New York Times Buries CIA Facts on Latin American Deaths

October 24th, 2013 by David Lindorff

Salvador Allende’s eyeglasses. Museo Historico Nacional, Santiago, Chile

The New York Times has a venerable history of eliding references to any US role in overthrowing governments or murdering foreign leaders. But an article in Thursday’s edition by Times reporter Simon Romero (“Latin America Brings Up Its Dead, Seeking Truth to Help Settle the Past”) raises the censorship bar.

Running at over 1200 words, the article describes the exhumation of the remains of the likes of leftist Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda, deposed leftist Brazilian Presidents Joao Goulart and Juscelino Kubitschek, ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende Gossens and his predecessor Eduardo Frei Montalva—all of whose deaths are viewed with suspicion by Latin Americans. Yet Romero manages to mention a possible US role only once, and then only indirectly and with reference to a half-century old case —when he notes that Brazil’s elected President Goulart had been ousted from office in a 1964 military coup “supported by the United States.”Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda (right)

That is the only reference to the US in the entire article.

Quite remarkably, given the amount that has been exposed over the years about it, Romero mentions the role of a Latin America-wide assassination program called Operation Condor—without once noting that the whole thing wasorchestrated or at least encouraged and enabled by the US.

Condor’s Wingmen

Eduardo Frei Montalva

Eduardo Frei Montalva (left)

Condor was a vast conspiracy that involved the cooperative efforts of the intelligence agencies of all the military dictatorships in the region which, during the 1970s and 1980s, killed as many as 35,000-50,000 people, mostly leftist leaders, labor activists, and opponents of those dictatorships.

This lapse is particularly outrageous given that in years past, even the New York Times itself reported on the intimate role of the US in the creation and operation of Operation Condor.

For example, in a March 6, 2001 article, the NY Times reported on a “recently declassified” US State Department document. It revealed that the US had facilitated communications among South American intelligence agency heads who were busy trying to eliminate left-wing opposition groups in their respective countries.  Part of the program involved going after opposition leaders who had fled coups and were living in neighboring South American countries.

Salvador Allende GossensSalvador Allende Gossens (right)

The document in question, a 1978 cable to then US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance from the US ambassador to Paraguay, Robert E. White, was unearthed by Professor J. Patrice McSherry of Long Island University, who called it “another piece of increasingly weighty evidence suggesting that U.S. military and intelligence officials supported and collaborated with Condor as a secret partner or sponsor.”

In this cable, Ambassador White reports on a conversation he had with the chief of staff of Paraguay’s military, General Alejandro Fretes Davalos, who he says informed him that the South American intelligence agencies involved in Operation Condor “keep in touch with one another through a U.S. communications installation in the Panama Canal Zone which covers all of Latin America.”  That communications station, he wrote, was “employed to coordinate intelligence information among the southern cone countries.”

White, in this memo to Vance, expresses a fear that the U.S. role in Operation Condor might be revealed during a then active criminal investigation into the assassination of former Chilean foreign minister Orlando Letelier and an American colleague, Ronni Moffitt—both of whom were killed by an explosive device placed in their vehicle in Washington, D.C.  “It would seem advisable,” writes White, “to review this arrangement to insure that its continuation is in U.S. interest.”

image002Another document discovered at the same time, this one a CIA cable concerning the Brazilian junta’s role in Operation Condor, refers to “Condor-Tel,”  described as the “communications network established by the Condor countries.” It also refers to “European operations” of the Condor countries, which likely involved assassination plots against ousted leaders and activists currently living in asylum there after fleeing their martial-law homelands in Latin America.

The Times Tango

The whole approach taken by Times journalist Romero, with the apparent cooperation or perhaps encouragement of the paper’s foreign editors, was to present the current exhumations of important leftist corpses (the ones he cites actually date from between 2004 and 2013) like Neruda’s, Goulart’s, Kubitschek’s and Frei’s—as part of some kind of delightful if arcane Latin American cultural tradition. It was an “exhumation fever,” as he puts it, even going so far as to write, “Scholars say the practice may be the secularized continuation of customs from the time of early Christianity, when a vibrant trade involved the body parts of saints.”

None of these exhumations, however, involve the selling of body parts. They are about looking for evidence that important leftist leaders and political figures, said to have died natural deaths, may have in fact been assassinated in conspiracies that, for the most part, could likely be traced back to the US and the Central Intelligence Agency. Romero mentions none of this.

Salvador Allende Gossens

Salvador Allende Gossens (right)

In the case of Chile’s President Frei, for example, who was president of Chile until the election of Marxist Socialist Allende, his death in 1982 had long been officially attributed to complications following an operation for a stomach ailment. But because by that time the retired Christian Democrat had become a sharp critic of martial law under Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the general who had led the coup against Allende, there werealways suspicions he had been murdered. In fact, as Romero reports, after his body was exhumed, forensics experts concluded that Frei had been poisoned by small doses of mustard gas and the highly toxic heavy metal element thallium.

Augusto Pinochet

Augusto Pinochet (left)

What Romero doesn’t report is that back in 1982, under President Ronald Reagan and CIA Director William Casey, Operation Condor was in full swing. It is unlikely that Pinochet—largely a US creation and puppet, whose coup in 1973 overthrowing Allende was the handiwork of President Nixon’s National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger—would have had Frei killed on his own, without US permission. (Even when he mentions the 1973 coup in Chile, Romero fails to say a word about the central US role in fomenting it.)

Goulart too, was said to have died of a heart attack back in 1976, when he was living in exile in Argentina. The exhumation of his body is being undertaken to see if he was actually poisoned. While Romero mentions that concern, he fails to mention who the prime suspects would be behind such a murder: Condor and, by extension, the CIAkissinger-pinochet1

Escalating the Disinformation

The New York Times has long censored its coverage of Latin America, particularly when it comes to the covert actions of the US government to undermine popular democracy in what Washington considers to be its “backyard.” But this particular piece by Romero takes that censorship to the level of the absurd.

He even fails to note, in an aside mentioning the recent exhumation of the body of the late Palestine Authority leader Yasser Arafat, who died mysteriously of unknown causes in 2004, that Swiss medical experts had found traces of the rare and highly toxic element Polonium on his clothing. Such a finding, which was published in the respected British medical journal, the Lancet, makes it probable that Arafat was poisoned. Only a limited number of intelligence agencies have ready access to Polonium, among them agencies in the US, USSR and Israel, the latter of which had long made its dislike of Arafat clear, at one point in 2002 threatening to bomb him as he holed up in the badly damaged Palestinian Authority headquarters.

Joao Goulart

Joao Goulart (left)

It should come as no surprise that Romero, a long-time South American correspondent for the Times who is currently posted to Brazil, would write such an article so blatantly censoring out the history of US covert action in Latin America. Romero also notoriously wrote an absurd scare story, based solely upon Defense Intelligence Agency data, purporting to show that Venezuela was becoming a regional military threat, though as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted, Venezuela’s military at the time was dwarfed by both Colombia’s and Brazil’s and was 1/500th the size of the US military.

To give Romero his due, though, the problem is larger than one reporter. Indeed, transforming the horrific doings of this country into “honey isn’t that fascinating” folkloric excursions is nothing new—and not limited to any oneTimesman or woman. Indeed, using “cultural tradition” to explain why anyone would want to exhume popular figures who died under suspicious circumstances is reminiscent of a previous New York Times article in which the author used pseudopsychology, and even neurology, to explain why some people believe in conspiracy. Another example would be the hiring of the popular filmmaker Errol Morris to make the assassination of John F. Kennedy a “delightful” example of coincidence in action via the strange case of the “Umbrella Man” on the Grassy Knoll (see this and this.)

***

When it comes to the political murders that underlie most of the current exhumations in Latin America, we have no way around what looks like theTimes’ deliberate failure to mention the potentially explosive issue of US sponsorship. That this astonishing oversight comes at a time of rising anti-American sentiment in many of the same Latin American countries seeking closure and justice cannot go unmentioned. And as we mourn these tragic deaths, we might add one more, right here in the United States: the slow death of honest journalism. It’s time to exhume the truth—everywhere.

A food distribution program aimed at expectant and new mothers and their babies may have increased the number of girls and women getting pregnant in and around the town of Savanette, located in Haiti’s Centre département(province).

That’s the perception of many residents and even beneficiaries of a USAID-funded World Vision “Multi-Year Assistance Program” (MYAP), running from 2008 through September 2013 here and in a number of communities in Haiti. As part of the MYAP, World Vision distributes food to pregnant women and mothers of children six to 23 months old (so-called “1,000 day programming”), as well as to vulnerable populations such as people living with AIDS, orphans, and malnourished children.

“There are some people getting pregnant every year” in order to get free food, claimed Carmène Louis, a former beneficiary. “That’s why there are more children around. If you want to get in the program, you can’t unless you are pregnant… You see youngsters [getting pregnant at] 12 or 15 years old! I think it’s a real problem for Savanette.”

But she also admitted that some of her neighbors were hungry, saying “things are getting worse, not better.”

While the lack of up-to-date statistics prevented Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) from verifying whether or not the birthrate had indeed risen in Savanette, an investigation carried out over the course of a year discovered that many in this village near the Dominican Republic border – including respected elders, community radio members, an agronomist, and several beneficiaries – believe the MYAP has caused girls and women to resort to pregnancy in order to receive the bulgur wheat, beans, vegetable oil, and flour at monthly distributions.

A USAID-funded report on food aid programs in Haiti appears to confirm the perception. Evaluators for the 2013 USAID-BEST Analysis noted “a rise in pregnancies in one rural area and the possibility of this phenomenon being linked to public perceptions of 1,000 days programming,” although the report did not name which “rural area.”

Like many others questioned, agronomist Ruben Louis Jeune swore to the phenomenon and expressed concern.

“There are people who get pregnant on purpose,” he said, noting that often “youngsters are making babies. The population is growing, people are having children but they will not be able to afford to take care of them or pay for school.”

Asked about the possible increased pregnancies, Haiti’s Secretary of State for the Revival of Agriculture said that, while he was not familiar with the case, it was not out of the question.

“I have worked in the Central Plateau for 15 years,” he told HGW. “If I talk to you just about the perverse effects of the programs I myself have seen in front of my eyes… there are so many!”

The World Vision MYAP program also provides pregnant women and young mothers with prenatal care as well as support for vegetable gardens, “Behavior Change Communication” education, and other benefits via “Mothers Clubs.” In addition, the program has many other aspects related to helping Haitian farmers improve their animal husbandry or crop output, including technical assistance and training for farmers associations, distribution of seeds and livestock, support for improving irrigation, and other help.

HGW did not look at those aspects of the program. Journalists focused only on the food aid and its real or perceived impacts in and around Savanette.

The food assistance program is an attempt by USAID to target vulnerable populations, especially children.

The Haitian government and foreign agencies say at least 21% of all children suffer from “stunting,” meaning they are under-weight and under-height for their age. Some provinces are worse than others, and rural children generally have a higher stunting prevalence.

Beginning in 2008, USAID funded MYAPs to be run by World Vision, ACDI/VOCA and Catholic Relief Services in three different regions of the country, providing money as well as food: about 14,000 metric tons (MT) of food aid per year during the 2011-2013 period. (The organizations received and distributed higher amounts in 2010 and 2011 as part of the earthquake response.)

...World Vision received 4,275 MT for FY2012 and approximately 3,830 MT for FY2013, which ended on September 30. The U.S.-based agency also received almost US$80 million for the grant, to which they added some of their own funding. The program cost over US$90 million for 2008-2012 and was extended for one year. (HGW could not find the cost of the additional year.)

World Vision’s food distribution programs on La Gonâve, the Central Plateau, and parts of the Artibonite province cost about US$4.5 million per year, according to the agency’s communications officer Jean-Wickens Méroné.

According to a World Vision evaluation of its own work, published in 2012, the food aid has had positive effects. During the first three years of the MYAP, the internal report says, the amount of “stunting” dropped for children aged six to 59 months went from 23.5% to 6%.

Food aid is “more negative than positive”

Some in and around Savanette are undernourished. In the last two years of FEWSNET reports, the Savanette region is pretty consistently considered “stressed,” which is #2 on a scale of #1 to #5, #1 being “no food insecurity” and #5 being “catastrophe/famine.”

“There is hunger here,” agronomist Jeune noted. “The distribution of food is not in and of itself a problem. It has a small positive impact, but when you investigate, you see that it is more negative than positive.”

Like Jeune, farmers and residents of Savanette have many questions about the program, which comes on of decades of food aid.

In addition to the real or perceived pregnancy increase, HGW also discovered that farmers and agronomists are convinced food aid has helped create a culture of dependence, discouraging people from working all of their plots and planting formerly important grains like sorghum. It has also encouraged consumers to buy imported rice rather than buy or grow sorghum, corn, and other crops, as in the past.

Even beneficiaries raised questions about the program. In the fall of 2012, HGW journalists queried 25 beneficiary families. All of them said they had land and were farmers. Two-thirds said that – given the option – they would prefer to receive seeds to food aid. (Some beneficiaries said they did receive a one-time donation of vegetable seeds.)

Merilus Derius, 71, said he thinks the younger generations do seem to want to farm, and he added that they not value some the foods he grew up eating.

“People are neglecting their fields!” the farmer told HGW. “Before, we used to be able to live off our land.”

While Derius admitted that environmental degradation and other factors have contributed to decreased agricultural output he also blamed the invasion of food aid and cheap foreign food, which people buy instead of local products.

“Now we have this food called ‘rice husks.’ In the Dominican Republic, they give it to animals. In Haiti, people eat it! But before, farmers grew sorghum and ground it. They grew Congo peas, planted potatoes, planted manioc. On a morning like this, a farmer would make his coffee and then – using a thing called ‘top-top,’ a little mill – he would crush sugar cane and boil the sugar cane water, and eat cassava bread, and he would have good health!” he said. “When you lived off your garden, you were independent… But when your stomach depends on someone else, you are not independent.”

World Vision does not believe its program creates dependency because most of the program is concerned with helping farmers improve their production.

“It is a program that encourages resiliency and independence, after a certain period,” World Vision’s Director of Operations, Lionel Isaac, told HGW.

Indeed, it would be unfair to blame the World Vision program for all of Savanette’s woes. Jeune, other agronomists, and farmers like Derius hope that the plethora of recently announced government and foreign agricultural projects will help their region, which is capable of producing sorghum, corn, many kinds of vegetables and fruits, tubers, and livestock products like milk. The area has a lot of potential, Jeune said, but archaic farming methods, with few or no agricultural inputs, keep it from being self-sufficient.

“All of the communes produce food,” Jeune noted. “If farmers had technical assistance, they would make more money and the quality would improve also.”

Questions About a Food Distribution

On March 18, 2013, HGW journalists observed a food distribution that raised questions about how beneficiaries are treated.

Food was handed out to people who had stood in line for many hours, sometimes to groups who would divide it up. Journalists witnessed shoving and even fighting, as well as older women sitting on the ground, picking individual lentil beans.

“At a lot of distributions, you see pushing,” Jeune told HGW. “Old people are sometimes hurt. Even if food is being handed out, basic principals should be respected.”

Questioned in 2012, about one-third of 25 beneficiaries said they had been mistreated during food distributions.

World Vision workers did not want HGW to videotape the March 18 distribution where – at the end of the distribution – some food had not been handed out.

“You can’t film here!” one of the men yelled, shoving the journalists. Along with others, he tried to force journalists to turn off their camera and leave.

Members of the community radio station and other bystanders protected the journalists, who were eventually allowed to continue their work. World Vision officials in the capital later apologized for the attack, saying they had disciplined the employees.

Haiti Grassroots Watch is a collaboration of two Haitian organizations, Groupe Medialternatif/Alterpresse and the Society for the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS), along with students from the Faculty of Human Sciences at the State University of Haiti and members of two networks – the network of women community radio broadcasters (REFRAKA) and the Association of Haitian Community Media (AMEKA), which is comprised of community radio stations located across the country. This series produced by HGW is distributed in collaboration with Haiti Liberté.

French President François Hollande has demanded answers from US President Barack Obama about the National Security Agency’s spying on French citizens.

In a statement, Hollande also expressed his deep disapproval of Washington’s eavesdropping on millions of French people’s phone calls. Hollande said spying activities between allies are not acceptable because it is a violation of French citizens’ privacy.

Meanwhile the US says some claims by the French press about its information-gathering are distorted. Earlier, the US State Department announced that it does not want to see its ties with France damaged due to the issue.

Transcript

Press TV: When the earlier revelations came by Snowden initially, it was understood that this was just the tip of the iceberg. However it seems the US is gaining the wrath of many, many governments around the world. What do you make of the recent revelations?

Schechter: Well Obama administration prided itself on its technological savvy and sophistication. Obama’s re-election was partly a function of their mastery of what is called big data.

They were able to use technology with great sophistication, but now they are being undermined by technology, a technology that they do not have under their control. One of the problems they are having is with the website for the Health Care Plan which Obama has vested his entire administration on. They cannot get people to sign up because the websites are not working and now this.

The NSA has become a global issue not just an American problem. You have revelations that have taken place in Brazil, in Mexico and now in France with people outraged when they have learned that the United States government is spying on them.

These are countries that are considered our allies. There were protest in France probably bigger and louder protest and there have been even in United States against NSA overreach, NSA spying on Americans and now people all over the world.

This is not good, not for the Obama administration because it seems that the entire NSA operation is out of control. Perhaps that is why General Alexander, the adman has suddenly stepped down. I am sure he was pushed and he did not do it voluntarily.

But you know this problem is not going to go away. Snowden has many more revelations to drop. There has been an announcement that a billionaire [Pierre] Omidar who is connected to eBay, who made a fortune on eBay is now financing Glenn Greenwald and other journalists who have been investigating this surveillance abuses.

So what we have to look forward to, if you want to call it that, is more revelations that are going to be damaging and embarrassing to the United States government. This cannot be very good.

Press TV: But Mr. Schechter, how concerned is the US government in actuality considering, with regards to this recent revelation the White house just responded, hey everybody does it?

Schechter: Well of course they are justifying, they are rationalizing. They are attempting to minimize the impact of it all, everyone does it, but everyone does not have the global reach of an NSA that is interfering.

You know I am sure that if we discover that the Chinese intelligence was investigating the habits and consumer practices of most Americans, there would be a tremendous outcry in this country. They have the capacity to do it possibly. Are they doing it? Probably not.

So the United States is involved in a high profiled espionage effort that is only causing more problems for the United States and I think we are going to see more revelations in the weeks and months ahead.


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Slavery in Qatar

October 24th, 2013 by Global Research News

Almost all of the Qatari labor force is made up of foreign workers.  They are several times more numerous than the normal citizenry.  These workers are employed under the kafala system, under which they are indentured to a Qatari sponsor.  A worker cannot leave the country or change employment, get a driver’s license, or rent a home without the sponsor’s consent.

The Qatari Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Abdallah Saleh Al Khulaifi has acknowledged inadequate enforcement of laws and regulations on conditions of workers.  The sponsor is prohibited from holding a passport after the worker has been cleared by Immigration.  He is required to pay wages promptly, and hours of work in extreme heat are limited.  Workers are to have access to drinking water and health care.  He said that his ministry would be hiring more inspectors to enforce the rules and more interpreters to be able to communicate with the workers.

Conditions of foreign workers have become an acute concern because Qatar is slated to be the venue for the 2020 world cup of soccer.

Some critics contend that Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers is so appalling that the venue should be shifted, especially since these workers are building the facilities for the games.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, charged, “Foreign workers in Qatar are modern-day slaves to their local employers.  The local Qatari owns you.”

The Reuters account spoke of withholding wages as well as passports, and work shifts which can be as long as 16 hours.  A Guardian article this month reported 70 Nepali construction workers having died since the beginning of last year.

British Prime Minister David Cameron pointedly noted that there were no deaths in construction for the 2012 Olympics in London.

According to Nepali Union officials, lack of safety equipment results in workers falling to their deaths.  Burrow said, “Scores are dying from heat exhaustion and dehydration after 12-hour shifts in blazing heat, often during the night in squalid and cramped labor camps with no ventilation and appalling hygiene.”

Some 340,000 Nepalis work in Qatar.  Their remittances make up more than 20% of Nepal’s Gross Domestic Product.  When it became known that Nepal’s ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma, had referred to Qatar as “an open jail,” the government, in response to Qatar’s complaint, recalled her for her inappropriate remarks.  Nepal’s government is led by self-described Maoists, who apparently love those remittances.  What would Karl Marx have said?

Will FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) stick with Qatar as the site of the 2020 world cup? It shouldn’t.

Copyright Canadian Charger 2013

The United States of War: An Addiction to Imperialism

October 24th, 2013 by Solomon Comissiong

The U.S. is Number One is weapons of war and domestic civilian gun deaths – and very little else. Historically, peace has not been a priority for the United States, which has waged war every decade since 1776. “The people must demand an end to war, not because it costs trillions of dollars, but because it cost millions of lives.”

A common description for the term addiction is, the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences, or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors…” This definition is most appropriate in regard to the world’s most destructive killing machine – the United States military. The United States government has long developed an acquired taste for war. And because much of the US population is completely obsequious to whatever their duplicitous government tells them, they, too, have become complacent to a perpetual state of war. Americans punch-drunk on nationalism fail to realize that “their” government is beholden to the interests of imperialism, not their general well being. Like well controlled puppets they chant, “USA number one”, over and over and over again, failing to ever question what “their” country is actually number one in.

The mental sickness of “American Exceptionalism” maintains the asylum known as American society. American Exceptionalism designs baseless sayings like, “USA number one.” US society is an extremely competitive and insecure environment. Ultimately, a place that encourages its citizens to ritualistically chant how good they are is not so sure of itself. Either that, or it does not wish the Hoi Polloi to ever question their government at all. The US is not number one in quality of life, education or overall healthcare. The USA is not even the happiest nation in the world, by a long shot. However, a few things the United States is number one in are: incarceration, gun related deaths and yes, military expenditure.

These are among some of the unsavory rubrics in which the US reigns supreme. If Americans meant any of those areas when they blindly chant, “USA number one”, then they would be spot on, especially when it comes to military “firepower.” With around 1,000 military bases, well over 10,000 nuclear warheads, and an almost constant state of war, the US is numero uno, without rival. The US is an imperialist monster with a voracious appetite for destruction. It has an uncontrollable appetite for war, caring little what it murders on its way toward global domination. This is evident in the vast number of civilians killed as a result of the US’s military campaigns. The vast majority of people murdered when the US decides to unleash its war machine, are, in fact, civilians. This is news to most Americans because they have been socially programmed to not even think about civilian casualties. They only worry about US military casualties as if those are the only lives that matter. Thinking about the catastrophic impact their government’s wars inflict upon innocent people, in “far off lands”, is well beyond many Americans’ social radar. This mode of thinking (or lack there of) has conditioned numerous Americans to lose vast segments of their humanity.

It is of little surprise that the United States government cares little about the “adverse consequences” that come with being constantly entrenched in war and global conflict. However, when the populace have adopted that inhumane way of thinking it paves a destructive road that we are traveling upon. The people are the ones whose responsibility it is to, not request, but demand an end to these wars of imperialism. Unfortunately, the United States’ mind control program, otherwise known as corporate media, has had a firm grip on the conscience of many Americans. This fact continues to prevent Americans from understanding that the people being terrorized by the US’s imperialist wars, are human beings – just like them. It especially prevents them from understanding that people in places like Afghanistan are, in fact, being terrorized by the US military.

Americans have bought into the orchestrated mythology that “their country,” when it enters/instigates a war, is doing so for some sort of benevolent reasons. Historically speaking, this could not be further from the truth, especially when we consider the number of civilians killed. Since World War I there has been a complete reversal of civilian deaths. During World War I, 10% of all casualties were civilians. During World War II, the number of civilian deaths rose to 50%. During the Vietnam War 70% of all casualties were civilians. In the war in Iraq, civilians account for 90% of all deaths. And when we look at the number of civilians killed by way of George Bush and Barack Obama’s drone strikes (alone), more that 90 percent of the victims have been civilians. However, don’t look at the fourth branch of the US government (the corporate media), to inform you of this. They, like the Pentagon and White House, could not give a damn about the number of innocent civilians killed. When former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and Secretary of State) Colin Powell was asked, in 1991, about the number of Iraqi civilians killed as a result of the US Gulf War against Iraq, he simply stated: “Its not a number I’m terribly interested in.” It is important to note that the Associated Press at the time quoted US military officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, estimating that the number of Iraqi dead at 100,000. However, other independent estimates place the number much higher. Not surprising, the Pentagon refused to provide an estimate of the number of dead Iraqi civilians.

The shear lack of regard for human life, especially that of civilians, is akin to that of a serial killer. The US military apparatus operates like that of a pathological killing machine with lust for war. The history of the United States more than backs up this assertion, especially when we consider the fact that since the US’s “founding” in 1776, this country has been at war 216 of those years. That’s right, out of the US’s 237 year existence it has been engaged in military conflict 216 of those years. If that is not an addiction to war, this author does not know what is. The US has never gone a decade without being engaged in some sort of military conflict.

United States imperialism is destroying the world, one nation at time. And within those nations are living breathing human beings. Is it really hard to fathom why many people despise the US? It has nothing to do with Americans’ so-called “freedoms” – instead, it has everything to do with the military destruction of their countries. The politicians that ultimately control the US military care little about the soldiers they command to fight in their capitalist conquests of wealth and resources. And they certainly could not give a damn about the innocent civilians in places like Libya, Pakistan and Yemen. They are not concerned with how they are perceived by much of the globe; they are only concerned with maintaining their imperialist advancements and control. You are either “with them” or “against them”; there is no middle ground. And for these reasons it should be crystal clear why people living within the United State must care.

Organized critical masses of concerned people must serve as the moral compass, and rehabilitation, needed to end the US’s addiction to war. Bluntly put, humanity depends on it. The people must demand an end to war, not because it costs trillions of dollars, but because it cost millions of lives. There is no dollar amount that can be used to measure a human’s life. All human life must be seen as invaluable, period. An American life is no more valuable than that of someone from any country in which the U.S. is waging war. The financial cost of war is enormous and is an issue, in and of itself – however, this cost pales in comparison to the cost of human life.

We must unite and be prepared to organize to end the culture of war within the US. Ending the culture of war in this country will pave the way for wars to cease globally, especially since the US global war footprint is virtually everywhere. Creating a culture of peace begins with changing our acceptance of the United States’ addiction to war. Demanding this radical, yet humane, change to take place is paramount if we are to mold a brighter future for subsequent generations. Peace starts with all of us. It is one of the most important tasks before us. We must be firmly against war, in addition to being for peace. They go hand in hand. Now is the time to start building that brighter and more humane future.

Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, and the host of the Your World News media collective (www.yourworldnews.org). Mr. Comissiong is also a founding member of the Pan-African collective for Advocacy & Action. Solomon is the author of A Hip Hop Activist Speaks Out on Social Issues. He can be reached at: [email protected].

As the US and NATO begin to pull out of Afghanistan what might wonder and attempt to fathom what they have achieved by invading and occupying the country for over a decade.

According to Voice of Russia regular Rick Rozoff, manager of Stop NATO website, the entire campaign has been a debacle. Mr. Rozoff is another voice repeating what has clearly been discovered to be the US strategy in the Middle East: import murderous terrorists and Al-Qaeda fanatical mercenaries into a country and use them to destroy it and divide it up.

Hello, this is John Robles, I am speaking with Rick Rozoff, the owner of Stop NATO and the Stop NATO international mailing list.

Rozoff: The US supports what are clearly unprovoked, armed attacks by insurgents who are in most instances based in outside countries, usually contiguous ones but not necessarily, and then they launch what are just murderous raids inside the country. When the government then takes measures to protect the civilian population and government personnel including elementary letter carriers or school teachers or police officers.

They are then accused of disproportionate use of force, of gross human rights violations and then the US, increasingly now and recent years under the so-called Responsibility to Protect proviso, then intervenes militarily on behalf of these armed brigands and bandits, calling them rebels in most cases. That’s what happened in Libya.

So what you had was for 19 days the fairly recently inaugurated US Africa Command, that’s the first overseas regional military command created by the United States since the end of the Cold War, we should note, has to then be tried out, has to be tested and it was. For 19 days they launched so-called Operation Odyssey Dawn and absolutely blistered Libya with Tomahawk cruise missile attacks, bombing raids, Hellfire missiles and drones, without any…long surpassing any pretense of their intervening to protect the civilian population, and then NATO picks up under Operation Unified Protector and launches something like 30,000 air sorties over the country, almost 10,000 combat sorties.

This is a small country of six million people. And this goes on for six months, of concentrated NATO air bombardment. And the end result is, not surprisingly, people like ourselves warned people exactly what was going to come out of this, which is what we see now: is that the country is divided into three basically, based on tribal and other differences, that rival militias and little armed groupings that may vary from day to day in terms of their allegiance or their composition are fighting over the spoils.

But at the same time, again, NATO was reiterated, just in recent weeks in the last two or three weeks, NATO has reiterated they’re prepared (NATO is prepared) to provide military training and guidance to the armed forces of Libya, where there are no armed forces of Libya, you indicated that in your comment.

So what you have instead is something, almost like the Thirty Years’ War in Europe in the early 1600s: Rival groups of looters fighting for dominance in a given area.

Robles: Let’s not denigrate the Libyan people too much here because I mean, there is an army in Libya. I mean it’s fragmented, it’s weak but there is a loyal core army in Libya but they are having a very difficult time fighting all these groups that were armed to the teeth.

Rozoff: Then NATO steps in and arms them and trains them, much as they did with the NATO Training Mission – Iraq, NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, and they walk in and they train a central army, central armed forces in Libya, to fight the very same Islamic extremists that you indicated, that they bombed the country on behalf of for six months.

Robles: About NATO and Georgia, now it seems like they are focusing very closely on Georgia. Where do you see that going? Japan has been there recently. A post on your site says that they are going to be included in the Global Strike Force. Can you tell us about that?

Rozoff: Yes, Georgia remains a major linchpin for US and NATO interests. In the words of various pro-US Georgian officials, really proxies, like Mikhail Saakashvili, who has repeatedly referred to his country as being the gateway between Europe and Asia, which in fact it is geographically, and politically perhaps less so, but the intent is, the geopolitical purpose of Georgia, is to plant the US and its NATO allies squarely really where not only Europe and Asia meet but Europe and Asia and the Middle East meet with Africa not too far away, and of course we know there has been a whole series of pipelines: gas, natural gas, rail lines, other fairly strategic enterprises under way, or projects under way, of which Georgia is the pivot or the centerpiece. But what is happening most recently is just today one of the NATO websites announced that Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, announced Georgia will now join the NATO Response Force to bring this discussion full circle. That is, the global military expeditionary force that NATO is crafting, even though Georgia, of course, is not a full member of NATO at this point.

The other allusion you make is even more fascinating. The fact that the Japanese delegation met with the Defense Ministry, meet at the Defense Ministry in Georgia and the photograph on the Ministry of Defense of Georgia’s website showed a Japanese officer in a military uniform shaking hands with the defense minister of Georgia.

Japan has insinuated itself into Georgia for energy purposes. You know that ultimately the oil and natural gas that’s to flow from the Caspian Sea through Georgia into the Eastern Mediterranean or Eastern Europe…

Robles: Yeah, but Japan?

Rozoff: … could also go in the opposite direction, into East Asia.

Robles: I suppose. Very strange to see Japan in Georgia, I was quite astounded by that.

Rozoff: Well, this is where Japan and Germany finally link up, how many years later, almost 70 years later. Whatever they had intended during World War II, here they meet in the Caucasus. The German military influence already established there and a Japanese military official, that was the phenomenal thing about that photograph.

Had they even simply sent a civilian in Japanese defense (so-called Self-Defense Force), their equivalent of a defense ministry, over there, that’s one thing, but to send a military official suggests something is on their mind and in the post-Afghanistan world, post-Afghan war world, NATO in it’s own words -and I’m roughly paraphrasing it – is looking for some way of applying the lessons of Afghanistan elsewhere in the world and the Caucuses, the South Caucuses may indeed be where they intend to move.

Robles: The lessons of Afghanistan? A more than decade long quagmire!? What lessons are there to be applied? I think the main lesson to be applied is fight for peace and keep the soldiers at home. And stop invading other countries.

Rozoff: That&# 39;s how a sensible and sane and humane person would look at it, that’s precisely why NATO views it from the opposite perspective, and what NATO officials talk about, Rasmussen in the first place, is Afghanistan. This is something I’ve contended from the very beginning and we do have to note that as of October 7th, that is at least hear in Chicago three days ago, we are now in year 13 of the US and NATO war in Afghanistan. Year 13.

Robles: It’ s longer than Vietnam already.

Rozoff: It has been for a while, but this is certainly the longest war in American history. It’s NATO’s first war in Asia. It’s NATO first ground war.

Prior to this NATO essentially waged air wars over the Bosnian Serb Republic and then in Yugoslavia in 1999, but what NATO officials are alluding to is the fact that under the structure of the International Security Assistance Force, that NATO took over shortly after the invasion of the country, that troops from over 50 countries, over 50 countries were integrated into a common military command under NATO leadership and that’s something that the world has not taken note of sufficiently in my estimate, and it’s a fact that NATO in fact has reached that degree of integrating a global military force. And when the NATO officials talk about deriving the necessary lessons and so forth from Afghanistan that’s what they are talking about. They are talking about the ability to put out an integrated military command including troops in over a quarter of the countries in the world.

Robles: Another point I think that no one is paying attention to though: I would say, Afghanistan, was a complete failure.

Rozoff: Yeah, it has been a debacle, it truly has. You know, for a while I think there was a fallback position which was: the US and company didn’t want to win the war, they wanted to maintain military presence in that general area, but now it looks like they may well leave with their tails between their legs. And hundreds of thousands of Afghan people killed, maimed, displaced, traumatized, an entire generation of Afghan children who in many parts of the country never been to school, have no future. This is the legacy that they are going to leave behind. And they could leave, callously indifferent to the consequences of their intervention. But you know, the Afghan people are going to bear the consequences, of course.

Robles: Okay, Rick, I really appreciate you speaking with me.

Rozoff: Yes, thanks for the opportunity. I appreciate it. What I said about the invigorating conversations, the sort creating new ideas is absolutely the truth.

Robles: Thank you very much, Rick. I really appreciate it.

 

The U.S. pounced on the island nation of Grenada like an “elephant on a flea,” 30 years ago, to wipe out the remnants of a revolution. Adding insult to injury (and violation of international law), the U.S. pretended that Grenadians didn’t fight back. Instead, “for weeks, the Americans claimed to be chasing an elusive force of Cuban super-soldiers around island.”

Thirty years ago, on October 25, 1983, the United States sent 6,000 elite troops to overwhelm the Caribbean nation of Grenada, an island of less than 100,000 inhabitants that had been governed by the revolutionary New Jewel Movement since 1979. Although the announced pretext for the invasion was a nonexistent threat to American medical students on the island, Operation Urgent Fury had been rehearsed two years earlier, in a 1981 war game against the island nation of “Amber and the Amberdines,” a fictional stand-in for Grenada and the Grenadines.

Washington’s larger, strategic rationale for marshalling overwhelming force against an unoffending, 133 square mile pinpoint of a country off the coast of Venezuela, whose biggest export was nutmeg and whose security forces probably numbered no more than 1,200, was that Cuba and/or the Soviets were poised to turn Grenada into a military and/or “terrorist” base. A new and desperately needed airport was under construction, paid for by Britain, the former colonial master, Cuba, Libya, and Algeria, with Cuba supplying the bulk of construction workers. The runway, just south of the gorgeous arc of Grand Anse beach and the tiny capital city, St. George’s, would finally allow tourists to enter Grenada by commercial jet, replacing the perilous propeller drop into a narrow strip between a mountain and the ocean on the island’s northern shore.

Objectively, the old airport was the most dangerous thing about Grenada, where the mostly white medical school students constituted the largest foreign presence and life was laid-back, even by Caribbean standards. Grenada’s real threat was ideological. Its youthful, Marxist-oriented government, Washington feared, might serve as a model for others in the hemisphere – “another Cuba,” or Nicaragua, whose Sandinista revolutionaries had also come to power in 1979.

Although conquest of Grenada presented no real military challenge for the superpower, the island’s very minuteness made U.S. invasion politically problematical. The Reagan administration found itself oscillating between characterizing the aggression as a rescue mission to save American students, to an urgent strategic counter-move in the global fight against communism (“US Delegate in UN Calls Invasion an Act of Defense,” read the October 28 New York Times headline), or some combination of the two, as in the Washington Post’s October 26 headline, “Strategic Airport, Hostage Fear Led to Move.”

Operation Urgent Fury was most urgently opportunistic. A long-simmering political crisis within the New Jewel Movement led, disastrously, to the house arrest of popular Prime Minister Maurice Bishop by other members of the ruling party, on October 12. Bishop and a crowd of supporters later marched on army headquarters, at Fort Rupert, on October 19, in a bid to take back power. Many were killed in the fighting, Bishop and other officials were executed, and the country was placed under marshal law. U.S. forces, which appeared to have been made ready early in the Grenadian political crisis, hit the beaches and parachuted onto the unfinished airport runway on October 25.

The Grenadian armed forces put up what resistance they could, given the overwhelming firepower and numbers of the enemy and the fratricidal trauma the Grenadian nation had just undergone. However, the superpower could not allow itself to be seen as an elephant stomping on a flea. Therefore, all dead bodies recovered on the island were initially designated as “Cuban,” except for the 21 patients and staff killed in the U.S. bombing of the mental hospital, at St. George’s, in the first day of the invasion. The official line, dutifully parroted by the press, was that only Cuban soldiers – 1,100 of them – had resisted the American assault. In fact, Cuban nationals on the island numbered only about 700, most of them unarmed, pot-bellied construction workers. Cuban military personnel defended only their embassy. Twenty-four Cubans died in the early days of the invasion, along with probably several hundred Grenadian military. But, for weeks, the Americans claimed to be chasing an elusive force of Cuban super-soldiers around island. The New York Times relayed a U.S. military estimate that 500 Cubans had “fled into the hills.” These phantom Cubans live on in the 1986 Clint Eastwood movie Heartbreak Ridge, in which Eastwood and his platoon do battle with Castro’s men in the hills of the island. (For Fidel Castro’s remarks at the funeral of Cuba’s real-life casualties in Grenada, click HERE.)

By November 13, three weeks into the invasion, the New York Times was still reporting that Grenadians have been passive in the invasion of their own country. “Grenadians Toll Put by U.S. at 21: Americans Appear to Believe that All Combatants Killed in Battle Were Cubans.” The bombing of the mental hospital, where the only acknowledged Grenadian fatalities occurred, was an “accident,” said the Reagan administration. Indeed, the U.S. action was not an “invasion” at all, but an “intervention.” The New York Times loyally purged “invasion” from its vocabulary until the last phantom Cuban disappeared from the Grenadian hills.

The Grenada invasion was, in a sense, simply a continuation of U.S. “gunboat diplomacy” in the Western Hemisphere, as was practiced as late as 1965, in the invasion-intervention of the Dominican Republic, which was also undertaken under the hybrid rationales of “not another Cuba” and “rescue of American nationals.” However, Grenada may have been the first U.S. occupation in which members of the native government and armed forces that had evaded death or capture were immediately dubbed “fugitives” – outlaws in their own land, where they had been the lawful and recognized authority, only days before.

Today, the airport at Point Salines that represented such an imminent threat to U.S. national security is named for martyred Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, the revolutionary who was the villain of Ronald Reagan’s mock attack on “Amber and the Amberdines,” but whose death provided the opportunity for the actual invasion of his homeland.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected]. He authored the book, The Big Lie: Analysis of U.S. Press Coverage of the Grenada Invasion (IOJ, Prague), now out of print.

According to Kyunghyang Shinmun (Major daily newspaper in South Korea -Source), Oct. 21, 2013:

Japan‘s Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, promoting Tokyo as the site for the 2020 Summer Olympics, said to the International Olympic Committee: “Some may have concerns about Fukushima. Let me assure you, the situation is under control. It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.” [...] To [journalist Hirose Takashi], Abe‘s words were a bald-faced lie. And he decided to make this lie known to the world, especially the world of sports. He has written A Letter to All Young Athletes Who Dream of Coming to Tokyo in 2020, and to Their Coaches and Parents: Some Facts You Should Know. [...] to conceal from them the truth about Tokyo today is not merely unkind; it is criminal. [...]

Excerpts from Hirose’s letter:

[...] Inside Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactors #1 – #3 the pipes (which had circulated cooling water) are broken, which caused a meltdown. This means the nuclear fuel overheated, melted, and continued to melt anything it touched. Thus it melted through the bottom of the reactor, and then through the concrete floor of the building, and sank into the ground. [...] for two and a half years TEPCO workers have been desperately pouring water into the reactor, but it is not known whether the water is actually reaching the melted fuel. [...] Only the fact that irradiated water is leaking onto the surface of the ground around the reactor is reported. But deep under the surface the ground water is also being irradiated, and the ground water flows out to sea and mixes with the seawater through sea-bottom springs. It is too late to do anything about this. [...] It’s a sad story, but this is the present situation of Japan and of Tokyo. I had loved the Japanese food and this land until the Fukushima accident occurred.

 

Fiasco Obamacare Debut

October 24th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is rife with problems. It’s a ripoff. It’s a boon to healthcare providers. It scams most enrollees.

It’s not universal as promised. It leaves millions of Americans uninsured. It leaves most others woefully underinsured.

US healthcare already is unaffordable. Obamacare makes it more so. It lawlessly invades privacy. It compromises a fundamental human right.

Martin Luther King once said:11

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in heath care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Obamacare mandates making a failed system worse. It guarantees inequality. It institutionalizes it. It does so legally.

Dr. Margaret Flowers is a universal single-payer activist. She’s a Physicians for a National Health Program congressional fellow. She’s US Green Shadow Cabinet Secretary of Health.

She’s a Healthcare-NOW! board member. It addresses America’s health insurance crisis. Obamacare made it worse. Dr. Flowers calls it “perhaps the greatest corporate scam ever.”

Healthcare giants wrote the law. It assures greater than ever profits. It’s at the expense of proper healthcare. “(S)hoddy products” insurers offer don’t provide it, said Dr. Flowers.

US-style healthcare doesn’t work. It’s the world’s most expensive by far. It provides the least bang for the buck. “It means that people only receive the health care they can afford, not what they need,” explains Dr. Flowers.

It “leaves tens of millions without coverage.” It “lowers the bar on what is considered to be acceptable insurance coverage.”

Most plans offered mandate huge deductibles and co-pays. Doing so means unaffordable out-of-pocket costs for tens of millions.

Federal subsidies for America’s poor are woefully inadequate. Millions live from paycheck to paycheck. Limited resources make expensive treatments unaffordable.

Medical expense debt is the nation’s leading cause of personal bankruptcies. Healthcare gets increasingly more expensive. Insurers scam the system for profit.

According to Dr. Flowers, “expect them to justify higher premiums and to push for lower levels of coverage or fewer required services. And we can expect (federal and state authorities to be) compliant, as they have been.”

Healthcare isn’t a commodity. It’s a fundamental human right. Privatizing it is polar opposite of what’s needed. “We need Medicare for all now,” says Dr. Flowers.

Everyone in! No one left out! Everybody gets identical coverage. Illness guarantees equal treatment. ACA assures separate and unequal. For many, it means pay or die.

October 1 was ACA rollout day. Web site access problems accompanied it. Millions needing to enroll in healthcare exchanges can’t do so. What should have been simple is nightmarish.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Washington had years to get ready. Failure perhaps is a metaphor for what never should been enacted in the first place.

On Monday, Obama acknowledged ongoing problems. At the same time, he minimized their severity. He didn’t explain what went wrong, why, when they’ll be fixed, or how to cope in the meantime.

Insurers are notifying customers their coverage is cancelled. It’s because they’re not complying with new ACA mandates.

Kaiser Health News said “Florida Blue is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80% of its individual policies in the state.”

Kaiser Permanente in California notified 160,000 customers they’re out. Pittsburgh’s Highmark dropped about 20% of its enrollees. Independence Blue Cross of Philadelphia cancelled about 45% of theirs.

Much the same thing is happening across America. ACA is barely three weeks old. Imagine how much worse things may get.

Obama lied saying if you like your coverage you can keep it. False! Force-fed options substitute. ACA institutionalized inequality.

Millions are denied a fundamental human right. Millions more won’t get enough of it to matter when they most need it.

New York Times editors were some of ACA’s biggest boosters. They shamed themselves in the process. Even they expressed outrage over its “chaotic debut.”

Unless serious problems are “fixed soon, they threaten to undermine” the entire system, they said.

“The administration created the Web site so the buck stops with high officials.” Health and Human Services and Obama “allowed this to happen.” They bear full responsibility.

Excuses offered don’t wash. Enrollment procedures were supposed to be easy. Technical problems weren’t supposed to happen.

Experts involved in fixing things say they’re extensive. Perhaps months are needed to resolve them.

Millions are justifiably angry. They’re frustrated. They’re not sure what to do. Accountability is largely absent. Putting lipstick on this pig doesn’t wash.

Obama’s signature initiative flopped on launch. Ahead expect things to get worse, not better. At issue isn’t enrolling.

It’s what’s covered, what isn’t, cost, affordability, insurers gaming the system, and providing expensive treatments only to those who can pay for them out-of-pocket.

Obamacare’s sick start reflects self-inflicted incompetence. Obama blamed snafus on system overloading. Search engines like Google handle billions of monthly visitors. They do so routinely.

Washington operates the world’s most sophisticated supercomputers. Failure to get things right initially suggests lots more trouble ahead. Confidence once lost is hard to regain.

Consumer Reports (CR) reacted. After three weeks of testing, it said “stay away from Healthcare.gov for at least another month if you can.” Abstain until major problems plaguing it are fixed.

“Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they’ve made.”

“The coverage available through the marketplaces won’t begin until Jan. 1, 2014, at the earliest, and you have until Dec. 15 to enroll if you need insurance that starts promptly.”

In ACA’s first week, CR estimates about 270,000 people enrolled successfully. Nearly 9.5 million others tried and failed.

A week after launch, CR called Healthcare.gov “barely operational.” On October 10, it said:

“(I)t’s still next to impossible to create a user name and password that you can actually use to sign in.”

“(F)ive times (failed) without success. Our readers report similar frustrations.”

One wrote:

“Have been trying for a week, at least 10 times a day.  Have yet to get through the process.”

Another said:

“Created account on 10/6 but unable to access it since then – get an error message saying that my account is not valid.’ What a waste of my time.”

“I have not been able to log in and I have tried 47 times,” said a visitor to CR’s Facebook’s page of its online interactive HealthLawHelper.org site.

The only good news, said CR, is that “consumers coming to Healthcare.gov are no longer stopped cold by an error message or a screen saying they’ve been put in a waiting line.”

On October 16, CR offered tips on Healthcare.gov registering. “We got advice from a pro software tester,” it said.

(1) “Follow instructions when creating a user name.”

It’s not easy. Instructions are garbled. They’re needlessly complicated.

(2) “Move on immediately from failed logins.”

“(D)on’t believe all the status and error messages. They may not always match reality.”

If what’s tried doesn’t work, use a different name, password and security question. Test to see if anything works.

(3) “Check your inbox frequently.”

If enrollment succeeds, “you should receive an ‘account activation’ e-mail (confirmation) within a few hours.”

“Answer it promptly.” Otherwise, “Healthcare.gov will time you out.”

If no email arrives, you’re back to square one. Start over.

(4) “Clear your cookies.”

If logging in to Healthcare.gov fails, most likely previous visits got your browser overloaded with them.

They exceed what the site can handle. It’s one of many design errors. “(E)ither delete the cookies from your browser or log back in from” an alternative one.

If that’s too much to handle, do nothing for several weeks. Then try again.

Marketplace coverage begins on January 1. Assuring it requires enrolling by December 15. Obamacare’s rocky start suggests doing so won’t be easy.

Millions already experienced error messages, delays, crashes, and stuck accounts.

Tech experts warned about problems in each enrollment step. According to healthcare consultant Dan Schuyler:

“There is grave concern that many individuals who are intent on securing coverage by (January 1) may not be able to do so by that date.”

If “problems persist another three or four weeks, those at the back of the line will not have coverage.”

Obamacare advocates knew they’d be problems. A pre-launch simulation test failed. It crashed. Federal officials went ahead as planned anyway.

Moments after midnight on October 1,  Healthcare.gov locked up. About 2,000 users couldn’t complete step one in enrolling.

When millions tried doing so, things went from bad to worse. None of this should have happened.

No one knows when problems will be resolved. It’s unclear how many bugs beset the system.  Millions wanting to enroll are stuck in limbo.

It remains to be seen what happens on January 1. Americans needing healthcare can’t wait. They need it now.

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/fiasco-obamacare-debut/

New Internet Architecture to Thwart American Spying

October 24th, 2013 by Washington's Blog

New Telecommunications Infrastructure Is Being Built to Avoid American Spying

One of India’s largest newspapers – The Hindu – reports:

Most of Brazil’s global internet traffic passes through the United States, so [the Brazilian] government plans to lay underwater fiber optic cable directly to Europe and also link to all South American nations to create what it hopes will be a network free of US eavesdropping.

A consortium of telecom and undersea cable companies competing for the contracts for the proposed BRICS cable show what they think the project should look like:

 

netw_geo

(BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.)

The BRICS countries have the muscle to pull this off.  Each of the BRICS countries are in the top 25 largest economies in the world. China has the world’s second largest economy, India is 3rd, Russia 6th, Brazil 7th, and South Africa 25th.

As Reuters notes:

* The BRICS countries make up 21 percent of global GDP. They have increased their share of global GDP threefold in the past 15 years.

* The BRICS are home to 43 percent of the world’s population.

* The BRICS countries have combined foreign reserves of an estimated $4.4 trillion.

* Intra-BRICS trade flows reached $282 billion in 2012 and are estimated to reach $500 billion by 2015. In 2002, it was $27.3 billion.

* IMF estimates of GDP per member in 2012, China $8.25 trillion, Brazil $2.43 trillion, Russia and India at $1.95 trillion each, South Africa $390.9 billion.

China is also dropping IBM hardware like a hot potato due to security concerns.  Intel and AMD may not be far behind.

Economic powerhouse Germany is also rolling out a system that would keep all data within Germany’s national borders.

New Hardware Is Being Built to Thwart Spying

Anti-virus legend and wild man John McAffee claims that he has created a $100 hardware router which will block NSA snooping:

There will be no way (for the government) to tell who you are or where you are ….

FreedomBox has been developing a similar concept for years:

And numerous other competitors will soon jump into the fray.

Of course, one of the simplest hardware solutions is to unplug.  For example, by using an air gap, duct tape or a typewriter.

New Internet Architecture Is Being Developed to Minimize  American Spying

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the organization which controls domain names and internet addresses.

ICANN has long been a U.S.-controlled organization. Even after ICANN become more international on paper, it has still been dominated by America.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the Web.   For example:

W3C tries to enforce compatibility and agreement among industry members in the adoption of new standards defined by the W3C. Incompatible versions of HTML are offered by different vendors, causing inconsistency in how Web pages are displayed. The consortium tries to get all those vendors to implement a set of core principles and components which are chosen by the consortium.

Together, ICANN and W3C – along with groups like the Internet Society and the Internet Engineering Task Force – are largely responsible for administering the electronic “plumbing” of the Web.

In response to NSA spying revelations, all of these groups just told the U.S. to pound sand.  As Tech Crunch notes:

Key Internet stakeholders, including [ICANN, W3C , Internet Society, Internet Engineering Task Force and others] have released a statement condemning pervasive government surveillance and calling for an internationalization of the Internet’s underlying framework.

***

Post-NSA revelations, the United States has lost its standing as the Internet’s defender. Instead, it has been revealed that as a country we have systematically worked to undermine its encryption, and the inherent privacy that it grants users.

Instead of keeping the Internet safe, we have built an industry designed on its subversion. And now the Internet is ready to break up with us. From the joint statement:

[The parties] expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance. [...] They called for accelerating the globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing.

Indeed, the head of ICANN has thumbed his nose at the U.S. and expressed support for Brazil’s fight against American spying.  As Agence France-Presse reports:

 

Brazil, which has slammed massive US electronic spying on its territory, said on Wednesday it would host a global summit on internet governance in April.

President Dilma Rousseff made the announcement after conferring in Brasilia with Fadi Chehade, chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

“We have decided that Brazil will host in April 2014 an international summit of governments, industry, civil society and academia” to discuss Brazil’s suggestions for upgrading Internet security, Rousseff said on Twitter.

***

Chehade heaped praise on Rousseff for using her UN General Assembly speech in September to demand measures to thwart the massive US cyber spying operation revealed by US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

***

“She spoke for all of us on that day. She expressed the world’s interest to actually find out how we are going to all live together in this new digital age,” said Chehade.

“The trust in the global internet has been punctured and now it’s time to restore this trust through leadership and institutions that can make that happen.”

New Software Is Being Developed to Help Protect Against Spying

Google has just rolled out the beta version of an anonymizing proxy service, called uProxy.  I’m not sure I trust Google – a PRISM partner to the NSA – to protect me from government snoops. But there are many other proxy services which claim that they can help protect you from the prying eyes of the NSA.

 

SecureDrop is an open-source whistleblower submission system that media organizations can install to accept documents from anonymous sources.  It was created by privacy activist and Reddit founder Aaron Swartz, with assistance from Wired editor Kevin Poulsen and security expert James Dolan (a major security audit of SecureDrop has been conducted by security expert Bruce Schneier and a team of University of Washington researchers.)

AP notes:

From Silicon Valley to the South Pacific, counterattacks to revelations of widespread National Security Agency surveillance are taking shape, from a surge of new encrypted email programs to technology that sprinkles the Internet with red flag terms to confuse would-be snoops.

***

Developer Jeff Lyon in Santa Clara, Calif., said he’s delighted if it generates social awareness, and that 2,000 users have installed it to date. He said, “The goal here is to get a critical mass of people flooding the Internet with noise and make a statement of civil disobedience.”

University of Auckland associate professor Gehan Gunasekara said he’s received “overwhelming support” for his proposal to “lead the spooks in a merry dance,” visiting radical websites, setting up multiple online identities and making up hypothetical “friends.”

And “pretty soon everyone in New Zealand will have to be under surveillance,” he said.

Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Parker Higgens in San Francisco has a more direct strategy: by using encrypted email and browsers, he creates more smoke screens for the NSA. “Encryption loses its value as an indicator of possible malfeasance if everyone is using it,” he said.

***

This week, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University released a smartphone app called SafeSlinger they say encrypts text messages so they cannot be read by cell carriers, Internet providers, employers “or anyone else.”

 

Privacy companies are changing their encryption standards to try to get around the fact that NSA has been pushing compromised encryption standards as a way to break into encrypted communications.  For example, PC World reports:

The U.S. National Security Agency’s reported efforts to weaken encryption standards have prompted an encrypted communications company [Silent Circle] to move away from cryptographic algorithms sanctioned by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

New Legal and Social Norms Are Being Implemented to Rein In Spying

European lawmakers on Monday voted to approve new data protections aimed at shielding citizens’ private communications from the NSA. The new law will target companies that pass on personal details of Europeans to U.S. law enforcement and intelligence without proper legal documentation showing that the NSA needs the information on national security grounds.

The EU is considering pulling out of the SWIFT financial transfer system.

Foreign companies are using their non-American status as a competitive advantage in competing for cloud storage customers and web users. And see this.

 “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti, Asian Indian philosopher

Last weekend, I talked my two grandsons into joining me to watch “The Fifth Estate”, the new feature film about WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. The movie is being marketed as an “action thriller” and is reportedly having a hard time competing, revenue-wise, with two current block-buster movies, “Gravity” and “Captain Phillips”. (I don’t doubt that fact because, at the end of the Saturday afternoon screening, we were the only ones left in the theater; folks who had been in the audience at the beginning had bailed out, presumably for more mindless, more entertaining fare elsewhere in the multiplex theater.)

For those  readers who are not fully aware of what WikiLeaks really is, here is a good definition from a supporter:

“WikiLeaks is an international, online, non-profit organisation which publishes information submitted by courageous whistleblowers, people with conscience. Most whistleblowers prefer to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals. Google what happened to Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. They are being hounded, hunted, criminalised, ostracized, ex-communicated by the very top people whose secret criminal deals and activities they have exposed.” The final sentence of that quote explains why tremendous courage is necessary to be a whistle-blower and why most of us are too frightened to speak out when witnessing injustice. The last phrase summarizes what is a major component of what constitutes “a profoundly sick society”.

I brought my grandsons to see the WikiLeaks film because I thought it was important to expose them to a movie about a historically important movement that was trying to respond to Krishmamurti’s concerns (about the western society he had witnessed in the first half of the 20th century). My busy, “wired-in” grandsons, like most distracted, computer game savvy, over-entertained adolescent students their age, seem to be relatively oblivious to pertinent past history – and even current events. I see the eternal truth of George Santanana’s powerful truism about the mistakes made by sick societies who are historically illiterate: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Whistle-blowers, who are all motivated by their consciences, might be our only hope.

At this point, it would be a good idea to step back to explain the title of the film [which will also illustrate the importance of Santayana’s quote]. A little background about the history of the French Revolution of 1789 is important.

Up until 1789, France had been ruled by a hereditary monarchy for centuries. French society was regarded at the time as having three groups that were subservient to the king. The three classes were known as the Three Estates. The first two “estates” represented the parasitic ruling classes that never paid taxes or contributed to French society’s economy in any significant way. The First Estate was the clergy, the Second Estate was the aristocracy/nobility and the Third Estate was comprised of the common people who did all the work. These commoners were, of course, the largest group and were also the taxpaying group, while the First and Second Estates (ruthlessly protected by an obedient, well-trained and indoctrinated professional military) never did any labor nor did they participate in the production of food or other consumer goods.  

Much later in history, elsewhere in the world, the media was given the title of The Fourth Estate, and journalists deserved the label when they were actually doing good investigative journalism by exposing the unethical behaviors and crimes of the ruling classes.

The title of the film, “The Fifth Estate”, refers to the hundreds of whistle-blowing groups like WikiLeaks, Occupy Wall Street, Catholic Worker groups, Democracy Now, Courage to Resist, antiwar groups, anti-nuclear groups, the 9/11 Truth movement, Earth First, etc, etc, all of whom have found themselves altruistically and courageously doing the dangerous investigations and protests in order to expose corrupt governments, corrupt militaries, corrupt law enforcement agencies, corrupt churches, corrupt national security institutions, corrupt financial institutions and other secretive planet-damaging corporations that the “disappeared” and virtually non-existent Fourth Estate has forsaken or been scared away from.

Here is a small sampling of courageous and often severely punished whistle-blowers – some famous and many that we don’t know or care about. The list includes Jesus of Nazareth, Paul of Tarsus,  Martin of Tours, Martin Luther, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, Smedley Butler, Dorothy Day (and the entire Catholic Worker movement), Gandhi, Martin Niemoller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, John Paul Vann, Ronald Ridenhour, Daniel Ellsberg, the Catonsville Nine, Frank Serpico, Gary Webb, Karen Silkwood, Mordechai Vanunu, Karen Kwiatkowski, Colleen Rowley,Sibel Edmunds, Greg Boertje-Obed,Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Pope Francis, etc, etc. See Wikipedia for a list of some of the others who are less well-known: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_whistleblowers

The movie was instructive and well worth seeing, although the Collateral Murder video (google it) was severely shortened and therefore its impact weakened. Still, I would recommend the movie for anyone, although, for those interested in a more thorough treatment of  the historical impact that WikiLeaks has had, it would be better to watch the documentary “Underground: The Julian Assange Story,” which is, I am told, the best factual documentary about WikiLeaks.

“The Fifth Estate” probably won’t have enough entertainment value to interest those who aren’t very curious about why the White House, the Congress, the NSA, the FBI, the CIA and the Pentagon are so freaked out about Assange, Manning and Snowden. Others who won’t appreciate this movie include those who desperately want to believe what they are told and who therefore trust the commercials on TV, trust the talking heads on the mainstream media and trust the official Pentagon, State Department or White House pronouncements.

Folks who aren’t very curious about what are the motivations behind the 9/11 Truth or the Occupy Wall Street movements probably won’t be interested in this movie either, now will those who don’t much care about the war, peace and justice issues that drive the multitudes of lesser-known anti-establishment folks to action.

 Whistle-blowers, in a nutshell, are, in one way or another, trying to resist, expose and perhaps turn around the sickest parts of our globalized, colonized, corporatized, militarized, economically-oppressed, and increasingly totalitarian surveillance state before the quasi-fascists who are working the levers behind the curtains destroy the planet and its inhabitants.

Please study the following inspirational quotes that keep the whistle-blower folks that are our most courageous neighbors working hard at attaining justice for all:

 “Individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity.” — The judges at the Nuremberg trials that tried and condemned as war criminals many upper echelon Nazis (whose actions were defended by their lawyers as totally legal and constitutional according to the rule of law in Nazi Germany)

”In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”– George Orwell

“Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither.”– Benjamin Franklin

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”  Voltaire

“We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”– Justice Louis D. Brandeis

“A great war leaves a country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.” — An anonymous German saying

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.”– George Santayana

 “Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method. must choose lying as his principle.”–Mikhail Gorbachev

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”– Martin Luther King, Jr. 

“It may well be that the greatest tragedy of this period of social change is not the glaring noisiness of the so-called bad people, but the silence of the so-called good people.”–Martin Luther King. Jr.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”– Edmund Burke

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” — Abraham Lincoln

 ”The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, during times of great moral crisis, maintained their neutrality.” — Dante

 ”Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. It is the ruling class that declares the wars, and it is the working class who fights all the battles and furnishes the corpses. The ruling class continually talks about “patriotic duty”, but it is not their duty but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. There is a decided difference. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches.”– Eugene V. Debs

“We’re not made by God to mass kill one another, and that’s backed up by the Gospels. Lying and war are always associated. Pay attention to war-makers when they try to defend their current war; if they’re moving their lips they’re lying.”–Phil Berrigan

“Aggressive militarization under the rubric of defense against terrorism threatens to provoke a chain reaction among nuclear nations, big and small, that, once set in motion, may prove impossible to control. No military confrontation anywhere in the world is free from this ominous and ever-present danger.”– Helen Caldicott, in The New Nuclear Danger

“Globalization is but another name for colonization – nothing has changed but the name. And, just as the East India Company was the instrument for colonization, today’s corporation is the instrument for globalization.  And, corporatization is but another name for Fascism.”— Urban Kohler

“Those who take oaths to politically powerful secret societies cannot be depended on for loyalty to a democratic republic.”– John Quincy Adams

”Certified lunatics are shut up because of their proneness to violence when their pretensions are questioned; the uncertified variety (of lunatic) are given the control of powerful armies, and can inflict death and disaster upon all sane men within their reach.”– Bertrand Russell

“Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person.”– Anonymous

“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right….To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”– Theodore Roosevelt

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”–Edward Abbey

With the recommencement of nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers, hopes have been revived that more than a decade of conflict and dispute between the two sides can finally come to an end and the concerns over the possible diversion of Iran’s nuclear activities toward an atomic weapon will be completely allayed.

 The international observers hailed the latest round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States) on October 15 and 16 in Geneva as constructive, calling it a step forward on the path of finding a conclusive and definite resolution for Iran’s nuclear standoff.

 The Iranian negotiators demanded that the contents of the talks remain undisclosed until an agreement is reached. Their demand sounds reasonable as it will prevent the mass media from spreading falsehood regarding the details of the agreement yet to be reached and also impede the efforts made by the extremist and neo-conservative elements in the Western governments to bring the negotiations to a dead-end.

During the talks, Iran presented a three-phased PowerPoint proposal in English language entitled “Closing Unnecessary Crisis, Opening New Horizons” which drew a roadmap for the future of the talks. According to the proposal, Iran would remove the concerns of the P5+1 group of world countries through confidence-building measures and increased transparency in its nuclear activities, and in return, the Western powers will offer incentives to Iran by lifting the unilateral and multilateral sanctions on a step-by-step basis.

 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the reporters following the conclusion of talks in Geneva that “the negotiations will be done in the negotiating room, and not in the press.” He said that Iran is not after creating some kind of media hype over its proposal and rather takes a down-to-earth and practical approach toward the talks.

 Iran’s presentation was welcomed by the P5+1. According to Reuters, Michael Mann, the spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Iran made a “very useful” presentation during the talks. Even the United States that usually expressed disappointment over the nuclear talks with Iran in the past couldn’t hide its tacit satisfaction with the Iranian proposal. “The Iranian proposal was a new proposal with a level of seriousness and substance that we had not seen before,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

A senior U.S. State Department official also praised the negotiations, saying that “for the first time, we had very detailed technical discussions”

 The British Catherine Ashton who became the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union in 2009 and took lead as the coordinator of P5+1 in talks with Iran also underlined her “cautious optimism” but “a real sense of determination” toward the new round of negotiations with Iran.

 Since the details of the Iranian proposal didn’t leak out and especially after Iran rejected the allegations made by the Israeli military intelligence website, Debka File, that had claimed to be possessing information on the contents of the proposal put forward by Iran, it’s not sensible to make suggestions and gossips on what Iran has offered to the West, but what is clear is that Iran will be making reasonable compromises, in a balanced manner, which will not sacrifice its nuclear rights under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but ease the tensions with the West, and this is something which seems to be completely logical and fair. On the other side, what the Iranian nation expects to be high on the agenda of the P5+1 is the complete removal of the economic sanctions that have caused serious damages to their lives.

The sanctions which were imposed upon Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, especially following the escalation of controversy over Iran’s nuclear program in the past decade, are so diverse and extensive that it’s virtually impossible to elaborate on all of them in a single article, but it is worth alluding to some of them in passing. These sanctions have had such devastative impacts on the Iranian people that even a large number of American officials, think tanks and advocacy groups have called on the U.S. government and its European allies to freeze them.

 As an instance, the banking sanctions, which disrupt and block Iran’s access to international financing systems have prevented the Iranian companies from importing vital medicine for chronic disorders, and the Iranian patients suffering from different types of cancer, hemophilia, thalassemia, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and psychiatric disorders are struggling with dire conditions resulting from their inability to find medicine for their diseases.

 According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce on February 8, 2013, the exports of pharmaceutical products to Iran had decreased by half. This is while the United States claims that it doesn’t block the exports of medicine to Iran and that it has issued some licenses for the sale of medical goods and foodstuff to Iran; however, there have been several reports of deaths as a result of the scarcity or shortage of foreign-produced medicine in Iran. Even those patients who can find the medicine they need should buy them at extremely higher prices than before, simply because they are being imported through intermediaries and third parties, and this is the direct, undeniable impact of the anti-Iran sanctions.

The U.S.-based news, analysis website Al-Monitor published a report on July 29, 2013, detailing the pain and suffering of the Iranian patients who are grappling with the problem of finding medicine for their diseases.

 Hessam, a 27-year-old veterinary student with MS told Al-Monitor, “I have managed to buy Rebif every month, but the price has tripled over the past year.” He added, “Those who need to use other Western-made medicines, like Avonex and Betaferon, have been facing extremely serious problems buying them. Betaferon’s price has risen from 980,000 rials [$40] to 16,000,000 rials [$649] a box. You cannot find them even at this price at any drugstores.”

 The insufficiency of medicine and pharmaceutical products in Iran as a result of the sanctions is a fact endorsed and confirmed by different outlets. Joy Gordon wrote in an article for the Foreign Policy on October 18, 2013 that the sanctions have complicated the health conditions of the Iranian patients and are leading to a kind of humanitarian crisis which the International Crisis Group has also verified in a detailed, 70-page report published in February 2013 about the consequences and impacts of the anti-Iran sanctions.

“The most effective medicines to treat cancer and AIDS, which are manufactured only by Western pharmaceutical companies, can no longer be gotten within Iran. Ordinary commerce, as a matter of necessity, is now deeply dependent on the international criminal network in order to function at all,” wrote Joy Gordon in the Foreign Policy’s “The Middle East Channel” blog.

Citing reports published by Iran’s major pharmacies, BBC Persian published a report on November 11, 2012 that a 350% increase in the price of imported medicine had taken place at that time, and the majority of experts and analysts attribute this surge in the medicine prices to the sanctions.

 However, the human costs of the sanctions are not limited to the difficulties they create in terms of medical shortages for the ordinary people. The devaluation of Iran’s national currency, rial, as a result of the sanctions, has made it extremely difficult for thousands of Iranian students studying in the foreign universities to afford their tuition and accommodation fees. Their families in Iran cannot deposit into their accounts considerable amounts of financial assistance and many of such students have chosen to return to Iran to continue their education. The depreciation of rial has also made it quite unreachable for the Iranian citizens to travel abroad for personal purposes since the air fares have increased almost threefold in the past 3 years and many European carriers have stopped their flights to or from Iran.

 At any rate, they are the ordinary Iranian citizens who bear the brunt of the sanctions against their country, and one of their major demands is the complete lifting of all the unilateral, multilateral and private sanctions. This demand was echoed in their election of Dr. Hassan Rouhani as the Iranian President who had promised to work toward persuading the West to lift all the sanctions.

Iran and the P5+1 are slated to meet once again on November 7 and 8. Before the main meeting, nuclear and sanctions experts from the two sides will hold technical meetings to reach a consensus over a systematic framework for putting into practice the agreements reached in the first meeting in Geneva.

 It’s not in the interests of the six world powers to continue pushing for new sanctions, as some Republicans of the U.S. Congress did, or leaving the previous sanctions in place. It will not contribute to the course of negotiations positively and will simply add to the suffering and economic woes of the Iranian people and will further complicate the disputes.

The most rational decision which the United States and its European allies can take is to lift the sanctions for two reasons: first, to respect the demands of the Iranian people who feel it’s not righteous and justifiable to be under the pressure of unfair and cruel sanctions that are violating their basic rights according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, and secondly because the lifting of the sanctions will be a great step on the path of striking a deal with Iran to close the nuclear dossier forever.

Top Ten American CEOs Take Home Over $100 Million Each

October 24th, 2013 by Andre Damon

The top ten highest-paid CEOs in the United States each received $100 million in 2012, according to a survey by GMI Ratings reported Tuesday by the Guardian newspaper. Two chief executives each received over $1 billion, and the combined pay of the top ten CEOs was $4.7 billion.

Even as the wages of working people sink, the incomes of the super-rich continue to soar, buttressed by a surging stock market driven by massive cash infusions from the Federal Reserve.

“I have never seen anything like that,” Greg Ruel, the author of the report, told the Guardian. “Usually we have a few CEOs at the $100m-plus level, but never the entire top 10.”

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the social media giant Facebook, received a staggering $2.27 billion, while Richard Kinder, head of energy company Kinder Morgan, took in $1.16 billion.

Three of the top earners headed technology companies, including Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, who received $143.8 million, and Marc Benioff of salesforce.com, who took in $109.5 million.

Two others headed media companies. Mel Karmazin of Sirius XM Radio received $255.3 million, while Gregory Maffei received $254.8 million as head of Liberty Media and another $136.4 million as head of its sister company, Liberty Interactive.

In the retail sector, Edward Stack of Dick’s Sporting Goods received $142 million, while Howard Schultz of Starbucks took in $117.5 million.

Frank Coyne, head of finance information company Verisk Analytics, received $100.4 million.

Zuckerberg received more than $6 million per day, or $5,133 per minute. With a base salary of “only” half a million dollars, the vast bulk of his compensation came from exercising over 60 million shares he received during Facebook’s initial public offering last year.

The other members of the top ten likewise accrued almost all of their income from gains in the stock market, receiving a total of $3.3 billion from stock options compared to cash pay of $16.2 million.

Despite the stagnant state of the real economy, stock values have soared, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by over 15 percent over the past year and more than 132 percent since 2009.

Ruel told the Guardian that a rising stock market “allows executives to reap large rewards, stemming from equity grants that number in the hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of units per grant.” He added that “compensation committees continue to grant large blocks of equity that will reward any increase in stock price.”

The poll by GMI found an average increase in compensation of 8.47 percent for the more than 2,000 CEOs it surveyed. The average pay for a chief executive of a Fortune 500 company hit $13.7 million, according to GMI.

According to the Forbes 400 report issued in September, the 400 richest people in America increased their wealth by 17 percent in 2013, their collective wealth rising from $1.7 trillion to just over $2 trillion.

The wealth of these 400 individuals is more than twice the amount necessary to cover the federal budget deficit, which is being used as the justification for slashing food stamps, education, housing assistance, and health care programs.

One statistic starkly illustrates the staggering growth of social inequality in America. The income share of the top one percent of society nearly doubled from 1979 to 2010, increasing from 10 percent to 19.8 percent.

The widening chasm separating the rich and the super-rich from everyone else is bound up with the decay of the productive infrastructure of American capitalism and the growing role of financial speculation. A recent study published in the American Economic Review found that between 1982 and 2011, the portion of the Forbes 400 who received their wealth from finance rose dramatically—from 4.4 percent to 20 percent.

The income of a typical household in the United States has fallen to the lowest level since 1989, while poverty is at the highest level in decades, according to a report issued by the US Census Bureau last month. Since 1999, the median household income has fallen by nearly ten percent, adjusted for inflation.

Poverty and social misery are reaching epidemic levels. A study released earlier this month by the Southern Education Foundation found that nearly half of public school children in the United States were in poverty in the school year that ended in 2011. Of the worlds 45 wealthiest countries, the United States has the second-highest level of child poverty, coming in after Romania.

Even as the Federal Reserve has continued to pump $85 billion into the financial system every month, the Democrats and Republicans have aggressively slashed spending on measures that benefit working people, including the $85 billion in “sequester” cuts this year alone.

Now, in the aftermath of the government shutdown, the Obama administration and Congress are conspiring to slash hundreds of billions more from basic social programs such as Medicare and Social Security.

A temporary increase in food stamp (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—SNAP) benefits introduced in 2009 is scheduled to expire at the end of this month, leading to benefit reductions of over $300 a year for a family of three. After the cuts, SNAP assistance will amount to less than $1.40 per person per meal, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Meanwhile, the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides extended unemployment benefits beyond the 26-week cutoff for most state unemployment assistance programs, is scheduled to expire in December.

The claim that “there is no money” to maintain these programs is belied by the obscene levels of wealth being monopolized by a tiny layer of parasites at the top.

The continued enrichment of the super-wealthy through government handouts to the financial markets, even as vital social programs are being gutted, reflects the complete subordination of the political system and both major parties to the corporate-financial elite. The existing—capitalist—system means poverty and social misery for ever wider sections of the population. The fight for the most elementary social rights—a decent-paying, secure job; education; housing; health care; a comfortable retirement—requires a conscious struggle by the working class for a system based on social equality—that is, socialism.

Over the past two years, the predatory character of NATO’s 2011 war against Libya has emerged most clearly in the looting of the heart of Libya’s economy: its massive oil industry. Virtually none of the frozen oil assets belonging to Muammar Gaddafi, his family and associates have been returned to Libya, and the country’s oil industry is the now subject to power struggles between rival armed groups and foreign oil corporations.

Oil workers have increasingly resorted to work stoppages to make their demands for higher pay and more jobs, bringing the oil industry to a near standstill in mid-September, and leading to a loss of $7.5 billion in exports.

At the same time, the conflicts between rival tribal, religious and ethnic groups used by NATO as its proxy forces continue to devastate the country. If the major Western energy conglomerates’ looting of the Libyan oil industry has not proceeded further than it has, it is largely because the profound instability and violence afflicting the country since the war has cut across their operations.

The looting began in the first days of the war, when the US and NATO froze oil revenues held in major international banks by Gaddafi and his family and associates.

Over the past two decades, only a tiny fraction of the funds expropriated from governments that had lost favor with European and American imperialism has been returned to their countries of origin. The UN and World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery (STAR) initiative estimates that between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion have been frozen under such initiatives since 1997. Only $5 billion of these funds were returned to their countries of origin over this period.

As Libya’s oil wealth sits frozen in foreign accounts, cities and public places leveled by the NATO bombing remain unrepaired, and conditions of life have only worsened. Unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, is higher than ever.

There has been no relief from continuous poverty and joblessness. The government is unable to ensure continuous access to basic utilities such as water and electric power, or the safety of citizens and residents from the violence of rival tribes and sects stoked by the NATO war. Thousands of prisoners are held without charges and are subjected daily to systematic torture.

The past year has seen a steady increase in work stoppages at Libyan oil and gas facilities. Oil extraction reached its lowest point in the second half of August, when six ports and terminals stopped exports and oil production sank to 575,000 barrels a day. Unable to fulfill its contract obligations, the government declared force majeure at the four eastern terminals of Brega, Sidra, Ras Lanuf and Zuweitina on August 19.

One of the longest work stoppages took place at the Zuetina oilfield between July 1 and September 3. Workers demanded removal of the current management, holiday pay and wage increases to compensate them for high risks on the job. Oil Minister Abdulbari Al-Arusi and other government officials met with the workers in mid-July and promised to meet their demands in a month’s time.

The Zuetina workers resumed gas production the next day, explaining their motivations on their Facebook page: “After the government claimed we were to blame for the recent power cuts, we decided to restart pumping the gas to prove that we are not responsible for them.”

The following day, the Zuetina oil terminal was stormed and shut down once again by unemployed workers bearing arms and demanding jobs the government had promised them a year earlier.

Oil Minister Arusi responded in a press conference, insisting, “The government cannot meet all of the Zueitina strikers’ demands.” Pumping and oil shipments resumed on September 3, when locals stormed the terminal and forced protesters to move outside the port.

The government managed to negotiate the reopening of other western and central oil ports and terminals last month, but not before major energy conglomerates, such as ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, withdrew their operations from the country.

Libyan officials are trying to reassure investors that improved contract conditions will be forthcoming, with the legal and political infrastructure established to safely loot their country.

Before the second Libya Forum, organized in Tripoli by the British-based CWC Group this June to bring representatives of foreign oil companies together with Libyan officials, Nurri Berruein, head of the National Oil Company, said that the forum’s priorities included a review of the basic contract model. In the new licensing rounds, he said, “Companies can expect attractive commercial fiscal terms founded on the basis of mutual interest, win-win relationships and maximizing partnership values.”

The central government in Tripoli has not been able to re-establish control of the oil-rich eastern part of the country, where the initial NATO-backed protests that led to the war began.

Ibrahim Jadhran, a former Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) commander who was fired from his post for insubordination, has reportedly taken over many of the eastern ports and oilfields. As head of the Political Bureau of the Cyrenaica Transitional Council, Jathran has demanded greater regional autonomy.

The government has responded by accusing the eastern guards of attempting to sell oil behind its back and warning that it would use force to prevent illegal sales. Libya’s prosecutor general has also issued a warrant for Jadhran’s arrest.

The government fears that the conflict with eastern guards could turn into an all-out war with the Al Megharba tribe, of which Jedran is a member. At the investor’s conference in London last month, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan pleaded with British Prime Minister David Cameron for greater Western assistance in building up the army and police to bring the country’s oil industry back under the control of the central government.

An Jadhran went on television on September 22 to announce that Naji Mukhtar, head of the congressional Energy Committee, had tried to bribe him with 30 million Libyan dinars to resume production in the east. Mukhar has claimed the money was his own and he was not acting with the direction and knowledge of the government. He has been withdrawn from any active role in negotiations and faces an internal congressional investigation into the bribery allegations.

This is just one of a series of scandals in recent months that have shattered what little semblance of unity remained in the NATO-installed puppet regime. In September, several members of congress accused members of the Justice and Construction Party of making illegal oil deals with the Muslim Brotherhood. Congressman Tuati Al-Aidha, one of the accusers, has been forced to resign from congress and the other accusers remain under investigation.

The International Monetary Fund published the findings of its official staff visit to Libya in July, reprimanding the government for granting public employees a pay raise. In response, a number of Libyan officials scrambled to distance themselves from the move and from Prime Minister Zidan’s government. There have been repeated calls for Prime Minister Zidan’s resignation in recent months, culminating in his kidnapping for several hours earlier this month, apparently in retaliation for the US operation to kidnap Abu Anas al-Liby.

At a Sunday press conference, Zidan said that militias and various unnamed forces had infiltrated the army and police force and were preventing them from being rebuilt. Consequently, he said, Libya was not a state “in the normal sense of word.”

Guns and Butter, for October 23, 2013 – 1:00pm

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Guns and Butter

“Dress Rehearsal for Government Privatization” with Michel Chossudovsky.  

Privatization of government operating through the process of fiscal collapse; black budgets; war and Wall Street; the Federal Reserve Bank; shock and awe economics; IMF structural adjustment; the Washington consensus; extreme austerity measures; the proxy state; speculative onslaught, regulatory capture; financial warfare against the American public.

https://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/96427

See the following Articles 

“Debt Default”: A Dress Rehearsal for the Privatization of the Federal State System? By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, October 12, 2013

Several overlapping political and economic agendas are unfolding. Is the shutdown –implying the furloughing of tens of thousands of public employees– a dress rehearsal for the eventual privatization of important components of the federal State system?

The Speculative Endgame: The Government “Shutdown” and “Debt Default”, A Multibillion Bonanza for Wall Street By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, October 16, 2013

 

 

Though Norway in June overtook Russia in total exports of natural gas to Europe, the balance of Russian gas to Europe comes through Ukraine, which itself is dependent upon Russia for 60% of its current gas consumption.

While Ukraine controls the transit of 90% of its gas to Europe, Russia is consistently trying to use its gas exports to Ukraine to gain greater control of the Ukraine transit system, which itself deems a strategic asset. The struggle for control of export to Europe and Ukraine’s own struggle to increase domestic production and move closer to Europe, with an European Association Agreement set to be signed in November this year, has put extreme stress not only on the energy independence of Ukraine but of Europe as a whole.

From an energy geostrategic standpoint, Europe needs Ukraine to move closer to Europe, “but for all its planning, Europe also knows retribution, in the shape of an energy squeeze, is likely from Russia.

Moscow, which has a long-standing disagreement with Ukraine over gas, has said it will raise Ukraine’s gas prices and officials do not rule out it doing the same for the EU, which gets nearly 40% of its gas from Russia. “The EU should not look at Ukraine as a business opportunity alone, particularly in light of currently lagging gas demand, but should examine the long-term future of European energy security and the key role Ukraine will continue to play in it. Partnership with the EU is not a silver bullet for the troubled Ukrainian energy sector, but it is certain to reduce the volatility of future pricing disputes and is perhaps the only solution that does not leave Ukraine’s fate entirely in Russian hands,” according to an article by Richard B Andres and Michael Kofman.

Ukraine has also done much in the past 18 months to increase its energy independence. Recent shale tenders with Shell and Chevron and with Exxon for the development of the Ukrainian Black Sea have the potential to greatly reduce the dependence Ukraine has on Russian exports and potentially for Europe as well. “While the full picture of unconventional gas is expected to be assessed in the coming years, the key to success, as is the case of Ukraine, is infrastructure. If the future of shale gas exploration is to be bright, a new infrastructure will have to be built to link the sources of unconventional gas with the grid to allow for the commercialization of the gas.

 “To ensure that the Energy Community brings results, once operationalized the shale gas opportunity should be extended to the Eastern Neighborhood. It would allow the Eastern Neighborhood, in particular Ukraine, to create stronger bonds between the EU and the region and, as a result, galvanize stronger energy interdependence between the EU and Russia by stabilizing Ukraine’s internal energy supply,” according to a policy paper from the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation (BST).

 Coup in the Making?

In the past five years, there has been significant growth in Europe’s LNG [ Liquefied Natural Gas] import capacity; however, high LNG prices driven by Japanese demand, and the higher oil-linked price that LNG receives in Asia has diverted much of this supply from the European market.

An agreement between Ukraine and Turkey for the transit of LNG through the Bosporus, as the gateway to the Black Sea, would be a major coup for European energy security. It would put downward pressure on current LNG prices due to the high demand and premium paid in Asia and would eventually provide Europe with cheap shale gas through a viable alternative marketplace.

It’s an idea developed by Robert Bensh , energy advisor to Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Yuriy Boyko, managing director of Pelicourt Limited and senior advisor for Cub Energy Inc., which operates in both Ukraine and Turkey.

The potential for LNG exports to Europe without a deal between Turkey and Ukraine for liquefied natural gas (LNG) through the Bosporus will fall flat, and Russia will continue to provide at least 30% of Europe’s natural gas through 2023.

“The European Union can and should play a more active role in shaping the Black Sea security environment. As a full regional player, it should promote cooperation on an equal footing, and refrain from acting as a sponsor as it does, for instance, in the Mediterranean. As a privileged partner of all countries of the region, the EU should use its bilateral relations with each of them, including Russia and Turkey, to contribute towards the emergence of a cooperative security environment in the Black Sea region,” according to a European Parliament briefing .

A CRS Report for US Congress agrees, stating:

“Development of more liquefied natural gas (LNG) transport and reception facilities from distant suppliers, such as Nigeria, into Europe could be another course of action. Coupled with the development of new oil and gas pipelines could be an offer from NATO (and/or EU) members to provide security for energy infrastructure in periods of unrest or conflict in supplier and transit countries.

 For both Ukraine and Turkey, such a deal would also be a political and economic coup of vast proportions, Bensh says.

 For Ukraine, LNG is the key to energy independence. For Turkey, LNG is the key to becoming one of the most important energy hubs between the Middle East and Europe. In combination with the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), which will bring Azerbaijani gas from Shah Deniz through Turkey on to European markets, controlling the LNG segment through the Black Sea would give Turkey broader leverage than any other player in Europe. For both Ukraine and Turkey, it would mean greater access to the economic benefits of the European Union, control over Europe’s LNG market and a level of political leverage over the continent that would render both world-class strategic players.

The benefits to Ukraine and Turkey are significant:

Benefits to Ukraine

  • Independence from Russia
  • Greater access to the European Union, with Kiev able to be assertive on the terms
  • Political leverage in Washington, which is keen to see a Turkey-Ukraine LNG deal put through, especially one focused in part on Qatari gas as opposed to Iranian gas
  • Control of the European market for LNG
  • Economic prosperity by giving an edge to heavy gas-reliant industries
  • Strategic positioning and leverage that goes beyond Europe and into the Middle East/Gulf and especially between competitors Qatar and Iran

Benefits for Turkey

  • Control of the European LNG market
  • Rise as an energy hub between the Middle East and Europe, not just an energy transit country
  • Political leverage over Europe and access to the EU on Ankara’s terms
  • Political leverage with Washington
  • Strategic positioning as an energy hub that renders Turkey the decision-maker from Europe to the Middle East/Gulf
  • Diversification of supplies, with less reliance on Russian and Iranian deliveries, including from emerging African powerhouses such as Angola and Ghana

Timing is important, and the window of opportunity should be taken advantage of before new pipelines come online and while two of the world’s biggest gas players—Qatar and Iran—are in a desperate race to grab the European market. If an LNG agreement is solidified within this timeframe, it will dictate rather than serve as an afterthought to Europe’s gas future.

In this respect, Ukraine and Turkey together already have a certain amount of leverage at the negotiating table, particularly with respect to Qatari supplies, which are very eager to get to the wider European market. Timing is critical as Iran, suffering under economic sanctions that has caused widespread unemployment and a recession (the under 35 age group is thought to have unemployment of over 40%; a sobering thought in a period of Arab Springs) is attempting to have access to markets from which it currently is cut off from; and there is no better indication of this than the British government’s current reconsideration of the embargo on BP’s joint venture with the Iranian National Gas Company in the Rhum field. One additional factor in the conflict in Syria was, Qatari-versus-Iranian plans to run a pipeline through the country to Turkey, eyeing the European market.

In terms of critical timing, Ukraine and Turkey would be better positioned strategically were they to strike an LNG deal before the beginning of Phase Two production at Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field, and before TANAP begins operations. The price of LNG is more volatile due to the Asian market, and it would be more beneficial for LNG to secure this market, while natural gas futures for Shah Deniz supplies, which have already been contracted out for 25 years to nine European companies.

 Another Black Sea LNG project—the Azerbaijan-Georgia-Romania Interconnector (AGRI) project—is also being delayed due to the perception that European demand is not ready for this project. This is a false perception that is driven by the Asian-driven LNG price spikes and the diversion of cargoes away from the European market. AGRI at present is languishing as it waits for the market to develop. This is an opportunity for a Ukraine-Turkey LNG agreement. The first to develop will control the market.

 The AGRI project is hoping to transport natural gas from the Caspian region (primarily Turkmenistan) to Europe designed as a part of the Southern Corridor and as the shortest direct route for Caspian gas to European markets. If realized, AGRI would transport Azerbaijani LNG from Georgia, across the Black Sea, to an LNG terminal planned for construction on the Romanian Black Sea coast, then piped through to Hungary through the interconnector with Romania and then further into Europe.

 Azerbaijan, Romania and Georgia signed the Memorandum of Understanding for this project in April 2010, but not much has happened since then. The project requires the construction not only of a regasification terminal in Romania, but also a liquefaction plant in Georgia.

 Competition for this strategic positioning will come from the development of Mediterranean LNG projects, which could also be a game-changer for Europe. Potential projects here (Cyprus and Israel, first and foremost) remain uncertain, but if realized they would offer gas to high-demand Southeastern European markets with attractive pricing. In the absence of an LNG agreement between Ukraine and Turkey, Cyprus and Israel have the potential to capture the European market from the Mediterranean side. Timing is critical and the advantage will go to the players who recognize the opportunity to fill the long-term LNG supply gap that has been created by the diversion of cargo to Asia. Ukraine, has the potential to fill this gap and control the market.

 LNG’S Role in European Energy Security

The European Market for LNG at a Glance:

  • Relative to 2011, LNG deliveries to the EU fell 31% in 2012, with imports from Qatar down 35%, Nigeria 31% and Algeria 18%, while imports to Asia have grown by up to 70%
  • So far for 2013, LNG deliveries are in line with this downward trend
  • For the first quarter of 2013, gas flowing out of LNG terminals into pipelines (LNG send-out to grids) in the UK, Netherlands and Belgium was down by 60% over the same period in 2012, and down 40% in France and 30% in Spain, Italy and Portugal
  • The average price of spot pipeline gas in Europe is around $10 per MMBtu, while the average spot LNG price is $11.40/MMBtu (there is a wide range of LNG pricing across Europe)
  • In Japan, LNG prices are about 40% higher (as of Q1 2013) than spot prices in the UK, for example

LNG in Europe, Present and Future

At the close of 2012, LNG accounted for 19% of Europe’s gas supply, while 81% was natural gas transported via pipeline.

 The Fukushima disaster in Japan forced European countries to reconsider their nuclear policies, and this has forced a stronger focus on coal, natural gas and LNG. Before Fukushima, LNG was favored over natural gas because supplies were greater at that time and prices were cheaper than piped-in gas. As a result of the Fukushima disaster and Japan’s resultant eschewing of nuclear power reliance, is a run on LNG by Japan and other Asian nations who are willing to pay higher prices. This has driven LNG prices up and diverted supplies to the Asian market. In addition, it has caused fewer LNG development projects to be pursued in Europe. This translates into future gas shortages when LNG supplies can no longer meet growing Asian demand and when there is a lack of long-term LNG commitment in Europe. This is the critical window of opportunity in the market for Ukraine and Turkey. (There is a certain counter-intuitive momentum to be grasped here.)

 Because Asia signs on to long-term LNG agreements with high, oil-linked prices, there are predictions that Europe will find itself with extremely restricted access to LNG in the near- to medium-term future, with a recovery in demand and a growing reluctance to rely on dirty coal for power generation.

 This past decade has seen global LNG supplies double and regasification and shipping capacity triple. The exception is Europe, where Ukraine and Turkey are singularly positioned to take advantage of this LNG gap before demand picks up and the opportunity for strategic positioning is weakened.

 The LNG market is set to expand globally over the next decade, and demand for LNG in Europe is most likely set to rise even without affecting natural gas supplies. Thus, TANAP and a Ukrainian-Turkish LNG agreement would work in tandem, not in competition, to control an even greater market share.

 If Russia ends up building natural gas storage facilities in Turkey—an idea for which Gazprom expressed interest earlier this year—Turkey will lose its chance for maximum political leverage. This past winter, Gazprom redirected natural gas from its storage facilities in Europe after a spike in demand in Turkey. This prompted a Russian justification for potentially building storage facilities in Turkey ostensibly to come to the rescue when supplies are insufficient. In theory, though, this would represent an increased Russian energy footprint in Turkey that would negatively impact Turkey’s energy hub ambitions and would only help to solidify its dependence on Russian supplies, which amount to about 58% of Turkey’s total supplies. An LNG deal with Ukraine would give Turkey greater access to additional alternative supplies, and this, combined with an anticipated increase in Azerbaijani supplies from Shah Deniz will allow Turkey to become a true, diversified energy hub.

 Qatar is heavily courting both Ukraine and Turkey for LNG through the Bosporus. From Qatar’s perspective, if Qatari LNG is allowed to pass through the Turkish-controlled Bosporus, this will deal a heavy blow to Iran. As such, Qatar recognizes Turkey’s role here as a key geopolitical power broker on the energy scene. Along this same line of thought, Qatar’s perception is that Russia is not capable at this time of preventing a Turkey-Ukraine energy deal focused on Qatari gas.

 For Turkey, though, such a deal would allow it to further diversify its supplies, reducing reliance on both Russian and Iran—the latter which has been unreliable in terms of supplies over recent years.

Such a deal also further underlines the extent of political leverage Ukraine and Turkey would enjoy well beyond Europe, and into the Middle East.

 Geopolitically, if Ukraine and Turkey were to bring Qatari gas through the Bosporus and on to European markets, this would help balance the power of a Russian-Iranian axis. It would reshape geopolitical dynamics, with Turkey the driving force through its strategic position as a Middle East-Europe energy hub.

 Turkish and Ukrainian interest can either merge, or diverge to be counter-productive both to their gas supply needs and to European energy security. The perceptions of competition between Ukraine and Turkey are there, however, it is only through the combined, complementary force of the two that we will see a new energy powerhouse emerge.

LNG is the future, and globally we are looking at a major upswing in demand, including for Europe in the medium-to-long term.

 As becomes clearer every year, pipeline gas delivery is hindered severely by economics and geopolitics. It limits room for consumer maneuvering, especially for those who are reliant on few, or single, sources. LNG can avoid much of these same hurdles, despite the investment cost associated with LNG facilities. There is a great deal of market flexibility to be found in LNG due to the absence of piping contracts.

LNG will become the key fuel of the future, and the forces that grasp the Black Sea market for LNG first will be among the most influential players on the global energy market. There is also the Black Sea marine industry to consider here, and the future is likely to see this converted to LNG—with new and converted transport vehicles and vessels running on LNG.

 Source: http://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/Europe/Ukraine-Turkey-The-European-Energy-Coup.html

 By. Oil & Energy Insider Analysts

This report is part of Oilprice.com ‘s premium publication Oil & Energy Insider . Oil & Energy Insider gives subscribers an information advantage when investing, trading or doing business in the energy sectors.  http://oilprice.com/premium

ReThink911: 911 Truth Confronts The New York Times

October 23rd, 2013 by Global Research News

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América Latina: temas urgentes de la coyuntura geopolítica

October 23rd, 2013 by Atilio A. Boron

El viernes pasado concluyeron en La Habana las deliberaciones de la Primera Conferencia sobre Estudios Estratégicos organizado por el Centro de Investigaciones de Política Internacional dependiente del Instituto Superior de Relaciones Internacionales (ISRI) del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba. Fueron tres días de productivas discusiones en los cuales se pasó revista a distintos aspectos de la coyuntura geopolítica internacional y el papel que en la misma juegan los países de América Latina y el Caribe.

Algunas reflexiones preliminares habían sido expuestas en un posteo anterior; a continuación se exponen algunas de las conclusiones más relevantes de la conferencia:

a) Necesidad de una respuesta mucho más tajante de nuestros países en relación a la agresión informática, el espionaje y los ciberataques lanzados por diversas agencias de inteligencia de Estados Unidos. De hecho, cuando Google, Yahoo, Skype, Facebook y otras grandes compañías del mundo de la Internet reconocieron públicamente que transferían sus archivos a los organismos de espionaje y seguridad de Estados Unidos todos esos programas deberían haber sido eliminados inmediatamente de los organismos gubernamentales de la región y reemplazados, en la medida en que ello fuera posible, por sucedáneos del software libre. Paralelamente tendría que haberse lanzado una gran campaña para desalentar su empleo en las organizaciones no-gubernamentales y el público en general, cosa que apenas se está haciendo en Brasil, víctima preferencial de esos ataques junto con Alemania y Francia, según recientes revelaciones.

Varios expertos coincidieron en señalar que los programas convencionales de anti-virus revisan y limpian todos los archivos de computadoras localizadas en tanto en El Cairo como Buenos Aires o Bangalore, pero que la labor se hace en Estados Unidos y que simultáneamente con la remoción o no de los virus esos archivos son copiados y mantenidos en gigantescos servidores controlados por el gobierno de Estados Unidos, donde son almacenados y revisados primeros por robots informáticos y, cuando aparecen contenidos, emisores o destinatarios sospechosos, por humanos. Conclusión: se impone acelerar el tránsito hacia el software libre y, además, desechar todas las computadoras hechas en Estados Unidos o por firmas norteamericanas radicadas en terceros países, de donde se desprende la importancia de desarrollar una industria latinoamericana de producción de hardwares de diverso tipo (computadoras de mesa, laptops, tabletas, etcétera).

b) Otra de las conclusiones se focalizó sobre La silenciosa y permanente agresión militar del imperialismo y el papel de la UNASUR. Uno de los graves problemas que enfrenta la región es que pese a estar cercada por 76 bases militares estadounidenses los gobiernos de la UNASUR no han sido capaces hasta ahora de consensuar una hipótesis de conflicto realista para la región. Hipótesis que debe responder a una pregunta bien simple: ¿quién es nuestro más probable agresor o quién es el que ya nos está amenazando? No obstante la abrumadora presencia de tantas instalaciones militares estadounidenses diseminadas a lo largo y a lo ancho de toda América del Sur esa respuesta todavía no ha sido siquiera esbozada y continúa siendo un tema tabú al interior de la UNASUR.

Obviamente que la heterogeneidad del mapa sociopolítico sudamericano conspira contra una tal iniciativa. Hay gobiernos que han asumido como su misión convertirse en los “Caballos de Troya” del imperio y obedecer incondicionalmente las directivas emanadas de Washington: en Sudamérica tal es la situación de Colombia, Perú y Chile, con la muy probable adición a esta lista del gobierno del Paraguay. Hay otros que pugnan por asegurar su autodeterminación y resistir a los designios y presiones del imperialismo: casos de Bolivia, Ecuador y Venezuela. Y otros, como Argentina, Brasil y Uruguay, que navegan a media agua: apoyan tibiamente a los segundos en sus proyectos continentales pero comparten con los primeros su vocación de instaurar en sus países un “capitalismo serio”, engañoso oxímoron que enturbia la conciencia de gobernantes y gobernados por igual. El resultado es la enorme dificultad de llegar a un acuerdo para, por ejemplo, exigir algo tan fundamental como el retiro de las bases militares extranjeras de América del Sur; o para mantener a esta parte del continente como una zona libre de armas nucleares, cosa que ahora es imposible de certificar. ¿Cómo saber cuáles son las armas que el Pentágono instala en sus bases? Hay sospechas muy fundadas de que en algunas que posee en Colombia, como Palanquero, o en la de la OTAN en Malvinas (base que cuenta con apoyo logístico y presencia militar estadounidense) puede haber armas de destrucción masiva. Pero la verificación in situ ha probado ser, al menos hasta ahora, imposible porque ni siquiera existe un acuerdo sobre la necesidad o conveniencia de llevar a cabo una inspección.

 

La silenciosa pero muy efectiva ingerencia de Washington sobre las fuerzas armadas latinoamericanas se traduce también en la insólita continuidad de los programas de “formación y adiestramiento” de militares y -¡cuidado con esto!- de fuerzas policiales en la región. Incluso en gobiernos claramente enfrentados con el imperialismo norteamericano la inercia de tantas décadas de formación en la Escuela de las Américas y otras del mismo tipo torna difícil sustraerse a la presión militar para continuar con esos programas. Pero cuando la costumbre y los incentivos crematísticos no son suficientes la Casa Blanca apela a la extorsión. Si un país decide no enviar sus oficiales a tomar cursos de formación en Estados Unidos en represalia Washington puede interrumpir el suministro de equipo militar a los países del área, sea bajo la forma de donaciones o ventas subsidiadas.

De ese modo el gobierno desobediente podría después ser acusado de “no colaboración” en la guerra contra el narcotráfico o el terrorismo, entre otras cosas por no contar con los equipos y armamentos adecuados para la tarea. Y es lógico pensar que quien se adiestra en Estados Unidos es entrenado para combatir a quienes ese país considere como sus enemigos. Y ya sabemos quienes son éstos para el imperio: precisamente los gobiernos y las fuerzas antiimperialistas de la región. En suma: los cursos, las armas y las doctrinas militares conforman una trinidad inseparable. Los países que envían a sus oficiales a entrenarse en Estados Unidos están también dejando en manos de ese país decidir quienes son los enemigos a combatir y cómo hacerlo.

 

En la misma línea debe señalarse la absurda sobrevivencia del TIAR, el Tratado Interamericano de Asistencia Recíproca desahuciado en los hechos por la colaboración brindada por Washington a Gran Bretaña en la Guerra de las Malvinas; o la continuidad de las periódicas reuniones de los Comandantes en Jefe o de la Junta Interamericana de Defensa; o la realización de operaciones conjuntas con fuerzas de Estados Unidos, siendo que éste es el único enemigo regional a la vista. Todo lo anterior se complementa, en el plano jurídico, con la aprobación en casi todos nuestros países de una legislación antiterrorista sólo inspirada en la necesidad de proteger la sigilosa ocupación de los Estados Unidos del territorio latinoamericano y de criminalizar a las fuerzas políticas y movimientos sociales que se oponen a los avances del imperialismo.

c) También surgió de la conferencia la necesidad de estudiar sistemáticamente al imperialismo norteamericano. Es preciso revertir una peligrosa tendencia muy presente en las fuerzas políticas y los movimientos antiimperialistas de la región y que se sintetiza en una consigna rayana en el suicidio: “al enemigo no se lo estudia sino que se lo combate.” Se exalta el fervor militante, lo que está bien, pero se subestima la necesidad de conocer científicamente, minuciosamente, al imperialismo, lo que está mal. Sin estudiar a fondo a Estados Unidos como centro nervioso del sistema imperialista; sin conocer cómo funciona; sin saber cuáles son los dispositivos mediante los cuales establece su predominio a escala mundial y quiénes son sus agentes operativos en los planos de la economía, la política y la cultura; desconociendo cuáles son sus estrategias y tácticas de lucha, sus artificios propagandísticos y sus concepciones ideológicas, y quiénes sus peones locales se torna casi imposible librar una batalla exitosa contra su dominación. Por eso tenía razón José Martí, uno de los grandes héroes de nuestras luchas antiimperialistas, cuando para fundamentar su diagnóstico sobre los ominosos designios de Estados Unidos le dijo a su amigo Manuel Mercado que “viví en el monstruo, y le conozco las entrañas.”

Pero el desconocimiento del imperio no es atributo exclusivo de la militancia antiimperialista. Lamentablemente en la academia de nuestros países el estudio de los Estados Unidos es una materia que brilla por su ausencia. Se cuentan con los dedos de una mano los centros de investigación que se dedican a estudiar a nuestros opresores, mientras que en Estados Unidos son alrededor de trescientos los centros y/o programas de enseñanza e investigación que tienen por objeto investigar nuestras sociedades. Estas preocupantes realidades deberían suscitar una rápida reacción de las fuerzas antiimperialistas de la región, recordando lo que con tanta razón observara Lenin al decir que “nada hay más práctico que una buena teoría”. Una buena teoría sobre el imperialismo contemporáneo que debe articular la tradición clásica, sobre todo la teoría leninista del imperialismo, con las novedades que asume el fenómeno un siglo después de que el revolucionario ruso escribiera su libro sobre el tema. Novedades entre las cuales no es precisamente la menor el desplazamiento del centro del sistema imperialista desde las potencias coloniales europeas a los Estados Unidos; novedades, también conviene subrayarlo, que lejos de refutar las previsiones y los análisis de Lenin no hicieron sino ratificarlos pero bajo nuevas formas que no pueden ser ignoradas si lo que se pretende es librar un eficaz combate contra tan perverso sistema.[1]

Necesidad, por lo tanto, de estudiar seriamente el funcionamiento del “complejo militar e industrial” norteamericano, y su insaciable voracidad. Es este entramado de gigantescos oligopolios lo que constituye el corazón de la clase dominante norteamericana y, por extensión, de la burguesía imperial. Para el “complejo militar e industrial” la paz equivale a la bancarrota: sin guerras no hay ganancias y sin ganancias no se puede financiar a la clase política de Estados Unidos. Perversa articulación entre la rentabilidad de la industria armamentística –una industria que sólo provoca destrucción y muerte- y las necesidades de los políticos norteamericanos de costear sus carreras políticas que inevitablemente terminan colocando a los vencedores al servicio de sus financistas. No sorprende, por lo tanto, constatar que las ventas de las industrias del “complejo militar-industrial” hayan aumentado en un 60 % entre 2002 y 2012, desde el comienzo de la gran contraofensiva militar después del 11-S hasta nuestros días.

Dato adicional: ¿se acuerdan que hace unos seis meses parecía que el mundo enfrentaba un inminente ataque atómico lanzado por Corea del Norte? ¿Qué pasó con eso? ¿Ahora los norcoreanos ya no ponen en jaque al planeta? Después se dijo que parecía que la obstinación de Irán de continuar con su programa nuclear ponía en peligro la paz muncial, y más tarde el problema de las “armas químicas” de Siria parecía colocarnos, otra vez, al borde de una Tercera Guerra Mundial. Conclusión: para la rentabilidad de sus negocios el “complejo militar-industrial” necesita garantizar que siempre haya crisis, y si no las hay las inventa, y si no las inventa las construye mediáticamente. Para eso está la prensa hegemónica que, cual la puta de Babilonia, se presta solícita a difundir esas patrañas que amedrentan a la población al paso que estimulan la producción de nuevos y cada vez más letales armamentos.

d) Diversas ponencias de la conferencia señalaron la continuidad de la política de la Casa Blanca hacia América Latina y el Caribe. En este sentido hubo un consenso prácticamente unánime en señalar la identidad existente entre las políticas latinoamericanas de las administraciones de George W. Bush y Barack Obama, razón por la cual conviene dejar de utilizar ese nombre –“administración”- y hablar mejor del “régimen de Washington”, para señalar de este modo la sistemática violación de la legalidad internacional y los derechos humanos practicada por el gobierno norteamericano, de cualquier signo.[2]

En lo que toca a Cuba si algo hizo el “régimen” norteamericano fue intensificar el bloqueo financiero, comercial y económico contra la isla, ajustando aún más los controles establecidos por la legislación estadounidense. No deja de ser sorprendente que no haya todavía surgido una queja universal en contra de la ilegal e inmoral extraterritorialidad establecida por la Enmienda Torricelli a la Ley Helms-Burton. Según esta monstruosidad jurídica -diseñada exclusivamente para perjudicar a un solo país en el mundo: Cuba- el gobierno de Estados Unidos está autorizado para aplicar sanciones a cualquier empresa nacional o de un tercer país (por ejemplo, una británica, japonesa o sueca) por el sólo hecho de comerciar con Cuba o iniciar emprendimientos económicos con la Isla, por ejemplo, en la explotación del petróleo.

En otras palabras, Estados Unidos “legaliza” al imperialismo mediante la despótica imposición de la ley estadounidense por encima de la de todos los países del globo. ¡Imaginemos lo que ocurriría sin país cualquiera pretendiera hacer algo igual, por ejemplo, universalizar su legislación prohibitoria de la pena de muerte y sancionara a aquél que, como Estados Unidos, aún la aplicara! Para quienes todavía dudan de que vivimos bajo un sistema imperial los ejemplos anteriores bastan y sobran para convencerlos de lo contrario.

Otro rasgo que demuestra la enfermiza persistencia de la agresión en contra de Cuba está dado por el hecho de que Washington continúa utilizando transmisiones ilegales de radio y televisión convocando al pueblo de la Isla a subvertir el orden constitucional vigente y a rebelarse en contra de su gobierno, con el objeto de lograr el largamente acariciado “cambio de régimen”. Dichas transmisiones no sólo divulgan propaganda sediciosa sino que, además, interfieren en el normal funcionamiento de las emisoras de radio y televisión cubanas. Se estima que el costo de estas actividades ilegales patrocinadas por Washington se eleva a unos 30 millones de dólares anuales.

Un informe reciente de la Auditoría del Gobierno estadounidense referido exclusivamente a las actividades de la USAID y el Departamento de Estado reveló además que entre 1996 y el 2011 esas agencias destinaron 205 millones de dólares para promover el derrocamiento del gobierno cubano. Muchos millones más fueron seguramente apropiados por la CIA, la USAID, el Fondo Nacional para la Democracia y otras instituciones afines para promover tan siniestros objetivos. Por lo visto le asistía toda la razón a Noam Chomsky cuando interrogado a fines del 2008 sobre su pronóstico acerca de la inminente inauguración del “régimen de Obama” respondió sarcásticamente que éste sería apenas el tercer turno de la Administración Bush.

Tenía razón, como lo demostró la historia, aunque se quedó corto: si se computa el número de muertes civiles ocasionadas por los aviones no tripulados norteamericanos, los “drones”, el inverosímil Premio Nobel de la Paz superó con creces el saldo luctuoso de su predecesor. ¡Ah!, a seis meses de las elecciones presidenciales venezolanas el muy distraído Obama todavía parece no haberse enterado que el triunfador de esa contienda fue el candidato chavista Nicolás Maduro y sigue sin reconocer oficialmente su victoria y alentando, de ese modo, los planes desestabilizadores de la oposición fascista en la República Bolivariana de Venezuela. Y los cuatro luchadores antiterroristas cubanos que purgan en las cárceles del imperio su osadía de pretender desmontar la máquina terrorista instalada en Miami -y protegida por el “régimen de Washington” – podrían ser puestos inmediatamente en libertad si Obama ejerciera las atribuciones del perdón presidencial que le confiere la constitución. Pero no lo hace. En cambio, sigue apadrinando a terroristas como Luis Posada Carriles o el ex presidente boliviano Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, cuya extradición es solicitada por la justicia de ese país por su responsabilidad en la masacre de 67 personas durante las jornadas de protesta popular que provocaron su caída.

Notas

[1] Sobre el tema consultar dos obras de nuestra autoría, de descarga gratuita en la web: Imperio & Imperialismo. Una lectura crítica de Michael Hardt y Antonio Negri (Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 5º edición, 2004, “Premio Extraordinario de Ensayo de “Casa de las Américas”), especialmente el capítulo 8 y la compilación que efectuara con el título de Nueva Hegemonía Mundial. Alternativas de cambio y movimientos sociales (Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 2004), po. 133-154. Pueden encontrarse el primero deestos libros en: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Bx2YC3gJbq2TMjExMTU0MGUtMjY2ZC00ZDg0LTljOWUt ODIyMDZkNzM4YTRh/edit?usp=drive_web Y el segundo se encuentra en: http://biblioteca.clacso.edu.ar/clacso/se/20120507124307/nuevah.pdf

[2] Ver la nota en nuestro blog: www.atilioboron.com.ar o también en http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2013/09/19/the-obama-regime/

 

Chemtrails: A Planetary Catastrophe Created by Geo-engineering

October 23rd, 2013 by Global Research News

Planet Earth has been besieged by many and diverse scientific experiments over the past one hundred years. Applied science and technology have seen a literal explosion of top secret and highly classified operations conducted in the atmosphere, throughout the planetary surface, as well as deep within the Earth’s crust. However, none comes close to the degree of round-the-clock damage inflicted on the biosphere as the DARPA-sponsored program of geo-engineering.

Just one component of this secret geo-engineering program is known as chemtrails. For those who have never heard of chemtrails, they are not to be confused with contrails, which are the normal exhaust vapors ejected from jet engines in flight. Here is a photo of numerous chemtrails having just been laid down by special jets equipped to do the job

Can you imagine that the government has labeled these chemtrails as normal contrail activity?

Every reader of this article needs to understand that, where it concerns the outright destruction of the human habitat, geo-engineering reigns supreme in it’s potential to render the planet unfit for life … all life — human, animal, and plant. Geo-engineering has so many different facets to it, each of which are extraordinarily harmful to all levels of the Earth’s atmosphere, the entire surface environment, as well as the subterranean geology and oceans of the world.So dangerous and little understood are the far-reaching repercussions of this geo-engineering assault that those of us who are initiated in this realm wonder if we are literally “one minute to midnight“.

For the reader’s benefit we have included a short photo-documentary so that all doubt will be removed as to the pervasiveness and relentlessness of chemtrail spraying of the skies throughout the world.
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Surely we have made the point by now, and that point is well taken. If not, then one is necessarily compelled to read further.

What exactly is a chemtrail? What are the toxic chemicals they are spraying on us?

“The term chemtrail is a combination of the words “chemical” and “trail,” just as contrail is a contraction of “condensation trail.” The term does not refer to other forms of aerial spraying such as agricultural spraying (‘crop dusting’), cloud seeding, skywriting, or aerial firefighting. The term specifically refers to aerial trails … caused by the systematic high-altitude release of chemical substances not found in ordinary contrails, resulting in the appearance of characteristic sky tracks.

“The chemtrail … trails left by aircraft are chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes for purposes undisclosed to the general public and directed by various government officials.

“… the existence of chemtrails … phenomena as streams that persist for hours and that, with their criss-cross, grid-like or parallel stripe patterns, eventually blend to form large clouds. Proponents view the presence of visible color spectra in the streams, unusual concentrations of sky tracks in a single area, or lingering tracks left by unmarked or military airplanes flying at atypical altitudes or locations as markers of chemtrails.
– Wikipedia

(You know when Wikipedia provides such an accurate description, superficial though it may be, that there’s much more to this covert op than even the best researchers have been able to determine.)

For a more in depth discussion we will defer to the experts who have scientifically analyzed chemtrails to the greatest extent possible. Their explanation is as good as it gets.
GeoEngineering Watch

As for the chemical components which have been found in their wake, these known toxins can no longer be denied. The following website is a good place to start to answer these two questions.
Geoengineering & Chemtrails: What In The World Are They Spraying? And Why?

Here is a list of chemicals which are routinely disseminated via chemtrail spraying:

“Over the past decade, independent testing of Chemtrails around the country has shown a dangerous, extremely poisonous brew that includes: barium, nano aluminum-coated fiberglass [known as CHAFF], radioactive thorium, cadmium, chromium, nickel, desiccated blood, mold spores, yellow fungal mycotoxins, ethylene dibromide, and polymer fibers. Barium can be compared to the toxicity of arsenic. Barium is known to adversely affect the heart. Aluminum has a history of damaging brain function. Independent researchers and labs continue to show off-the-scale levels of these poisons. A few “anonymous” officials have acknowledged this on-going aerosol spraying.”[1]

We in no way mean to minimize the incessant injury to human health across the planet which occurs through the breathing and ingestion of the chemicals which are contained in chemtrails. What good can possibly come from barium salts or aluminum oxide or vaporized mercury or strontium 90 or uranium 238 being sprayed throughout the skies worldwide? Clearly, the extremely deleterious effects to human health, as well as to all living organisms, is self evident.

However, the purpose of this essay is not to further unveil their agenda with regard to human engineering of the physical organism. Rather, the scope of this article is to lay bare the most profound and fundamental alterations which geo-engineering is producing to the planet and its atmosphere. When these are both permanently altered in ways that are irreversible, the human race is then confronted with an extinction level event (ELE). Ongoing, slow motion, insidious, under the radar, pernicious to living organisms, but nevertheless an ELE.

Geo-engineering is a term which includes highly advanced forms of applied science and technologies, various newfangled chemical agents and synthetic materials, scientific bending of physical reality, as well as an assortment of reverse engineered modalities which are combined to produce specific outcomes. Because of the complexity of this essentially callow experiment, there are an infinite number of permutations which can be executed at any given time or place. Therefore, the number of opportunities for things to go wrong can be intensified exponentially.

Of course, the Butterfly Effect takes on new and dramatic meaning in the context of geo-engineering because nothing ever happens in a vacuum on this blue orb of ours. In fact, the more that the scientific community attempts to engineer weather (e.g. by manipulating hurricane and tornadoes or creating rain clouds) the more the boomerrang effect takes hold.

“A butterfly flaps its wings somewhere and the wind changes, and a warm front hits a cold front off the coast of western Africa and before you know it you’ve got a hurricane closing in. By the time anyone figured out the storm was coming, it was too late to do anything but batten down the hatches and exercise damage control.” ― Karen Marie Moning, Darkfever

For those who have never seen the actual aerosol sprays being ejected from the planes which are specially equipped, here are just a few snapshots. We only wish to make the point that this global chemtrail operation is certainly a ‘little more’ consequential than a butterfly beating its wings in Brazil or Botswana.

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HAARP-generated frequencies being conveyed through chemtrail-laden skies

The rapid proliferation of chemtrail spraying over the past few years has greatly increased the opportunities for frequencies to be disseminated through the ‘new’ atmosphere that is being engineered. These frequencies are set to produce a number of different outcomes, the most significant being to slow down the global warming phenomenon which is currently manifesting everywhere on the planet.

Because of such ill-fated attempts to effectuate such drastic changes in weather patterns that have been established for centuries, we now see drought where rain was once plentiful. And monsoons where there was drought.

For instance there are locations in Northern California and Oregon that have been without rain for six months. The forests in that area are literally dying because of lack of water and their consequent weakening which makes them susceptible to pestilence and disease.

Likewise, there are areas in the Southeast such as Florida and South Georgia which have just seen their first monsoon season in modern history. The meteorological dynamics for both of these radical shifts are directly cause by geo-engineering. In fact, although it is a very complicated story, and one that is almost unbelievable at times, conclusive evidence has been amassed that supports the ubiquitous damage to the environment caused by chemtrails and geo-engineering.

In our next essay we will lay bare the geo-engineering agenda which has given rise to these climatological anomalies. When evaluated in the aggregate around the globe, it will be understood that weather patterns on Planet Earth will never be the same again. It is for this reason that the Cosmic Convergence Research Group (CCRG) has begun this series on Geo-engineering and Chemtrails.

There is perhaps no greater threat to the sustainability of life on Earth than this issue of geo-engineering. One of the primary reasons is because it remains hidden and denied by the governments of the world. Therefore it continues unabated, and is expanded with every turn of the globe.

Those of us who know and have witnessed its exceptionally destructive results, and have protested, have been faced with fierce resistance. We intend to deeply explore the reasons for this unparalleled obstruction, and reveal how critical it is that humankind terminate this agenda once and for all.

For reasons that will become obvious, the CCRG highly recommends the viewing and distribution of the following two videos:

What in the World Are They Spraying? (Full Length)

Why in the World are They Spraying? (Full Length Documentary)

Conclusion

How can their possibly be a conclusion to this introductory piece on geo-engineering when we’ve barely scratched the surface?

When glaciers that have survived over millennia are melting at record rates, and the polar icecaps are disintegrating before our eyes, one begins to apprehend the gravity of this matter. Were one to objectively assess the catastrophic weather events over the past ten years, it would become readily apparent that forces are at work that cannot be slowed down. Any attempt to do so will only make matters substantially worse. And so they have.

Because of man’s insistence on playing god with the forces of nature, the normal balance has been irrevocably altered. As the scientific community continues to apply a “pharmaceutical approach” to fix things, it is clear that much worse scenarios are being set in motion. By treating the symptoms of a planetary transformation which must take its course, those governments and corporations responsible have essentially thrown more fuel on the fire. The “fire” of global warming (or global climate change, whichever you prefer) will not be extinguished until Mother Earth has completed a requisite period of renewal and rebirth.

It’s now time for the planetary civilization to participate in, rather than impede, this necessary process of planetary metamorphosis.

Cosmic Convergence Research Group
Submitted: September 11, 2013
[email protected]

Notes

[1] “Chemtrails: The Consequences of Toxic Metals and Chemical Aerosols on Human Health” By Dr. Ilya Sandra Perlingieri, Global Research, May 12, 2010

Required Reading:

To fully understand why such a fundamentally flawed geo-engineering paradigm
was even created, the following essay will provide some answers:

Cosmic Convergence Accelerates Epochal Planetary Transformation

Author’s Note

The key take-away from this essay is that geo-engineering represent perhaps the single greatest threat to the biosphere. Because of its pervasiveness and profundity, geo-engineering has the potential to perpetuate numerous self-destructive feedback loops many of which have already been operative for decades.
Especially when considered in the context of 2013 catastophism, geo-engineering may very well provide the straw that breaks the back of Planet Earth. Why? Because of the convergence of so many other ongoing events and processes – both manmade and naturally occurring on the earth and within the solar system – which present considerable stresses to the planetary living environment.

When the multitude of ecosystems start to collapse around the world, those breaking points become history. Each of them may eventually translate to a point of no return, if they haven’t already. As certain key environmental thresholds are exceeded, humankind is challenged to reverse trends which may no longer be possible to reverse. Too many detrimental and/or counter-productive trajectories are already pointing northward.

It is in this global context which geo-engineering can produce many awesome, unknown, and irrevocable unintended consequences. It appears to serve as a trigger for much of what has already been thrown out of balance. By working synergistically with other negative feedback loops, geo-engineering can also serve to significantly accentuate various downward spirals of planetary and atmospheric degradation.
That’s precisely why it must be terminated — NOW!

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Direct Rule by Wall Street Begins with Detroit

October 23rd, 2013 by Glen Ford

The United States has never been much of a democracy. Money has always wielded decisive power, despite the formal trappings of the electoral franchise. However, finance capital can no longer tolerate even the U.S.’s weak version of democracy – certainly, not when exercised by Black people. Detroit is the model for direct rule by the Lords of Capital.

Two items in the news this week put in graphic relief the overarching reality of our times: Wall Street is every day tightening its dictatorial grip on the political and economic life of the United States. The American state and economy are being relentlessly restructured in order to further consolidate the rule of finance capital. In the largely Black urban centers of the nation, the oligarchy intends to rule directly, without the inconvenience of meaningful elections and the other trappings of democracy.

Detroit proves the point. This week, a judge begins a bankruptcy court trial that will decide if local corporate dictator Kevyn Orr, the emergency financial manager imposed by the state to protect the interests of Wall Street, will essentially be allowed to sell Detroit’s assets to a British bank in order to pay off the city’s debts to American banks. The pensions of city workers may also be gutted in the process.

The city council of Detroit this week voted unanimously against the deal, but that is probably irrelevant, since the emergency manager law has stripped all power from Detroit’s elected officials. Democracy is dead in Detroit, as it is in all of Michigan’s largely Black cities, every single one of which is now run by a corporate dictator. The majority of Michigan’s African American citizens have no more electoral rights than did Blacks in South Africa under apartheid.

This new political regime has been carefully crafted to the specifications of Wall Street. City revenues from Detroit’s casino and income taxes will go directly through accounts of Barclays Bank. And if, for some reason, the emergency manager loses legal control of the city, then Barclays would be allowed to declare Detroit in default and begin seizing its assets, for liquidation – that is, the bankers would be empowered to exercise outright ownership of the city. Detroit will then serve as a model for the rest of urban America.

Also this week, the U.S. Justice Department reached an agreement with JP Morgan Chase, the country’s biggest bank in terms of assets, whose chairman and chief executive, Jamie Dimon, is a good friend of President Obama. The settlement calls for $9 billion in fines and sets aside $4 billion in relief to homeowners that were victimized by the banks’ mortgage securities practices. Nobody, of course, will go jail or even face criminal charges for the multitude of felonies committed by high JP Morgan executives – crimes that would be categorized as racketeering offenses were the perpetrators not part of a ruling class that is immune from prosecution. Jamie Dimon, the Godfather of JP Morgan’s criminal enterprise, has the privilege of bargaining with the U.S. Attorney General over the size of the fine his bank will pay. Dimon himself, of course, won’t pay a cent, despite his role in throwing millions out of work and costing the world economy many trillions of dollars. His class has emerged from the crisis they created stronger than ever: too big to fail, too big to jail, more than big enough to gobble up Detroit, bigger than the voting rights of U.S. citizens – especially Black citizens – which can be cancelled when democracy gets in the way of Wall Street. All Power to the Bankers!

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

The year 2014 could be shaping up as the year that the chickens come home to roost. 

Americans, even well-informed ones, don’t know all of the mistakes made by neoconized and corrupted Washington in the past two decades.  However, enough is known to see that the US has lost economic and political power, and that the loss is irreversible. 
The economic cost of this lost will be born by what remains of the middle class and the increasingly poverty-stricken lower class.  The one percent will have offshore gold holdings and large sums of money in foreign currencies and other foreign assets to see them through.
In the political arena, the collapse of the Soviet Union presented Washington with the grand opportunity to reallocate the Pentagon budget to other uses. Part of the reduction could have been returned to taxpayers for their own use. Another part could have been used to improve worn out infrastructure.  And another part could have been used to repair and improve the social safety net, thus insuring domestic tranquility.  A final, but perhaps most important part, could have been used to begin repaying the Treasury IOUs in the Social Security Trust Fund from which Washington has borrowed and spent $2 trillion, leaving non-marketable IOUs in the place of the Social Security payroll tax revenues that Washington raided in order to fund its wars and current operations.
Instead, influenced by neoconservative warmongers who advocated America using its “sole superpower” status to establish hegemony over the world, Washington let hubris and arrogance run away with it.  The consequence was that Washington destroyed its soft power with lies and war crimes, only to find that its military power was insufficient to support its occupation of Iraq, its conquest of Afghanistan, and its financial imperialism.
Now seen universally as a lawless warmonger and a nuisance, Washington’s  soft power has been squandered. With its influence on the wane, Washington has become more of a bully.  In response, the rest of the world is isolating Washington.
The prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, recently declared China and Russia to be India’s “most important partners” with whom India shares “common strategic interests.” Prime Minister Singh said: “ India and Russia have always had a convergence of views on global and regional issues, and we value Russia’s perspective on international developments of mutual interest.”
India joined China in expressing concerns about the Federal Reserve’s practice of printing money in order to cover Washington’s vast red ink.  The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) are taking steps to create their own method of settling trade accounts in order to protect themselves from the looming dollar implosion,
China has forcefully called for a “de-Americanized world.” After watching the “superpower” offshore a large part of its GDP to China and then add to the diminished tax base the burden of $6 trillion in wars that brought no booty and served no US interest, China has concluded that American power is spent.  The London Telegraph thinks “it is only a matter of time before the renminbi replaces the dollar as the primary currency for trading commodities and resources.”
The Obama regime attempted to attack Syria based on the sort of lies that the Bush regime used to invade Iraq, only to be slapped down by the British Parliament and Russian government. This rebuke was followed by the childishness of the government shutdown and threat of default. Consequently, the Washington morons have lost their monopoly on economic and political leadership. A few days ago the British government announced a historic agreement that permits British investors direct access to China’s markets and allows Chinese banks to expand their operations in Great Britain. 
In Australia, the US dollar will no longer be used as the currency in which to settle the Australian trade accounts with China.  Instead of dollars, trade will be settled in the
Chinese currency.
Washington served as cheerleader, as did most economists and libertarians, while US corporations, greedy for short-term profits and executive bonuses, offshored US industry and manufacturing, calling it free trade. The obvious and predicted result is that China’s demand for resources needed to fuel its industrial and manufacturing power now dominates markets. This means that the US dollar is being displaced as world currency.  The only market that America dominates is the market for financial fraud.
When industrial, manufacturing, and tradeable professional service jobs are offshored, they take US GDP and tax base with them. The foreign country gets the benefit of the relocated economic activity. Due to the revenues lost from jobs offshoring, there is a large gap between federal revenues and federal expenditures. As Washington’s irresponsible behavior has raised so many doubts about the dollar’s value and the government’s commitment to stand behind its massive debt, foreign countries with trade surpluses with the US are less and less willing to recycle those surpluses into the purchase of US Treasury debt. 
Today the two largest holders of US Treasury debt are not investors or even foreign central banks. The two largest holders are the Federal Reserve and the Social Security Trust Fund.
As for those $6 trillion wars, that’s to pay for national defense to protect us from women, children, and village elders in far away countries devoid of air forces and navies, and to provide those recycled taxpayer monies from the military/security complex that find their way into political contributions.
The Wall Street gangsters sighed for relief over the last minute debt ceiling agreement.
This shows how short-term Wall Street’s outlook is. All the October agreement did was to push off the crisis to January and February. The “debt ceiling agreement” did not produce a new debt ceiling that would last beyond February, and it did not resolve the large difference between federal revenues and expenditures.  In other words, the can was again kicked down the road. A repeat of the October fiasco won’t play well.
Obamacare is causing the premiums on private insurance polices to rise substantially, almost doubling in some situations unless people move to the uncertain exchanges, and Obamacare’s raid on Medicare payroll tax revenues has resulted in a cut in Medicare payments to health care providers. The result is a further reduction in consumer discretionary income and a further drop in the economy.
This in turn means a larger federal budget deficit and the need for the Federal Reserve to purchase more debt.
Another reason the Federal Reserve is faced with increasing, not tapering, quantitative easing (money printing) is the decline in foreign purchases of US Treasury bills, notes, and bonds.  As the instruments pay interest that is less than the rate of inflation, holding Treasury debt makes no sense when the dollar’s value and the potential of default are open questions.
According to reports, not only are foreign governments, such as China, ceasing to buy US Treasury debt, China has started to sell off its holdings, substituting gold in the place of US Treasury debt.
This means that the bonds must be purchased by the Fed or interest rates will rise as
the increased supply of bonds on the market drives down bond prices.  The only way the Fed can purchase a larger supply of bonds is by printing more money, that is, by more quantitative easing.
With the world moving away from using the dollar to settle international accounts, as the Fed prints more dollars the rate at which foreign holders of dollar assets sell off their holdings will rise.
To get out of dollars requires that the dollar proceeds from selling Treasuries, US stocks and US real estate be sold in the currency markets.  The selling of dollars drives down the exchange value of the US dollar and results in rising US inflation. The Fed can print money with which to purchase Treasury debt, but it cannot print foreign currencies with which to purchase dollars.
The decline in the dollar’s exchange value and the domestic inflation that results will force the Fed to stop printing.  What then covers the gap between revenues and expenditures? The likely answer is private pensions and any other asset that Washington can get its hands on.
Initially, private pensions will be taxed at a rate to recover the tax-free accumulation in the pensions. The second year a national emergency will be used to confiscate some share of pensions.  Those relying on the pensions will find themselves with less income. Consumer spending will decline. The economy will worsen. The deficit will widen.
You can see where this is going, and there seems to be no way out.  Policymakers, economists, and corporation executives are in denial about the adverse effects of offshoring, which they still, despite all the evidence, maintain is good for the economy.  So nothing will be done about offshoring. Republicans will blame the budget deficit on welfare and entitlements, and if those are cut consumer spending will decline further, widening the budget deficit. Inflation will rise as incomes fall, and social cohesion will break down.
Now you know why Homeland Security purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition, enough ammunition to fight the Iraq war for 12 years, has its own para-military force and 2,700 tanks.  If you think the “terrorist threat” in America warrants a domestic armed force of this size, you are out of your mind. This force has been assembled to deal with starving and homeless people in the streets of America.

 September employment report:  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), September brought 148,000 new jobs, enough to keep up with population growth but not reduce the unemployment rate.  Moreover, John Williams (shadowstats.com) says that one-third of these jobs, or 50,000 per month on average, are phantom jobs produced by the birth-death model that during difficult economic times overestimates the number of new jobs from business startups and underestimates job losses from business failures.

The BLS reports that 22,000 of September’s jobs were new hires by state governments, which seems odd in view of the ongoing state budgetary difficulties.
In the private sector, wholesale and retail trade produced 36,900 new jobs, which seems odd in light of the absence of growth in real median family income and real retail sales.
Transportation and warehousing produced 23,400 new jobs, concentrated in transit and ground passenger transportation.  This also seems odd unless the price of gasoline and pinched budgets are forcing people onto public transportation.
Professional and business services accounted for 32,000 jobs of which 63% are  temporary help jobs.
So here you have the job picture that the presstitutes, hyping “the jobs gain,” don’t tell you.  The scary part of the September job report is that the usual standby, the category of waitresses and bartenders, which has accounted for a large part of every reported jobs gain since I began reporting the monthly statistics, shows job loss. Seven thousand one hundred waitresses and bartenders lost their jobs in September.  If this figure is not a fluke, it is bad news.  It signals that fewer Americans can afford to eat and drink out.
The unemployment rate that is reported is the rate that does not count as unemployed discouraged workers who are unable to find jobs and cease to look. This favored rate,
the darling of the regime in power, the presstitutes, and Wall Street, also is not adjusted for the category of “involuntary part-time workers,” those whose hours have been cut back or because they are unable to find a full-time job.  Obamacare, as is widely reported, is causing employers to shift their work forces from full time to part time in order to avoid costs associated with Obamacare. The BLS places the number of involuntary part-time workers at 7,900,000.  
The announced 7.2% unemployment rate is a meaningless number.  The rate can decline for no other reason than people unable to find jobs drop out of the work force. You are not counted in the work force if you are discouraged about finding a job and no longer look for a job.
The phenomena of discouraged workers shows up in the measure of the labor force participation rate, which has declined in the 21st century.  The opportunities for American labor are so restricted that a rising percentage of the working age population have given up looking for jobs.
Yet, the Obama regime, the Wall Street gangsters, and the pressitute media tell us how much better the economic situation is becoming as more small businesses close, as memberships decline in golf clubs, as more university graduates return home to live with their parents, who are drawing down their savings to live, as Fed Chairman Bernanke has made it impossible for them to live on interest payments on their savings.
According to the US census bureau, real median household income in 2012 was $51,017, down 9% from $56,080 in 1999, 13 years ago. In contrast, annual compensation in 2012 for US CEOs broke all records.  Two CEOs were paid more than $1 billion, and the worst paid among the top ten took home $100 million. When the presstitutes speak of economic recovery, they mean recovery for the one percent.
America is in the toilet, and the rest of the world knows it.  But the neocons who rule in Washington and their Israeli ally are determined that Washington start yet more wars to create lebensraum for Israel.
Early in the 21st century the liberal Democrat Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, and I coauthored an article in the New York Times about the adverse effects on the US economy of jobs offshoring. The article caused a sensation.  The Brookings Institution in Washington quickly convened a conference which was covered by C-SPAN.  C-SPAN rebroadcast the conference several times. During the conference I said that if jobs offshoring continued, the US would be a third world economy in 20 years.  
Wall Street quickly shut up Senator Schumer, but I am sticking by my forecast.  Indeed, I think we are already there.

 

China, Gold Prices and US Default Threats

October 23rd, 2013 by F. William Engdahl

24 karat gold bars are seen at the United States West Point Mint facility in West Point, New York June 5, 2013. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

In the very days when a deep split in the US Congress threatened a US government debt default, the gold price should normally jump through the roof, yet the opposite was the case. It is worth a closer look why.

Since August 1971, when US President Richard Nixon unilaterally tore up the Bretton Woods Treaty of 1944 and told the world that the Federal Reserve ‘gold window’ was permanently closed, Wall Street banks and US and City of London financial powers have done everything imaginable to prevent gold from again becoming the basis of trust in a currency.

On Friday, October 11, when there was no sign of any deal between US Congress members and the Obama White House that would end the government shutdown, the Chicago CME Group, which operates Comex – the Chicago Commodity Exchange, where contracts in gold derivatives are traded – announced that at 8:42am Eastern time the trading was halted for 10 seconds after a safety mechanism was triggered because a 2-million-ounce (56.7 million grams) gold futures sell order was executed.

Something rotten in gold market 

The result of that huge paper gold sale was that at just the time when a possible US government debt default would send investors in a panic rush to the safety of buying gold, instead, the price plunged $30 an ounce to a three-month low of $1,259.60 an ounce. Market insiders believe the reason was direct market manipulation.

David Govett, head of precious metals at bullion broker Marex Spectron, calls the sudden huge futures sale suspicious.

“These moves are becoming more and more prevalent and to my mind have to either be the work of someone attempting to manipulate the market or someone who really shouldn’t be trusted with the sums of money they are throwing around. There are ways of entering and exiting a market so that minimum damage is caused and whoever is entering these orders has no intention of doing that,” Govett said.

UBS gold trader Art Cashin echoed the suspicion.

“…if that happens once it could be an accident of technology, or it could be a simple error. But when it happens five times over a period of months, it does raise questions. Is it being done purposefully? Is somebody trying to influence the market?” 

That ‘someone’ market sources believe is the Obama White House, in league with the Federal Reserve and key Wall Street banks that would be ruined were gold to really rise.

In March 1988, five months after the worst one-day stock market plunge in history, President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12631. Order 12631 created the Working Group on Financial Markets, known on Wall Street as the ‘Plunge Protection Team’ because its job was to prevent any future unexpected financial market panic selloff or ‘plunge’.

The group is headed by the US Treasury Secretary and includes the chairman of the Federal Reserve, the head of the Securities & Exchange Commission, and the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) which is responsible for monitoring derivatives trading on exchanges.

Numerous times since 1988, reports have surfaced of secret interventions by the Plunge Protection Team to prevent a market panic selloff that could threaten the role of the US dollar. Former Clinton White House staff chief George Stephanopoulos admitted in 2006 that it was used to support the markets in the 1998 Russia/LTCM crisis under Bill Clinton, and again after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

One ounce 24 karat gold proof blanks are seen at the United States West Point Mint facility in West Point, New York June 5, 2013. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)One ounce 24 karat gold proof blanks are seen at the United States West Point Mint facility in West Point, New York June 5, 2013. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

He said“They have an informal agreement among major banks to come in and start to buy stock if there appears to be a problem.”

Clearly stocks are not the only thing the government manipulates. Gold these days is a prime focus. The price of gold in recent years—since the eruption of the US dot.com IT stock bubble in 2000—has exploded from around $300 an ounce to a recent record high above $1,900 in August, 2011. Gold rose an impressive 70 percent from December 2008 to June 2011, after the Lehman Brothers collapse and the start of the Greek crisis in the eurozone.

Since then, with no clear reason, gold has reversed and lost more than 31 percent, despite the fact that talk of a unilateral Israeli military strike on Iran and the US financial debacle combined with a euro crisis, and now, threat of US government default, created overall huge demand for investment in gold.

This past April 10, the heads of the five largest US banks, the Wall Street ‘Gods of Money’ — JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup — requested a closed door meeting with Obama at the White House. Fifteen days later, on April 25, the largest one-day fall in history in gold took place. Later investigation of trading records at Comex revealed that one bank, JP Morgan Securities, was behind the huge selloff of gold derivatives. Derivatives are pieces of paper or bets on future gold or other commodity prices. To buy gold futures is very inexpensive compared with gold but influence the real physical gold price, largely because the US Congress, under lobby influence from Wall Street, since 2000 and the Commodity Trading Modernization Act, has left gold derivatives unregulated. The President’s Plunge Protection Team was at work now as well, clearly.

China smiles & buys

In effect a war, a financial war, is underway between the Wall Street giant banks and their close allies, including the major City of London banks and banks like Deutsche Bank on the one side, using paper gold derivatives trading in the unregulated COMEX, with covert support of the US Treasury and Fed. On the other side are real investors and Central Banks who believe that the world financial system, especially the dollar system, is teetering on the brink of disaster and that physical gold is the historical best safe haven in such a crisis.

Here, the recent buying of gold reserves by several central banks including Russia, Turkey and especially China, are notable. The short-term derivative gold price manipulations by JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are creating smiles at the Peoples’ Bank of China and the Russian Central Bank among other buyers of physical gold. Since 2006 Russia’s central bank has increased its gold reserves by 300 percent.

Now, the Chinese central bank has just revealed data showing that China imported 131 gross tons of gold in the month of August, a 146 percent increase compared to a year prior. August was the second highest gold importing month in its history. More impressively, China has imported more than 2,000 tons of gold in the past two years. According to a 2011 cable made public by WikiLeaks, the Peoples’ Bank of China is quietly seeking to make the renminbi (the yuan) the new gold-backed reserve currency.

Hmmmm.

According to unofficial calculations, the Peoples’ Bank of China today holds about 3,500 tons of monetary gold, surpassing Germany, to make it number two in the world after the Federal Reserve.

24 karat gold bars are seen at the United States West Point Mint facility in West Point, New York June 5, 2013. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)24 karat gold bars are seen at the United States West Point Mint facility in West Point, New York June 5, 2013. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

And there are grave doubts whether the Federal Reserve actually holds the 8,044 tons of gold it claims it does. The former International Monetary Fund director, France’s Dominique Straus-Kahn, demanded an independent audit of the Federal Reserve gold after the US refused to deliver to the IMF 191 tons of gold agreed to under the IMF Articles of Agreement signed by the Executive Board in April 1978 to back Special Drawing Rights issuance. Immediately before he could rush back to Paris, he was hit by a bizarre hotel sex scandal and abruptly forced to resign. Straus-Kahn had been shown a secret Russian intelligence report prepared for President Vladimir Putin in which ‘rogue’ CIA agents revealed that the US Federal Reserve had no gold reserves and only lied that it did.

The stakes for Washington and Wall Street in depressing the gold price are staggering. Were gold to soar to $10,000 or more, where many believe current demand-supply pressures would find it, there would be a panic selloff of the dollar and of US Treasury bonds. China now holds a record $3.7 trillion of foreign currency reserves and the US Treasury bonds and bills are about half that.

That selloff would send US interest rates sky-high, forcing a chain-reaction of corporate and personal bankruptcies that have been avoided since the financial crisis broke in 2007 only owing to record near-zero Federal Reserve interest rates. That selloff, in turn, would be the end of the US as the world’s sole superpower. Little wonder the Obama Administration is manipulating gold. It cannot last very long at this pace, however.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

As a High Court hearing on UK involvement in torture and rendition enters its third day, documents released detail the ordeal faced by the pregnant wife of a Gaddafi opponent during her 2004 ‘rendition.’

Fatima Boudchar and her husband Abdul-Hakim Belhadj are bringing a claim against the Government, MI6 and then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw over their role in the kidnap and forcible transfer of the couple to Gaddafi’s prisons – in what has been described as the secret counterpart to Tony Blair’s ‘Deal in the Desert’ with the Libyan dictator.

Court documents released today, prepared by the couple’s legal team and human rights charity Reprieve, describe how Ms Boudchar – who was heavily pregnant at the time – was blindfolded, taken to a cell and “chained to the wall by one hand and one leg,” before being “taped to a stretcher tightly making her fear for her baby” and forced on board a CIA jet.

“Upon arrival in Tripoli,” they go on to say, “the First Claimant [Mr Belhadj] was beaten again. The Second Claimant [Ms Boudchar] could no longer feel her baby move in her womb and was concerned that he had died. Both Claimants were taken to Tajoura prison, a detention facility operated by the Libyan intelligence services.”

The documents detail MI6’s part in the operation, noting that “On 18 March 2004, the Second Defendant sent a letter to Moussa Koussa, the head of the Libyan External Security Organisation, warmly congratulating him on the successful capture, kidnap and abduction of the First Claimant.”

MI6’s part in the operation is highlighted in a now-infamous fax from Sir Mark Allen (who is also a defendant in the case along with Jack Straw), which states that: “Amusingly, we got a request from the Americans to channel requests for information from [the First Claimant] through the Americans. I have no intention of doing any such thing. The intelligence about [the First Claimant] was British. I know I did not pay for the air cargo. But I feel I have the right to deal with you direct on this and am very grateful to you for the help you are giving us”

The court documents, which set out the argument being made in today’s hearing by the couple’s lawyers, also point out that the Government’s attempt to get the case thrown out is “incompatible with the rule of law and has grave constitutional implications,” adding that, “If the Defendants are correct, it will leave anyone who is a victim of torture without any remedy if another state was involved in some way in the conduct.”

They also point out that the Government’s case contradicts claims ministers made when seeking to introduce new secret courts earlier this year under the Justice and Security Act: “The Defendants’ position is also incompatible with the Government’s recent programme of legislative reform. The Justice and Security Act 2013 included provisions for closed material procedures to deal with what was said to be the problem of claims such as the instant one. This was predicated on the basis that such claims would proceed. The Defendants now ask the Court to do what they did not seek to do in Parliament.”

Commenting, Reprieve’s Strategic Director, Cori Crider said: “Britain’s collusion in the kidnap and abuse of a pregnant woman shows just how far we strayed from our principles in the so called ‘War on Terror.’  It is now clear that the renditions of Abdul-Hakim Belhadj and Fatima Boudchar were the dark underside to Tony Blair’s deal in the desert, yet neither he, then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw nor the current Government are prepared to give our clients the apology they deserve. Instead they are running a specious and immoral argument that British Courts cannot judge British officials when they are said to have conspired with foreign torturers. Moussa Koussa was MI6′s co-conspirator, not a get out of jail free card.”


Annex

Claim No. HQ12X02603
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
MR JUSTICE SIMON
BETWEEN:

ABDUL-HAKIM BELHAJ
FATIMA BOUDCHAR

Claimants

RT HON JACK STRAW MP
SIR MARK ALLEN CMG
THE SECRET INTELLIGENCE SERVICE
THE SECURITY SERVICE
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
THE FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE
THE HOME OFFICE

Defendants

See Complete Court Transcript at Reprieve’s website

 Ms Boudchar’s treatment is detailed from paragraph 2.2.12 onwards of the skeleton argument. 

For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166 / [email protected]

Captain Phillips is a movie about the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama commercial container ship by Somali pirates. Pirates, one of Americans’ most beloved figures—consider the popularity of the recent Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy—are loathsome savages in this film. They kill their own, abandon their own, don’t aid their own when they are injured, and are portrayed as generally lacking in even the most rudimentary forms of human compassion. By contrast, Tom Hanks, who plays the eponymous Captain Phillips, urges the Somali pirates to treat their wounded; expresses paternal concern for his captors—“What are you, sixteen, seventeen? You’re too young to be out here doing this”; conveys indignation over the pirates’ conduct—“Is this how you do business? By shooting people?”; and repeatedly tells the hijackers that they could leave, right now, with $30,000, no questions asked—evoking a smarmy game show host (I kept picturing Regis Philbin).

I suppose the idea is that the pirates weren’t acting out of desperation, but greed. Apparently, casting wasn’t on the same page, since the actors portraying the pirates are cadaverously thin. Though it wouldn’t surprise me if, in our merciless age of austerity, starvation wasn’t regarded as justification for theft. Perhaps if the pirates had raided pensions instead of corporate freighters the film would’ve treated them more charitably.

Phillips, who by the end of the film is shown arms tied to the wall, producing a cruciform image, falls short of his role as Christ figure. The ship’s chief engineer told CNN, “it was the captain’s recklessness that steered them into pirate-infested waters.” Crew members said that Phillips pursued this dangerous route in order to save money. Now the crew is suing the shipping corporation for putting them in harm’s way, with Phillips playing a nasty role in the lawsuit. To quote a Businessweek headline on the topic, “Hero of Captain Phillips Movie Portrayed as Villain in Lawsuit”.

Though the extent to which Phillips falls short of the movie’s exaltation is somewhat surprising, the film’s depiction of Somalis is not. Somalis have served as convenient villains for Hollywood in the past. Blackhawk Down portrayed Somalis as ruthless and bloodthirsty, while making sure to depict Americans as honoring every life. Unfortunately, the facts don’t support this narrative. In the real Blackhawk Down incident, 1,000 Somalis were killed as US rangers dropped into a crowded marketplace. The film was so distorted in its depiction of Somalis that the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in California called for a boycott of the movie, saying it “portrays Somalis as violent savages”.

Captain Phillips is keen to mention that the Maersk Alabama was carrying some humanitarian aid, but neglects to mention the US’ extensive crimes in the region. For example, the US supported the brutal dictator of Somalia, Siad Barre, until his loss of power in 1991. The US’ “humanitarian” mission, “Operation Restore Hope”, killed 7,000–10,000 Somalis and resulted in a civil war, famine, and political chaos.

In 2001 the US closed al Barakaat, a money transfer company, claiming that it was being used to funnel money to al Qaeda. The organization had no connection to al Qaeda, and thousands of poverty-stricken Somalis depended on the money transferred through al Barakaat from family abroad. Somalia specialist Michel Del Buono stated that the decision to close al Barakaat was “equivalent to killing civilians”.

In 2006 it came out that the US had been financing warlords in Somalia. These warlords created death squads that terrorized the country by killing or capturing anyone who supported Islamic movements. Some of those captured by the death squads were turned over to the US for money, where they weretortured.

In response to the terrorism of the US-backed warlords, religious factions began to unite to fight off the warlords. The factions united under the name, The Union of Islamic Courts. The UIC ushered in a justice system as well as stability, which allowed the unrestricted delivery of aid to malnourished Somalis. By 2006 the UIC had united almost all of Somalia. The top UN official on Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, stated that the time of the UIC rule was the “golden era” and the only break from the steady stream of misery for Somalis. The UIC was the first semblance of a stable central government in 15 years.

A leaked diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks revealed that the US wouldn’t tolerate the UIC gaining control of Somalia. The Bush administration likely believed the UIC would be too independent from US influence and mistakenly saw the UIC as sheltering radical Islamists.

In 2006 the US backed Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia. It was a characteristic US proxy war with US troops on the ground, US intelligence informing strategy, and US air power providing support. The invasion turned into a brutal 2-year occupation, displacing hundreds of thousands and killing 16,000 civilians.

Rob Wise at the Center for Strategic and International Studies says the Ethiopian occupation transformed al Shabaab from a very weak force in Somalia to “the most powerful and radical faction in the country”.

Perhaps most repulsive element of Captain Phillips is its failure to give any explanation for why there are pirates operating off the coast of Somalia. There is no mention of the US role in making Somalia a failed state unable to have a coast guard. The result is that the fishing waters have become ruined by foreigner’s over-fishing and European, Asian, and Gulf companies dumping toxic and nuclear waste into Somali costal waters. The unguarded waters are free trashcans for companies, which would have to pay expensive fees to dispose of their waste elsewhere. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia, said, “There is uranium radioactive waste, there is lead, there are heavy metals like cadmium, and mercury, there is industrial waste, hospital, and chemical wastes.” He continued, “Radioactive waste is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean.”

After 20 years of continual famine, civil war, and the destruction of the ocean, fishermen were left with few options, so they began to engage in piracy.

In 2007 the UN noted that Somalia had higher malnutrition rates, more bloodshed, and fewer aid workers than Darfur. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah described Somalia’s plight as “the worst on the continent”.

The West has been complicit in the destruction of Somalia for 20 years, but physical destruction of Somalia isn’t enough. Hollywood must destroy the character of the Somali people. There may be no act of propaganda more depraved than portraying the victims of your savage aggression as the aggressors.

Paul Gottinger edits the left issues website whiterosereader.org. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @PaulGottinger Ken Klippenstein co-edits whiterosereader.org. He can be reached at[email protected] or on Twitter @KenKlippenstein Read other articles by Paul Gottinger and Ken Klippenstein.

Groups campaigning against Obamacare are funded by multibillionaires Charles and David Koch.

Days before Obama and Congress struck the last-minute budget deal on October 16, the Koch brothers, seeing that their plan had gone wrong, “jumped off the train” and wrote an open letter to Congress, distancing themselves from accusations of a shutdown blackmail conspiracy.

The Voice of Russia spoke with Professor Michel Chossudovsky, founder of the Centre for Research on Globalisation, think tank. Mr. Chossudovsky, has written two detailed articles on the subject.

Is it possible that just two people abide rich and powerful could dictate US politics?

No, I think that we are dealing with a very complex process. There are people like the Koch brothers who may be exerting influence in the corridors of the US Congress but essentially when we talk about the shutdown and the “debt ceiling” we have to look at the structural, historical causes.

We are dealing with fiscal collapse and what is at stake is the future of the Federal Government itself.

This Federal Government is now hit by a debt crisis which is unprecedented. The debt is gone up 70% since the 2008 financial meltdown and at the same time they are implementing what I would describe as “shock and awe economics” which essentially consists in cutting virtually everything, all the entitlement programs of the US administration.

We are essentially experiencing in the US the types of policies applied in several European countries in the last couple of years: very destructive from the social point of view. This is a policy of impoverishing people. Food stamps, social security and of course, Medicare and Medicaid are the programs which are affected. Meanwhile, of course,  Defense and the financing of the war economy remains with a very large military budget.

If the Koch Brothers did indeed pay the Republicans to vote against Obamacare, what could have been their bigger agenda? I’m thinking that obviously the damage that you have just mentioned to not only the reputation of the US, but to the economy, did that not, you know, make a difference to the Koch Brothers, if they were indeed involved in that whole scheme?

I know that this issue has made the headlines and I, as an economist, am very skeptical, because, first of all, the Republicans and the Democrats share the same economic policy agenda. They are both committed to massive austerity measures, irrespective of who is pulling the strings. Why? Because both parties are in fact controlled by the same lobby groups. When we think of lobby groups we are not thinking strictly of one or other rich families like the Koch Brothers. We are talking about Wall Street, we are talking about JP Morgan Chase, we are talking about the Federal Reserve Bank which is a private institution which holds a large portion of the US public debt. And essentially what is now being implemented is a scenario of massive privatization of the federal State system.

We have already had that process occurring at the municipal level where more than a hundred cities across America are technically bankrupt. What happens? Private corporations take over public lands, institutions, state assets. They confiscate essentially what belongs to the public.

Now the question that we have to ask ourselves: Is that type of scenario [of privatization], a possibility in the case of the Federal Government of the United States? I say yes it is. It may not be done exactly in the same way [as in the case of the municipalities] but eventually what we are dealing with is the privatization of the State. And that is not something which is necessarily new, we have seen that happen in developing countries where the IMF comes in and imposes sweeping reforms and then orders the government to privatize state assets in favor to private corporations.

So in a fact, we are experiencing that in the US today. The aftermath of this crisis and the shutdown creates an atmosphere of economic uncertainty: people are loosing their standard of living, there is mass unemployment which is the direct result of macroeconomic reform. And as I mentioned this is “shock and awe”, it’s a process of financial warfare directed against American people.

Right, if this war is to continue to the extreme, what is the result, what the implications would be and could this all be, if we talk about the crisis caused by the same people essentially? And the credit bubble they build could this all have been a part of a much larger plan?

Well, you know, this is not something which is engineered by the individuals. It is engineered by interest groups, by lobby groups, by powerful financial institutions. Now let us look at the scenarios from 2013 onward. If we look at the figures published by the Congress Budget Office (CBO) which is a key body within the US legislature, what they are in fact predicting is a massive curtailment of the budget deficit. from something of the order of 7% down to 2% of GDP in a matter of three fiscal years. Now that in practice represents major cuts in the entitlement programs. So in fact this budgetary shift is a form of economic shock therapy.

Angela Davis

In Canada it is illegal to restrict the sale of property to certain ethnic or religious groups but many of our business people and politicians promote an organization that does exactly that in Israel.

Into the 1950s restrictive land covenants in many exclusive neighbourhoods and communities across Canada made it impossible for Jews, Blacks, Chinese, Aboriginals and others deemed to be non-’white’ to buy property. It was not until after World War II that these policies began to be successfully challenged in court.

In 1948 Annie Noble decided to sell a cottage in the exclusive Beach O’ Pines subdivision on Lake Huron to Bernie Wolf, who was Jewish. During the sale Wolf’s lawyer realized that the original deed for the property contained the following clause: “The lands and premises herein described shall never be sold, assigned, transferred, leased, rented or in any manner whatsoever alienated to, and shall never be occupied or used in any manner whatsoever by any person of the Jewish, Negro or coloured race or blood, it being the intention and purpose of the Grantor, to restrict the ownership, use, occupation and enjoyment of the said recreational development, including the lands and premises herein described, to persons of the white or Caucasian race.”

Noble and Wolf tried to get the court to declare the restriction invalid but they were opposed by the Beach O’ Pines Protective Association. Both a Toronto court and the Ontario Court of Appeal refused to invalidate the racist covenant. But, Noble pursued the case – with assistance from the Canadian Jewish Congress – to the Supreme Court of Canada. In a 6-to-1 decision the highest court reversed the lower courts’ ruling and allowed Noble to purchase the property.

The publicity surrounding the case prompted Ontario to pass a law voiding racist land covenants and in 2009 the Conservative government defined the Noble and Wolf v. Alley Supreme Court case “an event of national historic significance” in the battle “for human rights and against discrimination on racial and religious grounds in Canada.”

Six decades after the Supreme Court delivered this blow to racist property covenants, a Canadian charity that discriminates in land use continues to receive significant public support. Ottawa provides financial and political support to the Jewish National Fund, which owns 13 percent of Israel’s land and has significant influence over most of the rest. Established internationally in 1901 and nine years later in Canada, the JNF’s bylaws and lease documents contain a restrictive covenant stating its property will not be leased to non-Jews.

A 1998 United Nations Human Rights Council report found that the JNF systematically discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up about 20 percent of the country’s population. According to the UN report, JNF lands are “chartered to benefit Jews exclusively,” which has led to an “institutionalized form of discrimination.” Similarly, after an Arab Israeli couple was blocked from leasing a house in the mid-1990s they took their case all the way to Israel’s High Court and in 2005 the court found that the JNF systematically excluded Palestinian citizens of Israel from leasing its property.

More recently, the US State Department’s 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices detailed “institutional and societal discrimination” in Israel. The report noted, “Approximately 93 percent of land was in the public domain, including approximately 12.5 percent owned by the NGO Jewish National Fund (JNF), whose statutes prohibit sale or lease of land to non-Jews.”

For their part, JNF Canada officials are relatively open about the discriminatory character of the organization. In May 2002, JNF Canada’s executive director for eastern Canada, Mark Mendelson, explained: “We are trustees between world Jewry and the land of Israel.” JNF Canada’s head Frank A. Wilson echoed this statement in July 2009: “JNF are the caretakers of the Land of Israel on behalf of its owners, who are the Jewish people everywhere around the world.”

The JNF’s bylaws and operations clearly violate Canadian law. Yet JNF Canada, which raises about $7 million annually, is a registered charity in this country. As such, it can provide tax credits for donations, meaning that up to 40% of their budget effectively comes from public coffers.

On top of its charitable status, JNF Canada has received various other forms of official support. Alberta and Manitoba, for instance, have signed multimillion dollar accords with the JNF while Harper’s Conservatives are strong supporters of the organization. Over the past year ministers Jason Kenney and John Baird have spoken at JNF galas while Peter Kent toured southern Israel with officials from the organization. On December 1 Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to be honored at the JNF Negev Dinner in Toronto, which will be the first time a sitting Canadian prime minister has spoken to a JNF gala in the organization’s 100-year history.

Does Harper support the JNF’s racist land use policies?

Independent Jewish Voices has launched a campaign to revoke the JNF Canada’s charitable status for its racist land use policies and role in dispossessing Palestinians. On December 1 Harper will be greeted by protesters in Toronto while a protest is also planned for the JNF gala in Ottawa on October 29.

In 2011, Stop the JNF in England pushed Prime Minister, David Cameron, to withdraw his patron status from the JNF. Additionally, at least 68 members of the UK parliament have endorsed a call to revoke the organization’s charitable status because “the JNF’s constitution is explicitly discriminatory by stating that land and property will never be rented, leased or sold to non-Jews.”

Here in Canada it would be nice to see progressive politicians such as NDP MP Libby Davies or Green Party leader Elizabeth May circulate a similar call to their colleagues in the House of Commons. At least some federal politicians must oppose Canada subsidizing racist property restrictions.

Several new reports released in the past two weeks by the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), Gender Action, and Better Work Haiti examine working conditions in Haiti’s garment factories and find that most workers are not being paid the wages they are legally owed, even as they are subject to unsafe and unsanitary working conditions, sexual harassment, and other abusive treatment.

new report [PDF] released this week by the WRC, an organization that monitors working conditions in apparel factories producing products sold in the U.S. market, finds that most Haitian garment workers are subject to wage theft. The New York Times’ Randal Archibold and Steven Greenhouse reported this week that

[t]he report …focused on 5 of Haiti’s 24 garment factories and found that “the majority of Haitian garment workers are being denied nearly a third of the wages they are legally due as a result of the factories’ theft of their income.”

The group said that the factories deprive workers of higher wages they are entitled to under law by setting difficult-to-meet production quotas and neglecting to pay overtime.

The WRC report states:

Tacitly complicit in this theft of wages are the major North American apparel brands and retailers, like Gap, Gildan, Hanes, Kohl’s, Levi’s, Russell, Target, VF, and Walmart, that are buyers of garments from Haiti. Although most, if not all, of these firms are well-aware of this law-breaking, they continue with business as usual, profiting from the lower prices that they can obtain from factories that cheat their workers of legally owed wages.

As the Associated Press noted in their coverage of the WRC report:

Under a law that took effect in 2009, garment workers who meet production quotas earn 300 gourdes for an eight-hour day, or $6.81. Workers elsewhere earn 200 gourdes, or $4.54.

The report accuses employers of cheating workers in three ways: Production quotas are set so high that workers can’t meet the goals in a regular work day. Wages paid for overtime are based on an hourly rate below the minimum wage for production workers instead of at a premium rate above this wage as required by law. Some factory workers aren’t paid for work performed before and after their recorded working hours or during lunch breaks.

The report was released the same day that Better Work Haiti, “a partnership of the [International Labor Organization] and the International Finance Corporation” released its biannual review [PDF] of Haitian factories’ compliance with “core labour standards and national labour law in the factories that are eligible for tariff advantages under HOPE II” legislation with the United States. Better Work Haiti examined many more factories – 23 altogether – and also found that most were failing to meet their legal commitments to workers. Only 25 percent of workers were being paid 300 gourds for an eight-hour day, while “The average percentage of piece rate workers earning between 201 and 249 gourdes after eight hours of regular work is 43%, and 32% for those earning between 250 and 299 gourdes…”

This level of pay makes it very difficult for workers to get by. Gender Action noted ina report [PDF] released last week:

According to one study, Haitian women workers were spending half of their daily wages on transport to and from work and a mid-day meal, leaving little funds to provide for their families, including paying school fees for children (Haiti Grassroots Watch 2012b). Unwilling to respect even these very basic pay rates, it is doubtful that garment manufacturers will generate significant economic gains for their Haitian women employees.

WRC noted that “Workers report that as a result of their low wages, they cannot obtain needed medical attention for themselves or their children.”

Factories in the Caracol industrial park – a showcase project of post-quake reconstruction and “U.S. State Department and Clinton Foundation pet project” that has been highly controversial – are among those engaging in wage theft,according to the WRC:

The WRC’s research indicates that a similarly egregious level of wage theft is occurring at the country’s Caracol Industrial Park, a new factory complex on Haiti’s northern coast whose construction was heavily subsidized by the U.S. State Department and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).5 The Caracol complex is slated to eventually employ more than 20,000 workers.

At Caracol, the WRC found that “On average, workers were paid 34% less than the law requires…” Caracol’s anchor tenant, SAE-A, according to the WRC, “produces apparel for Walmart, as well as for other major U.S. retailers, such as Target, Old Navy and Kohl’s.”

In a separate report on the Caracol park, based on interviews with community residents and factory workers (and also released last week), Gender Action concludes that the

estimated 2,000 workers (as of July 2013) barely make ends meet, with unstable jobs in mediocre conditions, let alone invest in surrounding communities. Apparel assembly workers face tremendous pressure to produce more and more for minimal wages, with instances of verbal and, in one documented case, physical abuse. Donors predict that women would be empowered through [Caracol Industrial Park] PIC jobs; based on women workers’ testimony, PIC jobs are not empowering.

One Caracol worker told the New York Times:

“I am forced to live with debt,” said Rositha Guerrier, 27, who has worked at Sae-A for more than a year and said she was told she would be paid 350 Haitian gourdes a day, but makes 200. But like many workers she prefers to stay on the job because she has found few alternatives.

An underpaid female worker, Guerrier can be seen as a typical apparel factory worker. As Gender Action notes, “The garment factory workforce comprises mostly women (CIA 2012). In December 2012, just over 64 percent of garment workers in 24 factories registered by Better Work Haiti…were women (2013: 30).” Disturbingly,Gender Action notes that

Women workers have also expressed concerns about workplace sexual harassment (Better Work 2013: 16). Sexual harassment is often unreported for fear of retaliation, as well as power imbalance between victims and perpetrators. Women workers also have poor sanitation facilities.

Indeed, Better Work Haiti’s new review concluded that “A major issue is that 21 factories were found to not have the legally required number of accessible toilets, as reported in the previous reports.”

Better Work Haiti also found “a 91% non-compliance rate  for Worker Protection,” in part because “Fifteen factories did not have proper guards installed and maintained on all dangerous moving parts of machines and equipment,” and “Electrical wires, switches, plugs were not properly installed, grounded and maintained in six factories.” The Associated Press also noted that “The study …says many Haitian garment workers don’t have sufficient access to toilets, safe drinking water, emergency exits or medical care.”

Dangerous History of ‘Regime Change’

October 23rd, 2013 by Beverly Deepe Keever

South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.

Official Washington justifies military and political interventions in other countries under the theory of “U.S. exceptionalism.” But these “regime changes” often have unexpected results, as with the bloody coup d’etat that removed South Vietnamese President Diem a half-century ago.

On Nov. 1, 1963, a half-century ago, the South Vietnamese government that the United States had backed for nearly a decade was toppled in a military coup d’etat, an act of regime change approved by President John F.  Kennedy.

The Saigon coup ended in the murders of President Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, and – though Diem’s removal was intended to appease the country’s restless Buddhist majority upset with Diem’s favoritism toward his fellow Catholics – the operation proved disastrous for the U.S. and its allies in their fight against communist-led forces.

After the assassination of Diem – and the murder of President John F. Kennedy just 21 days later – U.S. military involvement escalated. President Lyndon Johnson dispatched the first combat units and American forces grew to a peak of 543,000 on March 31, 1969, before a gradual withdrawal and acceptance of defeat. Some 58,000 U.S. soldiers died in the war and political discord deeply divided the home front.

Yet, the details of the Diem killing remained something of a mystery for years, with President Kennedy reportedly shocked that the coup had resulted in the death of the Diem brothers. So, what exactly did President Kennedy authorize? Why did the coup end with two grisly murders? Who was at fault for the coup fiasco and the political chaos that followed?

Some of the mystery was cleared up by the leaking of the secretPentagon Papers in 1971. The internal U.S. government study revealed: “For the military coup d’etat against Ngo Dinh Diem, the U.S. must accept its full share of responsibility. Beginning in August of 1963 we variously authorized, sanctioned and encouraged the coup efforts of the Vietnamese generals and offered full support for a successor government.”

That disclosure led to questioning what right the U.S. had to unleash such a coup d’etat — a question that reverberates even more loudly today with the U.S.-backed or -botched “regime changes” in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. This question was one that Sen. J. William Fulbright said was being ignored — not even mentioned — in all the confidential cable traffic between U.S. officials that was later evaluated by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he headed.

In the preface to the committee’s 75-page staff report, Fulbright wrote: “What is omitted from the story of the Diem coup tells a great deal about the American policy process.  Absent is any questioning by U.S. officials of the U.S. Government’s right to reform the Vietnamese government or to replace it.”

Zeroing in on the U.S. government’s self-anointed “exceptionalism” that undergirds the interventionist impulse of many American leaders, Fulbright summed up, “The right to manipulate the destiny of others is simply assumed.”

Lack of Debate

U.S. complicity revealed in the Pentagon Papers was further lamented by Fulbright: “Perhaps the most important omission, and that which made the others possible, is the exclusion of Congress and the public from the policy-process. The facts of U.S. policy toward the Diem regime were limited to such a tight circle of U.S. officials that significant debate over the desirability of support for Diem, much less of an Indochina presence, was precluded.”

Just why President Kennedy sanctioned the coup was not explained in the Pentagon Papers or other official disclosures. A transcript of audio-recordings of Kennedy’s National Security Council meeting on Oct. 29 – just hours before the Saigon coup began – reveal that Diem’s overthrow was opposed by CIA Director John McCone and Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who warned that even a successful coup would help the communists.

Robert Kennedy, the President’s brother and Attorney General, interjected into the disjointed discussion, “I just don’t see that this makes any sense on the face of it.” He added, “We’re putting the whole future of the country and, really Southeast Asia, in the hands of somebody we don’t know very well.” If the coup fails, he summed up, “We risked a hell of a lot, with the war.”

I had been a public-opinion pollster during the 1960 election campaign that put JFK in the White House. Three years later, as a Newsweek reporter, I was racing through Saigon’s streets to the Presidential Palace as the last coup shots were fired.

I eventually concluded that Diem, who was a Catholic in a predominantly non-Catholic country, had become a political liability for America’s first Catholic president gearing up for re-election the next year. Whether the U.S. could or would have prevailed in South Vietnam with Diem as president is still debated, though – like all “alternative history” – unanswerable.

A long-time witness to world events and a prime contributor to America’s defeat in Vietnam was North Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguven Giap, who died on Oct. 4 at age 102. He masterminded the political-military “people’s war” strategy that defeated America in Vietnam and to which the U.S. has yet to devise an effective counter-strategy.

Instead of Huey helicopters and green-bereted Special Forces that JFK unsuccessfully relied on for victory against Giap and his dedicated guerrillas, the U.S. today employs drones and Seal Team 6s to try to take down Islamic “terrorists.”

Over the last dozen years, the U.S. military has attacked Afghanistan to oust the Taliban who were blamed for giving safe haven to al-Qaeda terrorists; invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein for purportedly hiding WMDs (though he wasn’t); and providing air assets to support the overthrow and murder of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

However, these “regime changes” have given rise to insurgencies and civil wars that the U.S. has been unable to counter successfully. The result: more bloodshed, anguish and uncertainty across a strategically important region and the loss of American ideals, prestige, credibility, lives and money.

Of course, the U.S. involvement in “regime change” did not begin in 1963 with the Diem coup. A decade before, the CIA engineered the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, who was perceived as undermining U.S. and British interests by nationalizing his nation’s oil wealth.

The 1953 coup installed the Shah of Iran, a U.S. puppet who ruled as a tyrant for 26 years until he was swept aside in 1979 by the Islamic revolution that has bedeviled U.S. interests for more than three decades. Although broad outlines of the Mossadegh coup have been known for years, only two months ago did a declassified document obtained through the Freedom of Information Act explicitly confirm the CIA’s orchestration.

Latin America, what some old hands in Official Washington still call “America’s Backyard,” has been the scene of many U.S.-engineered “regime changes” going back almost two centuries to the Monroe Doctrine and including the 1954 coup against Guatemala’s elected president Jacobo Arbenz and the 1973 coup against Chile’s elected president Salvador Allende. Typically such ousters are followed by years of bloodshed, repression and popular resentment toward the U.S.

Transcending this expanse of time and space was Giap’s prophetic observation of 1969 just as American forces in Vietnam were peaking in numbers: “The United States has a strategy based on arithmetic. They question the computers, add and subtract, extract square roots, and then go into action. But arithmetical strategy doesn’t work here. If it did, they’d already have exterminated us.”

What the American strategy failed to take into account, he warned, was the determination of the Vietnamese people to chart their own future. “They don’t reckon on the spirit of a people fighting for what they know is right,” Giap said.

It is a lesson that Official Washington has found difficult to learn.

Beverly Deepe Keever was a Saigon-based correspondent who covered the Vietnam War for a number of news organizations. She has published a memoir, Death Zones & Darling Spies.

Israel: Major International Cocaine Trafficking Hub

October 23rd, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

A June UN Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report named Israel for its “star role.” More on that below.

Israel is a serial lawbreaker. Its rap sheet already overflows. This revelation adds another reprehensible black mark.

The State Department‘s 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report says:

“Israel’s illicit drug trade is regionally focused, with Israel as more of a transit country than a stand-alone significant market.”

“The authorities continue to be concerned with illegal pharmaceutical sales, retail businesses which are suspected money-laundering enterprises, and corruption accusations against public officials.”

An earlier State Department report said “the Israeli drug market continued to be characterized by high demand in nearly all sectors of society and a high availability of drugs including cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, hashish and LSD.”

Drug trafficking and money laundering go hand-in-hand. On July 11, Haaretz headlined “US: Israeli played lead role in international drug money laundering ring.”

Israeli/Colombian Isaac Perez Guberek was named. “Ten Panamanian companies, 11 Colombian companies and one based in Rosh Ha’ayin allegedly built (a) network that laundered hundreds of millions of dollars of drug money.”

A State Department statement said:

“Isaac Perez Guberek Ravinovicz, a Colombian national, and his son, Henry Guberek Grimberg, a dual Colombian and Israeli national, lead a money laundering network based in Bogota, Colombia that launders narcotics proceeds on behalf of numerous drug trafficking organizations, including organizations based in Colombia.”

They “primarily rely upon the use of ostensibly legitimate textile companies within Colombia to engage in trade-based money laundering.”

A US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida press release added:

“(D)efendants are charged with conspiracy to launder the illegal proceeds from the manufacture, importation, sale, and distribution of a controlled substance.”

“If convicted, (they) face a possible maximum statutory sentence of up to 20 years in prison.”

“Money launderers provide a critical service to narco-traffickers, helping them to wash, move, and hide their drug money.”

The US Treasury called father and son Guberek as well as “29 other individuals and entities. Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs).”

On June 26, 2012, Haaretz headlined “IDF soldiers suspected of drug trafficking along Israel’s border with Egypt.”

Twelve soldiers and career junior officers were named. They were “arrested for trafficking in drugs worth some NIS 800,000 (about $200,000).”

“The arrest sweep is one of the largest ever in the IDF.” Suspects are Gaza Division trackers. They’re deployed along Egypt’s border.

Their job is assuring no border breaches. According to IDF military police, “a sergeant first class and a conscript soldier were involved in smuggling heroine, cocaine, hashish and ecstasy.”

On June 21, they were arrested. Others were apprehended days earlier.

According to military police special investigations commander Lt. Col. Gil Mamon, an undercover agent bought drugs from one of the suspects.

Smuggling has been ongoing for months, he said. Three civilians were arrested on suspicion of involvement.

On October 19, Haaretz headlined “Israel becomes major hub in the international cocaine trade, abuse rising.”

Annual UN World Drug Reports discuss ongoing trends. Israel is a major abuser.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) implements UN drug treaties and conventions.

In 2012, it named Brazil and Israel among “countries that are major manufacturers, exporters, importers and users of narcotic drugs.”

Israeli cocaine trafficking is especially significant. Israel’s Anti-Drug Authority (ADA) said cocaine use in Israel doubled from 2005 to 2009.

ADA rehabilitation unit head Haim Mal believes increased use reflects lifestyle changes.

“Whereas people in the past looked for drugs that would soothe them and produce peace of mind, now they are looking for drugs that will enable them to be more alert,” he said.

“Cocaine is a social drug that can be found in nightclubs in Israel’s major cities and among a wide range of users, most of them in the liberal professions.”

Usage is “a social phenomenon that has emerged in Israel as in other countries around the world.”

Heroin damages people physically, he added. “Cocaine damages the soul.”

A young Israeli woman called “G” to maintain anonymity described her experience, saying:

“It was three in the morning and I had already had a number of drinks.”

“The washrooms were really crowded, but not always because of bursting bladders.”

“There was a disorderly lineup that was moving along very slowly. Sometimes the door opened and out would come two to four people, who had emerged from one of the stalls.”

“After about a quarter of an hour, or it might have been 20 minutes, it was my turn.”

“I went in with two friends. One of them took out a bag of coke and began to spread the stuff on a small surface.”

“He then used a credit card to arrange the coke in rows. I took out a 100-shekel note from my pocket, rolled it up and then each of us took turns snorting two rows.”

“At that moment, I still felt nothing. I went to the bar and ordered a vodka chaser. We all then went back to the dance floor. We danced up a storm and felt we could go on doing that forever.”

“Suddenly, you have this burst of energy. Everything was dark around me and I couldn’t give a damn about anyone. I was so full of self-confidence.”

According to the UN’s report, cocaine trafficking and consumption are increasing in developing Asian countries.

Israel was named among others. Cocaine arrived “fashionably late.” Amounts seized are similar to figures other countries report.

In Israel, 63 kilograms were seized in 2009. In 2010, it was 71. In 2011, it jumped to 264. In 2012, it dropped to 171. One pound = 0.454 kg.

Israeli authorities know these amounts are minuscule compared to what’s trafficked and consumed.

Cocaine, hashish and other illicit drugs are readily available. Supply meets demand.

Cocaine is called the drug of the rich. It’s not just about price. Traffickers call it “the drug that lifts you up, because it takes you to the best places imaginable but leaves you sharp and focused – king or queen of the world.”

Crack cocaine use isn’t widespread in Israel. At least not so far. Cocaine consumption began during Britain’s Mandate period.

In 1929, Tel Aviv police seized 800 grams. It was cheap compared to today. It cost about 300 Palestinian pounds.

In America, one gram of pure cocaine costs $100 or more. Price varies according to where sold. It’s much the same in Europe and elsewhere.

According to international law enforcement agencies, Peru became the world’s leading cocaine exporting nation in 2011. In 2012, it trafficked an estimated 538 tons.

Colombia ranks second. In 2012, it exported an estimated 345 tons. Bolivia was third with about 265 tons.

Revenues are huge. Black money attracts organized crime. According to Israeli police:

“There are Israeli crime organizations (involved) with the world’s major drug cartels.”

“Criminals are measured by their ability to traffic huge quantities of drugs and today there are several Israeli criminals who can traffic impressive quantities around the world.”

“Israeli drug criminals have a good reputation in the world because they meet several of the criteria in the field and because Israelis have global connections.”

Israeli criminal ex-pats “never touch the drugs they traffic. They merely serve as middlemen.”

“They open a ‘cashbox,’ namely, a shipping container holding several hundred kilograms of cocaine, and they know how to find investors to fund” it.

Recent police reports say a cashbox en route to Australia was opened. Israeli criminals were involved in the deal.

The police’s International and Serious Crimes Unit arrested members of an international trafficking network earlier.

Some were ex-pats. They worked for Israeli crime boss Yitzhak Abergil.

His illicit activities included drug trafficking, money laundering, murder, extortion, embezzlement, illegal gambling and other crimes.

He operated in Israel, America and elsewhere. He was extradited to America. A 32-count indictment called his crime family one of Israel’s most powerful. His operations continue without him.

In 2008, Israeli police broke up a major international drug trafficking ring. Huge amounts were sold. Other operations continue.

Israeli police conduct intelligence. They work with counterparts worldwide. According to an unnamed high-ranking official:

“Today we work with police forces all over the world on cases that involve not only Israel but also other countries.”

“The information flows constantly between the police forces of different countries.”

“Not only does the Israel Police have nothing to be ashamed of in connection with the war on cocaine trafficking; it has a lot to be proud of.”

Cocaine is hugely profitable. In South America, a kilo (about 2.2 pounds) costs from $3,000 to $5,000.

According to an unnamed Israel Tax Authority drug and money laundering enforcement unit official:

“(Y)ou will almost always find cocaine in the possession of” couriers aboard flights from European countries and Israel.

Superintendent Noam Deshati heads Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport police unit 747. Around 13 million passengers pass through the airport annually.

“You can bet your bottom dollar that we do not have the capacity for checking each and every one of them,” he said.

“Although we do not know whether there has been any increase in cocaine use, we do know that there has been an increase in the number of drug shipment seizures.”

Couriers are well paid. Some earn thousands of dollars. It return, they transit drugs. Doing so is high risk. Despite efforts to curb trafficking, it continues flourishing.

CIA involvement is longstanding. Peter Dale Scott’s books and articles provide invaluable information.

“Since at least 1950 there has been a global CIA-drug connection operating more or less continuously,” he said.

“The global drug connection is not just a lateral connection between CIA field operatives and their drug-trafficking contacts.”

“It is more significantly a global financial complex of hot money uniting prominent business, financial and government as well as underworld figures.”

Global money laundering runs up to around $1.5 trillion annually. Most of it’s from illicit drugs. Israel is tiny compared to America. It stands out as a major global cocaine trafficking hub.

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

Argentinian judge María Romilda Servini de Cubría has issued arrest warrants for four former Spanish fascists from the regime of dictator General Francisco Franco.

Spain’s ruling Popular Party (PP), which has its origins in Franco’s National Movement, and the opposition Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) have closed ranks to block the arrests.

They have cited the 1977 Amnesty Law, passed during the transition from fascism to bourgeois democracy following Franco’s death in 1975. Its aim was to prevent any reckoning and investigation into the crimes committed during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and Franco’s rule afterwards (1939-1975). Since then, not a single fascist has been brought to justice for crimes including an estimated 300,000 political opponents murdered, 500,000 imprisoned and 500,000 forced into exile.

The case began in April 2010 after Argentinian resident Darío Rivas, son of an elected mayor of a Galician town in northwest Spain who was kidnapped and executed under Franco, made recourse to international law under which crimes against humanity have no limitations or jurisdictional boundaries. The trial now includes 120 individual plaintiffs and 62 human rights organisations.

Judge Servini wrote a 204-page report indicting four fascists, who were members of Franco’s political police, the Brigada Político Social, for crimes they committed.

Two of the accused, police commissioners Celso Galván Abascal and José Ignacio Giralte, died before the case began. The other two are police officers, Jesus Muñecas Aguilar, who also participated in the February 23, 1981, coup against the post-Franco state, and José Antonio González Pacheco, one of the most sadistic of Franco’s henchmen. He was known as “Billy the Kid” for his habit of spinning a gun around his finger while he beat his victims.

Direct evidence of Pacheco’s crimes has been given by Pérez Alegre, a former member of the Revolutionary Antifascist Patriotic Front (FRAP), who explained to El País, “They arrested me in October 1975. They took me to the DGS [Dirección General de Seguridad, the Francoist organ responsible for political repression], surrounded me and started beating me from all sides. There were five policemen. Billy the Kid hit me occasionally, but mostly he told the others what to do. They tied me to a radiator and hit me with truncheons on the back of my knees and in the kidneys…. When I had to go to the bathroom two people had to carry me there, since I couldn’t walk. I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognise my own body, which was deformed by the blows.”

Servini issued the arrest and extradition warrants for the four fascists to Interpol, declaring that under universal jurisdiction they could be charged under international law. She rejected attempts by the Spanish attorney general’s office to prevent the prosecution.

In their attempt to block the prosecution, the attorney general’s office, the PP government, and various judges and prosecutors have falsely claimed that there are “numerous judicial procedures open” in Spain that are investigating the Francoist crimes, and thus universal jurisdiction procedures are not valid. They also declared that Pacheco and Muñecas are immune from prosecution because they are protected by the 1977 Amnesty Law, which pardoned “possible crimes” committed by members of the security forces.

Nearly one month after Servini made her request to Interpol, which usually carries out such requests within hours, the two Francoist criminals remain free.

In a separate case, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (OHCHR) instructed Madrid to “take on its responsibility” and draw up “a national plan to search for the missing,” revoke the 1977 Amnesty Law and bring cases of forced disappearance before the courts.

The OHCHR also criticised the “resistance” of Spanish authorities to declassifying documents from the Franco era, for obstructing the families of victims who wanted to access information and the Historical Memory Law passed by the previous PSOE government, for being “limited”.

At the time of the law’s passing in 2006, the World Socialist Web Siteexplained its purpose was “to divert this striving for the truth into safe channels for the Spanish ruling class. Not only does it continue the decades-long cover-up of the crimes of fascism, but it enshrines in law the claim that all sides in the civil war were equally guilty…. And, despite declaring the fascist sentences and executions unjust, the bill makes no firm commitment to overturn them in Spanish law or bring those responsible to justice.”

This warning was borne out in 2012 when National Court judge Baltasar Garzón was brought before the courts on charges that he abused his judicial power by launching an investigation into Francoist crimes. Garzón had demanded the regime be held accountable for murder, ordered mass graves to be opened and compensation paid to Franco’s victims, and began investigations into the disappearance of abducted babies.

Last May, Servini obtained the testimony of Garzón, who declared that there was no legal channel in Spain to investigate the crimes of Francoism after the Supreme Court prevented him from doing so. Questioned as to whether the attorney general’s office was investigating as claimed, he stated, “radically, no.… This court is the final judicial stronghold which remains for the victims of Franco to be repaired.”

The fact that the heirs of Francoism, the PP, can block any investigation of the crimes committed is due to the historical betrayal of the working class by the Stalinist Communist Party (PCE) and the PSOE during the transition.

Nothing exposed this more than Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón’s defence in parliament of the law by quoting PCE leaders such as Santiago Carrillo and Dolores Ibárruri (“La Pasionaria”), whom he declared, “Voted and were staunch defenders of the Amnesty Law”.

Gallardón’s father-in-law José Utrera Molina is one of the nine former government officials under Franco’s regime being investigated by Servini.

The PSOE and the PCE-led United Left (IU) are perpetuating the fraud that the Spanish authorities will address Franco’s crimes, while attempting to present themselves as defenders of his victims. In parliament, they are again urging the PP administration to locate and open all of the mass graves. Despite the Historical Memory Law, only 400 have been opened from which the remains of nearly 6,000 people who were shot have been exhumed of the approximately 114,000 who remain unaccounted for.

The PSOE has made clear that it defends the Amnesty Law. Ramón Jáuregui, a former minister under the Zapatero administration (2004-2011), stated, “It was a necessary law and we don’t think it is a good idea to annul it.”

Questioned about the Argentinian probe, Jáuregi replied, “The Argentinian initiative is full of good intentions, but in Spain we decided long ago that we weren’t going to look into what we did before 1976.”

The IU’s former leader, Gaspar Llamazares, has stated that there is no need to eliminate the law: “It would be enough to modify it to make sure that it cannot be interpreted as offering impunity to those who committed crimes under Franco.”

The ruling class and its parties are once again closing ranks to prevent any reckoning with Francoism. Under conditions in which 26 percent of workers are unemployed and 3 million Spaniards are in severe poverty, the same conditions that led to the revolutionary conditions of the 1930s are being created. Any investigation would undermine and provoke resistance to a ruling elite that is imposing austerity measures and social counterrevolutionary policies.

A series of reports released over the past several days document the killing of thousands of people, including hundreds of non-combatant civilians, in US drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and other countries. The reports, issued by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on Tuesday and the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions last Friday, expose as lies the claims of President Obama and administration officials that the drone strikes are “surgical” attacks that kill few civilians.

All three reports suggest that the United States is concealing the extent of the carnage caused by its program of extrajudicial executions and is in violation of international humanitarian law. The reports were timed to coincide with a United Nations General Assembly debate on drone attacks to take place this Friday.

Amnesty International devoted its report“Will I be Next?” US Drone Strikes in Pakistan, to the results of an on-the-spot investigation into nine of the 45 reported strikes that occurred in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal agency, which borders Afghanistan, between January 2012 and August 2013. The report’s executive summary begins:

In October 2012, 68-year-old Mamana Bibi was killed in front of her grandchildren while gathering vegetables in her family’s large, vacant fields. She was blasted into pieces by a drone strike that appears to have been aimed directly at her. A year has passed, but the US government has not acknowledged Mamana Bibi’s death, let alone provided justice or compensation for it …

The US appears to be exploiting the lawless and remote nature of the local region to evade accountability for violations of the right to life.

“The killing of Mamana Bibi appears to be a clear case of extrajudicial execution,” said Mustafa Qadri, the report’s author, in an interview. “It is extremely difficult to see how she could have been mistaken for a militant, let alone an imminent threat to the US.”

Exposing US claims to scrupulously avoid civilian casualties, Amnesty provided evidence of indiscriminate attacks that could not but kill and injure noncombatants. “Amnesty International documented many cases in which residents came to the scene of an initial drone strike only to be struck in follow-up strikes,” it wrote.

It cited as an example a double drone strike in July 2012 in the village of Zowi Sidgi, which killed 18 laborers, including a 14-year-old boy, and seriously injured 22 villagers, including an eight-year-old girl. The report states:

Missiles first struck a tent in which men had gathered for an evening meal, killing eight people. Villagers rushed to the tent to search for survivors. They carried stretchers, blankets and water. Then, a few minutes later, the drones fired another set of missiles. Witnesses described a macabre scene of body parts and blood, panic and terror, as US drones continued to hover overhead.

Amnesty quoted one resident as saying, “Some people lost their hands. Others had their heads cut off. Some lost their legs. Human body parts were scattered everywhere.”

The report cites NGO and Pakistan government sources who estimate that the US carried out 330 to 374 drone strikes in Pakistan between 2004 and September 2013. The sources say that between 400 and 900 civilians have been killed in the attacks and at least 600 people seriously injured. Pakistani officials have previously put the civilian death toll in the thousands.

Amnesty reports that as of the publication of its report, the US government had not responded to its “repeated requests for comment.”

The Human Rights Watch report“Between a Drone and Al Qaeda ”: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen, examines six of an estimated 80 targeted killings carried out in Yemen since 2006. It begins:

On the evening of August 29, 2012, five men gathered in a grove of date palms behind the local Mosque in Khashamir, a village in southeast Yemen. Moments later, US remotely piloted aircraft, commonly known as drones, launched three Hellfire missiles at the group.

The strike killed four of the men instantly, hurling their body parts across the grounds. The blast of a fourth missile hit the fifth man as he crawled away, pinning him lifeless to a wall.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry described three of the men as members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The other two were not connected.

The report cites a December 2009 strike in the hamlet of al-Majalah that killed 14 alleged Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters and at least 41 local civilians, including nine women and 21 children. The attack used Tomahawk cruise missiles armed with cluster munitions.

It also singles out a September 2012 air strike in the village of Sarar that blew up a minibus, killing 12 passengers, including three children and a pregnant woman.

Human Rights Watch estimates that at least 57 of the 82 people killed in the attacks it investigated were civilians. It notes: “US authorities have not revealed the number of strikes, the number of civilians and alleged combatants killed or wounded, or, with few exceptions, the target of the strikes.”

The attacks in Pakistan are carried out by the CIA. Those in Yemen are carried by both the CIA and the military’s US Joint Special Operations Command. The Obama administration refuses to provide figures for dead and wounded, explain the legal rationale for individual attacks, or, generally, the identities of those targeted.

The report by UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson focuses mainly on drone strikes in Afghanistan, but also covers Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Somalia. Emmerson cites data from the US Air Force that shows the number of aerial drone strikes in Afghanistan rose from 294 in 2011 to 447 in the first 11 months of 2012. Emmerson concludes that the United States is in violation of international law, in the first instance by refusing to provide information on its targeted killing program.

His report states: “The modern concept of human rights is based on the fundamental principle that those responsible for violations must be held to account. A failure to investigate and, where applicable, punish those responsible for violations of the right to life in itself constitutes a violation of that right.”

In its article on the US drone strike reports, the New York Times on Tuesday focused on the city of Miram Shah in Pakistan’s North Waziristan agency, noting that it has suffered at least 13 drone strikes since 2008, with an additional 25 in nearby districts—“more than any other urban settlement in the world.”

The Times states that the strikes on Miram Shah “mostly occur in densely populated neighborhoods,” having thus far hit a bakery, a closed girls school and a money changers’ market. The newspaper describes the devastating impact on the population of living with the constant fear of sudden death, in a place where “buzzing drones hover day and night.” Calling it “a fearful and paranoid town,” the Times speaks of a “crushing psychological burden for many residents.”

These reports make clear that the drone-based targeted killing program is a calculated effort to terrorize and intimidate entire populations into accepting either direct US occupation or domination via client regimes. It is driven not by a “war on terrorism,” but a determination to secure US imperialist hegemony over the oil-rich and strategically vital Middle East and Central Asia.

Obama personally devotes much of his time to overseeing the drawing up of “kill lists” and selecting targets, including US citizens, for extrajudicial execution. The information in the newly published reports shatters the claims he made in his speech last May at the National Defense University to use drone strikes only against people who pose a “continuing, imminent threat” to the United States and only in cases where the avoidance of civilian casualties is “a near certainty.”

At a news briefing Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney arrogantly dismissed the series of damning reports, saying “we would strongly disagree” that the US has violated international laws. Without addressing any of the charges or evidence contained in the reports, he declared, “US counterterrorism actions are precise, they are lawful, and they are effective.”

The reports, in fact, provide prima facie evidence for a future war crimes tribunal whose defendants would include Obama and top officials at the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.

The transatlantic romance is on the rocks, again. Washington DC’s insatiable international digital spy network, the NSA, has been caught collecting millions of electronic French letters and phone calls – in secret, and to stop terrorism. Or is it merely to justify billions in US government contract expenditures. Anyone above a fifth grade education level should really be able to figure that one out by now.

A report was released this past Monday, detailing how the NSA has sucked in more than 70 million French phone records in one month. 

1-NSA-Spying-John-Kerry-Hollande-Cow
Only a month and a half ago, dedicated francophile US Secretary of State John Kerry and French President François Hollande were beaming with excitement, as they shared a warm political bed together while planning a war with Syria. As they counted the coming cruise missile profits together, everything couldn’t have been more perfect. And then…

Another violation. This is just the latest in a long list of long distance digital rape on the part of the United States. This week also saw how the NSA spy network has been used in order to gain advanced commercial intelligence on Mexico for years – and exposed as being all for the benefit of insider US business and investor interests. Whose surprised?

What an embarrassment for Monsieur Kerry, who has been tasked with making yet another weak case for the US government, by trying to explain away the illegal actions of his government. Left to do damage control, Kerry insists that France is still “one of our oldest allies in the world”, but protecting people from terrorism is so “very complicated, very challenging task.”

Not the world’s most convincing actor, John Kerry, is trying hard to act concerned about foreign privacy.

His chief concerns are as far from ethics and international law as one could imagine. Here’s what really upsetting Washington’s most interesting man:

“Will I still be invited for raclette (cheese) and champagne parties in Aix-en-Provence this spring?”

This will be burning on Kerry’s mind over the holidays.

Next, the Teflon Don (photo, left) ponders the scandal… never one to willingly take any responsibility for anything that might be construed as negative, Obama avoids the issue altogether. This is because there’s no room for America’s reputation when he’s so obsessed with looking out for his own.

Rather than getting a executive statement from America’s salamander-n-chief, President Obama has instead opted to call Hollande in private to try and re-spin the issue, in what the White House has labeled as “recent disclosures in the press — some of which have distorted our activities and some of which raise legitimate questions for our friends and allies.”

What Kerry and Obama fail to realise is that, outside of their own private France on the millionaire ski slopes of Chamonix and aboard the yachts in Cannes, the rest of the country could not give a toss about America’s inflated national security concerns, and will hate the American government for abusing their trust.

Hollande’s hands are tied on this one. Regardless, the backlash has already begun. According to RT, the French as pissed off in a big way:

France has called for an explanation for the “unacceptable” and “shocking” reports of NSA spying on French citizens. Leaked documents revealed the spy agency records millions of phone calls and monitors politicians and high-profile business people.

The US Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin was summoned by the French Foreign Ministry to account for the espionage allegations on Monday morning. 

“I have immediately summoned the US ambassador and he will be received this morning at the Quai d’Orsay [the French Foreign Ministry],” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told press. He added that “we must quickly assure that these practices aren’t repeated.”

The media scandal triggered a phone call between US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande who, according to the White House, discussed “legitimate questions”raised by US “friends and allies” about how the surveillance capabilities are employed. Obama reportedly assured Hollande that the US was reviewing the way it gathers intelligence.  

In addition, citing the report on French publication Le Monde, Interior Minister Manuel Valls spoke out on national television against US spy practices.

The US government is out of control and everyone knows it. Rather than dealing with the problem head on, and making correction to an illegal government operation, men like Barack Obama and John Kerry have chose instead to cover for themselves and the program. So no lesson learned.

That is Washington DC in a nutshell today – inept and unable to act honourably on the international theatre.

A Devastating and Secret Report By The Senate Intelligence Committee Documents In Detail How The C.I.A.’s Brutalization of Terror Suspects During The Bush Years Was Unnecessary, Ineffective, and Deceptively Sold To Congress, The White House, The Justice Department, and The Public

We’ve extensively documented that:

1. Torture harms our national security

2. Torture is unnecessary to break hardened terrorists

3. Torture is unnecessary even in a “ticking time bomb” situation

4. The “enhanced” interrogation techniques were aimed at producing false confessions

5. Torture did not provide valuable details regarding 9/11

6. Many innocent people were tortured

The Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA’s top lawyer, Stephen W. Preston (who has just been confirmed to act as the Pentagon’s top lawyer) seem to agree with substantial portions of what critics of the torture program have been saying for years.

As the New Yorker reports:

[There apparently is a] devastating, and still secret, report by the Senate Intelligence Committee documenting in detail how the C.I.A.’s brutalization of terror suspects during the Bush years was unnecessary, ineffective, and deceptively sold to Congress, the White House, the Justice Department, and the public.  The report threatens to definitively refute former C.I.A. personnel who have defended the program’s integrity. But so far, to the consternation of several members of the Intelligence Committee, the Obama Administration, like Bush’s before it, is keeping the damning details from public view.

***

Preston, in his answers to Udall, concedes that, during the Bush years, the C.I.A. “fell well short” of current standards for keeping the congressional oversight committees informed of covert actions, as is required under the 1947 National Security Act.

In fact, Preston admits outright that, contrary to the C.I.A.’s insistence that it did not actively impede congressional oversight of its detention and interrogation program, “briefings to the Committees included inaccurate information related to aspects of the program of express interest to Members.”

The contention that the C.I.A. provided inaccurate information to the congressional oversight committees is apparently extensively documented by the report. Udall notes that the report contains a two-hundred-ninety-eight-page section on “C.I.A. Representations on the C.I.A. Interrogation Program and the Effectiveness of the C.I.A.’s Enhanced Interrogation Techniques to Congress.”

***

Preston … states:

Had the Executive understood and discharged its congressional reporting obligations as we have in my experience since 2009, I do not believe that the briefings on a program of this nature, magnitude, and duration would have continued on a limited, leadership only basis.

In addition, Preston acknowledges that, in the past, the C.I.A. inadequately informed the Justice Department about the full nature of its interrogation and detention program. “C.I.A.’s efforts fell well short of our current practices when it comes to providing information relevant to [the Office of Legal Counsel]’s legal analysis,” Preston writes.

Preston also distances himself from the C.I.A.’s argument that it is impossible to know whether alternatives to brutal interrogations would have produced information that was as good, if not better. According to the Udall document, the C.I.A. has argued in its rebuttal to the Senate report that it is “unknowable whether, without enhanced techniques, C.I.A. or non-C.I.A. interrogators could have acquired the same information from those detainees.”

However, Preston, in his answers to Udall, agrees with the Senate report’s finding that it is sometimes possible to determine that there were other ways that the C.I.A. could have obtained the same information, without tormenting detainees. Evidently, the report recounts numerous instances in which ordinary legal methods would have produced the same intelligence that was gained through brutalization. Preston, in his answers to Udall, acknowledges that:

I agree that it may be possible to make a determination as to whether information… was “otherwise unavailable.”

The argument is important because the Senate report evidently asserts that there were instances when the C.I.A. claimed to have gotten information because of torture when, in fact, it got it years after the fact, or could have obtained it through other means.

We’ve also shown that:

When the State Department revoked Edward Snowden’s passport four months ago, the move was a reprisal from a surveillance-and-warfare state that operates largely in the shadows. Top officials in Washington were furious. Snowden had suddenly exposed what couldn’t stand the light of day, blowing the cover of the world’s Biggest Brother.

Cancellation of the passport wasn’t just an effort to prevent the whistleblower from getting to a country that might grant political asylum. It was also a declaration that the U.S. government can nullify the right to travel just as surely as it can nullify the right to privacy.

“Although I am convicted of nothing,” Snowden said in a July 1 statement after a week at a Moscow airport terminal, the U.S. government “has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.”

Since 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has affirmed with clarity: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” The only other words of Article 14 specify an exception that clearly doesn’t apply to Snowden: “This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”

 The extent of the U.S. government’s scorn for this principle can be gauged by the lengths it has gone to prevent Snowden from gaining political asylum. It was a measure of desperation — and contempt for international law — that Washington got allied governments of France, Spain, Portugal and Italy to deny airspace to the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales in early July, forcing the aircraft to land for a search on the chance that it was carrying Snowden from Moscow to political asylum in Bolivia.

 Although Snowden was able to stay in Russia, revocation of his U.S. passport has been a crucial weapon to prevent him from crossing an international border for any reason other than to come home to prison in the United States.

Just as the decision to revoke Snowden’s passport was entirely political, any remedy will be political. The law has nothing to do with it, other than giving the Secretary of State the power to revoke his passport.

Unfortunately, that option was established in the case of Philip Agee, the CIA agent who revealed wrongdoing and became a CIA foe. He lost a legal fight to regain his revoked passport when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against him in 1981.

Thurgood Marshall was one of the dissenting justices in that 7-2 decision on Haig v. Agee. The other was William Brennan, who wrote that “just as the Constitution protects both popular and unpopular speech, it likewise protects both popular and unpopular travelers.”

 

Justice Brennan added: “And it is important to remember that this decision applies not only to Philip Agee, whose activities could be perceived as harming the national security, but also to other citizens who may merely disagree with Government foreign policy and express their views.”

Clearly winning the right to travel for “both popular and unpopular travelers” is a political battle ahead. A step in that direction has begun with an online petition telling Secretary of State John Kerry to restore Snowden’s passport. Thousands of signers have posted cogent — and often eloquent — personal comments alongside their names.

“I urge you to immediately reinstate the passport of Edward Snowden, a U.S. whistleblower who has educated the public about threats to our privacy and precious constitutional rights,” the petition says. “Due process is fundamental to democracy. Your revocation of Mr. Snowden’s passport contradicts the words of many U.S. leaders who have often criticized other governments for violating the principle of freedom to travel.” (The petition, launched by RootsAction.org, has gained more than 25,000 signers since mid-October.)

Whether sending missiles across borders or using the latest digital technology to spy on vast numbers of people, the U.S. government relies on military violence and chronic secrecy in an ongoing quest to exert control over as much of the world as possible. The agenda reeks of impunity and arrogant power. Revoking Edward Snowden’s passport is in sync with that agenda. We should challenge it.

 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.

by Mario Franssen, Intal spokesperson

 Richard Falk, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967, describes in his report to the UN General Assembly that the Belgian government can be held responsible for the funding by Dexia Bank of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

For the second consecutive year, Richard Falk has examined the politics of Dexia Bank in the occupied Palestinian territories, through its subsidiary Dexia Israel. In his report submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations on October 29, 2013, he is quite harsh for the Belgian government.

 The Belgian government is the majority shareholder of Dexia Bank with 50,02 % of the shares. Dexia Bank in turn is 66 % owner of Dexia Israel. In his report Mr. Falk makes very clear that this can have serious consequences.

The Belgian government under fire

The Special Rapporteur sees at least five elements that can put the Belgian government in an awkward position:

 1. Since Belgium has signed the Geneva Conventions, and Dexia Israel violates Article 49 (p 6)  of these conventions, Belgium fails in its duty to enforce these agreements (p.15 of the report)

2. The Special Rapporteur states that Dexia Israel violates Human Rights. Because the Belgian government is majority shareholder, Belgium must take the necessary steps to prevent these activities and / or punish those responsible within Dexia Israel (p. 15-16)

 3. Richard Falk also criticizes Dexia because it has withdrawn from the Global Compact, a self-regulatory instrument within the United Nations of which Dexia Bank was a member. This is especially surprising because Dexia Bank withdrew in April 2013, after the Belgian government became the majority shareholder (p. 16)

 4. International Criminal Law is applicable according to Mr. Falk. Belgium is a signatory of the Rome Statute.Thus Belgian citizens fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. The ICC could investigate whether Dexia staff is involved in war crimes. (p. 16-17)

5. The Belgian State can be held responsible for the damage caused by its bank, Dexia. Possibly this may lead to the payment of damages and reparations. (p. 17)

 Finally Mr. Falk criticizes the Belgian government in the conclusions (p. 23-24) and calls on the Belgian NGO’s and human rights organisations to continue to put pressure on the Belgian government to end its involvement in the illegal colonization of the occupied Palestinian territories.

 * Read the full report of the Special Rapporteur:http://www.un.org/en/ga/third/68/documentslist.shtml

A/68/376   [F]    [S]    [A]    [C]    [R]
Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967

 Richard Falk welcomes Dutch firm’s decision to pull out of an illegal Israeli project in East Jerusalem

 On the same day, Richard Falk welcomed the decision made by the Dutch multinational company Royal HaskoningDHV to terminate its contract with the Jerusalem municipality to build the Kidron wastewater treatment plant intended to service illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.

 “The sewage treatment facility would have served to further entrench Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, now universally considered to be a violation of international law and United Nations resolutions,” said the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

 “It is encouraging that international corporations are taking corporate social responsibility seriously and weighing the legal consequences, financial costs and reputational risks of involvement in the maintenance and expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine,” he noted.

In its official statement, Holland’s largest engineering company, Royal HaskoningDHV, explained that ‘In the course of the project, and after due consultation with various stakeholders, the company came to understand that future involvement in the project could be in violation of international law.’ Special Rapporteur Falk praised the decision as a major acknowledgement of the arguments made by legal experts and human rights activists about the corporate responsibility to respect human rights.

 “The Dutch firm’s decision is part of a growing momentum against Israel’s failure to comply with international law in accordance with the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention governing belligerent occupation,” added the UN expert, citing the recent report of the international fact finding mission on Israeli settlements.

Read more

 http://www.intal.be/nl/article/dexia-en-belgische-overheid-opnieuw-onder-vuur-de-algemene-vergadering-van-de-vn – Translation from Dutch: Dirk Adriaensens

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil says countries that have participated in Syria’s crisis must compensate for the destruction they have brought to the Arab country.“We must not forget that Syria is a country rich in resources. Clearly, however, after all this destruction, its own resources are insufficient for reconstruction. Thus, one must mobilize private funds and additional resources, including form of compensation. It is natural that countries that have destroyed Syria must compensate,” Jamil said in an interview with the Russian TV channel Russia Today (RT) on Monday.The Syrian deputy prime minister pointed the finger at Turkey, accusing the country of looting Syria’s industrial hub, Aleppo.

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil

He further noted that corrupt figures who subsequently became representatives of foreign-backed opposition groups will also have to pay for post-conflict reconstruction.

Jamil said that the issue of compensation by the states, which have played a role in the destruction of the Middle Eastern country, will be one of the priority themes at the upcoming Geneva II conference.

Western and Arab governments prepare to meet Syrian opposition leaders on Tuesday in London to persuade them to attend Geneva II.

The Geneva II conference is seen as a chance to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria. The event has been delayed for months.

The Syrian government has said that it will participate in the talks, but will not negotiate with “terrorists.”

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the violence.

After the US Default Showdown: More Bad News

October 22nd, 2013 by Michael Welch

Backing away from the Precipice

The American public, and much of the world were treated to a dramatic showdown as elected representatives on Capitol Hill sparred over how money would be spent in the 2014 fiscal year.

At the end of September, the two Chambers of Congress, namely the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-led House of Representatives failed to agree on legislation that would regulate the appropriation of funding for the 2014 fiscal year which began October 1. As a result, most federal government operations requiring State financing were shut down.

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The Shut-Down continued throughout the first two weeks of October, as Congress and the White House struggled to come up with the necessary legislative formula before October 17 when, we are told,  a “debt default” would result should no deal be reached.

A major sticking point was the refusal of the House of Representatives, controlled by the Republican Party, to approve of government funding up until the middle of December, unless President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, was delayed a year and then gutted of a key provision, namely the tax on medical devices.

The gridlock was finally broken when President Obama “stared down” the Republicans in the House leaving ObamaCare mostly intact. Appropriatations Bill HR 2775 was approved, bringing an end to the government shut down, maintaining government funding until January 15, and lifting the already stratospheric $16.699 trillion debt ceiling until February 7.

But as some observers, such as broadcast journalist and author Stephen Lendman points out, default or no, ordinary Americans have had to bear the burden of the real fiscal crisis which has been masked by this legislative game of chicken. Lendman also levels a critique of ObamaCare that you won’t hear from House Republicans, and he explains how the crisis engulfing the city of Detroit mirrors America’s future. Stephen Lendman presents his perspective in the first half hour of the Global Research News Hour.

In the second half hour, a York University Professor of Political Science, David McNally, helps expand the discussion by elaborating on the roots of the US fiscal crisis in neo-liberal reforms. He argues that the stand-off and the 2008 economic slump that preceded it, are rooted in the development of policies that have benefited the most privileged, including the banks, at the expense of the working class, who are now being made to pay for the excesses of the ultra-wealthy. McNally also probes the mistakes of the Occupy Movement as he sees it, and articulates how an effective push back may be realized.

David McNally provides his analysis in the final half hour.

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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.

We welcome our new partner CHLY in Nanaimo, British Columbia! The Global Research News Hour is now broadcast on CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C every Thursday at 1pm PST!

China is accelerating the role of the Chinese Yuan with agreements with Singapore that would allow direct trading between each other’s currency” according to Singapore’s central bank. The Agence-France Presse (AFP) reported that China and Singapore will cooperate on a number of agreements that would boost economic ties for both countries.

China is concerned with its US treasury holdings worth up to $1.2 trillion after Washington’s spectacle earlier this month over its fiscal policies that pushed the world’s economy into a crises.  The move, along with other agreements on financial cooperation, is expected to bolster Singapore’s status as a leading offshore trading centre for the Chinese Yuan, officially called the renminbi (RMB)”the report said.  “China and Singapore will introduce direct currency trading between the Chinese yuan and Singapore dollar,” the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a statement, adding that details will be announced separately.” China is in a good position because it allows Singapore to invest in Chinese stocks and bonds with Yuan’s boosting its capital markets.

The report said that “China will also grant Singapore-based investors a 50-billion-yuan ($8.2 billion) investment quota under its Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor programme, MAS said.  This would allow investors based in the city-state to use the Yuan to invest in Chinese stocks and bonds.”  China is racing against time in case lawmakers in Washington do not come up with an agreement to raise the “Debt Ceiling” to borrow more money or solve their economic problems.  China is diversifying out of US Dollars at a rapid pace since the 2007-2008 financial crises that resulted in the bankruptcy of major financial institutions, bailouts and government takeovers such as Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Citigroup and American Insurance Group (AIG).  China is also frustrated with the US government’s backing of its neighbors internal affairs with Beijing regarding the South China Sea.  Reuters reported on October 10th, 2013 the following:

The US is also aggressively backing the Philippine government’s maritime dispute with China when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry angered China’s leadership “All claimants have a responsibility to clarify and align their claims with international law. They can engage in arbitration and other means of peaceful negotiation,” Kerry told leaders at the East Asia Summit in Brunei, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.  “Freedom of navigation and overflight is a linchpin of security in the Pacific,” he added.

It is important to note that Hillary Clinton, who is rumored to run as a Democratic candidate in the 2016 US Presidential elections, told an ASEAN summit in 2010 that the US had a “national interest” in the “freedom of navigation. “  Clinton also angered China that only proves that the US is directly intervening in a regional dispute.  Since the Obama administration got into office they have repeatedly used the ASEAN forums for multilateral discussions between China and its South East Asian counterparts supporting the opposition and ignoring Beijing’s call to settle the disputes bilaterally. The US has supported the Philippines (considered a US puppet state) and Vietnam to counter China’s claims aggressively resulting in numerous maritime incidents in the South China Sea and has divided all countries within ASEAN.  China is threatened economically and militarily by the US government (See graph below).

China is making moves to loosen the US government’s strangle hold over its economy and its regional disputes with its neighbors.  China’s economic growth will benefit Singapore in the long run as “Chinese institutional investors will also be allowed to use the Yuan to invest in Singapore’s capital markets.”  The AFP also stated that “Relevant agencies in Singapore and China are also in discussions to facilitate China-incorporated companies, which have received regulatory approval to list directly in Singapore.” And that “The new initiatives will further promote the international use of the Renminbi through Singapore,” the MAS said.  

Times are changing for the world’s economy.  China and other countries are in preparation for a possible US default in the future.  When can the US Dollar collapse?  It is hard to tell since the US economy is intertwined with the global economy.  But one thing is for sure China and other countries across the planet are diversifying out of the US Dollar and it is accelerating.  That is a fact.  Singapore is not taking any chances either.  “Its managing director Ravi Menon added: “Financial ties between the two countries have deepened considerably and Singapore is well placed to promote greater use of the RMB in international trade and investment in the years to come.”  

The AFP report said “China’s rise as the world’s second biggest economy has seen the Yuan take on a bigger role in international financial markets.”  2014 will be an interesting year for world financial markets.  What will happen when Washington is once again on the center stage in January?  Will they continue to increase the “Debt Ceiling” so that they can borrow until the end of time? Or will they play “Political Brinkmanship again?  Will the Federal Reserve Bank “Taper” its monetary policy by Mid-2014 if the US economy improves as Chairman Ben Bernanke promised or will the new Chairwoman Janet Yellen, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and a protégé of Alan Greenspan continue to print US “Fiat” currencies with low interest rates?  Many questions on the US economy remain elusive.  China has many reasons to worry about its financial future and its sovereignty and that is a declining empire called the United States government.

How Accurate Are The Instruments in Nuclear Reactors?

October 22nd, 2013 by Maggie Gundersen

Accurately measuring the reactor water level in a nuclear power plant is critical to safe operation, yet nuclear power reactor water monitoring systems do not work correctly. What would happen today if your car’s speedometer read 60 miles per hour, but in actuality, you might be driving at 40-mph or even 95-mph?

Listen to today’s Fairewinds Energy Education podcast as Dave Lochbaum from the Union of Concerned Scientists and researcher Lucas Hixson discuss the dangerous dilemma reactor operators face when a reactor has an emergency shutdown and operators simply do not know if the reactor has enough water to keep it cool!

Transcript:

MG: Hi this is Maggie Gundersen for Fairewinds Energy Education. Today we’re doing a special show about reactor water level monitoring. We have as our guests nuclear researcher Lucas Hixson and Dave Lochbaum, nuclear expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists. This is not one of our typical podcasts in that this is a very technical podcast, but it’s for you geeks out there. A lot of people have written in to us and asked for this kind of material, and even if you’re a layperson I think that you will really, really find this interesting and it’ll give you insight into how difficult it is to operate a nuclear power reactor. Thank you for joining us.

LH:      Good afternoon. I’m Lucas Hixson and I’m here today with Dave Lochbaum with the Union of Concerned Scientists, and we’re going to be speaking about what is called the Reactor Water Level Monitoring System at nuclear power plants. Water is used in the nuclear reactor as a critical neutron moderator and coolant. Water levels in a nuclear reactor are not monitored directly, but rather through an indirect monitoring system, which incorporates a reserve tank which is termed a reference leg. There have been some reported flaws with this cooling system throughout the years, some of the most notable being brought forth by Paul Blanche in the early 1990’s. Dave, can you explain to us some of the nature of his findings?

DL:      Yes. Paul found some problems with the level instrumentation used in boiling water reactors like Fukushima in Japan and Pilgrim and Browns Ferry here in the United States. As you mentioned, in that type of reactor, the water boils right in the reactor vessel. It’s difficult to measure the level of water that’s vigorously boiling. If you imagine a pot of boiling water on the stove, you see all that froth level at the top, what is the level of water in the pot? So what boiling water reactors do is use the reference leg, which is just a non-boiling column of water, and compare the pressure or the weight of that water to the weight of water in the reactor. And we can judge the density of the water in the reactor vessel easier than we can determine its actual height. And we can use that differential pressure between what the weight of the water in the reactor is versus the weight of the water in that reference column to determine what the level of the water in the reactor vessel is. If you look at a bottle of soda pop and you shake it up and then crack the top, the water level – the beverage level jumps from a nice low level to spewing out the open top. Because the non-condensable gases inside that soda have become freed by the agitation. Likewise, what Paul noted was that if the pressure of a reactor vessel were suddenly to drop, as it could happen during an accident, the non-condensable gases inside the water can cause the water in the reference column to all of a sudden change dramatically as bubbles come out of that water due to the pressure drop, which is similar to cracking a soda pop. Its pressure drops and the bubbles form. We hadn’t accounted for that in the water level instrumentation. As those bubbles formed under that situation, the indications of level to the operator could become vastly wrong – several feet, dozens of feet wrong. And the reactor core is only 12 feet tall and if the level instrumentation is off by 20 feet, you’ve got a big problem.

LH:      Is there any other method for operators to determine the water level if the reactor water level monitoring system is not providing accurate data?

DL:      The operators are provided about five sets of water level instrumentation for boiling water reactors. They’re calibrated at hot conditions, high pressure, high temperature, as well as cold conditions where the reactor is shut down and the reactor vessel’s head is off, the water is less than 212 degrees. The problem is that during an accident, you go from high temperature, high pressure to high temperature, low pressure as this pipe breaks and water flows out. The operators must choose amongst these five sets of instrumentation to figure out which one is most accurately monitoring the conditions at that moment; and that indication will shift from instrument to instrument, and it’s the operator’s guess as to which one’s providing the most accurate indication. And when you have 100 tons of reactor core to deal with, when you start playing guessing games, a wrong guess comes at a high cost.

LH:      If I remember correctly, the NRC had allowed for a 30-inch discrepancy in that reference leg measurement. And sometimes those measurements could be off by more than 20 or 25 feet. Is that correct?

DL:      For example, at Brown’s Ferry, we had three level instruments, all with reference legs, and they sometimes would be indicating a foot or more difference between one and the other, and they’re all supposed to be monitoring the same thing.

LH:      So now that we’ve discussed the possibilities of operators not being able to accurately assess the water levels in a nuclear reactor due to non-condensable gases building up in the reference leg, I would like to pose another plausible system flaw to you. There has been a common observed phenomenon at nuclear accidents, which I feel may not receive enough attention. Reactor operators have been repeatedly put in situations where they have been unable to trust the very equipment that they rely upon to tell them what is occurring in the nuclear reactor, and have reacted either correctly or incorrectly based on that untrustworthy data. And later, these same reactor operators have been blamed for those accidents due to some form of operator failure. Dave, as an example for this, could you share with us some of the instrumentation difficulties that operators experienced at Three Mile Island?

DL:      Certainly. In March of 1979, the Three Mile Island reactor was operating at about 97 percent power when it experienced an unplanned shutdown – automatic shutdown of the reactor that brought it to a subcritical shutdown condition within seconds. That had happened 13 times in the previous year that the reactor had operated, but the 13th time – this time – proved to be very unlucky. Things were nice and balanced where the plant was operating at 97 percent power, but also in the reactor shutdown, there’s a big transient as an effort to try to rebalance the power being produced by the reactor and the power being carried away by the support systems. During the transient there was a valve that opened at the reactor vessel to allow pressure to be relieved by discharging fluid through that valve into a tank. This time – and that’s normal – that’s the design and the plant handled it – a few seconds of transient while the balance is being restored. But in this situation, that valve stuck open. It was supposed to reclose when the pressure dropped back down, but due to mechanical failure, the valve stayed open. The operators were instructed, trained – the procedures, all the guidance had been geared towards preventing the tank on which that valve sat on top of, from ever becoming filled with water. It was partially filled with water to accommodate the swelling and contraction of water as the reactor heated up and cooled down. It was kind of like the overflow tank in a car engine. Because that valve stuck open, the water level inside that tank was indicating to be out of the top, completely filled. That was not the actual water level, but because the valve was open, kind of like the soda pop bottle earlier, the water level in that tank was falsely out the top, when in fact it was created by a bunch of bubbles being formed in that water by the pressure of the open valve dropping the pressure, kind of like removing the top or cracking the top on the soda bottle. The operators reacted to that false indication by turning off the pumps that had started to provide makeup water to cool the reactor. They turned those pumps off because they falsely thought the reactor had too much water when just the opposite was happening. Over the next two hours, they succeeded in draining more water out of the reactor vessel because they were trying to get the water level in that tank back normal. The false indication continued for nearly two hours to cause them to drain the water out of the reactor vessel until the reactor core was partially uncovered and it melted down. It overheated and melted down. But those operators were doing exactly what they were trained to do; exactly what their procedures told them to do. But they relied on a false indication and were led down a very bad road.

LH:      Now were there any indications prior to Three Mile Island that a valve would fail in an open configuration like that?

DL:      Shortly over a year earlier, the Davis Bessie plant in Ohio, which was a twin sister to Three Mile Island, experienced a very similar event. They had a shutdown. But at that time, the reactor was operating at about 90 percent power. That valve also opened to handle the pressure transient during a few seconds while things were rebalanced. It also stuck open. But the operators in that case noticed the valve was stuck open and they closed another valve in that same pipe which effectively stopped the flow through there. The pressure inside the tank dropped back to its real level instead of the falsely indicated high, and they came through that no problem. One of the problems was that event was even though it occurred and was successfully dealt with, the owner, the reactor vendor and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission didn’t share that with anybody else so that the operators at Three Mile Island and elsewhere weren’t forewarned about that potential situation. So when they stumbled upon it blindly, they misdiagnosed it with disaster as a result.

LH:      And to me, that has connotations of the types of failures that were experienced at Chernobyl as well, where operators were responding in ways that they thought were appropriate, but due to the other configurations on site, were actually not following the procedures that would help them to mitigate the accident.

DL:      It’s a common theme. Again and again, we trap the operators. We give them a set of instructions that are intended to handle a wide range of scenarios, but nature follows the same script they’re being led down wrong paths. It happened, as you said, at Chernobyl, it happened at Three Mile Island. To a certain extent it happened at Fukushima. We don’t seem to learn the right lessons from those disasters.

LH:      My concerns with this obviously being that with the reactor operators, rather than setting them up for success, we’re putting them in a situation where they can inevitably not do the correct things and are set up for failure. According to Tokyo Electric, the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant, they, too, experienced issues with the reactor water level monitoring system at its reactors during their response to the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Specifically at unit 1, after the loss of power, operators were scrambling to find backup power supplies with which to power the control room monitoring systems which would allow them to determine what was happening inside of the nuclear reactor. When they temporarily restored power to the reactor water level monitoring system using backup batteries, the gauges told operators the water levels were above the top of active fuel; but in fact, in further analysis, we found that at that time, the whole core was exposed and had been exposed for more than 90 minutes by the time that backup power was restored. Now according to TEPCO, the temperatures in the core had reached the point where fuel damage had started to occur, and had also become so hot that they evaporated the water in that reference leg. Due to the pressure in the reactor pressure vessel, false readings were registered on the gauges when power was temporarily restored. Now to me, this means that the reactor water level monitoring system is capable of providing reliable data for operators during normal operations. But if there’s just one bad day, the system is also capable of failing after the point of core damage. Do you have any comments on this?

DL:      I would agree to an extent. The water level instrumentation in other systems at the plant are designed for normal operations and postulated accidents. But when accidents don’t follow the scripts that we’ve written, the indications the operators get or the guidance that they’re given can be more harmful than helpful. And that’s really not the situation we should put them in.

LH:      Now at Fukushima Daiichi, we also apparently have observed now that if reactor operators in the future find themselves in a situation where they postulate fuel damage could have occurred, that the temperatures in the reactor itself could have already potentially reached such levels that they evaporate the water in the reference leg, and then the public would be in a position that they’re forced to trust the words of the industry, which would be unable to trust its own data. Is this correct?

DL:      Unfortunately, yeah. The way it is now and the way it is for the foreseeable future is the best indication we have whether the water level indications are accurate or not is whether you see a radioactive cloud coming from the plant that would suggest that the indications are false. We need a better indication than a radioactive cloud telling us whether we do or do not know the water level. That’s too big a price tag to pay for knowing that we’re wrong.

LH:      Dave, are these same reactor water level monitors used at both PWR and BWR styled reactors?

DL:      They’re used on boiling water reactors. The pressurized water reactors use a similar but slightly different system. On pressurized water reactors, there’s actually not even water level instrumentation for the reactor vessel because, per our accident scripts, we don’t ever drain water out of the primary system. The water level instrumentation is on the steam generators for the pressurized water reactors, which is a secondary loop of water outside the reactor vessel. The steam generators use a system similar to that used in boiling water reactors to monitor the water level inside the steam generators. On pressurized water reactors, except when they’re shut down, there’s really not a system used to monitor the water level inside the reactor vessel.

LH:      Are these issues being addressed? And how could they be addressed? And who should be working on the answers to these problems?

DL:      We seem to be always fighting yesterday’s battle, which needs to be done. But we need to broaden the scope to look at key parameters that need to be monitored by operators and whether those parameters will be accurate or not during various accident and severe accident scenarios that they may face. We can’t put operators in the position of having to guess what’s going on because they may guess right. But if they guess wrong, a lot of people pay a hard price. So I think the federal government, the national labs and the industry should be looking at every key parameter, whether it’s pressure, water level, temperature, hydrogen concentration or whatever is necessary to be controlled during an accident, we need to insure that the operators get reliable information on those parameters so they can take the right actions at the right times. For example, the poor operators at Fukushima who struggled to repower instrumentation only to be given false indications – they shouldn’t have been in those shoes in the first place, but if we do that again to anybody, that’s shame on us.

LH:      The public obviously has a duty to keep themselves informed and to insure that regulators are doing their jobs to address these issues. But how can reactor operators also help the Regulatory Commission as well as the nuclear industry with addressing these problems?

DL:      The plant operators – the owners of nuclear power plants, have a multi-billion dollar asset that they don’t want to see lost. So they have every reason in the world to make sure that the operators of those plants are given reliable information. They should not just fix yesterday’s problems. They should look at the instrumentation issue more broadly, to look at how to make things better. For example, many plants are replacing old analog equipment with digital equipment because you just can’t find some of those spare parts any more. As you go to digital equipment, as you replace some of this instrumentation, make it better; make it more reliable. Make it so that it can handle a wider range of scenarios other than the very narrow scripts that we write for accidents. If we don’t do that, we’re just relying on luck to prevent the next Fukushima or Chernobyl or Three Mile Island. And the fact that that list keeps growing shows that luck makes a lousy barrier.

LH:      When we’re speaking about upgrading the analog instruments to digital instruments, I’m also reminded of the event at North Ana in 2012, where they had updated some of the earthquake seismic instruments with digital instruments, but they were not capable of recording the actual earth shaking on site. They were forced to rely instead on the scratch plates. What kind of testing is done with these digital instruments to ensure that they’re going to be able to accurately report data in these situations outside of normal operations?

DL:      Well, the makers of the instrumentation will say that they do really good testing, but the users of that equipment, are showing that those marketing claims are falling short of reality. The Browns Ferry nuclear plant also had a problem with digital equipment in that the internet traffic was so high that it interfered with controls of two pumps, sending cooling water through the reactor core causing them to trip offline. So we obviously have some more homework to do to make sure the digital equipment is reliable just for day-to-day operations, let alone handling accident situations.

LH:      In response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the Nuclear Regulator Commission has expanded some safety instrumentations at nuclear power plants also specifically related to the spent fuel pools. Can you share a little bit with us about that?

DL:      One of the problems at Fukushima was that there were seven spent fuel pools. During the accident, the water level and the temperature of that water in the spent fuel pools was unknown to the operators in the control room because they had no instrumentation installed to provide that even if power had been available. So the operators were distracted by sending somebody physically up to look at what the water level was or try to figure out what the temperature was. To avoid that situation here at U.S. plants, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in March of 2012 ordered plant owners to install reliable water level instrumentation. Sounds good. But the order ordering plant owners to install instrumentation monitored the level down to a foot above where the spent fuel assemblies are stored in the pools so if there is a problem and the water level does drop, the operators may not know that the level is now below the top of the fuel and fuel damage may be imminent. All they know is it’s down to within a foot, no lower. There was an opportunity there to measure the water level of the entire pool, not just part of it. Again, we’re assuming that accidents will follow our scripts, we’ll be successful getting water back in before it drops that low and we’ll be setting the operators up for a trap if the water level drops below that. So again, we’re replicating the mistakes of yesterday, not learning the solutions from those disasters.

LH:      Thank you so much, Dave. Once again, I’m Lucas Hixson and we’re speaking with Dave Lochbaum with the Union of Concerned Scientists. Once again, I’d like to thank you for joining us for this conversation.

DL:      Thank you, Lucas, and thanks the work you’re doing in putting a light on these issues. That’s one of the best ways to try to get some of these problems off the table and into the rearview mirror behind us.

NWJ:   Thanks for tuning in to the Fairewinds Energy Education podcast. If you’ve come to depend on Fairewinds for your source for unbiased nuclear news, please consider supporting our work with a contribution so that we can continue to produce high quality energy education programs like this one.


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France Demands Answers from Obama over NSA Spying

October 22nd, 2013 by Danny Schechter

The Film “The Challenger Disaster” Another Cover-Up

October 22nd, 2013 by Richard Cook

The film “The Challenger Disaster” highlights Dr. Richard Feyman’s role in bringing to light the technical causes of the space shuttle Challenger tragedy after the crash of Challenger on January 28, 1986. Feynman, a professor at the California Institute of Technology and 1965 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, was a member of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident, also known as the Rogers Commission. He was appointed a member of the commission by a former student, NASA’s acting administrator William Graham, though, as he recounted in his memoirs, when Graham called, “I didn’t know who he was.”

But the film, to be aired on the Discovery and Science channels on November 16, 2013, already to critical acclaim, fails by conveying the misleading impression that Feyman’s role tells the whole story of Challenger or even the most important parts of it.

First, Feynman’s is only one part of a much larger, more complex,  and more interesting saga of how multiple individuals with conscience spoke truth to power to disrupt NASA’s planned cover-up of this epochal event. While the film pays lip service to some of these other individuals–i.e., the engineers at Morton Thiokol who argued against the launch the night before the disaster–the story remains incomplete.

Second, Feynman did a remarkable job of bringing clarity in explaining the technical aspects of the O-ring failure scenario, but only by utilizing and dramatizing data already present within the NASA system, some of which had been leaked publicly by the time Feynman became involved.

Third, the Presidential Commission of which Feynman was a part was itself formed to perpetrate a cover-up by shielding President Ronald Reagan and the White House from being implicated when a prime cause of the disaster was the need to have Challenger airborne in time for Reagan’s state-of-the-union address that night. Feynman suspected as much and had begun to uncover evidence for it. Also, Reagan urged the launch to go forward because he was receiving calls from the television networks that were losing money by parking crews in Florida during NASA’s multiple launch delays. But Feynman did nothing to blow the whistle when Chairman William Rogers diverted attention by focusing the commission’s report solely on the technical problems and scapegoating mid-level managers at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Fourth, the underlying cause of NASA’s decision to “fly-as-is” (using NASA’s own phrase for launching with known defects) with the flawed solid booster rocket joints was to avoid interfering with planned military flights for launch of reconnaissance satellites and in connection with Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), popularly called “Star Wars.” Feyman did nothing to urge that the militarization of space also be a focal point of the investigation as it surely should have been, though the matter came up in subsequent Senate hearings. In fact, the shuttle program was being taken over to serve as a testing platform for weapons in space to lead ultimately to nuclear space-based battle platforms. The Challenger disaster was, in effect, the end of SDI, making the Challenger astronauts martyrs to that ill-conceived venture. Feynman himself was one of the original developers of the atom bomb and a consultant for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He had to have known of the shift at NASA to military priorities.

These omissions have gone largely uncorrected in an overall public impression that the Presidential Commission did a complete examination of the circumstances of the tragedy and delivered to the public a comprehensive explanation. In fact it did not, and the film “The Challenger Disaster” fails to correct that false impression, as did mainstream media coverage following the tragedy. The media itself thereby became party to the unwillingness to confront the whole truth, and now the film “The Challenger Disaster” may be added to that dubious failure.

The complete story is contained in my own book Challenger Revealed, published in 2007 but now being released by Audible, Inc., as a talking book with myself as the narrator.

Challenger Revealed explains how the public hearing where Feyman conducted his famous ice-water O-ring experiment took place only after I released an explosive batch of O-ring documents to the New York Times that was reported as the lead article on Sunday, February 9, 1986, less than two weeks after the explosion. As a NASA analyst with insider access, I had been documenting engineers’ fears that the flawed O-ring joint in the solid rocket boosters could destroy the shuttle on any given launch. One of the documents reported by the Times was my own warning memo of July 23, 1985. The Times story won reporter Phillip Boffey a share of the Pulitzer Prize.

As documented in Challenger Revealed, the February 11, 1986, hearing where Feynman took action had been convened by the chairman of the commission, William Rogers, a former attorney-general and secretary of state, in order to destroy my reputation before a worldwide television audience. I stood my ground under Rogers’ grilling while Feynman was preparing his demonstration that involved dipping a piece of O-ring in a glass of ice water to show how it stiffened. This showed that the booster rocket seals containing the O-rings were bound to fail in the unusually cold weather at the Kennedy Space Center during the hours before the Challenger launch attempt.

Two weeks after this hearing, the engineers at Morton Thiokol, led by Roger Boisjoly and Al McDonald, told the press and the Commission that they had tried desperately the night before the launch to get NASA to stand down. But, they said, they were overruled by pressures from the space agency and from their own contractor management. Later in the Commission’s hearings, NASA astronaut John Young put his own career on the line by arguing that schedule pressure had caused NASA to compromise safety.

Feynman died in 1988 so is not around to debate the issue. But while he may have acted heroically, he was not the only one to do so and failed in key respects, along with other commission members who could not conceive of swimming against the political tide. For my own testimony I received the Cavallo Foundation Award for Moral Courage in Business and Government in 1991.

Also bear in mind that in 1986, when the disaster took place, whistleblowers were a rarity. Today we have many more cases involving people like Sibel Edmonds, Bradley Manning, Karen Hudes, and Edward Snowden. The Challenger disaster, where everything  the public came to learn about what really happened originated with individuals who were bucking the system from within, was a forerunner for their heroism. Back then I was told by a news reporter, “They’ve killed people for less than what you did.” But I believe that what I did paved the way for others.

The most important value for civilized living is honesty. That value is compromised by the film “The Challenger Disaster” by being careful not to rock any political boats. Let’s be clear: high-level commissions, also including the Warren Commission and the 9/11 Commission, are usually created to conceal truth, not expose it. So did the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Accident. The film “The Challenger Disaster” walks in the commission’s footsteps.

Beneath the surface of all this is a very dark understory: if the government kills you, it’s up to them to decide how to pitch it to the public and history. I guess I just never bought into that.

Richard C. Cook is a former federal analyst who now teaches meditation at the Lifestream Center in Roanoke, VA, USA. His latest book is “Return of the Aeons: The Planetary Spiritual Ascension.” His websites are www.richardccook.com and www.meditatehealascend.org.

Israel’s Elections Bring ‘Racism’ to the Fore

October 22nd, 2013 by Jonathan Cook

In some parts of Israel, voters in Tuesday’s elections will be casting a ballot not on how well their municipality is run but on how to stop “Arabs” moving in next door, how to prevent mosques being built in their community, or how to “save” Jewish women from the clutches of Arab men.

While the far-right’s rise in Israeli national politics has made headlines, less attention has been paid to how this has played out in day-to-day relations between Israeli Jews and the country’s Palestinian-Arab minority, comprising a fifth of the population.

According to analysts and residents, Israel’s local elections have brought a tide of ugly racism to the fore, especially in a handful of communities known as “mixed cities”, where Jewish and Palestinian citizens live in close proximity.

Jewish parties, including local branches of the ruling Likud party, have adopted openly racist language and fear-mongering suggesting an imminent Muslim takeover of Jewish communities in a bid to win votes.

“Israeli society has become more and more racist, and the candidates are simply reflecting this racism back to voters knowing that it will win them lots of support,” said Mohammed Zeidan, director of the Human Rights Association in Nazareth.

Last week, as electioneering intensified, Salim Joubran, an Arab judge, stepped in to ban adverts by the Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the cities of Karmiel and Tel Aviv.

Joubran, who is the first Arab in Israel’s history to chair the Central Elections Committee, which oversees elections, said the ads were “racist and almost certain to hurt the feelings of Arab Israelis and disrupt public order”.

In doing so, Joubran overruled the advice of the attorney-general, Yehuda Weinstein, who had argued that the committee had no authority to regulate online ads and posters.

‘Gentrifying’ neighbourhoods

Notably, Netanyahu and his ministers have refused to condemn or distance themselves from the campaigns run by their local branches.

In Jaffa, the commercial capital of Palestine before Israel’s creation in 1948 and now a mixed suburb of Tel Aviv, Likud ran ads against local Muslims. A third of Jaffa’s population are Palestinian, but they face increasing pressure to leave under a programme of “gentrifying” neighbourhoods.

One ad – using the slogan “Silence the muezzin in Jaffa? Only Likud can” – echoed threats Netanyahu made in late 2011 to ban mosques from using loudspeakers to call Muslims to prayer.

A Likud party spokeswoman declined to comment on Joubran’s criticisms.

Sheikh Ahmed Abu Ajwa, an imam in Jaffa, said: “This is a racist campaign but we must not forget that those who promote hatred against Muslims and Christians in Jaffa are simply following the lead of the government.

“It is a great impertinence to tell us we need to silence our mosques. We were here – and so were our mosques – long before Israel’s creation. If they don’t like it here, they are welcome to leave.”

Another poster, implying that Palestinian citizens are not loyal to Israel and that Likud would intensify moves to remove them from the city, said the party would “Return Jaffa to Israel”.

Joubran similarly banned a phone ad used by the Likud party in Karmiel, a so-called “Judaisation” city in the Galilee designed to bring Jews to a region with a large Palestinian population.

Jewish residents had received a recorded phone message from someone calling himself “Nabil” inviting them to a fictitious cornerstone-laying ceremony for a new mosque in the town.

Karmiel’s Palestinian residents, believed to number less than 2,000 in a city of 45,000 people, say they have not even proposed that a mosque should be built in the city.

Koren Neuman, head of Karmiel’s Likud electoral list, said the election committee’s decision was unjustified.

“Our message is that we want to keep our city Jewish-Zionist. That, after all, is the mission of the state of Israel. We’re not against anybody. But Karmiel is supposed to be a Jewish city and we must not allow its character to be changed.”

He added that at meetings with voters, “the fear that is raised is that the city will become mixed”, and there would one day be an Arab mayor.

‘Take our women’

Naama Blatman-Thomas, a local political activist, said Jewish parties in Karmiel had resorted to “dirty tricks” in response to the emergence of a joint Jewish-Arab party, Karmiel Rainbow, contesting the council election.

“When I have spoken to Jewish residents, the narrative in their minds is that their city is under threat of a takeover, that the Arabs will take our women, and so on. The views expressed in Karmiel are part of a much wider trend across the Galilee.”

Most communities in Israel are segregated on an ethnic basis.

However, in recent years Palestinians in the Galilee have started migrating to Judaisation cities such as Karmiel in growing numbers because Israeli land policies have deprived their own communities of land for new house construction, said Zeidan.

In rural communities such as the kibbutz and moshav where housing is available, vetting committees have been put in place to ensure housing is off-limits to Palestinian citizens.

But in cities such as Karmiel, homes are available for purchase if Jews will sell to Palestinian citizens. Blatman-Thomas, who is researching segregation policies in Karmiel for her doctorate, said Jews were emigrating from the city because of a shortage of employment opportunities, opening the way to Palestinians from the surrounding towns and villages to buy apartments.

Recent surveys show a strong aversion from many in the Jewish public to living in shared communities. According to the annual Israel Democracy Index, published this month, 48 percent of Jews would not want an Arab neighbour, while 44 percent favoured policies to encourage Palestinian citizens to emigrate from Israel.

Such sentiments have received official backing from municipal rabbis. More than 40 signed a decree in 2010 that Jews must not sell homes to non-Jews.

At that time, Karmiel’s deputy mayor, Oren Milstein, set up an email “hotline” on which residents could inform on Jewish residents who were intending to sell to Palestinian families. Milstein claimed he had managed to stop 30 such sales.

Dov Caller, a spokesman for Karmiel Rainbow, said the city’s attractiveness to Palestinian families in the area was a reflection of the discrimination they faced in their own communities.

“When they have the right to land for development, their own industrial zones, gardens, sports centre and decent schools, then Karmiel won’t be the only option available to them.”

‘Bleeding-hearts’

Similar tensions have erupted in Upper Nazareth, a Judaisation city built in the 1950s to contain the growth of Nazareth, the Biblical city of Jesus’ childhood.

Over the past decade, large numbers of Christians and Muslims have moved into Upper Nazareth, with some estimates suggesting of the city’s 55,000 population a quarter may now be Palestinian citizens, most of them from Nazareth.

The mayor, Shimon Gapso, has erected large Israeli flags at every entrance to the city in the run-up to the election, in a move he said was designed to make clear that Palestinian citizens were not welcome in Upper Nazareth.

Raed Ghattas, one of two Arab members of the local council, said Gapso’s whole election strategy had been based on a hatred of Arabs. “There are four candidates for mayor – for us, it is a matter of which one is the lesser evil. But Gapso is definitely the worst of a bad bunch.”

Earlier this year Gapso issued a pamphlet to residents warning: “This is the time to guard our home! … All requests for foreign characteristics in the city are refused.”

He has rejected building a church or mosque, allowing Christmas trees in public places or, most controversially, building an Arab-language schoolfor the 2,000 Palestinian children in the city.

Gapso stoked tensions further during the election by running a bogus election campaign using posters urging voters to “Throw the mayor out” that quoted prominent Palestinian politicians in Israel denouncing him.

Haneen Zoabi, a parliament member who is running for mayor of neighbouring Nazareth, was quoted as saying: “Upper Nazareth was built on Arab land. We will fight to the end against Shimon Gapso’s racism. [Send] the racist home; Arabs to Upper Nazareth.”

Defending his election campaign in an article in the Haaretz newspaper under the headline “If you think I’m a racist, then Israel is a racist state”, Gapso accused his critics of “hypocrisy and bleeding-heart sanctimoniousness”. The important thing, he wrote, was that his city “retain a Jewish majority and not be swallowed up in the Arab area that surrounds it”.

In another interview, he said: “95 percent of Jewish mayors [in Israel] think the same thing. They’re just afraid to say so out loud”.

 

A New Kind of War Is Being Legalized

October 22nd, 2013 by David Swanson

There’s a dark side to the flurry of reports and testimony on drones, helpful as they are in many ways.  When we read that Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch oppose drone strikes that violate international law, some of us may be inclined to interpret that as a declaration that, in fact, drone strikes violate international law.  On the contrary, what these human rights groups mean is that some drone strikes violate the law and some do not, and they want to oppose the ones that do.

Which are which? Even their best researchers can’t tell you.  Human Rights Watch looked into six drone murders in Yemen and concluded that two were illegal and four might be illegal.  The group wants President Obama to explain what the law is (since nobody else can), wants him to comply with it (whatever it is), wants civilians compensated (if anyone can agree who the civilians are and if people can really be compensated for the murder of their loved ones), and wants the U.S. government to investigate itself.  Somehow the notion of prosecuting crimes doesn’t come up.

Amnesty International looks into nine drone strikes in Pakistan, and can’t tell whether any of the nine were legal or illegal.  Amnesty wants the U.S. government to investigate itself, make facts public, compensate victims, explain what the law is, explain who a civilian is, and — remarkably — recommends this: “Where there is sufficient admissible evidence, bring those responsible to justice in public and fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.”  However, this will be a very tough nut to crack, as those responsible for the crimes are being asked to define what is and is not legal.  Amnesty proposes “judicial review of drone strikes,” but a rubber-stamp FISA court for drone murders wouldn’t reduce them, and an independent judiciary assigned to approve of certain drone strikes and not others would certainly approve of some, while inevitably leaving the world less than clear as to why.

The UN special rapporteurs’ reports are perhaps the strongest of the reports churned out this week, although all of the reports provide great information.  The UN will debate drones on Friday.  Congressman Grayson will bring injured child drone victims to Washington on Tuesday (although the U.S. State Department won’t let their lawyer come).  Attention is being brought to the issue, and that’s mostly to the good.  The U.N. reports make some useful points: U.S. drones have killed hundreds of civilians; drones make war the norm rather than an exception; signature strikes are illegal; double-tap strikes (targeting rescuers of a first strike’s victims) are illegal; killing rather than capturing is illegal; imminence (as a term to define a supposed threat) can’t legally be redefined to mean eventual or just barely imaginable; and — most powerfully — threatened by drones is the fundamental right to life.  However, the U.N. reports are so subservient to western lawyer groupthink as to allow that some drone kills are legal and to make the determination of which ones so complex that nobody will ever be able to say — the determination will be political rather than empirical.

The U.N. wants transparency, and I do think that’s a stronger demand than asking for the supposed legal memos that Obama has hidden in a drawer and which supposedly make his drone kills legal.  We don’t need to see that lawyerly contortionism.  Remember Obama’s speech in May at which he claimed that only four of his victims had been American and for one of those four he had invented criteria for himself to meet, even though all available evidence says he didn’t meet those criteria even in that case, and he promised to apply the same criteria to foreigners going forward, sometimes, in certain countries, depending.  Remember the liberal applause for that?  Somehow our demands of President Bush were never that he make a speech.

(And did you see how pleased people were just recently that Obama had kidnapped a man in Libya and interrogated him in secret on a ship in the ocean, eventually bringing him to the U.S. for a trial, because that was a step up from murdering him and his neighbors? Bush policies are now seen as advances.)

We don’t need the memos.  We need the videos, the times, places, names, justifications, casualties, and the video footage of each murder.  That is to say, if the UN is going to give its stamp of approval to a new kind of war but ask for a little token of gratitude, this is what it should be.  But let’s stop for a minute and consider.  The general lawyerly consensus is that killing people with drones is fine if it’s not a case where they could have been captured, it’s not “disproportionate,” it’s not too “collateral,” it’s not too “indiscriminate,” etc., — the calculation being so vague that nobody can measure it.  We’re not wrong to trumpet the good parts of these reports, but let’s be clear that the United Nations, an institution created to eliminate war, is giving its approval to a new kind of war, as long as it’s done properly, and it’s giving its approval in the same reports in which it says that drones threaten to make war the norm and peace the exception.

I hate to be a wet blanket, but that’s stunning.  Drones make war the norm, rather than the exception, and drone murders are going to be deemed legal depending on a variety of immeasurable criteria.  And the penalty for the ones that are illegal is going to be nothing, at least until African nations start doing it, at which point the International Criminal Court will shift into gear.

What is it that makes weaponized drones more humane than land mines, poison gas, cluster bombs, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, and other weapons worth banning?  Are drone missiles more discriminate than cluster bombs (I mean in documented practice, not in theory)?  Are they discriminate enough, even if more discriminate than something else?  Does the ease of using them against anyone anywhere make it possible for them to be “proportionate” and “necessary”?  If some drone killing is legal and other not, and if the best researchers can’t always tell which is which, won’t drone killing continue?  The UN Special Rapporteur says drones threaten to make war the norm. Why risk that? Why not ban weaponized drones?

For those who refuse to accept that the Kellogg Briand Pact bans war, for those who refuse to accept that international law bans murder, don’t we have a choice here between banning weaponized drones or watching weaponized drones proliferate and kill?  Over 99,000 people have signed a petition to ban weaponized drones athttp://BanWeaponizedDrones.org  Maybe we can push that over 100,000 … or 200,000.

It’s always struck me as odd that in civilized, Geneva conventionized, Samantha Powerized war the only crime that gets legalized is murder.  Not torture, or assault, or rape, or theft, or marijuana, or cheating on your taxes, or parking in a handicapped spot — just murder.  But will somebody please explain to me why homicide bombing is not as bad as suicide bombing?

It isn’t strictly true that the suffering is all on one side, anyway.  Just as we learn geography through wars, we learn our drone base locations through blowback, in Afghanistan and just recently in Yemen.  Drones make everyone less safe.  As Malala just pointed out to the Obama family, the drone killing fuels terrorism.  Drones also kill with friendly fire.  Drones, with or without weapons, crash.  A lot.  And drones make the initiation of violence easier, more secretive, and more concentrated.  When sending missiles into Syria was made a big public question, we overwhelmed Congress, which said no.  But missiles are sent into other countries all the time, from drones, and we’re never asked.

We’re going to have to speak up for ourselves.

I’ll be part of a panel discussing this at NYU on Wednesday. See http://NYACT.net

Minneapolis, MN – As JPMorgan Chase reaches a record $13 billion settlement with the Justice Department over its role in the lead-up to the foreclosure crisis, it remains unclear whether this settlement will keep people like Jaymie Kelly in their homes.

$4 billion of the settlement will go to consumer relief, but it’s still not clear where that money would go. $3.3 billion was earmarked for foreclosed homeowners as part of the Independent Foreclosure Review Settlement, which resulted in most homeowners, many of whom had lost their homes, receiving checks of $300 to $500.

“The first priority of the settlement should be to keep people in their homes,” said Jaymie Kelly, who has lived in her south Minneapolis home for 30 years and is now facing imminent eviction by JPMorgan Chase and Freddie Mac. “JPMorgan Chase refused to work with me after I fell behind on a predatory loan, even though I had paid for my home five times over. Now they want to evict me from my home of 30 years. I am not interested in a settlement check. I want a negotiation with principal reduction to stay in my home.”

Kelly, who bought her home in 1983 for $74,900, has paid $425,000 for it over the years. When Chase foreclosed on her, they claimed she still owed $255,000. Instead of modifying her loan, they sold her home to Freddie Mac, which is aggressively pushing to evict.

Kelly is fighting an eviction defense campaign with Occupy Homes MN. On Oct. 8, 150 community members blockaded the sheriff’s attempt to evict her. JPMorgan Chase and Freddie Mac have filed for another eviction order to remove Kelly from her home, but Kelly is not going anywhere.

“No settlement check could make up for the trauma of being forced out of my home of 30 years,” said Kelly. “If this settlement doesn’t keep me in my home, my community will. I am not leaving.”

Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism

October 22nd, 2013 by Illan Pappé

Jews in today’s Israel must reconnect to Jewish heritage before it was distorted by Zionism. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

When the Zionist movement appeared in Eastern Europe in the 1880s, it found it very difficult to persuade the leading rabbis and secular Jewish thinkers of the day to support it.

The leading rabbis saw the political history in the Bible and the idea of Jewish sovereignty on the land of Israel as very marginal topics and were much more concerned, as indeed Judaism as a religion was, with the holy tracts that focused on the relationship between the believers themselves and in particular their relations with God.

Secular liberal or socialist Jews also found the idea of Jewish nationalism unattractive. Liberal Jews hoped that a far more liberal world would solve the problems of persecution and anti-Semitism while avowed socialists and communists wished peoples of all religions, not just the Jews, to be liberated from oppression.

Even the idea of a particular Jewish socialist movement, such as the Bund, was a bizarre one in their eyes. “Zionists who were afraid of seasickness” is how Russian Marxist Georgi Plekhanov called the Bundists when they wanted to join the international communist movement.

The secular Jews who founded the Zionist movement wanted paradoxically both to secularize Jewish life and to use the Bible as a justification for colonizing Palestine; in other words, they did not believe in God but He nonetheless promised them Palestine.

This precarious logic was recognized even by the founder of the Zionist movement himself, Theodore Herzl, who therefore opted for Uganda, rather than Palestine, as the promised land of Zion. It was the pressure of Protestant scholars and politicians of the Bible, especially in Britain, who kept the gravitation of the Zionist movement towards Palestine.

Map of colonization

For them it was a double bill: you get rid of the Jews in Europe, and at the same time you fulfill the divine scheme in which the second coming of the Messiah will be precipitated by the return of the Jews — and their subsequent conversion to Christianity or their roasting in hell should they refuse.

From that moment onwards the Bible became both the justification for, and the map of, the Zionist colonization of Palestine. Hardcore Zionists knew it would not be enough: colonizing the inhabited Palestine would require a systematic policy of ethnic cleansing. But portraying the dispossession of Palestine as the fulfillment of a divine Christian scheme was priceless for galvanizing global Christian support behind Zionism.

The Bible was never taught as a singular text that carried any political or even national connotation in the various Jewish educational systems in either Europe or in the Arab world. What Zionism derogatorily called “Exile” — the fact that the vast majority of Jews lived not in Palestine but communities around the world — was considered by most religious Jews as an imperative existence and the basis for Jewish identity in modern time.

Jews were not asked to do all they can to end the “Exile” — this particular condition could have only been transformed by the will of God and could not be hastened or tampered with by acts such as the one perpetrated by the Zionist movement.

One of the greatest successes of the secular Zionist movement was creating a religious Zionist component that found rabbis willing to legitimize this act of tampering by claiming that the very act itself was proof that God’s will has been done.

These rabbis accepted the secular Zionist idea to turn the Bible into a book that stands by itself and conceded that a superficial knowledge of it became a core of one’s Jewishness even if all the other crucial religious imperatives were ignored.

These were the same rabbis who after the 1967 War used the Bible as both the justification and roadmap for the judaization and de-Arabization of the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem.

Extreme nationalism

In the 1990s the two movements — the one that does not believe in God and the one that impatiently decides to do His work — have fused into a lethal mixture of religious fanaticism with extreme nationalism. This alliance formed in the Israeli crucible is mirrored among Israel’s Jewish supporters around the world.

And yet this development has not completely eclipsed the very same Jewish groups that rejected Zionism when it first appeared in the late nineteenth century: those who are called in Israel the Ultra-Orthodox Jews — abhorred and detested in particular by liberal Zionists — and purely secular Jews who feel alien in the kind of “Jewish State” Israel became.

A small number of the former — for example Neturei Karta — even profess allegiance to the Palestine Liberation Organization, while the vast majority of the Ultra-Orthodox express their anti-Zionism without necessarily offering support for Palestinian rights.

Meanwhile, some of the secular Jews try to relive the dreams of their European and Arab grandparents in the pre-Zionist era: that group of people made their way as individuals, and not as a collective, in the various societies they found themselves in; more often than not injecting cosmopolitan, pluralist and multicultural ideas if they were gifted enough to write or teach about them.

This new, and I should say inevitable, religious-nationalist mixture that now informs the Jewish society in Israel has also caused a large and significant number of young American Jews, and Jews elsewhere in the world, to distance themselves from Israel. This trend has become so significant that it seems that Israeli policy today relies more on Christian Zionists than on loyal Jews.

It is possible, and indeed necessary, to reaffirm the pluralist non-Zionist ways of professing one’s relationship with Judaism; in fact this is the only road open to us if we wish to seek an equitable and just solution in Palestine. Whether Jews want to live there as Orthodox Jews — something that was always tolerated and respected in the Arab and Muslim worlds — or build together with like-minded Palestinians, locals and refugees, a more secular society, their presence in today’s Palestine is not by itself an obstacle to justice or peace.

Whatever your ethnicity is, you can contribute to the making of a society based on continued dialogue between religion and secularism as well as between the third generation of settlers and the native population in a decolonizing state.

Like all the other societies of the Arab world this one too would strive to find the bridge between past heritage and future visions. Its dilemmas will be the same as those which are now informing everyone who lives in the Arab world, in the heart of which lies the land of Palestine.

The society in Palestine and present-day Israel cannot deal with these issues in isolation from the rest of the Arab world, and neither can any other Arab nation-state created by the colonialist agreements forged in the wake of the First World War.

Distorted

For the Jews in today’s Israel to be part of a new, just and peaceful Palestine, there is an imperative to reconnect to the Jewish heritage before it was corrupted and distorted by Zionism. The fact that this distorted version is presented in some circles in the west as the face of Judaism itself is yet another rotten fruit of the wish of some of the victims of nationalist criminality — as the Jews were in central and Eastern Europe — to become such criminals themselves.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are what believers choose them to be. In pre-Zionist Palestine, the choice was for living together in the same towns and villages in one complete existence. In the turn of the twentieth century, it was even moving faster towards a more relaxed way of living. But alas, that was the path not taken.

We should not lose hope that this is still possible in the future. We need to reclaim Judaism and extract it from the hands of the “Jewish State” as a first step towards building a joint place for those who lived and want to live there in the future.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article misattributed the quotation “Zionists who were afraid of seasickness” to Leon Trotsky rather than Georgi Plekhanov. It has since been corrected.

The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is professor of history and director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.

Koch brothers: grey cardinals behind US shutdown blackmail plot

October 22nd, 2013 by Global Research News

Groups campaigning against Obamacare have one thing in common – they are all generously funded by Charles and David Koch. The Koch brothers, whose combined fortune exceeds $70 billion, according to Forbes, have been doing their utmost to thwart Obama’s “socialist-leaning reforms”.

 Months ago, a bunch of foundations, research think-tanks and other noncommercial organizations had cooked up a budget crisis and made it work, journalist Philippe Bernard wrote in his latest article published in Le Monde.

The Koch brothers: Charles and David

The timing couldn’t have been better chosen: the coming into force of the medical insurance bill and the borrowing limit approval deadline coincided in time, a not-to miss chance for the Republicans.

The plan was simple: not to coordinate the budget or raise the debt ceiling unless Obamacare is repealed.

Days before Obama and Congress struck the last-minute budget deal on October 16, the Koch brothers, seeing that their plan had gone wrong, “jumped off the train” and wrote and open letter to Congress, distancing themselves from accusations of a shutdown blackmail conspiracy. They denied playing a part in the “legislative tactic of tying the continuing resolution to defunding ObamaCare” or lobbing on legislative provisions defunding it.

That looks like a tactical maneuver prompted partly by fear of a looming fiscal catastrophe and partly by the need to recuperate strength for a new Tea Party attack. A political force strong enough to shut down the world’s wealthiest government, Tea Party sprouted from the seeds planted by the Koch brothers in the 1980s. It has many supporters among wealthy Americans in southern states. The name Tea Party goes back to the famous 1773 Boston Tea Party tax protest is said to be an acronym for “taxed enough already.”Key Tea Party figures include senator for Texas Ted Cruz, senator for Utah Mike Lee, senator for Kentucky Rand Paul, member of the House of Representatives for Minnesota, and former Alaska governor Sara Palin.

The Koch brothers – billionaires and libertarians – advocate for the dissolution of the FBR and CIA, pension cuts and legalized prostitution and narcotics. Their father, a Dutch immigrant and chemical engineer, became a vehement anti-communist after working in the ex-Soviet Union in the 1930s.

The Kochs own some 6,000 km of oil pipes and businesses producing a vast range of goods from napkins to shield winds and employing a total of 60,000 workers. They sponsor prestigious cultural institutions and cancer societies.

They invested tens of millions of dollars into Republican candidate Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election campaign.

The “shutdown blitzkrieg” of the Koch brothers shows that despite Romney’s defeat they are not ready to capitulate.

Voice of Russia, Le Monde

Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_10_21/Koch-brothers-grey-cardinals-behind-US-shutdown-blackmail-plot-7191/

Remember the bizarre “Kony 2012” video last year that was supposed to mobilize us all to fight the really bad guys in Uganda? (Or at least get behind the State Department and AFRICOM’s efforts to fight the “really bad guys” in Uganda)? The video was supposedly viewed by millions and gazillions of people who then demanded that the State Department, CIA, and AFRICOM (who all had a hand in funding the “NGO” that made the film) do something about the horrible John Kony and his “Lord’s Resistance Army.”

Never mind that no one had heard of him before viewing the film and never mind that Kony himself had disappeared and was presumed dead years before the film was even made. After watching the film, Americans demanded that the US government do something about all those bad people in Africa, and AFRICOM and other US government agencies happily complied.

Remember how indignant the newly-mobilized and propagandized became after viewing the film, spending all their cash on various t-shirts, bracelets, and “Kony 2012″ posters? Remember how equally quickly those posters came down from suburbanite human rights warriors’ windows when it became obvious that the “charity” was a scam and its leaders overpaid stooge lunatics?

Well guess what? This past week’s emergency continuing resolution and debt ceiling adjustment bill that miraculously yanked the US from the edge of the abyss of what we were assured would be an apocalyptic US debt default contained in a deep dark corner an authorization to keep the money flowing to foreign governments who were fighting the US proxy wars in Africa against the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Not that you would know it by the sneaky wording in the rescue bill, HR 2775. Here is how they put it in the bill:

SEC. 122. The authority provided by sections 1205 and 1206 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Public Law 112–81) shall continue in effect, notwithstanding sub-section (h) of section 1206, through the earlier of the date specified in section 106(3) of this joint resolution or the date of the enactment of an Act authorizing appropriations for fiscal year 2014 for military activities of the Department of Defense.

As typical, it means nothing. But a trip back to Public Law 112–81 reveals the real intent of this snuck-in bit:

SEC. 1206. SUPPORT OF FOREIGN FORCES PARTICIPATING IN OPERATIONS TO DISARM THE LORD’S RESISTANCE ARMY.(a) AUTHORITY.—Pursuant to the policy established by the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (Public Law 111–172; 124 Stat. 1209), the Secretary of Defense may, with the concurrence of Secretary of State, provide logistic support, supplies, and services for foreign forces participating in operations to mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army as follows:…(c) FUNDING.—(1) IN GENERAL.—Of the amount authorized to be appropriated for the Department of Defense for each of fiscal years 2012 and 2013 for operation and maintenance, not more than $35,000,000 may be utilized in each such fiscal year to provide support under subsection (a).(2) AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS ACROSS FISCAL YEARS.— Amounts available under this subsection for a fiscal year for support under the authority in subsection (a) may be used for support under that authority that begins in such fiscal year but ends in the next fiscal year.

So despite the emergency measures taken by those dedicated to getting the government back open, they somehow found millions of dollars to continue US proxy wars in Africa. There are a lot of minerals and oceans of oil in Africa, however…

Syrian Peace Talks

October 22nd, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Obama’s war on Syria rages. Opposition forces are divided. Kofi Annan’s March 2012 six-point plan failed. Three months later, so did Geneva I.

June 2012 talks were called a “last ditch effort” to halt violence. Similar headlines followed Annan’s plan. Fighting rages daily.

Obama bears full responsibility. He deplores peace. He wants regime change. He’s supporting proxy death squads. He has been all along.

They target Assad loyalists. Dozens of innocent civilians die daily. Assad’s wrongfully blamed for their crimes. Nothing suggests change ahead.

Geneva I talks included America, Russia, China, Britain, France, Turkey, Iraq (Chair of the Summit of the League of Arab States), Kuwait (Chair of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the League of Arab States), and Qatar (Chair of the Arab Follow-up Committee on Syria of the League of Arab States).

Foreign Affairs and Security Policy High Representative Catherine Ashton attended. So did then UN/Arab League Envoy for Syria Kofi Annan.

Iran and Syria were noticeably absent. Excluding them compromised discussions. On June 30, 2012, Action Group members issues a final communique. Steps and measures agreed on included:

  • ending armed conflict;
  • implementing Annan’s peace plan;
  • adhering to provisions of Security Council Resolutions 2042 and 2043;
  • releasing detainees;
  • ensuring “freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists on a non-discriminatory visa policy for them;”
  • respecting freedom of association and right to demonstrate peacefully;
  • respect for and cooperation with UNSMIS (UN Supervision Mission in Syria) observers and securing their safety and security;
  • allowing immediate and full humanitarian access to areas needing help;
  • evacuating the wounded and civilians wishing to leave; and
  • adhering fully with international law provisions.

Political transition guidelines and principles included:

  • a Syrian-led transition for everyone in the country;
  • establishing clear steps and a firm time frame toward realizing stated goals;
  • ensuring safety, stability and calm to assure doing so; and
  • avoiding further bloodshed and violence.

Agreed on steps, measures, guideline and principles failed to resolve conflict. Will Geneva II be different? It’s hard imagining how.

On Sunday, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said talks are scheduled for November 23 and 24.

At the same time, UN/League Special Envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said no date is confirmed. Many obstacles remain.

“I will visit a number of regional countries to know their stances and opinions on the conference to end the crisis in Syria and halt the war through a cease-fire or at least decreasing it,” he said.

Syrian National Council (SNC) spokesman Najib Ghadbian earlier said some opposition forces won’t participate. Elements refusing say attending depends on Assad stepping down.

It’s unclear which opposition groups will participate. It’s uncertain if any will. It’s unknown if Geneva II will be held as planned.

It was initially scheduled for June. Now it’s November. Perhaps further delays will follow.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said his government will attend with no preconditions. Resolving conflict requires committed peace partners. It demands reversing longstanding US policy.

Syria won’t negotiate with terrorists or Takfiris (Muslims accusing others of apostasy).

“Political solution has been the original choice for the Syrian government since the beginning of aggression,” al-Zoubi added.

Syria prioritizes it. On Monday, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns met with Russia’s Special Envoy to the Middle East, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. They did so in Moscow.

A Foreign Ministry statement said:

“The focus was put on the task of speeding up conveying the crisis in Syria into the course of the political settlement through the international conference, Geneva 2, with the aim of implementing the Geneva statement issued last June 30, 2012.”

Days earlier, SNC president George Sabra refused to attend Geneva II talks, saying:

“The Syrian National Council, which is the biggest bloc in the Coalition, has taken the firm decision not to go to Geneva, under the present circumstances.”

“This means that we will not stay in the Coalition if it goes.”

At issue is wanting to negotiate from strength. Opposition elements are no match against Syria’s superior military.

Sabra wants direct US intervention. Perhaps later. Not now. Without it, opposition forces have no chance to advance their objectives.

Car bombings and other terror tactics continue daily. Innocent civilians die. Others are abducted, tortured and murdered. Syrians deplore what’s happening.

They want nothing to do with belligerent anti-government elements. They want no one interfering with their right to choose who’ll lead them.

On October 14, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said SNC president George Sabra’s refusal to participate in talks “proves again that it is necessary to convene the conference as soon as possible.”

“The key obstacle is that our partners (mainly Washington) are unable to make the Syrian opposition to go to Geneva and start talks with the government.”

It’s “necessary to determine the date of the conference as soon as possible because the delay plays in the hands of Jihadists, radicals, extremists and terrorist groups that strengthen their positions more and more. Risks are real that they can win in several areas of Syria.”

“By delaying the Geneva-2 conference, we create favorable conditions for continuing the bloody war and strengthening the positions of radical and extremist forces.”

Washington assumed responsibility for assuring opposition participation, said Lavrov.

“Our partners said they would succeed in gathering all parties to take part in the conference under the auspices of the National Coalition,” he explained.

“These days my colleague John Kerry has told me they will deal with this matter.”

“But there is no progress till now. Moreover, statements are being made to refuse to go to Geneva and to withdraw from the National Coalition, which, for its part, loses its position and its prestige.”

“The Syrian National Council and the groups, which represent its interests and carry on war on its land, give up cooperation with it.”

“We’ve heard reports saying these processes are being actively supported and financed by influential regional players that is why our warnings many obstacles will be created from those who come against any political process and who only seeks to use force against Syria in order to overthrow the regime are of high priority.”

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement expressed concern about opposition elements discussing Geneva II separately.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said:

“We have always aspired when working on Syria to act as a consolidated platform and to avoid various unofficial – separate, to be precise – discussions.”

“The UN Security Council Resolution 2118 passed on September 27 namely calls for joint work.”

“The fact that the agenda of the meeting mentioned includes preparations for the international conference on Syria, raises questions.”

On Tuesday, Western and Arab countries will meet with opposition elements. They’ll do so in London.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said participants will “discuss preparations for the Geneva Conference, support for the (opposition) Syrian National Coalition, and our efforts to achieve a political settlement to this tragic conflict.”

John Kerry will attend. He lied saying he’s “trying to move the (peace) process forward.”

“We’re working towards this Geneva conference, not that we know what the outcome is.”

Opposition elements plan holding separate discussions in Istanbul. Doing so indicates internal divisions.

Russia’s gone all out for peaceful conflict resolution. It’s done so since conflict began. Washington obstructs it. Nothing suggests policy change now.

Direct and indirect US funding, arming, training and directing insurgents continue. Doing so reveals America’s real intentions. They exclude peaceful conflict resolution. Obama didn’t wage war to end it.

Talks won’t change longstanding US regime change plans. Previous ones failed for that reason. Don’t expect this time to be different.

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

Saudi Arabia Turns Down UN Security Council Seat

October 22nd, 2013 by Peter Symonds

In an unprecedented move, Saudi Arabia last Friday indicated that it intended to turn down the temporary seat on the UN Security Council to which it was elected last week. While couched in general terms, its statement of protest points to deep concerns in the Saudi regime, a longstanding American ally, that the US is cutting across its interests in the Middle East.

The decision clearly came from the highest levels. The Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, initially welcomed his country’s seat on UN’s top body, only to be countermanded by a statement from the Saudi Foreign Ministry, which castigated the UN for its “double standards.”

The statement focussed in particular on the UN Security Council’s “inability to perform its duties” to end the war in Syria, declaring that the UN’s inaction had allowed the Syrian regime “to kill its people and burn them with chemical weapons in front of the entire world and without any deterrent or punishment.”

The accusations against President Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government are a repetition of the lies about the August 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus that was exploited by the US as it prepared to devastate Syria in early September. The Obama administration’s decision to temporarily pull back from the air strikes in the face of overwhelming public opposition clearly angered Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia has been intimately involved in funding and arming US-backed Islamist opposition inside Syria. Evidence also points to the involvement of Saudi intelligence in staging the chemical weapons atrocity, to provide the excuse for a US-led war. In early August, Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to pressure Moscow to drop its support for Assad. When Putin refused, Bandar warned that the situation in Syria would “intensify” and predicted that there was “no escape from military action” (see “Saudi-Russian talks raise questions on Syrian war drive, Boston bombings).

Three weeks later, the chemical weapons attack provided the pretext that the US had been seeking. A report on August 29 by Associated Press reporter Dale Gavlak and independent journalist Yahya Ababed provided substantial evidence that Syrian opposition militias had carried out the attack, using chemical weapons provided by Saudi Arabia (see: “Report links US-backed Syrian opposition to Ghouta gas attack”). Unlike the Assad regime, Riyadh had a clear motive: it wanted to involve the US in the Syrian war in order to reverse the military setbacks inflicted on the Al Qaeda-linked opposition militias.

The Saudi decision to reject the UN Security Council seat is not the only indication of bitterness over the US decision to postpone an attack on Syria. During the UN session last month, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal staged his own protest by declining to give a customary speech to the general assembly.

Saudi Arabia was not only dismayed by the deal struck between the US and Russia to avert immediate military action against Syria, but also by the Obama administration’s steps toward negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programs. However unlikely, the last thing that Riyadh wants is a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. Former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan, told Reuters this month: “The Saudi’s worst nightmare would be the [Obama] administration striking a grand bargain with Iran.”

Reflecting the thinking in Saudi ruling circles, Abdullah al-Askar, foreign affairs committee chairman of the country’s advisory body, told Reuters: “I am afraid in case there is something hidden. If America and Iran reach an understanding it may be at the cost of the Arab world and the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia.”

The Saudi autocracy has always regarded Iran as its chief rival for regional influence. It backed the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein in its war with Iran in the 1980s and was deeply concerned when the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq led to the emergence of a Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad with connections to Tehran.

As revealed in a 2008 WikiLeaks cable, Saudi King Abdullah exhorted top US officials “to cut off the head of the snake” and use Tehran’s nuclear programs as the pretext for a war on Iran. With Washington’s tacit support, Riyadh has whipped up anti-Shiite sectarianism and assisted reactionary Sunni extremists in the Middle East in a bid to undermine Tehran’s allies in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

The autocratic regimes in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states were deeply fearful of the revolutionary eruptions in Tunisia and Egypt. Saudi Arabia, together with Qatar, regarded the US-backed regime-change operation in Syria as an ideal opportunity to remove a key Iranian ally and to weaken Tehran. With Washington’s backing, both countries have provided arms and money to right-wing Syrian militias, including those linked to Al Qaeda.

In last Friday’s statement, Saudi Arabia also complained that the UN Security Council had failed to free the Middle East of “all weapons of mass destruction”—a reference to Israel’s stockpile of nuclear weapons, as well as Iran’s nuclear programs. Despite the lack of evidence supporting claims that Iran is building nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia remains concerned and has hinted that it could launch a nuclear effort.

US Secretary of State John Kerry met yesterday with Saudi Foreign Minister al-Faisal in Paris in a bid to allay Saudi concerns and encourage it to take up its UN Security Council seat. Among Arab countries, Qatar publicly backed Riyadh’s decision, while the Arab grouping in the UN called on it to reconsider.

Whatever Saudi Arabia’s final decision, the episode has provided another revealing glimpse into the growing regional tensions and rivalries that the US interventions in the region have stoked up. While the Obama administration has stepped back from a war with Syria, for the time being at least, any new military action has the potential to set off the regional tinderbox that the US has created.

After the U.S. government shutdown you’d expect Republicans and Democrats to remain at each others’ throats, so different was their vision for the country, or so it appeared.   In reality, however, only a bit of the political theater was reserved for “Tea Party” Republicans to invest in their political future by denouncing Obamacare, which they know will enrage millions of people forced to buy shoddy corporate health care; many of these future victims of Obamacare will become diehard Teapartiers.  

But the real intent behind the government shutdown was lost on the mute American media. The Republicans were once again allowed to use the threat of government default to steer the Obama administration to the right — the right-leaning tail wagging the dog of government in the direction of a “Grand Bargain” to cut “entitlement” programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and other public services. But like real dogs, government body and tail cannot be separated: the Democrats are allowing themselves to be “wagged” because they fully agree with the Republican’s neoliberal agenda. 

The essence of neoliberalism can be reduced to the following: government should be used exclusively to help big business and the wealthy with tax cuts, subsidies, privatizations, anti-labor laws, etc., while all government programs that help working and poor people should be eliminated. It’s really that simple.    In practice, Obama’s neoliberalism is blatant: after bailing out the banks he continues to approve of the printing of thousands of billions of Federal Reserve dollars to give to the wealthy and big banks who are racking in record profits, while the jobs crisis is ignored and public services slashed on a state by state level without hope of a government bailout. 

Since Obama has been in office, a shocking 95 percent of income gains went to the richest 1%. This is not the blind hand of the free market, but government policy, which can be adjusted to reflect the priorities of working people. http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/09/10/some-95-of-2009-2012-income-gains-went-to-wealthiest-1/

Obama dodges responsibility for his neoliberal policies by giving empty speeches about “hope” and whining about the very wealth inequality that he creates via policy. He gives speeches to labor unions about how it’s “unfair” that the rich just happen to be getting richer, while working people continue to suffer. Working people learned long ago to ignore Obama’s “progressive” blather, while the leaders of national unions drink in his words as if gulping from the Holy Grail. 

The first steps of the coming Grand Bargain have already been taken: the “sequester” — massive cuts to national social programs including Medicare — have been extended as a result of government shutdown “negotiations.” And now the media is casually reporting that a Grand Bargain that further “reduces entitlements” is inevitable, but it will be only a “small” bargain, so no need to worry. 

The New York Times reports:

“Republicans on Capitol Hill are determined to mitigate those [military sequester] cuts by spreading them among various social programs, like education and Social Security…”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/us/lobbyists-ready-for-a-new-fight-on-us-spending.html?hp&_r=0

Obama has said several times that he’s more than prepared to use Social Security as a bargaining chip in his Grand Bargain.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/obama-chained-cpi

At a time when more services are needed, they will be cut instead. Aside from the suffering it will cause millions of people, a “small” Grand Bargain will also create a precedent for even more “bargains” in the future, since the first step in creating negative social change is often the hardest, but once the foot is in the door the process accelerates.  

Neoliberalism has already advanced on a state-by-state basis in the U.S., with Democrat and Republican governors in bi-partisan agreement that has drastically cut education and other social services, attacked the wages and benefits of state workers, while lowering the state taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

Large scale neoliberalism on a national level — like the coming Grand Bargain — is sometimes referred to as a “structural reform,” meaning that a major component of a nation’s economic policy is shifted, or eliminated.

For example, Social Security and Medicare are two bedrock social programs that constitute a major piece of U.S. budget spending, affecting hundreds of millions of people. 

The attacks on Social Security, Medicare, and public education are neoliberal-style ”structural reforms,” essentially a corporate attempt to change the underlying social compact of U.S. society that was created under Franklin D. Roosevelt and expanded under Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” programs.   

How was the U.S. social compact formed? Like all social policy, it was a reflection of power, specifically the balance of forces between the corporate and working classes in the U.S. In the 1930s and 1940s, massive strike waves led to an ever-larger unionized workforce that repeatedly flexed its muscles by demanding living wages, health care, and other social programs.

These demands were backed up by waging mass demonstrations and industry-wide actions along with sympathy strikes. After WWII a third of the U.S. workforce was organized in labor unions, which shifted the entire labor market in favor of all working people, while also shifting the ground on which national social policy was created. A semblance of democracy was not possible without recognizing the demands of the powerfully organized working class.

When arch-conservative Richard Nixon famously declared “we’re all Keynesians now,” he was merely recognizing the balance of power that existed in the U.S. political system, and the unwillingness of the elites to challenge this social pact for fear of the destabilizing effects that would result. 

This Keynesian consensus was essentially a truce declared in the U.S. class war, where the power of both sides — capital and labor — were balanced, both independently strong enough to repel attacks from the other. In response, Nixon’s economic policies make Obama seem like a right-wing neoliberal fanatic.   

But while Nixon agreed to the Keynesian consensus at home, he gave his blessing to the radical right-wing economist Milton Freidman to “reform” the economy of Chile under the bloody dictator, Pinochet, whom the U.S. brought to power over the corpse of the democratically elected President Salvador Allende, as well as the thousands of his supporters who were butchered. Chile was essentially a neoliberal experiment that, if successful, would be transferred to the United States. 

Due to the Keynesian consensus, Milton Freidman’s radical pro-corporate doctrine was at the time viewed as right-wing fanaticism, which it is.  Now, however, with labor’s faltering power, the corporations feel confident enough to flex their muscles unhindered. To enhance their new power they needed an accompanying ideology — Friedman’s neoliberalism, free market capitalism unleashed. 

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan’s “revolution” ushered in the neoliberal transformation of the U.S. after seeing the “success” of the Chilean economy. Chile successfully increased corporate profit rates by removing “barriers” to profits, such as trade unions, socialists, and any democratic voice that opposed the “restructuring” of the Chilean economy to reflect the interests of the rich, finally unshackled from the “constraints” of wealth accumulation. Reagan and Thatcher followed in lock-step, targeting unions for destruction, lowering tax rates for the rich, and preaching the virtue of neoliberal “trickle down” economics. 

Implementing the neoliberal shock doctrine breaks the social contract and thus ends the truce of the class war. The first shots were fired by Reagan and the onslaught has continued under the two Bush’s as well as under Bill Clinton. The 2008 recession has pushed both parties to double down on neoliberalism as their solution to the ongoing economic crisis. 

Naomi Klein’s book, “The Shock Doctrine,” tells in gruesome detail the brutality that has accompanied the “implementation” of neoliberal reforms across the globe over the last 30 years. And while the U.S. has slow played this process since 2008, U.S. politicians are slated to follow the example of the European Union elites by accelerating the cuts on a national level. 

The labor and community groups that have tried to deal with the corporate attack by hiding from it still have time to unite their forces to fight for full funding for a national jobs program, expanded Social Security, Medicare for all, accessible, quality public education, and other public services, all to be paid for by taxing the rich and corporations. 

 

France’s Le Monde published a report Monday based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden describing National Security Agency (NSA) spying operations directed against the French population and the French business and political leadership. Between December 2012 and January 2013, according to Le Monde, the NSA collected over 70 million French communications, which were then categorized either as “Drtbox” or “Whitebox.”

The collection process included reading and listening to the content of communications.

The report provides yet another exposure of the Obama administration’s global spying operations, which are carried out in flagrant violation of US and international law. Le Monde summarized the NSA spying as “intrusion on a vast scale, both into the private space of French citizens and the secrets of major national firms.” Describing aspects of the surveillance, Le Monde wrote, “When a telephone number is used in France, it activates a signal that automatically triggers the recording of the call. Apparently this surveillance also picks up SMS messages and their content using key words.” Le Monde also released a Power Point presentation titled “PRISM/US-984X Overview” detailing NSA electronic surveillance procedures. The slide, headed “You Should Use Both,” lists “upstream collection of communications on fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past (FAIRVIEW, STORBREW, BLARNEY, OAKSTAR” and “PRISM collection directly from the servers of these US Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”

The slides show that the NSA carries out “voice collection” using both upstream and PRISM collection methods.

One slide, entitled PRISM Collection, lists “current providers” as “Microsoft (Hotmail, etc.), Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL, Apple.” The slide reads: “What Will You Receive in Collection (Surveillance and Stored Comms)? It varies by provider: in general: E-mail, Chat-video, voice, Videos, Photos, Stored data, VoIP, File transfers, Video Conferencing, Notifications of target activity–logins, etc., Online Social Network details, Special Requests.”

The slides also contain a chart showing the dates when PRISM began collecting data from the various providers, from Microsoft in September of 2007 to Apple in October of 2012, along with detailed flow charts illustrating the various components of the surveillance apparatus.

Top French officials expressed indignation over the Le Monde report. Speaking to Europe 1 Radio, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls described the spying exposure as “shocking” and declared, “If an allied country is spying on France, it’s totally unacceptable.”

The French government publicly demanded an explanation from the American ambassador. US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris Monday and was set to meet the following day with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to discuss issues relating to the Middle East and Iran.

Fabius commented, “This sort of practice between partners that invades privacy is totally unacceptable and we have to make sure, very quickly, that this no longer happens.”

In light of previous revelations that the NSA spies on US allies such as Mexico, Brazil, England and Germany, it is implausible that France’s political establishment would be genuinely shocked by the new revelations. French officials began inquiries into the NSA operations during the summer after it became public that US agency had targeted various European governments for surveillance.

France 24 interviewed former French Air Force General Alain Charret on the matter. Charret said that NSA spying was already well known to the French government, that France has surveillance programs of its own, and that the legal authorities of the European Union are powerless to prevent mass spying by the NSA on the continent because the data access points are not on French soil.

“When we say that the NSA is spying in France, we must realize that the agency is using satellites or underwater cables that are not on French territory,” Charret said. “Even if the European Court of Human Rights condemned the NSA for violation privacy, it would not prevent the intelligence agency from continuing to listen to telephone conversations in France and elsewhere,” he continued.

According to Charret, “there have been proven examples of NSA wiretapping that cost French companies lucrative contracts in Brazil and Saudi Arabia.” He added that over the summer, French officials were instructed to use “specially encrypted telephones when discussing certain information,” which indicated that “French authorities were aware that the NSA was listening to communications of some French people.”

With regard to the reaction of Valls and Fabius, Charret said, “This whole thing smacks of hypocrisy… we probably have a programme that resembles the one in the US, albeit on a smaller scale.”

NSA spying on foreign governments has produced frictions between the US and Latin American governments. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cancelled a trip to the US in September after learning that she had been targeted by the NSA.

According to Der Spiegel, the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division hacked into then-Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s email account in May of 2010. Der Spiegel said that documents acquired form Snowden show that the NSA penetrated a “central server” in the computer network used by the Mexican president, giving the agency access to Calderon’s communications along with those of other members of his cabinet.

“This practice is unacceptable, illegal and against Mexican and international law,” said Mexico’s foreign ministry in a statement released Monday.

U.S. “War On Terror” Has INCREASED Terrorism

October 22nd, 2013 by Washington's Blog

Charts Show that U.S. Policy Has Increased Terror Attacks

The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) Global Terrorism Database – part of a joint government-university program on terrorism -  is hosted at the University of Maryland.

START is the most comprehensive open source terrorism database, which can be viewed by journalists and civilians lacking national security clearance.

A quick review of charts from the START database show that terrorism has increased in the last 9 years since the U.S. started its “war on terror”.

This chart shows the number of terror attacks conducted in Iraq:

 

Afghanistan:

 

 

The Middle East:

 

 

Asia:

 

 

Africa:

 

 

Indeed, global terrorism had been falling from 1992 until 2004 … but has been skyrocketing since 2004:

 

 

Our Wars In the Middle East Have Created More Terrorists

Security experts – including both conservatives and liberals – agree that waging war in the Middle East weakens national security and increases terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

Ooops.

Killing innocent civilians is one of the main things which increases terrorism. As one of the top counter-terrorism experts (the former number 2 counter-terrorism expert at the State Department) told me, starting wars against states which do not pose an imminent threat to America’s national security increases the threat of terrorism because:

One of the principal causes of terrorism is injuries to people and families.

The Iraq war wasn’t even fought to combat terrorism. And Al Qaeda wasn’t even in Iraq until the U.S. invaded that country.

And top CIA officers say that drone strikes increase terrorism (and see this).

Furthermore, James K. Feldman – former professor of decision analysis and economics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and the School of Advanced Airpower Studies – and other experts say that foreign occupation is the main cause of terrorism

University of Chicago professor Robert A. Pape – who specializes in international security affairs – points out:

Extensive research into the causes of suicide terrorism proves Islam isn’t to blame — the root of the problem is foreign military occupations.

***

Each month, there are more suicide terrorists trying to kill Americans and their allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Muslim countries than in all the years before 2001 combined.

***

New research provides strong evidence that suicide terrorism such as that of 9/11 is particularly sensitive to foreign military occupation, and not Islamic fundamentalism or any ideology independent of this crucial circumstance. Although this pattern began to emerge in the 1980s and 1990s, a wealth of new data presents a powerful picture.

More than 95 percent of all suicide attacks are in response to foreign occupation, according to extensive research [co-authored by James K. Feldman - former professor of decision analysis and economics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and the School of Advanced Airpower Studies] that we conducted at the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism, where we examined every one of the over 2,200 suicide attacks across the world from 1980 to the present day. As the United States has occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, which have a combined population of about 60 million, total suicide attacks worldwide have risen dramatically — from about 300 from 1980 to 2003, to 1,800 from 2004 to 2009. Further, over 90 percent of suicide attacks worldwide are now anti-American. The vast majority of suicide terrorists hail from the local region threatened by foreign troops, which is why 90 percent of suicide attackers in Afghanistan are Afghans.

Israelis have their own narrative about terrorism, which holds that Arab fanatics seek to destroy the Jewish state because of what it is, not what it does. But since Israel withdrew its army from Lebanon in May 2000, there has not been a single Lebanese suicide attack. Similarly, since Israel withdrew from Gaza and large parts of the West Bank, Palestinian suicide attacks are down over 90 percent.

***

The first step is recognizing that occupations in the Muslim world don’t make Americans any safer — in fact, they are at the heart of the problem.

Our Program of Torture Created Terrorists

In addition, torture creates new terrorists:

  • A top counter-terrorism expert says torture increases the risk of terrorism (and see this).
  • One of the top military interrogators said that torture by Americans of innocent Iraqis is the main reason that foreign fighters started fighting against Americans in Iraq in the first place (and see this).
  • Former counter-terrorism czar Richard A. Clarke says that America’s indefinite detention without trial and abuse of prisoners is a leading Al Qaeda recruiting tool
  • A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks, says:

    Torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize.

“The administration’s policies concerning [torture] and the resulting controversies … strengthened the hand of our enemies.”

  • General Petraeus said that torture hurts our national security
  • And the reporter who broke Iran-Contra and other stories says that torture actually helped Al Qaeda, by giving false leads to the U.S. which diverted its military, intelligence and economic resources into wild goose chases

So the widespread program of torture under the Bush administration didn’t help.

Nice Job Creating More Terrorists, You Morons …

Additionally – in the name of fighting our enemies – the U.S. has directly been supporting Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups for the last decade. See this, this, this, this and this.

Why Have We Given Up Our Rights If the Government Can’t Keep Us Safe?

We have given up the fundamental rights which make us American.

The government insisted that – if we gave up our liberties – it would keep us safe.

It has failed to do so, and has instead squandered our national treasure, our resources and our troops on efforts which have only increased the risk of terrorism.

Wasted Defense Spending

 

A large amount of the homeland security spending has been wasted … producing “a bunch of crap”.

For example, spending money on zombie apocalypse training  or other silly programs is a bad investment which led to a false sense of security.

Spending defense money on a workshop called “Did Jesus die for Klingons too?” and DOD-run microbreweries is probably not helping stop terrorist attacks.

Moreover, using homeland security resources to spy on average Americans or crack down on peaceful protesters or government critics distracts from getting the actual bad guys.

At the same time, both the Bush and Obama administrations have slashed funding for programs which would actually help prevent terror attacks.

Heck of a job, guys …

The Real Agenda

Regime change was planned throughout the Middle East and North Africa were planned 20 years agolong before 9/11.

As just one example, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, 4-Star General (and CENTCOM commander with responsibility for Iraq) John Abizaid, key war architect John Bolton,  a high-level National Security Council officer, President George W. Bush, Bush speech writer David Frum, Senator John McCain, Fed boss Alan Greenspan and Sarah Palin  all say that the Iraq war was about oil.   Documents from Britain show the same thing.

Much of the war on terror is really a fight for natural gas.  Or to force the last few hold-outs into dollars and private central banking.

Senior government officials have described terrorist attacks as a “small price to pay for being a superpower”.  And while politicians talk about ending the war on terror, endless war is a feature – not a bug – of our foreign policy.

Whatever the real agenda one thing is clear …  In the same way that NSA spying isn’t about preventing terrorism (proof here, here, here and here), the war on terror is cover for other shenanigans.

Selling Empire: American Propaganda and War in the Philippines

October 22nd, 2013 by Global Research News

by Susan Brewer

And of all our race He has marked the American people as his chosen nation to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. This is the divine mission of America, and it holds for us all the profit, all the glory, all the happiness possible to man. Senator Albert J. Beveridge, 1900

I thought it would be a great thing to give a whole lot of freedom to the Filipinos, but I guess now it’s better to let them give it to themselves. Mark Twain, 1900

At the turn of the twentieth century, Americans and Filipinos fought bitterly for control of the Philippine Islands. The United States viewed the Pacific islands as a stepping-stone to the markets and natural resources of Asia. The Philippines, which had belonged to Spain for three hundred years, wanted independence, not another imperial ruler. For the Americans, the acquisition of a colony thousands of miles from its shores required a break with their anti-imperial traditions. To justify such a break, the administration of William McKinley proclaimed that its policies benefited both Americans and Filipinos by advancing freedom, Christian benevolence, and prosperity. Most of the Congress, the press, and the public rallied to the flag, embracing the war as a patriotic adventure and civilizing mission. Dissent, however, flourished among a minority called anti-imperialists. Setting precedents for all wartime presidents who would follow, McKinley enhanced the power of the chief executive to build a public consensus in support of an expansionist foreign policy.1

This article explores McKinley’s use of wartime propaganda extolling national progress and unity to aid his successful navigation of the transition of the United States to great power status. The president and his supporters did not portray the United States as an imperial power in the European manner. To win support for far-reaching changes in foreign policy, McKinley explained overseas expansion in terms of American traditions and drew on familiar themes from the past. The last Civil War veteran to serve as president, he celebrated the coming together of the North and South to fight a common enemy. He portrayed American expansion in the Pacific as a continuation of manifest destiny. He compared the Filipinos to Native Americans, calling them savage warriors or “little brown brothers.” Appealing to popular attitudes of the times, he encouraged Americans to fulfill their manly duty to spread Christian civilization. The United States, he asserted, was a liberator, not a conqueror.2


Hawaii, Cuba, and the Philippines celebrate the Independence Day of the United States. July 1898. Charles L. Bartholomew, Minneapolis Journal. (Cartoons of the Spanish-American War by Bart, Minneapolis: Journal Printing Co, 1899).

To rally support for his policy, the McKinley administration mastered the latest communication technology to shape the portrayal of the war by the media of the day. McKinley was the first to have his inauguration filmed and to have a secretary who met daily with the press, “for a kind of family talk,” as journalist Ida Tarbell put it. Reporters were provided with a table and chairs in the outer-reception room of the Executive Mansion where they could chat with important visitors and even the president if he approached them first. McKinley paid special attention to the representatives of the wire services, the news agencies that sent syndicated stories by telegraph to subscribing newspapers across the country. The president’s staff, which grew from six to eighty, monitored public opinion by studying daily hundreds of newspapers from around the country. To make sure that reporters accurately conveyed the president’s views, his staff issued press releases, timing the distribution so that reporters on deadline filed only the administration’s version of the story. Through news management, the McKinley administration disseminated war propaganda based on facts, lies, ideas, patriotic symbols, and emotional appeals.3

In contrast to the more rambunctious expansionists of the day, the genial McKinley exuded calm and dignity. As noted by his contemporary, the British historian and diplomat James Bryce, American leaders put considerable effort into leading opinion while appearing to follow it. The president spoke publicly of America’s expanded influence in the Caribbean and the Pacific as though it had happened by chance or been willed by God. His actions, however, made the acquisition of an empire no accident. In addition, his public position of passivity made it difficult for critics to challenge his policies until they were well under way. McKinley, observed the astute Henry Adams, a grandson and great-grandson of presidents, was “a marvelous manager of men.” While politicians, members of the press, and military men freely expressed their criticisms of U.S. policy, the president and his fellow expansionists took the country to war with Spain, built a consensus for keeping the Philippines, and maintained support for waging war against Filipinos who fought for their independence. In doing so, they constructed a persuasive version of U.S. policy in the Philippines as a “divine mission” that not only disguised the realities of war and conquest, but also would serve in years to come as an example of America’s commitment to spreading freedom.4

Competition for Empire

The war between the Americans and the Filipinos was just one of many colonial wars taking place in the late 1800s and early 1900s as the world’s industrialized powers scrambled for dominance in Africa and Asia. Britain doubled its imperial territory, France acquired three and a half million square miles including Indochina, and Russia expanded east. The aging Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Spanish empires struggled to hang on to what they had. Up-and-coming nations—Germany, Japan, and the United States—sought to expand their influence. Imperial powers clashed over faraway frontiers and subdued native peoples who resisted foreign rule. New technologies often made these fights one-sided. To fuel economic expansion, businessmen and traders competed over investments, raw materials, and markets, backing railroad construction in China, digging copper mines in Africa, and selling sewing machines to Pacific Islanders. Missionaries of many faiths crusaded for the souls of the “heathen,” preaching ancient beliefs as well as western attitudes about culture and consumer goods. Explorers raced to plant their flags. Claims of national glory accompanied many of these exploits, along with justifications of spreading progress and stability. Such fierce competition for territory, economic gain, and souls often produced upheaval instead.5

His goal, McKinley told Governor Robert LaFollette of Wisconsin was to “attain U.S. supremacy in world markets.” The United States had settled its western frontier, wrapping up thirty years of conflict with the Native Americans. With their own continental empire to manage, American expansionists seemed more interested in indirect imperialism—informal dominance through economic power—than direct imperialism, which entailed hands-on governance. For instance, U.S. companies already had made fortunes out of bananas and minerals from Latin America. To further economic expansion, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan of the U.S. Navy advocated the construction of a canal through Central America, the buildup of a strong navy to protect trade routes, and the acquisition of refueling bases in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Mahan’s ideas had powerful support from McKinley, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge (R-MA), Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt, and other expansionists, called “jingoes.” In particular, the United States wanted access to China with its millions of potential customers. So did Japan, Britain, Germany, Russia, and France. The imperial powers threatened to divide up China as they had Africa. In January 1898, the U. S. Minister to China warned Washington, “partition would destroy our markets.” Within months the United States would be a Pacific power practicing direct imperialism in the Philippines to advance indirect imperialism in China.6

American expansionists of the white, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant middle and upper classes were confident that they could lead at home and overseas. Citing Social Darwinism and scientific studies that demonstrated the superiority of the white race, they viewed white American men to be dominant by virtue of their evolved good character and civilized self-control. The men of decadent Spain, they thought, had gone soft. They considered non-white people to be no more than children, primitive and wild, in need of the guidance of a big brother or great white father. Women, viewed as weak and passive, also required protection. Such attitudes reassured these leaders of their natural supremacy at a time when millions of Catholic and Jewish immigrants arrived from Southern and Eastern Europe, the women’s suffrage movement agitated for the vote, African Americans challenged the “color line” drawn by segregationists in the South, and workers and farmers demanded radical reforms. These leading men preferred the status quo at home. War overseas provided an escape from “the menace and perils of socialism and agrarianism,” thought Henry Watterson, the editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, just “as England has escaped them, by a policy of colonialism and conquest.” In a nation at war, the leaders believed, everyone would know and accept their place in society whether at the top or the bottom. Freedom was only for “people capable of self-restraint,” said Theodore Roosevelt, who ironically was seen as a bit of wild man himself.7

American expansionists drew on these beliefs and interests to justify war with Spain in the summer of 1898 and the fighting in the Philippines that followed. For most Americans, the conflict with Spain was about the liberation of Cuba. By 1896, Cuban rebels, who carried out ruthless economic warfare by destroying cane fields, sugar mills, and railroads, had taken charge of more than half the island. To prevent civilians from supporting the rebels, Spanish authorities forced Cubans out of their villages into guarded “reconcentration camps,” where 100,000 died of disease and starvation. As Cubans and Spaniards fought on, American investors in Cuban railroads and sugar plantations lost millions. At his inauguration in March 1897, President McKinley referred to the turbulence in Cuba and declared that the United States wanted “no wars of conquest.” What the United States did want in Cuba was stability and economic access. McKinley informed Spain that it should put an end to the revolt, institute reforms, stop the reconcentration policy, and respect the human rights of the Cubans. Madrid proposed reforms that satisfied no one. As the upheaval continued, McKinley stepped up the pressure by ordering the new battleship U.S.S. Maine to Havana to protect American lives and property.

Americans followed the story of the Cuban Revolution in their many newspapers. New Yorkers alone could choose among eight morning and seven evening papers. They could read the Republican or Democratic papers for news that shared their politics. Or they could turn to the independent and, at three cents a paper, high-priced New York Times. For the less highbrow readers, there were the sensational “yellow journals.” To increase circulation, publishers Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World and St. Louis Post Dispatch and William Randolph Hearst of the New York Journal and San Francisco Examiner competed for readers (and advertisers) with exposés, stunts, comics, sports coverage, women’s features, and exciting accounts of foreign conflicts. They believed that war, especially the way they reported it, sold papers. Some histories have blamed yellow journalism for stirring up such frenzy for war with Spain that McKinley was compelled to undertake one. Although McKinley’s actions do not support this view, the stories featured in the yellow press did shape popular perceptions of the conflict. In contrast to the anti-war papers, with their accounts of complicated political problems and atrocities committed by both sides, the high circulation yellow press filled their pages with one-sided stories of Spain’s crimes of mutilation, rape, and murder.8

When the Maine blew up in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898, Americans were stunned by the loss of 266 sailors and outraged at the destruction of their ship. The administration asked for calm, appointed an expert board of inquiry to investigate the explosion, and accepted Madrid’s expressions of sympathy. Speaking at the University of Pennsylvania, McKinley said Washington would rely on God for guidance. Privately, he told Senator Charles W. Fairbanks (R-IN) that the administration would “not be plunged into war until it is ready for it.”9 The jingoes, meanwhile, were bursting with anticipation for war. Luck was with them when the official inquiry, without consulting the navy’s ordnance expert or chief engineer, concluded that an external explosion caused by a mine had destroyed the Maine, a verdict that was widely interpreted to mean that Spain was culpable even though the report did not say so. In a later investigation, the U.S. Navy determined that an internal explosion involving the fueling system most likely had destroyed the ship. At the time, however, McKinley fed the widespread impression of Spain’s guilt by saying that anything that happened in Havana was ultimately its responsibility.

McKinley prepared for war by calling for a military buildup. Congress appropriated fifty million dollars, three-fifths of which went to the Navy. The rest went to the Army, which assumed that only small forces would be needed to take beaches and aid the Cubans and so used most of its appropriation on coastal fortifications. In late February, without permission, the gung-ho Assistant Secretary Roosevelt put naval units on alert. Although all attention was on the Caribbean, he did not ignore Spain’s colony in the Philippines. He ordered George Dewey, the commander of the Asiatic Squadron, who had been busy searching the coast of China for the best site for an American port, to proceed to Hong Kong and stand at the ready. Secretary of the Navy John Long and the president countermanded most of Roosevelt’s orders, but not the one to Dewey. As for Spain, it had 150,000 troops in Cuba exhausted by fighting and disease, 20,000 in the Philippines, and an antique navy. Well aware that a single U.S. battleship could take out one of their entire squadrons, Spanish officers steeled themselves for what they hoped would be an honorable defeat.10

As the Spanish government searched for a compromise solution, the European powers considered whether they should take sides. From the Vatican, the pope asked McKinley to avoid a war by accepting Spain’s promise of an armistice with the rebels. Germany, which had its eye on Spanish possessions in the Pacific, and France proposed mediation. McKinley politely rejected these offers. The British decided to support the Americans by doing nothing. The president received reports that American business leaders had concluded a war might enhance opportunities for trade, investments, and profits. Congressional support consolidated after Senator Redfield Proctor (R-VT) returned from Cuba with a vivid description of the suffering under Spanish rule. His colleague from Wyoming, Senator Francis E. Warren, expressed growing indignation, “that we, a civilized people, an enlightened nation, a great republic, born in a revolt against tyranny, should permit such a state of things within less than a hundred miles of our shore as that which exists in Cuba.”11

Once ready to wage war, McKinley explained his reasons to Congress on April 11, 1898. By custom, he did not deliver his message in person, but sent it to be read out loud to the legislators by clerks. The president defined U.S. aims as ending the war between Spain and Cuba, establishing a stable government in Cuba, and insuring peace and security for both the citizens of Cuba and the United States. After calling for the use of force to achieve these purposes, the president mentioned in passing that Spain had proclaimed a suspension of hostilities in Cuba. In other words, Spain had made one more major concession. He closed by asking Congress to consider this development as it pondered action true to “our aspirations as a Christian, peace-loving people.” The Philippine Islands were never mentioned.

As Congress prepared to declare war on Spain, the big debate was not over whether to go to war, but whether the United States should recognize the revolutionary government in Cuba. The debate illustrated the gap between the public’s and the administration’s perceptions of what the war was about. McKinley’s aim was American access to a stable Cuba, not Cuban independence. As historian Louis Pérez has pointed out, the Cuban rebels were on the verge of achieving independence on their own. If they did, they might decide to pursue freedom from foreign domination not only by kicking out Spain, but also the United States. McKinley persuaded the lawmakers not to recognize Cuban independence. The United States and Spain declared war on each other at the end of April.12

As much as he could, McKinley centralized war news in the Executive Mansion. In the war room, he installed twenty telegraph wires and fifteen phone wires with direct connections to the executive departments and Congress. From the Executive Mansion, it took a speedy twenty minutes for a message to reach army headquarters in Cuba. To protect the secrecy of troop movements, McKinley ordered military censorship in Florida and in New York City, home of the wire services. The press complained, but complied. On May 17, the Associated Press (AP) resolved “to loyally sustain the general government in the conduct of the war” by avoiding publication of “any information likely to give aid to the enemy or embarrass the government.”13

To expand the regular army, McKinley called up 200,000 volunteers from National Guard units; each state was given a quota based on population. The commander-in-chief personally chose officers, considering party obligations, competence, and his theme of national unity. Most famously he gave commands to former Confederates, General “Fightin’ Joe” Wheeler and Fitzhugh Lee, nephew of General Robert E. Lee who had surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in 1865. The troops’ lack of preparation was remarked upon by Kansas newspaper editor William Allen White. “The principal martial duty the National Guards had to perform before they were mustered out,” noted White, “was to precede the fire company and follow the Grand Army squad in the processions on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.” White was confident that American citizen soldiers, as clumsy as they were, soon would be transformed into a disciplined regiment, a “human engine of death.”14

On the first of May, George Dewey sailed his fleet from Hong Kong to the Philippines and into Manila Bay. He gave the order “You may fire when ready, Gridley,” and oversaw the efficient destruction of Spain’s Pacific naval force without losing a single American sailor. Ships from the British, French, and German navies witnessed his triumph. As Dewey’s fleet attacked, a British naval band showed their support by playing “The Star Spangled Banner,” a song whose lyrics had been composed by an American as the British bombarded Baltimore in the War of 1812. The Germans, with their five warships in Manila Bay, proved more troublesome as time went on, making clear their interest in any available islands. The British for their part much preferred the United States as a partner in the Pacific to Germany. To control information from his end, Dewey cut the transoceanic cable, which meant that news of his victory was transmitted through Hong Kong and reached the United States on May 7. The dramatic reports of Joseph L. Stickney of the New York Herald, who blurred the line between reporter and participant by serving as Dewey’s aide during the battle, Edward W. Harden of the New York World and the Chicago Tribune, and John McCutcheon, cartoonist of the Chicago Record made Dewey a national hero. Quick to capitalize on the victory, entrepreneurs slapped Dewey’s picture or name on songs, dishes, shaving mugs, baby rattles, neckties, and chewing gum.15

McKinley adopted a public face of reluctance and uncertainty about the Philippines while he moved to take control. He remarked that “old Dewey” would have saved him a lot of trouble if he had sailed away once he defeated the Spanish fleet. Although certainly true, McKinley followed up Dewey’s victory by sending 20,000 troops under General Wesley Merritt to the islands. The president decided, “While we are conducting war and until its conclusion, we must keep all we get. When the war is over we must keep what we want.” He told committed expansionist Henry Cabot Lodge that he had doubts about keeping all of the islands, but “we are to keep Manila.” The president continued, “If, however, as we go on it is made to appear desirable that we should retain all, then we will certainly do it.” Over the next several months, Senator Lodge and his fellow jingoes dedicated themselves to make it “appear desirable.” As for American troops, they were shipped overseas on an open-ended mission with inadequate intelligence. Caught by surprise, the War Department could provide Merritt’s staff with only an encyclopedia article on the Philippines. Even so, Lt. Col. Edward C. Little of the 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment, had a good idea of their objective. He told his men, “We go to the far away islands of the Pacific to plant the Stars and Stripes on the ramparts where long enough has waved the cruel and merciless banner of Spain.”16

On their way to the Philippines, U. S. forces stopped to take the island of Guam from Spanish officers who didn’t know they were at war. At the same time, McKinley stepped up plans to acquire the Hawaiian Islands. The president told his secretary, “We need Hawaii just as much and a good deal more than we did California. It is manifest destiny.”17 Five years earlier, U.S. marines and warships had provided support for the overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani led by pro-American plantation owners. Urging annexation during the war with Spain, Senator Lodge made the case that if the United States didn’t take the islands now someone else would, an argument that he would use again regarding the Philippines. Congress made Hawaii a U.S. territory by joint resolution despite petitions of protest from Hawaiians. With the islands of Hawaii, Guam, and the Philippines, the United States would have the refueling bases for naval and merchant ships in the Pacific so desired by expansionists. The U.S. defeat of Spanish forces in Cuba in mid-July enhanced U.S. dominance over the Caribbean.

In the Philippines, the big problem for the U. S. military was not Spain, but the army of Filipinos headed by the twenty-seven year old Emilio Aguinaldo. Spanish colonial administrators had faced a growing nationalist movement led in 1897 by Aguinaldo who declared the Philippines independent, named himself president, and called for rebellion. When Spain began to use the same repressive tactics it used in Cuba, Aguinaldo accepted a truce, which included his exile to Hong Kong. He remained there until Dewey had him returned to the Philippines to help the Americans in their fight against Spain. In short order, Aguinaldo resurrected an army, took control of all of the islands with the exception of Manila, a few ports, and the areas inhabited by Muslims, issued a declaration of independence, and set up an elite-dominated government with a national assembly of lawyers, doctors, educators, and writers. Then U. S. army troops arrived, carrying instructions that they were not to share authority in the islands with the Filipinos. General Thomas M. Anderson sent Aguinaldo a message: “General Anderson wishes you to inform your people that we are here for their good and that they must supply us with labor and material at the current market prices.”18

Recognizing the Filipino people as the real threat, the American command worked out a deal with the Spaniards to stage a mock battle of Manila on August 13, 1898. They would shoot at each other and then Spain would surrender before the Philippine Army of Liberation could take part. As the Americans raised their flag over Manila, the outraged Filipinos cut off the city’s water supply. General Merritt was forced to negotiate and allow Filipinos access to their capital city. Merritt sailed for the Spanish-American peace conference held in Paris, leaving General Elwell S. Otis, a graduate of Harvard Law School and a veteran of Gettysburg and the Indian wars, in command. Relations between the Filipinos and the Americans were both tense and friendly. Manila was an “odd place,” wrote volunteer Wheeler Martin to his family in Idaho. “They cant talk english nor we can’t understand them,” but there lived “some of the prettyest women I ever saw in my life.” A number of U.S. soldiers, who referred to the Filipinos as “niggers” and “gugus,” expected deference from the “natives.” Filipinos, who knew something about the tragic history of Native Americans and African Americans, expressed their belief that it might be better to die fighting than live under U.S. control.19

Uncle Sam, wearing the badge “World’s Humane Agent,” considers what to do with the Philippines as Porto Rico and Cuba look on, July 1898, Charles L. Bartholomew, Minneapolis Journal. (Cartoons of the Spanish-American War by Bart, Minneapolis: Journal Printing Company, 1899)

Its victory over Spain meant that the United States had become a world power. “Our army’s greatest invasion of a foreign land was completely successful,” war correspondent Richard Harding Davis wryly concluded, “because the Lord looks after his own.” Other commentators were from “the Lord helps those who help themselves” school of analysis. McClure’s Magazine ran an article replete with statistics and charts showing that the United States had become so strong it could prevail in war against any combination of European nations. Blue and gray had fought together, celebrated McKinley. Theodore Roosevelt trumpeted the uniting in battle of the economic and social classes so divided by industrial strife between business and labor. The fashion magazine Vogue wasn’t so sure that class unity was a positive development. It expressed regret that “our democracy” required gentlemen to mingle with the other classes in military units, fearing that “constant contact with the rougher element … would affect a man’s character.” Spain, which had been so vilified in the weeks leading up to war, was now seen as gallant in defeat. The peoples of Cuba and the Philippines who the Americans had pledged to liberate began to be portrayed by the administration and the press as child-like, violent, incompetent, and untrustworthy.20

Campaign to Keep the Philippines

As the peace talks with Spain began in the fall of 1898, McKinley announced that he would make a speaking tour to “sound out” opinion on what to do with the Philippines. His real purpose was to build support for keeping them. In fifty-seven appearances, McKinley linked patriotism with holding the islands. At train stops, he frequently commented with pleasure on seeing children waving “the glorious old banner of the free.” He also sought approval to keep troops in the Pacific, even though, as Democratic leaders pointed out, the men had enlisted to free Cuba. McKinley’s aides made sure that his appearances in mid-western towns reached a wide audience. They took along a train carload of reporters from the wire services, national magazines and big city newspapers. The president’s staff distributed advance copies of formal speeches along with numerous bulletins complete with human-interest anecdotes, which frequently appeared word for word as news stories. Newspaper editors got the message and reported that it looked like the United States would be keeping the Pacific islands.21

President McKinley greets the citizens of Alliance, Ohio, from the rear platform of his train, 1900. (Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-102871)

McKinley struck two major themes, unity and progress, as he spoke to cheering crowds in Iowa. To the people of Clinton, he said, “North and South have been united as never before. People who think alike in a country like ours must act together.” He suggested that where war and foreign policy were concerned politics should stop at the water’s edge. At Denison, he said, “Partisanship has been hushed, and the voice of patriotism alone is heard throughout the land.” In Chariton, he spoke of the peaceful acquisition of Hawaii in addition to the Spanish territories. “And, my fellow-citizens, wherever our flag floats, wherever we raise that standard of liberty, it is always for the sake of humanity and the advancement of civilization,” proclaimed McKinley. “Territory sometimes comes to us when we go to war for a holy cause, and whenever it does the banner of liberty will float over it and bring, I trust, blessings and benefits to all the people.” At Hastings, the president was direct about the rewards of war: “We have pretty much everything in this country to make it happy. We have good money, we have ample revenues, we have unquestioned national credit; but we want new markets, and as trade follows the flag, it looks very much as if we were going to have new markets.” To the people of Arcola, Illinois, the president spelled out what it meant to have foreign markets: “When you cannot sell your broom-corn in our own country, you are glad to send the surplus to some other country, and get their good money for your good broom-corn.” When McKinley returned to Washington, he remarked that “the people” seemed to expect that the United States would keep all of the Philippines.22

Pioneer Uncle Sam plows Civilization into the Philippine Field behind Justice and Humanity without a Filipino in sight. September 1898. Charles L. Bartholomew, Minneapolis Journal. (Cartoons of the Spanish-American War by Bart, Minneapolis: Journal Printing Company, 1899)

The administration had wanted Manila as a base and decided early on to hold the island of Luzon to protect the capital city. When the Navy argued that it would be better to have all of the islands, McKinley agreed. He accepted General F. V. Greene’s pro-expansion report on the commercial opportunities of the islands. Numerous articles and books about “our new possessions” outlined their potential for supplying Americans with coffee, sugar, and mineral wealth. Washington instructed U.S. authorities in the Philippines not to promise anything to “the natives” or to treat them as partners, but to avoid an outright conflict. For their part, Aguinaldo and his supporters, committed to the goal of independence, were divided on how best to proceed, unsure whether to ask for American protection of their independence or formal recognition. 23

“Uncle Sam to Little Aguinaldo — See Here Sonny, Whom Are You Going to Throw Those Rocks At? September 1898. Charles L. Bartholomew, Minneapolis Journal. (Cartoons of the Spanish-American War by Bart, Minneapolis: Journal Printing Company, 1899)

McKinley organized the Peace Commission so that expansionists would dominate the delegation to Paris, carefully including prominent Senators since the Senate would have to ratify any treaty. During their deliberations, the commissioners were briefed by General Charles A. Whittier, who said that, based on his meetings with Aguinaldo, the Filipino leader would not be difficult to manage. Furthermore, he reassured them as to “the ease with which good soldiers could be made out of the natives, provided they were led by white officers.”24 With Spain, the commissioners negotiated a treaty which gave the United States control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and for twenty million dollars, the Philippine Islands.

Shortly after the president signed the treaty, but before it was submitted to the Senate for ratification in late December 1898, he sent orders to General Otis in the Philippines announcing that “the mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation.” McKinley continued, “In the fulfillment of this high mission, supporting the temperate administration of affairs for the greatest good of the governed, there must be sedulously maintained the strong arm of authority, to repress disturbance and to overcome all obstacles to the bestowal of the blessings of good and stable government upon the people of the Philippine Islands under the free flag of the United States.” This elaborate message expressed the desired combination: a free United States and a stable Philippines. The War Department instructed Otis to “prosecute the occupation” with tact and kindness, avoiding confrontation with the insurgents by being “conciliatory but firm.” Aguinaldo, convinced that the Senate would reject the treaty because it so grievously violated American principles, maintained a siege of Manila. His envoy Felipe Agoncillo traveled to Paris where both sides at the peace talks ignored him. Agoncillo returned to Washington to make the case that the “greatest Republic of America” should recognize the first Republic of Asia or there would be conflict, but no official would see him.25

As McKinley’s plan to take the Philippines became clear, a number of Americans spoke out in opposition for a variety of reasons, some principled, some practical. Anti-imperialists included former presidents, the Democrat Grover Cleveland and the Republican Benjamin Harrison, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, labor leaders Samuel Gompers and Eugene V. Debs, philosopher William James, and writer William Dean Howells. Satirists Mark Twain and Peter Finley Dunne mocked the high-sounding rhetoric of humanitarianism and morality, which they saw as a cover for racism and greed. Dunne’s famous character, the barkeeper Mr. Dooley, said it was a case of hands across the sea and into someone’s pocket. African American leaders Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois believed that the Filipinos could govern themselves and certainly would do a better job than the United States judging by its record with non-white people at home. Other anti-imperialists were white supremacists who believed that any effort to prepare Filipinos for self-government would fail. Women’s rights groups, still fighting for the vote, sympathized with the Filipinos who faced the prospect of being governed without their consent. Those with strategic concerns pointed out that the United States always had depended on the Pacific Ocean as a barrier, protecting it from attack. Acquisition of hard-to-defend bases at Manila and Pearl Harbor would make the United States more vulnerable.26

Despite the organization of the Anti-Imperialist League with its 30,000 members, the Senate ratification of the peace treaty appeared likely. The economy was booming and the Republicans did well in the off-year elections. The president’s critics accused him of either being a genial hack, the tool of bosses and capitalists, or a mastermind, craftily forging an empire by trampling over the Constitution and Congress, a sure indication that they were demoralized and did not know how to challenge him. The president made another tour to promote his Philippines policy, this time through the South, where in Savannah he asked, “Can we leave these people, who, by the fortunes of war and our own acts, are helpless and without government, to chaos and anarchy, after we have destroyed the only government they have had?” He answered, “Having destroyed their government, it is the duty of the American people to provide for a better one.” The president dismissed as unpatriotic any suggestion that the American people were incapable of creating a new government for others. On February 6, 1899, the Senate ratified the treaty with one vote to spare, dividing largely along party lines, which meant that partisan politics may have had more to do with the outcome than the outbreak of fighting in the Philippines the day before.27

War in the Philippines

“Insurgent dead just as they fell,” 5 February 1899. (National Archives, III-AGA-3-22)

No one knows for sure who fired the first shot. The opening battle followed weeks during which both sides had engaged in provocations. Most accounts identify Americans from the 1st Nebraska Regiment as the ones who opened fire when three or four Filipinos failed to halt as ordered. But the story that first reached the Executive Mansion, courtesy of the New York Sun, reported that the insurgents had attacked. McKinley never wavered from this version, later elaborating on it by claiming that the attacking insurgents had violated a flag of truce and shot down U.S. soldiers while they treated wounded Filipinos. How the Filipinos came to be wounded went unexplained. The president was confident that the United States would easily and quickly pacify the islands. Reports of the first battle in which forty-four Americans and seven hundred Filipinos were killed helped to inspire such confidence. Washington called the conflict an insurrection; the Philippine Republic considered it a fight for independence.28

Between February and November 1899, Americans and Filipinos fought a conventional war with regular armies and set battles. The American forces maintained an average troop strength of 40,000, the Filipinos between 80,000 to 100,000 regulars. Military historian Brian McAllister Linn described the Filipino Army as intrepid and courageous with an impressive infantry, but suffering from inadequate training and lack of weapons and ammunition. The Americans had greater skills, effective and powerful weapons, and a navy that shut down coastal and island traffic. Late in the year, Filipino forces turned to guerrilla tactics designed to hit the Americans at their weak points. U.S. troops occasionally sighted and pursued the enemy, only to come upon farmers working hard in a field. Private Frederick Presher of New Jersey suspected they were “quick change artists,” but had no proof. Aguinaldo exercised less control over his forces in the guerrilla phase, and the fighting continued after he was captured in 1901. The Filipino strategy aimed to wear out the Americans and make their occupation too costly to continue.29

Emilio Aguinaldo (second seated man from right) and other insurgent leaders. (National Archives, 391-PI-34).

To carry out benevolent assimilation, the U.S. Army pursued a “carrot and stick” policy developed during the Civil War and Indian wars. It rewarded cooperation with reforms and punished opposition with coercion, destruction of property, and death. General Otis applied his significant administrative skills to civic action programs. McKinley established a Philippines Commission to visit the islands and determine what should be done to maintain “order, peace and the public welfare.” The commissioners reported that the Filipinos were not ready for independence. McKinley set up a second Commission, led by William Howard Taft, a fellow Republican from Ohio, to serve as the U.S. governing authority. The U.S. civilian and military authorities attempted to woo Filipino elites with promises of opportunity and privilege. General Arthur MacArthur ordered his soldiers to establish “friendly relations with the natives.”30 Otis, like McKinley, was confident of success because he mistakenly thought only a small percentage of Filipinos opposed American rule.

At home, millions of viewers saw the administration’s optimism about the war reflected in films. The new motion picture companies discovered that audiences were eager to watch dramatic scenes of their military forces in victorious action. The films, each less than a minute long, served as a “visual newspaper and as propaganda,” according to film historian Charles Musser. Some films featured actual footage of troops marching and ships sailing. Others were faked and called “reenactments.” For example, the box-office hit Battle of Manila Bay was made on top of a roof in New York City with cardboard ships floating in a table turned upside-down and filled with water. Thomas Edison’s company produced six reenactment films set in the Philippines and shot in New Jersey. In Advance of Kansas Volunteers at Caloocan, made in June 1899, white American soldiers wave the flag as they triumphantly defeat the Filipinos played by African Americans. Such films and others in which actors in blackface played Filipinos reinforced the perception that the war was about superior, white Americans subduing a dark and inferior enemy. Theater owners further enhanced the spectacle with the sound of gunfire or spreading smoke through the audience who would hiss at the enemy and cheer the raising of the American flag. Musser concludes that, during the war, the movie showmen “evoked powerful patriotic sentiments in their audiences, revealing the new medium’s ideological and propagandistic force.”31

Press reports from the Philippines indicated that victory might not be as imminent as the film reenactments or Otis’s official reports suggested. The military placed few restrictions on war correspondents, who traveled, ate, camped, and sometimes joined in combat operations with the troops. Reporters wrote that Otis “never visited the lines” and refused to heed the analysis of those at the front. In the popular magazine Collier’s Weekly, Frederick Palmer noted, “General Otis does not impart his plans to anybody either before or after they have failed.” One general told Palmer that he disagreed with Otis on strategy: “I want to lick the insurrectos first and reason with them afterward. He wants to reason with them and lick them at the same time.” In June 1899, correspondent John Bass, who reported for Harper’s Magazine, observed that the “whole population of the islands sympathizes with the insurgents” and that “the American outlook is blacker now than it has been since the beginning of the war.”32 Reporters, who for the most part endorsed expansionist policies, criticized what they saw as Otis’s ineffectiveness because they wanted the U.S. military to succeed.

Reporters also objected to what they saw as excessive censorship. The Army controlled the one telegraph line out of Manila and reviewed all press reports. Otis assured Washington that his censors allowed reporters to cable “established facts,” but not the “numerous baseless rumors circulated here tending to excite the outside world.” In the summer of 1899, the censor blocked a story reporting that General Henry Lawton thought it would take at least 75,000 troops to pacify the islands, a story that reinforced the impression that all was not going as well as Otis claimed. When correspondents objected, Otis threatened to expel or court-marital anyone who sent a formal letter of complaint from Manila. The frustrated reporters transmitted their complaint to the United States via Hong Kong and charged that censors clamped down on news not because it would harm operations but because it would upset people back home. They accused Otis of attempting to make things look better than they were by fixing casualty reports, overrating military accomplishments, and underestimating the Filipinos’ commitment to independence. The administration was implicated in these charges because it released Otis’s official reports, making it hard to tell, as the Cleveland Plain Dealer pointed out, “whether Otis misled the administration or the administration misled the public on its own.” Even the expansionist press joined in the criticism, except the McKinley loyalists who argued that only the president could be in the position to know what news of the war was safe to report. The president announced that he would continue to support Otis’s censorship policies.33

Although soldiers and reporters tended to believe that Filipinos were inferior to Americans, some learned to respect their opponents’ tenacity. For example, Colonel Frederick Funston told a correspondent that the enemy was “an illiterate, semi-savage people, who are waging war, not against tyranny, but against Anglo-Saxon order and decency.” Palmer’s reporting, however, gave the Filipinos credit for effective fighting. “But the island of Luzon is large,” he wrote, “and the Lawton expedition, such is the excellence of Aguinaldo’s intelligence bureau, was not more than fairly started before the Filipino army appeared on the flank of MacArthur’s division opposite to where it was wanted and began taking pot shots at the worn and cynical Montana regiment.”34

“Our Boys entrenched against the Filipinos,”1900. (National Archives, 165-F5-16-13634)

William Oliver Trafton, a 22-year-old Texas cowhand who enlisted for adventure, referred to the enemy as savages, wild varmints, and Indians. When he endured more hardship than adventure, he developed some admiration for the Filipinos. Before a battle Trafton talked with his friend:

He says, “Hell, they sure won’t kill only 40 of us.”

I says, “You told me that we could whip the whole thing in two weeks.”

He says, “Haven’t we licked them every time that we have had a fight?”

I says, “Yes, but the damn fools won’t stay whipped.”35

Like many Americans, Trafton had underestimated the Filipinos’ determination to resist.

The Debate over Empire

The resistance of the Filipinos to U.S. rule required some adjustment in the administration’s presentation of its policy. McKinley still portrayed the American cause as humanitarian, expressing his sorrow that certain “foolish” Filipinos had failed to recognize the benefits of American generosity. A year after the sinking of the Maine, McKinley stood in the Mechanics’ Hall in Boston, the capital of the anti-imperialist movement, before portraits of Washington, Lincoln, and himself labeled “Liberators,” to explain to an audience of almost six thousand that the United States sought to emancipate the Philippines.“No imperial designs lurk in the American mind,” he asserted. Dismissing controversy, McKinley said it was not “a good time for the liberator to submit important questions concerning liberty and government to the liberated while they are engaged in shooting down their rescuers.” Ironically, the news that the Filipinos were fighting for their independence was used to justify the argument that they weren’t ready for it. With exasperation, the anti-imperialist Nation commented, “McKinley is one of the rare public speakers who are able to talk humbug in such a way as to make their average hearers think it excellent sense, and exactly their idea.”36

As opposition to the war grew at home, McKinley linked support for the troops with support for his policies. The president spoke at the August homecoming of the Tenth Pennsylvania Regiment in Pittsburgh. He expressed his confidence in General Otis, his praise for the troops who served their country “in its extremity,” and his disdain for critics who said the soldiers should be brought home. He argued that without U.S. soldiers, the Philippines would be in chaos and suffering under the rule of “one man, and not with the consent of the governed.” Here he somehow implied that the Filipinos themselves prevented the establishment of “the consent of the governed,” but in the same speech he stated that the goal was the creation of a government there under the “undisputed sovereignty” of the United States. The most dramatic moment of the ceremony came when McKinley slowly read a list of the regiments engaged in the Philippines: “First California, First Colorado, First Idaho, Fifty-first Iowa, Twentieth Kansas, Thirteenth Minnesota, First Montana, First Nebraska, First North Dakota, Second Oregon, Tenth Pennsylvania, First South Dakota, First Tennessee, Utah Artillery ….” As he did, the soldiers of Pennsylvania roared their appreciation for each regiment. By celebrating unity with a roll call of the states, the president, with the help of cheering soldiers, could drown out dissent.37

President McKinley reviews the state militia in Los Angeles, 1901. (Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-122820).

McKinley and his fellow expansionists linked national glory to power and economic interests. Just before he left on another autumn tour to promote his policies, the president privately told his secretary, George Cortelyou, “one of the best things we ever did was to insist upon taking the Philippines and not a coaling station or an island, for if we had done the latter we would have been the laughing stock of the world. And so it has come to pass that in a few short months we have become a world power.” The president, who tended to be less specific about American power in public, left the more assertive statements to his supporters. In Collier’s Weekly, Lodge made the persuasive case that if left alone, the Philippines would be vulnerable to takeover by some European power not bothered by issues of self-government. He described the islands as rich in natural resources and a large potential market “as the wants of the [Filipinos] expand in the sunshine of prosperity, freedom and civilization.” Moreover, the islands provided access to even greater markets in China. “Will the American people reject this opportunity?” Lodge asked. “Will they throw away all this trade, and all this wealth?” He didn’t think so.38

The expansionists mustered racial arguments to justify U.S. policies. Senator Albert J. Beveridge told the Senate that race was more powerful than the Constitution. “God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-contemplation and self-admiration. No!” he declared. “He has made us the master organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns.”39 Without U.S. control, Lodge predicted “bloody anarchy” among the eight million people of many different races and tribes speaking fifty or sixty languages and dialects on the 1,725 islands of the Philippines. He denounced Aguinaldo as “an irresponsible Chinese Mestizo” (Aguinaldo’s maternal grandfather was Chinese) and a “self-seeking dictator of the ordinary half-breed type” leading one portion of a tribe in rebellion. Theodore Roosevelt compared the Filipino insurgency to the Indian wars when he accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination in 1900; the parallels, he declared, were so “exact” that self-government to the Philippines “would be like granting self-government to an Apache reservation under some local chief.” War correspondent John Bass shared some of the racial views of the expansionists, but was less confident that the use of force in the Philippines would succeed. Writing in Harper’s Magazine about the Moros or Muslims of the islands of Sulu and Mindinao, he predicted that these people, like the Native Americans, would succumb eventually to the superior race. In the meantime, although their “land of promise” could flourish with tobacco and coffee plantations, it was best to leave the Moros with their wives and their Koran alone, concluded Bass. If they were forced to change, he correctly predicted, they would fight.40

Much was made of manly duty. In Madison, Wisconsin, McKinley announced that, since the army and navy had “brought us” new territories, Americans must meet their responsibilities “with manly courage, respond in a manly fashion to manly duty, and do what in the sight of God and man is just and right.” Theodore Roosevelt, advocate of the strenuous life, insisted that military service toughened American manhood, which too much civilization tended to undermine. American men, in particular, had an obligation to set an example. “The eyes of the world are upon us,” declared Philippines Commissioner Dean C. Worcester, recalling Puritan founder John Winthrop in a speech before prominent Chicagoans. Quoting Rudyard Kipling’s new poem, “The White Man’s Burden,” Worcester called for Americans to take up their imperial responsibilities over their “new-caught, sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child.”41

As later recalled by a minister, McKinley’s most quoted explanation for his Philippines policy was oddly personal. Speaking to a delegation of Methodists in 1899, he insisted that he had not wanted the Philippines and “when they came to us, as a gift from the gods, I did not know what to do with them.” He described praying on his knees for guidance when it came to him that it would be “cowardly and dishonorable” to give the islands back to Spain, “bad business” to give them to commercial rivals Germany and France, and impossible to leave them to “anarchy and misrule” under unfit Filipinos. “There was nothing left for us to do,” he concluded, “but to take them all, and to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them.” In this account of divine guidance, McKinley neglected to mention that many Filipinos were Roman Catholic or that the Philippines had a university older than Harvard. This explanation, nevertheless, summed up the key principled, pragmatic, and prejudiced justifications of the president’s imperial policy.42

Anti-imperialists also cited principles and national self-interest to argue against U.S. policy in the Philippines. To state the opposing position, Collier’s Weekly invited Republican George F. Hoar, the respected senior Senator of Massachusetts and Lodge’s counterpart. The debate, Hoar argued, was between republic and empire, between liberty and slavery, between the Declaration of Independence and imperialism. Standing by its traditional principles, the United States had become “the strongest, freest, richest nation on the face of the earth.” Americans would deny their own heritage, he asserted, if instead of dealing with the people of the Philippines as Christians who desired independence, they treated them as “primitives to be subdued so that their land might be used as a stepping-stone to the trade of China.” Other anti-imperialists used satire to contrast U.S. policy with Christian values. William Lloyd Garrison, Jr., the son of the noted abolitionist, rewrote a popular hymn.

Then onward, Christian soldier! Through field of crimson gore,

Behold the trade advantages beyond the open door!

The profits on our ledgers outweigh the heathen loss;

Set thou the glorious stars and stripes above the ancient cross!

The New York Evening Post justified such opposition, saying, “Anti-Imperialism is only another name for old-fashioned Americanism.”43

For imperialists and anti-imperialists interested in expanding American trade in the Pacific, the debate centered on the question whether the Filipinos on their own were capable of providing the Americans with the economic opportunities they wanted. In his Annual Message, now called the State of the Union address, President McKinley told the nation that the Filipinos “are a race quick to learn,” but “should be helped … to a more scientific knowledge of the production of coffee, india rubber, and tropical products, for which there is demand in the United States.” The anti-imperialist Senator George Turner of Washington acknowledged the vast interests in Asia, but pointed out that if Manila became a great trading port, it would be at the expense of American ports on the Pacific coast. “It will profit principally a motley population of foreigners, for whom we care nothing,” Turner concluded. He suggested that, by letting the Filipinos govern themselves, the United States could then make commercial treaties with the islands without the burdens of governing. Even Senator Hoar desired access to the Pacific; he simply objected to the means by which the United States was obtaining it. So did the editors of Harper’s Weekly, who felt that the United States had made a mistake in the Philippines. Echoing the president, however, they concluded that once the country was at war, everyone must pull together to support the troops.44

Also fueling anti-imperialist anger was the perception that the administration had abused its power and deceived the public. Senator Hoar believed that the American people had been misled when they were told that the Filipinos were “barbarous and savage” and had made “an unprovoked attack … upon our flag.” Referring to “McKinley’s War,” anti-imperialists charged the president with waging war by military authority, not a congressional declaration. Mark Twain thought that the American people and the Filipinos were being “sold a bill of goods,” featuring two different brands of civilization. “For home consumption,” he thought, the “blessings of civilization”—justice, gentleness, Christianity, law and order, temperance, liberty, equality, education—were prettily and attractively displayed. For export to “the heathen market,” in contrast, “civilization” meant blood, tears, destruction, and loss of freedom. The war, he felt, betrayed the Filipinos and the “clean young men” sent to fight them. Twain tried to imagine what the Filipinos thought: “There must be two Americas: one that sets the captive free, and one that takes a once-captive’s new freedom away from him, and picks a quarrel with him with nothing to found it on; then kills him to get his land.” He said he wished he could see how the United States was going to get out of what had become “a mess, a quagmire.”45

The debate over the war became more politicized in the 1900 presidential election. The Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan called for Congress to consider granting independence to the Philippines. Anti-imperialist and philosopher William James hoped that if the Filipinos held out long enough, Americans would come to their senses and reject “imperialism and the idol of a national destiny, based on marital excitement and mere ‘bigness.’” The administration and the military condemned the anti-imperialists for, as they saw it, encouraging the Filipinos to resist by denouncing U.S. policies. Taft thought with justification that the insurgents would fight on in hope of a Democratic victory in November.46 Bryan centered much of his campaign on the Philippine issue, declaring it a betrayal of principles and a violation of the sacred mission of America. McKinley spoke of jobs and economic growth. Roosevelt, with his escort of armed cowboys, campaigned for virile, nationalistic Republicanism. At his second inauguration in March 1901, McKinley began his speech talking about currency and ended with the Philippines. “We are not waging war against the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands. A portion of them are making war against the United States,” he declared. “By far the greater part of the inhabitants recognize American sovereignty and welcome it as a guaranty of order and of security for life, property, liberty, freedom of conscience, and the pursuit of happiness.”47

This cartoon in the May 12, 1900 issue of Judge showed Bryan with an axe and McKinley with the flag. The caption reads “Take Your Choice—Do you want a man who, having raised the stars and stripes in our new possessions, will maintain them with dignity; or a man who will cut down “Old Glory” and make us the laughing stock of the world?” Victor Gillam, artist. (Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-5391)

After McKinley’s re-election, U.S. forces escalated the repression. In May 1900, Otis had been succeeded by MacArthur who rejected “benevolent assimilation” and with it the belief that most Filipinos really wanted American rule. In December, MacArthur ordered U.S. forces to wage war against the civilian population in hostile areas. The Americans employed torture, executed prisoners, raped women, looted villages, and destroyed the rural economy. The most effective way to punish a guerrilla fighter, explained General Robert P. Hughes, was to attack his women and children. Funston tricked Aguinaldo into surrender by pretending to be a prisoner of disguised Filipino scouts, entering the leader’s camp, and taking him captive. Aguinaldo called for the end of resistance; several of his generals surrendered and many guerrillas went home. Where the fighting continued, both sides carried out atrocities. In Batangas province in 1901 and 1902, the Americans used reconcentration camps that had caused such outrage when Spain used them in Cuba. An estimated 200,000 Filipinos died from disease and starvation. The punitive policies succeeded in breaking the resistance. Colonel Arthur Murray, who had opposed brutal actions that would make enemies out of civilians assumed to be friendly, concluded that if he had it to do over, he would have had done “a little more killing and considerably more burning.”48

The conciliation side of U. S. policy was the responsibility of Taft, who was confident of the ability of the United States to bring justice and order to the islands. He believed that once laws governing land, mining, banking, and transportation were in place and schools, roads, and hospitals were built, enterprise and prosperity would follow. Yet, he was dogged by problems everywhere. The Filipinos were ignorant and superstitious, he reported. “We shall have to do the best we can with them.” Taft’s deeper frustrations were reserved for his fellow Americans. He condemned the U.S. military officers who treated the Filipinos with cruelty and prejudice, because such behavior inspired more recruits for the insurgents. To Secretary of War Elihu Root, Taft complained about the behavior of U. S. civilians. “You know we have the rag tag and bob tail of Americans, who are not only vicious but stupid,” wrote Taft. “They are most anxious to have Congress give an opportunity to open this country and develop it, but instead of facilitating a condition of peace and good feeling between the Americans and the Filipinos, they are constantly stirring up trouble.” Taft, who was trying to win over the Filipino upper class, despaired when a visiting congressman announced at a press interview in Manila that the Filipinos were “nothing but savages, living a savage life and utterly incapable of self government and without the slightest knowledge of what independence is.” The same attitudes about Filipino inferiority that expansionists had expressed to justify the takeover now interfered with the administration’s efforts to carry it out.49

Taft also had to respond to Washington’s concerns about news reports that described Manila as a den of sin, drunkenness, and prostitution. In contrast to the administration’s claims that its purpose was to bring Christian uplift to the Philippines, the occupation of the islands instead seemed to have corrupted the morals of U.S. troops. Taft blamed the negative press for upsetting the people at home, but had to admit the characterization was valid. He defensively noted that Manila at least was more sober than American cities of its size. The army, alarmed by the spread of venereal disease, established a system for examining prostitutes and confining the diseased to hospitals. As historian Kristin Hoganson has noted, such news prompted anti-imperialists to challenge the administration’s portrayal of its policy as a civilizing mission. Critics declared that instead of enhancing masculine nobility, imperialism led to degeneracy or “going native.”50

At home, McKinley concentrated on spreading the word of progress. In his last speech given in September at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, the president praised the fair for recording “the world’s advancement.” Extolling industrial growth, commercial advantage, and new communications technology, he declared, “Isolation is no longer possible or desirable.” For the instruction and entertainment of millions of fair-goers, the fair directors constructed a Filipino Village–their idealized version of the Philippines–alongside Mexican, Hawaiian, Cuban, Eskimo, and Japanese villages. To enter the eleven-acre Filipino Village, fair-goers passed U.S. soldiers on parade at the gates. Once inside they saw one hundred Filipinos at work and play, thatched huts, water buffalo pulling carts, a Catholic church, and a theater where a Filipino band played “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The organizers included representatives of the more “primitive tribes” having decided against putting Aguinaldo on display. The exposition’s artificial global order was shattered when Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist and the son of Polish immigrants, shot the president. After McKinley died eight days later, anarchists and socialists were arrested around the country, demands escalated for immigration restriction, and the price of souvenirs at the exposition skyrocketed.51

Peaceful Filipinos display economic productivity in the Philippine Village at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, September 1901. Frances Benjamin Johnston, photographer. (Library of Congress, Lot 2967 (G) Box 1)

Theodore Roosevelt’s administration defended the ongoing conflict in the Philippines and the extreme methods used to fight it. Under pressure from Senator Hoar, the Senate investigated the conduct of the war in April and May 1902. News stories of the reconcentration program and torture practices had appeared in the press. Anti-imperialists bypassed military censorship in the Philippines by publishing eye-witness accounts of atrocities reported by returning soldiers. Chaired by Senator Lodge, the hearings led to light fines for a few officers and a court martial for General Jacob H. Smith, who had ordered his troops to kill every person over ten years old on the island of Samar, which ended in a reprimand. Lodge said that he regretted the atrocities but blamed American behavior on Filipino culture. “I think they have grown out of the conditions of warfare, of the war waged by the Filipinos themselves, a semicivilized people, with all the tendencies and characteristics of Asiatics, with the Asiatic indifference to life, with the Asiatic treachery and the Asiatic cruelty, all tinctured and increased by three hundred years of subjection to Spain,” he explained. Roosevelt dismissed reports of U.S. atrocities, calling the American troops’ behavior at the massacre of the Sioux at Wounded Knee worse. Moreover, he denounced the army’s critics “who walk delicately and live in the soft places of the earth” for dishonoring the “strong men who with blood and sweat” suffered and died “to bring the light of civilization into the world’s dark places.”52

A Century of Selling Empire

On July 4, 1902, President Roosevelt declared the war in the Philippines over. The editors of the Washington Post noted that, between the two of them, Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt had tried to pronounce the war over six times already. The Philippine Commission defined any continuing Filipino insurgence as “banditry.”53 Forty-two hundred Americans had died along with hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. The fighting between Filipinos and Americans continued until 1910 and against the Moros on Mindinao until 1935. Six years later, in December 1941, the Japanese attacked the Philippines and defeated U.S. forces led by General Arthur MacArthur’s son, General Douglas MacArthur, who vowed to return and liberate the islands. Aguinaldo, his father’s old adversary, sided with the Japanese. After World War II, the United States granted the Philippines independence on July 4, 1946, but kept major naval and air bases on the islands until the early 1990s. Aguinaldo, ever the survivor, marched in the first Philippine Independence Day parade waving the revolutionary flag he first had raised in 1898.

President McKinley had announced a new global role for the United States when he acquired the Philippines. The United States ran its colony in the interests of powerful Americans, specifically those with influence in Washington. “Any connection between these interests and those of the Filipino people at large—or, for that matter, of the American people at large—was basically coincidental,” concluded historian H. W. Brands. The United States had become a Pacific power, but the costs of running a colony exceeded the profits. The experience of the Americans in the Philippines reinforced their preference for economic expansion in Asia without direct imperialism. McKinley nevertheless did not hesitate to assert U.S. interests. For instance, in 1900, the president dispatched 5000 American troops from the Philippines to China to join the other imperial powers who were dedicated to putting down the Chinese government-backed rebellion against foreign influence known as the Boxer Rebellion. By ordering U.S. forces to fight overseas against a recognized government without congressional approval, McKinley had created a new presidential power. And he had proven Senator Lodge to be right. The acquisition of the Philippines meant no other power could “shut the gates of China” on the United States and that included China.54

Uncle Sam spreads his coat tails to cover the Philippines, Hawaii, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, December 1898, Charles. L. Bartholomew, Minneapolis Journal. (Cartoons of the Spanish-American War by Bart, Minneapolis: Journal Printing Company, 1899)

McKinley, who, according to Root, “always had his way,” claimed to follow the will of the people as he shaped opinion. 55 He established the White House as the producer of news, and through the emerging mass media, delivered his messages which balanced principles and interests with something for almost everyone: gung-ho expansionists, do-gooders and missionaries, businessmen, and flag-waving audiences at train stations across the country. He presented the United States and himself as servants of a higher power, fulfilling an extended version of Manifest Destiny. He declared that “trade follows the flag” and the flag must be honored wherever it waved. Although he spoke of the benefits of new markets and enhanced prestige, McKinley assured Americans that this policy was not mainly one of self-interest. It was a “divine mission” in which Americans took on the responsibility of guiding and protecting Filipinos. Popular films, cartoons, and fair exhibits reinforced the official messages that such a mission meant profit and glory. At the same time, such assertions of America’s moral and material superiority were challenged by a drawn-out war, heavy loss of life, and reports of atrocities. Critics expressed concern that war for empire could damage the republic. And the argument made by anti-imperialists–that Americans should not just preach their democratic traditions overseas but actually practice them–would survive.

With gusto, President Theodore Roosevelt associated American expansion with the progress of civilization. It was the task of the “masterful race,” announced Roosevelt in 1901, to make the Filipinos “fit for self-government” or leave them “to fall into a welter of murderous anarchy.” In his Annual Message of 1902, he asserted that, as civilization had expanded in the last century, warfare had diminished between civilized powers. “Wars with uncivilized powers,” Roosevelt explained, “are largely mere matters of international police duty, essential for the welfare of the world.”56 It would be the job of his successors to define who was civilized and who was not.

To justify interventions elsewhere, future presidents would recall McKinley’s attractive version of U.S. involvement in the Philippines. In 1950, President Harry Truman used the Philippine example to defend U.S. intervention in the Korean War. “We helped the Philippines become independent,” he announced in a radio address, “and we have supported the national aspirations to independence of other Asian countries.” The United States, Truman explained, stood for freedom against communist imperialism. That was why, he announced following the outbreak of war in Korea, he had ordered the expansion of U.S. commitments to the Chinese nationalists on Taiwan, to the French rulers of Vietnam, and to the American-sponsored government of the Philippines, which received U.S. military and CIA advisors along with economic aid to assist it in putting down the radical nationalist Huk movement. Notably, Truman presented these three nationalist struggles in Asia as Cold War conflicts. Such a portrayal required little explanation of what was actually happening in these countries and it positioned the United States as their protector in a global struggle defined by Truman as a battle between freedom and totalitarianism.57

“A new totalitarian threat has risen against civilization,” announced President George W. Bush in a speech before the Philippine Congress in October 2003. “America is proud of its part in the great story of the Filipino people,” declared the president. “Together our soldiers liberated the Philippines from colonial rule.” As he rallied support for U.S. leadership in the global war on terror, Bush asserted that the Middle East, like Asia, could become democratic as illustrated by the Republic of the Philippines six decades ago. Not only did President Bush gloss over the inconvenient facts of the past, but he also put a positive face on the present. Uneasy about instability in the Philippines, Bush announced a joint American-Filipino five-year plan to “modernize and reform” the Philippine military. U.S. policymakers were worried about Abu Sayyaf, a terror group thought to have links to Al Qaeda and Islamic extremism. A few thousand U.S. marines were already in the southern Philippines assisting local forces in fighting an Islamic separatist movement with roots going back to the resistance against the Americans a century before.58

McKinley’s portrayal of American rule in the Philippines as the “advancement of civilization,” and “a guaranty of order and of security for life, property, liberty, freedom of conscience, and the pursuit of happiness” held its appeal. His successors also would manipulate media coverage, present war as a humanitarian mission, and call for support of the troops when the “natives” resisted and criticism on the home front grew louder. The propaganda designed to build support for America’s first land war in Asia created an illusion of the United States as a benevolent liberator that lives on.

Susan A. Brewer is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She is the author of Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) and To Win the Peace: British Propaganda in the United States during World War II (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997).

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Notes

1 This article first appeared as Chapter 1, “The Divine Mission”: War in the Philippines,” in Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 14-45 and is reprinted in revised form here with the permission of Oxford University Press.

2 “He is evidently going to make unity—a re-united country—the central thought.” Diary of George B. Cortelyou, 9 December 1898, Box 52, George B. Cortelyou Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Anders Stephanson, Manifest Destiny: American Expansion and the Empire of Right (New York; Hill and Wang, 1996), 66-111; Matthew Frye Jacobson, Barbarian Virtues: The United States Encounters Foreign Peoples at Home and Abroad, 1876-1917 (New York: Hill & Wang, 2000), 221-65; For an excellent historiography on the United States as empire see Paul A. Kramer, “Power and Connection: Imperial Histories of the United States in the World,” American Historical Review 116 (December 2011): 1348-1391.

3 Ida Tarbell, “President McKinley in War Times,” McClure’s Magazine, July 1898, 209-24; Stephen Ponder, “The President Makes News: William McKinley and the First Presidential Press Corps, 1897-1901,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 24 (Fall 1994): 823-37; For an outstanding collection of political cartoons see Abe Ignacio, Enrique de la Cruz, Jorge Emmanuel, Helen Toribio, The Forbidden Book: The Philippine-American War in Political Cartoons (San Francisco: T’boli Publishing, 2004).

4 James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, vol. 2, 3rd ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1899), 252-54; Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961), 374.

5 Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500-2000 (New York: Random House, 1987), 150.

6 Walter LaFeber, The American Search for Opportunity, 1865-1913 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 133, 138.

7 Robert Hannigan, The New World Power: American Foreign Policy, 1898-1917 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 1-16; Thomas Schoonover, Uncle Sam’s War of 1898 and the Origins of Globalization (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2003), 98.

8 Robert Hilderbrand, Power and the People: Executive Management of Public Opinion in Foreign Affairs, 1897-1921 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981), 17-28.

9 Margaret Leech, In the Days of McKinley (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959), 167-68.

10 Allan R. Millett and Peter Malowski, For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States of America (New York: Free Press, 1994), 287-88.

11 LaFeber, American Search, 142-43; Lewis L. Gould, The Presidency of William McKinley (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1980), 77.

12 Louis A. Pérez, Jr., The War of 1898: The United States and Cuba in History and Historiography (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 10-12.

13 Hilderbrand, Power and the People, 32.

14 William Allen White, “When Johnny Went Marching Out,” McClure’s Magazine, June 1898, 198-205.

15 Leech, Days of McKinley, 209.

16 Leech, Days of McKinley, 238; Gould, Presidency of William McKinley, 101.

17 Gould, Presidency of William McKinley, 50.

18 Walter Millis, The Martial Spirit (1931; reprinted, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1989), 334.

19 Paul A. Kramer, “Race-Making and Colonial Violence in the U.S. Empire: The Philippine War as Race War,” Diplomatic History 30 (April 2006): 190; Paul A. Kramer, The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States and the Philippines (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 102-5.

20 John Seelye, War Games: Richard Harding Davis and the New Imperialism (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003), 275; F. W. Hewes, “The Fighting Strength of the United States,” McClure’s Magazine, July 1898, 280-87; Edna Woolman Chase and Ilka Chase, Always in Vogue (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1954), 47.

21 Hilderbrand, Power and the People, 36, 41.

22 William McKinley, Speeches and Addresses of William McKinley: From March 1, 1897 to May 30, 1900 (New York: Doubleday & McClure Co., 1900), 85, 97, 109, 113-14, 124.

23 Gould, Presidency of William McKinley, 132, 139; George B. Waldron, “The Commercial Promise of Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines,” McClure’s Magazine, September 1898, 481-84.

24 H. Wayne Morgan, ed., Making Peace with Spain: The Diary of Whitelaw Reid, September-December 1898 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1965), 215.

25 McKinley to Secretary of War, transmitted to General Otis, 21 December 1898; Adjutant General to Otis, 21 December 1898; Alger to Otis, 30 December 1898, Box 70, Cortelyou Papers; H. W. Brand, Bound to Empire: The United States and the Philippines (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 48.

26 Robert L. Beisner, Twelve Against Empire: The Anti-Imperialists, 1898-1900 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985); Roger J. Bresnahan, In Time of Hesitation: American Anti-Imperialists and the Philippine-American War (Quezon City, Philippines: New Day, 1981).

27 Leech, Days of McKinley, 353; McKinley, “Speech at Banquet of Board of Trade and Associated Citizens,” Savannah, 17 December 1898, in Speeches, 174.

28 Diary, 5 February 1899, Box 52, Cortelyou Papers; McKinley, “Address Before the Tenth Pennsylvania Regiment,” Pittsburgh, 28 August 1899, in Speeches, 215.

29 Brian McAllister Linn, The Philippine War, 1899-1902 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000), 34, 325; Glenn Anthony May, A Past Recovered (Quezon City, Philippines: New Day, 1987), 133.

30 Kramer, Blood of Government, 112-13.

31 Charles Musser, The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1990), 225-61; Advance of Kansas Volunteers at Caloocan (Thomas A. Edison, Inc., 1899), (here); Nick Deocampo, “Imperialist Fiction: The Filipino in the Imperialist Imagery,” in The Philippine-American War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream, 1899-1999, ed. Angel Velasco Shaw and Luis H. Francis (New York: New York University Press, 2002), 224-36; Amy Kaplan, The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 146-60.

32 Linn, Philippine War, 132-36; Frederick Palmer, “The Campaign in Luzon,” Collier’s Weekly, 4 November 1899, 3.

33 Otis to Adjutant General, 17 January 1899, Box 71, Cortelyou Papers; Linn, Philippine War, 135, 325; Hilderbrand, Power and the People, 49.

34 Brands, Bound to Empire, 58; Palmer, “Campaign in Luzon,” 3.

35 William Oliver Trafton, We Thought We Could Whip Them in Two Weeks, ed. William Henry Scott (Quezon City, Philippines: New Day, 1990), 65-66.

36 McKinley, “Speech at Dinner of the Home Market Club,” Boston, 16 February 1899, in Speeches, 185-93; Nation, 23 February 1899, 140.

37 McKinley, “Address Before the Tenth Pennsylvania Regiment,” in Speeches, 211-17.

38 Diary, 17 September 1899, Box 52, Cortelyou Papers; Henry Cabot Lodge, “Shall We Retain the Philippines?” Collier’s Weekly, 10 February 1900, 4.

39 “Albert J. Beveridge’s Salute to Imperialism,” in Major Problems in American Foreign Relations, vol. 1, 4th ed., ed. Thomas G. Paterson and Dennis Merrill (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1995), 425.

40 Lodge, “Shall We Retain,” 3; Walter L. Williams, “American Imperialism and the Indians,” in Indians in American History: An Introduction, ed. Frederick E. Hoxie and Peter Iverson (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 1998), 244; John F. Bass, “Jolo and the Moros,” Harper’s Weekly, 18 November 1899, 1159.

41 Kristin L. Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998), 152-53; McKinley, “Speech at Madison, Wisconsin,” 16 October 1899, in Speeches, 318; Dean C. Worcester, “Some Aspects of the Philippine Question,” 15 November 1899, Hamilton Club of Chicago, Serial Publications. No. 13.

42 William McKinley, “William McKinley’s Imperial Gospel,” 1899, in Major Problems, ed. Paterson and Merrill, 424.

43 George B. Hoar, “Shall We Retain the Philippines?” Collier’s Weekly, 3 February 1900, 2-3; Alan McPherson, “Americanism against American Empire,” in Americanism: New Perspectives on the History of an Ideal, ed. Michael Kazin and Joseph A. McCartin (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 176.

44 William McKinley, “Annual Message,” 5 December 1899, (here); Speech of Hon. George Turner, U.S. Senate, 22-23 January 1900, Washington DC; Editorial, “The Country and Its War,” Harper’s Weekly, 3 June 1899, 540.

45 Hoar, “Shall We Retain,” 3; “Anti-Imperialist League Pamphlets,” Box 7, Moorfield Storey Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Mark Twain, “To the Person Sitting in Darkness,” February 1901, in Mark Twain’s Weapons of Satire: Anti-Imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War, ed. Jim Zwick (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1992), 22-39.

46 William Howard Taft to Elihu Root, 11 August 1900, Series 21, Reel 640, William Howard Taft Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Kramer, Blood of Government, 133.

47 McPherson, “Americanism,” 175; William McKinley, “Second Inaugural Address,” 4 March 1901, (here).

48 Linn, Philippine War, 221.

49 Taft to Root, 14 July 1900, Series 21, Reel 640, Taft Papers; Taft to Root, 14 October 1901, Container 164, Elihu Root Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

50 Root to Taft, 15 January 1901, Taft to Root, 17 January 1901, Root to Taft, 21 January 1901, and Root to McKinley, 24 January 1901, Series 21, Reel 640, Taft Papers; Hoganson, Fighting for American Manhood, 180, 191.

51 “Extracts from President McKinley’s Last Speech,” 5 September 1901, Joseph Tumulty to Woodrow Wilson, 20 September 1919, Container 50, Joseph Tumulty Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Robert W. Rydell, All the World’s a Fair: Visions of Empire at American International Expositions, 1876-1916 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 126-53.

52 Kramer, Blood of Government, 145-56; Roosevelt to the Secretary of War, 18 February 1902, Container 162, Root Papers.

53 Kramer, Blood of Government, 155.

54 Brands, Bound to Empire, 79; LaFeber, American Search, 177.

55 Leech, Days of McKinley, 384.

56 Theodore Roosevelt, “Annual Message,” 3 December 1901 and “Annual Message,” 2 December 1902, (here).

57 “President Truman’s Address,” 1 September 1950, Box 46, George M. Elsey Papers, Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri.

58 George. W. Bush, “Remarks by the President to the Philippine Congress,” 18 October 2003, (here); David E. Sanger, “Bush Cites Philippines as Model in Rebuilding Iraq,” New York Times, 19 October 2003.

Copyright Asia Pacific Journal 2013

The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Its Critics

October 22nd, 2013 by Global Research News

TPP批判 序論と要望書

by Sachie Mizohata and the Association of University Faculties

See the petition in English and Japanese.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement is a proposed trade pact that Japan is currently negotiating with Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam (as of September 2013).  The TPP aims to increase the liberalization of economies in the Pacific region through abolition of tariffs on trade as well as reregulation.1  In 2008, the United States joined the talks “and has espoused a hard core complete free trade policy,” which has vastly expanded the scope of the negotiations.2  With both the US and Japan as participants, the pact would cover nearly 40% of the world’s economy.3  Japan officially joined one of final rounds of the negotiations in July 2013 in Malaysia, as the participating countries intend to finalize the TPP negotiations (at least partially) by the end of 2013.4

The TPP agreement affects not only trade issues, but also nontrade matters that immensely impact lives of citizens in all participating countries.5  The areas at stake include, for example:

  • domestic court decisions and international legal standards (e.g., overriding domestic laws on both trade and nontrade matters, foreign investors’ right to sue governments in international tribunals that would overrule the national sovereignty)
  • environmental regulations (e.g., nuclear energy, pollution, sustainability)
  • financial deregulation  (e.g., more power and privileges to the bankers and financiers)
  • food safety (e.g., lowering food self-sufficiency, prohibition of mandatory labeling of genetically modified products, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease)
  • Government procurement (e.g., no more buy locally produced/grown)
  • Internet freedom (e.g., monitoring and policing user activity)
  • labor (e.g., welfare regulation, workplace safety, relocating domestic jobs abroad)
  • patent protection, copyrights (e.g., decrease access to affordable medicine)
  • public access to essential services may be restricted due to investment rules (e.g., water, electricity, and gas)

For a brief explanation, see the video made by workers across the Pacific Rim (on right).

Although the TPP negotiations have been held in the name of the people, the draft texts have been shrouded in secrecy not only from the public, but also members of the Diet, and civil society, thereby precluding public scrutiny and public input.  Reportedly, the countries have signed up not to reveal the contents of the agreement for four years after the signing of the agreement. 6  All public information comes from leaked texts.  Bizarrely, the TPP makes a special exception to “a group of some 600 trade ‘advisers,’ dominated by representatives of big businesses.”7

The TPP is a Trojan horse, branded as a “free trade” agreement, but having nothing to do with fair and equitable treatment.  In reality, it is precisely “a wish list of the 1% ―a worldwide corporate power.”8  “Only 5 of its 29 chapters cover traditional trade matters, like tariffs or quotas.”9  “The other chapters enshrine new rights and privileges for major corporations while weakening the power of nation states to oppose them.”10  As the Japanese people have increasingly become concerned about its potential implications on their lives, some groups have voiced their objections to the TPP.

One such group is the Association of University Faculties (AUF), a Board which Seeks Japan’s Immediate Withdrawal from the TPP negotiations.  On April 10, 2013, some AUF members held a press conference, announcing that they had established the association and submitted a letter with an 839 signature petition to Prime Minister Abe to withdraw from the TPP negotiations.11  Since then, they have publicly warned against entering the negotiations, calculating estimated losses (see their website) due to the TPP and holding workshops and press conferences.  On September 14, the AUF plans to hold a symposium with the members of Japan Medical Association, Network of Lawyers who oppose the TPP, Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (or JA-Zenchu), Federation of Housewives, and other civic groups to explore how to stop the TPP.

Looking back at the history of TPP, Yonekura Hiromasa, chairman of Keidanren (the Japan Business Federation) said in October 26, 2010: “Japan will be left out as an orphan in the world” if we do not join the negotiations.12  Note that “Yonekura is also chairman of Sumitomo Chemical, which in 2010 signed a tie-up agreement with American agrichemical giant Monsanto.”13  Besides this orphan language, pro-TPP adherents used the kaikoku (opening the country) campaign, widely publicized by the mass media.  The then Prime Minister, Kan Naoto called the TPP “the third opening of the country.”14

The kaikoku rhetoric evokes the history of the US-Japan relationship and coercive unequal treaties.15  “The first opening” was at the arrival of the Black Ships of Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853, subsequently signing the US-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce with no tariff autonomy to the Japanese side.  “The second opening” refers to the US military occupation and its continuation to date.  After defeat in the Pacific War in 1945, Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration, unconditional surrender, and occupation by the US military, subsequently signing the Security Treaty along with the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951.16

Obviously, both orphan and kaikoku languages are empty rhetoric.  Japan is no longer isolated under the sakoku foreign relations policy.  Rather, the country has been a World Trade Organization member since its creation of 1995.17  In addition, “actual trade barriers between these countries are already very low.”18  Thus, the removal of tariffs (e.g., 2 to 3% in the United States) will have little effect on exports.19

On November 11, 2011, Kan’s successor, Noda Yoshihiko of the Democratic Party announced Japan’s interest in joining the TPP negotiations.20  On December 16, 2012, Abe Shinzo’s Liberal Democratic Party took back power, in part by pledging not to enter the negotiations (see the famous poster), which was conducive to favorable electoral results.  Soon after winning the election, Abe announced Japan’s entrance to the negotiations on March 15, 2013, although groups of people warned him against the participation since Japan was required to accept all existing agreements made during prior negotiations by other countries, sight unseen.21

Professor Suzuki Nobuhiro at Tokyo University, former civil servant, informed by close confidants, reveals that the TPP scenario above had been well prepared by high-rank officials right after 3.11.22  Some career bureaucrats perversely saw 3.11 as a big opportunity; as the country was in a state of collective shock, they understood that it helps to hide away from public attention to advance the TPP negotiations behind closed doors.  Deceiving the public and the members of the Diet by participating in “meetings to gather necessary information prior to decision-making,” career bureaucrats privately negotiated deals on deregulation of auto, BSE, Post Office to satisfy “admission requirements” as demanded by the US, while selling out Japanese public interests.23

This secret history brings us to the thesis of Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, which examines the use of “moments of collective trauma to engage in radical social and economic engineering” that would be almost impossible during normal less chaotic times.24  While Japan still reels from the Fukushima shock, the government is bent on trying “to impose a rapid-fire transformation of the economy―tax cuts, free trade, privatized services, cuts to social spending and deregulation.”25  Above all, this US-Japan history confirms the persistence of the “Servile Line” discussed by Magosaki Ukeru or “Client State” by Gavan McCormack.26

Amongst many woeful issues of the TPP mentioned above, the Japanese might need to pay special attention to two issues (for more details, see the AUF petition).  First, is Investor-State Dispute (ISD) resolution.  Public Citizen, a non-profit U.S.-based consumer rights advocacy group, explains: “Under this regime, foreign investors can skirt domestic courts and laws, and sue governments directly before tribunals of three private sector lawyers operating under World Bank and UN rules to demand taxpayer compensation for any domestic law that investors believe will diminish their ‘expected future profits.’” 27  The ISD issue is especially serious. Tsuruoka Kouji of the Foreign Ministry, TPP chief negotiator, has said that Japan will accept the inclusion of ISD in its trade deals for possible disputes with “undeveloped” countries.28  However, the ISD allows corporations to attack “developed” countries such as Japan or the US.  “Over $3 billion has been paid to foreign investors under U.S. trade and investment pacts, while over $14 billion in claims are pending under such deals, primarily targeting environmental, energy, and public health policies.”29  Also, this can be applied to “anything from government proceurement contracts and environmental protection to financial regulation.”30 See companies that could use such investor rights in the map.

Second, Japan’s nationalized health-care system is at stake.  The annual US-Japan Business Council (USJBC) held in Tokyo on November 8-9, 2012, issued a public announcement:  “USJBC companies can connect with Japanese industry and government to help shape transparent trade rules, standards and regulations in this dynamic region – particularly if Japan decides to pursue membership in TPP.”31  The USJBC’s chairman was Charles Lake II.  Note that he is chairman of the American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (Aflac) Japan, whose company revenues were $16.6 billion in 2008, about 70% of them from Japan.32  If the government embraces lucrative privatization accepting the ISD system, it would be detrimental to Japan’s long cherished national health-care system.

In conclusion, we have reviewed this extraordinary agreement, which would ruinously reverse and rewrite the history of humanity with its repeated struggles for democracy, freedoms, human rights, and welfare.  As noted, “the secrecy of the Trans-Pacific Partnership process represents a huge assault on the principles and practice of democratic governance.”33  In translating the AUF’s “youbousho” as “petition,” I thought of another word: list of grievances.  One such formal set of letters was “Cahiers de Doléances” written in 1789, the year the French Revolution started.  Similarly, I thought of letters written by our ancestors on the eve of peasant uprisings in feudal Japan.  The AUF petition evokes such indignation of citizens as it brings the TPP under public scrutiny.

Notes

1 Though, some exceptions may be made, by keeping import tariffs on certain goods and services for 7 to 10 years.  See Nobuhiro Suzuki, “最悪の選択・TPP.許しがたい背信行為 (The TPP: the worst choice.  Perfidy that is hard to forgive),” Sekai, April 2013 (842), pp. 40-48.

2 James Simpson, “TPP a risky venture for Japan,” The Japan Times, March 12, 2013. 

3 Cherrie Lou Billones, “Japan and US reach agreements on auto exceptions in TPP,” The Japan Daily Press, March 6, 2013.

4 See here (accessed September 7, 2013).

5 Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy, “Obama’s Covert Trade Deal,” The New York Times, June 2, 2013; Dean Baker, “The Pacific free trade deal that’s anything but free,” The Guardian, August 27, 2012; On the site of Public Citizen, “More Power to Corporations to Attack Nations,” (accessed September 7, 2013).  Also, see www.exposethetpp.org (accessed September 7, 2013).

6 Satoshi Daigo’s blog. (accessed September 7, 2013).

7 Ibid.

8 Laurel Sutherlin, “What You Need to Know About a Worldwide Corporate Power Grab of Enormous Proportions,” AlterNet, 2012 (accessed Sepember 7, 2013).

9 Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy, 2013.

10 Laurel Sutherlin, 2012.

11 See here. (accessed Sepember 7, 2013).

12 See here.  (accessed Sepember 7, 2013).

13 Philip Brasor, “Japan’s farming could be going to seed,” The Japan Times, January 6, 2013.

14 Yasumi Iwakami. (accessed September 7, 2013).

15 Ibid. Also, Magosaki Ukeru.戦後史の正体 (The truth behind the postwar history). Tokyo: Sougensha, 2012.

16 Yasumi Iwakami.

17 See here. (accessed Steptember 7, 2013).

18 Dean Baker, 2012.

19 Ukeru Magosaki, “最悪の選択・TPP.国家主権投げ捨てる安倍政権 (The TPP: the worst choice.  The Abe administration that throws away the national sovereignty),” Sekai, April 2013 (842), pp. 49-54.

20 See here. (accessed September 7, 2013).

21 See here. (accessed September 7, 2013).

22 Nobuhiro Suzuki, 2013.

23 Ibid.

24 Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine. London: Penguin Books, 2007, p. 8.

25 Ibid., p. 7.

26 Gavan McCormack, “Japan’s Client State (Zokkoku) Problem,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 11, Issue 25, No. 2, June 24, 2013.

27 See here. (accessed September 7, 2013).

28 Magosaki Ukeru’s note.  (accessed September 7, 2013).

29 See here. (accessed September 7, 2013).

30 see here. (accessed, September 7, 2013).

31 See here. (accessed September 7, 2013). 

32 Daniel P Amos, “Aflac’s CEO Explains How He Fell for the Duck,” Harvard Business Review. Jan/Feb 2010, Vol. 88, Issue 1/2, pp. 131-134; Ukeru Magosaki, “最悪の選択・TPP.国家主権投げ捨てる安倍政権 (The TPP: the worst choice.  The Abe administration that throws away the national sovereignty),” Sekai, April 2013 (842), pp. 49-54.

33 Lori Wallach and Ben Beachy, 2013.

Copyright Asia Pacific Journal 2013

The notion of a “Libya” has ceased to have any meaningful practical application. As a concept that either refers to some degree of national unity, an imagined community, sovereignty, or the exercise of authority by a state over the territory within its borders, “Libya” has been driven back to the time when it had yet to become formalized as a concept.

Those once celebrated as “rebels” and “revolutionaries” — by Obama, NATO states, UN bodies, Western media, and a range of liberal imperialist opinion along with those “socialists” who, after an extended period of internalized structural adjustment now model their thinking to better accord with neoliberal principles — are rarely if ever held up now as paragons of the “better future” that was to come. Visions, as in hallucinations and delusions, of the better that would come once Gaddafi was dutifully executed, abounded in the politically prepubescent writings of an “Arab Spring.”

If there ever was an “Arab Spring” in Libya, within days it quickly turned into an African nightmare. This was especially true with respect to the racist terrorism launched against scores of unarmed black Libyan civilians and African migrant workers. To the extent that “Libya” exists any longer, it is either as an absence or as a shameful stain. Libya is now Africa’s newest apartheid “state” and torture “regime”. Why the quotes? Unlike apartheid South Africa, the “new Libya” lacks any kind of cohesion as either a state or among actual or prospective rulers as a class, and in fact class analysis when applied to Libya by using Marx as a how-to-manual, produces laughable results to be expected from orthodox Eurocentrics, from those who cast the present in non-western settings as a mere projection or repetition of “Stalinism”.

The grotesque and criminal torture, murder, and butchering of Muammar Gaddafi should have symbolized what would soon be done to all of Libya, just like it had been done to thousands of black Libyans and African migrants by the “heroic rebels” of NATO’s 2011 war against Libya. Libya is being dismembered as this is being written, sinking into a war of all against all for the benefit of a few.

Days, weeks, then months and now years have passed marked by daily kidnappings, acts of torture, wrongful imprisonment, assassinations, bombings, raids and bloody clashes between rival militias, armed extortion, strikes that have reduced the oil sector to a mirage of what “once was,” and an explosion of racialism, religious fundamentalism, and regionalism. If “Gaddafi” was their enemy, then Libyans have a funny way of showing it: by slaughtering each other, armed Libyans declare that they are each other’s worst enemies. Gaddafi was clearly not the problem: he was the solution that had to be broken in order for Libya to be “fixed,” to be fixed good and proper from the standpoint of the cruel tyrants in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the U.S.

If Libya has suffered a thousand deaths since the brutal overthrow of Gaddafi and all of what he had achieved, gone too–and this is happy news–are all of the jejune and childishly simplistic pretenses at theory that are founded on Eurocentric binary oppositions and ideas that are barely veiled translations of the idiotic, demonizing caricatures of Gaddafi.

So here was “the dictator,” but who apparently ruled without a state, if you believe what Reuters tries to pass off as political analysis. (No amount of “being there” will cure you if you’re insistent about your ignorance.) Here was the “brutal” dictator, but who apparently kept his army weak. Or there was a state, but it was also a one-man show–whatever, something, anything to cast all blame on the past and take our eyes away from all those who have responsibility for the present.

If they’re continuing to fight “Gaddafi,” and credit/blame Gaddafi for everything in the present, then there was no “revolution” either, just multiple, continuous reenactments of all that was “Gaddafi.” If militia leaders see Gaddafi everywhere and in everyone, it is because they are nowhere. Gone too are the grandiose declarations–that passed for expert analysis by Juan Cole and friends–of all of Libya “rising up,” united, to “throw off the regime,” a people against a dictator. I mean really, this is embarrassing when you think that supposed adults — “scholars” even — were behind such cartoonish drivel.

To those “socialists” in the West who cheered the Libyan “revolutionaries,” let’s ask them: where do you see socialism in Libya today? To those liberals who spoke of “democracy” and “human rights,” where do you see either of those today? To the advocates of “humanitarian” principles of intervention and “protection,” why did you go so silent after the lights were turned off with Gaddafi’s murder? To those who imagined would-be “massacres” to come that accompanied the demands of British and U.S. altar boys that “Gaddafi had to go,” why does your imagination suddenly fail you when confronted with the actual massacres that you yourselves committed and enabled?

To those who claim “lives were saved,” where were you when the bodies began to pile up amidst swarms of flies in blood-stained, abandoned hospitals? When patients in hospitals were gunned down in their beds, and when handcuffed prisoners lying on their stomachs were executed at such close range that the grass beneath their heads was scorched, did you wince? In other words, where do you all see this great “success story” in the charnel house that is now “Libya”?

It’s polite analysis to speak of the time-space compression of globalization, that presumably explains how many iPad imperialists personally vested themselves in “correcting” Libya so it could become more like what they imagined they possessed. They would not stand idly by, no, not when another chance presented itself to flatter themselves with a reinvigorated cultural evolutionism, applied by the force of NATO bombardments.

Libya was now “ready for democracy,” and the cruise missiles showed just how ripe Libya was for “improvement.” Time-space compression? The globalization of consciousness? Consciousness, however much there ever was, was certainly compressed: into a tiny a nut-shell that prohibited considering contrary opinions, as right as they consistently proved to be.

In that vein, I recommend that the reader invest a mere 40 minutes or so in reviewing how things looked before we became deluded by our own lies. These are overviews of Libya and Gaddafi, produced by the BBC and CBS news (believe it or not), when the demonological fantasies had not yet fully hatched, taken wing, and unloaded so many propaganda droppings on our heads as come from Obama’s vainglorious, imperial monologues. Challenge yourself, and look at some of what Libya has lost, all in the name of the great nothingness.

BBC: Libya and Gaddafi in 1976

BBC: Libya and Gaddafi in 1979

CBS: Libya and Gaddafi in 1980


Slouching Towards Sirte:
NATO’s War on Libya and Africa

by Maximilian Forte

ISBN: 978-1-926824-52-9
Year: 2012
Pages: 352 with 27 BW photos, 3 maps
Publisher: Baraka Books 

Price: $24.95 

CLICK TO ORDER FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

U.S. Conducts Industrial Espionage Globally

France’s largest English-language newspaper – The Local – reports:

Le Monde said the documents gave grounds to think the NSA targeted not only people suspected of being involved in terrorism but also high-profile individuals from the world of business or politics.***

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault [said]  “I am deeply shocked…. It’s incredible that an allied country like the United States at this point goes as far as spying on private communications that have no strategic justification, no justification on the basis of national defence,” he told journalists in Copenhagen.

Der Spiegel notes:

The NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years.

***

In the space of a single year, according to the internal documents, this operation produced 260 classified reports that allowed US politicians to conduct successful talks on political issues and to plan international investments.

The NSA was recently revealed to have been spying on Brazil’s largest oil company.

Guardian columnist Seumas Milne correctly notes:

#NSA-#GCHQ about power not security: hacked #Mexico president for political/investment edge, leak shows, like #Brazil….

The NSA was also recently busted spying on Chinese technology company Huawei.

German companies are concerned that the NSA has conducted espionage in that country. And the leaders of Latin American countries have also expressed disgust at the industrial espionage.

The NSA is also spying on the biggest financial payments systems such as VISA and Swift.

In a slide leaked by Edward Snowden, “economic” was one of the main justifications for spying.

The top U.S. spy’s justification for such financial spying is:

“We collect this information for many important reasons: for one, it could provide the United States and our allies early warning of international financial crises which could negatively impact the global economy. It also could provide insight into other countries’ economic policy or behavior which could affect global markets.”

(Top financial experts say that the NSA and other intelligence agencies are also using the information to profit from this inside information.  And the NSA wants to ramp up its spying on Wall Street … to “protect” it.)

The Spying Has Been Going On For Decades

It is true that the spying is about power, and not security. Proof here, here and here.

But this has actually been going on for decades.

It has long been clear that the U.S. spying program is being used for industrial espionage. The New Statesman wrote about it in 1988. Die Zeit in 1999.

The New York Times reported in 1995:

Each morning, they gave Mickey Kantor, the United States trade representative, and his aides inside information gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Tokyo station and the electronic eavesdropping equipment of the National Security Agency, sifted by C.I.A. analysts in Washington.

Mr. Kantor received descriptions of conversations among Japanese bureaucrats and auto executives from Toyota and Nissan who were pressing for a settlement, and read about the competing pressures on Japan’s Trade Minister, Ryutaro Hashimoto.

When the negotiations came to a climax in Geneva, the intelligence team was in place at the Intercontinental Hotel, working alongside Mr. Kantor’s negotiators, offering assessments of how far the Japanese side could be pressed.

***

Spying on allies for economic advantage is a crucial new assignment for the C.I.A. now that American foreign policy is focused on commercial interests abroad. President Clinton made economic intelligence a high priority of his Administration, specifically information to protect and defend American competitiveness, technology and financial security in a world where an economic crisis can spread across global markets in minutes.

***

At the Treasury Department, the trade representative’s office and the Commerce Department, officials say they now receive a torrent of information from the C.I.A.

BBC reported in 2000:

A report published by the European Parliament in February alleges that Echelon twice helped US companies gain a commercial advantage over European firms. [Here's the report.]

Duncan Campbell, the British intelligence expert and journalist who wrote the report, raises the prospect that hundreds of US Department of Commerce “success stories”, when US companies beat off European and Japanese commercial opposition, could be attributed to the filtering powers of Echelon.

***

The European consortium Airbus lost a $6bn contract with Saudi Arabia after NSA found Airbus officials were offering kickbacks to a Saudi official.

The paper said the agency “lifted all the faxes and phone-calls between Airbus, the Saudi national airline and the Saudi Government” to gain this information.

***

The US firm Raytheon used information picked up from NSA snooping to secure a $1.4bn contract to supply a radar system to Brazil instead of France’s Thomson-CSF.

***

Former CIA director James Woolsey, in an article in March for the Wall Street Journal, acknowledged that the US did conduct economic espionage against its European allies, though he did not specify if Echelon was involved.

The Militarization of the Police. Are We Living in A Police State?

October 21st, 2013 by Global Research News

 by Amiya Fernando

 Are we living in a police state?

- There has been a 4000% increase in “no knock,” militarily-armed swat team raids over the past thirty years.

- Mid 80′s: 2,000-3,000 raids per year

- Present day: 80,000 raid estimate

The  Militarization of the Police
Image source: www.topcriminaljusticedegrees.org

The editors at Top Criminal Justice Degrees decided to research the topic of:

 The Militarization of the Police

Are we living in a police state?
- There has been a 4000% increase in “no knock,” militarily-armed swat team raids over the past thirty years.
- Mid 80′s: 2,000-3,000 raids per year[1]
- Present day: 80,000 raid estimate[1]
- ——————
- Pros:
- –Element of Surprise
- –Suspect can’t destroy evidence
- Cons:
- –Invasion of privacy
- –Seconds for suspect to decide if these or cops or break in.
- –Faulty intelligence

- ————

Case Study

- Basics:[4]
- Ogden, Utah. 1/4/12 8:40 pm.
- Local swat team battered down Matthew David Stewart’s door with no warning. Thinking his home was being invaded, Stewart readied his pistol.
- Stewart: 31 rounds fired
- Swat: 250 rounds fired
- Tip: Stewart’s girlfriend saying he might be growing weed.
- Previous record: Clean, veteran.
- Result: 6 wounded swat. 1 killed. Stewart shot twice.
- Findings: 16 small pot plants. No intent to sell.
- Outcome: Upon losing hearing about search warrent legality. Stewart hangs himself in jail cell.

- ————-

And that’s just one of potentially hundreds of similar tragedies.
- Spotlight: NY
- 1994: 1,447 swat style drug raids
- 2002: 5,117
- “I have my own army in the NYPD–the seventh largest army in the world.” Michael Bloomberg

- ————
- Swat Armament:[3]
- Submachine Guns
- Automatic Weapons
- Breaching Shotguns
- Sniper Rifles
- Stun Grenades
- Heavy Body Armor
- Motion Detectors
- Advanced Night Vision Wear
- Armored Personal Carriers
- “From the Gulf war to the drug war–Battle proven” Heckler and Koch’s slogan for the M5[6]

- ————-

These “criminals” are heavily armed too, right?
- WRONG:
- [Weapon used in violent crime: %]
- Gun: 12.7%
- Knife: 10.1%
- Other: 12.1%
- Unknown weapon: 1.8%
- None: 55.8%
- Don’t Know: 5.8%

- —-
- So how can we allow this? The fact is, we don’t.
- 1970: The “no-knock” law is passed with the beginning of the war on drugs.
- 1974: The law was repealed.
- Today: “No knock” happens ALL THE TIME.
- ——
- Leading to more and more unnecessary, intrusive, illegal, and deadly SWAT raids.

- Raids leading to civilian injuries, death, or intrusion of the privacy of innocents.

- While injuries from “no knock” raids have been around since the inception of the swat team. Paramilitary like brutality has become a feature of the increasing armed SWAT of the last 10 years.

- Using the military in civic life is like using a hammer when you need a butter knife. There’s bound to be collateral damage. It could happen to you, your neighbors, your friends, or your family.

Speak out against the militarization of the police.

Citations

-http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-02-14-noknock14_ST_N.htm

-https://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform-free-speech-technology-and-liberty/too-many-cops-are-told-theyre-soldiers

-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SWAT

-http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323848804578608040780519904.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

-http://www.cato.org/raidmap

social

by Arij Riahi

For the first time, a Canadian mining company will appear in a Canadian court for actions committed overseas. Hudbay Minerals, Inc, will be standing trial for murder, rapes and attacks committed against Indigenous Guatemalans by security personnel working for Hudbay’s subsidiary, Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN). The court case is proceeding thanks to a precedent-setting decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, which ruled this past July in favour of the Mayan Q’eqchi’ people of Lote Ocho, near El Estor, Guatemala.

“It is a massive victory for our clients and for human rights,” Cory Wanless, an attorney with the Toronto-based Klippensteins law firm, told The Dominion. “Before this decision, no claim brought by individuals that had been harmed by Canadian mining abroad had ever gotten into Canadian courts at all. They didn’t even have the ability to forward their claims.”

The community of La Union was home to Adolfo Ich, an outspoken mining critic who was shot and killed. Photo courtesy of Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors
The community of La Union was home to Adolfo Ich, an outspoken mining critic who was shot and killed. Photo courtesy of Klippensteins Barristers & Solicitors

Wanless represents the Q’eqchi’ plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing the company of negligence in its ground management of the Fenix open-pit nickel mine project. They allege that security personnel—under the control of Hudbay—gang-raped 11 women, shot dead an Indigenous leader and outspoken critic of mining practices and left another man paralyzed from the chest down after sustaining a gunshot wound.

Grahame Russell of Rights Action, a Canadian organization working mainly with Indigenous communities in Central America, has been doing solidarity work with the Q’eqchi’ people for almost 10 years and has worked closely on the case. “Two major pre-trial issues were fought over. One was jurisdiction, and one [was] whether Hudbay could be held accountable—directly or via its subsidiary CGN—over what happened in Guatemala,” Russell told The Dominion.

“We won on both counts. First, the company accepted that Canada can be the appropriate jurisdiction. Second, the judge decided in our favour, saying that it is appropriate to try to hold Hudbay accountable [for their negligence] in Guatemala.”

Russell explained that the conflict is rooted in unresolved tensions around what can be referred to in Canada as “prior land claims.” The events in question occurred between 2007 and 2009 in the context of a land dispute between the Q’eqchi’ people and the mining company.

“The specific context of the attack, rape[s] and murder is related to the mining company wanting to get the Q’eqchi’ people off their land so they can get the mineral resources under the ground,” Russell said. “There have been waves of repression in this region related to Canadian mining companies going back to the 1970s and early 1980s. This is an old story that is replaying itself out all over again.”

Rachel Small is an environmental justice activist working with communities impacted by Canadian extractive industry. “The abuses carried out by Canadian mining companies in Central America are part of a long and violent history of colonization, which continues today,” she told The Dominion.

Small, who visited the Q’eqchi’ community of Lote Ocho in 2010, said the Hudbay case is a classic example of environmental injustice. “Resources are being extracted for the benefit of Canadians—and primarily Canadian stockholders—at the expense of primarily Indigenous communities in Guatemala. It’s a blatant example of one of the ways that colonization plays out today and the costs are unimaginably huge for the communities who are being exploited.”

The Superior Court of Ontario’s decision, written by Judge Carole Brown, concluded that there was enough initial evidence to allow the actions to proceed to trial. Judge Brown emphasized that Hudbay is headquartered in Toronto, is incorporated under Canadian laws and was fully in control of its subsidiary. Hudbay has decided not to appeal the ruling.

The court decision argued that “the pleadings disclose a sufficient basis to suggest that a relationship of proximity between the [Q'eqchi'] plaintiffs and the defendants [Hudbay and CGN] exists, such that it would not be unjust or unfair to impose a duty of care on the defendants.” The decision also listed a number of factors that might, at trial, prove the proximity between Hudbay and its subsidiary.

This problem of proximity is one that has sunk many attempts to hold Canadian companies accountable in Canadian courts for human-rights abuses committed in other countries. Most mining companies have a complex corporate structure with a head office in one country, smaller offices in others and operations in the Global South. In courts, they have repeatedly been able to draw a line between the legal responsibility of a parent company that controls management and the subsidiary that controls daily operations on the ground.

In November 2012, a group of Congolese people exhausted all legal options with a final failed attempt to drag Anvil Mining in front Canadian courts for its involvement in a massacre of civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The company admitted to a United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) that it had provided transportation, food and lodging to the Congolese soldiers who committed the massacre. Yet the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that there was no sufficient link between the company’s Quebec office and the events that led to the killings, and that Quebec’s courts therefore had no jurisdiction over the matter. At the time of the events, Anvil’s headquarters were in Australia.

Wanless said that Hudbay’s corporate ties to Canadian law might explain why the case was allowed to go through while the Anvil case never made it to court. “The question in [the case of] Hudbay is different because there was no question that Ontario did have jurisdiction over Hudbay. It was an Ontario company through and through.”

Since the July 22, 2013, decision, Rights Action has reported that some Mayan Q’eqchi’ women have received threats pressuring them to withdraw the lawsuits. “This is a new wave of intimidation,” said Russell, who speaks with members of the community on a weekly basis. “In the past, it has targeted Angelica Choc—the wife of Adolfo Ich, [the man] who was shot and killed. Now, it is targeting the women, trying to turn some women against the other women.”

When asked to comment on the threats, both Small and Wanless said they are an unsettling development, but one that is not surprising. Small highlighted how geographical isolation could add to the community’s vulnerability.

“The fastest way to reach Lote Ocho requires an uphill drive in a Jeep or all-terrain vehicle, followed by an over-two-hour trek up the side of a densely forested mountain,” she explained. “The limited access to communication with family, friends and allies in other places certainly impacted Lote Ocho’s ability to respond to threats and attacks.”

Though the pre-trial decision has been hailed as a victory, the trial to follow could still take years. “[The decision] is absolutely a breakthrough, but this won’t all of sudden bring proper and full accountability,” said Russell. “It was a step that had be fought for and won, but there is still a hugely long way to go.”

Small said the injustices committed in other countries implicate Canada’s whole political and economic system. “Canadian government actively supports the [mining] industry, both financially—such as through pension plan investments—and politically.” She listed a host of political players, including Canadian embassies and Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, who negotiate international trade deals and partnerships with mining companies operating in the Global South.

For Small, this means that the problems faced by the Q’eqchi’ won’t be solved in one courtroom. “We’re looking at complex systems…that serve to concentrate power and resources in the hands of a small few, especially at the expense of Indigenous peoples. It’s going to be a long struggle to reverse these patterns, and one that needs to play out on more than one continent and in a multitude of settings.”

Wanless was cautiously optimistic about the court’s decision. “This case is the first of this kind but I think that claims like this are going to be much more common,” he said. “It is no longer possible for Canadian courts to deny that this is a Canadian problem that deserves a Canadian solution.”

Arij Riahi is a legally trained writer based in Montreal. Arij tweets as @arijactually.

Copyright The Dominion, 2013

Where is “The Left”? “Are We Being Served”

October 21st, 2013 by William Bowles

Central to us on the left is the dilemma of a seemingly indifferent working class to the changes that impact directly not only on our material well-being but on the corporatisation of our cultural lives. Some argue that it’s down to the prevailing sense of powerlessness as the gulf between those who govern and the governed, deepens and widens. But there is perhaps another explanation for our disenfranchisement; the role of the ‘middle class’ as a mechanism of social control.

Both my parents were what you would call working class. My mother, who left school at fourteen, worked on the stage as a chorus girl (the Tiller Girls) and in pantomime before becoming a ‘housewife’ and my father, a self-taught engineer/toolmaker and professional musician and trade union organiser for the Musicians Union, left school without any formal qualifications (that I know of) at about the same age. Instead, he went to evening classes to improve his language skills and knowledge of the world and how it worked.

Yet both were communists and by any definition, intellectuals. So were they both still working class? What makes one working class? What is it to be ‘middle class’? Is there such a thing as middle class or is it yet another illusion created by capitalism? After all, if you sell your labour, whether by the hour or by salary, aren’t you still working class? Or is your education (or lack of it) the definition? Or is it perhaps some combination of education, income and ‘status’? Isn’t the myth that we all aspire to becoming middle class (and as current events show, how easily it is to be thrust back whence you came)?

I think I was perhaps the third or fourth person in my entire family to get a higher education and that simple, yet irrevocable act of going to university, separated me from my peers. Indeed created a gulf. ‘Rising out’ of the working class was and perhaps still is, seen as a progressive step and no doubt, achieving a higher education, in theory at least–but given the role of the universities as weapons of control, it’s one that I question–gave me access to opportunities denied the great majority of my peers. But at what price? Perhaps the price of forgetting my roots.

Our roots, we are often reminded, are the anchor of our lives, both individually and collectively. But whose roots are they? Our roots are what define us, or so the theory goes. Living in Africa, I learned that the Ancestors are central to most peoples’ lives and although for me, a symbolic gesture, calling on the Ancestors for advice, creates an unbreakable link with one’s past. Moreover, a link that is in many respects, impervious to the propaganda of capitalism.

One of the things I learned during my time living in Africa, was the importance of acknowledging the existence of the ancestors, although for me it translated into being connected to the past rather than believing in them literally. For through a connection to the ancestors, the past becomes solid ground rather than shifting sand. The ancestors are a transmission line to the past that remains stubbornly unbroken. Through the ancestors, a different history is preserved and carried down, not by education, books, or TV. It is both a private conversation and a collective memory, as in speaking to oneÕs ancestors you are also speaking to their time, calling upon their experience, their wisdom. – ‘Listen to your Ancestors‘, 18 October 2003

Yes, my Art School education was, for me, a privilege. It gave me five years of freedom, without the pressure to ‘earn a living’ (back then they actually paid you to go to college!). In exchange however, it was required of me to dump my past, forget my Ancestors, the working class. It was an experience I was never to really accept. It was not until I left this country and moved to New York, where I found myself in a culture doubly damned by capitalism, the Puerto Rican community of East Harlem (and beyond), that my working class roots were accepted. There I experienced our communality of interests and struggle and my skills and experience found a real home. It was quite an eye opener for me to be accepted into a community in a way that I had never experienced in London, my birthplace.

Currently, there is a major retrospective of Manchester-born artist, Lowry, an avowedly working class artist, who even today, has his credentials as it were, questioned, largely because he was avowedly working class. His work has variously been labeled as primitive, crude, naive and unsophisticated. Yet, commodity-wise his works now sell for tens of thousands of pounds (and perhaps explains why in spite of his ‘crude’, ‘primitive’ and ‘naive’ technique, he now warrants a major retrospective).

What this does reveal however, is the contradictions of a culture whose identity is determined almost entirely by our elites. To be working class is to be uncultured, uncouth and uncool (at best, an historical hangover). Just look at how working class life is portrayed on television and all of it produced by an intellectual elite that hasn’t the foggiest idea of what working class life is really like. Of what it’s like not to have the tools of a decent education, or the resources to realize your dreams? The odd one like me, who somehow make it through are the exception that proves the rule.

So what am I and those like me, who have allegedly ‘risen’ out of their class (Michael Caine notwithstanding)?

This issue has plagued me since my art school days, where art schools were (and are) almost exclusively the domain of the ‘middle classes’ and ‘Art’ an intellectual pursuit shrouded in the mystique of a hidden language of form and ultimately determined by the ‘guardians of taste’ in the shape of critics, galleries and a parasitical academia, let alone the bozos who buy it, largely as an investment, it should be added.

‘Working class’ art was, as the example of Lowry so clearly demonstrates, inferior to ‘high art’. Anyway, what the hell is working class art? More to the point, what is working class culture?

The bottom line is, that in a capitalist world, working class culture, in all its forms, from football to rock ‘n roll, to hip-hop is a bottomless reservoir of creativity that the ruling elites could never, ever produce, not in a million years. All they can do is appropriate, market and valorize. These are the vampires of capitalism, who suck the creative life out of us and in the process impoverish our cultural lives as they corporatise our culture.

The less you eat, drink, buy books, go to the theater, go dancing, go drinking, think, love, theorize, sing, paint, fence, etc., the more you save and the greater will become that treasure which neither moths nor maggots can consume Ñ your capital. The less you are, the less you give expression to your life, the more you have, the greater is your alienated life … So all passions and all activity are submerged in greed Ð Karl Marx, Notebooks, 1844

One of my favourite quotations from Papa Marx. It’s interesting to note that even before the end of WWII and the victory of the Labour government, in 1944 it was the previous (largely) Tory government that produced the then new Education Act, not the Labour Government. Education was far too important to be left even to reformist socialists like Beveridge and the Tories spelt it out in no uncertain terms and explains why, unlike the National Health Service, it was the Tories not the Labour government who introduced it.

The Butler Act as it was called after the then Tory education minister RAB Butler, recognized that if there was to be ‘universal’ education up to the age of fifteen, then it was incumbent on the state to make sure that those ‘educated’ were immersed in the ideology of capitalism (my high school ‘history’ text book stopped at 1914). Thus the so-called tripartite education system was created, with 80% of those in secondary education not even getting a chance at higher education or even some kind of formal certificate. Instead, they were relegated to so-called Secondary Modern schools and leaving school aged 15 for either menial office or factory work.

At best, the Butler Act was a nodding recognition that teaching the ‘Three Rs’ simply didn’t cut it in the postwar world. After all, education hadn’t changed much since the early 1900s. Churchill, along with most of his class, wanted nothing to do with even the minimal reforms of the 1944 act. Educate the labouring classes? Are you kidding! And it’s through this understanding that I was to get a sense of just how backward and reactionary our capitalist class really is, even by its own standards, such as they are. And today’s neoliberal government confirms my view as it rolls back the minimal advances achieved since 1945 with all its talk about ‘free schools’ and religious-based schooling and ‘choice’, back to the 19th century.

Central to us on the left is the dilemma of a seemingly indifferent working class to the changes that impact directly not only on our material well-being but on the corporatisation of our cultural lives. Some argue that it’s down to the prevailing sense of powerlessness as the gulf between those who govern and the governed, deepens and widens. But there is perhaps another explanation for our disenfranchisement; the role of the ‘middle class’ as a mechanism of social control.

An interesting essay by Carl Rowlands on the last book by economist GK Galbraith, The Culture of Contentment published in 1992, indirectly explains why a gutted education system is so crucial to the neoliberal model, not only because it simply doesn’t need so many ‘educated’ people (having exported their jobs elsewhere and automated the rest) but perhaps more importantly, because of the role the education system plays in creating divisions within the working class to the advantage of the ruling elite.

Working strictly within the parameters of contentment as a ‘people’s party’, New Labour, when it eventually emerged after the death of John Smith in 1994, openly sought to lead a revolt of the comfortable and personally ambitious. One of its central ideological demands was for ‘improved’ and increasingly individualised delivery of those universal services from which the middle-class disproportionately benefits, to be delivered by a growing cohort of customer-focused private sector players. At the same time, New Labour bore down upon public services regarded as belonging to those on the fringes of public life, such as social security, local authority care homes and social work.

Galbraith correctly identified the blurring and melding together of corporate and public life. Much of corporate culture is highly bureaucratic, demanding passivity from its workforce to ensure compatibility with the hubristic exercise of managerial and executive power. This hubris, linked to ‘bonus culture’ and the excesses of financial capitalism, was to also become a hallmark of New Labour…Such a mode of governance is fundamentally corrosive of social solidarity. Ultimately, in a political culture of contentment, we will let those less fortunate than ourselves go to hellÑjust as most of us probably would, if we were working in an office or factory which faced restructuring. Our own position depends upon compliance with executive decisions. Resistance is left to the powerless and the occasional whistle-blower.

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[W]hile the most vulnerable have been hit hard, the existence of an underclass is entirely compatible with, and indeed necessary for, the continued operation of the culture of contentment. As Galbraith argues, our society is structured to allow large numbers of people not to be involved in the tough, repetitive manual work of the industrial era. These people are dependent on an effectively marginalised domestic minority to do the hard labour, as well as those working in developing countries. Such marginalisation can be overtly political, but it is perhaps most clearly reflected in the extreme inequality that characterises the housing and labour markets. Those on the sharp end of these inequalities are blamed as the architects of their own misfortune and prescribed hard labour solutions, possibly in the form of workfare or highly-visible community service on the other; solutions from which the comfortable would naturally recoil. The threat of tough manual labour, in the form of work-camp prisons or workfare, lurks about the culture of contentment like the spectre at the feast. — The Winter of Content By Carl Rowlands.

What this amounts to is perhaps two-thirds of our population living comfortably (even if perhaps one-half of them now have a reduced level of ‘contentment’, but not enough to rock the boat) whilst one-third of the population (the marginalised minority) can, as Rowlands says, go to hell. Thus we hear the government talking about the ‘work-shy’ and that social welfare creates a ‘culture of dependency’ never mind those ‘hardworking’ upstanding ‘traditional’ families, the mythical ‘middle England’. We have, in the space of a few short years, been catapulted back into the world of 19th century, Victorian capitalism, replete with all the pseudo-scientific explanations that rationalise why so many are poor.

Are You Being Served cast 001

It is within this reality, that what passes for a left in this country attempts to apply its outmoded and reformist vision. A vision that was already out-of-date over one hundred years ago when it was formulated. For the ‘left’ is just as much a part of the culture of contentment as those it claims to lead.

The title by the way, is a reference to the BBC sitcom, ‘Are you being served‘, set in an old-fashioned department store in London and full of stereotypes, some actually quite funny if you ignore the insults, including an ex-army officer, a raging queen, a blue rinse lady, and yer typical working class ‘shirker’, the dialogue chockablock full of double entendres. This is capitalist culture as it presents the working class to itself.