopped short of imposing wider economic sanctions on Russia, and for good reason – a large number of transnational corporations do business with the Russian Federation and anything more than token sanctions would have a negative impact of business.

In response to the threat of economic sanctions levied by the United States, last month Russia prepared “a bill that would freeze the assets of European and American companies operating in Russia,” Press TV reported, a move that put a damper on sanctions called for by the United States and the European Union.

“It should be possible for Ukraine to develop closer economic and political ties with the EU and maintain good neighborly relations with Russia,” said Rehn.

Good neighborly relations, however, will be difficult with the likes of Ukraine’s former Prime Minister and convicted kleptocrat Yulia Tymoshenko telling her junta colleagues Russia should be nuked. Tymoshenko, who has announced her bid for the presidency, has made it her goal to disassociate Ukraine from Russia (despite its sizable Russian-speaking minority) and move the country into the grasp of the European Union where IMF austerity awaits average Ukrainians.

“Ukraine should be a part of the united Europe, a part of the European Union. I will do my best to achieve this goal. Ukraine’s security should be ensured by means of integration into European security systems. I stand for Ukraine’s participation in collective security systems,” she said on Tuesday.

“European security systems” is doublespeak for NATO and its adversarial relationship with Russia.

Tymoshenko also said the referendum returning Crimea to Russia was unacceptable and she would do everything within her power if elected to nullify the will of the Crimean people. She said the junta in Kyiv stands for “further sanctions to force Russia give Crimea back.”

“Ukraine should engage the best law experts to word (sic) its claims to Russia’s overseas property, including on the territory of Ukraine,” Tymoshenko said.

The former Prime Minister expressed her intransigence by stating she is against “any bargaining with Russia, especially on matters of the Ukrainian domestic policy.”

Stock Buybacks and Margin Debt

April 1st, 2014 by Mike Whitney

Are you looking for signs of froth in the stock market? Then you might want to take a look at stock buybacks.According to the Wall Street Journal, almost 20 percent of the total value of stocks today are stock buybacks, that is, corporations that purchase their own shares to push up prices. Here’s the scoop from Jason Zweig at the WSJ:

“Last year, the corporations in the Russell 3000, a broad U.S. stock index, repurchased $567.6 billion worth of their own shares—a 21% increase over 2012, calculates Rob Leiphart, an analyst at Birinyi Associates, a research firm in Westport, Conn. That brings total buybacks since the beginning of 2005 to $4.21 trillion—or nearly one-fifth of the total value of all U.S. stocks today.” (Will Stock Buybacks Bite Back?, Wall Street Journal)

“$4.21 trillion” is a heckuva lot of froth. It means that the market is overpriced by at least 20 percent. Corporate bosses have been aggressively pumping up prices to reward shareholders even though earnings and revenues are looking increasingly shaky. The reason buybacks have caught fire is because– up to now– they’ve been considered a reasonably safe bet. With interest rates locked at zero, and the Central Bank flooding the financial system with $55 billion every month, stocks have been following the path of least resistance which is up, up, and away. (As of Friday, the S and P was up 176 percent from its March 2009 lows.)The point is, stock buybacks are a natural reaction to the Fed’s easy money policies. Corporations are just following the Fed’s lead. If the Fed didn’t want companies to engage in this kind of reckless behavior, it could either turn off the liquidity or raise rates. Either way, the buybacks would stop. The fact that the Fed keeps juicing the system just shows that the it’s real objective is to buoy stock prices regardless of the risks involved. And there are risks too. Keep in mind, that most of the money corporations use for buybacks is borrowed, which leaves them vulnerable to fluctuations in prices. If the market suddenly goes South, then over extended investors have to sell other assets to cover their bets. That leads to firesales, plunging prices and deflation.Surging margin debt is another sign of froth. Margin debt is money that investors borrow to finance the purchase of stocks. Margin debt has been trending higher since the recession ended in 2009, but it’s really skyrocketed in the last year as eager investors have piled into equities confident that the Fed has their back. The problem is that large amounts of margin debt usually indicate a peak in the market. Here’s a little background from an article in USA Today:

“The amount of money investors borrowed from Wall Street brokers to buy stocks rose for a seventh straight month in January to a record $451.3 billion, a potential warning sign that in the past has coincided with irrational exuberance and stock market tops…“One characteristic of getting closer to a market top is a major expansion in margin debt,” says Gary Kaltbaum, president of Kaltbaum Capital Management. “Expanding market debt fuels the bull market and is an investors’ best friend when stocks are rising. The problem is when the market turns (lower), it is the market’s worst enemy.”…“Forced liquidations can occur,” says Price Headley, CEO of BigTrends.com. “If the decline in the market is dramatic, it can cause a true flush-out, when everyone is getting forced out by margin calls.” (Record margin debt poses risk for bull market, USA Today)

Investors seem to think that the Fed has superhuman powers and can stop the market from correcting. But that’s a bad bet. Stocks will tumble, and when they do these same speculators will get a call from their broker telling them they need more cash to meet the required minimum. That “margin call” will lead to the dumping of stocks and other assets in a mad scramble for cash. If the margin call is broad-based enough, then debt deflation dynamics will kick in pushing down prices across the board paving the way for another spectacular stock market crash. That’s what happened in 2008 when a run on the shadow banking system (repo) sparked a panic that sent global shares plunging. Here’s a chartthat shows how closely stock prices follow the build up of margin debt.Like stock buybacks, margin debt is a natural reaction to Fed policy. Zero rates provide a subsidy for speculation while QE reduces the aggregate supply of financial assets thus pushing up prices. This is why there’s so much froth in the markets, because the Fed creates incentives for risk taking. Remove the incentives, and the bubbles quickly vanish. Poof.There are other areas where bubbles are emerging too, but it may be more worthwhile to consider “valuation metrics” which give us a better idea of where stock prices would be without the Fed’s liquidity injections. Here’s a brief excerpt from a post by John Hussman who’s done extensive research on the topic and who believes that the S&P 500 is currently more over-valued than the housing market in 2006:

“Based on valuation metrics that have demonstrated a near-90% correlation with subsequent 10-year S&P 500 total returns, not only historically but also in recent decades, we estimate that U.S. equities are more than 100% above the level that would be associated with historically normal future returns…It is the series of extreme instances over the past year that give investors the hope and delusion that historically reckless market conditions will lead only to further gains and greater highs. This is a mistake born of complacency in the face of a nearly uninterrupted, Fed-enabled 5-year market advance, and is the same mistake that was made in 2000 and again in 2007. By the time the present market cycle is completed, we expect the S&P 500 to be at least 40% lower than present levels.” (Hussman Warns S&P 500 Over-Valuation Now Higher Than Housing In 2006, Zero Hedge)

Okay, so what does that mean in plain English?It means that stocks are ridiculously overpriced, and the reason they’re overpriced is because the Fed has been juicing the market with easy money and monthly liquidity injections. Chief US Equity Strategist for Goldman Sachs, David J. Kostin, was even more blunt than Hussman. He said, “The current valuation of the S&P 500 is lofty by almost any measure, both for the aggregate market as well as the median stock.”So by any measure, the market is overvalued. That means that investors can expect either lower returns in the future or big losses. It’s going to be one or the other.So what are the chances that stocks will fall sharply in the next few months putting another dent in the pensions and life savings of the many of the Mom and Pop investors who just got back into the market in the last 12 months?I don’t have the foggiest idea. But the outlook is pretty bleak. Take a look at this from Mark Hulbert at Marketwatch:

“Nejat Seyhun, a finance professor at the University of Michigan, has found from his research…that only some (corporate) insiders have a consistently accurate view of their companies’ prospects.The insiders worth paying attention to are a company’s officers and directors…Prof. Seyhun — who is one of the leading experts on interpreting the behavior of corporate insiders — has found that … insiders do have impressive forecasting abilities. In the summer of 2007, for example, his adjusted insider sell-to-buy ratio was more bearish than at any time since 1990, which is how far back his analyses extended.Ominously, that degree of bearish sentiment is where the insider ratio stands today, Prof. Seyhun said in an interview.” (Corporate insider bearishness at pre-2008 crash levels; Opinion: Don’t ignore the behavior of executives in the know, Mark Hulbert, Marketwatch)

Then there’s this brief summary from Baupost Group founder and billionaire Seth Klarman who advises his clients to be prepared for a “trend reversal”. Here’s the quote from Business Insider:

“Six years ago, many investors were way out over their skis. Giant financial institutions were brought to their knees…The survivors pledged to themselves that they would forever be more careful, less greedy, less short-term oriented.But here we are again, mired in a euphoric environment in which some securities have risen in price beyond all reason, where leverage is returning to rainy markets and asset classes, and where caution seems radical and risk-taking the prudent course. Not surprisingly, lessons learned in 2008 were only learned temporarily. These are the inevitable cycles of greed and fear, of peaks and troughs.Can we say when it will end? No. Can we say that it will end? Yes. And when it ends and the trend reverses, here is what we can say for sure. Few will be ready. Few will be prepared.” (If You’re Bullish About Stocks, You Should Ponder This Warning From One Of The Smartest Investors Ever, Business Insider)

So the Fed has done what the Fed always does; set us up for another crash. Stocks are over-priced, insiders are selling and QE is winding down. It’s only a matter of time before the roof caves in and all hell breaks loose.But why? Why does the Fed keep steering the economy from one financial catastrophe to the next?That’s easy. Just take a look at this chart by economists Atif Mian and Amir Sufi and you’ll see for yourself who’s getting rich on this deal. This is the class of people who actually benefit from the Fed’s serial bubblemaking. Take a look:

“Here is the distribution of financial asset holdings across the wealth distribution. This is from the 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances:

unnamed

The top 20% of the wealth distribution holds over 85% of the financial assets in the economy. So it is clear that the direct income from capital goes to the wealthiest American households.” (Capital Ownership and Inequality, House of Debt)

Who benefits from QE?Now you know.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

The word dollar didn’t even come up. “The volume of transactions that can be carried out in the Chinese currency in international and German financial centers is not commensurate with China’s importance in the global economy,” the Bundesbank explained in its dry manner on Friday in Berlin, after signing a memorandum of understanding with the People’s Bank of China. President Xi Jinping and Chancellor Angela Merkel were looking on. It was serious business. Everyone knew what this was about. No one had to say it.

The agreement spelled out how the two central banks would cooperate on the clearing and settlement of payments denominated in renminbi – to get away from the dollar’s hegemony as payments currency and as reserve currency.

This wasn’t an agreement between China and a paper-shuffling financial center like Luxembourg or London, which are working on similar deals, but between two of the world’s largest exporters with a bilateral trade of nearly $200 billion in 2013. German corporations have invested heavily in China over the last 15 years. And recently, Chinese corporations, many of them at least partially state-owned, have started plowing their new money into Germany.

This “renminbi clearing solution” – the actual mechanism, clearing bank or clearing house, hasn’t been decided yet – will be an important step for China to internationalize the renminbi and ditch its reliance on the dollar. It will be located in Frankfurt; that the city is “home to two central banks,” Bundesbank Executive Board Member Joachim Nagel pointed out, made it “a particularly suitable location.”

As a world payments currency, the renminbi is still minuscule but growing in leaps and bounds: in February, customer initiated and institutional payments, inbound and outbound, denominated in RMB accounted for only 1.42% of all traffic, but it set a new record, according to SWIFT, the NSA-infiltrated, member-owned cooperative that connects over 10,000 banks, corporations, the NSA, and other intelligence agencies around the world.

Despite China’s heft as the second largest economy, the yuan was only in eighth place as payments currency, behind the Swiss franc. The dollar and the euro have been duking it out over the top spot. In February, the dollar accounted for 38.9% and the euro for 33.0% of all payments traffic. January last year, for example, the euro was in first place with a share of 40.2%, while the dollar only came up with 33.5%. As China moves away from the dollar, its share as payments currency will continue to drop.

And Merkel, whose job it had been to keep the Eurozone together by tightening duct tape and bailing wire around the necks of other countries, hasn’t forgotten: “We’re very thankful that China made efforts during the euro crisis to consider the euro a stable currency,” she said at the press conference. “China never questioned its trust in the euro, and I find that very important….”

Setting up Frankfurt as an offshore renminbi trading center has been in the works since 2012. A steering committee was set up in July 2013 that included the Economics Ministry of the state of Hesse, the Federal Finance Ministry, and the Bundesbank. In October 2013, the “RMB Initiative Group” – which included the four Chinese banks with a presence in Frankfurt, German financial services giants, and the Bundesbank – met for the first time. The working group that deals with the establishment of the RMB clearing solution is headed by the Bundesbank and counts SWIFT among its members. German corporations and trade associations all support the initiative.

It was “a major step forward in intensifying Germany’s economic relations with China,” said Bundesbank Executive Board Member Carl-Ludwig Thiele.

In its coverage of the event, state-owned Xinhua News Agency outlined China’s “three-pronged” strategy for promoting the internationalization of the RMB: “facilitating international trade and investment denominated and settled in RMB, encouraging offshore RMB service centers to develop offshore RMB-denominated financial products, and encouraging central banks to hold RMB assets as part of their foreign exchange reserves.”

A succinct definition of breaking the dollar’s hegemony as payments currency, investment currency, and reserve currency – China’s strategy since 2009.

At the time, the financial crisis in the US sent cold shivers down the spine of China’s government that until then had been sitting loosey-goosey on mountains of US paper that suddenly threatened to evaporate, such as Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s mortgage backed securities that China had somehow thought were worth something when in fact they were not – at least not until China applied enough pressure on the Bush Administration to guarantee them and on the Fed to buy them to inflate their value.

China got bailed out by the US taxpayer and the Fed, but the episode taught the government a lesson: dump the dollar. And so it went about it, carefully, systematically, step by step, but relentlessly, as Xinhua said, in a “multi-pronged” strategy that included making broad-ranging bilateral currency deals with one country at a time.

Compared to China, Russia is small fry in terms of trade and financial relations with the US. But it too has had it. The first official warning shot was fired before its all-out assault on the dollar system begins. Not by a Putin advisor that can be brushed off, but by Russia’s Minister of Economy and former Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank. A major escalation.

Copyright Blacklisted News, 2014

The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada has adopted a resolution on the immediate disarmament of illegal armed groups. The most notorious is the nationalistic Right Sector, whose members have been involved in the bloodiest turmoil in Ukraine’s recent past.

The vote passed by the parliament on Tuesday allows for the banning of Right Sector if it refuses to give up arms. The decision was supported by 256 MPs, while the minimum needed to legitimate it is 220 votes.

“Considering the extraordinary public and political situation in the country, aggravation of the crime rate and systematical provocations on the part of foreign citizens in the south-east of Ukraine and in Kiev, the Parliament of Ukraine decrees to oblige the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and Security Service of Ukraine to immediately disarm illegal armed formations,”RIA Novosti quoted the Rada resolution.

Right Sector militants expelled from Kiev

On Monday, Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov urged militants to clear out of the capital following a shootout in downtown Kiev instigated by a Right Sector member injured three people, including Deputy Mayor Bogdan Dubas.

A police special operations taskforce armed with automatic weapons besieged the Dnepr Hotel, where Right Sector had been based for the last several weeks, and delivered an ultimatum to abandon the building leaving all weapons behind. In return, police promised a safe corridor out of the city for the militants, who primarily arrived to Kiev from western regions of Ukraine.

Armed special team police officers surround the Dnipro hotel in the center of Kiev late on March 31, 2014 (AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky)

Armed special team police officers surround the Dnipro hotel in the center of Kiev late on March 31, 2014 (AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky)

The Right Sector militants fulfilled the condition and were taken out of the city in a convoy of buses. At the same time, nobody searched for hidden weapons either on their persons or among their numerous belongings loaded on the buses. Earlier there were reports that valuable items were missing from the government buildings ‘guarded’ by Right Sector members.

Police officers entered the abandoned RS headquarters and reportedly have already found some weapons and a self-made explosive device hidden inside. The discovered arms are now being inspected to establish if any of them were used in the crime-wave that swept through the Ukrainian capital lately.

Last Thursday up to 2,000 nationalists from the Right Sector encircled the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev and tried to storm it. They demanded Avakov’s resignation following the death of one an RS leader, Aleksandr Muzychko, apparently in a police operation. Days earlier they threatened to kill Avakov to avenge Muzychko’s death.

Last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview that Moscow has “factual information” about Right Sector coordinating the sniper shootings in downtown Kiev on February 20, when unidentified snipers were killing both the protesters and law enforcement officers.

It’s fair to say that the complex anti-government protest movements in both Venezuela and Ukraine were boiled down by US corporate media to send a clear message to their domestic audience: These are the good guys.

In Ukraine, the takeaway was that there are two sides, and the people seeking to topple the government (successfully, as it turned out) wanted to be more like us. On NBC Nightly News (2/18/14), correspondent Richard Engel explained: “The Ukrainian government is backed by Moscow. The protesters want closer ties with Europe and the United States.”

ABC World News correspondent Terry Moran (2/19/14) framed it this way:

Will this country of 46 million people turn West toward the US and Europe and democracy, or turn East to Vladimir Putin and Russia, which ruled here for centuries?”

And ABC anchor Diane Sawyer(2/20/14) called it

an unremitting duel between protesters who say they want Western freedom and police enforcing the alliance with Russia and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and all that he represents.

This casting of the conflict is obviously simplistic. There is a case to be made that now-deposed Yanukovych spurned an economic deal with the European Union–one that he seemed inclined to accept weeks earlier–because it was insufficient to deal with the scale of the country’s economic problems (Reuters12/19/13), which made Putin’s offer more attractive.

That is not to suggest that anti-government protesters do not have serious grievances with the state of their country. Likewise, it has to be said that, for all the portraits of a movement that wants US-style freedoms, a substantial minority of the protest movement is drawn from fascist and neo-Nazi factions (Guardian1/29/14Slate2/20/14).

In Venezuela, meanwhile, demonstrators are similarly labeled. Here’s Mariana Atencio on ABC World News (2/23/14):

It’s been 12 straight days of violent clashes here in Venezuela. On one side, students and the middle class. On the other, police and pro-government groups, followers of the party of anti-American President Hugo Chavez.

So it’s students versus people who support the “anti-American” government–not difficult to figure out whose side you’re supposed to take. Nor didNewsweek (2/21/14) leave much doubt when it described protest leader Leopoldo Lopez this way:

With twinkling chocolate-colored eyes and high cheekbones, López seems to have it all: an attractive and supportive wife, two children who get along with each other and impossibly adorable Labrador puppies. He is charismatic, athletic and good-looking.

Good protesters.

 Venezuela: Good protesters.

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Palestine: Not good.

In the Washington Post (2/26/14), the Venezuelan protests were portrayed as a reaction to the country’s “hangover from 14 years of Chávez rule: a country with not enough milk or sugar in the supermarkets and far too many carjackings and murders in the streets.”

If that were the most important legacy of the past dozen years, you’d expect the entire country to be protesting–and it’d be hard to fathom how Chavez and current president Nicolas Maduro managed to win numerous elections. But in truth, by many indicators, life for poor Venezuelans sharply improved during the Chavez years (FAIR Media Advisory3/6/13), which explains their support for his party.

But the lesson is these are protest movements–despite adopting militant and in some cases quite violent tactics–that US media by and large were cheering.

In the midst of these conflicts, a new report from Amnesty International (2/27/14) on Israeli violence in the West Bank “documented the killings of 22 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank last year, at least 14 of which were in the context of protests.” The report received minimal coverage in the US press, though–and perhaps because–it raised profound questions about how a close US ally attacks protesters against military occupation.

Would the US press champion the cause of Palestinian demonstrators, or criticize harsh Israeli response to dissent? How about actually cheering on violent Palestinian resistance? It is simply unfathomable–Palestinians are the wrong kind of protester.

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April 1st, 2014 by Global Research News

The IMF “Rescue Package”: Western Looting of Ukraine Has Begun

April 1st, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

It is now apparent that the “Maiden protests” in Kiev were in actuality a Washington organized coup against the elected democratic government. The purpose of the coup is to put NATO military bases on Ukraine’s border with Russia and to impose an IMF austerity program that serves as cover for Western financial interests to loot the country. The sincere idealistic protesters who took to the streets without being paid were the gullible dupes of the plot to destroy their country.

Politically Ukraine is an untenable aggregation of Ukrainian and Russian territory, because traditional Russian territories were stuck into the borders of the Ukraine Soviet Republic by Lenin and Khrushchev. The Crimea, stuck into Ukraine by Khrushchev, has already departed and rejoined Russia. Unless some autonomy is granted to them, Russian areas in eastern and southern Ukraine might also depart and return to Russia. If the animosity displayed toward the Russian speaking population by the stooge government in Kiev continues, more defections to Russia are likely.

The Washington-imposed coup faces other possible difficulties from what seems to be a growing conflict between the well-organized Right Sector and the Washington-imposed stooges. If armed conflict between these two groups were to occur, Washington might conclude that it needs to send help to its stooges. The appearance of US/NATO troops in Ukraine would create pressure on Putin to occupy the remaining Russian speaking parts of Ukraine.

Before the political and geographical issues are settled, the Western looting of Ukraine has already begun. The Western media, doesn’t tell any more truth about IMF “rescue packages” than it does about anything else. The media reports, and many Ukrainians believe, that the IMF is going to rescue Ukraine financially by giving the country billions of dollars.

Ukraine will never see one dollar of the IMF money. What the IMF is going to do is to substitute Ukrainian indebtedness to the IMF for Ukrainian indebtedness to Western banks. The IMF will hand over the money to the Western banks, and the Western banks will reduce Ukraine’s indebtedness by the amount of IMF money. Instead of being indebted to the banks, Ukraine will now be indebted to the IMF.

Now the looting can begin. The IMF loan brings new conditions and imposes austerity on the Ukrainian people so that the Ukraine government can gather up the money with which to repay the IMF. The IMF conditions that will be imposed on the struggling Ukraine population will consist of severe reductions in old-age pensions, in government services, in government employment, and in subsidies for basic consumer purchases such as natural gas. Already low living standards will plummet. In addition, Ukrainian public assets and Ukrainian owned private industries will have to be sold off to Western purchasers.

Additionally, Ukraine will have to float its currency. In a futile effort to protect its currency’s value from being driven very low (and consequently import prices very high) by speculators ganging up on the currency and short-selling it, Ukraine will borrow more money with which to support its currency in the foreign exchange market. Of course, the currency speculators will end up with the borrowed money, leaving Ukraine much deeper in debt than currently.

The corruption involved is legendary, so the direct result of the gullible Maiden protesters will be lower Ukrainian living standards, more corruption, loss of sovereignty over the country’s economic policy, and the transfer of Ukrainian public and private property to Western interests.

If Ukraine also falls into NATO’s clutches, Ukraine will also find itself in a military alliance against Russia and find itself targeted by Russian missiles. This will be a tragedy for Ukraine and Russia as Ukrainians have relatives in Russia and Russians have relatives in Ukraine. The two countries have essentially been one for 200 years. To have them torn apart by Western looting and Washington’s drive for world hegemony is a terrible shame and a great crime.

The gullible dupes who participated in the orchestrated Maiden protests will rue it for the rest of their lives.

When the protests began, I described what the consequences would be and said that I would explain the looting process. It is not necessary for me to do so. Professor Michel Chossudovsky has explained the IMF looting process along with much history.

One final word. Despite unequivocal evidence of one country after another being looted by the West, governments of indebted countries continue to sign up for IMF programs. Why do governments of countries continue to agree to the foreign looting of their populations? The only answer is that they are paid. The corruption that is descending upon Ukraine will make the former regime look honest.

 

The Worldwide #WaveOfAction begins April 4th and runs through July 4th…”

Washington’s Blog has brought to our attention a series of videos produced by “ Wave of Action ” and “Anonymous” concerning the launching of a “Worldwide Global Awakening”, a so-called “Global Spring.”

“What do you think, Powerful or Impotent? Genius or Idiocy? Productive or Counterproductive?” asks Washington’s Blog.

The videos use powerful and emotional quotes, yet they fail to acknowledge the dramatic economic, social and geopolitical realities affecting humanity.

“Move out and do it”. But in relation to what?

Does the Wave of Action have an Action Program?

Beautiful slogans:

Can you hear me, wherever you are,

We are coming into a new World

The Glorious Future

The solar planet has been given wings

On April 4th a Global Spring begins.

Moment of Clarity

Our Time has Come

Begin to Form Affinity Groups and Then Do It.

Evolve society

Let’s make transforming the world the cool thing to do.

Let’s create a culture of transformation.”

The Manipulation of the Protest Movement

The World  is indeed at a dangerous Crossroads: At the height of a Worldwide crisis characterized by the collapse of social programs, unemployment, IMF engineered global poverty and US led wars, Washington is now supporting Al Qaeda “freedom fighters” and a Neo-Nazi government in Ukraine.

Beyond the rhetoric, the music and the video-montage, none of these issues are addressed.

This Wave of Action fails to provide an understanding of global capitalism.

The word “war” or “anti-war” are not mentioned, nor is the word “austerity”.

This initiative has all the appearances of a Psy Op., a carefully staged propaganda campaign to create confusion and channel people into manipulated protest movements.

(more videos below)

What is the functioning of the corrupt structures of global capitalism?

What “revolutionary changes” are required to dismantle the underlying power structures?

The answers:

We are a leaderless movement. We do our own thing. We want a new paradigm.

But that paradigm is not clearly identified nor is it coupled with concrete proposals.

Powerful messages in the videos by Martin Luther King and Charlie Chaplin are casually distorted, manipulated and quoted out of context.

More slogans:

“The decentralized movement toward freedom is raging across the world.  It cannot be stopped.

Let’s blaze a contagious nonviolent wave of action through mass consciousness, signaling the end of the old world, ushering in a new paradigm.

Let’s pick a three-month span, perhaps throughout this coming spring, and unite our collective actions into an unprecedented Worldwide Wave that cannot be ignored by anyone.

If we begin preparing now, a massive spring offensive can lead to a summer of transformation.”

“Cool Thing to Do”

Economic and social realities are obfuscated. The nature of the New World Order, the underlying economic system and its oppressive police state apparatus are carefully omitted from the videos.

Transforming the world is “the cool thing to do”, according to the “Global Spring” initiative, as long as it does not threaten the corporate elites which in all likelihood are funding this Worldwide awakening.

The names of the major actors on Wall Street, the White House and the Pentagon are not mentioned.

The US led wars on Syria, Libya, Mali, the Central African Republic, the US-NATO-EU led Coup d’etat in Ukraine are not mentioned.

Wall Street is mentioned but the nature of financial fraud and stock market manipulation is not addressed.

Ritual of dissent? This new thrust of “Manufactured Dissent” uses catch phrases, revolutionary symbols and narrative, but fails to identify who is the target of the revolutionary movement.

Who is Anonymous?

Anonymous is launching the “Global Spring” initiative. Who is Anonymous?

Anonymous symbols were visible in the Neo-Nazi protest movement in Ukraine, which serves US-NATO interests.

Anonymous has supported the violent riots against the elected president of Ukraine (see video below)

Sinister: An opposition supporter wearing a mask associated with the anarchic Anonymous movement stands on a roof in front of protests

An opposition supporter wearing a mask associated with Anonymous. The neo-Nazi  symbol appears on the top of the mask.

Prior to its activities in the Ukraine protest movement, “Anonymous” waged cyberattacks on Iran and Syria. The latter conducted in 2011 directed against the Syrian government, were waged in support of Syria’s “opposition” (in exile) which is also integrated by Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists. (See  Syrian Ministry Of Defense Website Hacked By ‘Anonymous’, Huffington Post, August 8, 2011). Since then the atrocities committed by opposition rebels against civilians has been amply documented.

The actions of “Anonymous” in Syria and Iran are consistent with the framework of the “Colored Revolutions”, which seeks to demonize the political regime and create economic and social instability.

Subsequent actions led against Syria by Anonymous (2012) were coordinated with those of the US and its allies,  with a view to closing down Syria’s communications network including the internet and telephone.

While serving the interests of the US State Department in acts aggression against Ukraine and Syria, Anonymous is upheld as a progressive yet “invisible” entity supportive of “democratization”.

A Global Awakening Wave has allegedly been launched by Anonymous. Anonymous has ties to the Adbusters Media Foundation which in turn is funded by the Tides Foundation.

The Global Call was initiated by Anonymous. Is it funded by corporate foundations?

How convenient. Everybody is Anonymous, but Anonymous has been “visible” in Ukraine, Venezuela, and the Middle East in ways which are broadly supportive of Wall Street and the White House.

ANONYMOUS DOES NOT HAVE A WEBSITE. WE DO NOT HAVE ANY LEADERS OR  REPRESENTATIVES. ANYONE CLAIMING TO BE A LEADER OR REPRESENTATIVE IS NOT RELATED TO ANONYMOUS. EVERYONE IS ANONYMOUS. liveleak.com

The Awakening Wave

Excerpts below from EvolveSociety.org  (many of the concepts below are contained in the videoclips)

https://evolvesociety.org/feature/a-call-for-a-crowdsourced-worldwide-wave-of-action-www/

“This new Anonymous call to action was originally posted to our social network in binary code and is quickly spreading around the internet. We are featuring it here to show our support for the proposed campaign.

The decentralized movement toward freedom is raging across the world.  It cannot be stopped.

Radical change is urgently needed, so let’s make transforming the world the cool thing to do. Let’s create a culture of transformation. Let’s blaze a contagious nonviolent wave of action through mass consciousness, signaling the end of the old world, ushering in a new paradigm.

The Awakening Wave

The last time we all rallied together in a loosely knit collective fashion, the Occupy movement was born and the 99% meme brought the corruption of our political and economic system, along with the grotesque inequality of wealth, into mass consciousness in a profound and lasting way. It was the opening act, the awakening wave.

Since the Occupy camps were crushed by brutal police state force, the movement has splintered in many different directions.

It’s Time For A Worldwide Wave of Transformation

Let’s pick a three-month span, perhaps throughout this coming spring, and unite our collective actions into an unprecedented Worldwide Wave that cannot be ignored by anyone.

Let’s crowdsource a relentless global wave of action that protests the corrupt, while also rallying around and celebrating effective alternatives and solutions to the vast problems we are confronted by. Imagine thousands of nonviolent guerrilla armies swarming corrupt targets and rallying for viable solutions for a sustained three-month cycle. If we begin preparing now, a massive spring offensive can lead to a summer of transformation.

Staying true to the vital nature of the movement, you lead, in your own way. Pick whatever issues concern you most and run with them, knowing that likeminded people throughout the world will also be fighting in solidarity, in whatever way they can, at the same time you are.

Not Focused Enough?

In an attempt to dismiss and undermine us, status quo propagandists will once again criticize us by saying that our message of systemic change is not focused enough or lacks coherent goals. This feeble attempt to keep people from joining in with us will be overcome by our widespread and consistent actions, which will lead by example and inspire the cultural shift in mass consciousness that we urgently need. Our diverse crowdsourced actions will boldly demonstrate our will to expose, fight and overcome tyrannical systems. By rallying around viable solutions and protesting what we are against, the goals and freedoms that we aspire to will organically become self-evident to all.

Throughout history, when people have fought against tyranny and oppression, they didn’t have one perfect utopian model outcome agreed upon beforehand. They just knew that the invading and old systems were detrimental to their wellbeing and had to go. We are now in that position.

Don’t let the propagandists fool you. We do not need corrupt corporations or aristocratic government rulers anymore. They are obsolete. People throughout this interconnected technological world have already come up with much more effective systems to replace the tyrannical one that is currently dominating our lives. There are already many effective solutions to our problems, solutions that are held back by the entrenched forces of shortsighted greed. Once a small percentage of us withdraw our participation from corrupt entities and opt out of tyranny, the old and obsolete systems of rule will quickly fall away.

Extensive empirical evidence demonstrates that nonviolent movements toward freedom result in positive outcomes. Research has proven that it only takes approximately 3% of the population engaging in various forms of nonviolent action to create significant meaningful change, for the betterment of society. We now have the necessary critical mass of aware people who are ready, willing and capable.

Guerrilla Tactics

This time the police state will not be able to crush us. We will not have stationary targets. We will be everywhere, fluid and evasive. The movement will be an unstoppable crowdsourced, decentralized and autonomous revolutionary force.

We will engage in a diversity of nonviolent tactics, from large-scale mobilizations to small daily acts. Most of you already know the actions and tactics that are needed. Without revealing too much strategic information, here are a few basic actions to get a fire going in your mind:

> Mass gatherings, demonstrations;
> Marches, parades;
> Flash mobs, swarms;
> Shutdown harmful corporate and governmental operations;
> Worker Strikes;
> Hunger strikes;
> Sit-ins;
> Strategic defaults, debt strikes;
> Foreclosure prevention;
> Boycotting corrupt corporations;
> Move your money out of the big banks and the stock market;
> Use alternative currencies and economic systems;
> Cancel your cable television and support independent media;
> Use independent online tools that don’t sell your info and protect your privacy;
> Online civil disobedience, Anonymous operations;
> Leak information on corruption;
> Use alternative energy;
> Build your own urban and hydroponic farms, or get your food from them;
> Support local businesses;
> Join local community organizations;
> Take part in food banks and help develop community support systems;
> Start or join intentional and autonomous communities;
> Experiment with new governing systems, Liquid Democracy;
> Host teach-ins;
> Organize socially conscious events;
> Make conscious media;
> Guerrilla postering, messages on money;
> Help inspiring groups and organizations spread their message;
> Random acts of kindness and compassion;
> Mass meditations, prayer sessions and spiritual actions.

The list goes on and on. You know what you can do to play a part. Do whatever you feel inspired to do.

Radical change is urgently needed, so let’s make transforming the world the cool thing to do. Let’s create a culture of transformation. Let’s blaze a contagious nonviolent wave of action through mass consciousness, signaling the end of the old world, ushering in a new paradigm.

Now is the time.

Ride the Worldwide Wave of Transformation
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#www

Tweak this meme! This is a draft call to action, a work in progress. Feel free to make changes to it and spread it around however you see fit.”

This call to action does not identify the nature of the crisis, nor does it mention the names of the main architects of this Global New World order.

The motto is do your own thing. Its a “leaderless” spontaneous movement.

We are familiar with the logic of “colored revolutions” whereby the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and various Wall Street foundations generously fund NGOs with a view to toppling the governments of sovereign countries.

While the logic of  this self-proclaimed Worldwide Wave of Transformation is different, it is geared towards manipulating people while also weakening meaningful forms of grassroots activism and organized dissent.

“What do you think, Powerful or Impotent? Genius or Idiocy? Productive or Counterproductive?”

These videos are intended to create confusion.

Our thanks to Washington Blog for having brought the above videos to our attention

UK: Thousands Prosecuted Under Controversial Law of Joint Enterprise

April 1st, 2014 by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

An eight-month investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveals, for the first time, comprehensive data showing at least 1,800 people have been prosecuted for homicide using the little-known law of joint enterprise: a law which experts have called “unclear” and “capable of producing injustice”.

The revelation comes as leading members of the judiciary call for its reform. The criminal Law Commissioner, Professor David Ormerod, told the Bureau the case for reform was “overwhelming” as joint enterprise was “unclear” and posed “a risk of injustice”.

Professor Jeremy Horder, former criminal Law Commissioner and now at the London School of Economics, said there needs to be major statutory reform of the law.

And Lord Phillips, former Lord Chief Justice, told the Bureau joint enterprise needs reform as it was “capable of producing injustice, undoubtedly”.

Until now, there has been no information on the scale of the use of this powerful part of the criminal justice system as no official records are kept. New data collected and analysed by the Bureau shows that since 2005 at least 1,800 people and up to 4,590 have been prosecuted for homicide under joint enterprise – a legal tool that allows the prosecution of multiple defendants for the same crime. This represents at least 17.7% of all homicide prosecutions in this period.

Key findings:

  •  Between 2005 and 2013, 1,853 people were prosecuted for homicides that involved four or more defendants. This is the closest approximation that can be made to the use of joint enterprise. Most academics agree these prosecutions almost certainly relied on the joint enterprise doctrine.
  • In the same eight years 4,590 people were prosecuted for homicides involving two or more defendants – a definition the CPS suggests is a clear indication of the use of joint enterprise.
  • The rate of use has remained relatively constant, though there was a small rise in the rate of homicide prosecutions involving four or more defendants in 2008 (20.4%).
  • The more defendants involved in a prosecution, the lesser the chances of securing a conviction. The average conviction rate for all homicides is 80.4%. Where there are two or more defendants the conviction rate drops to 76.7% and for four or more defendants it is 73.3%.
  • The rate at which joint enterprise cases are appealed appears to be on the rise. In 2008 11% of published Court of Appeal rulings dealt with convictions where there had been some element of joint enterprise. In 2013 the rate had increased to 22%.

Read report and full investigation

Some people in some Republican-governed states are too poor to qualify for subsidies to buy insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

You get that right: too poor to qualify for subsidies.

Here is how I discovered this remarkable fact:

There was a Reuters article at Huffington Post on January 22nd, “Target Cuts Health Coverage For Part-Time Workers, Citing Obamacare,” and it reported that Target, “like Home Depot, said it was shifting medical coverage for part-time workers to new public marketplace exchanges,” in order to cut costs.

One of the reader-comments to that news-report came from “Kate,” who said, ”In Alaska, where we have to rely on the federal Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace, a single person has to make at least $14,350 per year and a family of 4 has to bring in a minimum of $29,440 to qualify for tax subsidies to help pay ACA premiums.”

I replied to her comment: “That’s obviously and clearly false, because all of the ACA subsidies kick in only for people whose income is below a given amount — not at all for people whose earnings are above that amount (as you there allege).”

She responded: “You have no idea what you’re talking about. I am a Certified Application Counselor for the ACA and there is an income range within which qualifies folks for the tax subsidies. A single person has to have an AGI between $14,350 and $57,400 to get a subsidy. Those who fall below the $14,350 are out of luck because our governor did not accept the Medicaid Expansion program under the ACA. Check your facts.”

I was shocked to find that my understanding of the Affordable Care Act was so grossly deficient in this crucial regard.

Subsequently, I looked to find verification of what this “Certified Application Counselor for the ACA” had asserted. And I found it, at the “Quick Check Chart for Alaska and Hawaii: Do I qualify to save on health insurance coverage?”

This problem isn’t to be blamed only on Obama, but also on the Republican Governors (such as Sean Parnell in Alaska) who took advantage of U.S. Chief Justice John R. Roberts’ offering governors the opportunity to treat ACA’s Medicaid-expansion as being optional. The Affordable Care Act hadn’t been written with the possibility in mind that a state governor might choose to deny low-income citizens an expansion of Medicaid which would be almost 100% paid for by the Federal Government (rather than by the state). The possibility that Republicans would try to sabotage Obama’s Presidency in this way hadn’t even been contemplated by Obama.

Apparently, Obama must have ignored Rush Limbaugh’s saying, on 16 January 2009, “I hope he fails.” Then, at the “Take Back America Conference” on 27 February 2009, the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, endorsed Limbaugh’s statement. Subsequently, on 25 October 2010, the “Think Progress” website bannered “Mitch McConnell: I Want … To Make Obama A One-Term President,” and quoted McConnell, from an interview with the Republican National Journal (which soon removed from its website all record of its interview), in which McConnell said, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” On 4 November 2010, McConnell gave a speech to the Heritage Foundation saying the same thing: “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.” Virtually all of the largest corporations were pouring money into Republican political campaigns to help Mitch McConnell achieve his dream; but, far from Obama’s retaliating, he cooperated with their efforts.

So, this situation resulted from both a stupid President and a vicious Republican Party — not just John Roberts and the other Republican judges, and not just from Mitch McConnell and other congressional Republicans, but from the President himself, and from the former WellPont VP, Elizabeth Fowler, who actually wrote the law in the offices of the conservative Montana Senator Max Baucus, whom Obama chose to oversee its drafting, so as to keep the political contributions flowing from the health insurance companies and medical providers.

During the past few months, I have asked many people whether there are individuals and families who are too poor to qualify for subsidies under Obamacare, or the ACA, and no one yet has answered “Yes” to that.

Did you know that the answer is “Yes?”

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

On March 18, 2014 Cass Sunstein released his latest collection of essays, Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas.[1] Like his other works geared toward a mainstream readership, the prominent Harvard law professor, former Obama administration regulatory czar, and NSA advisor [2] points to numerous alleged dangers posed by even “rational people” who are susceptible to adopting “crippled epistemologies.” What Sunstein fails to explain throughout his most recent medley of gentle authoritarianism is how the “conspiracy theory” term has received vigorous promotion from the editorial practices of certain major corporate news media.

“Conspiracy theory” is not merely a flippant or off-handed water cooler term, but rather a powerful tool of political discourse. “Deployed as a pejorative putdown,” political scientist Lance deHaven-Smith observes,

the label is a verbal defense mechanism used by political elites to suppress mass suspicions that inevitably arise when shocking political crimes benefit top leaders or play into their agendas, especially when those same officials are in control of agencies responsible for preventing events in question or for investigating them after they have occurred.[3]

Along these lines, “conspiracy theory” and its common variants, “assassination buff,” “crackpot,” “wacko,” and so on, were essentially interpolated into news reports and commentary in the late 1960s by CIA media assets as the agency maneuvered to bolster the Warren Commission’s “lone assassin” explanation of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OIiOztc52g

When confronted in 2012, Sunstein does not “remember very well” co-authoring a 2008 paper, “Conspiracy Theories,” the namesake of his most recent book.

Only in the past forty years or so has the label become an especially salient discursive technique for channeling political dialogue and inquiry. From the late 1800s through the first half of the 1900s the phrase can seldom be found in news discourse. A search of the Historical New York Times database finds that “conspiracy theory” is used 30 times between 1870 and 1960, often in accounts of criminal court proceedings. Yet from 1960 to 1969 alone there are 46 instances of the term’s usage in Times articles. Since 1970, it is invoked in over 1,700 pieces, with a peak between 2000 and 2009 (728).[4]

Today the pejorative not only acts as a disciplinary measure–journalists and scholars alike fear such a trenchant smear–but also as a technique to shape information and analysis. It serves as a more-than-subtle way of saying, “Look here, not there,” thereby guiding readers and viewers to place their reasoning faculties in abeyance and adopt what are often uncritical and even misleading modes of substantiation and conclusion. While this phenomenon is clearly demonstrable in print news media, it is also widespread in US-based cable and broadcast news.

A LexisNexis search of news program transcripts for the dates March 1, 2011 to March 1, 2014 reveals 2,469 usages of the “conspiracy theory/theories” term. Probing the surveyed time span reveals CNN (586 transcripts) and MSNBC (382) as the foremost purveyors of the phrase, with Fox News (182) a distant third. The US government’s transcript service, US Federal News, comes in at fourth, suggesting persistent strategic usage of the label at federal government press conferences and similar functions to drive home official positions and dispel challenges to them. Programming on National Public Radio ranks fifth, with 115 instances.

The following is a breakdown of the cable or broadcast outlet/program referencing “conspiracy theory” or “conspiracy theories” in transcript text within the aforementioned three-year span.

CNN Transcripts  -  586
Global Broadcast Database (local broadcast transcripts)  -  416
MSNBC  -  382
Fox News  -  182
US Federal News  -  144
National Public Radio  -  116
Australian Broadcasting Corporation  -  71
NBC News  -  67
Congressional Quarterly Transcripts  -  57
ABC News  -  55
CTV TV (Canada)  -  55
CBS News – 54
CNN International  -  48
Imus Simulcast  -  39
Financial Market Regulatory Wire  -  31
PBS News Hour  -  21
Bloomberg: Surveillance Show  -  17
Congressional Quarterly Testimony  -  16
The Charlie Rose Show  -  15
Follow the Money  -  14
Euro News  -  13
Lou Dobbs Tonight – 12
Cavuto – 8

To be more conclusive, the specific contexts in which the term is mobilized might be more fully examined and delineated. An argument may also be waged that this metric is not exactly proper given the dissimilar breadth of content produced by each outlet. After all, a 24-hour cable news channel such as CNN simply has far more “news hole” to fill than a daily one-hour broadcast like PBS News Hour or Charlie Rose.

Image: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow (Wiki Commons)

Yet even here the variances are telling. For example, when comparing domestic CNN transcripts to those of the channel’s counterpart, CNN International, the former uses the term over twelve times as frequently. Such findings suggest the execution of a clear-cut editorial policy to fulfill certain propaganda-related ends–indeed, not unlike the Central Intelligence Agency’s usage of the term to combat alternative interpretations of President Kennedy’s assassination.

Along these lines, further examination of the data sample distinguishes how even news personalities’ bylines are correlated with frequent employment of the “conspiracy theory” label. Searching within the same data set, transcripts with CNN Anderson Cooper’s byline possess the highest incidence of the expression (81), with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Al Sharpton tied for second place (77), and Piers Morgan (38) ranking third. CNN’s Erin Burnett and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes tie for fourth. Ostensibly conservative Fox News personalities Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity use the expression less frequently.

Anderson Cooper (CNN)  -  81
Rachel Maddow (MSNBC)  -  77
Al Sharpton (MSNBC)  -  77
Piers Morgan (CNN)  -  38
Erin Burnett (CNN)  -  31
Chris Hayes (MSNBC)  -  31
Sean Hannity (Fox News)  -  29
Bill O’Reilly (Fox News) – 19

Image: CNN’s Anderson Cooper (Wiki Commons)

With the exception of ABC (Australia) and CTV (Canada), all of the outlets are US-based, suggesting how the American population, well known for its limited historical comprehension and political sophistication, is expressly targeted with repeated usage of the “conspiracy theory” phrase. A population relying on sensation, caricature, and hearsay to understand national and world affairs has already forsaken its freedom.  It is perhaps ironic that CNN and MSNBC in particular cater to audiences that see themselves as open-minded and “liberal”–indeed, the opposite of cunning technocrats such as Sunstein. At the same time, if these two networks’ continually depressed ratings are any indication, the public is becoming more and more skeptical of how it is being patronized.[5]

A most profound political act any individual can undertake may involve adopting a basic regimen of intellectual self-defense that would include an increased awareness of the “conspiracy theory” label itself and a resolve to assess the term’s utilization vis-á-vis the context in which it is employed, in an effort to better determine what it seeks to obscure, legitimate, and redirect attention to.

Notes

[1] Cass Sunstein, Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014.

[2] “America’s Joseph Goebbels to Serve on NSA Oversight Panel,” Liberty Blitzkrieg, August 25, 2013.

[3] Lance deHaven-Smith, Conspiracy Theory in America, Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013, 9.

[4] See also deHaven-Smith, 126-131.

[5] “Key Indicators in Media & News,” Pew Research Journalism Project, March 26, 2014.

No Wreckage of Malaysian Airline Plane Recovered

April 1st, 2014 by Alan Leigh

After three weeks of intensive searching, there is still controversy and speculation surrounding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines’ Flight MH370 on March 8. A series of satellite images that appeared to show debris in remote areas of the southern Indian Ocean have not been verified by the recovery of wreckage. The latest possible debris identified by an Australian plane in a new search zone to west of Australia—orange objects that were described as the most promising lead to date—turned out not to be related to the missing aircraft.

Ten days after MH370 went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, news emerged that Thai military radars had detected the missing plane changing direction toward the south-west. According to Thai authorities, this important piece of information, which could have been used to avoid searching in the wrong area for more than a week, was not passed on to Malaysian authorities because they did not ask for it.

No explanation has been provided by Malaysian authorities for the failure of at least three Malaysian military radars to detect Flight MH370’s u-turn toward the south and the lack of any known attempt to contact the crew and question the change of direction. According to Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s defence minister and acting transport minister, an investigation is underway.

Hishammuddin has refused to rule out the possibility that the entire search will be moved away from the current zone, about 1,100 south of Perth. After visiting Perth’s Pearce Air Force base on Monday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott conceded that authorities in charge of the search are operating on limited information.

Despite no wreckage being located, Abbott reiterated his support for the March 24 announcement by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak that MH370 crashed in the Indian Ocean, killing all 12 crew and 227 passengers aboard. “I think that Prime Minister Najib Razak was perfectly entitled to come to that conclusion,” Abbott declared.

Abbott praised the joint operation by a number of countries to resolve the mystery of Flight MH370, calling it a “humanitarian” effort for the “betterment of humanity.” Abbott added: “This multi-country search is a powerful example of international cooperation at a time of adversity.”

In reality, geopolitical rivalries and suspicions have apparently led governments to withhold high-resolution images from military satellites and information sourced in other ways. The search for the aircraft is being used, particularly by Australia and the United States, to rehearse their ability to sustain extensive aerial surveillance operations in the Indian Ocean.

James Brown, a military analyst at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, said it was “a peacetime test of many of the military functions that would be critical in the event of a conflict.” The countries involved in this search for MH370, Brown noted, were “closely watching each other’s performance, and wary of exposing any vulnerabilities to each other, and their own domestic political audiences.”

The appointment of the former Australian Defence Forces chief, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, to head the joint search operations also points to the military, rather than humanitarian, character of the operation.

According to Reuters, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has issued rules and guidelines for countries involved in the search operation since Houston’s appointment. No detailed information has been provided about the guidelines, but they are believed to include stipulations that any wreckage must be secured and handed over for investigation by the Malaysian authorities.

The families of passengers on board the missing flight are still demanding that the Malaysian government explain what happened to their loved ones. Desperate Chinese family members who arrived in Kuala Lumpur on March 30 carried a banner reading: “Hand us the murderer. Tell us the truth. Give us our relatives back.”

The Chinese government was initially critical of Malaysia’s handling of the operation and lack of transparency. It is now telling the families to move on and accept that their loved ones have perished. China Daily, a newspaper controlled by the Chinese state, wrote on March 30: “All the related parties can do is to continue to search for the wreckage, carry on negotiations with the Malaysian side for more information and prepare to make arrangements for funerals.”

According to the South China Morning Post, the Chinese government has flagged the possibility of using the failure to locate the plane to justify a significant expansion of its global monitoring network, particularly over the strategic waters of the Indian Ocean.

Professor Liu Yu of Peking University told the newspaper: “International earth-observation services today are dominated by the US and European countries, but if China launches more than 50 satellites for this purpose, the whole landscape will be changed. The more Chinese satellites there are in space, the easier our work becomes. By analysing data from numerous satellites positioned at different locations and equipped with different sensors, we can understand much better an area of interest.”

Professor Zhao Chaofang of the Ocean University of China added: “Many Chinese satellites can only offload their data when they are flying over China… To build up a global monitoring network as efficient as that of the US, our ground stations overseas must be expanded as well.”

On Saturday, Malaysian defence minister Hishammuddin said both the British MI6 and the American CIA are now working with their Chinese counterparts in the investigation. This renewed speculation that the plane disappearance is related to a terrorist act, rather than mechanical failure.

One suicide scenario has centered on the MH370 pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah. After searches of his house, interviews with his family and an examination of a flight simulator that he possessed, Malaysian police dismissed any suspicions of Zaharie. Lurid speculation published by the British Daily Mail that Zaharie deliberately crashed the plane to protest against the re-conviction of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been categorically rejected by his family, friends, Anwar and other opposition politicians.

A July 2011 cockpit fire at Cairo airport in a Boeing 777—the same model as MH370—involved a short circuit that ignited an oxygen pipe. After the Cairo accident, regulators ordered the replacement of the oxygen pipes, which cost $2,698. According to the Sydney Morning Herald , Malaysia Airlines refused to say whether it replaced the oxygen pipes. A company spokesperson said it complied with all mandatory orders issued by authorities.

Effectiveness of the Flu Vaccine against Influenza?

April 1st, 2014 by Roman Bystrianyk

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie— deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion  without the discomfort of thought. – John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917–1963)

Just take a walk or drive around this time of year and you can’t help noticing signs for the flu vaccine. They’re pretty much everywhere, lining entire parking lots and walkways into markets. They encourage everyone to get the shot – telling you to “walk in anytime” and of course accepting insurance. Some even offer incentives to get the vaccine such as a giving a 20% off shopping pass with every flu shot. At workplaces across the country notices are sent out offering shots at flu clinics. It’s a full court press promoting the vaccine everywhere for everyone.

I called my local pharmacy to find out who could get the shot. They told me I didn’t even need a doctor’s note. I asked if a pregnant woman could get the shot and they said that it wasn’t contraindicated, but some people ask for preservative free shots. I asked if I was feeling under the weather if I could still get the shot and the answer was “sure no problem.”

So it’s easy. No doctor’s note. All you need is insurance and if you don’t have it just $31.99 per shot – at least that’s the price at my local pharmacy. It didn’t even matter if you were sick you’re ready for your shot. It couldn’t be any simpler.

But a couple of things were missing – science and information. Of course there is no debate when questioning vaccination in general and so it goes with the flu vaccine. Simply blindly accept, roll up your sleeve and get the injection that will supposedly protect you from getting sick. It has to be true doesn’t it? The government and medical organizations have all signed on and each year there is more and more push for everyone young and old to get vaccinated. But let’s do something you’re never supposed to do – ask questions and look for answers.

One of the most obvious questions is “did the flu vaccine reduce deaths?”

Looking at the Vital Statistics of the United States you can get all sorts of interesting information. Some of that information is the deaths from various infectious diseases. The statistics usually group influenza and pneumonia together with data for the United States starting in the year 1900 to the present. What it shows is that the death rate for influenza and pneumonia was at 200 per 100,000 and that slowly declined over the years. Aside from the 1918 flu pandemic the death rate continued to decline and reached about 20 to 25 per 100,000 by the early 1970s when there was the initial push for flu vaccines. You can see this decline in this graph

Deaths from influenza and pneumonia had decreased by 90% before there was an idea to push for widespread vaccination. This isn’t surprising at all since infectious disease death rates had declined well before there were vaccines. Measles deaths had declined by almost 100%

and whooping cough deaths by over 99%

before either of their perspective vaccines. Other infectious disease such as scarlet fever, typhoid, typhus, cholera, and others all decrease to virtually zero without any widespread use of any vaccine.

It is quite amazing that there was a 90% decrease in deaths before the use of any flu vaccine. What caused this massive decrease in deaths from infectious disease? What lessons have we learned? When you go get your flu shot do they share any of this information with you? Chances are probably not.

Even if we hadn’t learned any lessons as to why there was such a decrease in deaths, there were still people dying of the flu and pneumonia. With a vaccine the idea is of course to reduce those deaths. The question is how well has it done?

Let’s look at the data again. This time let’s examine the mortality rate and vaccine coverage. You would expect that with an increasing vaccine coverage that the death rate would decline. After all, vaccines are supposed to protect the population from the disease that they target. When we look at that data we find something surprising – we find that as the coverage rate for vaccination improved the death rate actually increased not decreased.

The data shows that influenza and pneumonia deaths were 20-25 per 100,000 in the mid to yearly 1970s and increases to about 30 per 100,000 with a much greater flu vaccine coverage.

This phenomenon was reported by the CDC epidemiologists in 2003 as reported in an article in the journal Vaccine.

    …national influenza-related mortality rates among seniors increased in the 1980s and 1990s as the senior vaccination coverage quadrupled. [1]

What’s more is that same article reported that only approximately 5% of winter deaths are related to influenza. The often stated 50% of senior deaths could be prevented by vaccination are incorrect and that belief has arisen out of a selection bias in previous studies.

    …there was no evidence that the vaccine prevented more deaths in the influenza period than in surround time periods… But much of the evidence for vaccine effectiveness from observational studies in seniors over 70 years of age is unreliable, and the remaining evidence suggests that vaccination is far less effective than previously thought… there are only a few well-controlled observational studies at this point; these studies suggest low vaccine benefits for seniors, with point estimates ranging from 0% to 29%.[2]

It’s important to note that 90% of influenza and pneumonia related deaths occur in seniors older than 70 years of age. Data from the National Vital Statistics[3] in 2001 shows the death rate per 100,000 for all age groups with clearly the biggest problem in seniors over 75 and over 85 at 148 and 685 rate per 100K respectively. Also, if you’re between the ages of 1 and 65 when you look at other causes of death (some are listed in the TABLE) the flu and pneumonia are not as nearly as high as a lot of other risks in life.

2Age

So a less than stellar 0 to 29% effectiveness in seniors isn’t all that we are led to believe in advertisements and public announcements. The authors of this study harshly conclude:

    …the idea that influenza vaccine can prevent up to 50% of ALL winter deaths is preposterous.[4]

A 2009 review by the Cochrane Collaboration identified, retrieved, and assessed all studies evaluating the effects (efficacy, effectiveness and harm) of vaccines against influenza in healthy adults. This study also came to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence for the use of widespread vaccination for the flu.

    There is not enough evidence to decide whether routine vaccination to prevent influenza in healthy adults is effective… The results of this review seem to discourage the utilisation of vaccination against influenza in healthy adults as a routine public health measure.[5]

A February 14, 2005 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine examined the influenza related deaths in the entire US elderly population. The authors expected that since influenza vaccination had greatly increased over the last 25 years that there should be a reduction in mortality by about 35% to 40%. What they found instead was no reduction in death despite increased vaccination.

    …the 50-percentage-point increase in vaccination coverage among the elderly after 1980 should have reduced both excess P&I [Pneumonia and Influenza] and excess all-cause mortality by about 35% to 40%. We found no evidence to indicate that such a reduction had occurred in excess P&I or excess all-cause mortality in any elderly age group.[6]

Again, the authors conclude that previous observational studies must have been biased to overestimate the benefits of the flu vaccine.

    …these estimates, which provide the best available national estimates of the fraction of all winter deaths that are specifically attributable to influenza, show that the observational studies must overstate the mortality benefits of the vaccine.[7]

In a recent article Peter Doshi, Ph.D reiterated this position. He declared that:

    The vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and the threat of influenza seems to be overstated… This means that influenza vaccines are approved for use in older people despite any clinical trials demonstrating a reduction in serious outcomes.[8]

He also stated that public officials only need to claim that the vaccine saves lives and that most people, including doctors, assume there is solid research behind the claim and unfortunately that is not the case. So in seniors – the group that has the greatest need – there really isn’t any good science to backup the use of the flu vaccine.

What about in children under 1 year of age where there is also a higher mortality rate? After all, the CDC currently recommends children 6 months and older get a flu vaccine. A 2008 study found no evidence as to the benefits of flu vaccination in children under two years of age.

    …vaccine effectiveness was not clearly shown in children under 2 years of age. Further studies using different methods, in different locations, and in different seasons, are needed to clarify the effectiveness of influenza vaccine among young children.[9]

In 2012 a comprehensive review of 75 randomized control studies in healthy children under 16 years of age was published.

    Inactivated vaccines in children aged two years or younger are not significantly more efficacious than placebo… little evidence is available for children younger than two years of age… No safety comparisons could be carried out, emphasising the need for standardisation of methods and presentation of vaccine safety data in future studies. In specific cases, influenza vaccines were associated with serious harms such as narcolepsy and febrile convulsions. It was surprising to find only one study of inactivated vaccine in children under two years, given current recommendations to vaccinate healthy children from six months of age in the USA, Canada, parts of Europe and Australia. If immunisation in children is to be recommended as a public health policy, large-scale studies assessing important outcomes, and directly comparing vaccine types are urgently required.[10]

What’s surprising is not only was an evaluation of all the available studies showing that there was no benefit for vaccinating children under 2 years of age, but that there was only 1 study at all in children in that age group. The authors also note that serious problems such as narcolepsy and convulsions were also associated with the vaccine.

In yet another study examining the flu vaccine in children under 5 years old for two seasons the authors found no benefit. The vaccine did not prevent emergency room visits or inpatient/outpatient visits during the years 2003-2005.

    Each year, US children aged 6 to 59 months experience high rates of hospitalizations, ED [Emergency Department] visits, and outpatient visits due to influenza. Despite this, we were unable across 3 large communities to demonstrate that influenza vaccination was effective in preventing influenza-related inpatient/ED visits or outpatient visits during 2 consecutive seasons (2003-2004 and 2004-2005) among 6- to 23-month-olds, 24- to 59-month-olds, or the entire age span.[11]

So why are we vaccinating children as young as 6 month old?

Looking at all this information it’s surprising how much time and effort has been invested in vaccinating against the flu. And here is part of the problem – what is the flu anyway? Most people think of the flu as being caused by a single entity – an influenza virus. Is this really the case?

“Flu” is basically defined as a 100°F or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever), a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches and/or body aches, chills, and fatigue. So if you have that you think you have the flu. Right? Not so fast. What is often poorly understood is that a person actually has a syndrome (influenza-like illness, or ILI) that can be caused by various agents. Only a proportion of these syndromes is caused by influenza A and B viruses, but differential diagnosis on clinical grounds alone is not possible. So in other words, just because you or your doctor think you have the “flu” doesn’t mean you have the influenza virus.

In a 2009 editorial by Thomas Jefferson of the Cochrane Vaccines Field, explained just what the incidence of ILI is and what percentage are actually caused by the influenza virus. Using perspective studies the Cochrane group determined that during the winter season about 7% of people come down with ILI – 93% don’t. Of that 7% only a small fraction are from influenza – 11% influenza, 6% RSV [Respiratory syncytial virus], 3% Rhinovirus, 2% PIV [Parainfluenza virus], and a whopping 77% from unknown causes. Based on this the conclusion was:

    …evidence presented here points to influenza being a relatively rare cause of ILI and a relatively rare disease. It follows that vaccines may not be appropriate preventive interventions for either influenza or ILI.[12]

So when you’re supposed to be protected from the flu you’re really getting an injection against a small subset of influenza-like illnesses. It’s no small wonder why those looking at the effectiveness of the flu vaccine have seen so little of it.

Although it’s often thought as impossible, people sometimes even get sick with the flu after being vaccinated. But, as we just discovered, feeling like you have the flu doesn’t mean you have an influenza virus. It could be that you’ve gotten another type of infection. This is exactly what is discussed in the 2012 research paper by Cowling et al. In a double-blind randomized controlled trial, children aged 6–15 years either received a 2008–2009 seasonal trivalent influenza inactivated vaccine [TIV] or a REAL SALINE placebo (which you don’t often see in vaccine trials).

    TIV recipients had higher (5 times) risk of confirmed noninfluenza respiratory virus infection. The majority of the noninfluenza respiratory virus detections were rhinoviruses and coxsackie/echoviruses, and the increased risk among TIV recipients was also statistically significant for these viruses.[13]

The author’s note that the influenza vaccine may have reduced immunity to noninfluenza respiratory viruses by “some unknown biological mechanism.” What’s worse is what they noticed between the vaccine versus the placebo:

    There was no statistically significant difference in the risk of confirmed seasonal influenza infection between recipients of TIV or placebo.[14]

Perhaps that is why a hepatitis A vaccine or another old influenza vaccine is so often used as a placebo in vaccine trials?

The immunity picture that we might have of a vaccine stimulating an antibody to protect us from a specific illness is actually much more complicated. There are multiple infections that can cause us to feel like we have the flu and when we get a shot it can make us more susceptible to another infection. This is exactly what has appeared to have happened with the use of the flu vaccine and susceptibility to the swine flu.

      Professor Peter Collignon has called for a review of Australia’s flu vaccine… “What was a bit surprising when we looked at some of the data from Canada and Hong Kong in the last year is that people who have been vaccinated in 2008 with the seasonal or ordinary vaccine seemed to have twice the risk of getting swine flu compared to the people who hadn’t received that vaccine, Some interesting data has become available which suggests that if you get immunised with the seasonal vaccine, you get less broad protection than if you get a natural infection. It is particularly relevant for children because it is a condition they call original antigenic sin, which basically means if you get infected with a natural virus, that gives you not only protection against that virus but similar viruses or even in fact quite different flu viruses in the next year. We may be perversely setting ourselves up that if something really new and nasty comes along, that people who have been vaccinated may in fact be more susceptible compared to getting this natural infection.”[15]

Confused? Don’t be upset because diseases are complicated and, moreover, the immune system is very superficially understood by even the most accomplished immunologists today.

    …“the immune system remains a black box,” says Garry Fathman, MD, a professor of immunology and rheumatology and associate director of the Institute for Immunology, Transplantation and Infection . . . “Right now we’re still doing the same tests I did when I was a medical student in the late 1960s . . .” It’s staggeringly complex, comprising at least 15 different interacting cell types that spew dozens of different molecules into the blood to communicate with one another and to do battle. Within each of those cells sit tens of thousands of genes whose activity can be altered by age, exercise, infection, vaccination status, diet, stress, you name it. . . . That’s an awful lot of moving parts. And we don’t really know what the vast majority of them do, or should be doing . . . We can’t even be sure how to tell when the immune system’s not working right, let alone why not, because we don’t have good metrics of what a healthy human immune system looks like. Despite billions spent on immune stimulants in supermarkets and drugstores last year, we don’t know what—if anything—those really do, or what “immune stimulant” even means. [16]

There is one more thing you probably have noticed by now – that the statistics almost always lump the flu and pneumonia together. It’s assumed that influenza and pneumonia are strongly linked so that’s why there are often grouped together for data reporting, but that association is often lost when claims are made that 36,000 people die each year from the flu. For example this is from the American Lung Association:

    Many confuse the flu with the common cold, but in actuality, the flu is much more serious. In the United States, the flu is responsible for 226,000 hospitalizations and an average of 36,000 deaths annually.[17]

But what they actually mean is “flu-related” deaths not from the flu itself and that complication is pneumonia.

    …according to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), “influenza and pneumonia” took 62,034 lives in 2001—61,777 of which were attributed to pneumonia and 257 to flu, and in only 18 cases was flu virus positively identified. Between 1979 and 2002, NCHS data show an average 1348 flu deaths per year (range 257 to 3,006).[18]

So in actuality the number of lives lost to the flu by percentage is less than 1%, and only a few were actually positively identified as the flu. So where does this 36,000 flu deaths figure come from? It comes from a model and not actually verified numbers.

      CDC’s model calculated an average annual 36,155 deaths from influenza associated underlying respiratory and circulatory causes. Less than a quarter of these (8,097) were described as flu or flu associated underlying pneumonia deaths. Thus the much publicized figure of 36,000 is not an estimate of yearly flu deaths, as widely reported in both the lay and scientific press, but an estimate—generated by a model—of flu-associated death.[19]

Remember that the “flu” isn’t always caused by the flu virus (7% of ILI is the influenza virus) and since no one is really looking to test for the influenza virus association to pneumonia (the biggest part of the killer statistic) it is just an assumption. So how can the flu vaccine help prevent the lion’s share of the deaths when the association is more with ILI? According to Cochrane Reviews when they went to find how well vaccination helped people prevent pneumonia or death – they couldn’t find any.

      After reviewing more than 40 clinical trials, it is clear that the performance of the vaccines in healthy adults is nothing to get excited about. On average, perhaps 1 adult out of a 100 vaccinated will get influenza symptoms compared to 2 out of 100 in the unvaccinated group. To put it another way we need to vaccinate 100 healthy adults to prevent one set of symptoms. However, our Cochrane review found no credible evidence that there is an effect against complications such as pneumonia or death.[20]

So what are we supposed to do to help us not get sick?

In this randomized clinical trial, daily supplementation with 1200 IU vitamin D3 in school children between December and March showed a significant preventive effect against influenza A, although no significant difference was observed for influenza B… daily dietary probiotic supplementation was a safe effective way to reduce fever and other symptoms in small children. Moreover, a significant preventive effect of a product containing echinacea, propolis, and vitamin C on the incidence of respiratory tract infections was observed in children. [21]

We could use vitamin D – you produce this if you get good amount of sunshine – probiotics, vitamin C, and other natural options. We can also be careful to wash our hands properly and even use a face mask when appropriate.

    We found a significant reduction in the rate of ILI among participants randomized to the face mask and hand hygiene intervention during the latter half of this study, ranging from 35% to 51% when compared with a control group that did not use face masks. Our results are consistent with a previous review of studies examining the effectiveness of mask use in reducing the transmission of respiratory viruses.[22]

There is plenty you can do to maintain your health and not get sick. If you do get sick then there are ways to help keep you from getting really sick. But is your local pharmacy or your doctor or the CDC going to tell to make sure you wash your hands, get plenty of sunlight, take lots of vitamin C and D, get proper rest, and the many other things to keep you from coming down with the flu or other illness? Don’t hold your breath. Right now they believe in and push a mythical magic wand to keep you from getting the flu and that’s not going to stop anytime soon.

Roman Bystrianyk is co-author of Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines and the Forgotten History which is available on AMAZON.

Notes

1. Lone Simonsen, Cecile Viboud, Robert J. Taylor, Mark A. Miller, Lisa Jackson, “Influenza vaccination and mortality benefits: New insights, new opportunities,” Vaccine, 2009, pp. 6300-6304.
2. Ibid.
3. Table 9.Death rates by age and age-adjusted death rates for the 15 leading causes of death in 2001, National Vital Statistic Report, VOl. 52, No. 3, September 18 2003: United States, 1999-2001 , p. 28, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr52/nvsr52_03.pdf
4. Ibid Simonsen.
5. Demicheli V, Di Pietrantonj C, Jefferson T, Rivetti A, Rivetti D, “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults (Review),” The Cochrane Collaboration, 2009.
6. Lone Simonsen, PhD; Thomas A. Reichert, MD, PhD; Cecile Viboud, PhD; William C. Blackwelder, PhD; Robert J. Taylor, PhD; Mark A. Miller, MD, “Impact of Influenza Vaccination on Seasonal Mortality in the US Elderly Population,” JAMA Internal Medicine, February 14, 2005, vol. 165, no. 3, http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=486407
7. Ibid.
8. Sylvia Booth Hubbard, “John Hopkins Scientist Slams Flu Vaccine,” NewsMax, May 16 2013, http://www.newsmaxhealth.com/Headline/influenza-virus-flu-vaccine-Peter-Doshi-Ph-D-/2013/05/16/id/504942
9. Megumi Fujieda, Akiko Maeda, Kyoko Kondo,Wakaba Fukushima, Satoko Ohfuji, Masaro Kaji, Yoshio Hirota, “Influenza vaccine effectiveness and confounding factors among young children,” Vaccine, 2008, pp. 6481-6485
10. Jefferson T, Rivetti A, Di Pietrantonj C, Demicheli V, Ferroni E, “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy children (Review),” The Cochrane Library, 2012, Issue 8.
11. Peter G. Szilagyi, MD, MPH; Gerry Fairbrother, PhD; Marie R. Griffin, MD, MPH; Richard W. Hornung, DrPH; Stephanie Donauer, MS; et al., “Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Among Children 6 to 59 Months of Age During 2 Influenza Seasons,” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, October 2008, pp. 943-951.
12. Tom Jefferson, Cochrane Vaccines Field, Clinical Evidence, October 5th, 2009, http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/x/mce/file/05-10-09.pdf
13. Benjamin J. Cowling, Vicky J. Fang, Hiroshi Nishiura, Kwok-Hung Chan, Sophia Ng, Dennis K. M. Ip, Susan S. Chiu, Gabriel M. Leung, and J. S. Malik Peiris, “Increased Risk of Noninfluenza Respiratory Virus Infections Associated With Receipt of Inactivated Influenza Vaccine,” Clinical Infectious Disease, 2012, pp. 1778-1783
14. Ibid.
15. B. Goldman, “The Bodyguard: Tapping the Immune System’s Secrets,” Stanford Medicine, Summer 2011
16. “Vaccines may have increased swine flu risk,” ABC New Australia, March 5 2011, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-03-04/vaccines-may-have-increased-swine-flu-risk/1967508
17. http://www.lung.org/assets/documents/publications/solddc-chapters/i-p.pdf
18. Peter Doshi, “Are US flu death figures more PR than science?” BMJ, 2005
19. Ibid.
20. Influenzae, Reviewer, Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group and Cochrane Vaccines Field, http://assembly.coe.int/CommitteeDocs/2010/Jefferson_statement.pdf
21. Mitsuyoshi Urashima, Takaaki Segawa, Minoru Okazaki, Mana Kurihara, Yasuyuki Wada, and Hiroyuki Ida, “Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010, pp. 1255-1260.
22. Aiello AE, Murray GF, Perez V, Coulborn RM, Davis BM, Uddin M, Shay DK, Waterman SH, Monto AS, “Mask use, hand hygiene, and seasonal influenza-like illness among young adults: a randomized intervention trial,” Journal of Infectious Diseases, February 2010, vol. 201, no. 4, pp. 491-498.

 

A report released last week by the House Committee on Homeland Security pinpoints what it presents as failures of state, local and federal authorities to communicate and share information that could have prevented the Boston Marathon bombings last April 15.

By attributing to mere mistakes or oversights numerous unanswered questions relating to government contacts with and knowledge of the terrorist sympathies of one of the alleged bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the report serves the political function of promoting the most innocent—and least plausible—explanation for the failure of intelligence and police agencies to stop the perpetrators.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is charged along with his deceased older brother Tamelan with detonating two bombs near the finish line of the marathon, killing three people and wounding 264 others. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police four days after the bombings. Dzhokhar is facing trial on capital charges in Massachusetts.

In the aftermath of the bombings, authorities locked down Boston and its suburbs and imposed virtual martial law, forcing citizens to “shelter in place” while armed police conducted warrantless searches of homes and National Guard troops with armored vehicles and helicopters occupied the city.

The Committee on Homeland Security’s document notes that in the initial period of its investigation, the committee was stonewalled by federal agents, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) dismissing attempts to gather information as “non-oversight activities” and refusing to comply. The report states that in December of last year, the committee met with “representatives of the executive branch” to discuss the report’s “classification level and to provide comments … and recommendations.”

“As such,” the report notes, “certain portions have been redacted to preserve the integrity of the sensitive and classified evidence provided to the committee throughout this investigation.”

In fact, the 38-page report is heavily redacted, with large sections of text dealing with the most critical issues blacked out.

According to the report, after the FBI was initially warned by Russian authorities about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen, in early 2011, the Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), which is overseen by the FBI, conducted a threat assessment of Tsarnaev. This entailed tracking his telephone conversations, online activities and associations with potential terrorist suspects, as well as holding face-to-face interviews with the suspect and his parents.

Claiming to have found no derogatory information, the FBI closed the case several months later, but entered Tsarnaev’s name in the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS), along with a request that the agent in charge of his case be alerted should he attempt to leave the US.

In October of 2011, Tsarnaev’s name was reentered in the TECS database after officials received a second request from Russian authorities that an investigation be carried out. A comment was attached to Tsarnaev’s file calling for customs agents to “Detain, isolate and immediately call the lookout duty officer at NTC [National Counter-Terrorism Center] (24X7),” should the suspect attempt to leave the country. The note further said that such a call would be “mandatory whether or not the officer believes there is an exact match” with the suspect.

Despite these explicit directions, no attempt was made to detain Tamerlan Tsarnaev at any time after both US and Russian officials had requested notice of his movements. In 2012, Tsarnaev took a six-month trip to Dagestan in Russia’s Northern Caucasus region, where he sought to establish connections to radical jihadists, attending mosques known to be frequented by Islamic militants. No attempts were made to hinder his flight to Russia or question him upon his reentry into the US.

Upon Tsarnaev’s return, the influence of his interactions with extremists could be seen in his behavior, as he began cultivating a pro-jihadist persona on social media web sites. A joint comment published in the Boston Globe by Texas Republican Michael McCaul and Massachusetts Democrat Bill Keating, both authors of the report, stated, “Had even a simple Internet search been performed, Tsarnaev’s increased posting of radical propaganda would have been uncovered.”

Though the report has been presented in the media as a “damning indictment” of the counter-terrorism agencies’ actions in the lead-up to the bombings, the authors manage to omit far more than they reveal. The most critical passages—those pertaining to the 2011 investigation conducted by the FBI into Tsarnaev and the failure to detain him at the airport as he attempted to leave the country in early 2012—have been heavily redacted.

Last week, lawyers for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev submitted legal papers alleging that the FBI attempted to recruit Tamerlan as an informant and requested that the FBI turn over relevant documents. The FBI has denied the allegation and is opposing the release of documents to the defendant’s legal team (see: “New evidence of US intelligence links to Boston Marathon bomber”). 

The connection of the Tsarnaev family to Chechen radicals and the US are well documented. Ruslan Tsarni, an uncle of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan, ran an organization that supplied materials to Chechen rebels from the suburban Washington DC home of Graham Fuller, former vice-chairman of the US National Intelligence Council and ex-CIA station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The committee report raises suspicions about the official handling of a September 11, 2011 triple homicide case in Waltham, Massachusetts, in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev has since been implicated by the FBI. At the time, the authorities said the victims—Brendan Mess, Erik Weissman and Raphael Teken—all of Jewish origin, were suspected of dying in a drug-related crime.

The report notes that investigators at the time suspected a religious motive in the killings. Tsarnaev, a martial arts enthusiast, had trained at a local gym with one of the victims and is on record as referring to him as his “best friend.” The date of the homicides would place the crime within days of the second alert US authorities received from Russian officials about Tsarnaev’s extremism.

The House Committee on the Homeland Security report fails to answer a number of crucial questions:

* Why was Tsarnaev given a clean bill of health by the FBI?

* Why was he allowed to travel out of the country unhindered after both US and Russian officials had demanded to be notified of his movements?

* Why did the FBI keep local and state officials in the dark about their contacts with Tsarnaev, who lived in metropolitan Boston, and the warnings about his terrorist connections in the lead-up to the Boston Marathon, a widely attended international event?

The explanation offered by the committee, that there was simply a failure to “connect the dots,” repeats the discredited, all-purpose disclaimer used to avoid a serious accounting for previous unexplained failures of government agencies to prevent terror attacks, from the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington DC, to the attempted 2009 Christmas Day bombing over Detroit Metro airport.

The Republican 2016 presidential primary season opened with the “Sheldon Adelson Primary.” The eight wealthiest person in the country, worth an estimated $40 billion, doesn’t have to wait for the official GOP primary season to start. He holds his own primary.

Adelson granted audience to GOP presidential hopefuls at the spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, in Las Vegas. Over the course of four days of Scotch tastings, golf, poker tournaments, and private meetings, the 80-year-old casino mogul examined the GOP’s most likely 2016 presidential candidates.

Adelson single-handedly kept Newt Gingrich in the 2012 presidential race, with nearly $16 million in campaign contributions, some of which financed Gingrich’s infamous documentary, “When Mitt Romney Came To Town.” When Gingrich ran out of hot air, Adelson poured more than $30 million into Romney’s campaign. Whoever wins Adelson’s support will have his billions behind them in 2016.

Spending $93 million on losing candidates in 2012 hasn’t made Adelson gun-shy about 2016. Adelson is placing his bets more carefully. “He doesn’t want some crazy extremist to be the nominee,” Adelson friend and GOP donor Victor Chaltiel says. “He wants someone who has the chance to win the election, who is reasonable in his positions, but not totally crazy.” (Adelson has advocated using nuclear weapons against Iran. So, “crazy” is relative.)

The “Billionaire’s Primary” is a return to what Paul Krugman calls “patrimonial capitalism,” where a wealthy few control the “commanding heights of the economy, and use their wealth to influence politics. Thanks to the biggest wealth transfer in U.S. history, the rich are richer than ever. And, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, there’s no limit on what they can spend.

The new billionaire political bosses aren’t limiting themselves to national politics. Charles and David Koch made the top 10 in Forbes magazine’s list of the wealthiest people on the planet. According to a George Washington University Battleground poll, most Americans have never heard of the Koch brothers, but the Koch’s wealth is “trickling down” into local politics.

Along with spending tens of millions of dollars on 2014 Senate races, the Washington Postreports that the Kochs are funneling money into “hyperlocal” races, through their Americans For Prosperity organization. The Wisconsin chapter is engaged in an Iron County board election, challenging incumbents as “anti-mining” radicals, and distributing 1,000 flyers in a county with just 5,000 voting age residents. AFP is also involved in a local race in Iowa, and property tax fights in Kansas, Ohio, and Texas.

Image: DonkeyHotey/cc/flickrRepublicans even called it “the Sheldon Primary.”

What are the Kochs up to? David Koch says, “Somebody has got to work to save the country and preserve a system of opportunity.” But the New York Times is more specific: “The idea is to embed staff members in a community, giving conservative advocacy a permanent local voice through field workers who live in the neighborhood year-round and appreciate the nuances of local issues.”

This is nothing new. It’s a time-honored strategy, rooted in the notion that, “all politics is local.” It worked well for Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition in the 80s and 90s. Now billionaires are using this strategy, but to what ends, and what are the implications for American politics?

Right-wing billionaires are building their own political machines, to promote their personal interests and preserve their profits. The Koch brothers have poured millions in to campaigns against Obamacare and climate science, as part of a broader campaign against government regulation — which they perceive as a threat to their fossil fuel investments and personal fortunes.

Adelson will do “whatever it takes” to stop internet gambling, to protect the profit margins of his casinos. He’s hired former Democratic senator Blanche Lincoln’s government consulting firm to lobby for his Vegas corporation. Though not a long-time supporter, Adelson has given Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, SC) $15,600 in campaign contributions. Graham reportedly preparing a bill to ban internet gambling.

Adelson and the Kochs show how the wealthy can use their wealth — in a post-Citizens United political landscape — to impact races and shape policy. Their fire-hoses of money can easily drown out other messages, and narrow the field of candidates for office. The cost of running for office increasingly requires candidates have personal wealth, or wealthy patrons. Those who have neither almost need not apply, even at the state and local level.

Wealthy patrons like Adelson and the Kochs don’t invest without expecting an eventual return. They’re likely to get what they pay for. A joint Yale and U.C. Berkeley study is evidence that money  does buy access. The study showed that campaign donors are more likely than constituents to get meetings with lawmakers — as a result of, or in hopes of getting campaign contributions. Meeting with constituents may secure votes, but meeting with donors or potential donors can secure enough money for re-election campaigns. (So much for Justice Anthony Kennedy’s argument that huge campaign contributions “do not lead to, or create the appearance of, quid pro quo corruption.”)

Billionaire political bosses like Adelson and the Kochs are America’s new oligarchs. Political parties may at least be influenced by public opinion, but American oligarchs act in their self-interest without concern for public sentiment. They are accountable to no one, and the lawmakers on their payrolls are more accountable to their billionaire political bosses than to the rest of the American electorate.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Terrance Heath is the Online Producer at Campaign for America’s Future. He has consulted on blogging and social media consultant for a number of organizations and agencies. He is a prominent activist on LGBT and HIV/AIDS issues.