From Alaska Dispatch News: Polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea area are suffering hair loss due to a condition called alopecia syndrome. This adult bear was biopsied on sea ice north of Barrow in 2012. Elizabeth Peacock / USGS

Alaska Dispatch News, Dec 11, 2014 (emphasis added): Polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea area are suffering hair loss due to a condition called alopecia syndrome… but the precise cause of that stress is yet to be determined, according to a new study… in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases… Over the study period, 3.45 percent of the bears examined had alopecia syndrome — [loss of] hairs around the head, neck and shoulders, accompanied by crusty lesions on the exposed skin. The incidences peaked in 2012, when 28 percent of the examined polar bears had the problem [when] a mysterious affliction, with patchy fur loss and bleeding skin lesions, sickened hundreds of Arctic Alaska seals, killing many of them. The affliction was seen among some walruses… There were some years when none of the captured polar bears had alopecia syndrome, and some years, like 2012, with relatively high rates… “They might be more energetically stressed, and then they encounter some other stressors,” [USGS biologist Todd Atwood] said.

Journal of Wildlife Diseases, scientists from USGS and Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Jan 2015: Alopecia (hair loss) has been observed in several marine mammal species… From 1998 to 2012, we observed an alopecia syndrome in polar bears from the southern Beaufort Sea of Alaska that presented as bilaterally asymmetrical loss of guard hairs and thinning of the undercoat around the head, neck, and shoulders, which, in severe cases, was accompanied byexudation and crusted skin lesions. Alopecia was observed in 49 (3.45%) of the bears sampled during 1,421 captures [peaking in] 2012 (28%)… The cause of the syndrome remains unknown and future work should focus on identifying the causative agent and potential effects on population vital rates.

Seal with hair loss – Shishmaref, AK, Nov 18, 2014: A [bearded seal] had fur missing from its back, flippers and stomach… There has been a disease of some kind that killed many ice seals and bearded seals in the region… when we see this it makes us nervous… sealscontinue to be reported with hair loss.

NOAA (pdf), 2014: The [Unusual Mortality Event] investigation will remain open and active for… ringed seals, ribbon seals, bearded seals and spotted seals… reports from the Bering Strait region continue regarding an unusual number… with patchy to generalized hair loss and/or sores. Some of these “hairless seals” may represent survivors of the 2011 mortality event… the exact cause of this disease is not currently known… we cannot give specificrecommendations on the safety of these animals for food or contact with people.

See also: Scientists present links between unusual Alaska seal deaths & Fukushima fallout – Skin lesions, hair loss, lethargy – Wildlife health implications from radiation exposure (PHOTOS)

And: Report: Fukushima fallout detected in Alaska fish — Dose equal to samples caught 100 miles from destroyed nuclear plant

Israel: What Now, Bibi? — Early Election Takeaways

March 18th, 2015 by Noam Sheizaf

Benjamin Netanyahu gives a victory speech on election night, March 18, 2015. (Photo: +972 Magazine)

Netanyahu picked a fight with a sitting U.S. president and declared there will never be a Palestinian State. It might have helped him squeeze out another election victory, but where is Israel heading?

The Likud and Labor (The Zionist Camp) are tied with 27 seats, but Benjamin Netanyahu has way more paths to bring together the 61 seats necessary for forming a government, and another term for himself. That’s the bottom line of the exit polls published by the Israeli TV channels as the polling stations closed on Tuesday night. Netanyahu and his party members are celebrating, and Bibi is already testing the waters with potential coalition partners.

(Update: Early Wednesday morning, with over 90 percent of votes counted, Netanyahu took a large lead with 30 seats to the Zionist Camp’s 24. Read more here.)

Netanyahu was able to surge in the last few days, following a desperate – and at times, racist –campaign that warned right-wing voters of a “left-wing government backed by the Arabs.” On election day, he published a Facebook status declaring that “Arabs are heading to the polls in masses” and called for his supporters to rush and save the Right from losing power. This was a prime minister warning that his own citizens are voting. But in Netanyahu’s rhetoric, Palestinians were never really citizens anyway, even those who have Israeli identity cards; he sees himself as the leader of the Jewish people, not of Israelis.

The warnings worked. Other right-wing parties hemorrhage support – Bennett and the settlers dropped to eight seats in the exit polls (they had 12 until now), Liberman dropped five, and the far-right Yahad party probably didn’t even make it in. But Likud rose from 20-21 seats to 27-28, and the Right, along with the ultra-Orthodox parties and Moshe Kahlon’s centrist party has about 64 seats. Despite all the recent drama, there wasn’t much movement between the political blocs, compared to 2013 (61:59) or 2009 (65:55).

Sixty-four seats doesn’t constitute a huge majority, but it’s enough for a stable government – as long as Kahlon doesn’t pull any surprises and refuse Bibi’s offer (it’s highly unlikely). Netanyahu will probably try to have a larger majority by inviting Labor or Yair Lapid to join, but whether they do or not, they won’t be able to deny him the victory. Assuming there are no major changes when the final results are in, Bibi will probably remain Israel’s prime minister – for the third consecutive time, and the fourth altogether.


The big question is – to what end? Netanyahu may have won a major victory – he destroyed the opposition on the right and he will once again lead a big party – but he ran a nasty campaign that alienated major parts of the public. He put himself in a diplomatic corner on Iran andcommitted to never permit the creation of a Palestinian state. What now, Bibi?

In the final days of the campaign, Netanyahu said twice that there will be no Palestinian state – not on his watch. But what alternative Bibi is offering? In two years, Israel will mark 50 years of military control over the lives of millions of Palestinians. The international community is more vocal in its demands for change, and the Palestinian Authority is more desperate than ever. Netanyahu won’t be able to blame the PA for the failure of the ever-lasting peace process when he himself declares that no matter what the Palestinians do, they will never gain their independence, nor will they become full citizens of Israel.

There is symbolic significance to the fact that Netanyahu openly campaigned on his opposition to Palestinian statehood. It means that he is backed by a majority of Israeli voters, and an absolute majority of the Jewish vote. There needs to be, and I think there will be, a debate on the implications of this decision by the Jewish public. For years we have been hearing that Israel will either end the occupation or cease to be a democracy. Could it be that the Jewish public has made its choice?

There is also the problem of picking a fight with an American president on his signature foreign policy issue. Netanyahu pretty much made it clear in Washington that he has no alternatives to offer on the deal with Iran, but that he will still do everything in his power to prevent it. Not only is the conflict with the White House is far from over, Bibi will need to decide what to do if and when a deal does go through. Tonight I really don’t know where Bibi is heading, and for that matter — Israel.

A couple of side notes following the exit polls:

The Joint List. The combined list of Palestinian parties known as the Joint List is now the third-largest party in the Knesset. If Labor enters the government, the Joint List could even assume the formal role of the leader of the opposition. The Palestinian parties were hoping to gain more from this situation – they would have been in a better bargaining position had Herzog ended up with a clear path to a majority – but this is still a significant development.

Will the unified list survive? There are major challenges ahead, for example, over whether to support Herzog’s bid for the premiership in consultations with the president next week. This is part of the larger dilemma the list faces surrounding any possible cooperation with other (lefty, but Zionist) parties. There are two distinct approaches on this question that split the four factions that make up the Joint List. In fact, it won’t be that surprising if the list breaks up over this very question, which touches on the deepest conflicts in the political identity of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Meretz. The small liberal party seemed to have survived this campaign, which almost saw it eliminated as lefty voters turned to Herzog in order to increase the chances of toppling Netanyahu. The exit polls give Meretz five seats, as oppose to the six they have now. But the campaign revealed deeper problems with Meretz, which can’t seem to break out of its small circle of core supporters, most of them centered in and around Tel Aviv. Squeezed between “The Zionist Camp” and the Palestinian list, Meretz’s fate is but another symbol for the grim state of affair in the Jewish left.

Netanyahu commits national suicide as he denies a Palestinian state

The European Union will apparently now have no option but to implement economic and political sanctions against the Israeli state as Netanyahu comes clean with his real intentions to annex the West Bank in an illegal push for a ‘Greater Israel’ stretching from the Red Sea to the Golan Heights. 

This would entail implementing Likud’s original charter that requires the ‘transfer’ of all Arabs out of former Palestine. The world knows this as ‘ethnic cleansing’ and will undoubtedly trigger universal condemnation and the naming of Mr Netanyahu’s Israel as an international pariah.

In the interim, by this gift to the illegal settlers, both the Israeli government and its entire electorate have a very serious problem indeed with existing bilateral trade with Europe.  Israel’s two primary trading partners, the EU and the U.S. would be obliged to cut or restrict trading ties with the recalcitrant government until it decides to comply with the will of the United Nations.

Furthermore, Netanyahu’s effective declaration that the peace process is dead and buried will send tremors throughout the international community. And this is undoubtedly the signal for the Palestinian Authority to now move decisively in the United Nations and other international institutions to include also its application to the International Criminal Court to declare the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories, a war crime.

The world now knows that Netanyahu never intended to use for peace and that all his former pronouncements to the UN, the EU and the U.S. were duplicitous – as was indeed suspected by so many. Not a man to be trusted.

Washington and Kiev Want War, not Peace

March 18th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

Donbass is Obama’s war. He didn’t launch it to quit. Minsk II won’t work any better than previous failed peace efforts.

Expect full-scale conflict to resume at Obama’s discretion. Meanwhile, Kiev is aggressively rearming.

It’s mobilizing its military for more war. It’s spending money desperately needed internally for armaments and paying bankers first.

Its forces commit multiple daily ceasefire violations. Western media ignore them.

They blame Russia and rebels for their high crimes. They’ve done so irresponsibly throughout months of conflict.

On March 16, Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR)  reported 34 truce violations in the last 24 hours.

According to DPR Defense Ministry spokesman Eduard Basurin:

“Over the past day, there were 34 shellings, including 15 violations last night.”

“The attacks were mounted on the villages of Spartak, Shirokino, Gorlovka, Peski and the Donetsk airport.”

“Anti-aircraft weapons, mortars and automatic grenade launchers were used in the attacks.”

On Sunday, Poroshenko blustered one Big Lie after another. In a German Bild newspaper interview, he blamed rebels and Russia for Kiev high crimes, saying:

“Ukraine has fulfilled every single point of the Minsk agreement.”

“The ceasefire has been implemented immediately on our part, but the Russian fighters have done the exact opposite.”

“Every day, there is shooting from the Russian side, often more than 60 times a day.”

“In total, the ceasefire has been broken 1,100 times. The truth is that the agreement is not working.”

“The truth is” Poroshenko is a serial liar, an imperial stooge. In league with Washington and rogue EU partners, he wants war, not peace.

Last April, junta forces launched naked aggression on Donbass. Kiev violates Minsk ceasefire terms multiple times daily. Blaming Russia and rebels for its crimes doesn’t wash.

Poroshenko urged more sanctions on Moscow. On March 19 and 20, EU leaders will discuss earlier ones imposed in Brussels.

Germany and other EU states want them maintained. They irresponsibly blame Russia for Kiev junta ceasefire violations. Their commitment to peace remains suspect.

German political expert Ulrich Kuhn fears longterm Donbass conflict. Settling things won’t happen easily or soon, he believes.

“I would not speak of a mere ‘crisis’ anymore because that would be blurring the facts in Ukraine on the ground,” he said. “We have a full-fledged war.”

Low intensity conflict remains ongoing. Ceasefire is pure fantasy. Anything ahead is possible.

Kiev could surprise, says Kuhn. It could change policy and pursue peace. Continued low intensity conflict is more likely, he believes.

Western countries will tighten sanctions. East/West relations will deteriorate further.

Things may head toward resuming full-scale war. Washington and EU nations support Kiev’s war machine.

Poroshenko repeatedly accuses Russia and rebels of Kiev Donbass ceasefire violations.

If they continue, he said, “we will immediately receive both lethal weaponry and new wave of sanctions against the aggressor. We will act firmly and in a coordinated manner.”

Kuhn sees no easy end to conflict. Deteriorated East/West relations won’t be repaired smoothly, he believes – “even if war in Ukraine comes to an end.”

A decade or longer may be needed to restore stability, he argues. If nuclear war erupts, all bets are off.

A Final Comment 

On Sunday, Rossiya 1 news channel aired a documentary titled “Crimea – The Way Home.” Interviewed for the film, Putin was blunt accusing Washington for Ukraine’s February 2014 coup.

“The trick of the situation was that outwardly the (Ukrainian) opposition was supported mostly by the Europeans,” he said.

“But we knew for sure that the real masterminds were our American friends.”

“They helped train the nationalists, their armed groups, in Western Ukraine, in Poland and to some extent in Lithuania. They facilitated the armed coup.”

US-led Western nations went all-out to prevent Crimean reunification with Russia, he explained – “by any means, in any format and under any scheme.”

US/Kiev coup plotters ignored rule of law principles, Putin explained. “And the consequences were grave indeed.”

“Part of the country agreed to (what happened), while another part wouldn’t accept it. (Ukraine) was shattered.”

Putin directed Russian special services and Defense Ministry to protect ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

“Otherwise he would have been killed,” Putin explained. Russian intelligence learned his motorcade route would be ambushed.

He wanted to stay, not leave. After spending several days in Crimea, he realized “there was no one he could negotiate with in Kiev.” said Putin.

He asked for safe haven in Russia. Putin personally ordered Crimean special operations preparation after Yanukovych fled.

“(W)e cannot let (Crimeans) be pushed under the steamroller of the nationalists,” he said.

He assigned “tasks,” directed operatives involved, told them “what to do and how (to) do it…”

He stressed acting “only…if we were absolutely sure that this is what the people living in Crimea want us to do.”

Overwhelming Crimean sentiment favored rejoining Russia. Putin accommodated popular wishes.

“Our goal was not to take Crimea by annexing it,” he said. “(It was) to allow the people to express their wishes on how they want to live.”

“I decided for myself: what the people want will happen. If they want greater autonomy with some extra rights within Ukraine, so be it.”

“If they decide otherwise, we cannot fail them. You know the results of the referendum. We did what we had to do.”

Putin’s personal involvement expedited things. He ordered K-300P Bastion coastal defense missiles deployed to show his willingness to protect Crimea from attack.

“We deployed them in a way that made them seen clearly from space,” he said.

He didn’t know if US-led NATO would act aggressively or not. He was ready to respond as necessary – including by deploying nuclear weapons.

Crimean based Russian forces never exceeded numbers authorized under agreement on basing its Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.

“(N)othing was violated,” Putin stressed. He sent allowable additional Russian forces to prevent possible bloodshed during Crimea’s legitimate referendum.

He believed he had to act to prevent tragedies like Odessa’s May 2014 massacre.

Crimea’s decision to rejoin Russia was entirely legal. Self-determination is a universal right.

Putin acted responsibly. Ukrainians are entitled to democratic governance, he believes.

He’s gone all-out to resolve Donbass’ conflict diplomatically.

They continue daily. Conflict didn’t end. It could erupt into full-scale war any time at Obama’s discretion. Sustained, durable peace remains pure fantasy.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Visit his blog site at Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 

Writer and researcher Colin Todhunter responds to Dr. Anthony Trewavas below. 

The following is in response to an open letter published on the AgBioWorld Facebook page by Professor Tony Trewavas of Edinburgh University. He wrote it after reading my article “So You Want to Help Africa Mr Paterson? Then Stop Promoting Ideology and Falsehoods to Push GMOs” published by Global Research. 

Professor Trewavas is a prominent supporter of GMOs in Britain.

His original letter is provided in full below Colin Todhunter’s response.

*     *     *

Dear Professor Trewavas

I find your response to my piece disappointing. You failed to address many of the issues I discussed (not least that the world can feed itself without GMOs and that hunger and poverty are due to structural factors and not a lack of food, which GMOs have merely exacerbated) and have decided to indulge in the same type of smear-scare tactics that Owen Paterson employed in his Pretoria speech.

You forward the baseless assertions that GMOs are safe, even though there has not been one long-term epidemiological study conducted to show this.

While condemning Greenpeace and other groups for somehow being authoritarian and anti-choice, you say nothing about agribusiness corporations whose financial clout has brought them political influence that allows them to exert huge control over the WTO and capture regulatory bodies and public research institutions. These corporations have had a key role in driving trade policies from India to Europe, not least in terms of the secretive Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture and the world’s largest secretive, pro-corporate trade deal, the proposed TTIP.

Where is the choice and democracy here?

You have nothing to say on that but proceed to lecture me on the virtues of choice and democracy.

In your opening paragraph alone, you make four fallacious assertions.

First of all, I did not say GMOs would be a disaster for “any” farmer. In India’s Punjab state, for example, some farmers have done quite well from the introduction of petrochemical farming (‘green revolution’). But water tables are falling drastically, pesticides have contaminated the water supply, there is a big cancer problem and many farmers are experiencing economic distress. In Punjab, this form of agriculture is unsustainable. There is now an agrarian crisis and it is a health, environmental and social disaster. My point is that GMOs would similarly be bad for agriculture in general and would have a systemic, detrimental impact on the environment and human health.

Second, you claim that I fear GMOs will not be a disaster for African farmers but a success. Not true. You have ignored the fact that a number of GMO projects in Africa to date have indeed been failures and in my article I provided a link to a report to highlight this (which you go on to conveniently dismiss as a “biased” source).

Third, you say that the word “choice” is conspicuously absent from my article. Any objective reader would appreciate that the concept is central to it, not least where I discuss the “choices” imposed on Ethiopia via the West’s ‘structural adjustment’ of agriculture (which I refer to at the end of the article). That was not a case of farmers “choosing” to restructure their agriculture, but a case of policies being forced on them at a macro policy level. And this is one of the issues that I have with GMOs.

Although you conveniently do not mention that part of my piece, Michel Chossudovsky’s analysis takes account of the way by which agribusiness conglomerates can and do set rules at the WTO, manipulate market forces and restructure agriculture in foreign countries for their own ends. That is very much related to “choice” and its denial. You talk a great deal about “democracy” but fail to address how this situation fits with your ideas of giving choice to farmers and not imposing authoritarian agendas on people.

You say I should buy a farm and exert my choice to farm as I wish. Talk about exercising such a choice to the people in South America who Helena Paul wrote about (described in my piece). They are being driven out as agribusiness and the planting of GMOs (mainly for export) takes hold. She describes this as ecocide and genocide. Tell it to the peasant farmers who are being forced from their lands by speculators and corporations as described by reports by GRAIN and the Oakland Institute last year. These are the people who feed 80 percent of the “developing world”, without GM technology, yet are being squeezed out. Where is choice and democracy? Certain words are used cheaply by some.

The issue of choice not only concerns the options made available to people, but those which have been closed off. Owen Paterson’s claims that “primitive, inefficient” farming techniques would condemn “billions” to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment is ridiculous. He engages in hyperbole in order to denigrate credible alternatives that are forwarded by the groups he is attacking and thus trying to deny those alternatives.

Fourth, nowhere do I say that only agroecological farming should be implemented to feed the world, as you claim I do. However, there are many studies and official reports that demonstrate the efficacy of organic and agroecological approaches that are well publicised. In my article, I referred to some of these studies and reports. But rather than regurgitating references, I would say that no matter what data is presented, certain people seek to marginalise agroecological approaches and prefer to focus on external input-intensive ‘solutions’ and proprietary technologies, such as GMOs.

I find it strange that supporters of GMOs talk so much about choice when the GMO biotech industry has spent £100 million in the US to deny choice by preventing labelling of GM food.

Where is the choice for the farmer who uses non-GM crops but has his field contaminated by GMOs? Where was the choice when parts of the US wheat crop were contaminated as a result of open-field trials or when contamination took place because of Liberty Link 601? Where is the choice in West Bengal where GMOs from Bangladesh have been found?

Where is the choice for farmers when the only ones that end up on the market are company seeds, or where thousands of varieties have been reduced to a relative handful?

In my piece, Daniel Maingi and Mariam Mayet mentioned the squeezing out of alternatives as a result of the impact of Western agribusiness in Africa. Are they to be dismissed as “biased”  sources too?

You say the following:

“Most objectors in this area have a political programme not a scientific one but they like to bend science to their own political point of view. Science is by its nature not politics or political propaganda or anything like it. It deals with evidence not superstition, or political or social philosophies. If you have a political programme then please stop trying to justify it by claiming it has scientific support, it does not.”

First of all, I provided valid references which referred to peer-reviewed science in the article (and have again below), but all you can say is that my “political programme” has “no scientific support”. I say to you: please stop justifying your own pro-GMO stance by smearing critics and rejecting any evidence because it does not fit your own agenda. Please do not talk about “choice” and “democracy” when your own agenda is to support powerful corporations who via the distortion of science and the capture of strategic national and international bodies deny choice.

Your view of science is either deliberately misleading or simply naïve. And for someone in your position, I find it difficult to believe it could be the latter. From acquiring funding and formulating the questions to be addressed, to conducting research, interpreting findings and peer review, politics are present in science throughout. The manufacture of scientific knowledge involves a process driven by various sociological, methodological and epistemological conflicts and compromises, both inside the laboratory and beyond. Writers in the field of the sociology of science have written much on this. I refer you to the following link, which contests your lofty view of science and scientists: Monsanto wants to know why people doubt science.

The very fact you have responded to me in a certain manner discredits your view of scientists, not least because it becomes difficult to appreciate where the line between science and lobbying is in your case.

There is an authoritarian, political agenda behind the GMO project – not set by some environmental group (as you say) that you like to use as a whipping boy – but by the agribusiness concerns behind GMOs and petro-chemical industrial agriculture. Focusing on Greenpeace with its supposed agenda serves as a convenient diversion.

It is not NGOs, groups, activists, and campaigners that have failed to provide convincing arguments. And, by the way, to conflate such groups with intolerance, authoritarianism, and killings by brutal regimes or groups is ludicrous and smacks of desperation on your part. You are a scientist but are using all the cheap smears and tactics of a lobbyist!

When peer-reviewed science is provided by critics to support their claims, the onslaught by the GMO agritech industry and its mouthpieces against those who legitimately and scientifically contest the claims about the efficacy of GMOs is relentless. Just ask Arpad Pusztai, P. M. Bhargava, Judy Carman, Terje Traavik, Andrés Carrasco, Ignacio Chapela, Allison Snow, Marc Lappé, Britt Bailey, Bela Darvas, and G. E. Seralini.

These scientists have all either been threatened, smeared, or hindered in their work because their research called into question the safety and/or efficacy of GMOs or associated products.

The hypocrisy of those from the pro-GMO lobby who call for sound science to inform the debate on GMOs is glaringly obvious. Those who argue against GMOs are accused of not having science or facts on their side and of engaging in propaganda, while it is clear the pro-GMO lobby that hurls such allegations is itself guilty of all such things. This tactic goes hand in glove with a strident populist agenda whereby the pro-GMO lobby portrays itself as on the side of the people, while its opponents are “elitists” and are “stealing food from the bellies of the poor”.

If you really do value democracy as much as you say and wish to call to account those who show contempt for it, you would do better by reading Steven Druker’s new book “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth”. Instead of attacking Greenpeace and other groups, you should be more even handed (and employ just a little “scientific objectivity” in your approach) by looking at the fraudulent practices and processes in US government departments that led to the commercialisation of GMOs in that country.

As far as your point on there being a scientific consensus is concerned, it has been well established in recent months by over 300 scientists in a peer reviewed journal that there is no consensus. Furthermore, you bring the issue of climate change into the debate. If I am to accept your claim that there is overwhelming consensus on climate change then I certainly reject your assertion that the same applies to the GMO issue.

What you claim to be “biased” sources have demonstrated that the claims made on the back of many studies on GMOs are not supported by the evidence and that in many instances certain findings are marginalised as not being significant when they actually are (I supply these two links which provide reference to support my claims, the first of which you have already dismissed as being from a biased source, without addressing the issues raised therein:  An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of GM crops and food and Adverse impacts of transgenic crops/food: a compilation of scientific references with abstracts).

Moreover, climate change is fundamentally different to the GMO issue. Climate change may or may not be anthropogenic, but scientists are deliberately genetically engineering food and adopting a wait and see attitude towards the impact. Wouldn’t it be better to prove safety beforehand?

But let’s get one thing clear, as Druker shows, GMOs were placed on the commercial market due to political arm twisting and official bodies in the US ignoring science that pointed out the dangers of this technology. The decision to commercialise GMOs was not based on scientific evidence; in fact, it ignored such evidence. Yet you are still placing the onus on scientists to prove that GMOs are safe – and when they show they are not, they are attacked. It seems science is only called on when it suits.

Releasing GMOs onto the commercial market is not like boarding a plane, as you suggest. The genetic engineering of food affects every member of the population. It presents a widespread, systemic risk to the human population. Most planes are safe and have been tested. Moreover, we have a choice to board a plane. We have no other choice than to eat (unlabelled) food. GMO food has not been proven safe.

The GMO biotech industry carries out inadequate, short-term studies and conceals the data produced by its research under the guise of “commercial confidentiality”, while independent research highlights the very serious dangers of its products. It has in the past also engaged in fakery in India, bribery in Indonesia, smears and intimidates those who challenge its interests and distorts and censors science by restricting independent research. If science is held in such high regard by the GMO agritech sector, why engage in such practices and why in the US did policy makers release GM food onto the commercial market without proper long-term tests?

Despite its claims to the contrary, the sector cannot win the scientific debate, so it resorts to co-opting key public bodies or individuals to propagate various falsehoods and deceptions. Part of the deception is based on emotional blackmail: the world needs GMOs to feed the hungry, both now and in the future. This myth has been blown apart. In fact, the organisation GRAIN highlights that GMOs have thus far have actually contributed to food insecurity!

You say:

“If agroecological approaches can currently match yield that can be attained by using modern farming methods then by all means use it.”

Why doesn’t Paterson adopt this attitude? He denigrates such alternatives, and you deem it necessary to jump to his defence by responding this way.

“But if not and my understanding is that currently it cannot, then they should not be the farming method of recommended choice at present.”

Perhaps you need to do some more reading and consult a few more UN and scientific reports.

You say that:

“No-one with any concern for humanity or the welfare of its population should currently consider any other alternative. The groups that campaign for this kind or that kind of farming method and destroy crops to try and bounce others into their point of view have lost that fundamental concern for their own species.”

Why do you persist in attacking those who clearly do have compassion? Environmental groups have not engaged in decades of massive criminality, in decades of cover ups and serious environmental pollution. You would do better by focussing on one particular leading company whose record clearly shows that it has no regard whatsoever for humanity, yet which claims it wants to ‘feed the word’ with altruistic intent.

If you really do believe in dispassionate, objective discourse, then adopt an even-handed approach. You talk so much about democracy and choice yet there is no mention whatsoever of the crimes, cover ups, and decades of environmental pollution that a certain company that forms part of the pro-GMO lobby has been involved in.

You talk about choice and democracy but say nothing about how big agribusiness has at international and national levels captured policy making bodies to effectively impose ‘choice’ on US consumers and poorer nations and devastate local economies. Where is your condemnation? Where is your condemnation of “big list” studies and fallacious claims made by the likes of Jon Entine about safety and efficacy on the back of them? Or are your condemnations, attacks, misrepresentations and ridiculous assertions reserved for those who flag up such things?

While powerful corporations have instant access to policy makers who work closely together, ordinary people and groups have to resort to Freedom of Information legislation to ascertain what happens behind closed doors. They have to rely on whisteblowers or leaked documents or must go through the courts to gain access to studies that formed the basis of regulatory bodies’ approvals for commercial agribusiness products. And you talk to me about democracy and of how I or some campaign group have scant regard for it?

Your response is full of warm sounding notions about democracy and choice and some high-minded words about science and scientists (of course, only the science that fits your paradigm). Rhetoric, platitudes and clichés do not constitute a considered response. Projecting the pro-GMO lobby’s deficiencies onto its critics is not valid. It’s disappointing from a scientist.

You indulge in cheap, fallacious attacks on critics, which is symptomatic of a very transparent and predictable propaganda campaign aimed at critics.

In finishing, I would like to make clear that I do not belong to any environmental or campaign group. I received no payment for the article you responded to. This is why I refer to myself as an ‘independent’ (not freelance) writer.

I wonder how many scientists can claim such a level of independence from for-profit corporate entities.

With kind regards,
Colin Todhunter


Open letter from Professor Trewavas

Dear Mr Todhunter

I read your article against GM crops (So You Want to Help Africa Mr Paterson? Then Stop Promoting Ideology and Falsehoods to Push GMOs; but I searched in vain for one small word, ‘choice’.  It seems never to enter the commentaries of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth or WWF or the other odd environmentalist/activist groupings that appear now and again. Your claim is that Africa can do very well just on agroecology. Well, put your money where your mouth is. Buy a farm in Africa and farm it in the way that you want. But allow others to farm as they wish and if they wish to use GM crops that is their right to do so just as it yours, not to. According to you any African farmer using GM crops will be a disaster so in that case they will stop using them. If it’s not a disaster, which I suspect is what you fear most, then they will reap the benefit and perhaps persuade you in due course to farm like them. Do you want to impose your opinions on others without allowing them to make their own minds up and choose how they wish to farm?

It is an unfortunate situation that in our present world many environmentalist groups have become typically authoritarian in attitude. Greenpeace notably decides its opinions must prevail regardless of others, so it arrogates to itself the right to tear up and destroy things it doesn’t like. That is absolutely typical of people who are unable to convince others by debate and discussion and in the last century such attitudes, amplified obviously, ended up killing people that others did not like. But the same personality type the authoritarian, ‘do as I tell you’, was at the root of it all. Such groups therefore sit uneasily with countries that are democracies. It would be nice if you could say you are a democrat and believe that argument is better than destruction but argument that deals with all the facts and does not select out of those to construct a misleading programme. Misleading selection of limited information is causing considerable problems in various parts of the world that leads some into very violent behaviour, particularly in religious belief. I am sure you agree that this is not a good way forward.

There is a consensus amongst scientists, at least those that have made themselves aware of all reasonable scientific facts, that GM is both safe for consumption and with appropriate regulations for the environment too. Do you agree with that consensus or not? There is another scientific consensus over climate change that is impelling governments to take action. The consensus over GM food safety is stronger amongst scientists than that over climate change, according to a current survey. I assume you accept the one over climate change, most do. But science and scientific fact is not a pick and mix situation, if you accept a scientific consensus on one than you have to accept it for the other. I am sure you will be aware that there are minorities of scientists, different in both cases, that object to both. But I have found that those that do object to the consensus on GM crops always fail to provide an acceptable balance of information in their objections. They select out only the very limited data they consider supports their view and neglect everything else that does not. That is not science that can be used to construct policy. It’s like claiming flying is unsafe because several planes a year crash whilst ignoring the hundreds of thousands every day that haven’t. If you want unbiased information on GM crops go to the many university personnel who can provide it for you. But please do not quote the so obviously-biased publication which you have, as though it were scientific fact.

Most objectors in this area have a political programme not a scientific one but they like to bend science to their own political point of view. Science is by its nature not politics or political propaganda or anything like it. It deals with evidence not superstition, or political or social philosophies. If you have a political programme then please stop trying to justify it by claiming it has scientific support; it does not.

All human activities have costs and benefits, that will include agroecological approaches that you apparently favour, but at the start both costs and benefits have to be drawn up to see what is appropriate to the particular circumstance. Given the rapidly increasing African population I would say that currently yield is crucial but that can change just as farming methods are changing in Europe towards increasing environmental concerns. Farming methods that do both such as no-till or integrated farm management currently offer the best compromise. Malawi, I understand, subsidizes minerals for crop growth and has turned the country from a food importer into a food exporter. That seems an excellent approach at present to solve a pressing problem.

If agroecological approaches can currently match yield that can be attained by using modern farming methods then by all means use it. But if not and my understanding is that currently it cannot, then they should not be the farming method of recommended choice at present.

When Africa has got its population increases under control and producing sufficient to feed everybody then alternatives like agroecology may come to the fore. No-one with any concern for humanity or the welfare of its population should currently consider any other alternative. The groups that campaign for this kind or that kind of farming method and destroy crops to try and bounce others into their point of view have lost that fundamental concern for their own species.

I am not dogmatic about the methods that farmers use since I consider that decision is the province of individual farmers themselves. Whatever their choice is their right in the framework of their country but they must be allowed to make that decision in full knowledge of all the scientific information and advice, not the tiny amount available to support alternative points of view. That is the nature of every democracy that I hope all will finally live under.

Good science is not set in stone or concrete, the current view on GM crops is simply based on the wealth of the factual and reproducible evidence that all good scientists recognise. But if the evidence indicates change then scientists change with it. Why not join those whose job it is to provide farmers and the populace with unbiased evidence constructed by independent university personnel? You have nothing to lose but the constraints of closed thinking and everything to gain that comes from reasoned and open scientific debate.

With my best wishes
Professor Tony Trewavas FRS
University of Edinburgh

Wall Street Bonuses at Highest Level Since 2008 Crash

March 18th, 2015 by Shannon Jones

The average bonus paid out to employees in New York City’s financial industry hit $172,860, the highest level since the 2008 financial crash, according to figures released last week by the New York State Comptroller. Even after adjusting for inflation, the average Wall Street bonus is five times greater today than it was in 1987.

The bonus pool for Wall Street financial firms rose by some 3 percent in 2014 to reach the astronomical sum of $28.5 billion.

In a report published last week, the Institute for Policy Studies notes that the total bonuses handed to Wall Street employees amount to double the total annual pay for the 1 million US workers employed full time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

The typical Wall Street bonus is three times the annual US median income and almost four times the annual pay of a typical US worker. The report notes that the Wall Street bonus pool was 27 percent higher than in 2009, the last time Congress raised the minimum wage.

According to the New York Post, the average total pay on Wall Street including bonuses is now $355,900—five times the private sector average in New York City.

After several years of decline, total securities industry employment rose to 167,800 in 2014, an increase of 2,300. The securities industry in New York City accounted for 21 percent of all private sector wages paid in the city last year even though it accounts for less than 5 percent of private sector jobs.

The rise in bonus payouts on Wall Street comes despite a 4.2 percent decline in security industry profits. That makes the bonus pool 170 percent of total profits and 40 to 50 percent of total revenues. 2014 was the second year in a row that bonuses have risen despite a decline in profits.

Meanwhile, banking industry CEOs continue to collect massive pay packages. Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein received a cash bonus of $7.3 million, up $1 million from the year before, out of a total compensation of $24 million in 2014.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon received a $4.7 million cash bonus out of total pay of $20 million. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman received restricted shares valued at $4.5 million. This is part of a pay package that will reportedly exceed $18 million.

Swelling salaries in the financial sector are part of a broader trend of rising executive pay nationally. This week, US Steel announced that CEO Mario Longhi’s 2014 compensation doubled to $13.2 million, compared with $5.6 million in 2013. The pay of Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent shot up 23 percent last year, hitting $25.2 million.

Meanwhile, Boeing said that its CEO, Jim McNerney, got a 24 percent rise in pay last year to $28.9 million. In 2014 McNerney, with the collaboration of the International Association of Machinists, scrapped the defined benefit pension plan for its unionized employees. That was followed by the freezing of pensions for 68,000 non-union employees and the transition to a 401(k) style plan.

The continued growth of Wall Street pay takes place in a city that is already one of the most economically unequal in the United States. New York City is home to the most billionaires of any city in the world.

For New York State as a whole, the average income of the top one percent of wage earners is $2.1 million, compared to an average income of $44,049. In part due to the concentration of the financial sector in metropolitan New York, both New York state and neighboring Connecticut have the largest gaps between the average income of the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent, with a ratio of 48 to 1.

A study authored by the Urban Institute found that 21.4 percent of New York City’s population lived in poverty in 2012. Out of that total, 3.8 percent were in “deep poverty,” meaning they had incomes less than one-half the official poverty level.

According to a report by the National Association of Realtors, the average New York City resident pays 60 percent of their income in rent, leaving only 40 percent for other basic needs such as food, clothing and medical care. According to the same report, rents in New York have risen faster than in any other American city since 2009.

Homelessness is at an all-time high in New York City, with nearly 60,000 people per night depending on the city’s emergency shelter system. Meanwhile, there is a construction boom in the city for residences for the ultra wealthy. A Manhattan penthouse recently set a new record by selling at more than $100 million.

Netanyahu Claims Victory in Close Israeli Election

March 18th, 2015 by Patrick Martin

Right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed victory after a closely contested national election in Israel. According to unofficial figures released by the Israeli election committee, Netanyahu’s Likud Party has won at least 29 seats in the 120-seat parliament, the Knesset, putting it in a strong position to form a ruling coalition.

Likud’s main challenger, the Zionist Union, won 24 seats. Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog has called Netanyahu to concede defeat.

President Reuven Rivlin, a longtime Likud loyalist, will designate Netanyahu to form the next government once the distribution of seats is finalized among the ten parties that reached the threshold of 3.25 percent of the vote.

Talks began on the shape of the next coalition well before voters went to the polls. Netanyahu has pledges of support from his own Likud, two other right-wing nationalist parties, Jewish Home and Yisrael Beiteinu, and, more conditionally, two parties of ultraorthodox Jews. These five parties combined will hold 53 seats, according to exit polls.

Herzog heads the Labor Party. His partner in the Zionist Union bloc is former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who heads the tiny Hatnuah party. Herzog had the assured support of only the Zionist Union, the middle-class “left” Meretz Party and Yesh Atid, the secular party of former TV newscaster Yair Lapid. According to exit polls, these three parties may win 44 seats between them.

This would give the Kulanu Party, a split-off from Likud, the kingmaker role, with its ten seats bringing a new right-wing coalition to 63 seats, a narrow majority. Netanyahu has offered the finance ministry to Kulanu Party leader Moshe Kahlon, a former Likud cabinet minister.

The parliamentary arithmetic is itself an expression of intractable contradictions within Israeli society. The parties comprising the Joint Arab List, which won 13 seats, making it the third largest in the Knesset, traditionally refuse to participate in government (nor would either the Zionist right or “left” form a government dependent on Arab support).

The secular Yesh Atid backed Herzog as prime minister. It was Netanyahu’s firing of Lapid as finance minister and Livni as justice minister that broke up his previous coalition and precipitated elections two years early.

Two factors dominated the final days of the campaign: Netanyahu’s increasingly strident and racist attacks on the Palestinians, calculated to whip up his right-wing supporters, and the spineless character of his so-called “opposition,” which sought to profit from popular discontent with social inequality and the right-wing economic policies of Netanyahu, without offering an alternative.

Netanyahu was clearly shocked by the deep unpopularity of his government revealed in opinion polls in the weeks leading up to the vote. The Likud leader fired Lapid and Livni last December and forced an election two years early in the expectation of an easy victory.

But large sections of the Israeli public are weary of his constant harping on the alleged danger of an Iranian nuclear weapon. Netanyahu has been warning that an Iranian bomb was only months away for more than 20 years. His trip to Washington, where he addressed a joint session of Congress to denounce a prospective nuclear deal between Iran and the Obama administration, did not improve his poll numbers in Israel.

In the final days of the campaign, Netanyahu shifted focus from Iran to the Palestinians, seeking, with some success, to lure the racist and settler vote away from Jewish Home and Yisrael Beiteinu. He publicly declared his opposition to a two-state agreement with the Palestinians.

On Tuesday, he made an unusual Election Day appearance in Har Homa, a Jewish suburb of East Jerusalem built illegally on Palestinian land, to warn that his government was in danger from a reportedly heavy turnout among Israeli Arab voters.

The Zionist Union offered only mealy-mouthed criticism of Netanyahu’s increasingly unhinged diatribes about external and internal security threats. Herzog himself boasted of his service as an officer in military intelligence. He and Livni criticized Netanyahu for aligning himself too closely with the Republican Party in the United States rather than working with the Obama administration.

The Likud campaign portrayed Livni, whose father commanded a unit of the Zionist terrorist force Irgun and who herself served as foreign minister during the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, as soft on the Palestinians. In a direct concession to these attacks, the opposition announced Monday it was abandoning its plan to split the prime ministership, with Herzog serving the first two years and Livni then taking over. Zionist Union declared that Herzog would serve the full term, up to four years, if his opposition bloc led the next government.

On economic issues, where Zionist Union sought to focus the campaign, the opposition offered little beyond highlighting the corruption and high living of Netanyahu and his unpopular wife Sara, who, according to one report, spent $24,000 on takeout food and $30,000 on hairstyling in a single year.

Herzog was hardly a convincing vehicle for populist criticism of the corrupt Zionist establishment, however, since he is a product of it—the son of former President Chaim Herzog. He occupied several cabinet positions between 2005 and 2011 in governments led by Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Netanyahu.

The increasingly acute socioeconomic contradictions within Israel find no genuine expression within the existing political structure, dominated by rival Zionist factions (and an array of nationalists and Islamists appealing to the Arab minority).

According to a study by the National Insurance Institute, unemployment in Israel stands at 7.2 percent among men and 9.0 percent among women, both figures far above the overall 5.6 percent rate cited by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The new NII study asserts that previous estimates grossly undercount the number of involuntary part-timers, workers who want full-time work but cannot find it.

Israel is one of the most class-divided societies in the world, with just 20 families controlling the bulk of the country’s wealth, dominating the share markets, and calling the shots in Israeli politics.

From Ottawa and Washington to Paris, governments and the media sympathetic to those in power take advantage of attacks to drum up support for military adventures abroad. In this context, it is important to take a look back and see how Canadian troops got wrangled into Washington’s ever-expanding “war on terror” in Iraq and Syria.

How Harper Leveraged the Parliament Attack to Mislead Canada into Iraq

Speaking on January 22, 2015 about the multinational insurgents that he deployed the Canadian military to fight in the Middle East, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper confidently declared to reporters in St. Catharines, Ontario, that, “If those guys [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants] fire at us, we’re going to fire back and we’re going to kill them.”

Harper’s comments immediately came under fire by political leaders, who accused the prime minister of deliberately misleading Canadians and their legislators in the wake of the attack on Parliament Hill several months earlier — an attack perpetrated by one mentally ill drug addict.

In considering the series of events, “cui bono,” a Latin adage used by the ancient Romans, comes to mind. In other words, who benefits from events like the attack on Parliament Hill that took place on October 22, 2014? And more importantly, how are they framed? Empirically, an evaluation of these events should include an assessment of how they are used by those in power: Are these events exploited to justify steps that the authorities already wanted to take or were already in the process of taking? How do these events help and fit in with government policies and objectives?

Canadians Opposed Government Policies Prior to the Shootings

The political atmosphere inside Canada at the time of the attack on Parliament Hill, the home of Canada’s federal bicameral legislature in Ottawa, needs to be scrutinized. It is no coincidence that during this timeframe a report by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) showed that there was no critical debate in the US mainstream media about the escalation of the US military presence in the Middle East or the expanded US-led “war on terror” in Iraq and Syria. In Canada, however, Harper was having a hard time getting the majority of Canadians on board with a Canadian combat role in Washington’s newest military adventure in the Middle East. Reflective of public opinion, the main Canadian opposition parties — the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Liberal Party — as well as smaller opposition parties and an entire spectrum of groups ranging from Christian groups to the Canadian Peace Congress, also opposed the war that the Harper camp was unilaterally sucking Canadians into.

Although polling results appeared to be given in terms that were complementary to the Harperite plans, the polls conducted in September about Canadian involvement in Iraq were still not sympathetic to Harper and his foreign policy. Response categories were collapsed into one another and demographic gaps existed alongside manipulative wording, which contributed to skewed data.

At best, a margin of Canadians polled reported that they would support limited involvement, such as dispatching Canadian military advisors. Some 77 percent of Canadians polled by Nanos Research for the pro-Harper channel CTV “agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that sending Canadian soldiers to Iraq would entangle Canada in a prolonged conflict, while only 45 percent of Canadians polled by Abacus Data supported deploying Canadian forces “to combat Islamic terrorism” in the Middle East. Angus Reid, however, reported that only 38 percent of Canadians backed the idea of sending Canadian military advisors to support the US-led coalition in Iraq, and only 28 percent of Canadians said they “would support Canada getting more involved, including military intervention.”

On October 2, 2014 another pro-Harper channel, the Global Television Network, owned by the Calgary-based telecommunications company Shaw, misreported that the results of an Ipsos-Reid poll — commissioned by the channel — found that “more than two-thirds” of Canadians supported Harper’s plans to send McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornet warplanes. The Global Television Network report was inaccurate because the actual figure was 64 percent — a figure of at least 67 percent would be needed to claim “more than two-thirds.” More importantly, the 64 percent itself was a numerical illusion that was the result of the combination of two different response categories that said: (1) they’re “strongly” supportive of Harper’s commitment, and (2) “somewhat in support of Canada sending jets.”

During the period leading to Canada’s combat mission in Iraq, from August to September, Harper did not even want to discuss his plans. Breaching the parliamentary codes of conduct in the House of Commons, the parliament’s lower chamber, the Harperites refused to answer any inquiries from other federal legislators during question period about Harper’s military commitment to the latest US war in Iraq. In contrast, while the Conservative Party refused to tell other federal legislators in the Canadian Parliament anything about Iraq, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of defence and Manitoban MP James Bezan outlined to the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC) how Harper had unilaterally established a military timetable in Iraq. (Earlier last year Bezan himself had been accused of being a Russophobe and warmonger to such an extent that he was sanctioned alongside twelve other federal legislators by Russia and specifically banned from entering the Russian Federation last March for his role in stoking anti-Russian sentiment in Canada and Ukraine.)

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair started questioning the Harperites on September 23, 2014 by pointing out how their Conservative Party government had continuously refused to be transparent to the Canadian Parliament about what it was doing inside Iraq. Mulcair also cited Bezan’s comments on CPAC. Addressing House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer in parliamentary fashion, Mulcair stated the following:

“Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has failed to answer clear questions about his ill-defined military deployment in Iraq.

Yesterday, Conservatives refused once again to answer in this House, but the member for Selkirk-Interlake stated on CPAC that the mission will end on October 4.

Will the Conservative government confirm that the 30-day Canadian commitment in Iraq will indeed end on October 4?”

Instead of answering the questions about Iraq being asked in the House of Commons, Harper’s parliamentary secretary, MP Paul Calandra, responded by changing the subject from Iraq to Israel. Each time Harper’s government was asked for an explanation about what type of commitment the Canadian government had made to Washington in Iraq, Calandra would respond by discussing how the Harperite wing of the Conservative Party was supporting Tel Aviv and the Israeli military by saying things like, “Israel is on the front lines. Canada will continue to support our friends in Israel.”

Speaker Scheer allowed this stonewalling to continue. He even rebuked Mulcair after the NDP leader demanded that Scheer start enforcing parliamentary procedures and rules by asking Harper’s side to answer the questions being floored instead of watching idly from the Speaker’s Chair. Scheer, himself a virtual Harperite appointee and a Conservative Party MP, instead refused to let Mulcair continue with the questions about Iraq, offering a clear demonstration of how Harper has bypassed and overridden the system of checks, balances, and oversight of important Canadian public institutions.

After the October 22, 2015 attack on Parliament Hill, Harper grew more comfortable talking about his involvement in the US military campaign in Iraq and his plans to extend and expand the Canadian role in the war. He would eventually reveal that Ottawa was also going to illegally bomb Syria alongside the Pentagon. Feeling empowered enough to reveal the true extent of Canada’s military involvement in the Middle East, Harper would thus reveal his game plan and true intentions. This was similar to how US President George W. Bush used the 9/11 attacks as an opportunity to pass intrusive surveillance measures and to invade Taliban-controlled Afghanistan with little to no domestic opposition.

On the day of the Parliament Hill attack, Harper was, in fact, in the process of passing intrusive Canadian surveillance legislation that roughly corresponded to the PATRIOT Act passed by the US Congress in 2001, which went unchallenged in the United States in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Since October 22, 2014 Harper has been beefing up surveillance and security legislation even though the Canadian government’s own Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien confirmed on October 29, 2014 that Canadian security and law enforcement forces already had all the tools that they need and do not need new security measures. In addition to Privacy Commissioner Therrien, UN counter-terrorism advisor Hamed El-Said has said that the Canadian laws that already exist are “more than enough to deal with terrorism.”

The Construction of Different Narratives

From June to the day of the shooting on Parliament Hill, three individuals had murdered soldiers and police constables in Canada. Only two of the attacks, however, received intense national scrutiny by the Canadian federal government and mainstream media. More importantly, different standards were used to frame and explain those three attacks.

On June 14, 2014 Justin Bourque attacked five members of Canada’s national police force in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Bourque’s attack took place in Moncton, New Brunswick, where the RCMP is contracted as a local police force by the provincial government. Three of the RCMP constables — David Ross, Fabrice Gevaudan and James Larche — died from their gun wounds, while the other two — Eric Dubois and Marie Goguen — were hospitalized from injuries suffered from their encounter with Bourque.

The accounts of the day reveal that Bourque, who was dressed in combat apparel and armed with a rifle and a crossbow, was deliberately targeting the RCMP and did not harm civilians when they came near the scene of the crime.

Months after Bourque’s rampage in New Brunswick, Martin Couture-Rouleau — who the RCMP had been watching and even visiting regularly — hit two Canadian soldiers with his car in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec, on October 20, 2014. One of the soldiers suffered minor injuries, while the other, Warrant Patrice Vincent, died as a result of the hit-and-run attack. Couture-Rouleau would himself be killed when he was gunned down by St-Jean-sur-Richelieu local police, after his car flipped over in the course of the police chase.

On the same day, citing Québecor Media’s TVA channel, Allan Woods, Bruce Campion-Smith and Les Whittington reported for the Toronto Star that multiple local witnesses confirmed that Couture-Rouleau’s hands were up in the air and that he was surrendering himself to the police when he was shot. The Toronto Star reported: “Witnesses who spoke with the TVA network Monday afternoon said they saw a man emerge from the flipped vehicle that was lying in a ditch on the side of the road. The man had his hands in the air and was walking toward police when at least one officer opened fire on the suspect. The witnesses said they heard up to seven gunshots.”

Yet shortly after the article was posted online, the Toronto Star revised it, redacting that portion of the report. Only syndicated copies of the article, like those featured in the Cambridge Times, carry the redacted passage.

Two days after Couture-Rouleau’s hit-and-run, a solitary gunman named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (originally Michael Joseph Hall) attacked Parliament Hill. Armed with a loaded 1894 Winchester rifle, Zehaf-Bibeau murdered Corporal Nathan Cirillo, an unarmed reservist from the city of Hamilton, and carjacked a ministerial car parked in front of Parliament Hill’s East Block. He then ran into the Canadian Parliament’s Centre Block, where the landmark Peace Tower stands, and was killed by armed guards and the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons Kevin Vickers during a shootout.

By all measures the standards applied to framing these three events were wildly different and inconsistent. Although all three acts of murder were criminal acts of violence, only Bourque’s attack in Moncton was framed as a domestic crime by Harper and much of the media. Almost like battles in distant lands, the attacks in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and on Parliament Hill were presented extra-judicially as outside the usual procedures of Canadian justice and well beyond the scope of domestic criminal incidents. The crimes committed by Couture-Rouleau and Zehaf-Bibeau were framed as acts of foreign terrorism, attacks on Canada carried out by a foreign enemy.

Further, the Harperite government immediately commented on Couture-Rouleau’s hit-and-run. As the Toronto-based Globe and Mail reported on October 20, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said that there were “‘clear indications’ the suspect in this incident ‘had become radicalized.’” On the very same day, one of Harper’s own Conservative Party backbenchers in the Canadian House of Commons, Saskatchewanian MP Randy Hoback, asked Harper to comment on the “possible terror attack against two members of the Canadian Armed Forces near Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.”

Harper and his government would go on to flimsily try to connect Couture-Rouleau’s hit-and-run attack to Zehaf-Bibeau’s rampage in Ottawa as part of an orchestrated attack on Canada by the ISIL/ISIS/DAESH/IS. On November 24, the news service of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported that the Privy Council Office (PCO) had issued an internal memorandum warning Canadian authorities on October 17, 2014 that there could be potential “violent acts of terrorism” in Canada. This warning came days before Couture-Rouleau or Zehaf-Bibeau had committed their crimes — on October 20 and 22, respectively. While this internal memorandum has been used haphazardly to corroborate Harper’s narrative of Canada being under siege, the PCO document is by no means definitive — it even says that “there is no information indicating that an attack is imminent.”

The Demonization of Arabs and Muslims in Canada

In part, the actions of Zehaf-Bibeau and Couture-Rouleau have either ipso facto or subtly been presented by the Harperite camp as the threats to Canadian society and security being posed by Islam, Muslims and Arabs. In this context, the journalist Steven Zhou pointed out on December 18, 2014 that the Conservative Party “has gone after many Arab and Muslim groups that have publicly challenged the party’s hawkish foreign policy stances. These crackdowns have laid the groundwork for further repression and histrionics when the Tories need a boost in the polls.”

“In a time of austerity, Canada’s prime minister has mastered the art of xenophobic demonization,” Zhou observed. It is in this context that Harper has even openly been accused inside the House of Commons of using inflammatory language and demonization to divide Canadians for political gain. “Mr. Harper specifically singles out mosques [in the debate]. That leads to Islamophobia and that’s irresponsible,” according to NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

Muslims and Arabs have been problematized as not only a security problem, but as a socio-cultural problem in Canada.

Harper had Jason Kenny, who was his immigration minister at the time, bar any Muslim women who opted to wear niqabs, which are cloths that cover or mask the face, from being allowed to take their citizenship oaths in 2011. After four years the Canadian judicial system overturned the move by Jason Kenny and Harper as an unconstitutional act that went against religious freedom inside Canada. Harper, however, said he would refuse to accept this.

“I believe, and I think most Canadians believe, that it is offensive that someone would hide their identity at the very moment where they are committing to join the Canadian family,” Harper had said when he made the announcement in Victoriaville, Québec. “This is a society that is transparent, open, and where people are equal,” he paradoxically added.

The blatant hypocrisy and twisted logic should be apparent. While the Harperites claim all Canadians are equal and free, they are saying that those women that choose to cover their faces as a part of their personal identity are unequal and that they are not acting Canadian and must conform by abandoning the way they want to dress in their personal lives. More specifically, they are underhandedly using the debate over the niqab symbolically to target Muslims and to equate them as non-Canadians.

After Harper announced that he would work to revoke the right of Muslim women who decided to cover their faces during Canadian citizenship ceremonies and that he would challenge the Canadian court system on it, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau accused Harper’s government of essentially “employing the same kind of rhetoric to raise fears against Muslims that was used to promote a ‘none is too many’ restrictive immigration policy toward Jews in the 1930s and 1940s.” “It is a cruel joke to claim you are liberating people from oppression by dictating in law what they can and cannot wear,” Trudeau added.

Ignoring minority rights and constitutional freedoms, Harper tried to defend his actions by saying that it was what the majority of Canadians wanted. On March 10, 2015, in a revealing moment, Harper would rhetorically ask the House of Commons the following question: “Why would Canadians, contrary to our own values, embrace a practice at that time that is not transparent, that is not open and frankly is rooted in a culture that is anti-women?”

What Harper essentially claimed was “that religious freedoms should be overruled because almost all Canadians do not support the wearing of a niqab,” as Trudeau put it while questioning Harper on the issue the next day on March 11. Ignoring the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms again, Harper would clumsily respond yet again claiming that it was what the majority of Canadians wanted. “These are not the views only of the overwhelming majority of Canadians, they are the views of the overwhelming majority of moderate Muslims,” Harper responded.

Not long after Harper’s government ignited the niqab controversy, one of his Conservative Party backbenchers created a scandal that critics say is part of a trend among Steven Harper and his followers. “If you’re not willing to show your face in the ceremony that you’re joining the best country in the world, then frankly…if you don’t like that or don’t want to do that, then stay the hell where you came from,” Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller told CFOS radio on March 16, 2015.

It is because of incidents like this that Harper has been repeatedly accused of giving in to “racist sentiments within his own party” in Parliament Hill.

Liberal MP John McCallum pointed out during a session of Parliament held on March 12, 2015 that Prime Minister Harper had remained silent after New Brunswick Southwest MP John Williamson told “a conference in Ottawa that it makes no sense to pay ‘whities’ to stay home while companies bring in ‘brown people’ as temporary foreign workers.”

This bigoted discourse is common among the Harperites, because it uses xenophobia to scapegoat others for the exploitation of Canadian workers that Harper’s government itself is responsible for. It creates a false picture of the Conservative Party as working to protect Canadian workers and their families, when it is directly involved in their exploitation. John Williamson was either utterly ignorant or lying and engaged in polemics. Temporary foreign worker programs are programs that Harper and his corporate patrons heavily support, because foreign workers are brought in to work into Canada at low costs that are below minimum wage as cheap labour.

When it was brought up, the issue was ignored by Harper in the House of Commons. Instead of answering McCallum’s question about Williamson’s racist and xenophobic comment, Employment and Social Development Minister Pierre Poilievre responded by referred instead to the complaint made by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs about Justin Trudeau’s comparison of Prime Minister Harper’s immigration policy against Muslims being akin to Canada’s anti-Jewish immigration policies of the past

Ironically, on the same day that McCallum called out Harper for his tacit approval of racist political discourse, a survey study was released by Ekos inferring that 41 percent of respondents had attitudes that believed that “too many” immigrants to Canada are visible minorities. Among Harper’s support base the figure was 51 percent whereas it was 35 percent and 32 percent respectively among NDP and Liberal Party supporters. When experts were asked about what the Ekos survey was inferring about growing intolerance in Canadian society, the finger was pointed at Prime Minister Harper. Professor Guida Man, a sociologist at York University, told the newspaper Metro that the xenophobic “discourse from Ottawa on subjects like wearing a niqab in citizenship ceremonies contributes to a racist view of immigration.”

Individual Crimes Tacitly Portrayed as a Collective Crime

While all of the murderers — Justin Bourque, Martin Couture-Rouleau, and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau — in the three cases were French-Canadian, no correlations have been made between their French-Canadian background and their criminal actions. Nevertheless, the fact that Zehaf-Bibeau and Couture-Rouleau had become Muslims recently in their adult lives has been used to diagnose and partially explain their crimes.

This type of demonization is Orientalist discourse that distorts popular perceptions about Arabs and Muslims and emphasizes or exaggerates their perceived characteristics. Orientalism is a part of a discursive process tied to policy-setting agendas that manage public perception and concepts that support modern-day empire.

To varying degrees whenever Muslim or ethnically Arab individuals commit crimes in what are considered Western societies, such as Canada or France or the United States, the assessments made have either tacitly or openly passed judgment on all Muslims or Arabs. The Arab or Muslim backgrounds of these individuals are used to explain their crimes, and this is why the crimes of Zehaf-Bibeau and Couture-Rouleau are not presented just as the crimes of two individuals, but as the crimes of two Muslims — their crimes are connected to their faith. The tacit or overt explanation is that their crimes were not perpetrated because they are criminals or psychologically ill, but because they are Muslims. If they were also of Arab background and not French-Canadian, their Arab background would also have been used to explain the pathology of their crimes.

To Susan Bibeau, the mother of Zehaf-Bibeau, her son was mentally ill and his actions were a form of suicide by homicide. She makes this very clear in an open letter to the RCMP, where she points out that the RCMP misrepresented her statements about her son. “I want to correct the statement of the RCMP [sic.] I never said he wanted to go to Syria, I specifically said Saudi Arabia. They taped my conversation so there can [be] little doubt about the accuracy of what I said. I did phone the agent to point the error, I don’t know it they corrected it,” Susan Bibeau writes. “What about Michael, if I try to understand his actions, for me he was an unhappy person at odds with the world. In his final days, I would add mentally unbalanced,” she also says.

Instead of being evaluated as the crimes of individuals, the crimes of Zehaf-Bibeau and Couture-Rouleau were assessed in the context of their faith or perceived ethnicity. These factors have been used to justify the foreign policy of Prime Minister Harper, his semi-hushed deployment of Canadian military to Iraq, and his support for both US foreign policy and Israel’s wars in the Middle East. This is why their crimes have also been explained as acts of terrorism instead of homicides.

Bourque held deeply conservative Christian views, but this factor has been ignored and not used to explain his pathology as a murderer and as the perpetrator of violence in Moncton. Unlike Zehaf-Bibeau and Couture-Rouleau, Bourque — who viewed himself as “a soldier of Jesus Christ” — is not described as an “extremist,” or a “self-radicalized” individual, or a “terrorist.” In fact, Bourque’s faith is rarely — if ever — mentioned. Unlike Zehaf-Bibeau and Couture-Rouleau, Bourque is still alive too.

Court documents reveal that Bourque was sleep-deprived and felt “depressed about his life” in the days leading up to his rampage in New Brunswick. The documents also show that he had a strained relationship with his family while friends told Global News that he was “sick” and that “he said that he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.” The Globe and Mail also reported that he had used cocaine and that his parents had kicked him out of their home at the end of 2012. Yet a psychiatric assessment concluded that he was not suffering from clinical depression and was thus fit to stand trial.

Meanwhile, Zehaf-Bibeau and Couture-Rouleau reportedly suffered from chronic psychological problems. On October 23, 2014 the Montreal Gazette interviewed several mental health professionals who prominently linked the men’s alleged mental health issues to their decisions to join “an extremist fringe.”

These assessments are important, because they are reflective of the false ethos that has been used to justify the militarization of Canada and its role as an accomplice of US militarism and Washington’s adventurism in Iraq and Syria.

Why does it Appear that only Arab or Muslim Crimes are Considered Terrorism?

The prejudiced position of Prime Minister Harper becomes clear when his government’s handling of other Canadian criminal cases are examined. Based on an individual’s perspective, it can be argued that terrorism is a euphemism or dysphemism for crimes committed by individuals that are Arabs or Muslims. In either case, terrorism appears to simply be a word that is applied to the crimes of these individuals. While Couture-Rouleau and Zehaf-Bibeau were described and categorized as terrorists, Justin Bourque and other criminals in Canada were not labeled such by Harper and actually given very little attention.

One such case is that of Canadian military veteran Glen Gordon Gieschen.

Glen Gieschen was arrested in January 2013 for putting together an elaborate plan to attack the Veterans Affairs Canada office in Calgary by killing its staff and blowing up the Bantrel Building. He had felt betrayed by the Canadian government, which did not help him with his medical bills after he was discharged as an intelligence operative from the Canadian military. “His wife had contacted Okotoks RCMP in January 2014 and advised them that her husband was possibly suicidal based on a note he had written. She said he was an ex-military man and had taken a rifle with him,” the Calgary Herald reported about the circumstances behind his arrest.  The newspaper also revealed that he had “a typed building plan of the Bantrel Building on 6th Ave. S.W., building specifications on the Bantrel Building, its exits, entrances and location of offices” on his cellular phone and laptop computer that “also included surveillance videos and photographs taken by the accused of the Bantrel Building including on and around the 7th floor which contains the Veterans Affairs Canada office, and a detailed attack plan including equipment and armaments to be used, military assault apparel to be worn by him during the attack, and strategies to complete the attack then escape the scene.”

Despite the elaborate nature of Gieschen’s plans, which unlike the improvised attacks of Couture-Rouleau and Zehaf-Bibeau, was planning on taking out an entire office building, there was no wailing for the need for increased security measures by Steven Harper. In fact, Gieschen’s name was banned from even being publicly published until 2014.

Another case is that of Christopher B. Philips. Police arrested Phillips, a US military veteran and ophthalmologist, at the Chimo Hotel in Ottawa on January 21, 2015. Philips was arrested for threatening police with harm and possessing two caches of chemical weapons in Halifax. The chemical that Philips possessed was osmium tetroxide, which is highly poisonous. His actions were attributed to his military injuries, chronic pain, and mood swings by the Ottawa Citizen.

The caliber of the media and government attention would have been much different if Philips were to have been an Arab or a Muslim. Because he was not an Arab or a Muslim, little media or government focus was given to the case. It did not serve the Harperite agenda.

A month after the arrest of Philips another incident occurred in Halifax. It was revealed on February 14, 2015 that an actual plot to create a mass casualty event in Halifax, Nova Scotia was thwarted. “Two people were arrested at Halifax Stanfield International Airport and have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder after an alleged plot was foiled to kill a large number of people at the Halifax Shopping Centre in the city’s west end on Valentine’s Day,” the CBC reported. Although the police said that the conspirators — Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath and Randall Steven Shepherd — “had some beliefs and were willing to carry out violent acts against citizens,” they were not referred to as terrorists by Harper.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay — the man who auctioned off the Progressive Conservative Party for personal political gain and elevation by openly lying on guarantying that he would not allow a takeover of it by Harper’s Canadian Alliance — stressed that the thwarted Halifax attack was not a planned terrorist attack. The journalist Laura Kana rightly pointed out the following: “Police said there is no evidence that ideology or culture is part of the allegations. But if plotting to cause mass murder in a public place is not called terrorism, then what is?”

What was not being told by MacKay or the mainstream media was that their “beliefs” were racist leanings and Nazi political views. Halifax Media Co-Op points this out in an article by Robert Devet:

“That at least some of the plotters were into posting Nazi paraphernalia on their facebook pages, or espousing white supremacist ideas on message boards has been downplayed by local reporters.

The Tumblr blog of James Gamble, the 19-year old found dead in Timberlea, features pictures of Adolph Hitler and marching Nazis.

You go to the Tumblr blog of Lindsay Kantha Souvannarath, the Illinois woman now in custody, and a swastika is the first thing you see.

Meanwhile, thanks to the work of people who know their way around in the world of blogs, message boards and handles, there are strong suggestions that at least Souvannarath has a long-time infatuation with fascist and white supremacist ideas.  None of this has made it into Nova Scotia news outlets.

One CBC reporter looked at Gamble’s Tumblr blog, and mentions the Nazi references in passing, almost as an afterthought.”

If the individuals that had planned on committing the killing spree were Muslims, another narrative would have been in play, as it was in regards to Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. Harper and MacKay would have labeled the conspirators terrorists and talked about the need for increased security “to keep Canadians safe” and sending the Canadian military overseas to fight their ideological base.

Harper’s Labeling Politics

The politics behind Harper’s labeling practices should become clear. As well as being a tactic of division and political pandering, the discussion and framing of terrorism is taking place through the partisan lens of the Canadian government. The fear and panic being generated by it is additionally a convenient tool for Harper to distract the attention of Canadians about the decline in living standards, Canada’s economic problems, austerity, and his administration’s rampant corruption.

There is major concern of impending human rights violations inside Canada that will take place under Harper’s banner of domestic security and fighting terrorism. “The government is not listening. We need to be louder,” Alex Neve, the secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, wrote on March 13, 2015 about Prime Minister Harper’s plans to legislate Bill C-51 in the name of domestically fighting terrorism.

Numerous Canadians have protested against Harper’s legislation calling him the real terrorist and threat to Canadian society, because of his political agenda.

Harper’s opponents believe that he will abuse the label of terrorist against political opponents, could arrest innocent people merely for opposing US foreign policy, the demonization of the Russians, Canada’s military involvement in the Middle East, the seizure of Aboriginal Canadian territory, or Israel’s occupation of Palestine. This is why Prime Minister Harper’s announcements that he plans on mandating “life without parole” sentences — meaning putting individuals in prison until death — for those convicted of high treason, murdering a peacetime or correctional officer, terrorism, kidnapping, sexual assault, and crimes “of a particularly brutal nature” was viewed very suspiciously across Canada by civil liberties organization and political activists.

Four Canadian former prime ministers have spoken out against Harper and joined eighteen other prominent Canadians “who have served as Supreme Court of Canada justices, ministers of justice and of public safety, solicitors-general, members of the Security and Intelligence Review Committee and commissioners responsible for overseeing the RCMP” in writing an open letter on February 19, 2015. The group of ex-prime ministers — the Conservative Joseph Clark and the Liberals John Turner, Jean Chrétien, and Paul Martin — warned about the “serious problems for public safety and for human rights” that Harper’s agenda posses.

Harper himself has said that anyone who appears to have been “radicalized” will be arrested regardless of their age. This means that political sympathies for Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Kurdistan Workers Party, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or, maybe even, the separatist forces in East Ukraine (Novorossiya) have the potential of being used to categorize someone as “self-radicalized” and to imprison them.

How Harper Spreads Hate at Home While Expanding Wars Abroad

Adding fuel to the fire, the six-minute video of a Canadian member of the ISIL was conveniently highlighted by the partisan Harper-supporting National Post in its “Israel and the Middle East” section on December 8, 2014. After the National Post reported that the ISIL/ISIS/DAESH/IS member John Maguire, who called himself Abu Anwar Al-Canadi in the video, said that Canadians deserved to be attacked, it cited Maguire as saying that the slapdash attacks by  Couture-Rouleau and Zehaf-Bibeau in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa were direct results of the Canadian military fighting in Iraq. Although Maguire’s claims were out of line with the facts, the National Post report was meant to further support the stance of Prime Minister Harper in the eyes of Canadians.

Canada is involved in mission creep in the Middle East. Despite the fact that it promised Canadians that there would be no ground combat involving Canadian troops under a “non-combat” mandate, Harper’s government began tacitly admit that Canadian soldiers were actually involved in ground combat in Iraq without using the word combat by the end of January-2015. It would phrase it by saying that “mission had evolved.”

Towing the Harper government’s line, General Tom Lawson — the commander of the Canadian Armed Forces — told MPs that Canadian soldiers were directing airstrikes from the ground inside Iraq, but were still operating within their non-combat mandate on January 29, 2015. General Lawson said that he “had not anticipated” that Canadian forces would be in a position to safely direct airstrikes inside Iraq when he had ruled it out in October 2014.

About one month after General Lawson spoke to Canadian MPs, on March 7, it was announced Sergeant Andrew Joseph Doiron, from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment in Petawawa, was killed during the fighting in Iraq. Ottawa attributed it to friendly fire, but up until that point Canadian soldiers had already gotten into at least three battles.

Even though Harper has claimed that Canada will not be attacking Syria, which international law repudiates, he has navigated Canada into joining Washington’s illegal airstrikes in Syria. This is the same prime minister whose ministers and government have continuously stated that they are willing to join any wars against Syria. Although it has always tried to give its statements about attacking Syria a veneer of legitimacy in the past by saying that Canada would go to war if the UN authorized it, that is out the door now. The ISIS/ISIL/DAESH/IS is being used by Ottawa as a justification and means to ignore the UN Charter and international law by throwing them out the window.

Why was Zefaf-Bibeau’s October 2014 Message Released in March 2015?

In close conjunction with the timing of Sergeant Doirion’s death, the RCMP finally released an RCMP-edited video that was a shortened version of the original one that Zehaf-Bibeau had made on his cell phone. RCMP Commissioner Robert Paulson would give the following explanation to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security for why the video was withheld from the public on March 6:

“I first learned about the video when I was briefed on its discovery during the forensic examination of the cellphone seized from the suspect’s vehicle. It was the Sunday following the attack. I directed that a press release be issued that day. My thinking was that announcing the existence of the video would — while we were examining and assessing it — insure against any subsequent criticism that we were concealing the existence of this evidence.

What followed were dynamic discussions within the RCMP about the evidentiary value and the operational utility of the video. We had also to carefully consider what impact its public release could have — not only on this investigation — but what impact it might have on others.

In the video Zehaf-Bibeau says that his actions are “retaliation for Afghanistan and for what Harper wants to do in Iraq.” Chances are had the video been released there would have been greater opposition to Harper’s Iraq war campaign and that is why the video was withheld. If the video was released in 2014, it probably would have had a negative on Harper’s plans to deploy the Canadian military to the Middle East.

Harper’s Dirty Hands: Harper in Bed with the ISIL?

Harper’s rush to ensnare Canada in the wars in Iraq and Syria should come as no surprise. As the leader of the Canadian Alliance — the successor of the Reform Party — Harper pushed for Canada to help the US and Britain illegally invade Iraq in 2003. He even read the exact same speech that Australian Prime Minister John Howard had read to the Australian Parliament. Although the Conservative Party staffer Owen Lippert resigned for plagiarism in 2008, there was and still is suspicion that the speech was forwarded from Washington to both Harper and John Howard.

Regardless of whether Harper’s 2003 speech was really a script from Washington or a case of plagiarism, what should not be lost is that Harper was aligned to the neo-conservative camp in the Washington Beltway that has called for perpetual imperial wars. (It is in the same tradition of his alignment with the neo-cons that Harper has sided with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the US Republicans against US President Barack Obama. This could be why Obama exercised his presidential veto against the Keystone XL Pipeline and justified it by explaining that the way they “get oil out in Canada is an extraordinarily dirty way of extracting oil,” which would create tensions between Harper and his supporters in the Canadian oil industry.)

While the Harperites demonize Arabs and Muslims, in one way or another, at home in Canada, they have also been accused of supporting the head chopping ISIS/ISIL/DAESH/IS in Iraq and Syria. Charges and reports have been made that Prime Minister Harper’s government has been recruiting for the same terrorist organization that it has told Canadians it is fighting in the Middle East. The Ottawa Citizen had this to say about it: “Canada’s embassy in Jordan, which is run by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s handpicked ambassador and former top bodyguard, is being linked in news reports to an unfolding international terrorism and spy scandal.”

Reuters has also confirmed the Harper government’s role in recruiting for the same terrorists it claims to be fighting alongside the US, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. “A European security source familiar with the case of the three girls said the person in question had a connection with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) spy agency,” Reuters reported on March 12, 2015.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney has refused to comment on the reports that Canada is recruiting for ISIS/ISIL/DAESH/IS, saying it was an issue of operational security whereas Ray Boisvert, a former Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) director, said that the story is plausible. This is while Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that the situation is very complicated, but that the ISIS/ISIL/DAESH/IS recruiter is a Syrian national working for one of the countries inside Washington’s coalition fighting the ISIS/ISIL.DAESH/IS. Although the man — reported to be called Mohammed Al-Rashed — is not a Canadian citizen, he had Canadian government-issued equipment and was known to have visited the Canadian Embassy in Amman frequently.

Balanced skepticism of those in power is never a bad thing. It has to be emphasized that if anything is to be learned from all these events, it is that the most vital action to watch and critically analyze is the reaction of a government and the authorities to events like the attack on Parliament Hill, the Martin Place hostage crisis in Sydney, and the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. What do they have to gain?

Turkish Media Disclose Identity of Alleged Spy for Canada

March 18th, 2015 by Joseph Fitsanakis

Turkish media have released the name, as well as video footage, of an alleged agent for Canadian intelligence, who says he helped three British schoolgirls travel to territory controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The three girls, aged between 15 and 16 years old, crossed into ISIS-controlled territory on February 17, after traveling by plane from London to Istanbul. The incident prompted international criticism of the Turkish government’s hands-off attitude toward a growing influx of Western Islamists who cross into Syria from Turkey, intent on joining ISIS. However, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week that the girls had been assisted by an intelligence agent working for a member-state of the military coalition fighting ISIS.

The minister declined to offer further details. But Turkish media eventually disclosed the identity of the alleged agent, who has been detained by authorities in Turkey as Mohammed al-Rashed. Also known as “Mohammed Mehmet Rashid” or “Dr. Mehmet Rashid”, the man is a Syrian national who claims to be working for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. According to Turkey’s pro-government daily Sabah, al-Rashed is a 28-year-old Syrian dentist who fled from Syria to Jordan in 2013 to escape the civil war there. While in Jordan, he sought asylum at the Canadian embassy in Amman. He was subsequently offered Canadian citizenship, said Sabah, in return for working as an agent of CSIS. According to the Turkish daily, al-Rashed then traveled to Canada, where he stayed for several months before returning to Jordan.

Sources in Turkey say al-Rashed explained upon his detention that he had been tasked by CSIS to uncover the methods by which European and American ISIS recruits travel to Syria through Turkey. For that reason, he said, he had helped at least 15 individuals, including the three British schoolgirls, cross form Turkey to Syria. He would then provide information on the transfers —including passport data and baggage tags— to the Canadian embassy in Jordan, he said. Sabah added that the Canadians would pay for al-Rashed’s frequent trips to Jordan, where he would meet a Canadian embassy employee called “Matt”, who would then pass on the information to his superior at the embassy, called “Claude”. The Syrian alleged agent added that CSIS would compensate him for his work through frequent deposits of between $800 and $1,500 made to bank accounts opened in his name in British banks. Turkish sources added that al-Rashed had recorded details of his activities on a personal laptop, which had been seized and was being examined.

The Canadian government has yet to comment publicly on the allegations about al-Rashed. Unnamed Canadian sources said last week that he was neither a Canadian citizen nor a CSIS employee. But officials so far refused to speculate on what they describe as “operational matters of national security”.

The head of the private intelligence agency Stratfor has for the first time publicly said that the US government considers to be its overriding strategic objective the prevention of a German-Russian alliance. Blocking that alliance is the only way to prevent an alternative world power capable of challenging extension of the American position of being the world’s lone superpower.

[In this video, he says that the U.S. will fail in that overriding objective; German technology and capital will combine with Russian natural resources and “land-power,” to produce a truly bipolar world: U.S. v. Eurasia. So: he sees the U.S. strategy as being to block that, by weakening both Germany and Russia. That strategy would explain what Obama is doing in Ukraine, and the sanctions that are hurting both Russia and Germany, but Friedman thinks that nothing can work.] 



The American political scientist George Friedman is chief of intelligence think tank ”Stratfor Global Intelligence”, which he founded in 1996. The headquarters of Stratfor is located in Texas. Stratfor advises 4,000 companies, individuals and governments around the world, reports the New York Times. These include Bank of America, the US State Department, Apple, Microsoft and Lockheed Martin, Monsanto and Cisco, on security issues.

In December 2011 there was a hacker attack on the computer system of Stratfor. Then 90,000 names, addresses, credit card numbers, passwords Stratfor clients were published. The attack was by the hacker Jeremy Hammond. But later it turned out that an FBI employee Hammond had instigated the attack on the Stratfor system. The FBI was involved in all phases of the attack.

Friedman published in 2009 a book titled “The Next 100 Years”, in which he discussed security policy issues for the 21st century. He said that between 2020 and 2030, Turkey, Poland and Japan, with US support, will be regional powers. In the same period, a pro-American block of several States will be formed in Eastern Europe. [The latter has already happened. Furthermore, on page 66, he said: “Europe may yet have to deal with the resurgence of Russia, the bullying of the United States, or internal tensions.” All three of those things have also already happened.]

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

The Economy Has Not Recovered And Is Again On Its Way Down

March 18th, 2015 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

The first quarter GDP will be negative unless the figure is again manipulated and faked.

I am looking at two charts.  One is the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s forecast.  During the past 30 days, the Atlanta Fed’s forecast has dropped from 2.3% first quarter growth to 0.3 percent.

The other chart is the Blue Chip consensus.  This is Wall Street’s forecast used to market financial products.  It is a sales device and nothing more.  This forecast as of March 6 is 2.4 percent.

Today (March 17) Zero Hedge list 43 leading economic indicators that totally contradict the payroll jobs reports.  As I and John Williams ( have pointed out over and over, the reported payroll job gains are totally inconsistent with the behavior of the economy.  How can anyone believe that when retail sales are declining and large retail chains are closing stores, tens of thousands of new retail clerks are being hired?  How can construction jobs be increasing when housing starts are declining?

Here is the Zero Hedge article:

US Economic Recovery or Misleading Economic Statistics: Something Strange Is Going On With Nonfarm Payrolls By

Tyler Durden, March 18, 2015

Let’s start with the basics: why is there a majority consensus that the Fed will hike rates after it removes its “patient” language tomorrow? One simple reason: non-farm payrolls. As reported earlier in the month, following the report of March’s expectations smashing 295,000 jobs added, there have now been a 13 consecutive months of 200K+ payroll months…

… something which together with the 5.5% unemployment rate, is for the Fed is a clear indication that the slack in the labor is about to disappear and wages are set to surge.

Sadly, as we showed before, wages are not only not rising, but for 80% of the population they are once again sliding.

Falling wages aside (a critical topic as it singlehandedly refutes the Fed’s bedrock thesis of no slack in a labor force in which there are 93 million Americans who no longer participate in the job market) going back to the original topic of which economic factors are prompting the Fed to assume there is an economic recovery, without exaggeration, all alone.

Is there nothing else that can validate the Fed’s rate hike hypothesis? Well… no.

Below is a selection of the economic data points that have missed expectations in just the past month.


  1. Personal Spending
  2. Construction Spending
  3. ISM New York
  4. Factory Orders
  5. Ward’s Domestic Vehicle Sales
  6. ADP Employment
  7. Challenger Job Cuts
  8. Initial Jobless Claims
  9. Nonfarm Productivity
  10. Trade Balance
  11. Unemployment Rate
  12. Labor Market Conditions Index
  13. NFIB Small Business Optimism
  14. Wholesale Inventories
  15. Wholesale Sales
  16. IBD Economic Optimism
  17. Mortgage Apps
  18. Retail Sales
  19. Bloomberg Consumer Comfort
  20. Business Inventories
  21. UMich Consumer Sentiment
  22. Empire Manufacturing
  23. NAHB Homebuilder Confidence
  24. Housing Starts
  25. Building Permits
  26. PPI
  27. Industrial Production
  28. Capacity Utilization
  29. Manufacturing Production
  30. Dallas Fed
  31. Chicago Fed NAI
  32. Existing Home Sales
  33. Consumer Confidence
  34. Richmond Fed
  35. Personal Consumption
  36. ISM Milwaukee
  37. Chicago PMI
  38. Pending Home Sales
  39. Personal Income
  40. Personal Spending
  41. Construction Spending
  42. ISM Manufacturing
  43. Atlanta Fed GDPNow

So a pattern emerges: we have an economy in which jobs and only jobs are acting as if there is a strong recovery, while everything else is sliding, disappointing economists, and in fact hinting at another contraction (whatever you do, don’t look at the Fed’s internal model of Q1 GDP).

To be sure, economists these days are better known as weathermen, and so they are quick to blame every economic disappointment on the weather. Because, you see, they were unaware it was snowing outside when they provided their forecasts about the future, a future which should be impacted by the snowfall that day, and which they promptly scapegoat as the reason for their cluelessness. Yet one wonders: why didn’t the harsh snow (in the winter) pound February jobs as well? Recall last year’s payroll disappointments were immediately blamed on the weather which was just as “harsh” as this year. Why the difference?

And yet, today this rising “anomaly” between Nonfarm Payolls “data” and everything else, hit a crescendo, and some – such as Jim Bianco – have had it with the lies anomalies, which prompted him to ask the following:

Why Are Construction Jobs and Housing Starts Telling Different Stories? Is The Problem Non-Farm Payrolls – Housing Starts Plunge by the Most in Four Years

Housing starts slumped in February by the most in four years as bad winter weather in parts of the U.S. prevented builders from initiating new projects. Work began on 897,000 houses at an annualized rate, down 17 percent from January and the fewest in a year, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday in Washington. The median estimate of 80 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for 1.04 million. “It was just the weather, basically,” said Richard Moody, chief economist at Regions Financial Corp. in Birmingham, Alabama. Still, “my view of the recovery in single-family housing is that it’s coming more gradually than others think.”


The red line above shows seasonally adjusted housing starts for February plunged by one of the largest amounts in the post-crisis period.

The chart below shows a subset of the February non-farm payroll report, residential construction jobs. Seasonally adjusted these jobs increased by 17,200 in February, the most in two years (Feb 2013 was greater) and the second most in four years.

The vast majority of residential construction jobs are due to new housing starts. Existing housing does not create a lot of construction jobs. So while economists are blaming the weather for the plunge in housing starts, residential construction jobs were fairly robust in February. This makes no sense.

Could remodeling have accounted for this discrepancy? Was there a big rush to redo kitchens in February? In Home Depot’s February 24 investor conference call, they made no mention of an unusual or a big increase in remodeling. Remodeling is so important to Home Depot that they partnered with Harvard University to create an economic series to help track sales (noted in the conference call).

If remodeling was not responsible for this discrepancy, we are left with a theme we have brought up on multiple occasions over the past few weeks. Payrolls data continues to paint a rosy picture of the economy while the rest of the economic data is doing quite the opposite.

Economists seem to start with the premise that the non-farm payroll data is correct and everything else needs to be dismissed by weather and other factors. Maybe we should ask why the non-farm payrolls number is different from everything else.

* * *

Here is another way of seeing the above “anomaly”:

So, instead of asking why everything else is showing an abnormal – and rapid – slowdown in the US economy (and blaming everything on snow) is it about time that everyone – the Fed included – finally asks: just what is going on with the “data” that is reported every month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics?

EU Allies Defy US to Join China-led Asian Bank

March 18th, 2015 by The Brics Post

The new China-led Asian investment bank, a potential rival to institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, has enlisted more US allies as members after Britain decided to join last week.

The membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is set to expand further, with three more European countries following Britain’s lead.

France, Germany and Italy have defied US instructions not to participate in the Bank, said UK daily, The Financial Times.

The decision of the three European countries, yet to be officially announced, came in the wake of Britain’s application last week to be a founding member of the $50 billion bank.

Meanwhile, Australian leaders have been lining up in the past few days to voice support for joining the AIIB, which marks a conspicuous U-turn from the cabinet’s previous stance.

“Our position all along has been that we are happy to be part of some thing which is a genuine multilateral institution such as the World Bank, such as the Asia Development Bank,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said during an interview with Sky News over the weekend.

In addition, South Korea, Switzerland and Luxembourg are deliberating over the decision to participate in the infrastructure investment Bank.

In a last-ditch attempt to hinder its allies’ participation in the China-backed Bank, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said in Seoul on Tuesday that there must be “unmistakable evidence” about the standards of the Bank before members join in.

“Every government can make its own decision about whether the way to achieve that goal is by joining before the articles of agreement are clarified or by waiting to see what the evidence looks like as the bank starts to operate,” the US official was quoted by Reuters.

China, with $4 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, is pushing for the growth of its own multilateral bodies, including the AIIB, the BRICS Bank and a bank for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but also seeking to strengthen its voice at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

As regards Japan, Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said earlier this month that the chance to be an AIIB founding member is available for all Asian countries including Japan by March 31, and the ball is in Japan’s court.

“They told us they are considering. Whether Japan will join, we do not know. It is Japan’s own decision,” Lou said.

Nearly 30 countries have confirmed their participation in the AIIB, which is aimed at helping finance infrastructure projects across Asia and expected to be operational within 2015.

In response to US concerns about the standards of the AIIB, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said last week that the AIIB’s operation and governance will be open, transparent, inclusive and responsible.

“It will draw experiences from other multilateral development banks and avoid their detours so as to be more cost-effective and efficient,” he told a press conference.

“The AIIB will complement existing multilateral development banks and support the infrastructure and economic development in Asia,” he added.

Learning to Love Drone Proliferation

March 18th, 2015 by Charles Pierson

The United States has a new policy on drone proliferation: we’re for it.

On February 17, the Obama Administration announced new, less strict conditions for selling killer drones to foreign governments.[1]

Up till now, sales of drones have been regulated by the 1987 Multilateral Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The MTCR was drafted with ballistic missiles in mind but now also encompasses drones.

As a control mechanism, the MTCR is seriously flawed. First, the MTCR is a voluntary control regime. Second, thirty-four states participate in the MTCR, but not China, India, Iran, Israel, or Pakistan. (On Friday, Pakistan revealed that it has developed an armed drone.)

The Predator and Reaper drones used for targeted kills fall under MTCR’s Category I which is defined as systems whether armed or unarmed which can deliver a 500 kg payload to a range of 300 kilometers. Transfers of Category I systems are subject to a “strong presumption of denial.”

The United States has only transferred armed drones to the United Kingdom (February 2007). The Obama Administration has previously turned down requests for armed drones from Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.[2] Under the new export policy, the MTCR’s “strong presumption of denial” may become a thing of the past.

True, the new policy does not promise a drone to all comers—a policy which, albeit alarming, would at least have the virtue of even-handedness. Instead, the US State Department assures us that sales will be evaluated on a “case-by-case basis.” The criteria that will be applied, like most of the new policy, are classified. We can expect the Administration will greenlight armed drone transfer to countries we like and reject transfers to countries we don’t.

The Obama Administration has told us this much: prospective purchasers of UAS (unmanned aerial systems, i.e., drones) must meet the end-use restrictions set out in the State Department’s February 17 “Fact Sheet”:

* Purchasers must use UAS “in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as applicable.”

* Purchasers must not use “military UAS to conduct unlawful surveillance or use unlawful force against their domestic populations.”

* “Armed and other advanced UAS are to be used in operations involving the use of force only when there is a lawful basis for use of force under international law, such as national self-defense.”

The problems with these restrictions should be immediately apparent. Discussing armed drones in February 2014, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said: “I would hope, as other countries acquire similar capabilities, that they follow the model that we have for the care and precision that we exercise.”[3]

Let’s hope that they don’t. The US model for using drones includes staggering numbers of civilian deaths, including drone strikes on weddings and funerals, and “double tap” strikes on rescuers who go to aide those injured in an initial strike. Military-age males in conflict areas are assumed, without more, to be terrorists and thus legitimate targets—all this taking place in countries with which the US is not at war.

Micah Zenko of the Council for Foreign Relations says this about the new restrictions: “Even analysts less skeptical than me would ask if the United States itself adheres to these principles.”[4] Sarah Knuckey, who teaches at Columbia Law School and who was one of the authors of the influential study, Living under Drones, comments of the new policy that “the US has advanced interpretations of international law that many have described as dangerous, novel, and expansive.”[5]

Expansive, indeed. Start with the US interpretation of self-defense. Micah Zenko and Professor Sarah Kreps rightly observe that: “The United States takes a more expansive view of self-defense than its allies, not just with respect to drones and targeting individuals, but also to invading countries.”[6] Law professors of a right-wing bent justified the 2003 US invasion of Iraq as preemptive self-defense. Going further back, the US justified its 1989 invasion of Panama as self-defense because the Canal Zone was considered US territory and US nationals were stationed there. Given sufficient ingenuity, any act of aggression can be rebaptized as self-defense.

Call the Repo Man

William D. Hartung, Director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy points out that: “Middle Eastern allies from Bahrain to Egypt to Saudi Arabia have used U.S.-supplied weapons to put down democracy movements. Yet these are precisely the kinds of regimes that Washington may be tempted to supply drones to for use in the war on the Islamic State group.”[7]

Suppose—even after if it pinky swears not to—a state like Egypt unleashes a drone-fired Hellfire missile on the next crowd of demonstrators gathered in Tahrir Square? What could the US do about it? Send a repo man to Cairo?

Rear Admiral John Kirby, Pentagon Press Secretary, took a shot at these questions at a press conference on February 18. Kirby said that the Department of Defense “will have a role in what we—what we call end-use monitoring, so I mean, we will have a role as well as the State Department, in monitoring the use of these things.”

Kirby was then asked: “[G]iven that the United States use of drones to carry out extra-judicial killings abroad is a subject of great debate, about whether that conforms with international laws and human rights, how could the U.S. possibly ensure that these things be held to those standards if other countries are using them once we let the technology go.”

Kirby replied that the United States has been selling various arms overseas for years. (This is supposed to make us feel better?) The US knows how to do end use monitoring (EUM), and “We’re very good at this….”

No, we’re not. Kirby’s questioner was correct: once the US transfers weapons there’s no telling how they’ll be used or who they’ll wind up with. Don’t they get CNN in the Pentagon? Hasn’t Admiral Kirby heard about the weapons the US gave the Iraqi army which are now in the hands of ISIS? Or the arms we supplied in the 1980s to mujahideengroups in Afghanistan who later became Al-Qaeda?

Even if the US permits drone sales only to the most cuddly, lovable, human-rights observant states, nothing prevents those states from passing their drones on to someone nasty. Sure, the US can refuse to sell more drones to that country in the future, but the damage will be already done.

If only the drones we sell had an OFF switch the US could throw. The idea of installing some sort of malware in drones that would allow remote disabling has been kicked around in industry circles, but to date it remains science fiction.

Even if the US did have an OFF switch would we use it? Like the US itself, US allies do not commit rights violations. So ignore anyone who tells you that the US has repeatedly given weapons to states while knowing full well that those states would use those weapons against their own people or in attacks on neighboring countries.

Potentially, Congress could put a brake on drone sales abroad. Under the U.S. Arms Export Control Act of 1976, Congress must be notified of most arms sales over $14 million after which it is given 30 days to block the transaction. During the Cold War, any nation, however vile, which claimed to be fighting Communism could get all the US arms it wanted. Substitute “terrorists” for “Communists” and the same tactic works today.

Given the risks in selling drones overseas, why do it? Do we need to ask?

Back to the State Department Fact Sheet: the new UAS export policy “also ensures appropriate participation for U.S. industry in the emerging commercial UAS market, which will contribute to the health of the U.S. industrial base, and thus to U.S. national security which includes economic activity.” In other words, what’s good for General Atomics, make of the Predator, is good for America. Micah Zenko writes: “With a projected $80 billion in global spending over the next ten years, drones constitute a potential growth industry for the aerospace and defense sectors.”[8] Putting corporate profits before human lives—there’s thereal US model.

Charles Pierson is a lawyer and a member of the Pittsburgh Anti-Drone Warfare Coalition. E-mail him at [email protected].


[1] Missy Ryan, “Obama Administration to Allow Sales of Armed Drones to Allies,” WASHINGTON POST, Feb. 17, 2015.

[2] Micah Zenko, “The Great Drone Contradiction,”, February 19, 2015.

[3] Quoted in Micah Zenko and Sarah Kreps, Limiting Armed Drone Proliferation, Council on Foreign Relations Special Report No. 69, June 2014, at page 15.

[4] Micah Zenko, “The Great Drone Contradiction,”, February 19, 2015.

[5] Sarah Knuckey, “Washington’s New Drone Sales Policy Could Export US-Style Drone War,”, February 20, 2015.

[6] Zenko and Kreps, Limiting Armed Drone Proliferation, at page 26.

[7] William D. Hartung, “A Lot Could Go Wrong Here,” Center for International Policy,, Mar. 7, 2015.

[8] Micah Zenko, Reforming U.S. Drone Strike Policies (Jan. 2013), at p. 18

The most absurd political pronouncement of 2015 was made on March 9.

The US President issued an Executive Order that declared “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela …” A White House spokesman explained that Venezuela was a threat because of “Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption…” He further asserted that these officials will not be welcome in the US, “and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of US financial systems.” Seven individuals have been targeted by the White House. There have been other sanctions against Venezuelan officials and citizens in the past.

So far the US has not provided any tangible evidence of how Venezuelan officials have violated human rights or indulged in public corruption. Its reckless allegations have been effectively refuted by the Caracas government. Even leaders from other Latin American countries have condemned the statements emanating from Washington DC.

They have also criticized Washington for demanding that Caracas release all “political prisoners” allegedly detained by the government including “dozens of students.” The Venezuelan government insists that those detained are facing trial for criminal offences linked to violent attempts to destabilize the situation and oust the democratically elected government of the day. The government has been able to offer incontrovertible proof of this to the public.

Former Caracas mayor, Antonio Ledezma, for instance, was arrested in February for his role in the February 12 coup which also implicated Air Force personnel and terrorists such as Lorent Saleh. Another opposition leader facing trial is Leopoldo Lopez who was at the head of a series of violent opposition protests in 2014 that sought to overthrow the Nicolas Maduro government. The protests that Lopez led caused the death of 43 people, the majority of whom were from the security forces or followers of the charismatic late President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.

In fact, Ledezma and Lopez, together with a third right-wing leader, Maria Corina Machado, were actively involved in the infamous April 11 2002 coup against Chavez. The coup failed, it is worth reiterating, mainly because tens of thousands of ordinary Venezuelans came out in full force to demand that Chavez be restored to power. As I stated in an article on the 1st of June 2009, “Never before in history have ordinary unarmed people played such a decisive role in defeating a coup.” The US, through the CIA, was, needless to say, responsible for engineering the coup.

This time all three coup manipulators from 2002, had allegedly signed a document which openly espoused the overthrow of the Maduro government. President Maduro has shared with his people recordings of phone conversations that some of these individuals had in recent months with other Venezuelan politicians living in New York and Miami which suggest a complex coup plot. The execution of the plot envisaged the privatization of most public services and the intervention of the IMF, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank in the Venezuelan economy for the benefit of the pro-US elite in the country and their masters in Washington and other Western capitals. Maduro has promised to reveal more details of the planned coup at the Summit of the Americas scheduled for April in Panama.

Since this is what is happening — a concerted drive by the US elite to oust a democratically elected government which has been going on for at least 13 years — how can Obama talk of a Venezuelan threat to the US? If anything, it is the US that is a present and continuous threat to the people of Venezuela. It is the US elite that is undermining Venezuelan democracy.

Why is the US doing this to Venezuela? The reason is simple. Since Hugo Chavez Frias became President through the ballot-box in 1998, he and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, have been determined to preserve and enhance the independence, sovereignty and integrity of their nation. The Venezuelan people as a whole are not prepared to yield to US dominance and control over their land which was the reality for long decades before 1998.

It is not just because of the resistance of the Venezuelan people to US hegemony that they are being threatened and punished in this way. The US elite knows that their resistance is part of an ever-widening, ever-expanding resistance that encompasses a large number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Their collective desire to protect and enhance their sovereignty and independence has now found expression through regional initiatives such as ALBA and CELAC. The Venezuelan leadership itself continues to play a significant role in these initiatives.

As more and more nations in a region that was once contemptuously referred to as “the US’s backyard” assert their dignity and self-respect, it is obvious that US power and influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is waning rapidly. The very fact that that the overwhelming majority of states in the region have rallied around Venezuela as it faces threats from its northern neighbor is proof that the tide has changed. A while ago, Latin American states also stood by Argentina when it was subjected to enormous pressures from Wall Street speculators and financers. If the US realizes that it cannot throw its weight around anymore it is also because of the increasingly close ties that are developing between nations in the region and China, and to a lesser extent, Russia. In other words, the new scenarios that are unfolding are not to the US’s liking.

Perhaps, it is in that sense that Venezuela — one of the movers of change in Latin America and the Caribbean — is a “threat” to a declining hegemon.

Dr.Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST). Malaysia.

Netanyahu Wins

March 18th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

He’ll likely be able to form a hard-right coalition and become Israel’s first ever four-term prime minister.

Headlines explained:

New York Times: “Netanyahu Soundly Defeats Chief Rival in Israeli Elections”

London Guardian: “Netanyahu claims ‘great victory’ after last minute surge in support”

Haaretz: “Netanyahu’s Likud scores decisive victory in Israeli election”

Times of Israel: “Netanyahu scores crushing victory in Israeli elections”

Jerusalem Post: “Israeli elections take dramatic turn as official tally gives Likud sweeping victory”

Pre-election polls had Isaac Herzog/Tzipi Livni’s Zionist Union winning 24 of 120 Knesset seats to Likud’s 20.

Exit polls showed a dead heat. Final results surprised with Likud winning 30 seats to Zionist Union’s 24.

The Joint (Arab) List party finished third with 14 seats. Yesh Atid got 11, Kulanu 10, Bayit Yehudi 8, Shas 7, United Torah Judaism 6, Yisrael Beytenu 6, and Meretz 4.

Early Wednesday morning, Herzog conceded. He congratulated Netanyahu on winning. He told reporters:

“I wished him luck, but let it be clear, the problems are the same problems. Nothing has changed.”

Zionist Union will continue serving as “an alternative in every area.”

Final results will be announced Thursday morning. They’ll include a record number of female MKs – 28 won seats, one more than the previous Knesset.

Turnout exceeded 70% of Israel’s 5.9 million eligible voters. Israelis vote for parties, not individual candidates.

Knesset seats are allocated according to the voting percentage participating parties win.

Netanyahu has up to six weeks to form new coalition governance.

Likud said he hopes it will include Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party, Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu, Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu, Aryeh Deri’s Shas, and Yaakov Litzman’s United Torah Judaism.

Combined would be a 67-seat Knesset majority –  six more than needed.

Reports indicated heavy Arab turnout hoping to oust Netanyahu. Joint (Arab) List party head Ayman Odeh called Tuesday “a historic day for the Arabs.”

“Today we are giving our answer to racism and to those who want to exclude us,” he said.

He ruled out participating in coalition governance. At the same time, he indicated keeping his cards close to his chest, saying:

“After the elections, we will listen to what Herzog has to say and then we will decide.”

“The right wing has taken over, so I’m hoping the Arabs can be part of a bloc formed against Netanyahu.”

Despite emerging as third largest Knesset party, Joint List has no say whatever under either a Netanyahu or Herzog-led coalition.

Believing otherwise is foolhardy. Israel’s 20% Arab population is powerless, persecuted, and denied rights afforded solely to Jews. Election results changed nothing.

Israel is like America. Democracy is pure fantasy. Not a dime’s worth of difference separates major parties on issues mattering most.

Voter choices are largely bad or worse. For Israeli Arab citizens and most Jews, Netanyahu or Herzog makes no difference.

Election results changed nothing. Government headed by either leader assures ugly business as usual.

Both and likely coalition partners support:

  • apartheid worse than South Africa’s;
  • militarized occupation harshness;
  • settlement construction on stolen Palestinian land;
  • war, not peace;
  • Arabs denied virtually all rights afforded Jews; and
  • continuation of decades if institutionalized racism.

Bottom line: Whenever things change in Israel they stay the same. It’s been this way since 1948 – especially under nearly half a century of militarized occupation.

Netanyahu openly campaigned against Palestinian self-determination.

Doing so and election day Facebook fear-mongering about “Arabs heading to the polls in masses” got him last minute support enough for decisive victory.

Fascists rule Israel. Left of center governance is too inconsequential to matter.

Israelis are as mindless as Americans. They have themselves to blame.

Reelecting Netanyahu assures hardening extremist governance – ideologically over-the-top and then some.

Belligerence, state-sponsored terrorism, militarized occupation, racist persecution, settlement expansions, and neoliberal harshness reflect official policy.

Netanyahu is a world-class thug – a ruthless demagogue. He spurns rule of law principles. He abhors democratic values.

He prioritizes stealing all valued Palestinian land. He deplores peace. He calls pursuing it a waste of time.

His likely coalition partners are militantly hardline, racist, anti-democratic, and offensive to all values progressives and civil libertarians hold dear.

On Tuesday, ugly business as usual triumphed. Right-wing extremist rule continues. Neoliberal harshness remains official policy.

long denied justice for Palestinians hasn’t changed. Israel’s political system remains a blight on humanity.

It’s just a matter of time before more naked aggression erupts. Maybe war on Iran before Netanyahu’s tenure ends.

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

 His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

Visit his blog site at

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

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

A major recent event last week largely went unnoticed by both MSM and independent news sources alike. The British are apparently jumping ship away from the US dollar/petrodollar in an overt effort to align itself more closely with the BRICS alliance as it seeks a new standard international currency. For several years Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa (BRICS) have been preparing the world for its transition from USD standard international currency to its own alternative-in-the-making. America’s so called mother country England has seen the writing on the wall and knows the global balance of power is rapidly tilting in favor of where the sun always rises in the emerging East. 

The European central banking cabal from the City of London, a separate and private political and financial entity apart from the rest of both London and England, sent British royalty Prince William to China to quietly sign a deal to become a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). This surprising new development is a clear indication that the royal Bank of England is placing its financial bet and future on China and the East as its rock solid anchor. Much of the world has been looking to move away from and abandon the longtime global financial stronghold of the US Federal Reserve, its World Bank and US dollar standard. A US official feebly chastised UK in the Financial Times:

We are wary about a trend toward constant accommodation of China, which is not the best way to engage a rising power.

More consternation arose when Germany, France and Italy have additionally made overtures in the same direction. This worldwide trend spells utter defeat for Obama and his disastrous foreign policy. After Washington’s been exerting strong-armed pressure on Australia as its key allied partner supporting its failing Asian pivot designed to check China’s growing regional and global dominance in the Pacific Asian market, Australia is now also looking to follow suit accepting and embracing China’s lead.

According to international investor and entrepreneur Simon Black, the US is experiencing major economic blowback after two plus decades of aggression as the only global superpower:

     … After years of endless wars, spying, debt, money printing, bailouts, and insane regulations, the

rest of the world has had enough. And they’re looking for an alternative.

Enter the China led BRICS alliance and its New Development Bank and now China’s other investment bank entry AIIB. Simon takes liberty in his interpretation of Britain and Europe’s bold rebellion after decades relegated to being a mere puppet of the US Empire:

Look, you have $18.1 trillion in official debt, you have $42 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and you’re kind of a dick. I’m dumping you.

Perhaps some Americans may feel a bit betrayed and unsettled by our longtime strongest global allies one by one seemingly abandoning the US dollar and American Empire in its reckoning time of need. If these geopolitical and economic trends are examined beyond their face value though, the changes occurring now may reflect much more significant, deeper changes than a mere alteration of standard international currency (as impactful as that will likely be for the US). These deep rooted fundamental changes have everything to do with the major global shift now taking place where the West’s ruling power elite itself is losing to the emerging global power rising in the East.

The latest act of bold economic defiance breaking rank with US Empire interests mirrors last month’s bucking trend that Europe exercised when putting the skids on the US campaign for sending heavy armaments to Ukraine and pushing for war against Russia. The fact is Europe and especially Germany depend on natural gas from Russia and the US imposed sanctions on Russia hurt Europe even more than Russia. That along with wanting to avoid war in their own backyard has nations like Germany and France softening their hardline, US pushed anti-Russian posturing.

Several weeks ago German and French leaders attended meetings in Mink, Belarus to negotiate a peaceful way out of the escalating violence in Eastern Ukraine between the government forces in Kiev and the ethnic Russian separatists seeking autonomy in the Donetsk and Lugansk region. In the same way Netanyahu attempted to fan the war flames against Iran, the same day Germany and France were gathering in Minsk to meet with Putin and Ukraine leaders, Secretary of State Kerry showed up in Kiev mouthing the same worn out lie of “Russian aggression” in a transparent feeble attempt to sabotage the Minsk talks. Again, the tie-in is the Israeli-US crime cabal constantly at work every chance they get peddling and promoting more global violence, death and war.

For over a year now Washington’s war drums have been beating louder for NATO to join forces with Ukraine, pressuring Europe to submit as it always has in going along with its permanent war agenda, all the while falsely demonizing Russia’s President Putin with outrageous propaganda lies and nonstop false flags not unlike the WMD lies against Hussein in 2002-3 Iraq. But in a rare gesture of independence, unwilling to start a war so close to home against nuclear powered Russia that Europe relies heavily as a critical source for its natural gas consumption, the powers of Europe are seeking a non-violent resolution to its regional conflict that carries the devastating potential of triggering World War III.

Meanwhile, NATO Supreme Commander US Air Force General Philip Breedlove fashions himself to be a Dr. Strangelove incarnate, making repeated bogus claims and lies of Russian army presence inside Eastern Ukraine in a vain yet persistent attempt to foment war. Having such a deluded and deceitful warmonger in charge of the NATO nuclear arsenal poses a calamitous threat to the entire world. Yet his commander-in-chief Obama has chosen not to relieve him of command. Instead German leaders have openly criticized Breedlove and the European Union wants to replace NATO with its own continental army. This very public geopolitical conflict over such widely differing Western approaches toward Ukraine seriously undermine American Empire’s global influence and power, again underscoring simultaneous developments around the world that indicate consistent across the boards US foreign policy failures and from the broader context, a rapid US decline as the sole global hegemonic superpower.

Putin advisor Sergei Glazyev nailed it when he said:

The war has been provoked to destroy the Russian World, to draw Europe into it, and to surround Russia with hostile countries. Unleashing this world war, America is trying to deal with its own internal problems.

Current economic turmoil reverberating in Japan is in large part due to the notorious corruption of the Abe government that may soon have additional problems to contend with once accusations over a fraudulent past elections get fully exposed. Abe has been a subservient tool used by the same international crime syndicate controlled by subversive Israeli-American forces. As such, Japan will also be moving away from the USD/West geopolitics and very likely pivoting toward China and a Pacific alliance that excludes the US Empire finding itself increasingly isolated on the outs.

Though incumbent Prime Minister Netanyahu is the apparent winner in today’s Israeli election, the despot had to claw and fight for his political life to survive another day. Recent revelations that he’s been a Russian spy surfaced right after his disgraceful debacle in front of the Israeli captured US congressional audience on Capitol Hill two weeks ago and then came the despicable treasonous display of 47 Republican senators threatening letter to Iran. Bibi’s days of hate, war and paranoia are numbered as the ugly truth about his evildoing will continue to unfold that will soon bring him down. Showing his true evil colors right to the end, the day before the election Netanyahu once again reminded the world that an autonomous Palestinian state will never come to pass while on his watch.

Within the last couple weeks other mysterious events suggesting some cataclysmic, behind-the-scenes development included the apparent disappearance of Vladimir Putin for 11 consecutive days, fueling speculation from an internal political coup to possible sickness and/or death to witnessing the birth of his child at the bedside of his girlfriend in Switzerland. Because so many monumental breaking stories and developments seem to abound every week, Putin’s normally high profile lifestyle would naturally generate even higher profile speculation over his abrupt, extended disappearance. Of course it begs the question asking if it’s merely coincidental with these other earth-shaking events or very much related.

For years the CIA and US Empire have been hard at work in nations from Eastern Europe through the Caucasus to Central Asia all the way to China courting the favor of corrupt dictators and supporting coups promoting anti-Russo-Sino US puppet governments along the entire corridor bordering Russia and China. Despite such Obama’s plan after the 2008 Russian-Georgia conflict was to a reset relations with Russia. But with last year’s US-induced Ukrainian coup and Russia’s annexation by consensual vote of Crimea that “reset” plan went out the window. In 2011 Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed the economic alliance of the Eurasian Union. Meanwhile, recognizing the strategic importance of the land bridge between Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Putin has made inroads strengthening ties with the three South Caucasus nations. Putin enticed Armenia to also join the Eurasian Union and has mediated hostilities between Armenia and oil rich Azerbaijan while seeking to repair and realign with Georgia that previously leaned toward the West. US Empire has largely failed to gain a foothold in this part of the world.

Other key geopolitical developments that have been ongoing for some time center in such remote places as western China’s mineral and oil-rich Xinjiang Province. With the powerful US Navy patrolling and to a great extent controlling Pacific waters in conjunction with Obama’s flop of an Asian Pacific pivot, the geopolitics chessboard strategy to hem the two adversarial giants in with hostile neighbors has generally backfired. Furthermore, the US was not prepared for Russia and China to suddenly renew an ultra-close economic, political and military bond that would effectively counter US Empire’s hegemonic aggression. They promptly signed a $400 billion oil-gas pipeline deal that will span a landlocked pathway, thereby foiling the US plan to seal off the China’s energy access via the Pacific. Hence, Moslem populated Xinjiang Province that is the proposed pipeline passage route has become a highly contentious target where the West and CIA in particular have been funding and supporting a separatist movement and acts of terrorism as a disruptive interdiction tactic. Overall this covert strategy has failed.

The Western cabal controlled crime syndicate led by the likes of kingpin Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu financed and supported by the likes of multibillionaire Sheldon Adelson and the Saudi royal family along with congressional henchman and ISIS friend Senator John McCain and the rest of his treasonous Republicans, the rogue US intelligence agency the CIA and NATO’s General Breedlove are all bent on plunging the US Empire-NATO forces into World War III on multiple warfronts at every global hotspot – Ukraine, Syria, Iran, the Caucasus all the way eastward to China’s Xinjiang Province and northward to the oil-rich Arctic against the forces of the two most powerful nations of the East – Russia and China. As a desperate last ditch attempt to retain its many centuries of Rothschild-Rockefeller power and dominance, these evil-minded, megalomaniacal psychopaths know that their hitherto unchallenged global control and strength that have bankrupted and nearly destroyed the planet is fast slipping away. So they seem all the more erratically resolute in seeking revenge by taking the entire earth down with them.

The truth about the horror and destruction these Western oligarchs have conspired and caused worldwide for centuries cannot even be fathomed. They have ensured a permanent state of war (in the US alone 93% of its 239 years) right up to the present Bush crime family-neocon fabrication of the “war on terror,” then under Obama this last year alone wrongly plunging America into another dangerous cold war with Putin’s Russia, and dozens of tragic false flag events like 9/11 designed to demonize Moslems into becoming the instantaneous post-Communist designated enemy of the twenty-first century with the US-Saudi-Israeli creation of al Qaeda/ISIS. These dark malevolent forces of evil that have propagated so much misery and suffering on humanity for so long are finally at last being exposed like never before.

The Western oligarch agenda to inflict a globalized system of absolute totalitarian fascist police state NWO control on every nation and people on earth trapped in hopeless debtor bondage may just be running into a brick Eastern wall as clear losers in the ongoing economic/currency war. Despite the constant jabbing of Putin and his Russian bear in vain attempts to manipulate him to react with military force in eastern Ukraine and despite the failed overt assault in the form of US Empire’s Asian pivot designed to close in and isolate China from the rest of Pacific Asia, ironically it’s the United States that finds itself increasingly alone as the longtime global village bully that’s finally met its match about to get its comeuppance. The smarter, economically stronger forces emerging from the East are winning the power war potentially without even firing a single shot against Western oppressors. Hopefully peace will prevail and the international crime syndicate that has long controlled the West will be deposed of as the murderous traitors to both peace and humankind.

As a necessary qualifier, actual real life tends toward shades of gray far more than black and white. Undoubtedly elements of corruption and evil lurk behind all the most powerful nations in both the West and the East. But the forces of China and Russia appear to be seeking a far more rational, humane and even peaceful resolution to the West-instigated West vs. East geopolitical military showdown sinisterly orchestrated by the international crime cabal’s global agenda of polarization, militarization, privatization and unsustainable, insurmountable debt-driven feudalism based on pure theft, deception, exploitation, impoverishment and pervasive planetary destruction.

Seeking to avoid the inevitable bloodbath that would result from world war and possible nuclear annihilation of all life forms on earth, the East appears to be seeking to avert such global disaster by ensuring that this ongoing war is won by successfully transitioning to an international currency backed once again by the gold standard. The Western central banking cabal consisting of the Bank of England and other European central banks, America’s Federal Reserve Board, its World Bank and International Monetary Fund along with the Israeli-US government crime cabal all stand to ultimately be stripped of their absolute power that have the entire world drowning in debt, crushing destabilization and impoverished despair. But now a light at the end of the tunnel at least is shining a little brighter.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing and has a blog site at http://empireexposed. blogspot. com/.

Marijuana: Legalize―Don’t Advertise

March 18th, 2015 by William John Cox

The War on Drugs has proven to be a monstrous mistake resulting in the waste of a trillion dollars and the shameful criminal conviction and incarceration of thousands of Americans. While the end to drug prohibition may not be entirely possible, the more limited movement to decriminalize the use and possession of marijuana is gaining momentum. Those who support ending drug prohibition, but continue to believe drug use is harmful, have the responsibility to find ways to avoid the advertising and promotion of legalized marijuana.  

Given the ways of capitalism and the greed of corporate America, how long will it be before highway billboards, radio and television advertisements, and Internet pop-up ads begin to promote the latest and best in marijuana products? “This bud’s for you” will take on a whole new meaning.

The American people have learned that the prohibition of intoxicating liquor only led to the glorification of drinking and criminality. Experience has also shown that education and reasonable regulation has led to a substantial reduction in the use of tobacco products. Both of these substances remain readily available and are widely advertised. What’s wrong with this picture?

Even though a society may come to believe the prohibition and criminalization of a product is not the best way to confront the problems it causes, does not mean it should also roll over and allow the product to be promoted. Just because people can legally purchase something does not mean it is necessarily good for them. Products such as alcohol, tobacco and marijuana can become habituating and addicting, causing harm to individuals who are enticed by advertising to crave them.

It may be that one small glass of red wine a day can help reduce the risk of heart disease, or that a couple of tokes of marijuana may relieve the pain of some diseases, encourage the appetite of someone suffering from cancer, or perhaps even prevent cancer. Unrestrained recreational use of these substances will, however, lead to harmful consequences in many people who consume them. While warning labels on cigarette packs and cautions to drink responsibly may provide some benefit, warnings are not as effective as avoiding advertising the product in the first place.

Members of the alcohol industry spend billions of dollars each year in an attempt to secure their market share of the lucrative business. The expenditure exposes young people to thousands of television and magazine ads each year, many of which target this impressionable audience.

Advertising by the tobacco industry exceeds that of the liquor industry, amounting to more than $15 billion per year. The money is ostensibly spent to secure brand and customer loyalty, but it also attracts new users, as older ones die off or learn to stop abusing their bodies with tobacco. With tobacco use killing almost six million people each year, the World Health Organization has called on all countries to ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

The First Amendment provides the right of free speech, and this right has been extended to corporations that make money supplying these legal, albeit risky and inherently dangerous products. The public also requires truthful and factual information in making decisions regarding the purchase and use of the products. Advertising hype is not designed to supply that need.

Can the public protect itself from being misled by the promotion and advertising of inherently harmful products it chooses to not criminalize? Answering that question requires an understanding of the difference between ideological and commercial speech.

There is a difference between a well-researched and balanced article discussing the benefits of a glass of wine each evening or the medical uses of marijuana, and paid commercial advertising depicting the glamour of drinking or touting a marijuana product that provides the greatest high this side of Colorado. Requiring marijuana products to be sold in plain brown paper bags is not the same as allowing pot to be peddled in a psychedelic package. 

 As late as 1942, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment posed no “restraint on Government as respects purely commercial advertising.” In doing so, the Court said there was a difference between ideological (harm versus benefits) and commercial (advertising) speech.

The issue was reconsidered by the Court in 1976 regarding a Virginia statute that restricted pharmacies from advertising their prices, as being unprofessional conduct. In overruling the statute, the Court said, “If there is a right to advertise there is a reciprocal right to receive such advertising.” The opinion did, however, allow for some circumstances, such as false and deceptive advertising, in which commercial speech could be restricted.

Four years later, the Court expanded on its ruling by finding that commercial speech could be protected “from unwarranted governmental regulation” if it “protects not only the speaker but also assists consumers and furthers the societal interest in the fullest possible dissemination of information.”

The Supreme Court went on to decide that Rhode Island could not entirely ban liquor price advertising, nor could the Federal Communications Commission ban casino advertising in states where gambling is legal. The Court left it up to the speaker and the audience to “assess the value of accurate and nonmisleading information about lawful conduct.”

The Supreme Court looks to the legislative intent of Congress whenever it reviews the constitutionality of a law. In doing so, the Court  starts with a “strong presumption of validity” in favor of the policy judgments that led to the legislation. Thus, it is essential that congressional deliberations justify its choice of policy alternatives, based on evidence it considered.

Given the several sides of the issue, could Congress find it better policy to prohibit the advertising of inherently harmful products, instead of outlawing the actual product? The fact that a deliberate decision is made to deal with a social problem by means other than the criminal justice system could well justify a policy to disallow its being advertised and promoted.

Let us assume Congress decided it was not in the best interests of society for the criminal justice system to deal with the sale, purchase, possession or use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana products. Congress could also find that it was equally in the public interest that manipulative advertising should not be allowed to tempt people into purchasing the products.

In arriving at these decisions, Congress could hold hearings and consider the factual evidence weighing on the issues. It would not be unreasonable for Congress to conclude that consumption of these products is inherently more harmful, than beneficial, to individual users and society in general. Effective prevention of use in a balanced system of justice can rely on prohibiting advertising of a product, rather than prohibiting its sale and possession.

Although it is difficult to imagine, Congress might find the political courage to actually represent the voters and resist the inevitable lobbying campaign by the industries involved, including the mass media that profits from advertising. Constitutional legislation could be passed prohibiting the advertising and promotion of inherently dangerous products.

Would such a law benefit American society? The government would not punish people for their personal choice to indulge in potentially harmful products, it would just prevent the producers of the products from inducing them to do so. Wine would still be available for those wanting to sip their glass a day to keep the doctor away, but young people would not be enticed to chug the latest sugar-laced wine coolers.

Essentially, the advertising and promotion of risky products are inherently false and misleading, even if they truthfully list price differences and promote brand logos. Consumers may think products are safe, if the government allows them to be advertised. Why should anything requiring a warning label be advertised?

Once the concept is established that it is better to disallow advertising of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana products rather than to criminalize their sale, purchase, possession or consumption, there are other similar products Congress might want to consider for inclusion.

Should gambling, including state-sponsored lotteries, be advertised to compulsive gamblers and the poor, who can least afford the risk? Should prescription drugs be directly marketed to patients, especially for off-label use? Should video games, movies and music containing adult-level violence be marketed to children? Should hard-core, particularly violent, pornography, be advertised at all?

It remains to be seen whether corporations should have any constitutional rights, particularly First Amendment rights of free speech and commercial advertising. But for now, a good first step would be to prohibit inherently harmful advertising from all sources.

The best time to restrict or eliminate the advertising of marijuana is when the initial decision is being made to legalize the product, before it achieves legal status and becomes entrenched in the marketplace.

William John Cox is a retired prosecutor and public interest lawyer who writes on political, policy and social matters.

As an addendum to yesterday’s writing, today we should tie together the new alliances and what appears to be Western defections toward the East.  Just overnight, Australia also applied for membership to the AIIB, a U.S. rebuke is sure to follow, who is next?  With this in mind, it is my belief the Chinese will be the key player in the gold market and the “pricing” of gold in the future.  In turn they will gain even more financial strength because of the massive amounts they have already accumulated.  As a side note, do you believe it is by mistake China is now the largest gold producer in the world?  I think not.  I will give you my theory first, then work my way toward supporting it.

Very simply, I believe China will fare poorly when the paper and derivatives markets around the world collapse.  They have a very over levered real estate market to which many of their banks and “shadow banks” have lent to and have exposure.  Their real economy and manufacturing will suffer as global demand drops further because of economic depression.  It won’t be “pretty” but they will survive and eventually thrive.  Why?  Because undoubtedly, China is working toward the yuan becoming “a” reserve currency and given time, “the” reserve currency.  My theory is this, China, even though they are probably willing and plan to eventually re mark gold much higher than where it trades today, will be FORCED to mark gold higher to re liquefy or re capitalize their banking system.  This is not groundbreaking thought as gold has been marked higher in past monetary episodes in order to re capitalize treasuries and banking systems.  It also had the side effects of generating some inflation and kick starting the economy.  It is in a parallel fashion to this which I believe China will ultimately be forced into.

As you know, Britain (and Australia) has applied to become a charter member of the AIIB.  No matter what is given as reason, this is simply their recognition of where the future is headed and the Brits wanting to be allied with the winner in a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” type of move.  Britain must first clear the hurdle of being accepted.  China has introduced them but they must be ratified by the various founding countries.  I find this intriguing because of the potential motivations for either a yes or a no vote.  Does Britain bring much to the table other than reputation or the fact they are the number one U.S. ally changing their allegiance?  If Britain is accepted, they will merely be a “feather” in the East’s cap.  A no vote would be quite embarrassing because Britain has now shown their hand and intent, …only deemed to be “not good enough”?  A very bad place to be if you asked me.

Why am I even bringing Britain’s application up?  Because I believe it is a timing thing.  The East, obviously led by China is beginning a new “fix” to challenge London’s and they are also beginning a new cash and carry metals exchange which will challenge COMEX and LBMA.  Maybe “challenge” is the wrong the word.  Better said would be to make these two exchanges “obsolete”.  What will happen if (when) China’s physical exchange prices metal higher than the paper exchanges?  “Arbitrage” will happen and the Western vaults will be cleaned out, that’s what!  I hate to state the obvious but how do you have a “business”, in this case an exchange, if you have no product?  For Britain to make application now and against direct “orders” from the U.S., at this point in time, tells me something is changing and it may now be coming to a head.

Whether or not the timing of the East beginning new exchanges and pricing, along with their own alternate clearing system and global bank is “cause” can be debated.  Have they timed it with the demise of the overleveraged system of the West?  Or will the alternative systems themselves pull the rug out from under the dollar and all that goes with it?  It really does not matter.  As I wrote above, China will not go unscathed and will be defaulted on in many instances and will also watch as much of their internal leverage defaults.

It is the nature of defaults that leads me to my theory of China revaluing gold higher whether they want to or not.  It will be their natural, if not ONLY choice.  I don’t believe they will have any other choice even though they have been preparing for many years, simply because they have played and are playing in the paper game.  They have built a manufacturing base the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Fords would marvel at in both size and technology.  They have built new infrastructure and even new cities preparing for “something”.  During this “build out”, China has also amassed more gold than the U.S. even claims to have.  It is my contention China has done all of this because they understand the end game.  They understand the dollar game fully. They have known ever since and even before 1971 the rules were “never pay” or settle as the key component.

Think this through, clearly default of nearly everything paper is coming.  If you don’t agree with this or cannot see it then my theory is useless to you.  If you can see this, and the Chinese surely do based on their actions, what is the plan?  Just as has always been done in the past many times, their “treasury” will require a MUCH higher gold price to rebuild their base from.  With much of everything paper defaulted on (and including “to” the Chinese), there will by necessity need to be a restart button pushed.  China’s gold will serve this function.  As with Exter’s pyramid I recently showed you, a new pyramid will begin to build …using China’s gold as a foundation.

Revaluing their gold hoard has many advantages and zero disadvantages as I see it.  Their treasury coffers will swell, their currency will begin to enjoy the fruits of reserve status and along with this, they will enjoy new found power.  We will witness not only the greatest transfer of wealth in all of history, along with this will come a transfer of power, financial power.  When China revalues gold higher, this will serve several functions beyond the obvious of devaluing their currency against it.  For those countries not holding gold, a very long and arduous financial time will follow.  By marking the price up, they will be making any accumulation or “catch up” plans very difficult.  Another aspect is from the very micro standpoint of gold being priced too high for the average citizen to buy much if any.  For China to do this makes perfect sense.  They take the lead and the power while making it difficult for anyone to catch up to them for possibly several hundred years …which is exactly how they think.  The West has clearly forgotten the old saying about gold and those making the rules, I believe China will be forced to invoke it!

There was nothing ordinary about the Abid Naseer trial, which was a proceeding that gave off different fumes and smells depending on the audience.  After September 11, 2001, terror trials became something of a carnival, with manipulated legal whispers and stretched suggestions as to how best to net suspects. Naseer, a Pakistani national, claimed that the voluminous chat sessions with his supposed co-conspirators via the site were entirely based on seeking a rather innocent target: a suitable wife.[1] The prosecutors claimed, on the contrary, that he wished to cause catastrophic mayhem to a mall in Manchester and the New York subway – with the help of associates.

Writing in Lawfare, Diane Webber asked the question why Naseer found himself being convicted in a Brooklyn Federal Court on March 4.  The “saga,” as Webber termed it, “has an additional strange element underlying the whole case: Naseer was apparently convicted in the wrong country, and was extradited from the country where his crime took place to take trial there.”[2]

The troubling feature, and one that has characterised the seemingly fluid nature court proceedings have been launched after September 11, 2001, lies in glaring procedural problems. The UK authorities found themselves unable to prosecute Naseer due to taxing evidentiary standards.  The Crown Prosecution Service, as Webber notes, has to have sufficient evidence to support what is deemed a “realistic prospect of conviction”.

In the somewhat more mangled words of the Crown Prosecution Service, “The Code requires that in order for a prosecution to take place, there must be sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, meaning that a conviction is more likely than not.”[3]  It was easier, in fact, to extradite the suspect to the US, which requires the somewhat lower standard of probable cause that the suspect perpetrated the offence.  Hence the absurd spectacle of MI5 agents dressed in wigs and wearing make-up in a US court session (BBC News, Feb 24).

As a CPS spokesperson explained, using words that should make civil liberty advocates shriek with dismay, “The evidence in our possession in relation to Abid Naseer which would have been admissible in a criminal court was very limited.”[4]  The spokesperson proceeds to show how utterly hopeless the prosecution case was to begin with, a notable point given that Naseer’s activities had supposedly taken place on British soil.  “Crucially, there was no evidence of training, research or the purchasing of explosives.”  Nor did the prosecutors have “evidence of an agreement between Abid Naseer and others which would have supported a charge of conspiracy in this country.”

Naseer was not prosecuted, as he should have been had the case been viable, in a British court, suggesting that a bit of judicial outsourcing goes a long way.  (We have seen it in the context of allies who happily allow their own nationals to be tried and convicted in foreign jurisdictions for ease of effort.)  The result was a legal feast of absurd efforts to keep Naseer under some form of lock and key.

Deportation was sought on grounds that the Pakistani national’s presence would pose a threat to national security, in other words, conducive to the public good.  Naseer appealed, with the Special Immigration Appeals Commission affirming (May 18, 2010) the view that he did constitute a serious threat, but could not deport him to Pakistan, where he faced a real risk of illegal detention, disappearance or torture.[5]  In the damning words of Mr Justice Mitting, “There is a long and well-documented history [in Pakistan] of disappearances, illegal detention and of the torture and ill-treatment of those detained, usually to produce information, a confession or compliance” (para 32).

The release of Naseer then brought US authorities into play, who sought his extradition for purported roles in bomb plots linked to targets in the UK, Norway and the US.  The British prosecution team did not seem to concern itself with seeing the extradition documents to begin with, and the District Judge at Westminster Magistrates Court in London duly approved the US request.  “The CPS lawyers that decide on a domestic prosecution do not see the papers submitted by the American extradition request or vice versa.”  Is there any wonder, then, that individuals domiciled or resident in the UK might feel a certain concern that they might be shipped off to the wonders of US penal justice?

As if perceiving the local British rules to be a failure of prosecutorial discretion, it became essential that American partners would charge to the rescue.  Justice is such a malleable, elastic creature.  As the CPS itself noted, the Scott Baker Review of 2012 gave a clean bill of health to the UK’s extradition arrangements with the US.  They were “fair” and “balanced”.

The evidence adduced at the trial provided glazed terror pundits, overly engaged security voyeurs, and virtually everybody else with a range of striking impressions.  For one thing, the famed incompetence of the CIA was again on show – the result of material found by the raid on Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound in Pakistan.  The documents produced at Naseer’s trial do make for interesting reading about al-Qaeda’s struggle with the drone campaign, but they make no mention of the Pakistani national.[6]

The documents also show how money ended up being used by Afghan authorities to recover a diplomat in the custody of al-Qaeda authorities.[7]  The price for Abdul Khaliq Farahi, Afghanistan’s future ambassador to Pakistan, was a healthy $5 million.  But Kabul deemed it a bit rich.  This resulted in a raid on a CIA bank account used in remunerating Hamid Karzai for various expenses.  (Karzai was hardly a stranger to being in US clover.)  “Allah blessed us with a good amount of money this month,” claimed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman in a letter to bin Laden.  Given the loss of recruits and personnel via drone strikes, the money would enable the organisation to make a few more purchases.

The bounty of evidence, and the subsequent verdict, was hardly the end of it for Naseer.  A few days after his initial conviction, the bemused Pakistani had to be reconvicted.  The reason for this double conviction: no court stenographer was present at the original verdict.  “Due to my inadvertence,” claimed an inattentive Federal Judge Raymond Dearie, “we took the verdict without the reporter.  We have a need to comply with the rule and create a record.”  In its usual language, the New York Daily vengefully noted how, “Two days after it was discovered that no stenographer was present when Naseer’s verdict was taken, the jury forewoman returned to the courtroom Friday to confirm the terrorist thug was indeed found guilty of all three counts.”[8]  The terrorist thug must have been well and truly bemused by the wonders of Anglo-American justice.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: [email protected]

Cracks In Washington’s Empire

March 18th, 2015 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Washington’s EU vassals might be finding their backbone. Britain, Germany, France, and Italy are reported to have defied Washington’s orders and applied to join the Chinese-led Asian Investment Bank. Australia, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland and Luxembourg might also join.

Washington uses its development banks such as the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, along with the IMF, in order to exercise financial and political hegemony. These banks are crucial elements of American economic and political imperialism.

The Chinese-led bank will, of course, be much more effective. The Chinese will use the bank to actually help countries and thereby make friends and grow trust, whereas Washington uses its banks for domination by force.

This new bank, together with the BRICS Bank, will provide countries with escape routes from Washington’s domination.

The Evil Empire is beginning to crack. It will crack more as the Russian-Chinese alliance unfolds its potentials and when European capitals understand that hegemonic Washington has put their existence at risk in order to try to prevent Russia’s rise. The crazed American and British neocon nazis, and their dupes among the populations, comprise the greatest human threat that the world has ever known. The sooner the Evil Empire collapses, the safer the world will be.

Here is the report:

In early 2014 there were unusual news stories about Gallup’s end-of-2013 polling because after polling in 65 countries with the question “Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?” the overwhelming winner had been the United States of America.

Had Gallup then conducted a poll on whether Gallup would ever ask that question again, I’m willing to bet large numbers would have said no. And thus far they would have been right. But Gallup managed to ask some other good questions, almost certainly by accident as well, in its end-of-2014 polling, revealing something else about the United States and militarism.

Curiously, Gallup’s end-of-2014 polling managed to ask a lot more questions — 32 instead of 6 and even squeezed in one on whether people wash their hands after using the bathroom — so the threat-to-peace question wasn’t dropped for lack of space.

In both the 2013 and the 2014 polling, the first question is whether people think the next year will be better than the last, the second whether their country’s economy will do well, and the third whether the person is happy. This sort of fluff is odd, because Gallup advertises the polling with this quote from Dr. George H. Gallup: “If democracy is supposed to be based on the will of the people, then somebody should go out and find out what that will is.” So, what policies do the people want? Who the hell can tell from this sort of questioning?

By question 4 of those questions made public, the 2013 and 2014 polls diverge. Here’s what was asked in 2013:

  • If there were no barrier to living in any country of the world, which country would you like to live in?
  • If politicians were predominantly women, do you believe the world would in general be a better place, a worse place or no different?
  • Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?

And that’s it. There’s nothing like Should your government invest more or less in militarism? or Should your government expand or reduce support for fossil fuels? or Does your government imprison too many or too few people? or Do you favor greater or less public investment in education? The questions Gallup asks are supposed to produce fluff. What happened is that the last question ended up producing a substantive response by accident. When the rest of the world declared the United States the greatest threat to peace (the people of the United States gave Iran that designation) it amounted to a recommendation to the U.S. government, namely that it stop launching so many wars.

We can’t have that! Polling is supposed to be fun and diverting!

Here are the remaining questions from the end of 2014:

  • Compared to this year, do you think that 2015 will be a more peaceful year freer of international dispute, remain the same or a troubled year with more international discord?

What a great polling question, if you don’t want to learn anything! Any discord is equated with the opposite of peace, i.e. war, and people are asked for a baseless prediction, not a policy preference.

  • If there were a war that involved [your country’s name] would you be willing to fight for your country?

This reduces respondents from citizen sovereigns to cannon fodder. It’s not “Should your country seek out more wars?” but “Would you be willing to commit murder on behalf of your country in an unspecified war for an unstated purpose?” And again, Gallup accidentally revealed something here, but let’s come back to that after listing the rest of the questions (feel free to just skim the list).

  • Do you feel that elections in [your country’s name] are free and fair?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: [your country’s name] is ruled by the will of the people.
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Democracy may have problems but it is the best system of government.
  • Which of the following is more important to you: your continent, your nationality, your local county/state/province/city, your religion, your ethnic group, or none of these?
  • Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person, or a convinced atheist?
  • How sympathetic or unsympathetic would you say you feel toward those who come to your country for the following reason: lack of political or religious freedom in their country?
  • How sympathetic or unsympathetic would you say you feel toward those who come to your country for the following reason: to join their family who are already in the country?
  • How sympathetic or unsympathetic would you say you feel toward those who come to your country for the following reason: fleeing persecution in their country?
  • How sympathetic or unsympathetic would you say you feel toward those who come to your country for the following reason: wanting a better life?
  • How sympathetic or unsympathetic would you say you feel toward those who come to your country for the following reason: escaping sexual or gender discrimination?
  • How sympathetic or unsympathetic would you say you feel toward those who come to your country for the following reason: escaping war or armed conflict?
  • Overall do you think globalization is a good thing, bad thing, or neither good nor bad for the USA?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Judges?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Journalists?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Politicians?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Business people?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Military?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Healthcare workers?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Police?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Teachers?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Bankers?
  • Do you trust or distrust the following groups of people: Religious leaders?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statement: We should not allow corrupt foreign politicians and business people to spend their proceeds from corruption in my country.
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statement: The Government is effective at preventing corrupt politicians and business people from spending their proceeds from corruption in my country.
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statement: The Government should require companies to publish the real names of their shareholders and owners.
  • How strongly do you feel that your mobile device (including mobile phone and other hand held devices) enhances your quality of life?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statement: Washing my hands with soap after going to the toilet is something I automatically do.

Now, something interesting might be gathered from any of these questions, even the soap one. It’s interesting that in religiosity the United States resembles the places it wages war on, as opposed to the places its military is allied with which have virtually no use for religion. And the questions on corrupt investment and shareholder transparency almost seem like policy questions, although the predictably one-sided responses give them a dog-bites-man non-news quality.

Which Nations’ Populations Are Most Accepting of More Wars?

This question is quite interesting because of the answers given around the world: “If there were a war that involved [your country’s name] would you be willing to fight for your country?” Now, if your country were under attack or recently under attack or threatened with attack, that might, I suppose, lead you toward a yes answer. Or if you trusted your government not to launch offensive wars, that too — I’m guessing — might lead you toward a yes answer. But the United States routinely launches wars that, before long, a majority of its population says shouldn’t have been launched. What percentage of Americans will nonetheless say they’re theoretically willing to join in any war whatsoever?

Of course, the question is a bit vague. What if “a war that involved the United States” were taken to mean the actual United States and not the affairs of its government thousands of miles away? Or what if “fight for your country” were taken to mean “fight in actual defense of your actual country”? Obviously such interpretations would add to the yes answers. But such interpretations would require serious distance from reality; those aren’t the kind of wars that are waged by the United States. And very clearly people who answered this survey in some other parts of the world tended not to use such an interpretation. Or even if they understood the question to involve an attack on their nation, they did not see war as a viable response worthy of their participation.

In Italy 68 percent of Italians polled said they would NOT fight for their country, while 20 percent said they would. In Germany 62 percent said they would not, while 18 percent said they would. In the Czech Republic, 64 percent would not fight for their country, while 23 percent would. In the Netherlands, 64 percent would not fight for their country, while 15 percent would. In Belgium, 56 percent would not, while 19 percent would. Even in the UK, 51 percent would not participate in a UK war, while 27 percent would. In France, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, and Switzerland, more people would refuse to be part of a war than would agree. The same goes for Australia and Canada. In Japan only 10 percent would fight for their country.

What about the United States? Despite waging the greatest number of most baseless and most costly wars, the United States manages 44 percent claiming a willingness to fight and 31 percent refusing. By no means is that the world record. Israel is at 66 percent ready to fight and 13 percent not. Afghanistan is at 76 to 20. Russia, Sweden, Finland, and Greece are all ready to fight with strong majorities. Argentina and Denmark have ties between those who would fight and those who would not.

But look at the incredible contrast in the two places I’ve lived, for example: the United States and Italy. Italians clearly view it as largely unacceptable to say you would participate in a war. The United States has 44 percent saying that despite the destruction of Iraq, despite the chaos brought to Libya, despite the misery added to Afghanistan’s lot, despite the destabilization of Yemen, despite the costs even to the aggressor and despite the world believing the United States to be the greatest threat to peace on earth, those 44 percent at least feel obliged to claim they would participate in an unspecified war.

Are those 44 percent rushing to the recruitment offices to get trained up and be ready? Luckily, no. It’s just a poll, and we all know how Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly would have answered it, but even lies told in polls reflect cultural preferences. The fact is that there is a sizable minority in the United States that has never believed any of its recent wars were crimes or blunders, never questioned trillion dollar military spending, and never desired a world without war in it. Trying to explain that to people from the Netherlands can be like trying to explain why Americans don’t want healthcare. The gap is wide, and I thank Gallup for accidentally revealing it.

Further study is needed to find the roots of the relative degrees of militarism revealed.

Who Owns the Media?

March 18th, 2015 by Information Clearing House

Massive corporations dominate the U.S. media landscape. Through a history of mergers and acquisitions, these companies have concentrated their control over what we see, hear and read.   

Camouflaging the reality of elite domination with rhetorical sleight of hand techniques and symbol manipulation has catapulted Barack Obama over Ronald Reagan as the new “great communicator.” And while this privileging of style over substance is not new in bourgeois politics, Obama’s ability to demobilize opposition from the left sets him apart and is becoming a model for liberal accommodationist parties.

This version of Trojan horse politics is being deployed by the Zionist Union (ZU) in Israel in both its domestic campaigning and international public relations. Led by Isaac Herzog, the ZU, with its political and social base in the Israeli Labor Party, appears to have been successful in constructing a narrative that the ZU is a more moderate and reasonable change from the polarizing and pugnacious policies of Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party. With liberal Zionist money pouring into Israel from throughout the Jewish diaspora and a resuscitation of the public relations stunt called the two-state solution, the ZU became the party of “hope and change” for many Israelis fed-up with Netanyahu’s alienating style – sound familiar?

Of course Isaac Herzog is no Obama and the public relations challenge is even more daunting for the Israeli elite when the reality of Israel’s existence as a “Zionist state” depends on the political subordination of its Palestinian citizens, a rejection of the right to return for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled for their lives in 1948, and the colonization of more and more of the “officially recognized” occupied territories in Palestine.

Gideon Levy points out:

“While Netanyahu’s insistence on Israel’s continued ruling over millions of Palestinians is expressed in aggressive, often religious and nationalistic language, Herzog’s justifications for doing the same thing would sound much softer and easier to digest in the Western world.”

The shift that liberal Zionism is attempting to effect with its support for the ZU is merely at the level of perception. On the substantive and essentially colonialist issues, the historic positions of the Israeli Labor Party – and now of Herzog and the Zionist Union – do not depart significantly from the positions of Netanyahu’s Likud Party.

On the issue of settlements, one of the main issues that has continually undermined agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, Herzog and the ZU have not committed to building new settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank but have expressed support for expansion in existing settlement projects. For Palestinians expanding settlements or new settlements both translate into more territory lost to the Israeli state.

On the right of return for the more than 700,000 Palestinian refugees displaced in the war of 1948, Herzog is clear: “No right of return for the Palestinians to Israel in any way.” And on the issue of Jerusalem and the desire for a contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, Herzog and the ZU have not strayed away from the historic positions of the Labor Party or of Likud that “for Zionism to prevail and to succeed we must make sure that Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim (settlements that disconnect Jerusalem from the West Bank and make a contiguous Palestinian state almost impossible) will be part of Israel forever.

The consistency of the Zionist Union with the Zionist policies since 1948 should not be surprising. After all, they named it Zionist Union for a reason! However, there are many people in the U.S. and Western Europe who need to believe that the ZU represents some significant change in the Zionist project. This particular affliction emanates from an inability to accept that the Zionist project is a colonial project in which the appropriation of Palestinian land and the subordination and repression of Palestinian people and the denial of authentic self-determination is an inevitable by- product.

But for Palestinians there is no escape from the oppressive reality of Israeli occupation and the systematic denial of fundamental human rights. It is a lived reality. It is lived in Gaza where Palestinians live in the blasted ruins of what were once their homes, shivering through the winter without adequate food, water, and the basic material needs of life. It is lived by the 1.4 million Palestinians living as second-class citizens in Israel and discriminated against in every sector of life, and it is lived by the millions of stateless, de-humanized, and degraded Palestinians living the hell of military occupation.

And while some Palestinians in Israel are participating in the electoral process, others decry the elections as an unprincipled “normalization” of the occupation. For those Palestinians, the elections are seen as a macabre joke.

Like the bait and then switch policies of the Obama era in the U.S that promised liberal reforms but delivered neoliberal austerity and permanent war, liberalism in Israel does not offer Palestinians anything more than the continuation of the same, except the added and more nefarious consequence that with a “liberal” Zionist Union in power there will be less international mobilization against the policies of occupation.

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer and geo-political analyst. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C. and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. He is a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” (Counterpunch Books, 2014). He can be reached at

EU-US Power Play Behind Regime Change in Russia

March 18th, 2015 by Pepe Escobar

With “friends” like European Council President Donald Tusk and top NATO commander Gen. Philip Breedlove, the EU certainly doesn’t need enemies.

Gen. Breedhate has been spewing out his best Dr. Strangelove impersonation, warning that evil Russia is invading Ukraine on an everyday basis. The German political establishment is not amused.

Tusk, while meeting with US President Barack Obama, got Divide and Rule backwards; he insisted, “foreign adversaries” were trying to divide the US and the EU – when it’s actually the US that is trying to divide the EU from Russia. And right on cue, he blamed Russia — side by side with the fake Caliphate of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

Tusk’s way out? The EU should sign the US corporate-devised racket known as Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), or NATO on trade. And then the “West” will rule forever.

NATO may indeed incarnate the ultimate geopolitical/existential paradox; an alliance that exists to manage the chaos it breeds.

And still, revolving around NATO, there are many more diversionist tactics than meet the eye. Take the latest uttering by notorious Russophobe Dr. Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski. In a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Dr. Zbig advanced that the US and Russia should have an understanding that if Ukraine becomes a member of the EU, it won’t become a member of NATO.

Well, dear Doctor, we got a problem. The EU has zero interest in incorporating a failed state on (immensely expensive) life support by the IMF, and technically mired in a civil war.

On the other hand the US has undivided interest in a Ukraine as NATO member; that’s the whole rationale of the relentless post-Maidan demonization of Russia.

Call it the Dr. Zbig maneuver; neo-con wishful thinking; what certain key Empire of Chaos/Masters of the Universe factions would die for; or all of the above; the ultimate target is regime change and dismemberment of Russia. Russian intelligence knows all about the inside story.

To forestall it, there would be only one possible settlement, including; end of sanctions on Russia; end of the raid on the ruble/oil price war; eastern European nations out of NATO; Crimea recognized as part of Russia; eastern Ukraine totally autonomous but still part of Ukraine.

We all know this won’t happen anytime soon – if ever. So a nasty Cold War 2.0 atmosphere is bound to prevail – alongside with relentless demonization reaping its benefits. A new Gallup poll shows most Americans now see Russia – ahead of North Korea, China and Iran – as the US’s public enemy number one and the greatest threat to the West.

Let Me Take You on a Missile Cruise

The Empire of Chaos dream of regime change in Russia has always hinged on controlling large swathes of Eurasia. A puppet in Moscow – a carbon copy of the drunken stooge Yeltsin – would free up Russia’s immense natural resources for the West, with those from the contiguous Central Asian “stans” as a bonus.

If on the other hand Russia maintains its influence, even indirectly, in Ukraine and on Central Asia’s oil and natural gas wealth, Moscow is capable of projecting itself again as a superpower. So once again this is largely about the domination of Eurasian Pipelineistan; anything else means a direct threat to the unipolar world.

Russian intelligence is very much aware of relentless US pressure geared to breaking parts off of Russia, weakening them, until Russia becomes a chaos wasteland not dissimilar to Iraq or Yemen – with natural resources then flowing freely to the West.

That’s why the pressure has been ratcheted up to nearly nuclear war proportions. Some adults in the EU though are starting to get the picture.

The EU simply does not have the funds to really invest in the Central Asian stans, or to pump billions of (devalued) euros into pipelines through Azerbaijan. Libya, Nigeria and the Middle East (from Iraq to Yemen) are a mess. The EU has no energy security in the Middle East and North Africa, and without Russia will have no energy security at all.

This set of circumstances unveils the specter of Cold War 2.0 turning hot as even more bewildering. Needless to add, Poland, Ukraine, and other hapless Eastern Europeans would be mere pawns if a full-blown civil war does break out in Ukraine – the explicit aim of that American fantasyland, the Kaganate of Nulands, or Nulandistan.

In a – admittedly terrifying — war scenario, Russia would seal eastern Ukraine airspace against US air power using an array of sophisticated defensive missiles. Tactical nuclear weapons would be used for the first time. Europe would be basically defenseless as NATO’s Dr. Strangeloves would be tempted to launch a full-scale nuclear war. Still, NATO’s ICBMs, cruise missiles and jet fighters would not pierce the S-400 and S-500 Russian defensive missile systems.

Provoking the Russian bear is a self-defeating proposition. Russia quitting the landmark Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe is really serious business; NATO is beyond alarmed. Not to mention Moscow announcing it has the right to place — and may even have placed — nuclear weapons in Crimea. Meanwhile the Russian military continue to test NATO’s defenses by flying their planes into NATO’s defensive perimeter.

Eurasia swings from one minute to another from reconciliation to provocation. Cui bono? Moscow is a master in keeping Washington and NATO guessing.

Watch That Lady Sing

It was Putin that first wanted, years ago, to create a vast trade emporium from Lisbon to Vladivostok, also including China, using high-speed rail to avoid the US-controlled seas. That was the trade-fuelled original plan, rather than a China-Russia alliance against NATO.

What the Empire of Chaos achieved in Ukraine, at least for now, was to divide Eurasia into three competing blocks; Germany-France allied with the US (but with both now having second thoughts); Russia; and China offset by Japan. Once again, that’s Divide and Rule — with the US as perpetual hegemon always capable of adapting and tweaking its proverbial bomb-and-bully foreign policy strategy.

Yet it ain’t over till the fat (geopolitical) lady sings. The Russia-China strategic partnership keeps evolving – check out the upcoming BRICS and SCO summits in Russia this summer. The oil and natural gas wealth of Russia and Central Asia will keep performing their U-turn towards China and Asia. And in a few years the “Exceptionalists Rule the Waves” mantra will cease to be a game-changer.

Regime change? Keep dreaming.

Pepe Escobar’s latest book is “Empire of Chaos”. Follow him on Facebook.

With the situation in the Middle East seemingly spinning out of control, many political observers are left wondering what it all means. The war in Syria has been at the forefront of the news since 2011, and rightly so, as Syria has become the epicenter of a larger regional conflict, particularly with the ascendance of ISIS in the last year.

Undoubtedly, the mainstream acceptance of the ISIS threat has changed the strategic calculus vis-à-vis Syria, as the US prepares to launch yet another open-ended war, ostensibly to defeat it. And, while many in the West are willing to buy the ISIS narrative and pretext for war, they do so with little understanding or recognition of the larger geopolitical contours of this conflict. Essentially, almost everyone ignores the fact that ISIS and Syria-Iraq is only one theater of conflict in the broader regional war being waged by the US-NATO-GCC-Israel axis. Also of vital importance is an understanding of the proxy war against Iran (and all Shia in the region), being fomented by the very same terror and finance networks that have spread the ISIS disease in Syria.

In attempting to unravel the complex web of relations between the terror groups operating throughout the region, important commonalities begin to emerge. Not only are many of these groups directly or tangentially related to each other, their shadowy connections to western intelligence bring into stark relief an intricate mosaic of terror that is part of a broader strategy of sectarianism designed to destroy the “Axis of Resistance” which unites Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. In so doing, these terror groups and their patrons hope to internationalize the war in Syria, and its destructive consequences.

Terrorism as a Weapon in Syria and Iraq

In order to understand how these seemingly disparate groups fit into the regional destabilization, one must first recognize how they are connected both in terms of ideology and shared relationships. On the one hand you have the well known terror outfits operating in the Syria-Iraq theater of this conflict. These would include the ubiquitous ISIS, along with its Al Qaeda-affiliated ally Jabhat Al-Nusra.

However, often left out of the western narrative is the fact that the so called “moderate rebels,” such as the Al Farouq Brigade and other similar groups affiliated with the “Free Syrian Army,” are also linked through various associations with a number of jihadi organizations in Syria and beyond. These alleged “moderates” have been documented as having committed a number of egregious war crimes including mutilation of their victims, and cross-border indiscriminate shelling. And these are the same “moderates” that the Obama Administration spent the last three years touting as allies, as groups worthy of US weapons, to say nothing of the recent revelations of cooperation with US air power. But of course US cooperation with these extremist elements is only the tip of the iceberg.

A recent UN report further corroborated the allegations that Israeli military and/or Mossad is cooperating with, and likely helping to organize, the Jabhat al-Nusra organization in and around the Golan Heights. Such claims of course dovetail with the reports from Israeli media that militant extremists fighting the Syrian government have been treated in Israeli medical facilities. Naturally, these clandestine activities carried out by Israel should be combined with the overt attacks on Syria carried out by Tel Aviv, including recent airstrikes, which despite the inaction of the UN and international community, undeniably constitute a war crime.

Beyond the US and Israel however, other key regional actors have taken part in the destabilization and war on Syria. Turkey has provided safe haven for terrorists streaming into Syria to wage war against the legally recognized government of President Assad. In cooperation with the CIA and other agencies, Turkey has worked diligently to foment civil war in Syria in hopes of toppling the Assad government, thereby allowing Ankara to elevate itself to a regional hegemon, or so the thinking of Erdogan and Davutoglu goes. Likewise, Jordan has provided training facilities for terrorists under the guidance and tutelage of “instructors” from the US, UK, and France.

But why rehash all these well-documented aspects of the destabilization and war on Syria? Simple. In order to fully grasp the regional dimension and global implications of this conflict, one must place the Syria war in its broader geopolitical context, and understand it as one part of a broader war on the “Axis of Resistance.” For, while Hezbollah and certain Iranian elements have been involved in the fighting and logistical support in Syria, another insidious threat has emerged – a renewed terror war against Iran in its Sistan and Baluchestan province in the east.

Rekindling the Proxy War against Iran

As the world’s attention has been understandably fixed upon the horrors of Syria, Iraq, and Libya, a new theater in the regional conflict has come to the forefront – Iran; specifically, Iran’s eastern Sistan and Baluchestan province, long a hotbed of separatism and anti-Shia terror, where a variety of terror groups have operated with the covert, and often overt, backing of western and Israeli intelligence agencies.

Just in the last year, there have been numerous attacks on Iranian military and non-military targets in the Sistan and Baluchestan region, attacks carried out by a variety of groups. Perhaps the most well known instance occurred in March 2014 when five Iranian border guards were kidnapped – one was later executed – by Jaish al-Adl which, according to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium is:

an extremist Salafi group that has since its foundation claimed responsibility for a series of operations against Iran’s domestic security forces and Revolutionary Guards operating in Sistan and Balochistan province, including the detonation of mines [link added] against Revolutionary Guards vehicles and convoys, kidnapping of Iranian border guards and attacks against military bases… Jaish al-Adl is also opposed to the Iranian Government’s active support of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which they regard as an attack on Sunni muslims…Jaish ul-Adl executes cross border operations between the border of Iran and Pakistan and is based in the Baluchistan province in Pakistan.

It is important to note the centrality of Iran’s support for Syria and the Syrian Arab Army (and of course Hezbollah) in the ideological framework of a group like Jaish al-Adl. Essentially, this terror group sees their war against the Iranian government as an adjunct of the war against Assad and Syria – a new front in a larger war. Of course, the sectarian aspect should not be diminished as this group, like its many terrorist cousins, makes no distinction between political and religious/sectarian divisions. A war on Iran is a war on Shia, and both are just, both are legitimate.

Similarly, the last 18 months have seen the establishment of yet another terror group known as Ansar al-Furqan – a fusion of the Balochi Harakat Ansar and Pashto Hizb al-Furqan, both of which had been operating along Iran’s eastern border with Pakistan. According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium:

They characterize themselves as Mujahideen aginst [sic] the Shia government in Iran and are linked to Katibat al Asad Al ‘Ilamiya; Al-Farooq activists; al Nursra Front (JN), Nosrat Deen Allah, Jaysh Muhammad, Jaysh al ‘Adal; and though it was denied for some time, appears to have at least personal relationships with Jundallah…The stated mission of Ansar al Furqan is ” to topple the Iranian regime…”

Like its terrorist cousin Jaish al-Adl, Ansar al-Furqan has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks against the Iranian Government, including a May 2014 IED attack on a freight train belonging to government forces. While such attacks may not make a major splash in terms of international attention, they undoubtedly send a message heard loud and clear in Tehran: these terrorists and their sponsors will stop at nothing to destroy the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Two inescapable facts immediately come to the fore when examining these groups. On the one hand, they are Sunni extremists whose ultimate goal is the destruction of the Iranian state and all vestiges of Shia dominance, political, military or otherwise. On the other hand, these groups see their war against Iran as part and parcel of the terror wars on Syria and Iraq.

And then of course there’s Jundallah, the notorious terror organization lead for decades by the Rigi family. Anyone with even cursory knowledge of the group is undoubtedly aware of its long-standing ties to both US and Israeli intelligence. As Foreign Policy magazine reported in 2012, Israeli Mossad and US CIA operatives essentially competed with one another for control of the Jundallah network for years. This information of course directly links these agencies with the covert war against Iran going back years, to say nothing of the now well-known role of Israeli intelligence in everything from assassinations of Iranian scientists to the use of cyberweapons such as Stuxnet and Flame. These and other attacks by Israel and the US against Iranian interests constitute a major part of the dirty war against Iran – a war in which terror groups figure prominently.

It should be noted that a number of other terror outfits have been used through the decades in the ongoing “low-intensity” war against Iran, including the infamous Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a terrorist group hailed as heroes by the US neocon establishment. Thanks to Wikileaks, it also now documented fact that Israel has long since attempted to use Kurdish groups such as PJAK (Iraqi Kurdish terror group) to wage continued terror war against Iran for the purposes of destabilization of the government. Additionally, there was a decades-long campaign of Arab separatism in Iran’s western Khuzestan region spearheaded by British intelligence. As Dr. Kaveh Farrokh and Mahan Abedin wrote in 2005, “there is a mass of evidence that connects the British secret state to Arab separatism in Iran.”

These and other groups, too numerous to name here, represent a part of the voluminous history of subversion against Iran. But why now? What is the ultimate strategy behind these seemingly disparate geopolitical machinations?

Encircling the Resistance in Order to Break It

To see the obvious strategic gambit by the US-NATO-GCC-Israel axis, one need only look at a map of the major conflicts mentioned above. Syria has been infiltrated by countless terrorist groups that have waged a brutal war against the Syrian government and people. They have used Turkey in the North, Jordan in the South, and to a lesser degree Lebanon and, indirectly, Israel in the West. Working in tandem with the ISIS forces originating in Iraq, Syria has been squeezed from all sides in hopes that military defeat and/or the internal collapse of the Syrian government would be enough to destroy the country.

Naturally, this strategy has necessarily drawn Hezbollah into the war as it is allied with Syria and, for more practical reasons, cannot allow a defeated and broken Syria to come to fruition as Hezbollah would then be cut off from their allies in Iran. And so, Hezbollah and Syria have been forced to fight on no less than two fronts, fighting for the survival of the Resistance in the Levant.

Simultaneously, the regional power Iran has made itself into a central player in the war in Syria, recognizing correctly that the war could prove disastrous to its own security and regional ambitions. However, Tehran cannot simply put all its energy into supporting and defending Syria and Hezbollah as it faces its own terror threat in the East. The groups seeking to topple the Iranian government may not be able to compete militarily with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, but they can certainly create enough destabilization through terrorism to make it more difficult for Tehran to effectively aid in the fight in Syria.

The US-NATO-GCC-Israel alliance has not needed to put its own boots on the ground to achieve its strategic objectives. Instead, it is relying on irregular warfare, proxy terror wars, and small-scale destabilizations to achieve by stealth what it cannot achieve with military might alone.

But it remains paramount for all those interested in peace to make these connections, to understand the broad outlines of this vast covert war taking place. To see a war in Syria in isolation is to misunderstand its very nature. To see ISIS alone as the problem is to completely misread the essence of the conflict. This is a battle for regional hegemony, and in order to attain it, the Empire is employing every tool in the imperial toolkit, with terrorism being one of the most effective.

Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City, he is the founder of and OP-ed columnist for RT, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

The appointment of Robert Malley as White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region is not considered a sufficient indicator that there will be any radical change in U.S. strategy despite the campaign launched against the U.S. by the Zionists due to its openness to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Syria and Iran.

On 6 March, President Barack Obama’s administration appointed Robert Malley, the former senior director of the National Security Council who dealt with the Iraqi, Iranian, and Gulf issues, and a member of the delegation negotiating the Iranian nuclear programme, as the Special White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf region. Malley is scheduled to assume his new position on 6 April, succeeding Philip Gordon.

Edward Abington, former U.S. consul general in occupied Jerusalem, described the lawyer specialised in “conflict resolution” as being an “American Jewish” and that his appointment is a “positive development”. He was also described by U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice as “one of our country’s most respected experts on the Middle East, since February 2014 Rob has played a critical role in forming our policy on Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf.”

However, the Zionist Organisation of America (ZOA) opposed the appointment of Malley for several reasons, stating that Malley is an “Israel-basher, advocate of U.S. recognition of major, unreconstructed terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and proponent of containment of Iran (i.e., not preventing them from attaining nuclear weapons) and proponent of negotiating with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad (i.e. not changing his regime).”

He also believes that working with the Muslim Brotherhood is “not a bad idea” and called Israel’s settlements located in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967 “colonies”. He also called for abandoning the Road Map for Peace approved by the international Quartet in 2003 and replacing it with a comprehensive settlement plan to be imposed on the parties with the backing of the international community, including Arab and Muslim states. He did so before the Foreign Relations Committee in the U.S. Senate in 2004. He also continues to urge the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah, Palestinian Authority and Hamas “to unite”.

Malley also called for “involving” Hamas in the PLO’s negotiations with the occupation, explaining his statement by saying that the PLO must include Hamas because it has become “antiquated, worn out, barely functioning, and is no longer considered the Palestinian people’s sole legitimate representative.” He also called for the resumption of negotiations between the Arabs and Israel ”on all levels on the basis of the Arab peace initiative.”

The ZOA did not fail to mention his father, Simon Malley who was born and worked in Egypt as a journalist for Al-Goumhouria newspaper before moving with his family to France and founding Afrique-Asie magazine. The ZOA said that Simon Malley was “a virulently anti-Israel member of the Egyptian Communist Party, a close confidante of Yasser Arafat, and an enthusiast for violent Third World ’liberation’ movements.” As for his mother, Barbara Malley, she worked with the United Nations delegation of the National Liberation Front (NLF), the Algerian independence group.

Robert Malley was Barack Obama’s colleague at Harvard Law School and a Middle East affairs adviser for his 2008 campaign. However, Obama was forced to cast him aside due to the Zionist campaign against both of them after Britain’s the Times revealed that Malley had been in contact with Hamas.

In his media interviews Malley explained that the contacts were part of his work with the International Crisis Group, saying: “My job with the International Crisis Group is to meet with all sorts of savoury and unsavoury people and report on what they say. I’ve never denied whom I meet with; that’s what I do.”

He added that he used to inform the State Department about his meetings beforehand and briefs them afterward. During the same year, London’s Al-Hayat newspaper quoted deputy head of the political bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, and Hamas official Dr Ahmed Yousef as saying: “We were in contact with a number of Obama’s aides through the internet, and later met with some of them in Gaza, but they advised us not to come out with any statements, as they may have a negative effect on his election campaign.”

Before this, Malley, who was a member of the U.S. negotiating team in the 2000 Arafat-Barak-Clinton summit at Camp David, was the target of an Israeli-Zionist campaign because he held all three leaders responsible for the failure of the summit, and not only the late Palestinian leader, who was repeatedly accused by Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and their team of negotiators of causing the failure.

Morton A. Klein, president of the Zionist Organisation of America, said: “How exactly does someone, who is dropped as an adviser because he advocates recognition of, and meets with, the genocidally-inclined terrorist organisation Hamas, now became a senior adviser to the president, unless President Obama has all along agreed with much of what Malley thinks and advocates?”

Due to the fact that the appointment of Malley coincided with the crisis in relations between the U.S. and Israel, caused by the recent speech made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the U.S. Congress behind Obama’s back and without his approval, analysts have begun to talk about “changes in the U.S. role in the Middle East” in the context of the Israeli media outlets and its Zionist and Jewish arms abroad.

They have also predicted that “there will be no doubt that the U.S. policy will be focused exclusively on pressuring Israel over the course of the last 22 months of Obama’s term,” as written by Jonathan S. Tobin in America’s Commentary magazine on 10 March.

During this time, Obama will be “free of electoral pressure” so the Obama administration’s treatment of the Palestinian issue is about to take on a much more aggressive attitude over the next two years. This will allow Obama to “invest the little political credit he has left in ‘bringing world peace’,” as written by Alex Fishman in the Israeli daily the Yedioth Ahronoth.

In Fishman’s view, there are now two courses of work on the White House’s agenda. First, it can follow the path of the “European Initiative” which proposes issuing a UN Security Council resolution for a “lasting solution in the Middle East”, while the second path involves waiting for the results of the Israeli elections this week, as it is a “renewal of the American peace initiative, which will have behind it a very skilled, determined person, who isn’t very fond of the current government: The president’s new man in the Middle East,” Robert Malley.

It is clear that these courses of action, the appointment of Malley and his record will undoubtedly breathe life into the PLO’s negotiating team, especially since President Abbas repeatedly says that going to the UN and international organisations, as well as the latest PLO’s Central Council recommendations, do not necessarily mean that negotiations will be abandoned.

These negotiations can also be considered new material used by the American camp in the Arab League to justify its on-going pressure on the PLO to continue to rely on the United States.

The appointment of Malley indicates one conclusion: that the U.S. is heading towards a new initiative to resume negotiations between the PLO and the Israeli occupying power without making any changes to its references. If the PLO interacts and deals with the “European initiative” then it is likely to deal and interact with any new U.S. initiative, according to all indications in this regard.

In this case, the PLO’s recent diplomatic actions not related to the negotiations and the United States has merely been “playing on borrowed time” while waiting for the results of the Israeli elections.

However, these actions can still be built upon in order to completely depart from the American vision for the “resolution of the conflict” in the event that Netanyahu is re-elected as prime minister.

On the other hand, Hamas should not be fooled by Robert Malley’s positions towards the movement, despite its importance, as it is an attempt to contain the movement and drag it into “negotiations” between the PLO and Israel based on the same references rejected and opposed by Hamas thus far.

As for Malley’s performance in Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf, over the past year, which was praised by Susan Rice, it has had catastrophic consequences on the ground that speak for themselves. Malley’s openness to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran and Syria is nothing more than tactical dealings in order to serve the unchanged U.S. strategy with forces that have proved their presence.

Appointing Robert Malley as White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf Region is not a sufficient indicator of any radical change in the U.S. strategy that is on the verge of tearing the Arab world apart, along with its Islamic surroundings, unless it is deterred. This is true despite the Zionist campaign opposing his openness towards Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Syria and Iran.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories ([email protected]). This article was translated from Arabic and first published by the “Middle East Monitor”.

Canada’s minister of immigration and citizenship, Chris Alexander, was one of the featured speakers at a fundraising dinner in Toronto on February 22, 2015 organized by the extreme-right Ukrainian Canadian Congress. The minister delivered a pro-war rant that could easily serve as dialogue in a film sequel to the 1964 doomsday-nuclear war film, ‘Dr. Strangelove’.

Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander speaking to pro-Ukraine war fundraising event in Toronto Feb 22, 2015

Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander speaking to pro-Ukraine war fundraising event in Toronto Feb 22, 2015

Alexander told the audience that “every” military option must be exercised in the process of giving a “comeuppance” to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“What is going on in eastern Ukraine… really has to do with the incomplete process of ending the existence of the Soviet Union for good. Ending the oppression and ending the Faustian bargain that was made during the Second World War with Stalin’s Soviet Union, for good…

This minister continued, “We have been expecting this. We have been expecting a crisis in Ukraine because there have always been Russians, since 1991—everywhere, and now around Vladimir Putin–who wanted to put humpty dumpty back together, who couldn’t accept that Ukraine could be an independent country. They are a menace to Russia, they are a menace to Ukraine, they are a menace to the whole world.”

Andriy Parubiy (L) applauds Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander speaking to pro-Ukraine war fundraising event in Toronto Feb 22, 2015

Andriy Parubiy (L) applauds Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander speaking to pro-Ukraine war fundraising event in Toronto Feb 22, 2015

Of note in the minister’s speech is the threat to move against and other news services out of Russia, “which are preaching absolute poison”.

The minister sounded a stirring finale in his speech: “This is going to be a great struggle. We are just at the beginning of this struggle.”

The aggressive tone of the minister was no doubt occasioned by the presence of the principal guest speaker at the dinner–Andriy Parubiy. He is a deputy chairperson of the Ukrainian parliament. He was a founder of an important organization of the extreme right in Ukraine back in 1991, the Social-National Party of Ukraine. The party became a fount of future extreme-right formations, including today’s Svoboda Party.

Parubiy was also a ‘commander’ of the far-right shock troops which seized the leadership of the protest movement called ‘Euromaidan’ in Kyiv in late 2013 and early 2014. The violent actions of the extreme-right on Maidan Square in Kyiv sparked the overthrow of the elected president Viktor Yanukovych and the commencement of the civil war by the new government against the people of eastern Ukraine.

Chris Alexander at Ukraine Independence Day event in Toronto, Aug 2014. In background are red-black flags of Ukraine far-right

Chris Alexander at Ukraine Independence Day event in Toronto, Aug 2014. In background are red-black flags of Ukraine far-right

The dinner was attended by several hundred people. Parubiy travelled to Ottawa the next day where he was feted by the Conservative Party government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The shock troop commander received a warm welcome from Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, Rob Nicholson, and from many members of Parliament.

Below is a transcript of excerpts of Chris Alexander’s four-minute speech to the Toronto event. His speech can be viewed (beginning at the 10′ mark) as part of a one-hour Ukrainian-language news program, ‘KontaktUkrainian TV2′, published here on You Tube.

The program episode was posted to YouTube more than two weeks ago and has garnered a mere 71 viewers. It includes portions of Andriy Parubiy’s speech to the dinner as well as a nine-minute interview with him.

Chris Alexander and other political leaders in Ontario attended a Ukrainian Independence Day event in Toronto last August 24, 2014 which featured fundraising booths of the Ukrainian fascist party ‘Right Sector’. The group was raising funds for its paramilitary battalion in Ukraine. When asked by reporters of CBC’s English and French-language services if he was aware of the Right Sector’s activity at the event, Alexander bristled and said he was “very proud” to be in attendance.

That event was organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. The same group organized a gala event in Toronto on November 29 to mark the one-year anniversary of the Euromaidan movement. The guest speaker there was Valeriy Chobotar, a leader of the Right Sector brought all the way over from Ukraine.

* * *

Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander, speaking to a fundraising dinner in Toronto on February 22, 2015, organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (excerpts):

We know, as you know, that Vladimir Putin is only going to face his comeuppance, that his whole, mad nightmare is only going to come apart at the seams, when the whole world is standing against him, with every option [speaker emphasis] on the table, denouncing his illegal action and standing with Ukraine. With military assistance, and with every other form of assistance.

This is the biggest issue facing the world today, in my view. I think [also] in the view of the prime minister, in the view of my team…

There is absolutely no scenario going into the future that leads to peace and security for this world… that does not include a full international effort to give Ukraine the tools it needs to drive Russian forces from [Ukraine’s] border and to secure its borders for good…

What is going on in eastern Ukraine… really has to do with the incomplete process of ending the existence of the Soviet Union for good. Ending the oppression and ending the Faustian bargain that was made during the Second World War with Stalin’s Soviet Union, for good…

We have been expecting this. We have been expecting a crisis in Ukraine because there have always been Russians, since 1991–everywhere–and now around Vladimir Putin, who wanted to put humpty dumpty back together, who couldn’t accept that Ukraine could be an independent country. They are a menace to Russia, they are a menace to Ukraine, they are a menace to the whole world. We must speak out against this dangerous ideology, which is present in our own city of Toronto. Which is present across Canada. Which comes to us via Russian, state-sponsored channels which are preaching absolute poison…

All of our democracies, all of our democracies, depend on the outcome of this struggle. This is going to be a great struggle. We are just at the beginning of this struggle. When I see groups like this assembled… I know that the future of Ukraine is still bright. I know that the times that bring Canada to Ukraine have never been stronger.

A US drone has been shot down by Syria’s military over the coastal province of Latakia near a stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad, Syrian state media say.

“Syrian air defenses brought down a hostile US surveillance aircraft over north Latakia,” AFP quoted the official SANA news agency as saying on Tuesday.

Turkish military sources told the website of the Hürriyet newspaper that the aircraft was an unarmed American Predator drone, which had took off from the US Incirlik air base in Turkey’s southern province of Adana.

The Syrian state-run television has also broadcast footage of what it referred to as the drone’s wreckage, which was being loaded onto the back of a truck by soldiers.

The US military has confirmed that communication with an unarmed predator drone over northwest Syria was lost on Tuesday and that it is investigating claims that its unmanned aircraft was downed.

“We can confirm that at approximately 1:40 p.m. EDT today, U.S. military controllers lost contact with an U.S. MQ-1 Predator unarmed remotely piloted aircraft operating over northwest Syria… At this time, we have no information to corroborate press reports that the aircraft was shot down. We are looking into the incident and will provide more details when available,” a US official said.

If confirmed, the incident would be the first time Damascus has engaged a US aircraft over its airspace since the US-led military coalition began its so-called battle against the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in the Syrian territory in September 2014.

The coalition, which claims to have been targeting ISIL positions, has also attacked the provinces where the ISIL militants are not active and even hit Syrian infrastructure.

The US-led coalition’s airstrikes have failed to dislodge the terrorists.

Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fueled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 215,000 people, according to reports. New figures show that over 76,000 people, including thousands of children, lost their lives in Syria last year.

Over 7.2 million Syrians have reportedly become internally displaced due to the ongoing crisis.

The Takfiri [ISIS] terrorist groups, with members from several Western countries, control swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, and have been carrying out horrific acts of violence such as public decapitations and crucifixions against all communities including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.

Nearly a quarter of damages wrought by natural disasters on the developing world are borne by the agricultural sector, finds a new Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) study released in Sendai, Japan on March 17, 2015 at the UN World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Media reports and a FAO news release said:

Twenty-two percent of all damages inflicted by natural hazards such as drought, floods storms or tsunamis are registered within the agriculture sector, shows the analysis of 78 post-disaster needs assessments in 48 developing countries spanning the 2003-2013 period.

These damages and losses are often incurred by poor rural and semi-rural communities without insurance and lacking the financial resources needed to regain lost livelihoods. Yet only 4.5 percent of post-disaster humanitarian aid in the 2003-2013 period targeted agriculture.

FAO’s 22 percent figure represents only damages reported via post-disaster risk assessments. So while indicative of scale, the actual impact is likely even higher.

To arrive at a closer estimate of the true financial cost of disasters to developing world agriculture FAO compared decreases in yields during and after disasters with yield trends in 67 countries affected by (at least one) medium- to larger-scale events between 2003 and 2013.

The final tally: $70 billion in damages to crops and livestock over that 10 year period.

Asia was the most affected region, with estimated losses adding up to $28 billion, followed by Africa at $26 billion.

The initial findings of the new report shows the cost to farmers was considerably higher than previously estimated.

Between 2003–2013, natural hazards and disasters in developing countries affected more than 1.9 billion people, and caused more than $494bn in damages. Economic losses from natural disasters have tripled over the past decade, and continue to rise.

Out of a total $140bn in damages, $30bn affected agriculture.

“This (22%) is quite a large number and we think it is underestimated because … we have been facing a huge data gap … Yet this 22% is much bigger than results for previous studies,” said Dominique Burgeon, FAO’s resilience coordinator, who is attending the UN conference in Sendai.

The FAO found that 82% of production losses were caused by droughts and floods, with 77% of all agricultural production losses worldwide due to drought occurring in 27 sub-Saharan countries and costing those economies $23.5bn.

After natural disasters, trade flows were also jolted, the study said, noting an increase of $18.9bn in agricultural imports, and a decrease of $14.9bn in exports after natural disasters in the countries it surveyed.

Around 50% of global food production is produced by 2.5 billion smallholders. We have a huge challenge ahead

Around 2.5 billion small-scale farmers, herders, fishermen and forest communities depend on agriculture to survive, and their labors account for more than half of global agricultural production.

These people are particularly at risk from disasters – storms, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions – that destroy or damage harvests, equipment, supplies, livestock, seeds, crops and stored food.

“We know we need to increase global food security by 60% … Bearing in mind that around 50% of global food production is produced by these 2.5 billion smallholders, we have a huge challenge ahead of us, and an increasing number of disasters affecting these people,” Burgeon said.

The FAO announced it was launching a special facility to help countries reduce risk and limit impacts of natural disasters in food production sectors. Under this new scheme, technical support will be provided to those who need it most.

“Agriculture and all that it encompasses is not only critical for our food supply, it also remains a main source of livelihoods across the planet. While it is a sector at risk, agriculture also can be the foundation upon which we build societies that are more resilient and better equipped to deal with disasters,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

To help countries better prepare for and respond to disasters affecting agriculture, FAO on March 17, 2015 has launched a new facility aimed at channeling technical support to where it is most needed. The facility will work to mainstream disaster risk reduction in agriculture at all levels through diverse activities.

Graziano da Silva said: Studies have shown that for every one dollar spent on disaster risk reduction, as much as four dollars are returned in terms of avoided or diminished impacts.

Key facts

From FAO’s analysis of damages reported via needs assessments

Based only on damages reported in 78 post-disaster risk assessments in 48 countries covering the 2003-2013 period, losses of $140 billion were registered by all economic sectors – $30 billion of these were to agriculture (crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries).

When droughts occur, agriculture absorbs up to 84 percent of all economic impacts.

Within the agricultural sector, 42 percent of assessed losses were to crops ($13 billion) – with floods the main culprit responsible for 60 percent of crop damages followed by storms (23 percent of crop damages).

Livestock is the second most affected subsector after crops, accounting for 36 percent of all damage and losses, for a total of $11 billion during the 2003-2013 period.

Out of the 78 disasters assessed, 45 involved impacts to the fisheries subsector ($1.7 billion, or 6 percent all damages born by the agricultural sector). The lion’s share – 70 percent – was caused by tsunamis, typically infrequent events. Storms such as hurricanes and typhoons account for roughly 16 percent of the economic impact on fisheries, followed by floods (10 percent).

The forestry sector incurred $737 million in damages and losses, representing 2.4 percent of the total for the agricultural sector.

From FAO’s expanded analysis

FAO also compared decreases in yields during and after disasters with typical yield trends in 67 different countries affected by at least one medium- to larger-scale event between 2003 and 2013, in an expanded analysis, in order to arrive at a closer estimate of financial costs.

Based on this expanded analysis, losses and damages to crops and livestock over that period are estimated to total $70 billion. Data gaps mean the total is likely higher still.

82% of production losses were caused by drought (44 percent) and floods (39 percent).

Asia was the most affected region, with estimated losses adding up to $28 billion, followed by Africa at $26 billion.

In Africa, between 2003 and 2013 there were 61 drought years in Sub-Saharan Africa affecting 27 countries and 150 million people. FAO estimates that 77 percent of all agricultural production losses suffered worldwide due to drought occurred in those 27 Sub-Saharan countries, with losses adding up to $23.5 billion.

The purpose of this work is to provide an investigation into the ideology of anthropogenic (human caused) climate change.

It has been written with the confidence that further research within the public, as well as the academic realm is required. Furthermore, the investigative strategy incorporated in this paper serves to provide a starting place for additional investigation. Therefore, the foundational reason for this work is to empower the understanding of the readership.

“We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it…And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control.”

John F. Kennedy

To initiate an evidentiary inquiry into geopolitical decision making, one must first understand the causal relations that frame how a scientific issue is presented, addressed and subsequently dismissed. Of importance, is the distinction between sound science and methods motivated by political self interest. In the case of the former, the observer maintains a qualitative standard founded upon the premise that such an investigation will enhance the comprehensive intelligence within their respective discipline. In the case of the latter, the observer upholds a personal standard founded upon the ideology that this method will satisfy their self-interest and accelerate their ascendance to academic prominence. Thus, to value the integrity of the former method, the current directive must be to inspire a holistic understanding within the readership, as well as to identify the inconsistencies that arise within the discourse pertaining to anthropogenic climate change.

To further clarify, the guiding principals and intent of this work is to transform power. Since the prevailing dominant discourse derives its influence through maintaining ignorance, a praxis grounded upon intellectual empowerment is the most effective use of this knowledge. This investigation begins with an analysis of inconsistencies documented by official sources.

First to be examined is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It is the prerogative of NASA to research and identify causal forces within Earth’s solar system. NASA identifies multivariate concerns over uncertainties pertaining to potential causal forces influencing climate change. “There’s a great deal that we don’t know about the future of Earth’s climate and how climate change will affect humans”, including the impacts of solar irradiance, aerosols/dust/smoke, clouds, the carbon cycle, ocean circulation, precipitation and sea level rise (NASA 2013). As illustrated by researcher Victor Herrera of the Institute of Geophysics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, this statement by NASA is critical for “the models and forecasts of the UN IPCC are incorrect because they only are based on mathematical models and presented results at scenarios that do not include, for example, solar activity” (Morano 2008, pg 4). To omit such an influential contributor to climate change as the sun would inherently bias statistical models in favour of anthropogenic theorizing. NASA’s admission is important for it sets the groundwork for a genuine understanding on climate change.

A secondary piece of pertinent evidence is a report issued in 2012 by the United Kingdom’s National Weather Service. In this report, Colin Morice et al. state: “this model cannot take into account structural uncertainties arising from data set construction methodologies. It is clear that a full description of uncertainties in near-surface temperature, including those uncertainties arising from differing methodologies, requires that independent studies of near-surface temperatures should be maintained” (Morice, 2012, pg 5). This is important for the scientists involved clearly state the limitations of their chosen methodology, ie the HADCRUT4 data set, and recommend that independent research be conducted to affirm their findings.

David Rose, reporting for the UK’s Daily Mail, incorporated the graphs from this study into an article he wrote entitled Global Warming Stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report. Rose also interviews a number of climate scientists who express uncertainty regarding the accuracy of climate modeling. These interviews include “Professor Phil Jones, [former] director of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia…[who] admitted that he and his colleagues did not understand the impact of ‘natural variability’ – factors such as long-term ocean temperature cycles and changes in the output of the sun” (Rose 2012). Professor Phil Jones is the same individual “who found himself the centre of the ‘Climategate’ scandal over leaked emails..” (Rose 2012). In these emails, Jones, in association with Michael Mann and other collaborators, communicate their intention to censor academic papers via intervening in the IPCC peer review process, as well as manipulate statistical data to conform to inaccurate climate forecast models. In a 2009 email correspondence between Kevin Trenberth and Michael Mann, Trenberth states: “the fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t… Our observing system is inadequate” (Global Research 2009). As identified in the introduction, the actions of Jones and Mann perfectly illustrate the ideal of scientists working for academic self interest and not for the benefit of scientific understanding.

Arising from this case of intellectual manipulation is collateral damage. The scientific discipline of climate change and the severe ways upon which human beings are impacted by it, are dismissed in favour of the expert management of human populations. In the dominant discourse, additional issues such as globalization, corporatism, effective waste management, public health impacts, fresh water scarcity and natural resource privatization are often conveniently omitted. This practice of academic self interest attempts to discredit legitimate science while effectively empowering an environment of division, disinformation and subsequently, ignorance. It is within such an environment that opportunists thrive, pseudo-scientists whose rhetorical machinations frame the discourse of public opinion.

“[Thus it has become the case that] our government’s science and technology policy is now guided by uniformed and emotion-driven public opinion rather than by sound scientific advice. Unfortunately, this public opinion is controlled by the media, a group of scientific illiterates drunk with power, heavily influenced by irrelevant political ideologies, and so misguided as to believe that they are more capable than the scientific community of making scientific decisions” (Cohen 1984, pg 59).

A classic example, is Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former United States vice president Al Gore. A significant proponent of anthropogenic climate change, Gore also happens to be a major benefactor (The Telegraph). According to the Capital Research Centre’s publication Foundation Watch, “along with Gore, the co-founder of GIM [Generation Investment Management] is former Goldman Sachs CEO Hank Paulson…[In September 2006] Goldman Sachs bought 10% of CCX [Chicago Climate Exchange] shares for $23 million. CCX owns half of the European Climate Exchange (ECX), Europe’s largest carbon trading company…” (Barnes 2007, pg 4). This sale occurred the same year Al Gore released the film An Inconvenient Truth, which claims both a scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change, as well as pushing the need to offset carbon emissions via green investments. (Freeman 2007, pg 29). In fact, the Executive Intelligence Review reports that “Al Gore spoke at the May 2005 INCR [Investors Network on Climate Risk] Investors Summit at the United Nations, in his capacity as Chairman of his Generation Investment Management. He called for following the model of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, which started up in 2005. Monetize emissions; trade them; reduce them, was Gore’s mantra” (Freeman 2007, pg 29).

Upon further analysis, Foundation Watch affirms that “like CCX, the European Climate Exchange has about 80 member companies, including Barclays, BP, Calyon, E.ON UK, Endesa, Fortis, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Shell, and ECX has contracted with the European Union to further develop a future market in carbon trading” (Barnes 2007, pg 4). It is apparent that several significant benefactors are among the most powerful captains of banking, business and industry. The benefits they incur via the successful management of government policy and mainstream environmental activism is enormous and therein is the real inconvenient truth.

Therefore it is evident that the intentional manipulation of a scientific subject, can be designed to both generate a public reaction, as well as to benefit private interests. However, the real danger is when rhetorical mechanisms infiltrate the common sense of a particular population and influences that populations’ moral consciousness. When rhetoric, and those who employ it, can establish a jurisdiction of unquestionable authority, then it becomes a god, which through its own machinations, is capable of empowering its skillful technicians and silencing logical inquiry. The population, unaware of an intellectual coup d’etat, become willful participants in their own subjugation. Through their acquiescence to a society that abandons formative critical analysis and evidentiary investigation, the population voluntarily reinforces this invisible intellectual prison.

What develops next, is a form of group mentality. When robbed of the proper utilization of the reasoning faculty, a person surrenders to a set of prevailing assumptions, which in this case are reinforced by the rhetorical mechanisms operating in that society. “In fact, people can be so attached to ‘consensus reality’ that its assumptions and predictions override contradictory evidence. When speakers encounter a situation in which people or events do not fit the categories provided by their model of reality, they are more likely to describe those people or event to make them “fit” the model rather than change or revise the model itself” (Penelope 1990, pg 37). What this means is that even when a circumstance arises which exposes that person to an alternative perspective on reality, no matter how grounded in evidentiary logic, that individual will instinctively re-frame or reject that knowledge.

Knowledge, and its effective application, is power. Thus, the willful ignorance of the public creates the opportunity for technocratic domination, i.e., those with superior knowledge make unquestionable decisions that affirm their own superiority (Carson 2002, pg 12-13). This form of expert management arises and is attributed to the demand for it. This is a causal relationship. First, the public generates an expressed need for governance. Second, this need influences the nature and direction of the outcome. Without the demand, governance would not be delivered. Consequently, an important inquiry to raise at this juncture would be: is the current public’s expressed need also managed to support the prevailing political/economic status quo? In pursuit of this answer, the following analysis is offered.

It would seem that men and women need a common motivation, namely a common adversary against whom they can organize themselves and act together…[to] bring the divided nation together to face an outside enemy, either a real one, or else one invented for the purpose (Schneider 1991, pg 70).

In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill…All these dangers are caused by human intervention in natural processes, and it is only

through changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome. The real enemy then is humanity itself (Schneider 1991, pg 75).

This report entitled The First Global Revolution, was published by the Club of Rome in 1991. According to their website, “the Club of Rome is a non-profit organisation, independent of any political, ideological or religious interests. Its essential mission is to act as a global catalyst for change through the identification and analysis of the crucial problems facing humanity and the communication of such problems to the most important public and private decision makers as well as to the general public” (Club of Rome). It appears, that one of these most important private decision makers, is none other than Al Gore, who holds a membership with the Club of Rome (ABC News 2007).

Throughout this evidentiary inquiry into anthropogenic climate change, the following connections have been witnessed:

1) the statistical manipulation and censorship of data by leading anthropogenic climate scientists [Phil Jones, Michael Mann],

2) the intrinsic bias towards anthropogenic causal forces inherent in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecast models [Herrera, detailing omission of solar activity],

3) the admission of systemic uncertainties inherent in climate forecast methodologies [UK National Weather Service],

4) the widespread unknown variables identified by NASA [solar irradiance, aerosols/dust/smoke, clouds, the carbon cycle, ocean circulation, precipitation and sea level rise],

5) the corporate, industrial and banking interests behind major proponents of anthropogenic climate change [Barclays, BP, Endesa, Fortis, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley et al],

6) the calculated ideological premise that human beings are the source of all environmental problems and thus an enemy to humanity itself [Club of Rome]. Subsequently, the consequences of this prevailing worldview must be addressed.

In doing so, it is important to understand that this prevailing discourse arises primarily from a position of advanced financial capital and influence. Hence, its intentional dissemination by public, private and corporate actors serve to further promulgate its sphere of influence (Schneider 1991, pg 157). The major tenets of this worldview propose limitations on human energy consumption, as well as restrictions on activities that generate carbon output. The expressed bias inherent in how anthropogenic climate change is presented to the public is that of a blaming the victim modality, i.e., that the public must bear the responsibility of the corporate/military/industrial sector.

According to Professor Delgado Domingos of the Numerical Weather Forecast group, “creating an ideology pegged to carbon dioxide is a dangerous nonsense…The present alarm on climate change is an instrument of social control, a pretext for major businesses and political battle. It became an ideology, which is concerning” (Morano 2012, pg 5). Thus, when driving at the heart of this manipulation, it becomes clear that its overarching purpose is not to manifest a global environmental equilibrium, but in fact to re-enforce the predominant political/economic status quo.

This is further illustrated by the aforementioned report by the Club of Rome. Authors Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider state: “the global nature as well as the seriousness of the environmental crisis, especially that of earth-warming, indicates the need for a coherent and comprehensive attack at the international level and at the level of the United Nations” (Schneider 1991, pg 99). They continue: “in addition, we propose the organization, possibly under the auspices of the Environmental Security Council, of regular meetings of industrial leaders, bankers and government officials from the five continents. These Global Development Rounds, envisaged as being somewhat similar to the Tariff Rounds of GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; a precursor to the World Trade Organization], would discuss the need to harmonize competition and cooperation in the light of environmental constraints” (Schneider 1991, pg 100).

Essentially, the authors are calling for an agreement among prominent political, economic and financial institutions, to facilitate the centralization of collaborative decision making. This citation is also an example of the discourse “administrative rationalism [which] may be defined as the problem-solving discourse which emphasizes the role of the expert rather than the citizen or producer/consumer in social problem solving, and which stresses social relationships of hierarchy rather than equality or competition” (Dryzek 2005, pg 75). Hence, the prevailing dominion of international economic powers is strengthened via this form of environmentalism, and anthropogenic climatology, in the manner it has been presented to the public, inculcates an environment of oppression.

A major mechanism by which this form of expert management is being implemented around the world is the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, also known as ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability. As previously identified, there is a causal relationship between the public’s demand for governance and its delivery. Subsequently, an important question to consider is: can an international secretariat that identifies itself as “…a powerful movement of 12 mega-cities, 100 super-cities and urban regions, 450 large cities as well as 450 medium-sized cities and towns in 84 countries…[that] have built a global sustainability network of more than 1,000 local governments…”, influence the public’s demand for this form of governance (ICLEI 2013)? According to the Capital Research Centre report ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the answer is an affirmative. The author David Libardoni states: “…the group [ICLEI] is the product of a United Nations conference: the U.N. World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future…[Bolstered by ICLEI's delivery system,] ambitious local politicians around the world are using ICLEI as an international platform that allows them to build their careers and quickly network with one another on environmental issues” (Libardoni 2008, pg 2).

It appears that politicians willing to become proponents of anthropogenic climate change, as well as ICLEI itself, stand to benefit both financially and politically through the collaborative success of this ideology. For in addition to the sliding-scale membership fees charged to local municipalities (calculated by population size), “over the past 11 years [2008 statistic], ICLEI has received between $250,000 and $1,500,000 annually in EPA grants to fund its CCP [Cities for Climate Protection] Campaign and emissions analysis software. In 2006, it reported $904,000 in governmental grants (out of $3.3 million in total revenue) on its IRS 990 tax form…” (Libardoni 2008, pg 3). In addition to these grants, “in 1997, the Open Society gave ICLEI a $2,147,415 grant to support its Local Agenda 21 Project, also sometimes known as Communities 21…More recently, ICLEI has received major contributions from the left-leaning Rockefeller Brothers Fund ($650,000 in March 2008, $525,000 in 2006), the Surdna Foundation ($200,000 in 2006), the Kendall Foundation ($150,000 in 2007) and the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation ($100,000 in 2007)” (Libardoni 2008, pg 3). Thus, in light of this evidence gathered concerning the European Climate Exchange, as well as the financial benefits accrued by ICLEI, it becomes readily apparent that the discipline of anthropogenic climatology in concert with private self-interest can in praxis become an ideology of corporatism, advanced financial capital and multinational industry.

It is precisely this ideology that is demonstrated by the New Brunswick provincial government and in particular, the Department of Environment and Local Government. By way of illustration, the following select objectives from the chapter Action Plan Milestones derived from the department’s publication Action Plan for a New Local Governance System in New Brunswick, are identified:

“Transfer the cost of service administration for Local Service Districts to those who receive the service, effective January 2012, by introducing amendments to the Municipalities Act” [Fall 2011] (New Brunswick 2011, pg 16).

“Create a new community funding arrangement, replacing the Unconditional Grant, by introducing amendments to the Municipal Assistance Act” [Fall 2012] (New Brunswick 2011, pg 17).

“Engage stakeholders in the development of community sustainability criteria and a self- assessment tool” [Spring 2013] (New Brunswick 2011, pg 18).

“Implement community and municipal sustainability targets for the establishment and restructuring of Municipalities and Rural Communities” [Fall 2013] (New Brunswick 2011,pg 18).

“Seek input from stakeholders on a framework for a new Local Governance Act as part of the policy development process” [Summer 2013] (New Brunswick 2011, pg 18).

Regardless of the purpose, direction or intended result of the above provisions, the action plan milestones that the New Brunswick government is committing to are consistent with the discourse of administrative rationalism, as well as the designed sustainability criteria of ICLEI. To ground this proposition in evidentiary logic, the following comparison is provided by way of a citation from ICLEI Canada’s publication Changing Climate, Changing Communities: Guide and Workbook for Municipal Climate Adaptation (ICLEI Canada, pg 8):

To further clarify this evident congruence between ICLEI’s Milestone Framework and New Brunswick’s Action Plan Milestones, “as outlined earlier, Canadian local governments should be familiar with the Milestone process, as it is also central to the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program offered in partnership by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and ICLEI” (ICLEI Canada, pg 6). Remarkably, this corresponds to the objectives outlined in the previously cited Club of Rome publication, The First Global Revolution: “it would be appropriate that the scheme [energy efficiency] be launched by the United Nations in association with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Meterological Organization and UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization].

A corollary would be the setting up in each country of an Energy Efficiency Council to supervise the operation on the national scale” (Schneider 1991, pg 99). In accord with this proposal ICLEI’s World Secretariat recently announced, “ICLEI and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are joining efforts in conducting a global survey on resource efficiency in cities with an objective to get a wide range of city level perspectives and understandings of local needs on resource efficiency.

The global survey will run between March and May 2013 and will result in a final report planned for August 2013. The survey is conducted by a team of experts led by ICLEI’s World Secretariat in close collaboration with UNEP’s Built Environment Unit. The results will inform the Global Initiative for Resource Efficient Cities (GI-REC)” (ICLEI World Secretariat 2013). Indeed, it is evident, that in the dominions of finance, politics and industry, multivariate international powers have aligned their objectives. This method of harmonization between international powers, by which prominence is consolidated and agreements are constituted, is known as globalization.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, globalization is defined as “the process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale [e.g. ICLEI]” (Oxford Dictionaries Online 2013).

The concept of sustainability, disseminated and affirmed by previously identified proponents and benefactors of anthropogenic climate change, is “[a subject or practice being] able to be maintained at a certain rate or level: sustainable economic growth, [as well as] conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources (Oxford Dictionaries Online 2013). These goals are consistent with the operational capacities of corporations active in the natural resource extraction industry, with several currently accruing a substantial profit via the European Climate Exchange [BP, Endesa, Shell, Goldman Sachs, Barclays] (Barnes 2007, pg 4).

In addition, the previously cited ICLEI Canada publication, Changing Climate, Changing Communities: Guide and Workbook for Municipal Climate Adaptation, “..was made possible with the generous support of Natural Resources Canada: Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Division (ICLEI Canada, pg 3). Now that ICLEI’s employed methodology (i.e. globalization) has been established, the next question of this evidentiary inquiry is the following: in relation to the intentional manipulation of the scientific discipline of anthropogenic climate change, are there additional methods that further the personal and/or private interests of another organization? To be addressed is the military industrial complex.

A high-risk, high-reward endeavor, weather-modification offers a dilemma not unlike the splitting of the atom. While some segments of society will always be reluctant to examine controversial issues such as weather-modification, the tremendous military capabilities that could result from this field are ignored at our own peril. From enhancing friendly operations or disrupting those of the enemy via small-scale tailoring of natural weather patterns to complete dominance of global communications and counterspace control, weather-modification offers the war fighter a wide-range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary (Celentano 1996, pg vi).

In this 1996 United States Department of Defense research paper, Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025, authors Major Ronald J. Celentano et al. promulgate the importance, as well as (in their view) the opportunities intrinsic to the integration of weather modification technologies into conventional warfare. As noted in this report’s Executive Summary, “in 2025, US aerospace forces can ‘own the weather’ by capitalizing on emerging technologies and focusing development of those technologies to war-fighting applications. Such a capability offers the war fighter tools to shape the battlespace in ways never before possible. It provides opportunities to impact operations across the full spectrum of conflict and is pertinent to all possible futures” (Celentano 1996, pg vi).

To accurately illustrate these proposed capabilities, Celentano et al chronologically incorporate Table 1: Operational Capabilities Matrix on the next page of their research paper. The following citation is this identical table, copied verbatim from this publication (Celentano 1996, pg vii):

Subsequently it becomes readily apparent that the United States Air Force, as well as the US Department of Defense, have an expressed interest in anthropogenic climate change. Their interest, is largely dependent on their ability to strategically profit from it. To affirm this analysis, Professor Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization states, “rarely acknowledged in the debate on global climate change, the world’s weather can now be modified as part of a new generation of sophisticated electromagnetic weapons. Both the US and Russia have developed capabilities to manipulate the climate for military use” (Chossudovsky 2004).

This ideology of self-interest is consistent among all of the exclusive proponents of anthropogenic climate change identified in this investigation. Evident, within the operating methodology of each proponent, is a calculated benefit directly attributed to the successful dissemination of this incomplete and ‘debate settled’ ideology of anthropogenic climate change. Several of the prominent organizations cited are actively involved in the indoctrination of citizens, as well as strategically influencing government policy. Therefore, any remedy offered via this evidentiary inquiry must maintain, as its foundation, a qualitative standard pursued for the purpose of empowering public consciousness. It is integrity, not manipulation, deception, or disinformation that will achieve both an accurate understanding of climate causal forces as well as create an inclusive participatory process for affecting positive environmental change.

Fortunately, there is a growing opposition to the claimed consensus regarding anthropogenic climate change as well as considerable numbers of scientists seeking to accurately understand climate causal forces. Reported by the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, in 2008 over six hundred fifty scientists expressed opposition to the claimed scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change (Morano 2008, pg 1).

[According to this report:] “the following developments further secured 2008 as the year the ‘consensus’ collapsed. Russian scientists ‘rejected the very idea that carbon dioxide may be responsible for global warming’. An American Physical Society editor conceded that a ‘considerable presence’ of scientific skeptics exists. An International team of scientists countered the UN IPCC, declaring: ‘Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate’. India issued a report challenging global warming fears. International Scientists demanded the UN IPCC ‘be called to account and cease its deceptive practices,’ and a canvass of more than 51, 000 Canadian scientists revealed 68% disagree that global warming science is ‘settled’” (Morano 2008, pg 2).

Upon evaluation of this Senate Committee’s report, in additional to the aforementioned statements by scientific sources, it can be surmised that any entity, scientific or otherwise, claiming a global consensus on anthropogenic climate change is doing so: a) falsely, and b) to further their own ideological agenda. The following lecture citation, by Dr. Taylor Gray, concurs with this open minded analysis of anthropogenic climate change: “the occurrence of ecosystems maintaining a state of dynamic equilibrium stipulates that the phenomena of climate change is a naturally occurring process. To identify climate change as a problem is exclusively the prerogative of human beings and their unwillingness to accept environmental factors that are beyond their control” (Gray 2013). With this understanding, morality when taken from a practical standpoint, is largely founded upon the availability of the essential ingredients required for life. According to Dr. Gray, “as a naturally occurring biogeochemical cycle, as well as playing the role of an important atmospheric component, carbon is essential for the fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that constitute life. Thus, limiting carbon would place a limiting factor upon the potential for life” (Gray 2013).

What is within the power of human beings, are the ways upon which we build an authentic global community; one founded upon compassion and awareness of the growing needs of environmentally disadvantaged peoples. For example, liberating immigration restrictions to Canada, would allow this country’s comparatively minor population-to-landmass representation (approximately thirty five million, out of a global population of over seven billion) to become proportional through the vitalization by peoples in need of a more hospitable environment. International solidarity based upon localized commodity/agricultural markets would decrease the privatization of arable land in developing countries, which in turn would advance international food security. The creation of empowered generations skilled in home-building, permaculture, holistic medicine and environmental science would limit international economic dependency and encourage healthy, inclusive and self-sufficient communities. However, before this can happen, the prevailing untruths within society must be addressed.

The effective application of knowledge is powerful. And to provide a remedy to a public that willfully embraces convenient untruths is two-fold. To begin, the inculcation and transmission of ignorance must be replaced with a social/economic paradigm that supports continuous learning. To be clear, this would take the form of encouraging independent thought, critical analysis and informed opinion. This instrument of social advancement must have one and only one primary objective. That being the cooperative evolution of human consciousness.

To achieve such a social mechanism the first remedy must be manifested in concert with the second, i.e., the systemic replacement of the conditions upon which material benefit is derived from intellectual manipulation. Effectively, this would mean organizing around a political/economic paradigm that did not foster an environment of exploitation. Conversely, the praxis of this new paradigm would be the encouragement of an informed and intellectually adept body politic.

The success of this naturopathic remedy would arise organically from a psychologically healthy population. Upon this foundation intellectual creative power could create a holistic and inclusive political/economic paradigm. A public effectively self-immunized against ignorance brings with it the opportunity for unheralded philosophical and scientific evolution. In relation to governance and geopolitical decision making, the expressed public demand for it would end making psychological domination effectively irrelevant. Thus, when the conditions for freedom surround the human family, the only problem that remains is choice.

On some positions, cowardice asks the question, is it expedient? And then expedience comes along and asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? Conscience asks the question, is it right? There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.

Martin Luther King Jr.

James Divine is a well-traveled transdisciplinary who believes freethinking is essential to the well-being of human innovation. His maverick personality confidently resonates with holistic medicine, investigative literature and spiritual empowerment. Dreaming of a humanity free to determine its own destiny, James is passionately pursuing opportunities of furthering his ecological consciousness through the educational experiences embodied in permaculture, earthship biotecture & building sustainable communities.


ABC News. Club of Rome Member Warns Against Council Amalgamations. Published 5 June 2007.

Club of Rome. Organization: Overview. Club of Rome. Accessed 14 April 2013.

Baker, Marcia Merry. A Genocidal Hoax: A Chronology of the Global Warming Swindle in LaRouche Lyndon’s Executive Intelligence Review. March 30, 2007. Vol. 34, No. 13, p. 51-55.

Barnes, Deborah Corey. Capital Research Centre: Foundation Watch. Published August 2007.

Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring. United States: Houghton Mifflin Company, First Mariner Books Edition, 2002.

Celentano, Maj Ronald J et al. Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025. Air Force 2025: United States Department of Defense,1996.

Chossudovsky Ph.D., Michel. The Ultimate Weapon of Mass Destruction: “Owning the Weather” for Military Use. Centre for Research on Globalization. Published 27 September 2004.

Cohen, Bernard L. Statement of Dissent in Ed. Julian Simon and Herman Khan’s The Resourceful Earth: A Response to Global 2000. United States: Basil Blackwell Incorporate, 1984.

Dryzek, John, The Politics of the Earth: Environmental Discourses. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Freeman, Richard & Marcia Merry Baker. Carbon Tax Swindle Behind Gore Hoax in LaRouche Lyndon’s Executive Intelligence Review. March 30, 2007. Vol. 34, No. 13, p. 29-34.

Gray, Taylor, Ph.D. Lecture on Anthropogenic Climate Change, St. Thomas University, 27 March 2013.

Global Research. Ed. Michel Chossudovsky Ph.D. Manipulation of Data and Concepts: The Climate Change Emails. Centre for Research on Globalization. Published 29 November 2009.

ICLEI. Who We Are. ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability. Accessed 14 April 2013.

ICLEI Canada. Changing Climate, Changing Communities: Guide and Workbook for Municipal Climate Adaptation. ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability. Accessed 15 April 2013.

ICLEI World Secretariat. UNEP – ICLEI Global Survey on Resource Efficiency in Cities. ICLEI: Local Government for Sustainability. Accessed 15 April 2013.

Kennedy, John F. Address: The President and the Press, Before The American Newspaper Publishers Association. New York City: 27 April 1961. Transcript contributors: Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

King Jr., Martin Luther. Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution. Washington D.C.: 31 March 1968. Transcript contribution: Martin Luther King, Jr. Research And Education Institute, Standford University. documentsentry/doc_remaining _awake_through _a_great_revolution/

Libardoni, David. ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability: Taxpayer Dollars and Foundation Grants Help A U.N. Inspired Group Show U.S. Cities How to Enact Climate Change Policies. Capital Research Centre: Organizational Trends. Published November 2008.

Morano, Marc et al. U.S. Senate Minority Report: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims, Scientists Continue To Debunk “Consensus” in 2008. U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works. Published 11 December 2008.

Morice, Colin et al. Quantifying uncertainties in global and regional temperature change using an ensemble of observational estimates: the HadCRUT4 data set, UK Met Office, 2012.

NASA. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Uncertainties: Unresolved questions about Earth’s climate. Accessed 13 April 2013.

Oxford Dictionaries Online. Globalization. Oxford English Dictionary. Accessed 16 April 2013.

Oxford Dictionaries Online. Sustainable. Oxford English Dictionary. Accessed 16 April 2013.

New Brunswick. Department of Environment and Local Government. Action Plan for a New Local Governance System in New Brunswick. December 2011. Departments/lg-gl/pdf/ActionPlanLocalGovernance.pdf

Penelope, Julia. Speaking Freely: Unlearning The Lies of The Father’s Tongues. United States: Pergamon Press, 1990.

Rose, David. Global Warming Stopped 16 years ago, reveals Met Office report. Daily Mail. Published 16 October 2012.–chart-prove-it.html.

Schneider, Bertrand and Alexander King. The First Global Revolution: A Report By The Council Of The Club Of Rome. Orient Longman, 1991.

The Telegraph. Al Gore could become world’s first carbon billionaire. Ed. Richard Fletcher. The Telegraph Media Group. Published 3 November 2009.

Tracy Ph.D., James F. Chemtrails: The Realities of Geoengineering and Weather Modification. Centre for Research on Globalization. Published 8 November 2012.

James Divine is a well-traveled transdisciplinary who believes freethinking is essential to the well-being of human innovation. His maverick personality confidently resonates with holistic medicine, investigative literature and spiritual empowerment.

Originally published in 2008:

They came as slaves; vast human cargo transported on tall British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by the hundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.

Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. They were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.

We don’t really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? We know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade.

But, are we talking about African slavery? King James II and Charles I also led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s famed Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbor.

The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.

Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia. Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid calling the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.

As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.

African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than 5 Sterling). If a planter whipped or branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African. The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s free workforce. Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish moms, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their kids and would remain in servitude.

In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women (in many cases, girls as young as 12) to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled the settlers to save money rather than purchase new African slaves. This practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia. There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.

There is little question that the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is, also, very little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry. In 1839, Britain finally decided on it’s own to end it’s participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded THIS chapter of nightmarish Irish misery.

But, if anyone, black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong.

Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories.

But, where are our public (and PRIVATE) schools???? Where are the history books? Why is it so seldom discussed?

Do the memories of hundreds of thousands of Irish victims merit more than a mention from an unknown writer?

Or is their story to be one that their English pirates intended: To (unlike the African book) have the Irish story utterly and completely disappear as if it never happened.

None of the Irish victims ever made it back to their homeland to describe their ordeal. These are the lost slaves; the ones that time and biased history books conveniently forgot.

More than 50% of US Government Spending Goes to the Military

U.S. Leads Upward Trend in Arms Exports, Asian and Gulf States Arms Imports Up: Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI), Global Research News, March 17, 2015

(Stockholm, 16 March 2015) The United States has taken a firm lead as the major arms exporter globally, according to new data on international arms transfers published today by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Overall, the volume of international…


Lawmakers Say TPP Meetings Classified To Keep Americans in the Dark, John Queally, March 17, 2015

US Trade Representative Michael Froman is drawing fire from Congressional Democrats for the Obama adminstration’s continued imposition of secrecy surrounding the Trans-Pacific Parternship. (Photo: AP file)Democratic lawmaker says tightly-controlled briefings on Trans-Pacific Partnership deal are aimed at keeping US…

Mideast Israel Palestinians

Apartheid Forever: Israel’s Netanyahu Rules Out Palestinian Citizenship Rights, Juan Cole, March 17, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, under extreme pressure over the real possibility that he will lose the March 17 elections, has made a powerful appeal to his far right wing constituency by openly admitting that he will never allow a…


Fundamental Rifts: Power, Wealth and Inequality in the Arab World, Adam Hanieh, March 17, 2015

Over four years since mass uprisings ousted sclerotic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, it can seem that the initial hopes represented by these movements lie in tatters. Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq remain mired in bloody armed conflicts that have…


Does Obama Plan Cuba-Style Blockade on Venezuela?, Stephen Lendman, March 17, 2015

Independent governments are targeted for regime change. Bush and Obama spent post-9/11 years unsuccessfully trying to end Venezuelan Bolivarian democracy. Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez accused Washington of planning a “Cuban-style blockade.” “They are considering a financial and commercial blockade, and…

cold war propaganda

Landscape of U.S. Failure: Financial Collapse Leads to War, Dimitry Orlov, March 17, 2015

Scanning the headlines in the western mainstream press, and then peering behind the one-way mirror to compare that to the actual goings-on, one can’t but get the impression that America’s propagandists, and all those who follow in their wake, are…

us philippines

International People’s Tribunal to try Philippines President Aquino and Obama for Crimes against the Filipino People, Global Research News, March 17, 2015

by Kenneth Roland A. Guda An international tribunal will try cases of human rights violations perpetrated by Philippines President Ninoy Aquino, as well as United States (US) President Barack Obama, in Washington D.C. next July.  The International People’s Tribunal, initiated…

USA Cuba

U.S-Cuba Relations and the Long Road to Nowhere. “Regime Change is on the Table”, Timothy Alexander Guzman, March 17, 2015

The much anticipated U.S-Cuba talks continues this week as Reuters reported “Cuba and the United States meet for talks on restoring diplomatic relations on Monday, seeking more progress toward an agreement while not allowing differences over Venezuela to impede their…

(Photo: Robert Shetterly/Americans Who Tell the Truth)

Corrie family demands US lawmakers ‘address their responsibility to all civilians whose lives are cut short by military actions supported with U.S. taxpayer funding.’

Twelve years since their daughter Rachel was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer while nonviolently protesting the destruction of Palestinian homes, Cindy and Craig Corrie on Monday said they are still seeking justice and answers regarding her death.

The anniversary comes just a month after the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Israeli Ministry of Defense had no liability for Rachel’s death. However, Rachel’s family on Monday paid a visit to the U.S. Senate and State Department to warn lawmakers of the dangerous precedent set by the ruling, which now places all citizens, journalists, and human rights observers in occupied Palestine at great risk.

Rachel was crushed to death at age 23 on March 16, 2003, by an Israeli military Caterpillar D9R bulldozer in Rafah, Gaza. She was in Gaza working as a human rights observer and was protesting the impending demolition of the home of a Palestinian family.

After a lengthy legal battle and repeated calls for investigation by activists, supporters, as well as both the Bush and Obama administrations, the Israeli Supreme Court on February 12 of this year upheld a lower court ruling that said Rachel was killed in a “war activity” for which the state bears no liability under Israeli law.

That verdict, Cindy Corrie told Huff Post Live on Monday, says the Israeli military can operate with impunity in the Gaza strip. “The court is reflecting the will of the Israeli Knesset making it impossible for any legal action to be brought against the Israeli military for any action,” she said.

On Sunday, activists commemorating Rachel’s death with a tree-planting protest ceremony were attacked by Israeli forces.

According to the Middle East Eye, IDF forces surrounded the protesters “firing live bullets” and then arrested two Palestinians, one of whom “fell unconscious while running away.”

“Photographs of Corrie were hung on the newly planted trees, alongside pictures of other international activists killed or injured while involved in solidarity action in Palestine,” the reporting noted.

The Corrie family says its purpose now is to press the U.S. government to uphold its own laws and withdraw support for Israel in the face of egregious human rights violations, such as the attack on Gaza this summer.

“We are not against the  state of Israel, we are against apartheid,” Craig Corrie explained. “I think we can enforce U.S. laws that say that if our aid is being used for human rights violations there are consequences. The aid stops.”

“And of course,” Craig Corrie added, “the bulldozer that crushed our daughter was paid for by Cindy and my tax dollars.”

In a statement released on Monday, the Corrie family described their ongoing search for justice.

“Our family’s legal options in Israel are nearly exhausted, but our search for justice for Rachel goes forward,” they wrote. “Back in Washington D.C., we have come full circle. We ask again that U.S. officials address their responsibility to U.S. citizens and to all civilians whose lives are impacted and cut short by military actions supported with U.S. taxpayer funding. We ask that they determine what to do when a promise from a key ally’s head of state to our own goes unfulfilled.”

“March 16, 2003, was the very worst day of our lives,” their statement continues. “Our family deserves a clear and truthful explanation for how what happened to Rachel that day could occur, and to know there is some consequence to those responsible. Rachel deserves this.”

The entire statement is included below:



March 16, 2015

Today, the twelfth anniversary of our daughter and sister Rachel’s stand and death in Gaza, we find ourselves back where our journey for accountability in her case began – in Washington DC.  We have come for meetings at the Department of State and in Congress and, also, to join our colleagues in pursuit of a just peace in Israel/Palestine at the national meeting of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Rachel was crushed to death March 16, 2003, by an Israeli military, US-funded, Caterpillar D9R bulldozer in Rafah, Gaza, while nonviolently protesting the impending demolition of the home of a Palestinian family.  This was one of thousands of homes eventually destroyed in Gaza in clearing demolitions, described in the 2004 Human Rights Watch Report, Razing Rafah.

The U.S. Department of State reported that on March 17, 2003, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised President Bush that the Israeli Government would undertake a “thorough, credible, and transparent” investigation into Rachel’s killing and report the results to the United States.  On March 19, 2003, in a U.S. Department of State press briefing, Richard Boucher said in reference to Rachel, “When we have the death of an American citizen, we want to see it fully investigated.  That is one of our key responsibilities overseas, is to look after the welfare of American citizens and to find out what happened in situations like these.”

Through tenures of both the Bush and Obama administrations, high level Department of State officials have continued to call for Israeli investigation in Rachel’s case.  During our twelve year journey for accountability, we met with Lawrence B. Wilkerson (Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell), William Burns (then Under Secretary of State) and Antony Blinken (then Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden) – all who have acknowledged lack of an adequate response from the Israeli Government in Rachel’s case.

In a letter to our family in 2008, Michelle Bernier-Toth, U.S. Department of State’s Managing Director of Overseas Citizens Services, wrote, “We have consistently requested that the Government of Israel conduct a full and transparent investigation into Rachel’s death. Our requests have gone unanswered or ignored.”

In March 2005, at the suggestion of the Department of State and to preserve our legal options, our family initiated a civil lawsuit against the State of Israel and Ministry of Defense.  After a lengthy Israeli court process,  in February of this year, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that said Rachel was killed in a “war activity” for which the state bears no liability under Israeli law.  In response, Human Rights Watch wrote,

“The ruling flies in the face of the laws of armed conflict…The ruling grants immunity in civil law to Israeli forces for harming civilians based merely on the determination that the forces were engaged in ‘wartime activity,’ without assessing whether that activity violated the laws of armed conflict, which require parties to the conflict at all times to take all feasible precautions to spare civilian life.”

Our family’s legal options in Israel are nearly exhausted, but our search for justice for Rachel goes forward.  Back in Washington DC, we have come full circle.  We ask again that U.S. officials address their responsibility to U.S. citizens and to all civilians whose lives are impacted and cut short by military actions supported with U.S. taxpayer funding.  We ask that they determine what to do when a promise from a key ally’s head of state to our own goes unfulfilled. March 16, 2003, was the very worst day of our lives.  Our family deserves a clear and truthful explanation for how what happened to Rachel that day could occur, and to know there is some consequence to those responsible.  Rachel deserves this.

She wrote, “This has to stop.  I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop.  I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore.  I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers.  But I also want this to stop.”

The failure of the Israeli court system to hold its soldiers, officers, and government accountable does not represent a failure on our part. Rachel, herself, went to Rafah looking for justice – a forward looking justice in which all people in the region would enjoy the freedoms, rights, opportunities, and obligations that we each demand for ourselves.  The facts uncovered in our legal effort in Israel, and the clear evidence of the Israeli court’s complicity in the occupation revealed in the outcome, lay important legal groundwork for the future.  As we look back at Selma fifty years ago and Ferguson today, we realize that our own civil rights struggle is not won in a single march or court case.  It is ongoing.  As our family continues our journey for justice, we thank  those across the U.S., the world, and in Palestine and Israel who travel with us.  Together, we will find justice for Rachel – both the justice she deserves and the justice for which she stood.

The Corrie Family

(Stockholm, 16 March 2015) The United States has taken a firm lead as the major arms exporter globally, according to new data on international arms transfers published today by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Overall, the volume of international transfers of major conventional weapons grew by 16 per cent between 2005–2009 and 2010–14.

Download the Fact Sheet or read more about recent trends in international arms transfers

The volume of US exports of major weapons rose by 23 per cent between 2005–2009 and 2010–14. The USA’s share of the volume of international arms exports was 31 per cent in 2010–14, compared with 27 per cent for Russia. Russian exports of major weapons increased by 37 per cent between 2005–2009 and 2010–14. During the same period, Chinese exports of major arms increased by 143 per cent, making it the third largest supplier in 2010–14, however still significantly behind the USA and Russia.

‘The USA has long seen arms exports as a major foreign policy and security tool, but in recent years exports are increasingly needed to help the US arms industry maintain production levels at a time of decreasing US military expenditure’, said Dr Aude Fleurant, Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. 

Imports by Gulf Cooperation Council states on the rise

Arms imports to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states increased by 71 per cent from 2005–2009 to 2010–14, accounting for 54 per cent of imports to the Middle East in the latter period. Saudi Arabia rose to become the second largest importer of major weapons worldwide in 2010–14, increasing the volume of its arms imports four times compared to 2005–2009.

‘Mainly with arms from the USA and Europe, the GCC states have rapidly expanded and modernized their militaries’, said Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘The GCC states, along with Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Turkey in the wider Middle East, are scheduled to receive further large orders of major arms in the coming years.’

Asian arms imports continue to increase

Of the top 10 largest importers of major weapons during the 5-year period 2010–14, 5 are in Asia: India (15 per cent of global arms imports), China (5 per cent), Pakistan (4 per cent), South Korea (3 per cent) and Singapore (3 per cent).

These five countries accounted for 30 per cent of the total volume of arms imports worldwide. India accounted for 34 per cent of the volume of arms imports to Asia, more than three times as much as China. China’s arms imports actually decreased by 42 per cent between 2005–2009 and 2010–14.

‘Enabled by continued economic growth and driven by high threat perceptions, Asian countries continue to expand their military capabilities with an emphasis on maritime assets’, said Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘Asian countries generally still depend on imports of major weapons, which have strongly increased and will remain high in the near future.’

Other notable developments

  • European arms imports decreased by 36 per cent between 2005–2009 to 2010–14. Developments in Ukraine and Russia may counter this trend after 2014 with several states bordering Russia increasing their arms imports.
  • Germany’s arms exports decreased by 43 per cent between 2005–2009 and 2010–14. However, it received several large arms orders in 2014 from Middle Eastern states.
  • Arms imports by Azerbaijan increased by 249 per cent between 2005–2009 and 2010–14.
  • African arms imports increased by 45 per cent between 2005–2009 to 2010–14.
  • Between 2005–2009 and 2010–14 Algeria was the largest arms importer in Africa, followed byMorocco, whose arms imports increased elevenfold.
  • Cameroon and Nigeria received arms from several states in order to fulfil their urgent demand for weapons to fight Boko Haram.
  • To fight ISIS, Iraq received arms from countries as diverse as Iran, Russia and the USA in 2014.
  • Deliveries and orders for ballistic missile defence systems increased significantly in 2010–14, notably in the GCC and North East Asia.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman is drawing fire from Congressional Democrats for the Obama adminstration’s continued imposition of secrecy surrounding the Trans-Pacific Parternship. (Photo: AP file)

Democratic lawmaker says tightly-controlled briefings on Trans-Pacific Partnership deal are aimed at keeping US constituents ignorant about what’s at stake

Lawmakers in Congress who remain wary of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement are raising further objections this week to the degree of secrecy surrounding briefings on the deal, with some arguing that the main reason at least one meeting has been registered “classified” is to help keep the American public ignorant about giveaways to corporate interests and its long-term implications.

With a briefing set between members of Congress and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and the Labor Department for Wednesday, the lack of transparency and the inability to discuss openly what they learn in the meetings has especially drawn the ire of progressive Democrats who say the TPP is being jammed through without a full airing of its negative consequences.

As The Hill reports:

Members will be allowed to attend the briefing on the proposed trade pact with 12 Latin American and Asian countries with one staff member who possesses an “active Secret-level or high clearance” compliant with House security rules. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told The Hill that the administration is being “needlessly secretive.”

“Even now, when they are finally beginning to share details of the proposed deal with members of Congress, they are denying us the ability to consult with our staff or discuss details of the agreement with experts,” DeLauro told The Hill.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) condemned the classified briefing.

“Making it classified further ensures that, even if we accidentally learn something, we cannot share it. What is [Froman]working so hard to hide? What is the specific legal basis for all this senseless secrecy?” Doggett said to The Hill.

“Open trade should begin with open access,” Doggett said. “Members expected to vote on trade deals should be able to read the unredacted negotiating text.”

“I’m not happy about it,” Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) told the Huffington Post, referring to the briefing with Froman and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez on Wednesday. The meeting—focused on the section of the TPP that deals with the controversial ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) mechanism—has been labeled “classified,” so that lawmakers and any of their staff who attend will be barred, under threat of punishment, of revealing what they learn with constituents or outside experts.

According to the Huffington Post:

ISDS has been part of U.S. free trade agreements since NAFTA was signed into law in 1993, and has become a particularly popular tool for multinational firms over the past few years.

But while the topic remains controversial, particularly with Democrats, many critics of the administration emphasize that applying national security-style restrictions on such information is an abuse of the classified information system. An additional meeting earlier on Wednesday on currency manipulation with Froman and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is not classified.

“It’s not like they will be discussing the nuclear codes,” said Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch at Public Citizen.

The Obama administration has not publicly released drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that it continues to negotiate with 11 other nations. [...] The public has had to rely on leaks of individual deal chapters to adjudicate claims.

Among its other critics, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has slammed the idea of ISDS provisions as a surrender of democratic ideals to corporate interests. According to Warren, ISDS would simply “tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations.” By having unchallenged input on secretive TPP talks, Warren argued last month, these large companies and financial interests “are increasingly realizing this is an opportunity to gut U.S. regulations they don’t like.”

According to Grayson, putting Wednesday’s ISDS briefing in a classified setting “is part of a multi-year campaign of deception and destruction. Why do we classify information? It’s to keep sensitive information out of the hands of foreign governments. In this case, foreign governments already have this information. They’re the people the administration is negotiating with. The only purpose of classifying this information is to keep it from the American people.”

And DeLauro added, “If the TPP would be as good for American jobs as they claim, there should be nothing to hide.”

Palestinian activists plant olive trees for the 12th anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death (MEE/Ahmad Al-Bazz)

Two Palestinians were arrested by Israeli troops on Sunday during clashes at an event in a West Bank village to mark the 12th anniversary of the death of US activist Rachel Corrie.

One of those arrested had lost consciousness during an olive tree-planting protest on Sunday in Qariyut, near Nablus.

The activity marked 12 years since the death of Rachel Corrie, a US citizen activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer on 16 March 2003 in Rafah, Gaza Strip, as she tried to block the demolition of a Palestinian home.

The activists chose the village of Qariyut to plant olive trees to support their protest against the blocking of the main road connecting the village to Road 60, which leads to two main cities in the West Bank, Nablus and Ramallah.

The participants planted about 40 olive trees in the threatened lands of Qariyut, which is surrounded by many Israeli settlements and outposts.

Photographs of Corrie were hung on the newly planted trees, alongside pictures of other international activists killed or injured while involved in solidarity action in Palestine. These included Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian activist who was kidnapped and killed in the Gaza Strip in April 2011; British activist Thomas Hurndall, shot and killed by an Israeli sniper in January 2004; and Tristan Anderson, a US citizen who was critically injured in March 2009 after being shot in the head with a high-velocity tear gas grenade by Israeli Border Police following a protest against the separation wall in the West Bank village of Ni’ilin.

Several Israeli military jeeps came to the area and clashed with Palestinian youths during the tree-planting event. Palestinians threw stones at the soldiers while soldiers fired tear gas.

A group of Israeli soldiers managed to surround the Palestinians after they came through the village, firing live bullets in the air in order to repress the activity. They attempted to arrest many Palestinians but some women from the village were able to prevent some of the arrests. The Israeli soldiers arrested one Palestinian who fell unconscious while running away.

Villagers and activists tried to convince soldiers to release him and demanded a Palestinian ambulance, but the soldiers refused. They also prevented Palestinian medics from treating him on the spot.

“I know, you are trying to mislead us. You will be arrested,” the Israeli soldiers shouted toward the unconscious Palestinian, who they then removed on a stretcher, dropping him twice before taking him away in a military jeep. Another Palestinian was arrested during the event.

The closing of the main road a year ago has forced the villagers to take a much longer route back to the village, adding 20 kilometres to the journey. The road has been closed many times in recent years, according to residents.

The residents of Qariyut organise regular protests and demonstrations to oppose the isolation of the village.

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Israel dismissed the appeal by the family of Rachel Corrie. At the time the family declared in a press release: “Our family is disappointed but not surprised. We had hoped for a different outcome, though we have come to see through this experience how deeply all of Israel’s institutions are implicated in the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military.”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, under extreme pressure over the real possibility that he will lose the March 17 elections, has made a powerful appeal to his far right wing constituency by openly admitting that he will never allow a Palestinian state and that he intends to flood Israeli squatters into East Jerusalem and its environs to make sure this Occupied territory never returns to the Palestinians.

Millions of Palestinians whose families were violently expelled from their homes by Jewish settlers in Mandate Palestine in 1947-48 remain stateless. These include the people of Gaza, the West Bank (four million) and a million or more in diasporas in Lebanon, Syria, and other countries. A million Palestinians are now citizens in Israel, and others have rights of citizenship in far-flung places like Chile and Honduras, as well as the United States. But I figure five million at least remain stateless.

Wochit General News: “Netanyahu: No Palestinian State If I’m Reelected”

Statelessness is rare in today’s world, a result of reforms initiated by the international community after the horrors of World War II and its preceding decades. Franco rendered many on the Spanish Left stateless after his victory in the Civil War in 1939 (not to mention massacring tens of thousands of them). The White Russians lost citizenship after their revolt against the Communists failed. The Nazis took citizenship rights away from Jews, Gypsies and others in Europe. In fact, the Holocaust was made practically possible in part by the denial of citizenship to Jews, which left them with no access to courts or other levers of social power that might have combated the monstrous Nazi plans for genocide.

Millions were stateless in the 1930s and 1940s, and their lack of citizenship rights often exposed them to ethnic cleansing or loss of property and displacement.

The Palestinians are the last major stateless population. Stateless people do not have rights as most people understand the term. Their situation in some ways resembles slavery, since slaves also were denied the rights of citizenship. Stateless people’s property is insecure, since people with citizenship rights have better access to courts and to ruling authorities. Palestinians never really know what they own, and Israeli squatters routinely steal their property with impunity. Squatters dig tube wells deeper than those of the Palestinian villagers, lowering aquifers and causing Palestinian wells to dry up. Squatters go on wilding attacks, chopping down entire olive orchards (a prime source of Palestinian income) or beating up Palestinians. If Palestinians assemble peacefully to protest the loss of their farms to ever-expanding squatter settlements, the Israel army arrests them, including, often, children, who are taken away from their families and put in jail. Palestinians can be held for long periods without being charged. The prisoners are sometimes tortured.

Netanyahu and the Israeli right-of-center say they want to keep Palestinians homeless and without citizenship rights in a state because they fear a Palestinian state will make claims on Israel and present a security challenge. Netanyahu said Sunday that if Israel relinquished the West Bank it would become a bastion of Muslim radicalism (but West Bankers are substantially more secular than the Jewish population of West Jerusalem).

But in fact, Netanyahu and the right are dedicated to Greater Israel, to annexing the West Bank territory and finding a way to expel the Palestinians from it. The Palestinians are not a security challenge– they are like the guard at a bank getting in the way of bank robbers. The bank robbers feel a need to knock him out or kill him, remove him from the scene.

But it is shameful to have Israel preside over 4 million stateless people forever. This is Apartheid. And Netanyahu has just made Apartheid the official policy of Israel, just as South African leader P.W. Botha dedicated himself to making black South Africans stateless and without the rights of citizenship. The only fig leaf Israel had for its Apartheid was the farce of the “peace process” and a pro forma ritual invocation of a “future Palestinian state.” Now Netanyahu has ripped off the fig leaf and stands naked before the world. Botha was called by his victims the “Great Crocodile.” It would be better epithet for Netanyahu than “Bibi.”

If Netanyahu is Re-Elected, Israel Has a Europe Problem

March 17th, 2015 by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 11, 2014. (EU Photo)

Nobody ever thought the window for a two-state solution would ever truly close — or be closed. Benjamin Netanyahu just declared it so in a last-ditched attempt to rally his base ahead of elections.

Forget whatever temporary crisis Benjamin Netanyahu created with the United States in his campaign speech on the Hill. If Netanyahu is re-elected on Tuesday, Israel is going to have a much more serious problem with Europe.

In an interview with Israeli news site NRG one day before elections, the prime minister made clear what he has only hinted at and skirted around for years.

The interviewer wasn’t going to have it. “If you are prime minister, a Palestinian state will not be established?” he asked.

“Indeed,” responded Netanyahu.

And therein lies the problem. The very foundation of Netanyahu’s strategy vis-a-vis the Palestinians and the international community has been to stall, to muddle, to talk the talk but not walk the walk.

His strategy has paid off thus far. Nobody in the world fully believes that Netanyahu ever earnestly went all-in to peace talks, but as long as the process continued, as long as there was a chance, the gravest consequences of Israel’s intransigence have been held at bay.

In Brussels last year senior EU bureaucrats crafting Europe’s policy in the Middle East made clear to me that the ongoing peace process was the only thing stopping them from implementing what can only be described as sanctions.

But if the Israeli government were to declare officially that two states were off the table and if the peace process were to be declared definitively dead, then there would be no more “business as usual.”

Last year, the idea seemed fantastical. No-one — neither diplomats nor analysts — believed the Israeli side would ever say say ‘game over.’ But things have changed.

And it is important to note that Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner, which gives it tremendous influence.

Netanyahu’s declaration, should he be re-elected, would also provide the Palestinian Authority with reasons beyond reproach to move ahead in the United Nations and other international institutions.

This will make things a bit awkward for the United States. How can it continue to veto anti-settlement resolutions in the UN Security Council if the Israeli government’s official position is that Palestinian statehood is off the table —  that the West Bank belongs to Israel and not the Palestinians?

Would an International Criminal Court investigation into Israeli settlements as a war crime be emboldened by a newly unabashedly settler government?

We’ll find out in a few days.

It appears the sea of de-dollarization has reached the shores of Europe. With Australia and UK having already moved in the direction of joining the China-led AIIBThe FT reports that France, Germany, and Italy have now all agreed to join the development bank as ‘pivot to Asia’ appears to be Plan B for Europe. As Greg Sheridan previously noted, “the saga of the China Bank is almost a textbook case of the failure of Obama’s foreign policy,” but as The FT concludes, the European decisions represent a significant setback for the Obama administration, which has argued that western countries could have more influence over the workings of the new bank if they stayed together on the outside. As Forbes notesthis leaves Obama with 3 uncomfortable options

As The FT reports,

France, Germany and Italy have all agreed to follow Britain’s lead and join a China-led international development bank, according to European officials, delivering a blow to US efforts to keep leading western countries out of the new institution.

The decision by the three European governments comes after Britain announced last week that it would join the $50bn Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a potential rival to the Washington-based World Bank.

The European decisions represent a significant setback for the Obama administration, which has argued that western countries could have more influence over the workings of the new bank if they stayed together on the outside and pushed for higher lending standards.

The AIIB, which was formally launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping last year, is one element of a broader Chinese push to create new financial and economic institutions that will increase its international influence. It has become a central issue in the growing contest between China and the US over who will define the economic and trade rules in Asia over the coming decades.

This follows Australia and UK…

Australia, a key US ally in the Asia-Pacific region which had come under pressure from Washington to stay out of the new bank, has also said that it will now rethink that position.

When Britain announced its decision to join the AIIB last week, the Obama administration told the Financial Times that it was part of a broader trend of “constant accommodation” by London of China. British officials were relatively restrained in their criticism of China over its handling of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last year.

Britain tried to gain “first mover advantage” last week by signing up to the fledgling Chinese-led bank before other G7 members.

Britain hopes to establish itself as the number one destination for Chinese investment and UK officials were unrepentant.

*  *  *
Which, as Forbes explainsleaves Obama with three options…

1)      Continue to press its allies not to join the AIIB until governance procedures for the bank are assured;

2)      Join the AIIB itself; or

3)      Drop the issue.

Option one is clearly a losing proposition. There is no sense expending further political capital trying to persuade regional and other actors not to join the bank. It is a small-potato issue that is making the United States look weak at a time when U.S. influence in the region is otherwise quite strong.

Option two, which I—along with virtually every other China analyst outside the U.S. government—supported back in October is that the United States join the AIIB. There are several reasons why this is a good idea. It would allow the United States a seat inside the tent where it could be both a positive force for best governance practices and an internal critic if things go awry. It also would likely help ensure that U.S. companies have fair access to the bidding opportunities that will arise from the AIIB’s investment financing. Joining now will be hard to accomplish in a face-saving manner, but the United States could begin by publicly recognizing the need for the financing capabilities in Asia that the AIIB can provide and by moving quickly to work with Australia, South Korea, and Japan to work out common principles of accession.

Option three is for the United States to back away from the AIIB, release other countries from any pressure they might feel from the United States not to join, and let the AIIB rise or fall on its own merits. Chinese-led resource and infrastructure investment has encountered significant difficulty in a number of countries, including Zambia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Brazil, and Sri Lanka, among others. If the AIIB does not do a better job than China’s own development banks, it will be a stain not only on Beijing but also on all the other countries that are participating. If it does operate at the same standard as the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, then it will be a welcome addition to the world of development financing. The United States does not have to be in every regional organization in the Asia Pacific; it is not in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, for example, and it is only an observer in the Conference on Interactions and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia. It can sit out the AIIB or assume observer status as well.

Washington’s priority should be on advancing U.S. ideals and institutions through the pivot or rebalance rather than blocking Chinese initiatives unless absolutely necessary. (Let’s not confuse China’s effort to develop the AIIB with its push to implement an Air Defense Identification Zone, for example.) Opposition to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has become a millstone around Washington’s neck. It is time to remove it one way or another.

*  * *

De-dollarization continues… As Simon Black recently concluded, now we can see words are turning into action…

[The Allies] might be too polite to tell the US straight up– “Look, you have $18.1 trillion in official debt, you have $42 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and you’re kind of a dick. I’m dumping you.”

So instead they’re going with the “it’s not you, it’s me” approach.

But to anyone paying attention, it’s pretty obvious where this trend is going.

It won’t be long before other western nations jump on the anti-dollar bandwagon with action and not just words.

*  *  *

Bottom line: this isn’t theory or conjecture anymore. Every shred of objective evidence suggests that the dollar’s dominance is coming to an end.

Would you like a healthy dose of high-fructose corn syrup with that organic salad? If you’re listening to one of the ‘health experts’ on the payroll of Coca-Cola, this suggestion could in fact be a reality. According to a new report, many health writers, bloggers, and spokespeople are being compensated in order to push toxic soda onto the public as a health drink.

The news comes as somewhat of a shock, only due to the severity of these claims. We’ve known for quite some time that many bloggers are, oftentimes quite obviously, paid off by mega food corporations to spit out propaganda into Google and other search engines in order to divert attention away from more negative stories. In fact, some companies are paying millions to ‘clean up’ their food image on the web.

After all, it’s disconcerting to see results regarding the deadly effects of high-fructose corn syrup (which has recently been renamed) when searching about information on Coca-Cola’s many effects on the body.

Released by the Associated Press, a new report has been made public regarding the deep relationship between beverage giant Coca-Cola and the numerous ‘health experts’ who recently suggested that drinking Coke could be part of a ‘healthy diet.’ Best of all, this was in celebration of American Heart Month in February. From the report:

“In February, several of the experts wrote online posts for American Heart Month, with each including a mini-can of Coke or soda as a snack idea. The pieces — which appeared on nutrition blogs and other sites including those of major newspapers — offer a window into the many ways food companies work behind the scenes to cast their products in a positive light, often with the help of third parties who are seen as trusted authorities.”

Pushes for the consumption of Coke in numerous ways from these ‘experts’ ranged from switching to ‘healthy mini cans of Coke’ to enjoying the full sized ‘refreshing beverage.’ Better yet, the AP story found that numerous other food corps like PepsiCo had even been paying other ‘health leaders’ and dietitians to recommend eating Frito-Lay and Tostito chips.

Certainly very healthful.

As always, it’s essential to remember the true nature of what makes your food ‘healthy.’ It’s not all about calories and macros, it’s about ingredients. When you’re consuming mercury-laden high-fructose corn syrup with your 30 grams of sugar in the average soda product, you’re damaging your body.

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It’s Official: Americans R Stupid

March 17th, 2015 by Michael Snyder

As Americans, we tend to be pretty full of ourselves, and this is especially true of our young people.  But do we really have reason for such pride?  According to a shocking new report from the Educational Testing Service, Americans between the ages of 20 and 34 are way behind young adults in other industrialized nations when it comes to literacy, mathematics and technological proficiency.  Even though more Americans than ever are going to college, we continue to fall farther and farther behind intellectually.  So what does this say about us?  Sadly, the truth is that Americans are stupid.  Our education system is an abysmal failure, and our young people spend most of their free time staring at the television, their computers or their mobile devices.  And until we are honest with ourselves about this, our intellectual decline is going to get even worse.

According to this new report from the Educational Testing Service, at this point American Millennials that have a four year college degree are essentially on the same intellectual level as young adults in Japan, Finland and the Netherlands that only have a high school degree

Americans born after 1980 are lagging their peers in countries ranging from Australia to Estonia, according to a new report from researchers at the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The study looked at scores for literacy and numeracy from a test called the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which tested the abilities of people in 22 countries.

The results are sobering, with dire implications for America. It hints that students may be falling behind not only in their early educational years but at the college level. Even though more Americans between the ages of 20 to 34 are achieving higher levels of education, they’re still falling behind their cohorts in other countries. In Japan, Finland and the Netherlands, young adults with only a high school degree scored on par with American Millennials holding four-year college degrees, the report said.

How in the world is that possible?

I can tell you how that is possible – our colleges are a joke.  But more on that in a moment.

Out of 22 countries, the report from the Educational Testing Service found that Americans were dead last in tech proficiency.  We were also dead last in numeracy and only two countries performed worse than us when it came to literacy proficiency

Half of American Millennials score below the minimum standard of literacy proficiency. Only two countries scored worse by that measure: Italy (60 percent) and Spain (59 percent). The results were even worse for numeracy, with almost two-thirds of American Millennials failing to meet the minimum standard for understanding and working with numbers. That placed U.S. Millennials dead last for numeracy among the study’s 22 developed countries.

It is in this type of environment that Coca-Cola can be marketed to Americans as “a healthy snack“.

As I mentioned above, our system of education is one of the biggest culprits.  From the first grade all the way through post-graduate education, the quality of education that our young people are receiving is absolutely pathetic.  In a previous article, I highlighted some statistics from USA Today about the declining state of college education in America…

-“After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.”

-“Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago”

-“35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone.”

-“50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages”

-“32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.”

I have sat in many of these kinds of college courses.  It doesn’t take much brain power to pass the multiple choice tests that most college professors give these days.  The truth is that if you fail out of college you really, really have to try hard.

In another previous article I shared some examples of real courses that have been taught at U.S. universities in recent years…

-“What If Harry Potter Is Real?

-“Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame

-“Philosophy And Star Trek

-“Learning From YouTube

-“How To Watch Television

-“Oh, Look, a Chicken!

This is a national crisis.  Parents should be screaming bloody murder about the quality of the education that their children are receiving.  But because very few of them actually know what is going on, they just continue to write out huge tuition checks all the time believing that their kids are being prepared for the real world.

To show how “dumbed down” we have become, I want to share with you a copy of an eighth grade exam from 1912 that was donated to the Bullitt County History Museum in Kentucky.

Would eighth grade students be able to pass such an exam today?

Would college students?

As you look over this exam from 1912, ask yourself how you would do on it…

In addition, I find it very interesting that the reading level of the State of the Union addresses delivered by our presidents has steadily declined since the inception of this nation.

And it should be no surprise that Barack Obama’s State of the Union addresses have beensome of the dumbest of all.

But could it be possible that I am being too harsh?

After all, scientists are now discovering that our diminishing intellectual capabilities are actually the consequence of natural processes.

For example, a Stanford University biology professor named Gerald R. Crabtree has published two papers in which he detailed his conclusion that humans have been getting dumber for thousands of years

Are humans becoming smarter or more stupid? Comparing our modern lives and technology with that of any preceding generation, one might think we are becoming increasingly smarter. But, in two papers published in Trends in GeneticsGerald R. Crabtree of Stanford University claims that we are losing mental capacity and have been doing so for 2,000–6,000 years! The reason, Crabtree concludes, is due to genetic mutations—which are the backbone of neo-Darwinian evolution.

Why is this happening?

Professor Crabtree believes that this loss of intellectual capability is due to the accumulation of errors in our genes

Based on data produced by the 1000 Genomes Project Consortium and two recent papers in Nature, Crabtree estimates in the first article that, in the past 3,000 years (approximately 120 generations), about 5,000 new mutations have occurred in the genes governing our intellectual ability. He claims most of these mutations will have no effect, while about 2–5 percent are deleterious and “a vanishingly small fraction will increase fitness.” Crabtree bases his conclusion that humankind is losing mental capacity on the ratio between the deleterious and the beneficial mutations.

Our DNA is mutating, and it has been for thousands of years.  And no, those mutations are not helping us.  Each one of us has tens of thousands of errors in our DNA that we have inherited, and we will add even more errors which we will pass on to future generations.

Given enough time, many scientists believe that humanity would eventually degenerate into a bunch of gibbering idiots incapable of rational thought.

Or could it be possible that a large segment of the population has already arrived at that state?

Over four years since mass uprisings ousted sclerotic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, it can seem that the initial hopes represented by these movements lie in tatters. Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq remain mired in bloody armed conflicts that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more within and across borders. In the pivotal case of Egypt, military rule has returned through the violent crushing of protests, the arrests of an estimated 40,000 people and the rebuilding of the repressive structures of the [Hosni] Mubarak era. Elsewhere, autocratic governments look more secure in their rule today than they have for many years.

In assessing the current moment, though, we need to look beyond the headline coverage of war, displacement and sectarianism. The Arab uprisings were not simply struggles against authoritarian rule; they were ineluctably wrapped up with a decades-long stagnation in living conditions and profound inequalities in wealth and power. Without addressing these socio-economic roots of the region’s malaise, there is no way out of the current impasse.

Even prior to the 2008-09 global economic crisis, the Arab world ranked near the bottom of the world in numerous development indicators. Average unemployment rates for Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia were higher than any other region in the world, while labour force participation rates were the lowest (less than half of the population).[1] For the Arab world as a whole, youth and female participation rates also ranked at the bottom of the globe.[2] In addition, those actually in employment tended to be in precarious, low-paid informal jobs; the countries of North Africa, for example, had one of the fastest-growing informal sectors anywhere on the planet.[3] There are many other statistics like these that could be recounted for poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy and other measures of social conditions; these are trends that have remained virtually unchanged for over two decades.

Standard Menu of Neoliberal Policies

Key to explaining these outcomes are the IMF and World Bank-sponsored economic policies pursued by Arab governments since the 1980s. Of course there were important variations in pace and scale, but virtually all Arab states moved to implement the standard menu of neoliberal policies: cutbacks to social spending, privatization of land and other state assets, labour market deregulation, financial and trade liberalization, and so forth. These policies were focused upon the promotion of private-sector growth, while shifting more and more people into a reliance on the market and simultaneously eroding forms of collective social support. Western states applauded and drove these moves; indeed, the poster child of Arab neoliberalism, Mubarak’s Egypt, was anointed the world’s “top reformer” by the World Bank in 2008.[4]

Not everyone, however, lost from these policies. Indeed, for several key countries, growing poverty levels occurred in tandem with high economic growth rates, demonstrating that wealth was flowing toward some and away from others. In Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan, for example, real GDP per capita rose consistently from 2003 up to the onset of the global crisis in 2008, while stock markets boomed.[5] With reference to Egypt, the United Nations has puzzled recently over the co-existence of these two trends – growing wealth on one side and growing poverty on the other – claiming that this constitutes a “paradox” and an unexpected outcome of standard economic models.[6]

The supposed paradox, however, disappears once we reject positive-sum, mutually beneficial assumptions about how markets operate. As social and economic life become more deeply embedded in market relations, those who hold the most power in those markets tend to benefit. The result is polarization and inequality, not a uniform downward spiral (or, indeed, a steady upward climb) felt alike by all. In this regard, the neoliberal experience in the Arab world has been completely unexceptional; the same pattern can be seen replicated across the globe.

Widening Gaps of Power and Wealth

This polarization of wealth and power is critical to unpacking the social roots of autocracy in the Middle East. As the handmaidens of neoliberal reform, autocratic rulers not only enriched themselves and allied elites but also moved to quash any domestic opposition to these policies. Simultaneously, they acted as dependable partners for Western policy in the region, receiving ample financial, political and military support in return. The problem is thus not simply “political”; that is, the existence of corrupt and nepotistic rulers. Rather, these forms of political rule reflect, protect and reinforce differences in socio-economic power. Politics and economics are fused.

Widening gaps of power and wealth are not only apparent within the borders of individual Arab states; they are also manifest at the regional level, most notably between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states on one hand, and other Arab countries on the other. These regional hierarchies have grown larger in the wake of recent multiple political, social and economic crises, illustrating once again that the impact of crisis also needs to be disaggregated between winners and losers.

According to an October 2014 report by the Institute of International Finance, net foreign assets (gross foreign assets minus external debt) of the GCC states rose from $878-billion in 2006 to a forecast $2.27-trillion by end-2014.[7] This compares to a decline in the net foreign assets of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco, from a surplus of $11-billion in 2006 to a forecast deficit of $46.7-billion by end-2014.[8] Likewise, in 2014, the six states of the GCC were estimated to have a total current account surplus of just under $300-billion (17 per cent of their GDP), more than four times where they stood in 2009.[9] During the same period, the current account balance of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco reached an estimated total deficit of $25.9-billion in 2014 (-4.6 per cent of GDP), compared to a deficit of $18.8-billion in 2009 (-4.3 per cent of GDP).[10]

Within the GCC, privately held wealth grew by 17.5 per cent each year from 2010 to 2014, with the total dollar amount doubling from $1.1-trillion to $2.2-trillion over this period.[11] Up to 5,100 Gulf families are estimated to hold more than $500-million per household in liquid assets; their combined total assets exceed $700-billion.[12] This figure, it should be noted, does not include so-called “illiquid” assets such as real estate holdings, business equity or collectable items like works of art.

Once again, we find evidence of the mutually reinforcing trends of growing inequality and growing wealth, this time duplicated at the regional level. While the consequences of the recent drop in global oil prices remains to be seen, the very real potential for further downturn in the core zones of the world economy – most notably in Europe – means that this regional polarization will likely remain an ever-present feature of the contemporary situation.

These inequalities in power and wealth are essential to understanding the counter-revolutionary moment and have provided a fertile ground for the growth of sectarianism. Of course, the varied forms of foreign and regional intervention – political, economic and military – would always seek to block any fundamental challenge to the regional order. The predictable outcomes of the Western destruction of Iraq over the past two decades helped nurture the rise of sectarian groups and Islamist irredentism. In Syria, the bloody hand of the Assad regime fomented these processes deliberately, and appears to have won tacit support from the West.

However, throughout all of these events, left and progressive voices have remained largely marginal and too easily swayed by a Manichean geopolitical worldview or illusions in their own “patriotic bourgeoisie.” Without addressing questions of social and economic justice and presenting an alternative to the market-led policies of recent decades, there is little hope of building a progressive pole that is opposed to both existing elites and the disastrous course of sectarianism. This is not simply an economic question, but is in essence profoundly political; one that must involve challenging the coterie of high-ranking political and military officials, wealthy businessmen and large corporations who continue to benefit from the status quo. •

Adam Hanieh is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London. He is the author of Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East (Haymarket Books, 2013). This article was first published at Middle East Monitor.


1. International Monetary Fund, Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia, World Economic and Financial Surveys (Washington, DC: IMF, April 11, 2011), 39.

2. ESCWA, (2013), The Arab Millennium Development Goals Report: Facing challenges and looking beyond 2015, p9.

3. UNDP, Arab Human Development Report, The Challenge to Human Security (New York: UNDP, 2009), 111.

4. World Bank Group, “Most Improved in Doing Business 2008.”

5. World Bank Data, most recent years.

6. ESCWA, (2013), The Arab Millennium Development Goals Report: Facing challenges and looking beyond 2015, p6.

7. Institute of International Finance (IIF), 2014, “MENA Region: Recovery Buffeted by Geopolitical Risks,” October 8, p32.

8. IIF 2014, p34.

9. IIF 2014, p31.

10. IIF 2014, p31.

11. Strategy& (2015), “GCC private banking study 2015: Seizing the opportunities,” p3.

12. Strategy& (2015), p8.

Does Obama Plan Cuba-Style Blockade on Venezuela?

March 17th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

Independent governments are targeted for regime change. Bush and Obama spent post-9/11 years unsuccessfully trying to end Venezuelan Bolivarian democracy.

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez accused Washington of planning a “Cuban-style blockade.”

“They are considering a financial and commercial blockade, and economic blockade, and (all Venezuelans) should know this,” she said.

Obama-imposed sanctions threaten “all Venezuelans,” she added. So does economic war.

“What has happened is of monumental gravity, like nothing in the history of our country,” Rodriguez stressed.

She called Obama’s sanctions the latest scheme in Washington’s ongoing political and economic war to destabilize Venezuela.

Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs Roberta Jacobson matches Victoria Nuland’s chutzpah.

She lied saying “(t)he goal of these sanctions is to persuade the government of Venezuela to change its ways, not to remove that government.”

Previous articles explained Bush and Obama foiled coup plots – to replace model hemispheric democracy with fascist dictatorship.

To return Venezuela to its bad old days. To make it look like Ukraine. To steal its vast oil reserves. To impoverish its people. To end Bolivarian fairness.

Rodriguez responded to Jacobson saying “(i)n a rude and petulant manner, (she) tells us what to do.”

“You need manners to deal with people and with countries.” US officials use hammers.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called evidence of Obama’s coup plot to oust Maduro “ludicrous.”

She ignored America’s blood-drenched history toppling one independent government after another, saying:

“As a matter of long-standing policy, the United States does not support political transitions by nonconstitutional means.”

“Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful and legal.”

Washington deplores democracy. It tolerates none at home and abroad.

It’s just a matter of time before the next plot to oust Venezuela’s government surfaces. Maybe with US boots on the ground. Perhaps terror-bombing Caracas.

The possibility of economic blockade is real. Venezuelan oil America buys can be gotten elsewhere.

On March 12, US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) head General John Kelly suggested another coup in convoluted comments, saying:

“A coup? You know, I don’t know anyone that would want to take that mess over, but it might be that we see, whether it’s at the end of his term or whatever, I wouldn’t say – I wouldn’t (say) necessarily a coup, but there might be with – the same ruling party – some arrangements to change leadership.”

SOUTHCOM’s area of responsibility includes Latin American and Caribbean nations.

Perhaps Kelly will be directly involved if Washington tries toppling Maduro again before his term ends.

He disingenuously denied knowledge of Obama’s foiled February coup plot. For sure he was kept informed. He might have been needed.

He claimed no “involve(ment) in any way, shape or form with coup planning. I don’t know anyone who is.”

“And I probably would know if someone was.”

SOUTHCOM calls the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Bolivarian Allliance for our Americas (ALBA) “challenges…which deliberately exclude the United States and seek to limit (its) role in the hemisphere.”

On Saturday, all 12 Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) demanded Washington immediately lift Venezuelan sanctions. A statement said:

“The member states of UNASUR reject the executive order approved by the United States government which declares Venezuela a threat to national security.”

Washington’s “interference (represents a) threat to sovereignty and to the principle of non-intervention.”

“We call upon the United States to evaluate and implement dialogue as an alternative.”

“The UNASUR member States believe the internal situation in Venezuela shall be resolved through the democratic mechanisms established in the Venezuelan Constitution.”

Rodriguez said

“UNASUR has stood firm against imperialism. (Member states were) aware of the seriousness (of the threat) not only for Venezuela but for the whole region.”

“We know Venezuela is not alone. If there were to be an intervention on Venezuela, we wouldn’t know when it would move beyond our borders.”

Latin American governments largely support Maduro. Argentine President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner called Obama’s sanctions “an unacceptable attack on Venezuela’s sovereignty.”

Bolivia’s Foreign Ministry

“reject(ed) these interventionist actions of the US government to violate the sovereignty and self-determination of the Venezuelan people.”

“These undemocratic actions of President Barack Obama threaten the peace and security of all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa called Obama’s sanctions “a bad joke, which reminds us of the darkest hour of our America, when we received invasions and dictatorships imposed by imperialism.”

Cuba issued a statement calling US sanctions “arbitrary and aggressive.”

Fidel Castro praised Maduro’s “brilliant and valiant” response to Washington’s “brutal” action.

Anti-imperialist Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) nations condemned what it called an unprecedented “aggression violat(ing) every principle of international law which governs relationships between states, treating every state as equal and sovereign.”

Last December, after Obama imposed earlier sanctions, G77 nations and China demanded they be lifted immediately.

They issued a statement saying Obama’s action “undermine(d) the Charter of the United Nations and international law, especially the principles of non-intervention in internal affairs and equal rights and self-determination of peoples.”

On Thursday, anti-US imperial protesters filled central Caracas streets. Chanting “Yankee go home” and “Venezuela respects itself,” thousands condemned Obama’s assault on Venezuelan sovereignty and dignity.

Socialist Environmental Workers’ Front’s Lies Guzman spoke for others saying:

“We are here to defend the motherland left to us by Chávez, Bolívar, Zamora, and all of our heroes and heroines, because we’ve also had many heroines, many barefooted women who defended this country. We’re following in the same legacy as all of them.”

“We are steeled, knee to the ground, for anything that happens, with the women in the vanguard, prepared on all fronts, including the diplomatic, military, and guerrilla fronts if necessary.”

As long as rogue US policies continue, no one anywhere is safe from Washington’s ravages.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Visit his blog site at Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Scanning the headlines in the western mainstream press, and then peering behind the one-way mirror to compare that to the actual goings-on, one can’t but get the impression that America’s propagandists, and all those who follow in their wake, are struggling with all their might to concoct rationales for military action of one sort or another, be it supplying weapons to the largely defunct Ukrainian military, or staging parades of US military hardware and troops in the almost completely Russian town of Narva, in Estonia, a few hundred meters away from the Russian border, or putting US “advisers” in harm’s way in parts of Iraq mostly controlled by Islamic militants.

The strenuous efforts to whip up Cold War-like hysteria in the face of an otherwise preoccupied and essentially passive Russia seems out of all proportion to the actual military threat Russia poses. (Yes, volunteers and ammo do filter into Ukraine across the Russian border, but that’s about it.) Further south, the efforts to topple the government of Syria by aiding and arming Islamist radicals seem to be backfiring nicely. But that’s the pattern, isn’t it? What US military involvement in recent memory hasn’t resulted in a fiasco? Maybe failure is not just an option, but more of a requirement?

Let’s review. Afghanistan, after the longest military campaign in US history, is being handed back to the Taliban. Iraq no longer exists as a sovereign nation, but has fractured into three pieces, one of them controlled by radical Islamists. Egypt has been democratically reformed into a military dictatorship. Libya is a defunct state in the middle of a civil war. The Ukraine will soon be in a similar state; it has been reduced to pauper status in record time—less than a year. A recent government overthrow has caused Yemen to stop being US-friendly. Closer to home, things are going so well in the US-dominated Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador that they have produced a flood of refugees, all trying to get into the US in the hopes of finding any sort of sanctuary.

Looking at this broad landscape of failure, there are two ways to interpret it. One is that the US officialdom is the most incompetent one imaginable, and can’t ever get anything right. But another is that they do not succeed for a distinctly different reason: they don’t succeed because results don’t matter. You see, if failure were a problem, then there would be some sort of pressure coming from somewhere or other within the establishment, and that pressure to succeed might sporadically give rise to improved performance, leading to at least a few instances of success. But if in fact failure is no problem at all, and if instead there was some sort of pressure to fail, then we would see exactly what we do see.

In fact, a point can be made that it is the limited scope of failure that is the problem. This would explain the recent saber-rattling in the direction of Russia, accusing it of imperial ambitions (Russia is not interested in territorial gains), demonizing Vladimir Putin (who is effective and popular) and behaving provocatively along Russia’s various borders (leaving Russia vaguely insulted but generally unconcerned). It can be argued that all the previous victims of US foreign policy—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, even the Ukraine—are too small to produce failure writ large enough to satisfy America’s appetite for failure. Russia, on the other hand, especially when incentivized by thinking that it is standing up to some sort of new, American-style fascism, has the ability to deliver to the US a foreign policy failure that will dwarf all the previous ones.

Analysts have proposed a variety of explanations for America’s hyperactive, oversized militarism. Here are the top three:

1. The US government has been captured by the military-industrial complex, which demands to be financed lavishly. Rationales are created artificially to achieve that result. But there does seem to be some sort of pressure to actually make weapons and field armies, because wouldn’t it be far more cost-effective to achieve full-spectrum failure simply by stealing all the money and skip building the weapons systems altogether? So something else must be going on.

2. The US military posture is designed to insure America’s full spectrum dominance over the entire planet. But “full-spectrum dominance” sounds a little bit like “success,” whereas what we see is full-spectrum failure. Again, this story doesn’t fit the facts.

3. The US acts militarily to defend the status of the US dollar as the global reserve currency. But the US dollar is slowly but surely losing its attractiveness as a reserve currency, as witnessed by China and Russia acting as swiftly as they can to unload their US dollar reserves, and to stockpile gold instead. Numerous other nations have entered into arrangements with each other to stop using the US dollar in international trade. The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t take a huge military to flush one’s national currency down the toilet, so, once again, something else must be going on.

There are many other explanations on offer as well, but none of them explain the fact that the goal of all this militarism seems to be to achieve failure.

Perhaps a simpler explanation would suffice? How about this one:

The US has surrendered its sovereignty to a clique of financial oligarchs. Having nobody at all to answer to, this American (and to some extent international) oligarchy has been ruining the financial condition of the country, running up staggering levels of debt, destroying savings and retirements, debasing the currency and so on. The inevitable end-game is that the Federal Reserve (along with the central banks of other “developed economies”) will end up buying up all the sovereign debt issuance with money they print for that purpose, and in the end this inevitably leads to hyperinflation and national bankruptcy. A very special set of conditions has prevented these two events from taking place thus far, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t, because that’s what always happens, sooner or later.

Now, let’s suppose a financial oligarchy has seized control of the country, and, since it can’t control its own appetites, is running it into the ground. Then it would make sense for it to have some sort of back-up plan for when the whole financial house of cards falls apart. Ideally, this plan would effectively put down any chance of revolt of the downtrodden masses, and allow the oligarchy to maintain security and hold onto its wealth. Peacetime is fine for as long as it can placate the populace with bread and circuses, but when a financial calamity causes the economy to crater and bread and circuses turn scarce, a handy fallback is war.

Any rationale for war will do, be it terrorists foreign and domestic, Big Bad Russia, or hallucinated space aliens. Military success is unimportant, because failure is even better than success for maintaining order because it makes it possible to force through various emergency security measures. Various training runs, such as the military occupation of Boston following the staged bombings at the Boston Marathon, have already taken place. The surveillance infrastructure and the partially privatized prison-industrial complex are already in place for locking up the undesirables. A really huge failure would provide the best rationale for putting the economy on a war footing, imposing martial law, suppressing dissent, outlawing “extremist” political activity and so on.

And so perhaps that is what we should expect. Financial collapse is already baked in, and it’s only a matter of time before it happens, and precipitates commercial collapse when global supply chains stop functioning. Political collapse will be resisted, and the way it will be resisted is by starting as many wars as possible, to produce a vast backdrop of failure to serve as a rationale for all sorts of “emergency measures,” all of which will have just one aim: to suppress rebellion and to keep the oligarchy in power. Outside the US, it will look like Americans blowing things up: countries, things, innocent bystanders, even themselves (because, you know, apparently that works too). From the outside looking into America’s hall of one-way mirrors, it will look like a country gone mad; but then it already looks that way. And inside the hall of one-way mirrors it will look like valiant defenders of liberty battling implacable foes around the world. Most people will remain docile and just wave their little flags.

But I would venture to guess that at some point failure will translate into meta-failure: America will fail even at failing. I hope that there is something we can do to help this meta-failure of failure happen sooner rather than later.


An international tribunal will try cases of human rights violations perpetrated by Philippines President Ninoy Aquino, as well as United States (US) President Barack Obama, in Washington D.C. next July. 

The International People’s Tribunal, initiated by non-government organizations, human rights groups and solidarity groups in the Philippines and the United States, was launched today in Quezon City, Philippines. It is being seen as part of efforts by the international community to make the Philippine and US governments accountable for the various abuses and “anti-people” policies inflicted on the Filipino people.

“Beneath the liberal-democratic facade of the Aquino regime, brutal repression of people’s civil and political rights abound, with hundreds of cases of extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances and massive displacement of families (happening today),” said Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of Karapatan which is among the complainants in the IPT.

IPT will also try the many violations of economic, political and cultural rights of the Filipino people, including the congressional and presidential pork barrel scandals, the many onerous deals entered into by the Philippine government, including Public-Private Partnerships, the massive demolition and displacement of urban poor settlers, among others.

The tribunal will also probe into the role of the increasing US political, economic and military intervention in the Philippines that is at the root of the intensifying poverty and repression in the country.

IADL's Jeannie Mirer (on screen) speaks during the public launch of IPT. <b>KR Guda</b>

IADL’s Jeannie Mirer (on screen) speaks during the public launch of IPT. KR Guda

Moral suasion

During the public launch at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, Reverend Canon Barry Naylor, who is chairperson of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines and one of the IPT’s convenors, spoke via Skype.

Naylor said that although the IPT is judicially non-binding, it is nevertheless significant and symbolic, and aims at helping shape global public opinion regarding the systematic abuses committed on Filipinos by the US and Philippine governments.

“People’s tribunals have had success in directing international attention to grave abuses of human rights in various countries including the Philippines during the Marcos and Arroyo regimes. The IPT draws inspiration and builds on the momentum of previous peoples’ tribunals to advance human rights and hold governments to account,” said Naylor.

Its initiators said IPT draws inspiration and builds on the gains of previous people’s tribunals, including the 1980 first session of the Permanent People’s Tribunal on the Philippines in Antwerp, Belgium, which tried the Marcos dictatorship; and the 2007 second session of the PPT on the Philippines in The Hague, The Netherlands, which tried President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and US Pres. George W. Bush.

Aside from Naylor, co-convenor Jeannie Mirer (US), president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), also joined the public launch via Skype.

Mirer also said that although an IPT verdict is not legally binding, similar people’s tribunals had tremendous impact in shedding light to state abuses and other atrocities in specific contexts. She cited the Russell Tribunal, initiated by Nobel Prize-winner Bertrand Russell as well as French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, investigated the US atrocities during the Vietnam War in 1966 and 1967.

“Its findings and reasoning were accepted in the court of public opinion,” she said, adding that the tribunal had a tremendous effect on the consciousness of the people regarding the Vietnam War.

Human rights lawyer Edre Olalia: Credibility will be ensured. <b>KR Guda</b>

Human rights lawyer Edre Olalia: Credibility will be ensured. KR Guda

Credible process

Azadeh Shahshahani (US), president of the National Lawyers’ Guild (NLG) and a juror in the IPT, said that the judges and jurors, as well as the prosecutors, are distinguished lawyers and experts in their the field of human rights coming from different countries.

“We are obviously coming to this situation with an impartial standpoint. We are looking forward to hearing what the evidence is as presented to us by the victims and the experts. Based on that, and based on our own experience in dealing with international human rights law, we can consult with our colleagues and reach a verdict,” Shahshahani said.

American lawyer Vanessa Lucas, also from NLG, said that the verdict and the evidences presented in the tribunal will be presented to international bodies such as the United Nations as well as the concerned US government agencies.

Filipino human rights lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, who will serve as one of IPT’s clerks of court, said that although the verdict to be reached during the tribunal in Washington DC in July will be non-binding, legal procedures to ensure impartiality shall be followed.

For instance, Olalia said the Philippine and US governments shall be given summons for both to be given opportunity to defend their case before the tribunal.

“As clerks of court, we will enjoin the jurors and prosecutors to follow the judicious, impartial, fair and credible legal processes,” Olalia said, adding that every party involved in the tribunal will have their own roles and no one person will perform more than one role.

Prosecutors, which, according to the initiators will possibly be led by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, will have to present credible evidence and testimonies that will convincingly prove the allegations.

“If these standards are achieved, the tribunal will definitely be credible whatever the verdict may be,” Olalia added.

The Obama Administration basically lied on Monday, March 16th, when it said that it had reduced the percentage of healthcare uninsured Americans from 20.3% down to 13.2% — and the ‘news’ media in this country stenographically reported their lie, without noting that it is a lie; and without noting that the real figures are 14.6% reduced down to 12.9%. 

The press also crucially avoided to mention that when Senator Obama ran for President in 2008 he was promising the country that his plan would reduce the uninsureds rate down to 0%, so that there would be (and he kept promising this) “universal coverage” (which means a 0% uninsureds rate).

This government-lying, and press-stenography of the lies, are both like the government lies and press-stenography about Saddam Hussein and Iraq were in 2002 and 2003, and the government lies and press-stenography about Vladimir Putin and Ukraine are today: it is government of the public, by deceit, in which the nation’s press is complicit with the lying of government officials, so that real democracy becomes impossible — people end up voting on the basis of lies (which hide the real problems and solutions, things that would reduce the aristocracy’s power).

Here are the details of this sad state of affairs, regarding specifically lying about Obamacare:

The government report on which the allegation is based shows the period from October 2013 up to the present time. In October 2013, the uninsured rate (as the Obama team cruched the numbers) was 20.3%. At the present time it is 13.2%.

To a naive and unquestioning reader (who doesn’t even think about what “universal coverage” means), that sounds pretty good. However, here is how the government jiggered the figures in order to make it seem that way (to the naive masses), when it’s not:

The data upon which the government’s graph is based come from Gallup’s ongoing samplings of the public. Gallup has independently and much more honestly graphed the uninsured percentages going back to the time when the first Presidential primaries were being held in 2008 and when all three of the leading Democratic Presidential aspirants (Clinton, Obama, and Edwards) were promising “universal coverage,” something which already exists in all other developed countries (100% of the population having health insurance), and when all three of those Democratic candidates were offering essentially the same plan (except that Obama’s didn’t include the individual mandate, but the plan that he proposed to Congress in 2009 did include that, so the plan that he proposed as President was basically the exact same one that Hillary Clinton and John Edwards had been proposing — and all three of them were lying).

Here is the Gallup graph:

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 2.43.49 PM

As you can see, the rate of uninsureds when Obama was promising a 0% rate or “universal coverage,” was 14.6%. The rate now is 12.9%

What Obama (his hires) is doing now is to compare as the starting-gate the uninsured rate that pertained when the rate was at the all-time high in October 2013, after years of people getting off of their existing health plans because they couldn’t afford them or were expecting something much better to open up under the new Obamacare health exchanges, and to compare that all-time-high rate to the rate now.

As you can see from this chart, the uninsured rate peaked at 18.0% at that time, the time when people started signing up for Obamacare. This rate was 3.4% higher than the 14.6% rate at the starting-gate, back in 2008, when Obama (and Clinton, and Edwards) were promising a 0% rate, “universal coverage.”

There is a difference between the way that Gallup calculates these percentages from their surveys, and the way that Obama does — the Obama team shows this graph instead of Gallup’s:

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 2.57.32 PM

As you can see, their method of crunching the numbers comes up with consistently higher figures for percentages of the population who are uninsured.

Here is an example of the stenographic ‘news’ reporting we get of such government-lying, in the United States.

That’s from a Democratic Party ‘news’ organization — i.e., from one that’s controlled by a ‘liberal’ aristocrat. (Liberal aristocrats do, however, tolerate critical coverage of Democratic policies, but only up to a point. And aristocrats, even of the opposite or conservative side, will never say that a President is “lying.”) Here’s ‘coverage’ of this ‘news’ from the Republican — i.e., right-wing fascist — side of the aristocracy: they ignore it altogether, because the flim-flam from the ‘liberal’ side makes the ‘liberal’ look good, and because the job of right-wing fascist ‘journalism’ isn’t to do real investigative journalism but instead to keep pumping out the lies that sustain right-wing fascism. (And right-wing fascist aristocrats won’t let anything through that criticizes fascism, at all. They are fascist purists. They’re just more extreme than liberal fascists.) American ‘journalism’ thus is basically a good-cop-bad-cop routine, between fascism, and extreme fascism.

If Republican aristocrats were to attack a ‘Democrat’ like Obama in an honest and truthful way, they’d point out that:

Obamacare increases the insureds-rate by 87.7%/85.4%, or 2.7% since 2008.

Obamacare increases insureds from 85.4% up to 87.7%.

Candidate Obama’s promise of “universal” meant 100%.

Obama lied in his top campaign-proposal; there was no way it could even possibly produce 100%.

But for them to do that, they would be attacking Obama from the progressive side, which is the exact opposite side from the aristocracy: it’s the public’s side. So: they can’t honestly attack Obama — and he knows this. All they can do is lie against him — which they thus constantly do.

On both “the left” and “the right” side of the aristocracy, there is a deeper unity: the aristocracy’s unity is against the public.

They’ve got to keep us controlled, voting for their ‘left’ and ‘right’ politicians.

Here are the main previous articles I’ve done specifically on Obama’s lies about ‘universal coverage’ under Obamacare:

This “universal healthcare” thing is an ongoing lie from Obama, because there is (as I explained here) no way that the plan that he proposed, nor the one that he selected Senator Max Baucus to design to meet his intentions and ram through Congress, could even possibly produce a 100% insureds-rate, or “universal coverage.” The rest of the industrialized world has it (and has better healthcare at lower prices), but we still don’t.

Thank America’s aristocracy — both wings of it (and their press) — for that.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

Police State USA: Tensions Remain High in Ferguson

March 17th, 2015 by Abayomi Azikiwe

Police in Ferguson have arrested 20-year-old Jeffrey Williams in connection with the shooting of two law-enforcement officers during the early morning hours of March 12. The officers went down in front of the police headquarters during a demonstration celebrating the resignation of Chief Thomas Jackson.

Mass protests, civil disobedience and rebellions have been taking place in Ferguson and other parts of the United States since August 9 of last year when 18-year-old Michael Brown was gunned down by white police officer Darren Wilson. Despite a St. Louis County grand jury investigation and a probe by the federal government, Wilson, who resigned as well from the police department, has not been charged with any criminal offense.

Chief Jackson stepped down in the wake of a scathing Department of Justice report that documented systematic racial profiling and collusion targeting the majority African American population in Ferguson and other suburbs in St. Louis County. Activists have been demanded the removal of Jackson along with the mayor of the city.

As the crowd was thinning out during the early hours of March 12, shots rang out fired from a distance hitting two officers. Police immediately sought to connect the wounding of the officers to the anti-racist demonstrations.

Local organizers in Ferguson have rejected the association between their work and the incident.

Although police spokesmen said that the officers were lucky not to have been killed, the injuries were not life threatening and both were treated and released from the hospital several hours after the shooting.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch claimed that Jeffrey Williams conveyed to authorities he was firing at someone else that he had a dispute with, and not at the police officers. “We’re not sure we completely buy that part of it,” McCulloch retorted, saying his office believed that there were others in a vehicle with the prime suspect.

Williams was indicted on two counts of first-degree assault, one for supposedly firing a weapon from a vehicle and three other counts of armed criminal action. The St. Louis County prosecutor’s office is saying that the investigation is not complete.

Police Conduct Raids After Shooting

Residents in Ferguson say that the police conducted heavy-handed raids in search of the suspects in the shooting of the two officers. Photographs of SWAT teams breaking into homes were widely publicized throughout the media.

The Guardian newspaper reported on one such case of police misconduct during an unjustified raid on a house in Ferguson. Three people were pulled out of the home and questioned but were later released.

This article notes that

“Lamont Underwood, Iresha Turner and Martez Little said they were the trio seen handcuffed by St Louis County officers and taken from a house on Dade Avenue as part of the early-morning swoop by heavily armed police. Turner said that she and her six-year-old son had the red laser sights of police rifles trained on their chests as they emerged into their garden under orders from the officers, who arrived in military-style vehicles.” (March 13)

Underwood told the Guardian that he repeatedly explained to the police that they were at the demonstration on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning but did not know who shot the officers. He said that he felt disrespected by the Ferguson police who stormed his home and took all three of the residents into custody.

Despite the failure of the Justice Department to indict anyone in the killing of Michael Brown or for other atrocities committed by the Ferguson, St. Louis County or other regional police and national guard forces deployed in the area since August, Attorney General Eric Holder immediately condemned the shooting of the two law-enforcement personnel. Holder in a press conference said “the full range of investigative resources” at the Department of Justice and FBI would be mobilized in efforts to apprehend suspects in the shooting.

Holder claims that Ferguson was on the verge of making improvements in police-community relations and that the shooting of the officers “turned his stomach.” Such words of condemnation were never made by the Obama administration in response to the killing of Michael Brown or the brutal tactics used by police and national guard units in attempts to quell the demonstrations and rebellions.

Iresha Turner, who was in the home raided by police told the Guardian that

“It was 3: 00 a.m. and we were lying in bed. Suddenly there’s banging at the door. We hear it’s the police it’s the police we know you’re in there come out. I look outside and there are six or seven police they had a tank-style vehicle, a truck and a helicopter, it was ridiculous. We were forced outside. I looked down at my chest and there was a red dot on my chest. I said I surrender, I surrender, please don’t shoot me. I said I’m not the shooter I’m not involved. They said we were acting shady but I said what would you do if 15 police were outside your door with guns. I’m a woman of faith.”

Efforts Underway to Recall Mayor and Run Candidates for City Council

Mayor James Knowles is the target of a recall campaign according to a twitter message from the Organization for Black Struggle, an area activist group which has been at the center of mass demonstrations against police violence. Knowles has stated repeatedly that he has no intentions of resigning despite the departure of police officers, civil servants, a municipal judge, the police chief and the city manager in recent weeks.

Ferguson is a majority African American suburb dominated by a white municipal government and police force. African Americans are discriminated against through racial profiling by the law-enforcement agents reinforced by the courts.

Five residents of Ferguson submitted an affidavit demanding the removal of Knowles saying “We cannot describe how disgusted we are with you. We now ask that you vacate the office.” (French Press Agency, AFP, March 15)

Also there are three seats up for elections on the Ferguson City Council and some local leaders are seeking to mount campaigns to take those positions. Some believe that this is the best route to making reforms by electing officials to local governmental positions.

The Wall Street Journal reported about a meeting at an area Baptist Church where a slate of candidates and community leaders discussed running effective campaigns to win City Council seats. There is only one African American on the Ferguson City Council. (March 13)

“Let’s show the world what change can and will look like,” stressed Wesley Bell, an African-American municipal judge campaigning to occupy one of three available city council positions. “If there’s no confidence between the community and law enforcement, there’s no justice.”

According to this same article:

“The candidates and many in the audience said real change can happen with the city council—not out on the streets. They said such institutional change can heal the city, breaking down the racial barriers that have festered here for years but which only rose to the surface last summer.”

Nonetheless, it was the mass demonstrations and rebellions that have swept St. Louis County and other cities throughout the country that has brought attention to the ongoing problem of racism and national oppression in the U.S. to people around the world. Historical lessons from other cities which have elected African American mayors, city councilpersons, county, state and congressional representatives over the last nearly five decades, suggests that until the structural problems of unemployment, poverty, police violence directed at oppressed communities, corporate impunity and predatory lending is overthrown there is little hope for fundamental change aimed at enhancing the living standards and fostering stability in the current period.

Thousands of demonstrators have united across Canada to take action against proposed anti-terrorism legislation known as Bill C-51, which would expand the powers of police and the nation’s spy agency, especially when it comes to detaining terror suspects.

Organizers of the ‘Day of Action’ said that “over 70 communities” across Canada were planning to participate on Saturday, according to

The biggest gatherings were reported in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Halifax.

“I’m really worried about democracy, this country is going in a really bad direction, [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper is taking it in a really bad direction,” protester Stuart Basden from Toronto, the Canadian city which saw hundreds of people come out, told The Star.

“Freedom to speak out against the government is probably [in] jeopardy…even if you’re just posting stuff online you could be targeted, so it’s a really terrifying bill,” Basden added.

The ruling Conservative government tabled the legislation back in January, arguing that the new law would improve the safety of Canadians.

Anti-terror bill labeled ‘too vague’

Demonstrators across the nation held signs and chanted against the bill, which they believe violates Canadian civil liberties and online privacy rights.

Protester Holley Kofluk told CBC News that the legislation “lacked specificity…it’s just so much ambiguity, it leaves people open [and] vulnerable.”

One of the protest organizers in Collingwood, Jim Pinkerton, shared with QMI Agency that he would like to see the Canadian government “start over with Bill C-51 with proper safeguards and real oversight.”

“We need CSIS to be accountable. It’s not OK for CSIS to act as the police, which is what’s indicated in Bill C-51. We need accountability and Canadians deserve that,” Pinkerton said.

The Day of Action is being backed by more than 30 civil liberties groups, including Amnesty International Canada, LeadNow, OpenMedia, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, the Council for Canadians, and others.

One of the biggest concerns the new legislation raises is the additional powers it grants to police and Canada’s spy agency – the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) – by increasing information sharing and allowing detention on mere suspicion.

“This bill disproportionately targets indigenous communities, environmental activists, dissidents, and Muslims, many of whom are already subjected to questionable and overreaching powers by security officials, [and] will make it easier and ostensibly lawful for government to continue infringing upon the rights of peaceful people,” said.


Govt ‘rejects argument’

A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, Jeremy Laurin, spoke in support of the bill on Saturday, telling CBC News that the government rejects the argument that every time we talk about security, our freedoms are threatened.”

“Canadians understand that their freedom and security go hand in hand [and] expect us to protect both, and there are safeguards in this legislation to do exactly that,” Laurin said.

Blaney’s parliamentary secretary, Roxanne James, also issued comments of support, saying she was happy to answer any questions or concerns about the proposed law.

“Most people across Canada believe that if one branch of government comes across information pertinent to the national security of this country and the safety and security of our citizens, then that branch of government should be able to relay that information to our national security agencies,” James said. “That is precisely what Bill C-51 would do, and I was pleased to be able to answer those concerns.”

It’s no secret by now that the US is dead set on containing China, yet it’s shying away from engaging in a direct confrontation with it. Instead, the US is managing a dual policy of creating chaos along China’s western and southwest reaches, while coordinating a containment alliance along its southeastern and northeastern periphery. Central Asia, northeast India, and Myanmar represent the chaos components, while the ‘unsinkable aircraft carriers’ of Japan and the Philippines are the coordinated ones. 

In this manner, the US is literally surrounding the country with hostile situations and states (with the obvious exception being the Russian frontier), hoping that this can disorient China’s decision makers and consequently pave the way for the external destabilization to infiltrate inwards. Amidst all this plotting, China isn’t sitting on its hands and behaving passively, since it has three specific strategies in mind to break the Chinese Containment Coalition (CCC) and counter the US’ Pivot to Asia.

Cultivating Chaos

The western and southwestern strategy of the CCC is to create a destabilized ‘rimland’ capable of infecting China’s vulnerable peripheral provinces with contagious chaos. This section examines how American grand strategy in Central and West Southeast Asia is designed to do just that, while a previous publication by the author already explored the prospects of a chain reaction of Color Revolutions emanating from Hong Kong.

The Central Asian ‘hermit state’ is identified as the country most vulnerable to a transnational Taliban offensive sometime in the future. Should this come to pass and the country is not properly prepared to defend itself, then the disastrous consequences would immediately spread to Russia, Iran, and China, as was explained in a previous article by the author. Pertaining to the latter, this involves the massive destabilization of China’s regional gas imports from its largest current supplier, which would of course have negative reverberations in Xinjiang, the ultimate target of the US’ Central Asian chaos policies as they apply to the People’s Republic. The more endangered and insecure China’s continental energy imports are, the more reliant the country becomes on receiving them via maritime channels, which given the US’ naval superiority, places them directly under Washington’s control in the event of a crisis.

The chaotic threat originating in Kyrgyzstan is more tangible than the one in Turkmenistan, as theMap_of_Central_Asiamountainous republic directly abuts Xinjiang. When looking at the US’ destructive Central Asian strategy, it becomes evident that it has an interest in ushering in the collapse of the Kyrgyz government via a new Color Revolution in order to, among other things, create an Uighur terrorist haven that can enflame the externally directed ethno-religious insurgency against Beijing.From the perspective of American foreign policy, then, a crisis in Kyrgyzstan is a geopolitical lever that can be ‘pulled’ to activate more instability in Xinjiang, with the aim of potentially luring the People’s Liberation Army into a quagmire. In the general scheme of things, both Central Asian republics, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, are essentially anti-Chinese weapons waiting to be (de)constructed by the US for use against the strategic province of Xinjiang, with Uzbekistan also playing a similar role if it implodes (or is prodded to do so by the US).

Northeast India:
In this corner of India, which could culturally be considered the northwestern fringe of Southeast Asia, the myriad ethnic tensions and bubbling insurgencies there could make the leap from being a domestic to an international crisis. The author previously assessed that one of the repercussions of last year’s Bodo-inspired violence was to destabilize the proposed Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) trade corridor, which would negatively affect Beijing’s plans for a ‘Bay of Bengal Silk Road’. Internationalizing the situation, however, could see ethnic warfare emboldening militant non-state actors in Myanmar, with the end goal that they finally destabilize Yunnan Province, the most culturally diverse area in China that has even been liked to “a perfect microcosm” of it. Although there is no evidence that has yet been procured to suggest that the US played any role in instigating the latest violence in Assam, it doesn’t mean that it can’t do so in the future, especially now that the die of ethnic tension has already been cast. This Damocles’ Sword is continually hanging over the head of India’s decision makers, since they understand that it can be applied against them in the event that they resist Washington’s pressure to commit more closely to the Chinese Containment Coalition (CCC).

The greatest conventional threat to China along its southern edge (notwithstanding a hostile India) lies in the overspill of ethnic warfare from Myanmar into Yunnan. This is actually already happening, since the recent violence in Kokang (Shan State) has forced thousands from their homes and into China as refugees, where they are reportedly being seen as ‘burdensome’ to the authorities. Quite obviously, China comprehends the vulnerabilities of Yunnan to Xinjiang-like external destabilization, albeit manifested in a different manner, hence its sensitivity to what may be the reignition of Myanmar’s civil war. After all, the unexpected outbreak of violence has yet againdelayed the country’s long-awaited peace talks from being concluded, which were reportedly set to be finalized prior to this.

Now, however, other ethnic groups have become emboldened by the clashes, and are sendingtheir own fighters and mercenaries to Kokang, which has also been put under martial law. It now looks like the fragile nationwide peace process is on the verge of being completely shattered, and the fighting may spread to other ethnic regions if their respective militias decide to take advantage of any perceived government setbacks in Kokang to launch their own offensives. All of this would lead to the deterioration of Yunnan’s security and the influx of thousands of more refugees, some of whom may even be militant-affiliated and intent on starting their own uprisings inside China. It is this factor that scares Beijing the most, namely, that Yunnan’s jungles could one day become home to Xinjiang-like fighters intent on throwing another corner of the country into chaos.

Chaotic Patterns:
Making sense out of this grand chaos is the fact that it does follow some semblance of order in terms of US strategy. The countries in focus are along China’s western and southwestern edge, which is already j09-xinj-340ripe for ethnic provocations. Additionally, two of the states abutting the targeted provinces, Kyrgyzstan for Xinjiang and Myanmar for Yunnan, are inherently unstable for their own reasons, thus making them ‘ticking time bombs’ that could be prodded by the US to explode on China’s doorstep. As regards Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and northeast India, their destabilizations are tripwires for the two main ‘bombs’, Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar, although the disruption of any of the three aforementioned areas does undermine China in its own right. In short, this vector of American grand strategy is aimed at the destruction of key peripheral states surrounding China in order to chip away at the strength of the central government along its own peripheral areas, two of which (Xinjiang and Yunnan) are susceptible to outside-directed destabilization aimed at ethnic agitation.

Coordinating Containment

On the other side of China, the US is crafting a Chinese Containment Coalition (CCC) to confront Beijing and provoke it into a Reverse Brzezinski intervention in the South China Sea (if it isn’t dragged into one in Myanmar first). Japan and the Philippines are the centerpieces of this strategy, and South Korea and Vietnam are envisioned as playing crucial roles as well. Let’s take a look at Washington’s plans for each highlighted country, as well as how they all fit together into the bigger picture:

The ‘Unsinkable Aircraft Carriers’:

The remilitarization of the country under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has rattled both China and South Korea, which still vividly remember the scars of World War II. Beijing is especially dismayed at Japan’s ‘reinterpretation’ of its pacifist constitution, whereby it was decided that its ‘self-defense forces’ could assist embattled allies abroad, with analysts popularly pointing out that this likely alludes to its mutual-defense ally, the US. Be that as it may, it isn’t restricted to solely cooperating with the US, and could also support regional militaries as well, which is where the Philippines comes in.

The Philippines
Like Japan, the US also retains a mutual defense commitment to the Philippines, which was intensified by an additional 10-year agreement signed last summer. It elevated its relations with Japan to a strategic partnership in 2011, which made Tokyo second only to Washington in having this privilege with Manila, and it just clinched one with Vietnam, too. This is exceptionally important because it means that the Philippines is turning into the nexus connecting the three primary partners of the CCC, and that any outbreak of hostilities between it and China would likely draw in its other three partners to some extent (which will be addressed soon).

Back-Up Support:

This Southeast Asian state has historically been engaged in a bitter rivalry with China, expressed most recently through the 2014 anti-Chinese riots and the earlier 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War. While it’s not forecasted that Hanoi will enter into a formal defense relationship with Washington akin to that of Tokyo or Manila, ties between the two have steadily warmed throughout the years, with the US easing a ban on weapons sales to Vietnam late last year in order to announce a week ago that it’ll be providing it with 6 patrol ships. Military cooperation and strategic coordination are set to only increase in the coming years, as the US brings Vietnam on board the CCC as a back-up member, although it’s not clear whether this will spill even more into the open, move somewhat into the shadows, or stay at its current level.

Seeing as how the country shares an actual land border with China, and Beijing’s military prowess is stronger on land than it is at sea, it’s doubtful at this time that Hanoi would enter into a direct confrontation with it (unless it was assured in its ability to repeat the fortunes of the 1979 war). What is more probable, however, is that it’ll assume the role of a dual ‘Lead From Behind’ partner with the Philippines in containing China’s naval activity in the South China Sea, and could indirectly come to its aid in the event of a formal conflict. Working indirectly through the Philippines via its new strategic partnership with Vietnam, Washington and Hanoi could obscure their increasingly close military ties and thus avoid domestic outcry concerning their de-facto military alliance. Not only that, but Vietnam can also retain a degree of plausible deniability in its relationship to the CCC, although this may no longer be believable if it goes forward with deeper cooperation with the US Navy, principally in allowing more port calls and possible joint naval exercises.

South Korea
Seoul is the weak link in the CCC, but even so, it’s necessary to address the US’ planned role for it, no matter how successful it may be in fully actualizing it. The idea is for South Korea and Japan to form the basis of the Northeast Asian section of the CCC, but given the major issues between them (primarily their views on World War II and the Liancourt Rocks dispute), it’s going to be difficult for their governments and citizens to agree to such a thing. Taking matters even further, South Korea is being purposely ambiguous over whether it will host a US missile defense infrastructure on its territory, showing that it’s pragmatic enough in its policies to take China’s interests into consideration. This may be influenced by the fact that the two have already signed aFree Trade Agreement that represents one of the highlights of China’s regional diplomacy in recent years.

Despite this, Seoul, Tokyo, and the Washington have linked up to share intelligence on North Korea, creating a network which could easily be directed against China sometime in the future if the ‘need’ arises. Signifying that Seoul won’t fully abandon the US anytime soon, it recentlyprolonged the US’ control over its armed forces during wartime until the mid-2020s. When the US’ reinforcement of power and China’s influence inroads are compared back-to-back, South Korea can most clearly be seen as an object of strategic competition for both Great Powers, even though over 28,000 US troops are currently based in the country. Therefore, it’s uncertain whether the country can fully commit to one side or another, meaning that the prospects of its full incorporation into the CCC are severely limited, although they would stand to be extraordinarily impactful if they succeed.

Connecting The Pieces:

Each piece of the CCC is part of a larger picture, and certain strategic strands of thought connect everything together into a semi-integrated whole. Outright conflict between China on one hand and Japan or Vietnam on the other would carry with it high costs for both sides, including economic (which may be seen as most important by Japan/Vietnam), thus serving as a counterweight to bellicosity and irresistible military provocations. The same ‘speed bumps’ aren’t as visible when it comes to the Philippines, however, meaning that the US’ second ‘unsinkable aircraft carrier’ might be used as ‘bait’ to tempt China into a Reverse Bzezinski in the South China Sea. While a cursory examination may lead one to immediately discount the Philippines as having any chance of military success against China, a closer examination (per the details revealed earlier) indicates that the island chain may be one big trap owing to the strategic and military relationships it has with third parties.

In the event of hostilities between Beijing and Manila, Washington would surely offer some form of aid and support to its ally. Its actions in Ukraine can be seen as a trial run for what it can and cannot get away with (and within which time frames) in assisting a weak proxy against a Great Power, and it is expected that such strategic and logistical lessons will certainly be applied to the Philippines during any conflict it may enter into with China. Just as Ukraine has served as a rallying cry to reinvent NATO as an alliance against Russia, the Philippines may likely serve as a rallying cry to formalize the CCC into an analogous organization against China. The Philippines other strategic partners, Japan and Vietnam, would also likely rally to Manila’s defense in the same manner that Poland and Lithuania are doing for Ukraine (albeit on a much larger and more significant scale). For Tokyo and Hanoi, they can have the opportunity to project more force in the South China Sea and test various military equipment that they could rush to the Philippines (ships in the case of Vietnam and east-asia-mapdrones for Japan). Complicating matters even more would be if India and Australia, two out-of-regional states like the US, also throw their hat in the ring on Manila’s side and aid the archipelago in the same manner as Japan and Vietnam, using the manufactured conflict as an excuse to entrench their influence in the area.

What is important here is not whether the Philippines wins (which is extremely unlikely), but the fact that it becomes the ‘Southeast Asian Ukraine’, misleadingly painted by the mainstream media as the victim of a non-Western Great Power (when in reality the roles are reversed) and partially sacrificed in order to serve as a rallying call for the solidification of the CCC. Not only would the CCC be formalized under such a probable scenario, but all of the Philippines official and non-official partners could flood the South China Sea with their support, possibly even setting up a de-facto permanent presence (even if it’s nominally referred to as ‘rotational’). Also, by coaxing China into a conflict with the Philippines (via unacceptable provocations), the CCC can also monitor how the People’s Liberation Army-Navy operates in wartime, providing observable methods and tactics that can be analyzed in crafting appropriate military countermeasures for ‘the real fight’ sometime in the future.

Cracking The CCC Wall

All is far from lost, however, since China has three options that it can simultaneously employ to break through the containment wall and extricate itself from the US’ planned strategic asphyxiation. Here’s what Beijing is planning:

The South Korean Swap:
Like was described earlier, South Korea is far from a stalwart American ally, seeing as how China has made such enormous inroads there in the past decade that Seoul has no choice but to behave in a pragmatic way towards it. This means that it becomes increasingly unlikely that it will fully commit to the CCC, which would thus remove it from the containment chain being strung around China. Beijing’s objective, then, is to maintain South Korean ‘neutrality’ in the ‘Cold War’ that the US is cooking against China, with the dream scenario being that Seoul expedite the return of control over its wartime forces and perhaps even enact limits (or staged removals) on the US military presence there. While such a development may seem like political fantasy at this point, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t the end goal that China is pursuing. Ultimately, if South Korea swaps the US for China as its preferred partner (which may steadily happen through a combination of growing anti-American sentimentanti-Japanese resentment, and pro-North Korean attitudes). It goes without saying that such a monumental shift in geopolitics would carry with it far-ranging ripples, most immediately felt in the North-South Korean talks but possibly extending throughout the rest of the Asia-Pacific.

Sailing The Maritime Silk Road:
China’s most grand move in perhaps all of its history is to connect Africa-Eurasia via overland and maritime Chinese-initiated trade routesAddressing the latter within the context of this piece, it has the possibility of transforming geopolitically misguided and potentially hostile states in Southeast Asia into pragmatic partners along the same lines as the South Korean model. Other than that major strategic benefit, the Maritime Silk Road would also obstruct the US’ Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade grouping that is meant as an anti-Chinese economic bloc. This Washington-controlled entity could potentially tie the associated economies even closer together to create the ‘economic grounds’ for an ‘East-Southeast Asian NATO’, the CCC, which is why it’s so important for China to preempt these measures through the Maritime Silk Road.

On a larger level, China’s moves would represent a closer step towards the fulfillment of its Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific plan, which is Beijing’s counter to the TPP. It’s already laid the groundwork for this through its Free Trade Agreements with South Korea and Australia, two archetypical American allies, showing that with the ‘hard work’ out of the way, it may be easier to round up more politically pragmatic and less US-influenced entities into the framework in the near future. Taking matters further, although the Maritime Silk Road isn’t restricted solely to the Asia-Pacific, it can use the region to experiment with various diplomatic and economic approaches that can be fine-tuned and applied further ‘downstream’ (perhaps between China and East Africa) in turning the project into a truly trans-continental endeavor that might one day link all of China’s free trade regions together with one another into a macro-free trade zone.

Strengthening The SCO:
The third method that China can employ in breaking through the CCC is to strengthen the SCO in order to stabilize Central Asia. Not only could this prevent or quickly extinguish the chaotic threats 1426256165_period-stanovleniya-zavershen-voutlined in the first section, but if successful, it could provide a convenient overland ‘detour’ around the CCC (if it’s not neutralized or prevented from coming into existence by that time) that could strengthen the continental vector of the Silk Road project and relatively safeguard China from the US and its allies’ maritime blackmail. Although it wouldn’t completely remove such threats (which must always be factored into China’s strategic calculations), it could provide a useful and convenient outlet for engaging with the rest of Eurasia and securing valuable energy imports from the Caspian Basin. Expanding the SCO would also be a method of strengthening it, since it would expand its responsibilities to other countries that China engages with, as well as providing a non-Western forum for settling disputes that may arise between its members (for example, between China and India, or perhaps between both of them over Nepal or Bhutan).

Concluding Thoughts

The US is engaged in two Cold Wars in the present day, with the one against Russia stealing most of the limelight, while the one against China is still simmering. Just as it’s doing to Moscow, the US is fostering an artificial neighborhood of hostility against Beijing and subsequently linking the aggrieved and manipulated states together into a type of containment coalition. While the US’ policy is still playing out against China, it’s certainly learning a thing or two from its campaign against Russia, namely, that a crisis needs to be concocted in order to roll out the Asian vector of the New Cold War. The chaos that Washington is breeding in Central Asia and mainland Southeast Asia is more suitable for weaponization than it is politicization, hence why the US needs to manufacture a crisis in the South China Sea involving the prospective members of the China Containment Coalition. Beijing will have to adroitly maneuver between the chaos and coordination in order to withstand the grand destabilization that the US is plotting all along its periphery, but if it can succeed in its strategic counter measures, then multipolarity will blossom in the Asia-Pacific and fortify itself throughout Eurasia.

Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

The much anticipated U.S-Cuba talks continues this week as Reuters reported “Cuba and the United States meet for talks on restoring diplomatic relations on Monday, seeking more progress toward an agreement while not allowing differences over Venezuela to impede their historic rapprochement.”  The meeting will be held in Havana between Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson and the Cuban foreign ministry’s chief of U.S. affairs Josefina Vidal that will continue into mid-week.

Excuse me for being pessimistic, but all of the talk about “normalizing relations” between the U.S. and Cuba will be a major disappointment for those who were rather more optimistic about the Obama administration’s new approach to the Cuban government.

In the end, it will be business as usual for Washington. The Obama administration’s announcement to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba last December is about regaining a foothold on the island-nation.  The U.S. wants Cuba to change its political and economic structure for its own interests, therefore regime change is on the table.

These new diplomatic overtures to the Cuban government in the last two-years of the Obama’s Presidency seems like an attempt to undermine Cuban President Raul Castro. Many of Obama’s supporters still hope that he can fulfill his remaining campaign promise to restore ties between the U.S. and Cuba.  At this point in time, Obama has nothing to prove.  His true colors are out in public.  People around the World see Obama’s foreign policies similar or even worst than his predecessor George W. Bush.  Obama has two-years left.  He is not up for reelection, so for Obama the gloves are off.

Obama seeks a new war powers bill from congress so that he can declare war against ISIS and other terrorist groups in the Middle East.  It would also allow Obama to authorize the U.S. military and its intelligence agencies to implement regime change or military action against governments he deems necessary.  Secretary of State John Kerry had previously said that the War Powers bill Obama was seeking “will provide a clear and powerful signal to the American people, to our allies and to our enemies” according to USA Today. Reuters noted that the Obama administration declared that Venezuela is a “national security threat” in a statement by White House spokesman Josh Earnest who said that

 “Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here, and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems.”

Venezuela is a threat to U.S. national security?

Let me get try to get this straight. The U. S. has the largest and most expensive military in the world armed with nuclear weapons, drones and high-tech surveillance capabilities with bases and CIA black sites in more than 130 countries and still has Puerto Rico, the last remaining “colony” in Latin America under its “sphere of influence.” So who is the threat?  Cuba will offer its “unconditional support” to the Maduro government making talks with the U.S. more difficult.

The Obama administration knows very well that Venezuela and Cuba are staunch allies. It is a well-calculated effort to destabilize Venezuela’s economy.  They want to replace President Nicolas Maduro with someone that would cater to U.S. interests.  If President Maduro is removed from power and replaced with a pro-US president, it would only mean that Cuba and every other Latin American nation who oppose U.S. hegemony on the continent would be targeted for regime change or even a military intervention.

Washington’s has several conditions for the diplomatic relations to work. and so does Cuba.  Cuba wants to be taken off the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.  Reuters noted one of the conditions set forth by Washington in a report last month ‘Exclusive: U.S. pressing Cuba to restore diplomatic ties before April – officials’ and said:

To finalize Cuba’s removal, Obama would need to submit to Congress a report stating Havana had not supported terrorism-related activities for six months, and that Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support terrorism in the future. Cuba would be automatically dropped from the list 45 days later.

This demand seems like Cuba would be admitting to the world that they are guilty of terrorism.  But Let’s look at the terror networks Washington has historically supported straight out of Florida in an effort to destabilize the Cuban government.  Cuba experienced various terrorist attacks since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion which has been orchestrated by the CIA, for example in 1997; an Italian tourist was killed due to a terrorist attack on Cuban hotels committed by Anti-Castro groups.

According to numerous reports, the terrorist attack was traced back to Miami, Florida where Luis Posada Carriles, a Bay of Pigs veteran who worked for the CIA, financed criminals from El Salvador to carry out the attack. The story does not end there. Mr. Carriles had been held for the Cubana airliner bombing in 1976 in a Venezuelan prison which killed more than 73 people with help from Jorge Mas Canosa, a Miami businessman who was the head of the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF). In 1977, Posada and Freddy Lugo (a Posada affiliate involved in the bombing) escaped from prison.

Posada fled Venezuela to El Salvador, where he organized terrorist attacks against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua to support the Contras under U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel Oliver North. Posada also worked with another known terrorist from Miami named Orlando Bosch, an associate working for the CIA but was convicted in the US for his involvement in a bomb attack on a Cuba-bound freighter. Both worked in Venezuela to coordinate terrorist attacks against Cuba. However, Bosch himself was considered a “mastermind” of the Cubana airline bombing and was responsible for more than thirty acts of terrorism according to FBI records. Bosch was granted a presidential pardon in 1989 by the George H.W. Bush which was influenced by Republican and Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush and South Florida Cuban-American leaders.

Washington wants a U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba wants Guantanamo Bay Returned

One of the other demands put forward by Washington is for Cuba to open a six-story U.S. embassy in Havana. Reuters also reported that “Converting the six-story U.S. interests sections in Havana into a full-fledged embassy after 53 years would require ending restrictions on the number of U.S. personnel in Havana, limits on diplomats’ movements and appointing an ambassador. It would allow the U.S. to renovate the building and have U.S. security posted around the building, replacing Cuban police.” I could just imagine the type of operations that would be carried out at the embassy to destabilize Cuba. Cuba has its own demands as BBC News reported earlier this year that Raul Castro wants the U.S.  to return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba to begin a normalization process which will lead to better relations for both countries.  The article titled ‘Castro demands Guantanamo Bay in return for US-Cuba diplomatic deal’ and said:

His brother Raul, who succeeded him as president in 2008, made his demands at the summit of Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in Costa Rica. “The reestablishment of diplomatic relations is the start of a process of normalising bilateral relations,” he said. “But this will not be possible while the blockade still exists, while they don’t give back the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo naval base.” The land on which the base stands was leased to the US government in 1903 by Cuba’s then-rulers.

Both demands will be difficult to achieve. The U.S. wants a military presence in Cuba with Guantanamo Bay as a post and a six-story embassy in Havana with its “unrestricted” personnel that will travel freely throughout Cuba. What agencies would operate in the U.S. embassy? Will it be the CIA, USAID, DHS or even the FBI? Or maybe newly funded terrorists straight out of the Middle East who look like Latinos? That is a tough task to swallow for the Cuban government especially after their experiences with the U.S. behind the terrorist attacks that occurred in their territory over the last five decades. It will take a very long time to build trust between both nations before any of these demands are met.

U.S-Cuba Diplomatic Relations R.I.P. 2016

There is distrust between both nations.  Does Cuba trust Washington? I don’t think so.  The Cuban government and the people are not oblivious to the fact that the U.S. government’s numerous attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, the CIA backed ‘Bay of Pigs invasion’ or the economic embargo despite Obama’s promise to end it, is a part of history that is hard to forget.  Obama’s offer to end the embargo comes with tough conditions. Cuba is extremely cautious with U.S. foreign intervention policies which is now directed towards Venezuela. The decline of oil prices clearly orchestrated by Saudi Arabia and the U.S. was to weaken the economies of both Venezuela and Russia who do rely on high oil prices.

Russian President Vladimir Putin once said that “we all see the lowering of oil prices. There’s lots of talk about what’s causing it. Could it be an agreement between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to punish Iran and affect the economies of Russia and Venezuela? It could.” It makes all the sense now for the U.S. to aggressively use sanctions against Venezuela.

Cuba still receives its largest oil imports from Venezuela. I can assure you that if Maduro is overthrown and replaced with a new pro-US figure, the oil contracts will dramatically change or would even come to a stop and that would most likely have a devastating effect on the Cuban economy.

The U.S. would hope that it will strangle the Cuban economy to the point where the people would get angry at the Castro government causing civil unrest.  The Cuban people have endured a lot of pain and struggle since the revolution began and I believe that they will overcome any hurdle that comes their way. But I do not see a breakthrough for Cuba or the U.S. despite the fact that legitimate Cuban and American businesses, farmers and the tourism industry would benefit each other. But the U.S. wants Cuba to become a corporate haven filled with fast food companies, GMO foods and casino’s filled with prostitutes run by organized crime and corrupt politicians similar to the Batista era before 1959.

Demands from both the U.S. and Cuba will not be met by the end of Obama’s term.  If a Jeb Bush, or a Hillary Clinton or any other future candidate who is “selected” (Yes, I meant “selected” not “elected”) for the Presidency because he or she would most likely be hawkish on foreign policy.  Most of the candidates for 2016 Presidential elections are war mongers whether Democrat or Republican including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.  Any candidate who becomes president would be bad for U.S-Cuba relations.

Either way, all I see is a long and dangerous road that will lead to nowhere. The obvious is that Obama is more aggressive in his foreign policy by calling out Venezuela as a threat to U.S. national security. It is a sign that the Obama administration’s last two years in office will create more instability and war. Venezuela is sure on the list for regime change, once again. If that happens, Cuba will prepare its military and intelligence apparatus to repel any attempt by the U.S. to destabilize its country.

The talk about U.S-Cuba relations warming up will get cold pretty fast, because it is just talk. If Obama was serious about closing Guantanamo Bay’s torture chamber, he would use his executive powers (which he constantly uses for domestic purposes) to immediately shut down the facility, but he won’t, nor will the next President.  Its time to face the possibility that the new U.S-Cuba talks will fail until trust is rebuilt between the two nations and that is something that is extremely hard for the Cuban government to do.  Who can blame them?

Netanyahu on the Ropes

March 17th, 2015 by Stephen Lendman

On Tuesday, March 17, Israelis vote. Will they decide six years of Netanyahu are enough?

He was elected in March 2009. Earlier he served as prime minister from June 1996 – July 1999. At the time, he was Israel’s youngest ever leader.

In 1993, he succeeded Yitzhak Sharmir to head Likud. He strongly opposed Oslo.

He served as Israeli embassy in Washington chief of mission, UN envoy, deputy foreign minister, foreign minister, and finance minister.

He’s current Likud party chairman and Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs minister.

He’s a former Boston Consulting Group Mitt Romney colleague. In 1978, he told local television viewers:

“The real core of the conflict is the unfortunate Arab refusal to accept the State of Israel.”

He consistently blames Palestinians for Israeli crimes. He ludicrously claims to speak for Jews worldwide.

Jewish Voice for Peace executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson says “American Jews are largely appalled by the notion that Netanyahu, or any other Israeli politician – one that we did not elect and do not choose to be represented by – claims to speak for us.”

He speaks for increasingly fewer numbers of Jews worldwide. Why Israelis tolerate him they’ll have to explain.

He’s a a world-class thug, an unindicted war criminal, a threat to world peace.

On Tuesday, Israeli voters will decide if he remains prime minister. Polls show a close race. As Likud party head, he’ll retain his Knesset seat whatever the outcome.

A Panels Research poll published Friday found 12% of eligible Israeli voters still undecided. Who they choose may decide things.

On Sunday, Netanyahu addressed thousands in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. He rallied supporters under the slogan “United for the Land of Israel.”

Demagogic bluster characterized his comments like always. Fascists dominate Israeli politics. He warned of a nonexistent left wing electoral victory.

He vowed Jerusalem would always remain Israel’s exclusive capital. He claimed main rival Zionist Union party would divide the city.

He said right-wing supporters observe Jewish tradition. They “believe in Israel’s eternal values.”

He claimed

“something is going on during this election that was hidden at first.”

“Now I’m sure everyone is aware of it. A fortune was funneled from abroad to the left-wing organization V15, with one goal, to replace the government led by me with a government led by Tzipi (Livni) and Bougie (Isaac Herzog), supported by the joint Arab party.”

“These efforts focus on one message. Just not Bibi. They’re doing it.”

Ahead of Sunday’s rally, he said

“Scandinavian governments have spent millions of dollars on a campaign to remove me from power.”

“Western governments, but mostly Scandinavian…They know perfectly well why they prefer Buji and Livni to me.”

“Foreign governments, specifically Scandinavians, are part of a worldwide campaign to topple me.”

Israeli historian Gershom Gorenberg called his comments the “last refuge of the fading strongman.”

He invents enemies. He accuses “outside agitators and foreign governments” of conspiring against him. He’s his own worst enemy.

Days earlier, he noted “a very tight race. Nothing is guaranteed because there is a huge worldwide effort to topple the Likud government,” he blustered.

A Zionist Union statement called Sunday’s rally a “horror show. Bibi is the prime minister of the extreme right, and only (ZU) can halt their control of the state and the government.”

Fact: Not a dime’s worth of difference separates Likud from Zionist Union and most other competing parties.

Fact: Fascists dominate Israeli politics. So do monied interests.

Fact: Whatever new government is formed post-election, Palestinians, Israeli Arab citizens, and most Israeli Jews lose.

Fact: White supremacist privileged Jews run Israel. They’ll continue doing so like always since 1948.

Expect nothing different this time. Business as usual will continue.

Late pre-election polls show Zionist Union winning 24 of 120 Knesset seats to Likud’s 20.

Coalitions always run Israel. Winning doesn’t mean the prevailing party gets to form the new government.

Whoever wins, Netanyahu may be better able to cobble together coalition partners than Herzog.

He’s on the ropes, widely disliked, despised by many, but could remain prime minister.

It may be days post-election before a new government is formed. Likud and Zionist Union are competing for coalition partners.

Who’ll prevail remains to be seen. It bears repeating. For Palestinians, Arab Israeli citizens and ordinary Jews, it’s no more different than if Republicans or Democrats prevail in America.

Same old, same old wins every time. Don’t expect this time to be different.

Palestine will remain occupied. Racist apartheid policies will continue.

Settlements will keep expanding on stolen Palestinian land. They’ll continue being denied virtually all fundamental rights.

Israeli Arabs are considered more fifth column threats than citizens. Neoliberal harshness remains official policy. Wars of aggression will continue being waged at Israel’s discretion.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Visit his blog site at Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Scenes of jubilation in both Rabin Square and Gaza City as two nations free themselves from the shackles of internecine violence and political dogma in a combined joint effort for a new vibrant Palestinian state to exist side by side and economically interdependent with an existing Israel.

Palestinian parties in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza unite in show of co-operation as both Arab and Jewish Israelis hail a new beginning of economic and political growth. Shares climb to record highs in Tel Aviv and New York as the shekel rises against both dollar and euro.

Plans unveiled for new international airport in Gaza and a new deep water port on the Mediterranean to handle imports and exports to Europe and around the world and the expected influx of tourists and pilgrims to a safer Holy Land.

Gaza to be completely rebuilt into a modern, wired metropolis that will vie with Dubai as both a destination and a hub for international tourists whilst offering the advantage of better, year-round climatic conditions. International construction and civil engineering companies to tender for multimillion dollar building contracts as architects around the world submit designs – also for a city metro system as well as comprehensive passenger and port facilities.

Investment monies have already started to pour in in expectation of future profits from the envisaged new trading and tourist centre of the Middle East and plans have been dusted off for a new university in Gaza City to take up to one thousand students from around the Middle East and the Gulf.

The new Knesset envisages its defence budget to be cut by 50% by December 2016 leading to a substantial increase in public expenditure on capital projects. Standard of living index expected to rise substantially in coming years, as a result.

Past wars and enmities to become just a memory as wounds heal as the political parties work in coalition for a hugely profitable and stable future in the ancient land of former Palestine.

The new state will be expected to join the United Nations within a few weeks and will take its place as a full member with all the attendant privileges and responsibilities.

Finally, the UN will be asked to declare the entire Middle East, including Israel, Palestine and Iran as a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ).

Netanyahu now pledges no Palestinian state on his watch if reelected. He claims ceding land ensures it taken over by Islamic extremists.

“I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel,” he blustered.

“This is the true reality that has been created in past years. Those that ignore it are burying their heads in the sand. The left does this, buries its head in the sand, time and again.”

Israel’s so-called “left” matches its hard right. They’re indistinguishable – like Republicans and Democrats in America.

No coalition government in Israeli history ever offered Palestinian statehood recognition.

Nothing more than cantonized, meaningless rump self-determination on worthless scrubland.

With no control over its borders, air space, offshore waters or resources. With Jerusalem reserved exclusively for Jews.

Governance of, by and for everyone equitably in Israel is nonexistent. Not for Arabs or Jews.

Occupied Palestinians are ruthlessly persecuted. Arab Israeli citizens are treated like fifth column threats.

Hate-mongering utranationalist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wants anybody not declaring loyalty to a Jewish, Zionist, democratic state beheaded.

Netanyahu prefers mass slaughter and destruction. Last summer’s Gaza war may be prelude for what he intends in another term.

He renounced his 2009 Bar Ilan University pledge saying:

“(I)f we receive a guarantee for security arrangements needed for Israel and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the home of the Jewish people, we will be willing in a future peace deal to reach a solution of a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state.”

He later said Israel “must establish a strong national government headed by Likud in order to fend off” pressure to withdraw to pre-June 1967 borders.

Days earlier, he called Palestinian statehood irrelevant. He refused to negotiate in good faith during last year’s peace talks. They were still-born from day one.

He claimed elected Zionist Union assures establishing “Hamastan 2″ – a term extremist Israeli politicians use referring to another Gaza.

“We are preventing it (by) developing upscale neighborhoods here for tens of thousands of Israelis,” he said.

“(ZU) will give in…and the meaning of this is that we won’t be able to preserve Israel’s security, and the terror that worked against us before will fire missiles at us from these hills.”

“We will continue to build in Jerusalem. We will add thousands of housing units, and in the face of all the (international) pressure, we will persist and continue to develop our eternal capital.”

A so-called OneVoice V15 campaign seeks to oust him. It describes itself as “non-partisan.”

Others call it an “Anybody but Bibi” initiative. It’s affiliated with George Soros. Jewish-American businessman Danny Abraham provides funding.

It matches Netanyahu’s extremism couched in softer rhetoric. He criticized its efforts to defeat him.

He’s flailing at everyone in a last minute desperate effort to win votes. “Anybody but Bibi” would make sense if Israeli voters had legitimate choices.

None exist except perhaps Meretz and Joint List (Hadash and Arab parties) too insignificant to matter.

Palestine will stay occupied. State terror remains official Israeli policy. Ruthless persecution persists. Wars will rage at Israel’s discretion.

Its 20% Palestinian population will be denied representation no matter how many Arabs win Knesset seats.

All Palestinians will be denied hope for a better future. Whatever changes post-election won’t change a thing.

Palestinians remain on their own to achieve long denied liberation.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Visit his blog site at Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Manoeuvres of the Signal Corps were launched on Monday in all forces and formations of the Eastern Military District, involving about 3,000 troops and more than 500 units of automobile and special equipment, spokesman for the district Colonel Alexander Gordeyev said on Monday.

“Signals troops of the Eastern Military District have started practical drills within the framework of a large-scale command-staff field exercise that was launched today in all forces and formations of the district stationed in Buryatia, Trans-Baikal, Khabarovsk, Primorsky, Kamchatka Territories, in the Sakhalin, Amur and Jewish Autonomous Region and Chukotka Autonomous Area,” said Gordeyev.

During the manoeuvres the troops will use the latest communication technologies — the military in the east of Russia received this equipment within the framework of the 2014-2015 state defense order.

Specialists will check the communication system stability in the electronic jamming conditions, attacks of viruses and malicious software on computer networks, its ability to counteract the imaginary enemy saboteurs. “In addition, the troops will drill measures to ensure covertness, security, and mobility of the district’s communications system,” the spokesman said.

According to earlier Monday reports, nearly 40,000 troops, 41 warships and 15 submarines, 110 planes and helicopters are involved in a snap check of combat readiness of the Northern Fleet, as well as separate formations of the Airborne Forces and the Western Military District. Also on Monday, more than 500 troops of the motorised infantry brigade stationed in Chechnya, started exercises outside Stavropol, and the Dagestan missile ship engaged in gun practice in the Caspian Sea.

Since the beginning of 2015, Russia’s armed forces have held more than 30 exercises and drills across the country — from Kaliningrad to the Far East, from the Barents Sea to the Caspian and Black Seas. The exercises range from tactical drills of separate units to command-staff, strategic and international manoeuvres. Some of them continue now. The military training involves all service arms — strategic, fighter, attack, bomber and transport aviation, warships and groupings of all fleets and flotillas of the Navy, conventional and rocket-launching artillery, tank and motorised infantry troops.

Leaks from Mohammed al-Rashed’s police statement published in Turkish media outlets revealed how he aided three UK girls and other foreign nationals to cross into Syria to join the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

Rashed was apprehended on February 28 by Turkish security forces. Along with many documents and information found on his possession and in his laptop, a video showing Rashed aiding three missing British girls, Shamima Begum, 15, Amira Abase, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, was also found.

According to the police statement, Rashed came into contact with Canadian officials in 2013 when he sought for asylum in Canada. Rashed said that Canadian officials asked for information regarding ISIS’ operations in return for citizenship.

Rashed said in his statement that he was working for the Canadian government in exchange for citizenship.

“While I was working in a hospital in Raqqa, I was collecting information from the wounded regarding ISIS operations. I was handing this information to Canadian Embassy in Jordan. In order to do this, I was going to Jordan via Istanbul and giving the information to Canadian Embassy officials recorded in my laptop. I was delivering passport information, baggage tags and other details of the ones who came (to join ISIS from abroad) to my embassy contacts. I was also transmitting information to the same place via Internet. Along with three missing girls, I had also sent the information of 12 people which I aided them to cross into Syria, to the Canadian Embassy. My aim was to learn which ways are being used by the ones who want to join ISIS and transfer this information to the Canadian government, ” Rashed said.

Regarding the costs of his operation, Rashed said that cost of his plane tickets was covered by the Canadian Embassy in exchange for receipts. “The people who I aided for crossing into Syria were covering my bus tickets” he added.

Stating that all his operations are recorded in his laptop, Rashed said that during the period he was in Turkey, he helped the U.K. nationals the most to cross into Syria. He said that he also aided South Africans, Indonesians, Australians and Nigerians.

Rashed also admitted giving detailed information regarding his ISIS contacts.

“Abu Kaka, a British national located in Raqqa, was sending the information of those who wanted to cross into Syria through WhatsApp. Those who were coming from foreign countries were also contacting me through Abu Kaka. I took three British girls from Istanbul Esenler Coach Station and bought their tickets, and delivered them to Abu-Bakr in Gaziantep. Abu-Bakr was finding private vehicles for people to cross into Syria, ” Rashed said in his statement.

Rashed stated that he was contacting with a person named “Matt” at the Canadian Embassy and “Matt” was handing over Rashed’s information to his superior “Claude.”

Rashed also revealed the money traffic between ISIS and its sympathizers abroad, as many bank receipts were found in his possession.

“The money was being sent to me, and I was sending the money to my brother in Raqqa via a jeweler in Şanlıurfa. Abu Kaka’s men were picking them up from my brother, ” Rashed said.

Copyright Daily Sabah, 2015

by Steve Straehley

Sharing is caring—except when it’s snooping.

The Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday approved the Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Protection Act, which would facilitate the sharing of information from private companies to the government. The putative reason for the legislation is to stop cyberattacks, but some are concerned it will allow transfers of large amounts of personal information to the government.

The vote was 14-1 with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) the lone holdout. “Cyberattacks and hacking against U.S. companies and networks are a serious problem for the American economy and for our national security,” Wyden said in a statement. “It makes sense to encourage private firms to share information about cybersecurity threats. But this information sharing is only acceptable if there are strong protections for the privacy rights of law-abiding American citizens.” Wyden called the bill “a surveillance bill by another name.”

Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) wasn’t very reassuring in his defense of the bill’s safeguards. “If [information] finds its way to the federal government, though, once we distribute it in real time and we realize there’s personal information, any company that discovers it has to remove it or minimize it in a way that it can’t be shared anywhere else,” he said, according to Wired.

The final text of the bill hasn’t been released, but in the last version publicly available, the bill would allow the sharing of private sector data with the government that could prevent “terrorism” or an “imminent threat of death or serious bodily harm.” Those concerns go beyond cybersecurity and could allow fishing expeditions by the federal government investigating run-of-the-mill crimes.

As of now, there’s no telling what’s in the final version of the legislation approved by the committee. “This bill has the potential to seriously harm Americans’ privacy rights,” Open Technology Institute privacy counsel Robyn Greene told Wired after the vote Thursday, “and it wasn’t even debated in public.”

This isn’t the first time the committee has passed a bill like this. Last summer, similar legislation was moved to the full Senate, but it died because of concerns that Google, Facebook and other companies would be forced to share personal data with intelligence agencies.

Copyright:  Steve Straehley, 2015

I chose to read this book for two reasons:  first, the curiosity of the title by an author of Iranian descent; and secondly because the author, Vali Nasr, has had by his account some significant contact with the U.S. government establishment.

It proved to be an interesting read for the political commentary on his own time inside the establishment and for its additional information concerning how the Obama administration operated during its first years. The information used in the book, the ‘facts’, are inarguable and verifiable, but it is the assessments, implications, and interpretations of the significance of these facts that is typical U.S. rhetoric and hubris.  The latter range from sadly amusing, to fantasy, to absolute rubbish.

The major irony, intended of course, is that  The Dispensable Nation is a ‘hook’ and the obvious tendency of Nasr’s argument is that the U.S. is indeed indispensable.  Vali Nasr claims to be a child of the Iranian revolution, although being educated in England before going to the U.S. after 1979.  It is fully obvious that he has incorporated the fundamental U.S. ideology of the benevolent nation guiding the world into his thought processes regardless of the high militarization of U.S. foreign policy throughout its history.

In  sum, he argues that the U.S. should not retreat from the Middle East because of the need to stop the influence of hegemonic China.  The indispensable nation can solve all the problems there.  Indeed!

The book has two big misses apart from its poor interpretations.  Published in 2013 means having been written probably in 2010-12, which makes the book obsolete almost immediately as events in Syria and the Ukraine have added great significance to both Russia as more than a regional power.  That is no fault of the author’s other than as a thread that he did not consider on his own radar of U.S. ideological intentions.  Of course, had he written later, it could be readily assumed that he would write about “Russian aggression” and the “evil Putin” in full accordance with current U.S. foreign policy propaganda.

The second  miss is an apparent complete lack of understanding of the global financial situation and its ongoing restructuring with the BRICS bank, and the many countries that are doing their best to avoid using the U.S. dominated systems such as the World Bank, the IMF, SWIFT, the BIS.  That all reflects on Nasr’s lack of mention that in the Middle East, it is the control of the U.S. fiat petro-dollar as reserve currency rather than the oil itself that is the largest threat to U.S. hegemony around the world.  Without that reserve currency status and oil priced in dollars, the U.S. becomes insolvent and bankrupt.

Finally in general terms, this work suffers from “Vietnam Syndrome”:  our intentions were good, we are an honourable nation, we just made some mistakes along the way.  We are indispensable none the less.

Trying to build the “indispensable” line of thought without stating it too early, Nasr continually reiterates that if the U.S. were not where it was, if it were to actually retreat then the world would be “chaos.”  That is a highly arguable proposition as it has been the U.S. imperial hegemonic drive that has brought chaos to so many regions of the world (see William Blum, Stephen Kinzer, Andrew Bacevich among many others to read the many military depredations of the U.S. around the world.)

Domestic ruminations

Nasr begins with an insiders view of the U.S. policy establishment under Obama, having worked with Obama, Richard Holbrooke, and Hillary Clinton.  An attempt is made to separate the “military intelligence complex” as being against the “foreign policy establishment.”  That may be all well and good for domestic consumption, but for an observer of the effects on foreign policy, what matters is what is done rather than what is argued about between various government sections.

The admission is made that “we had got the Middle East badly wrong” yet says “retreating from the region would be disastrous,” without saying disastrous for whom.  Previewing his conclusion – as good writers should – he indicates that “the coming geopolitical competition with China will not be played out in the Pacific theatre…but played in the Middle East….none of the issues that brought us to the Middle East in the first place have been resolved.”

War as diplomacy

While attempting to keep “diplomacy” and “war” separate, Nasr only succeeds in showing how the war option is the U.S.’ ultimate diplomatic solution.  Holbrooke says, “fighting is the means to facilitate [reconciliation].”  Clinton follows the same strategy as “hard power is to facilitate diplomatic breakthroughs.”  Really!?  It is not a diplomatic breakthrough if the military is used to subjugate the other side – other than from the Washington consensus perspective.

The work voyages through Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and the “Arab Spring” before arriving in China.  Iran of course is “obdurate” while the U.S. has used “persistence and a clear headed strategy for managing the system.”  By Nasr’s account, “Our current policy will eventually turn Iran into a failed state.”  Possibly, but more likely it will turn Iran into a successful state aligned with China, Russia, and many other countries around the world attempting to shake off the U.S. hegemon.

As for Iraq, “the region lost trust in American power…we had neither the patience nor perseverance to see through what we started.”  Left unchecked “strife…could produce a belt of instability.”  Again, really!?  That arc of instability has been the U.S. goal all along in order to gain control of the region, not for ‘democracy’ or ‘freedom’ or ‘rule of law’ but for simple primal hegemonic control of the people and resources – in that respect they have succeeded quite well.  Perhaps Nasr should read Pepe Escobar’s “Empire of Chaos” to grasp a glimpse of how the ‘rest of the world’ sees the U.S. – and who actually controls the “New Silk Road.”

Enter China

Without berating the reader with a long litany of Nasr’s ideological perspectives through this voyage, the real argument centers on China.

Throughout the China discussion, Nasr reiterates the Chinese drive towards hegemony while the U.S. is the paragon supporter of an “open international economic system – built on the principles of free trade and open exchange of goods, services, and money,” while fearing that China’s drive is “carving out various regions of the world into spheres of influence from which America would be excluded.”

Nasr wants to encourage “China to fully embrace the rules and institutions that govern global economics and international politics…the normative global order that we helped create and have enforced for more than sixty years, and which China had no part in creating.”

Well of course, China should submit itself to the Washington consensus, the very institutions that are doing their best to harvest the wealth of the world for the corporate elites.  The “normative global order” is only the norm for U.S. hegemony, wherein everyone is subservient to the new world order ruled by the U.S.  Not likely.

It continues throughout the finale, where what is desired is “a rules based system – the one base on Western liberal values and reflecting the fundamental tenets of the international system,” a desire to “entrench rules and norms.”    Yes, of course, a “Western” system, with – at least in this work – an undefined set of fundamentals for an international system.

Simply put the author is well behind the game and carries a set of wishful thinking that the U.S. is the leader of a well regulated and orderly economic order.  Take away the military, take away the US petro-dollar reserve currency, take away the not so free trade agreements that favour corporations over sovereign nations and indigenous peoples, and perhaps the world might find an international system based on real democracy, and not the democracy that comes from the barrel of a gun or an Apache helicopter fired Hellfire missile – or some drone managed by some internet stick jockey ten thousand kilometers away.

The unintended irony on the ‘hook’ of the title is that the U.S. is truly a dispensable nation.  Perhaps not all of it, but its military that has created so much “chaos” that Nasr fears looms if the U.S. withdraws from being the global hegemon.  Further, its economic system, teetering on the edge of collapse as the Federal Bank prints trillions of petro-dollars, will need by necessity to accept its place as just another devalued fiat currency in the world.  Yes, China is rising while the U.S. declines.

U.S. foreign policy is not in retreat, perhaps in tatters and rags, wrapped in a flag stained in the blood of far too many millions of people around the world.  Works such as  The Dispensable Nation simply highlight the arrogance and hubris of an empire in decline.

The “I told you so” school of commentary is bound to be out in force after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pre-electoral statement on his opposition to a Palestinian state.  It clarified what many had been suspicious about: his genuine non-commitment, not merely to peace with the Palestinians, but the idea of a Palestinian state. 

In 2009, Netanyahu addressed an audience at Bar Ilan University making statements that were barely believable, but nonetheless part of the rhetorical moment necessity sometimes demands.[1]  “We are gathered this evening in an institution named for two pioneers of peace, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and we share in their vision.”

But reading between the chosen lines, and you could already see where the Netanyahu reasoning would take you.  Palestinians had to “recognise the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this land”.  Not doing so would impair discussions.  As for stateless Palestinians, “We do not want to rule over them, we do not want to govern their lives, we do not want to impose either our flag or our culture on them.”  His vision: “two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect.”

Instead, Bibi has continued construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and taken a mad-dog approach to Iran which has worked in some segments of the Israeli electorate.  The fear for him, however, is whether that same electorate, for all its angst, is suffering “Bibi fatigue”.  The Labor Party, rebranded the Zionist Union, and Hatnua might be able to pull off more seats combined than Likud, but the complicated mathematics of coalitions will have to play out.

Such marked hollowness was all but confirmed on Monday, when an electorally geared Netanyahu came clean on his vision about the Palestinians and their state aspirations. On a video interview published on the right-leaning news site, NRG, the prime minister outlined his revised position, which should be regarded as a position he never strayed from.  “I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands is giving attack grounds to radical Islam against the state of Israel.”

The interpretative spin put on this is one of fluid change and disturbing circumstances, rather than the issue of Palestinian statehood per se. But it also suggests a conventional spitting in the eye of one’s opponent – Palestinians can’t be trusted with their sovereignty, in the event Islamic terrorism spearheaded by Iran takes root.  Ergo, Palestinians can never have statehood, for to allow it would give birth to permanent barricades on Israel’s doorstep.

The Prime Minister’s Office also released a statement of clarification, which suggested that Bibi had been thinking in that way all along.  Netanyahu “has made clear for years that given the current conditions in the Middle East, any territory that is given will be seized by the radical Islam just like what happened in Gaza and southern Lebanon.”[2]

A weekly Shabbat pamphlet, authored by Tzipi Hotovely, came close in describing the long standing Netanyahu sentiment: “Netanyahu’s entire political biography is a fight against the creation of a Palestinian state.”[3]

A good dose of demonising was also thrown in ahead of Tuesday’s elections.  Likud is seemingly trailing its rivals, calling for a good round of old fashioned scare mongering.  Vote for the left, and you would essentially be voting for fifth columnists with an internationalist agenda fashioned outside Israel.  “There is a real threat here that a left-wing government will join the international community and follow its orders.”  This following of orders would comprise the freezing of construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and a move towards a dreaded return to Israel’s 1967 borders (Haaretz, Mar 16).[4]

This warning hardly fits.  The main contender Isaac Herzog of the centre-left Zionist Union is barely brimming with optimism about agreement with the Palestinians either.  He has even suggested, just to give him some electoral legroom, that any agreement on a two-state solution might be impossible.  To cover his progressive base, he pays lip service to the idea.  A good dose of pessimism regarding peace negotiations is always deemed a mandatory tonic in Israeli political cycles.

The Herzog strategy has been, instead, to focus on Bibi as a loose canon, alienator in chief, estranger par excellence.  Relations with Washington have taken a good bruising at the hands of Netanyahu’s megalomania.  Israel risks further isolation with its various stances regarding negotiations with Iran.  Then there is the issue of the price of living, a frightening prospect for Israelis given the increase of prices by 55 per cent from 2008 to 2013.  Israel has a chronic housing crisis.  And while prices rise, the prime minister has been gorging on his takeout menu, a point noted in a state comptroller report by Joseph Haim Shapira.[5]

Against estrangement, Herzog is angling for being “a prime minister for everyone.  For right and left, for settlers, Haredim, Druze, Arabs, Circassians; I will be prime minister for the centre and for the periphery.”  But the great casualty in the electoral rhetoric must remain the two state solution.  At least we know that, for Palestinian statehood to be recognised, Netanyahu must be forgotten.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: [email protected]


Under the anti terrorist legislation adopted in Western countries, a person can be arrested for visiting an “anti-American” or “Islamist” website on the internet.  In the US, habeas corpus has been scrapped, the police can arrest a citizen on mere suspicion of “terror activities” without a warrant. Moreover, under Obama, the practice of “extrajudicial killing” applies to suspected US citizens.   

In Canada, under the clauses of  Canada’s proposed C-51 “Anti-terrorism” Bill, Canadian citizens can be arrested on a mere suspicion:

 Six Muslim young adults stand in front of a mosque late at night in heated discussion in some foreign language. … They may be talking about video games, or sports, or girls, or advocating the overthrow of the Harper government. Who knows? … But the new standard for arrest and detention—reason to suspect that they may commit an act—is so low that an officer may be inclined to arrest and detain them in order to investigate further. … They could act on mere suspicion that an arrest is likely to prevent any terrorist activity. Yesterday, the Muslim men were freely exercising constitutional rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Today they are to be arrested. (Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives,  February 15, 2015) 

Anti-Terrorism Double Standards

Ironically, the anti-terrorist legislation does not apply to politicians in high office, namely to the “State sponsors of terrorism”; nor does it apply to U.S. or Canadian diplomats, intelligence officials, who are routinely in liaison with terrorist organizations in the Middle East. 

Individuals can be arrested but presidents and prime ministers are allowed to mingle and socialize with family members of the World’s most renowned terrorist and alleged architect of the 9/11 attacks: Osama bin Laden. 

Lest we forget, one day before the 9/11 attacks, the dad of the sitting President of the United States of America, George Herbert Walker Bush was meeting none other than Shafig bin Laden, the brother of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. It was a routine business meeting on September 10-11, no conflict of interest, no relationship to the 9/11 attacks which allegedly were carried out on the orders of Shafiq’s brother Osama.

Confirmed by the Washington Post, “fellow investors” of the Carlyle Group including Osama’s brother Shafiq bin Laden and Dubya’s dad former President George H. W. Bush met in the plush surroundings of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on September 10-11, 2001. Their business encounter under the auspices of the Carlyle Group was unfortunately interrupted on September 11 by the 9/11 attacks.

It didn’t help that as the World Trade Center burned on Sept. 11, 2001, the news interrupted a Carlyle business conference at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel here attended by a brother of Osama bin Laden [Shafiq bin Laden]. Former president Bush [senior], a fellow investor, had been with him at the conference the previous day. (Greg Schneider, Pairing the Powerful With the Rich, Washington Post, March 16, 2003)

A timely business meeting on September 10-11 at the Ritz Carlton with Osama’s brother disrupted by the 9/11 attacks: pure coincidence,  totally unrelated to the 9/11 attacks.

A day later, on the evening of September 11, 2001, president George W. Bush pronounced a historic speech in which he defined the relationship between “terrorists’ and “state sponsors of terrorism”:

The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I’ve directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

Also in attendance at the Ritz Carlton meetings were former secretary of defense Frank Carlucci, former secretary of state James Baker III, and other unnamed members of the bin Laden family.

The bin Laden – Bush Carlyle Group meeting was also confirmed by The Economist in a June 2003 article entitled C- for Capitalism:

ON the day Osama bin Laden’s men attacked America, Shafiq bin Laden, described as an estranged brother of the terrorist, was at an investment conference in Washington, DC, along with two people who are close to President George Bush: his father, the first President Bush, and James Baker, the former secretary of state who masterminded the legal campaign that secured Dubya’s move to the White House. The conference was hosted by the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm that manages billions of dollars, including, at the time, some bin Laden family wealth. It also employs Messrs Bush and Baker.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, when no one was being allowed in or out of the United States, many members of the bin Laden family in America were spirited home to Saudi Arabia. The revival of defence spending that followed greatly increased the value of the Carlyle Group’s investments in defence companies. (emphasis added)

The Carlyle Group is  embroiled  with the defense and intelligence establishment. “It is widely regarded as an extension of the US government, or at least the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the Pentagon.”

Double standards in anti-terrorism legislation? Double standards in police and law enforcement? No questions asked. No police investigation or interrogation of Osama’s brother Shafig.

Normally, under established rules of police investigation, both Shafig bin Laden and the president’s dad George Herbert Walker Bush should have been remanded in custody for police questioning and in all likelihood, Shafig bin Laden would have been arrested as a potential suspect. But that did not happen.

The presence of members of the bin Laden family meeting up with the father of the president of the United States was hushed up and 13 members of the bin Ladens including Shafig were flown out of the US on September 19, 2001 in a plane chartered by the White House. Meanwhile, suspected Muslims are arrested on a mere suspicion, –e.g. that they have an old school friend, who’s cousin’s 86 year old grandmother is an alleged sympathizer of the “jihad”.

Timely departure of Shafig et al: On the day following the departure of the bin Ladens, President Bush delivered an address to a joint session of the House and the Senate (September 20, 2001), in which he stated unequivocally his administration’s intent to “pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism”, with no exceptions (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan)

“We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make.

Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.)

From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime [state sponsor of terrorism].  President George W. Bush, 20 September 2001 (emphasis added)

Osama behind 9/11?

According to CIA Director George Tenet in a late morning statement on September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda under the helm of Osama bin Laden was “behind these evil acts”.

The alleged responsibility of Osama bin Laden in carrying out the 9/11 attacks was later confirmed by Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair in a statement to the the House of Commons on October 4, 2001.  This did not,  however,  prevent Tony Blair from socializing with Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who prior to 9/11 had allegedly provided millions of dollars of financial assistance to the Al Qaeda terror network:

In testimony [accused hijacker] Moussawi said he created a database of al-Qaeda donors, including members of the royal family such as former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was Saudi ambassador to the United States for 22 years until 2005. Mint Press, February 14, 2015)

Tony Blair, Bandar bin Sultan

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, right receives Mideast envoy Tony Blair, the ex-prime minister of Britain after his arrival in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.  Bandar bin Sultan, was accused of direct support for al-Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks (undated). (Mint Press, February 15, 2015)

Known and documented, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Pakistan have been harboring Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists for more than twenty years.

In accordance with George W. Bush’s September 2001 address to the House and the Senate, America’s staunchest allies –which routinely provide support to terrorists– should have been categorized as “hostile regimes”. Yet in practice, these “nations that provide a safe haven to terrorism” are acting on behalf of the US. They are in permanent and close liaison with Washington and NATO headquarters in Brussels.

“You are either with us or with the terrorists”, said George W. in the wake of 9/11. In fact the US government is both “with us” and “with the terrorists”. The United States is the ultimate “state sponsor of terrorism” which has entrusted its allies (Saudi Arabia, et al) with the tasks of recruitment and training of terrorists. 

Flash Forward: NATO and The Islamic State (ISIS)

State sponsorship of terrorism prevails, with NATO playing a central role in the process of financing, training and recruitment of terrorists. According to Israeli intelligence sources,  NATO and the Turkish High Command have been involved in the recruitment of ISIS and Al Nusrah mercenaries from the outset of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011.

 “a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011.)

Similarly, Western Special Forces and Western intelligence operatives had integrated the ranks of the ISIS. British Special Forces and MI6 have been involved in training jihadist rebels in Syria. In turn, US, Canada embassy officials are in liaison with terrorist entities.

Update (March 18, 2015)

Concluding Remarks

What should be clear to Western public opinion is that “the war on terrorism” is a lie. The architects of terrorism are the Western governments and their intelligence services. The anti-terrorism legislation serves the following objectives: 

1. It conveys the illusion that Western society is threatened by Muslim terrorists and that Western governments are committed to the security of their citizens. This in itself constitutes the basis of the demonization campaign directed against Muslims;

2. It presents the “Global War on Terrorism” against an outside enemy as a legitimate undertaking, thereby providing a justification for US-NATO’s wars of aggression;

3. It protects the political and intelligence architects of terrorism. It upholds the legitimacy of the “State sponsors of terrorism” (State officials in high office) and their intelligence services involved in the covert financing, recruitment and training of terrorists on behalf of the Western military alliance;

4. “The Global War on Terrorism” is a criminal undertaking. Those who uphold the truth will be targeted. The Anti-terrorism legislation will be used against  those who question the  validity of the “Global War on Terrorism” consensus. That campaign has already commenced through the targeting of so-called “conspiracy theorists”.

These issues have been amply documented, see:

Canada, State Sponsor of Terrorism? Role of Canadian Embassy in Jordan in ISIS Recruitment?By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, March 15, 2015

The Ultimate War Crime: America’s “Global War on Terrorism”By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, March 08, 2015