The release of a toxic coal-treatment chemical into the drinking water of nine counties in West Virginia, shutting off water supplies for over three hundred thousand people for five days, is the latest in a string of industrial disasters resulting from the systematic gutting of corporate regulations in the United States.

The leak originated in a chemical storage facility run by Freedom Industries, a “full service producer of specialty chemicals for the mining, steel, and cement industries.” The poorly maintained facility is located less than two miles up the Elk River from Charleston, the state’s capital and largest city, and about a mile upstream from the American Water intake center, which serves nine surrounding counties.

Charleston residents noticed a “sweet smell” Thursday morning, caused by the release of the chemical, crude 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM), and began phoning into the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Investigators located the leak about two hours later, by which time about 7,500 gallons had leaked out of a 40,000-gallon tank. The spill formed a 400 square-foot pool on the floor of the facility and leaked out through a hole in the secondary concrete barrier designed to prevent chemicals from entering the nearby river.

Department of Environmental Protection investigators told the Charleston Gazette that, when they arrived, they saw that “Freedom Industries had set up one cinder block and used one 50-pound bag of some sort of safety absorbent powder to try to block the chemical flow.” One DEP official told the Gazette the company “did not give any real attention to containment.”

As of Tuesday evening, only a few tens of thousands of the 300,000 residents affected had been told that their tap water was potable. The rest continue under the duress of living without water for bathing or drinking, and waiting in long lines for bottled water distributed by the National Guard.

State environmental protection officials said the facility had only been inspected three times since 1991. Investigators visited the site in 2010 after complaints about a chemical odor, and again in 2012 to determine whether it was carrying out any new processes that required permits. In both cases regulators did not inspect the condition of the storage tanks.

In fact, the only permit that the company was required to have was one for industrial storm weather runoff, according to CNN. “Basically they had to monitor the runoff from the rain and send us the results every quarter. Those were the only regulatory requirements,” DEP head Randy Huffman told the news outlet.

The virtual absence of government regulation is particularly significant given the history of similar disasters in the area. The spill is the third major chemical accident to take place in the Charleston metropolitan area in the last five years.

In 2008, two workers died as a result of an explosion at a Bayer CropScience plant in Institute, West Virginia. Just two years later, another worker died after a DuPont chemical plant in Belle, West Virginia released toxic gas. Both of these incidents occurred within fifteen miles of the location of the latest spill, along a stretch of the Kanawha River, known as “Chemical Valley.”

Moreover, the state has a long history of environmental disasters due, in particular to the profit drive and negligence of the coal mining companies that economically and politically dominate West Virginia. In 1972, a coal slurry dam owned by Pittston Coal burst—four days after having been declared “satisfactory” by a federal mine inspector—releasing more than one hundred million gallons of black wastewater on 16 coal mining hamlets in Buffalo Creek Hollow. After the disaster—which killed 125 people and left 4,000 out of a population 5,000 people homeless—Pittston officials declared it was an “Act of God.”

Whatever improvements in health and safety were attained were only won through the most bitter struggle of coal miners—among the most militant sections of the American working class. The decades-long betrayals by the United Mine Workers union, however, have led to a return of conditions from a century ago, with modern-day company towns run by mining and chemical corporations, which treat the lives of their employees and state residents as largely expendable.

The spill comes less than four years after the 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in Raleigh County, West Virginia, in which twenty-nine miners were killed. A regulatory investigation concluded that the disaster was due to gross negligence on the part of the mine’s operator, but fined the $6 billion company just $10 million, and only one low-level superintendent was found guilty of a crime.

West Virginia has long been dominated by the Democratic Party and led by tools of the mining and energy industry, like former Governor Jay Rockefeller, the great-grandson of the oil tycoon. But West Virginia is the rule, not the exception.

The last three years have seen a string of catastrophes, including the April 2011 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers and resulted in the largest environmental disaster in US history; the April 2013 West Texas fertilizer factory explosion that killed 15 and injured 150; and a series of oil train derailments and explosions in North Dakota and Alabama.

This is the inevitable result of corporate deregulation over decades that has reached its culmination in the Obama administration, which has done everything in its power to get rid of any meaningful restrictions on corporations, while shielding companies such as BP, Massey, and the Wall Street banks responsible for the 2008 crash from prosecution.

In his 2012 State of the Union address, Obama boasted that, “I’ve approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his.” Between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state agencies, there are only 2,200 inspectors responsible for enforcing the safety of 130 million workers in America. This translates to about one inspector for every 59,000 workers. As a result of the bipartisan “sequester” cuts the number of OSHA inspectors is scheduled to fall even further.

The West Virginia chemical spill and similar industrial disasters highlight the essential characteristics of the United States. While nominally a democracy, the US is in fact a plutocracy, ruled by a small group of multi-billionaires who control every lever of government and subordinate the lives of the vast majority of the population to their ever-greater enrichment.

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”Martin Luther King, in his famous speech at the Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967

King’s Riverside Church speech was titled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” It was delivered exactly one year before his April, 4, 1968 assassination in Memphis.

The people who heard that speech recognized it as one of the most powerful speeches ever given articulating the immorality of the Vietnam War and its destructive impact on social progress in the United States. In explaining his decision to follow his conscience and speak out against US militarism, King said:

“I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

But King went farther, diagnosing the broader disease of militarism and violence that was endangering the soul of the United States.

King said,

“I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.”

The Poisoning of America’s Soul

King knew very well that the disease of violence was killing off more than social progress in America. Violence was sickening the nation’s soul as well. He added “If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read ‘Vietnam’.”

King urged his fellow citizens to take up the causes of the world’s oppressed, rather than taking the side of the oppressors.

He said: “I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society.

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

“We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity.

“We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace and justice throughout the developing world – a world that borders on our doors.

“If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight.”

King pointed to an alternate path into the future:

“Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter – but beautiful – struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response.

“Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard?”

 Signing His Own Death Warrant

By denouncing so forcefully the war crimes that the U.S. military was committing daily in the killing fields of Vietnam, some of King’s followers understood that he had just signed his own death warrant.

But King, being a person of conscience, was compelled to express his deep sense of moral outrage over the horrific maiming, suffering and dying of millions of innocent Vietnamese civilians in that unjust war that afflicted mostly unarmed women and children and that was going to leave behind lethal poisons in the soil, water and unborn babies that would last for generations.

He knew that non-combatants are always the major victims of modern warfare, especially wars that indiscriminately used highly lethal weapons that rained down from the air, especially the U.S. Air Force’s favorite weapon, napalm — the flaming, jellied gasoline that burned the flesh off of whatever part of the burning child it splashed onto.

King also connected the racist acts (of American soldiers joyfully killing dispensable non-white “gooks” and “slants” — often shooting at “anything that moves”) on the battlefields of Southeast Asia to the oppression, impoverishment, imprisoning and lynching of dispensable, deprived non-white “niggers” in America.

King saw the connections between the violence of racism and the violence of poverty. He saw that the withholding of economic and educational opportunities came from the fear of “the other” and the perceived need to protect the white culture’s wealth and privilege – with violence if necessary.

King knew, too, that fortunes are made in every war, and the war in Vietnam was no exception. In his speeches, he talked about that unwelcome reality that the ruling class preferred not be discussed.  That meant his well-attended Riverside Church speech threatened not only the powerful interests already arrayed against his civil rights struggle but also the interests of the war profiteers and the national security establishment.

War Profiteers on Wall Street Know That War is Good Business and That Peace Generates no Profits for Them

The longer the Vietnam War lasted, the more the weapons manufacturers thrived. With their huge profits, there was no incentive for these financial elites to want to stop the carnage. And therefore the Wall Street war profiteers financed, out of their ill-gotten gains, battalions of industry lobbyists and pro-military propagandists, who descended upon Washington, DC and the Pentagon to claim even more tax dollars for weapons research, development and manufacture.

With that funding secured, armies of desperate jobs-seekers were hired to work in thousands of weapons factories that were strategically placed in congressional districts almost everywhere, with weapons research grants likewise being awarded to virtually every university in the nation. Thus, weapons-manufacturing and R & D soon became vitally important for most every legislator’s home district economy as well as for the household budgets of millions of American voters who indirectly benefitted from the US military’s killing, maiming, displacement, starvation and suffering of non-white refugees in war zones that most war workers tried not to think about.

King’s anti-war stance was based on his Christianity and on the ethics and life of Jesus, but it was also based on his standing as a revered international peace and justice icon. Those factors made him a dangerous threat to the military/industrial/congressional/security complex.

The powerful forces that were working hard to discredit King had already infiltrated the civil rights movement. Their efforts, cunningly led by the proto-fascist and racist J. Edgar Hoover and his obedient FBI, accelerated after the Riverside speech. The FBI ramped up the smear campaigns against King and eventually decided to permanently “neutralize” King with a bullet to the head — fired by a paid assassin other that the framed patsy James Earl Ray. (See attorney William F. Pepper’s well researched and documented book, “An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King”, that told the story that absolved Ray and that culminated in the 1999 jury trial that, in a wrongful death suit brought on behalf of the King family, convicted Loyd Jowers and various co-conspirators that included J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, CIA Director Richard Helms, the CIA, the military, local Memphis police and organized crime figures from New Orleans and Memphis.

The trial was uniformly boycotted by the US media, so most Americans have never heard about it.) For a Pepper interview about the 4 week jury trial, click on: https://archive.org/details/William.Pepper.An.Act.of.State.The.Execution.of.MLK.

King’s Prophetic Vision

Now, almost five decades after his anti-war speech (which was widely kept from the public), it is clear how prophetic King’s observations were. America is indeed losing its soul and violence, racism, militarism and economic oppression are still American epidemics.

Both upper- and middle-class investors of get-rich-quick schemes in America have succumbed to predatory lenders, cannibalistic corporate mergers and acquisitions, psychopathic multinational corporate schemers, corrupt crony capitalists, and the rapist/exploiters of the land and water by extractive industries – all schemes that will eventually tank in the predictable economic bubbles, all of which are destined to burst.

Those busted bubbles regularly wipe out investors (except for the large, deep-pocketed “insiders” who, usually being forewarned, will have sold their holdings just in time, before the publicly revealed “bust”), leaving the taxpayers to bail out the financial messes that were created by the so-called “invisible hand of the market”. (Note: the “invisible hand” myth actually represents cunning operations controlled by conscienceless corporate gamblers whose dirty deals are done in the proverbial “smoke-filled rooms” that guarantee the success of the deal.)

 King was trying to warn us not just about the oncoming epidemic of domestic violence victims but also about the tens of millions of people around the world who were and are still being victimized by U.S. military misadventures.

 King was also warning us about the multinational corporate war profiteers whose interests are facilitated and protected by the US military – whether they are operating in Asia, Latin America, Africa or the Middle East.

Nearly one trillion US tax dollars are lavishly spent every year on endless wars, which are often illegal and unconstitutional. Hundreds of millions of tax dollars are spent annually paying down never-ending interest payments on past military debt. Hundreds of millions of scarce dollars are also being spent on the totally preventable costs of the physical and mental health costs needed for the palliative care for the permanently maimed and psychologically-traumatized veterans.

All those potentially bankrupting costs represent money that will never be available for programs of social uplift like combating racism, poverty and hunger, or paying for affordable housing/healthcare, universal education or meaningful job creation. Can anyone else hear a demonic laugh reverberating down Wall Street?

King was warning America about its oncoming spiritual death if it didn’t convert itself away from military violence. But most observers of the US see America still worshipping at the altars of the Gods of War and Greed. Our children may be doomed.

The vast majority of American Christian churches (whether fundamentalist, conservative, moderate or liberal, with very few exceptions) have failed King’s vision, despite the lip service they sometimes give to King on MLK Day. Churches whose members were brought up on the Myth of American Exceptionalism (and the myth of being “God’s chosen people”) consistently refuse to take a stand against the satanic nature of war.

Is America Past the Point of No Return?

King’s central warnings about the “triple evils” of militarism, racism and economic oppression must be heeded. The financial and moral hemorrhaging from the unending hot and cold wars that have entangled the United States around the globe must be ended. There must be a retreat from the 130 countries where the U.S. maintains budget-busting military bases. And, if America wants to shed the justified label of “Rogue Nation”, the covert killing operations of our secret black ops mercenary military units all around the world must be stopped, as should the infamous extrajudicial assassinations by America’s un-manned drones.

The Pentagon budget averages well over $700 billion per year which amounts to $2 billion per day with no visible return on investment, except for the military contractors, the oil industries and Wall Street financiers.

If King’s 47-year-old warning continues to be ignored, America’s future is bleak. The future holds the dark seeds of economic chaos, hyperinflation, unendurable poverty, increasing racial/minority hostility, worsening malnutrition, armed rebellion, street fighting, and perhaps, ultimately, institution of a reactionary totalitarian/surveillance police state in order to control citizen protests and quell rebellions.

In 1967, many Americans considered King hopeful vision for a better future as irrational idealism. He was told that the task was too great, the obstacles were too imposing and that there was no will for even the churches to reverse their age-old, conservative (pseudo)patriotism and society’s institutional racism. I suspect that many of the churches that called King a communist and therefore ignored him back then wish that they could turn back the clock and give King’s (and Jesus’s) path a try.

King finished his speech with these challenges:

 “War is not the answer. We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace and justice throughout the developing world – a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight.”

And he had these sobering words for the churches that are immersed in a polytheistic culture (the worship of multiple gods, including the gods of war and mammon) and thus are tempted to quietly ally themselves with those gods rather than the monotheistic God of Love that King was devoted to:

 “I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. I have looked at her beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlay of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over again I have found myself asking: ‘What kind of people worship here? Who is their God?’” 

Today, the task is even tougher, the obstacles much more imposing, but the path that King outlined remains. MLK Day should be a good time to start seriously reconsidering King’s radical message.

Dr Kohls is a retired physician who writes about peace, justice, militarism, mental health and religious issues.

The Petition was presented to the Canadian Parliament on 21 October 2013 by NDP MP Alex Atamanenko of the riding of British Columbia Southern Interior – see:  Atamanenko website.  We are very grateful to Mr. Atamanenko for doing this as certain other MPs declined or even totally ignored our approaches.

Close to 3,500 petitioners from coast to coast signed in both the English and French versions.

See full text of petition and Government’s response below.

It made for a hefty bundle!  Here is the text of the presentation as recorded in Hansard, the official record of House of Commons proceedings:  Hansard record:

Mr. Speaker, I have well over 1,000 names of petitioners from the Slocan Valley, Grand Forks and Nelson in my riding as well as other parts of B.C., Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and Alberta, who are concerned about what they call aerial spraying or chemtrails. They say that aerial spraying is being carried out by aerial entities at high altitudes that create long-lasting plumes. They do not act as traditional aircraft condensation trails. This is being carried out without the knowledge of the people of Canada.

The petitioners call upon the government to fully inform the people of Canada about this aerial activity occurring at high skies and to explain why it is taking place and also to cease this activity forthwith.

Alex presenting Petition

In addition here is the video from the parliament video service of Mr Atamanenko making the presentation.  Less than a minute on YouTube:  YouTube.

Text of the Petition

For your reference this is the text of the petitioners’ ‘prayer’ that was presented by Alex Atamanenko MP:

WE, the undersigned residents of Canada draw the attention of the Government of Canada to the following:

THAT high altitude aerial spraying has been observed occurring throughout Canada for many years and continues to this day;

THAT this aerial spraying is being carried out by aerial entities at high altitude that create long lasting plumes that do not act as traditional aircraft condensation trails with informed observations indicating that these plumes are laden with a wide variety of unhealthful matter. These long lasting plumes in the sky have come to be widely, commonly and generally referred to as “chemtrails” – that is, according to the current Oxford English Dictionary.

THAT these plumes eventually disperse widely and the contents therein drift down in the atmosphere so adversely affecting the health of the population at large;

THAT this aerial spraying is being carried out without the knowledge or consent of the People of Canada;

THAT all citizens have the inalienable right not to be sprayed from the sky in this manner for whatever purpose that such activity may be;

THEREFORE, your Petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to take the following actions:

(1) to fully inform the People of Canada about this aerial activity occurring high in our skies and to explain why this spraying is being allowed to take place;

(2) to cause this aerial activity to cease forthwith.

The Government’s Response

Finally the government response arrived – and much as anticipated it was the usual tired old evasions… with the core of the response being that we are seeing regular aircraft condensation trails.

The text of the petition prayer was clear enough in that only some of these plumes are being seen by observers as chemtrails: ” …this aerial spraying is being carried out by aerial entities at high altitude that create long lasting plumes that do not act as traditional aircraft condensation trails…”

Three Ministers contributed to the response:

Environment, Health and Transport.

From: The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq  Minister of the Environment etc.

The long white trails often visible behind jets flying at high altitudes are known as contrails. They are produced by the exhaust of aircraft engines, typically at aircraft cruise altitudes several (8 to 12) kilometres above the Earths surface. The combination of water vapour from the aircraft engine exhaust and low ambient temperatures that exist at these high altitudes allows the formation of contrails.

The water vapour in the exhaust freezes into ice crystals which form the clouds that are visible from the surface. The relative humidity in the atmosphere in the vicinity of a contrail is the primary variable that impacts how long a contrail lives. When the relative humidity is fairly high (i.e. near saturation) the contrails can provide sufficient moisture to initiate a long-lived cloud. Strong winds will also affect the lifespan of a contrail by changing their appearance as they move. In some cases, contrails have lasted more than 24 hours. When the relative humidity is low and wind speed is high the contrail clouds of ice crystals quickly sublimate and disappear.

Contrails frequently spread out. This happens when the relative humidity of the atmosphere is fairly high, so that the contrail serves like a cloud initiation mechanism. The ice crystals grow by vapour deposition (the process whereby water vapour molecules deposit onto the surface of the ice crystals) and can also form new ice crystals from the nearby water vapour. These new ice crystals, in turn, can grow and form more ice crystals until the environment is no longer saturated.

There are no materials being dispersed within any contrails other than water vapour and the regular by-products of jet fuel combustion. The increase in air traffic over the last two decades has inevitably caused an increase in the number of visible contrails in the sky, especially in the vicinity of major international airports. However, according to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, persistent line-shaped contrails are estimated to cover, on average, about 0.1 percent of the Earths surface. This is not expected to have a significant effect on weather.

From: The Honourable Rona Ambrose  Minister of Health

Health Canada is unaware of any activity related to atmospheric spraying of chemicals such as are described in the petition and which have been characterized as chemtrails. Health Canada has learned in the course of investigating the background of this issue that increased air traffic has led to the increased appearance of contrails in Canadian skies. Contrails are white line-shaped clouds or condensation trails composed of ice particles that are visible behind aircraft. engines typically at cruise altitudes in the upper atmosphere. The Department has no knowledge of any activity which could lead to so-called chemtrails.

From: The Honourable Lisa Raitt  Minister of Transport

There is no evidence to support the theory of chemtrails. The long white trails often visible behind jets flying at high altitudes are known as condensation trails, contrails or vapour trails. Despite their visibility, contrails are composed primarily of water and do not pose a hazard to human health. Contrails form when the hot water vapour produced by jet engine exhaust operating at mid to high altitudes comes into contact with the much colder air present several miles above the Earth’s surface. This rapid change in temperature causes the water vapour to form ice crystals. Jet engine exhaust makes up only a small portion of the water that forms ice in contrails. Aircraft engines and fuel must meet stringent emissions standards, which are constantly updated to ensure that aircraft manufacturers use the best available technology to reduce adverse environmental effects.

The appearance and duration of contrails depends on many factors, such as altitude, sunlight, temperature and humidity. Depending on atmospheric conditions, contrails may be visible for only a few seconds or minutes, or may persist for many hours. These trails are almost always present behind aircraft although generally only visible from the ground when the sky is free of cloud cover.

For further details, you are invited to contact us at the “Holmestead“.Holmestead chemtrail index page

NATO’s Ukrainian Target: The Black Sea Fleet

January 14th, 2014 by Rick Rozoff

Photo: RIA Novosti

Download audio file

Part 1

Part 2

In the coming year the activities of US/NATO in the Arctic, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia will be of particular interest as the US/NATO continues to attempt to expand globally into a historically unprecedented military power unto itself. Voice of Russia regular Rick Rozoff spoke about these issues and more in an end of the year interview in which he recapped the previous years’ events and forecast what is to come. According to Mr. Rozoff the key reason for pulling Ukraine into the EU is to eventually ensnare it in NATO and evict Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

This is John Robles. You are listening to an interview with Rick Rozoff, the owner and manager of the Stop NATO website and international mailing list. This is part 3 of an interview in progress. You can find the rest of this interview on our website at Voiceofrussia.com.

PART 1, PART 2

Robles: Coming up in the next year what countries, what areas should we be watching out for with regard to NATO expansion? We talked a little bit before about the Arctic, it’s heating up, about Scandinavia I think. What other areas do you think NATO is going to try to expand into? And I’d like you, if you could, comment on what does the loss of Ukraine mean for NATO?

Rozoff: Those are good questions. On the first I would say it is the international analogue of what we in Chicago would call a crime alert. There are street gangs or burglary rings or something other operating in the area and you want to alert people to where they are likely to strike, and we are doing the world a service I think by anticipating that, but let’s be real clear, the Ukraine indeed is one of them. Let me reserve that, discussion of that for a moment.

Let’s look at what is happening in Central Africa. We have seen French military intervention in Mali, direct military intervention with the assistance of the United States, the US Africa Command and US Air Forces Africa, US Air Forces in Europe and Africa, directly involved in ferrying and/or transporting French troops and armored vehicles and so forth, for what is a direct military action in Mali. We are seeing that replicated right now in the Central African Republic.

And these action … and now we see US Osprey helicopters attacked in South Sudan, where the US is going to become directly involved militarily, there are already calls for US direct military action in retaliation for that attack. We do have to recollect, that maybe a year and a half ago, the Obama Administration signaled, they announced formally, they were deploying special operations troops to foreign nations in Central Africa. Those are exactly the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Congo and what is the fourth – Uganda.

So that the US is already massively involved in Uganda; Ugandan troops are the US’s proxies in Somali for the most part, as well as there are some Burundi and Kenyan. So Central Africa is clearly marked up. There is a massive propaganda campaign, many of your listeners may be aware of, by some shadowy mysterious individual to hunt down Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army, in a video that … promoted by the likes of Oprah Winfrey went viral and to build up a humanitarian justification for direct US involvement in Central Africa, now we are seeing what that really means.

What that really means is a direct US military role in the newest nation in the world South Sudan. It means the US once again supporting their French NATO ally in military conflicts in Africa, following that of Ivory Coast in 2011 where they overthrew the government of Laurent Gbagbo. And recently, last year in Mali, this year in Central African Republic, it is likely to shift into nations like Chad in not too distant future.

So we are seeing what African command was set up to do, which is to oversee, coordinate or to wage war in Africa in conjunction with the US’s military allies and NATO friends it appears currently in the first place. So that is one area I would look at.

Robles: What are the US NATO Western interests in Africa for those of our listeners who aren’t really aware of what they have to offer down there?

Rozoff: The American political leader Malcolm X said in entertaining but illustrative speech in the early 1960s called ‘I don’t mean bananas’. And he was talking about that, at that time, the Patrice Lumumba government in Belgian Congo had been overthrown. It is now clear, for all the conspiracy theorists, that the US all but admits that the Central Intelligence Agency was instrumental in the overthrow of his regime, and in his murder.

But what 40 years ago Malcolm X was talking about was the fact that Africa is one of the resource-richest continents in the world and increasingly now with material needed for computer technology and energy, of oil in the first place, natural gas secondarily, that Africa is invaluable to the world. And what it represents is an opportunity for the United States and its allies to reclaim control of the African continent, effectively.

We do have to remember that every major colonial power in Africa, former colonial power, is a member of NATO: France, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Turkey, Italy – every single one. So NATO in many ways is a collective of the Western colonial powers internationally, in Asia and in the Western Hemisphere as well, South and the Central America, the Caribbean.

But vis-a-vis Africa that we are talking about is a consortium of Western military powers that want to control the dealing in raw materials, precious and semiprecious metals, or stones and metals and so forth. The diamond trade in South Africa alone is worth looking at.

But we are looking at what are reported to be fairly large reserves of petroleum in Central Africa exactly, with at least tentative plans to have those reserves piped out through countries like Uganda to the Pacific Ocean or the Indian Ocean. And I think it is important that these economic factors be taken into consideration when we look at where our militaries are being deployed and what overall military strategy may be.

The fact that the US set up its first unified combatant command, its first overseas integrated military command since the Cold War, in Africa, is a significant fact and it is not a fortuitous one. It suggests that the battle for Africa is in many ways a strategically important battle for world resources and control and domination. Africa now is, with the population of over a billion people as of maybe three years ago, the second most populous nation, continent rather, in the world, next to Asia.

So it is significant from a number of points of view and the US military is not going to sit aside and watch through diplomatic and economic measures countries like Russia and China  become more actively involved in China without putting up a battle to beat them on that board.

Robles: You mean more active in Africa?

Rozoff: Oh, I’m sorry, Africa indeed, pardon me.

Robles: Africa we should be watching at for, what about Scandinavia and the Arctic? Where do you see things – you are usually ahead of the curve Rick – so where do you see things going in the Arctic with NATO expansion and in Scandinavia? And with the continuing ABM placement, the missile shield, do you think they are going to keep doing it?

Rozoff: Yes, there seems to be a renewed interest in, or at least reporting on, what five years ago would have been referred to, I certainly referred to it as such at that time, as the scramble for the Arctic and what occurred in – it will be shortly five years as a matter of fact the very beginning of 2009 – is that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization held a conference in Iceland, I believe it was called the conference on the High North. High North is the NATO term or euphemism, if you will, for the Arctic.

And what they were talking about at that time, this came immediately on the heels incidentally of kind of a parting shot by the George W. Bush Administration in January of 2009 – immediately before his leaving the Oval Office George W Bush – a National Security Agency directive was issued on the Arctic. And it was evident at that time that there aree five official claimants to parts of the Arctic Ocean and four of those five were members of NATO: they are the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark.

But other countries like Britain, other NATO members like Britain and Scandinavian countries like Finland and Sweden are getting involved in the oil rush, if I could put it that [way],  amongst other things in the High North, with countries outside the region including China interested in what’s occurring there. But the fact that four of the five official claimants are members of NATO and that the US is a major one amongst them, signals another potential bone of contention between NATO and Russia.

Russia has the most sizable and I would argue the most legitimate claim to areas, particularly the Lomonosov Ridge comes to mind, in the Arctic Circle. And in fact I think it was about three or four years ago that Norway became the first country in the world to base its military headquarters within the Arctic Circle; it moved it north within the Arctic region.

Robles: I see.

Rozoff: So that we have that going on at the same time as I think you alertly allude to that Scandinavia is being targeted for all but effective formal incorporation into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. With Denmark and Norway being founding members of NATO, then that leaves of course Finland and Sweden, which historically have been neutral, Finland at least since World War 2, Sweden for 200 years, but both of whom have been supplying troops, have been killing and dying in northern Afghanistan under NATO command, International Security Assistance Force. Sweden provided Gripen war planes for NATO’s war against Libya in 2011.

So you have Sweden, which had been not involved in military conflicts, had been neutral for 200 years, engage in NATO wars in Asia and Africa. I don’t know how much of the Swedish people really pay attention to this, but Sweden now is formally joining the NATO Response Force, the international strike force, as well as Finland, Georgia and up until recently the plan was for Ukraine to join them.

So what do we have is, that is not coincidental, that suggests that NATO feels it not only needs to encroach yet further on the Russian border, Finland has a sizable border with Russia of course, but also in the push to the North, to the High North, to the Arctic. And that those two, as you indicate in your question, are related issues, they really cannot be separated and that the US wants dominance at the top of the world as it does in most every other part of the world.

Robles: Can we segue into Ukraine then? And I’d like to get your year end summary on our President Vladimir Putin.

Rozoff: Ukraine became after what appears to be the resolution of the crisis of the crisis, of the catastrophe in fact, in Syria to have been the next point on the chessboard where the US and its Western allies decided to face down Russia or challenge Russia by intervening, really interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation, pressuring the government of Victor Yanukovich and his allies in Kiev, which was elected expressly to foster cooperative relations with Russia after the government of his predecessor Victor Yushchenko, whose wife of course was born here in Chicago and worked in various capacities for the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, people should recall, and after he had turned on Russia, including on pipeline arrangements where Russia was disadvantaged vis-a-vis Western Europe.

But the Yanukovich government was elected in large part to foster friendly relations with its neighbor of some 1,400 km and to have them then be strong armed or pressured by the US and its Western allies to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union at the very moment that Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus are in the course of consolidating a Customs Union, it is quite evident that the intent is to pull Ukraine away from Russia, shift it in the direction of the European Union – and NATO.

And that the European Union, again, as we had occasion to discuss is really the cloak under which Ukraine is to be integrated into NATO. And ships provided by the government of Ukraine already active in two ongoing and presumably permanent North Atlantic Treaty Organization naval operations, one in the Mediterranean Sea, the other in the Arabian Sea, first is Operation Active Endeavor, the second is Operation Ocean Shield, and the US continues to hold, again as we’ve discussed before, the annual Sea Breeze military exercises in the Crimea in Ukraine, which is also where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based.

Keep in mind, if you want to talk about geopolitics, if people can envision in their mind a map of that part of the world, were the government of Syria to have been overthrown and Russia to lose its naval docking facility, at least, in Tartus, and if the government of Yanukovich is to be overthrown in one manner or another through a violent street uprising, of the sort that the West has proven to be quite adept at pulling off in countries from Yugoslavia to Ukraine nine years ago, or through a rigged or extra constitutional election that brings about a change of regime in the country and the Russian Black Sea fleet were to be ordered out of the Crimea, which is I’m sure what the US is ordering its allies and the Ukraine to do, or to consider. Then you would have seen the eviction of Russia not only from the Mediterranean, but except for a narrow strip of Russian territory, out of the Black Sea. And this is pretty heavy-duty geopolitics, and I think in that sense, too, the two are not unrelated.

That was the end of part 3 of an interview with Rick Rozoff, the Owner and Manager of the Stop NATO website and international mailing list. You can find the remaining parts of this interview on our website at Voiceofrussia.com. Thanks for listening and I wish you the best.

While publicly downplaying the threat posed by Fukushima radiation to the west coast, government scientists are preparing to monitor kelp forests across the entire state of California for contamination from the crippled nuclear power plant.

19 academic and government institutions will take part in the project, dubbed Kelp Watch 2014, which will collect samples of Giant Kelp and Bull Kelp from across the entire Californian coastline.

Sampling will begin next month and end in late winter, with scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory involved in the study.

“It is imperative that we monitor this coastal forest for any radioactive contaminants that will be arriving this year in the ocean currents from the Fukushima disaster,” CSULB biology professor Steven L. Manley Manley told CBS News.

Experts at the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems in Spain have concluded that the plume of radioactive cesium-137 released by the Fukushima disaster in 2011 will begin reaching U.S. coastal waters in early 2014.

While publicly scoffing at independent researchers concerned about Fukushima radiation, public health authorities have been making preparations which many see as being connected to the ongoing crisis at the Daiichi nuclear plant.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently ordered 14 million doses of potassium iodide, the compound that protects the body from radioactive poisoning in the aftermath of severe nuclear accidents, but a DHHS official denied that the purchase was connected to the Fukushima crisis.

High levels of radioactivity have already been detected on beaches in San Francisco, although officials were quick to assert that the findings had no connection to Fukushima.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.

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As war continues to ravage many parts of the Middle East, Orwellian technology continues to make its presence more apparent. Israel uses biometric technology and now the Gulf States is following in the same direction. It was just announced that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will mandate its citizenry to participate in “biometric tests” to obtain visas if they were to visit Saudi Arabia or any other country.

In a report by www.emirates247.com called ‘Saudi visa fee to rise as UAE residents set to undergo biometric tests soon’ we learn that “All UAE residents going to Saudi Arabia for Hajj, Umrah or any other visit are expected to undergo biometrics tests very soon, an official said on Monday. Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has designated Dubai-based VFS TasHeel International to launch biometrics pilot project for visa purposes in the UAE and other countries.”  The project is officially set to launch within a 3 to 6 month time period.

Raghu Athimoolam who is the Chief Operating Officer of VFS TasHeel International based in the UAE said that “We’re meeting with the MoFA officials every week and it’s progressing very well. 80% of the work is done. Once it’s officially launched in the UAE, it’ll be mandatory for all residents – both Emiratis and expatriates – to have biometrics before travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj, Umrah, business or any other purpose,” the report said.

As tyrannical as both Saudi Arabia and the UAE governments are towards their citizenry, this development is certainly troubling. VFS TasHeel has partnered with VFS Global which is based in London. “VFS TasHeel is a joint venture between global visa processing firm VFS Global and TasHeel of Saudi Arabia. It currently has three offices in UAE – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah – where 127 employees cater around 700 applicants on average every day.” The report also stated that “VFS TasHeel International has been mandated by Saudi to offer visas for business and commercial visits, education, escort, family, government meetings, medical purpose, merchandise delivery, personal visit and transit.” It only means that for whatever reason you decide to visit Saudi Arabia you must be registered with the biometric system to enter the country. It was reported back on February 11th, 2013 that the UAE had the world’s largest biometric database. The report was conducted by gulfnews.com as it stated what the UAE has accomplished as an Orwellian state:

The UAE has built its national population register which is the world’s largest civil biometric database, a senior official said on Monday. “The UAE population register system, the world’s largest civil biometric database, was completed by the end of last year,” Dr Ali Al Khoury, director general of the Emirates Identity Authority, told the sixth ID World Abu Dhabi being held at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research.

The two-day summit tackles the ICT challenges in modern society, bringing together high-level international government representatives and leading players in security, mobility and traceability.

Dr Al Khoury said on the sidelines of the World ID Summit that the UAE’s biometric database had a total of around 140 million fingerprints, palm and hand prints, facial prints and digital signatures which belonged to citizens and residents from more than 206 nationalities, but declined to disclose the population census figure or whether any other official assessment of the country’s population was accurate.

The detailed report by Gulf news describes what the UAE’s purpose of the biometric system will be intended for:

Dr Al Khoury said it was anticipated that the database of inhabitants’ biometrics will contribute and support projects related to the UAE’s national vision 2021. “This is aimed at enhancing security and supporting e-government projects through authenticating personal identity in e-transactions conducted over the internet,” he said.

The Emirates Identity Authority, Dr Al Khoury added, was founded in September 2004 and has completed this sophisticated population register system to provide unique identification and secured verification for every citizen or resident in UAE by giving them unique personal numbers linked to his/her biometric characteristics such as fingerprints.

“Having completed its digital infrastructure, the Emirates ID and 15 government authorities in six sectors, mainly education, health, labour, interior and justice have agreed on infrastructure necessary for e-linking. We plan to complete linking to the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Justice during this year. It is also planned that the ID card replaces the e-signature card held by Public Relation Officers dealing with the Labour Ministry this year,” Dr Al Khoury said.

He added the ID card was widely accepted by up to 200 authorities nowadays.

Dr Al Khoury said the newly used technology in the Population Register System helps use the latest methods of protecting data and information in addition to providing a safer environment to identify and verify the identity of the individual, achieve linkage and integration with the various government and semi- government authorities, provide statistical information in support of planning and decision-making, provide a solid infrastructure for the e-government project, upgrade and ease of the governmental services level and eliminate forgery.

The trend in biometric technology should be no surprise as the Monarchies of the Gulf States (who are also allies of Western governments including the US, UK and France) rule their populations with an iron fist becomes more difficult to maintain as the world witnessed in Bahrain, when the people protested against government oppression. The UAE has been accused of numerous human rights violations against migrant workers in the past and has restricted the freedom of speech among its citizens. RT News reported in 2012 the UAE imposed internet restrictions on its citizens fearing an Arab uprising in their own backyard. According to RT News:

The Arab uprisings that swept the Middle East largely bypassed the Persian Gulf’s authoritarian regimes; the UAE in particular has not seen any street protests since the social unrest began over a year ago. But the crackdowns on internet freedoms in several countries in the Gulf betray concern that their regimes may go through a similar social upheaval.

Under the guise of a probe into foreign-linked groups planning “crimes against the security of the state,” the UAE’s authorities have detained around 60 Islamist dissidents since the beginning of the year.

Back in August the UAE’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash slammed criticism against the measures, condemning them as attempts to slander UAE “with very little reference to our many achievements.”

The UAE along with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain remain virtually untouched by Western government criticism of their authoritarian regimes and measures restricting freedom of expression. Social networking sites and forums have become a new platform for citizens in these countries to voice opinions on their rulers.

The UAE also tortures prisoners according to Reprieve; a human rights charity organization based in the UK who reported that 75% of prisoners in the UAE are systematically tortured by the police. Although Women in the UAE have access to education and health services, foreign female domestic workers are often trafficked and abused. Women are also at risk of being imprisoned for adultery when reporting sexual violence to local authorities.

Saudi Arabia is also known as a human rights violator as its leadership rules as an “Absolute Monarchy”. Saudi Arabia is one of the worst human rights violators in the world where it uses torture to obtain admissions of guilt from suspected criminals or those who criticize the Monarchy. Saudi Arabia also uses “corporal punishment” where local courts order “floggings” that consists of hundreds of lashes, sometimes even thousands that is inflicted upon those who are convicted. Women may be “flogged” as well. It has been reported in the past that hundreds of these flogging sentences are imposed every week without any publicity. Women are constantly discriminated under the religious and political program called the “Guardianship System”. The basis of the “Guardianship System” is that women may not be involved in politics and certain professions. Women cannot travel without a male and certain “medical procedures” cannot be done unless a male is present and “authorizes” it. Violence against women is prevalent since domestic violence laws are not enforced.

Biometric technology gives the ruling monarchies an advantage to spy on its citizens and those who are just visiting the country for business or are just vacationing with their families. It opens the door for other countries with human rights violations in the Middle East to follow in the same footsteps as in the case of the UAE. The biometric technology is already expanding into Egypt as Raghu Athimoolam, of VFS TasHeel International reportedly said to Emirates 247 “He said the company is planning to open offices in Egypt this year. VFS TasHeel has been mandated by Saudi Arabia’s MoFA to process visa applications in 33 countries.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) says that biometrics causes numerous concerns regarding privacy and how governments such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia can use the technology to monitor and control their populations:

Biometrics’ biggest risk to privacy comes from the government’s ability to use it for surveillance. As face recognition technologies become more effective and cameras are capable of recording greater and greater detail, surreptitious identification and tracking could become the norm.

The problems are multiplied when biometrics databases are “multimodal,” allowing the collection and storage of several different biometrics in one database and combining them with traditional data points like name, address, social security number, gender, race, and date of birth. Further, geolocation tracking technologies built on top of large biometrics collections could enable constant surveillance. And if the government gets its way, all of this data could be obtained without a warrant and without notice or warning.

Biometric technology will be used to locate dissidents and migrant workers (who protest against harsh working conditions) who oppose the ruling dictatorship. It is what George Orwell warned us about more than 50 years ago. Biometric technology would be imposed on the people through corrupt governments like those in the Gulf States. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are perfect examples of what new technologies can be used for. It’s a very scary world indeed.

DEA Agent and Justice Department Official Testify In Court that the U.S. Backed the Sinaloa Drug Cartel Between 2000 and 2012

Time reports:

The U.S. government allowed the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel to carry out its business unimpeded between 2000 and 2012 in exchange for information on rival cartels, an investigation by El Universal claims.

***

Dr. Edgardo Buscaglia, a senior research scholar in law and economics at Columbia University, says that the tactic has been previously used in Colombia, Cambodia, Thailand and Afghanistan.

“Of course, this modus operandi involves a violation of public international law, besides adding more fuel to the violence, violations of due process and of human rights,” he toldEl Universal.

Myles Frechette, a former U.S. ambassador to Colombia, said while that the problem of drug trafficking in Colombia persists, the tactic of secret agreements had managed to reduce it.The period when the relationship between the DEA and Sinaloa was supposed to have been the closest, between 2006 and 2012, saw a major surge of violence in Mexico, and was the time when the Sinaloa cartel rose significantly in prominence.

Business Insider writes:

There have long been allegations that Guzman, considered to be “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker,” coordinates with American authorities.

But the El Universal investigation is the first to publish court documents that include corroborating testimony from a DEA agent and a Justice Department official.

Fox News reports:

According to the motion, the deal was part of a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, where the U.S. helped finance and arm the Sinaloa cartel, through Operation Fast and Furious, in exchange for information that allowed the D.E.A. and FBI to destroy and dismantle rival Mexican cartels.

***

“Under that agreement, the Sinaloa Cartel, through Loya, was to provide information accumulated by Mayo, Chapo, and others, against rival Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations to the United States government. In return, the United States government agreed to dismiss the prosecution of the pending case against Loya, not to interfere with his drug trafficking activities and those of the Sinaloa Cartel, to not actively prosecute him, Chapo, Mayo, and the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, and to not apprehend them.”

***

The motion claims Mayo, Chapo and Zambada- Niebla routinely passed information through Loya to the D.E.A. that allowed it to make drug busts. In return, the U.S. helped the leaders evade Mexican police.

It says: “In addition, the defense has evidence that from time to time, the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel was informed by agents of the DEA through Loya that United States government agents and/or Mexican authorities were conducting investigations near the home territories of cartel leaders so that the cartel leaders could take appropriate actions to evade investigators- even though the United States government had indictments, extradition requests, and rewards for the apprehension of Mayo, Chapo, and other alleged leaders, as well as Mr. Zambada-Niebla.”

Salon notes:

Under the remit of the War on Drugs, millions of U.S. citizens have faced arrest and jail time for minor, nonviolent charges. All the while, it has been revealed, the U.S. government has been enabling billions of dollars worth of drugs to flood into the country from Mexico because of shady deals with the notorious Sinaloa cartel.

***

Sinaloa (believed to supply 80 percent of Chicago’s street drugs) has been working with U.S. authorities since 2000 to provide information in return for immunity and undisturbed drug trafficking. Court documents obtained by El Universal show testimony from DEA and DOJ officials affirming the relationship.

The U.S. government has – at least at some times in some parts of the world – long protected drug operations. (Big American banks also launder money for drug cartels. See thisthisthis and this.  Indeed,drug dealers kept the banking system afloat during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis.)

And opium production is at an all-time high under the American occupation of Afghanistan.

Is American backing of the Sinaloa drug cartel another instance of U.S. government involvement in the drug trade?  Or a misconceived attempt to back one devil (the Sinaloa cartel has been responsible formassive violence in Mexico) against another?

This is analogous to America’s backing of the most dangerous and violent Muslim terrorists for decades … in order to contain rival Muslim factions.

Absolutely idiotic …

(Caracas, 2 de enero. Noticias24) - La abogada e investigadora Eva Golinger se pregunta hoy si pudiera ser responsable la NSA de la enfermedad que provocó la muerte del presidente Hugo Chávez al intentar espiarlo, y aclara que la interrogante “ya no parece tan ciencia ficción como tal vez hubiese sido hace un tiempo”.

“Hugo Chávez fue blanco principal de la NSA durante años. La posibilidad de que sus herramientas de espionaje hubieran contribuido o causado su enfermedad ya no parece tan ciencia ficción como tal vez hubiese sido hace un tiempo”, esgrime en parte de un artículo publicado en el sitio web de la cadena RT.

Golinger también explica que el cáncer de Chávez fue “inusual, sin nombre y sumamente agresivo”, añadiendo que no fue “específico de un órgano”.

“En la familia de Chávez no había otros casos de cáncer, no existía una predisposición genética. Fue detectado en junio de 2011 y en menos de dos años, a pesar de fuertes tratamientos, lo mató”, argumenta.

Lea a continuación el texto íntegro:

Durante el año 2013, Venezuela experimentó uno de los momentos más difíciles de su historia con el fallecimiento del presidente Hugo Chávez el 5 de marzo. Chávez, un líder de gran envergadura cuyas políticas transformaron el país, fue víctima de un cáncer agresivo que le quitó la vida en menos de dos años.

El carismático presidente venezolano enfrentó grandes y poderosos enemigos durante sus 14 años en el poder –siempre electo democráticamente y con mayorías contundentes–. Golpes de estado, sabotajes económicos, intervenciones electorales, guerra psicológica, financiamiento multimillonario desde agencias estadounidenses a sus opositores y atentados contra su vida fueron algunas de las tácticas y estrategias de desestabilización que Chávez tuvo que combatir durante su mandato.

Él encabezaba las listas de la Agencia Central de Inteligencia (CIA) y el Pentágono como blanco principal de sus agresiones, y Estados Unidos amplió de manera significativa su presencia militar –abierta y clandestina– alrededor de Venezuela durante su Gobierno. Por eso, su muerte abrupta e inesperada causó muchas sospechas entre sus seguidores y aquellos estudiosos de su visión socio-política. Chávez desafiaba a los intereses más poderosos del mundo, y a la vez, controlaba las más grandes reservas petroleras del planeta.¿Pudo haber sido un asesinato político la muerte de Chávez?

Tal vez hace unos años esa pregunta hubiese causado risa en una mayoría de lectores. No obstante, hoy en día, con la inmensa cantidad de información que ha salido a la luz pública de denunciantes como WikiLeaks y el excontratista de la Agencia Nacional de Seguridad de Estados Unidos (NSA) Edward Snowden sobre las graves violaciones de derechos humanos y soberanía cometidas por el Gobierno estadounidense, las preguntas de ese estilo no solo se las hacen los ‘conspiranoicos’ y los conocedores de la política sucia de Washington.

Hoy el mundo conoce cómo espía el Gobierno estadounidense a sus amigos, aliados, ciudadanos y enemigos: nadie se salva de los ojos y oídos de Washington. Hoy se conoce que casi todas las embajadas de Estados Unidos en el mundo son centros de espionaje y operaciones de inteligencia, violando todos las normas y reglas internacionales sin importar las consecuencias. Se conocen los graves abusos de derechos humanos cometidos por las fuerzas estadounidenses en Irak y Afganistán, y cómo el Gobierno de Barack Obama amplió el uso de aviones no tripulados –o ‘drones’– para asesinar a personas inocentes vía control remoto.

Hoy se conoce cómo el Gobierno del primer afro-estadounidense en la Presidencia persigue con furia a quienes dicen verdades sobre los abusos de Washington, y más aún cuando son ciudadanos estadounidenses como Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, Edward Snowden y Jeremy Hammond. Se conoce que Washington utilizó su poder económico para intentar neutralizar a WikiLeaks y congelar sus finanzas, bloqueando su acceso a Visa, Mastercard y Paypal solo con el objetivo de silenciarlo e impedir su continua publicación de documentos que revelaban los trapos sucios de la Casa Blanca.

Tanto conocimiento ha convertido al público mundial en menos escéptico y más realista cuando se trata de la capacidad del Gobierno estadounidense de silenciar a sus enemigos, tapar sus errores y utilizar cualquier medida para lograr su dominio.

Hugo Chávez siempre era una piedra en el zapato imperial. Subestimado por los analistas y asesores de ‘mente guerra fría’ en Washington, Chávez acabó con la influencia y dominación de Estados Unidos en América Latina en menos de una década. Transformó a Venezuela de un país dependiente y entregado a la cultura y política estadounidense para ser una nación soberana, libre, independiente, digna y orgullosa de sus raíces, su historia y su cultura afro-indo-americana. Rescató el control de los recursos estratégicos no solamente en Venezuela, sino en toda América Latina, siempre con la bandera de la justicia social. Impulsó la integración regional y la creación de organizaciones como la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR), la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA) y la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC), entre otras. Su mano firme frente a las agresiones estadounidenses dio un ejemplo y fue una inspiración para millones alrededor del mundo, que vieron con esperanza la revolución en Venezuela y su expansión regional.

Sin duda, muchos intereses poderosos en Washington y en otros lugares deseaban la desaparición física de Hugo Chávez. Intentaron hacerlo en abril de 2002 con un golpe de Estado promovido desde el Gobierno estadounidense que fracasó. Meses después un fuerte sabotaje económico que casi destruyó la industria petrolera del país buscó derrocarlo, pero también falló. Año y medio después paramilitares mercenarios fueron enviados desde Colombia para asesinarlo, solo para ser capturados por autoridades venezolanas, complot neutralizado. En los años siguientes hubo múltiples atentados contra su vida y planes de desestabilización para tumbar su Gobierno, ninguno funcionó. Mientras tanto, la popularidad de Chávez creció y su proyecto socialista comenzó a consolidarse en el país.

Los documentos filtrados de la NSA por Edward Snowden han revelado que el presidente Chávez y su Gobierno estaban en la lista de los seis blancos principales del espionaje estadounidense desde por lo menos 2007. Apenas un año antes, la Casa Blanca creó una misión especial de inteligencia para Venezuela que reportaba directamente al director nacional de Inteligencia, por encima de la CIA y las otras 15 agencias de inteligencia en Estados Unidos. La misión especial era completamente clandestina, contando con grandes recursos y capacidades. Solo existían otras dos misiones de ese estilo: para Irán y Corea del Norte. Incluir a Venezuela con dos países enemigos declarados de Washington era indicador del nivel de amenaza que representaba Hugo Chávez para el poder estadounidense.

La enfermedad

El cáncer que sufrió Chávez que acabó con su vida tan de repente era raro.Como ha explicado el actual presidente Nicolás Maduro, su cáncer fue inusual, sin nombre y sumamente agresivo. No era específico de un órgano. En la familia de Chávez no había otros casos de cáncer, no existía una predisposición genética. Fue detectado en junio de 2011 y en menos de dos años, a pesar de fuertes tratamientos, lo mató.

Documentos desclasificados del Ejército estadounidense y obtenidos por AP en 1995 a través de la Ley de Acceso a la Información (FOIA) evidenciaban que desde el año 1948 el Pentágono buscaba crear un arma de radiación para asesinatos políticos.

Otro estudio de inteligencia del Ejército estadounidense en 1969 confirmaba que el uso clandestino de la radiación como arma podría causar la muerte o graves enfermedades en adversarios políticos. En otras palabras, era un método de asesinato que estaban probando activamente.

Se puede imaginar si desde 1948 Washington estaba experimentando con radiación como arma de asesinato político, hasta dónde habría llegado esta tecnología en el siglo XXI.

Asesinato vía espionaje

Un cable secreto del Departamento de Estado del 31 de enero de 1976 alertaba sobre los graves efectos en la salud causados por microondas radioactivas usadas por la KGB para espiar a la embajada de Estados Unidos en Moscú:“Nuestros expertos médicos son de la opinión de que la exposición prolongada a microondas radioactivas de los niveles medidos en la embajada de Estados Unidos constituyen una amenaza para la salud”.

No obstante, Washington procedió a desarrollar herramientas de espionaje mucho más poderosas y con mayores frecuencias de radiación.

Documentos filtrados de la NSA por Edward Snowden y recientemente publicados en el periódico alemán ‘Der Spiegel’ hacen referencia a un poderoso equipo desarrollado por la agencia estadounidense que emite radioondas continuas de alta frecuencia contra un blanco para monitorear y capturar todas sus comunicaciones. Según el documento ultrasecreto de la NSA, el equipo, el CTX4000, es “una unidad radar portátil de ondas continuas (CW). Puede ser utilizado para iluminar a un blanco para recuperar información fuera de la red”.

“El CTX4000 suministra capacidad para recolectar señales que de otra manera no serían recolectadas, o serían extremadamente difíciles de recolectar y procesar”. El documento detalla sus capacidades: “Rango de frecuencias: 1-2 GHz; Banda ancha: a 45 MHz; Potencia de salida: hasta 2W usando la ampliadora interna; ampliadora externa hasta 1 kW”.

Un kilowatt es una fuerte capacidad y cantidad de ondas radioactivas. Esta cantidad proyectada contra una persona por un periodo continuo podría causar graves daños a su salud. El estudio del Ejército estadounidense en 1969 (mencionado anteriormente) sobre los efectos en la salud de la radiación como arma destaca que el impacto –o el evento deseado, en otras palabras, la muerte del blanco– podría manifestarse años después de la exposición al agente radiactivo.

Dentro de los documentos de la NSA publicados en ‘Der Spiegel’ también hay detalles sobre otras formas de espionaje a través de teléfonos celulares, sistemas wifi y redes móviles que también podrían tener graves efectos contra la salud de los blancos. No obstante, el uso de un equipo radar portátil que emite ondas continuas de alta potencia contra una persona parece ser más que un mecanismo de espionaje, podría ser un instrumento de asesinato.

Hugo Chávez fue blanco principal de la NSA durante años. La posibilidad de que sus herramientas de espionaje hubieran contribuido o causado su enfermedad ya no parece tan ciencia ficción como tal vez hubiese sido hace un tiempo.

Video: RT, 3 de enero de 2014

¿Mató la NSA a Hugo Chávez?

January 14th, 2014 by Eva Golinger

Durante el año 2013, Venezuela experimentó uno de los momentos más difíciles de su historia con el fallecimiento del presidente Hugo Chávez el 5 de marzo. Chávez, un líder de gran envergadura cuyas políticas transformaron el país, fue víctima de un cáncer agresivo que le quitó la vida en menos de dos años. El carismático presidente venezolano enfrentó grandes y poderosos enemigos durante sus 14 años en el poder –siempre electo democráticamente y con mayorías contundentes–. Golpes de estado, sabotajes económicos, intervenciones electorales, guerra psicológica, financiamiento multimillonario desde agencias estadounidenses a sus opositores y atentados contra su vida fueron algunas de las tácticas y estrategias de desestabilización que Chávez tuvo que combatir durante su mandato.

Él encabezaba las listas de la Agencia Central de Inteligencia (CIA) y el Pentágono como blanco principal de sus agresiones, y Estados Unidos amplió de manera significativa su presencia militar –abierta y clandestina– alrededor de Venezuela durante su Gobierno. Por eso, su muerte abrupta e inesperada causó muchas sospechas entre sus seguidores y aquellos estudiosos de su visión socio-política. Chávez desafiaba a los intereses más poderosos del mundo, y a la vez, controlaba las más grandes reservas petroleras del planeta. ¿Pudo haber sido un asesinato político la muerte de Chávez?

Tal vez hace unos años esa pregunta hubiese causado risa en una mayoría de lectores. No obstante, hoy en día, con la inmensa cantidad de información que ha salido a la luz pública de denunciantes como WikiLeaks y el excontratista de la Agencia Nacional de Seguridad de Estados Unidos (NSA) Edward Snowden sobre las graves violaciones de derechos humanos y soberanía cometidas por el Gobierno estadounidense, las preguntas de ese estilo no solo se las hacen los ‘conspiranoicos’ y los conocedores de la política sucia de Washington. Hoy el mundo conoce cómo espía el Gobierno estadounidense a sus amigos, aliados, ciudadanos y enemigos: nadie se salva de los ojos y oídos de Washington. Hoy se conoce que casi todas las embajadas de Estados Unidos en el mundo son centros de espionaje y operaciones de inteligencia, violando todos las normas y reglas internacionales sin importar las consecuencias. Se conocen los graves abusos de derechos humanos cometidos por las fuerzas estadounidenses en Irak y Afganistán, y cómo el Gobierno de Barack Obama amplió el uso de aviones no tripulados –o ‘drones’– para asesinar a personas inocentes vía control remoto.

Hoy se conoce cómo el Gobierno del primer afro-estadounidense en la Presidencia persigue con furia a quienes dicen verdades sobre los abusos de Washington, y más aún cuando son ciudadanos estadounidenses como Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, Edward Snowden y Jeremy Hammond. Se conoce que Washington utilizó su poder económico para intentar neutralizar a WikiLeaks y congelar sus finanzas, bloqueando su acceso a Visa, Mastercard y Paypal solo con el objetivo de silenciarlo e impedir su continua publicación de documentos que revelaban los trapos sucios de la Casa Blanca.

Tanto conocimiento ha convertido al público mundial en menos escéptico y más realista cuando se trata de la capacidad del Gobierno estadounidense de silenciar a sus enemigos, tapar sus errores y utilizar cualquier medida para lograr su dominio.

Hugo Chávez siempre era una piedra en el zapato imperial. Subestimado por los analistas y asesores de ‘mente guerra fría’ en Washington, Chávez acabó con la influencia y dominación de Estados Unidos en América Latina en menos de una década. Transformó a Venezuela de un país dependiente y entregado a la cultura y política estadounidense para ser una nación soberana, libre, independiente, digna y orgullosa de sus raíces, su historia y su cultura afro-indo-americana. Rescató el control de los recursos estratégicos no solamente en Venezuela, sino en toda América Latina, siempre con la bandera de la justicia social. Impulsó la integración regional y la creación de organizaciones como la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (UNASUR), la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA) y la Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC), entre otras. Su mano firme frente a las agresiones estadounidenses dio un ejemplo y fue una inspiración para millones alrededor del mundo, que vieron con esperanza la revolución en Venezuela y su expansión regional.

Sin duda, muchos intereses poderosos en Washington y en otros lugares deseaban la desaparición física de Hugo Chávez. Intentaron hacerlo en abril de 2002 con un golpe de Estado promovido desde el Gobierno estadounidense que fracasó. Meses después un fuerte sabotaje económico que casi destruyó la industria petrolera del país buscó derrocarlo, pero también falló. Año y medio después paramilitares mercenarios fueron enviados desde Colombia para asesinarlo, solo para ser capturados por autoridades venezolanas, complot neutralizado. En los años siguientes hubo múltiples atentados contra su vida y planes de desestabilización para tumbar su Gobierno, ninguno funcionó. Mientras tanto, la popularidad de Chávez creció y su proyecto socialista comenzó a consolidarse en el país.

Los documentos filtrados de la NSA por Edward Snowden han revelado que el presidente Chávez y su Gobierno estaban en la lista de los seis blancos principales del espionaje estadounidense desde por lo menos 2007. Apenas un año antes, la Casa Blanca creó una misión especial de inteligencia para Venezuela que reportaba directamente al director nacional de Inteligencia, por encima de la CIA y las otras 15 agencias de inteligencia en Estados Unidos. La misión especial era completamente clandestina, contando con grandes recursos y capacidades. Solo existían otras dos misiones de ese estilo: para Irán y Corea del Norte. Incluir a Venezuela con dos países enemigos declarados de Washington era indicador del nivel de amenaza que representaba Hugo Chávez para el poder estadounidense.

LA ENFERMEDAD

El cáncer que sufrió Chávez que acabó con su vida tan de repente era raro. Como ha explicado el actual presidente Nicolás Maduro, su cáncer fue inusual, sin nombre y sumamente agresivo. No era específico de un órgano. En la familia de Chávez no había otros casos de cáncer, no existía una predisposición genética. Fue detectado en junio de 2011 y en menos de dos años, a pesar de fuertes tratamientos, lo mató.

Documentos desclasificados del Ejército estadounidense y obtenidos por AP en 1995 a través de la Ley de Acceso a la Información (FOIA) evidenciaban que desde el año 1948 el Pentágono buscaba crear un arma de radiación para asesinatos políticos.

Otro estudio de inteligencia del Ejército estadounidense en 1969 confirmaba que el uso clandestino de la radiación como arma podría causar la muerte o graves enfermedades en adversarios políticos. En otras palabras, era un método de asesinato que estaban probando activamente.

Se puede imaginar si desde 1948 Washington estaba experimentando con radiación como arma de asesinato político, hasta dónde habría llegado esta tecnología en el siglo XXI.

ASESINATO VÍA ESPIONAJE

Un cable secreto del Departamento de Estado del 31 de enero de 1976 alertaba sobre los graves efectos en la salud causados por microondas radioactivas usadas por la KGB para espiar a la embajada de Estados Unidos en Moscú: “Nuestros expertos médicos son de la opinión de que la exposición prolongada a microondas radioactivas de los niveles medidos en la embajada de Estados Unidos constituyen una amenaza para la salud”.

No obstante, Washington procedió a desarrollar herramientas de espionaje mucho más poderosas y con mayores frecuencias de radiación.

Documentos filtrados de la NSA por Edward Snowden y recientemente publicados en el periódico alemán ‘Der Spiegel’ hacen referencia a un poderoso equipo desarrollado por la agencia estadounidense que emite radioondas continuas de alta frecuencia contra un blanco para monitorear y capturar todas sus comunicaciones. Según el documento ultrasecreto de la NSA, el equipo, el CTX4000, es “una unidad radar portátil de ondas continuas (CW). Puede ser utilizado para iluminar a un blanco para recuperar información fuera de la red”.

“El CTX4000 suministra capacidad para recolectar señales que de otra manera no serían recolectadas, o serían extremadamente difíciles de recolectar y procesar”. El documento detalla sus capacidades: “Rango de frecuencias: 1-2 GHz; Banda ancha: a 45 MHz; Potencia de salida: hasta 2W usando la ampliadora interna; ampliadora externa hasta 1 kW”.

Un kilowatt es una fuerte capacidad y cantidad de ondas radioactivas. Esta cantidad proyectada contra una persona por un periodo continuo podría causar graves daños a su salud. El estudio del Ejército estadounidense en 1969 (mencionado anteriormente) sobre los efectos en la salud de la radiación como arma destaca que el impacto –o el evento deseado, en otras palabras, la muerte del blanco– podría manifestarse años después de la exposición al agente radiactivo.

Dentro de los documentos de la NSA publicados en ‘Der Spiegel’ también hay detalles sobre otras formas de espionaje a través de teléfonos celulares, sistemas wifi y redes móviles que también podrían tener graves efectos contra la salud de los blancos. No obstante, el uso de un equipo radar portátil que emite ondas continuas de alta potencia contra una persona parece ser más que un mecanismo de espionaje, podría ser un instrumento de asesinato.

Hugo Chávez fue blanco principal de la NSA durante años. La posibilidad de que sus herramientas de espionaje hubieran contribuido o causado su enfermedad ya no parece tan ciencia ficción como tal vez hubiese sido hace un tiempo.

Eva Golinger

Abogada y Escritora

 

n December 2011, having been forced to pull the last US combat troops out of Iraq after failing to secure a status of forces agreement with Baghdad, President Barack Obama repeatedly offered the assurance that “the tide of war is receding.”

Little more than two years later, the entire region is engulfed in violence due to the policies pursued by US imperialism, with the possibility of a region-wide war emerging as a serious threat.

The Obama administration is currently pursuing negotiations with Russia on a possible political settlement in Syria, and with Iran on a rapprochement based on an agreement on its nuclear program and at least a partial lifting of economic sanctions.

Both sets of talks were initiated last September, after Washington stepped back from the brink of a direct intervention in Syria that was overwhelmingly opposed by the people of the US and the entire world. Far from a turn to peace and diplomacy, however, the shift from bombing Syria to negotiations emerged as part of US imperialism’s “pivot to Asia,” based on the strategic conception that defusing the confrontation with Iran would create more favorable conditions for prosecuting the conflict with US imperialism’s more essential global rival, China.

Yet Washington is hardly managing to execute its pivot neatly. It is finding it increasingly difficult to extricate itself from an unfolding catastrophe of its own making in the Middle East.

The US-backed war for regime-change in Syria, which has claimed the lives of some 130,000 people and forced 9 million from their homes, has increasingly spilled across Syria’s borders into Lebanon, where assassinations, suicide bombings and armed clashes have become daily occurrences, and Iraq, which has been the scene of an armed standoff between the Iraqi army and local militias in the western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.

The primary responsibility—political and moral—for this bloodletting lies with US imperialism. It has committed war crimes whose dimensions can be compared only to those carried out by the Third Reich in the Second World War. Aggressive war—the principal charge leveled against Nazi war criminals in the Nuremberg Trials—is also the chief crime of the US government, from which so many other horrors have flowed.

The Iraq war, promoted on the basis of lies about non-existent weapons of mass destruction, was a calculated and predatory act of imperialist aggression. It was aimed at asserting US hegemony in a strategically vital and oil-rich region and providing the entire planet with a “shock and awe” demonstration of the naked power of American militarism.

In the process, the US military succeeded not only in blowing to smithereens a fragile society, already war-ravaged and devastated by sanctions, but also undermining the entire regional state system.

Washington is responsible not only for the massive death toll in the nearly nine years of war in Iraq—placed by a recent US-Canadian survey at over 500,000—but also for the potentially millions more deaths to come given the continuing unraveling of the Middle East. The cost in blood of a new partition of the region would likely put the partition of India some 65 years ago in the shade.

In Iraq itself, these dangers can be seen clearly. The latest fighting was triggered by the sectarian-based repression unleashed by the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki against the predominantly Sunni population of Anbar province. The violent arrest of a prominent Sunni politician and the bloody crackdown on a year-old Sunni protest encampment in Ramadi led at the beginning of the year to Sunni militias seizing control of Fallujah and Ramadi. Armed clashes between the militias and the Iraqi army are continuing.

Among those involved in the fighting is the Al Qaeda-affiliated ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which has been one of the most prominent elements in the Western-backed proxy war to oust the government of President Bashar al-Assad across the border in Syria.

The sectarian conflict is not, as much of the media would have it, an age-old blood feud between Sunnis and Shia. It was triggered and fueled by the US intervention, which sought to exploit the sectarian issue as part of a divide-and-conquer strategy. This criminal policy found expression in the ethnic cleansing operations carried out under the cover of the US military “surge” of 2007-2008. The Maliki government was placed in office under the US occupation, while the Iraqi military was transformed from a conscript army drawing its troops from every segment of society into an armed force based on the sectarian militias of the various Shiite parties.

As for Al Qaeda, it did not exist in Iraq before the US invaded. Now it has been vastly strengthened by the US-backed war in Syria and the flood of money and weaponry funneled by Washington and its regional allies to the so-called “rebels.”

Even as the conflict between the Shiite government and the Sunnis unfolds in Anbar, a new and potentially even bloodier confrontation is taking shape between the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in the north of Iraq and the regime in Baghdad over the KRG’s unilateral sale of oil, to be delivered abroad via a trans-Turkish pipeline. The move, denounced as illegal by the Maliki government, is seen as taking the KRG one step closer to outright independence and a partition that would likely involve a bitter struggle over the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Washington’s response to the spiraling crisis is to pour gasoline on the fire in a manner that is breathtaking for its cynicism. Virtually simultaneously, the Obama administration has announced the expedited shipment of Hellfire missiles and other weaponry to the Maliki regime—supposedly to exterminate the Al Qaeda-affiliated elements in Iraq—and the decision to renew direct aid to the “rebels” in Syria, including what is being promoted as a more “moderate” faction of Al Qaeda. This second decision follows a series of battles between these factions and ISIS.

The reckless and criminal character of US policy was summed up in a New York Times editorial Monday that acknowledged: “There is a danger that American aid could backfire as it did in the 1980s, when support for the Mujahedeen fighters battling the Soviets helped to create fertile ground for terrorist movements years later. But the risk may be worth it.”

As the 100th anniversary of the First World War approaches, it is becoming increasingly clear that the state system founded on the division of the region by the old colonial powers, France and Britain, in the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 is being blown apart by new imperialist interventions and the impact on the oppressed nations of the Arab world of the crisis of global capitalism.

This development threatens to engulf the region in a sectarian bloodbath and serve as the spark for a new global conflagration.

These threats can be answered only by the international working class mobilizing its independent strength in a united struggle against capitalism. For the workers of the Middle East, this requires the building of a new socialist movement that fights to unite the working class across all national and sectarian boundaries in a common fight for the United Socialist States of the Middle East. The task before workers in the United States and Europe is the building of a mass socialist anti-war movement dedicated to putting an end to the source of war and militarism, the capitalist profit system.

La invasión israelí de Gaza y los campos marinos de gas

January 14th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

La invasión militar de Gaza por parte del ejército israelí en diciembre de 2008 tiene una relación directa con el control y posesión de las estratégicas reservas marinas de gas.

Se trata de una guerra de conquista. En la costa de Gaza hay unas inmensas reservas de gas que se descubrieron en 2000.

En un acuerdo firmado en noviembre 1999 la Autoridad Palestina (AP) concedió los derechos durante 25 años de prospección de gas y de petróleo a British Gas (BG Group) y a su socio ubicado en Atenas Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC), propiedad de las familias libanesas Sabbagh y Koury.

Estos derechos sobre los campos marinos de gas corresponden en un 60% a British Gas, un 30% a Consolidated Contractors y un 10% al Fondo de Inversión de la Autoridad Palestina (Haaretz, 21 de octubre de 2007).

El acuerdo entre la AP y BG-CCC incluye la explotación de los campos y las construcción de un gaseoducto (Middle East Economic Digest, 5 de enero de 2001).

La licencia de BG cubre toda la zona marítima de Gaza, que es contigua a varias instalaciones marítimas de gas israelíes (véase el mapa abajo). Hay que indicar que el 60% de las reservas de gas a lo largo del litoral de Gaza e Israel pertenece a Palestina.

El grupo BG perforó dos pozos en 2000: Gaza Marina-1 y Gaza Marina-2. British Gas calcula que las reservas son del orden de 1.4 billones de metros cúbicos, valorados en unos 4.000 millones de dólares, según cifras hechas públicas por British Gas. El tamaño de las reservas de gas de Palestina podría ser mucho mayor.


Mapa 1

Mapa 2 

¿Quién es dueño de los campos de gas?

La cuestión de la soberanía sobre los campos de gas de Gaza es fundamental. Desde un punto de vista legal, las reservas corresponden a Palestina.

La muerte de Yasser Arafat, la elección del gobierno de Hamas y la debacle de la Autoridad Palestina han permitido a Israel establecer un control de facto sobre las reservas marítimas de gas de Gaza.

British Gas (Grupo BG) ha estado tratando con el gobierno de Tel Aviv y ha ignorado al gobierno de Hamas en lo que concierne a la explotación y derechos de prospección de los campos de gas.

La elección del primer ministro Ariel Sharon en 2001 supuso un momento crucial. El Tribunal Supremo israelí puso en tela de juicio la soberanía palestina sobre los campos marítimos de gas. Sharon declaró taxativamete que “Israel nunca compraría gas de Palestina”, dando a entender que las reservas marítimas de gas de Gaza pertenecen a Israel.

En 2003 Ariel Sharon vetó un acuerdo inicial que permitiría a British Gas suministrar a Israel gas natural de los pozos marítimos de Gaza (The Independent, 19 de agosto de 2003).

La victoria electoral de Hamas en 2006 provocó la desaparición de la Autoridad Palestina, que quedó confinada a Cisjordania, bajo el régimen mandatario de Mahmoud Abbas.

En 2006 British Gas “estuvo cerca de firmar un acuerdo para bombear gas a Egipto” (The Times, 23 de mayo de 2007). Según se informaba, el primer ministro británico Tony Blair intervino en nombre de Israel con el objetivo de hacer fracasar el acuerdo con Egipto.

Al año siguiente, en mayo de 2007, el gobierno israelí aprobó una propuesta del primer ministro israelí Ehud Olmert “de comprar gas a la Autoridad Palestina”. Se proponía un contrato de 4.000 millones de dólares, con unos beneficios del orden de 2.000 millones, mil de los cuales iba a los palestinos.

Sin embargo, Tel Aviv no tenía intención de compartir los ingresos con los palestinos. El gobierno israelí nombró un equipo de negociadores para discutir un acuerdo con el Grupo BG pasando por encima tanto del gobierno de Hamas como de la Autoridad Palestina: “Las autoridades de defensa israelíes quieren que se pague a los palestinos en bienes y servicios, e insisten en que no irá dinero alguno al gobierno controlado por Hamas” (Ibid).

El objetivo era fundamentalmente anular el contrato firmado en 1999 entre el Grupo BG y la Autoridad Palestina bajo Yasser Arafat.

Según el acuerdo propuesto en 2007 con BG, el gas palestino de la costa de Gaza iba a ser canalizado a través de un gaseoducto submarino al puerto israelí de Ashkelon y, por consiguiente, se iba a transferir a Israel el control sobre la venta del gas natural.

El plan fracasó y se suspendieron las negociaciones:

“El director del Mossad Meir Dagan se opuso a la transacción por motivos de seguridad, [afirmando] que el dinero recaudado serviría para financiar el terrorismo” (Miembro del Knesset Gilad Erdan, comparecencia ante el Knesset sobre “La intención del viceprimer ministro Ehud Olmert de comprar gas a los palestinos cuando el dinero pagado servirá a Hamas”, 1 de marzo de 2006, citado por el teniente genera (retirado) Moshe Yaalon, Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza’s Coastal Waters Threaten Israel’s National Security? Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, octubre de 2007).

La intención de Israel era evitar que se pagaran tasas a los palestinos. En diciembre de 2007 el Grupo BG abandonó las negociaciones con Israel y en enero de 2008 cerró su oficina en Israel (Página web de BG). 

El plan de invasión sobre la mesa

Según fuentes militares israelíes, el plan de invasión de Gaza bajo la “Operación Plomo Fundido” se puso en marcha en junio de 2008:

“Fuentes de defensa afirmaron que el ministro de Defensa Ehud Barak ordenó al ejército israelí que se preparara para la operación hace unos seis meses [junio o antes de junio], a pesar de que Israel estaba empezando a negociar un acuerdo de alto el fuego con Hamas.”(Barak Ravid, Operation “Cast Lead”: Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, 27 de diciembre de 2008).

Ese mismo mes las autoridades israelíes contactaron con British Gas con vistas a reanudar las negociaciones concernientes a la compra de gas natural de Gaza:

“Tanto el director general del ministerio de Finanzas Yarom Ariav como el director general del ministerio de Infraestructuras Hezi Kugler han acordado comunicar a BG la intención de Israel de reanudar las negociaciones. Las fuentes añadieron que BG todavía no ha respondido oficialmente a la petición de Israel, pero es probable que ejecutivos de la compañía acudan a Israel dentro de pocas semanas para entablar negociaciones con los funcionarios del gobierno [israelí] ” (Globes online, Israel’s Business Arena, 23 de junio de 2008).

La decisión de acelerar las negociaciones con British Gas (Grupo BG) coincidió en el tiempo con la planificación de la invasión de Gaza que se inició en junio. Parecía que Israel anhelaba llegar a un acuerdo con el Grupo BG antes de la invasión, cuya planificación ya se encontraba muy avanzada.

Además, el gobierno de Ehud Olmert encabezó estas negociaciones sabiendo que se estaba planificando la invasión. Lo más probable era que gobierno israelí también contemplara un acuerdo político-territorial “post guerra” para Gaza.

De hecho, en octubre de 2008, dos o tres meses antes del comienzo de los bombardeos el 27 de diciembre, estaban en marcha las negociaciones entre British Gas y los altos cargos israelíes.

En noviembre de 2008 el ministro israelí de Finanzas y el de Infraestructuras ordenaron a Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) que entrara en las negociaciones con British Gas sobre la compra de gas natural de la concesión marítima de BG en Gaza (Globes, 13 de noviembre de 2008).

“El director general del ministerio de Finanzas Yarom Ariav como el director general del ministerio de Infraestructuras Hezi Kugler escribieron recientemente al director de IEC Amos Lasker para informarle de la decisión del gobierno de permitir que las negociaciones siguieran adelante, en la línea de la propuesta marco que aprobó a principios de este año.

El consejo de administración de IEC, encabezado por su presidente Moti Friedman, aprobó los principios de la propuesta marco hace unas semanas. Las conversaciones con el Grupo BG empezarán una vez que el consejo de administración apruebe la exención de la oferta” (Globes, 13 de noviembre 2008). 

Gaza y la geopolítica de la energía

El objetivo de la ocupación militar de Gaza es transferir a Israel la soberanía de los campos de gas en violación del derecho internacional.

¿Qué se puede esperar tras la invasión?

¿Cuál es la intención de Israel respecto a las reservas naturales de gas de Palestina? ¿Un nuevo acuerdo territorial, con el estacionamiento de tropas israelíes y/o de “tropas de mantenimiento de paz”? ¿La militarización de toda la costa de Gaza, que es estratégica para Israel? ¿Confiscar pura y simplemente los campos de gas palestinos y declarar unilateralmente la soberanía israelí sobre las zonas marítimas de Gaza?

En ese caso, los campos de gas de Gaza entraría a formar parte de las instalaciones marítimas de Israel, que son contiguas a las de la costa de Gaza (véase supra Mapa 1).

Todas estas instalaciones marítimas también están unidas al corredor de transporte de energía de Israel que se extiende desde el puerto de Eilat, que es una vieja terminal de oleoducto, al puerto-terminal de oleoducto del mar Rojo y por el norte a Haifa. La idea es que se acabe uniendo por medio de oleoducto israelo-turco, en fase de estudio, al puerto turco de Ceyhan. Cyhan es la terminal de oleoducto transcaspio Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC): “Lo que se está considerando es unir el oleoducto BTC al oleoducto Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon, también conocido como Israel’s Tipline” (véase Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, 23 de julio de 2006)


Mapa 3

 

Fuente original: http://www.globalresearch.ca/war-and-natural-gas-the-israeli-invasion-and-gaza-s-offshore-gas-fields/11680

Traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos.

US Excludes Iran from Syria Conference

January 14th, 2014 by Keith Jones

One day after the US gave its assent to a six-month interim nuclear deal with Iran, US Secretary of State John Kerry publicly clashed with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over Iran’s participation in the Geneva II conference on Syria.

Washington is determined to exclude Iran from the conference, which aims to find a “negotiated solution” to the three year-old Syrian war, unless it agrees to a US “precondition” that means throwing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Iran’s closest ally, to the wolves. As one of two UN-designated conference “initiators,” the US claims the power to veto Iran’s participation.

Speaking at a Paris press conference yesterday alongside Lavrov, Kerry denounced Iran as a “major actor with respect to adverse consequences in Syria.”

The US, France, Britain, and their Saudi, Turkish, and Qatari allies have used Sunni Islamists, including Al Qaeda-linked groups and tens of thousands of foreign fighters, as their proxies in a reactionary war for “regime change” in Syria. As a result, more than 100,000 people have been killed, more than 6 million rendered refugees, and much of Syria razed.

Yet Kerry hypocritically attacked Iran’s role in Syria—specifically mentioning the support given to Assad by the Quds Force, a Special Forces unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and the Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah, a close Iranian ally. “No other nation,” Kerry claimed, “has its people on the ground fighting the way that they are.”

When Lavrov complained that Iran’s exclusion might scuttle any chance for a negotiated end to the Syria war, Kerry bluntly replied that the only acceptable solution to the conflict is on US terms. He demanded Assad’s ouster and the imposition of a “transitional” Syrian government, in which half the seats would be allotted to US-sponsored Islamist “rebels.” Kerry called it “common sense” to exclude Iran, which has not yet agreed to such a neocolonial “transitional” regime.

Kerry’s position was seconded by Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague, who demanded that Tehran give “a signal of support” for the “transitional government” sought by Washington.

The US’s exclusion of Iran from Geneva II talks is in parallel with its efforts to strengthen its Islamist opposition proxies. Though these groups’ sectarian atrocities have alienated the Syrian people, they are currently the only US-backed forces inside Syria. The Syrian National Council and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the ostensibly secular-led groups promoted by the US as the palatable international face of the opposition, play no significant military role.

The Obama administration is reportedly working to reconcile the FSA with the Islamic Front, a recently formed, Saudi-backed group that collaborates with the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front. It views the prospect of US military aid going to Al Qaeda groups and the potential for a terrorist “blowback” in the US as acceptable collateral damage in its campaign to topple Assad.

US imperialism’s reinvigorated campaign for regime change in Syria underscores that its “diplomatic turn” towards talks with Tehran does not signal a fundamental change in its basic strategy in the region: the elimination of any Iranian challenge to US interests, and the strengthening of US hegemony over the world’s main oil-exporting region.

The Obama administration has only shifted tactics, after repeated overtures from Iran’s clerical-populist regime, with a view to exploring whether it can harness Tehran to its predatory agenda.

Washington has already extorted sweeping concessions from Tehran under the six-month interim nuclear agreement reached between Iran, the US, its European Union allies, Russia and China on November 24. Under the deal finalized last Sunday, it is to come into force on January 20.

The agreement calls for Iran to cease all enrichment of uranium above 5 percent, “neutralize” its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium, refrain from activating the Arak heavy water reactor, and submit its nuclear facilities to intrusive inspections.

In return, the US and its European allies will grant minimal relief from sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. The relief is estimated at between $6.5 and $7 billion—i.e., what the sanctions cost Iran in oil exports every six weeks. At least $4.2 billion of the sanctions “relief” is Iran’s own money, which Asian countries have paid into frozen Iranian accounts for oil shipments they already received.

A key issue in the “technical” talks on finalizing the November 24 agreement was Washington’s determination to institute “safeguards” to ensure that Iran continues to be throttled by sanctions on its oil industry and that cut it off from the world financial system.

These sanctions—among the harshest every imposed outside war—have devastated Iran, halving its oil exports, and fueling 40 percent inflation and massive job losses. They have cost thousands of lives by preventing the import of pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies.

Washington has repeatedly insisted on the conditional character of the interim agreement, emphasizing that if the US deems Iran is not fulfilling its commitments, it can and will impose harsher sanctions and that the US retains “all options” in regards to Iran—a euphemism for war.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reiterated this point yesterday. He said Obama was “confident” Tehran understood the consequences of failure, whether to implement the current agreement or reach a “final” agreement on its nuclear program. Failure, said Carney, “would result in action by the United States.”

While it speaks of peace and diplomacy, the US is intensifying its provocations and threats against Syria and Iran. For the US, the nuclear issue has always been a pretext to bully Iran, bring forth fabricated claims and new demands, and lay the political groundwork for war. It will do the same now, to squeeze Iran for concessions and to exploit fissures inside Iran’s bourgeois political elite.

Within Iran the response to the agreement has been muted, doubtless in part because its details are not yet public. In recent weeks, however, there has been growing criticism of the November 24 agreement for leaving the sanctions virtually untouched. Many members of parliament have also accused the government of concealing secret codicils and understandings bound up with the agreement.

Predictably, pro-Western former President Hashemi Rafsanjani hailed the agreement, declaring it “a win-win for both sides.” The mentor of the current president, Hassan Rouhani, Rafsanjani has for a quarter century spearheaded the drive for an accommodation with US imperialism. As president of Iran, from 1989-1997, he oversaw a brutal IMF-inspired austerity program.

Rouhani is similarly identified with the push for pro-market reforms to eliminate what remains of the social concessions made to the working class and poor after the 1979 Revolution.

Last weekend, as the interim nuclear deal was being finalized, Tehran announced that Rouhani will travel later this month to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he will woo the Western business and political elite.

Rouhani has already rolled out the red carpet for US and EU energy giants, offering them privileged access to Iran’s massive oil and natural gas reserves and suggesting that Iran is eager to see them supplant the Chinese as the principal “partner” of Iran’s oil industry.

U.S. admits that military advisers are functioning in Somalia

Fierce battles have taken place in two states in South Sudan. Unity state, an oil-producing area, was retaken by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

Other gains in Jonglei state by Juba around the capital of Bor have occurred with the assistance of the Ugandan military during the first full week of January. (Associated Press, January 8)

The intervention of Uganda, a close political and military ally of the United States, demonstrates the side in the conflict in which Washington has taken. There has been increased military and political pressure on the forces loyal to ousted Vice-President Riek Machar to drop demands for the release of political prisoners and to declare a ceasefire along with the government of President Salva Kiir.

In Jonglei state, the capital of Bor is poised for an attack by the SPLA in order to drive out the final bastion of control by the dissidents loyal to Machar within key areas inside the country. On January 12 it was announced by the U.S. State Department that a special envoy had met with Machar to urge him to reach accommodation with Kiir. (BBC, January 12)

Earlier in the week on January 6, Republic of Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir visited Juba the capital of South Sudan. He held talks with his counterpart Salva Kiir on developments involving the factional power struggle that erupted on December 15 in Juba.

Later reports indicated that there was a secret agreement between Bashir and Kiir to form a joint military force to contain the expansion of territory controlled by the units of the SPLA that are aligned with Machar. Bashir denied that such an agreement had been reached with South Sudan. (Sudan Tribune, January 12)

Nonetheless on January 11 the spokesperson for the SPLA acknowledged reports that forces loyal to Machar were prevented from entering the Republic of Sudan around the oil-producing area of Heglig. The dissident troops under the command of Machar denied that such an incident took place.

According to Phillip Aguer, the spokesperson for South Sudan army (SPLA) confirmed reports from his Sudanese counterpart, saying they are still pursuing remnants of the Machar-allied forces. “We have reports that some of those who fled towards Sudan have reported themselves to Heglig. And we are told some have been disarmed by the Sudan Armed Forces. Other refused and retreated”, he told the Sudan Tribune.

Aguer said the Sudanese Armed Forces had tracked down a number of them in Karasana, north of Heglig, saying, “They reached there yesterday [Friday, January 10] evening”.

Central African Republic Government Removed at Regional Meeting

Also in the neighboring Central African Republic the government of interim President Michel Djotodia was forced to resign during a meeting with regional leaders on January 10 in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad. The entire regional council appointed by Djotodia last year was flown to Chad where France and the host country’s government expressed their deep dissatisfaction with developments inside the CAR.

After the announcement of Djotodia’s removal, there were scenes of jubilation in the streets of Bangui, the capital. An effort to broker a truce between the Muslim former Seleka coalition groupings and the Christian-dominated Anti-Balaka militias took place on January 11. (AFP, January 12)

Although groups within the respective camps pledged to work together to repair the damage done to the country since last March, there were reports of fighting throughout the weekend. Some mosques were reportedly looted as Christian youth sought to exact revenge on what was perceived as a Djotodia regime that represented the Muslims who total 15 percent of the population in the country of 4.7 million people.

France has deployed 1,600 troops to the CAR which has drawn the scorn of Muslim community. Chad has approximately 800 troops along with other forces from the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville).

Paris has continued to appeal to the United Nations Security Council for additional peacekeeping soldiers. A report surfaced that the European Union would possibly send a contingent of troops to the CAR as well.

Both the CAR and South Sudan are a reflection of the crisis in the post-colonial and neo-colonial state in Africa. Imperialism still dominates the economic relations of production inside its former colonies. France and the U.S., which is supporting President Francois Hollande’s military interventions in Africa, are seeking broader avenues of economic exploitation on the continent.

U.S. Admits to Military Advisers in Somalia

The Pentagon also revealed in the Washington Post during early January that it has military advisers operating in the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia. This comes as no surprise to anti-imperialists who have followed the situation inside the country for the last two decades.

Even though U.S. Marines were forced to withdraw from Somalia during 1993-94, they have maintained a presence through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Special Forces for many subsequent years. The CIA maintains an office in the capital of Mogadishu and a drone station exists in Somalia which is coordinated with similar operations throughout the Horn of Africa region out into the Indian Ocean islands Seychelles.

Over 20,000 troops are occupying Somalia with the full financial, intelligence, diplomatic and military support of Washington. The African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) is staffed largely by troops from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Sierra Leone, states that are closely aligned with the U.S. and Britain.

The ongoing factional conflicts in Central and East Africa provide a rationale for the deepening of military involvement by the U.S. and other imperialist states and their allies. The Kenyan Defense Forces, which has several thousand troops in southern Somalia, was reported to have carried out aerial bombardments of areas in the region where the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance organization has bases. (BBC, January 10)

These interventions will continue until an anti-imperialist foreign policy is adopted by the majority of African Union member-states. The genuine independence of Africa cannot occur as long as the various military apparatuses of the nation-states are controlled and directed by the imperatives of imperialism.

Interventions by the imperialist states in Africa and in other parts of the world are not a reflection of their strength but of their weaknesses. The crisis in world capitalism provides very few alternatives to war abroad and increasing economic exploitation and repression within their own borders.

By Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire

 

 

Why Does Anyone Still Believe the NSA?

January 14th, 2014 by Washington's Blog

The NSA and other intelligence officials have been repeatedly caught lying about their spying programs.

Officials in the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government all say that the mass surveillance on Americans is unnecessary:

  • 3 Senators with top secret clearance “have reviewed this surveillance extensively and have seen no evidence that the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records has provided any intelligence of valuethat could not have been gathered through less intrusive means”

A member of the White House review panel on NSA surveillance said he was “absolutely” surprised when he discovered the agency’s lack of evidence that the bulk collection of telephone call records had thwarted any terrorist attacks.“It was, ‘Huh, hello? What are we doing here?’” said Geoffrey Stone, a University of Chicago law professor….

“That was stunning. That was the ballgame,” said one congressional intelligence official, who asked not to be publicly identified. “It flies in the face of everything that they have tossed at us.”

The conclusions of the panel’s reports were at direct odds with public statements by President Barack Obama and U.S. intelligence officials.

Top terrorism and security experts also agree, saying that:

Indeed, the NSA itself no longer claims that its mass spying program has stopped terror attacks or saved lives. Instead, intelligence spokesmen themselves now claim that mass spying is just an “insurance policy” to give “peace of mind”.

But given that mass surveillance by governments on their own people have always been used – for at least 500 years – to crush dissent, that the NSA has a long history of spying on Congress for political purposes, and that high-level NSA whistleblowers say that the NSA is using spying to blackmail politicians and social critics and to prosecute people the government dislikes, the question is whose peace of mind the programs preserve

And while the NSA claims that disclosure of its spying programs hurts America’s security, that’s what authoritarians always say. For example:

  • When leakers disclosed that the FBI was conducting mass spying on – and smearing – anti-war Americans, attorney general John Mitchell said that the leaks would “endanger” the lives of government agents

So how can anyone believe the NSA at this point?

Unfortunately, fear of terror makes people unable to think straight … and when the government undertakes a large, idiotic project – like launching the Iraq war – many people will go to great lengths to grasp at straws to try to rationalize the government’s ill-conceived campaign.

The minority of Americans who believe the NSA have – sadly – fallen for the same trick …

Photo: Reuters / Darren Hauck

The US Supreme Court upheld biotech giant Monsanto’s claims on genetically-engineered seed patents and the company’s ability to sue farmers whose fields are inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto materials.

The high court left intact Monday a federal appeals court decision that threw out a 2011 lawsuit from the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and over 80 other plaintiffs against Monsanto that sought to challenge the agrochemical company’s aggressive claims on patents of genetically-modified seeds. The suit also aimed to curb Monsanto from suing anyone whose field is contaminated by such seeds.

The group of plaintiffs, which included many individual American and Canadian family farmers, independent seed companies and agricultural organizations, were seeking preemptive protections against Monsanto’s patents. The biotech leviathan has filed over 140 lawsuits against farmers for planting the company’s genetically-engineered seeds without permission, while settling around 700 other cases without suing.

None of the plaintiffs are customers of Monsanto and none have licensing agreements with the company. The group argued that they do not want Monsanto’s genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and want legal protection in case of inadvertent contact with the company’s products.

The appeals court decision was based on Monsanto’s supposed promise not to sue farmers whose crops – including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and others – contained traces of the company’s biotechnology products.

In a June 2013 ruling, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC said it was inevitable, as the farmers’ argued, that contamination from Monsanto’s products would occur. Yet the appeals panel also said the plaintiffs do not have standing to prohibit Monsanto from suing them should the company’s genetic traits end up on their holdings “because Monsanto has made binding assurances that it will not ‘take legal action against growers whose crops might inadvertently contain traces of Monsanto biotech genes (because, for example, some transgenic seed or pollen blew onto the grower’s land).’”

The panel’s reference to “traces” of Monsanto’s patented genes means farms that are affected by less than 1 percent.

The plaintiffs asked Monsanto to pledge not to sue, but the company rebuffed the request, saying, “A blanket covenant not to sue any present or future member of petitioners’ organizations would enable virtually anyone to commit intentional infringement.”

Monsanto’s GMO seeds are designed to withstand the company’s own ubiquitous herbicide, Roundup. Recently, questions have begun to arise from the bioengineered seed’s resistance to pestilence, which has caused some farmers to increase their use of traditional pesticides.

“Monsanto never has and has committed it never will sue if our patented seed or traits are found in a farmer’s field as a result of inadvertent means,” said Kyle McClain, the Monsanto’s chief litigation counsel, according to Reuters.

“The lower courts agreed there was no controversy between the parties,” McClain added, “and the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the case brings closure on this matter.”

Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association President Jim Gerritsen expressed disappointment that the Supreme Court reaffirmed the previous ruling, refusing to hear the case.

“The Supreme Court failed to grasp the extreme predicament family farmers find themselves in,” said Gerritsen, an organic seed farmer in Maine. “The Court of Appeals agreed our case had merit. However … safeguards they ordered are insufficient to protect our farms and our families.”

In addition to Monday’s news and the appeals court decision against them, the plaintiffs – many of them non-GMO farmers and who make up over 25 percent of North America’s certified organic farmers – also lost a district court case.

“If Monsanto can patent seeds for financial gain, they should be forced to pay for contaminating a farmer’s field, not be allowed to sue them,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, in a statement “Once again, America’s farmers have been denied justice, while Monsanto’s reign of intimidation is allowed to continue in rural America.”

“Monsanto has effectively gotten away with stealing the world’s seed heritage and abusing farmers for the flawed nature of their patented seed technology,” said Murphy. “This is an outrage of historic proportions and will not stand.”

The case is Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, et al., v. Monsanto Company, et al. Supreme Court Case No. 13-303.

(L to R) Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, President Barack Obama and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen on June 30, 2011. Credit: DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Released

WASHINGTON – Criticism in the memoirs of former secretary of defence Robert M. Gates of President Barack Obama’s lack of commitment to the Afghan War strategy of his administration has generated a Washington debate about whether Obama was sufficiently supportive of the war.

But the Gates account omits two crucial historical facts necessary to understanding the issue. The first is that Obama agreed to the escalation only under strong pressure from his top national security officials and with very explicit reservations. The second is that Gen. David Petraeus reneged on his previous commitment to support Obama’s 2009 decision that troop withdrawal would begin by mid-2011.

Danger signs appeared almost immediately that the pro-escalation coalition would seek to alter the policy in their favour.

Gates makes only the most glancing reference in the newly published “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War” to the issue of the beginning of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The former defence secretary refers to “suspicion and distrust of senior military officers” by both Obama and vice president Joe Biden. And he describes a Mar. 3, 2011 National Security Council meeting in the White House situation room which Obama opened by criticising the military for “popping off in the press” and vowing to push back against any military delay in beginning the withdrawal.

Gates quotes Obama as saying, “ If I believe I am being gamed . . .” and says he left the sentence “hanging there with the clear implication the consequences would be dire.”

Gates writes that he was “pretty upset,” because he thought “implicitly accusing Petraeus” of “gaming” him at a big meeting in the Situation Room was “inappropriate, not to mention highly disrespectful of Petraeus.”

“As I sat there,” Gates recalls, “I thought: the president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand [Afghanistan President Hamid] Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.”

But Obama’s distrust of Petraeus was clearly related to the sequence of events related to Obama’s policy decision on Afghanistan and Petraeus’s signaling his desire to undermine it – all of which Gates omits from his account.

Obama was extremely wary of the military’s request for 40,000 more troops for Afghanistan on basic geopolitical grounds from the start, as documented by notes of National Security Council meetings used for Bob Woodward’s accounts of those meetings in “Obama’s Wars” and in an earlier account by Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter.

Both Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden argued in the meetings in September and October 2009 that the primary U.S. concern should be Pakistan, not Afghanistan, whereas Petraeus and Adm. Mike Mullen were insistent that Afghanistan be the priority, according to Woodward’s account.

The military leaders argued that the Taliban would welcome Al-Qaeda back to Afghanistan unless it was defeated. But Biden, acting with Obama’s encouragement, repeatedly attacked the argument and got CIA official Peter Lavoy to admit that there was no evidence to support it. Obama challenged another key argument by the military, asking why a long-term U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would not harm Pakistan’s stability.

It was clear to the officials supporting ISAF Commander Stanley A. McChrystal’s request for 40,000 more troops that the White House was not going to agree unless something was done to tip the scales in the other direction.

In a White House meeting on Oct. 5, Petraeus argued again that the Taliban movement would invite Al-Qaeda back if it took over, and Mullen, Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton all spoke up in support of that general theme, according to Woodward.

Six days later, McClatchy newspapers reported the White House had been “minimizing warnings from the intelligence community, the military and the State Department about the risks of adopting a limited strategy focused on al Qaida”. The story cited interviews with 15 “mid-level or senior military, intelligence and diplomatic officials” who said they agreed with what were described as “new intelligence assessments” that if the Taliban were to return to power, it would allow Al-Qaeda back into the country.

In fact the intelligence community had not prepared any national intelligence estimate on that issue. Obama’s principal national security officials were putting their own twist on intelligence reporting.

The leaking to the news media of a politically damaging version of internal debate between the White House and the coalition pushing for a major escalation was nothing less than shot across the bow from Obama’s principal national security officials, including Petraeus, Mullen, Gates and Clinton. They were signaling to the president that he would incur a significant political cost if he rejected the McChrystal request.

In November 2009, Obama compromised with his national security team. He agreed to 30,000 troops instead of the 40,000 that McChrystal had requested, but not for a national counter-insurgency campaign to defeat the Taliban as Petraeus had wanted. The military effort would be only to “degrade” the Taliban.

And crucially, an evaluation in July 2011 would determine not whether a withdrawal and transfer of responsibility could begin but what it’s “slope” would be, according to the meeting notes cited by Woodward. Obama even insisted that the military not occupy any area that could not be turned over to the Afghan government.

On Nov. 29, Obama met with Gates, Mullen, and Petraeus to get their formal agreement to the compromise plan. Mullen pledged that he would “fully support” the decision. Petraeus said he would do “everything possible” to get the troops on the ground “to enable…the transfer [to Afghans] to begin in July 2011.”

But danger signs appeared almost immediately that the pro-escalation coalition would seek to alter the policy in their favour. The day after Obama publicly announced in a speech at West Point Dec. 1, 2009 that U.S. troops would begin to withdraw in July 2011, Gates and Clinton suggested in Senate Armed Services Committee testimony that the president was not locked into beginning a withdrawal in mid-2011.

Obama responded by insisting that his press secretary tell CBS News that the July 2011 withdrawal was “etched in stone”. After hearing about that Obama comment, Petraeus told Sen. Lindsey Graham that was “a problem” and said, “You need to fix that,” according to Woodward. Petraeus added that he would let Gates and Clinton “deal with this one”.

After taking command of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan in mid-2010, Petraeus was asked on Meet the Press on Aug. 15 whether he might tell Obama that the drawdown should be delayed beyond mid-2011. “Certainly, yes,” Petraeus responded, openly threatening to renege on his agreement with Obama.

In September 2010, John Nagl, a retired colonel who had been on Petraeus’s staff and now headed the Centre for New American Security, told IPS that Obama would be forced by Republican pressure to “put more time on the clock”. And in December, Petraeus revealed to Obama’s main White House adviser on the war, Gen. Douglas Lute, “All we have to do is begin to show progress, and that’ll be sufficient to add time to the clock and we’ll get what we need,” according to Woodward.

Whatever Petraeus did in the early weeks of 2011 to raise the ire of Obama in regard to the withdrawal issue, it was against the backdrop of repeated indications that Petraeus was hoping to use both his alliances with Gates and Clinton and pressures from the Republicans in Congress to push back the previously agreed date for beginning withdrawal and handoff of responsibility to the Afghan government.

Gates knew, therefore, that Obama was reacting to a history of having already been “gamed” not only by Petraeus himself but also by his bureaucratic allies maneuvering to remove the restrictions on the Afghan War that Obama had imposed. The self-serving Gates account conceals the dishonest tactics employed to get Obama’s agreement to the Afghan War escalation.

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”, will be published in February 2014.

Port-au-Prince – Four years after the January 12 2010 earthquake, questions haunt the four main post-disaster housing projects built by the governments of René Préval and Michel Martelly.

Who lives in them? Who runs them? Can the residents afford the rents or mortgages? Are the residents the earthquake victims?

By some estimates, the catastrophe killed some 200,000 people and made 1.3 million homeless overnight by destroying or damaging 172,000 homes or apartments. But the new projects do not necessarily house earthquake victims, over 200,000 of whom still live in tents or in the three large new slums called Canaan, Onaville and Jerusalem.

In total, the new housing projects, with homes for at least 3,588 families, cost US$ 88 million, according to government figures. (In contrast, international donors and private agencies spent more than five times that amount – about US$ 500 million – on “temporary shelters” or T-shelters.) See HGW #9

Three of the new housing projects are in Zoranje, a new settlement not far from downtown, on the border between Cité Soleil and Croix des Bouquets. The “Housing Expo” homes sit between the housing constructed by the Venezuelan government and the project known as “400 percent.” (They are also adjacent to an earlier housing project, Renaissaince Village, built by the Jean-Bertrand Aristide government.) The fourth is the Lumane Casimir Village, at the foot of Morne à Cabri, about 25 kilometers north of the capital on the highway that leads to Mirebalais.

An intersection showing mostly empty homes at the heart of the Lumane Casimir
Village near Morne à Cabri on September 19 2013. 

Photo: HGW/Marc Schindler Saint-Val

An investigation by Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) involving over 20 interviews and many visits discovered that, even though there are newly housed families, many – probably the majority – are not necessarily victims of the earthquake. Also, several are plagued with lack of services and persistent acts of vandalism, theft and waste.

Clinton’s pet project now home to squatters

On July 21 2011, President Martelly, former US President Bill Clinton and then-Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive inaugurated the Housing Exposition: a fair featuring about 60 model homes in Zoranje.

One of the first projects approved by the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, the Expo cost over US$ 2 million in public reconstruction money. Foreign and Haitian construction and architecture firms also spent at least US$ 2 million more. The objective was to provide models for the agencies and businesses engaged in post-earthquake housing construction.

Everyone agrees the Expo was a failure. Few visited the site and fewer still chose one of the model homes – many of which were very expensive by Haitian standards – for their project. See HGW #20

“There were some really odd examples,” according to David Odnell, director of the government’s Unit for the Construction of Housing and Public Buildings (UCLBP), one of three government agencies involved with the housing question. “Some of them had nothing to do with the way we Haitians live or think about housing. It was a completely imported thing.”

Today, surrounded by weeds and goats, the fading and cracked houses are home to dozens of squatters.

“All the houses have new owners. They have been taken over,” explained a young pregnant girl who said her parents are “renters.”

The young woman who said she was “owner” of the girl’s house sat nearby with a child. Both women wanted to remain anonymous, but she was happy to share her story: “I didn’t follow any procedure got get this. I just took it. My brother was the security guard here. Nobody asked us to pay anything and nobody said anything. And in any case, who would we pay?”

A woman cooking in front of a model house on the Expo site on September 19 2013. 
Photo: HGW/Marc Schindler Saint-Val

According to at least four residents as well as a government consultant, the squatters are all people who already lived in Zoranje. Many of the units are now being rented out.

“Yes, that’s possible,” Odnell, an architect, recognized in a November 19 2013 interview. “And you know why. There is a void… and there is no authority there. But [the project] is not exactly a waste. I could call it poor planning, because the houses can always be recuperated.”

Odnell’s counterpart at the government Fund for Social and Economic Assistance agency (FAES), a government office also involved housing, said much the same thing.

“Aside from the inauguration week, the project has been forgotten,” Patrick Anglade explained. “Nobody goes over there because nobody was really managing the project. The entrepreneurs left and nobody promoted the houses. It’s a problem that can be solved, but we have to figure out how to do that.”

The director of the third government housing agency, the Public Enterprise for the Promotion of Social Housing (EPPLS), had little to say. (“Social housing” is known as “subsidized” or “public” housing in English.)

“We have nothing to do with that,” director Miaud Thys told HGW.

Anarchy Reigns in the House(s) of Chavez

Another new project sits practically across the street from the Expo: 128 apartments built by the Venezuelan government for US$ 4.9 million (according to its figures) during the Hugo Chavez presidency. They are usually called “Kay Chavez yo” – “The Chavez Houses.”

Earthquake-resistant, sporting two bedrooms, a bath, a living room and a kitchen, and painted in bright colors, today most of the homes house people who simply broke down the doors and moved in. Only 42 of the 128 have “legal” inhabitants: families invited by the Venezuelan Embassy. Empty for 15 months, some were vandalized. Fixtures, toilets, sinks and other items, including water pumps, were stolen. See HGW #12

“Nobody is in control over there. People just seized the homes,” Thys admitted to HGW. “We know that. Now we are trying to recuperate them.”

One of the houses at the project build by former Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez, in the process of being enlarged without any oversight, on
September 19 2013.
 Photo: HGW/Marc Schindler Saint-Val

Inhabitants are already making adjustments: changing some doors, adding windows, building gates and fences.

Surrounded by neighborhood men, Jules Jamlee sits with on a broken chair across the street from a home that is being expanded with the addition of an extra room. Like his friends, he is insistent about his right to “his” home.

“The president knows very well that we are revolutionaries,” he said. “He might make threats but he knows we don’t agree with them.”

Told of the residents’ insistence, Thys had a response: “Revolutionaries or not, we are not going to lose those apartments. We are going to send those people letters and invite them to leave so that we can recuperate them. Today we are starting with the carrot. We’ll use the stick later.”

The housing development still lacks water and residents complain that the lack of adequate water means that the toilets don’t work well. Many residents instead use nearby weedy areas for their physiological needs.

When HGW visited in June 2013, journalists learned that six out of ten residents polled said they walk to get water by bucket. Four said their toilets did not function.

New Owners Not 400% Happy

Known as the 400% or “400 in 100” project because Martelly promised 400 homes would be built in 100 days, the nearby US$ 30 million projec, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, was inaugurated on February 27 2012. The development has three kilometers of paved streets, a water system (which lacked water until just recently), an electrical system, street lamps and a square with a basketball court.

“Everything was in place so that residents would have all the basic services. In that sense, we proved that in a short time and with minimal funding, we could do well,” Anglade explained in an October 2 2013 interview.

But not all of the new residents are earthquake victims. Many are public administration employees. There was a rush to fill the houses at the beginning. And there are other complications, because the houses are not gifts. Residents must pay a five-year mortgage.

“During the first phase, and because we were in a hurry… we weren’t that choosy. Some people who got housing do not actually have the means to pay for it,” Anglade admitted.

One of the 400% residents coming home with a bucket of water on September 19 2013.
Photo: HGW/Marc Schindler Saint-Val

The mortgages are between US$ 39 and US$ 46 per month. The contract says that “non-payment by the renter/beneficiary for three consecutive months will result in a 5% penalty for each unpaid month” and that “non-payment could lead to expulsion.”

The contract has caused a great deal of grumbling. Dozens of residents complained to journalists.

“The president did not give us a house. He is selling it to us. They are too expensive. What can a person do in this country where there is no work? How can one find 1,500 gourdes (US$ 39) each month?” asked Yves Zéphyr, an unemployed father of two who has lived in the development since November 2012.

The receipt for most recent payment made by the wife of Yves Zéphyr,
on September 19 2013. Zéphyr complained that even though he and others
pay their bills, there is a lack of services.
 Photo: HGW/Marc Schindler Saint-Val

FAES admits it faces a challenge.

“We are not achieving 100% payments, not even 70%,” Anglade said. “At least 30% are behind.”

A small poll by HGW gives an idea of why some people are behind. One-half of ten residents questioned said they are unemployed.

When the project was launched, the government received financing to prepare the land, build the houses, and set up the electricity system, but not for the actual services necessary for a housing development, like water, septic system cleaning, a marketplace, schools, a clinic and affordable transportation to downtown.

“We have space for all the necessary services,” explained the UCLBP’s Odnell. “They were all in the initial plan, but we couldn’t achieve all of them. In the end, we could only build the houses. We were only able to put in the water recently, once we looked for and got the necessary financing.”

While many residents say they are happy with their new homes, HGW found problems. Some roofs leaked every time it rained, and residents said that electricity was very rare. Some of the houses had been vandalized before residents moved in: tin roofs and toilets had disappeared.

Also, the septic systems for some of the houses are causing problems.

The unused toilet of Yvez Zèphyr on September 19 2013. He said the septic system
is not deep enough. 
Photo: Photo : HGW/Marc Schindler Saint-Val

“They fill up in a quarter of an hour!” claimed André Paul, who has lived in “400%” since July 2013. “Some of them are completely blocked, others are just totally filled.”

EPPLS, which shares responsibility with the FAES for the site, recognizes that the septic systems were “poorly built.”

“We will correct them,” Thys promised.

“The project isn’t finished yet,” Odnell noted. “The government needs to continue working, in order to improve the lives of the people there. Normally when you plan a housing development, all of the services are supposed to be in place and the houses come at the end. But just the opposite happened with the 400% development.”

Is Morne à Cabri a Public Housing Project?

The Lumane Casimir Village project was financed with US$ 49 million from the Petro-Caribe fund, according to the government. Named after a famous Haitian singer, the rows of homes sit in the desert-like plain at the foot of Morne à Cabri and will eventyally have 3,000 rental units. About 1,300 are ready. See also HGW #19

During the May 16 2013 inauguration, the president handed out keys to a group of families that had been assembled for the media. But they did not move in. From May to September, nobody actually lived in the apartments. Families only moved in starting in October. In the meantime, many were looted.

“Between 120 and 150 apartments were vandalized,” the UCLBP’s Odnell admitted. UCLBP is the supervisor of the site.

More than 50 toilets, and dozens of locks, windows, brackets, bulbs, electrical cables and outlets were stolen. Many apartments were also damaged by would-be thieves who used crowbars and other tools to try to wrench sinks, doors and windows from walls.

“The thieves still come,” Bélair Paulin told HGW. Paulin spends a lot of time in the area because he is waiting to see if he will be chosen as a renter.

About 200 families have already moved in and others have their keys. Some 1,100 homes remain empty.

Hopeful applicants outside the recruiting office for the Lumane Casimir
Village near Morne à Cabri on September 19 2013.
 Photo: HGW/Marc Schindler Saint-Val

During a visit to the site on December 20 2013, Martelly announced that 250 police officers will be getting apartments and handed over keys to 75 of them, again, in front of the cameras. Several later denounced the fact that they were asked to hand the keys back after the ceremony.

All of the apartments have water and electric systems, new trash cans, a gas stove, a container for receiving and purifying drinking water, plants growing in a garden which will benefit from a regular watering service, and the promise of round-trip transportation to the capital for 20 gourdes (about 50 US cents).

Under the heavy sun, the sounds of the new residents echo though the site. Voices, doors opening and closing, cars coming and going. The village is coming to life.

A man walks through Lumane Casimir Village on September 19 2013.
Photo: HGW/Marc Schindler Saint-Val

According to Odnell, eventually the village will have “a waste disposal system, a police station, a health center, a drinking water reservoir, a public square, a soccer field, a connection with the electricity system, a vocational school, an elementary school and a marketplace.”

The government is also building an industrial park across the street, where – authorities hope – residents can work.

“The mini-industrial park will have all the facilities necessary to create local jobs for housing beneficiaries,” Odnell promised, noting that a Canadian company has already expressed interest.

The park is not yet finished and – as of late 2013 – has not yet been registered as a “free trade zone” park.

Like other projects, the new residents of Lumane Casimir Village are not necessarily for earthquake victims.

“There are three criteria for being eligible: 1) You have to have been affected by the earthquake, 2) the person has to have a family of not more than 3-5 people, and 3) the person must have a revenue. That is the most important, so you can pay your rent, which will be between US$ 163 and US$ 233 per month,” according to Odnell.

Christela Blaise is one of the new renters. A cosmetician, she has lived at the village with her older sister and baby since October.

“After the earthquake, we lived in Bon Repos on the main highway. We were not direct victims of the earthquake, but like everyone who was looking for a place to live, we got a temporary shelter. But that didn’t last past three months, so we moved back to our home,” she said.

Housing: An immense challenge

The Haitian government recognizes that it faces an enormous challenge. Some 150,000 earthquake victims still live in about 300 camps and another 50,000 live in the new sprawling slums Canaan, Onaville and Jerusalem. Half of the camps have no sanitation services and only 8% are supplied with water, according to an October 2013 report from the UCLBP and the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM)/Shelter Cluster. Residents of over 100 camps are in imminent danger of being evicted. In December, 126 families were forced to leave their homes and shacks in Canaan, near Village Lumane Casimir.

According to the government, the housing deficit will only continue to grow as people leave the countryside and smaller towns and move to cities.

“Haiti needs to meet the challenge of constructing 500,000 new homes in order to meet the current and housing deficit between now and 2020,” according to the UCLBP’s new Policy of Housing and Urban Planning (PNLH), released in October.

Image from the UCLBP’s new Policy of Housing and Urban Planning (PNLH).

The new policy is ambitious but vague. The Executive Summary sketches out five “strategic axes” that will help “grow access to housing,” including “social housing” that meets construction norms, and through the promotion of “models of housing that assure access to basic services.”

The language of the document implies that the government will seek to resolve the deficit in partnership with the private sector. In the introduction to the PNLH, for example, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe notes that “under the coordination of the UCLBP, the PNLH also makes clear the important role that the private sector is being called upon to play, side-by-side with the state.”

While this kind of orientation should not necessarily be rejected out of hand, already with the Lumane Casimir Village and the 400% and Chavez Houses projects, it appears that the government is no longer going to build social housing that is within reach of the majority of Haitians.

According to the World Bank, 80% of the population lives with a revenue of less than US$ 2 per day. Even if a couple combines its revenues, it would have only about US$ 60 a month. How could that family pay a rent that runs from US$ 39 all the way up to US$ 233 per month?

Speaking at an event at the Lumane Casimir Village on November 11 2013, Lamothe affirmed his pride in the project, which he called “social housing.”

But, if the housing is not for the poor – such as, for example, the majority of the earthquake victims – and if, with monthly rents that reach US$ 233, it is out of reach of 80% of the population, is it really correct to call it “social” or public housing?

NAFTA’s Deplorable Legacy

January 13th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

Wall Street Journal columnist Mary O’Grady reinvents history. She does it her way. It’s the wrong way. She turns truth on its head.

Her commentaries read like bad fiction. They substitute misinformation for indisputable facts. Responsible editors wouldn’t touch this. Journal editors embrace it.

NAFTA was hugely destructive trade policy. It’s opposite of what’s needed. More on why below.

Not according to O’Grady. On January 5, she headlined ”Nafta at 20: A Model for Trade Policy.” It’s a model for the wrongheaded kind.

O’Grady claims otherwise.

“Those who predicted that Nafta would lead to joblessness and poverty have been proven definitively wrong,” claims O’Grady.

Hundreds of thousands of impoverished jobless workers explain otherwise. More on this below.

“Freedom to trade with the neighbors (Canada, Mexico and the US) has instead created wealth and opportunity and made the continent more globally competitive,” she says.

Indeed so for corporate predators and rich elites. They profited hugely. They did the old-fashioned way. They benefitted on backs of exploited people.

O’Grady supports more of the same. She’s for greater “North American integration.” In other words, greater corporate favoritism. Fewer worker rights. More job losses. Lower pay and benefits. Profits at the expense of people.

“(E)xpanding economic freedom in North America requires a commitment to the cause,” she claims.

She’s on the wrong side of history. Anti-labor, anti-environment, anti-consumer and anti-democratic measures harm millions. One-sided “free trade” isn’t fair.

NAFTA proponents promised tens of thousands of newly created jobs. Small farmers would export their way to wealth.

Mexican living standards would rise. Economic opportunities would reduce regional immigration to America.

Promises made never materialized. Reality disproved hype. It does it every time. Ideologues praising NAFTA are exposed.

They’re frauds. They’re defrocked. They’re discredited liars.

A decade post-NAFTA, about a million US jobs were lost. America’s Mexican trade deficit alone cost around 700,000 jobs by 2010.

Government data show nearly five million US manufacturing disappeared since 1994.

NAFTA alone wasn’t responsible. Losing them reflected broken promises, lost futures, and other trade deals from hell to follow. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) stand out.

Public Citizen’s new report is titled ”NAFTA at 20: One Million US Jobs Lost, Mass Displacement and Instability in Mexico, Record Income Inequality, Scores of Corporate Attacks on Environmental and Health Laws.”

Lori Wallach heads Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. Ralph Nader calls her “the Trade Debate’s Guerrilla Warrior.”

Public Citizen calls her “a relentless campaigner.” She’s been so for 20 years. She’s a Harvard Law School trained lawyer. In 1993, she founded Citizens Trade Campaign.

It’s a national coalition of consumer, labor, environmental, family farm, religious, and civil rights groups. They represent over 11 million Americans. According to Wallach:

“NAFTA’s actual outcomes prove how damaging this type of agreement is for most people, that it should be renegotiated and why we cannot have any more such deals that include job-offshoring incentives, requirements that we import food that doesn’t meet our safety standards or new rights for firms to get taxpayer compensation before foreign tribunals over laws they don’t like.”

NAFTA remains hugely destructive. It’s “equal parts disgusting and infuriating,” says Wallach. Obama joined “the corporate Pinocchios.”

They lie about NAFTA. They’ve done so from inception. They’re doing it again now. They selling similar Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) snake oil. It’s NAFTA on steroids.

Public Citizen’s study discusses promises made and broken. Post-NAFTA trade and investments contributed to huge job losses, pay cuts and lost futures. Income inequality keeps growing.

America’s trade deficit with Mexico and Canada is 45% higher than with countries not party to US trade agreements.

US manufacturing and services exports to NAFTA partners grew at less than half their pre-NAFTA rate. Polls show more than half of Americans want NAFTA renegotiated or abandoned.

Few want US membership continued. Opposition cuts across parties, income classes and educational levels.

Subsidized US corn exports to Mexico increased. Doing so destroyed the livelihoods of over one million Mexican small farmers.

Another 1.5 million agriculture-dependent Mexican workers lost jobs. Doing so doubled Mexican immigration to America. Most are undocumented. Desperate poor people come north for jobs.

They’re still coming. Doing so increases competition for scarce service sector ones. Government data show the destructive effects of offshoring.

Affected workers lost 20% of their income on average. They did so compared to non-offshorable jobs gotten.

NAFTA damaged millions of lives. It doesn’t matter. Obama wants TPP fast-tracked. He wants TAFTA legislation passed.

He wants millions more US workers displaced. He wants others rehired for less pay. He wants them consigned to poverty. He wants corporate predators profiting at their expense.

According to Wallach, NAFTA-type trade agreements are “corporate Christmas” presents year-round. Big business loves them.

They “jack up medicine prices with patent extensions for Big Pharma,” says Wallach.

“Big Content loves them because (of) SOPA-type copyright rules. Chemical and pharmaceutical companies love them because” they’re freed from regulations and inspections.

Big “oil and gas companies love them because they (get) absolute rights to natural resources.”

“Chronic job offshoring companies love them because (they get) new investor protections” abroad.

They’re win-win for corporate predators. Workers, America’s unemployed and underemployed lose out big time.

Fast-tracking got NAFTA passed. It’s an arcane Nixon-era procedure. It lets executive branch officials write legislation.

Corporate lobbyists do it for them. They stuff everything in measures corporations love.

Congress is denied debate. No amendments are allowed. Up or down voting alone follows.

Fast-tracking is a way of railroading legislation through Congress. It does so against enormous public opposition.

Anti-NAFTA sentiment before passage added more corporate sweeteners than originally planned.

NAFTA “established a radically new ‘trade’ agreement model,” said Public Citizen. It differed from earlier trade deals. It’s “only partially about trade.”

It “created new privileges and protections for foreign investors..” It incentivized offshore investments and jobs. It did so by “eliminating many of the risks normally associated with moving production to low-wage countries.”

NAFTA lets foreign companies and investors challenge domestic laws, regulations and standards. They can demand compensation for alleged lost profits.

Regulation of trucking, banking and other services is restricted. Medicine patent monopolies are extended.

Food and product safety standards are limited. So are domestic procurement preferences like “Buy American.”

Pre-NAFTA enactment debate sold empty promises. It’s record 20 years later proves otherwise. It’s responsible for hundreds of thousands of lost jobs, lower wages, and grim futures for millions.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, two-thirds of NAFTA-displaced manufacturing workers able to find jobs lost 20% or more of their former wages.

NAFTA’s deplorable record reflects race to the bottom reality. It includes unemployment, underemployment, low pay, poor benefits, and lost futures for millions.

According to Public Citizen, “a 188 percent rise in food imports from Canada and Mexico” had no impact on containing prices. They “jumped 65 percent since” NAFTA’s implementation.

Scores of US companies promised to create specific numbers of jobs if NAFTA passed. They cut them hugely instead.

General Electric cut nearly 5,000 jobs. Chrysler eliminated over 7,700. Nearly 600 Caterpillar workers lost out. Many other companies betrayed their workforces and communities the same way.

Since NAFTA’s implementation, the income of America’s richest 10% rose 24%. For its top 1%, it was 58%. “NAFTA-style trade helps explain the soaring inequality,” says Public Citizen.

“NAFTA has placed downward pressure on wages for the middle and lower economic classes by forcing decently-paid US manufacturing workers to compete with imports made by poorly-paid workers abroad.”

“The resulting displacement of those decently-paid US workers has further depressed middle class wages by adding to the surplus of workers seeking lower-paying service sector jobs.”

NAFTA contributes hugely to growing inequality. It gives companies enormous leverage. They can pay domestic workers less. They can offshore for greater savings.

Since NAFTA’s implementation, over 60,000 US manufacturing facilities closed. WTO and other factors share responsibility. “After two decades of NAFTA, the evidence is clear,” says Public Citizen.

“(T)he vaunted deal failed at its promises of job creation and better living standards while contributing to mass job losses, soaring income inequality, agricultural instability, corporate attacks on domestic health and environmental safeguards, and mass displacement and volatility in Mexico.”

Obama wants more of the same. Whether he’ll get it remains to be seen. TPP opposition is significant. Ordinary Americans and policymakers comprise it.

Congress may block passage. In November, a bipartisan group of 178 House members expressed fast-tracking opposition. Other congressional members expressed concerns about TPP overall.

NAFTA’s failure prevented Free Trade Areas of the Americas (FTAA) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) adoption.

It’s “two-decade legacy of tumult and hardship for millions could” kill TPP and other destructive trade deals, says Public Citizen.

Doing so would be a step in the right direction. Much more needs to begun.

Reversing longstanding race to the bottom policy requires wholesale change. Evidence of it happening is nowhere in sight.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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

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

Decisions on the Syrian issue will be taken behind closed doors, and the main question will be “Who is behind the terrorists,” Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Center for Research on Globalization, told RT.



.

RT: Western leaders are undertaking a last-ditch attempt to pressure the Syrian National Council into participating in the forthcoming talks in Geneva. Do you think they will succeed?

Michel Chossudovsky: I think the fundamental issue is to address the nature of the conflict. The Syrian National Council is virtually a defunct organization. They have been meeting in Spain with other opposition groups but in effect we have to ask a question:

‘Is this a civil war between opposing factions within Syrian society or is it in fact a war of aggression?’

I think at the moment what is striking is the fact that there is a merger of the insurgency in Iraq and Syria: it’s the same Al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the Levant, which are waging war against both countries. And the question is who is behind them. We know that there are intelligence operations, we know that Saudi Arabia is supporting the rebels and we also know that the United States is now supporting the New Islamic front which was created back in November, which is considered to be some kind of moderate grouping of Islamic organizations. In effect there’s ample evidence to the efect that the Western military Alliance is supporting various Islamic rebel forces.

RT: The Western leaders are becoming very aware of the consequences of what’ll happen, aren’t they? It’s interesting to hear that many are suspecting now Assad might be the lesser of all evils. And yet at today’s Friends of Syria meeting a very different message came from the French Foreign Minister. He said that Assad’s regime is fueling terrorism. What’s your take on that?

MC: These are cynical statements. The Western military alliance has been recruiting mujaheddin right from the outset and it’s confirmed by numerous reliable sources, including Israeli Intelligence. These jihadist forces are operatives of the Western military alliance and there is continuity in CIA support right from the heyday of the Afghan-Soviet war. For the West to say that Assad is allied with the terrorists is a red herring. They are still intent upon destabilizing Syria as a nation state and in fact, [...] with the situation in Iraq and Syria, what they want to do now is to redraw the map of the Middle East.

RT: But it is contradicted by the fact that the West is holding the conference in Geneva, it wants peace in Syria.

MC: Yes, but this peace conference scheduled for next week in Montreux is an exercise in shadow fake diplomacy. Ultimately, a decision won’t be taken there, it will be taken behind closed doors between John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov.

But very important, Sergey Lavrov made the statement back in November that the Geneva-2 peace talks should focus on counterterrorism. That raises an issue –because they’ll be sitting at the table together—and then the question is: ‘Who is behind the terrorists?’

There will be a number of countries there, I suspect Saudi Arabia might be present at those meetings in Montreux. But who are the sponsors of the terrorists, who is feeding them the weapons? Just a few months ago, Senator John McCain had a photo shaking hands with leaders of the terrorist organizations inside Syria. We must understand that the western military alliance also has blood on their hands. It’s not simply an issue of identifying terrorists, we have to identify the people who are behind them.

 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov head for their seats after greeting each other before the start of their meeting at the U.S. Ambassador's residence in Paris, January 13, 2014.(Reuters / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov head for their seats after greeting each other before the start of their meeting at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Paris, January 13, 2014.(Reuters / Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

RT: With these interesting signals that are coming from western leaders and western spokespeople, what do you make of Assad’s future? Many say that he has support within Syria…

MC: I think Assad has support within Syria because the Syrian people realize that this is a war of aggression with mercenaries coming in and that these mercenaries are coordinated by [Western] special forces. They understand that. And when you [look at] the massacre that took place recently in Adra, well, the civilian population understood who came to the rescue were the Syrian Armed forces against these terrorists. I think it’s shocking to say the least that the massacre in Adra was covered by some, for example, by Russian media, but it was not covered by the Western media.

Recent new elements concerning the attack with the nerve agent sarin on the 21st of August in Syria point to the fact that, in contrast to earlier claims put forward by among others Human Rights Watch and the New York Times, there is not one shred of proof the Syrian army was involved.

On the 28th of December 2013 the New York Times to a certain degree withdrew its previous claims although it blamed the US government and not itself for the lies produced then back in September 2013. However Human Rights Watch still didn’t react to these developments and so continues to stick to its old now discredited lies.

Unreliable azimuths

Human Rights Watch and the NYT then based its very grave accusations against the Syrian government and especially the 104th Brigade of the Syrian Republican Guard on two main elements. First there were the azimuths of these rockets found and then there was the distance these rockets supposedly could fly.

See this map produced by Human Rights Watch in a press release (1) written by Josh Lyons on the 17th of September 2013

Map produced by HRW on the sarin attack of the 21ste of August 2013 near Damascus

 

By linking the attack to the elite military unit of the Syrian army this could have led to a serious destabilization of this main fighting unit defending Damascus against Al Qaeda linked groups. Was this the real intent of HRW, thereby making it also sure the US would attack Syria resulting in a jihadist Al Qaeda victory?

However these azimuths first are totally unreliable as they were deducted from rockets found in rebel controlled areas days after the attacks and shown to the UN-mission by these rebels. Rebels which included elements of Jabhat Al Nusra, officially designated by the US government as a terrorist organization linked to Al Qaeda. Making any dealings of US citizens with it a crime.

This is the same group that on the 11th of September 2001 attacked the World Trade Center in New York killing more than 3000 people. Therefore evidence as the azimuths of these rockets is totally unreliable from a forensic point of view. No serious investigator would base anything on it. But no problem for HRW who without hesitation used this to make such very strong accusations.

More lies

Another lie by HRW was the distance this 330mm rocket found in al Tarma/Zamalka near Damascus could fly. They concluded it could fly at least more than 9 km. Evidence from different sources, including one coming from Ake Sellstrom, head of this UN-mission on Syria, shows that this rocket could fly at best 3,5 km and almost certainly less. Thereby making the claim regarding the Syrian army doubtful. And that against the Republican Guard base a lie.

The two questions posed on the 2nd of January by telephone and mail to the press office at the New York headquarters of HRW were therefore simple and straightforward. What’s the reaction of HRW regarding the new elements coming to light concerning these rockets? And so will HRW apologize to those people it wrongly accused of being responsible for the death of hundreds of children as claimed by HRW?

As a professional organization stating to defend human rights it is essential its statements regarding human rights abuses are based on solid grounds. Here they obviously were not. Still HRW refuses to answer these two simple questions. Raising more suspicions about the true nature of this organization.

Here in Syria, as in Libya before, it works closely with jihadist organizations whose aims are contrary to what human rights are supposed to be. Recently it was also disclosed they worked hand in hand with a Swiss Ngo called Al Karama. Here to this was found out by the US government to be financing Al Qaeda and spreading its ideology. Any serious research of Al Karama would have found already years ago the links between extremist Salafist groups and this NGO. Human Rights Watch didn’t find any. They were their ‘friends’.

Saudi finance

This also has to be viewed in the light of the visit of Sarah Leah Whitson, director for North Africa and the Middle East at HRW, in May 2009 to collect funds in Saudi Arabia, main ideological and financial backer of jihadist groups worldwide including Al Qaeda. After all, Salafisme is the official state religion of the country, one of the most brutal dictatorial governments on earth. It is as if someone went to Adolf Hitler to ask for money to build synagogues.

Another striking thing revealed by the Syrian file of Human Rights Watch is the dubious nature of their ‘research’. When confronted with this attack on the 21st of August and the videos uploaded on the internet by the Sham News Network they, as HRW themselves wrote, talked to those who had uploaded these video’s to verify the facts. And this was sufficient for them.

So on the 10th of September 2013 they wrote in their report concerning this sarin attack:

‘By directly contacting the activists who videotaped and uploaded the videos of the attack available on YouTube, Human Rights Watch has been able to verify the reliability of the videos, and confirmed that they were filmed in the affected area.’ (2)

A work method totally opposed to what any serious research should be. It is as asking someone who wants to sell you a carpet if he’s sure it can fly. And then of course you get a yes. You can hardly expect anything else.

Come clean

But as the name suggest, Sham News Network – Sham is the Salafist name for Syria – is a jihadist organization wanting to introduce sharia law and a Salafist caliphate in the country and elsewhere. It works among others closely and at least partly under control of Jabhat Al Nustra, the US labelled terror organization linked to Al Qaeda. So Al Qaeda sets video’s online and HRW asks an Al Qaeda linked group if they are correct?

With that in mind who on earth should take anything coming from Human Rights Watch as being the truth?

It is therefore no surprise at all Human Rights Watch didn’t oppose the plans at that time for an American bombardment of Syria. Luckily US Congress and the White House later had other and better ideas.

So whose human rights does HRW really defend? And will HRW come clean regarding Syria and the whole Middle East?

Notes:

1) Josh Lyons, 17 September 2013, Human Rights Watch, http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/09/17/dispatches-mapping-sarin-flight-path

2) Human Rights Watch, 10 September 2012, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2013/09/10/attacks-ghouta

This is a shortened version of earlier articles published here concerning Syria, The Middle East, Human rights Watch and the New York Times.

 A tip-off is that the Washington Post refuses to face up to a conflict of interest involving Jeff Bezos — who’s now the sole owner of the powerful newspaper at the same time he remains Amazon’s CEO and main stakeholder.

The Post is supposed to expose CIA secrets. But Amazon is under contract to keep them. Amazon has a new $600 million “cloud” computing deal with the CIA.

The situation is unprecedented. But in an email exchange early this month, Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron told me that the newspaper doesn’t need to routinely inform readers of the CIA-Amazon-Bezos ties when reporting on the CIA. He wrote that such in-story acknowledgment would be “far outside the norm of disclosures about potential conflicts of interest at media organizations.”

But there isn’t anything normal about the new situation. As I wrote to Baron, “few journalists could have anticipated ownership of the paper by a multibillionaire whose outside company would be so closely tied to the CIA.”

The Washington Post’s refusal to provide readers with minimal disclosure in coverage of the CIA is important on its own. But it’s also a marker for an ominous pattern — combining denial with accommodation to raw financial and governmental power — a synergy of media leverage, corporate digital muscle and secretive agencies implementing policies of mass surveillance, covert action and ongoing warfare.

Digital prowess at collecting global data and keeping secrets is crucial to the missions of Amazon and the CIA. The two institutions have only begun to explore how to work together more effectively.

 

For the CIA, the emerging newspaper role of Mr. Amazon is value added to any working relationship with him. The CIA’s zeal to increase its leverage over major American media outlets is longstanding.

After creation of the CIA in 1947, it enjoyed direct collaboration with many U.S. news organizations. But the agency faced a major challenge in October 1977, when — soon after leaving the Washington Post – famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein provided an extensive expose in Rolling Stone.

Citing CIA documents, Bernstein wrote that during the previous 25 years “more than 400 American journalists … have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency.” He added: “The history of the CIA’s involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception.”

Bernstein’s story tarnished the reputations of many journalists and media institutions, including the Washington Post and New York Times. While the CIA’s mission was widely assumed to involve “obfuscation and deception,” the mission of the nation’s finest newspapers was ostensibly the opposite.

During the last few decades, as far as we know, the extent of extreme media cohabitation with the CIA has declined sharply. At the same time, as the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq attests, many prominent U.S. journalists and media outlets have continued to regurgitate, for public consumption, what’s fed to them by the CIA and other official “national security” sources.

 

The recent purchase of the Washington Post by Jeff Bezos has poured some high-finance concrete for a new structural bridge between the media industry and the surveillance/warfare state. The development puts the CIA in closer institutionalized proximity to the Post, arguably the most important political media outlet in the United States.

At this point, about 30,000 people have signed a petition (launched by RootsAction.org) with a minimal request: “The Washington Post’s coverage of the CIA should include full disclosure that the sole owner of the Post is also the main owner of Amazon — and Amazon is now gaining huge profits directly from the CIA.” On behalf of the petition’s signers, I’m scheduled to deliver it to the Washington Post headquarters on January 15. The petition is an opening salvo in a long-term battle.

By its own account, Amazon — which has yielded Jeff Bezos personal wealth of around $25 billion so far — is eager to widen its services to the CIA beyond the initial $600 million deal. “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA,” a statement from Amazon said two months ago. As Bezos continues to gain even more wealth from Amazon, how likely is that goal to affect his newspaper’s coverage of the CIA?

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

 

 

France and Japan agreed to cooperate on military and economic issues after Japan’s foreign and defense ministers visited Paris for “two-plus-two” talks with their French counterparts on Thursday.

Speaking in Paris, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said, “The agreement will open up a new dimension for our cooperation on security and defense.”

Paris and Tokyo agreed to set up a joint committee to discuss the development of military equipment and management of weapons exports. Japan is reportedly interested in particular in French military technology such as next-generation helicopters, submarine propulsion and underwater drones.

The “two-plus-two” talks follow an accord signed by Paris and Tokyo last June, when French President François Hollande officially visited Japan. During Hollande’s visit, both countries agreed to deepen cooperation on nuclear reactor exports and to prepare to work together on the development of military equipment.

The current France-Japan talks focused largely on a stepped-up imperialist intervention in Africa, to destroy China’s rising influence in the continent. Japan pledged to support ongoing French wars in two former French colonies, Mali and the Central African Republic (CAR).

Japan has contributed €735 million to the French military intervention in Mali. Paris also expects that Tokyo will also provide financial assistance for France’s war in CAR.

The new defense cooperation between Paris and Tokyo comes amid escalating military tensions between the major powers that, as is remarked even in the bourgeois press, directly pose the risk of global war. (See: Geo-political tensions raise spectre of 1914 Great War )

Japan and China are embroiled in a bitter dispute over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. These tensions have been largely driven by the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”—a US policy of forming strategic and military alliance with Japan, Australia, India and other regional powers to surround China and contain its rising economic influence.

Following the talks between French and Japanese ministers, a joint statement was issued apparently criticising China’s declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) last year that covers the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. The statement emphasized the importance of ensuring the freedom of flight above the open sea and exclusive economic zones, as well as securing the safety of civilian aircraft.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, “The tensions [between China and Japan] are a source of concern. We want this part of the world to find solutions to ease tensions.”

Far from easing tensions, the accords between Paris and Tokyo are sharpening international conflicts and bringing into the open the great-power calculations behind France’s escalating wars in sub-Saharan Africa.

Fearing rising Chinese influence and declining French business competitiveness against Chinese firms in Africa, French imperialism has escalated military intervention in its former African colonies. In its wars in the Ivory Coast in 2011 and Central African Republic (CAR) in 2013, France targeted regimes that were developing closer ties with China.

Over the past years, China has increased its trade with Africa, becoming the continent’s single largest trading partner. It is a significant investor in Africa’s resources sector, and the biggest importer of oil and minerals from many African countries. It is also heavily involved in building infrastructure including highways, railways, and transit systems across Africa.

While it has focused on competing with China in Asia, Japan is also challenging Chinese influence in Africa. While Japan’s foreign and defense minsters visited Paris, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began his five-day tour of sub-Saharan Africa, the first such visit by a Japanese prime minister in eight years. Abe will visit the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Mozambique.

Reacting to Abe’s visit to Africa, China’s state-owned China Daily noted that the Japanese leader is seeking to “contain” China’s influence in Africa.

The Franco-Japanese alignment against China is a reactionary agreement between two regimes desperate to step up militarist policies to ram through attacks on workers’ social rights at home, and on their great-power rivals abroad.

Officials in the administration of French President François Hollande have openly commented that they are modelling their African wars on the 1982 British Falkland Island war—in which Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher played the war card to boost support for her government and prepare for austerity measures, including the crushing of the 1984-5 miners strike. (See: France seizes on murder of RFI journalists to intensify Mali war )

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pressing ahead with moves to undermine remaining barriers to overseas war in Japan’s post-war constitution. It recently issued a new national security strategy, compiled last year in order to strengthen its military independence and serve as a basis for Japan’s foreign policy over the next ten years.

Abe’s government is euphemistically presenting the stepping up of Japanese militarism as a policy of “proactive pacifism.”

While initially these policies are initially directed at Chinese interests, there are numerous indications that the rising tensions in Asia and Africa will also provoke political clashes between the European powers.

Indeed, it was noteworthy that Japanese officials—who stopped in France after holding talks in Spain focusing on economic cooperation in Latin America—did not stop in Europe’s leading economy and most powerful state: Germany. There are, moreover, definite indications of policy disagreements between Germany and France, the euro zone’s two largest economies, on the Senkaku/Diaoyu island dispute.

While France has aligned itself more directly on the “pivot” and on Japanese claims, the German government allowed Chinese premier Li Keqiang to issue a remarkable public claim to the islands last May, while he was visiting Berlin.

Speaking in Potsdam, near Berlin, Li referred to the post-World War II Potsdam Proclamation on which China stakes its claim to the islands: “The site of the Potsdam meeting is a place of historic significance. The Potsdam Proclamation clearly states that Japan must return China’s territories of Northeast China, Taiwan and other islands after surrendering. The victory and international order had been achieved at the cost of sacrifices of tens of millions of lives.”

For the European powers, including both Germany and France, the revival of Japanese militarism and the rising regional tensions stirred up by the US “pivot to Asia” are a lucrative opportunity to compete for military export markets.

Taking note of the “arms race in the Pacific,” German news magazine Der Spiegel commented that it “promises big business for the German defense industry. Next to the Gulf region, the Pacific is increasingly becoming one of the few global growth markets for defense firms. According to a 2013 report published by the Swedish research institute SIPRI, three of the world’s five biggest arms importers are West Pacific states: China, South Korea and Singapore. For the German economy, the sale of large submarines is especially lucrative.”

Top US and European diplomats assembled Sunday in Paris for a two-day meeting of the so-called Friends of Syria group, renewing the push for regime-change in Damascus.

The talks came amid reports that US officials are preparing renewed shipments of supplies to Syrian Islamist opposition forces. Only four months after nearly going to war with Syria and its allies in Lebanon and Iran to support the Al Qaeda-linked Syrian opposition, the NATO powers are again stoking the sectarian conflicts that are inflaming the region.

The Paris meeting on Sunday focused on pressing the various Islamist militias within the US-backed Syrian opposition to participate in the January 22 “Geneva II” talks. The Geneva talks aim to negotiate a transitional agreement for opposition militias to share power with the current Syrian regime, paving the way for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave office.

The Friends of Syria countries—the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan—issued a statement after Sunday’s meeting. Asserting that “Assad and his close associates with blood on their hands will have no role in Syria,” the statement addressed the Syrian opposition: “We invite them to form, as soon as possible, a delegation of opposition forces to participate in the political process.”

The role of the opposition as the chosen instrument of US-backed regime-change underscores the reactionary role of pseudo-left groups such as the International Socialist Organization in the US, France’s New Anti-capitalist Party, and Germany’s Marx21 group, which have hailed the Syrian opposition as carrying out a “revolution.”

After meeting with Syrian National Coalition (SNC) leader Ahmad Jarba, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared: “I am confident personally that the Syrian opposition will come to Geneva. It was a very constructive meeting today [with Jarba]. I am confident that he and others will be in Geneva. I am counting on both parties to come together.”

He added, “With respect to the Assad regime, we have been told from day one they are allegedly prepared to negotiate.”

Given that Jarba and the imperialist-backed SNC have only tenuous connections to the Islamist opposition groups fighting inside Syria, which have bitterly opposed a negotiated settlement, it is unclear whether Jarba will get the opposition to join the Geneva talks. Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Paris, Jacky Rowland, noted that Syrian opposition officials had not made any statements supporting Kerry’s claims that they would attend the talks. “It is by no means certain,” Rowland wrote, “that the Coalition is ready to say ‘yes’ to that invitation.”

Jarba did indicate, however, that he was pleased by the tone of the discussions and the renewed focus on regime-change. “We all agreed there is no future for Bashar al-Assad and his family in Syria. His departure is inevitable,” he said.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, “It’s the regime of Bashar al-Assad that is feeding terrorism. We must bring that regime to an end.”

Such statements by Fabius are a cynical attempt to cover up a politically criminal policy being pursued by the major imperialist powers, which have deliberately stoked up a sectarian civil war in Syria in which NATO and the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms have relied on Sunni Islamist terrorist organizations tied to Al Qaeda. Having nearly gone to war to rescue these forces from defeat last September, the US and its co-conspirators are moving to reorganize the Al Qaeda-linked opposition so as to align it more directly with American foreign policy.

Fighting has erupted between rival factions of the Islamist opposition near the northern cities of Aleppo, Idlib and Raqqa. The London-based, pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that the fighting has claimed 697 lives, including 100 civilians, of whom 21 were executed.

It appears the fighting is taking place between US-backed Islamist factions and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has fallen out of favor with Washington, particularly after joining a Sunni uprising against the US-backed regime of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in neighboring Iraq.

This fighting has laid the basis for Washington to resume its direct aid to the Syrian opposition. The US announced December 11 that it had suspended its official aid shipments, carried out in parallel with covert weapons shipments overseen by the CIA, after it emerged that US aid to the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) had gone to a collection of Al Qaeda-linked militias called the Islamic Front. Washington is now preparing to restart shipments to the FSA following the Islamic Front’s attacks on ISIS forces.

Washington is arming the FSA even though, as an anonymous senior administration official told the New York Times, “There’s no way to say 100 percent that it would not end up in the hands of the Islamic Front.”

While the US presents its actions as part of an effort to limit the influence of Al Qaeda in the US-backed opposition, it appears the main beneficiaries will be ISIS’ rivals, the Islamic Front and the Al Nusra Front. Al Nusra has itself openly pledged loyalty to Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri

Noting that the FSA would not benefit from the revival of US aid as much as Al Nusra, Le Nouvel Observateur cited Romain Caillet of the French Institute for the Near East in Beirut, who said: “Al Nusra is playing a double role. It is taking over various headquarters, largely without violence, and is waiting to see how things turn out to know whether they will keep their positions or give them up. Many fighters have already pledged allegiance to Al Nusra.”

Caillet added, “If ISIS really disappeared in Syria, all its foreign fighters who are not killed, captured, or have not fled the country will go over to Al Nusra, if only to protect their families, as many came with their wives and children.”

US imperialism’s strategy of fomenting regime-change across the Middle East by manipulating alliances with Sunni Islamist forces—which it embarked on after the working class toppled the Egyptian dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak in 2011—has devastated the region. Having torn Syria to shreds, it is threatening to engulf the entire Middle East in a broad war.

Fighting between the Syrian regime and the US-backed opposition has devastated Syria and the region, forcing 2.3 million people to flee to refugee camps outside Syria and internally displacing some 6.5 million people. Taken together, this represents over a third of Syria’s population of 22.4 million people.

Speaking on the spreading social catastrophe inside Syria, UN humanitarian affairs chief Baroness Valerie Amos told the BBC: “The sick and wounded have not been able to leave, we’ve not been able to get food in. There are reports of people on the brink of starvation, including in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp close to the center of Damascus.”

Fighting also continues to escalate in Iraq, particularly in Sunni-majority areas of western Iraq, near the border with Syria, and US officials are considering a renewed invasion of the country already devastated by the 2003 invasion. The ongoing fighting, USA Today observed, is “raising the possibility of a major war in the Middle East with untold death, global oil shocks and, eventually, US military intervention.”

Yesterday, 22 people were killed and more than 80 wounded in a series of car bombings and shootings in Baghdad and in Tuz Khurmato, in northern Iraq’s Salaheddin province.

The Iraqi regime is massing its forces outside of Fallujah, where Sunni Islamist forces have taken over the city and are holding it against the Maliki government, to whom the Obama administration is rushing military equipment and assistance.

Former US army intelligence officer Jessica Lewis told AFP, “The US Marines had difficulty assaulting Fallujah in 2004. The Iraqi army is not prepared to sustain a comparable fight.” In an assault, she added, “Iraqi security forces will most likely level Fallujah by overusing artillery and stand-off weapons to suppress the threat.”

Let Them Stay Week 2014 – Stop the deportations!

January 13th, 2014 by Global Research News

For more on the campaign to assist US War Resisters in Canada, visit http://resisters.ca 

 

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the arrival in Canada of Jeremy Hinzman, the first Iraq War resister to seek asylum here after refusing to participate in an illegal and immoral war. Yet 10 years on, Jeremy and his family, and many other U.S. war resisters, are still living in limbo – not certain if they will be forced to return to the U.S., where they face harsh punishment for their courageous decision.

From January 12 to 19th, join Canadians across the country in Let Them Stay Week 2014, to send a message that U.S. war resisters are welcome in Canada, and that the Canadian government must stop the deportations and enact a provision to let them stay.

Here are some of the ways you can participate, to ensure that message comes through each day of Let Them Stay Week:

Sunday Jan 12 – Tweet or post your support for U.S. war resisters on Facebook.

Monday Jan 13 – Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. For ideas, see  sample letters.

Tuesday Jan 14 – Call or email the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander and ask him to ensure that no more U.S. war resisters are forced out of Canada for their opposition to an illegal and immoral war, and to enact a provision to let them stay in Canada.
You can send an email from our Take Action page, or write your own message and email it to:

[email protected], [email protected]
CC the opposition leaders and critics: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
Phone 613-954-1064

Wednesday Jan 15 – Write a letter to the Minister and to your MP in support of U.S. war resisters.
Send your letter to: Hon. Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship & Immigration, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
In Toronto, join a letter-writing event at 7 p.m. at the Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street (near College and Beverly). Featuring a preview of the upcoming film Peace has no Borders and updates from resisters Joshua Key and Dean Walcott.

Thursday Jan 16 – Social media day: change your Facebook status to the graphic on this page, or tweet a link to resisters.ca #LetThemStay

Friday Jan 17 – MP and Community Outreach Day – Meet with your MP, or call their office to request a meeting. (For a lobbying guide to help organize your visit to your MP, email [email protected]). Circulate this petition among your friends and family, at work or at school.

Saturday Jan 18 – Building Sanctuary: a panel discussion with Jessica Squires and Alyssa Manning, 5–7 p.m., Ryerson University. Part of the Canadian Peace Alliance convention. Jessica Squires is the author of Building Sanctuary: The Movement to Support Vietnam War Resisters in Canada, 1965-73 . Alyssa Manning is the lawyer representing U.S. war resisters in Canada. The panel will be livestreamed at  http://www.ustream.tv/channel/cpa-convention-2014

Here are further actions you can take in support of U.S. Iraq War resisters:
1. Display a sign in your window in support of war resisters.
2. Make a donation to our defense campaign in support of U.S. war resisters. * Donations can be sent to the following address (please make cheque payable to the War Resisters Support Campaign): War Resisters Support Campaign Box 13, 427 Bloor Street West Toronto, ON M5S 1X7 CANADA

“Across the world, a dangerous rumor has spread that could have catastrophic implications. According to legend, Iran’s President has threatened to destroy Israel, or, to quote the misquote, “Israel must be wiped off the map”. Contrary to popular belief, this statement was never made, …” (Arash Norouzi, Wiped off  The Map: The Rumor of the Century   January 2007)

The United States has attacked, directly or indirectly, some 44 countries throughout the world since August 1945, a number of them many times. The avowed objective of these military interventions has been to effect “regime change”. The cloaks of “human rights” and of “democracy” were invariably evoked to justify what were unilateral and illegal acts. (Professor Eric Waddell,  The United States’ Global Military Crusade (1945- ), Global Research, February 2007

This is a [Pentagon] memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” (General Wesley Clark, Democracy Now, March 2, 2007)

*         *        *

Washington is in the “business of destroying” a very long list of countries.

Who is “Wiping Countries off the Map”? Iran or the United States?

During a period which is euphemistically called the “post-war era” –extending from 1945 to the present–, the US has directly or indirectly attacked more than 40 countries.

While the tenets of US foreign policy are predicated on the “spread of democracy”, US interventionism –through military means and covert operations– has resulted in the outright destabilization and partition of sovereign nations.

Destroying countries is part of a US Imperial project, a process of global domination.  Moreover, according to official sources, the US has a total of 737 military bases in foreign countries. (2005 data)

The Notion of “Failed States”

The Washington based National Intelligence Council (NIC) in its Global Trends report  (December 2012)  “predicts” that 15 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East will become “failed states” by 2030, due to their “potential for conflict and environmental ills”.

The list of countries in the 2012 NIC report includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, DR Congo, Malawi, Haiti, Yemen. (see p  39)

In its previous 2005 report, published at the outset of Bush’s second term, the National Intelligence Council had predicted that Pakistan would become a “failed’ state” by 2015 “as it will be affected by civil war, complete Talibanisation and struggle for control of its nuclear weapons”.

Pakistan was compared to Yugoslavia which was carved up into seven proxy states after a decade of US-NATO sponsored “civil wars”.

The NIC forecast for Pakistan was a “Yugoslav-like fate” in a “country riven by civil war, bloodshed and inter-provincial rivalries” (Energy Compass, 2 March 2005).

While the failed states are said to “serve as safehavens for political and religious extremists” (p. 143), the report does not acknowledge the fact that the US and its allies have, since the 1970s, provided covert support to religious extremist organizations as a means to destabilize sovereign secular nation states. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan were secular states in the 1970s.

A Yugoslav or Somalia-style “failed state status” is not the result of internal social divisions, it is a strategic objective implemented through covert operations and military action.

The Washington based Fund for Peace, whose mandate is to promote “sustainable security through research”, publishes (annually) a “Failed States Index” based on a risk assessment (see map below).  Thirty three countries (included in the Alert and Warm categories) are identified as “failed states”.

According to the Fund for Peace, the “failed states” are also “targets for Al Qaeda linked terrorists”

“The annual ranking of nations by the Fund for Peace/Foreign Policy for failing/fragile-state trouble-signs comes as international alarm grows about al-Qaeda-linked extremists setting up a state-based sanctuary in northern Mali for jihadi expansion.”

Needless to say, the history of Al Qaeda as a US intelligence asset, its role in creating factional divisions and  instability in the Middle East, Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are not mentioned.  The activities of the jihadist Al Qaeda units in most of these countries are part of a diabolical covert intelligence agenda.

 

 

“Weaker” and “Failed States”: A Threat to America

In a twist logic, “weaker failed states”, according to the US Congress, are said to constitute a threat to the security of the US. The latter includes “several threats emanating from states that are variously described as weak, fragile, vulnerable, failing, precarious, failed, in crisis, or collapsed“.

As the Cold War concluded in the early 1990s, analysts became aware of an emerging international security environment, in which weak and failing states became vehicles for transnational organized crime, nuclear proliferation pathways, and hot spots for civil conflict and humanitarian emergencies. The potential U.S. national security threats weak and failing states pose became further apparent with Al Qaeda’s September 11, 2001, attack on the United States, which Osama bin Laden masterminded from the safe haven that Afghanistan provided. The events of 9/11 prompted President George W. Bush to claim in the 2002 U.S. National Security Strategy that “weak states, like Afghanistan, can pose as great a danger to our national interests as strong states.” (Weak and Failing States: Evolving Security, Threats and U.S. Policy, CRS Report for the US Congress, Washington, 2008)

What is not mentioned in this Congressional CRS report is that the “hot spots of organized crime and civilian conflict” are the result of US covert intelligence operations.

Amply documented, the Afghan drug economy which generates over 90 percent of the World’s supply of heroin is tied into a multibillion dollar money laundering operation involving major financial institutions.  The drug trade out of Afghanistan  is protected by the CIA and US-NATO occupation forces.

Syria: Categorized as a “Failed State”

The atrocities committed against the Syrian population by the US-NATO sponsored Free Syrian Army (FSA) create  conditions which favor sectarian warfare.

Sectarian extremism favors the breakup of Syria as a Nation State as well as the demise of the central government in Damascus.

Washington’s foreign policy objective is to transform Syria into what the National Intelligence Council (NIC) calls a “failed state”.

Regime change implies maintaining a central government. As the Syrian crisis unfolds, the endgame is no longer “regime change” but the partition and destruction of Syria as a Nation State.

The US-NATO-Israel strategy is to divide the country up into three weak states. Recent media reports intimate that if  Bashar Al Assad “refuses to step down”, “the alternative is a failed state like Somalia.”

One possible ”break-up scenario” reported by the Israeli press would be the formation of separate and  “independent” Sunni, Alawite-Shiite, Kurdish and Druze states.

According to Major-General Yair Golan of Israel’s IDF “Syria is in civil war, which will lead to a failed state, and terrorism will blossom in it.”  The Israel Defence Forces are currently analyzing “how Syria would break up”, according to Major General Golan (Reuters, May31, 2012)

In November,  United Nations peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi intimated that Syria could become “A New Somalia” ,… “warning of a scenario in which warlords and militia fill a void left by a collapsed state.” (Reuters, November 22, 2012)

 ”What I am afraid of is worse … the collapse of the state and that Syria turns into a new Somalia.”

“I believe that if this issue is not dealt with correctly, the danger is ‘Somalisation’ and not partition: the collapse of the state and the emergence of warlords, militias and fighting groups.” (Ibid)

What the UN envoy failed to mention is that the breakup of Somalia, was deliberate. It was part of a covert US military and intelligence agenda,  which is now being applied to several targeted countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, which are categorized as “failed states”.

The central question is: who is failing the failed states? Who is “Taking them Out”?

The planned break-up of Syria as a sovereign state is part of an  integrated regional military and intelligence agenda which includes Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan. According to the “predictions” of the National Intelligence Council, the breakup of Pakistan is slated to occur in the course of the next three years.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

WWIII Scenario

 

“The US has embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity. US-NATO weapons of mass destruction are portrayed as instruments of peace. Mini-nukes are said to be “harmless to the surrounding civilian population”. Pre-emptive nuclear war is portrayed as a “humanitarian undertaking”.

“While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to fully comprehend the devastation which might result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons, until it occurs and becomes a reality. The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of world peace. “Making the world safer” is the justification for launching a military operation which could potentially result in a nuclear holocaust.

Nuclear war has become a multibillion dollar undertaking, which fills the pockets of US defense contractors. What is at stake is the outright “privatization of nuclear war”.

The Pentagon’s global military design is one of world conquest. The military deployment of US-NATO forces is occurring in several regions of the world simultaneously.

Central to an understanding of war, is the media campaign which grants it legitimacy in the eyes of public opinion. A good versus evil dichotomy prevails. The perpetrators of war are presented as the victims. Public opinion is misled.

Breaking the “big lie”, which upholds war as a humanitarian undertaking, means breaking a criminal project of global destruction, in which the quest for profit is the overriding force. This profit-driven military agenda destroys human values and transforms people into unconscious zombies.

The object of this book is to forcefully reverse the tide of war, challenge the war criminals in high office and the powerful corporate lobby groups which support them.

(Michel Chossudovsky, Towards a World War III Scenario, Global Research, Montreal,  2012)

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Towards a World War III Scenario” by Michel Chossudovsky

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Reviews

Professor Chossudovsky’s hard-hitting and compelling book explains why and how we must immediately undertake a concerted and committed campaign to head off this impending cataclysmic demise of the human race and planet earth. This book is required reading for everyone in the peace movement around the world.”
-Francis A. Boyle, Professor of International Law, University of Illinois College of Law

“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
-John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
-Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute  

 The passing of Ariel Sharon brought back the memories of the horrors of the Sabra Shatilla massacre of September,’82.

I arrived in August that year as a volunteer surgeon to help the war victims of Lebanon. The people in Lebanon were wounded, made homeless and lost precious friends and families as the result of ten weeks of ruthless bombardment. That was the Operation Peace for Galilee launched by Sharon who was then the Defence Minister of Israel in June 1982.

No one knew how many were killed as the result of that offensive – the London newspapers estimated a thirty thousand with many times more made homeless. When a ceasefire was agreed with the evacuation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Sharon broke that ceasefire and drove tanks under air-cover launching a land invasion into Lebanon’s capitol Beirut. Part of the tanks sealed Sabra Shatilla and prevented the helpless civilian victims from escaping, while sending in Israel’s allies into the camps to carry out the most brutal massacre of defenceless women, children and old people under Israel’s watch. The blame was quickly and deliberately shifted to the Lebanese as perpetrators of the massacres, so that today no one can mention that massacre without blaming the Lebanese Phalange, yet forgetting the Israeli organisers of that event.

I worked in Gaza Hospital in Sabra Shatilla during the massacre trying to save the lives of a few dozen people, but outside the hospital hundreds were killed. My patients and I knew that Sharon and his officers were in control, and without them the massacre would not be possible. The residents of Sabra Shatilla could at least have escaped. Now more than 30 years later, we know that the killers were brought in by Israeli armoured cars and tanks, obeyed Israeli commands, their paths lit by Israeli military flares, and some of them also wore Israeli uniforms. The mutilated bodies of the victims were thrown into mass graves by Israeli bulldozers.

This Sharon continued on to be Israeli Prime Minister, and built the Wall which imprisoned the Palestinians in the West Bank. Sharon’s Wall cut through their lands,  separating people from their homes, children from their schools, farmers from their orchards,  patients from hospitals, husbands from wives, and children from parents. He marched into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem 2000 with fully armed Israeli soldiers and tried to have the West believe that his intention was for peace.

 He was responsible for other massacres such as in Jenin, Qibya and Khan Yunis just to name a few. The older generation in Khan Yunis in Gaza remembers that he killed all the grown men in the massacre of 1956 and left only the women and children to bury the dead..

I thought these facts should be publicised. Those who eulogise Sharon in his role of building Israel should also remember that he built his nation over the dead bodies of the Palestinian people, and the continued dispossession of those who are still alive.

 Dr Ang Swee Chai, Author of From Beirut to Jerusalem, International Librarie, Beirut

The above text was addressed as a letter to

Mr Michael Young
The Editor
Daily Star Beirut

 

 

Of Military Suicides and War Resisters

January 13th, 2014 by J. B. Gerald

In 2012, 349 active duty U.S. military personnel committed suicide, with projections slightly lower for 2013. Those verifiable suicides don’t include intentional accidents, terminal mistakes, or other indirect means of suicide. Figures for attempted suicides are many times higher and ignored. A rising suicide rate is reflected in veterans’ suicides with recent marked increase in fatalities among younger veterans.

The statistics for veteran suicide are based on data from twenty States only and are given as 22 per day. These don’t include suicides outside knowledge of the Veterans Administration Hospitals, such as homeless vets, wanderers, victims of rape and others who want to nothing to do with the military. Nor do they include figures from slow suicides of drug abuse, alcoholism, extremes of diet and behavioural patterns, violence. Suicide in the military sector may be epidemic. It’s hard to separate this from the wars of aggression the U.S. is engaged in.

What the media and military avoid with puzzlement at the increasing suicide death toll:

Wounded military people and veterans aren’t receiving adequate medical and psychological care. Suicide costs the military less than long term health care.

All soldiers are wounded. Defense Department statistics imply many suicides rise simply from personal problems, yet the suicides take place within a structure where the soldiers blame themselves for the failure of their support system.

Those participating in criminal wars enter a torment. Most signed up to affirm something good, and with that stripped away, lose self-value. In contrast, people fighting wars of liberation don’t commit suicide, though some (ie. “suicide bombers”) sacrifice their lives to further the tactical interests of their group.

Suicide is one alternative to serving in a war that is a crime against humanity so it’s reasonable to avoid both.

Officers are better paid and better treated so their suicide rate is much lower than among enlisted people. It would lower the number of suicides to increase non-officer salaries and family benefits while the soldier is alive.

Paying public works alternatives to the military should be developed so that the vast numbers of unemployed youth will have alternatives to earning a living by killing people.

Military training is predicated on stripping enlisted people’s sense of self worth. It’s a leftover policy from class rule. A soldier knows the military is more interested in its objectives than survival of any soldier so a suicidal cycle starts with enlistment. This problem wouldn’t exist if the military were only for defense of the homeland.

Training should include teaching non-compliance with illegal orders. This is necessary to protect the soldiers within criminal wars, and helps remove the sense of helplessness which leads to terminal acts.

To lower suicide rates people who become conscientious objectors or find any particular war against their personal code, should be released from service.

The military should allow soldiers to unionize so their interests can find representation outside of the chain of command.

Political action is a good antidote to suicide; on separation from the service veterans should move into political education and radical action. This concept has grown steadily since the first Veterans against War organizations of the 1960′s.

Military services should never be contracted to private security firms. Military service in foreign or private U.S. security firms should be criminalized. Under current law there is no ‘legal’ justification for killing outside of a State’s application of the death penalty, or in certain circumstances (ie. declared wars) service in the U.S. military. Privatization of killing, like death squads, separates the soldier from the people and community which he or she ultimately relies on for support, stability and mental health.

 War resistance

More U.S. military people commit suicide each year than are known to desert to Canada. Why is that ? Well, death is inclusive to everyone, while Canada continues to deport contemporary deserters to U.S. military prisons. One or two resisters have found safe haven through legal cases and appeals against the orders to remove them. Polls have shown a majority of Canadians supports war resisters, but in 2010 Parliament failed to pass bill C-440 amending the Immigration act in their favour. The Harper government continues to deny refuge and asylum. Aside from known cases there are unknown numbers of resisters.

Among the deported were Robin Long, Clifford Cornell, and Kimberley Rivera. In the U.S., sentenced to 14 months, Kimberley Rivera gave birth in prison Nov. 26th, and was released Dec. 12th, after serving 10 months. In reporting her release, the U.S. military paper, Stars and Stripes, noted her dishonourable discharge doesn’t necessarily mean she won’t be able to find work. Jeremy Hinzman, an upfront conscientious objector, after numerous complex legal battles received a permission to stay in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. The UN Human Rights Commission has shown ongoing support for the rights of conscientious objectors. Yet on long term AWOL from the U.S. Army, Rodney Watson, under government warrant, enters his fifth year of sanctuary asylum in the First United Church of Vancouver. Many legal cases have been won by resisters, then appealed by the government and legal cases of war resisters such as Joshua Key remain under consideration as though waiting for politicians to wake up. Some cases are rarely mentioned, as though notice might upset an applecart.

The issue of war resisters isn’t comfortable as it was during Vietnam. Draft resisters had escaped military training and were essentially civilians, buffering the inclusion of militarily trained deserters. Current resisters signed up to fight and were trained. Some have combat experience in wars so mixed with the brutality against innocent civilians that no one wants to think about it.

Both Canadian society and the war resisters are trying to escape the same wars. But the war resisters, even with experience of war crimes in Iraq or Afghanistan, have asserted their conscience and moral right to stand with humanity.

To deny them denies the few humanitarian pretexts Canada has for participation in wars the resisters have rejected. Canada participated with armed forces in the initial invasion of Iraq (1991). It deferred in the second (2003) but supplied support. It participated fully in Afghanistan. While the legal accounts will be settled by history, current civil war in Iraq, the ongoing civilian death toll, the destruction of civil society, and early evidence of U.S. and allied intention to destroy an entire society, present a challenge to the Convention on Genocide.

Unsuccessful attempts to call British and American leadership to account for genocide have clarified an international system of law which refuses accountability. Yet the Genocide Convention stands without statute of limitation, a primary law, applicable when peoples finally tire of the slaughter of innocents, and as our judicial systems evolve with a clearer sight toward justice.

So deserters honouring international law on a personal basis are a thorn to neo-conservative policies internationally which rely on perception-management of the public to cloud the law, allowing corporate war economies to proceed with their crime in one country after another.

As in the Vietnam conflict those able to escape participation in inhumanity deserve respect, support, understanding and thanks, for trusting that it would be better in Canada, for respecting the beliefs of generations of Canadians among others. They should be asked to stay, to give some living voice to a generation learning how to respond to criminal wars. The War Resisters Support Campaign has declared the week of January 12 through the 19th, “Let Them Stay Week 2014″. For the resisters it may be a cold comfort, but at least a moment of Canada’s humanity amid so many lives trained to kill.

by Alfredo Saad Filho

This article reviews the background and the implications of two transitions in Brazil: the political transition from a military regime (1964-85) to democracy (1985-present), and the economic transition from import-substituting industrialization (ISI, 1930-80) to neoliberalism (1990-present). It subsequently examines how neoliberal economic policies were implemented in a democracy, under the centre-right administrations led by Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-98, 1998-2002), and the centre-left administrations led by Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula, 2003-06, 2007-10) and Dilma Rousseff (2011-present). The article concludes with a reflection about the limitations of these policies, and of neoliberal democracy more generally.

Demonstrations in Brazil in 2013. [Reuters/Paulo Santos]

National Developmentalism and its Disintegration

ISI is a system of accumulation based on the sequenced expansion of manufacturing industry, with a view to replacing imports. Manufacturing growth usually departs from the production of non-durable consumer goods and, later, includes durable consumer goods and simple chemical products. In Brazil, ISI reached a third stage, including such technologically complex goods as steel, advanced machinery and jet airplanes. Through this process, the share of agriculture in GDP declined from 36 per cent, in 1910, to 10 per cent, in 1980, while the share of manufacturing increased from 14 to 41 per cent of GDP. These structural changes were associated with rapid per capita income growth (above 7 per cent per year between 1950 and 1980), and with the tendential deterioration of the distribution of income.

Despite its achievements, Brazilian ISI was limited at five levels: the balance of payments constraint, financial sector inefficiency, fiscal fragility, high inflation, and lack of policy co-ordination. These limitations help to explain the volatility of the economic growth rates and the reproduction of severe social and economic problems in the country, including political instability, insufficient infrastructure provision, the concentration of income and the reproduction of mass poverty. Given these fragilities, the adverse external shocks of the 1970s-80s made macroeconomic management extremely difficult. The country’s mounting balance of payments, fiscal and exchange rate troubles culminated in a gradual slide toward hyperinflation, which peaked only in the mid-1990s. Social conflicts and political instability increased in tandem.

Between the early 1970s and the early 1990s, the Brazilian elite convinced itself that the restoration of economic dynamism would be compatible with the reproduction of social exclusion only through the introduction of a new system of accumulation, including neoliberal economic policies, the integration of domestic capital into transnational accumulation, a decisive role for finance in economic policy-making, and political democracy.

The Political and Economic Transitions

The military regime disintegrated gradually after 1974, due to the political exhaustion of naked repression, and the economic exhaustion of its growth strategy. The forms of political contestation encompassed critiques of the regime’s corruption and lack of accountability, trade union militancy, the ballot box, and mass mobilizations for democratic reforms. Nevertheless, Brazilian democracy did not emerge through the destruction of the dictatorship (as was the case, for example, in Argentina). Instead, the military and the traditional elites ultimately reached a pact to deliver political freedoms, in exchange for the preservation of elite privileges. Under these limited conditions, the democratic transition established the most open and stable regime in the history of the Republic.

This political transition was followed by an economic transition to neoliberalism. Successive waves of ‘reform’ between the late 1980s and the early 2000s included the liberalization of trade, finance and capital flows, the institutionalization of contractionary fiscal and monetary policies, extensive privatizations, the ‘flexibilization’ of labour law and the promotion of alliances between foreign and domestic capital. These reforms brought efficiency gains through new (labour-saving) production methods, subcontracting, and the shift of the product mix toward lower value added goods, leading to extensive deindustrialization in the traditional manufacturing regions. Although manufacturing productivity rose by 7.6 per cent annually between 1990-97, manufacturing employment declined by 40 per cent, leading to the loss of 1.5 million jobs. Low aggregate demand depressed both investment and growth rates: per capita income rose only 2.7 per cent per annum between 1981 and 2003, and Brazil fell from being the world’s 8th largest economy, in 1980, to 14th place, in 2000.

Poor economic performance was accompanied by rising unemployment and the informalization of the labour market. The outcome was the reduction of the share of labour in national income from 50 per cent, in 1980, to 40 per cent, in the mid-1990s. The regressive policies securing the neoliberal transition were consolidated into a durable macroeconomic policy regime in 1999, centred on inflation targeting, large fiscal surpluses, liberalized capital flows and the managed fluctuation of the currency.

The Workers’ Party Administrations

Lula was elected president in 2002 by a coalition of social groups that had, in common, only the experience of losses under neoliberalism: the organized working-class, the domestic bourgeoisie, large sections of the traditional oligarchy and sections of the middle-class and the informal proletariat. These disparate supporters had few objectives in common beyond more expansionary macroeconomic policies and some redistribution of income, and they did not support a radical break with neoliberalism.

The first Lula administration preserved the macroeconomic policies introduced by the previous administration, but raised the minimum wage rapidly, and expanded the federal programmes of social assistance. However, GDP growth rates remained patchy, and most social and employment indicators failed to improve significantly. After his re-election, Lula introduced a strategy of ‘national economic development,’ based on the co-existence of the previous macroeconomic policy framework with neo-developmentalist (heterodox) policies. Given the favourable external environment created by the commodity boom, the government’s expansionary and redistributive fiscal and financial policies supported the rapid growth of domestic demand and investment. These policies were intensified in the wake of the global crisis, which the country weathered brilliantly (GDP growth in 2010 reached 7.5 per cent), and continued by Lula’s chosen successor, Dilma Rousseff.

The pattern of growth in the Lula and Dilma administrations was unquestionably pro-poor. Twenty-one million jobs were created in the 2000s, in contrast with 11 million in the 1990s; the Gini coefficient fell from 0.57 in 1995 to 0.52 in 2008; the incomes of the bottom decile rose by 91 per cent between 2001-09, while the incomes of the top decile increased by 16 per cent. Incomes rose by 42 per cent in the poorer Northeast against 16 per cent in the richer Southeast, and more in rural than in urban areas. Female income rose by 38 per cent against 16 per cent for men, and the income of Blacks rose 43 per cent against 20 per cent for Whites, and the population below the poverty line fell from 36 per cent in 2003 to 23 per cent in 2008. Lula’s approval rate reached 90 per cent at the end of his second term, while Dilma Rousseff broke popularity records during most of her administration.

Despite these achievements, the Brazilian economy has slowed down since 2011, for three reasons. First, government policies have failed to kick-start self-sustaining growth driven by private investment. Second, the balance of payments has deteriorated because of the slowdown in Brazil’s main markets (China, the EU and the U.S.), sluggish commodity prices, currency devaluations and export-led strategies in several large economies. Third, the domestic currency has been vulnerable to shifts in capital flows due to economic policy shifts in the advanced economies.

Conclusion

This article has reviewed the economic and political transitions in Brazil, and traced their macroeconomic implications in the ‘age of neoliberalism.’ The two transitions have largely dismantled the production systems established during ISI and the corresponding social structures and patterns of employment. The Brazilian economy has become structurally more dependent on foreign trade, investment and technology, and the country’s productive base has shifted away from the long-term requirements of national accumulation, and toward the short-term imperatives of global accumulation. These outcomes were tempered but not fully reversed by the federal administrations led by the Workers’ Party.

At the political level, democracy has become established as the political form of neoliberalism in Brazil. The symbiosis between neoliberalism and political democracy operates at three levels. First, the economic transition to neoliberalism was achieved through, and validated by, democratic means. Second, neoliberal policies have supported the democratic regime because they fragment the working-class through higher unemployment, faster labour turnover, the repression of trade union activity by economic (rather than crudely political) means, and the rise of economic insecurity. Third, democracy is the best political regime for neoliberalism because it guarantees the stability and predictability of the ‘rules of the game,’ making it more easily managed by the dominant (moneyed) elite.

Despite these structural limitations, the Lula and Dilma administrations have achieved significant gains for the workers and the poor. Such progress has been important, but it remains insufficient to satisfy the distributive and democratic aims of the Brazilian workers and the left. Brazil remains one of the most unequal countries in the world and, clearly, more could have been achieved since 2003. However, the severe obstacles faced by Lula’s and Dilma’s administrations suggest that a more ambitious agenda would have been feasible only through the mobilization of the working-class to confront the traditional elites and the aggressive deployment of public resources to fund faster welfare gains and deliver strategic investments. These destabilizing options were never considered by these administrations, which have chosen, instead, a gradualist strategy supported by minimal legislative and regulatory changes. •

Alfredo Saad Filho teaches at the Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London.

 

Further Reading:

  • Saad-Filho, A. (2012) “Neoliberalism, Democracy and Development Policy in Brazil,” in K.-S. Chang, B. Fine and L. Weiss, Developmental Politics in Transition: The Neoliberal Era and Beyond. London: Palgrave.
  • Saad-Filho, A. and Morais, L. (2011) “Brazil beyond Lula: Forging Ahead or Pausing for Breath?,” Latin American Perspectives, 38 (2), pp.31-44.
  • Saad-Filho, A. and Morais, L. (2014) “Mass Protests: Brazilian Spring or Brazilian Malaise?,” in L. Panitch, G. Albo and V. Chibber (eds.), Socialist Register, London: Merlin Press, pp.227-246.

 

 Can We Avoid the “Thucydides Trap” with China?

Top economic advisers are forecasting war and unrest.

They give the following reasons for their forecast:

  • Countries start wars to distract their populations from lousy economies
  • Currency and trade wars end up turning into shooting wars
  • The U.S. is still seeking to secure oil supplies, and the U.S. doesn’t like any country to leave the dollar standard

Additionally, the American policy of using the military to contain China’s growing economic influence – and of considering economic rivalry to be a basis for war – is creating a tinderbox.

As the New York Times noted in 2011:

For a superpower, dealing with the fast rise of a rich, brash competitor has always been an iffy thing.

Just ask … Thucydides, the Athenian historian whose tome on the Peloponnesian War has ruined many a college freshman’s weekend. The line they had to remember for the test was his conclusion: “What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta.

So while no official would dare say so publicly as President Hu Jintao bounced from the White House to meetings with business leaders to factories in Chicago last week, his visit, from both sides’ points of view, was all about managing China’s rise and defusing the fears that it triggers. Both Mr. Hu and President Obama seemed desperate to avoid what Graham Allison of Harvard University has labeled “the Thucydides Trap” – that deadly combination of calculation and emotion that, over the years, can turn healthy rivalry into antagonism or worse.

Indeed, Allison writes:

The defining question about global order in the decades ahead will be: can China and the US escape Thucydides’s trap?

China is certainly aware of this potential dynamic for world war … and is eager to avoid it.    As Xinua noted last July:

Greek historian Thucydides described the situation between Athens and Sparta as a combination of “rise” and “fear,” which inevitably resulted in war about 2,400 years ago. Over the past 500 years, when a rising power has challenged a ruling power, war has often followed, reinforcing the concept of “The Thucydides Trap.”

In the 21st century, however, China and the U.S. could and must avoid falling into this trap, especially against the backdrop of ever-deepening economic globalization and interdependence.

***

“The Thucydides Trap” offers a worthy caution, but it is not a tragedy that can not be avoided.

The 21st century will not necessarily mark the rise of China alongside the fall of the U.S., rather, through joint efforts, the two sides can see the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, U.S. recovery and a developing world, simultaneously.

And the China Post made a similar point last June.

Obviously, the dispute between China and Japan over oil-rich islands – with the U.S. backing Japan – is a complicated one. Indeed, Japan is threatening to seize another 280 islands whose claim is disputed.

Given that China passed Japan as the world’s second biggest economy in 2010, Thucydides’s trap could very well apply to Japan’s fear and hatred of China’s economic growth.

And China’s threat to “take back” an island occupied by another close U.S. ally – the Philippines – could be another potential flashpoint in Chinese-U.S. relations.

It seems like the U.S. and China are drifting towards war over the long-term, as proxy disputes with Japan, the Philippines and other countries cannot remain cool forever without accident or incident.

Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail on all sides …

Ariel Sharon: Serial War Criminal, Mass Murderer

January 13th, 2014 by Richard Becker

“Ariel Sharon: Israeli Hawk Who Sought Peace on His Terms, Dies at 85,” read the headline in the January 12 issue of the New York Times. The Washington Post called Sharon “a monumental figure in Israel’s modern history” who “sought to become the architect of a peaceful future,” accompanied by a most kindly and grandfatherly photo. USA Today: “controversial and iconic.” And on and on in all the U.S. corporate media.

Most of the world knows better, and none know better than the Palestinian and Lebanese people, thousands of whom were victims of this bloody, serial war criminal. Sharon’s career was built on massacres–from Qibya in 1953, to Sabra and Shatila in 1982, to Jenin in 2002.

A virulent anti-Arab racist, Sharon had a long and bloody history of murder and repression against the Palestinian people. In the early 1950s, he commanded Unit 101, a special forces company that carried out massacres against Palestinian exiles in Gaza and Jordan.

Despite having conquered 78 percent of Palestine in the 1948 war, Israel’s leaders were far from satisfied.  As has been extensively documented by many Israeli as well as Palestinian historians, Israel sought to provoke a “Second Round” in the early 1950s, in order to take over the West Bank, then under Jordanian rule, Gaza, and more.

A main Israeli tactic was called “retaliation.” In response to recently expelled Palestinians coming across the borders back into their homeland from Gaza and the West Bank, the Israeli army (IDF) would carry out large-scale attacks and massacres.

For diplomatic and public relations purposes, it was extremely important to Israel to be seen as victim rather than aggressor. This remains true down to the present.

“Retaliation” was really provocation; the intent was to get Jordan or Egypt to react militarily to the massacres, which could then be used by Israel as a pretext for a new war of conquest.

On Oct. 14, 1953, Unit 101, led by Sharon, attacked Qibya, a small, undefended village inside the West Bank, and massacred 69 people, many of them burned alive inside their homes. Unit 101 suffered no casualties. It was an atrocity sanctioned at the top and carried out for political ends.

The Qibya raid drew worldwide condemnation, and Jordan, much militarily weaker than Israel, did not respond as the Israeli leaders had hoped. The conquest of the West Bank and Gaza would have to wait until 1967.

Sabra  and Shatila massacres

Following the 1967 war of conquest, Sharon was the military governor of Gaza, renowned for extreme brutality in carrying out a policy of systematic torture and assassination of Palestinians resisting occupation.
Sharon is most notorious for the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the massacres of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. As Israel’s defense minister, Sharon organized and led, with full U.S. backing, the massive assault on Lebanon. For three months in the summer of 1982, Israeli bombers, supplied by the U.S., relentlessly pounded Beirut and other cities and towns, killing more than 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. Lebanon had no air defense system.

The stated objective of the invasion was to drive the Palestine Liberation Organization out of Lebanon. There are more than 400,000 Palestinian refugees–those driven from their homeland to make way for the state of Israel in 1948 and their descendants–living in Lebanon. Altogether, more than seven million Palestinians today live in exile.

After three months of bombing, the central PLO leadership agreed to evacuate its fighters from Lebanon. As part of the cease-fire agreement requiring them to leave, the remaining Palestinian civilian population was to be placed under international protection.

Sharon, however, publicly stated that 2,000 “terrorists” remained in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in West Beirut. In reality, those remaining in the camps were almost all children, women and elderly men. Virtually all of the young men had been evacuated.

Israeli tanks surrounded the camps in violation of the cease-fire agreement. Then, on Sept. 16, 1982, with the full knowledge and consent of Sharon and the Israeli occupiers then in control of the area, Lebanese Phalangist militias were allowed to enter Sabra and Shatila in west Beirut.

The fascist Phalange—open admirers of Adolf Hitler who took their name from Franco’s party in Spain—were Israel’s closest allies in Lebanon. The Phalangists wore Israeli-supplied uniforms and carried Israeli-supplied weapons.
For three days, they rampaged through the Palestinian camps, torturing, raping and murdering. Many of the victims were disemboweled or decapitated. No one was spared—neither the very old nor the very young. By the end, more than 1,900 Palestinian children, women and men lay dead.

Though overwhelming evidence showed that Sharon and other Israeli commanders had sent the fascists into the undefended camps, a 1983 Israeli court of inquiry found Sharon only “indirectly responsible” for the massacre. One might think that even “indirect” responsibility for the butchering of nearly two thousand people would mean at least an end to the guilty individual’s political career. But not in apartheid Israel.
While Sharon was forced to resign from the Israeli cabinet following the court of inquiry, he continued to be a key political actor and came back as a cabinet minister in the 1990s.

Al-Aqsa Intifada and Sharon’s election as prime minister

On September 28, 2000, Sharon staged another famous provocation, “visiting” the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, an important Muslim holy site. While proclaiming his “right” to travel anywhere in Jerusalem, the hated killer did not venture out alone. Instead, he was accompanied by 1,500 armed police. Even so, hundreds of Palestinians fought back, marking the start of the Al-Aqsa intifada or uprising, which would continue for many years.

Five months later, in February 2001, Sharon was elected prime minister. In March 2002, the Israeli military carried out a massive operation in the West Bank and Gaza seeking to suppress the intifada. Among the most brutal attacks was one on the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. Over several days, using militarized bulldozers along with heavy weapons, the Israel military demolished much of the camp, burying many people alive.

The same year, Sharon began building the apartheid wall through the West Bank confiscating still more Palestinian land.

Sharon: The imaginary “peacemaker”

The false claim that Sharon turned into a “man of peace” hinges on his decision to withdraw military bases and the small, non-viable Israeli settlements from inside Gaza. And while Palestinians in Gaza welcomed the withdrawal, Israel continued to keep Gaza surrounded and blockaded.

Sharon’s decision to withdraw from Gaza, while denounced by some fascist settlers, was based on a determination to secure even more control of the West Bank
In a July 21, 2000 interview with the Jerusalem Post, several months before he became prime minister, Sharon called for Israel to “retain greater Jerusalem, united and undivided…under full Israeli sovereignty.” This refers to the Palestinian Old City and all of the surrounding areas that Israel illegally annexed after the 1967 war.

“Israel will retain under its full control sufficiently wide security zones—in both the East and West. The Jordan Valley, in its broadest sense, as defined by the Allon Plan, will be the eastern security zone of Israel.”
Sharon called for large areas of the illegally occupied West Bank to be annexed. “Jewish towns, villages and communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, as well as access roads leading to them…will remain under full Israeli control,” Sharon continued. “Judea and Samaria” is the Israeli settlers’ name for the West Bank.

“Israel does not accept under any circumstances the Palestinian demand for the right to return. Israel bears no moral responsibility for the refugees’ predicament.”

“As a vital existential need, Israel must continue to control the underground fresh water aquifers in western Samaria [the West Bank]…The Palestinians are obligated to prevent contamination of Israel’s water resources.”

The Palestinian “state” that Sharon proposed was one that would be unlike any other country in the world. It would not control its own resources including water, or its airspace, or even its own borders, and would be a defenseless entity smack up against one of the world’s most highly militarized states.

False headlines notwithstanding, Sharon will go down in history not as any kind of imagined peacemaker, but instead as the blood-stained and racist mass murderer that he was.

Pakistan, a Victim of Ideological Colonization

January 12th, 2014 by Dr. Ismail Salami

The distressing story of a Pakistani teenager who lost his life while he was making efforts to prevent a suicide bomber from detonating his school and unleashing a maniac massacre of innocent children in the country’s troubled north-west has gained colossal attention in the world.

Aitizaz Hasan, almost 15 years old, was standing outside as a punishment for being late to school in Hangu, a town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on Monday when the suicide bomber tried to gain access to the building.

Basically a Shia-populated town in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, Hangu has become a scene of unrest and Takfiri-begotten hatred like many parts of the country.

What Aitizaz did has reportedly saved the lives of more than 2000 students who were at school at the time of the catastrophe.

 ”My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children,” his father, Mujahid Ali, told the Express Tribune newspaper.

Schools, mosques, and temples are the routine targets of the Takfiri groups in Pakistan and elsewhere in the world. According to their definition, anyone but the Takfiris is an infidel and should be eradicated from the face of the earth.  Women and children are no exceptions to them. Muslims and non-Muslims are no exceptions to them. What is acceptable to them is complete belief in their twisted perception and interpretation of Islam.

In September 2013, a twin suicide attack on a historic church known as All Saint’s Church in Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan killed over 80 people including women and children and injuring over a hundred people.

“Suicide bombers entered the church compound from the main gate and blew themselves up in the midst of the people,” a statement posted on the diocese website read.

In another incident, a suicide bomber struck a crowded Pakistan mosque in August 2013, killing 43 people and wounding more than 100 during Ramadan prayers. The bomber was wearing about 8-10 kg of explosives and was on foot. He had detonated in the main prayer hall.

In 2012, gunmen dragged 20 Shia Muslim travelers off a bus and killed them at point blank range in northern Pakistan. The bus was travelling between Rawalpindi and the mainly Shia northern city of Gilgit.

“Ten to 12 people wearing army uniform stopped the bus and forced some people off the bus,” said Khalid Omarzai, a Pakistani official.

“After checking their papers, they opened fire and at least 20 people are reported to have been killed. This is initial information and the final toll may go up. They are all Shias,” he said.

On January I, 2014, a suicide car bombing in Pakistan killed two Shia Muslims who were returning from a pilgrimage to Iran.

 The attack took place on Wednesday in Akhtaraba, on the outskirts of Quetta in Balochistan and targeted a passenger bus carrying Shia Muslims.

“An explosive-laden car which was parked along the roadside blew up as the bus passed by it, killing two people and wounding 17,” Abdul Razzaq Cheema, Quetta police chief, told AFP news agency.

Takfiri hatred is vented in different ways. A common way is, however, suicide bombing. Other forms include beheading, spilling acid over the victims’ faces and mutilating their bodies.

Takfirism, which is an umbrella name for Wahhabism, is lavishly funded by Saudi Arabia.  For over three decades, Saudi Arabia has been spent over USD 100 billion on promoting Wahhabism worldwide with Pakistan being one of the early instances of such ideological colonization in Asia. In other words, big chunks of petrodollar earned by the House of Saud go to the dissemination of Wahhabism and the subsequent promotion of terrorism.

So, suicide bombing is nothing new in Pakistan and some of the countries infested by the influence of the Takfiri groups who are hell-bent on annihilating the rest of the world which they view as ideologically inferior.

By way of diverting attention from what is really happening, the West seeks to prescribe its own version of the realities and practically dictates how the media should report on any violence produced by this crooked ideology. In fact, the West substantially capitalizes on the discord sweeping across the Middle East on account of the efforts of the Takfiri groups such as Taliban, al-Qaeda, and al-Nusra and so on and so forth.

The western media unanimously attribute attacks of this nature to sectarian violence and the “rift deepening wider between the Shia and the Sunni Muslims” every day.  The fact of the matter is that these incidents happening in Pakistan and similar incidents taking place elsewhere have nothing to do with sectarianism and should not be treated thus.

Anyway, what is happening in Pakistan is an ideological product of the House of Saud and their ignoramus adherents. 

 Sadly, Pakistani politicians frequently turn a blind eye to the myriad crimes committed by the Takfiri groups whom they use as political leverage to achieve their own malicious goals such as winning the elections in the country. So, instead of curbing the cruel current of extremism, they sit back and watch silently.  

Aitizaz Hasan is the personification of innocence and the crystallization of a far-fetched hope on the dark horizons of the Pakistani community.

In a country corroded by blind ignorance, rampant political corruption and cancerous extremism, only people like Aitizaz Hasan can emerge as beacons of light to usher in the right path towards salvation.

A “devastating” two hundred and fifty page document: “The Responsibility of UK Officials for War Crimes Involving Systematic Detainee Abuse in Iraq from 2003-2008″, has been “presented to the International Criminal Court, and could result in some of Britain’s leading defence figures facing prosecution for “systematic” war crimes” the (London) Independent on Sunday has revealed.(i)

The dossier charges that: ‘ “those who bear the greatest responsibility” for alleged war crimes “include individuals at the highest levels” of the British Army and political system.’

Among those named, states the Independent, are two former Defence Ministry supremos, Geoff Hoon and Adam Ingram, Defence Secretary and Minister of State for the Armed Forces, respectively, under Tony Blair’s premiership, during the planning and invasion of Iraq and for most of the UK’s occupation. General Sir Peter Wall, head of the British Army is also named.

Shocking allegations have been compiled from the testimonies of four hundred Iraqis: ‘representing “thousands of allegations of mistreatment amounting to war crimes of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” ‘

The document, lodged with the International Criminal Court at the Hague on Saturday (11th January 2013) “calls for an investigation into the alleged war crimes, under Article 15 of the Rome Statute” and is the result of some years of work by Birmingham based Public Interest Lawyers and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR.). The submission: “is the most detailed ever submitted to the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor on war crimes allegedly committed by British forces in Iraq.”

In 2006 the ICC opined that: “There was a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court had been committed, namely willful killing and inhuman treatment.” However, since the claims were less than twenty cases, prosecutors declined to mount an investigation.

Subsequently: “hundreds of other claims have come to light, prompting consideration of the complaint now. It is the start of a process which could result in British politicians and generals being put in the dock on war-crimes charges.” The: “pattern of abusive treatment by UK services personnel in Iraq continued over almost six years of military operations.” When is a crime not a crime, one wonders, when it is “only” in double figures?

Evidence is presented of: “systematic use of brutal violence, that at times resulted in the death of detainees, while in the custody of UK Services Personnel.” The two law bodies claim: “there is evidence of brutality combined with cruelty and forms of sadism, including sexual abuse, and sexual and religious humiliation”, with widespread use of “hooding”, prisoners forced in to excrutiating: “stress positions, sleep deprivation, noise bombardment and deprivation of food and water.”

All such techniques were banned under the government of Edward Heath in 1972, after being used in Northern Ireland. Claims are that these legally outlawed techniques were used: “in a variety of different UK facilities (in Iraq) … from 2003 to 2008.” (Incidentally, after September 2007, the British stated that only had a small military contingency remained, assisting in training Iraqis.)

Alleged tortuous treatment was compounded, seemingly, by: “failures to follow-up on or ensure accountability for ending such practices became a cause of further abuse. The obvious conclusion is that such mistreatment was systematic.”

The Independent quotes Professor William Schabas, human rights law expert: “What this application does is throw down the challenge to the court to show there are no double standards. There is definitely a case for an investigation by the ICC.” He suggested that  “there’s no doubt” of war crimes committed by British forces in Iraq. “People should be worried.”

The UK Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office both state that any allegations of abuse have been, or are being investigated through various, including legal channels, with William Hague emphasizing that there was no need for the ICC to become involved.

The ICC as a body has also come under fire, accused of only putting on trial, or investigating largely Africans and ignoring other alleged human rights abuses.

ECCHR Secretary General, Wolfgang Kaleck told the Independent: “With the current communication to the ICC we want to move forward the criminal prosecution against those political and military leaders in the UK who bear the most responsibility for systematic torture in Iraq”, adding: “The International Criminal Court in The Hague is the last resort for victims of torture and mistreatment to achieve justice.

“Double standards in international criminal justice must end. War crimes and other severe violations of human rights must be investigated and prosecuted, regardless of whether they are committed by the most powerful.”

According to Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, the actions of British officials in high places, involved in the invasion, planning, execution and occupation, are to come under investigation.  : “I think we easily meet the threshold for these issues to be looked at, I would be gobsmacked and bitterly disappointed if they don’t look at this.”

Geoff Hoon, Adam Ingram and General Sir Peter Wall could not be reached for comment.

A small sample of the eye watering allegations presented to the ICC can be found in the full article referenced below.

The full submission document, which the Independent has exclusively seen, will be released publicly on Tuesday.

Notes

(i) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-devastating-dossier-on-abuse-by-uk-forces-in-iraq-goes-to-international-criminal-court-9053735.html

Thai demonstrators donning white shirts, lighting candles, releasing white balloons and carrying placards stating “Respect My Vote,” are portrayed as ordinary people who simply want to defend the democratic process against growing anti-regime protesters. However, it was clear from the beginning that it was nothing more than a rebranding of the regime’s “red shirt” enforcers in an effort to confuse the public both in Thailand and internationally. 


Image: The regime believes the Thai people, and more importantly, international audiences are as ignorant as they are gullible. Recent propaganda campaigns featuring “white” balloons, candles, shirts, and ribbons are being passed off as a groundswell of support by “the people” in favor of up coming elections. In reality, these campaigns of “support” are being engineered by the regime itself, by it’s own “red shirt” enforcers and TV networks. ….

Despite the regime’s own propaganda network, Asia Update TV, creating and leading the movement with presenters even trading in their red shirts for white – more sophisticated pro-regime propaganda attempted to perpetuate the myth that these were ordinary people.

It is now incontrovertibly exposed that these “white shirt” protesters are merely the regime’s “red shirts” in one last desperate, disingenuous attempt to marshal support in the face of a growing tide of genuine and immense dissent.

In a video posted on YouTube of one protest, a woman in the crowd can be seen carrying a placard reading as follows: 

IF YOU WANT TO KILL CORRUPTION, END THAKSINOCRACY, IT MUST BE DONE IN THE NEXT ELECTION.

After murmurs of dissatisfaction in the mob begin to spread regarding her sign, a man wearing ordinary clothes but sporting a red wrist band approaches her and explains to her the sign will not be tolerated. He particularly points out that the term “End Thaksinocracy” is unacceptable. He and another woman then stirs up the mob to begin verbally abusing her and demanding her to leave. One group of angry men begin to physically charge her shouting “GET OUT!” 

Later, the woman can be seen, her sign missing and reduced to tears while police attempt to keep back regime supporters. Careful inspection of the protesters reveals many to be wearing red wrist bands, red ribbons, and even red shirts themselves under regular or white attire. In other words, the same intolerance of differing opinions, violence, and intimidation that have become the hallmarks of Thaksin Shianwatra’s red shirts were there – because it was a red shirt protest.

ImageWhite balloons for sham elections. A hundred or so people gathered in downtown Bangkok amid much larger anti-regime protests, to support the current regime and their single-party election planned for February 2, 2014. All opposition parties have boycotted the election, featuring deposed dictator, accused mass murderer and convicted criminal Thaksin Shinawatra running as defacto party leader. While the group, calling itself “Ant’s Power” attempts to appear as “pro-democracy” advocates, they are simply regime supporters who have exchanged their red shirts for white ones. 
….


The unfortunate woman most likely thought, like many others who may have been bolstering the numbers of similar rallies, that this was truly a “pro-democracy” demonstration, and did not suspect it was created for and by the regime of Thaksin Shinawatra itself.   

The degree of deceit and intellectual dishonesty, not only of the regime and its propagandists, but those attempting to promote the “Respect My Vote” campaign as anything but insulting, poorly disguised regime propaganda illustrates exactly why anti-regime protesters have spent months occupying Bangkok’s streets, and why anti-regime rallies have drawn hundreds of thousands, dwarfing even the largest pro-Thaksin rallies years ago at the height of his popularity. 


The “Respect My Vote” campaign, just like the white-clad protesters perpetuating it, upon closer examination, literally have red showing underneath. Elections overseen by a regime openly run by a convicted criminal hiding abroad as a fugitive are not legitimate, nor is any regime that results from these sham elections. 

The Current Government and Upcoming Elections are Both Incontrovertibly Illegitimate

While Thailand is technically under the premiership of Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, by his party’s own admission, Thaksin is still literally running the country. The election campaign slogan for the last general election in 2011 was literally, “Thaksin Thinks, Puea Thai Does,” Puea Thai being his political party. Forbes would report in their article, “Thaksin in Exile: Advising Sister, Digging for Gold,” that: 

Regarding his behind-the-scenes role in the party and policy, he is not shy: “I am the one who thinks. Like our slogan during the campaign, Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts.”

The New York Times admitted in an early 2013 article titled, “In Thailand, Power Comes With Help From Skype,” that: 

For the past year and a half, by the party’s own admission, the most important political decisions in this country of 65 million people have been made from abroad, by a former prime minister who has been in self-imposed exile since 2008 to escape corruption charges. 

The country’s most famous fugitive,Thaksin Shinawatra, circles the globe in his private jet, chatting with ministers over his dozen cellphones, texting over various social media platforms and reading government documents e-mailed to him from civil servants, party officials say.

The NYT piece would also report:  

“He’s the one who formulates the Pheu Thai policies,” said Noppadon Pattama, a senior official in Mr. Thaksin’s party who also serves as his personal lawyer. “Almost all the policies put forward during the last election came from him.” 

ImageThe New York Times openly admits that Thailand is currently run by unelected convicted criminal/fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra. Clearly any proxy government or elections in which it participates in are illegitimate by both Thai and international standards. Thaksin’s foreign ties are what have afforded him impunity regarding an otherwise cartoonish, 3rd world dictatorship. 
….
There is no question that an accused mass murderer and convicted criminal hiding abroad from a 2 year jail sentence, multiple arrest warrants, and a long list of pending court cases, is illegally running Thailand by proxy. Being unelected, Thaksin Shinawatra is by all accounts a dictator, and his “government” a regime, however cleverly they try to dress it up

As reported many times before, current anti-regime protesters are not trying to end “democracy.” They are simply trying to end the abuse of the democratic process by an overt criminal. Elections must be carried only after Thaksin Shinawatra and his entire political machine have been safely and completely dismantled. 

A new report has revealed that the number of hunger strikers in Guantanamo has doubled since the final set of official figures was released by the US authorities on December 2 2013.

The report, compiled by human rights charity Reprieve, uses prisoner testimony to reveal that 33 men detained in Guantanamo are on hunger strike, with 16 being force fed. The Joint Task Force at Guantanamo, which runs the prison, announced in December of 2013 that they would no longer release official figures of those on hunger strike because they did not want to ‘further their protests’.

The report also reveals that authorities at the prison are punishing those on hunger strike by sending them to the strictest of the camps, ‘Camp V Echo’. One detainee described his experiences there to his lawyer at Reprieve: “My cell in the dreadful Camp V Echo is constructed in a strange manner. It is designed to torture the person who is held there. All the surfaces made of steel. The bed is steel. The walls are steel. The floor is steel. The ceiling is steel. There is no toilet, but the hole in the ground is made of steel.”

British resident Shaker Aamer, who remains imprisoned despite having been cleared by both the Bush and Obama administrations, said: “[I was] strapped to the bed for 24 hours except to use the toilet. The [force-feeding] tube was in 24 hours a day. We would be fed for 30-40 minutes each time, with Ensure cans, two cans, three times a day. Some of the prisoners became zombies, as if they were already dead. I dropped weight to 130 pounds. I told the doctors, ‘I want to die peacefully. I want no intervention.’ But they refused this.”

Mr Aamer’s British wife and four British children, the youngest of whom he has never met, live in London. British Prime Minister David Cameron has raised his case directly with President Obama, yet Mr Aamer remains imprisoned. There is an ongoing police investigation into Mr Aamer’s treatment at the hands of British and US officials.

155 men are still detained in Guantanamo Bay, 77 of who have been cleared for release. Yesterday (Saturday) marked the twelfth anniversary of the first arrival of prisoners at the detention camp. Of the 779 men known to have been held there 624 have been released. More prisoners have died than have been put on trial.

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s Director and Guantanamo lawyer, said: “Guantanamo Bay has for years been a blot on the US’ reputation and a recruiting tool for extremists. The conditions there are worsening and more men are going on hunger strike, and being force fed, as a result. Shaker Aamer could be transferred out of there to his home and his family in the UK tomorrow. The US must send Shaker and the other cleared men home and close the prison.”

For further information, please contact Clemency Wells or Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office [email protected] / [email protected]

The comments about why the Guantanamo authorities stopped releasing figures ofmen on hunger strike can be found, here.

Author’s Introductory Note

Environmental modification techniques (ENMOD) for military use constitute, in the present context of global warfare, the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.

Rarely acknowledged in the debate on global climate change, the world’s weather can now be modified as part of a new generation of sophisticated electromagnetic weapons. Both the US and Russia have developed capabilities to manipulate the climate for military use.

Environmental modification techniques have been applied by the US military for more than half a century. US mathematician John von Neumann, in liaison with the US Department of Defense, started his research on weather modification in the late 1940s at the height of the Cold War and foresaw ‘forms of climatic warfare as yet unimagined’. During the Vietnam war, cloud-seeding techniques were used, starting in 1967 under Project Popeye, the objective of which was to prolong the monsoon season and block enemy supply routes along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

The US military has developed advanced capabilities that enable it selectively to alter weather patterns. The technology, which is being perfected under the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), is an appendage of the Strategic Defense Initiative – ‘Star Wars’. From a military standpoint, HAARP is a weapon of mass destruction, operating from the outer atmosphere and capable of destabilising agricultural and ecological systems around the world.

Weather-modification, according to the US Air Force document AF 2025 Final Report,

“offers the war fighter a wide range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary’, capabilities, it says, extend to the triggering of floods, hurricanes, droughts and earthquakes: ‘Weather modification will become a part of domestic and international security and could be done unilaterally… It could have offensive and defensive applications and even be used for deterrence purposes. The ability to generate precipitation, fog and storms on earth or to modify space weather… and the production of artificial weather all are a part of an integrated set of [military] technologies.”

In 1977, an international Convention was ratified by the UN General Assembly which banned ‘military or other hostile use of environmental modification techniques having widespread, long-lasting or severe effects.’ It defined ‘environmental modification techniques’ as ‘any technique for changing –through the deliberate manipulation of natural processes – the dynamics, composition or structure of the earth, including its biota, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere, or of outer space.’

According to the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques:

The term “environmental modification techniques” refers to any technique for changing – through the deliberate manipulation of natural processes – the dynamics, composition or structure of the Earth, including its biota, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere, or of outer space. (Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques, United Nations, Geneva: 18 May 1977)

While the substance of the 1977 Convention was reasserted in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) signed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, debate on weather modification for military use has become a scientific taboo.

Military analysts and scientists are mute on the subject. Meteorologists are not investigating the matter and environmentalists are focused on greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. Neither is the possibility of climatic or environmental manipulations as part of a military and intelligence agenda, while tacitly acknowledged, part of the broader debate on climate change under UN auspices.

While discussion of  the post Cold War military applications of  weather warfare is a taboo, the US Air Force has nonetheless acknowledged the strategic importance of ENMOD techniques in the modern battlefield of non-conventional warfare and intel ops, including the conduct, without the enemy’s knowledge, of “covert” weather modification operations.

At this juncture in our history, US-NATO forces are deployed worldwide.

The US and its allies are not only targeting Syria, Iran and North Korea, they are also threatening Russia and China.

The Pentagon has formulated the contours of a global military agenda, a “long war”, a war without borders.

“Weather warfare” is the ultimate WMD  with the potential of destabilizing an enemy’s ecosystem, destroying its agriculture, disabling communications networks. In other words, ENMOD techniques can undermine an entire national economy, impoverish  millions of people and “kill a nation” without the deployment of troops and military hardware.

The following text, with the exception of some small edits was first published in September 2004. The 2004  article was a follow-up on an earlier study by the author entitled Washington’s New World Order Weapons Have the Ability to Trigger Climate Change, Third World Resurgence, January 2001, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO201A.html

While The  Ecologist published in 2007 a shorter version of the above study, the issue of climatic manipulation for military use has largely been ignored by Environmentalists.

The URL of the original article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO409F.html.

This essay is dedicated to the memory of  Dr. Rosalie Bertell, who, from the very outset revealed the diabolical nature of the HAARP project, as part of an integrated non-conventional weapons program:

“It is related to fifty years of intensive and increasingly destructive programs to understand and control the upper atmosphere. … HAARP is an integral part of a long history of space research and development of a deliberate military nature. The military implications of combining these projects is alarming. … The ability of the HAARP / Spacelab/ rocket combination to deliver very large amounts of energy, comparable to a nuclear bomb, anywhere on earth via laser and particle beams, are frightening. The project is likely to be “sold” to the public as a space shield against incoming weapons, or, for the more gullible, a device for repairing the ozone layer.

It is my sincere hope that this article will renew the debate on the dangers of weather warfare and will contribute to the broader objective of World peace which requires the relentless “disarming” of the US- NATO military apparatus.

Michel Chossudovsky, January 12, 2014


Weather Warfare

The significant expansion in America’s weather warfare arsenal, which is a priority of the Department of Defense is not a matter for debate or discussion. While, environmentalists blame the Bush administration for not having signed the Kyoto protocol, the issue of “weather warfare”, namely the manipulation of weather patterns for military use is never mentioned.

The US Air Force has the capability of manipulating climate either for testing purposes or for outright military-intelligence use.  These capabilities extend to the triggering of floods, hurricanes, droughts and earthquakes. In recent years, large amounts of money have been allocated by the US Department of Defense to further developing and perfecting these capabilities.

Weather modification will become a part of domestic and international security and could be done unilaterally… It could have offensive and defensive applications and even be used for deterrence  purposes. The ability to generate precipitation, fog, and storms on earth or to modify space weather, … and the production of artificial weather all are a part of an integrated set of technologies which can provide substantial increase in US, or degraded capability in an adversary, to achieve global awareness, reach, and power. (US Air Force, emphasis added. Air University of the US Air Force, AF 2025 Final Report, http://www.au.af.mil/au/2025/ emphasis added)

While there is no firm evidence that the US Air Force weather warfare facilities have been deliberately applied to modify weather patterns, one would expect that if these capabilities are being developed for military use, they would at least be the object of routine testing, much in the same way as the testing of new conventional and strategic weapons systems.

Needless to say, the subject matter is a scientific taboo. The possibility of climatic or environmental manipulations as part of a military and intelligence agenda, while tacitly acknowledged, is never considered as relevant. Military analysts are mute on the subject. Meteorologists are not investigating the matter, and environmentalists are strung on global warming and the Kyoto protocol.

Ironically, the Pentagon, while recognizing its ability to modify the World’s climate for military use, has joined the global warming consensus. In a major study (pdf) , the Pentagon has analyzed in detail the implications of various global warming scenarios.

The Pentagon document constitutes a convenient cover-up. Not a word is mentioned about its main weather warfare program: The High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) based in Gokona, Alaska –jointly managed by the US Air Force and the US Navy.

There are several mainstream explanations on weather and climate change, none of which fully explains, within their respective terms of reference, the highly unusual and erratic weather occurrences, not to mention the human toll and devastation, which have led to the destabilization of entire agricultural and eco-systems. Needless to say these explanations never address the issue of climate manipulation for military use.

Climatic Manipulation by the US Military: The HAARP Program

The High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) based in Gokona, Alaska, has been in existence since 1992. It is part of a new generation of sophisticated weaponry under the US Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Operated by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate, HAARP constitutes a system of powerful antennas capable of creating “controlled local modifications of the ionosphere” [upper layer of the atmosphere]:

“[HAARP will be used] to induce a small, localized change in ionospheric temperature so that resulting physical reactions can be studied by other instruments located either at or close to the HAARP site”. (HAARP website)

Nicholas Begich –actively involved in the public campaign against HAARP– describes HAARP as: “A super-powerful radiowave-beaming technology that lifts areas of the ionosphere  by focusing a beam and heating those areas. Electromagnetic waves then bounce back onto earth and penetrate everything — living and dead.” (for further details see Michel Chossudovsky, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO201A.html )

World renowned scientist Dr. Rosalie Bertell depicts HAARP as “a gigantic heater that can cause major disruptions in the ionosphere, creating not just holes, but long incisions in the protective layer that keeps deadly radiation from bombarding the planet.” (quoted in Chossudovsky, op cit.)

According to Richard Williams, a physicist and consultant to the David Sarnoff laboratory in Princeton HAARP constitutes “an irresponsible act of global vandalism.”

He and others fear a secret second stage where HAARP would “beam much more energy into the ionosphere. That could produce a severe disruption of the upper atmosphere at one location that may produce effects that spread rapidly around the Earth for years.” (Quoted in Scott Gilbert, Environmental Warfare and US Foreign Policy: The Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction,  http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/GIL401A.html )

HAARP has been presented to public opinion as a program of scientific and academic research. US military documents seem to suggest, however, that HAARP’s main objective is to “exploit the ionosphere for Department of Defense purposes.” (quoted in Chossudovsky, op cit).

Without explicitly referring to the HAARP program, a US Air Force study points to the use of “induced ionospheric modifications” as a means of altering weather patterns as well as disrupting enemy communications and radar. (Ibid)

HAARP also has the ability of triggering blackouts and disrupting the electricity power system of entire regions.

An analysis of statements emanating from the US Air Force points to the unthinkable: the covert manipulation of weather patterns, communications systems and electric power as a weapon of global warfare, enabling the US to disrupt and dominate entire regions of the World.

Weather Warfare: A Corporate Bonanza

HAARP has been operational since the early 1990s. Its system of antennas at Gakona, Alaska, was initially based on a technology patented by Advanced Power Technologies Inc. (APTI), a subsidiary of Atlantic Ritchfield Corporation (ARCO).

The first phase of the HAARP Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI) was completed by APTI.  The IRI system of antennas was first installed in 1992 by a subsidiary of British Aerospace Systems (BAES) using the APTI patent. The antennas beam into the outer-atmosphere using a set of wireless high frequency transmitters.

In 1994, ARCO sold its APTI subsidiary, including the patents and the second phase construction contract to E-Systems, a secretive high tech military outfit with links to the CIA (http://www.crystalinks.com/haarp.html ).

E-Systems specializes in the production of electronic warfare equipment, navigation and reconnaissance machinery, including “highly sophisticated spying devices”:

“[E-Systems] is one of the biggest intelligence contractors in the world, doing work for the CIA, defense intelligence organizations, and others. US$1.8 billion of their annual sales are to these organizations, with $800 million for black projects-projects so secret that even the United States Congress isn’t told how the money is being spent.

( http://www.earthpulse.com/haarp/vandalism.html )

“The company has outfitted such military projects as the Doomsday Plan (the system that allows the President to manage a nuclear war) and Operation Desert Storm.”

(Princeton Review, http://www.princetonreview.com/cte/profiles/internshipGenInfo.asp?internshipID=998 )

With the purchase of APTI, E-Systems acquired the strategic weather warfare technology and patent rights, including Bernard J. Eastlund’s US Patent No: 4,686,605 entitled “Method and Apparatus for Altering a Region in the Earth’s Atmosphere, Ionosphere and/or Magnetosphere”.

It is worth mentioning that the Eastlund /APTI patents were based on the research of Yugoslav scientist Nicola Tesla (many of whose ideas were stolen by US corporations). (See Scott Gilbert, Environmental Warfare and US Foreign Policy: The Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction,  http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/GIL401A.html )

Eastlund described this deadly technology as capable of:

  “causing…total disruption of communications over a very large portion of the Earth…missile or aircraft destruction, deflection or confusion… weather modification…” (http://www.wealth4freedom.com/truth/12/HAARP.htm ),

Not surprisingly, the patent had previously been sealed under a government secrecy order.Barely a year following the E-Systems purchase of APTI’s weather warfare technology, E-Systems was bought out by Raytheon, the fourth largest US military contractor. Through this money-spinning acquisition, Raytheon became the largest “defense electronics” firm in the World.Meanwhile, ARCO which had sold APTI to E-Systems, had itself been acquired by the BP-AMOCO oil consortium, thereby integrating the largest oil company in the World (BP).

Raytheon through its E-Systems subsidiary now owns the patents used to develop the HAARP weather warfare facility at Gakona Alaska. Raytheon is also involved in other areas of weather research for military use, including the activities of its subsidiary in Antarctica, Raytheon Polar Services.

“Owning the Weather”: Towards the Expanded Final Stage

The HAARP antenna array and transmitters were slated to be built in several distinct phases http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/haarp/phases.html

During the Clinton administration, the “Filled Developmental Prototype” (FDP), namely a system composed of an array of 48 active antenna elements with connected wireless transmitters, was installed and completed at the HAARP facility in 1994. (See Figure 1 below) Under the initial Developmental Prototype (DP), only 18 of the 48 transmitters were connected.

Bernard Eastlund in a 1997 interview described this antenna array in its Filled DP stage as the “the largest ionospheric heater ever built”.

This system of 48 antennas, however, while fully operational, was not according to Eastlund, powerful enough (in 1997) “to bring the ideas in his patents to fruition”:.

“But they’re getting up there”, he said. “This is a very powerful device. Especially if they go to the expanded stage.” (quoted in Scott Gilbert, op cit, see also http://www.emagazine.com/january-february_1997/0197currhaarp.html )

This ‘final expanded stage’ envisioned by Eastlund, which will provide maximum capability to manipulate the World’s weather patterns, has now been reached.Under the Bush administration, the main partner of Raytheon (which owns the patents) in the construction and development stage of the HAARP antenna array, is British Aerospace Systems (BAES), which had been involved in the initial installation of the antenna array in the early 1990s.The multimillion dollar contract was granted by The Office of Naval Research to BAES in 2003, through its US subsidiary BAE Systems Advanced Technologies Inc. The contract was signed barely two months before the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq.

Using Raytheon’s technology, BAES was to develop the HAARP Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI) to its maximum capabilities of “Full size or final IRI (FIRI)”.

In April 2003, BAE Systems Advanced Technologies outsourced the production and installation of the antennas to Phazar Corp (http://www.phazar.com/ ), a company specializing in advanced wireless antennas for military use. (Phazar owns Antenna Products Corporation of Mineral Wells, Texas http://www.antennaproducts.com/ ). Phazar was entrusted with producing and installing 132 crossed dipole antennas items for the HAARP facility. (http://www.antennaproducts.com/News%20Release%2004-18-03.pdf )

A year later, in April 2004, the final phase in the expansion of the HAARP facility was launched. (Dept of Defense, 19 April 2004). This phase consisted in equipping all the 180 antennas with high frequency transmitters.  BAE Systems was awarded another lucrative contract, this time for $35 million.

In July 2004, Phazar had delivered and installed the 132 crossed dipole antennas including the antenna support structures and ground screen items at the HAARP facility, bringing the number of antennas from 48 under the FDP stage to 180. (see Table 2).

Meanwhile, BAE Systems had contracted with Jersey based defense electronics firm DRS Technologies, Inc in an $11.5 million outsourcing arrangement, the production and installation of the high-frequency (HF) radio transmitters for the HAARP antenna array. (See http://www.drs.com/press/archivelist.cfm?PRESS_RELEASE_ID=1529&preview=1 and Business Wire, 15 June 2004). DRS specializes in a variety of leading edge products for the U.S. military and intelligence agencies.( http://www.drs.com/corporateinfo/index.cfm ).

Under its contract with BAE Systems Information and Electronic Warfare Systems in Washington, D.C., DRS is to manufacture and install “more than 60 Model D616G 10-Kilowatt Dual Transmitters” to be used with the HAARP system of antennas. (It is unclear from the company statements whether all the 180 antennas will be equipped with a transmitter, bringing the system up to full IRI capabilities).

Deliveries and installation are to be completed by July 2006. While HAARP is described as a “research project”, the production of the transmitters was entrusted to DRS’ C41 “Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) Group”


The diagram and images below describe the HAARP Alaska Facility in 1997.

. FDP layout

Figure 1: The Array of 48 Antenna Elements with the Transmitter Shelters  (FDP stage)

The 48 antenna array is supported by transmitter shelters, each of which contains 6 transmitter cabinets. (See image of shelter below)

Each cabinet contains two transmitters. (image of cabinet below)

The newly installed 132 dipole antennas supplied by Phazar vastly increase the size of the HAARP Alaska facility;  the new transmitters are supplied and installed by DRS

Image 1: Aerial Photo of the HAARP Alaska Site

Source:  http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/haarp/ohd.html

HAARP

Image 2: HAARP Antenna Array

Source: http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/haarp/HaarpSite.html

Image 3 Transmitter Shelter

http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/haarp/images/trans/transtr.jpg

Transmitter Shelter containing Six Transmitter Cabinets. Each Cabinet contains two transmitters

Image 4: Inside the Transmitter Shelter

http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/haarp/images/trans/shelter.jpg

Image 5. Two Transmitters making up a  Transmitter Cabinet

http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/haarp/images

Testing of HAARP Equipment (2003- 2004)

It is worth noting that the expansion of the antenna array (e.g. during 2003-2004) required, as part of the contracts reached with BAE Systems and its various subcontractors, the routine testing of the installed weather warfare equipment. An intermediate stage Limited IRI (LIRI), could be in operation by 2004, following the completion of the 180 antenna array under the Phazar contract and pending the final delivery of the remaining HF radio transmitters.

In this regard, a report published by the Russian parliament (Duma) in 2002, suggests that the US Military had plans to test its weather modification techniques at its Alaska facility, as well as at two other sites:

“The committees reported that the USA is planning to test three facilities of this kind. One of them is located on the military testing ground in Alaska and its full-scale tests are to begin in early 2003. The second one is in Greenland and the third one in Norway.

“When these facilities are launched into space from Norway, Alaska and Greenland, a closed contour will be created with a truly fantastic integral potential for influencing the near-Earth medium,” the State Duma said.

The USA plans to carry out large-scale scientific experiments under the HAARP program, and not controlled by the global community, will create weapons capable of breaking radio communication lines and equipment installed on spaceships and rockets, provoke serious accidents in electricity networks and in oil and gas pipelines and have a negative impact on the mental health of people populating entire regions, the deputies said. (Interfax News Agency, original Russian, BBC Monitoring, 8 August 2002, emphasis added)

Whether this report by the Russian Duma on testing “starting in early 2003″ is correct or not, the US administration must be confronted nationally and internationally, at the political and diplomatic levels, at the UN and the US Congress, by the international scientific community, by environmentalists and the antiwar movement. The future of humanity is threatened by the use of weather modification techniques.

Moreover, to wage an effective campaign, it is essential that corroborating scientific investigation of the unusual weather occurrences observed in recent years (and particularly since early 2003) be undertaken. This investigation should be far-reaching, collecting relevant data, correlating specific weather occurrences to recorded antenna activity at the Alaska site as well as at the two other sites, etc.

The Full Size Ionospheric Research Instrument FIRI stage, described as  “a maximum size of 180 antenna elements, arranged in 15 columns by 12 rows” is scheduled to be completed by mid-2006 (assuming the installation of the remaining dual transmitters), at which time the HAARP program will have reached its maximum FIRI capacity, meaning the ability to selectively modify, for military use, weather patterns anywhere in the World.

“The IRI is currently [June 2004] composed of 48 antenna elements and has a power capacity of 960,000 watts. When installed, the additional 132 transmitters will give HAARP a 3.6 mega-watt capacity [see Table 2 below]. The HAARP build-out is jointly funded by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). (Business Wire, 10 June 2004)

Table 2: Comparison of IRI Phases

DP

FDP

LIRI

FIRI

Number of Active Antenna Elements

18

48

108

180

Total Transmitter Power (kW)

360

960

2160

3600

Maximum Antenna Gain (dB)

19

24

29

31

Max Effective Radiated Pwr (dBW)

74

84

92

96

Min Antenna Pattern Width (degrees)

9

8

5

Frequency Range

2.8 to 10 MHz

Modulation Types

CW/AM/FM/PM

Source http://www.haarp.alaska.edu/haarp/phases.html

This advanced stage of full capacity (FIRI) corresponds to what the US Air Force has called “Owning the Weather”:

US aerospace forces [will] ‘own the weather’ by capitalizing on emerging technologies and focusing development of those technologies to war-fighting applications… From enhancing friendly operations or disrupting those of the enemy via small-scale tailoring of natural weather patterns to complete dominance of global communications and counterspace control, weather-modification offers the war fighter a wide-range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary… In the United States, weather-modification will likely become a part of national security policy with both domestic and international applications. Our government will pursue such a policy, depending on its interests, at various levels.(US Air Force, emphasis added. Air University of the US Air Force, AF 2025 Final Report, http://www.au.af.mil/au/2025/ )

Weather Warfare against “Rogue States”

The unusual climatic occurrences in the US and Western Europe have been extensively documented.

However, what the news media has failed to underscore is that a number of unusual and dramatic climatic changes have occurred in recent years in countries which are identified as possible targets under the US Administration’s pre-emptive war doctrine.

Weather patterns in North Korea, for instance, have been marked since the mid-1990s by a succession of droughts, followed by floods. The result has been the destruction of an entire agricultural system. In Cuba, the pattern is very similar to that observed in North Korea. (see Table 3)

In Iraq, Iran and  Syria, a devastating drought occurred in 1999. In Afghanistan, four years of drought in the years preceding the US led invasion in 2001, have led to the destruction of the peasant economy, leading to widespread famine.

While there is no proof that these weather occurrences are the result of climatic warfare, Phillips Geophysics Lab, which is a partner in the HAARP project provides a course for military personnel at the Hanscom Air Force Base in Maryland, on “Weather Modification Techniques”. The course outline explicitly contemplates the triggering of storms, hurricanes, etc. for military use. (See his slide show at http://www.dtc.army.mil/tts/1997/proceed/abarnes/ open PowerPoint presentation at http://www.dtc.army.mil/tts/tts97/abarnes.zip )

Weather manipulation is the pre-emptive weapon par excellence. It can be directed against enemy countries or even “friendly nations”, without their knowledge. Weather warfare constitutes a covert form of pre-emptive war. The manipulation of climate can be used to destabilize an enemy’s economy, ecosystem and agriculture (e.g. North Korea or Cuba). Needless to say it can trigger havoc in financial and commodity markets and can potentially be used as an instrument of “insider trade” for financial gain. It has the ability of destabilizing a country’s institutions. Concurrently, the disruption in agriculture creates a greater dependency on food aid and imported grain staples from the US and other Western countries.

The Bush administration has stated that it reserves the right to attack these countries preemptively, with a view to ensuring the security of the American homeland.

Washington –as part of its nuclear posture review– has threatened several countries including China and Russia with pre-emptive nuclear strikes. One would assume that the same targeting of rogue states exists with regard to the use of weather modification techniques”.

While there is no evidence of the use of weather warfare against rogue states, the policy guidelines on “weather intervention techniques” have already been established and the technology is fully operational.


Table 3: Unusual Weather Occurrences: North Korea, Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq

North Korea

Recurrent flooding and drought often in the same year has hit North Korea since 1995, 220,000 people died in the ensuing famine, according to Pyongyang’s own figures. U.S. figures place the number of deaths resulting from famine at 2 million.

The first major flooding occurred in 1995.

There were floods and drought in 1999. The serious water shortage resulting from the 1999 drought was conducive to the destruction of crops.

“The temperature of water in rice fields goes beyond 40 degrees and the tall rice plants fresh from the rice seedling beds are withering. In particular, nearly all after-crop maize seedlings and seeds are perishing,” it added.

In 2001, in June there was an extensive drought with rainfall just 10% of normal levels, which served to undermine agricultural crops. And then a few months later, in October, there were extensive floodings leading to the further destruction of rice harvests and a crisis situation in food distribution.

“Officials in Kangwon province – an area which already suffers food shortages – say the impact of the torrential rain and flooding has been devastating. The normal recorded rainfall for October should be around 20mm. But in the worst-affected areas 400mm (18 inches) of rain fell in just 12 hours. “It was the worst flooding we’ve had since records began in 1910,” said Kim Song Hwan, head of the government’s Flood Damage Rehabilitation Committee for the region. (BBC, 23 Oct 2001, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/1614981.stm )

Cuba

For several years Cuba has been affected by recurrent droughts. In 1998, rainfall in Eastern Cuba was at its lowest level since 1941.

A United Nations team estimated 539,000 people, 280,000 of them farmers, were directly affected by reduced availability of food or reduced income through production losses. Some reported effects are: hunger in areas; a loss of up to 14% of the sugar cane crop planted last year and a reduction in this spring’s planted crops, since rains were not sufficient for some seeds to germinate (which will reduce next year’s crop); as much as 42% losses in food staples such as root vegetables, beans, bananas, and rice in the five eastern provinces; and livestock, poultry, and egg production losses

(UN Relief,  http://www.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf/0/2975570e60ff2a7685256680005a8e2d?OpenDocument )

In 2003, a devastating drought hit the Western part of Cuba

In 2004  May-June, the country is hit by the worst drought in its history:

 ”A severe drought enveloping eastern Cuba has eroded 40 percent of the farmland, starved thousands of heads of cattle and has close to 4 million people counting every drop of water they consume.” The drought is described as the worst in 40 years.

“The drought has robbed underground water levels of some 10 feet over the past 10 years, leaving over 5,000 wells across the province dry,” said Leandro Bermudez, a geologist and the second man at Cuba’s National Institute of Hydraulic Resources. (MSNBC, 21 June 2004 http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5262324

The cities are running out of water. According to the Independent,  “Drought is bringing Cuba to its knees

Unnoticed by the world, the longest dry period for decades has brought much of Cuba to its knees. Could this be the crisis that finally destroys Fidel’s revolution?

“All across central and eastern Cuba, farmers, ranchers, city dwellers and government officials are scrambling to deal with a punishing drought that began a decade ago and intensified in the last two years.

Although traditionally arid, the provinces of Holguin, Camaguey and Las Tunas hold some of Cuba’s finest pasture and farmland and have long been crucial to this communist nation’s dairy, beef and agricultural industries.

More than 12,500 cattle have died in Holguin alone in 2004 and milk production has fallen 20 percent. The price of beans, plantains, sweet potatoes and other staples has soared in private markets.

The drought has caused millions of dollars in losses and officials are spending millions more digging wells, building a water pipeline and taking other measures to try to ease the crisis – huge sums in an impoverished nation struggling through tough economic times and a battle with the United States.

Officials also have moved thousands of cattle to more fertile areas and are working furiously to finish a 32-mile pipeline that will draw water to Holguin city from Cuba’s largest river, the Cauto. The $5 million pipeline could be completed next month. (Chicago Tribune, July 29, 2004, http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/world/9271316.htm )

The above report date to September 2004, it was published before, the hurricanes hit the Cuban coastline followed by torrential rains.

Afghanistan and The former Soviet Republics of Central Asia

The worst drought in Afghanistan history occurred in the three consecutive years prior to the onslaught of the US led invasion, from 1999 to 2001. The agricultural recovery of the 1990s, in the wake of the Soviet-Afghan war was brought to a standstill.

In the wake of the US led 2001 invasion,  the United States supplied Afghanistan with genetically modified wheat and appropriate types of fertilizer to be used with the GM wheat, which was said to be high yield drought resistant. The donation of GM wheat, however, also led to destabilizing the small peasant economy because the GM wheat varieties could not reproduced locally. In 2002, famines which were barely reported by the media, swept the country.

Similar although less severe conditions prevailed in the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Like Afghanistan, Tajikistan has had its infrastructure ruined by prolonged civil war with Muslim fundamentalists. Since then, the worst regional drought in 74 years has destroyed food crops over a large part of the nation, rendering almost half of the 6.2 million people in the country vulnerable to the threat of famine and disease, up from 3 million last year. About the only portion of the economy that has been unaffected is the drug trade. Tajikistan is the transit route for 65 to 85 percent of heroin smuggled out of Afghanistan, the world’s largest producer. (http://www.americanfreepress.net/Mideast/Drought__Desperation_Breed_Vio/drought__desperation_breed_vio.html ]

Triggered by the lowest rainfall (2001) in living memory, vast tracts of Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan are being reduced to desert as the water table sinks, long-established wells dry up and herds of livestock perish.

The crisis appears to fulfill alarming climate change predictions suggesting that states along the old Silk Road will experience steeper rises in temperature than any other region on earth. By the end of the century it will be 5C hotter in an area which regularly sees the thermometer soar above 40C.

The study, published last year by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, predicted that Asian countries from Kazakhstan to Saudi Arabia will warm up more than twice as much as others. “Several states,” the report added, “including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Iran, [are facing] famine.”

In Tajikistan, the United Nations appealed for aid to avert disaster. “Substantial foreign aid is needed or else there will be a large-scale famine,” said Matthew Kahane, the UN’s humanitarian aid coordinator, speaking from the capital, Dushanbe.

“The country has had its lowest rainfall for 75 years. Families who survived last year by selling their cows and chickens now have no other means of coping. Some households have sold the glass out of their windows and the wooden beams from their roofs to raise money for food.”

(The Guardian, 0ct 30, 2001,  http://www.guardian.co.uk/famine/story/0,12128,736902,00.html )

Iraq

In 1999, Iraq suffered its worst drought of the century, with the effect of triggering an even greater dependence on imported grain under the oil for food program. There was a drop of up to 70  percent in domestic yields of wheat, barley and other cereals, which served to further weaken the country’s economy, crippled by economic sanctions  and the routine bombing by allied aircraft in the no-fly zones.

A similar (although less serious) situation prevailed in Syria and Iran, marked by significant declines in agricultural output.


Related Global Research Articles on Weather Warfare

Michel Chossudovsky, Washington’s New World Order Weapons Have the Ability to Trigger Climate Change, Jan 2001, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO201A.html

Vladimir V. Sytin, Secret Use of Weather Modification Techniques by US Air Force? August 2003, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/SYT308A.html

Interfax,.US Could Dominate The Planet if It Deploys This Weapon In Space, CRG, August 2002, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/INT208A.html

Scott Gilbert, Environmental Warfare and US Foreign Policy: The Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction, January 2004, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/GIL401A.html

Bob Fitrakis, Rods from Gods: The insanity of Star Wars, 24 June 2004, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/FIT407A.html

Did a Secret Military Experiment Cause the 2003 Blackout? 7 September 2003, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/ANA309A.html

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

New Book from Global Research

WWIII Scenario

 Writing in Foreign Policy a year ago, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warned: “These are no ordinary times in East Asia. With tensions rising from conflicting territorial claims in the East China and South China seas, the region increasingly resembles a 21st century maritime redux of the Balkans a century ago—a tinderbox on water.”

A year later, as the world marks 100 years since the outbreak of World War I, the dangers of another global catastrophe erupting in Asia have not diminished, but become increasingly acute. None of the feeble diplomatic palliatives suggested by Rudd in his essay have been taken up. The tensions to which he pointed—especially between China and Japan—have deteriorated markedly. Above all, the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia,” directed at undermining China diplomatically, economically and militarily, has further inflamed the Asian tinderbox.

Relations between Tokyo and Beijing have all but broken down as the right-wing Japanese government of Shinzo Abe, encouraged by Washington, has turned toward remilitarisation, increasing military spending for the first time in a decade. Abe’s visit, late last month, to the notorious Yasukuni Shrine prompted China’s ambassador to the US to comment in yesterday’s Washington Post that the Japanese prime minister “risks ties with China” by paying homage to war criminals.

Rising tensions over disputed islands in the East China Sea reached a dangerous point last month when China announced an air defence identification zone in the area. The US immediately challenged Chinese authority by flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers into the zone unannounced, raising the danger of an error or miscalculation leading to a clash. Tokyo further exacerbated the situation by announcing its intention this week to register 280 outlying islands as “state property.” Japan’s decision in September 2012 to “nationalise” the Senkaku/Diaoyu islets dramatically escalated the territorial dispute with China.

South East Asia has become a diplomatic battleground as the US, Japan and India vie with China for influence. Abe has made a point of visiting every member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). President Obama failed to take part in this year’s ASEAN summit, but US officials again exploited maritime disputes in the South China Sea to drive a wedge between China and its neighbours. Just this week, the US intervened once more in the South China Sea tinderbox, backing Vietnam and the Philippines, by denouncing newly announced Chinese fishing regulations as “provocative and potentially dangerous.”

While not mentioned in Rudd’s essay, the Korean Peninsula remains an explosive regional flashpoint. Last April, war tensions reached fever pitch after the North Korean regime responded to new US-led sanctions with belligerent, but largely empty threats. Far from easing tensions, the US took a series of intimidating steps, including the dispatch of B-52 and B-2 bombers to South Korea, aimed at forcing Pyongyang to back down or risk war. Washington’s relentless isolation of North Korea is destabilising the regime—as evidenced by last month’s bloody purge—and bringing the country to the brink of collapse. This utterly reckless policy has unpredictable and dangerous consequences in a strategic region of the globe where the interests of China, Russia, Japan and the US intersect.

The driving force behind the rising danger of war is the deepening global crisis of capitalism. Five years after the 2008–09 financial meltdown, the world economy remains mired in slump and the policy of “quantitative easing” has set the stage for a new financial crisis. Global capitalism remains ensnared in the same fundamental contractions—between private ownership of the means of production and socially organised production; and between world economy and the outmoded nation state system—that fuelled the eruption of World War I.

The Obama administration’s “pivot” reflects the rise of Asia, above all China, as the prime cheap labour platform for the globalised production that has emerged over the past three decades. Those commentators who claim that the close international economic integration make war impossible ignore the fact that the same integration has greatly heightened geo-political rivalry.

The most explosive factor in world politics is US imperialism’s attempt to offset its relative decline through the use of military might. The US “pivot” is above all aimed at ensuring continued American dominance over the Asian economic powerhouse in order to dictate terms not only to China, but to its European and Asian rivals. If China is the chief target, it is not because China has become an imperialist power akin to 20th century Germany, but because its rapid economic expansion and demands for energy and raw materials are disrupting a long-established imperialist order dominated by the US.

In arguing for the overriding importance of the “pivot” for American imperialism, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained in Foreign Policy in 2011 that “the Asia-Pacific has become a key driver of global politics.” She insisted that “just as our post-World War II commitment to building a comprehensive and lasting transatlantic network of institutions has paid off many times over … the time has come for the United States to make similar investments as a Pacific power.” In other words, the maintenance of US dominance in Asia is as imperative for American imperialism today as US interventions in post-war Europe, such as the Marshall Plan, were more than half a century ago.

American diplomacy and economic initiatives in Asia are underwritten by a rapid military build-up and restructuring of US forces and bases in preparation for a war against China. Over the past four years, the US “pivot” has led to a strengthening of alliances and strategic partnerships across Asia, with particular focus on Japan, Australia and India as the linchpins of an anti-China bloc. To tighten the noose around China, the Obama administration has also encouraged its chief allies to forge close military relations with each other. In doing so, it has given free rein to the ambitions of Japanese imperialism, which is embarking on its own diplomatic campaign, most recently with the visits of its defence minister to India and France to forge closer strategic ties.

The complex diplomatic machinations, secret agreements and military arrangements of the early 21st century bear an uncanny resemblance to those of the early 20th century. As tensions and rivalries continue to rise, the great danger is that a miscalculation by a Japanese or China pilot in the East China Sea, or a minor incident on the border dividing the Koreas, can lead to a clash that rapidly draws the entire world into a catastrophe of far greater proportions than a century ago.

The only social force capable of halting the drive to war is the international working class. Workers in China, the US, Japan and throughout Asia and the world share a common class interest in putting an end to the capitalist system and its outmoded nation-state system, and constructing a world-planned socialist economy to meet the pressing social needs of humanity, not the massive profits of a tiny financial oligarchy.

The US employment report for December, released Friday by the Labor Department, is a shattering exposure of the Obama administration’s claims that the US economy is in the midst of a recovery.

Just one day before, in announcing his “economic promise zones,” Obama had touted the so-called recovery, insisting, in the face of widespread disbelief among working people, that it was “real.” (See “Obama’s phony campaign against inequality”).

The US economy generated a net increase of only 74,000 jobs in December, about one third the number predicted by economists and less than half the amount needed to keep pace with population growth. The increase in non-farm payrolls was the lowest since January 1, 2011, when the economy added 69,000 jobs. Friday’s number followed two months in which payrolls grew by 200,000 or more, leading to claims that the economy was shifting into high gear.

The unemployment rate for December dropped sharply, from 7 percent to 6.7 percent. However, this decline was not the result of an improvement in the real economy. On the contrary, it was caused by a further exodus of workers from the labor force, which shrank by 347,000. In the past twelve months, the labor force has contracted by almost 550,000 workers.

In the so-called “recovery” since the Wall Street crash of 2008, a decline in the official jobless rate has perversely become, more often than not, an indicator of deepening social crisis rather than a sign of expanding production and rebounding employment. Most of the decline in the government’s jobless rate from 10.0 percent in October 2009 has been due to the fact that millions of people have fallen out of the job market because of economic conditions.

According to a survey by the Economic Policy Institute, 5.99 million “missing workers” have dropped out of the labor force over the past five years for economic, not demographic, reasons. If these missing workers were counted as unemployed, the unemployment rate would be 10.2 percent.

The labor force participation rate fell to 62.8 percent in December from 63.0 percent the month before, hitting the lowest level since 1978. Over the past year, the labor force participation rate has dropped by 0.8 percentage points.

This is the depressed economic context in which the Obama administration and the Republicans allowed long-term unemployment benefits to expire for over a million people last month, a social crime that highlights the class war policy being carried out against working people.

In a statement posted Friday, Jason Furman, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, cynically called on Congress to extend federal benefits for the long-term unemployed, writing that “now is not the time to abruptly remove such a widely-used lifeline and make an unprecedented cut to support for the unemployed.”

In fact, it was the White House that guaranteed the expiration of long-term jobless benefits by not including an extension of the program in the budget deal worked out with congressional Republicans in December.

Now, the White House and congressional Democrats are attempting to pose as champions of the unemployed and opponents of social inequality, and improve their chances in this year’s midterm elections by blaming the Republicans for the cutoff. They are playing down the fact that their plan for a ten-month extension of long-term jobless benefits includes a sharp reduction in the duration of benefits as well as a cut in payments to unemployed workers who also receive disability benefits. The Democrats are also proposing to offset the $18 billion cost of their proposed extension of long-term unemployment benefits by keeping the automatic “sequester” cuts going for an additional year, until the end of 2024.

At the same time, congressional Democrats have reportedly agreed to cut $9 billion in food stamp benefits on top of the $5 billion cut that was implemented last November.

The White House sought to talk down the significance of the jobs report, saying, “We continue to focus on the longer-term trend in the economy—2.2 million private-sector jobs added and a 1.2 percentage point decline in the unemployment rate over the course of 2013.”

In reality, the US economy has far from recouped the job losses from the 2008 crash, with 1.2 million fewer people on the country’s payrolls than in December 2007. According to the Economic Policy Institute, “the total ‘jobs gap’—the number of jobs needed to return the US economy to pre-recession health—is 7.9 million.”

The share of the population that is employed fell to 58.6 percent in December, down from 62.7 at the end of 2007. This measure of the jobs market has remained largely unchanged since 2010.

All major sectors of the US economy were affected by December’s disastrous jobs figures. The construction sector lost 16,000 jobs, health care lost 1,000. Manufacturing added a mere 9,000 jobs.

The number of people employed by the federal government fell to 2.72 million, the lowest level of federal civilian employment since 1966. The federal government now employs only 2.0 percent of all employed people, down from 4.3 percent in the mid-1960s.

Since February 2010, the total number of state, local and federal government jobs in the US has declined by 621,000, led by a loss of 372,000 local government jobs.

In another sign of economic weakness, the average private-sector work week fell by a tenth of an hour, to 34.4 hours.

The fact that the Democrats have agreed to reduce jobless benefits under these conditions exposes the fraud of their rhetorical campaign against inequality. Between cutting food stamps, slashing jobless pay, and extending the “sequester” cuts, the White House is working in lockstep with the Republicans to further impoverish the working class.

 Workers May Simply Be Giving Up

Zero Hedge notes that the number of Americans in the labor force has dropped to 1978 levels:

The civilian labor force … dropped from 155.3 million to 154.9 million, which means the labor participation rate just dropped to a fresh 35 year low, hitting levels not seen since 1978, at 62.8% down from 63.0%.

And the piece de resistance: Americans not in the labor force exploded higher by 535,000 to a new all time high 91.8 million.

What’s causing the crash in labor participation?

Initially, the number of women not in the labor force climbed to a new high.  This is significant because the labor force skyrocketed in the 1960s when feminism encouraged women to work outside of the home:

As the Washington post notes in a fantastic roundup on unemployment:

The Urban Institute notes [that] what’s happening is that workers aren’t entering the labor force at the same rates they used to. That’s especially true for women, who are much less likely to enter the labor force today than they were in 2002 and 2003. Many of them, the paper notes, appear to be enrolling in school instead or deciding to start families.

An aging U.S. demographic may also play some role in the decline.  As the Washington Post notes:

Americans over the age of 65 are much less likely to work than prime-age Americans. And since that subset of Americans is expanding its ranks, that drives the labor-force participation rate down.

***

Economists disagree, however, on exactly how much demographics are responsible for the current fall in the participation rate. The Chicago Fed estimated in 2012 that retirements accounted for one-fourth of the drop in labor force participation since the recession began. Other analysts, including Barclays, have suggested that aging Boomers could account for a bigger slice of the drop.

Meanwhile, a recent paper by Shigeru Fujita of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia staked out a more nuanced view: Demographics, he argued, didn’t play a huge role in the labor-force drop between 2007 and 2011. But since then, retirements are responsible for basically the entire fall of the participation rate. One possible reason is that many older Americans postponed retirement immediately after the financial crisis to rebuild their battered 401(k)s. By 2012 or so, they began retiring en masse.

However, Zero Hedge and Bloomberg show that there are countervailing trends:

 Most disturbingly, the Post notes that the main factor may be workers simply giving up:

The number of Americans working or actively seeking work has actually fallen faster than demographers had predicted:

epop graph-thumb-615x395-82792

And here’s another clue that this isn’t just a demographic story: The participation rate for workers between ages 25 and 54 fell sharply during the recession and still hasn’t recovered. Obviously, retirements can’t explain this:

Credit: Calculated Risk

So, what’s going on? One theory is that the weak job market is causing people to simply give up looking for work — they’re crumpling up their résumés and going home. An recent study from the Boston Fed suggested that these “non-inevitable dropouts” might even account for most of the decrease. Among other things, the authors noted that the labor-force decline has been far sharper for all age groups than simple demographics would predict.

***So, why does the size of the labor force matter? If people are leaving the labor force for economic reasons (and they’re not going back to school), it would mean that the economy is in much worse shape than the official unemployment rate suggests. The jobless rate is officially 6.7 percent, but that only counts people who are actively seeking work — not labor-force dropouts. [Remember, you have to include labor-force dropouts in order to arrive at a useful unemployment number.]

The size of the labor force also goes a long way to determining America’s growth prospects. If, say, baby boomers are retiring faster than expected, then long-run U.S. economic growth will be lower than projected.

***

It could also mean the U.S. economy will be significantly weaker in future. One recent paper from the Federal Reserve estimated that America’s economic potential is now 7 percent lower than it was before the financial crisis — in part because workers who lost their jobs during the downturn have become less-attached to the labor force. That’s a bad sign.

In other words, the crash in labor force participation rate is a very significant indication that all is not well with the economy.

Unfortunately – instead of helping to reduce unemployment – bad government policy has made it much worse. And see here and here.

The press conference held by Jordan’s Ambassador to the UN to introduce Jordan’s presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of January 2014 included a surprise proposal that distinguished it from the usual tradition of announcing the program of work for the Security Council for the month.(1)

The surprise was the announcement of an Open Debate planned for the Council meeting on January 29.

Though it is common to propose an Open Debate as part of a monthly Security Council program, this Open Debate, as proposed, is in the context of a profound issue — the UN’s role as an advocate for peace in the international community.

The description in the Security Council program for January includes the plan for this Open Debate on the topic of the,“Maintenance of International Peace and Security: War, its lessons, and the search for a permanent peace.”

In response to a question for more background on the planned meeting to discuss the broad issues of war and peace, Prince Zeid Ra-ad Zeid al Hussein (Zeid Ra’ad), Jordan’s UN Ambassador, explained that 10 years ago, on January 26, 2004 the Security Council held a discussion on, “National Reconciliation and the Role of the UN.”(2) He said that this had been, “a one of a kind debate, a very good debate. But in the last 10 years we haven’t taken the discussion forward,” he observed.

It is, he explained, “remarkable in one way how we haven’t dealt with it properly in the last almost 70 years of UN practice.”

Responding to a question about the relevance of the South African experience of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to what he was proposing, Prince Zeid remarked that it represented, “a foundational moment, a very important truth and reconciliation commission.”

He described that there have been about twenty-one national commissions, but that the support by the UN has been far fewer than that, that less than 10 were supported by the UN.”Yes it is a mechanism,” he observed, supporting the need for relevant UN expertise.

Speaking from his own personal experiences in the field, rather than that of his government or that of the Security Council, he proposed that peace efforts to settle a serious conflict must merge with a deeper reckoning of the historical narrative of the nation involved. In the two or three situations where he had been charged by the UN to look into needed mechanisms of conflict resolution, however, he found that there were no organized national archives, no memory of the state as such that exists and that is workable. This weakness made it difficult to carry out the processes needed to have a more long lasting means of resolving a conflict.

Prince Zeid noted that just as the UN sends peacekeepers, it also sends specialists to deal with the logistics, with the physical needs of a destroyed country. But as in his experience in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, he came across many people who needed help in other ways, with trauma and so forth. “And how you deal with that?”, he asked.

“More so,” he continued, “you come to realize that there’s a deeper issue at hand, that there are conflicting narratives. And there is the truth. After all there is the truth as well. And its not that you can make up or contrive a narrative. There is a truth that has to be identified, and how do we do that, it is intensely difficult,” Prince Zeid elaborated.

“Truth commissions…, can lead the way,” he noted, “the thing is you have to mainstream it more within the system,” he explained.

“And there needs to be more of a UN expertise in this,” he argued, “This is something we are hoping the Council will pick up and will understand better.”

At the end of the press conference, the Jordanian Mission made available a Concept Paper that it drafted for the January 29, 2014 Security Council debate. The concept paper, “War, its Lessons, and the Search for a Permanent Peace?” introduces the issues to be considered in the Open Debate.(3) “What the UN has not understood well enough,” the paper maintains, “is how it can help forge a deeper reconciliation among ex-combatants and their peoples, based on an agreed or shared narrative, a shared memory, of a troubled past.”

The concept paper recognizes that a component of a conflict is conflicting narratives among the warring sides. It seeks out examples of “meaningful reconciliation based on shared historical understanding helping to cement lasting peace.” But historical memory must be based on a determination of the truth, a truth that has been “properly determined, understood and agreed to by the former warring sides.”

To make this process possible, the Jordanian presidency of the Security Council is inviting delegations to reflect on positive examples and the lessons that can be learned from these examples. “How might these lessons be drawn upon to create models of best practice that can be applied in existing and future post-conflict situations?” the paper asks.

Also the concept paper proposes that the Security Council consider mandating, “a small UN historical advisory team” which would help to gather and recover relevant documents and assist in the “early work of setting up a ‘functional’ national archive, or even a historical commission” in post conflict situations.

These proposals raise a set of issues not often explored or considered at the UN. Will the Jordanian presidency of the Security Council find the means to gain support for its proposals? Will the concept paper and the Security Council debate discussing the paper give the issue of truth and reconciliation serious consideration? If so, it would be refreshing.

Notes

1)Press Conference , Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zedi Al-Hussein (Jordan), President of the Security Council on the programme of work for the month of January 2014 – Press Conference, 6 Jan 2014.

http://webtv.un.org/watch/prince-zeid-raad-zedi-al-hussein-jordan-president-of-the-security-council-on-the-programme-of-work-for-the-month-of-january-2014-press-conference/3019229612001/

2)Security Council Transcript pt.1, January 26, 2004, S/PV.4903, SC/7990
“Post Conflict National Reconciliation, Role of the UN.”

http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/PV.4903

Security Council Transcript pt.2, January 26, 2004, S/PV.4903(Resumption 1)+Corr. 1, SC/7990
“Post Conflict National Reconciliation, Role of the UN.”.

http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/PV.4903%28Resumption1%29

Summary of Meeting January 26, 2004, SC/4903 AM and PM Meeting, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, SECURITY COUNCIL REAFFIRMS ‘VITAL IMPORTANCE’ OF UNITED NATIONS’ ROLE IN POST-CONFLICT RECONCILIATION

http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2004/sc7990.doc.htm

3) Jordanian Mission at the UN, “War, its Lessons, and the Search for a Permanent Peace?”, Concept Note for Thematic Debate 29 January 2014.

 

We are living through a chronically tense and, in wealthy parts of the world, a desperately self-indulgent era. Advertising teaches that fulfillment comes with compulsive consumption. News media trivialize history and turn current events into a competition of spectacles and personality cults. Addicted to fads and the quick fix, frightened of the future and cut adrift from the past, millions of people flee from imagination and look for meaning in pre-digested realities.

The very sense that we are part of real families and communities is threatened. Virtual images that dominate our days begin to look more real than we do. Experts meanwhile have a field day providing clever evaluations of the psychic assault on humanity and the breakdown of culture, while conveniently omitting that they are some of the culprits.

Societal narcissism has reached the epidemic level. Traditionally, a narcissist was described as some “beautiful person” who can relate only to his or her own image or problems. But the definition has expanded to include traits like exploitation of the warmth provided by others, combined with fear of dependence, a sense of inner emptiness, boundless repressed rage, and unsatisfied cravings. Narcissists can be pseudo-intellectuals or calculating seducers. Usually, they are afraid of old age and death, and fascinated with celebrities. These callous, superficial climbers seek out the famous, and yet are also compelled to destroy their fantasy figures.

If this merely described a few “sick” individuals we might find comfort. But patterns of narcissistic behavior afflict millions and are reinforced daily. And perhaps most disquieting, the narcissistic personality is ideally suited for positions of power, the type of leader who sells himself to win at any price.

Capitalism has turned self promotion into a growth industry, with success often resting on the ability to project a “winning personality” and often false image. Relentless self-promotion, whether by conservative demagogues or their liberal counterparts, meshes neatly with an idealization of powerful people who represent what the narcissist seeks.

Narcissists identify with winners out of a fear of being losers. Objects of hero worship give meaning to the frequently unfocused or direction-deprived lives of society’s many emotional casualties. Yet mixed with this idealization is an urge to degrade the object of one’s admiration, sparked when the “hero” ultimately disappoints. This desperate need, intensified by the machinery of mass promotion, can turn even assassination, political or physical, into a form of spectacle.

Among the influences that reinforce narcissism, mass media have the most pervasive impact. They tend to create both a sense of chronic tension and a cynical detachment from reality. But detachment does not have to express itself as cynicism. It can also lead to intelligent skepticism. This raises a political question, since media and other powerful institutions could help to reduce dependence and support individuals in solving their own problems. In recent years, however, being detached has mainly meant a crippling negativism about the entire political process, a nihilistic and escapist conclusion that no constructive change is possible.

The abdication of responsibility to various bureaucracies has meanwhile promoted character traits consistent with a corrupted culture, and this in turn has accelerated the excesses of corporate capitalism. The result is a kind of mass neurosis. Images of a “good” and a “bad” parent, objects of love and hatred, are formed early, internalized, and become part of the self-image of children. But rather than fusing into a super-ego that also contains social values and self-confidence, these early images often melt into a harsh, punishing super-ego. The emerging adult is torn between repressed rage and the desire for some all-powerful other. Sexual needs are also distorted, barriers are erected against strong emotions, and fear of death and old age becomes intense.

The decay of older traditions of self-help has eroded competence in one area after another, leaving the individual dependent on the state, corporations, and other bureaucratic structures. Narcissism is the psychological dimension of this dependence. Popular culture feeds on narcissistic fantasies, encouraging delusions of omnipotence while simultaneously reinforcing feelings of dependence and discouraging strong emotions.

Ultimately, the bland and empty facade of mass existence can become overwhelming. Yet within millions of people there remains enormous rage, resentment, and potential for which bureaucratic society provides few outlets. In truth, few people are actually satisfied with the facade. Some do nothing yet know the system doesn’t work, others actively look for ways to limit the damage. Some strike out violently, others tap cultural resources like cooperative work, art, and spirituality to counteract the effects.

With the belief in individual responsibility undermined in so many ways, moral impulses help to keep alive a sense that people are responsible for what they do. If such a view spread widely enough, it could change an entire society. Another remedy, in response to professional imperialism, is to reclaim responsibilities we have ceded to the experts. Call it a program of conscious self-rule, one that could also protect us from discriminatory or authoritarian tendencies.

Such changes carry risks. For example, reactionary impulses in families or churches may be exploited. But given the state of society – moral bankruptcy, political corruption, economic inequality, and ecological decay – a few risks are preferable to playing it safe. The goal is to restore humanity’s basic dignity through compassion, engagement, and mutual aid. Along with healthy skepticism and intelligently directed anger, these could be keys to a new, freer and more natural culture.

Greg Guma is a Vermont-based writer and author ofDons of Time.This essay is an excerpt from Prisoners of the Real. To read more, go to Prisoners of the Real: An Odyssey

 

 

 The idea that government can’t do anything right has been trumpeted by the right wing for decades, particularly by its recently deceased leader Milton Friedman, a former economist at the University of Chicago. He campaigned to reduce government functions to a minimum while letting private enterprise step in and take full responsibility for running all industries, health care, retirement pensions, and even education, which he viewed as socialist when run by the government. Private enterprise, he argued, employs the most efficient means while always producing superior outcomes.

Forms of Privatization in Public Education

These ideas were typically regarded as fringe, but have gradually moved to center stage, embraced by liberals and conservatives alike. George W. Bush succeeded in privatizing many of the operations associated with the functioning of the U.S. military overseas, including the supply of food, the necessary infrastructure for housing soldiers, the use of special security forces such as Blackwater in Iraq, etc. He would have privatized Social Security had he not encountered vehement resistance on the part of the American public.

Obama’s contribution to the privatization campaign has centered for the most part on education. But before we can evaluate its impact, it is necessary to consider the different forms privatization can take in relation to schools, since it can occupy different positions on a wide spectrum of possibilities.

 At one end of the spectrum lie completely privatized schools that provide their own financing and govern themselves. But many schools are more like hybrids, a mixture of private and public. Charter schools, whose numbers are growing rapidly, are funded with public money (that previously would have gone to public schools) but are privately operated. Often they are run by for-profit or non-profit national companies, as opposed to simply a group of teachers who want to break away from traditional schools and experiment with an alternative curriculum.

Similarly, essentially public universities or K-12 schools might make use of online courses produced by private, for-profit companies, and, of course, private companies produce textbooks.

Another hybrid example is where public universities have aggressively raised tuition fees at public universities so that funding shifts from the public coffers to the students themselves as private citizens. At the University of California at Berkeley students now contribute more for their education than the state does. In the 1960s the state paid for the vast majority of their expenses.

Still another example is where a publicly funded and operated school imports the corporate culture from the private sector. For example, many public universities are abandoning their former practice of promoting faculty into administrative positions, paying them only slightly more than before and, instead, are drawing on administrators from the private sector and paying them exorbitant salaries while paying part-time faculty less than a living wage. Some presidents of public universities now make over $1 million a year. Under such circumstances democratic institutions of shared governance are dismantled while power tends to be concentrated at the top, thereby destroying any spirit of collegiality.

Another cultural import from the private sector involves measuring “student learning outcomes” in order to evaluate teachers, as if one is counting gadgets churned out on a factory assembly line. Of course, the result of the evaluation will depend of the choice of measurement, and although highly controversial, standardized tests now represent the most prevalent alternative.

Still another cultural import is the hyper emphasis on competition. Not only are students required to compete against one another for grades, teachers must compete against one another in order to hold their jobs. There is a strong drive to fire teachers whose students have low test scores while retaining and rewarding those with high student test scores with “merit” pay. Thus far teacher unions have been vigorously resisting this practice.

But with Obama’s Race to the Top even schools are forced to compete against one another. By tying federal funding to the acceptance of charter schools, Obama is establishing a framework where traditional public schools must compete with the newer charter schools for students, especially for the students who will raise their school’s test scores.

Finally, partial privatization can occur simply by setting the goal of education as exclusively producing skilled workers primarily for the private sector rather than emphasizing the full development of the student or the training of a critically thinking individual who is prepared to assume the obligations of citizenship in a democratic society. City College of San Francisco, for example, in its fight for accreditation was forced to delete from its mission statement reference to teaching “life skills,” “cultural enrichment,” and “lifelong learning.” Pressure has mounted on all public institutions of higher learning to move students through quickly so that they can graduate with a degree and enter the labor market.

 Why Privatize?

There are basically two distinct motives. As mentioned before, many believe that competition, emblematic of the private sector, is the best guarantee for the best outcomes. Competition compels participants to adopt the most efficient means and maximizes motivation by threatening extinction if a company does not excel.

But on a more pragmatic and less ideological level, education offers a tremendous source of profits when private, for-profit companies are allowed to move in. For this reason for-profit educational institutions have mushroomed during the past several decades.

The privatization movement is now in full force as a consequence of the growing inequalities in wealth. With the decimation of those with middle income, wealth has become concentrated at the top. With wealth comes power. Corporate owners have therefore found it much easier to impose their will and values on the rest of society.

What Is At Stake?

Nothing short of genuine education itself is at stake. What particularly vitiates the learning process is the introduction of a corporate culture or “market” forces that insist on measuring “student learning outcomes” by “objective” standards such as standardized tests; that place an emphasis on competition so that there are inevitably “winners” and “losers;” that regard democratic structures that include teachers with disdain; that narrow the curriculum so that job skills alone are valued; and that think in terms of education as valuable only as a means to material rewards.

Students will not become genuine learners unless they are imbued with a love of learning, meaning they regard learning as an end in itself, an asset not easily measured. Every teacher is fully aware that in competitive environments students will concentrate their efforts on achieving a high grade, not on truly understanding the material. They will memorize for tests and then forget everything. They will take great pains to hide their ignorance, not raise critical questions, let alone questions about material they do not understand. We know that in moments of desperation the vast majority of high school students at one time or another will cheat, which is hardly one of the skills we want them to acquire.

We also know that when teachers are judged by their students’ standardized test scores, they will teach to the test, where the highest goal is to get the “right” answer, with or without understanding the material. Here students are drilled, so that for them school becomes painfully dull and boring. And who knows if those who create the tests have themselves identified the “right” answer or even asked an appropriate question. There is absolutely no opportunity to raise critical questions.

What is particularly vile about judging teachers by their students’ scores is that we have volumes of evidence that prove that the student’s performance in the classroom is far more a function of their family situation than what the teacher does.

Knowledge is best pursued as a cooperative venture where students work together to find solutions to problems and share their information. New teachers do best, for example, when partnered with a mentor who can share with them what they have found that does and does not work. This won’t happen when teachers and schools are competing against one another.

 When the search for the Higgs Boson particle, otherwise known as the “god particle,” got underway, two teams of scientists of 3000 each were created, not as a source of motivation through competition but to provide independent confirmation of the other team’s results. Those on each team worked in close cooperation with one another. Although external rewards existed, the participants were driven by their love of physics. As one veteran member told a newcomer: he will have “the time of his life.”

Because of its cooperative nature, the pursuit of knowledge cannot be disentangled from a sense of community where each participant acquires the ability to listen to different points of view, weigh their respective merits, and synthesize the best aspects of each view into a more sophisticated vision. Here everyone must enjoy an equal voice so that no one’s contribution can be routinely dismissed because of an individual’s status.

Consequently, institutions of learning that operate with a corporate top-down structure — where brute power continually preempts the force of the better argument — inevitably undermine the learning process within the classroom. If educators do not practice what they preach, then learning is transformed into a type of obedience and academic achievement becomes a form of deception.

Of course, the most valuable moments in education cannot be measured. When students get carried away with a discussion where each responds to the others and where each contributes to the other’s response, it is impossible to quantify the performance of each student, as if each contribution could be isolated from the others. And, of course, any attempt to quantify their performances would only serve to undermine the spiritual pleasure that students derive from collaborating with one another where each one plays an essential role in creating a richer outcome.

 Conclusion

The vast preponderance of evidence unambiguously supports the conclusion that the corporate culture in all its forms is antithetic to education. And this doesn’t even take into account the inevitable and prevalent corporate corruption that has infused education in the past several decades where the well-being of students is sacrificed for the pursuit of profits. But those who champion it, including the Obama administration, Bill Gates, and all the reactionary education foundations, display little regard for the conclusions of scientific studies. In their fanatical zeal they have demonstrated a willingness to impose a corporate culture despite the resistance of protesting parents and teachers. Lacking rational justifications, they shamelessly make recourse to force, closing community schools, for example, over the objections of the families they serve.

There can be little wonder that these zealots display no interest in the indispensable role our public schools play in nurturing students into citizens who are prepared to participate in a democratic society. For them, democracy only serves as an annoying hindrance to producing compliant workers who will follow the example of the politicians and uncritically dedicate their lives to serving their corporate masters.

Note: Diane Ravitch’s new book, THE REIGN OF ERROR, provides an excellent analysis of many of the issues raised in this article and is a must-read for anyone serious about education

Ann Robertson is a Lecturer at San Francisco State University and a member of the California Faculty Association. Bill Leumer is a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 853 (ret.). Both are writers for Workers Action and may be reached at [email protected]

Refusing to Fight: Canadians Supporting US War Deserters

January 11th, 2014 by Michael Welch

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Canada: A Refuge from Militarism?

January 2014 marks the ten year anniversary since Jeremy Hinzman, US soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division, having deserted his battalion, crossed the border into Canada and sought refuge from a war he could not legally or morally participate in.

In so doing, he became the first modern day US War Resister to seek asylum in Canada.

Others followed.

Brandon Hughey, David Sanders, Joshua Key, Kim Rivera, and ultimately more than two dozen others followed suit. All publicly declared their conscientious opposition to the US war agenda, particularly the conflict in Iraq.

This is not including the more than one hundred who may have crossed over unacknowledged.

Given the unpopularity of the Iraq War, especially in Canada, one would think there would be significant support for these military personnel who sacrificed their careers, their families and their reputations for an unknown future in a foreign country.

However, the experience of today’s war resisters indicates otherwise.

The current Conservative government in Canada seems anything but accommodating of US military deserters, regardless of the questionable legality of the conflicts they were ordered to participate in.

To date, at least three of these former military personnel, including young mother Kimberley Rivera, have been sent back to the US to serve lengthy prison sentences.

Those still in Canada live with considerable uncertainty about when and if their number may be up.

Joshua Key is the author of The Deserter’s Tale: The Story of an Ordinary Soldier Who Walked Away from the War in Iraq. He has had to deal with poor revenue from his book sales, a complete inability to raise money through paid work or social assistance, health concerns and recently, an unfair eviction from his home in Southern Saskatchewan. He brings his family’s ordeal to light in the first half hour.

This interview is followed by the perspective of Vietnam era draft evader Howard Davidson. He explains the critical similarities and differences between the GI Resister movement today and its Vietnam era counterpart.

Finally, Michelle Robidoux of the War Resisters Support Campaign explains how the modern War Resister movement in Canada got off the ground ten years ago, outlines critical victories and defeats in the campaign, and lays out concrete actions Canadians can take to show solidarity with these American men and women during Let Them Stay Week.

From the article “We the People Refuse to Fight”: Abandon the Battlefield!
By Michel Chossudovsky,

Disobey unlawful orders! Abandon the battlefield! …
Refuse to fight in a war which blatantly violates international law and the US Constitution!
But this is not a choice which enlisted men and women can make individually.
It is a collective and societal choice, which requires an organizational structure.
Across the land in the US, Britain, Canada and in all coalition countries, the anti-war movement must assist enlisted men and women to make that moral choice possible, to abandon the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Fridays at 1pm CDT. The programme is also broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario – Thursdays at 1pm ET

 

Global Terrorism and Saudi Arabia: Bandar’s Terror Network

January 11th, 2014 by Prof. James Petras

            Saudi Arabia has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela.  The country is governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents.  Hundreds of billions in oil revenues are controlled by the royal despotism and fuel speculative investments the world over.  The ruling elite relies on the purchase of Western arms and US military bases for protection.  The wealth of productive nations is syphoned to enrich the conspicuous consumption of the Saudi ruling family.  The ruling elite finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, “Wahhabi” a sect of Sunni Islam.

            Faced with internal dissent from repressed subjects and religious minorities, the Saudi dictatorship perceives threats and dangers from all sides:  overseas, secular, nationalists and Shia ruling governments; internally, moderate Sunni nationalists, democrats and feminists; within the royalist cliques, traditionalists and modernizers.  In response it has turned toward financing, training and arming an international network of Islamic terrorists who are directed toward attacking, invading and destroying regimes opposed to the Saudi clerical-dictatorial regime.

            The mastermind of the Saudi terror network is Bandar bin Sultan, who has longstanding and deep ties to high level US political, military and intelligence officials.  Bandar was trained and indoctrinated at Maxwell Air Force Base and Johns Hopkins University and served as Saudi Ambassador to the US for over two decades (1983 – 2005).  Between 2005 – 2011 he was Secretary of the National Security Council and in 2012 he was appointed as Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency.  Early on Bandar became deeply immersed in clandestine terror operations working

in liaison with the CIA.  Among his numerous “dirty operations” with the CIA during the 1980s, Bandar channeled $32 million dollars to the Nicaragua Contra’s engaged in a terror campaign to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua.  During his tenure as ambassador he was actively engaged in protecting Saudi royalty with ties to the 9/11/01 bombing of the Triple Towers and the Pentagon.  Suspicion that Bandar and his allies in the Royal family had prior knowledge of the bombings by Saudi terrorists (11 of the 19), is suggested by the sudden flight of Saudi Royalty following the terrorist act.  US intelligence documents regarding the Saudi-Bandar connection are under Congressional review.

With a wealth of experience and training in running clandestine terrorist operations, derived from his two decades of collaboration with the US intelligence agencies, Bandar was in a position to organize his own global terror network in defense of the isolated retrograde and vulnerable Saudi despotic monarchy.

Bandar’s Terror Network

Bandar bin Sultan has transformed Saudi Arabia from an inward-looking, tribal based regime totally dependent on US military power for its survival, to a major regional center of a vast terror network, an active financial backer of rightwing military dictatorships (Egypt) and client regimes (Yemen) and military interventor in the Gulf region (Bahrain).  Bandar has financed and armed a vast array of clandestine terror operations, utilizing Islamic affiliates of Al Qaeda, the Saudi controlled Wahhabi sect as well as numerous other Sunni armed groups.  Bandar is a “pragmatic” terrorist operator:  repressing Al Qaeda adversaries in Saudi Arabia and financing Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.,  While Bandar was a long-term asset of the US intelligence services, he has, more recently, taken an ‘independent course’ where the regional interests of the despotic state diverge  from those of the US.  In the same vein, while Saudi Arabia has a longstanding enmity toward Israel, Bandar has developed a “covert understanding” and working relation with the Netanyahu regime, around their common enmity toward Iran and more specifically in opposition to the interim agreement between the Obama-Rohani regime.

Bandar has intervened directly or via proxies in reshaping political alignments, destabilizing adversaries and bolstering and expanding the political reach of the Saudi dictatorship from North Africa to South Asia, from the Russian Caucuses to the Horn of Africa, sometimes in concert with Western imperialism, other times projecting Saudi hegemonic aspirations.

North Africa:  Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Egypt

            Bandar has poured billions of dollars to bolster the rightwing pro-Islamic regimes in Tunisia and Morocco, ensuring that the mass pro-democracy movements would be repressed, marginalized and demobilized.. Islamic extremists receiving Saudi financial support are encouraged to back the “moderate” Islamists in government by assassinating secular democratic leaders and socialist trade union leaders in opposition.  Bandar’s policies largely coincide with those of the US and France in Tunisia and Morocco; but not in Libya and Egypt.

            Saudi financial backing for Islamist terrorists and Al Qaeda affiliates against Libyan President Gadhafi were in-line with the NATO air war.  However divergences emerged in the aftermath:  the NATO backed client regime made up of neo-liberal ex-pat’s faced off against Saudi backed Al Qaeda and Islamist terror gangs and assorted tribal gunmen and marauders.  Bandar funded Islamic extremists in Libya were bankrolled  to extend their military operations to Syria, where the Saudi regime was organizing a vast military operation to overthrow the Assad regime.  The internecine conflict between NATO and Saudi armed groups in Libya, spilled over and led to the Islamist murder of the US Ambassador and CIA operatives in Benghazi.  Having overthrown Gadhafi, Bandar virtually abandoned interest in the ensuing blood bath and chaos provoked by his armed assets.  They in turn, became self-financing – robbing banks, pilfering oil and emptying local treasuries – relatively “independent” of Bandar’s control.

            In Egypt, Bandar developed, in coordination with Israel (but for different reasons), a strategy of undermining the relatively independent, democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohammed Morsi.  Bandar and the Saudi dictatorship financially backed the military coup and dictatorship of General Sisi.  The US strategy of a power-sharing agreement between the Moslem Brotherhood and the military regime, combining popular electoral legitimacy and the pro-Israel-pro NATO military was sabotaged.  With a $15 billion aid package and promises of more to come, Bandar provided the Egyptian military a financial lifeline and economic immunity from any international financial reprisals.  None were taken of any consequences.  The military crushed the Brotherhood, jailed and threatened to execute its elected leaders.  It outlawed sectors of the liberal-left opposition which it had used as cannon fodder to justify its seizure of power.  In backing the military coup, Bandar eliminated a rival, democratically elected Islamic regime which stood in contrast to the Saudi despotism.  He secured a like-minded dictatorial regime in a key Arab country, even though the military rulers are more secular, pro-Western, pro-Israel and less anti-Assad than the Brotherhood regime.  Bandar’s success in greasing the wheels for the Egyptian coup secured a political ally but faces an uncertain future.

The revival of a new anti-dictatorial mass movement would also target the Saudi connection.  Moreover Bandar undercut and weakened Gulf State unity:  Qatar had financed the Morsi regime and was out $5 billion dollars it had extended to the previous regime.

Bandar’s terror network is most evident in his long-term large scale financing, arming, training and transport of tens of thousands of Islamic terrorist “volunteers” from the US, Europe, the Middle East, the Caucuses, North Africa and elsewhere.. Al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia became “martyrs of Islam” in Syria.  Dozens of Islamic armed gangs in Syria competed for Saudi arms and funds.  Training bases with US and European instructors and Saudi financing were established in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey.  Bandar financed the major ‘rebel’ Islamic terrorist armed group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for cross border operations.

With Hezbollah supporting Assad, Bandar directed money and arms to the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Lebanon to bomb South Beirut, the Iranian embassy and Tripoli.  Bandar directed $3 billion to the Lebanese military with the idea of fomenting a new civil war between it and Hezbollah.  In co-ordination with France and the US, but with far greater funding and greater latitude to recruit Islamic terrorist, Bandar assumed the leading role and became the principle director of a three front military and diplomatic offensive against Syria, Hezbollah and Iran.  For Bandar, an Islamic takeover in Syria would lead to an Islamic Syrian invasion in support of Al Qaeda in Lebanon to defeat Hezbollah in hopes of isolating Iran.  Teheran would then become the target of a Saudi-Israeli-US offensive.  Bandar’s strategy is more fantasy then reality.

Bandar Diverges from Washington:  the Offensive in Iraq and Iran

Saudi Arabia has been an extremely useful but sometimes out of control client of Washington.  This is especially the case since Bandar has taken over as Intelligence chief:  a long-time asset of the CIA he has also, at times, taken the liberty to extract “favors” for his services, especially when those “favors” enhance his upward advance within the Saudi power structure.  Hence, for example, his ability to secure AWACs despite AIPAC opposition earned him merit points.  As did Bandar’s ability to secure the departure of several hundred Saudi ‘royalty’ with ties to the 9/11 bombers, despite a high level national security lockdown in the aftermath of the bombing.

While there were episodic transgressions in the past, Bandar moved on to more serious divergences from US policy.  He went ahead, building his own terror network, directed toward maximizing Saudi hegemony – even where it conflicted with US proxies, clients and clandestine operatives.

While the US is committed to backing the rightwing Malicki regime in Iraq, Bandar is providing political, military and financial backing to the Sunni terrorist “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. When the US negotiated the “interim agreement” with Iran Bandar voiced his opposition and “bought” support.  Saudi signed off on a billion dollar arms agreement during French President Hollande’s visit, in exchange for greater sanctions on Iran.  Bandar also expressed support for Israel’s use of the Zionist power configuration to influence the Congress, to sabotage US negotiations with Iran.

Bandar has moved beyond his original submission to US intelligence handlers.  His close ties with past and present US and EU presidents and political influentials have encouraged him to engage in “Big Power adventures”.  He met with Russian President Putin to convince him to drop his support for Syria, offering a carrot or a stick: a multi-billion dollar arms sale for compliance and a threat to unleash Chechnyian terrorists to undermine the Sochi Olympics.  He has turned Erdogan from a NATO ally supporting ‘moderate’ armed opponents to Bashar Assad, into embracing the Saudi backed ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”, a terrorist Al Qaeda affiliate.  Bandar has “overlooked” Erdogan’s “opportunist” efforts to sign off oil deals with Iran and Iraq, his continuing military arrangements with NATO and his past backing of the defunct Morsi regime in Egypt, in order to secure Erdogan’s support for the easy transit of large numbers of Saudi trained terrorists to Syria and probably Lebanon.

Bandar has strengthened ties with the armed Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, arming and financing their armed resistance against the US, as well as offering the US a site for a ‘negotiated departure’.

Bandar is probably supporting and arming Uighur Muslim terrorists in western China, and Chechens and Caucasian Islamic terrorists in Russia, even as the Saudi’s expand their oil agreements with China and cooperate with Russia’s Gazprom.

The only region where the Saudi’s have exercised direct military intervention is in the Gulf min-state of Bahrain, where Saudi troops crushed the pro-democracy movement challenging the local despot.

Bandar:  Global Terror on Dubious Domestic Foundations

Bandar has embarked on an extraordinary transformation of Saudi foreign policy and enhanced its global influence.  All to the worst.  Like Israel, when a reactionary ruler comes to power and overturns the democratic order, Saudi arrives on the scene with bags of dollars to buttress the regime.  Whenever an Islamic terror network emerges to subvert a nationalist, secular or Shia regime, it can count on Saudi funds and arms.  What some Western scribes euphemistically describe as “tenuous effort to liberalize and modernize” the retrograde Saudi regime, is really a military upgrade of its overseas terrorist activity.  Bandar uses modern techniques of terror to impose the Saudi model of reactionary rule on neighboring and distant regimes with Muslim populations.

            The problem is that Bandar’s “adventurous” large scale overseas operations conflict with some of the ruling Royal family’s “introspective” style of rulership.  They want to be left alone to accrue hundreds of billions collecting petrol rents, to invest in high-end properties around the world, and to quietly patronize high end call girls in Washington, London and Beirut –while posing as pious guardians of Medina, Mecca and the Holy sites.  So far Bandar has not been challenged, because he has been careful to pay his respects to the ruling monarch and his inner circle.  He has bought and brought Western and Eastern prime ministers, presidents and other respectable notable to Riyadh to sign deals and pay compliments to the delight of the reigning despot.  Yet his solicitous behavior to overseas Al Qaeda operations, his encouraging Saudi extremists to go overseas and engage in terrorist wars, disturbs monarchical circles.   They worry that Saudis trained, armed and knowledgeable terrorists – dubbed as “holy warriors” – may return from Syria, Russia and Iraq and bomb the Kings palaces.  Moreover, oversea regimes targeted by Bandar’s terror network may retaliate:  Russia or Iran, Syrians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Iraqis may just sponsor their own instruments of retaliation.  Despite the hundreds of billions spent on arms purchases, the Saudi regime is very vulnerable on all levels.  Apart from tribal legions, the billionaire elite have little popular support and even less legitimacy.  It depends on overseas migrant labor, foreign “experts” and US military forces.  The Saudi elite is also despised by the most religious of the Wahhabi clergy for allowing “infidels” on sacred terrain.  While Bandar extends Saudi power abroad, the domestic foundations of rule are narrowing.  While he defies US policymakers in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, the regime depends on the US Air Force and Seventh Fleet to protect it from a growing array of adversarial regimes.

            Bandar, with his inflated ego, may believe that he is a “Saladin” building a new Islamic empire, but in reality, by waving one finger his patron monarch can lead to his rapid dismissal.  One too many provocative civilian bombings by his Islamic terrorist beneficiaries can lead to an international crises leading to Saudi Arabia becoming the target of world opprobrium.

            In reality, Bandar bin Sultan is the protégé and successor of Bin Laden; he has deepened and systematized global terrorism.  Bandar’s terror network has murdered far more innocent victims than Bin Laden.  That, of course, is to be expected; after all he has billions of dollars from the Saudi treasury, training from the CIA and the handshake of Netanyahu!

Will the Mandela Movie Even Win an Oscar Nomination?

January 11th, 2014 by Danny Schechter

 The whole world recognized and paid tribute to South African icon Nelson Mandela when he died at age 95. 91 Heads of State attended his funeral. The UN General Assembly organized a special tribute. His legacy is secure in official circles, but will there be recognition in the place that seems to matter to the media even more: Hollywood?

The Oscar nominations are due any day, and early on, it seemed, as if the epic movie about the world’s most revered icon was a sure thing for Oscar consideration. Most of the main big newspaper reviewers loved it and, and its distributor Harvey Weinstein has specialized in influencing Academy decisions.

But of late, it lost its buzz, and is buried by the hype machine, almost being treated as an also ran. The entertainment media no long seems to take it seriously. All the focus is on other films and the big US stars.

The producers of the movie, made in South Africa, albeit with a British director, Judson Chadwick,  and Oscar celebrated screenwriter William Nicholson, were earlier hopeful that they had a good chance of winning at least one of the statuettes that quickly translate into a place in cinema history and more bang at the box-office.

For them,  making this film was always far more than  a commercial endeavor. In my book, <strong>MadibaAtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela</strong>, producer Anant Singh shares his passion for the subject and explains that it took 16 years and as many as 50 versions of script to put together the money and the cast. He was making it not only to honor Mandela but also tell the story of his country’s liberation. They worked as independents with no major studio behind them.

They were also very commercial in their calculations, doing what they they had to do to get it made and get it out, also  conscious of deferring to Hollywood formula, by focusing on the love story between Nelson and Winnie and, in effect, depoliticizing the story of a very political figure once known for saying, “The Struggle Is My Life.”

 On the left, there was disappointment as the review in Britain’s Couunterfire expressed this way: “This absence of ideological perspective is probably to be expected but the concluding effect of the film is to produce a sanitized and depoliticized Mandela that does not help us comprehend his massive impact. The apolitical Mandela in the film is the one neoliberal warmongerers like Blair, Bush and Obama are happy to eulogize.”

I am sure if the filmmakers had tried to please ideologues on all sides, the movie probably wouldn’t have even been made, much less released, with the small fortune in marketing monies required to be considered competitive.

That said, it did make news with lots of star-studded attention grabbing premieres and some media attention, especially, after Mandela died, while a Royal screening was underway in England.

The movie itself got less attention that its stars and connection with a well known leader.

And, yes, there was also sympathy in Tinsel Town, where commerce, grosses and celebrities, not  newsy issues, are always topic #1.

Years ago, one of my Mandela documentaries was passed over for Oscar consideration, but the Academy, out of interest I am sure, hosted a screening in LA under their auspices. I was pleased to be there and got lots of positive comments from the audience. That was the closest I got to an oscar.

Movies about the great and the good have an uphill battle in challenging Hollywood product that, this year again, seems more mesmerized by big time crime dramas like American Hustle and the Wolf of Wall Street that make con men appear cool and groovy. Their only morality is amorality.

Those movies feature better-known stars and more made in the USA storylines, aided and abetted by even  bigger and more recent advertising budgets. Mandela Long Walk To Freedom didn’t have the deep pockets to compete when the film went into “wide release” on Christmas Day. By then, it was already being considered old.

The Golden Globes did give Mandela three nominations—one to Idris Elba, the male lead, and two for music—one to the Irish hand U2 for the hardly political up-beat end song. Getting the band to the awards ceremony will enhance its appeal, but everyone knows the Globes reflect the picks of many self-styled foreign correspondents, not died in the wool movie industry Americanos.

The NAACP image awards also honored Elba as one of their own. In Britain, their academy nominated Mandela for the best <strong>British </strong>film of the year, even though it was primarily made by Videovision, a South African company.

Curiously, the nationalism and racial identity embedded in those awards were the very values that the real Mandela rejected.

“12 Years a Slave’ is the “black” movie expected to win, if any does. In that drama, a white man played by superstar Brad Pitt freed the slave, not a people’s revolt. Its appeal may have had more to due with the lack of attention finally paid to slavery in the land of slavery–but by a British director–and the guilt the movie plays to, as well as its pervasive violence,  which, as black activist H Rap Brown once observed, is “as American as Cherry Pie.”

Mandela features violence too—but oppressive state violence, more than individual bad guys that you can hate.  Apartheid may be a more recent crime than slavery but the latter is part of a U.S history that some Americans—not all, for sure—are ashamed of.

Slavery as a subject is also presented only as American while Mandela dramatizes a freedom struggle in Africa that has not been front and center much lately in a news system that routinely treats Africa as a continent of of wars, massacres and coups.

Mandela was one of the few African leaders even reported here and the fact that his death occasioned considerable coverage may have reinforced the idea that his story has been over exposed. Why see a movie versions when the real man was on TV. ‘

That’s  not true, but that’s a perception that certainly cut into the film’s ticket sales.

If Mandela Long Walk To Freedom is not on the Oscar list, it will be gone from theaters quickly, probably to return on TV movie channels and video. See it while you still can. You will be glad you did!

Danny Schechter made documentaries about the making and meaning of the movie Mandela Long Walk to Freedom. He also wrote the book, MadibaAtoZ: the Many Faces of Nelson Mandela (Madibabook.com) Comments to [email protected]

by Josh Hart, Director StopSmartMeters.Org.

Tom Wheeler, chair of the Federal Communications Commission, and former head of the industry Wireless Association for 12 years, got an earful from protesters on Thursday during his visit to the Bay Area.   Organized by Stop Smart Meters! and the California Brain Tumor Association,  protesters gathered and expressed their anger at the industry/ government collusion that is failing to warn people about- or even acknowledge- the hazards of wireless technology.

From the morning as he arrived in Mountain View to the end of the Oakland event that evening, Wheeler was peppered with questions and dealt with disruptions about how he buried the science showing health harm.

As Wheeler stepped out of his limo in Mountain View, he was confronted about wireless health harm and the ill-advised plan to place wireless in all classrooms in the US- a plan called “ConnectEd” spearheaded by Obama.  A teacher from the LA Unified School District who has witnessed firsthand the effects of wireless on schoolchildren repeatedly pressed Wheeler on the point that wireless radiation is already causing harm to our kids- and that wired computers (not a Class 2B carcinogen) can adequately prepare children for a future working with technology.

 

Ellie Marks (above and left) is Director of the California Brain Tumor Association.  Her husband has a brain tumor from the cell phone he spent hours on as a real estate agent.  As you might imagine, she is hopping mad at a system that is knowingly causing the same fate to countless others.

The FCC under Wheeler is salivating to extinguish our reliable, safe landline connections.

Picture 2

Wheeler had uttered no more than a sentence at the Commonwealth Club event before Stop Smart Meters! Director Josh Hart stood up and said in a loud voice, “Hey Tom, how many people have to die of brain tumors before the Federal Government will warn people of the hazards?   How many young women have to get breast cancer from keeping their phones in their bras before warning labels are introduced?  How many must be made electro-hyper-sensitive from a ‘smart’ grid that is harming our communities?  Are we just collateral damage in the industry quest for profits?  Are you happy with your purchase of the Chairmanship for $1 million from Obama?”  Hart was quickly led out of the room.

That wasn’t the only disruption.  Four others interrupted Wheeler’s speech, demanding answers about why Federal regulations on RF guidelines fail to protect the public from harm.  Ellie Marks ‘thanked’ Wheeler for her husband’s brain tumor.  Kevin Mottus from Los Angeles accused Wheeler and the industry he represents of “carrying out a quiet holocaust.”  One by one, the protesters were led out of the room.  But the message was clear- California is growing more aware of the dark side of wireless and we’re not going to tolerate it quietly.

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After leaving Mountain View, activists drove to San Francisco’s Market St. Verizon store and placed  (relatively mild) warning labels on all the wireless devices:

WARNING: This device emits microwave radiation that the World Health Organization states may cause cancer.  Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable.

In 2011, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance requiring similar warnings be placed at the point of sale, but the wireless industry sued, claiming they have a “first amendment right” to not disclose health hazards to consumers.  Activists carried out their 1st amendment right to warn people of the dangers.  Many discussions were had with customers, an announcement was made out loud in the store, and the safety labelers refused to leave when asked to do so.  The action carried on for about 20 minutes, as staff went around and quietly removed the stickers from the phones as activists replaced them.  No police were involved and the activists left the store without incident.

 

At the evening event, Voices for Internet Freedom, Wheeler was greeted by death standing solemnly at the entrance.  At one point, he wandered the wrong way after being followed and questioned by an activist, and found himself surrounded by protesters shouting, “Wheeler buried the truth now we bury the dead.” He quickly scurried away, knowing that the truth was out there.   He looked like a frightened animal and you could see the pain in his eyes.  It can’t be easy to sacrifice people’s lives for profit.