Global Research Editor’s Note

We bring to the attention of our readers the following text of Osama bin Laden’s interview with Ummat, a Pakistani daily, published in Karachi on September 28, 2001. It was translated into English by the BBC World Monitoring Service and made public on September 29, 2001.

The authenticity of this interview remains to be confirmed. It is available in recognized electronic news archives including the BBC. Its authenticity has not been questioned.  

The interview tends to demystify the Osama bin Laden persona.

Osama bin Laden categorically denies his involvement in the 9/11 attacks.  Bin Laden’s statements in this interview are markedly different from those made in the alleged Osama video tapes.

In this interview, Osama bin Laden exhibits an understanding of US foreign policy. He expresses his views regarding the loss of life on 9/11. He focusses on CIA support to the narcotics trade.

He also makes statements as to who, in his opinion, might be the likely perpetrator of  the September 11 attacks.

This is an important text which has not been brought to the attention of Western public opinion.

We have highlighted key sections of this interview.

It is our hope that the text of this interview, published on 28 September 2001 barely a week before the onset of the war on Afghanistan, will contribute to a better understanding of the history of Al Qaeda, the role of Osama bin Laden and the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

This interview is published for informational purposes only. GR does not in any way endorse the statements in this interview.

Michel  Chossudovsky, September 9, 2014


Full text of September 2001 Pakistani paper’s “exclusive” interview with Usamah Bin-Ladin

Ummat (in Urdu)

translated from Urdu

Karachi, 28 September 2001, pp. 1 and 7.

Ummat’s introduction

Kabul: Prominent Arab mojahed holy warrior Usamah Bin-Ladin has said that he or his al-Qa’idah group has nothing to do with the 11 September suicidal attacks in Washington and New York. He said the US government should find the attackers within the country. In an exclusive interview with daily “Ummat”, he said these attacks could be the act of those who are part of the American system and are rebelling against it and working for some other system. Or, Usamah said, this could be the act of those who want to make the current century a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity. Or, the American Jews, who are opposed to President Bush ever since the Florida elections, might be the masterminds of this act. There is also a great possibility of the involvement of US intelligence agencies, which need billions of dollars worth of funds every year. He said there is a government within the government in the United States.

The secret agencies, he said, should be asked as to who are behind the attacks. Usamah said support for attack on Afghanistan was a matter of need for some Muslim countries and compulsion for others. However, he said, he was thankful to the courageous people of Pakistan who erected a bulwark before the wrong forces. He added that the Islamic world was attaching great expectations with Pakistan and, in time of need, “we will protect this bulwark by sacrificing of lives”.

Following is the interview in full detail:

Ummat: You have been accused of involvement in the attacks in New York and Washington. What do you want to say about this? If you are not involved, who might be?

Usamah [Osama bin Laden]: In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful. Praise be to Allah, Who is the creator of the whole universe and Who made the earth as an abode for peace, for the whole mankind. Allah is the Sustainer, who sent Prophet Muhammad for our guidance. I am thankful to the Ummat Group of Publications, which gave me the opportunity to convey my viewpoint to the people, particularly the valiant and Momin true Muslim people of Pakistan who refused to believe in lie of the demon.

I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children, and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children, and other people.

Such a practice is forbidden ever in the course of a battle. It is the United States, which is perpetrating every maltreatment on women, children, and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam. All that is going on in Palestine for the last 11 months is sufficient to call the wrath of God upon the United States and Israel.

There is also a warning for those Muslim countries, which witnessed all these as a silent spectator. What had earlier been done to the innocent people of Iraq, Chechnya, and Bosnia?

Only one conclusion could be derived from the indifference of the United States and the West to these acts of terror and the patronage of the tyrants by these powers that America is an anti-Islamic power and it is patronizing the anti-Islamic forces. Its friendship with the Muslim countries is just a show, rather deceit. By enticing or intimidating these countries, the United States is forcing them to play a role of its choice. Put a glance all around and you will see that the slaves of the United States are either rulers or enemies of Muslims .

The US has no friends, nor does it want to keep any because the prerequisite of friendship is to come to the level of the friend or consider him at par with you. America does not want to see anyone equal to it. It expects slavery from others. Therefore, other countries are either its slaves or subordinates.

However, our case is different. We have pledged slavery to God Almighty alone and after this pledge there is no possibility to become the slave of someone else. If we do that, it will be disregardful to both our Sustainer and his fellow beings. Most of the world nations upholding their freedom are the religious ones, which are the enemies of United States, or the latter itself considers them as its enemies. Or the countries, which do not agree to become its slaves, such as China, Iran, Libya, Cuba, Syria, and the former Russia as received .

Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed.

According to my information, the death toll is much higher than what the US government has stated. But the Bush administration does not want the panic to spread. The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the US system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive. They can be any one, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia. In the US itself, there are dozens of well-organized and well-equipped groups, which are capable of causing a large-scale destruction. Then you cannot forget the American Jews, who are annoyed with President Bush ever since the elections in Florida and want to avenge him.

Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year. This funding issue was not a big problem till the existence of the former Soviet Union but after that the budget of these agencies has been in danger.

They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Usamah and Taleban and then this incident happened. You see, the Bush administration approved a budget of 40bn dollars. Where will this huge amount go? It will be provided to the same agencies, which need huge funds and want to exert their importance.

Now they will spend the money for their expansion and for increasing their importance. I will give you an example. Drug smugglers from all over the world are in contact with the US secret agencies. These agencies do not want to eradicate narcotics cultivation and trafficking because their importance will be diminished. The people in the US Drug Enforcement Department are encouraging drug trade so that they could show performance and get millions of dollars worth of budget. General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat. In the same way, whether it is President Bush or any other US president, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who made the attacks.

Ummat: A number of world countries have joined the call of the United States for launching an attack on Afghanistan. These also include a number of Muslim countries. Will Al-Qa’idah declare a jihad against these countries as well?

Usamah: I must say that my duty is just to awaken the Muslims; to tell them as to what is good for them and what is not. What does Islam says and what the enemies of Islam want?

Al-Qa’idah was set up to wage a jihad against infidelity, particularly to encounter the onslaught of the infidel countries against the Islamic states. Jihad is the sixth undeclared element of Islam. The first five being the basic holy words of Islam, prayers, fast, pilgrimage to Mecca, and giving alms Every anti-Islamic person is afraid of it. Al-Qa’idah wants to keep this element alive and active and make it part of the daily life of the Muslims. It wants to give it the status of worship. We are not against any Islamic country nor we consider a war against an Islamic country as jihad.

We are in favour of armed jihad only against those infidel countries, which are killing innocent Muslim men, women, and children just because they are Muslims. Supporting the US act is the need of some Muslim countries and the compulsion of others. However, they should think as to what will remain of their religious and moral position if they support the attack of the Christians and the Jews on a Muslim country like Afghanistan. The orders of Islamic shari’ah jurisprudence for such individuals, organizations, and countries are clear and all the scholars of the Muslim brotherhood are unanimous on them. We will do the same, which is being ordered by the Amir ol-Momenin the commander of the faithful Mola Omar and the Islamic scholars. The hearts of the people of Muslim countries are beating with the call of jihad. We are grateful to them.

Ummat: The losses caused in the attacks in New York and Washington have proved that giving an economic blow to the US is not too difficult. US experts admit that a few more such attacks can bring down the American economy. Why is al-Qa’idah not targeting their economic pillars?

Usamah: I have already said that we are not hostile to the United States. We are against the system, which makes other nations slaves of the United States, or forces them to mortgage their political and economic freedom. This system is totally in control of the American Jews, whose first priority is Israel, not the United States. It is simply that the American people are themselves the slaves of the Jews and are forced to live according to the principles and laws laid by them. So, the punishment should reach Israel. In fact, it is Israel, which is giving a blood bath to innocent Muslims and the US is not uttering a single word.

Ummat: Why is harm not caused to the enemies of Islam through other means, apart from the armed struggle? For instance, inciting the Muslims to boycott Western products, banks, shipping lines, and TV channels.

Usamah: The first thing is that Western products could only be boycotted when the Muslim fraternity is fully awakened and organized. Secondly, the Muslim companies should become self-sufficient in producing goods equal to the products of Western companies. Economic boycott of the West is not possible unless economic self-sufficiency is attained and substitute products are brought out. You see that wealth is scattered all across the Muslim world but not a single TV channel has been acquired which can preach Islamic injunctions according to modern requirements and attain an international influence. Muslim traders and philanthropists should make it a point that if the weapon of public opinion is to be used, it is to be kept in the hand. Today’s world is of public opinion and the fates of nations are determined through its pressure. Once the tools for building public opinion are obtained, everything that you asked for can be done.

Ummat: The entire propaganda about your struggle has so far been made by the Western media. But no information is being received from your sources about the network of Al-Qa’idah and its jihadi successes. Would you comment?

Usamah: In fact, the Western media is left with nothing else. It has no other theme to survive for a long time. Then we have many other things to do. The struggle for jihad and the successes are for the sake of Allah and not to annoy His bondsmen. Our silence is our real propaganda. Rejections, explanations, or corrigendum only waste your time and through them, the enemy wants you to engage in things which are not of use to you. These things are pulling you away from your cause.

The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which make us surprise but it reflects on what is in their hearts and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda. They become afraid of it and begin to cause harm to themselves. Terror is the most dreaded weapon in modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people. It can add fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the enemies of the United States cannot do, its media is doing that. You can understand as to what will be the performance of the nation in a war, which suffers from fear and helplessness.

Ummat: What will the impact of the freeze of al-Qa’idah accounts by the US?

Usamah: God opens up ways for those who work for Him. Freezing of accounts will not make any difference for Al-Qa’idah or other jihad groups. With the grace of Allah, al-Qa’idah has more than three such alternative financial systems, which are all separate and totally independent from each other. This system is operating under the patronage of those who love jihad. What to say of the United States, even the combined world cannot budge these people from their path.

These people are not in hundreds but in thousands and millions. Al-Qa’idah comprises of such modern educated youths who are aware of the cracks inside the Western financial system as they are aware of the lines in their hands. These are the very flaws of the Western fiscal system, which are becoming a noose for it and this system could not recuperate in spite of the passage of so many days.

Ummat: Are there other safe areas other than Afghanistan, where you can continue jihad?

Usamah: There are areas in all parts of the world where strong jihadi forces are present, from Indonesia to Algeria, from Kabul to Chechnya, from Bosnia to Sudan, and from Burma to Kashmir. Then it is not the problem of my person. I am helpless fellowman of God, constantly in the fear of my accountability before God. It is not the question of Usamah but of Islam and, in Islam too, of jihad. Thanks to God, those waging a jihad can walk today with their heads raised. Jihad was still present when there was no Usamah and it will remain as such even when Usamah is no longer there. Allah opens up ways and creates loves in the hearts of people for those who walk on the path of Allah with their lives, property, and children. Believe it, through jihad, a man gets everything he desires. And the biggest desire of a Muslim is the after life. Martyrdom is the shortest way of attaining an eternal life.

Ummat: What do you say about the Pakistan government policy on Afghanistan attack?

Usamah: We are thankful to the Momin and valiant people of Pakistan who erected a blockade in front of the wrong forces and stood in the first file of battle. Pakistan is a great hope for the Islamic brotherhood. Its people are awakened, organized, and rich in the spirit of faith. They backed Afghanistan in its war against the Soviet Union and extended every help to the mojahedin and the Afghan people. Then these are the same Pakistanis who are standing shoulder by shoulder with the Taleban. If such people emerge in just two countries, the domination of the West will diminish in a matter of days. Our hearts beat with Pakistan and, God forbid, if a difficult time comes we will protect it with our blood. Pakistan is sacred for us like a place of worship. We are the people of jihad and fighting for the defence of Pakistan is the best of all jihads to us. It does not matter for us as to who rules Pakistan. The important thing is that the spirit of jihad is alive and stronger in the hearts of the Pakistani people.

Copyright Ummat in Urdu, BBC translation in English, 2001

Read about Osama Bin Laden in Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller

According to Chossudovsky, the  “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalisation is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

Order Directly from Global Research

original

America’s “War on Terrorism”

by Michel
Chossudovsky

Fighting Lies and Searching for Truths

December 4th, 2014 by Global Research

The world is globalizing and information has become more accessible to more people than ever before. We are, indeed, in unprecedented times, and we face unprecedented challenges.

The aims of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and Global Research are to battle the tidal waves of misinformation and propaganda washing our minds on a daily basis. We have separated ourselves from the corporate controlled mainstream news, whose only objective is to serve their corporate masters. We take no assistance from the major foundations such as Rockefeller, Ford, and MacArthur, who act as patrons (and thus pacifiers) of the alternative and critical voices challenging the forces of globalization.

We do this in order to remain an independent voice, challenging all that needs to be challenged and exposing all that remains in the dark. Bringing light to a dimly lit world is no easy task, and though the aim and method is “independence,” we are, in fact, entirely dependent upon YOU, our readers. Without your support, we cannot continue our operations nor expand our horizons and opportunities. Global Research is indebted to our readers, and we are here for you and because of you. If you would like Global Research to continue and to grow, we need your support now more than ever.

By making a donation  to Global Research, you  assist journalists, researchers and contributors who have either lost their jobs with the mainstream media or who have been excluded from employment opportunities as professional journalists for their pledge to the truth. We send our thanks to all who have contributed so far by donating or becoming a member!

The mainstream media is owned by bankers and corporate kingpins. Not only that, but it has been historically and presently infiltrated by covert government agencies, seeking to deceive and propagandize their agendas. The CIA has long had associations with major mainstream news publications. By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc. The CIA even ran a training program “to teach its agents to be journalists,” who were “then placed in major news organizations with help from management.”

At Global Research, we seek to not only expose and criticize the larger picture, but to point the finger at the media, itself, and examine who is lying, why they lie, and how they get away with it.

To continue in our endeavours, we need our readers to continue in their support.

One important and helpful thing that all of our readers can do is to help spread our name and information by “sharing and  “liking” our Facebook page here. We post articles daily that will appear in your news feed so that you don’t have to come to us, we can bring our information straight to you. “Like” our page and recommend us to your friends. Every bit helps! You can also subscribe to our RSS feed

You can also support us by continuing to send us your much needed donations which allow us to continue our day-to-day operations and help us expand our scope and content.

Supporting Global Research is supporting the cause of truth and the fight against media disinformation.

Thank you.

The Global Research Team

FOR ONLINE DONATIONS

For online donations, please click below:

VISIT THE DONATION PAGE

FOR DONATIONS BY MAIL

To send your donation by mail, kindly send your cheque or international money order, made out to CRG, to our postal address:

Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

PO Box 55019
11, Notre-Dame Ouest,

Montreal, QC, H2Y 4A7
CANADA

FOR DONATIONS BY FAX
For payment by fax, please print the credit card fax authorization form and fax your order and credit card details to Global Research at 514 656 5294

You can also support us by purchasing books from our store! Click to browse our titles.

Welcome to the newly redesigned Global Research website!

September 8th, 2012 by Global Research

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the newly redesigned Global Research website!

We are very proud to launch an updated version of our website, featuring the same timely and analytical content as before, in a display that will be easier for our readers to navigate so that you can get the information you need as quickly and easily as possible.

On this website, you will be able to access an archive of more than 30,000 articles published by Global Research.

We thank all of our readers for the feedback you have sent us over the years and hope you will enjoy your browsing experience.

These changes would not be possible without your support, and for that we extend our sincere appreciation.

To help us cover the costs of important projects and necessary upgrades like this, we kindly ask that you consider making a donation to Global Research.

We also take this opportunity to invite you to become a Member of Global Research

If we stand together, we can fight media lies and expose the truth. There is too much at stake to choose ignorance.

Be aware, stay informed, spread the message of peace far and wide.

Feedback and suggestions regarding our new website are most welcome. To post a comment, kindly visit us on the Global Research facebook page

Sincerely,

 

The Global Research Team

THE 9/11 READER. The September 11, 2001 Terror Attacks

September 11th, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

 

Note to Readers: Remember to bookmark this page for future reference.
Please Forward the GR I-Book far and wide. Post it on Facebook.



[scroll down for I-BOOK Table of Contents]

*

GLOBAL RESEARCH ONLINE

INTERACTIVE READER SERIES

GR I-BOOK No.  7 

THE 9/11 READER

The September 11, 2001 Terror Attacks

9/11 Truth: Revealing the Lies,  Commemorating the 9/11 Tragedy

Michel Chossudovsky (Editor)

August 2012


The 911/ Reader is part of Global Research’s Online Interactive I-Book Reader, which brings together, in the form of chapters, a collection of Global Research feature articles, including debate and analysis, on a broad theme or subject matter.  To consult our Online Interactive I-Book Reader Series, click here.


 

INTRODUCTION

The tragic events of September 11, 2001 constitute a fundamental landmark in American history. a decisive watershed, a breaking point. Millions of people have been misled regarding the causes and consequences of 9/11.

September 11 2001 opens up an era of crisis, upheaval and militarization of American society.

A far-reaching overhaul of US military doctrine was launched in the wake of 9/11.

Endless wars of aggression under the humanitarian cloak of “counter-terrorism” were set in motion. 

9/11 was also a stepping stone towards the relentless repeal of civil liberties, the militarization of law enforcement and the inauguration of “Police State USA”.

September 11, 2001 marks the onslaught of the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT), used as a pretext and a justification by the US and its NATO allies to carry out a “war without borders”, a global war of conquest. 

At eleven o’clock, on the morning of September 11, the Bush administration had already announced that Al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon. This assertion was made prior to the conduct of an indepth police investigation.

CIA Director George Tenet stated that same morning that Osama bin Laden had the capacity to plan  “multiple attacks with little or no warning.”

Secretary of State Colin Powell called the attacks “an act of war” and President Bush confirmed in an evening televised address to the Nation that he would “make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them”.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey, without mentioning Afghanistan, pointed his finger at “state sponsorship,” implying the complicity of one or more foreign governments. In the words of former National Security Adviser, Lawrence Eagleburger, “I think we will show when we get attacked like this, we are terrible in our strength and in our retribution.”

That same evening at 9:30 pm, a “War Cabinet” was formed integrated by a select number of top intelligence and military advisors. And at 11:00 pm, at the end of that historic meeting at the White House, the “War on Terrorism” was officially launched.

The tragic events of 9/11 provided the required justification to wage war on Afghanistan on “humanitarian grounds”, with the full support of World public opinion and the endorsement of the “international community”.  Several prominent “progressive” intellectuals made a case for “retaliation against terrorism”, on moral and ethical grounds. The “just cause” military doctrine (jus ad bellum) was accepted and upheld at face value as a legitimate response to 9/11. 

In the wake of 9/11, the antiwar movement was completely isolated. The trade unions and civil society organizations had swallowed the media lies and government propaganda. They had accepted a war of retribution against Afghanistan, an impoverished country in Central Asia of 30 million people.

The myth of the “outside enemy” and the threat of “Islamic terrorists” was the cornerstone of the Bush administration’s military doctrine, used as a pretext to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the repeal of civil liberties and constitutional government in America.

Amply documented but rarely mentioned by the mainstream media, Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA going back to the Soviet- Afghan war. This was a known fact, corroborated by numerous sources including official documents of the US Congress, which the mainstream media chose to either dismiss or ignore. The intelligence community had time and again acknowledged that they had indeed supported Osama bin Laden, but that in the wake of the Cold War: “he turned against us”.

The 9/11 Commission Report has largely upheld the “outside enemy” mythology, heralding Al Qaeda as the “mastermind” organization behind the 9/11 attacks.

The official 9/11 narrative has not only distorted the causes underling the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings, it has also erased the historical record of US covert support to international terrorism, while creating the illusion that America and “Western Civilization” are threatened.

Without an “outside enemy”, there could be no “war on terrorism”. The entire national security agenda would collapse “like a deck of cards”. The war criminals in high office would have no leg to stand on.

After 9/11, the campaign of media disinformation served not only to drown the truth but also to kill much of the historical evidence on how this illusive Al Qaeda “outside enemy” had been fabricated and transformed into “Enemy Number One”.

Click to view video

VIDEO: AFTER 9/11: TEN YEARS OF WAR

Special GRTV Feature Production
- by James Corbett – 2011-09-08

***

The 911 Reader is composed of a carefully selected collection of key articles published by Global Research in the course of the last eleven years.

9/11 was an important landmark for Global Research. Our website was launched on September 9, 2001, two days prior to 9/11. Our coverage of 9/11 was initiated on September 12, 2001.

Within this collection of more than 60 chapters, we have included several important reports from our archives, published by Global Research in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. These articles provide a focus on issues pertaining to the 9/11 Timeline, foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks, the attack on the Pentagon, the issue of insider trading on Wall Street in the days preceding 9/11 pointing to foreknowledge of the attacks.

What prevails is a complex web of lies and fabrications, pertaining to various dimensions of the 9/11 tragedy. The falsehoods contained in the official 9/11 narrative are manifold, extending from the affirmation that Osama bin Laden was the mastermind, to the assertion by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that the WTC buildings collapsed due to the impacts of fire. (see Part III).

Where was Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001?

Is there any proof to the effect that Osama bin Laden, the bogeyman, coordinated the 9/11 attacks as claimed in the official 9/11 narrative?

According to CBS news (Dan Rather, January 28, 2002), “Enemy Number One” was admitted to the urology ward of a Pakistani military hospital in Rawalpindi on September 10, 2001, courtesy of America’s indefectible ally Pakistan. He could have been arrested at short notice which would have “saved us a lot of trouble”, but then we would not have had an Osama Legend, which has fed the news chain as well as presidential speeches in the course of the last eleven years.

DAN RATHER. As the United states and its allies in the war on terrorism press the hunt for Osama bin Laden, CBS News has exclusive information tonight about where bin Laden was and what he was doing in the last hours before his followers struck the United States September 11.

This is the result of hard-nosed investigative reporting by a team of CBS news journalists, and by one of the best foreign correspondents in the business, CBS`s Barry Petersen. Here is his report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARRY PETERSEN, CBS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyone remembers what happened on September 11. Here`s the story of what may have happened the night before. It is a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

CBS News has been told that the night before the September 11 terrorist attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan. (transcript of CBS report, see http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CBS203A.html , see also http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/01/28/eveningnews/main325887.shtml

CBS News footage of the Rawalpindi, Pakistan, hospital where bin Laden was allegedly treated the day before 9/11. [Source: CBS News]

 

CBS News footage of the Rawalpindi, Pakistan, hospital where bin Laden was allegedly treated the day before 9/11.

CBS News footage of the Rawalpindi, Pakistan, hospital where bin Laden was allegedly treated the day before 9/11. [Source: CBS News]

The foregoing CBS report which  is of utmost relevance indicates two obvious facts:

1. Osama bin Laden could not reasonably have coordinated the 9/11 attacks from his hospital bed;

2. The hospital was under the jurisdiction of the Pakistani Armed Forces, which has close links to the Pentagon. Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts were known to both the Pakistani and US military.

 U.S. military and intelligence advisers based in Rawalpindi. were working closely with their Pakistani counterparts. Again, no attempt was made to arrest America’s best known fugitive. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed, at the time, that the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden were unknown. According to Rumsfeld:  “Its like looking for a needle in a stack of hay”.

October 7, 2001: Waging America’s 9/11 War of Retribution against Afghanistan

The immediate response of the US and its allies to the 9/11 attacks was to the declare a war of retribution against Afghanistan on the grounds that the Taliban government was protecting “terror mastermind” Osama bin Laden. By allegedly harboring bin Laden, the Taliban were complicit, according to both the US administration and NATO, for having waged an act of war against the United States.

Parroting official statements, the Western media mantra on September 12, 2001 had already approved the launching of “punitive actions” directed against civilian targets in Afghanistan. In the words of William Saffire writing in the New York Times: “When we reasonably determine our attackers’ bases and camps, we must pulverize them — minimizing but accepting the risk of collateral damage” — and act overtly or covertly to destabilize terror’s national hosts”.

This decision was taken by the Bush-Cheney war cabinet in the evening of September 11, 2001. It was based on the presumption, “confirmed” by the head of the CIA that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks.

On the following morning, September 12, 2001, NATO’s Atlantic Council meeting in Brussels, endorsed the Bush administration’s declaration of war on Afghanistan, invoking Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.

An act of war by a foreign nation (Afghanistan) against a member of the Atlantic Alliance (the USA) is an act of war against all members under NATO’s doctrine of collective security. Under any stretch of the imagination, the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon cannot be categorized as an act of war by a foreign country. But nobody seemed to have raised this issue.

Meanwhile, on two occasions in the course of September 2001, the Afghan government –through diplomatic channels– offered to hand over Osama Bin laden to US Justice. These overtures were turned down by president Bush, on the grounds that America “does not negotiate with terrorists”.

The war on Afghanistan was launched 26 days later on the morning of October 7, 2001. The timing of this war begs the question: how long does it take to plan and implement a major theater war several thousand miles away. Military analysts will confirm that a major theater war takes months and months, up to a year or more of advanced preparations. The war on Afghanistan was already in the advanced planning stages prior to September 11, 2001, which begs the question of foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

The repeal of civil liberties in America was launched in parallel with the bombing and invasion of Afghanistan, almost immediately following 9/11 with the adoption of the PATRIOT legislation and the setting up of a Homeland Security apparatus, under the pretext of protecting Americans. This post-911 legal and institutional framework had been carefully crafted prior to the 9/11 attacks.

Al Qaeda is a US Intelligence Asset

Important to the understanding of 9/11, US intelligence is the unspoken architect of “Islamic terrorism” going back to the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war.

Bin Laden was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerrilla training camp. Education in Afghanistan in the years preceding the Soviet-Afghan war was largely secular. With religious textbooks produced in Nebraska, the number of CIA sponsored religious schools (madrasahs) increased from 2,500 in 1980 to over 39,000.

“Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the [Islamic] Jihad.” (Pervez Hoodbhoy, Peace Research, 1 May 2005)

 ”The United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings….The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books,..”, (Washington Post, 23 March 2002)

Under the Reagan administration, US foreign policy evolved towards the unconditional support and endorsement of the Islamic “freedom fighters”. This endorsement has not in any way been modified.

In a twisted irony, throughout the post 911 era,  US intelligence in liaison with Britain’s MI6, an Israel’s Mossad, continues to provide covert support to the radical Islamist organization allegedly responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda and its various affiliated groups including the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and factions within the Free Syria Army (FSA) are directly supported by the US and NATO.

In a bitter irony, the US and its allies claim to be waging a “war on terrorism” against the alleged architects of 9/11, while also using Al Qaeda operatives as their foot-soldiers.


Front row, from left: Major Gen. Hamid Gul, director general of Pakistan’s
Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), Director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Willian Webster; Deputy Director for Operations Clair George; an ISI colonel; and senior CIA official,
Milt Bearden at a Mujahideen training camp in North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan in 1987.
(source RAWA)


Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives)

VIDEO (30 Sec.)

The Collapse of the World Trade Center Buildings

Based on the findings of  Richard Gage of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings was not caused by fire resulting from the crash of the planes:

In more than 100 steel-framed, high-rise fires (most of them very hot, very large and very long-lasting), not one has collapsed, ever. So it behooves all of us, as your own former chief of NIST’s Fire Science Division, Dr. James Quintiere, said, “to look at real alternatives that might have been the cause of these collapses.”

Let’s start with temperatures – 1,340° F. temperatures, recorded in thermal images of the surface of the World Trade Center rubble pile a week after 9/11 by NASA’s AVIRIS equipment on USGS overflights. Such temperatures cannot be achieved by oxygen-starved hydrocarbon fires. Such fires burn at only 600 to 800° F. Remember, there was no fire on the top of the pile. The source of this incredible heat was therefore below the surface of the rubble, where it must have been far hotter than 1,340 degrees.

Mark Loizeaux, president of Controlled Demolition, Inc., who was hired for the Building 7 cleanup, said that “molten steel was found at 7 WTC.” Leslie Robertson, World Trade Center structural engineer, stated that on October 5, “21 days after the attacks, the fires were still burning and molten steel was still running.” Fire department personnel, recorded on video, reported seeing “molten steel running down the channel rails… like you’re in a foundry – like lava from a volcano.” Joe O’Toole, a Bronx firefighter, saw a crane lifting a steel beam vertically from deep within a pile. He said “it was dripping from the molten steel.” Bart Voorsanger, an architect hired to save “relics from the rubble,” stated about the multi-ton “meteorite” that it was a “fused element of molten steel and concrete.”

Steel melts at about 2,850 degrees Fahrenheit, about twice the temperature of the World Trade Center Tower 1 and 2 fires as estimated by NIST. So what melted the steel?

Appendix C of FEMA’s BPAT Report documents steel samples showing rapid oxidation, sulfidation, and intergranular melting. A liquid eutectic mixture, including sulfur from an unknown source, caused intense corrosion of the steel, gaping holes in wide flange beams, and the thinning of half-inch-thick flanges to almost razor-sharpness in the World Trade Center 7 steel. The New York Times called this “the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation.”

NIST left all of this crucial forensic evidence out of its report. Why? Because it didn’t fit in with the official conspiracy theory.

Last year, physicist Steven Jones, two other physicists, and a geologist analyzed the slag at the ends of the beams and in the samples of the previously molten metal. They found iron, aluminum, sulfur, manganese and fluorine – the chemical evidence of thermate, a high-tech incendiary cutting charge used by the military to cut through steel like a hot knife through butter. The by-product of the thermate reaction is molten iron! There’s no other possible source for all the molten iron that was found. One of thermate’s key ingredients is sulfur, which can form the liquid eutectic that FEMA found and lower the melting point of steel.

In addition, World Trade Center 7′s catastrophic structural failure showed every characteristic of explosive, controlled demolition. … The destruction began suddenly at the base of the building. Several first responders reported explosions occurring about a second before the collapse. There was the symmetrical, near-free-fall speed of collapse, through the path of greatest resistance – with 40,000 tons of steel designed to resist this load – straight down into its own footprint. This requires that all the columns have to fail within a fraction of a second of each other – perimeter columns as well as core columns. There was also the appearance of mistimed explosions (squibs?) at the upper seven floors on the network video recordings of the collapse. And we have expert testimony from a European demolitions expert, Danny Jowenko, who said “This is controlled demolition… a team of experts did this… This is professional work, without any doubt.”

Fire cannot produce these effects. Fire produces large, gradual deformations and asymmetrical collapses. Thermate can produce all of these effects used in conjunction with linear shaped charges. If the thermate is formed into ultra-fine particles, as has been accomplished at Los Alamos National Laboratory, it is called super-thermate, and is very explosive.(Richard Gage, January 2008)

The following AE911Truth Video provides irrefutable evidence that the WTC center towers were brought down through controlled demolition.

According to David Ray Griffin: “The official theory of the collapse, therefore, is essentially a fire theory, so it cannot be emphasized too much that fire has never caused large steel-frame buildings to collapse—never, whether before 9/11, or after 9/11, or anywhere in the world on 9/11 except allegedly New York City—never.” (See David Ray Griffin).

According to Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, based on solid scientific analysis and evidence, the collapse of the WTC towers was engineered through controlled demolition. While AE11Truth does not speculate on who might be behind the conspiracy to bring down the WTC buildings, they nonetheless suggest that the carrying out such an operation would require a carefully planned course of action with prior access to the buildings as well as an advanced level of expertise in the use of explosives, etc.

The Collapse of WTC Building Seven

The most grotesque lie pertains to the BBC and CNN announcement in the afternoon of September 11, that WTC Building Seven (The Solomon Building) had collapsed. The BBC report went live at 5.00pm, 21 minutes before the actual occurrence of the collapse, indelibly pointing to foreknowledge of the collapse of WTC 7.  CNN anchor Aaron Brown announced that the building “has either collapsed or is collapsing” about an hour before the event. (See WTC7.net the hidden story of Building 7: Foreknowledge of WTC 7′s Collapse)

The Collapse of WTC Building Seven.

CNN anchor Aaron Brown seems to struggle to make sense of what he is seeing one minute after announcing that WTC Building 7, whose erect facade is clearly visible in his view towards the Trade Center, has or is collapsing.

Coverup and Complicity

The 911 Reader presents factual information and analysis which points to cover-up and complicity at the highest levels of the US government.

This body of articles by prominent authors, scholars, architects, engineers, largely refutes the official narrative of the 9/11 Commission Report, which is reviewed in Part IV. It  dispels the notion that America was attacked on September 11, 2001 on the orders of Osama bin Laden.

This is a central issue because US military doctrine since 9/11 has been predicated on “defending the American Homeland” against Islamic terrorists as well as waging pre-emptive wars against Al Qaeda and its various “state sponsors”.  Afghanistan was bombed and invaded as part of the “war on terrorism”. In March 2003, Iraq was also invaded.

War Propaganda

Fiction prevails over reality. For propaganda to be effective, public opinion must firmly endorse the official 9/11 narrative to the effect that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks. A well organized structure of media disinformation (Part XI) is required to reach this objective. Perpetuating the 9/11 Legend also requires defying as well smearing the 9/11 Truth Movement.

Throughout the post 9/11 era, a panoply of Al Qaeda related events and circumstances is presented to public opinion on a daily basis. These include terrorist threats, warnings and attacks, police investigations, insurgencies and counter-insurgencies, country-level regime change, social conflict, sectarian violence, racism, religious divisions, Islamic thought, Western values, etc.

In turn, 9/11, Al Qaeda – War on Terrorism rhetoric permeates political discourse at all levels of government, including bipartisan debate on Capitol Hill, in committees of the House and the Senate, at the British House of Commons, and, lest we forget, at the United Nations Security Council.

September 11 and Al Qaeda concepts, repeated ad nauseam have potentially traumatic impacts on the human mind and the ability of normal human beings to analyze and comprehend the “real outside World” of war, politics and the economic crisis.

What is at stake is human consciousness and comprehension based on concepts and facts.

With September 11 there are no verifiable “facts” and “concepts”, because 9/11 as well as Al Qaeda have evolved into a media mythology, a legend, an invented ideological construct, used as an unsubtle tool of media disinformation and war propaganda.

Al Qaeda constitutes a stylized, fake and almost folkloric abstraction of terrorism, which permeates the inner consciousness of millions of people around the World.

Reference to Al Qaeda has become a dogma, a belief, which most people espouse unconditionally.

Is this political indoctrination? Is it brain-washing? If so what is the underlying objective?

People’s capacity to independently analyse World events, as well as address causal relationships pertaining to politics and society, is significantly impaired. That is the objective!

The routine use of  9/11 and Al Qaeda to generate blanket explanations of complex political events is meant to create confusion. It prevents people from thinking.

All of these complex Al Qaeda related occurrences are explained –by politicians, the corporate media, Hollywood and the Washington think tanks under a single blanket “bad guys” heading, in which Al Qaeda is casually and repeatedly pinpointed as “the cause” of numerous terror events around the World.

The Alleged Role of Iraq in the 9/11 Attacks

9/11 mythology has been a mainstay of war propaganda. In the course of 2002, leading up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003,  “Osama bin Laden” and “Weapons of Mass Destruction” statements circulated profusely in the news chain. While Washington’s official position was that Saddam Hussein was not behind the 9/11 attacks, insinuations abounded both in presidential speeches as well as in the Western media. According to Bush,  in an October 2002 press conference:

The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime’s own actions — its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. .,..  We also must never forget the most vivid events of recent history. On September the 11th, 2001, America felt its vulnerability — even to threats that gather on the other side of the earth. We resolved then, and we are resolved today, to confront every threat, from any source [Iraq], that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America. President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat, October 7, 2002)

Barely two weeks before the invasion of Iraq, September 11, 2001 was mentioned abundantly by president Bush. In the weeks leading up to the March invasion, 45 percent of  Americans believed Saddam Hussein was “personally involved” in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. (See . The impact of Bush linking 9/11 and Iraq / The Christian Science Monitor – CSMonitor.com, March 14, 2003)

Meanwhile, a new terrorist mastermind had emerged: Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.

In Colin Powell’s historic address to the United Nations Security Council, in February 2003, detailed “documentation” on a sinister relationship between Saddam Hussein and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was presented, focussing on his ability to produce deadly chemical, biological and radiological weapons, with the full support and endorsement of the secular Baathist regime. The implication of Colin’s Powell’s assertions, which were totally fabricated, was that Saddam Hussein and an Al Qaeda affiliated organization had joined hands in the production of WMD in Northern Iraq and that the Hussein government was a “state sponsor” of terrorism.

The main thrust of the disinformation campaign continued in the wake of the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. It consisted in presenting the Iraqi resistance movement as “terrorists”. The image of “terrorists opposed to democracy” fighting US “peacekeepers” appeared on television screens and news tabloids across the globe.

Iran: Alleged State Sponsor of 9/11

In the wake of the Iraq invasion, the same alleged “state sponsorship” of terrorism accusations emerged in relation to Iran.

In December 2011, the Islamic Republic of Iran was condemned by a Manhattan court, for its alleged role in supporting Al Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks.

The investigation into Tehran’s alleged role was launched in 2004, pursuant to a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission “regarding an apparent link between Iran, Hezbollah, and the 9/11 hijackers”. The 91/11 Commission’s recommendation was that the this “apparent link” required  “further investigation by the U.S. government.” (9/11 Commission Report , p. 241). (See Iran 911 Case ).

In the December 2011 court judgment (Havlish v. Iran)  “U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels ruled  that Iran and Hezbollah materially and directly supported al Qaeda in the September 11, 2001 attacks and are legally responsible for damages to hundreds of family members of 9/11 victims who are plaintiffs in the case”.

According to the plaintiffs attorneys “Iran, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda formed a terror alliance in the early 1990s. Citing their national security and intelligence experts, the attorneys explained “how the pragmatic terror leaders overcame the Sunni-Shi’a divide in order to confront the U.S. (the “Great Satan”) and Israel (the “Lesser Satan”)”. Iran and Hezbollah allegedly provided “training to members of al Qaeda in, among other things, the use of explosives to destroy large buildings.” (See Iran 911 Case ).

This judicial procedure is nothing more than another vicious weapon in the fabricated “War on Terror” to be used against another Muslim country, with a view to destabilizing Iran as well as justifying ongoing military threats. It also says a lot more about the people behind the lawsuit than about the accused. The expert witnesses who testified against Iran are very active in warmongering neocon circles. They belong to a web of architects of the 21st century Middle-Eastern wars, ranging from high profile propagandists to intelligence and military officers, including former U.S. officials.

But what makes this case absurd is that in September 2011, a few months before the judgment, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has questioned the official 9/11 narrative, was accused by Al-Qaeda leaders of  “spreading conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks”. The semi-official media outlet of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, insisted that al-Qaeda “had been behind the attacks and criticised the Iranian president for discrediting the terrorist group.” (See Julie Levesque, Iran Accused of being behind 9/11 Attacks. U.S. Court Judgment, December 2011 (Havlish v. Iran), Global Research,  May 11, 2012)

Al Qaeda: US-NATO Foot-soldiers

Ironically, while Washington accuses Iran and Afghanistan of supporting terrorism, the historical record and evidence indelibly point to the “state sponsorship” of Al Qaeda by the CIA, MI6 and their counterparts in Pakistan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Al Qaeda death squads have been recruited to wage America’s humanitarian wars throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

In Syria Al Qaeda units were recruited by NATO and the Turkish High command: “Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels.” (http://www.debka.com/article/21255/  Debkafile, August 31, 2011).

In Libya, jihadists from Afghanistan trained by the CIA were dispatched to fight with the “pro-democracy” rebels under the helm of “former” Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) Commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj:

Western policy makers admit that NATO’s operations in Libya have played the primary role in emboldening Al Qaeda’s AQIM faction (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb). The Fortune 500-funded Brookings Institution’s Bruce Riedel in his article, “The New Al Qaeda Menace,” admits that AQIM is now heavily armed thanks to NATO’s intervention in Libya, and that AQIM’s base in Mali, North Africa, serves as a staging ground for terrorist activities across the region. http://www.globalresearch.ca/al-qaeda-and-natos-pan-arab-terrorist-blitzkrieg/

Table of Contents of the 9/11 Reader

In Part I, the 911 Reader provides a review of what happened on the morning of 9/11, at the White House, on Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, at Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM), What was the response of the US Air Force in the immediate wake of the attacks?  Part II focusses on “What Happened on the Planes” as described in the 9/11 Commission Report.

Part III sheds light on what caused the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings. It also challenges the official narrative with regard to the attack on the Pentagon.

Part IV reviews and refutes the findings of the 9/11 Commission Report.

Part V focusses on the issue of foreknowledge by Western intelligence agencies. Part VI examines the issue of how foreknowledge of the attacks was used as an instrument of insider trading on airline stocks in the days preceding September 11, 2001. The bonanza financial gains resulting from insurance claims to the leaseholders of the WTC buildings is also examined.

Part VII focusses on the history and central role of Al Qaeda as a US intelligence asset. Since the Soviet-Afghan war, US intelligence has supported the formation of various jihadist organizations. An understanding of this history is crucial in refuting the official 9/11 narrative which claims that Al Qaeda, was behind the attacks.

Part VIII centers on the life and death of 9/11 “Terror Mastermind” Osama bin Laden, who was recruited by the CIA in the heyday of the Soviet Afghan war. This section also includes an analysis of the mysterious death of Osama bin Laden, allegedly executed by US Navy Seals in a suburb of Islamabad in May 2011.

Part  IX  focusses on “False Flags” and the Pentagon’s “Second 9/11″. Part X examines the issue of “Deep Events” with contributions by renowned scholars Peter Dale Scott and Daniele Ganser.

Part XI  examines the structure of 9/11 propaganda which consists in “creating” as well “perpetuating” a  “9/11 Legend”. How is this achieved? Incessantly, on a daily basis, Al Qaeda, the alleged 9/11 Mastermind is referred to by the Western media, government officials, members of the US Congress, Wall Street analysts, etc. as an underlying cause of numerous World events.

Part XII focusses on the practice of 9/11 Justice directed against the alleged culprits of the 9/11 attacks.

The legitimacy of 9/11 propaganda requires fabricating “convincing evidence” and “proof” that those who are accused actually carried out the attacks. Sentencing of Muslims detained in Guantanamo is part of war propaganda. It depicts innocent men who are accused of the 9/11 attacks, based on confessions acquired through systematic torture throughout their detention.

Part  XIII focusses on 9/11 Truth.  The objective of 9/11 Truth is to ultimately dismantle the propaganda apparatus which is manipulating the human mindset. The 9/11 Reader concludes with a retrospective view of 9/11 ten years later.


PART  I

Timeline: What Happened on the Morning of September 11, 2001

Nothing Urgent: The Curious Lack of Military Action on the Morning of September. 11, 2001
- by George Szamuely – 2012-08-12
Political Deception: The Missing Link behind 9-11
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2002-06-20
On the morning of September 11, Pakistan’s Chief Spy General Mahmoud Ahmad, the alleged “money-man” behind the 9-11 hijackers, was at a breakfast meeting on Capitol Hill hosted by Senator Bob Graham and Rep. Porter Goss, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence committees.
9/11 Contradictions: Bush in the Classroom
- by Dr. David Ray Griffin – 2008-04-04
9/11 Contradictions: When Did Cheney Enter the Underground Bunker?
- by David Ray Griffin – 2008-04-24
VIDEO: Pilots For 9/11 Truth: Intercepted
Don’t miss this important documentary, now on GRTV
- 2012-05-16

PART II

What Happened on the Planes

“United 93″: What Happened on the Planes?
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2006-05-01
  Phone Calls from the 9/11 Airliners
Response to Questions Evoked by My Fifth Estate Interview
- by Prof David Ray Griffin – 2010-01-12
Given the cell phone technology available in 2001, cell phone calls from airliners at altitudes of more than a few thousand feet, were virtually impossible
Ted Olson’s Report of Phone Calls from Barbara Olson on 9/11: Three Official Denials
- by David Ray Griffin – 2008-04-01
Ted Olson’s report was very important. It provided apparent “evidence” that American 77 had struck the Pentagon.

 

PART III

What Caused the Collapse of

The WTC Buildings and the Pentagon?

The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot Be True
- by Dr. David Ray Griffin – 2006-01-29
The official theory about the Twin Towers says that they collapsed because of the combined effect of the impact of the airplanes and the resulting fires
Evidence Refutes the Official 9/11 Investigation: The Scientific Forensic Facts
- by Richard Gage, Gregg Roberts – 2010-10-13
VIDEO: Controlled Demolitions Caused the Collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) buildings on September 11, 2001
- by Richard Gage – 2009-09-20
VIDEO: 9/11: The Myth and The Reality
Now on GRTV
- by Prof. David Ray Griffin – 2011-08-30
Undisputed Facts Point to the Controlled Demolition of WTC 7
- by Richard Gage – 2008-03-28
VIDEO: 9/11 Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out
See the trailer for this ground-breaking film on GRTV
- 2011-08-03
9/11: “Honest Mistake” or BBC Foreknowledge of Collapse of WTC 7? Jane Standley Breaks Her Silence
- by James Higham – 2011-08-18
The Collapse of WTC Building Seven.
Interview. Comment by Elizabeth Woodworth
- by David Ray Griffin – 2009-10-17
  Building What? How SCADs Can Be Hidden in Plain Sight: The 9/11 “Official Story” and the Collapse of WTC Building Seven
- by Prof David Ray Griffin – 2010-05-30
Besides omitting and otherwise falsifying evidence, NIST also committed the type of scientific fraud called fabrication, which means simply “making up results.”
VIDEO; Firefighters’ Analysis of the 9/11 Attacks Refutes the Official Report
- by Erik Lawyer – 2012-08-27
VIDEO: Pentagon Admits More 9/11 Remains Dumped in Landfill
- by James Corbett – 2012-03-01
The Pentagon revealed that some of the unidentifiable remains from victims at the Pentagon and Shanksville sites on September 11, 2001 were disposed of in a landfill.
9/11: The Attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001
The Official Version Amounts to an Enormous Lie
- by Thierry Meyssan – 2012-08-16

PART IV

Lies and Fabrications: The 9/11 Commission Report

A National Disgrace: A Review of the 9/11 Commission Report
- by David Ray Griffin – 2005-03-24
The 9/11 Commission Report: A 571 Page Lie
- by Dr. David Ray Griffin – 2005-09-08
September 11, 2001: 21 Reasons to Question the Official Story about 9/11
- by David Ray Griffin – 2008-09-11
911 “Conspiracy Theorists” Vindicated: Pentagon deliberately misled Public Opinion
Military officials made false statements to Congress and to the 911 Commission
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2006-08-02
The 9/11 Commission’s Incredible Tales
Flights 11, 175, 77, and 93
- by Prof. David Ray Griffin – 2005-12-13
9/11 and the War on Terror: Polls Show What People Think 10 Years Later
- by Washington’s Blog – 2011-09-10

PART  V

Foreknowledge of 9/11

  VIDEO: The SECRET SERVICE ON 9/11: What did the Government Know?
Learn more on this week’s GRTV Feature Interview
- by Kevin Ryan, James Corbett – 2012-04-10
9/11 Foreknowledge and “Intelligence Failures”: “Revealing the Lies” on 9/11 Perpetuates the “Big Lie”
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-09-14
“Foreknowledge” and “Failure to act” upholds the notion that the terrorist attacks (“act of war”) “waged by Muslims against America” are real, when all the facts and findings point towards coverup and complicity at the highest levels of the US government.
Foreknowledge of 9/11 by Western Intelligence Agencies
- by Michael C. Ruppert – 2012-08-21

PART VI

Insider Trading and the 9/11 Financial Bonanza

9/11 Attacks: Criminal Foreknowledge and Insider Trading lead directly to the CIA’s Highest Ranks
CIA Executive Director “Buzzy” Krongard managed Firm that handled “Put” Options on UAL
- by Michael C. Ruppert – 2012-08-13
The 9/11 Attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC): Unspoken Financial Bonanza
- by Prof Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-04-27
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: Insider Trading 9/11 … the Facts Laid Bare
- by Lars Schall – 2012-03-20
Osama Bin Laden and The 911 Illusion: The 9/11 Short-Selling Financial Scam
- by Dean Henderson – 2011-05-09

PART VII

9/11 and the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT)

Political Deception: The Missing Link behind 9-11
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2002-06-20
On the morning of September 11, Pakistan’s Chief Spy General Mahmoud Ahmad, the alleged “money-man” behind the 9-11 hijackers, was at a breakfast meeting on Capitol Hill hosted by Senator Bob Graham and Rep. Porter Goss, the chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence committees.
9/11 ANALYSIS: From Ronald Reagan and the Soviet-Afghan War to George W Bush and September 11, 2001
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2010-09-09
Osama bin Laden was recruited by the CIA in 1979. The US spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings.

 

  The Central Role of Al Qaeda in Bush’s National Security Doctrine
“Revealing the Lies” on 9/11 Perpetuates the “Big Lie”
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2007-07-12
NATO’s Doctrine of Collective Security
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2009-12-21
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2010-08-30
What is now unfolding is a generalized process of demonization of an entire population group
Osamagate
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2001-10-09
The main justification for waging this war has been totally fabricated. The American people have been deliberately and consciously misled by their government into supporting a major military adventure which affects our collective future.
The “Demonization” of Muslims and the Battle for Oil
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2007-01-04
Muslim countries possess three quarters of the World’s oil reserves. In contrast, the United States of America has barely 2 percent of total oil reserves.
  Was America Attacked by Muslims on 9/11?
- by David Ray Griffin – 2008-09-10
Much of US foreign policy since 9/11 has been based on the assumption that America was attacked by Muslims on 9/11.
  New Documents Detail America’s Strategic Response to 9/11
Rumsfeld’s War Aim: “Significantly Change the World’s Political Map”
- by National Security Archive – 2011-09-12

PART VIII

The Alleged 9/11 Mastermind:

The Life and Death of  Osama bin Laden

Who Is Osama Bin Laden?
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2001-09-12
  VIDEO: The Last Word on Osama Bin Laden
- by James Corbett – 2011-05-24
Osama bin Laden: A Creation of the CIA
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-05-03
Interview with Osama bin Laden. Denies his Involvement in 9/11
Full text of Pakistani paper’s Sept 01 “exclusive” interview
- 2011-05-09
Where was Osama on September 11, 2001?
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2008-09-11
On September 10. 2001, Osama was in a Pakistan military hospital in Rawalpindi, courtesy of America’s indefectible ally Pakistan
Osama bin Laden, among the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives”: Why was he never indicted for his alleged role in 9/11?
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2006-09-17
Osama bin Laden: Already Dead… Evidence that Bin Laden has been Dead for Several Years
- by Prof. David Ray Griffin – 2011-05-02
The Mysterious Death of Osama bin Laden: Creating Evidence Where There Is None
- by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts – 2011-08-04
The Assassination of Osama bin Laden: Glaring Anomalies in the Official Narrative
Osama was Left Handed…
- by Felicity Arbuthnot – 2011-05-11
The Assassination of Osama Bin Laden
- by Fidel Castro Ruz – 2011-05-07
Dancing on the Grave of 9/11. Osama and “The Big Lie”
- by Larry Chin – 2011-05-05

PART  IX

 ”False Flags”: The Pentagon’s Second 9/11

The Pentagon’s “Second 911″
“Another [9/11] attack could create both a justification and an opportunity to retaliate against some known targets”
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2006-08-10
The presumption of this military document, is that a Second 911 attack “which is lacking today” would usefully create both a “justification and an opportunity” to wage war on “some known targets
Crying Wolf: Terror Alerts based on Fabricated Intelligence
- by Michel Chossudovsky – 2006-08-20
This is not the first time that brash and unsubstantiated statements have been made regarding an impending terror attack, which have proven to be based on “faulty intelligence”.

PART X

“Deep Events” and State Violence

The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11
- by Prof. Peter Dale Scott – 2011-11-22
The Doomsday Project is the Pentagon’s name for the emergency planning “to keep the White House and Pentagon running during and after a nuclear war or some other major crisis.”
JFK and 9/11
Insights Gained from Studying Both
- by Dr. Peter Dale Scott – 2006-12-20
In both 9/11 and the JFK assassination, the US government and the media immediately established a guilty party. Eventually, in both cases a commission was set up to validate the official narrative.
Able Danger adds twist to 9/11
9/11 Ringleader connected to secret Pentagon operation
- by Dr. Daniele Ganser – 2005-08-27
Atta was connected to a secret operation of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in the US. A top secret Pentagon project code-named Able Danger identified Atta and 3 other 9/11 hijackers as members of an al-Qaida cell more than a year before the attacks.
9/11, Deep State Violence and the Hope of Internet Politics
- by Prof. Peter Dale Scott – 2008-06-11
The unthinkable – that elements inside the state would conspire with criminals to kill innocent civilians – has become thinkable…
Al Qaeda: The Database.
- by Pierre-Henri Bunel – 2011-05-12

PART XI

Propaganda: Creating and Perpetuating the 9/11 Legend

September 11, 2001: The Propaganda Preparation for 9/11: Creating the Osama bin Laden “Legend”
- by Chaim Kupferberg – 2011-09-11
THE 9/11 MYTH: State Propaganda, Historical Revisionism, and the Perpetuation of the 9/11 Myth
- by Prof. James F. Tracy – 2012-05-06
  Al Qaeda and Human Consciousness: Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda…. An Incessant and Repetitive Public Discourse
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-03-24
9/11 Truth, Inner Consciousness and the “Public Mind”
- by James F. Tracy – 2012-03-18

PART XII

Post 9/11 “Justice”

IRAN ACCUSED OF BEING BEHIND 9/11 ATTACKS.
U.S. Court Judgment, December 2011 (Havlish v. Iran)
- by Julie Lévesque – 2012-05-11
U.S. Court Judgment, December 2011 (Havlish v. Iran)
American Justice”: The Targeted Assassination of Osama Bin Laden
Extrajudicial executions are unlawful
- by Prof. Marjorie Cohn – 2011-05-10
ALLEGED “MASTERMIND” OF 9/11 ON TRIAL IN GUANTANAMO: Military Tribunals proceed Despite Evidence of Torture
- by Tom Carter – 2012-05-30
Self-confessed 9/11 “mastermind” falsely confessed to crimes he didn’t commit
- by Washington’s Blog – 2012-07-15
911 MILITARY TRIAL: Pentagon Clears Way for Military Trial of Five charged in 9/11 Attacks
- by Bill Van Auken – 2012-04-06
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s trial will convict us all
- by Paul Craig Roberts – 2009-11-25

PART XIII

9/11 Truth

Revealing the Lies,  Commemorating the 9/11 Tragedy

VIDEO: Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of 9/11
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2011-09-01
VIDEO: AFTER 9/11: TEN YEARS OF WAR
Special GRTV Feature Production
- by James Corbett – 2011-09-08

*   *  *

Read about 9/11 in Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller America’s “War on Terrorism”

According to Chossudovsky, the  “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalisation is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

Order Directly from Global Research

America's War on Terrorism

Salafism and the CIA: Destabilizing the Russian Federation?

September 14th, 2012 by F. William Engdahl

Part I: Syria comes to the Russian Caucasus

On August 28 Sheikh Said Afandi, acknowledged spiritual leader of the Autonomous Russian Republic of Dagestan, was assassinated. A jihadist female suicide bomber managed to enter his house and detonate an explosive device.

The murder target had been carefully selected. Sheikh Afandi, a seventy-five-year old Sufi Muslim leader, had played the critical role in attempting to bring about reconciliation in Dagestan between jihadist Salafi Sunni Muslims and other factions, many of whom in Dagestan see themselves as followers of Sufi. With no replacement of his moral stature and respect visible, authorities fear possible outbreak of religious war in the tiny Russian autonomous republic.[1]

The police reported that the assassin was an ethnic Russian woman who had converted to Islam and was linked to an Islamic fundamentalist or Salafist insurgency against Russia and regional governments loyal to Moscow in the autonomous republics and across the volatile Muslim-populated North Caucasus region.

Ethnic Muslim populations in this region of Russia and of the former Soviet Union, including Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and into China’s Xinjiang Province, have been the target of various US and NATO intelligence operations since the Cold War era ended in 1990. Washington sees manipulation of Muslim groups as the vehicle to bring uncontrollable chaos to Russia and Central Asia. It’s being carried out by some of the same organizations engaged in creating chaos and destruction inside Syria against the government of Bashar Al-Assad. In a real sense, as Russian security services clearly understand, if they don’t succeed in stopping the Jihadists insurgency in Syria, it will come home to them via the Caucasus.

The latest Salafist murders of Sufi and other moderate Muslim leaders in the Caucasus are apparently part of what is becoming ever clearer as perhaps the most dangerous US intelligence operation ever—playing globally with Muslim fundamentalism.

Previously US and allied intelligence services had played fast and loose with religious organizations or beliefs in one or another country. What makes the present situation particularly dangerous—notably since the decision in Washington to unleash the misnamed Arab Spring upheavals that began in Tunisia late 2010, spreading like a brushfire across the entire Islamic world from Afghanistan across Central Asia to Morocco—is the incalculable wave upon wave of killing, hatreds, destruction of entire cultures that Washington has unleashed in the name of that elusive dream named “democracy.” They do this using alleged Al-Qaeda groups, Saudi Salafists or Wahhabites, or using disciples of Turkey’s Fethullah Gülen Movement to ignite fires of religious hatred within Islam and against other faiths that could take decades to extinguish. It could easily spill over into a new World War.

Fundamentalism comes to Caucasus

Following the dissolution of the USSR, radical Afghanistani Mujahadeen, Islamists from Saudi Arabia, from Turkey, Pakistan and other Islamic countries flooded into the Muslim regions of the former USSR. One of the best-organized of these was the Gülen Movement of Fethullah Gülen, leader of a global network of Islamic schools and reported to be the major policy influence on Turkey’s Erdogan AKP party.

Gülen was quick to establish The International Dagestani-Turkish College in Dagestan. During the chaotic days after the Soviet collapse, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation officially registered and permitted unfettered activity for a variety of Islamic foundations and organizations. These included the League of the Islamic World, the World Muslim Youth Assembly, the reportedly Al-Qaeda friendly Saudi foundation ‘Ibrahim ben Abd al-Aziz al-Ibrahim.’ The blacklist also included Al-Haramein a Saudi foundation reported tied to Al-Qaeda, and IHH, [2] a Turkish organization banned in Germany, that allegedly raised funds for jihadi fighters in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, and was charged by French intelligence of ties to Al Qaeda.[3] Many of these charities were covers for fundamentalist Salafists with their own special agenda.

As many of the foreign Islamists in Chechnya and Dagestan were found involved in fomenting the regional unrest and civil war, Russian authorities withdrew permission of most to run schools and institutions. Throughout the North Caucasus at the time of the Chechyn war in the late 1990’s, there were more than two dozen Islamic institutes, some 200 madrassas and numerous maktabas (Koranic study schools) present at almost all mosques.

The International Dagestani-Turkish College was one that was forced to close its doors in Dagestan. The College was run by the Fethullah Gülen organization.[4]

At the point of the Russian crackdown on the spread of Salafist teaching inside Russia at the end of the 1990’s, there was an exodus of hundreds of young Dagestani and Chechyn Muslim students to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other places in The Middle east, reportedly to receive training with the Gülen movement and various Saudi-financed organizations, including Salafists. [5] It is believed in Russia that the students trained by Gülen supporters or Saudi and other Salafist fundamentalist centers then were sent back to Dagestan and the North Caucasus to spread their radical strain of Islam.

By 2005 the situation in the Caucasus was so influenced by this Salafist intervention that the Chechen Salafist, Doku Umarov, cited by the UN Security Council for links to Al-Qaeda,[6] unilaterally declared creation of what he called the Caucasus Emirate, announcing he planned to establish an Islamic state under Sharia law encompassing the entire North Caucasus region including Dagestan. He modestly proclaimed himself Emir of the Caucasus Emirate. [7]

*  *  *

WWIII Scenario

*  *  *

 

Part II: Salafism at war with Sufi tradition

Salafism, known in Saudi Arabia as Wahhabism, is a fundamentalist strain of Islam which drew world attention and became notorious in March 2001 just weeks before the attacks of September 11. That was when the Salafist Taliban government in Afghanistan willfully dynamited and destroyed the historic gigantic Buddhas of Bamiyan on the ancient Silk Road, religious statues dating from the 6th Century. The Taliban Salafist leaders also banned as “un-islamic” all forms of imagery, music and sports, including television, in accordance with what they considered a strict interpretation of Sharia.

Afghani sources reported that the order to destroy the Buddhas was made by Saudi-born jihadist Wahhabite, Osama bin Laden, who ultimately convinced Mullah Omar, Taliban supreme leader at the time to execute the act.[8]

Before and…After Salafist Taliban …

While Sufis incorporate the worship of saints and theatrical ceremonial prayers into their practice, Salafis condemn as idolatry any non-traditional forms of worship. They also call for the establishment of Islamic political rule and strict Sharia law. Sufism is home to the great spiritual and musical heritage of Islam, said by Islamic scholars to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam, going back centuries.

As one Sufi scholar described the core of Sufism, “While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to God and will become close to God in Paradise–after death and the ‘Final Judgment’– Sufis believe as well that it is possible to become close to God and to experience this closeness–while one is alive. Furthermore, the attainment of the knowledge that comes with such intimacy with God, Sufis assert, is the very purpose of the creation. Here they mention the hadith qudsi in which God states, ‘I was a hidden treasure and I loved that I be known, so I created the creation in order to be known.’ Hence for the Sufis there is already a momentum, a continuous attraction on their hearts exerted by God, pulling them, in love, towards God.” [9]

The mystical Islamic current of Sufism and its striving to become close to or one with God is in stark contrast to the Jihadist Salafi or Wahhabi current that is armed with deadly weapons, preaches a false doctrine of jihad, and a perverse sense of martyrdom, committing countless acts of violence. Little wonder that the victims of Salafist Jihads are mostly other pacific forms of Islam including most especially Sufis.

The respected seventy-five year old Afandi had publicly denounced Salafist Islamic fundamentalism. His murder followed a July 19 coordinated attack on two high-ranking muftis in the Russian Volga Republic of Tatarstan. Both victims were state-approved religious leaders who had attacked radical Islam. This latest round of murders opens a new front in the Salafist war against Russia, namely attacks on moderate Sufi Muslim leaders.

Whether or not Dagestan now descends into internal religious civil war that then spreads across the geopolitically sensitive Russian Caucasus is not yet certain. What is almost certain is that the same circles who have been feeding violence and terror inside Syria against the regime of Alawite President Bashar al-Assad are behind the killing of Sheikh Afandi as well as sparking related acts of terror or unrest across Russia’s Muslim-populated Caucasus. In a very real sense it represents Russia’s nightmare scenario of “Syria coming to Russia.” It demonstrates dramatically why Putin has made such a determined effort to stop a descent into a murderous hell in Syria.

Salafism and the CIA

The existence of the so-called jihadist Salafi brand of Islam in Dagestan is quite recent. It has also been deliberately imported. Salafism is sometimes also called the name of the older Saudi-centered Wahhabism. Wahhabism is a minority originally-Bedouin form of the faith originating within Islam, dominant in Saudi Arabia since the 1700’s.

Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism give the following description of Saudi conditions under the rigid Wahhabi brand of Islam:

Women living under Saudi rule must wear the abaya, or total body cloak, and niqab, the face veil; they have limited opportunities for schooling and careers; they are prohibited from driving vehicles; are banned from social contact with men not relatives, and all personal activity must be supervised including opening bank accounts, by a male family member or “guardian.” These Wahhabi rules are enforced by a mutawiyin, or morals militia, also known as “the religious police,” officially designated the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) who patrol Saudi cities, armed with leather-covered sticks which they freely used against those they considered wayward. They raid homes looking for alcohol and drugs, and harassed non-Wahhabi Muslims as well as believers in other faiths.” [10]

It’s widely reported that the obscenely opulent and morally-perhaps-not-entirely-of- the-highest-standards Saudi Royal Family made a Faustian deal with Wahhabite leaders. The deal supposedly, was that the Wahhabists are free to export their fanatical brand of Islam around to the Islamic populations of the world in return for agreeing to leave the Saudi Royals alone.[11] There are, however, other dark and dirty spoons stirring the Wahhabite-Salafist Saudi stew.

Little known is the fact that the present form of aggressive Saudi Wahhabism, in reality a kind of fusion between imported jihadi Salafists from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the fundamentalist Saudi Wahhabites. Leading Salafist members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood were introduced into the Saudi Kingdom in the 1950’s by the CIA in a complex series of events, when Nasser cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood following an assassination attempt. By the 1960’s an influx of Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia fleeing Nasserite repression, had filled many of the leading teaching posts in Saudi religious schools. One student there was a young well-to-do Saudi, Osama bin Laden.  [12]

During the Third Reich, Hitler Germany had supported the Muslim Brotherhood as a weapon against the British in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. Marc Erikson describes the Nazi roots of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood thus:

…as Italian and German fascism sought greater stakes in the Middle East in the 1930s and ’40s to counter British and French controlling power, close collaboration between fascist agents and Islamist leaders ensued. During the 1936-39 Arab Revolt, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence, sent agents and money to support the Palestine uprising against the British, as did Muslim Brotherhood founder and “supreme guide” Hassan al-Banna. A key individual in the fascist-Islamist nexus and go-between for the Nazis and al-Banna became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini.[13]

After the defeat of Germany, British Intelligence moved in to take over control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ultimately, for financial and other reasons, the British decided to hand their assets within the Muslim Brotherhood over to their CIA colleagues in the 1950s. [14]

According to former US Justice Department Nazi researcher John Loftus,  “during the 1950s, the CIA evacuated the Nazis of the Muslim Brotherhood to Saudi Arabia. Now, when they arrived in Saudi Arabia, some of the leading lights of the Muslim Brotherhood, like Dr Abdullah Azzam, became the teachers in the madrassas, the religious schools. And there they combined the doctrines of Nazism with this weird Islamic cult, Wahhabism.” [15]

“Everyone thinks that Islam is this fanatical religion, but it is not,” Loftus continues. “They think that Islam–the Saudi version of Islam–is typical, but it’s not. The Wahhabi cult has been condemned as a heresy more than 60 times by the Muslim nations. But when the Saudis got wealthy, they bought a lot of silence. This is a very harsh cult. Wahhabism was only practised by the Taliban and in Saudi Arabia–that’s how extreme it is. It really has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a very peaceful and tolerant religion. It always had good relationships with the Jews for the first thousand years of its existence.” [16]

Loftus identified the significance of what today is emerging from the shadows to take over Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, and the so-called Syrian National Council, dominated in reality by the Muslim Brotherhood and publicly led by the more “politically correct” or presentable likes of Bassma Kodmani. Kodmani, foreign affairs spokesman for the SNC was twice an invited guest at the Bilderberg elite gathering, latest in Chantilly, Virginia earlier this year.[17]

The most bizarre and alarming feature of the US-financed  regime changes set into motion in 2010, which have led to the destruction of the secular Arab regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Muhammar Qaddafi in Libya, and the secular regime of President Ben Ali in Tunisia, and which have wreaked savage destruction across the Middle East, especially in the past eighteen months in Syria, is the pattern of emerging power grabs by representatives of the murky Salafist Muslim Brotherhood.

By informed accounts, a Saudi-financed Sunni Islamic Muslim Brotherhood dominates the members of the exile Syrian National Council that is backed by the US State Department’s Secretary Clinton and by Hollande’s France. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is tied, not surprisingly to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood of President Mohammed Morsi who recently in a meeting of the Non-Aligned in Iran called openly for the removal of Syria’s Assad, a logical step if his Muslim Brothers in the present Syrian National Council are to take the reins of power. The Saudis are also rumored to have financed the ascent to power in Tunisia of the governing Islamist Ennahda Party,[18] and are documented to be financing the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council against President Bashar al-Assad. [19]

Part III: Morsi’s Reign of Salafi Terror

Indicative of the true agenda of this Muslim Brotherhood and related jihadists today is the fact that once they have power, they drop the veil of moderation and reconciliation and reveal their violently intolerant roots. This is visible in Egypt today under Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.

Unreported in mainstream Western media to date are alarming direct reports from Christian missionary organizations in Egypt that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has already begun to drop the veil of “moderation and conciliation” and show its brutal totalitarian Salafist colors, much as Khomeini’s radical Sharia forces did in Iran after taking control in 1979-81.

In a letter distributed by the Christian Aid Mission (CAM), a Christian Egyptian missionary wrote that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood “announced they would destroy the country if Morsi didn’t win, but they also said they will take revenge from all those who voted for [his opponent Ahmed] Shafiq, especially the Christians as they are sure we did vote for Shafiq. Yesterday they began by killing two believers in el Sharqiya because of this,” the missionary added, speaking on condition of anonymity.[20]

This report came only weeks after Egyptian State TV (under Morsi’s control) showed ghastly video footage of a convert from Islam to Christianity being murdered by Muslims. The footage showed a young man being held down by masked men with a knife to his throat. As one man was heard chanting Muslim prayers in Arabic, mostly condemning Christianity, another man holding the knife to the Christian convert’s throat began to cut, slowly severing the head amid cries of “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is great”), according to transcripts. In the letter, the Egyptian missionary leader added that, “soon after Morsi won, Christians in upper Egypt were forcibly prevented from going to churches.” Many Muslims, the letter claimed, “also began to speak to women in the streets that they had to wear Islamic clothing including the head covering. They act as if they got the country for their own, it’s theirs now.” [21]

Already in 2011 Morsi’s Salafist followers began attacking and destroying Sufi mosques across Egypt. According to the authoritative newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (Today’s Egyptian), 16 historic mosques in Alexandria belonging to Sufi orders have been marked for destruction by so-called ‘Salafis’. Alexandria has 40 mosques associated with Sufis, and is the headquarters for 36 Sufi groups. Half a million Sufis live in the city, out of a municipal total of four million people. Aggression against the Sufis in Egypt has included a raid on Alexandria’s most distinguished mosque, named for, and housing, the tomb of the 13th century Sufi Al-Mursi Abu’l Abbas.[22]

Notably, the so-called “democratically elected” regime in Libya following the toppling of Mohamar Qaddafi by NATO bombs in 2011, has also been zealous in destroying Sufi mosques and places of worhip. In August this year, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova expressed “grave concern” at the destruction by Islamic Jihadists of Sufi sites in Zliten, Misrata and Tripoli and urged perpetrators to “cease the destruction immediately.” [23] Under behind-the-scenes machinations the Libyan government is dominated by Jihadists and by followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, as in Tunisia and Egypt. [24]

The explosive cocktail of violence inherent in allowing the rise to power of Salafist Islamists across the Middle East was clear to see, symbolically enough on the night of September 11,th when a mob of angry supporters of the fanatical Salafist group, Ansar Al-Sharia, murdered the US Ambassador to Libya and three US diplomats, burning the US Consulate in Bengazi to the ground in protest over a YouTube release of a film by an American filmmaker showing the Prophet Mohammed indulging in multiple sex affairs and casting doubt on his role as God’s messenger. Ironically that US Ambassador had played a key role in toppling Qaddafi and opening the door to the Salafist takeover in Libya. At the same time angry mobs of thousands of Salafists surrounded the US Embassy in Cairo in protest to the US film. [25]

Ansar Al-Sharia (“Partisans of Islamic law” in Arabic) reportedly is a spinoff of Al-Qaeda and claims organizations across the Middle East from Yemen to Tunisia to Iraq, Egypt and Libya. Ansar al-Sharia says it is reproducing the model of Sharia or strict Islamic law espoused by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant umbrella group that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq. The core of the group are jihadists who came out of an “Islamic state”, either in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, or among jihadists in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.[26]

The deliberate detonation now of a new round of Salafist fundamentalist Jihad terror inside Muslim regions of the Russian Caucasus is exquisitely timed politically to put maximum pressure at home on the government of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Putin and the Russian Government are the strongest and most essential backer of the current Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, and for Russia as well the maintenance of Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base at Syria’s Tartus port is vital strategically. At the same time, Obama’s sly message to Medvedev to wait until Obama’s re-election to evaluate US intent towards Russia and Putin’s cryptic recent comment that a compromise with a re-elected President Obama might be possible, but not with a President Romney, [27] indicate that the Washington “stick-and-carrot” or hard cop-soft cop tactics with Moscow might tempt Russia to sacrifice major geopolitical alliances, perhaps even that special close and recent geopolitical alliance with China.[28] Were that to happen, the World might witness a “reset” in US-Russian relations with catastrophic consequences for world peace.

F. William Engdahl*  is the author of Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order

Notes:

[1] Dan Peleschuk, Sheikh Murdered Over Religious Split Say Analysts, RIA Novosti, August 30, 2012, accessed in

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120830/175517955.html.

[2] Mairbek  Vatchagaev, The Kremlin’s War on Islamic Education in the North Caucasus, North Caucasus Analysis Volume: 7 Issue: 34, accessed in http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=3334

[3] Iason Athanasiadis, Targeted by Israeli raid: Who is the IHH?, The Christian Science Monitor, June 1, 2010, accessed in http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/0601/Targeted-by-Israeli-raid-Who-is-the-IHH.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Mairbek Vatchagaev, op. cit.

[6] UN Security Council, QI.U.290.11. DOKU KHAMATOVICH UMAROV, 10 March 2011, accessed in http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/NSQI29011E.shtml. The UN statement reads: “Doku Khamatovich Umarov was listed on 10 March 2011 pursuant to paragraph 2 of resolution 1904 (2009) as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of”, “recruiting for”, “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to” and “otherwise supporting acts or activities of” the Islamic Jihad Group (QE.I.119.05), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (QE.I.10.01), Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM) (QE.R.100.03) and Emarat Kavkaz (QE.E.131.11).”

[7] Tom Jones, Czech NGO rejects Russian reports of link to alleged Islamist terrorists al-Qaeda, May 10, 2011, accessed in http://www.ceskapozice.cz/en/news/society/czech-ngo-rejects-russian-reports-link-alleged-islamist-terrorists-al-qaeda?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=enprofil&utm_campaign=twennews.

[8] The Times of India, Laden ordered Bamyan Buddha destruction, The Times of India, March 28, 2006.

[9] Dr. Alan Godlas, Sufism — Sufis — Sufi Orders:

[10] Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz, Wahhabi Internal Contradictions as Saudi Arabia Seeks Wider Gulf Leadership, Center for Islamic Pluralism, May 21, 2012, accessed in http://www.islamicpluralism.org/2040/wahhabi-internal-contradictions-as-saudi-arabia

[11] Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz, Wahhabi Internal Contradictions as Saudi Arabia Seeks Wider Gulf Leadership, May 21, 2012, accessed in http://www.islamicpluralism.org/2040/wahhabi-internal-contradictions-as-saudi-arabia.

[12] Robert Duncan, Islamic Terrorisms Links to Nazi Fascism, AINA, July 5, 2007, accessed in http://www.aina.org/news/2007070595517.htm.

[13] Marc Erikson, Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 2), AsiaTimes.Online, November 8, 2002, accessed in http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/DK08Ak03.html.

[14] Ibid.

[15] John Loftus, The Muslim Brotherhood, Nazis and Al-Qaeda,  Jewish Community News, October 11, 2006, accessed in http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/loftus101106.htm

[16] Ibid.

[17] Charlie Skelton, The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?: The media have been too passive when it comes to Syrian opposition sources, without scrutinising their backgrounds and their political connections. Time for a closer look …, London Guardian, 12 July 2012, accessed in http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syrian-opposition-doing-the-talking.

[18] Aidan Lewis, Profile: Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, BBC News, 25 October 2011, accessed in http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15442859.

[19] Hassan Hassan, Syrians are torn between a despotic regime and a stagnant opposition: The Muslim Brotherhood’s perceived monopoly over the Syrian National Council has created an opposition stalemate, The Guardian, UK, 23 August, 2012, accessed in http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/23/syrians-torn-despotic-regime-stagnant-opposition.

[20] Stefan J. Bos, Egypt Christians Killed After Election of Morsi, Bosnewslife, June 30, 2012, accessed in http://www.bosnewslife.com/22304-egypt-christians-killed-after-election-morsi.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Irfan Al-Alawi, Egyptian Muslim Fundamentalists Attack Sufis, Guardian Online [London],

April 11, 2011, accessed in http://www.islamicpluralism.org/1770/egyptian-Muslim-fundamentalists-attack-sufis

[23] Yafiah Katherine Randall, UNESCO urges Libya to stop destruction of Sufi sites, August 31, 2012, Sufi News and Sufism World Report, accessed in http://sufinews.blogspot.de/.

[24] Jamie Dettmer, Libya elections: Muslim Brotherhood set to lead government, 5 July, 2012, The Telegraph, London, accessed in http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/9379022/Libya-elections-Muslim-Brotherhood-set-to-lead-government.html.

[25] Luke Harding, Chris Stephen, Chris Stevens, US ambassador to Libya, killed in Benghazi attack: Ambassador and three other American embassy staff killed after Islamist militants fired rockets at their car, say Libyan officials, London Guardian, 12 September 2012, accessed in http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/12/chris-stevens-us-ambassador-libya-killed.

[26] Murad Batal al-Shishani, Profile: Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen, 8 March 2012, accessed in  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17402856.

[27] David M. Herszenhorn, Putin Says Missile Deal Is More Likely With Obama, The New York Times, September 6, 2012, accessed in http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/world/europe/putin-calls-missile-deal-more-likely-if-obama-wins.html. According to an interview Putin gave on Moscow’s state-owned RT TV, Herszenhorn reports, “Mr. Putin said he believed that if Mr. Obama is re-elected in November, a compromise could be reached on the contentious issue of American plans for a missile defense system in Europe, which Russia has strongly opposed. On the other hand, Mr. Putin said, if Mr. Romney becomes president, Moscow’s fears about the missile system — that it is, despite American assurances, actually directed against Russia — would almost certainly prove true.

“Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if current President Obama is re-elected for a second term? Theoretically, yes,” Mr. Putin said, according to the official transcript posted on the Kremlin’s Web site. “But this isn’t just about President Obama. “For all I know, his desire to work out a solution is quite sincere,” Mr. Putin continued. “I met him recently on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where we had a chance to talk. And though we talked mostly about Syria, I could still take stock of my counterpart. My feeling is that he is a very honest man, and that he sincerely wants to make many good changes. But can he do it? Will they let him do it?”

[28] M.K. Bhadrakumar, Calling the China-Russia split isn’t heresy, Asia Times,  September 5, 2012, accessed in http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/NI05Ad01.html.

 

Click for Latest Global Research News

November 22nd, 2013 by Global Research News

Global Research: Independent, Analytical, Essential

November 19th, 2014 by Global Research

Citizens across the globe are feeling the blade of austerity measures and corporate greed as they lose their jobs and their wages are reduced. Families worldwide are under increasing pressure as social services such as education are being eroded. We face an age of economic transformation, where the poor are becoming poorer and the rich are becoming richer. The middle class is shrinking and under increasing attack, too.

Global Research was ahead of the current and had alerted our readers about the coming financial crisis. We have brought forward analyses from leading experts on austerity measures and the global economic crisis. We have also offered all our members and readers a volume of collected essays, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century, presented by some of our best politico-economic analysts.

Global Research does not receive foundation money or any form of government or corporate support. This is how we maintain our independence and integrity. We need your support in whatever way you can provide it: it can be financial; it can be through re-posting our material and articles on social media pages or on your blogs or forwarding them to your friends, family, and colleagues; it can include buying books from our Online Store. If you already have copies of our books, how about picking one up for someone else?  This can help open someone’s eyes and educate them about some of the most important current issues facing our planet.

Like millions of average citizens across the world, Global Research has also felt the pressures of the economic hardship. If you can, we urge our readers to support Global Research. Every dollar helps.

Support independent media!

Donate online, by mail or by fax

Become a member of Global Research

Show your support by becoming a Global Research Member
(and also find out about our FREE BOOK offer!)

Browse our books, e-books and DVDs

Visit our newly updated Online Store to learn more about our publications. Click to browse our titles:

Join us online

“Like” our FACEBOOK page and recommend us to your friends!

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for the latest videos on global issues.

A note to donors in the United States:
Tax Receipts for deductible charitable contributions by US residents

Tax Receipts for deductible charitable contributions by US residents can be provided for donations to Global Research in excess of $400 through our fiscal sponsorship program. If you are a US resident and wish to make a donation of $400 or more, contact us at [email protected] (please indicate “US Donation” in the subject line) and we will send you the details. We are much indebted for your support.

Latest Global Research Articles. Subscribe to GR’s RSS Feed

December 30th, 2012 by Global Research News

A deluge of articles have been quickly put into circulation defending France’s military intervention in the African nation of Mali. TIME’s article, “The Crisis in Mali: Will French Intervention Stop the Islamist Advance?” decides that old tricks are the best tricks, and elects the tiresome “War on Terror” narrative.TIME claims the intervention seeks to stop “Islamist” terrorists from overrunning both Africa and all of Europe. Specifically, the article states:

“…there is a (probably well-founded) fear in France that a radical Islamist Mali threatens France most of all, since most of the Islamists are French speakers and many have relatives in France. (Intelligence sources in Paris have told TIME that they’ve identified aspiring jihadis leaving France for northern Mali to train and fight.) Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), one of the three groups that make up the Malian Islamist alliance and which provides much of the leadership, has also designated France — the representative of Western power in the region — as a prime target for attack.”

What TIME elects not to tell readers is that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is closely allied to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG whom France intervened on behalf of during NATO’s 2011 proxy-invasion of Libya – providing weapons, training, special forces and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya’s government.

As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:

Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.

And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria. It should be noted that Riedel is a co-author of “Which Path to Persia?” which openly conspires to arm yet another US State Department-listed terrorist organization (list as #28), the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to wreak havoc across Iran and help collapse the government there – illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.Geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar noted a more direct connection between LIFG and AQIM in an Asia Times piece titled, “How al-Qaeda got to rule in Tripoli:”

“Crucially, still in 2007, then al-Qaeda’s number two, Zawahiri, officially announced the merger between the LIFG and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). So, for all practical purposes, since then, LIFG/AQIM have been one and the same – and Belhaj was/is its emir. “

“Belhaj,” referring to Hakim Abdul Belhaj, leader of LIFG in Libya, led with NATO support, arms, funding, and diplomatic recognition, the overthrowing of Muammar Qaddafi and has now plunged the nation into unending racist and tribal, genocidal infighting. This intervention has also seen the rebellion’s epicenter of Benghazi peeling off from Tripoli as a semi-autonomous “Terror-Emirate.” Belhaj’s latest campaign has shifted to Syria where he was admittedly on the Turkish-Syrian border pledging weapons, money, and fighters to the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” again, under the auspices of NATO support.

Image: NATO’s intervention in Libya has resurrected listed-terrorist organization and Al Qaeda affiliate, LIFG. It had previously fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now has fighters, cash and weapons, all courtesy of NATO, spreading as far west as Mali, and as far east as Syria. The feared “global Caliphate” Neo-Cons have been scaring Western children with for a decade is now taking shape via US-Saudi, Israeli, and Qatari machinations, not “Islam.” In fact, real Muslims have paid the highest price in fighting this real “war against Western-funded terrorism.”

….

LIFG, which with French arms, cash, and diplomatic support, is now invading northern Syria on behalf of NATO’s attempted regime change there, officially merged with Al Qaeda in 2007 according to the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). According to the CTC, AQIM and LIFG share not only ideological goals, but strategic and even tactical objectives. The weapons LIFG received most certainly made their way into the hands of AQIM on their way through the porous borders of the Sahara Desert and into northern Mali.

In fact, ABC News reported in their article, “Al Qaeda Terror Group: We ‘Benefit From’ Libyan Weapons,” that:

A leading member of an al Qaeda-affiliated terror group indicated the organization may have acquired some of the thousands of powerful weapons that went missing in the chaos of the Libyan uprising, stoking long-held fears of Western officials.”We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world,” Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a leader of the north Africa-based al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [AQIM], told the Mauritanian news agency ANI Wednesday. “As for our benefiting from the [Libyan] weapons, this is a natural thing in these kinds of circumstances.”

It is no coincidence that as the Libyan conflict was drawing to a conclusion, conflict erupted in northern Mali. It is part of a premeditated geopolitical reordering that began with toppling Libya, and since then, using it as a springboard for invading other targeted nations, including Mali, Algeria, and Syria with heavily armed, NATO-funded and aided terrorists.

French involvement may drive AQIM and its affiliates out of northern Mali, but they are almost sure to end up in Algeria, most likely by design.

Algeria was able to balk subversion during the early phases of the US-engineered “Arab Spring” in 2011, but it surely has not escaped the attention of the West who is in the midst of transforming a region stretching from Africa to Beijing and Moscow’s doorsteps – and in a fit of geopolitical schizophrenia – using terrorists both as a casus belli to invade and as an inexhaustible mercenary force to do it.

Today’s Most Popular Stories

October 15th, 2013 by Global Research News

Click to Get the Latest Global Research Articles

December 23rd, 2013 by Global Research News

Global Research’s Ukraine Report: 700+ articles

December 5th, 2014 by Global Research News

Today’s Most Popular Stories on Global Research

December 8th, 2014 by Global Research News

Global Research’s Ukraine Report

November 21st, 2014 by Global Research News

Analysis on Climate Change and Global Warming. 100+ GR Articles

December 9th, 2014 by Global Research News

Global Research Articles on the Environment

December 22nd, 2014 by Global Research News

The Sunday Times yesterday reported that fears are intensifying of a new nuclear arms race in the Middle East. However, it failed to mention that to designate the Middle East including both Iran and Israel as a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) – as already proposed by EU governments – would obviate this risk, at a stroke.

Unfortunately, a resolution to this effect has fallen foul of the pro-Israel lobby and its U.S. veto in the United Nations, for the obvious reason that it would entail the State of Israel in declaring its secret nuclear arsenal – the only such nuclear stockpile in the world – estimated by American scientists to hold up to 400 warheads, enough to wipe out the whole Middle East.

But what causes the most dramatic concern is that this arsenal remains undeclared and therefore uninspected by the IAEA. What we further know is that a fleet of German-built, Dolphin-class submarines already delivered to the Israeli Navy has now been converted to being nuclear-armed with ICB cruise missiles and assumed to be patrolling the Mediterranean and Red Seas and that the potential for an Israeli attack upon Iran could increase exponentially.

The obvious answer is for the European Union and the U.S. Congress to support an urgent UN resolution for a Nuclear Weapons Free Middle East if world peace is a vital goal and nuclear war with its potential for millions of deaths – initially in the Middle East – is to be avoided.

Huge demonstrations in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were held across Syria two weeks after the launch of the NATO-led covert war on Syria on March 16, 2011.

It is worth bearing in mind that back then the overall population of Syria was around 22,5 million in March 2011. Apart few exceptions, the al-Manar report below was totally ignored by the western mainstream and “alternative” media alike.

2 million Syrians marched in Damascus in support of President Bashar al-Assad on March 29th, 2011

excerpt from:  ‘Million-Man March’ in Support for Assad

by Batoul Wehbe, al-Manar, 29 March 2011

Millions of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad supporters poured into the country’s streets in a show of support for their leader calling their protests “loyalty to the homeland”.

Sources told Al-Manar TV that there are about two million protesters in Damascus, another two in Aleppo, a million in Hamah, a million in Homos and hundred of thousands in other cities.

All roads leading to Sabeh Bahrat (“Seven Seas”) square in Damascus were cut off by police, as men, women and children raised Syrian flags and pictures of [President Bashar al] Assad and his father, late president Hafez al-Assad.

Syrian state TV reported on Tuesday that Al-Assad accepted the resignation of the Syrian government.

Protesters across the country were chanting slogans in support of the President, who pledged to make reforms in the country and is expected to deliver a speech tonight addressing the nation and especially Daraa people who suffered much lately.

The United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia became very uneasy when the Yemenese or Yemenite movement of the Houthi or Ansarallah (meaning the supporters of God in Arabic) gained control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa/Sana, in September 2014. The US-supported Yemenite President Abd-Rabbuh Manṣour Al-Hadi was humiliatingly forced to share power with the Houthis and the coalition of northern Yemenese tribes that had helped them enter Sana. Al-Hadi declared that negotiations for a Yemeni national unity government would take place and his allies the US and Saudi Arabia tried to use a new national dialogue and mediated talks to co-opt and pacify the Houthis.

The truth has been turned on its head about the war in Yemen. The war and ousting of President Abd-Rabbuh Manṣour Al-Hadi in Yemen are not the results of a «Houthi coup» in Yemen. It is the opposite. Al-Hadi was ousted, because with Saudi and US support he tried to backtrack on the power sharing agreements he had made and return Yemen to authoritarian rule. The ousting of President Al-Hadi by the Houthis and their political allies was an unexpected reaction to the takeover Al-Hadi was planning with Washington and the House of Saud.

The Houthis and their allies represent a diverse cross-section of Yemeni society and the majority of Yemenites. The Houthi movement’s domestic alliance against Al-Hadi includes Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims alike. The US and House of Saud never thought that the Houthis would assert themselves by removing Al-Hadi from power, but this reaction had been a decade in the making. With the House of Saud, Al-Hadi had been involved in the persecution of the Houthis and the manipulation of tribal politics in Yemen even before he became president. When he became Yemeni president he dragged his feet and was working against implement the arrangements that had been arranged through consensus and negotiations in Yemen’s National Dialogue, which convened after Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to hand over his powers in 2011.

Coup or Counter-Coup: What Happened in Yemen?

At first, when they took over Sana in late-2014, the Houthis rejected Al-Hadi’s proposals and his new offers for a formal power sharing agreement, calling him a morally bankrupt figure that had actually been reneging previous promises of sharing political power. At that point, President Al-Hadi’s pandering to Washington and the House of Saud had made him deeply unpopular in Yemen with the majority of the population. Two months later, on November 8, President Al-Hadi’s own party, the Yemenite General People’s Congress, would eject Al-Hadi as its leader too.

The Houthis eventually detained President Al-Hadi and seized the presidential palace and other Yemeni government buildings on January 20. With popular support, a little over two weeks later, the Houthis formally formed a Yemense transitional government on February 6. Al-Hadi was forced to resign. The Houthis declared that Al-Hadi, the US, and Saudi Arabia were planning on devastating Yemen on February 26.

Al-Hadi’s resignation was a setback for US foreign policy. It resulted in a military and operational retreat for the CIA and the Pentagon, which were forced to remove US military personnel and intelligence operatives from Yemen. The Los Angeles Times reported on March 25, citing US officials, that the Houthis had got their hands on numerous secret documents when they seized the Yemeni National Security Bureau, which was working closely with the CIA, that compromised Washington’s operations in Yemen.

Al-Hadi fled the Yemeni capital Sana to Aden on February 21 and declared it the temporary capital of Yemen on March 7. The US, France, Turkey, and their Western European allies closed their embassies. Soon afterwards, in what was probably a coordinated move with the US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates all relocated their embassies to Aden from Sana. Al-Hadi rescinded his letter of resignation as president and declared that he was forming a government-in-exile.

The Houthis and their political allies refused to fall into line with the demands of the US and Saudi Arabia, which were being articulated through Al-Hadi in Aden and by an increasingly hysteric Riyadh. As a result, Al-Hadi’s foreign minister, Riyadh Yaseen, called for Saudi Arabia and the Arab petro-sheikdoms to militarily intervene to prevent the Houthis from getting control of Yemen’s airspace on March 23. Yaseen told the Saudi mouthpiece Al-Sharq Al-Awsa that a bombing campaign was needed and that a no-fly zone had to be imposed over Yemen.

The Houthis realized that a military struggle was going to begin. This is why the Houthis and their allies in the Yemenite military rushed to control as many Yemeni military airfields and airbases, such as Al-Anad, as quickly as possible. They rushed to neutralize Al-Hadi and entered Aden on March 25.

By the time the Houthis and their allies entered Aden, Al-Hadi had fled the Yemeni port city. Al-Hadi would resurface in Saudi Arabia when the House of Saud started attacking Yemen on March 26. From Saudi Arabia, Abd-Rabbuh Manṣour Al-Hadi would then fly to Egypt for a meeting of the Arab League to legitimize the war on Yemen.

Yemen and the Changing Strategic Equation in the Middle East

The Houthi takeover of Sana took place in the same timeframe as a series of successes or regional victories for Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and the Resistance Bloc that they and other local actors form collectively. In Syria, the Syrian government managed to entrench its position while in Iraq the ISIL/ISIS/Daesh movement was being pushed back by Iraq with the noticeable help of Iran and local Iraqi militias allied to Tehran.

The strategic equation in the Middle East began to shift as it became clear that Iran was becoming central to its security architecture and stability. The House of Saud and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began to whimper and complain that Iran was in control of four regional capitals—Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, and Sana — and that something had to be done to stop Iranian expansion. As a result of the new strategic equation, the Israelis and the House of Saud became perfectly strategically aligned with the objective of neutralizing Iran and its regional allies. «When the Israelis and Arabs are on the same page, people should pay attention,» Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer told Fox News about the alignment of Israel and Saudi Arabia on March 5.

The Israeli and Saudi fear mongering has not worked. According to Gallup poll, only 9% of US citizens viewed Iran as a greatest enemy of the US at the time that Netanyahu arrived t Washington to speak against a deal between the US and Iran.

The Geo-Strategic Objectives of the US and Saudis Behind the War in Yemen

While the House of Saud has long considered Yemen a subordinate province of some sorts and as a part of Riyadh’s sphere of influence, the US wants to make sure that it could control the Bab Al-Mandeb, the Gulf of Aden, and the Socotra Islands. The Bab Al-Mandeb it is an important strategic chokepoint for international maritime trade and energy shipments that connects the Persian Gulf via the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean Sea via the Red Sea. It is just as important as the Suez Canal for the maritime shipping lanes and trade between Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Israel was also concerned, because control of Yemen could cut off Israel’s access to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea and prevent its submarines from easily deploying to the Persian Gulf to threaten Iran. This is why control of Yemen was actually one of Netanyahu’s talking points on Capitol Hill when he spoke to the US Congress about Iran on March 3 in what the New York Times of all publications billed as «Mr. Netanyahu’s Unconvincing Speech to Congress» on March 4.

Saudi Arabia was visibly afraid that Yemen could become formally aligned to Iran and that the events there could result in new rebellions in the Arabian Peninsula against the House of Saud. The US was just as much concerned about this too, but was also thinking in terms of global rivalries. Preventing Iran, Russia, or China from having a strategic foothold in Yemen, as a means of preventing other powers from overlooking the Gulf of Aden and positioning themselves at the Bab Al-Mandeb, was a major US concern.

Added to the geopolitical importance of Yemen in overseeing strategic maritime corridors is its military’s missile arsenal. Yemen’s missiles could hit any ships in the Gulf of Aden or Bab Al-Mandeb. In this regard, the Saudi attack on Yemen’s strategic missile depots serves both US and Israeli interests. The aim is not only to prevent them from being used to retaliate against exertions of Saudi military force, but to also prevent them from being available to a Yemeni government aligned to either Iran, Russia, or China.

In a public position that totally contradicts Riyadh’s Syria policy, the Saudis threatened to take military action if the Houthis and their political allies did not negotiate with Al-Hadi. As a result of the Saudi threats, protests erupted across Yemen against the House of Saud on March 25. Thus, the wheels were set in motion for another Middle Eastern war as the US, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait began to prepare to reinstall Al-Hadi.

The Saudi March to War in Yemen and a New Front against Iran

For all the talk about Saudi Arabia as a regional power, it is too weak to confront Iran alone. The House of Saud’s strategy has been to erect or reinforce a regional alliance system for a drawn out confrontation with Iran and the Resistance Bloc. In this regard Saudi Arabia needs Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan —a misnamed so-called «Sunni» alliance or axis — to help it confront Iran and its regional allies.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the crown prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE’s military, would visit Morocco to talk about a collective military response to Yemen by the Arab petro-sheikhdoms, Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt on March 17. On March 21, Mohammed bin Zayed met Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud to discuss a military response to Yemen. This was while Al-Hadi was calling for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to help him by militarily intervening in Yemen. The meetings were followed by talk about a new regional security pact for the Arab petro-sheikdoms.

Out of the GCC’s five members, the Sultanate of Oman stayed away. Oman refused to join the war on Yemen. Muscat has friendly relations with Tehran. Moreover, the Omanis are weary of the Saudi and GCC project to use sectarianism to ignite confrontation with Iran and its allies. The majority of Omanis are neither Sunni Muslims nor Shiite Muslims; they are Ibadi Muslims, and they fear the fanning of sectarian sedition by the House of Saud and the other Arab petro-sheikdoms.

Saudi propagandists went into overdrive falsely claiming that the war was a response to Iranian encroachment on the borders of Saudi Arabia. Turkey would announce its support for the war in Yemen too. On the day the war was launched, Turkey’s Erdogan claimed that Iran was trying to dominate the region and that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the GCC were getting annoyed.

During these events, Egypt’s Sisi stated that the security of Cairo and the security of Saudi Arabia and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms are one. In fact, Egypt said that it would not get involved in a war in Yemen on March 25, but the next day Cairo joined Saudi Arabia in Riyadh’s attack on Yemen by sending its jets and ships to Yemen.

In the same vein, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif released a statement on March 26 that any threat to Saudi Arabia would «evoke a strong response» from Pakistan. The message was tacitly directed towards Iran.

The US and Israeli Roles in the War in Yemen

On March 27, it was announced in Yemen that Israel was helping Saudi Arabia attack the Arab country. «This is the first time that the Zionists [Israelis] are conducting a joint operation in collaborations with Arabs,» Hassan Zayd, the head of Yemen’s Al-Haq Party, wrote on the internet to point out the convergence of interests between Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Israeli-Saudi alliance over Yemen, however, is not new. The Israelis helped the House of Saud during the North Yemen Civil War that started in 1962 by providing Saudi Arabia with weapons to help the royalists against the republicans in North Yemen.

The US is also involved and leading from behind or a distance. While it works to strike a deal with Iran, it also wants to maintain an alliance against Tehran using the Saudis. The Pentagon would provide what it called «intelligence and logistical support» to House of Saud. Make no mistakes about it: the war on Yemen is also Washington’s war. The GCC has been on unleashed on Yemen by the US.

There has long been talk about the formation of a pan-Arab military force, but proposals for creating it were renewed on March 9 by the rubberstamp Arab League. The proposals for a united Arab military serve US, Israeli, and Saudi interests. Talk about a pan-Arab military has been motivated by their preparations to attack Yemen to return Al-Hadi and to regionally confront Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and the Resistance Bloc.

Do you Value Independent, Incisive News and Analysis?

March 29th, 2015 by Global Research

We would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere thanks to readers and members for the continued support you have given Global Research. On account of your insightful feedback, your willingness to share and forward articles, and your financial contributions, Global Research is able to continue delivering critical, timely and always independent information to its readers.

At a time when the world is facing the threat of war alongside unprecedented economic uncertainty, when job loss is rampant, and people across the globe awake to the grim reality of financial instability, it can be difficult to find the resources to support organizations which, like Global Research, operate on a shoestring budget. However, it is these very conditions that make the dissemination of news and analysis more important now than ever.

We remind our readers that Global Research is able to maintain its independence because it does not seek financial support from private and public foundations. We have, in large part, been able to develop our activities thanks to the support of our readers. Bear in mind that all our authors, the CRG’s directors and research associates have generously volunteered their time and energy to Global Research.

Therefore, we ask that you consider actively supporting Global Research through an annual or monthly membership, and show that you value having ongoing access to independent, incisive news and analysis.

Don’t forget that every new subscription for a one-year membership is entitled to a FREE copy of “The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century“, edited by Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, and a FREE copy of Michel Chossudovsky’s Towards a WWIII Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War shipped directly to you as our way of saying thank you for your support. All new annual memberships as well as new monthly memberships are entitled to receive the new e-book from Global Research, “Towards a WWIII Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War” by Michel Chossudovsky. (Note: Standard Annual Memberships receive the print version of this title!)

Please show your support by starting your Global Research Membership today. If you are already a member, we extend our sincere thanks for your support, and encourage you to share this information with others!

For more information on becoming a Global Research Member, please visit our Membership Page at:
https://store.globalresearch.ca/member/

For more information on how you can make a donation to Global Research, please visit our Donation Page at:
https://store.globalresearch.ca/donate/

For your convenience, payments are accepted online (using MasterCard, Visa or PayPal), by mail and by fax. Visit our Online Store for more information.

The US fighter jets once again struck the positions of Iraq’s popular forces during their fierce clashes with ISIL terrorists near Tikrit, injuring a number of fighters.

The US and coalition forces conducted eight airstrikes near Tikrit, but they hit the popular forces’ positions instead of ISIL.

This is not the first time that the US has struck the popular forces’ positions in different parts of Iraq.

Iraqi military forces, backed by Shiite and Sunni volunteer fighters, have won control over 90 percent of Tikrit after inflicting hefty losses on the ISIL.

Some 30,000 Iraqi troops and thousands of allied Shiite and Sunni militias have been involved in a month-long operation to recapture Tikrit and other key towns and villages in the Northern part of Salahuddin province from the ISIL militants.

Note: We are still hoping that Senator Wyden will listen to the people and not his big money donors. He should announce now that he will not be supporting any fast track trade authority legislation. The three treaties being negotiated in secret by Obama are too far along and cannot meet the transparency and participation requirements that Wyden has said he supports. He should come out against fast track for all the deals currently being negotiated.

In recent town hall events Sen. Wyden has said that export from Oregon to Asia is a foundation of the Oregon economy. But, as he knows, the US already has trade deals with most of the countries involved in the TPP so it will make little difference on Oregon’s exports. What is will do is give these foreign corporations the ability to move to locations with cheaper labor and resources as well as the power to sue if Oregon takes action in the public interest to protect people and planet. The TPP is a loser for the Oregon economy and for the people of Oregon. KZ

Participating in US politics, as a citizen activist, puts you face-to-face with corruption and the ugliness of money-politics.

At least I find it ugly that a senator would be negotiating fast track legislation through Congress for secret corporate rigged trade deals while raising money from big business interests that would profit immensely from those deals. Taking money while negotiating legislation that benefits the donor should be illegal. It should be considered bribery or a pay-off, but the deep corruption of US politics has legalized that kind of bribery and made it the norm.

While this was occurring Wikileaks published the text of the Investment Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This chapter that allows corporations to sue governments when a law passed in the public interest would undermine their profits. Corporations can sue for the profits they were expecting in rigged trade tribunals where corporate lawyers play the role of judges and there is no court review. Even the US Supreme Court cannot overrule the corporate judges.

A Week With Wyden

That is what we saw this week as we focused our attention on Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). Wyden is the key Democrat on the Finance Committee. If he co-sponsors fast track with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) then it will be harder to stop these crony capitalist rigged agreements. We’ll see if the bribes he received on Wednesday from DC’s big business lobbyists at his bribe-fest, err fundraiser, was enough for him to ignore what the people of Oregon have said they clearly oppose.Polling shows that 73 percent of Oregonians oppose fast trackand 63 percent oppose the TPP. Half of the voters in Oregon said they would be less likely to support Wyden if he works with Republicans to pass fast track. You would think in a representative democracy the elected official who represents that constituency would say ‘no’ to fast track rather than negotiate in secret with a Republican leader on how to get fast track through the Congress.But, Senator Wyden is not listening to what the people of Oregon want. Maybe he has been in Washington, DC too long or maybe he is more comfortable in his $10 million home in New York City. Or, maybe it is just that he gets paid to well by big business interests so he represents the moneyed interests instead of the people.

From meeting with Wyden’s staff, it is clear that the senator thinks the public is too dumb to vote against him because of this issue. They think trade doesn’t matter to voters. Wyden underestimates voters. In fact, because we now have the NAFTA experience people understand how trade impacts their lives and the TPP is much bigger than NAFTA. We know the results: lost jobs, lower incomes, bigger wealth divide, higher trade deficits, undermining of the environment and increased migration. People now know trade agreements have had terrible consequences on their lives.

We sat-in Wyden’s office for a week doing a “toast-in” to make the point that Wyden’s career is toast if he co-sponsors fast track. Democratic Party aligned groups are saying they will remove Wyden from office in 2016 if he supports fast track. The Hill reported how multiple groups are planning to oust him. It started with Howard Dean’s Democracy For America, when they saw the poll results showing how out-of-step Wyden is with Oregon voters they urged a primary challenge. The call was then taken up by the Working Families Party in Oregon. And, just this week MoveOn members in Oregon voted with 79 percent saying they would support a primary challenger against Wyden. MoveOn has 88,000 members in Oregon. The AFL-CIO is withholding PAC contributions, not just to Wyden, and is running advertisements in Oregon criticizing fast track.

Balanced against the views of Oregon voters is the money donated to him by big business. As the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, a lot of big business money comes his way and passing fast track for TPP and other agreements rigged for transnational corporations as a top priority. Only 3 percentof Wyden’s personal contributions come from small donations, the rest come from large donations and PACs.Open Secrets reportsthat over the past five years many of Wyden’s industry donations come from big business interests who will benefit from the rigged corporate trade agreements that fast track would help to pass. This includes private investment firms ($824,460 in Wyden donations), the insurance industry ($379,950), pharmaceuticals and health products ($356,278), manufacturing and distribution ($203,720), business services ($165,050), finance ($147,815), oil and gas ($129,414) and chemical and related manufacturing ($101,850). That is over $2 million – do those donations speak louder than voters?This week Congressional Quarterly reported that Senator Wyden was holding a fundraiser at Bistro Bis, an upscale restaurant near Capitol Hill. The invitation said “Friends of all industries welcome to attend.” The day before the event we organized a protest in order to highlight that Wyden was fundraising for industries that would profit from fast track. The afternoon before the event he moved the fundraiser to a still undisclosed location. It was interesting to see how quickly he moved to hide his actions at the big bribe-fest. He’s being tight lipped not only about where it was held but who attended and how much money was raised. What’s he hiding?

It is so common for politicians to be considering legislation that would benefit an industry or corporate interest and while doing so hold a fundraiser. What better time to stick people up for money but when you are holding the key to future profits? This is so common that it is the norm in Washington, DC. Of course, that does not make it right; indeed what it shows is that the norm in US politics is deep corruption, and Wyden exemplifies it.

TPP Secret Exposed

As this was happening, one of the most important secret sections of the TPP was published by Wikileaks. Senator Wyden has been calling for transparency, but I don’t think this level of transparency is what he has in mind. If it was he would insist the text of the full agreement be made public before fast track is considered. He has not done this because he knows that if members of Congress and the people knew what was in this agreement fast track would not even be considered; indeed the TPP would never become law. The only way for these rigged corporate trade agreements to become law is secrecy and speed, the latter so there is no time to even read them.

Secrecy is such a high priority that Wikileaks emphasized in its press release:

“The document is classified and supposed to be kept secret for four years after the entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement is reached, for four years from the close of the negotiations.”

Imagine that, secret law multiplied. It is bad enough to negotiate a law in secret and pass it through Congress with no hearings but then to keep the law secret until four years after it becomes law. Imagine that, laws that will impact every aspect of our lives keep so secret. This sounds like a dystopian science fiction novel. Would anyone think that a country that passed laws with such secrecy was a democracy? A novel about a government like this would not be about a democracy – it would about a dictatorship of corporations where the people are serfs to corporate power.

Ilana  Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program,  said :

“It is outrageous that we have to continue to rely on leaked texts to expose the details of this trade pact — and that every leak confirms the threats of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to clean air and water.”

What does the text show? Teamster president Jimmy Hoffa writes:

“corporations could sue the U.S. or other countries included in the deal if they didn’t like their laws. Such challenges would be handled by an unaccountable international arbitration forum. And taxpayers would end up paying the tab if the private sector wins.”

“With the veil of secrecy ripped back, finally everyone can see for themselves that the TPP would give multinational corporations extraordinary new powers that would undermine our sovereignty, expose U.S. taxpayers to billions in new liability and privilege foreign firms operating here with special rights not available to U.S. firms under U.S. law,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America describes the chapter as “worse than we imagined” and says:

“These 56 pages must be a wakeup call for our nation.  We must be defenders of democracy first and push aside the special interests of multinational corporations.”

Food and Water Watch, which opposes fast track and the TPP because of its threat to food and water, summarized the leak saying it will prevent “commonsense public health, environmental and consumer safeguards” by providing “special rights for corporations at the expense of the public interest, letting foreign companies demand financial compensation”

Under the TPP only foreign corporations can sue governments (domestic corporations do not share in that power), while people have no recourse. If dangerous food is imported and people are poisoned, they cannot sue in the tribunal; if fracking or a burst pipeline destroys the water supply of a community, they cannot sue; if workers lose their jobs to low-paid foreign workers, the workers have no recourse; if websites are forced off the Internet because of violation of extremist copyright provisions, they cannot sue. On issue after issue people will be harmed by the provisions of rigged corporate agreements but they will have no recourse, while corporations can sue thereby ensuring increased risks to all of us.

How can Senator Wyden say with a straight face that he supports transparency when he would consider co-sponsoring to fast track bill a secret agreement; a fast track bill that would not even give people enough time to read the multi-thousand page agreement?

The Moment

Now is the key moment to tell Senator Wyden that you oppose fast track. His number in DC is (202) 224-5244. You can find numbers to his six Oregon offices and submit a written comment here. If you want to take more action visit www.StopFastTrack.com. The people have the power to defeat transnational corporations on these issues but we must take action in order to do so.

Senator Wyden and Senator Hatch hope to finish their negotiations this week and introduce a bill in mid-April. They actually wanted to do so in mid-February but have been stopped. We can stop them again, if we act now. But, no matter how Wyden goes we can defeat fast track. Momentum is on the side of the people, as are the facts. Fast track is not a done deal. The coalition to stop fast track is the largest ever built to oppose corporate trade. We represent tens of millions of people. We can win.

Kevin Zeese is co-director of Popular Resistance.

I admire David Ray Griffin for his wide-ranging intelligence, his research skills, and for his courage.  Dr. Griffin is not afraid to take on the controversial topics.  He gave us ten books on 9/11, and anyone who has read half of one of them knows that the official story is a lie.

Now Griffin has taken on global warming and the CO2 crisis.  His book has just been published by Clarity Press, a publisher that seeks out truth-telling authors.  Griffin’s book is a hefty 424 pages plus 77 pages of footnotes documenting the information that he presents.  Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive The CO2 Crisis? is no screed. 

The book is a carefully researched document.

Readers often ask me to write about global warming, chemtrails, vaccines, and other subjects beyond my competence.  However, I can see that Griffin has made a huge investment in researching climate change.  His book provides a thorough account under one cover.

Griffin concludes that civilization itself is at stake.  His evaluation of the evidence is that humans have about three decades to get CO2 emissions under control, and he sees hope in the agreement between Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping that was announced on November 11, 2014.

Griffin argues that instead of rushing to their own destruction like lemmings, the human race must accept the moral challenge of abolishing the fossil-fuel economy.  He makes the case that clean energy permits most of modern society’s way of life to continue without the threat posed by ever rising emissions.

Nuclear energy is not among clean energy sources–just look at the ongoing radiation pollution from Fukushima. Griffin is correct in the way he has framed the issue. It is a moral challenge.

Clearly the climate is changing, whether caused by CO2 emissions or some other cause.  Every day brings more reports of perils associated with climate change.

See for example: http://www.theweek.co.uk/62989/melting-antarctic-glacier-could-lead-to-11-foot-increase-in-sealevels_mout=1&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter

and   http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jul/24/melting-arctic-ice-banned-toxins-pops

The planet is being polluted with many forms of wastes:

Our foods are also polluted. On one hand our food is polluted with herbicides and on the other hand by antibiotics.  And then we have hormones and pesticides. The World Health Organization has concluded that the glyphosate in Monsanto’s Roundup, a herbicide widely sprayed on GMO food crops, is a likely causes of cancer in humans and animals. https://www.intellihub.com/admits-monsantos-glyphosate-probably-causes-cancer-chemical-found-75-air-rain-samples/

Glyphosate, which is also believed to be exterminating honey bees and Monarch butterflies, is now present in 75 percent of air and rain samples.  Some time ago I reported on a microbiologist who wrote to the US Secretary of Agriculture about extensive findings by independent scientists that glyphosate has serious adverse effects on animal life and on animal and human fertility and on the ability of soil to produce nutrition in food crops.  The scientist pointed out that the US government’s clearance of glyphosate rested entirely on the industry’s own studies of its safety and that these “studies” are not substantiated by independent scientists.  He pointed out that not only are the studies done by scientists employed by Monsanto, but also many agricultural science university faculties are dependent on research funds from the chemical industry and thereby do not have an independent voice.

Martha Rosenberg writing in CounterPunch reports that 70 percent of all antibiotics are fed to livestock because it produces weight gain and saves money on feed costs.  Ninety-three percent of doctors are concerned about the meat industry’s excessive use of antibiotics, and independent scientists have definite evidence that the growing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is due to the use of antibiotics as animal feed.

Scientists at the University of Iowa found Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in 70 percent of farmed hogs.  A Consumer Reports investigation found that US meat, regardless of the meat’s source, is full of “pathogens, commensals, and antibiotic resistant bacteria.”  Pork tested contained five resistant bacteria strains.

The Food and Drug Administration, severely weakened by Republicans, cannot stand up to Big Meat.  Rosenberg reports that “when the FDA tried in 2008 to ban farm use of cephalosporins (antibiotics like Cefzil and Keflex) because they are needed for pneumonia, strep throat, and other serious human conditions, the egg, chicken, turkey, milk, pork, and cattle industries and the animal Health Institute stormed Capital Hill.”

Congress responded to the campaign donations, not to the health and safety of the American people.  The Animal Health Institute consists of the drug companies who make profits selling 70 percent of their production to meat, egg, and milk producers.  The members of the “health” institute are Abbott, Bayer Healthcare, Elanco/Lilly, Merck, Boehringer, Ingelheim Vetmedica, Novartis, etc.

In other words profits come far ahead of public health.  As the drug companies have more or less stopped the development of new antibiotics, the protection antibiotics provide against infections is rapidly fading.

The horror goes on.  During a time of severe drought in the western US, with California reportedly left with one year’s supply of water, the fossil-fuel fracking industry is polluting the remaining surface and ground water.

All of these activities–use of antibiotics as animal feed, use of GMO herbicides, fracking–are profitable because they impose huge external costs on the environment and on third parties who are not participants in the profits gleaned by externalizing the costs of production.  And this brings us back to Griffin’s important book.

Griffin makes the point that the external cost imposed on the climate by fossil-fuel use is the source of the life-threatening crisis that humanity confronts.  Capitalists make money by exploiting labor and by externalizing the costs of the wastes produced by the productive process by imposing the wastes on the environment.  It is the short-term time horizon of production organized by selfish private interests focused on quarterly profits that is destroying the livability of the earth.

Almost every economist on earth will rise up in opposition to that true statement, because they are brainwashed in the neoliberal ideology that masquerades as economic science, but in fact is nothing but an apology for capitalist exploitation of labor and the earth.

I happened to be one of Ronald Coase’s graduate students the year he published his famous article on “The Problem of Social Cost” (external costs) for which, together with his article, “The Theory of the Firm,” he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.  In theory, externalities can be internalized into the process of production so that the producer bears all the costs if all inputs and waste products are subject to property rights. But no one owns the atmosphere, the oceans, the rivers and streams. They remain “common property” and thus are dumping grounds for waste disposal.

Governments, despite pressure from corporations, have realized that pollution is a problem, and governments have imposed some regulation.  The regulation raises some costs to corporations, but the regulation is insufficient to halt very much of the externalization of the cost of production.  In economic terms, this is the crisis that David Ray Griffin presents to us.

Capitalism’s pursuit of profit is destroying life on earth.

John Kiriakou is widely known as the former CIA case officer who, in an interview with ABC News in late 2007, confirmed that the CIA had tortured prisoner Abu Zubaydah, an alleged member of al Qaeda, on the waterboard.

Kiriakou was aware of only one instance in which Zubaydah was waterboarded, but his revelations set off a slew of investigations that sent America’s secret clique of torturers and their political bosses running for cover. Even the Senate, with feigned sincerity, initiated an investigation in 2009.

The vicious CIA wasn’t pleased, to put it mildly, nor was the Obama administration, which sicced the FBI on Kiriakou. As the controversy percolated and the authorities closed in, Kiriakou became a bit of a media sensation. Caught off guard by the flurry of attention (wanted and unwanted), he perhaps inadvertently violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by disclosing, among other things, the name of a covert CIA officer.

Facing 40 years in stir, Kiriakou copped a plea in October 2012. In February 2013 he entered the federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania. He was released in February 2015 with an entirely new perspective on America’s racist, sadistic, but highly profitable “corrections” industry.

John Kiriakou, however, was not an ordinary convict. While in prison he enjoyed the blessings of the Reverend Farrakhan and, as an acknowledged “human rights guy” was protected from many of the harsh realities most inmates endure. He received mail from thousands of supporters and maintained a popular blog, Letters from Loretto that got him in trouble with the Bureau of Prisons. But as a celebrity with a powerful attorney, he escaped additional punishments.

That doesn’t mean Kiriakou has it easy. The fascist law enforcement establishment considers him a traitor who got off easy and would love nothing better than to get its claws in him again. Many of his former CIA colleagues feel the same way, and the unforgiving CIA reviews and censors his writings. So he must be cautious in his statements about the CIA (including, one might deduce, those he made in this interview), and thus his answers sometimes have the intonations of a talking head issuing well-practiced sound bites.

This is not a typical interview with someone who has freedom of speech. But then again, John Kiriakou is an unusual man accustomed to navigating dangerous waters.

After being recruited into the CIA by a college “talent scout”, Kiriakou spent his first eight years in the Agency as a Middle East analyst specializing on Iraq. In 1998 he transferred to the sexier Operations Division and later its premier counter-terrorism branch. The 9-11 terror attacks catapulted him into prominence as chief of CT Ops in Pakistan, in which capacity he ran an agent network that located numerous Al Qaeda safehouses. Kiriakou and his unit were responsible for apprehending dozens of “enemy combatants” in high tech paramilitary raids that included US and foreign Special Forces.

This is heady stuff, the Rambo kind of marauding that births CIA legends and leads to rapid career advancement. But for Kiriakou the adventure was short-lived, and in 2002 he returned to CIA headquarters. In 2004 he resigned to spend more time with his children, who were 9 and 6 at the time. He had recently divorced, the kids were in Ohio, and he couldn’t risk being sent overseas again for years at a time. So he took a job in the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche’s “competitive intelligence practice” section, which meant spying on the company’s competitors – Ernst & Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Accenture, IBM, etc.

In 2009, through political connections to Senator John Kerry, Kiriakou became an investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Two years later he returned to a job in the private sector, while engaging in public speaking and media consulting (including Hollywood).

John Kiriakou walks a fine line. On the on hand he is an icon to idealists, in the mold of Dan Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning, and Ed Snowden. As a whistleblower who has been persecuted for acts of conscience, he is a celebrity of sorts – a position that can be intoxicating and corrupting. On the other hand, Kiriakou is still recovering from the shock of being in a cage for two years. More determined than ever to help America become a better place, he has dedicated his life to prison reform.

John Kiriakou is not, however, dedicating his life to CIA reform. He’s certainly not in a position to whack that particular hornet’s nest, not unless he wants to revisit Loretto.

But a journalist must be careful too, and I wondered if Kiriakou still felt a romantic attachment to the CIA. In a recent interview with Ken Klippenstein, he acknowledged that the war on terror is as much a war of revenge as it is a paramilitary police and espionage action designed to protect Americans from harm. He acknowledged that drone strikes have killed “dozens” of innocent people at wedding celebrations and “do more to help recruitment for groups like al-Qaeda or ISIS than anything they could do.” He even equated the Al Qaeda fighters he captured with the average American prisoner or soldier – functionally illiterate, lacking job skills, propagandized and manipulated. “So these were not hardened terrorists,” he told Klippenstein, “these were just confused young men.”

But in that interview, Kiriakou also exhibits signs of remaining a dedicated and indoctrinated legionnaire. He described ISIS as “created solely out of a hatred for the United States….in American military prisons in Iraq.” A statement seems somewhat true. But when it comes to dealing with ISIS, his inclination is standard imperial CIA: “We should be encouraging and supporting the militaries of our friends in the region – the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Turks – and we should be encouraging them to send their troops. After all, it’s their countries that are under threat. Why is this our problem? Why is this our undertaking, that we have to send Americans to die in Iraq and Syria? For what?”

Is it really better to send “our friends” in Egypt and Saudi Arabia after ISIS? How are “we” in a position to even imagine sending other nations to do our dirty work and clean up our imperial messes? Remember, these are same “friends” the CIA hired to torture a lot of innocent people.

I recently had the privilege of asking John Kiriakou some questions. His answers are below.

DV – Democracy is defined as, “A system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule either directly or through freely elected representatives.” America prides itself on being the freest democracy in the world. Is that a mass delusion, given the overarching power of the CIA, which American citizens have no control over?

JK – I don’t think we’ve ever had a truly free—or even exemplary—democracy. Just look at the oppressed people throughout our history. What would African-Americans, the poor, immigrants, and workers say about the strength of our democracy, especially throughout history. I think it is indeed a mass delusion.

DV – We only ever hear of the CIA sabotaging and subverting Leftist governments. As an institution, what is the CIA’s political ideology? Is it as extreme right as seems to be the case?

JK – I think the institutional ideology of the CIA is an extreme right-wing ideology. Throughout history it has been the CIA leading Presidents, not Presidents leading the CIA. It is the CIA that presents to the president the idea of covert action, not the other way around. This has led to nothing but disaster, such as in Iran, the Dominican Republic, Greece, Chile, and Central America.

DV – Our government has stated policies, which people associate with democratic values; and it has unstated policies. For example, Ronald Reagan said he would never negotiate with terrorists, a promise that ensured his re-election. Meanwhile he had the CIA sell weapons to Iran and used the money to fund the CIA’s army in Nicaragua. Is that what the CIA is: a mechanism our rulers use to make us believe they are moral and truthful, when in fact they are pursuing illegal activities that further only their own interests?

JK – That is exactly what the CIA is—a “fixer” for Presidents. Unfortunately, most of the CIA’s fixes have very serious and severe long-term consequences. Look at Greece as an example. Don’t like Communism? Overthrow the government and replace it with a military dictatorship that still, more than 40 years later, traumatizes society. Don’t like the Iranian government taking “our” oil? Overthrow the democratically-elected Prime Minister and replace him with a fascist dictator, which leads to a theocracy that we are still fighting. These poor decisions, internationally-criminal decisions in some cases, have very long-term consequences, which the CIA doesn’t seem to care about.

DV – As the primary mechanism of pursuing unstated policies that benefit only the rich ruling elite, what effect does the CIA have on our so-called democratic institutions, in particular on our “representatives” in Congress, and our so-called government watchdogs in the media?

JK – Our representatives in Congress are little more than cheerleaders for the CIA. They are afraid of being labeled “weak” on national security, and as a result, there is no oversight. There are certainly a handful of courageous Congressmen and Senators, but they are few and far between, and, as far as the CIA goes, they are ineffectual.

johnk

DV – After your CIA service, you served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. How does the CIA impose its will on the committees that affect its legislated mission, budget and operations?

JK – First and foremost, the CIA “recruits” select members of Congress. They get special briefings; they are brought “inside” the circle. Their delegations get the red carpet treatment overseas. It’s very well thought-out. The CIA really knows how to cultivate people on the Hill.

DV – You have also had extensive dealings with the print and TV media, as well as Hollywood. How does the CIA bend the media and Hollywood to its will?

JK – The CIA can use a heavy hand with the media. If a reporter is writing a story that makes the Agency look bad, the Agency can threaten to withhold any future cooperation. If a Hollywood producer is making a movie about the Agency or an Agency operation, so long as it’s pro-Agency, the producers can get insider briefings (classified briefings, in the case of Zero Dark Thirty.) If an author writes a book critical of the CIA, the Agency will tell newspapers and other outlets to not review the book. It’s all very heavy-handed.

DV – We have seen presidents use the CIA for self-serving, nefarious purposes. We’ve seen these same presidents protect CIA officers who get caught. Bush 1 pardoned CIA officers involved in the Iran Contra scandal, and Bush 2 commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence for outing CIA officer Valerie Plame. Obama continues the pattern of our leaders protecting CIA officers and punishing whistleblowers. How does this reality affect the recruitment and backing of candidates for national election by the Republican and Democratic parties?

JK – I think every candidate for office at the Congressional level wants to court the Agency. Everybody wants to look like they’re tough on national security. So in that inherently authoritarian narrative, there is no room for whistleblowers. Anybody who sheds light on the darkness is the enemy.

DV – The CIA is the organized crime branch of the government, conducting every crime imaginable. How does this immersion in illegal activities – the success of which relies upon deceiving the American public – coupled with the blanket legal protection they receive in return, affect CIA officers as individuals?

JK – Well, first let me say that I’m a realist. There will always be a CIA, even if I think that the organization is no longer necessary. The only way to change the CIA is from the inside. With that said, on the operations side of the CIA, every employee is taught to lie, about everything, to everyone. Some officers do not know when to, or cannot, turn the lies off. That leads to policy disasters. It leads to cover-ups. It leads to Congressional investigations. The only way there can be justice is if the President lets the legal system run its course. But Presidents don’t do that. They participate in the cover-ups. They issue pardons to the wrong people. It’s bad for the country, and it’s bad for democracy.

DV – An agent with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics once said to me that most agents “were corrupted by the lure of the underworld. They thought they could check their morality at the door – go out and lie, cheat, and steal – then come back and retrieve it. But you can’t. In fact, if you’re successful because you can lie, cheat, and steal, those things become tools you use in the bureaucracy. You’re talking about guys whose lives depended on their ability to be devious and who become very good at it. So these people became the bosses, and undercover work became the credo – and a source of boundless, profitable hype. Meanwhile the agents were losing their simplicity in subtle ways.”

The CIA’s top managers and executives likewise succeed through their ability to corrupt and deceive. Our ruling class behaves the same way, and values the CIA for its expertise. Do we as American citizens also embrace this ‘dog eat dog” philosophy, and thus tacitly understand and approve of the CIA and the established pattern of not confronting us (and our fragile consciences) with the knowledge of its various crimes?

JK – We can never accept this kind of behavior. Never. It is this kind of sociopathy that throughout history has led us into wars, coups and countercoups, and the defense of fascist dictatorships. Your FBN friend is exactly right.

DV – You were involved in operations against the Taliban in 2001, when John Lindh was captured at the Battle of Qala-i-Jangi. Did the CIA and its allied forces summarily execute prisoners during and after this battle, in which CIA officer Mike Spann was killed?

JK – I was not involved in this. I was in Washington at the time, and then I transferred to Pakistan in early 2002. When I was at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I initiated an investigation into the Dasht e-Leili Massacre, to which you refer. I have no idea of CIA officers were present at the massacre. I believe they probably were. But I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth about what happened there.

DV – Apparently all but a few dozen of the 500 prisoners Qala-i-Jangi were killed. The survivors were loaded onto boxcars with several thousand other Taliban prisoners and, reportedly, suffocated to death. Those who emerged from the boxcars were gunned down and buried in mass graves by the Junbish-i Milli faction of the Afghan Northern Alliance under General Abdul Rashid Dostum. Is it true that CIA officers were advising Dostum’s forces and were complicit in the Dasht-i-Leili massacre?

JK – I think it was closer to 2,000 people who were killed. There is no evidence that anybody was “gunned down.” Instead, according to survivors interviewed at Guantanamo, most of the prisoners suffocated in the boxcars. I don’t know if there were any CIA officers advising Dostum, nor is there definitive evidence that CIA officers were present at the box-up. That is what I wanted to investigate. But my investigation was killed.

DV –Former Ohio Senator Stephen Young revealed in 1965 that CIA “black propaganda” tactics included having its mercenaries pose as enemy guerrillas and commit ghastly atrocities. Does the CIA engage in these types of “black propaganda” tactics in its war on terror? Does it infiltrate groups like ISIS, and seek to control and direct their leadership, for the undemocratic purpose of fueling conflicts and enriching its patrons in the war industry?

JK – I have not heard of the CIA participating in atrocities like those described by Senator Young in the years after the Church Committee.

DV – Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in one month, but he also “lost an eye” while in CIA custody. Given the ferocious nature of the fighting in Afghanistan, and given what we know about CIA practices in other conflicts, including Vietnam, was our national attention focused on waterboarding to deflect us from the more horrible atrocities CIA officers were committing (like, perhaps, gouging out eyes) in secret black sites and in the field, fighting enemy guerrillas?

JK – Abu Zubaydah had a diseased eye when we caught him in Faisalabad, Pakistan in March 2002. I know that his diseased eye was removed by CIA physicians sometime after his capture, but I don’t know why. It’s my understanding that the CIA does not do things like gouge out eyes. Certainly waterboarding, cold cells, and sleep deprivation are bad enough.

DV – All sorts of crimes occur within the realm of espionage. CIA and military counter-intelligence officers have traditionally had the right to terminate by murder their agents, and agent accomplices, in the field, without legal review? Is that still the case?

JK – That has not been the case since the Ford Administration.

DV – CIA officers, and the institution itself, seem sadistic in nature, taking perverse delight inflicting pain and death upon people, directly or through intermediaries in foreign police forces and secret services. Is that so? How does that mean-streak affect out national self-image and our so-called democracy?

JK – This is a broad generality. I personally did not know anybody at the CIA who delighted in inflicting pain and death upon anybody. Certainly those officers exist. But they are few and far between. Either way, though, when a CIA officer commits torture or when the CIA as an organization sends a prisoner to a third country, where he is tortured, that weakens the Agency. It doesn’t strengthen it. And it weakens our democracy.

DV – You were a consultant on the movie “Kill the Messenger.” To what extent are CIA officers facilitating the drug trafficking activities of warlords on its payroll in Afghanistan and the Middle East? Do they provide transportation? What else?

JK – I don’t know. What I can tell you is that when I went to Afghanistan with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff in 2009, one Afghan poppy farmer complained to me, when I asked him why he was planting poppy instead of food crops, that he wished the US government would “make up its mind.” He said, “The CIA told me in 2002 that if I told them where al-Qaeda was I could grow poppy. Now you say I can’t grow poppy. I wish you would make up your mind.” We can all draw our own conclusions as to what has happened in Afghanistan with its poppy crop over the past 15 years.

DV – What chance does America have of achieving democracy, given everything we’ve discussed above about the CIA, including the complicity of our Congressional representatives and media?

JK – I don’t think we’ll ever be a true democracy. The vested interests are just too strong, and “democracy” doesn’t help them in any way.

DV – Given the extraordinary functions it serves, is it possible to abolish the CIA and divide its functions between the State Department and the military?

JK – Many Americans mocked Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan when he said in 1975 that the CIA should be abolished. And I believe that it should. (I don’t think it will, but believe that it should.) Certainly, the analysis can be done by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research; the human intelligence collection can be done by the Defense Department’s “Defense HUMINT Services; military analysis can, and is, done by the DIA; and special forces operations can and should be done by the special forces. We simply don’t need the CIA anymore.

DV – Thank you John for the interview and for your courage in standing up to the CIA. I wish you great good luck with your prison reform endeavor.

Author’s note: We know from Dewey Clarridge’s infamous terror manual Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare that the CIA never observed the reforms imposed upon it in the mid-1970s.

Douglas Valentine is the author of The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs, and The Strength of the Pack: The Personalities, Politics, and Espionage Intrigues that Shaped the DEA.

The regional grouping of Southeast Asian states has catapulted to the forefront of global economics, becoming one of the fastest growing blocs in the world. Its economies have stabilized after the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, and have since then shown intense resilience by fully rebounding from the ‘Great Recession’ in 2010, much quicker than most other countries elsewhere in the world (especially in Europe).

Due to these factors, ASEAN has understandably become a focal point of interest and interaction for all serious global players, hence the value in comprehending its overall trends and geopolitical disposition:

Shifting Alignment

Prodded by the US’ Pivot to Asia, ASEAN countries are being pressured by Washington to take sides in its rivalry with Beijing and ideally sign on to the China Containment Coalition (CCC). Complicating matters, however, is that China is the region’s largest trade partner, although the US is trying to convince the bloc that the future lies with the its TPP, not the Chinese-led Free Trade Area of the Asia-PacificThis artificial choice that the US is forcing upon ASEAN runs the risk of splitting the organization, although in Washington’s view, a fractured ASEAN partially under its influence is more preferable than a unified one that’s pragmatic towards China. Not all of ASEAN’s members have committed their strategic trajectory towards one side or the other yet, and even those who already have may possibly flip sometime in the future (e.g. the Philippines or Myanmar), meaning that the shifting geopolitical alignment of the group’s associated states is one of its foremost trends.

Regional Integration

Some of the ASEAN member states seem intent on deepening their cooperation past the economic field and into the political and military ones. Pertaining to the former, Vietnam is leading efforts in lobbying the group to form a united front in dealing with China, and officially speaking at least, ASEAN intends to sign a so-called ‘Code of Conduct’ with China sometime in the future. As is its norm, China prefers to deal with its territorial disputes on a bilateral basis with the specific states involved, shying away from addressing with them in a multilateral framework that could complicate the resolution of each individual issue. However, the ASEAN states involved in these disputes with China feel weakened by this approach, and they may be moving closer togetheramongst themselves in order to present the united front that Vietnam envisions. The risk is increasingly becoming real that ASEAN may experience an internal split between the maritime/coastal states with territorial disputes against China and those which aren’t party to the conflict, and the prospects of anti-Chinese military cooperation amongst some of its members make this problem an urgent one

Vietnam and the Philippines have just entered into a strategic partnership, which is only Manila’s third, behind the ones it has with the US and Japan, underlining the growing intimacy of ties between the two anti-Chinese states. The expectation is that both states will intensify their military coordination and asean-mapform the basis of a Southeast Asian ‘NATO’ designed to counter China. It’s unclear at this point whether any other ASEAN members will sign up for the CCC, but it’s a certainty that Japan, and perhaps even India and Australia, will get in on the action. Anyhow, Vietnam and the Philippines’growing antagonism towards China is leading to the de-facto integration of their South China Sea strategy towards Beijing (via American ‘Lead From Behind’ guidance per the Pivot to Asia) at the expense of ASEAN’s unity. It’s not forecasted that the organization will disband over this or even come close to such a scenario owing to its economic and good-neighborly roots (neither of the ASEAN states have any serious disagreements amongst themselves, except perhaps for Thailand and Cambodia), but such actions certainly handicap its further peaceful integration with all members and could perhaps prematurely stunt this development in general.

Global Interest

ASEAN’s importance has attracted the interest of the most serious global players of the 21stcentury. Here’s a look at who’s involved and for what ends:

The US:
Washington has been pursuing its Pivot to Asia over the past couple of years, in what is an obvious move to counter growing Chinese influence right in Beijing’s backyard. The US wants to provoke the region against China, with the aim of then crystallizing that resentment into tangible anti-Chinese policies like the CCC and the TPP. While it would love to have a unified, pro-American, anti-Chinese ASEAN under its wing, the US will eagerly split the grouping if needed (which is currently ongoing, as described above) should it become too pragmatic in its policies towards Beijing. The South China Sea is the anvil on which the American hammer wants to smash ASEAN into two pieces.

Russia:
Moscow’s presence in ASEAN is mostly centered on its full-spectrum relationship with Hanoi, which includes military, economic, and energy components. Russia is also close to Thailand, and its citizens contribute so significantly to its tourist and real estate sectors that both are expecting a notable decline this year due to the ruble’s slump. Moscow and Bangkok could evenreboot their relations during Prime Minister Medvedev’s visit next month, which considering theexpanding trade ties between the two (including in the agricultural sector), might likely happen.

Such a development wouldn’t be unexpected, however, since Thailand’s new government has earned the consternation of American patron due to its so-called ‘undemocratic’ nature, and it’s understandable why it would want to thumb its nose at the West by working with its prime rival, Russia. Besides, the world is entering a period of multipolarity, and states are diversifying their partnerships in order to be as flexible as possible in the changing situation. Thailand, under its current government, is no exception.

Maritime-Silk-Road

China:
Beijing’s interactions with its southern neighbors are motivated by the need to retain stability in the region and encourage friendly ties between all parties, as is signified by the Maritime Silk Road, Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank proposals. The South China Sea dispute is an impediment to this, but aside from historical claims, China has strategic reasons for pushing its nine-dash line claim and not backing down. The essence of China’s concerns doesn’t relate so much to energy considerations as it does to military ones.

If Vietnam or the Philippines (the two most anti-China states in the region) were to ever be successful in gaining a significant foothold in the area, they could potentially outfit the islands/rocks with naval bases (even if they need to artificially expand their holdings through dredging) that could then be used to not only threaten China’s vulnerable economic lifeline on the seas, but to possibly even host US naval units (either permanently, temporarily, or ‘in rotation’) that could acquire forward-operating advantages vis-à-vis China. It is this latter scenario that scares Chinese decision makers the most, hence why Beijing took the initiative to more authoritatively defend its claims right around the time the US announced its Asia Pivot.

Out-Of-Region CCC Members:
This category includes the aspiring Asian powers of India and Japan that are suspected of wanting to physically involve their militaries in the South China Sea in order to contain China and clinch profitable partnerships with its neighbors, especially the anti-Chinese ones like Vietnam and the Philippines. Australia can also be included in this mix through its hosting of 1000 US Marines in Darwin and its recently decided-upon training of the Vietnamese military, although its strong dependence on the Chinese economy constraints its overall CCC behavior. Returning the focus to India and Japan, both nations’ navies have trained together under the US’ aegis three times since 2007, warming their military relations out of a perceived fear of China. The US’ new National Security Strategy also envisions India playing a greater role in China’s southern backyard, so considering the official American alliance with Japan, it’s foreseeable that Washington will continue to play kingmaker in bringing the two together to confront China along its southern periphery.

Concluding Thoughts

The situation surrounding the ASEAN states is a lot more complex than one may originally think, and it’s apparent that the group isn’t as unified as it may seem upon first glance. While some of its members are actively confronting China, others are actively cooperating with it, and the US and its out-of-region Lead From Behind partners of India and Japan are exploiting this rift to their own geopolitical advantage. In a ‘perfect world’, the US would love to fully contain China and neuter its future capabilities, opening it up to internal fragmentation and a Color Revolution, but Beijing will never let this happen without a fight. Being the asymmetrical masterminds that they are, the country’s decision makers are currently pushing back in mainland ASEAN, using Laos’ position as the regional pivot to promote a grand strategy of preemptively breaking out of the US’ intended noose and collapsing the foundation of its containment.

The subsequent article will thus address the geopivotal role of Laos in mainland ASEAN affairs and focus on how it perfectly fits into China’s proactive containment-shattering strategy.

Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

Additional details from the investigation over Zoran Verusevski, the former head of Macedonia UBK State Security agency, reveal that he was discussing the possibility of a Ukrainian style protests that would bring down the Government in Macedonia and bring the opposition SDSM party in power.

Verusevski, who held high positions in the security services appointed by SDSM, is charged, together with SDSM leader Zoran Zaev and several others, of trying to blackmail the Government to bring SDSM into the ruling coalition, and also of cooperating with foreign intelligence agencies.

Former Head of UBK State Security Agency Zoran Verusevski. Photo: Dnevnik

Police confiscated Verusevski’s computers and other electronic devices when he was arrested in mid­January, and since, several leaks from the investigation revealed details about his correspondence with Zaev and with Gjorgji Lazarevski, another former high ranking UBK official who is also charged. Zaev confirmed some of the leaks as authentic. Several media outlets reported on Saturday about a cache of Skype messages exchanged between Verusevski and Lazarevski, in which the two former security officials are mentioning Ukraine, as a political disturbance scenario that they could develop in Macedonia. In one message Lazarevski says that SDSM leader Zaev should move his “old behind” and be more like Vitaly Klichko, the Ukrainian boxer who energized the Maidan protests.

Verusevski responds that Zaev does not have the credibility, because “an amnestied politician is like a released pedophile”. Zaev was amnestied in 2008 by then President and leading SDSM politician Branko Crvenkovski over the charges that as mayor of the city of Strumica he allowed a corrupt real­ estate deal that benefited him and his business associates. In another batch of Skype messages, Verusevski says “Ukraine has collapsed”, with Lazarevski replying that “we are not far behind”, only to add that “SDSM doesn’t have the capacity for a coup”. An earlier leak from their correspondence showed Verusevski and Lazarevski discussing that what they are preparing could lead to a civil war in Macedonia.

The two are charged with recruiting an UBK surveillance system technician Zvonko Kostovski to wiretap phones from leading Government and opposition officials, and of preparing English language reports they then gave to a foreign intelligence service, which paid them substantially. Verusevski is charged with joining forces with Zaev, and planning to use the cache of information his rogue spy ring has gathered in an attempt to pressure VMRO-­DPMNE leader and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski into bringing SDSM to the Government. Gruevski responded by asking the Public Prosecutor’s office to investigate the case, and currently Zaev and Verusevski are charged, while Zaev is holding press conferences at which he is presenting audio files he claims prove corruption and election irregularities perpetrated by VMRO-­DPMNE officials. VMRO-­DPMNE insists that the material is taken out of context and fabricated.

Verusevski had a day long hearing at the Prosecutor’s office on Friday, with the entirety of the evidence gathered against him presented, likely for the first time. Zvonko Kostovski was already sentenced to three years in prison, in exchange for his confession, the details of which were likely presented before Verusevski on Friday as well.

The fear that political and inter-­ethnic tensions could appear as result of the political situation was often discussed by commentators on both sides. Macedonia experienced an armed insurgency by ethnic Albanian rebels in 2001, which ended with international mediation and a political agreement. That insurgency was preceded by a 2000 wiretapping scandal in which then opposition leader Branko Crvenkovski blamed then VMRO’-DPMNE leader and Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski of mass wiretapping, and presented transcripts of conversations he allegedly got from insiders in the UBK service. Crvenkovski’s source was never revealed, as the country became engulfed in the 2001 insurgency, with commentators close to VMRO­DPMNE saying that, both in 2000 and in 2015, Verusevski was the main source of the wiretapping charges.

Copyright the Independent, Macedonia 2015

Hillary Clinton’s unannounced campaign for the U.S. Presidency has already failed. Her arrogance (or else stupidity) in having wiped clean the hard drive of the private server she had used for her emails while she was the U.S. Secretary of State adds insult to the injury already done to her incipient campaign by the earlier revelation that she had evaded the State Department’s record-keeping system and had used her private server for all of her State Department emails and not only for her personal emails. (The NYT had headlined March 2nd: “Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules.”)

CNN, early Saturday morning, March 28th, bannered the big follow-up, “Hillary Clinton deleted all email from personal server,” and reported that, “Hillary Clinton permanently deleted all the emails on the private server she used to do official business as secretary of state.” Ms. Clinton immediately responded to reporters’ questions by saying that nothing of importance to, or concerning, her State Department business, was on that server, and that she had recently sent to the investigator who is looking into this matter “roughly 30,000 emails” that related to State Department business. However, the public, and prosecutors, will now not be able to see the other emails (which she says were approximately 32,000), because she then had that server wiped clean. She says she had had this done because “no one wants their personal emails made public.”

In other words: the public would just have to trust her assertion that nothing related to government business was in those “personal emails.”

Private letters from Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other American leaders, are published in books; but Hillary Clinton does not think that the American public should ever have access to hers. Today’s emails are like paper-and-ink letters in that bygone era; but she has, in effect, burned them. Historians won’t get to see them; neither will the public.

Even the earlier revelation had caused her ratio of unfavorable-to-favorable ratings in polls to soar.

On March 19th, Reuters headlined, “Many Democrats want independent Clinton email probe: Reuters/Ipsos poll,” and reported: “Support for Clinton’s candidacy has dropped about 15 percentage points since mid-February among Democrats, with as few as 45 percent saying they would support her in the last week.”

In the CBS News poll, taken March 21-24, Hillary’s Favorable rating was 26%, Not Favorable was 37%; this had last been polled by CBS on September 12-16 of 2008: 51% Favorable, 35% Unfavorable. Her Favorable is down from 51% to 26%, almost half, since then. The latest Gallup poll on that question was March 2-4 (this year): 50% Favorable, 39% Unfavorable. Assuming comparability of the Gallup and the CBS polls, her figures went from 50% Favorable and 39% Unfavorable just as the first news of this email scandal broke, down to 26% Favorable and 37% Unfavorable just before the latest revelation — the revelation that she had wiped her server clean — and it’s likely to go even lower now, after that second blow.

Wall Street has banked on Hillary’s becoming President. Her husband gave them what they wanted (the end of the Glass-Steagall Act); and during the past year she has been collecting millions of dollars in ‘speaking fees’ for meeting with them in private.

According to all accounts of the collections by her nascent campaign organization, money has been flowing into it by the millions.

And Wall Street is already panicking at the news-reports of her email scandal.

On Friday March 27th, Britain’s Guardian headlined, “Elizabeth Warren: Banks Could Halt Donations in Protest at Senator’s Plans,” and reported that, “Big Wall Street banks are so upset with Elizabeth Warren’s call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said. Representatives from Citigroup, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party’s tone toward Wall Street, sources familiar with the discussions said this week.”

On 19 April 2014, the Guardian had headlined “Wall Street deregulation pushed by Clinton advisers, documents reveal” and reported that, “Throughout the documents, which are among 7,000 pages released by the Clinton library on Friday, there is little discussion of internal opposition to repealing Glass-Steagall,” which was the FDR law, passed in response to the 1929 economic crash, that (up till 2000) blocked banks from ever again gambling with depositors’ money and from their leaving the Federal Government holding the bag (bank “bailouts”) when such bank-gambles produce losses, as occurred again in 2008. Senator Warren wants to reinstate those protections for depositors and taxpayers, and the megabanks are terrified against that possibility.

Naturally, then, on 21 May 2014, Mother Jones bannered, “Hillary Clinton’s Speaking Circuit Payday: $5 Million (and Counting),” and listed some of the companies that were forking over $200,000 apiece to have private sessions with her (’speaking fees’) while she was “considering” to gear up for a Presidential campaign: Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, the Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the National Association of Realtors, etc. Her donors’ list is rich; and it’s all ‘private,’ perhaps just like the emails that she destroyed.

The only Democrats who will be voting for Hillary Clinton are the ones who are satisfied for Wall Street to own Main Street.

And Republicans will vote against her because she’s not nominally “Republican.”

End of story. End of Presidential chance. (But, likely, not end of Presidential campaign. More likely, just the start for other Democrats to enter the race.)

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

According to Some Metrics …

The Commonwealth Fund reported last year:

The United States health care system is the most expensive in the world, but this report and prior editions consistently show the U.S. underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance. Among the 11 nations studied in this report—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States—the U.S. ranks last, as it did in the 2010, 2007, 2006, and 2004 editions of Mirror, Mirror. Most troubling, the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity. In this edition of Mirror, Mirror, the United Kingdom ranks first, followed closely by Switzerland

While UK residents averaged $3,405 per year on healthcare costs (the second-lowest, trailing only New Zealand), Americans paid $8,508 per year. And yet Commonwealth ranked the UK as number 1 for healthcare, and the U.S. dead last … 11th out of 11 industrialized nations.

Of course, Commonwealth’s main complaints with U.S. healthcare are access, efficiency and equity:

Overall health care ranking

In other words, America’s extreme inequality – and lack of socialized medicine – means that healthcare is only good for those who have enough cash to pay for it.

In a stunning victory on January 25, the leftist Syriza party won Greece’s national elections by a wide margin, earning just short of a majority of seats in parliament. Syriza campaigned on a promise to end the austerity measures (privatization, wage constraints, public service layoffs, etc.) that were a condition on 240 billion euros ($339 billion) of European finance to help pay down Greek debt. Syriza promised the electorate they would renegotiate the bailout conditions and reduce total Greek debt, now at 323 billion euros ($456 billion), by up to half. Newly elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made good on that promise by insisting the current bailout package, which ends on February 28, will not be extended on Europe’s harsh terms.

“Syriza’s victory came like a breath of fresh air and has given the Greek people their dignity and pride back having been fleeced by EU bankers and the establishment,” said Cyprus-based author and news commentator Andreas Chrysafis. “The Syriza Party has risen out of the ashes of despair and Tsipras and his group have provided the last glimmer of hope to the people of Greece.”

Sixty per cent of Greece’s debt is owed to European Union governments, 10% to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and 6% to the European Central Bank (ECB), all of which are collectively known as the troika. In return, these institutions demanded draconian economic and social reforms that were dutifully carried out by the previous Greek government over the past five years. They included especially severe government cutbacks in health care and education spending, privatizations, the slashing of wages (by 50% in some cases) and pensions, higher taxes, and the mass firing of public servants, including 35,000 doctors, nurses and other health workers. As a result of these cuts, the Greek economy has shrunk, the health care system has collapsed, and infant mortality has risen by more than 40%.

Public protest against the impoverishment of Greeks to the benefit of European creditors is directly responsible for bringing Syriza to power. The party is a coalition of Eurocommunists, social movements and anti-globalization activists. Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s new finance minister, has said austerity “turned this nation into a debt colony.” Syriza has promised to restore the minimum monthly wage to 751 euros ($1,060), rehire dismissed public sector workers, restore collective wage agreements, subsidize food and electricity for the poorest Greeks, and reverse privatizations.

Similar European austerity programs, imposed since the 2008 crisis, have devastated Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Cyprus, subjecting the continent overall to three recessions in five years. Recognizing this failure, the ECB recently initiated a limited fiscal stimulus, similar to the one launched in the U.S. in 2008, but it may be too little too late.

“The Federal Reserve, the central bank of the United States, is a neoliberal entity, but it has acted very differently from the ECB and European authorities since the 2008-2009 world financial crisis and recession. As a result of these differences in policy, euro zone unemployment is more than twice that of the U.S. and the euro zone has had several more years of unnecessary recession,” explained Mark Weisbrot, economist and co-director of the Washington, D.C.–based Centre for Economic and Policy Research, in an interview.

The Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz also blames the EU for Greece’s predicament.

“Greece could be blamed for its troubles if it were the only country where the troika’s medicine failed miserably,” he wrote in a February 5 commentary. “But Spain had a surplus and a low debt ratio before the crisis, and it, too, is in depression. What is needed is not structural reform within Greece and Spain so much as structural reform of the euro zone’s design and a fundamental rethinking of the policy frameworks that have resulted in the monetary union’s spectacularly bad performance.”

The structure of the euro zone makes Greece’s problems harder to deal with, according to Stiglitz, because monetary union means “member states cannot devalue their way out of trouble, yet the modicum of European solidarity that must accompany this loss of policy flexibility simply is not there.”

Philippe Legrain, who was an economic advisor to the president of the European Commission (the EU’s executive arm) from 2011 to 2014, agrees with Stiglitz regarding European culpability. In an article this January before the Greek election, he pointed out that the bailout benefited European banks, not Greece, and violated the EU’s own treaty rules. Legrain wrote:

Greece’s reckless borrowing was financed by equally reckless lenders. First in line were French and German banks that lent too much, too cheaply…

 By the time Greece was cut off from the markets in 2010, its soaring public debt of 130 per cent of GDP was obviously unpayable in full. It should have been written down as the IMF later acknowledged publicly. Austerity would then have been less extreme and the recession shorter and shallower. But to avoid losses for German and French banks, euro zone policymakers, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pretended that Greece was merely going through temporary funding difficulties. Breaching the EU treaties’ “no-bailout” rule, which bans euro zone governments from bailing out their peers, they lent European taxpayers’ money to the insolvent Greek government, ostensibly out of solidarity, but actually to bail out creditors… 

So whatever you think of Syriza’s left-wing politics, it is justified in demanding debt relief from the EU.

The EU does not see it this way. Amply displaying the lack of European solidarity that Stiglitz mentioned, the EU has so far refused to renegotiate the terms of its bailout loans with Greece. Varoufakis has visited seven European capitals since Syriza’s victory, meeting other finance ministers and offering concessions, but he has been rebuffed at each step.

Varoufakis then met the other 18 euro zone finance ministers on February 11 and 16 to present his proposals, which included a retraction of an earlier demand for a debt write-down, replaced by a scheme involving growth-linked bonds that would be used to repay the Greek debt. These bonds would be paid only when the Greek economy started showing growth. Varoufakis also agreed to enact 70% of the EU’s austerity conditions. In return, he asked for a bridging loan to meet Greece’s debt obligations once the austerity-based loan expired on February 28.

The February 11 and 16 meetings collapsed with no agreement. Austerity is Greece’s only option as the EU sees it. The EU finance ministers, led by Wolfgang Schäuble of Germany and his Dutch counterpart Jeroen Dijsselbloem, insisted that Greece renew the bailout agreement before February 28 and fulfill all accompanying austerity conditions. The ministers gave Varoufakis an ultimatum: agree to an extension of the bailout by the end of the week or lose all loans. The Greek finance minister stood firm, rejecting the ultimatum and holding out for a better deal.

If the bailout ends on February 28 (the Monitor went to print in mid-February), the Greek government will forgo an additional 7.2 billion euros ($10.2 billion), and will, therefore, not be able to make debt payments due in March, which could force Greece out of the euro zone.

“The Eurogroup stand was expected… The northern states never wanted to help Greece at all except within the boundaries of the existing harsh bail-in troika loan resolutions, which have destroyed the nation,” said Chrysafis. “The Eurogroup acted like a school teacher reprimanding a naughty student who dared to speak out. This is the start of the demise of the EU, which demands absolute obedience to its terms for poisoned loans.”

“One reason the EU does not want Greece to leave it, is that the most likely outcome would be that Greece, after an initial financial crisis, would recover more rapidly than the rest of the eurozone, and other governments would also want to leave”, argued Weisbrot. “If Syriza succeeds, either inside or outside of the euro, it will likely have an important effect on most or all of the euro zone,” Popular sentiment…already, correctly, sees the austerity of recent years as a failure. If Syriza can provide a successful alternative, this will encourage others to demand one.

“The most obvious place for contagion is Spain, where the leftist Podemos party, formed only about a year ago, recently shot up to first place in the polls,” he added. “The institutions of the euro zone will have to change their policies to allow for faster growth and more employment or the euro zone could eventually dissolve.”

Chrysafis suggested Europe was trapped.

“If the EU fails to agree to renegotiate the Greek debt sensibly, Greece will raise the money elsewhere. Russia has already offered a U.S.$10 billion ($12.4 billion) loan to Greece,” he said.

“EU citizens have had enough of EU incompetence and policies that bring stagnation rather than prosperity. The EU has brought ruin and unemployment to millions of citizens, especially the young, and they simply no longer trust it. I will not be surprised to see the gradual erosion and downfall of the EU in the next ten years.”

On February 10, Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, a member of the right-wing Independent Greeks with which Syriza formed a coalition government, proposed alternative financing solutions from outside the euro zone.

 “We want a deal. But if there is no deal, and if we see that Germany remains rigid and wants to blow Europe apart, then we will have to go to Plan B. We have other ways of finding money,” he said. “It could be the United States at best, it could be Russia, it could be China or other countries.”

Kammenos added that Greece would prefer to leave the euro if membership means submitting to a “Europe under German domination.”

According to Nikos Chountis, Greece’s deputy foreign minister, “There have been proposals, offers I would say, from Russia for economic support as well as from China, regarding help, investment possibilities.”

 Asad Ismi is international affairs correspondent for the Monitor. He is author of the radio documentary Capitalism is the Crisis which has been aired on 42 radio stations in the U.S., Canada and Europe reaching about 33 million people. For his publications visit www.asadismi.ws.

“He’s a unifying factor among the squabbling factions of Israeli society.” -Professor James Petras

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Play

Length (59:09)

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

Benjamin Netanyahu emerged triumphant from the March 17 national elections, having secured the backing of nearly a fourth of the Israeli electorate and now controlling 30 of the 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset. He is now well positioned to form a governing coalition, anticipated to be composed of several right of centre parties.

During the campaign, Netanyahu stoked fear of a nuclear Iran and announced his intention to abandon a two state solution to the long running Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu is now enterring his third consecutive term as Israeli Prime Minister, his fourth over all. Should he complete this term, he will become the longest serving Prime Minister in Israeli history.

What accounts for the success of this credibly accused war criminal among the Israeli population?

Professor James Petras thinks he knows. In fact, as he states in this feature interview, he is not at all surprised the election results went the way they did. He believes that a settler-colonial mindset that crosses over ideologies and classes is at the root of Netanyahu’s appeal. In the first half hour of the program, he elaborates on this perspective and on how it can inform meaningful activism in service of Palestine soliarity.

In Canada, elite political an economic interests within the country have typically been protective of the Israeli State. The latest example of this would be a March 13 message from Federal Liberal Party leader, and would-be Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau. As the McGill University student body was addressing a referendum question on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction of companies profitting from Israeli Apartheid. Trudeau’s twitter post read as follows:

The BDS movement, like Israeli Apartheid Week, has no place on Canadian campuses. As a @McGillU alum, I’m disappointed. #EnoughIsEnough

In the second half hour, we hear from activist Bruce Katz about these and other obstacles facing Palestine solidarity activism in Canada.

We also hear once again from Jeff Halper of the Israeli Campaign Against House Demolitions. He presents the human face of Israeli Apartheid, his take on the potential of BDS and the problematic portrayals of the Israel-Palestine situation in mass media.

Dr. James Petras is Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghampton University in New York, and the author of numerous books an articles including the recent The Roots of Netanyahu’s Electoral Victory: Colonial Expansion and Fascist Ideology.

Bruce Katz is the co-founder and Acting President of Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU), a human rights organization founded in November 2000  working for a lasting settlement to the Israel/Palestine conflict based on the principles of human rights and the strict application of international law. 

Dr. Jeff Halper, is the co-founder and Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) for the past 17 years, as well as a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Play

Length (59:09)

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

The  show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at prn.fm. Listen in every Monday at 3pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3FM NEWTONS  during the Truth and Justice Radio Programming slot -Sundays at 7am ET.

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario – Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border. It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia Canada. – Tune in every Saturday at 6am.

The Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung reported Thursday the 26th, that the Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, whom Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko recently removed from control over Ukraine’s monopoly oil-transport firm and from being governor of a Ukrainian province, had been using his private army, augmented by forces from Dmitriy Yarosh’s Right Sector party, to rob other oligarchs, especially Ukraine’s richest one, Rinat Akhmetov. 

Akhmetov’s companies are mainly in eastern Ukraine, and so Akhmetov had been trying to avoid siding with either the post-coup Ukrainian government or the anti-coup residents of the far-eastern, and pro-Russian, Donbass region of Ukraine, who reject it. (That’s the dark-purple area shown on this voting map of the last Presidential election before the coup, where 90%+ of the residents had voted for Viktor Yanukovych — the man who was overthrown in the coup.) Akhmetov was thus vulnerable after the coup.

This news report, by FAZ’s Warsaw correspondent Konrad Schuller, says that Kolomoysky’s thugs had been using ”psychological pressure,” “intimidation,” “physical force,” and “kidnappings,” in order to “extend their influence.” They were “going to build in eastern Ukraine’s combat zone a network of extortion and violence that would subject everyone there to kidnapping and robbery by Kolomoysky  with the help of some of his leading battalion commanders.”

This article reports that, “In the center of it all there stood a man named K., a prominent and close associate of Kolomoysky.” Earlier, the article says, “Kolomoysky’s deputy as governor, Hennadij Korban, was preparing to organize demonstrations in his stronghold Dnipropetrovsk,” which is the region to which, after the coup, Kolomoysky had been appointed governor by Oleksandr Turchynov, who had been appointed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had been appointed by Geoffrey Pyatt, at the instruction of Victoria Nuland, who had been appointed by Barack Obama.

Kolomoysky, furthermore, himself appointed Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden to the board of Kolomoysky’s own gas-exploration company.

However, apparently, Kolomoysky, who had long been known for taking over companies by raiding them with his private army, has now become too much for Obama to take, and so Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko recently removed Kolomoysky from his posts.

Back in June, Kolomoysky said publicly that he would not take instruction from President Poroshenko. But now that Obama has turned against Kolomoysky, Kolomoysky no longer has any effective political power-base in Ukraine, despite his billions and his private army and his backing from Yarosh’s Right Sector, which includes an even larger private army, very nazi. (In Ukraine, the nazis, or racist fascists, are haters of Russians, not necessarily also of Jews; Kolomoysky himself is Jewish, yet he’s also a leading Ukrainian nazi.) Yarosh’s Right Sector troops, as well as Kolomoysky’s own mercenaries, have been the most effective of all of Ukraine’s forces at killing the residents of the rebelling region, Donbass.

FAZ‘s reporter Schuller says that the Security Bureau of Ukraine (SBU) had found that Kolomoysky was planning to become Ukraine’s “final number one among the oligarchs of the country,” by stealing from Akhmetov and others.

Apparently, Obama has decided to let Poroshenko take over. The nazis, whose guns and muscle overthrew the previous president, Viktor Yanukovych, now know that Obama will no longer be beholden to them — he has had enough of them, and he expects everyone to line up now behind President Poroshenko.

There has been a contest in Ukraine as to whether the ethnic cleansing of Donbass, to get rid of its residents, would be taken over by the nazi forces or would remain under Poroshenko’s command. Evidently, it will remain under Poroshenko’s command.

On March 24th, U.S. Abrams tanks were photographed in Linz Austria on rail cars heading toward Ukraine. If that’s where they are going, then the Ukrainian government might have better weapons this time than they did in either of their previous two invasions of Donbass.

U.S. President Obama accuses Russia of arming the residents in Donbass. In his National Security Strategy 2015, he uses the word “aggression” 18 times, 17 of them referring to Russia.

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.

Israeli Fighter Jets Join Saudi Arabia in War on Yemen

March 29th, 2015 by Fars News Agency

Israel’s fighter jets have taken part in the Thursday Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen, sources in Sanaa disclosed on Friday.

“This is for the first time that the Zionists are conducting a joint operation in coalition with Arabs,” Secretary General of Yemen’s Al-Haq Political Party Hassan Zayd wrote on his facebook page.

He noted that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had issued direct orders for the Israeli air force to send fighter jets to the Saudi-led air raid on Yemen.

Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes against Yemen and killed, at least, 25 civilians early Thursday, one day after the US-backed Yemeni president fled the country.

Also, 15 more people were killed and injured in a second round of massive attacks by the Saudi Arabian fighter jets in the Northwestern Yemeni city of Sa’ada on Friday.

Yemen’s al-Massira TV reported that the Saudi air force targeted the Yemeni’s civilians who were shopping in a market.

Five Persian Gulf States — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait — backed by the US have declared war on Yemen in a joint statement issued earlier Thursday.

US President Barack Obama authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to the military operations, National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said late Wednesday night.

She added that while US forces were not taking direct military action in Yemen, Washington was establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate US military and intelligence support.

Riyadh claimed that it has bombed the positions of the Ansarullah fighters and launched attacks against the Sana’a airport and the Dulaimi airbase.

Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is attacking Ansarullah positions, Saudi warplanes have flattened a number of homes near Sana’a international airport. Based on early reports, the Saudi airstrikes on Yemen have so far claimed the lives of 25 civilians with more deaths feared, Yemeni sources said.

The Saudi aggression has received growing international condemnation as it is pushing the region and the world into an unprecedented fast-growing war as its ISIL mercenaries are on the brink of complete annihilation in Iraq and Syria.

 

The earliest places to develop into sedentary cultures were to be found in the present-day Mashriq (Ancient Syria and Mesopotamia) pursuant to the early agricultural revolution. The crevice at the end of the Great African rift known as the Fertile Crescent is a natural gathering ground for domesticable animals; it enjoyed regular rainfall and a variety of easily cultivable cereals.

Good soil quality circa 2000 B.C. produced about the same tonnage of barley as in early 1970 (Hilou, 2004). The steady development of tools and modes of social organisations required regulation and the pacification of the labouring class. Measures for trade and laws to attenuate repression and limit the appetite of the clergy represent the first set of written rules intended to steady the course of development – the Code of Ur-Nammu, 2100 B.C. The code addresses three vital points: the ruling on weight for trade, a limit to what the clergy could extract in tribute and, a statement ensuring the protection of the vulnerable from the transgression of the powerful.

These precepts crown the notion of the ‘Just Man’ of the East (Al-Alawi, 2009).

[i]n accordance with the true word of Utu, set the monthly temple expenses at 90 gur of barley, 30 sheep, and 30 sila of butter… the bronze sila-measure, standardized the one-mina weight, and standardized the stone weight of a shekel of silver in relation to one mina… The orphan was not delivered up to the rich man; the widow was not delivered up to the mighty man; the man of one shekel was not delivered up to the man of one mina (Ur-Nammu, 2100 B.C.).

Stripped of its mystique, justice was the veil behind which despotic society pacified and regimented slave labour. Not that the code itself did relieve rulers from the pressure of rebellions; this was an era characterised by a high frequency of revolts (Hilou, 2004). The codes cum welfare measures spring in response to a history of revolts. Rebellion and the quelling of uprisings were central to the myths and beliefs of the Sumerians. In Atra-Hasis (mainly a flood myth but also with a creation story circa 1800. B.C.), the creation of humankind replaced angel-workers who rebelled against superior angels as they no longer tolerated the harsh conditions of labouring the earth (Atra-Hassis as compiled by Lambert, 1999). In this myth, man was moulded from the flesh and blood of a revolutionary angel whose ideas initially instigated the lower class of angels into mutiny. Rebellion and/or the critique of living conditions in Sumerian myth constitute an inherent characteristic of humankind.

Four centuries later, the code of Hammurabi’s further embellishes the Ur-Nammu demands for justice, the right to trade and the protection of civil and property rights.

To bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak, and enlighten the land, to further the wellbeing of mankind. He referred to himself as the “shepherd of the oppressed and of the slaves,” and ordered that “these my precious words” be written upon his memorial stone, before his image “That the strong might not injure the weak, in order to protect the widows and orphans … in order to bespeak justice in the land, to settle all disputes, and heal all injuries (Hammurabi, circa 1750 BC).

In comparison to the Ur-Nammu code, Hammurabi’s Code held the sovereign accountable for the delivery of welfare. If the tort could not be redressed by the law of equal retaliation (the lex talionis), the state had to compensate for the loss itself. The other side of the lex talionis’s an eye for an eye, is a sack of wheat for a sack of wheat. The sovereign acted as an insurance institution to indemnify losses. To avert peasant unrest, the sovereign had to protect the lower echelons of peasants from injury. Moreover, the rights of women to own property and divorce husbands – rights that women lack in some states today – assumed the position of binding laws.

To the Ancient Mesopotamians as well as the Greeks whose societies were erected by slave labour, strengthening the home front by more equitable distribution plasters over the fault lines of their class ordered social structures. Material circumstances and social orders were changing and concepts were evolving, but not until Heraclitus was change considered eternal law. Heraclitus stood opposed to un-changeability and his dynamic concept would later challenge Plato’s notion that change is a matter of appearance whereas reality is unchangeable and only penetrable by discerning the forms of thought (Ilyenkov, 1977). Later in Aristotle’s Politics, a cycle of change and an organic growth schema defining development from birth, to peak and ultimate dissolution took shape. However, similarly to the Mesopotamian ‘Just Man,’ Aristotle’s ‘Rational Man,’ through implementing equality, engendered a functional role to avoid collapse from within.

Equality consists in the same treatment of similar persons, and no government can stand which is not founded upon justice. For if the government be unjust everyone in the country unites with the governed in the desire to have a revolution, and it is an impossibility that the members of the government can be so numerous as to be stronger than all their enemies put together (Aristotle, Politics, book 7).

However, there is a false dichotomy in contrasting the Just Man of the East to the Rational Man of Asia-Minor. The diachronic development of concepts would situate Just Man as a predecessor of Rational Man. When Alexander’s armies besieged Babylon, the Babylonian king at the time was outside the city gates conducting archaeological excavations (Durant, 1935). That may be an amplification of the facts that Durant had employed in view of his admiration of Mesopotamian culture, but its use occurs here to highlight the differences in the levels of development between Mesopotamia and the Hellenistic world. Still, the Mashriq and Asia-Minor represented a single cultural pool and ancient Greeks regarded their science to have originated in Egypt and their alphabet in Phoenicia (Purkayastha, 2012). Bestowing upon Hellenistic culture a European identity, when political Europe had not yet appeared on the map, was carried out by latter-day Europeans to justify colonial expansion (Purkayastha, 2012).

For Christopher Hill  history has to be rewritten in every generation, because although the past does not change, the present does; and new questions of the past influence the present (Hill, 1975). Cultures transcend national identities, yet no effort is being spared to patent and subjugate knowledge to accumulation requirements. Greece had sunk under fictitious debt, yet little did it matter for Europe, which perversely touts its debt to the Hellenistic heritage. By the same perverse nationalist logic, a worse level of neglect applies to the present human disaster in the Mashriq to which each of the world nationalisms owes a good part of its culture. In modern times, cultural debt qua humanity’s shared cultural heritage, although real, is insignificant when compared to fictitious financial debts. To simplify at some cost to content, fictitious capital is the excess credit that does not have a commodity counterpart in the real economy (Fine, 2010); as in all the debts that cannot be repaid and serve as instruments to extort the working population by austerity. Fictitious ideas are taken to be real and bear non-fictitious effects upon the lives of the majority – as if they are a god-like fetish that rules over people. The fetishism predominant under the present historical stage blights culture (Pappenheim, 1959). Christopher Hill talked about ideas that need to be rescued to influence the present positively: the new-old idea that has to be resurrected is the unity of historical development.

When the general law is the realisation of the social contradiction as opposed to the quantitative similitude of elements in a given phenomenon, unity does not negate diversity. Put differently, unity is the law of motion and is both progenitor and the general condition in which diversity does not contravene the universal, but reasserts it. Let us consider one significant departure that existed between the Greco-Romans and the East: the slavery of the East, patriarchal slavery differed from the slavery of the Greco-Romans or commodified slavery; the former produced a surplus product, while the latter produced a variant of surplus value (Emmanuel, 1972).

The attribute of man as commodity in Western forms of slavery that originated in Greece is thought to have been one of the reasons that facilitated the early emergence of capitalism in Europe (Bettelheim, 1970). However, the differentiated attribute on its own (the different slave institutions) is a datum and does not explain social movement from one stage to another. On its own, it is only a fact unrelated to the whole and not a law of motion nesting in a social contradiction. These slave-mode differences are instantiations of the ‘genus’ qua class relationships and are predicated by the more general antinomy of class and modes of appropriation. Reference is made to Hegel’s lecture on Aristotle: ‘as to what concerns more nearly the relation of the three souls, as they way be termed (though they are incorrectly thus distinguished), Aristotle says of them, with perfect truth, that we need look for no one soul in which all these are found, and which in a definite and simple form is conformable with any one of them’ (Hegel, 1892). The manifestation of varying forms of social organisation is the rule and it reaffirms the different class relations and inter-relations under different stages of history and their corresponding material conditions.

That the East had lagged behind Europe in moving toward capitalism in spite of the fact that eastern commerce had the freedom to grow is an oft-debated problematic. Keeping in mind that the map of Europe keeps changing and that history is not a sports race with a beginning and an end, the central point remains that European conquests (as in the realisation of class by violent expropriation) hold primacy in explaining the rise of capitalist relations in Europe over differences in the attributes of forms of social organisation (as in differences in institutions of slavery) between European and Eastern modes of productions. As early as the twelfth century, the rise of European naval supremacy pushed Islamic traders out of the western Mediterranean (Edwards 2008). Of the many reasons behind the decline of the East, the devastation over land by the Mongols, the declining population from about the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries, and, more decisively, the expulsion from the seas by the Europeans, reaching a climax in the battle of Lepanto in 1571, curtailed the transition of eastern merchant capital into productive capital. European imperialist conquests, beginning prior to the onset of capitalist relations, and direct plundering, raised the wealth of European merchant capital, limited the expansion of Eastern merchants, and gave birth to capitalist production relations. The East can have the best institutions on display, but if it loses the trade platform by war, its merchant capital cannot grow into industrial capital.

In a heterogeneous, self-differentiating and inter-related world, the issue of whether the East has failed in comparison to Europe is a misplaced problematic. European capital through its colonial and class linkages extends to the East. The East through its labour, raw materials and underdevelopment by colonial diktat reaches the West. Although capitalism was a world-system nurtured relation by the sixteenth century, its strength established by the violence of European ‘voyages of discovery’ allowed Europe to undermine eastern industrialisation (Emmanuel, 1972). As the social classes cross national or geographic boundaries, the attributes of their forms of social organisation become, necessarily but not exclusively, similar (as in the replication of institutional development).

At any rate, the high rate of financialisation has homogenised much of world capital in the modern age. The lines of demarcation that set real concepts apart from hallucinatory forms of thought are the class lines that crisscross national boundaries. Where the corresponding space or the referent that defines a concept in reality vis-à-vis another ends, is where the ideological inclination becomes apparent. So when Bernard Lewis posits that Islam (for him it is most of the East) has become poor, weak and ignorant, Michael Neumann responds with relevant data showing that poverty and underdevelopment are not exclusive characteristics of Islam or the Eastern world, but are shared across cultures (Neumann, 2003). Obviously, the former author holds an unsubstantiated view that omits the interrelatedness of cultures, while the latter upholds both a factually substantiated and fuller concept of culture.

In mainstream social science with reified concepts of West and nation state, Bernard Lewis is not alone; his ideas are methodologically at the core of received discourse. Variants of the unadulterated “us” concepts, especially the nation state, were and remain the drivers of global accumulation.  The underlying trope is an “us and them” divide, a language that rips diverse social characteristics from their holistic context, objectifies them, and omits unity. But  ‘the truth is the whole’—to use an expression of Hegel—carries with it, in turn, the inescapable necessity of refusing to accept as a datum or to treat as immune from analysis, any single part of the whole. (Herbert Marcuse speaking of Paul Baran, 1966).

It is not just an issue of no nation is separate and above the rest, it is an issue of constructing the initial concept of nation (or man) in its cross-national class composition. With two world wars and several other wars to its credit in the twentieth century, including no less, unjustifiable poverty levels in contrast to immense wealth, the ‘West’ (that is if it could be separated only in the mind) carries more guilt on its consciousness (Neumann, 2003). The guilt is equally shared by the one-sidedness of mainstream social science that reproduces the ideological conditions for wars with concepts whose referent is not borne by the facts, especially as of late, with cultural superiority functioning as racial supremacy.

From its onset on world stage, the crisis of capitalism, its genocide of the natives and slavery, had outdone its progressive moments. Given the fetishism attendant upon social relations, social processes under capitalism seldom adhere to welfare requirements; modern history happens against the wishes of the many and its progress or its endogeneity of technology is eclipsed by its endogeneity of violence. When one borrows the term endogenous to characterise a social relationship, as in the objective market signals allocating resources, endogeneity becomes the equivalent of systemic. As such, it cannot be superseded within the prevailing system; the system itself has to change for instances like technology and violence to come under direct popular control. The intertwined condition of war and technological advance has an objective and uncontrollable momentum of its own that the organised dimension of capital would not want to harness for social ends.

The realisation of particular politics in the sovereign of ancient Mesopotamia was immediate and determined by adherence to faith in the prevailing myth. All are religiously alienated in the sovereign until a new crisis cum myth deposes the god-king. In modern society, particular politics are realised in an indirect way by intermediate agencies, psychological factors, the mass media, language, images prevalent in a society, and any other agencies (Marcuse, 1966); one may also add in a Mashriq context, sectarian identities that thwart the realisation of the labouring class in the structure of power. The modern alienation of particular politics in the sovereign is multi-layered and subsumed under the ideological vortex of capital, but it is also not free of myth.

Alienating conditions of existence morph the grounds for consciousness into a good versus evil process as distinct from a worldly understanding of value circuits and value relations (Sorel, [1908] 1999). In the interrelated whole, the production of knowledge qua culture, itself attendant on technological advance, is also subject to market diktat. Most knowledge under capital’s hegemony is a form of intelligence asset that serves to invert the real image of the material reproduction of capitalism. With the rise of aristocratic nations, the sanctification of the politics of the line of least resistance and bourgeois democracy, constructive alternatives that grasp the historical moment and rupture historical continuity are few and far between.

If it is only the long term that ties together advanced and developing countries’ working classes, there will not be a convergence of working class politics in the intermediate term (Emmanuel, 1972). Wither internationalism when reform in the Western hemisphere is the bribe that capital dishes out to delay revolution. Violence, as in wars of encroachments exercised under social relationships thingified by the medium of commodity exchange, is actuality and the necessary predicate of accumulation.

Bibliography:

Al-Alawi, H., al ‘Amal al-Kamila, Dar Almada, 2009.

Aristotle, Politics. Rev. Jowett eBooks@Adelaide, The University of Adelaide Library, 2014.

Bettelheim, C., Emmanuel, A., International Solidarity of Workers: Two Views: The Delusions of Internationalism; Economic Inequality between Nations and International Solidarity. Monthly Review, 22(2), (1970).

Durant, W., Our Oriental Heritage: The Story of Civilization, Simon and Schuster, 1935.

Edwards, J. and Ogilvie, S., “Contract Environment, Institutions and Social Capital: The Maghribi Traders Reappraised.” CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2254, Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, 2008.

Emmanuel, A., Unequal Exchange, Monthly Review Press, 1972.

Fine, B., Locating Financialisation, HM 18 (2010) 97–116

Hegel, G. Lectures on the history of philosophy, K. Paul, London, 1892.

Hill, C., the World Upside Down, Pelican Books, 1975.

Hilou. A., Sourya alQadima. Bissan Publishers, 2004.

Ilyenkov, E.V. Dialectical Logic, Essays on its History and Theory. Translated by H. Campbell Creighton. Progress Publishers, 1974.

Lambert, W.G., Millard A.R., Civil, M., Atra-Hasis: The Babylonian Story of the Flood. Eisenbrauns, 1999.

Marcuse, H., Baran’s Critique of Modern Society and of the Social Sciences 2014, Volume 65, Issue 10 (March).

Neumann M., Has Islam Failed? Not by Western Standards, Counter Punch, May 2003.

Pappenheim, F., The alienation of modern man: an interpretation based on Marx and Tönnies, MR press, 1959.

Purkayastha, P., Delhi Science Forum, “Afroasiatic Roots of Greece.” Last modified 2012. http://www.delhiscienceforum.net/history-and-philosophy-of-science/83-afroasiatic-roots-of-greece-by-prabir-purkayastha-.html.

Real History World Wide, “The Ur-Nammu Law Code.” http://realhistoryww.com/world_history/ancient/Misc/Sumer/ur_nammu_law.htm.

Sorel, G., Reflections on Violence, Cambridge University press 1999.

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for Monsanto. The company agreed to pay $600,000 in fines for not reporting hundreds of uncontrolled releases of toxic chemicals at its eastern Idaho phosphate plant. It also paid out a string of lawsuit settlements totaling $350,000 as a result of its GMOs tainting wheat in seven US states. Such amounts represent little more than a tap on the wrist for a company that rakes in sales of almost $16 billion dollars annually.

However, on 20 March the World Health Organisation reached a decision that strikes at the heart of the company. The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said that glyphosate was “classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.” This is just one step below the risk designation of “known carcinogen.”

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which was primarily responsible $5.1 billion of Monsanto’s revenues in 2014.  But that’s not all. The herbicide is used to support Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops, which comprise the vast bulk of the balance of its revenue stream.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, herbicide-tolerant biotech plants were grown on virtually all (94%) soybean fields in the US last year and on 89% of all cornfields. Food & Water Watch found the volume of glyphosate applied to those crops increased almost 1,000% between 1996 and 2012, from 15 million pounds to 159 million pounds. The increase in usage has been accelerating in recent years.

Glyphosate has been detected in human bodies, food, water and in the air. Its use is strongly associated with various diseases (see this and this).

Aaron Blair, a scientist emeritus at the National Cancer Institute who chaired the 17-member working group of the IARC that classified glyphosate as “probably” cancer-causing, says that the classification is appropriate based on current science. Blair also states that there have been hundreds of studies on glyphosate with concerns about the chemical growing over time and added that the IARC group gave particular consideration to two major studies out of Sweden, one out of Canada and at least three in the US.

He stressed that the group did not classify glyphosate as definitely causing cancer:

“We looked at, ‘Is there evidence that glyphosate causes cancer?’ and the answer is ‘probably.’ That is different than yes… It is different than smoking and lung cancer. We don’t say smoking probably causes cancer. We say it does cause cancer. At one point we weren’t sure, but now we are.”

By the end of last week, Monsanto’s shares had fallen by 2.9% on the back of the IARC’s decision.

Unsurprisingly, Monsanto has wasted no time in trying to rubbish the WHO findings. The work of cancer specialists from 11 countries was speedily dismissed by Monsanto. In a press release, the company argued the findings are based on ‘junk’ science and cherry picking and are agenda driven.

Philip Miller, Monsanto’s vice-president of global regulatory affairs, said:

“We don’t know how IARC could reach a conclusion that is such a dramatic departure from the conclusion reached by all regulatory agencies around the globe.”

Miller implies that regulatory agencies used objective reason supported by credible science when sanctioning glyphosate. Nothing could be further from the truth. The sanctioning and testing of glyphosate for commercial was seriously and corrupted (for example, see this,thisthis and this). Moreover, if Monsanto is going to accuse others of ‘junk’ science and ‘bias’, it has a serious credibility issue given that is has been a long-time leading exponent of  junk science and biased agendas.

For instance, Sustainable Pulse has discovered documents from 1991 that show how the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was fully aware of glyphosate’s carcinogenic potential. In 1985, the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate was first considered by an EPA panel. This committee went on to classify glyphosate as a Class C Carcinogen with “suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential.

This Class C classification was changed by the EPA six years later to a Class E category which suggests “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans.” Sustainable Pulse concludes that the US government is to blame for allowing glyphosate onto the commercial market because it wanted to push it as part of as global campaign to support the US biotech industry in its attempt to dominate global agriculture. In other words, the health of the public was put before the need to protect company profits and foreign policy aims.

We can now expect to see a massive propaganda campaign by Monsanto to deny the science of the IARC and a huge amount of pressure placed on the WHO to retract the study. We can expect to see the usual cheerleaders proclaiming the faith and mouthing the tired cliches about glyphosate’s safety, regardless of mounting evidence that demonstrates its harmful health and environmental impacts.

But who needs science when the cherry-picked type mixed with a good old dose pro-biotech ideology will suffice? Time to wheel out Patrick Moore again… or maybe not!

According to Dave Schubert, head of the cellular neurobiology laboratory at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California:

“There are a number of independent, published manuscripts that clearly indicate that glyphosate … can promote cancer and tumor growth. It should be banned.”

Monsanto has for many decades been covering up its toxic practices and poisonous chemicals and has shown no regard at all for human life (read The Complete History of Monsanto). Banning the commercial use of glyphosate (and GMOs) would be a first but significant step on curbing the corrosive impact of a company that has over the decades caused so much misery and suffering.

 However, as we cannot rely on governments or regulatory agencies to act, ordinary people should act for themselves. See this by John Rappoport for advice on a practical strategy for activism directed at Monsanto.

 Read why Glyphosate should be banned

Any probable nuclear deal between the United States of America and Iran is likely to result in giving a new trajectory to their bi-lateral relations; however, it is not the US-Iran relations alone that would enter a new phase of political history. As a matter of fact, this deal is most likely to send political jolts across the entire Middle Eastern political landscape, with Saudi Arabia and Israel standing as the most sensitive areas to bear its shocks; and as such, are most likely to clutch their hands into an alliance against Iran, and by default, against the US ambitions as well.

It is not, however, to suggest that Saudia and Israel would essentially adopt an anti-US strategic posture. What is becoming evident is that these three states will be re-negotiating the terms of their mutual relations to meet changing geo-political realities in a more ‘composite’ manner. This strategic negotiation is not, however, to be manned by the US itself, nor would it be playing the role of a crucial “balancer” between regional players. The US, in the contrary, would itself be a party to this process, and as such, would be more concerned about maintaining its own relations with Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia than about merely assuring Israel and Saudia about the ‘harmless’ nature of the nuclear deal with Iran.

The process of re-negotiations has already started, and the fact that the US will be re-negotiating its own relations with her key regional allies is quite evident from the agenda John Kerry forwarded during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia. The main reason(s) for Kerry to visit Saudia was not that the US needed Saudi ‘support’ for finalizing this deal; it was necessary because the US wanted to make sure Saudi support in other matters of regional importance. Convincing Saudi Arabia to accept any agreed nuclear deal is important to President Barack Obama because he needs Riyadh to work closely with Washington on a host of regional policies and to maintain its role as a ‘moderating’ influence in oil markets. While the main critics of the US push for a nuclear deal with Iran are Israel and Congressional Republicans, Sunni Muslim powerhouse Saudi Arabia is also concerned that an accord would allow Iran to devote more cash and energy to Shi’ite proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, and in Saudia itself, which might lead to a serious escalation in regional conflict(s) of religious and non-religious nature.

On the other hand, Saudi concerns with regard to this deal are not based upon the possibility of Iran enjoying better relations with the US; Saudi concerns are largely related to her own position in the region following this deal; for, Iran does have enough politico-military and economic potential to counter-balance Saudi led “Sunni” states in the Middle East and beyond. It is precisely for this very reason that Saudi Arabia’s anxiety about an agreement has fueled a flurry of intense diplomacy in recent days to bolster unity among “Sunni” states in the Middle East in the face of “shared threats”, especially those emanating from Iran.

In other words, the central issue between Saudia and USA on the one hand, and the US and Israel on the other hand, is not the deal itself; it is the place Iran would have in the future Middle East. And, the very fact that the US officials are unwilling to outline what strategies might curb Iran’s regional influence, and the US record in Iraq, Syria and Yemen – where armed Iranian allies have since flourished and been resisting Saudi backed proxy factions – has caused Saudi Arabia and Israel great anxiety. To this anxiety has added the ‘fear’ of the US playing a double role in paving for itself a way entry into Middle Eastern politics. As a matter of fact, Saudia’s trust in Washington during the Iran talks is still recovering from the sudden move in late 2013 towards a nuclear deal, when Saudi officials, as also Israel itself, were blindsided by the revelation of months of secret talks between the US and Iran. At that time, for Saudia, the main issue was surely preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Now that the deal between the US and Iran is preventing the latter from developing Nuclear weapons, Saudia too has made a re-assessment of the possible threats and challenges Iran can and is causing in the region. Saudia, as such, now sees Iran’s involvement in Arab countries, particularly its backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, its support for Iraqi Shi’ite militias and its ties to the Houthi group that has seized control in northern Yemen, as a more urgent problem, resolution of which requires a “grand alliance.”

It is against this background that the Saudi King Salman is working to forge a “united front” among “Sunni” states against what Riyadh sees as grand threat from Iran. Over the last few weeks, Salman has met the leaders of all Saudi Arabia’s Gulf Arab neighbors, the king of Jordan and the presidents of Egypt and Turkey, the two most populous and militarily powerful Sunni states in the region. “The understanding is that we will face a more aggressive Iran if they sign an agreement. All the restrictions on it will be lifted and it will be much stronger. This is an issue that needs some sort of unity,” said Mustafa Alani, an Iraqi security analyst with ties to the Saudi Interior Ministry.

However, notwithstanding the significance of forging anti-Iran (and anti-Shia) alliance for Saudia and its allies, Saudi is not hesitating in forging much closer relationship with Israel than it has been having for last many decades. In February 2015, Saudi Arabia reportedly agreed to let Israel use its airspace to attack Iran if necessary, in exchange for “some kind of progress” on the Palestinian issue. The move will reportedly allow Israel to bomb targets in Iran by offering a shortcut, which will save fuel and time. The Saudi position was confirmed during multiple diplomatic talks, according to the report of an Israeli TV channel. “The Saudi authorities are completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran,” the European official from Brussels was also quoted as saying in that report.

Although there are no diplomatic ties between the two states, there have been various reports in the past showing that Riyadh and Jerusalem have been (deeply) cooperating when it came to Iran and its uranium enrichment program. For example, in November, Israel’s Mossad and Saudi officials were said to be working on contingency plans that could have included an attack on Iran if its nuclear program was not curbed enough, according to a report. It was also revealed that the Saudis were willing to assist an Israeli attack by cooperating with the use of drones, rescue helicopters, and tanker planes. On the other hand, Israeli behaviour also confirms some “abnormal” policy changes taking place. In February 2015, the White House and the US State Department stated that Israel had inaccurately provided information and twisted the official US position in nuclear talks with Iran. They also accused Jerusalem of “selectively” leaking details of sensitive talks, thereby casting Israel in the role of a “villain”, unwilling to accept Iran in a ‘new’ role.

The ‘unholy’ alliance taking shape between Saudia and Israel can decisively alter the Middle East’s geo-political landscape because of its potential to serve as the platform for many a state to practice what is otherwise known as “enemy of enemy is my friend.” Not only would it create a seriously hostile situation in the Middle East, but may also create a strong justification for Iran to contemplate going back to nukes. There are many probable scenarios that can take place in the future, given the number of regional and global actors involved in the ME. Therefore, we need not indulge in too much of speculation. However, what appears most certain and what is already on the wall is a grand anti-Iran alliance wherein the US would have minimum role to play; for, as the US takes one step towards Iran, its erstwhile allies seem taking two step backwards, and thereby, creating space for re-negotiating terms of their alliance.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

Monsanto: A “Sustainable Agriculture” Company?

March 29th, 2015 by Dr Joseph Mercola

Monsanto, leading the pack of chemical technology companies that have infiltrated the seed business with their patented genetically engineered (GE) seeds, has spent many years trying to rehabilitate its reputation as a producer of toxic chemicals responsible for death and suffering.

It’s not working very well however, and the reason for that is because despite the user-friendly rhetoric, they still haven’t found a moral compass that points due North. They’re still producing toxic goods, and they’re still going to extreme means to hide it.

Monsanto now refers to itself as a “sustainable agriculture” company,1 delivering agricultural products that “support farmers” around the world. But it seems Monsanto has no concept of what “sustainable” really means, as its solutions are anything but.

Glyphosate Labeled ‘Probable Carcinogen’ by WHO Research Group

Further tarnishing Monsanto’s “sustainable ag” claims is the labeling of glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” (Class 2A) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO).

As reported by Bloomberg:2

“A report3 published by the WHO in the journal Lancet Oncology said Friday there is “limited evidence” that the weedkiller can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and lung cancer and “convincing evidence” it can cause cancer in lab animals.” 

IARC’s report also notes that glyphosate and glyphosate formulations have been shown to induce DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, as well as human and animal cells in vitro.

IARC is considered the global gold standard for carcinogenicity studies, so this determination is of considerable importance. The determination was published on March 20, 2015.4,5

The IARC working group consists of 17 experts from 11 countries, and most noteworthy is the fact that these members were selected not only for their expertise, but also for the absence of real or apparent conflicts of interest.6

Along with glyphosate, the commonly used insecticides malathion and diazinon were also classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2A), and the insecticides tetrachlorvinphos and parathion were classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B).

Monsanto has Consistently Lied and Covered Up Toxicity Issues

In response, a Monsanto spokesman said: “All labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health,” and the company has gone so far as to request a retraction of the IARC’s report.7

However, Monsanto feigned ignorance on the dangers of PCB’s for several decades, which turned out to be a bold-faced lie. Its assurances that Roundup is biodegrade and “leave the soil clean” also turned out to be a lie, so why should anyone believe Monsanto’s assurances that Roundup is safe?

Especially when you take into account the mounting research demonstrating that (as usual) Monsanto’s assessment of its product is severely flawed. For example, research by Samsel and Seneff reveals that glyphosate wrecks human health by way of your gut bacteria. Cancer is but one of the potential health outcomes.

In Sri Lanka, drinking water contaminated with glyphosate and spraying glyphosate on rice fields without protective gear has also been linked to chronic kidney disease.8

Roundup also Tied to Antibiotic Resistance, New Research Shows

Right on the heels of the IARC’s reclassification of glyphosate as a Class 2 carcinogen, another breakthrough study9 published in the peer-reviewed journal mBio on March 24 ties Monsanto’s weedkiller to antibiotic resistance.

According to this study, sublethal doses of Roundup (the actual formulation of Roundup, not just glyphosate in isolation) alter disease-causing bacteria’s response to commonly used antibiotics, including tetracycline and ciprofloxacin, thereby raising resistance to drugs used in medicine.  As reported by Rodale News:10

The way Roundup causes this effect is likely by causing the bacteria to turn on a set of genes that are normally off, [study author] Heinemann says. “These genes are for ‘pumps’ or ‘porins,’ proteins that pump out toxic compounds or reduce the rate at which they get inside of the bacteria…

Once these genes are turned on by the herbicide, then the bacteria can also resist antibiotics. If bacteria were to encounter only the antibiotic, they would instead have been killed. 

In a sense, the herbicide is ‘immunizing’ the bacteria to the antibiotic:…This change occurs at levels commonly used on farm field crops, lawns, gardens, and parks.” [Emphasis mine]

Study author Jack Heinemann, PhD, professor and lecturer of genetics at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand said:

Antibiotic resistance is a big and growing problem. I think that a key lesson of this work is that we have to think more broadly, holistically, about medicine and the environment and not think that because herbicides are used on plants and antibiotics are used on people that they don’t have any relevance when they mix together somewhere.”

I would not be at all surprised if in the end glyphosate’s toxicity becomes well-recognized and Monsanto ends up spending decades fighting lawsuits over it, just as it’s still being sued over its PCB’s pollution, decades after the fact. Glyphosate is now massively polluting both land and waterways. So much so it’s even detected in air and rain samples. Disturbingly, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appears to have suppressed or minimized evidence in order to raise the allowable limits for glyphosate in food, which was done in 2013.

As noted by the Institute for Science in Society:11 “The amount of allowable glyphosate in oilseed crops (except for canola and soy) went up from 20 ppm to 40 ppm, 100,000 times the amount needed to induce breast cancer cells.” [Emphasis mine]

GE Foods Sold in California Will Likely have to Carry Cancer Warning

The IARC’s determination may end up having a significant impact on the sale of genetically engineered (GE) foods. As reported by PoliticoPro March 24:12

The World Health Organization cancer research body’s determination that exposure to a key pesticide used on genetically modified crops is linked to cancer is another reason why lawmakers should move ahead with a national GMO labeling mandate, Rep. Jim McGovern said this morning.

“They are saying that glyphosate is a likely cause of cancer, that may be something people want to know,” McGovern said this morning during a House Agriculture Committee hearing on the costs of GMO labeling. “Don’t you think people should have a right to know how their food is grown?”

Indeed, the IARC’s classification of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen is more significant than you may realize. IARC is one of the five research agencies from which the OEHHA—which is the California agency of environmental hazards—gets its reports to declare carcinogens under Prop 65. What this means is that in a few years’ time, foods containing glyphosate will have to have a Prop 65 Warning label to be sold in California. While it will take time, that process is now in motion with the IARC classifying glyphosate as a Class 2 carcinogen.

Why Monsanto Will Never Be a Sustainable Ag Company

Part of being sustainable includes minimizing or eliminating agricultural chemicals, as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides decimate soil microbes, and Monsanto is not doing anything to limit the use of chemicals on our crop fields.

Why would it, considering the fact that its patented seeds are designed to promote and secure the expanded use of pesticides, not lessen it. As noted in a Food & Water Watch report13 on Monsanto:

“Sales from Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides accounted for 27 percent of Monsanto’s total 2011 net sales. Monsanto engineers its GE seeds to resist Roundup and Roundup alone, so that the sale of the herbicide is absolutely necessary for those who buy Roundup Ready seeds.”

In his paper “Pesticide Use on Genetically Engineered Crops,”14 Dr. Ramon J. Seidler, Ph.D., a former senior scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), presents USDA data showing that glyphosate use has increased 12-fold since 1996, when the first GE crops were introduced.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s broad spectrum herbicide Roundup, and its Roundup Ready seed varieties are designed to tolerate otherwise lethal doses of this chemical.

The problem is, while the crop may survive, it’s saturated with glyphosate—you cannot wash the chemical off as it is integrated systemically into all the plant’s cells. Recent research has also revealed how glyphosate promotes chronic disease, in part by inhibiting enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of organic substances.

Overall, annual herbicide use has risen by more than 500 million pounds—an increase that in part is driven by expanded use of GE crops, and in part by escalating weed resistance. This includes pesticide use on Bt plants, which are genetically engineered to produce their own internal pesticide, ostensibly to reduce the need for topical pesticide applications.

According to the latest data,15 insecticide use on Bt crops has dramatically increased since 2010. So to suggest that Bt crops has led, or will lead, to a decrease in pesticide use is patently false.

The United States now uses about 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides each year,16,17 and mounting research has linked pesticides to an array of serious health problems. Land, waterways, and food itself is also becoming increasingly toxic, thanks to companies like Monsanto. What’s sustainable about that?

Monsanto’s Best-Selling Herbicide Has Cut Monarch Population by 90 Percent

In 1996, when GE crops made their entrance, there were close to 1 billion monarch butterflies across the US. Today, their numbers have dwindled by 90 percent. Their rapid demise is tied to escalating glyphosate use, which kills the monarchs’ sole food source, the milkweed.

In the past, even as prairies and forests in the Midwest were converted to cropland, the deep, extensive root system of the common milkweed allowed it to survive tillage, mowing, harsh winters, and even the application of most herbicides, which typically didn’t affect their roots.

This changed when farmland was converted to GE crops and heavy Roundup application became the norm. Between 1995, the year before the first Roundup Ready crops were introduced, and 2013, total use of glyphosate on corn and soybeans increased 20-fold, according to a report18 by the Center for Food Safety (CFS).

A 2013 paper19 published in Insect Conservation and Diversity also links the monarchs’ decline to increased use of glyphosate, in conjunction with increased planting of genetically modified (GM) glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans.

Monsanto—A Champion for Monarchs?

Monsanto now claims to be committed to “doing their part” to protect monarch butterflies—but don’t think for a second that this commitment extends to curtailing the use of Roundup. It does not. Instead, Monsanto states:20

Effective control of weeds in their fields, however, doesn’t prevent farmers from contributing to a conservation effort aimed at finding places outside farm fields for monarchs to thrive… 

That’s why we are collaborating with experts from universities, nonprofits, and government agencies to help the monarch by restoring their habitat in Crop Reserve Program land, on-farm buffer strips, roadsides, utility rights-of-way, and government-owned land.”

The article also includes the following curious statement:

“Saying a species is closing in on extinction when most disagree… makes for a great news headline. It doesn’t do anything to help solve the problem.” 

What’s confusing about that is that I’m really not aware of any experts on monarch butterflies disagreeing with the statement that these butterflies are on the verge of extinction, let alone “most” disagreeing…

As for solving the problem, Monsanto has not only failed to accept responsibility for causing the problem in the first place, it’s also unwilling to support strategies that involve cutting the use of Roundup, which is part and parcel of the solution.

Instead, it wants you to believe that because it supports the planting of milkweed in private gardens and on public lands and along roadways, Monsanto is somehow “doing its part” in solving the problem. What a joke.

Meanwhile, the answer, not only to dwindling monarch populations, but also to soil destruction, top soil erosion, water shortages, loss of biodiversity, and the threat of increased famine, is being aggressively opposed by Monsanto and other industry leaders.

I’m referring of course to regenerative land management practices and organic farming, which has been shown to outperform both GE and conventional chemical agriculture.

Part and parcel of such sustainable agriculture practices is cutting the use of chemicals, and that’s undoubtedly why Monsanto won’t have anything to do with it. It’s truly an irony of gargantuan proportions for one of the most unsustainable companies in the world to proclaim itself a leader in sustainability.

Veterans for Peace Want Monsanto to Offer Restitution for Agent Orange Before Discussing Food Security

Voice of America recently reported21 that Monsanto co-sponsored a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, trying to sell people on their brand of sustainable farming. The feedback was mixed however, with many Vietnamese being less than enthusiastic. Monsanto was one of nine manufacturers of Agent Orange, which killed and maimed an estimated 400,000 people during the Vietnam War,22 and has continued to affect the health of millions. And, as noted in the article, some are not fooled by Monsanto’s efforts to create a new image:

“Chuck Palazzo, a founding member of the Vietnam chapter of Veterans for Peace, accused Monsanto of trying to ‘brainwash’ locals, especially young people. The company is on a public relations push to align itself with the positives of food security, he said, instead of its controversial products, Agent Orange and genetically modified seeds.

‘Even if Monsanto has pure intentions, it should wait to get involved in sustainable agriculture and first compensate Vietnamese who suffer birth defects like missing limbs and distended bodies,’ Palazzo said. ‘The first thing they need to do is benefit, somehow, the victims of Agent Orange, they need to show some good faith,’ he said. ‘Doing the right thing, in my mind, is giving financial benefits, medical benefits, and social benefits…’

[H]e can’t divorce these different sides of the company — its role in food security today, versus its role as purveyor of a wartime herbicide. Palazzo also opposes genetically modified seeds, which some fear could render long-term health problems. ‘In my mind it’s just about impossible to compartmentalize each of those and say, this is the good Monsanto and this is the bad Monsanto,’ he said.”

Remember Anniston?

Monsanto cannot rid itself of its toxic past for the simple reason that it hasn’t changed the way it does business. It’s still a major purveyor of toxic chemicals, and acts with reckless disregard for who gets hurt in the process of making a buck. In 2002, Monsanto was found guilty of decades of “outrageous acts of pollution” in the town of Anniston, Alabama. Residents accused the company of dumping PCBs into the local river—a chemical that the US government ended up banning in 197623 due to its carcinogenic potential. Monsanto also buried PCBs in a landfill, and PCBs can linger in the environment for centuries. In the end, they won. According to an article24discussing the case:

“Lawyers claimed Monsanto had deliberately covered up evidence that the PCBs were harmful, including evidence of fish dying in nearby creeks. Internal memos were produced that insisted they should protect the image of the corporation. One said: ‘We can’t afford to lose one dollar of business.’ Although a clear link between the chemicals and cancer has not been proven, the people of Anniston have argued for years that their cancer rate is abnormally high. Some of the plaintiffs were found to have PCBs in their blood 27 times higher than the national average. 

Monsanto’s defense was that it closed the plant in 1971, eight years before the government ban. The company said it was not aware the chemicals were being released or that they could be dangerous. It has spent $40m (£27m) on a clean-up operation…The company has paid $80m in out of court settlements…

The jury in Gadsden, Ala., a town 20 miles from Anniston… held Monsanto and its corporate successors liable on all six counts it considered: negligence, wantonness, suppression of the truth, nuisance, trespass, and outrage. Under Alabama law, the rare claim of outrage typically requires conduct so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society.”

Documents revealed that Monsanto had known about the severity of the pollution problem it caused for at least three decades. Anniston residents didn’t learn the horrid truth until 1996; 30 years prior, in 1966, Monsanto managers found that fish placed in the river floated to the surface within 10 seconds, “spurting blood and shedding skin.” In 1969, the company found a fish in another creek that had a PCB level 7,500 times the legal limit. Yet Monsanto never told anyone, and decided it wasn’t worth going through “expensive extremes” to limit its toxic discharges.

San Diego Sues Monsanto for Polluting Bay with PCBs

Now San Diego is suing Monsanto for polluting the Coronado Bay with PCBs.25 According to the complaint, “PCBs manufactured by Monsanto have been found in bay sediments and water and have been identified in tissues of fish, lobsters, and other marine life in the Bay.” In its complaint, the city also claims that “the risks did not deter Monsanto from trying to protect profits and prolong the use of PCB compounds such as Aroclor, as shown in a report from an ad hoc committee that Monsanto formed in 1969.”

According to a Food & Water Watch report26 on Monsanto, the company produced 99 percent of all the PCBs in the US prior to it being banned, and the documentation revealed in the Anniston case over a dozen years ago shows that Monsanto was far from unaware of its extreme toxicity. Yet it put profits before all else—including the health of women, children, wildlife, and waterways—and hid what it knew while doing nothing to curtail its pollution. This company now proclaims to be a leader in “sustainable agriculture,” and Robert T. Fraley, Monsanto’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer sends out tweets wondering why so many people “doubt science”…

As noted in a recent Counter Punch article:27

“[T]he answer to the question “Why do people doubt science” is not because… a bunch of ‘irrational’ activists have scared them witless about GM crops or some other issue. It is because they can see how science is used, corrupted, and manipulated by powerful corporations to serve their own ends. It is because they regard these large corporations as largely unaccountable and their activities and products not properly regulated by governments. That’s why so many doubt science – or more precisely the science corporations fund and promote to support their interests.”

That’s precisely right, I think, yet Monsanto along with all the other chemical technology companies are trying their best to make you think that if you don’t believe their corrupted science, you’re somehow intellectually deficient. The problem is, Monsanto is like the boy who cried wolf too many times. Too many times it has assured us that its products are safe, if not harmless, only to later be proven wrong. Remember France found Monsanto guilty of lying when it said Roundup was biodegradable? A few years later France again found Monsanto guilty in a pesticide poisoning case.

Tens of thousands of residents in Nitro, West Virginia also sued Monsanto in a class-action lawsuit over carcinogenic dioxins, which they claim the company spewed all over the city over the course of 20 years. The plant in Nitro produced the herbicide 2,4,5-T, which is a component of Agent Orange. As noted by Reuters28 in July last year:

In lieu of going to trial over the contamination, the biotech company agreed in 2012 to spend millions of dollars on a program that for the next three decades will assist residents of Nitro impacted by the plant.“ 

And these are just a handful of examples of Monsanto’s brand of “sustainability.” For a rundown on Monsanto’s checkered history, check out this Waking Times’ article29from last year.

PR Firm Boasts Doubling Positive Media Coverage on GMOs by Supervising Social Media

In February, US Right to Know posted a series of press releases30,31,32,33 ”outing” the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s new lobbying firm, hired to combat GMO labeling, and how the GMO industry’s PR firm made the mistake of bragging about using well-known propaganda tactics to double positive GMO messages.

“Food company CEOs worried about losing the trust of the American public… might want to take note: their trade association has taken another tone-deaf step into the abyss by hiring the law firm of a famous felon to do their dirty work… [T]he Grocery Manufacturers Association has retained the law firm K&L Gates to lobby against GMO labeling. K&L Gates was formed in a 2007 merger between Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and Preston Gates – which was Jack Abramoff’s law firm from 1994 to 2000. Jack Abramoff, as we know, was sentenced to four years in prison for political corruption, and ended up as the poster child for corruption in Washington.”

Monsanto, as most of you may already know, has long been referred to by those in the know as “the most evil company on the planet.” But it has stiff competition. Before there was Monsanto, junk food companies were already hard at work influencing American politics to further their own agenda.

In 2014 I named the GMA “the most evil corporation on the planet,” considering the fact that it consists primarily of pesticide producers and junk food manufacturers who are going to great lengths to violate some of your most basic rights—just to ensure that subsidized, genetically engineered and chemical-dependent, highly processed junk food remains the status quo.

Indeed, Jack Abramoff went on 60 Minutes (below) revealing in shocking detail how he spent years illegally influencing Congress as a lobbyist. Considering the fact that the GMA was caught red-handed in an illegal money laundering scheme during the Washington State GMO labeling campaign, their choice of lobbying firm is certainly an ironic but fitting one.

According to the PR firm, Ketchum, it was hired by the Council for Biotechnology Information to improve GMO’s public image and “balance” the online conversation. US Right to Know calls attention to a video ad in which the firm talks about how it doubled positive GMO coverage using online social media monitoring—a tactic that smacks of Internet “sockpuppets”—fake Internet personas who interject themselves into social media conversations to steer the debate.

(In 2008, Mother Jones34 implicated Ketchum in an espionage effort against nonprofit organizations, including the Center for Food Safety and Friends of the Earth.) Ketchum also created the GMO Answers website, in which professors at public universities answer GMO questions from the public—supposedly without remuneration from the industry.

In late January, US Right to Know filed state public records requests35 to obtain “correspondence and emails to and from professors at public universities who wrote for the agrichemical industry’s PR website, GMO Answers… and agrichemical companies such as Monsanto, as well as to and from PR firms such as Ketchum or Fleishman Hillard, and to and from trade associations such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Council for Biotechnology Information.” It remains to be seen just how independent all these GMO experts answering questions on GMO Answers really are.

The Way Out of This Nightmare Starts at Home

The way off this out-of-control chemical treadmill will decimate profits for the chemical technology industry, and THAT is why they do not want you to know which foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If Americans started making dramatically different food choices, it could quickly revolutionize the US agricultural system because farmers will grow that which sells. If people want uncontaminated organic foods, that’s what farmers will grow—and there’s already evidence that biodynamic farming can be done even on the large scale. In fact, using regenerative agriculture principles, you can grow a lot more food on fewer acres.

Real solutions are available. What’s lacking is the political will to stand up to the chemical technology industry and break its iron grip on our food supply. But we can still get it done, by making conscious choices each and every time we shop for food. Remember, your money either goes to support the chemical-based system that threatens the survival of the Earth and your descendants, or it supports a system that can regenerate and revitalize the soil and the environment so that healthy food and healthy people can thrive. To make conscious choices, we need information, and that is why GMO labeling is so crucial.

Help Support GMO Labeling

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture.

Finally public opinion around the biotech industry’s contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We’re fighting back.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these corporate giants. So please, fight for your right to know what’s in your food and help support the GMO labeling movement by making a donation today.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

Together, Let’s Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve

Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption.

 The NSA’s “Equation Group” is apparently behind the infection with malware of hard drive firmware on computers used by nations considered “enemies” by the United States. The installation of the malware is believed to have required access to trade secrets of IT manufacturers as well as physical access to the soon-to-be infected computers. Popular Science in their article “The World’s Most Sophisticated Malware Ever Infects Hard Drive Firmware“suggests that the NSA intercepted computers in transit through global logistical chains.

However, a simpler and more logical explanation remains, though it is one manufacturers vehemently deny; that the NSA had/has direct access to the factory floors of several IT giants. These include Western Digital Corpororation, Seagate Technology, Toshiba Corporation, IBM, Micron Technology and Samsung Electronics.

The infection of hardware starting on the factory floor is nothing new. Australia’s Financial Review revealed in 2013 in an article titled, “Intel chips could let US spies inside: expert,” that, “one of Silicon Valley’s most respected technology experts, Steve Blank, says he would be “surprised” if the US National Security Agency was not embedding “back doors” inside chips produced by Intel and AMD, two of the world’s largest semiconductor firms, giving them the possibility to access and control machines.”

Blank made his comments after it was revealed that many processors posses potential backdoors that could allow intelligence agencies to rig a computer’s encryption process, rendering it virtually useless.

Such concerns have already prompted Russia to begin requiring computers used for the government sector to include Russian-made processors. With hard drives now potentially compromised, the NSA has once again given the world a reason to boycott US tech giants and those within America’s sphere of influence, and replace them with locally produced alternatives manufactured under tighter security controls.

Besides access to factory floors, several high profile “cyber attacks” attributed to China targeting US tech giants, may have been in fact the NSA itself attempting to steal source code required to rewrite hard drive firmware.

Reuters in its report “Russian researchers expose breakthrough U.S. spying program” would claim, “concerns about access to source code flared after a series of high-profile cyberattacks on Google Inc and other U.S. companies in 2009 that were blamed on China. Investigators have said they found evidence that the hackers gained access to source code from several big U.S. tech and defense companies.”

When big US tech and defense companies aren’t directly cooperating with the NSA, it appears they are pillaged regularly by them. This was also likely the case regarding Dutch SIM card manufacturer Gemalto, which was also recently compromised by the NSA and its British equivalent, GCHQ. The hijacking of the company’s SIM cards required direct access to company trade secrets and likely involved the NSA and GCHQ stealing encryption keys from company servers.

The dangerous dance the NSA and industry leaders perform often makes it difficult to tell who is leading and who is following. It was during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that it became clear US Internet giants Google, Facebook and Twitter were directly involved with the US State Department in helping organize unrest across much of North Africa and the Middle East. Source code being raided in 2009, then turning up as the key ingredient necessary to cook up what is believed to be NSA malware in 2015, suggests every once in a while the NSA steps on its partners’ toes.

IT Independence is National Security 

Regardless of whether or not US tech giants are directly involved, or the hapless victims of NSA info-piracy, nations finding themselves at the receiving end of American cyber espionage have found the necessity of working toward developing their own independent IT infrastructure. Nations like Russia, China and Iran, for instance, have created their own indigenous versions of Google, Facebook and Twitter. Russia, as already mentioned, is already working on replacing hardware with locally produced equipment to mitigate the threats of tampered hardware, firmware and software imported from US tech giants and other manufacturers susceptible to NSA infiltration.

Like a ship at sea built out of a multitude of watertight compartments to stave off sinking in the event its hull is compromised, IT infrastructure should likewise include compartmentalization. The idea of a handful of manufacturers producing the world’s hard drives makes the unsavory work of organizations like the NSA easy. Decentralizing hardware manufacturing nationally, then decentralizing it even further domestically, means the NSA must compromise an increasing number of physical locations and networks online to infect the same number of machines as it has easily done by compromising a handful of locations and networks worldwide before.

Instead of water passing through a single hole in the ship’s hull and sinking it, it would be required to pass through and flood dozens or more compartments. On a national scale and in terms of IT, particularly in a country like Russia, China or Iran with the considerable geographical and demographic dimensions of each, the NSA would be faced with hundreds if not thousands of targets it would have to compromise before it could achieve the same scale in spying it has previously achieved.

Each agency, department or ministry in each country could even develop its own software and hardware houses where complex and close relations make it even harder for outsiders to compromise. Nationally, security breaches could be quickly mapped, traced back to their sources and isolated in infrastructure distributed in this manner.

Ultimately, independence in technology is national security. Allowing one’s nation to be dependent on outside corporate or government interests is to resign freedom and a degree of control over one’s own destiny and security. The age of monopolies allows malevolent organizations to easily compromise large segments of the global population. In order to stop this, these monopolies must be replaced by a more localized and more tightly controlled infrastructure.

If a nation lacks the human resources to build this infrastructure, then national security requires such human resources to be developed, implying greater investment in technical education as well as in research and development. It appears that nations like Russia, China and Iran understand these lessons and have already begun down this road. Other nations might benefit by following suit. As the doors close on the NSA in one region of interest around the world, it will turn its attention toward others.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Jean-Jacques Dessalines

How The “French Republic” Stole Haiti’s Breast Milk…

In 1825, French ruler King Charles X offered to recognize Haiti’s independence on the condition that the new Black Republic pays 150 million gold francs in ransom. The extorted bounty was distributed to white slave holders for the loss of “property” they claim to have suffered as a result of the abolitionist Haitian Revolution.

This illegal and barbaric ransom was collected from 1825 to 1947. It was collected by violent means with an official ordinance of the French State which threatened to re-enslave the self-liberated Africans.

1853: French Admiral Duquesne threatens to bombard Port-au-Prince to restart payments on the French ransom which had been stopped in 1852 by Haitian Emperor Faustin Soulouque.

March 1877: French gun-boat aggression against Haiti. At issue: resumption of payments on the 1825 ransom – balance then re-estimated at 20 million gold Francs.

On April 7, 2003, the value of the infamous Charles X ransom was estimated at $22 Billion by Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide who demanded its restitution.

A delegation of Haitian children (descendants of abolitionist leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines) from all corners of the island shall await French President François Hollande as he sets foot in Haiti, on May 12, 2015.
Their demand is clear and simple: TIME TO RETURN TO US OUR STOLEN BREAST MILK!

The language of supposedly rational classification and categorisation has done terrible things. In the desperate need to find links, corollaries, causation, or simply correlations, we package, box and categorise like addicts in search of fixes.  And when it comes to suspicious catastrophe, the next pundit will venture into the dangerous world of kiss and tell – what was the motivation for that particular act?

The loss of all those on board Germanwings Flight 9525 is another blight on the air industry, the next disaster story in the aviation chronicles.  Again, it is dwarfed by frequency and lethal accidents in other forms of transport. But the spectacular nature of such an event – no survivors, suspect conduct by a pilot – have propelled various individuals into the expert seats to fill media slots.  Why the seemingly senseless mayhem? 

One thing that careful regard is being paid to is the use of a word that has become an impulsive point of reference where infliction of mass death is concerned.  Evading the issue of “terrorism” meant that other forms were sought.  The character profile of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was rapidly psychologised – it was a case of mental illness and concealed depression, which supposedly the thorough Lufthansa program would have rooted out.  Alison Griswold, writing in Slate, wondered if “better psychological testing” could “prevent a tragedy like the Germanwings crash”.  The short answer: “Probably not.”[1]

The Daily Mail decided to add to the account with its own thesis: that the pilot was suffering from a vision deficiency.  “A haunting new image has emerged of killer co-pilot Andreas Lubitz as it was claimed he may have sought treatment for problems with his vision in the weeks leading up to the moment he deliberately flew a Germanwings passenger plane into the French Alps.”[2] 

Impaired, with psychosomatic illness, depression – this is the picture of Lubitz being conveyed through the tabloid currency, and even the higher brow accounts.  It has led to warnings that such matters should not be stigmatised.  Depression should not, on its own accords, prevent a pilot from taking to the skies.  “That is wrong,” claimed Professor Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, “as much as saying that people with a history of broken arms shouldn’t be allowed to do something.”[3]

 If the individual had sported a capacious beard, a dark countenance, and a few other culturally cosmetic additions, that would have made for a different set of observations. The uncomfortable reality about designations matter for what, effectively, is the same outcome.  Prosecutors in this case were quick to dispel suggestions of a terrorist cause, excluding any political or religious motive. 

 Yet it is hard to forget that, in those last few minutes, passengers were subjected to an act of pan filled terror that would qualify, in any substantive sense, as terrorism.  Refined terminology on such infliction of fear hardly helps before being obliterated in the Alps.  The aim of the entire act did resemble that of any misguided martyr – to make a sorrowfully impressive mark, or at the very least an etching, on the history records.  The black dog that is depression can be truly vicious.

 The acts of Norwegian Anders Breivik, which involved the shooting of 69 people at a youth summer camp on Utoya Island in 2011, matched every terrorist tick box imaginable.  There was political motive: a dislike of progressive multiethnic policies.  There were religious undertones: a fear of the Islamisation of Europe.  There was an intention to inflict terror.  But the response to Breivik by a good number of critics was to refuse using the term in the hope of delegitimising it.  Emphasis was placed, instead, on “white supremacist” and fantasist, marginalised stellar nut-job.

 The terror tag is ennobling, adding impetus to a message that would otherwise be seen as obnoxious and dangerous.  Hence Deborah Orr’s effort in The Guardian to insist on Breivik’s insanity, urging “those trying to give meaning to his actions” to stop.[4] The flipside, then, is to mark out the insane and classify it accordingly.  A mass murderous Caucasian is deemed mad; the murderous Islamic follower is, well, an inspired terrorist.

 Jonathan Freedland refused to fall for that caper, noting the vast inconsistency between the treatment of terrorists, so-called or otherwise.  Individuals like Abu Qatada of al-Qaeda, argued Freedland during Breivik’s trial, are given no platform to vent, no opportunity to engage in vast disclosures of any world view.  Breivik, in contrast, was given a chance to “testify for five solid days, given an extended opportunity to expound” his world view and have his “psychology and video game habits, probed and debated” (Guardian, Apr 21, 2012).[5] Again, one is either patient or religious follower, depending on how the ethnic cookie crumbles.

 That issues of ethnicity and mental should meet is something that rocks the observer’s boat.  Those examining the lethal antics of the Sydney hostage taker, Man Haron Monis, could not wait to throw him into the global whirlpool of terrorist indulgence – a “lone wolf” feeding on the teet of Islamic fundamentalism.  “The lone wolf,” insisted Charles Krauthammer, “is the new nightmare, dramatised and amplified this week by the hostage-taking attack in Sydney” (Washington Post, Dec 18, 2014).  There was an abundance of evidence suggesting mental unhinging and plain old depression, but that did not stop the terrorist punditry from finding what they wanted to see: coherent ideology in absurdist tragedy. 

 In this line, selectivity is everything.  As Zak Cheney-Rice would suggest on Mic, the issue here was not even whether terrorist tags should automatically float in the direction of Lubitz’s action.  “On the contrary, it is an argument for holding people who commit mass murder to similar standards, regardless of their race or religion.”[6]

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

Notes

On the heels of a diplomatic spat between Hanoi and Washington regarding Russia’s use of a former US air base in Vietnam to refuel nuclear-capable bombers on the way to conducting “provocative” runs in the Pacific, we get yet another, larger, sign that it may indeed be the US that’s isolated and not (as Western media would have you believe) the Kremlin. 

The UK (Washington’s “special” friend) has announced it’s joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is essentially China’s answer to the Asian Development Bank over which Beijing feels the US has undue influence.  

The bank, which will fund infrastructure projects across the region and may indeed be part and parcel of China’s implicit attempt to establish a Sino-Monroe Doctrine, represents “an unrivaled opportunity for the UK and Asia to invest and grow together,” according to Britain’s George Osborne. Unsurprisingly, the US doesn’t see it that way and although Washington was generously willing to concede that this was the UK’s decision to make for itself, US officials are clearly perturbed that Britain didn’t ask for permission:

A spokesman for the National Security Council says the US will allow the UK to make its own decisions…

“This is the U.K.’s sovereign decision.”

…but the next time David Cameron thinks about appeasing a country that is a possible threat to US hegemony, he really needs to ask first…

“[The decision was made with] virtually no consultation with the US.”

“We are wary about a trend toward constant accommodation of China, which is not the best way to engage a rising power.” — From FT, quoting a senior US Official

Washington was also quick to make clear just what the US’s “expectations” are going forward now that London has made a misguided decision to support an effort to improve infrastructure in Asia:

“We hope and expect that the U.K. will use its voice to push for the adoption of high standards.”

Because this really is all about standards, as the US made clear last year when Washington may or may not have operated behind the scenes to discourage Australia, South Korea, and Japan from joining the bank.

From NY Times:

Washington has expressed reservations about the new institution, on the grounds that it would not meet environmental standards, procurement requirements and other safeguards adopted by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank for their lending projects.

But fundamentally, Washington views the Chinese venture as a deliberate challenge to those postwar institutions, which are led by the United States and, to a lesser extent, Japan, and the Obama administration has put pressure on allies not to participate…

South Korea and Australia, both of which count China as their largest trading partner, have seriously considered membership but have held back, largely because of forceful warnings from Washington, including a specific appeal to Australia by President Obama. 

But as one official from the rival Asian Development Bank told The Times“This horse is out of the barn.” 

And that means in short order Australia and South Korea will likely be on board and at that point, the stigma the US has created around membership will have completely disappeared (if it hasn’t already), opening the door for other US “allies” to join despite the bank’s alleged “low” standards.

So again we ask: “Who’s really isolated?”

by Konstantin Dolgov

Ukraine wants to improve the state of its economy at the expense of a million of lives of the retired people in Donbass.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 by the UN General Assembly secured the key rights that all the people should possess. The regime that was established in Kiev after the coup of 2014 had de facto abolished the implementation of this document in regard to a group of citizens of Ukraine.

As we know, Kiev keeps on considering the territories of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s Republics as part of Ukraine. Hypocritically declaring “the unity of the country” and “the anti-terrorist operation” in order to please the West, in reality Kiev authorities are engaged in the genocide of the population of the region with the aim of improvement of Ukraine’ s economy at the expense of human lives.

Only in accordance with the official data, in the territories of Donbass not controlled by Kiev government more than a million of Ukrainian citizens live, who are living exclusively off the retirement pensions and other social payments. They are the elderly, the WWII veterans, who defeated Hitler or went through Buchenwald or Oswensim. They are the disabled people. They are the people, who have the credit of Ukraine. They had worked for the Ukrainian state all their lives long and paid taxes in Ukraine. Social payment is the natural obligation of the state to these people — they are the only means of livelihood for many of them. Nevertheless since the summer of 2014 Ukraine terminated all social payments to the citizens living in these territories.

In autumn it became a real problem. A million (!) of the elderly and disabled people were forced to travel to the distance of hundreds kilometers for their homes to the territories controlled by Ukraine in order to receive deserved by them payments.  However, eventually the Ukrainian government went even further. Since January 1, 2014 Yatsenyuk’s Cabinet terminated social payments to the people living on these territories. Millions of people were faced with a choice: to leave homes and move for good to the territories controlled by Ukraine (then the payments, although hilariously meager, are resumed), or lose the only source of livelihood and starve. Article 13 of the above mentioned Declaration says that “every person has the right to move freely and chose his/her residence within the limits of each state”. However, the “democratic” Kiev government is not going to pay attention to such trifle as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its strive to reach its goals.

Moreover, the first mentioned option is unrealistic in principle. The average retirement pension in Ukraine amounts to 1600 Hryvnya now (about 65 Euro) per month. The average cost of a bedsitter rent in Ukraine is about 2500 Hryvnya per month (a bit less than 100 Euro). A retired person cannot afford to leave his apartment in Donetsk, Lugansk, Snezhnoye, Ilovaysk and rent an apartment in a city under Ukrainian control. Kiev regime deliberately made such a decision in order to free itself from the obligations in regard to social payments – at the expense of the lives of a million of Donetsk retired people.

On March 12 the International Monetary Fund demanded that Ukraine should resume the payments, but the memorandum adopted implies the settlement of this issue toll the end of 2015, and a million of people have not been receiving the routine payments for half a year already.

Notably, this resolution of Kiev government contradicts Ukrainian laws as well. Article 175 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine states responsibility for the non-payment of pensions and other legally asserted payments. Predictably, the retired dwellers of Donbass started to sue the social bodies of Ukraine. Nevertheless the lawsuits proceeded in accordance with the predictable scenario.

The most well-known precedent is the cases handled by human right activists Kirill Beloshytskiy, Tatyana Volkova and Irina Khyzhnyak. 15 inhabitants of Donbass sued Ukrainian government for the refusal in payment of envisaged by the law pensions with the support of these layers. Surprisingly, the court verdict was just, and the first lawsuit was won by the appellants. On February11, 2015 Kiev District Administrative Court ruled the relevant government statement illegal and ordered to resume social payments to the dwellers of Donbass. However it was just the beginning of the epic.

At once after this court ruling the Ukrainian government submitted an appeal, the consideration of which is still being delayed deliberately. Although Kiev did not stop at that and decided to repress the judges who dared to defend the constitutional rights of the citizens of Ukraine living in Donbass.

As early as on February 16 search was carried out in the building of Kiev District Administrative Court. The search was conducted by the inevitable armed people in face masks, and only later the Prosecutor of Kiev Yuldashev informed the public that the search was sanctioned by him. Moreover, one of the judges concerned, Valeriy Kuzmenko, received an enlistment note soon after that. Sending of disagreeable people to war has long been viewed by Kiev as the repressive means, but it was the first time it had been used as the method of squeeze on court.

The Convention of Prevention of Genocide Crime and Punishment for It, recognized by the entire civilized world, defines genocide as “actions committed with the aim of extermination, complete or partial, of some national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such”, including by way of “deliberate creation for such group of such living conditions, which are aimed at total or partial physical elimination of it”.

If Kiev’s deprivation of a million of the Donbass aged people of all means of livelihood does not suit this definition, then in reality the Convention is not worth of the paper it is written on.

Konstantin Dolgov, the Co-Chairman of the Peoples’ Front of Novorossia, specially for “Russkaya vesna”.

Amnesty International (AI) is at it again. The Western-based human rights organization says the armed wing of the Palestinian resistance against Israeli aggression has committed war crimes against Israeli and Palestinian citizens alike. The timing could not be more perfect for an Israeli propaganda campaign against its Palestinian neighbors. Will Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu use the AI report as a justification to launch yet another war in the Gaza Strip or in the West Bank? I could just visualize Netanyahu’s fourth speech to the U.S. Congress if speaker of the U.S. House of Representative John Boehner were to invite him again:

My friends, I’m deeply honored by the opportunity to speak here for a fourth time before the most important legislative body in the world, right here in Washington D.C., the U.S. Congress. My friends, Amnesty International just released a report confirming that the Israeli population was a victim of war crimes committed by Hamas terrorists. We as a “Jewish State” are under a serious threat to our existence. It is time for you to support our military efforts in order to defend ourselves. This is crucial. We are on the same side. So my friends join us in our long term goal of eliminating all terrorists’ threats from the face of the earth beginning in the holy land. It is our duty to spread democracy and freedom in the face of terrorism and it is the reason why we have an unbreakable bond. My friends we are on the right side of history, so let us fight this common enemy once and for all.

The AI report accuses “Palestinian armed groups of carrying out “war crimes” during the 50-day conflict in the Gaza Strip which resulted in over 2,300 Palestinians deaths with more than 19,000 injured according to an August 2014 report by the State of Palestine Ministry of Health. Israel had recorded over 70 Israeli deaths and over 700 injured according to a report published by the Jerusalem Post. According to a Sky News report, a multi media news organization based in the U.K., Amnesty International says that “Palestinian armed groups” broke international human rights laws:

The report entitled ‘Unlawful and Deadly’ condemned militants, including the armed wing of Hamas, for using “inherently indiscriminate” rockets and mortars to “kill or injure civilians”. “In launching these attacks, they displayed a flagrant disregard for international humanitarian law and for the consequences of their violations on civilians in both Israel and the Gaza Strip,” said Amnesty International’s Middle East Director Philip Luther.

The Middle East Director Philip Luther plays “Good cop, Bad cop” when he says that “the devastating impact of Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians during the conflict is undeniable, but violations by one side in a conflict can never justify violations by their opponents” according to the report. The Sky News report also used statistics from the United Nations (UN) own report which “claims 4,881 rockets and 1,753 mortars were fired towards Israel during the last conflict, with 243 intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system, and 31 landing inside Gaza. A total of 224 rockets and mortars hit residential areas in Israel. Six Israeli civilians, including a four-year-old child, and 67 soldiers were killed.”

However, the U.N.’s official report on Palestinian deaths and injuries during ‘Operation Protective Edge’ states that“more than 2,250 Palestinians were killed, of which 1,585 were civilians, including 538 children.” Amnesty International also said that the Palestinian armed groups are responsible for jeopardizing the lives of their own people “due to their decisions to operate in or near civilian areas.” Here are the report’s findings:

Nevertheless, there is substantial evidence that some of the military operations and conduct of Palestinian armed groups endangered civilians in Gaza and violated their obligation to take all feasible precautions to avoid and minimise harm to civilians

Jon Queally, Staff writer at www.commondreams.org wrote ‘World Stands Disgraced’ as Israel Bombs another UN-Designated Shelter in Gaza’ during the Gaza conflict and said:

A United Nations school in the northern Gaza Strip, where hundreds of Palestinians were seeking refuge from Israeli bombing, was itself hit by missile strikes on Wednesday night, killing at least 16 people and wounding close to one hundred others.

“Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN designated shelter in Gaza,” said Pierre Krähenbühl, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), in a statement. “Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.” Krähenbühl voiced outrage over the behavior of the Israeli military, who he says was repeatedly given the coordinates of the school:

The precise location of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School and the fact that it was housing thousands of internally displaced people was communicated to the Israeli army seventeen times, to ensure its protection; the last being at ten to nine last night, just hours before the fatal shelling

More than 485,000 Palestinians from Gaza were displaced, although many did return. More than 100,000 were permanently displaced while more than 10,000 still live in U.N. shelters. In the meantime, Israel continues to expand more illegal settlements which will most likely accelerate under Netanyahu’s fourth term in office. Although the report calls for UN inspectors to have “unrestricted access” to Gaza and for the Israeli authorities to release tax revenues and to lift its blockade, the report is less critical of Israel’s war crimes although it did issue a “watered-down” report back in November 2014 titled ‘Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Families under the rubble: Israeli attacks on inhabited homes” criticizing Israel. Sky News noted “a Hamas spokesman dismissed the report as being inaccurate and containing “false allegations”.

In September 2014, Dr Mustafa Barghouti, a political activist and a medical doctor spoke at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London and said:

18,000 homes and buildings were destroyed completely, 41,000 houses partially damaged, 145 schools, eight hospitals, 13 health centres damaged. 180 mosques damaged, 71 destroyed completely. Even cemeteries were bombarded, 10 bombarded, nine Muslim cemeteries, one Christian cemetery. They bombarded the graves. The bones of the people came out of the graves. The amount of explosives they used was beyond description.

Amnesty International declares that the Palestinian armed groups (who resist any form of Israeli aggression) in Gaza were guilty of war crimes since 2001:

According to the Israeli authorities, Palestinian armed groups fired more than 15,200 rockets and mortars towards Israel between 2001 and the start of the latest round of hostilities on the evening of 7 July 2014, when the Israeli military launched Operation Protective Edge. In all, 25 civilians, including four children and one adult foreign national, were killed in Israel by rockets and mortars launched from Gaza between June 2004, when the first fatality from such attacks occurred, and the beginning of Operation Protective Edge. This included the three civilians killed during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/2009 and the four civilians killed during Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. Many other civilians have been injured, some of them very seriously, and civilian property in Israel – including homes, businesses, schools, other public buildings and vehicles – has been damaged or destroyed. Over the years, rockets and mortars launched by Palestinian armed groups have also killed Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, including children. According to media reports, a three-year-old Palestinian girl was killed, and several of her family members injured, by a Palestinian rocket that landed in Beit Lahiya on 24 June 2014, two weeks before the hostilities erupted into full-scale war.

Sky News noted an official statement from the Israeli government which was delighted by Amnesty International’s report on Hamas actions during the Gaza conflict:

An Israeli government statement welcomed the report’s highlighting of “deliberate targeting of Israel’s civilian population”, and claimed that, while Israel was “vigorously investigating its conduct, aiming to draw lessons”, Hamas was preparing for further violence.

The Israeli government welcomes any report critical of its enemies. They will use it to their advantage especially when the World is highly critical of Israeli policies towards its neighbors. The report made a clear statement that “two wrongs don’t make right”:

Palestinian officials who attempt to justify rocket attacks and other violations regularly point to violations by Israeli forces, whose attacks as part of Operation Protective Edge had a devastating effect on Gaza. However, violations by one party cannot justify violations by its opponents. It is this perverse logic, fostered by decades of impunity that has helped perpetuate the cycle of violations for which civilians on all sides have been paying such a heavy price.

In either case, a Palestinian or an Israeli life that is lost in any conflict is a lost for humanity as a whole. But what should an occupied country with no basic human rights do against one of the most powerful militaries in the world which is supported by the most dangerous empire in human history? Is there hope for a new peace plan with a two-state solution with the newly re-elected Prime Minister of Israel? I seriously doubt it. Unfortunately, Amnesty International just gave Israel everything it needs to justify its next war.

This article was originally published by WhoWhatWhy

Choking black smoke roiled the skies of the small Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic the summer of 2013 as orange flames shot from pierced oil tankers in the biggest Canadian rail disaster since 1867. An unattended 74-car freight train carting crude oil from North America’s Bakken region hurtled down a hill, derailed and exploded, killing 47 people.

Half of the town was flattened in the blast, leaving it looking like a World War II bomb site. Over a million gallons of crude gushed ablaze down streets and into the local waterways. “Disasters don’t get any bigger,” said an editor of the Vancouver Sun.

A record amount of crude oil is rolling down the tracks of America’s rail system in aging, puncture-prone cars with little regulation or safeguards. It’s only a matter of time before these moving bombs explode again, triggering a disaster in a population center or an ecologically sensitive environment, warns a troubling report from the U.S. environmental group, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD).

The “transport of large volumes of highly volatile oil poses a significant risk to life, property and the environment … putting people, wildlife and special places at risk,” notes the report, Runaway Risks: Oil Trains and the Government’s Failure to Protect People, Wildlife and the Environment.

The Explosive Growth of Oil Trains

“These are clearly ‘bomb trains,’” attorney Jared Margolis, author of the Runaway Risks report, toldWhoWhatWhy. Yet despite the recent spate of fiery derailments, “Federal regulatory agencies have allowed this dangerous increase in oil-train traffic with little to no environmental review and a complete lack of adequate response plans.”

The Department of Transportation hasn’t conducted a formal review of the potential environmental harms or risk to public safety from the drastic increase in use of oil trains to move flammable crude across the country — mostly in aging tank cars that lack vital safety features, Margolis said. And even though the DOT is phasing out the older tank cars, even newly designed and tougher tank cars are prone to puncturing.

The number of rail cars transporting oil has increased from 10,000 in 2008 to 400,000 last year. Some 25 million Americans now live within a one-mile evacuation zone in the event of an oil train derailment. Oil trains pass through 34 national wildlife refuges and within a quarter mile of critical habitats for 57 threatened or endangered species, according to the CBD report.

A network of oil train “virtual pipelines” crisscross the nation, putting at risk such heavily populated metropolitan areas as Chicago, Houston, and Albany, NY. Already, crashes in the last two years have spilled over a million gallons of oil into American waterways.

***

Flaming derailments have happened in Alabama (750,000 gallons), North Dakota (nearly 500,000 gallons spilled and the town of Casselton evacuated) and Lynchburg, VA, where 17 of 105 tank cars loaded with Bakken crude derailed downtown last year. One punctured car shot flames and oily black smoke into the air. Three cars crashed into the James River, releasing up to 30,000 gallons of crude.

***

West Virginia’s governor declared a state of emergency last year after a Fayette County derailment triggered explosions and a massive fire, setting a building ablaze and spilling crude into the Kanawha River. That disaster involved the newer, safer CPC-1232 Model tank cars supposedly less prone to rupture, as did a similar disaster in Canada’s Ontario province in February.

There were 117 crude-oil rail spills in the United States in 2013 alone — releasing an astonishing 1.15 million gallons of the poisonous, flammable stuff. That’s a near tenfold jump since 2008, and more than the entire previous four decades, according to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. There were significantly more spills last year (140 “unintentional releases”), according to the CBD report.

The CBD report draws a frightening picture of what could happen without more vigorous regulation: “Images of mushroom clouds described as akin to atomic bomb blasts have been all over the news, which should be a wake-up call to regulators, who have dragged their feet on new regulations for tank cars hauling explosive crude. … The next time, it could be in a more populated area, where hundreds or even thousands of people may be in harm’s way.”

Margolis, who lives in Oregon, cites an oil-rail route along the Columbia River, where an accident could seriously endanger Portland, as well as the wildlife home of several species of salmon.

Puncture-Prone Cars

Particularly worrisome are the puncture-prone DOT-111 cars used to transport the crude. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that these cars will almost always breach in the event of a train accident. An NTSB official testified before Congress that the DOT-111 cars present an “unacceptable public risk.” Yet under current federal regulations, they continue to be the cars most often used to transport crude.

The Department of Transportation recently proposed new rules, but these allow continued use of the dangerous DOT-111 cars through a five-year phase-out. Meanwhile, the DOT has issued a series of “non-binding”  advisories,” urging the use of safer tanker cars and stressing the importance of safety testing. These suggestions have been uniformly ignored by the industry.

To minimize the risk of a catastrophic accident, the CBD report calls for an immediate ban on DOT-111 tank cars, and forbidding crude oil shipments to any area without a comprehensive oil spill response plan, including the training of critical response personnel.

It also recommends: 1) instituting a permit system for rail shipments of all hazardous material; 2) limiting the length of oil-train shipments to 30 cars and 4,000 total tons; 3) capping the speed below the puncture rate of cars (typically less than 20 mph) in population centers and within a quarter-mile of any waterway, national park or sensitive ecological area. (The DOT’s new regulations would allow speeds of up to 50 mph.)

Yet the same old story appears to be playing out, Margolis said. People will have to live with the risks until the government’s regulations match their stated intentions.

Secret History: The U.S. Supported and Inspired the Nazis

March 29th, 2015 by Washington's Blog

Unless We Learn Our History, We’re Doomed to Repeat It

Preface:  I am a patriotic American who loves  my country. I was born here, and lived here my entire life.

So why do I frequently point out America’s warts?  Because – as the Founding Fathers and Supreme Court judges have explained – we can only make America better if we honestly examine her shortcomings.  After all:

“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

Only when Americans can honestly look at our weaknesses can we become stronger. If we fail to do so, history will repeat …

While Americans rightly condemn the Nazis as monstrous people, we don’t know that America played both sides … both fighting and supporting the Nazis.

Americans also aren’t aware that the Nazis were – in part – inspired by anti-Semites in America.

Backing Nazis

Large American banks – and George W. Bush’s grandfather – financed the Nazis.

American manufacturing companies were big supporters of the Nazis.   here are 6 historical examples …

(1) IBM.  CNET reports:

IBM has responded to questions about its relationship with the Nazis largely by characterizing the information as old news.

“The fact that Hollerith equipment manufactured by (IBM’s German unit) Dehomag was used by the Nazi administration has long been known and is not new information,” IBM representative Carol Makovich wrote in an e-mail interview. “This information was published in 1997 in the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing and in 1998 in Washington Jewish Week.”

***

IBM also defended Chairman Thomas Watson for his dealings with Hitler and his regime.

***

On September 13, 1939, The New York Times reports on Page 1 that 3 million Jews are going to be “immediately removed” from Poland, and they appear to be candidates for “physical extermination.” On September 9, the German managers of IBM Berlin send a letter to Thomas Watson with copy to staff in Geneva via phone that, due to the “situation,” they need high-speed alphabetizing equipment. IBM wanted no paper trail, so an oral agreement was made, passed from New York to Geneva to Berlin, and those alphabetizers were approved by Watson, personally, before the end of the month.

That month he also approved the opening of a new Europe-wide school for Hollerith technicians in Berlin. And at the same time he authorized a new German-based subsidiary in occupied Poland, with a printing plant across the street from the Warsaw Ghetto at 6 Rymarska Street. It produced some 15 million punch cards at that location, the major client of which was the railroad.

We have a similar example involving Romania in 1941, and The Sunday Times has actually placed the IBM documents up on their Web site…. When Nazi Germany went into France, IBM built two new factories to supply the Nazi war machine. This is the 1941-’42 era, in Vichy, France, which was technically neutral. When Germany invaded Holland in May 1940, IBM rushed a brand-new subsidiary into occupied Holland. And it even sent 132 million punch cards in 1941, mainly from New York, to support the Nazi activity there. Holland had the highest rate of Jewish extermination in all of Europe; 72 percent of Jews were killed in Holland, compared to 24 percent in France, where the machines did not operate successfully.

***

When Hitler came to power in 1933, his desire to destroy European Jewry was so ambitious an enterprise, it required the resources of a computer. But in 1933 no computer existed. What did exist was the Hollerith punch-card system. It was invented by a German-American in Buffalo, New York, for the Census Bureau. This punch-card system could store all the information about individuals, places, products, inventories, schedules, in the holes that were punched or not punched in columns and rows.

The Hollerith system reduced everything to number code. Over time, the IBM alphabetizers could convert this code to alphabetical information. IBM made constant improvements for their Nazi clients.

***

Our entry was of course precipitated by the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7. Shortly before that, with sudden new trading-with-the-enemy regulations in force–this is October 1941–Watson issued a cable to all IBM’s European subsidiaries, saying in effect: “Don’t tell us what you’re doing and don’t ask us any questions.” He didn’t say, “Don’t send machines into concentration camps.” He didn’t say, “Stop organizing the military forces of Nazi Germany.” He didn’t say, “Don’t undertake anything to harm innocent civilians.”

***

He then bifurcated the management of IBM Europe–one manager in Geneva, named Werner Lier, and the other one in New York, in his office, named J.L. Schotte. So all communications went from Switzerland to New York. Ultimately there was a Hollerith Department called Hollerith Abteilung–German for department–in almost every concentration camp. Remember, the original Auschwitz tattoo was an IBM number.

***

IBM put the blitz in blitzkrieg. The whole war effort was organized on Hollerith machines from 1933 to 1945. This is when information technology comes to warfare. At the same time, IBM was supporting the entire German war machine directly from New York until the fall of 1941 ….

***

IBM did more than just sell equipment. Watson and IBM controlled the unique technical magic of Hollerith machines. They controlled the monopoly on the cards and the technology. And they were the ones that had to custom-design even the paper forms and punch cards–they were custom-designed for each specific purpose. That included everything form counting Jews to confiscating bank accounts, to coordinating trains going into death camps, to the extermination by labor campaign.

That’s why even the paper forms in the prisoner camps had Hollerith notations and numbered fields checked. They were all punched in. For example, IBM had to agree with their Nazi counterparts that Code 6 in the concentration camps wasextermination. Code 1 was released, Code 2 was transferred, Code 3 was natural death,Code 4 was formal execution, Code 5 was suicide. Code 7 was escape. Code 6 wasextermination.

All of the money and all the machines from all these operations was claimed by IBM as legitimate business after the war. The company used its connections with the State Department and the Pentagon to recover all the machines and all the bank accounts. They never said, “We do not want this blood money.” They wanted it all.

(2) Standard Oil.   The Nazi air force – the Luftwaffe – needed tetraethyl lead gas in order to get their planes off the ground. Standard Oil sold tetraethyl to the Nazis.

After WWII began, the English became angry about U.S. shipments of strategic materials to Nazi Germany. So Standard changed the registration of their entire fleet to Panamanian to avoid British search or seizure. These ships continued to carry oil to the Nazis.

(3) Ford.  Ford made cars for the Nazis.  Wikipedia notes:

Ford continued to do business with Nazi Germany, including the manufacture of war materiel.  Beginning in 1940, with the requisitioning of between 100 and 200 French POWs to work as slave laborers, Ford-Werke contravened Article 31 of the 1929 Geneva Convention.  At that time, which was before the U.S. entered the War and still had full diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany, Ford-Werke was under the control of the Ford Motor Company. The number of slave laborers grew as the war expanded ….

(And see discussion under GM, below.)

Wikipedia also points out that Henry Ford was one of the world’s biggest anti-Semites … inspiring Hitler, Himmler and other high-level Nazis:

In Germany, Ford’s anti-Semitic articles from The Dearborn Independent were issued in four volumes, cumulatively titled The International Jew, the World’s Foremost Problem published by Theodor Fritsch, founder of several anti-Semitic parties and a member of the Reichstag. In a letter written in 1924, Heinrich Himmler described Ford as “one of our most valuable, important, and witty fighters.” Ford is the only American mentioned in Mein Kampf.  Adolf Hitler wrote, “only a single great man, Ford, [who], to [the Jews’] fury, still maintains full independence…[from] the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions.” Speaking in 1931 to a Detroit News reporter, Hitler said he regarded Ford as his “inspiration,” explaining his reason for keeping Ford’s life-size portrait next to his desk. Steven Watts wrote that Hitler “revered” Ford, proclaiming that “I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany,” and modeling the Volkswagen, the people’s car, on the Model T.
Grand Cross of the German Eagle, an award bestowed on Ford by Nazi Germany

***

James D. Mooney, vice-president of overseas operations for General Motors, received a similar medal, the Merit Cross of the German Eagle, First Class.

***

Testifying at Nuremberg, convicted Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach who, in his role as military governor of Vienna deported 65,000 Jews to camps in Poland, stated,

The decisive anti-Semitic book I was reading and the book that influenced my comrades was … that book by Henry Ford, “The International Jew.” I read it and became anti-Semitic. The book made a great influence on myself and my friends because we saw in Henry Ford the representative of success and also the representative of a progressive social policy.

(4) GM.  The Washington Post reports:

“General Motors was far more important to the Nazi war machine than Switzerland,” said Bradford Snell, who has spent two decades researching a history of the world’s largest automaker. “Switzerland was just a repository of looted funds. GM was an integral part of the German war effort. The Nazis could have invaded Poland and Russia without Switzerland. They could not have done so without GM.”

Both General Motors and Ford insist that they bear little or no responsibility for the operations of their German subsidiaries, which controlled 70 percent of the German car market at the outbreak of war in 1939 and rapidly retooled themselves to become suppliers of war materiel to the German army.

But documents discovered in German and American archives show a much more complicated picture. In certain instances, American managers of both GM and Ford went along with the conversion of their German plants to military production at a time when U.S. government documents show they were still resisting calls by the Roosevelt administration to step up military production in their plants at home.

***

When American GIs invaded Europe in June 1944, they did so in jeeps, trucks and tanks manufactured by the Big Three motor companies in one of the largest crash militarization programs ever undertaken. It came as an unpleasant surprise to discover that the enemy was also driving trucks manufactured by Ford and Opel — a 100 percent GM-owned subsidiary — and flying Opel-built warplanes ….

***

The relationship of Ford and GM to the Nazi regime goes back to the 1920s and 1930s, when the American car companies competed against each other for access to the lucrative German market.

***

In 1935, GM agreed to build a new plant near Berlin to produce the aptly named “Blitz” truck, which would later be used by the German army for its blitzkreig attacks on Poland, France and the Soviet Union. German Ford was the second-largest producer of trucks for the German army after GM/Opel, according to U.S. Army reports.

The importance of the American automakers went beyond making trucks for the German army. The Schneider report, now available to researchers at the National Archives, states that American Ford agreed to a complicated barter deal that gave the Reich increased access to large quantities of strategic raw materials, notably rubber. Author Snell says that Nazi armaments chief Albert Speer told him in 1977 that Hitler “would never have considered invading Poland” without synthetic fuel technology provided by General Motors.

As war approached, it became increasingly difficult for U.S. corporations like GM and Ford to operate in Germany without cooperating closely with the Nazi rearmament effort. Under intense pressure from Berlin, both companies took pains to make their subsidiaries appear as “German” as possible. In April 1939, for example, German Ford made a personal present to Hitler of 35,000 Reichsmarks in honor of his 50th birthday, according to a captured Nazi document.

Documents show that the parent companies followed a conscious strategy of continuing to do business with the Nazi regime, rather than divest themselves of their German assets.Less than three weeks after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, GM Chairman Alfred P. Sloan defended this strategy as sound business practice, given the fact that the company’s German operations were “highly profitable.”

***

After the outbreak of war in September 1939, General Motors and Ford became crucial to the German military, according to contemporaneous German documents and postwar investigations by the U.S. Army. James Mooney, the GM director in charge of overseas operations, had discussions with Hitler in Berlin two weeks after the German invasion of Poland.

Typewritten notes by Mooney show that he was involved in the partial conversion of the principal GM automobile plant at Russelsheim to production of engines and other parts for the Junker “Wunderbomber,” a key weapon in the German air force, under a government-brokered contract between Opel and the Junker airplane company. Mooney’s notes show that he returned to Germany the following February for further discussions with Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering and a personal inspection of the Russelsheim plant.

Mooney’s involvement in the conversion of the Russelsheim plant undermines claims by General Motors that the American branch of the company had nothing to do with the Nazi rearmament effort.

***

At GM and Ford plants in Germany, reliance on forced labor [from concentration camp inmates] increased.

***

In a court submission, American Ford acknowledges that Iwanowa and others were“forced to endure a sad and terrible experience” at its Cologne plant ….

Ford has backed away from its initial claim that it did not profit in any way from forced labor at its Cologne plant.

***

Mel Weiss, an American attorney for Iwanowa, argues that American Ford received “indirect” profits from forced labor at its Cologne plant because of the overall increase in the value of German operations during the war. He notes that Ford was eager to demand compensation from the U.S. government after the war for “losses” due to bomb damage to its German plants and therefore should also be responsible for any benefits derived from forced labor.

Similar arguments apply to General Motors, which was paid $32 million by the U.S. government for damages sustained to its German plants.

(5)  Kodak. During World War Two, Kodak’s German branch also used slave laborers from concentration camps. Several of their other European branches did heavy business with the Nazi government.

And Wilhelm Keppler – one of Hitler’s top economic advisers – had deep ties in Kodak. When Nazism began, Keppler advised Kodak and several other U.S. companies that they’d benefit by firing all of their Jewish employees.

(6) Coca Cola. Coke made soda for the Nazis.  Fanta was specifically invented for Nazi-era Germans.

Leading American financiers Rockefeller, Carnegie and Harriman also funded Nazi eugenics programs.

And the U.S. government actively backed the Nazis in Ukraine 70 years ago.

Inspired By America

As noted above, Hitler and his top henchmen were inspired by Henry Ford’s writings.

The American author Lothrop Stoddard was the source of the concept of “under-man (sub-human)” adopted by the Nazis in regards to Jews and communists.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the idea of killing Jews, communists and gypsies in gas chambers originated in the U.S. … not Germany.

And Nazis were also apparently inspired by America’s treatment of Native Americans.   Specifically, retired Major in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps, Todd E. Pierce – who researched and reviewed the complete records of military commissions held during the Civil War and stored at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. as part of his assignment in the Office of Chief Defense Counsel, Office of Military Commissions – notes:

Stories of the American conquest of Native Americans with its solution of placing them on reservations were particularly popular in Germany early in the Twentieth Century including with Adolf Hitler.

Finally, the Nazis copied American propaganda techniques.

Postscript: After WWII, America imported and protected many high-level Nazi scientists and spies, and put them into prominent positions within the U.S.

And many allege that we’re supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

This article originally appeared at NachDenkSeiten. Translated for RI by Mihajlo Doknic

The German Chancellery has accused NATO chief Philip M. Breedlove of “dangerous propaganda”. The question: what to think about this critique coming from a government that uses this kind of propaganda technique itself. Jens Wernicke, media scientist and author of several books, talked with the renowned Swiss peace researcher and NATO expert Dr. Daniele Ganser.

Mr. Ganser, the German Chancellery accuses NATO chief Philip M. Breedlove, of “dangerous propaganda”. Breedlove exaggerates Russia’s military involvement in East Ukraine, for example. What is going on here? Is the German government just accusing NATO of war propaganda?

The German Chancellery is right with its critique. In my opinion, something dangerous is happening right now: US generals like Breedlove are trying to provoke a war, where Germans and Russians would kill each other in order to weaken both countries. This is a cynical, actually a diabolical plan. But this is exactly what US strategist like Georg Friedman, director of the Stratfor think tank, are suggesting. United, Germany and Russia are the only power that could threaten the US, Friedman said in a speech in February 2015 in Chicago.

“Our primordial interest [preventing a German-Russian alliance] is to ensure that will never happen,” said Friedman.

“The US, as an empire, cannot intervene in Eurasia all the time,” he explained. Therefore they must turn countries against each other, so they don’t build close alliances. “I suggest something President Ronald Reagan used against Iraq and Iran: He supported both war parties!” Freidman stated. The war between Iraq and Iran between 1980 and 1988 claimed at least 400.000 dead, so from the point of peace science it is frightening what Friedman suggests. “So the Iranians and Iraqis fought against each other and not against us,” explained Freidman in his speech. “That was cynical and amoral. But it worked.”

The USA cannot occupy Eurasia. The same moment we put our boots on European soil, we will be outnumbered due to demographics. In my opinion the radical US generals like Breedlove are trying to implement this strategy, where in future German and Russian Soldiers kill each other in Ukraine, thus destabilizing and weakening the whole of East Europe. That would be a catastrophe. Therefore a peace movement needs to encourage an alternative solution, like the neutrality of Ukraine. No NATO membership and friendship between Germany and Russia.

How is NATO trying to fuel this conflict?

NATO General Breedlove often sticks out by spreading exaggerated and untrue claims. This is how NATO is fueling the war. This is dangerous, because the situation is very tense, as we know. On the 12th of November 2014 Breedlove claimed that Russian toops and tanks have marched into Ukraine! But that wasn’t true and it wasn’t just a little thing. Literally the NATO general said: “We have seen that Russian troops, Russian tanks, Russian artillery and air defense systems have moved into Ukraine.” BBC and other mass media spread that worldwide but it was a lie.

And US General Ben Hodges, commander of the US troops in Europe, also pushes for war by supporting the Ukrainian army. In January 2015 he visited a military hospital in Kiev and handed over a medal for bravery of the US Army to a wounded Ukrainian soldier! That, of course, increases tension.

However, the US General Hodges shows symbolically: The US is an “active party of war” in the Ukraine. It stands by the Ukrainian army that is fighting the Russian supported separatists in East Ukraine. Because Germany is a NATO member, there is a danger that German soldiers are dragged into this war by the US. Similar to Afghanistan after 2001. If that happens, then we have exactly the situation Friedman is asking for: Germans and Russians shooting at each other in the Ukraine. Of course I hope that this won’t happen. However, a peace movement needs to raise this and warn of such dangers in order to avoid them.

Is this a very common thing, I mean, that NATO lies, exaggerates or deceives?

Yes, regrettably NATO has, on a regular basis, combined lies and war. In my book NATO’s secret armies in Europe. Staged terror and clandestine warfare I show how, during the Cold War, NATO had built in Western countries, supported by CIA and the British secret service MI6, secret armies, of which existence the governments and population didn’t know anything.

Especially the US generals are dangerous, because they have been continuously fighting wars in different countries during the last 70 years. As representatives of an empire they are not only used to kill but also to deceive. General Lyman Lemnitzer, for example, who served as SACEUR of NATO (Supreme Allied Commander Europe) between 1963 and 1969, so one of Breedlove’s predecessors, suggested in the 60s that the US should stage a war against Cuba by destroying an American ship at the military base in Guantanamo and by staging terror attacks in Washington, and then for both crimes accuse Fidel Castro in order to get the American public behind the war. John F. Kennedy, however, stopped the operation [Northwoods]. But it shows, how dangerous the officers in the Pentagon are.

Is only the US pushing for wars or are other countries also involved?

NATO has 28 members and unfortunately other NATO countries are involved in war propaganda as well. For example, the Brits! In March 2003, before they attacked Iraq, Tony Blair, the then prime minister, said: “Iraq is in possession of chemical and biological weapons. Its rockets are ready for use within 45 minutes.” That was a lie! The attack on Iraq by USA and Great Britain started, nevertheless, without an UN mandate. So it was illegal!

It was also an illegal aggression when NATO, on the 24th of March 1999, started bombing Serbia. Because NATO didn’t have a mandate of the UN Security Council. Back then it was Germany under the Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the Defense Minister Rudolph Scharping and the Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, that actively took part in the aggression [War on Yugoslavia], together with the US. In the run-up to the aggression lies were spread to get the people behind this war. Later, in 2014, Schröder admitted that NATO violated International Law. “When the question came up how to deal with developments in Yugoslavia and Kosovo respectively, we sent our planes, our Tornados [German warplanes] to Serbia together with NATO and bombed a sovereign state without a Security Council Resolution,” admitted Schröder self-critically.

How come that in those cases nobody raises its voice and we only read the same NATO statements with their arguments?

The mass media in Germany are pushing people into a direct confrontation with Russia, in a way the radicals in the US, like Stratfor director Friedman, are asking for. It means, they fuel animosity towards Russia. And very rarely there is a critical discussion about NATO or about the strategic interests of the US, those powers that are fueling the war in Ukraine.

Many journalists don’t even call the US an empire fearing for their jobs and other things. But it is apparent that the US is an empire of our times, the most powerful nation that, of course, is pursuing its national interests. This fact is rarely raised by the mass media. So many people watching TV don’t even know the term ‚US Empire’ or the strategic interests of this empire in Eurasia. Therefore, critical people disappointed by the TV and Newspapers are trying to inform themselves through alternative media on the Internet.

So, do you think the critique by our [German] government is a sign that they finally try to break the global spiral of violence and distance itself from propaganda in favour of respectful dialogue with Russia? And, is our government more credible than NATO itself?

I am from Switzerland, whicht is not part of NATO. So I do look at the German policy and Chancellor Merkel from the outside. And I see that many people are concerned with the situation [war] in Ukraine, because of its proximity. And most of the Germans that I know, they don’t want a future, where German soldiers and Russian soldiers shoot at each other! But I am not sure what the German government wants. They move in a zigzag course. One day, as a NATO member, they fuel, together with the US, the war in the Ukraine by increasing tensions with Russia. And sometimes they try to keep the friendship or at least the respect with Russia by publically criticizing NATO war-hawk Breedlove. So which line will be predominant in future its hard to tell.

What is your assessment of the departure of the hawk Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO General Secretary? Will Jens Stoltenberg establish himself as a peaceful successor? To put it differently: How much influence has a Secretary General actually on NATO policies?

If you study the history of NATO it is easy to notice that the post of Secretary General is always staffed with an European, now Stoltenberg, a Norwegian, and before that, Rasmussen, a Dane. But the Europeans should not be mistaken as to who is calling the shots in NATO, it is the US! Secretary General is not the most important post. It is actually the one of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, because here lies the military command. An American, now Breedlove, always holds this position.

Has Stoltenberg publically criticized Breedlove or tried to stop him? No, he is not able to. His job as Secretary General is primarily to give NATO an European face. This is better received in Europe, than having a US diplomat appear all the time.

So I don’t believe that Stoltenberg is able or willing to transform NATO into a peaceful organization. Also because of the track record of NATO in the past two decades: NATO wars and the technique of, Regime Change’ have left countries in ruins and traumatized people, in Libya, in Iraq, in Afghanistan. So I hope that Ukraine won’t be put on this list too!

Thank you for the interview.

As Saudi Arabia and its allies have begun the bombing campaign against Yemen, in the south, a separatist movement calling for a “State of South Arabia” is emerging. Fostered by the US, it will leave the Houthis with two hostile states at their borders and locked access to the sea, if it succeeds. 

Shi'ite Muslim rebels

Welcome to phase two of US regime change operations. After Yemen’s 2011 revolution failed and Houthi militias overthrew President Hadi, forces trained and sponsored by the US government are being activated as a separatist movement.The Southern People’s Committees (SPC), founded around 2007 although USAID has been conducting political workshops as part of a $695,000 project and actively grooming leadership in Yemen since 2005. (Also in 2007, weekly protests began, organized by women’s organizations, fostered by the workshops.) The SPC were similar to many color revolution movements such as Serbia’s Otpor in that they did not have a central leadership, but rather an autonomous cell-based organization. In addition, they were very capable in the use of social media technologies, text messaging and the circumventing the government’s internet censorship to organize protests.

Meanwhile, the Yemen Center for Human Rights Studies, which received $193,000 from the EU and US-funded Foundation for the Future in 2009, conducted a poll in January 2010, which found that 70 percent of southern Yemenis favored secession.Another USAID-funded project, the $43 million Responsive Governance Project (RGP), launched in May 2010, conducted “New Social Media training for Youth leaders to equip Yemeni youth groups in the use of media to enhance their participation in formulating public issues.” The project focuses on establishing contacts with the Yemeni government and providing “leadership and civic education training to youth NGOs.”

At the same time, USAID funded a $3.58 million project called Promoting Youth for Civic Engagement (PYCE) to train Aden youth ” in PACA [political activity training], first aid, self-defense, photography, calligraphy and various other topics,” including “media skills,” according to an evaluation report of the PYCE Project, conducted in 2012. The project was constrained to Aden and did not conduct workshops in the northern capital, Sanaa, after reportedly receiving threats.

The project is presented as a youth “sports program,” and although it does include basketball, handball and chess, these were not the primary goal, as the report shows. At the same time, first aid, self-defense, photography and calligraphy (making protest signs) sound a lot more like protest tactics than sports. The program, initially planned to last for two years, did not make any progress reports after March 2012, when President Hadi assumed power.After the 2011 revolution, the SPC became more of a military outfit and took part in a fight against al-Qaeda in Yemen, which coincided with the CIA’s expanded drone campaign in the area. This is also where the organization fades from public view when it comes to USAID expense reports, as the organization appeared to lose interest in developing democracy in the country. In a June 4, 2012 a field commander of the People’s Committees gave an interview to the Yemen Times, in which he described the group’s fight against the Ansar al-Sharia Islamists together with the government.

However, the group reappeared in public view on September 23 2014, two days after Houthis took control of Sanaa, and issued a statement in which they call on security forces to “undertake its historical role in providing security and maintaining people’s property because it is in order to preserve the revolution, which is the most important accomplishment achieved by the Yemeni people.”

At the same time, in southern Yemen, the People’s Committee has been very active on Facebook and Twitter since around October 2014. The Facebook and Twitter pages publish slick anti-Houthi propaganda and call for separatism and a “State of South Arabia,” within the bounds of former South Yemen, and using South Yemen’s flag.

Since mid-March, the SPC have been fighting against Houthis and see Saudi Arabia as an ally of convenience, although some of their social media accounts, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and other royal family figures are glorified. However, the splitting of Yemen benefits Saudi Arabia, as it secludes the Houthis to a smaller Northern Yemen, which would be surrounded by two hostile states, with Saudi Arabia to the north and the new South Arabia to the south, which would also control access to the sea at the Gulf of Aden.

The current situation has considerable parallels with Ukraine, which has led the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to call the situation one of “obvious double standards, but we clearly did not want neither what is happening in Ukraine, nor what is happening in Yemen.”

Indeed, while Russia has been repeatedly accused of helping Donbas independence supporters, the US has openly fostered the south Yemen separatist movement. At the same time, while Ukraine’s President Yanukovych was called illegitimate by the US after fleeing the country, Yemen’s Hadi has remained “legitimate” and has even called for a Saudi Arabian military operation against the people who ousted him.The ongoing conflict in Yemen is currently at the second phase of US regime change operations, rebel conflict. The first stage, the color revolution, has failed, and now the last stop, foreign intervention and ground invasion remains. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have already begun the airstrikes, and the South Arabia movement has begun its separatist campaign.

Scientists have raised concern over the rate of radioactive contamination of the Pacific, due to the Fukushima nuclear accident.

  • Expert : Plutonium-241 from Fukushima nearly 70,000 times more than atomic bomb fallout in Japan.
  • Officials : Molten fuel now ‘particle-like’, contains ‘special’ nuclear materials.
  • Gov’t Labs : Large areas of oceans contaminated by plutonium from events such as Fukushima; Build-up in biosphere expected; Considerable hazard to humans.

Energy News statement :

Detection of long-lived plutonium isotopes in environmental samples by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) — Plutonium isotopes 239Pu, 240Pu and 242Pu are anthropogenic radionuclides emitted into the environment by nuclear activities. Pu is accumulated in the human body and hence, poses a considerable hazard to human health. Due to the long half-lives, these isotopes are present in the biosphere on large time scales and a build-up can be expected. Therefore it is important to study the contamination pathway of Pu into the drinking water… a method to detect long-lived Pu isotopes by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) is being developed. AMS requires only few milligrams of sample material… Consequently, more samples from different locations can be taken which is essential when searching for locally increased Pu concentrations as in the Pacific Ocean after the Fukushima accident… Samples from different locations in the Pacific Ocean and from the snow-hydrosphere are planned…

Statement by: Taeko Shinonaga, head of Radioanalytical Laboratory at Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen (research institution founded jointly by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education & Research and Bavaria’s Finance Ministry), scientists from Technische Universitat Munchen (Germany), Verhandlungen der Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft 2013 meeting (emphasis added)

Presentation by: Taeko Shinonaga, head of Helmholtz radioanalytical lab (pdf), Nov 2014: Comparison of activity between [nuclear bomb testing] fallout Pu particle and Fukushima origin Pu particle:
Global Fallout Pu in Japan [GF]Global Fallout Pu in Japan
> Pu240: 1,360 Bq
> Pu241: 645 Bq
> Total: 208,005 Bq

Fukushima Pu found in our study
> Pu240: 197,000 Bq [145 times GF]
> Pu241: 43,700,000 Bq [67,752 times GF]
> Total: 44,061,000 Bq [212 times GF]

Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Univ. of Notre Dame, 2014: Interstitial incorporation of plutonium into a low-dimensional potassium borate…

[E]vents such as the catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan [have] resulted in the contamination of large areas of oceans, ground-water, soils, and sediments by actinides, such as uranium and plutonium… migration of actinides [is] an important environmental concern… Knowledge of the incorporation mechanisms of actinides into… natural materials is therefore required… for predicting the migration of radionuclides…

European Commission Joint Research Centre (pdf), 2014:

[The Joint Research Centre] is studying emerging safety issues…examining mixed oxide (MOX) properties [and] preparing further severe accident studies on specific aspects of the Fukushima accident [such as] off-vessel fuel-concrete interactions… Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) selected a JRC-developed method as one of the most suitable approaches to characterise [Fukushima's] molten fuel… This characterisation is an international obligation during the decommissioning phase, according to IAEA safeguards. Japanese researchers are now developing and optimising the methodology to quantify special nuclear materials in particle-like debris of the molten reactor fuel.

Saudi Invasion: Yemeni Forces Arrest 40 Saudi Military Men

March 29th, 2015 by Fars News Agency

“The fighters of the Yemeni Ansarullah and popular committees held, at least, 40 Saudi military personnel as captive in heavy clashes in Razeh district of Al-Tawila region,” informed sources told FNA on Friday.

Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes against Yemen early Thursday, one day after the US-backed Yemeni president fled the country.

Riyadh claimed that it has bombed the positions of the Ansarullah fighters and launched attacks against the Sana’a airport and the Dulaimi airbase.

But despite Riyadh’s claims, Saudi warplanes have flattened a number of homes near Sana’a international airport. Based on early reports, the Saudi airstrikes on Yemen have so far claimed the lives of 25 civilians with more deaths feared, Yemeni sources said.

At least 25 Yemeni civilians, including children, were killed and tens of other wounded in the Saudi air strike.

Also, 15 more people were killed and injured in a second round of massive attacks by the Saudi Arabian fighter jets in the Northwestern Yemeni city of Sa’ada on Friday.

Yemen’s al-Massira TV reported that the Saudi air force targeted the Yemeni’s civilians who were shopping in a market.

Five Persian Gulf States — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait — backed by the US have declared war on Yemen in a joint statement issued earlier Thursday.

US President Barack Obama authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to the military operations, National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said late Wednesday night.

She added that while US forces were not taking direct military action in Yemen, Washington was establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate US military and intelligence support.

Riyadh claimed that it has bombed the positions of the Ansarullah fighters and launched attacks against the Sana’a airport and the Dulaimi airbase.

Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is attacking Ansarullah positions, Saudi warplanes have flattened a number of homes near Sana’a international airport. Based on early reports, the Saudi airstrikes on Yemen have so far claimed the lives of 25 civilians with more deaths feared, Yemeni sources said.

Invading Yemen: Criminality in Support of Hegemony

March 29th, 2015 by Ajamu Baraka

Wednesday evening Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States announced that Saudi Arabia had commenced military operations against the Ansarullah fighters of the Houthi movement in Yemen. The Saudi intervention was not unexpected. Over the last few weeks there were signs that the U.S. and the Saudi’s were preparing the ground for direct military intervention in Yemen in response to the Houthi’s seizing state power in January.

The appearance of a previously unknown ISIS element that was supposedly responsible for the massive bomb attack that killed over 130 people on Friday and the withdraw of U.S. personnel on Saturday were the clear signals that direct intervention by the Saudi’s was imminent.

And this week with the fall of al-Anad military base, the base where the U.S. military and CIA conducted its drone warfare in Yemen, to Ansarullah fighters and the capture of the port city of Aden where disposed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi had fled, it was almost certain that the U.S. would the green light for its client states to intervene.

The Saudi Ambassador cloaked the role of Saudi Arabia within the fictitious context of another grand coalition, this time led by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) –  the corrupt collection of authoritarian monarchies allied with the U.S. and the other Western colonial powers.

Ambassador Al-Jubeir announced that before launching operations in Yemen all of its allies were consulted. The meaning of that statement is that the U.S. was fully involved in the operation. Even though the Ambassador stressed that the U.S. was not directly involved in the military component of the assault, CNN reported that an interagency U.S. coordination team was in Saudi Arabia and that a U.S. official confirmed that the U.S. would be providing logistical and intelligence support for the operation.

And what was the justification for launching a military  operation not sanction by the United Nations Security Council? According to the Saudi’s they have legitimate regional security concerns in Yemen. Their argument was that since they share a border with Yemen, the chaos that erupted over the last few months that culminated in what they characterize as a coup by the Houthi insurgency, forced them to intervene to establish order and defend by “all efforts” the legitimate government of President Hadi.

But this is becoming an old and tired justification for criminality in support of hegemony.

The intervention by the Saudi’s and the GCC continues the international lawlessness that the U.S. precipitated with its War on Terror over the last decade and a half.  Violations of the UN Charter and international law modeled by the powerful states of the West has now become normalized resulting in an overall diminution of international law and morality over the last 15 years.

The double standard and hypocrisy of U.S. support for the Saudi intervention in Yemen and Western and U.S. condemnations of Russia’s regional security concerns in response to the right-wing coup in Ukraine  will not be missed by most people.

And so the conflagration in the Middle East continues.

U.S. and Saudi geo-strategic interest in containing the influence of Iran has trumped international law and any concerns about the lives of the people of Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. Militarism and war as first options has now become commonplace as instruments of statecraft in an international order in which power trumps morality and law is only applied to the powerless.

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights defender whose experience spans three decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles. http://www.ajamubaraka.com

Looking Back at the Vietnam War

March 28th, 2015 by Andy Piascik

This Spring marks 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War. At least that’s what it’s called in the United States, the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, it’s called the American War to distinguish the phase involving the United States from those involving other aggressors and colonizers — China, France and Japan most notably.

The occasion has been marked by widespread commentary, reminisces and what passes for history in the corporate media. The Pentagon has chimed in with a fanciful account posted on its website that evokes the propaganda it spun during the actual fighting of the war: US imperialism good, Vietnam bad. On a more positive note, peace and veterans groups around the country have held events and otherwise tried to put forward analysis about the horrific nature of US aggression that haunts Vietnam to this day.

A more mixed aspect is the degree to which the war still hovers over our own country like a cloud. Several decades back, mainstream commentators regularly referred to the Vietnam Syndrome, which until the 1991 Persian Gulf War served to keep US imperialism in check to some extent. Media elites referred to the reluctance of our political class to go to war for fear of getting bogged down in “another Vietnam.” What they were unwilling to say openly is that the Vietnam Syndrome is really the gulf in opinion between elites and the public on the matter of US aggression.

In short, the US has found it extremely difficult since Vietnam to count on significant public support for its wars. Throughout the decade of the 1980’s, for example, the US desperately sought to impose its will on Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala, to name just three, utilizing proxy armies to defend landed elites against the people of those countries. If not for ongoing public opposition, US troops would likely have been fighting in Central America as early as 1980. Because the US was unable to send troops, the kind of bloodletting the US inflicted on Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia did not happen in Central America. One result is that the popular movements and revolutionary forces were able to carry on the struggle, to a point where a one-time revolutionary guerrilla is today president of El Salvador and longtime Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega is again president of Nicaragua.

This is not to say a horrible number of deaths and incalculable damage was not inflicted on those countries; the US was especially determined to destroy the revolutionary experiment in Nicaragua, an effort that was largely successful. More ominously, though the hell of the military terror of the 1980’s is past, Guatemala remains in the grips of wealthy elites tied to the United States and is one of the most class-stratified, repressive societies in the Hemisphere.

But the damage inflicted on Central America does not compare to what was done in Indochina and that was due in no small part to the efforts of millions of everyday Americans. Unlike in Indochina, solidarity efforts with the people of Central America began early and in earnest. In Nicaragua, they began soon after the US moved against the popular revolt that overthrew the hated Somoza dictatorship in 1979. In El Salvador, solidarity work began in the wake of the murder by paramilitary terrorists of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980 and grew ever larger over the next ten years. That work included demonstrations, sit-ins, teach-ins, medical aid, Sister City projects, accompaniment by doctors, electricians and others with skills to offer, as well as making available sanctuary, usually in churches, to people fleeing the violence to the US.

Sporadic opposition within the US to aggression in Indochina, by contrast, popped up in 1963 and 1964 but it was very small and isolated. What we know as the anti-war movement did not take shape until 1965, more than a decade after the US unleashed its murderous puppet Ngo Dinh Diem on the southern part of Vietnam, and a full four years after President Kennedy began major escalation.

More recently, the US has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and, as this is written, is contemplating sending troops elsewhere in the Middle East. Just as in Indochina, the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have in important ways been failures. And because of the massive use of superior military force, the US has become something of a pariah internationally — feared but extremely isolated. Again, domestic organizing has contributed significantly to that isolation. No small feat that, and one that is important to recognize both because of the suffering that would have resulted from the use of greater force, as well as for what it teaches about the impact the public can have on imperial war. There’s still much to do, however, and for both ourselves and those who suffer under bombardment done in our names, we need to get to it.

Combatting the official, distorted history of Vietnam can assist us in those efforts and this admittedly cursory background is offered in that spirit. One aspect of that distorted history spun in some recent commentaries is that the War began in February 1965 when North Vietnamese and US troops clashed for the first time, the result, it’s claimed (naturally) of an unprovoked North Vietnamese attack. One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the arrogance required to claim that point as the start of the war when tens of thousands — probably hundreds of thousands — of Vietnamese were already dead at US hands by that time, but such is the level of dishonesty and subservience to power in US political culture.

Pinpointing where US aggression in Vietnam began depends on how one determines how a war begins but 1945 is a good place to start in order to best understand what transpired over the ensuing 30 years. It was in the summer of that year that Vietnamese revolutionary forces grouped around the Viet Minh defeated Japan, whose army had invaded their country four years before. Like so many around the world who suffered greatly under the forces of fascism and militarism during the Second World War, the Vietnamese considered their victory the dawn of a new day. In that spirit, Viet Minh leader Ho Chi Minh read a proclamation inspired significantly by the US Declaration of Independence (large sections of which were included word for word) to a massive assembly in Vietnam that was also directed at Washington and people around the world.

It was at this point that the US made the crucial decision to reject Ho’s overtures and throw in with Vietnam’s long-time colonizers, France. Most of the French colonial administration and army had run away when Japan invaded Vietnam, ceding the country to the invaders; those French who remained collaborated with the Japanese. Yet in its imperial wisdom, France decided it was entirely within its rights to re-colonize Vietnam, which it did, with crucial arms, money and diplomatic support from the US.  The Vietnamese, not surprisingly, were not so enthusiastic about being invaded yet again and resisted just as they had resisted colonization and occupation for centuries.

As the French inflicted horrific violence in a failed attempt at re-conquest that lasted nine years, the US bore more and more of the war’s burden. When the Vietnamese achieved final victory by annihilating the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, there was again the possibility that they had achieved independence. It was not to be, though. With Vietnam looking on skeptically, the US, other Western powers and the Soviet Union brokered the Geneva Accords that stipulated, among other things, that national elections unifying all of Vietnam be held within two years. The division of the country into North, where revolutionary forces had won complete victory, and South, which except for Saigon and the surrounding area was under Viet Minh control, was rightly seen by the Vietnamese as a ploy by US imperialism to buy time and a sell-out by the Soviet Union.

Though they had no faith that the US would live up to the agreement, the Vietnamese had little choice but to go along. Their fears were justified in no time, as the US made clear that the Geneva Accords were nothing but paper that could be shredded into a million worthless pieces. Since Washington knew Ho would win an election in a landslide, no such election ever took place. As in dozens of other cases over the past 100+ years, the US opposed democracy in favor of aggression. Elections are all well and good but only if the right people win; if the wrong people win, then out come the machine guns.

So in 1954, the US threw its considerable weight behind Ngo Dinh Diem, an expatriate living at the time in a New Jersey seminary run by the arch-reactionary Francis Cardinal Spellman, and installed him as dictator of what was now known as South Vietnam. During Diem’s nine years in power, the US looked on approvingly as he waged a war of terror against the people of the South. Resistance continued and eventually grew, though for a time Washington shifted its regional attention to neighboring Laos, where there was also a strong insurgency fighting against a US-backed dictatorship.

That changed under the Kennedy Administration, however, as the US expanded its aggression in Vietnam and the resistance rapidly grew. The resistance was led largely by the National Front for Liberation, successor group to the Viet Minh and known by its French acronym NLF, but it was made up of a broad cross section of Vietnamese society including, significantly, a large number of Buddhist monks.

Though Kennedy is often portrayed as desiring peace in Vietnam, something the Camelot mythmakers claim he supposedly would have accomplished had he not been assassinated, the sordid facts reveal the opposite. At every point where peace or even de-escalation could have been achieved, Kennedy opted instead for escalation: through saturation bombing, through the widespread use of napalm and other chemical weapons, through the organization of strategic hamlets (such a great phrase, strategic hamlets; kind of like calling Auschwitz a country getaway), and, finally, through the introduction of ground troops.

Though a despot, Diem revealed himself to be a despot with something of a conscience in 1963 when, weary of the fighting tearing apart his country, he independently made peace overtures to the NLF and unification overtures to the North. It was a fateful decision, as Washington soon ordered that he be taken out, as he was, assassinated just three weeks before Kennedy himself was murdered. (It was this sequence of events that the great Malcolm X referred to as “chickens coming home to roost,” precipitating his break with the Nation of Islam).

Kennedy’s successor Lyndon Johnson was only in office nine months before he  fabricated the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964, another Vietnam turning point.

Simultaneously, Johnson, dubbed the Peace Candidate by some (probably including himself), was warning the nation that Barry Goldwater, his opponent in that year’s presidential election, was a dangerously unhinged war monger. That theme produced the most memorable moment of the campaign, a TV ad featuring a little girl counting the petals she picks off a flower that morphs into a countdown to Armageddon.

Once he secured re-election and with the Gulf of Tonkin incident as justification, Johnson in early 1965 expanded aggression to all of Vietnam via a massive bombing campaign against the North (though the bulk of US destruction was always directed at the South). Parenthetically, Johnson would later that year order an invasion of the Dominican Republic to keep from power moderate reformer Juan Bosch and provide the usual substantial arms, money and diplomatic support to a murderous coup in Indonesia that brought the butcher Suharto to power. At least 500,000 people were killed during the coup and its aftermath; Amnesty International, generally blind to crimes committed by the US and its proxies, puts the figure at 1.5 million. The Peace Candidate, indeed.

So it remained in Vietnam for three years, a yin and yang of escalation and heightened resistance, until the Tet Offensive in January 1968. Before Tet, the US had largely gotten away with lying about the progress of the war, the burgeoning anti-war movement notwithstanding.  After Tet, it was clear that the promised victory at hand was delusional and a fabrication. Still, Tet remains a bone of contention for the most extreme supporters of the war who claim the US capably defeated the uprising, only to be sabotaged by antiwar media and Democratic politicians.

In reality, the Tet Offensive followed the NLF strategy of never engaging the US in a battle as that word is traditionally understood. It was a hit and run operation with the purpose of inflicting great damage, yes, but designed primarily to display once and for all that its forces were formidable and the will of the people unconquerable. In short, the goal was not to win a battle of Tet; the goal was to show anyone who still doubted that the US could not win. I recall reading years ago something said around the time of Tet by a Vietnamese elder who had probably seen as much death and destruction as anyone who ever lived (I’m paraphrasing): We can settle this now or we can settle it a thousand years from now. It’s up to the Americans.

One group who became convinced after Tet that the Vietnamese were right in their assessment was the US business community. As always, their view, unlike generals, policy wonks and national politicians, was sober and geared to the long run. What they saw were war expenditures that were a huge economic drain, attention to Indochina that would have been better placed in outdoing global competitors in the expansion of markets, an army increasingly reluctant to fight, and the spread of domestic insurgencies from the isolation of college campuses to crucial points of production, most notably the Revolutionary Union Movement sweeping the auto industry.

One of the business elite’s first moves was to push Johnson aside in favor of Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy. Kennedy was a long-time Cold Warrior going back to his days working with Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn whose plans for Vietnam, much like his brother’s, were predicated on victory first and then peace. McCarthy, meanwhile, had no connection to the anti-war movement before or after his thoroughly opportunistic six-month effort to cash in as the new Peace Candidate, and the 1968 election serves as well as any example of the disparity between rulers and ruled: a majority of the population in favor of immediate withdrawal having to choose between candidates who all favored continuing the war.

Richard Nixon’s Vietnamization — shifting the burden of the war to the South Vietnamese army — was Washington’s last failed act. The killing continued and the war was expanded to Laos and Cambodia but still the US could not win. Before the end, in 1973, the US perpetrated another fraud, the Paris Peace Accords, every tenet of which Nixon violated before the ink on the document was dry. By the time the revolutionary forces took Saigon on April 30 1975, the US had been involved in Vietnam for thirty years.

The list of outstanding books about Vietnam is a long one and mention will be made only of recent scholarship by Christian Appy who, among other contributions, has meticulously documented the working class nature of the war and the domestic opposition to it. That last flies in the face of the official history, as elites prefer to foster the notion that the movement consisted exclusively of privileged white college students. In reality, workers and the poor opposed US aggression in higher numbers from start to finish and not only because sons of the working class were far more likely to do the fighting. Ineluctably, it was overwhelmingly working class active duty resisters and recently returned veterans whose opposition to the war ultimately proved decisive on the home front.

Virtually every American who knows even a little about the war knows that 55,000 US soldiers died in Vietnam. Only a tiny percentage, however, come anywhere near the correct number of Indochinese killed when polled. Noam Chomsky has written of one poll where the average given by respondents was 200,000 and likens this to people believing that 300,000 Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, as in both cases the count is off by a factor of 20. Such a gross misunderstanding underscores the effectiveness of the intellectual class in propagating a self-serving, highly distorted nature of the war – who suffered, who died, who the wronged are.

Even the largely accepted figure of four million Indochinese dead is probably low, possibly dramatically so, though the truth will probably never be known. Those best equipped to make that determination are the very ones who either waged the war or have a vested interest in burying its truths. As a US general speaking of a more recent conflagration put it: “We don’t do body counts.” Not, anyway, when the dead bodies are victims of American violence.

Also completely ignored here is the Vietnamese experience of Agent Orange and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, for example. Take the terrible suffering of US soldiers and multiply their numbers ten thousand fold or more and we get a sense of the damage to the Vietnamese. Additionally, Vietnam and the rest of Indochina (the official histories generally and conveniently leave out the wars waged against Laos and Cambodia) are full of unexploded ordinances that regularly cause death and injuries, to this day. And though Vietnam and Laos were able to avoid catastrophic famine, Cambodia was not, not surprising given that it’s a small country whose countryside was bombed back to the Stone Age. Destruction on such a scale combined with an ironclad US-imposed postwar embargo essentially doomed hundreds of thousands to death by starvation. That’s an unpleasant truth, though; so much easier to blame everything bad that happened in Cambodia after April 1975 on the despotic Khmer Rouge.

However, though neither Vietnam or Laos experienced the postwar cataclysm of Cambodia, the war was so destructive that it could be argued that the US won in the sense that an alternative mode of social organization was rendered impossible (much like 1980’s Nicaragua). The US views all societies that put people before profits as a threat, particularly if they’re in the global South. It is the only way to understand the 50 years plus war of terror against Cuba, today’s bellicosity directed at Venezuela and the continuation of the war in Indochina in the 1970’s long after the US knew it could not win. In large part because of the scale of destruction, Vietnam today is well integrated into the global economy with all the negatives that entails, full of sweatshops, venture capitalists and major disparities in wealth and power.

Discussions of Vietnam are hardly academic exercises; the US is currently on a global rampage and falsifying history is part and parcel of the effort to whip up support for the next war. Because of the domestic gulf between rulers and ruled on the question of US aggression, we have the US going ahead with a second invasion of Iraq in 2003, destroying Libya, supporting war-hungry neo-Nazis in Ukraine, threatening Venezuela and engaging in a proxy war designed to destroy Syria, all despite opposition from a majority of the public on every count. Put simply, that means we will have to more effectively do our work of building an anti-war, anti-imperialist movement toward a day when we may live with the people of the world in something approximating harmony.

Andy Piascik is a long-time activist and award-winning author who writes for Z, Counterpunch and many other publications and websites. He can be reached at [email protected].

Four Years of Syrian Resistance to Imperialist Takeover

March 28th, 2015 by Sara Flounders

By Sara Flounders and Lamont Lilly

U.S. efforts to overturn the government of Syria have now extended into a fifth year. It is increasingly clear that thousands of predictions reported in the corporate media by Western politicians, think tanks, diplomats and generals of a quick overturn and easy destruction of Syrian sovereignty have been overly optimistic, imperialist dreams. But four years of sabotage, bombings, assassinations and a mercenary invasion of more than 20,000 fighters recruited from over 60 countries have spread great ruin and loss of life.

The U.S. State Department has once again made its arrogant demand that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down. This demand confirms U.S. imperialism’s determination to overthrow the elected Syrian government. Washington intends to impose the chaos of feuding mercenaries and fanatical militias as seen today in Libya and Iraq.

A delegation from the International Action Center headed by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark traveled to Syria in late February to present a different message.

Visits to hospitals, centers for displaced families and meetings with religious leaders, community organizations and government officials conveyed the IAC’s determination to resist the orchestrated efforts of U.S. imperialism acting through its proxies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Israel.

The IAC’s opportunity to again visit Syria came following its participation in a packed and well-organized meeting of the International Forum for Justice in Palestine, held in Beirut on Feb. 22 and 23. The conference was initiated by Ma’an Bashour and the Arab International Centre for Communication and Solidarity and again confirmed the centrality of the burning, unresolved issue of Palestine in the region.

The solidarity delegation to Syria included Cynthia McKinney, former six-term member of the U.S Congress; Lamont Lilly, of the youth organization FIST – Fight Imperialism, Stand Together; Eva Bartlett, from the Syrian Solidarity Movement; and Sara Flounders, IAC co-director.

The delegation traveled the rutted, mountainous, blacktop road from Beirut to Damascus to the Lebanon-Syria border. On the Syrian side, this road was a modern, 6-lane highway, a reminder of Syria’s high level of infrastructure development. Even after four years of war, this is still a well-maintained highway. Due to sanctions against Syria, hundreds of trucks attempting deliveries stretched for miles on both sides of the border.

Compared to two years ago, when the IAC visited Damascus, this year we didn’t hear the constant thud of incoming rockets from mercenary forces shelling the city. These military forces have been pushed back from their encirclement of the capital. Syrian military units, checkpoints, sandbags, blast walls and concrete blocks were now less pervasive. Markets were full of people and held more produce.

A visit to Damascus’ largest hospital showed the cumulative impact of four years of devastation. At the University Hospital, where children with amputated limbs receive treatments in the ICU, many children had been brought in maimed from explosives and with shrapnel wounds from mortars and rockets fired on Damascus by terrorist forces.

At a visit to a center for displaced families at a former school, we met with university students, who provide sports, crafts, tutoring and mentoring programs. Medical care, free food and education programs are provided by the centers. But conditions are desperately overcrowded. Each homeless family, often of 6 to 10 people, is allocated a single classroom as housing. Almost half the population has been displaced by the terror tactics of mercenary forces.

A Mosaic of cultures

A theme in almost every discussion was Syria’s heritage as a diverse, rich mosaic of religious and cultural traditions. Sectarian divisions and intolerance are consciously opposed. One can see the determination to oppose the rule of foreign-funded forces.

A visit with Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun and Syrian Greek Orthodox Bishop Luca al-Khoury reflected the centuries of religious harmony that previously existed in Syria.

Mufti Hassoun stressed the need for reconciliation. He described to the visitors the assassination three years ago of his 22-year-old son, Saria, who “had never carried a weapon in his life.” Saria was gunned down after leaving his university. At the funeral, Mufti Hassoun declared he forgave the gunmen and called on them to lay down their weapons and rejoin Syria. He described his Greek Orthodox counterpart, Bishop Luca al-Khoury, as his cousin and brother.

Bishop Khoury described the ease with which he received a visa to the U.S., while Mufti Hassoun was denied a visa, although both are religious leaders. “Why do they differentiate between us?” said Khoury. “It’s part of the project to separate Christians and Muslims here. It’s over gas pipelines which are supposed to run through Syrian territory. This will only happen if there is a weak Syrian state.

“If the Syrian government would agree to give a monopoly to France to extract gas from Syria, then you would find [President François] Hollande visiting Syria the next day. If the Syrian government would give the monopoly to [the United States of] America, [President Barack] Obama would declare President al-Assad as the legitimate ruler of the Syrian people.”

“Turkey is warring on us,” Khoury continued, “with financial support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and political support from America, Europe and Britain. Drones cross our borders daily, providing coordinates for the terrorists as to where to strike.”

Both religious leaders declared, as did many others in Syria, that the only solution is an international effort to stop the flow of arms: “If the American government would like to find a solution for the Syrian crisis, they could go to the Security Council and issue a resolution under Chapter 7 for a total ban of weapons from Turkey to terrorists in Syria. In one week this would be over.”

Syria’s accomplishments

Political and media adviser to President al-Assad, Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, described the problem of stopping the weapons and mercenaries flooding into the country: “With external support and financing, and an over 800-kilometer border with Turkey, it’s very difficult to stop the flow of terrorists.

“Syria was formerly one of the fastest developing countries in the world,” Shaaban continued, “and one of the safest. We have free education and health care. We did not know poverty; we grew our food and produced our own clothing. At universities, 55 percent of the students were women. In whose interest is it to destroy this heritage? Who is the beneficiary of this?”

Shaaban described her time as a Fulbright scholar at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and later as professor at Eastern Michigan University: “I always wanted to be a bridge between Syria and Western cultures. At the beginning of the crisis, they tried to buy me. They urged me to ‘come to a civilized place,’” she said. “We have baths which are over 1,000 years old and still functioning. I studied Shelley: They didn’t have baths 800 years ago in England. We did. We were having baths and coffee.”

Meeting with PFLP Leaders

The delegation headed by Ramsey Clark also had an important opportunity to meet with Abu Ahmad Fuad, deputy general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Abu Sami Marwan, of the Political Bureau of the PFLP, and hear of the ongoing developments in Palestine and the region.

According to a Feb. 25 statement released by the PFLP after the meeting, “The PFLP leaders discussed the nature of the U.S./Zionist aggression against the people of the region, their intervention in Syria and the attempts of colonial powers to impose their hegemony by force and military aggression, through division of the land and people, and by pushing the region into sectarian or religious conflict.

“This U.S. policy is nothing new.” The Front noted that the colonial powers have waged an ongoing war against the Arab people to prevent any real progress for the region on the road to liberation, self-determination and an end to Zionist occupation.

“The U.S. delegation discussed the urgent need for building ongoing solidarity with Palestine in the United States and internationally,” continued the release, “in particular to confront the deep involvement of the United States — militarily, politically and financially — in the crimes of the occupier, and to end its attacks on Syria, Iraq and the people of the entire region.

“The solidarity delegates noted that there is a colonial scheme to divide and repartition the region according to the interests of major corporations and imperial powers, targeting the resources of the people, sometimes through blatant political interference in the affairs of the region and other times through wars and military attacks on states and peoples.

“The two sides emphasized the importance of communication between the Palestinian Arab left and progressive and democratic forces in the United States to confront Zionism and imperialism in the U.S. and in Palestine alike.”

Ramsey Clark described the aim of the visit: “To find more opportunities for dialogue and coordination among the Syrian and American people.  We saw culture and credibility in Syria and we appreciate the struggle of this people. We will disallow them to shift Syria into Iraq or Libya.”

Cynthia McKinney, former member at the U.S. Congress, said that she appreciated “Syria’s heroic stance, as people and leadership, in its war against the U.S. imperialism. The Syrian people are exceptional in their capability of resistance as the acts during four years have failed to achieve their goals.”

The past three months have seen the driest winter in 84 years in southeastern Brazil. Water shortages are now critical in São Paulo, home to twenty million people. The city’s primary reservoir is fluctuating between 6-13% of capacity, and officials are estimating São Paolo’s reserves will last a mere 90 days without additional rainfall. The rainy season, from December through February, is over, and sadly, recent flooding within the city has not raised main reservoir levels, which are located further inland. (1) 

The primary reservoir at Cantareira feeding much of the metropolitan city is nearly bone-dry. People in São Paulo are resorting to deliveries from bicycle riders carrying jugs of water. Others are digging their private wells on their own land or even in basements, which can lead to contamination issues. Those who can afford it are hoarding water, and the more resourceful are using cisterns and building rainwater catchment systems. Local rivers are polluted due to sewage problems and cannot be used for drinking water. Some have simply fled the city, becoming 21st century “water refugees”. (2)

Due to the massive glaciers of the Andes, the Amazon and its tributaries, Brazil holds 12% of worldwide freshwater and is called “the Saudi Arabia of water”. So why is this drought happening? Scientists are citing deforestation of the Amazon, Brazil’s very own “chainsaw massacre”, as the causal factor of the drought. As climatologist Antonio Nobre explains:

“That’s what we have learned – that the forests have an innate ability to import moisture and to cool down and to favour rain… If deforestation in the Amazon continues, São Paulo will probably dry up. If we don’t act now, we’re lost.” (3)

Government officials deserve part of the blame, as Brazilians cited recent elections and last year’s World Cup, which conveniently allowed politicians to procrastinate and avoid the problem. This could eventually become a public health issue, as a surge in demand for new wells has led to unprofessional drilling techniques. Well experts estimate only 20% of new drilled wells meet guidelines. (4)

São Paolo isn’t the only city in Brazil facing drought conditions. Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte are also facing water shortages, putting a total of 40 million people at risk in the region, comparable to the entire NYC and LA metro areas in the US. The situation is taking a toll as GDP is predicted to fall in the area, and experts question the government’s readiness for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. At the same time, the Petrobas bribery scandal widens and the Rousseff government is coming under intense scrutiny, which may distract leaders from solving the water crisis.

Due to state incompetence and fealty towards private industry, southeastern Brazil’s water reserves have been irrevocably altered. The megaregion will now be forced to limit public and industrial use if it wants to maintain civil stability. Whether the political class has the guts to go through with a major conservation program is questionable. Dilma Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, dubbed as leftist by mainstream analysts, is more accurately a blend of center-left democratic socialism and neoliberal economic practices. The government swings between populist Bolivarian policies to appease its vast working class, and deregulated financial and industrial policy to please its corporate masters.

Brazil is far from the only nation at risk from drought: last year, parts of India, China, Ethiopia, Australia and many smaller countries were at risk. California is estimated to have only one year of water supplies at current usage rates. São Paulo presents a particularly dangerous test case because it is one of the first modern megacities facing this issue.

Despite the siren calls of the global elite, the 21st century may not turn out to be a model of technological advancement and social stability. Global warming, deforestation, and resource depletion are all intensifying, and could easily lead to a century of climate refugees and worldwide impoverishment. World leaders working with NGOs should be at the forefront of climate change issues, rather than indulging in political chess games in Syria, Ukraine, Iran, Yemen, and beyond.

 William Hawes is an independent author specializing in environmental issues and politics.

Notes:
 

How is it possible to expand something that is, by definition, immeasurable?  Such length of string arguments are bound to dog Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s opinion that the air campaign against ISIS needs expansion, lengthening, and deepening.  “ISIL has made it clear that it targets, by name, Canada and Canadians.”  

Earlier in the week, Harper told the House whilst announcing a one-year extension of its military mission against the Islamic State about his intention to avoid that stumbling block called sovereignty, and the UN charter that acknowledges it with solemn clarity.  Canada would “not seek the express consent of the Syrian government” in launching strikes against ISIS targets on Syrian soil.[1]

The suggestion here is that Canada becomes the third country after the United States and Israel to launch airstrikes on Syrian soil on the pretext of targeting mischief making “non-state actors”.  This reverses the position the prime minister took last fall, when Syria was declared to be “off-limits” to fighters of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

In so doing, long-time legal observer Michael Byers of the University of British Columbia, suggested that Canada was “taking sides in a decade-long debate” which was shaped by “George W. Bush and cultivated by his administration – very controversially.”  Central to the debate was the breakdown of supposedly traditional views about one state taking action against another.  Supposedly threatening non-state actors have become targets of the US-Israel view that, irrespective of which country is hosting them, they constitute legitimate targets.

The justifying counter to traditionalists comes in the form of self-defence arguments that are permitted under Article 51 of the UN Charter, though Harper initially tiptoed around it.  In fact, Harper could only be dismissive of the questioning by Opposition leader Tom Mulcair as to whether the United Nations had been informed of this decision to move on Syria.  “Has the prime minister,” posed the NDP leader, “written to the United Nations, laying out Canada’s justification for its planned intervention in Syria?”  ISIS lawyers, sneered Harper, would hardly be taking Canada to court on the subject, a view that suggests much on the impoverishment of legal debate.

The task of picking a legal framework fell to Defence Minister Jason Kenney, who produced the apologetics of self-defence out of his bag of tricks, citing the views of Canada’s top legal eagle in the military.  Self-defence remains the last refuge of the international law scoundrel – or at least one who wishes to see it used in violation of territorial integrity.  According to James Bezan, parliamentary secretary to the minister of defence, “Collectively, the coalition – which includes the government of Iraq – needs to defend themselves and have the right to defend themselves from ISIL [ISIS].”

Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson decided to shift the onus on the Assad regime for not doing enough to curtail and destroy the forces of ISIL.  “If Syria is unable or unwilling to prevent ISIL from staging operations into Iraq, that is a legal justification to get involved.”  Ever a poor precedent, Nicholson cited the indiscrete and stomping US lead on the subject.  “The Americans have operated in there for six months without resistance from the Syrian government.”

Tim Harper of The Toronto Star has found the brazen manner of Harper’s decision stunningly slothful.  Canadians, “even those who slavishly back this mission – deserve more than a simplistic, ‘there are bad guys out there and we’re going to get them’ rationale, the product of either a tired, complacent government or one that values domestic politics over the inconveniences of international convention.”[2]

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau believes that such strikes will have another unintended consequence.  Even the targeting breaches Syrian sovereignty, the Assad regime will profit from such fabulously expansive rationales of Canadian self-defence.  “I believe the unintended but predictable consequence of helping (Assad) consolidate his grip on power in Syria is definitely something we could qualify as making things worse.”[3]

The open-ended conflict, interminable, and impossible to gauge in terms of success, is here to stay.  With that has come a relentless attenuation of state sovereignty.  US forces strike with impunity in global borderlands.  The term “self-defence,” which has been extended since 2001 via the US Congress Authorisation for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists resolution, is characterised by “precision munitions” and drone warfare.

Lawyers have warned that the sheer nature of such resolutions would be abused, as it has been.  But others resort to that old idea that responsibility is also a relevant excuse in using violence to combat violence. To protect civilians, irrespective of their nationality, it may be necessary to wade into the murky waters of humanitarian intervention at the end of a missile.  ISIS, for the University of Toronto’s Aurel Braun, represented a “credible, immediate and global threat” that justified the use of Article 51 (CBC, Mar 26).  Besides, “Sovereignty is not only about right, but also about duties and responsibilities.”

The result of all of this?  Territorial limits prove to be less relevant. Governments in power are inconsequential if they do not doff their hats to the holy church that is the responsibility to protect.  If the designated enemy is an associate of terrorism, however one defines it, it constitutes a legitimate target irrespective of who governs the territory of residence.  This is the law of the jungle moderated by the disingenuousness of moral force.

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

Notes

Why Latin America Rejects US Military Presence

March 28th, 2015 by Joachim Hagopian

Ever since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 the United States has claimed territorial rights to the Western Hemisphere, essentially warning the rest of the world to back off from USA’s backyard. The American way of proclaiming itself the big cheese of the New World manifested by quickly ousting colonial competitor Spain from Florida and the Southwest and two decades later declaring war on Mexico, stealing a third of its sovereign territory to ensure that Texas, New Mexico and Arizona became part of the bountiful chosen nation fast expanding from sea to shining sea. Next came more than a century of constant military interventions from the 1850’s in Nicaragua and Panama that brought forced labor and slavery to the indigenous population. 

Long before the US became the global bully, it was the Western Hemisphere’s neighborhood thug. The 1898 Spanish American War born of the false flag sinking of the USS Maine facilitated colonial expansion and occupation of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. Genocide-war casualty expert RJ Rummel estimates up to near half a million Filipinos died in the bloodbath when the US military invaded, conquered and re-colonized the freshly independent nation of the Philippines during the Spanish American War.

As the US ascended to global power throughout the course of the following century, it became increasingly intolerant toward other nations’ autonomy or any and all regional claims of a “Monroe Doctrine” of their own. Having fought its own colonial wars far beyond its own hemisphere, the United States increasingly engaged in tampering with other countries’ internal affairs, regularly resorting to assassination of foreign leaders and inciting coups as it so chose around the world. And true to its New World Doctrine, the US maintained tightest control over the hapless nations of Central America and the Caribbean.

As examples of various “Monroe interventions,” a brief history follows. In 1903 for global trading purposes the US wanted a canal, so it invaded Panama, snatching up its land to construct and hold the Panama Canal from its 1914 opening up until 1999. Over this last century countless US Marine invasions took place in Central American nations like Panama and Nicaragua. Cuba and Haiti in the Caribbean were also constantly victimized with military aggression and regime changes, in Haiti right up to the present. US backed coups of democratically elected leaders during the last half century alone occurred in 1964 Brazil, 1965 Dominican Republic, 1973 Chile (ushering in brutal dictator Pinochet), 1973 Uruguay, 1980 El Salvador (that brought Reagan’s death squads also to Nicaragua), a CIA linked plane crash in 1981killing Panama’s leader, and more coups and invasions in 1982 and again 1983 in Guatemala and 1989 Panama. And then there are the incessant economic sanctions and embargos used against smaller nations like Cuba and Nicaragua that resist US oppression. Over the years thousands of Latin Americans died in the name of America’s “manifest destiny.”

By the end of the twentieth century when the US anointed itself as the only global superpower on the planet, American Empire powerbrokers began their ambitious campaign of world domination against its defeated cold war enemies still deemed its strongest potential threats. Thus the plan was launched to systematically isolate Russia and China from the rest of the world by implanting hostile puppet governments in every nation that borders them, with the ultimate aim of placing missiles aimed at Russia, completely usurping all other nations’ regional rights by expanding the Monroe Doctrine well beyond America’s own hemisphere but to the entire globe.

Once the Soviet Empire was broken up in the early 1990’s, at this point no other country could dare make similar claim of exercising any regional power over its neighbors anywhere in the world except the mighty US Empire that self-justified its longtime double standard hypocrisy always with its grandiose sense of empowered exceptionalism. This notion of exclusive impunity that the US is simply immune from compliance with any and all international laws and treaties including all Geneva Convention or United Nations Charter rules just because it happens to be the most powerful nation on earth meant that as the global village bully it can at will threaten, impose, dictate, control and even destroy all other nations through unchallenged global hegemony.

And so goes the US foreign policy enraptured by its own regime change madness to makeover any nation it so chooses using the worn out lie of spreading democracy when it really spread its own selfish agenda of destabilizing, plundering and enslaving in insurmountable debt every nation and people possessing precious dwindling resources or geopolitical chessboard significance to the US Empire as the self-serving master of the world. Without as much as declaring war, the United States in recent years has constantly violated international laws and committed countless war crimes invading, occupying for decades at a time, raping and destroying nations like Afghanistan, Iraq (several times over), Libya, and Syria (of course with a little proxy help from its secretly created and funded “terrorist” mercenary monster allies al Qaeda/ISIS), never failing to leave demolished failed states in its wake.

Then just over a year ago the neocon megalomaniacs assaulted another autonomous nation, investing $5 billion to subversively overthrow another democratically elected president in Ukraine. Then when a vast majority of ethnic Russians living in Crimea that for centuries were always part of Russia voted overwhelmingly to once again become annexed, and President Putin moved to protect both the citizens of Crimea as well as defend his strategically located Russian naval base in Sebastopol, Crimea, suddenly the world bully American Empire began its next propaganda war in futile attempts to demonize Putin with nonstop lies and false flags behind a thinly veiled design to manipulate the Russian leader into reacting, thus serving as provocation for the US-NATO forces as the clear aggressor to invade and occupy yet another country in yet another war.

But this time what could easily turn into World War III would be against a nuclear powered enemy and would risk the end of all life on planet earth. Yet these suicidal gestures of an evil Empire in freefall decline both morally and economically are being puppeteered by Western oligarchs in the midst of losing power and control to the emerging power of the East. For many centuries the central banking cabal has used war to drive both its power and profit.

On April 7, by the overwhelming House vote of 348-48, Congress moved forward with the Obama plan to provide heavy armaments to the corrupt de facto Ukrainian government despite Putin’s warnings and Europe’s ongoing efforts to resolve the conflict through peaceful negotiations. The vast majority of treasonous American leaders controlling the US crime syndicate government possess absolutely no regard for humanity, truth or justice and apparently are determined to plunge the planet headlong into catastrophic world war. A year ago researchers concluded the US government no longer represents the interests of American citizens but instead those of the Western oligarchs, the 1% of the world’s richest population of ruling elitists that as of next year will own more wealth than the rest of us 99% of the 7.2 billion earth inhabitants combined. Something’s demonically wrong and obscene with that NWO equation.

Yet with all this doom and gloom so rapidly unfolding and accelerating during these first few months of 2015, there remains but one populated continent on this earth that appears relatively free of US military domination and control. That laudable distinction belongs exclusively to nations in the US Empire’s own south facing backyard within the Western Hemisphere – South America. Suffering centuries of abuse and exploitation as Empire’s so called banana republics, despite their economic challenges that remain to this day, Latin American nations are emerging as a formidable political force endowed with natural resources and an empowering, growing independence and defiance toward the global giant to the north.

Emboldened by the largest oil reserves on the planet, this century has witnessed the charismatic leadership of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (until his death a couple years ago) leading the continental rebellion against the United States, calling Bush the “devil” before the UN, while calling upon South America to develop its own self-protective line of defense – a walled off independence, unity and solidarity away from the aggressive, controlling and destructive US Empire’s global dominance.

Hugo Chavez led the way for fourteen years shunning Washington’s claws bent on tapping into his nation’s vast oil reserves. But Chavez used his nationalized oil company to provide important revenue to uplift Venezuelans’ standard of living with improved educational opportunity, increased hospitals, affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. Any time a smaller nation in the world rejects US Empire and its predatory system of exploitation of the nation’s people and its land resources through privatized, greed-driven transnational corporations, through lies and propaganda that nation is invariably declared a US enemy. In other words, if a leader does what is best for his or her nation’s residents producing economic growth and prosperity for its own population, that nation is automatically targeted for “regime change” attack economically, politically and often even militarily by the US Empire. Viewed as a revolutionary champion of the people from humble roots much like his own constituents, and willing to boldly challenge and successfully outmaneuver blatant failed US attempts to overthrow him from power and temporarily did in 2002 and failed in more attempts later, Hugo Chavez overcame the Empire wrath and regional conflict with bordering Colombia and ultimately embraced continental Latin unity as an emerging defense against US imperialism.

The pivotal turning point came in August 2010 when enough pressure was brought to bear on Colombia by Chavez and other neighboring countries after Colombia’s president Alvaro Uribe signed an agreement the year before to allow eight more US military bases. The nixed plan was ostensibly to fight the same cocaine smuggling trade the US government makes billions in profits from as well as defeat the leftist insurgent rebels operating inside Colombia. Ultimately the Colombian courts wisely decided the bases were “unconstitutional” because they were never approved of by the nation’s legislators. It was simply a deal that the corrupt outgoing Colombian president had acquiesced to after American Empire pressured for a stronger military foothold on the continent. Though no new bases or additional US soldiers and contractors would be coming to Colombia, 1400 US personnel that were already part of a previously ratified agreement stationed at existing bases were allowed to stay. As a result of the Colombian court decision, the US was successfully banished from making any further inroads of a US military presence inside South America.

This Colombian decision came just a year after Ecuador gave the boot to the US Air Force occupying an air base sharing the runway of Manta’s city airport.  The US base designed to be the primary South American “drug interdiction” watchtower from the sky was formally closed in 2009 after the United States had invested $71 million in airport renovation and over the last decade in operation had brought an annual revenue to the city of $6.5 million.

But the city of Manta moved onto bigger and better investments than the US Empire could offer with its thinly disguised imperialistic hegemony. Instead Ecuador went ahead with joint business ventures in partnership with both neighboring Venezuela and Hong Kong. Chavez made a sweet deal with Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa to construct a $6 billion oil refinery on the outskirts of Manta. Meanwhile, a Hong Kong firm secured a deal to finance and construct over a half billion dollar deepest water port on the Pacific coast of South America that geographically lies closest to Asia. Instead of giving the same half bill over to the fake enemy terrorists ISIS in Yemen like stupid Empire does resulting in a far more dangerously destructive world, China smartly invested the same amount of money into our same hemisphere’s nations but in renewable and sustainable infrastructure that offers win-win outcomes to both Asia and South America. In contrast, the US foreign policy for too long has always self-servingly invested in militarization and privatization that only benefits a small ruling elite rather than nations and whole populations. What goes around, comes around.

Ecuador’s security minister Gustavo Larrea framed it a little more diplomatically:

The U.S. stopped being the benchmark of what is good for Latin America. Because Latin America did everything that the US asked it to do and wasn’t able to get out of poverty, the North American myth lost political weight.

Latin American countries have long realized that the drug cartels work hand in hand with US government agencies to export their illegal drugs into North America. The US government’s criminal enterprise is partnered by the central banking cabal for safe money laundering. Just this week American Drug Enforcement Agency personnel got busted partying with drug cartel money.

The corrupt political system profiting from the international drug trade has not been more apparent than in Central American nations where local criminal cartels’ and Washington’s criminal interests appear one and the same. Honduras readily comes to mind as the worst Central American victim of another covert US-induced coup in June 2009when another democratically elected leader closely associated with Chavez, President Manuel Zelaya, was ousted because as a rancher he attempted to improve the lives of his indigenous agrarian poor class.

Honduras was targeted for regime change as Obama and his Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s strategy to roll back democratic gains made in various countries during the Bush years. After training virtually the entire Honduran officer corps, the US planted a murderous military junta into power that’s been brutalizing Hondurans as the murder capital of the world ever since while partnering with the local drug cartels, their criminal gangs and agents of the US government moving drugs from South America into Mexico and North America. The 50,000 children largely from Honduras and El Salvador who showed up at the US border last year was but one among many tragic outcomes of the morally reprehensible US policy.

When Chavez died two years ago, the US realized that his successor Nicolas Maduro was far more vulnerable as the US has repeatedly attempted to undermine his power and position with its fanatical regime change agenda. While Ukraine was deposed of its president a year ago last February, CIA and State Department NGO’s were hard at work in Venezuela drumming up Maduro opposition culminating in violent street protests not unlike those in Kiev. Like clockwork a year later, Washington attempted yet another coup but once again failed on Valentine’s Day this year. Obama recently hypocritically declared Venezuela a threat to US national security, with more outright lies as he reacts with sour grapes to his recent botched coup effort and his jailed coup co-conspirators, attempting to scare weak links in both the Venezuelan government as well as all the Latin American governments assessing if he can lure any defectors away from their unified continental anti-Empire stance.

Leaders from Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador immediately responded to Obama’s verbal attack on Venezuela, verbalizing strong condemnation against his overt threats. If anything, the US president’s harsh words that have no real consequence (other than certain Venezuelan families cannot enter the United States) are in effect motivating South American nations to rally around Maduro and strengthening their alliances and mutual support against their common threat (not unlike Russia and China has been forced to do in response to the US Empire renewing its cold war enemies).

Meanwhile, the designated military structure for US presence in Latin America and the Caribbean – the US South Command – is hollow and more in name only as it hardly has anything to command these days because almost no US military outposts are located in the Western Hemisphere south of the United States. Very nearly to a country, every government has either kicked out the US military or has consistently refused to let the Empire wolf back in. One too many invasions from the past have come to haunt the rejected US Empire today. In fact, these days more often a visible Russian military presence is occasionally observed on Latin soil or sailing in southern waters or docked in South American ports than any US military deployments.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov last April visited Chile, Cuba, Nicaragua and Peru. Additionally, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu even went further, stressing the importance that Russian military forces should be assigned to foreign military bases, without naming exactly where. It was likely more a public relations ploy to excite the US national security neocons since clearly the Empire forces are being shunned while Latin America courts favor with the Russians. South American nations are unlikely to invite another foreign power to any permanent military bases since they collectively are emerging as an autonomous and independent political force unto themselves, and injecting Russia or the United States military into that mix would be both disruptive and counterproductive.

In Central America only Honduras has US military personnel stationed at Soto Cano Air Base listed to provide medical support to Hondurans as well as disaster relief. Another base located in El Salvador is Comalapa Naval Base opened in 2000 after the 1999 US departure from Panama. Comalapa employs just 25 US military and 40 civilian personnel (according to its website). Its mission is primarily narco-surveillance. Two more small anti-drug monitoring stations are located in the Caribbean Dutch territories on the islands of Curacao and Aruba. An air station on the island of Antigua is in the process of relocating to Western Australia. The radar station is moving to the Pacific to mainly monitor China’s growing military satellite activity in that part of the globe. Finally a secret black ops station in the Bahamas called “Area 51 of the Caribbean” is said to develop new naval military technology.

But outside these small scale outposts according to the Pentagon, no other active military bases are occupied by US armed forces. South Command commander General John F Kelly maintains that there is little current need for deployment of US troops in southern nations of the Western Hemisphere. His commander-in-chief notwithstanding, the general believes that no major security issues or serious threats in Latin America warrant a greater US military presence since numerous global hotspots that do require American military forces obviously take priority. Additionally, recent fiscal budget cuts factored in are also given to explain the near complete lack of US military presence in Central and South America. But then these “official reasons” sound more like a face-saving rationale rather than admitting the truth that the dominant mindset of Latin Americans who at one time chanted in protest “Yankee go home!” are now in unison and solidarity chanting even louder “Yankee stay home!”

What does unfortunately remain open as the Caribbean blight on the US Empire is an old US naval base operating since 1903 – Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay. It’s the Western Hemispheric mecca for housing illegal, unaccounted for US torture, false, unjustified imprisonment and grossest inhumanity still going on daily today since 2002. Though Obama has continued for seven years feebly promising and vowing to close it, the puppet president has yet to keep his word. Last week a teenager asked the president what he would like to change from the first day he was elected and Obama answered, I think I would have closed Guantanamo on the first day.” That lame response failed to bolster his nonexistent credibility. After all, he also promised to be the “most open and transparent president in US history.” The man ad nauseam throughout his regime has only proven he cannot be trusted. But then neither can 99% of the United States leaders in government or the military.

It’s a bit of irony that the global superpower killing machine occupies over 1000 military posts throughout every corner of the globe except one, the one sitting in its south-side backdoor no less – Latin America. All those past military interventions, coups and tyrannical violence and injustice toward Latin America have soured relations now. The up and coming nations south of our border were brutally beaten down for more than a century by the US and now that they are rising in power with friendlier ties to cold war enemies Russia and China, once again karma’s come home to roost, biting the big evil Empire squarely in its imperial ass.

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/.

“Manufacturing Dissent”

March 27th, 2015 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Professor Michel Chossudovsky is the author of many important books. His latest is The Globalization of War: America’s Long War Against Humanity. Chossudovsky shows that Washington has globalized war while the US president is presented as a global peace-maker, complete with the Nobel Peace Prize.

Washington has its military deployed in 150 countries, has the world divided up into six US military commands and has a global strike plan that includes space operations.

Nuclear weapons are part of the global strike plan and have been elevated for use in a pre-emptive first strike, a dangerous departure from their Cold War role.

America’s militarization includes military armament for local police for use against the domestic population and military coercion of sovereign countries in behalf of US economic imperialism.

originalOne consequence is the likelihood of nuclear war. Another consequence is the criminalization of US foreign policy. War crimes are the result. These are not the war crimes of individual rogue actors but war crimes institutionalized in established guidelines and procedures. “What distinguishes the Bush and Obama administrations,” Chossudovsky writes, “is that the concentration camps, targeted assassinations and torture chambers are now openly considered as legitimate forms of intervention, which sustain ‘the global war on terrorism’ and support the spread of ‘Western democracy.’”

Chossudovsky points out that the ability of US citizens to protest and resist the transformation of their country into a militarist police state is limited. Washington and the compliant foundations now fund the dissent movement in order to control it. He quotes Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman about manufacturing consent. He lets Paul Kivel describe how funding of dissent by the elite results in the co-option of grassroots community leadership. The same thing is happening to environmental organizations. Black Americans also have lost their leaders to the elite’s money and ability to bestow position and emoluments.

Chossudovsky notes that progressive, left-wing, and anti-war groups have endorsed the “war on terror” and uncritically accept the official 9/11 story, which provides the basis for Washington’s wars.

Having accepted the lies, there is no basis for protest. Thus its absence.

As Professor Stephen Cohen has observed, dissent has disappeared from American foreign policy discussion. In place of dissent there is exhortation to more war. A good example is today’s (March 26, 2015) op-ed in the New York Times by neoconservative John R. Bolton, US ambassador to the UN during the George W. Bush regime.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/26/opinion/to-stop-irans-bomb-bomb-iran.html?_r=0 

Bolton calls for bombing Iran. Anything short of a military attack on Iran, Bolton says, has “an air of unreality” and will guarantee that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey will also develop nuclear weapons in order to protect themselves from Iran. According to Bolton, the Israeli and American nuclear arsenals are not threatening, but Iran’s would be.

Of course, there is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, but Bolton asserts it anyway. Moreover, Bolton manages to overlook that the agreement being worked out with Iran halts the Iranian enrichment program far below the level necessary for nuclear weapons. Bolton’s belief that Iran would be able to hide a weapons program if permitted to have nuclear energy is unsubstantiated. It is merely an implausible assertion.

The neoconservatives constitute a war lobby. When one war doesn’t work, they want another. They have an ever expanding war list. Remember, the neoconservatives are the ones who promised us a 3-week “cakewalk” Iraq war costing $70 billion and paid for by Iraq oil revenues. After 8 years of war costing a minimum of $3,000 billion paid for by US taxpayers, the US gave up and withdrew. Today jihadists are carving a new country out of parts of Syria and Iraq.

It is now a known fact that the neocon Bush regime’s Iraq war was totally based on lies, just as is every other neocon war and the current drive for war with Russia and Iran. Despite their record of lies and failure, the neocons still control US foreign policy, and neocon Nuland is busy at work fomenting “color revolutions” or coups in the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.

Without the support of the New York Times, the neocons could not have got the Iraq War going. Now the New York Times, faithful to the neocons but faithless to the American people, is helping the neocons get a war going with Iran and Russia.

I have friends who are college presidents who still read and believe the New York Times. The wars with Iran and Russia that the New York Times is encouraging will be much more dangerous than the wars with Iraq and Afghanistan. Humanity might not survive them.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

“But it’s all vanity, all vanity.  This is truly the theatre of the absurd.” – Rev. David H. Clark, The Leicester Mercury, Mar 20, 2015

The things bones can do to people. In the case of Richard III, his remains have become an opportunity. Those liking pageantry got their show in Leicester cathedral on Thursday, a grand, somewhat bizarre spectacle to draw in audiences and the media ratings.  Period attire was worn.  The clergy got busy.  Benedict Cumberbatch, a distant relative of the long deceased sovereign, read a poem by the poet laureate.  The residents of Leicester – at least some of them – have decided that, “The world is watching.  Let’s put Leicester and our county on the map.”

Such occasions dispel notions that the British are somehow shedding their monarchical mania, becoming the upright citizens of a modern state.  Even in this era, enjoyment can be gained from such a burial, bathed as it is in tones of the governors and the governed.  Be submissive.  Be humble.  The man was a king.  This was an attempt at allegorised celebrity – reading a monarch’s legacy of five hundred years through the narrowest prism of the twenty first century, Richard transformed into a pop phenomenon – absent those blighting references to child and wife butchery.

Tom Sykes, writing for The Daily Beast, suggested that, in burying Richard III a second time, the nation would be “doing it right” which seemed to suggest that monarchs need exceptional burials. He writes in the tone of true sovereign worship, with a suggestion that the divine right has somehow survived, a nostalgic binge and twinge. “More than 500 years after his death in August 1485, King Richard III, the last Plantagenet king, will once again be laid to rest on Thursday in the grandeur of Leicester Cathedral, surroundings undoubtedly more suited to a king than the unmarked and forgotten grave under which a municipal car park from which he was exhumed a little over two years ago.”[1]

Not all have suffered that level of nostalgic bloom over a monarch who did receive the classic Tudor treatment of historical blackwashing.  Polly Toynbee in The Guardian proved particularly savage. This sweet commemorative ceremony was nothing short of grotesque. “He may have been a child-murdering tyrant, but he was a king.  So, in a nation where we still think like subjects, not citizens, thousands came to humble themselves before his 500-year-old bones.”[2]  His bones were effectively being sanctified, with his remains rendered holy in historical time. The quality of the monarch, let alone his character, was quite something else.  Royalty as station is always forgiven.

Then there was the choice of venue and ritual – Richard was being given a curious treatment at a location he would not have given a second thought to.  York, for instance, has been deemed by some, especially those in York, to be far more fitting, with some measure gathered from e-petitions.  Biographers have undertaken their own battle of the script, wondering where the ill-fated monarch would have hoped to be buried.  Rosemary Horrox pitted for York Minster; Professor Mark Ormrod of York University thought otherwise.  “It would certainly have been unusual in 1485 for a king of England to be buried in York.”[3]

Having received the fatal battle blows at Bosworth Field, mused Alex Thompson of Channel 4, “logic suggests Leicester is about the last place he’d want to be laid to rest.”[4]  Then came the ceremonialism of “Anglicanism, all cooked up by the spooky Tudors because one of them couldn’t get Rome to endorse regal domestic crime.”  The monarch would have been bemused, and perhaps even dismayed.  It was John Ashdown-Hill, the discoverer of the remains, who suggested that a Catholic burial would be more fitting.

To hell, then, with the history and its tawdry accounts.  The festivities were very much an attempt, as it has been historically, to worship bones and make some ruddy cash out of it.  The Church bone industrial complex has proven to be an effective and enduring one, with Europe covered in pilgrimage arteries that feature the finger of a saint, the nose of another miracle worker, and, well, feet.  All very Catholic of course, an irony that was evidently lost on the Anglican organisers.

In the case of King Richard, getting him to be buried in Leicester itself was a money point, a phenomenal wastage of council funds even as governments are supposedly tightening their belts before the austerity demon.  No doubt the wish to see those funds recouped over time is very strong.

In the local paper, Anglican clergyman Rev. David H. Clark, thought it all rather silly, taking an old snipe at the misuse of religious resources, not least of all the use of £500,000 from the diocesan kitty.  “This claim ‘with dignity and honour’ is a successful attempt to hook this pile of old bones into the religious establishment and has wasted thousands of ecclesiastical man-and-woman hours, which might have been better spent practicing and promoting Christianity.”[5]  That the bishop and the dean weighed in to support the royalist escape was beyond Clark.  “It’s all faintly idolatrous: as if Monarch’s Bone Worship had come into fashion.”  As indeed it has.

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

The Sunlight is Fading … and America Is Falling Into Darkness

US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said:

Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.

But there’s no longer much sunlight to disinfect the corruption of the government or the powers-that-be.

More and more commonly, the government prosecutes cases based upon “secret evidence” that they don’t show to the defendant … or sometimes even the judge hearing the case.

As just one example, government is “laundering” information gained through mass surveillance through other agencies, with an agreement that the agencies will “recreate” the evidence in a “parallel construction” … so the original source of the evidence is kept secret from the defendant, defense attorneys and the judge.   A former top NSA official says that this is the opposite of following the Fourth Amendment, but is a “totalitarian process” which shows that we’re in a “police state”.

The government uses “secret evidence” to spy on Americans, prosecute leaking or terrorism charges (even against U.S. soldiers) and even assassinate people. And see this and this.

Secret witnesses are being used in some cases. And sometimes lawyers are being prevented from reading their own briefs.

Indeed, even the laws themselves are now starting to be kept secret. And it’s about to get a lot worse.

American citizens are also being detained in Guantanamo-like conditions in Chicago … including being held in secret, with the government refusing to tell a suspect’s lawyer whether his client is being held.   And see thisthis and this.

The Department of Defense has also made it a secret – even from Congress – as to the identity of the main enemies of the United States.

Today, Glenn Greenwald adds yet another twist to the trend towards secrecy:

A truly stunning debasement of the U.S. justice system just occurred through the joint efforts of the Obama Justice Department and a meek and frightened Obama-appointed federal judge, Edgardo Ramos, all in order to protect an extremist neocon front group from scrutiny and accountability. The details are crucial for understanding the magnitude of the abuse here.

At the center of it is an anti-Iranian group calling itself “United Against Nuclear Iran” (UANI), which is very likely a front for some combination of the Israeli and U.S. intelligence services. When launched, NBC described its mission as waging “economic and psychological warfare” against Iran. The group was founded and is run and guided by aroster of U.S., Israeli and British neocon extremists such as Joe Lieberman, former Bush Homeland Security adviser (and current CNN “analyst”) Fran Townsend, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and former Mossad Director Meir Dagan. One of its key advisers is Olli Heinonen, who just co-authored a Washington Post Op-Ed with former Bush CIA/NSA Director Michael Hayden arguing that Washington is being too soft on Tehran.

This group of neocon extremists was literally just immunized by a federal court from the rule of law. That was based on the claim — advocated by the Obama DOJ and accepted by Judge Ramos — that subjecting them to litigation for their actions would risk disclosure of vital “state secrets.” The court’s ruling was based on assertions made through completely secret proceedings between the court and the U.S. government, with everyone else — including the lawyers for the parties — kept in the dark.

In May 2013, UANI launched a “name and shame” campaign designed to publicly identify — and malign — any individuals or entities enabling trade with Iran. One of the accused was the shipping company of Greek billionaire Victor Restis, who vehemently denies the accusation. He hired an American law firm and sued UANI for defamation in a New York federal court, claiming the “name and shame” campaign destroyed his reputation.

Up until that point, there was nothing unusual about any of this: just a garden-variety defamation case brought in court by someone who claims that public statements made about him are damaging and false. That happens every day. But then something quite extraordinary happened: In September of last year, the U.S. government, which was not a party, formally intervened in the lawsuit, and demanded that the court refuse to hear Restis’s claims and instead dismiss the lawsuit against UANI before it could even start, on the ground that allowing the case to proceed would damage national security.

When the DOJ intervened in this case and asserted the “state secrets privilege,” it confounded almost everyone. The New York Times’s Matt Apuzzo noted at the time that “the group is not affiliated with the government, and lists no government contracts on its tax forms. The government has cited no precedent for using the so­-called state­ secrets privilege to quash a private lawsuit that does not focus on government activity.” He quoted the ACLU’s Ben Wizner as saying: “I have never seen anything like this.” Reuters’s Allison Frankel labeled the DOJ’s involvement a “mystery” and said “the government’s brief is maddeningly opaque about its interest in a private libel case.”

Usually, when the U.S. government asserts the “state secrets privilege,” it is because they are a party to the lawsuit, being sued for their own allegedly illegal acts (such as torture or warrantless surveillance), and they claim that national security would be harmed if they are forced to defend themselves. In rare cases, they do intervene and assert the privilege in lawsuits between private parties, but only where the subject of the litigation is a government program and one of the parties is a government contractor involved in that program — such as when torture victims sued a Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen, for its role in providing airplanes for the rendition program and the Obama DOJ insisted (successfully) that the case not go forward, and the victim of U.S. torture was thus told that he could not even have a day in court.

But in this case, there is no apparent U.S. government conduct at issue in the lawsuit. At least based on what they claim about themselves, UANI is just “a not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group” that seeks to “educate” the public about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program. Why would such a group like this even possess “state secrets”? It would be illegal to give them such material. Or could it be that the CIA or some other U.S. government agency has created and controls the group, which would be a form of government-disseminated propaganda, which happens to be illegal?

What else could explain the basis for the U.S. government’s argument that allowing UANI to be sued would risk the disclosure of vital “state secrets” besides a desire to cover up something quite untoward if not illegal? What “state secrets” could possibly be disclosed by suing a nice, little “not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group”?

We don’t know the answers to those questions, nor do the lawyers for the plaintiffs whose lawsuit the DOJ wants dismissed. That’s because, beyond the bizarre DOJ intervention itself, the extreme secrecy that shaped the judicial proceedings is hard to overstate. Usually, when the U.S. government asserts the “state secrets privilege,” at least some information is made public about what they are claiming: which official or department is invoking the privilege, the general nature of the secrets allegedly at risk, the reasons why allowing the claims to be adjudicated would risk disclosure, etc. Some redacted version of the affidavit from the government official making the secrecy claim is made part of the case.

Here, virtually everything has been hidden, even from the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Not only did the U.S. government provide no clue as to what the supposedly endangered “state secrets” are, but they concealed even the identity of the agency making the claim: was it the CIA, the Treasury Department, the State Department, some combination? Nothing is known about any of this, not even who is making the secrecy claim.

Instead, the DOJ’s arguments about why “secrecy” compels dismissal of the entire lawsuit were made in a brief that only Judge Ramos (and not even the parties) gets to read, but even more amazingly, were elaborated on in secret meetings by DOJ lawyers in the judge’s chambers with nobody else present. Were recordings or transcripts of these meetings made? Is there any record of what the U.S. government whispered in the ear of the judge to scare him into believing that National Security Would Be Harmed™ if he allowed the case to proceed? Nobody knows. The whole process is veiled in total secrecy, labeled a “judicial proceeding” but containing none of the transparency, safeguards or adversarial process that characterizes minimally fair courts.

This sham worked. This week, Judge Ramos issued his ruling dismissing the entire lawsuit (see below). As a result of the DOJ’s protection, UANI cannot be sued. Among other things, it means this group of neocon extremists now has a license to defame anyone they want. They can destroy your reputation with false accusations in a highly public campaign, and when you sue them for it, the DOJ will come in and whisper in the judge’s ear that national security will be damaged if — like everyone else in the world — UANI must answer in a court of law for their conduct. And subservient judicial officials like Judge Ramos will obey the U.S. government’s dictates and dismiss your lawsuit before it begins, without your having any idea why that even happened.

Worse, in his written ruling, the judge expressly acknowledges that dismissal of the entire lawsuit at the start on secrecy grounds is what he calls a “harsh sanction,” and also acknowledges that “it is particularly so in this case because Plaintiffs not only do not get their day in court, but cannot be told why” (emphasis added). But he does it anyway, in a perfunctory 18-page opinion that does little other than re-state some basic legal principles, and then just concludes that everything the government whispered in his ear should be accepted. Just read for yourself what Judge Ramos said in defending his dismissal to see how wildly disparate it is from everything we’re propagandized to believe about the U.S. justice system:

What kind of “justice system” allows a neocon “advocacy” group to be immunized from the law, because the U.S. government waltzed into court, met privately with the judge, and whispered in secret that he had better dismiss all claims against that group lest he harm national security? To describe what happened here is to illustrate what a perverse travesty it is. Restis’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement this week:

We are disappointed that some secret relationship between UANI and the government allows UANI to hide from disclosing that association or to defend what has now been proven to be its false and defamatory allegations directed at Mr. Restis and his company. We are mystified that the U.S. government has such a stake in this case that it would take such extraordinary steps to prevent full disclosure of the secret interest it has with UANI or others. And, we are concerned that, in our court system, such a result could occur on the basis of sealed, one-sided filings and meetings in which we were not allowed to participate.

Indeed, the government is going to incredible lengths to keep secrets, including:

  • Treating reporters like terrorists. And see this
  • Prosecuting and demanding draconian jail sentences for whistleblowers
  • Framing whistleblowers with false evidence

Sadly, the sunlight is fading … and America is falling into darkness.

Ukraine Negotiates Creating New Neo-Nazi Division In Army

Interfax-Ukraine
March 27, 2015

Right Sector negotiates joining Ukrainian Army as independent division under Yarosh command

The volunteer battalion Right Sector is ready to join the Ukrainian Army as a separate division under the command of Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh.

“We can only agree on ‘legalization’ in one situation: if the volunteer Ukrainian corps remains a whole structure and if we continue reporting directly to our leader Dmytro Yarosh,” Right Sector press officer Artem Skoropadsky told reporters on Friday.

“We want everything to stay as it is now: we are now cooperating with the Defense Ministry and the Ukrainian Security Service,” Skoropadsky said…

U.S.-NATO Absorb Ukraine Into “World’s Biggest Defense Structure” – Poroshenko

Interfax-Ukraine
March 27, 2015

National Guard, U.S. military exercises in Lviv region mean integration in the world’s biggest defense structure – Poroshenko

A large-scale international military exercise involving U.S. instructors will be conducted on the Yavoriv training area in the Lviv region of Ukraine in April, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said.

“The large-scale international military exercise involving U.S. instructors, which will begin on the Yavoriv training area in April, will be an important stage. It means integration in the world’s largest defense structure,” Poroshenko said at a graduation ceremony conducted in the National Academy of the Ukrainian National Guard in Kharkiv on Thursday…

Czech Republic: Protest Held Against U.S. Military Convoy

Xinhua News Agency
March 27, 2015

Czech people hold protest against U.S. army convoy

PRAGUE: A protest here on Thursday against U.S. soldiers’ scheduled crossing of the Czech territory marks the first public protest against the U.S. convoy that is to arrive in the Czech Republic from Poland on March 29.

The protesters said they did not like it that the U.S. soldiers had decided to go for a demonstrative ride in a convoy from a military exercise in the Baltics to their home base in Vilseck, Bavaria. They also opposed the soldiers spending the night of March 29 in the Vyskov barracks in the south Moravian region of the country.

The protest organizers said it was cynical to allow foreign troops to cross Czech territory in a year when they are marking the 70th anniversary of their country’s liberation and the end of World War II, especially given the aggravated geopolitical situation which calls for hostilities to be negotiated. This action only escalates the tension, they said…

Ukraine’s Poroshenko Inspects Arrival Of First U.S. Military Vehicles

Ukrinform
March 25, 2015

Poroshenko to meet plane with first batch of American Humvees

KYIV: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will take part in the ceremony of meeting the plane with the first batch of U.S. military vehicles HMMWV on Wednesday.

This is reported by the presidential press service.

“On Wednesday, March 25, at 13:40, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko will participate in the ceremony of the meeting the plane with the first batch of U.S. military vehicles HMMWV (Boryspil International Airport),” reads the statement.

===========================================================================

UNIAN
March 25, 2015

U.S. Humvees already in Ukraine
President Poroshenko examined the vehicles and test-drove one of them.

An aircraft with the first batch of U.S. High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV), commonly known as the Humvee, arrived in Ukraine on Wednesday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko examined their arrival and personally test-drove one of them.

At an official ceremony of meeting the Humvees, Poroshenko said that the Ukrainian troopers had been driving such type of vehicles for many years so far.

The first 10 Humvees Ukraine has already received from the United States will be transferred mainly to Ukraine’s airmobile troops…

Europe: NATO Holds First Live Exercise In A Decade

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Transformation

March 19, 2015

Deputy Commander visits Italy’s Joint Operational Command in preparation for large NATO Exercise

General Mirco Zuliani recently visited the Italian Joint Operational Command, responsible for organising Italy’s part of the Trident Juncture (TRJE) 2015 exercise.

TRJE15 is NATO’s first live exercise in a decade, since before the NATO operation in Afghanistan started, and will also take place in Portugal and Spain. Most of the ‘Air Scenario’ will be exercised in Italy.

During the exercise, the Italian JFACC (Joint Force Air Component command) will be certified as Air Component Command, in light of the ‘NATO Response Force’ (NRF) rotation for 2016. The NRF is a highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and Special Operations Forces components that the Alliance can deploy quickly, wherever needed. In addition to its operational role, the NRF is used to increase cooperation in education and training, better use of technology or, like in this case, increased exercises…

U.S. Expands Operation Confront Russia To Romania, Bulgaria

U.S. Army Europe
March 24, 2015

Army Europe expands Operation Atlantic Resolve training to Romania, Bulgaria
By Staff Sgt. Opal Vaughn (The 173rd Airborne Brigade)

SMARDAN, Romania: Paratroopers, from U.S. Army Europe’s 173rd Airborne Brigade, and Soldiers, from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, conducted an early-entry training exercise together with Romanian allies, March 24, to mark the expansion of Operation Atlantic Resolve, or OAR, into Romania and Bulgaria.

“The Smardan [Romania] portion of [Exercise] Saber Junction is an early entry exercise,” said Capt. Patrick Leen, a plans officer assigned to 173rd Airborne Brigade. “It takes place in advance of the majority of the events [in Germany].”

The early-entry portion in Smardan, also phase 1 of Exercise Saber Junction, began with an airborne operation of approximately 200 paratroopers and heavy equipment such as 105mm Howitzer artillery from the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Once on the ground, the paratroopers linked up with allies from the Romanian army’s 280th Brigade and assaulted enemy positions while supported by artillery fire…

Romania: U.S. Troops Start War Games, Medics To Treat Ukrainian Troops

ACTMedia
March 25, 2015

Romanian military doctors will start providing triage services for the wounded in the Ukraine conflict

Defence Minister Mircea Dusa said Tuesday at the Smardan firing range of Galati County that Romanian military doctors on Wednesday will start providing triage services for the wounded in the Ukraine conflict who will then be treated in Romanian military hospitals.

“Tomorrow, a team of military doctors will leave for Kiev to provide triage services for the wounded troops and the injured that will be treated in Romanian military hospitals. For the time being, I only mean military hospitals because we have been entrusted with the mission to provide such humanitarian aid to Ukraine. As our doctors provide triage for the wounded and the injured, we will also provide transportation services using a military aircraft,” said Dusa.

Dusa on Tuesday met Romanian and American troops taking part at the Smardan firing range in the “Early Entry” stage of the Sabre Junction 15 multinational defence exercise.

1,000 U.S. Soldiers Currently In Ground Operations In Eastern Europe

ACTMedia
March 25, 2015

1,000 US soldiers on ground ops in Eastern Europe

More than 1,000 U.S. troops were moving across Eastern Europe on Tuesday on several training exercises, the latest effort to reassure allied nations…a Pentagon official said. About 200 paratroopers with the Army’s Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade jumped into the Smarden training area in Romania along with heavy artillery …(Article accessible to subscribers only)

Polish Defense Chief Says No War With Russia, Brzezinski Disagrees

Polish Radio
March 25, 2015

Security inconsistincies

Experts, including former US security advisor Zbigniew Brzeziński, and Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Simoniak, have contradicting views of the future of Polish national security.

“Poland should be armed, buy military equipment, modernize and increase its army,” Zbigniew Brzeziński told an interview with Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

“Poles must rely on each other to be able to defend themselves as long as possible,” said Brzeziński, the former National security adviser under the 39th US President, Jimmy Carter.

The Polish-born Brzeziński – who was one of the top international-relations experts during, and after, the Vietnam War – said that in the case of an attack on Poland, NATO could have its hands tied, and take some time to respond.

This is because Greece is part of NATO, and since it has close ties with Russia, the Southern EU country could veto a military intervention, Brzeziński said…

Barbarossa II: U.S.-NATO Expand Offensive From Baltics To Black Sea, Caucasus

Stars and Stripes
March 24, 2015

Atlantic Resolve mission pushes beyond Baltics into Romania
By John Vandiver

SMARDAN TRAINING AREA, Romania: Almost 200 U.S. paratroops dropped into Romania on Tuesday and were joined by a ground force of cavalrymen, marking the official expansion into southeastern Europe of a campaign to reassure allies worried about Russia’s intentions.

For almost a year now, U.S. troops have maintained a constant presence in the Baltic states and Poland…Now, Operation Atlantic Resolve is moving south, with a series of exercises slated to take place in Romania, Bulgaria — another NATO ally — and the Republic of Georgia, an aspiring NATO member.

“Today marks the beginning of Atlantic Response South,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, as soldiers with the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade parachuted onto the training grounds in eastern Romania…

Poland: U.S. Launches Interceptor Missile Drills

10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command
March 22, 2015

Army Europe Air Defense unit begins combined missile defense exercise in Poland

SOCHACZEW, Poland: American Soldiers from US Army Europe and Polish airmen kicked off their combined missile defense exercise during a short ceremony on March 21 outside of Warsaw, Poland.

10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command sent Delta Battery, a unit of their 5-7 Air Defense Artillery Regiment, to train with their Polish air defense partners in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The goal of the training exercise is to certify the Delta battery Soldiers on their Patriot ground-to-air missile systems, while coordinating the emplacement of the American and Polish air defense equipment to provide mutual air defense coverage in the area.

The battery was able to plan and execute their 1200 km convoy from U.S. Army Garrison Rhineland-Pfalz in Kaiserslautern, Germany, in a matter of days due to close cooperation with their Polish counterparts. “From the planning aspect, they had their objectives and we had our objectives, and we worked to nest them both together which was great,” said Capt. Jason Bryant, Delta Battery commander…

NATO Allies: U.S. A-10s Train In Britain For War In Europe

U.S. Air Forces in Europe
U.S. Air Force Africa

March 23, 2015

A-10s train at RAF Lakenheath
By Airman 1st Class Erin R. Babis
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England: A theater security package comprised of A-10C Thunderbolt IIs and Airmen from the 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., arrived at the Liberty Wing March 13 to train with NATO allies in new environments and cultures.

“Working with our NATO allies helps strengthen the bonds between us, and demonstrates the U.S. commitment to them,” said Senior Master Sgt. Nathan Kerr, TSP maintenance superintendent.

The pilots and maintenance crews from the 355th FW took part in unique training opportunities, and shared their training and knowledge with Liberty Airmen during their five-day visit.

Maj. Ben Rudolphi, TSP detachment commander, explained that the pilots trained on several different missions, to include: low altitude tactical navigation, dissimilar air combat maneuvering, helicopter escort, basic surface attack and U.K. joint terminal attack controller coordination.

Frontline State: NATO Commander Inspects Baltic War Games

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations

March 24, 2015

JFC Brunssum Commander visits NATO forces in Latvia

BRUNSSUM, The Netherlands: The Commander of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, General Hans-Lothar Domrőse, was on hand to commemorate the opening of Operation Summer Shield in Latvia on Sunday, 22 March 2015. At the same time, Domrőse met up with U.S. soldiers taking part in Dragoon Ride.

At the Adazi Military Base, the Commander visited and thanked the troops participating in Operation Summer Shield. Summer Shield is a Latvian-led exercise which includes military personnel from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, Lithuania and Luxembourg. The exercise is being held in two phases. The first phase includes cross training and live fire exercises while the second phase includes defensive operations with integration of indirect fire and close air support…

NATO Allies: U.S., Romanian Pilots Train For Air War Over Black Sea

U.S. Air Forces in Europe
U.S. Air Force Africa

March 23, 2015

Dacian Warhawk members host Media, DV day
By Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

CAMPIA TURZII, Romania: U.S. and Romanian Airmen participating in the Dacian Warhawk training event hosted more than 20 local and national media agencies and distinguished personnel from Romania, March 22 at Campia Turzii.

The two air forces showcased the what they learned during the two-week training mission designed to increase the interoperability between U.S. and Romanian air forces, to the media members and distinguished visitors.

While there, media members were able to witness static displays of the F-16CJ Fighting Falcon and MiG-21 Lancer, as well as aerial formations of the aircraft flying side-by-side. The media representatives were also afforded the opportunity to talk to several of the pilots in addition to the Romanian Minister of Defense, Mircea Dusa.

“The close cooperation we have forged in the planning and execution of this event shows the commitment of our two NATO countries,” Lt. Col. Ryan Nudi, 52nd Fighter Wing chief of safety. “The training has been absolutely fantastic…”

War In Eastern Europe: F-16s Head To Estonia For Drills

U.S. Air Forces in Europe
U.S. Air Force Africa

March 20, 2015

F-16s head to Estonia for training
By 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy:- Airmen and aircraft assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing departed Aviano Air Base, Italy, March 20, 2015 to participate in bilateral training with the Estonian air force and simultaneous but unrelated training with the Finnish and Swedish air forces in their airspace.

The 510th Fighter Squadron will launch sorties from Ämari Air Base, Estonia, March 20 through April 17. Training with the Estonian air force will take place on nearby Tapa Range with Estonian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers. The focus is to maintain joint readiness while enhancing interoperability with a NATO ally, particularly in the F-16 Fighting Falcon’s Forward Air Controller (Airborne) mission. The other training event with the Finnish and Swedish air forces will focus on air-to-air tactics that also increases interoperability…

U.S. Congress Demands Sending Lethal Arms For Ukraine War

Interfax-Ukraine
March 23, 2015

U.S. House urges Obama to send weapon to Ukraine

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on Monday night asking President Obama to send lethal arms to Ukraine, media said.

Representatives endorsed the resolution in a 348 to 48 vote, and such a proposal is also likely to enjoy widespread support in the Senate.

Monday’s measure urges Obama to provide Ukraine with “lethal defensive weapon systems” that would enhance Ukraine’s ability to “defend their sovereign territory from the unprovoked and continuing aggression of the Russian Federation.”

House Speaker John Boehner described the vote as a call to action, and said Congress broadly supports more military aid…

Serbia: Sixteen Years Since NATO’s First Full-Fledged War

Serbia marks another anniversary of NATO attacks

SOURCE: B92, BETA, TANJUG

BELGRADE — Serbia is on Tuesday marking the 16th anniversary since the beginning of NATO’s air war against the country, then a part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The Interior Ministry in Belgrade (Tanjug, file)
The attacks lasted for 11 weeks and resulted in the deaths of between 1,200 and 4,000 people, according to different sources.

NATO caused heavy damage to Serbia’s infrastructure, economy, schools, health institutions, media outlets, monuments of culture.

The western military alliance made the decision to attack Serbia without the approval of the UN Security Council, which represented a precedent.

The order was given to its then commander, U.S. General Wesley Clark by then NATO Secretary General Javier Solana.

A bridge in Novi Sad (Tanjug, file)

Clark later wrote in his book entitled “Modern Warfare” that the planning of the war was already under way in mid-June in 1998 and was completed in August of that year.

Serbia came under attack as the culprit for “the humanitarian catastrophe in Kosovo and the failure of negotiations in Rambouillet, Paris on the future status of the province.”

The Paris conference presented Serbia with the proposal to have foreign troops deployed in its territory, which was rejected. The decision not to accept foreign troops was confirmed by the Serbian Assembly, and on March 24, 1999 NATO launched its attacks…

The Radio Television of Serbia building in Belgrade (Tanjug, file)

19 countries took part in the operation, using ships in the Adriatic Sea, four air bases in Italy, supported by strategic operators who took off from bases in western Europe…

Just The Start: Largest Reinforcement Of NATO “Collective Defense” Since Cold War

U.S. Department of Defense
March 23, 2015

NATO Responding to Russia’s Actions Against Ukraine
By Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON: NATO is responding to Russia…with the largest reinforcement of collective defense since the end of the Cold War, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said over the weekend in Brussels…

Russia also has troops in Moldova [that is, Transdniester] and Georgia [Abkhazia and South Ossetia], and Russian forces are working to destabilize Eastern Ukraine.

Russian Actions Spur NATO

…NATO [is making] sweeping changes. “The adaptation that is taking place now is a very big and fundamental adaptation of the NATO defense posture,” Stoltenberg said

The alliance is doubling the size of its response force, the secretary general said. Once finished, he said, the lead elements of this force will be able to move in within as little as 48 hours.

The alliance, he added, is establishing command and control units in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.

This is just a start, the secretary general said…

343-Day War In Eastern Europe: U.S. Transits Combat Vehicles Through Latvia

Xinhua News Agency
March 23, 2015

U.S. military equipment moves through Latvia

RIGA: More than 40 pieces of the U.S. military equipment, including 20 Stryker armored vehicles, are being moved through Latvia on Sunday and Monday as the United States is sending troops from Estonia to Germany in the Dragoon Ride trek, the Latvian Defense Ministry said Sunday.

Soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment, currently stationed in the Baltic states and Poland, began the Dragoon Ride trek with the Strykers and support vehicles on Saturday in Estonia.

The convoy is moving through Latvia as the U.S. troops make their way to Vilseck, Germany, concluding their participation in Operation Atlantic Resolve…

Top NATO Commander Calls For Information Warfare Against Russia

Ukrinform
March 23, 2015

Breedlove urges West to start information warfare with Russia

KYIV: The western countries, primarily the NATO member states, should engage in the informational confrontation with aggressive Russian propaganda.

NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Philip Breedlove said this in Brussels on Sunday, Ukrinform reports.

“We need as a western group of nations or as an alliance to engage in this informational warfare. The way to attack the false narrative is to drag the false narrative into the light and expose it,” Breedlove said…

NATO Ready To Welcome Ukraine As Full Member: Stoltenberg

Ukrinform

March 21, 2015

NATO ready to consider Ukraine’s bid for membership

KYIV: NATO is ready to consider the Ukraine’s bid for membership in the alliance, if Ukraine decides to submit it.

This has been stated by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels at the forum organized by the German Marshall Fund.

“It is up to Ukraine decide whether to submit the bid for NATO membership or not. Ukraine should decide that. If it submits, we will consider the application in the same way as we consider the application of any other country,” Ukrainian media telegraf.com.ua quotes him.

In 2015, the units and the individual officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will take part in 237 events of the individual partnership program [Individual Partnership Action Program] with NATO.

Atlantic Resolve: Continuous NATO War Games On Russia’s Western, Southern Borders

U.S. Department of Defense
March 19, 2015

Army Commander in Europe Details Assurance Efforts
By Jim Garamone

WASHINGTON: Thirteen months after Russia began its occupation of Crimea, the United States and its European allies must remain steadfast against the threat such actions pose, the commander of U.S. Army Europe said here this week.

Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges told the Defense Writers Group at a March 17 breakfast that the Russian action of illegally annexing Crimea from Ukraine and its continuing threat to the eastern part of Ukraine is a game-changer on the continent…

Hodges told reporters to think of Atlantic Resolve as a continuous series of exercises, with American troops operating with troops in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, demonstrating America’s commitment to the defense of these NATO allies. Later this month, Atlantic Resolve exercises will expand to include Bulgaria and, later in the year, Romania, he said…

U.S. Paratroopers Guarded NATO Interceptor Missiles In Turkey

U.S. Army
March 19, 2015

173rd Airborne Brigade paratroopers secure NATO missile-defense sites
By Sgt. A.M. LaVey

VICENZA, Italy: Paratroopers, from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, returned from NATO Operation Active Fence in Turkey, March 12.

Two weeks earlier, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, arrived in southern Turkey to relieve them.

“Operation Active Fence is the United States’ contribution to the NATO Patriot missile defense mission,” said Sgt. Ian Carlson, an intelligence analyst, with 1st Battalion. “We are the security forces tasked to guard the missile sites from outside threats.”

Operation Active Fence started in December 2012 in response to Turkey’s concerns…In response, NATO authorized the deployment of Patriot missile defense batteries. The United States, Germany and the Netherlands provided initial forces. Spain has since replaced Dutch forces.

The 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, is the Army’s contingency response force in Europe and has the ability to rapidly deploy paratroopers with specialized parachute infantry capabilities anywhere in the U.S., European, Africa and Central areas of operations…

U.S. To Lead Three Military Exercises In Ukraine This Year

Interfax-Ukraine
March 19, 2015

Rada speaker signs bill allowing foreign military drills in Ukraine in 2015

The speaker of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, Volodymyr Hroisman, has signed a bill, which was proposed by the president and backed by the parliament, to allow foreign troops into Ukraine in 2015 to take part in five multinational military exercises, the parliament announced on its website on Thursday.

It was reported that 305 Ukrainian parliamentarians voted for the bill on March 17.

Under the bill, the drills Ukraine is planning to host in 2015 include three U.S.-Ukrainian exercises, Fearless Guardian, Sea Breeze, and Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident, and two Polish-Ukrainian ones, Safe Skies and the Law and Order.

Fearless Guardian will take place in Yavoriv district, Lviv region, in the period from March to November and will bring together a maximum of 2,200 troops. Ukraine is providing up to 200 armed forces troops and up to 1,000 National Guard personnel, and the U.S. will be represented by a maximum of 1,000 servicemen…

Pentagon To Begin Training Ukrainian Military Next Month

Interfax-Ukraine
March 20, 2015

Pentagon to begin training Ukrainian forces next month

The Pentagon has said that it is moving forward with plans to train six Ukrainian National Guard companies and headquarters staff next month.

The training is scheduled to begin in late April and will focus on “internal defense capabilities,” according to Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez, who is quoted by The Hill online edition.

“This assistance is part of our ongoing efforts to help sustain Ukraine’s defense and internal security operations,” Lainez said.

A total of 300 U.S. soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vincenza, Italy, will conduct the training in western Ukraine near the border with Poland, she said…

Bulgaria: NATO Commander Discusses Operations In East And South

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe

March 19, 2015

DSACEUR Discusses Training and Co-operation during Visit to Bulgaria

SOFIA, Bulgaria: NATO’s current efforts to adapt to emerging hybrid challenges from the east and south were a focus of discussions between Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR) General Sir Adrian Bradshaw and the Chief of Defence Bulgarian Armed Forces, Vice Admiral Rumen Nikolov, in Sofia, Bulgaria on 17 and 18 March 2015.

During the visit, General Bradshaw also met with the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Defence, Dimitar Kyumyurdzhiev. Main areas of discussion included ongoing enhancements to the NATO Response Force in response to hybrid threats, as well as investigating future exercise and training opportunities involving NATO and Bulgarian forces…

U.S. Paratroopers To Train Ukrainian Troops For Second Year Of War

Stars and Stripes
March 19, 2015

US training of Ukraine forces to go forward
By Jon Harper

WASHINGTON: The U.S. military is moving forward with plans to deploy U.S. paratroopers to war-torn Ukraine to train local forces, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The training will likely begin in late April, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters.

The mission, which was scheduled to occur this month, was delayed due to concerns that the training effort would undermine the Minsk II cease fire agreement between Kiev’s forces and Russia-backed insurgents, according to Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe.

That deal was brokered in February, but fighting has continued in eastern Ukraine.

Approximately 290 U.S. soldiers from the Army’s 173rd “Sky Soldiers” Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza, Italy, will deploy to western Ukraine to train three battalions of the Ukrainian national guard, Warren said…

“Burying the lede” is a way that ‘news’ professionals hide or “bury” things while ‘reporting’ on them; and the biggest example of this in modern times occurred when Germany’s Spiegel (Mirror) magazine headlined its cover-story on 24 November 2014, ”Summit of Failure: How the EU Lost Russia over Ukraine.” On the magazine’s front cover, it was instead bannered as “Kalte Krieger — Geschichte einer Machtprobe: Wie Merkel und Putin Europa an den Rand des Abgrunds brachten” which translates as: ”Cold Warrior — History of a Showdown: How Merkel and Putin brought Europe to the Edge of the Abyss.” This was a very lengthy report, 7,000 words, but the historically blockbuster revelation in it, which the global press has ignored, and/or themselves buried by similarly mentioning it without headlining it or leading with it (nor even linking to it), was this (which would have been a fair headline for that news report, since it’s 99% of that news-report’s real value): “EU’s Offer to Ukraine Would Have Cost Ukraine $160B.” (I hope that the headline that I used above is even better, however.)

And, so: now you know why, on 20 November 2013, Yanukovych turned that offer down — and the rest was history (the “Maidan” demonstrations, and all the rest, producing the Ukrainian civil war, and the new and much hotter version of the old Cold War, including all of those economic sanctions against Russia, and the resulting boom in nuclear weapons on both sides, and the thousands of corpses in the eastern Donbass region of what used to be Ukraine).

This blockbuster revelation was in merely a brief, 231-word passage within the 7,000-word article, and nothing further was said about it than these mere 231 words.

Here it is (as given in Spiegel’s online English edition of the article’s second half — and the article’s first half was here, but it contains nothing of this blockbuster revelation):

Kiev, Presidential Palace

Nov. 19, 2013

At Barroso’s behest, Füle traveled to Kiev once again to meet with Yanukovych – and the Ukrainian president got straight to the point. In talks with Putin, Yanukovych told Füle, the Russian president explained just how deeply the Russian and Ukrainian economies are interconnected. “I was really surprised to learn about it,” Yanukovych said. … “There are the costs that our experts have calculated,” Yanukovych replied. ”What experts?” Füle demanded to know. The Ukrainian president described to his bewildered guest the size of the losses allegedly threatening Ukraine should it sign the agreement with the EU.

Later, the number $160 billion found its way into the press, more than 50 times greater than the $3 billion calculated by the German advisory group. The total came from a study conducted by the Institute for Economics and Forecasting at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and it was a number that Yanukovych would refer to from then on.

“Stefan, if we sign, will you help us?” Yanukovych asked. Füle was speechless. ”Sorry, we aren’t the IMF. Where do these numbers come from?” he finally demanded. “I am hearing them for the first time.” “They are secret numbers,” Yanukovych replied. “Can you imagine what would happen if our people were to learn of these numbers, were they to find out what convergence with the EU would cost our country?”

Though that was a poorly-written passage, it does clearly state why Yanukovych couldn’t possibly have accepted the offer. The passage makes no connection between, on the one hand, “the Russian president explained just how deeply the Russian and Ukrainian economies are interconnected. ‘I was really surprised to learn about it,’ Yanukovych said,” and, on the other, “‘There are the costs that our experts have calculated,’ Yanukovych replied.

Did Putin’s statement cause Yanukovych to request this new analysis from Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences? We just don’t know. The reporters didn’t say. Maybe they didn’t even wonder about that. All that the article tells us is: the latter scientific institution calculated that if the EU’s offer were to be accepted, the cost to Ukraine would be $160B.

Why, then, was this blockbuster news-item buried, so that virtually no one noticed it? Perhaps the key passage to provide a hint to explain this burying (which hint appears in the article’s first half) was “Berlin continued to focus its efforts on Tymoshenko [whom the Ukrainian government had imprisoned on a corruption conviction, but Merkel — like Obama — was insisting that she be freed from prison], it failed to recognize the real danger: The Russian Federation’s power play.” The only actual “power play” that the article describes from Russia was “the Russian president explained just how deeply the Russian and Ukrainian economies are interconnected. ‘I was really surprised to learn about it,’ Yanukovych said.” Apparently, Putin’s “danger,” his merely “explaining” that, was, to the writers of the Spiegel ‘news’ report, a “power play.” The anti-Russian slant is blatant there.

In other words: This article’s writers, evidently, needed to find a way to present a negative view of Russia, and especially of Putin. Therefore, focusing their story and presentation around this particular blockbuster revelation (which went in the contrary direction) was out of the question for them — and especially for their employer.

So: now you know why Yanukovych, the very next day after his learning about the $160B price tag of the EU’s offer, turned it down, and also why this revelation is still news, more than a year later — just as it was news to me until I happened upon it only today.

The “proxy war” model the US has been employing throughout the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and even in parts of Asia appears to have failed yet again, this time in the Persian Gulf state of Yemen.

Overcoming the US-Saudi backed regime in Yemen, and a coalition of sectarian extremists including Al Qaeda and its rebrand, the “Islamic State,” pro-Iranian Yemeni Houthi militias have turned the tide against American “soft power” and has necessitated a more direct military intervention. While US military forces themselves are not involved allegedly, Saudi warplanes and a possible ground force are.

Though Saudi Arabia claims “10 countries” have joined its coalition to intervene in Yemen, like the US invasion and occupation of Iraq hid behind a “coalition,” it is overwhelmingly a Saudi operation with “coalition partners” added in a vain attempt to generate diplomatic legitimacy.

The New York Times, even in the title of its report, “Saudi Arabia Begins Air Assault in Yemen,” seems not to notice these “10” other countries. It reports:

Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday night that it had launched a military campaign in Yemen, the beginning of what a Saudi official said was an offensive to restore a Yemeni government that had collapsed after rebel forces took control of large swaths of the country. 

The air campaign began as the internal conflict in Yemen showed signs of degenerating into a proxy war between regional powers. The Saudi announcement came during a rare news conference in Washington by Adel al-Jubeir, the kingdom’s ambassador to the United States.

Proxy War Against Iran 

Indeed, the conflict in Yemen is a proxy war. Not between Iran and Saudi Arabia per say, but between Iran and the United States, with the United States electing Saudi Arabia as its unfortunate stand-in.

Iran’s interest in Yemen serves as a direct result of the US-engineered “Arab Spring” and attempts to overturn the political order of North Africa and the Middle East to create a unified sectarian front against Iran for the purpose of a direct conflict with Tehran. The war raging in Syria is one part of this greater geopolitical conspiracy, aimed at overturning one of Iran’s most important regional allies, cutting the bridge between it and another important ally, Hezbollah in Lebanon.

And while Iran’s interest in Yemen is currently portrayed as yet another example of Iranian aggression, indicative of its inability to live in peace with its neighbors, US policymakers themselves have long ago already noted that Iran’s influence throughout the region, including backing armed groups, serves a solely defensive purpose, acknowledging the West and its regional allies’ attempts to encircle, subvert, and overturn Iran’s current political order.

The US-based RAND Corporation, which describes itself as “a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision making through research and analysis,” produced a report in 2009 for the US Air Force titled, “Dangerous But Not Omnipotent : Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East,” examining the structure and posture of Iran’s military, including its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and weapons both present, and possible future, it seeks to secure its borders and interests with against external aggression.

The report admits that:

Iran’s strategy is largely defensive, but with some offensive elements. Iran’s strategy of protecting the regime against internal threats, deterring aggression, safeguarding the homeland if aggression occurs, and extending influence is in large part a defensive one that also serves some aggressive tendencies when coupled with expressions of Iranian regional aspirations. It is in part a response to U.S. policy pronouncements and posture in the region, especially since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Iranian leadership takes very seriously the threat of invasion given the open discussion in the United States of regime change, speeches defining Iran as part of the “axis of evil,” and efforts by U.S. forces to secure base access in states surrounding Iran.

Whatever imperative Saudi Arabia is attempting to cite in justifying its military aggression against Yemen, and whatever support the US is trying to give the Saudi regime rhetorically, diplomatically, or militarily, the legitimacy of this military operation crumbles before the words of the West’s own policymakers who admit Iran and its allies are simply reacting to a concerted campaign of encirclement, economic sanctions, covert military aggression, political subversion, and even terrorism aimed at establishing Western hegemony across the region at the expense of Iranian sovereignty.

Saudi Arabia’s Imperative Lacks Legitimacy 

26Yemen-articleLargeThe unelected hereditary regime ruling over Saudi Arabia, a nation notorious for egregious human rights abuses, and a land utterly devoid of even a semblance of what is referred to as “human rights,” is now posing as arbiter of which government in neighboring Yemen is “legitimate” and which is not, to the extent of which it is prepared to use military force to restore the former over the latter.

The United States providing support for the Saudi regime is designed to lend legitimacy to what would otherwise be a difficult narrative to sell. However, the United States itself has suffered from an increasing deficit in its own legitimacy and moral authority.

Most ironic of all, US and Saudi-backed sectarian extremists, including Al Qaeda in Yemen, had served as proxy forces meant to keep Houthi militias in check by proxy so the need for a direct military intervention such as the one now unfolding would not be necessary. This means that Saudi Arabia and the US are intervening in Yemen only after the terrorists they were supporting were overwhelmed and the regime they were propping up collapsed.

In reality, Saudi Arabia’s and the United States’ rhetoric aside, a brutal regional regime meddled in Yemen and lost, and now the aspiring global hemegon sponsoring it from abroad has ordered it to intervene directly and clean up its mess.

Saudi Arabia’s Dangerous Gamble 

The aerial assault on Yemen is meant to impress upon onlookers Saudi military might. A ground contingent might also attempt to quickly sweep in and panic Houthi fighters into folding. Barring a quick victory built on psychologically overwhelming Houthi fighters, Saudi Arabia risks enveloping itself in a conflict that could easily escape out from under the military machine the US has built for it.

It is too early to tell how the military operation will play out and how far the Saudis and their US sponsors will go to reassert themselves over Yemen. However, that the Houthis have outmatched combined US-Saudi proxy forces right on Riyadh’s doorstep indicates an operational capacity that may not only survive the current Saudi assault, but be strengthened by it.

Reports that Houthi fighters have employed captured Yemeni warplanes further bolsters this notion – revealing tactical, operational, and strategic sophistication that may well know how to weather whatever the Saudis have to throw at it, and come back stronger.

What may result is a conflict that spills over Yemen’s borders and into Saudi Arabia proper. Whatever dark secrets the Western media’s decades of self-censorship regarding the true sociopolitical nature of Saudi Arabia will become apparent when the people of the Arabian peninsula must choose to risk their lives fighting for a Western client regime, or take a piece of the peninsula for themselves.

Additionally, a transfer of resources and fighters arrayed under the flag of the so-called “Islamic State” and Al Qaeda from Syria to the Arabian Peninsula will further indicate that the US and its regional allies have been behind the chaos and atrocities carried out in the Levant for the past 4 years. Such revelations will only further undermine the moral imperative of the West and its regional allies, which in turn will further sabotage their efforts to rally support for an increasingly desperate battle they themselves conspired to start.

America’s Shrinking Legitimacy 

It was just earlier this month when the United States reminded the world of Russia’s “invasion” of Crimea. Despite having destabilized Ukraine with a violent, armed insurrection in Kiev, for the purpose of expanding NATO deeper into Eastern Europe and further encircling Russia, the West insisted that Russia had and  still has no mandate to intervene in any way in neighboring Ukraine. Ukraine’s affairs, the United States insists, are the Ukrainians’ to determine. Clearly, the US meant this only in as far as Ukrainians determined things in ways that suited US interests.

This is ever more evident now in Yemen, where the Yemeni people are not being allowed to determine their own affairs. Everything up to and including military invasion has been reserved specifically to ensure that the people of Yemen do not determine things for themselves, clearly, because it does not suit US interests.

Such naked hypocrisy will be duly noted by the global public and across diplomatic circles. The West’s inability to maintain a cohesive narrative is a growing sign of weakness. Shareholders in the global enterprise the West is engaged in may see such weakness as a cause to divest – or at the very least – a cause to diversify toward other enterprises. Such enterprises may include Russia and China’s mulipolar world. The vanishing of Western global hegemony will be done in destructive conflict waged in desperation and spite.

Today, that desperation and spite befalls Yemen.

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

On Monday March 23, the US House of Representatives adopted H. Res. 162 urging president Obama “to provide Ukraine with military assistance” in dire attempt to reignite conflict in the East of Ukraine, mainly frozen as a result of February 2015 Minsk agreements between Kiev and the outbreak Donetsk and Lugansk provinces with French, German and Russian mediation.

The general presumptions of the resolution are as evident as false: it contains routine mantras about “Russian aggression”, “Crimea occupation”,  “violent separatist proxies” and “insurrection that has resulted in over 6,000 dead, 15,000 wounded, and more than a million displaced persons”, as if the insurgents are using heavy artillery against their own cities and killing their own children (to say nothing about the fact that “displaced persons” are predominantly running to Russia to seek protection and personal safety away from the conflict zone).

Meanwhile earlier this month the Foundation for the Study of Democracy (FSD) has published a new comprehensive report «War Crimes of the Armed Forces and Security Forces of Ukraine». It is based on the evidence provided since August 2014 to January 2015 by at least 200 residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk provinces who were forcefully detained and kidnapped by the Ukrainian military and security forces and later handed back to Donetsk and Lugansk authorities according to “hostages release” provisions of the September 2014 Minsk protocol. Here we provide a dozen of citations of this bone-chilling document:

Report tortures UkraineThe prisoners were electrocuted, beaten cruelly and for multiple days in a row with different objects (iron bars, baseball bats, sticks, rifle butts, bayonet knives, rubber batons).

Techniques widely used by the Ukrainian armed forces and security forces include waterboarding, strangling with a ‘Banderist garrotte’ and other types of strangling.

In some cases prisoners, for the purposes of intimidation, were sent to minefields and run over with military vehicles, which led to their death.

Other torture methods used by the Ukrainian armed forces and security forces include bone-crashing, stabbing and cutting with a knife, branding with red-hot objects, shooting different body parts with small arms.

The prisoners taken captive by the Ukrainian armed forces and security forces are kept for days at freezing temperatures, with no access to food or medical assistance, and are often forced to take psychotropic substances that cause agony.

An absolute majority of prisoners are put through mock firing squads and suffer death and rape threats to their families.

Many of those tortured are not members of the self-defense forces of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR).

The report relates a huge number of shocking cases which would make stand the hair of any sane human being:

Andrey Runov: ‘During the night 23–24 November I was arrested at my home by the Aidar battalion. We were taken to the airport of Mariupol. The beating and torture there were so severe that we kept blacking out. They would beat us on the heels, ribs and head. They said they were going to break our legs, threatened to cut off our ears and gouge our eyes out. One of my cellmates got his insides beaten up and skull fractured; he was paralyzed as a result.’

Alexander Ryabchenko: ‘… I was crucified in a locker room on a sheet of wire mesh. They would come every hour and kick me. The next day I was taken to Debaltsevo. There they took me to the chief investigator who asked me if I would cooperate. I said there was nothing I could tell them, that I knew nothing. After that he called three assistants in and ordered them to beat everything they needed out of me. They tied my hands behind my back and suspended me on the door; my right foot was tied to the handle of another door by a rope, so I was standing only on my left foot. Two of them started to kick me on my left leg. Then I was taken to the hall, hands tied with scotch tape behind my back, and suspended by a rope tied to my hands and right foot. They put a black bag over my head and kept beating me until I blacked out.’

Oleg Fuhrman: "They used electro-shock devices, made us kneel with bags on our heads, and fired their guns near the ear. I was put on a chain in a pit, handcuffed. I could not stand on my feet, nor could I lie down, so I was hanging on that chain because my ribs and fingers were broken.’

Oleg Fuhrman: “They used electro-shock devices, made us kneel with bags on our heads, and fired their guns near the ear. I was put on a chain in a pit, handcuffed. I could not stand on my feet, nor could I lie down, so I was hanging on that chain because my ribs and fingers were broken.’

Yury Slusar: ‘On 4 November I was arrested by the Azov and SBU men when I was at work in the town of Druzhkovka. I was taken to Kramatorsk. They beat me on the head and feet with a saw chain, fired a gun close to my ear, threatened to shoot me in the head or to shoot my feet. They humiliated me and said they were going to rape me. They threatened to bring my wife and daughters in and torture them in front of me. I could not eat for three days. The only food I got was water and rusks.’

German Mandrikov: ‘I am just a civilian, I had not participated in the military actions but the SBU investigators forced me to incriminate myself through torture. In early October I went to see my mother and was arrested by unknown men. They took me to the airport of Mariupol where for three days in a row I suffered beastly torture. They used both psychological and physical abuse: they gave me electric shock, suffocated me with a plastic bag, beat on the feet with a tire iron, poured freezing water on me, etc. The torturers had an Azov insignia on their sleeves. They threatened to rape my mother and bride. I could not bear the torment any longer and signed some documents without even reading them.’

According to accounts by the victims, the Ukrainian army, the National Guard, various units of the Ministry of the Interior and the Security Service of Ukraine employ a whole range of torture techniques.

Many of the victims say that they were stabbed and cut with a knife.

Dmitry Klimenko: ‘I was captured on 8 July 2014 by the Donbass battalion when I was at home. I lost conscious during the arrest and came to only in the car. I had a bag on my head. They began beating me. They kicked me on the ribs, broke three of them. They kicked me on the head too. And I fainted once again. I gained conscious only when they poured water on me. One the men took a knife and started stabbing me in the leg while continuing the questioning. Another one gave me electric shock. This inquisition continued for ten hours. In the morning they decided to carry on with the interrogation. I was kicked on the body and on the ribs. It was then that I realized I had had my ribs broken. I fell with my face to the ground, heard the bolt of a rifle click and a burst shot into the ground. When they saw that I was not going to tell them anything, they put me in a car trunk and took somewhere. Then I found myself in an office. I instantly understood that it was the SBU. I spent two days there. Afterwards I was taken to a court and to an attorney. I had a chat with him and then came the investigating officer. I was brought into a court room. The judge took no notice of my wounds, though they were evident.’

Igor Kozlov: ‘I was arrested on 18 July at a checkpoint not far from Popasnaya by the VSU. They beat me up, tortured me and tried to cut my ear off.’

Mikhail Lyubchenko: 'I saw a guy standing waist-deep in a hole in the ground and being buried with a shovel bucket and then the truck run over him.'

Mikhail Lyubchenko: ‘I saw a guy standing waist-deep in a hole in the ground and being buried with a shovel bucket and then the truck run over him.’

Alexander Kashenkowas captured by the “Dniepro” battalion on 13 November 2014 and describes in detail the torture inflicted on him by the Ukrainian security forces, ‘I had a bag on my head during the beating. They beat me with metal-plastic tubes. There were two, then three of them. They would hit me on the head, back, feet and kidneys. They tried to suffocate me with a fist stopping me from breathing, used an electro-shock device on me. They beat me with a rifle butt and kicked me with their army boots. I had ribs broken. The beatings with the use of a metal-plastic tube left six lesions on my skull. They would hit me with a hammer, too. I got fingers, arms and a bone in my hand injured. I blacked out twice. The beatings continued for more than a day. They began cutting me with a knife asking questions they wanted to be answered. They stabbed a knife into my leg, turned it and stuck it even deeper, turned it again and so on. Then they tried to cut off my fingers.’

A large number of victims assert that the torture techniques used include burning skin with the gas burners or burning-hot objects and burning various inscriptions into the skin of the prisoners.

Alexander Piksunov: ‘We were ambushed and captured by the National Guard. For three days in a row they kept torturing us, they would beat us and burn us nonstop; they would suspend us from the ceiling. I was hooded and they burnt me with what I think was a gas burner. They hung me by my arms; the scars have not healed yet and I cannot feel my right arm, it’s numb. My ribs still hurt. Those people, they would kick me, and tie my hands behind my back and strap a hand grenade safety pin to my finger. You move – you pull the pin. As a result, I had to sit still through the night so as not to pull it. I had to sit still but sometimes even wanted rip the pin out. Some asked to be shot, but those people would say that it was too easy of a death, though they repeatedly put us against the wall menacing with a gun, pulled the trigger but there was no shot, just the sound. Some of us asked them to shoot us, to stop torturing us, but the answer was that it was too easy of a death for us, that we were no human, traitors of our country. They are not human at all, they are animals.’

Stanislav Stankevich: ‘On 24 August 2014, our car was shot at by teh National Guard. The driver and I were taken to Kramatorsk, where we were tortured, questioned, beaten by National Guardsmen. They beat me so hard they injured my eye; I cannot see with that eye now. They burnt the word “sepr” (separatist) into my chest and a Nazi cross into my buttocks. After three days of beating, we were taken to the office of the Security Service in Kharkov. Only after spending 24 hours on the stone floor in a bathroom did we join the others in the mass cells.”

The methods of torture being used include crashing different parts of the victim’s body.

Denis Gavrilin: 'They would throw me in a pit with dead bodies... I know a guy who got four of his front teeth pulled out with pliers.’

Denis Gavrilin: ‘They would throw me in a pit with dead bodies… I know a guy who got four of his front teeth pulled out with pliers.’

Alexey Stenov was taken prisoner on 26 August 2014: ‘When I was captured and they put me face down on the ground, the only thing I heard was, “Let’s take the big one. Get rid of the short one and the old one.” There were nine of us in the group. We were put in an APC and taken to an unknown locality; later it became clear that it was the 11th reconnaissance battalion. It was there that they started hitting us on the toes with a sledge and on the knees and on the legs – with a hammer, they beat us with shovel handles…at night they tied us to some fence, stripped to underwear, and poured cold water on us throughout the night.’

The torture victims indicate that the Ukrainian army and law enforcement bodies systematically employ a torture technique called ‘waterboarding’. Previously, this method was used by the American secret services:

V. Popov: ‘I was captured by the Shakhtersk battalion and taken to the transit police station. I was tortured there. They put me on my back and poured water into my mouth. I felt as if I was drowning. Thenthey brought me to my senses. They threatened to shoot me.’

Sergey Skidan: ‘I was arrested by the SBU on September 11 2014. They brought me in and started beating me; they also waterboarded and cross-questioned me and gave me electric shock. At a certain moment I blacked out and came to in another cell. After a while, they followed the same procedure and threw me into a cell again. Then a man came to me and asked me what I wanted to say to my family; he forced me to stand on my knees and pressed a gun against me between the shoulder blades. I heard a click and then he said that the next time would be different.’

Denis Gavrilin was captured by the Ukrainian National Guard on 31 July 2014 and handed over to the Azov battalion, describes the same torture technique: ‘I was blindfolded; they put a cloth on my face and poured water. I could not see anything. And my hands were handcuffed behind my back. They were holding my head from behind and pouring water over the cloth that was covering my face. I do not know whether they were pouring water from a teapot or a bottle…I felt as if I was drowning. Then they brought me to… and then did the same thing.’

The victims indicate that the Ukrainian armed forces and security forces use other torture techniques as well, for example suffocation with plastic bags, gas masks, etc.

Vladimir: 'They tortured people severely. A lot of broken fingers, cut hands, beaten by hammers, There is a pit near Mariupol airport - those who couldn't stand tortures are buried there...'

Vladimir: ‘They tortured people severely. A lot of broken fingers, cut hands, beaten by hammers, There is a pit near Mariupol airport – those who couldn’t stand tortures are buried there…’

Leontiy Lazarev: ‘On 4 November armed soldiers of the 71st airborne brigade force-entered my house. They hit my wife and pushed me down on my belly. Three people jumped onto me and started jumping on my body and trampling all over it. Then, not having found anything in my house, the soldiers put a bag on my head, tied my hands, and brought me outside the village. They were kicking me. Some time passed, and finally an SBU car came and took me to a location unknown to me. One of the men in the car told me to address him as Yesaul1. In a while, we stopped; they led me out of the car and fired over my head. Then, they hit me on the head with something heavy, and I passed out. When I came to again they were dragging me out of the car. They sat me on a bench, and Yesaul, not saying a word, started beating me with a metal rod. He was putting a gas mask on me, over and over, until I began to suffocate. I had to sign their protocols even though I had no chance to read them. They were grounds for the criminal case against me and for my imprisonment in the Mariupol pre-trial detention facility.’

The so-called ‘Banderist garrotte’ is used as a weapon – both for intimidation and torture.

Yevgeny Pavljuk, captured on 10 September 2014 by the SBU, says, ‘At the SBU, they put a garrotte round my throat, kicked me and beat me on the head and in the kidneys with a rifle butt, hooded me, poured water on me. And later on, at a pre-trial investigation facility beat me on the head with the Criminal Code of Ukraine.’

Based on the information collected by the FSD, a clear conclusion can be drawn that most of the torture victims are not members of the Donetsk or Lugansk People’s Republics’ self-defense forces, but civilians. A ‘reason’ for arrest and torture of civilians by the Ukrainian side can be as simple as involvement in anti-Euromaidan rallies, participation in Russian TV shows, expression of your opinion on the Internet, involvement in pro-DPR rallies, participation in the referendum on independence, ‘possession of a telephone number of a Russian journalist’, ‘Caucasian names – Aslan, Uzbek’ in the personal phone contacts, a phone conversation with people from ‘the Donetsk People’s Republic’, ‘receiving medical assistance in the DPR’, etc. The same absurdity and lack of substantial evidence is characteristic of the other accusations.

VIDEO EVIDENCE (audio in Russian, dated February 7, 2015, important timeline points: 0:30, 1:17, 1:30, 2:06):

War Crimes of the Armed Forces and Security Forces of Ukraine VIDEO (audiotrack and subtitles in Russian):

The extent to which torture is being used by the Ukrainian armed forces (VSU), the National Guard and other military units of the Ministry of the Interior of Ukraine, as well as the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the fact that this is done systematically prove that torture is an intentional strategy of the said institutions, authorized by their leadership and their patrons overseas.

As the military victory of Kiev over the breakaway provinces is hardly achievable even with the outdated NATO arms pouring into Ukraine, the only lethal weapon Pres. Obama can authorize to export now are the new torture techniques

Houthis leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi on Thursday accused the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel of launching a campaign aimed at invading and occupying Yemen.

This move that created a huge turn of events, and to be honest caused a humiliating and unprecedented defeat of those criminals. After committing the ugliest crimes in the Hashoush and Badr mosques in Sanaa, they committed the worst crimes towards the Yemeni military in Aden, and they continue to commit these ugly crimes by targeting a lot of areas via a spreading military hoping for full control”, Houthis leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said.

Today the warplanes of the Saudi-led alliance have attacked a popular market in the northwestern Yemeni city of Sa’ada, killing or injuring at least 15 people, according to Yemen’s al-Massira TV on Friday.

People listening to Houthis leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi TV address 

“If the stupid, arrogant and unfair Saudi regime wagered on America and other regimes… to participate in the aggression towards the people, then our dear Yemeni people are betting on God’s support.”

The attack occurred as Saudi-led warplanes have pounded the Yemeni capital city of Sana’a for the second consecutive day.
The airstrikes against Sana’a resumed during the early hours of Friday.The planes bombed military and civilian targets in and around the Yemeni capital.

“Today and after this unfair and brutal aggression and after this sinful, ugly, criminal and unjustified targeting (of the Houthis) and after moving in this way, by putting under siege, starving, killing and suffocating 24 million great Yemeni people, they became more determined to defend themselves”, he added.

“If the stupid, arrogant and unfair Saudi regime wagered on America and other regimes – which they bought off with some cheap money to participate in the aggression towards the people, one of the most honourable and honest people of the world – then our dear Yemeni people are betting on God’s support, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi stressed.

“Our dear Yemeni people are a free people and will not be enslaved to anyone ever. If the stupid and unfair Saudi regime which imagines that the Yemeni people will kneel for him and surrender to him and that he can step over the Yemeni people, then no and a thousand nos, that could never happen. Therefore, I address our great Yemeni people to seriously and responsibly move to face this unfair and ugly aggression through forming two fronts, the first is an internal one which will take care of the situation inside the country and the second is to face and defend against these attacks and try and stop any attempts for occupation”, he said.

“Today is the day for all Yemeni people, it is a day for parents, a day for glory, a day for heroism, a day for loyalty and a day that represents every honest, free and loyal man, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi said in a TV address.

Saudi Arabia bombed key installations in Yemen on Thursday, leading a regional coalition in a campaign against the Shiite Houthis who have taken over much of the country and drove out the former president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Thousands of Houthi’s supporter.

Thousands of protesters gathered in the Yemeni capital on Thursday to show their support for the Houthi group.

Al-Masirah Television, which is affiliated with the Houthis, broadcast footage of the huge demonstration in Sanaa, which took place after Saudi Arabia’s attack.

Hadi, who fled the country Wednesday as the Houthis advanced on his stronghold in the southern port of Aden, reappeared Thursday. He arrived by plane in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh, Saudi state TV reported.

Today Al-Massira television, run by Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah fighters, said anti-aircraft defenses opened fired on the warplanes following the raids.

At least 25 people were killed and dozens of others injured on Thursday during the first day of the Saudi military aggression against Yemen. Sa’ada and the southern city of Ta’izz were also pounded on the same day.

Proof!

Bad people are putting their countries closer and closer to our military bases:

http://i.imgur.com/xgBMhBb.jpg

http://caelumetterra.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/bases-overseas.jpg

Look how close Russia put its country to our military bases:

Credit: Small People Against Big Government

Iran is just as bad:

http://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/1878/3684/original.jpg

This proves that Russia and Iran are the bad guys!

Federico Picado, a Costa Rican diplomat, was fired from his post as ambassador to Venezuela after praising Venezuelan democratic practices in an interview. (archives/Ultimas Noticias)

Caracas – The Costa Rican government fired its recently appointed ambassador to Venezuela yesterday after the latter expressed support for the Bolivarian government in an interview with a prominent rightwing Venezuelan newspaper.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis stated that his government did not share the opinions of ex-ambassador Federico Picado, which have generated an uproar in the small Central American country with rightwing politicians demanding the ambassador’s immediate dismissal.

In his interview with La Nacion conducted via email, the 69 year-old ex-ambassador ridiculed suggestions of a lack of press freedom in Venezuela and attributed scarcities of essential goods to sabotage by “political factors” and “big business” seeking “internal destabilization”. Picado also contrasted the image of the country presented by international media externally and the reality that he experienced on the ground.

Picado praised the example of Venezuela in the area of citizens’ referenda and advocated that Costa Rica institute the option of midterm plebiscites for unseating inefficient leaders from their elected posts.

However, not all Costa Rican political leaders sanctioned the firing of Picado.

Patricia Mora of the leftwing Broad Front party stood up for the ex-ambassador, informing La Nacion, “It seems that they were objective declarations, he is experiencing what is happening [in Venezuela].”

Kidnapping False Claim

The dismissal of the Costa Rican ambassador for voicing support for the Bolivarian government comes in midst of an intensifying misinformation campaign directed against Venezuela in the international media.

Over the past few days, news headlines and social media feeds have been dominated by the story of an alleged kidnapping of a child in Venezuela.

Nevertheless, Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz announced today that there was no kidnapping and that the child’s mother was paid $18,000 of a total of $1 million Bolivars in order to issue the false claim.

Carmen Yanet Briones, who is of Ecuadorian nationality, was detained yesterday, along with those accused of paying her, after the child’s father dismissed the claim as false.

President Nicolas Maduro denounced the false kidnapping as an instance of “psychological war” waged against Venezuela and called for those responsible to be brought to justice, mentioning the name of rightwing Venezuelan media consultant and fugitive J.J. Rondón.

The Venezuelan leader compared the plot to previous misinformation campaigns against Venezuela and other revolutionary governments, invoking the example of “Operation Peter Pan” in the 1960s, in which the CIA circulated the lie that the Cuban government intended to take custody of the island’s children, while transporting thousands of Cuban children to the United States and placing them under foster care.

Venezuelan authorities have stated that they will release further information on the case as it becomes available.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten led a propaganda tour to Israel and uses her union to push J Street’s anti-Palestinian-rights agenda. (Flickr)

The Israel lobby group J Street has just wrapped up its annual conference in Washington, DC.

The prevailing mood of alarm and despair in the wake of Israel’s election was captured by keynote speaker Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.5 million-strong American Federation of Teachers (AFT) trade union.

“This is a difficult moment for those of us who believe in the ideal of Jews and Palestinians living side by side, in two states, with real rights, and with security,” Weingarten lamented.

She lambasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “last-ditch effort to retain power.” It was, she said, “both painful and pitiful – just days after thousands of us went to Selma to honor those brutally beaten fighting to exercise the right to vote – to watch Netanyahu renounce the two-state solution and demonize Israel’s Arab citizens for exercising their basic democratic rights.”

Weingarten fretted about a status quo that “threatens the future of the State of Israel.” She posited herself as a representative of the reasonable middle in a “vast chasm between those who believe: Israel, right or wrong, and never mind the occupation or democracy; and those who believe: Israel is evil and doesn’t have a right to exist, which then justifies BDS, or worse, violence or terrorism.”

Fighting BDS

Her attack on BDS – the Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions – and her attempt to associate it with “violence” and “terrorism,” echoes her earlier condemnation of the American Studies Association for endorsing the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli institutions complicit in occupation and human rights violations.

Weingarten then began to speak about a delegation of AFT officials earlier this year to “Israel and the West Bank” that she traveled on along with J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami.

Liberal Zionism

Weingarten is one of the most influential and high-profile union leaders in the country. But at a time when inner city public school teachers are battling against education cuts and privatization, she is spending her time on advocacy for Israel that has nothing to do with that agenda.

Without consulting her constituents, she is using her union platform to push a Zionist agenda informed by her view that the Israeli occupation army is the sacred and miraculous answer to the Holocaust.

Her address to J Street represented precisely the kind of liberal Zionism that Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf condemned when he appeared on the same stage: full of easy potshots at the bogeyman Netanyahu, but total silence about Israel’s siege and massacres in Gaza.

Union funds

The AFT president’s speech was not the only involvement of a US teacher’s union in the conference. The J Street program lists the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) as a major donor to the conference.

IFT, which represents more than 100,000 educators and public employees in Illinois and is affiliated with the AFT, ignored repeated requests for comment about the amount of the donation and its purpose.

But here’s a clue: IFT president Dan Montgomery, who serves as a vice-president of the AFT, also went on the junket with Weingarten and Ben-Ami.

Israel lobby’s kinder face

J Street poses as the kinder, gentler face of the Israel lobby, the alternative to hardline AIPAC. But it is just as adamantly opposed to fundamental Palestinian rights.

Its insistence on a “two-state solution” is motivated by a desire to rescue Israel as a “Jewish state” by hiving the Palestinians off into bantustan-like reservations where they can pose no “demographic threat” to Israeli Jewish power.

For the same reason, J Street opposes the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

It has unyieldingly supported recent Israeli massacres of Palestinians, including the attack on Gaza last summer that killed more than 2,200 people. It has endorsed the Obama administration’s campaign to end all efforts to bring Israeli war criminals to justice.

J Street has regularly hosted and honored Israeli leaders implicated in war crimes. At the same time, it staunchly opposes the nonviolent BDS movement.

Normalizing apartheid

Neither Weingarten nor Ben-Ami responded to requests for comment about the AFT/J-Street visit to “Israel and the West Bank.”

But we can gain much insight into the delegation and its pernicious politics from this ten-minute video released by AFT to coincide with Weingarten’s appearance at the J Street conference.

Bearing Witness: AFT Leaders Mission to Israel and the West Bank

It opens with Weingarten standing against the backdrop of occupied East Jerusalem and waxing poetic about looking out over “four thousand years of history.”

She enthuses about Israel’s “Declaration of Independence” as a document that embodies Israel’s supposed egalitarian, open and democratic spirit. (This is the same document that historian Ilan Pappe describes in the current issue of The Link as “window dressing aimed at safeguarding Israel’s future international image and status” from the reality of ethnic cleansing and apartheid.)

With uplifting music playing throughout, the video reproduces almost every conceivable trope of what Palestinians condemn as normalization.

There is a relentless insistence on “dialogue” and heart-warming singing groups and schools bringing Arab and Jewish children together. There is constant chatter about “both sides,” obscuring the enormous power imbalance between a nuclear-armed, US-backed military occupation engaged in industrial-scale colonization, and a nearly defenseless, impoverished, occupied and disposessed people.

The American delegates are presented as caring innocents who just want to make a difference.

J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami (far right) with AFT president Randi Weingarten and Illinois Federation of Teachers president Dan Montgomery (fifth and sixth from right, respectively) with other members of the AFT delegation and Dalia Rabin (center) at the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv. (via Facebook)

PACBI, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, defines normalization as: “cultural activities, projects, events and products involving Palestinians and/or other Arabs on one side and Israelis on the other … that are based on the false premise of symmetry/parity between the oppressors and the oppressed or that assume that both colonizers and colonized are equally responsible for the ‘conflict.’”

Such activities, PACBI states, “are intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible forms of normalization that ought to be boycotted.”

PACBI is not opposed to all contact between Israelis and Palestinians, but says context and politics are critical.

It welcomes “co-resistance” activities in which “the Israeli party in the project recognizes the comprehensive Palestinian rights under international law” corresponding to the rights set out in the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions: an end to occupation, full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel and full respect of the rights of Palestinian refugees.

Obscuring reality

But even when the AFT video documents delegates being shown some of the most brutal aspects of the occupation, it is overlaid with an anesthetizing, normalizing fog.

The delegates are seen on a tour of Hebron, led not by Palestinians who live there but by an Israeli Jew from the group Breaking the Silence. They witness the emptiness of Shuhada Street, once the bustling heart of the Old City, but forbidden to Palestinians by the occupation army.

One AFT delegate says the situation in Hebron is “symbolic of the distrust on both sides.” But what former UN Special Rapporteur and international jurist John Dugard hasdocumented in Hebron is an Israeli-imposed regime he explicitly likens to the apartheid that existed in his native South Africa.

The forcible closure of much of Hebron to Palestinians is the direct act of a brutal colonial occupation, done solely for the benefit of a few fanatical settlers.

This episode, like the rest of the video, deceptively presents occupier and occupied as equally vulnerable and equally responsible.

Erasing Gaza massacre

The only exception is when Israelis are shown as the victims of Palestinians.

“We went to a community right along the Gaza Strip,” Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery explains.

He talks about how “when fighting broke out in Gaza,” Israelis living in the area got fifteen-second warnings of rocket strikes. “And you’re frantically trying to find out where your small kids are,” he adds.

As he speaks, the video lingers on Israeli elementary school children. It then shows how many “safe places” – bomb shelters – they have.

This Israeli-centric view regularly instilled in participants of hasbara, or propaganda, tours completely ignores the 900,000 children – half the total population imprisoned in the Gaza Strip under Israeli siege – who have no shelters.

There is no mention of the UN schools repeatedly bombed during Israel’s attack, as they served as makeshift shelters, killing children and their families.

Montgomery does not fret about the more than 500 children killed – many wiped out with their entire families – and more than 3,300 injured, during Israel’s 51-day bombardment of Gaza last summer.

Neither is there any mention of Israel’s relentless ceasefire violations and attacks on Gaza, before and after the summer massacre.

Palestinians in Gaza are invisible, not a subject of concern for AFT or for J Street.

Weingarten made no mention of them in her speech, except, like the video, as a threat to Israelis.

Palestinians: visible but absent

The AFT delegates, however, do remind us repeatedly that they met and spoke to Palestinians in many places in the West Bank – an assertion meant to deliver an impression of even-handedness.

But in the film all the analysis and framing is given by Israeli and American Jews. No Palestinian is seen or heard providing analysis or bearing witness to Israeli crimes.

At one point, J Street director Jeremy Ben-Ami is seen lecturing to the group. In the background is a slide showing relative population figures of Arabs and Jews – the “demographic threat” supposedly posed by Palestinian births is a particular obsession of liberal Zionists.

Palestinians only appear as a smiling, harmless backdrop, eagerly welcoming their American guests and grateful for tokenistic and depoliticized training programs provided by AFT in collaboration with the Palestinian Authority.

Scholars Mayssoun Sukarieh and Stuart Tannock have termed AFT’s US-funded teacher training programs in the Middle East “labor imperialism” that serves “US government foreign policy interests in maintaining and extending American control and influence over the region.”

At the same time, the video suggests AFT is encouraging normalization between Palestinian and Israeli teachers’ groups.

Selective amnesia

Towards the end of the video, there is a sanitized segment on how the Nakba – the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine – is commemorated at Jerusalem’s Hand in Hand School, one of a tiny number of mixed Jewish-Palestinian schools.

Jewish and Palestinian students and teachers briefly speak about how difficult it is. A Palestinian teacher talks about how she teaches the history from “both sides.”

A Palestinian girl says that Nakba Day “reminds us that we need to move on and not just stick to the past and all the bad things that happened.”

The message is clear: forget about the past, and forget about its present – the unfulfilled rights of millions of Palestinian refugees.

But forgetting is only a prescription for Palestinians, never for Jews.

After the visit to Palestine, Weingarten and the rest of the AFT delegation went to Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland – and this is featured in the video.

The lesson of Auschwitz, Weingarten explains, is “Never forget. You can’t combat hate and prejudice if you forget.”

Using the Holocaust

The inclusion of Auschwitz in a video on the situation in Palestine seems calculated to send the not so subtle message that whatever is happening to Palestinians is dwarfed morally and in scale by the Holocaust.

In her address to J Street, Weingarten made the connection clear, using the Holocaust – or Shoah – as a rhetorical device to justify Zionism and whitewash and elevate the Israeli state to a sacred principle and manifest destiny.

She intersperses this passage with “dayenu” – a word taken from the Passover ritual meaning roughly “it would have sufficed for us”:

For our ancestors, if we had said: There will be a Jewish state – for the 6 million who died in the Shoah, there is now a homeland where more than six million Jews live – they would have said, “Dayenu.” A state with a powerful military. Dayenu. A vigorous economy. Dayenu. A proud democracy. Dayenu.

Here, Weingarten really lays out her cards. Her interactions with and ostensible concern for Palestinians are nothing but a liberal cover for Jewish nationalism. In the end she represents the Israeli army as the answer to the Holocaust – a classic Netanyahu talking point.

In addition to Weingarten, Montgomery and Ben-Ami, the delegation included Ted Kirsch, president of AFT Pennsylvania; Dennis Kelly, president of United Educators of San Francisco; Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers; Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, leader of Congregation Simchat Beit Torah in New York; Louis Malfaro, an AFT vice-president and an officer of Texas AFT; Ruby Newbold, an AFT vice-president and vice-president of AFT Michigan and Patricia Keefer, AFT’s director of international affairs.

AFT’s sordid history

A little history is useful to put the AFT’s support for Israel and for the anti-Palestinian rights agenda of J Street in perspective.

The union had a long and sordid history of zealous participation in McCarthyist purges, expelling members and affiliates accused of communism.

During the decades of the Cold War, AFT functioned as an arm of US imperialism and foreign policy, particularly in Latin America.

The union’s leaders, foremost among them Albert Shanker, its president from 1974 to 1997, formed close alliances with the CIA and other US government agencies. Their mission was to stem the influence of communism by creating politically amenable US-sponsored international labor organizations. In the process they helped divide and destroy the trade union movements in many countries.

AFT was central to a nexus of organizations doing such work, including the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), the US-financed organization sponsored by the AFL-CIO labor federation. AIFLD notoriously worked closely with the CIA and the US embassy to destabilize Chile and instigate Pinochet’s 1973 coup.

pamphlet on the AFT’s relationship with the CIA by George N. Schmidt, a long-time Chicago Teachers Union activist and publisher of Substance News, includes a letter from David Selden, who preceeded Shanker as president of AFT.

This quotation from Selden suggests that much of the international activity undertaken by Shanker and like-minded associates was motivated by a desire to advance Israel’s interests:

The whole AIFLD, CIA, AFT, AFL-CIO and Social Democrats USA web of relationships is complicated by the Israel problem. American Jews are understandably concerned for the future of Israel, and rightly or wrongly they consider the policy of the Soviet Union to be anti-Israel, at least in its effect. This in turn leads many Israeli supporters to condone activities of the interlocking defense-intelligence labor establishment which they otherwise would indignantly denounce. It is hard to take a balanced view of such an emotional problem.

Democracy’s Champion, a book published by the AFT’s Albert Shanker Institute to honor Shanker’s legacy, confirms that his Zionism was a strong motivation throughout his life and leadership, turning the union into a perfect tool for both Israel and US imperialism.

Soon after he took office, for instance, Shanker appointed AFT staffer Eugenia Kemble to join AFL-CIO delegations to the UN’s International Labor Organization (ILO). One of Kemble’s “main tasks,” according to Democracy’s Champion, “was to help defeat the anti-Israel resolutions that arose quite regularly at ILO conferences.” Kemble received the “Israel State Medal” for her efforts.

During the 1970s, the AFT regularly adopted resolutions pledging staunch support for Israel. A 1974 resolution railed against the UN for voting to allow Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat to address the General Assembly.

“Not even the terrorists’ most ardent supporters seriously envision the wolf turning into a lamb,” the resolution states, before asserting, “We stand firm with the State of Israel and her heroic people, Jews, Arabs and Christians alike.”

Similarly, a 1976 resolution called Israel “our only remaining sister democracy in the Middle East” and “a cornerstone of America’s defense against the spread of totalitarian movements and military dictatorship into the Mediterranean and the Middle East.”

Supporting Israeli and American wars

Shanker’s successors continued his legacy of serving US imperialism. AFT supported and helped the Bush administration justify the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

In 2006, the AFT adopted a resolution fully supporting that year’s invasion of Lebanon, during which Israel killed more than 1,200 civilians and deliberately destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure.

It was not without opposition, however. “The delegates narrowly passed this resolution after heated debate,” wrote AFT San Francisco Local 2121 member and past president Allan Fisher in a letter published by the The Boston Globe.

According to Fisher, “half the delegates on the convention floor vigorously opposed this resolution because it does not call for a ceasefire and makes no criticism whatsoever of Israel’s unjust and brutal behavior.”

Michael Letwin, co-convener of the solidarity group Labor for Palestine, says that despite the complicity of union leaderships like the AFT’s, rank-and-file labor is playing a growing role in the Palestinians’ struggle to regain all their rights.

“That is why BDS is championed by the Congress of South African Trade Unions and numerous other trade unionists around the world, including dockworkers on the US West Coast who refuse to handle Israeli Zim line cargo, and UAW 2865 at the University of California,” Letwin told The Electronic Intifada.

“Weingarten and other US labor leaders must end their longstanding complicity with apartheid Israel, and support a free Palestine, from the river to the sea, with equal rights for all,” he added.

“Partnership”

The support for Israel may be rooted in the AFT’s history but it is also symptomatic of the approach Weingarten takes to politics and power today when it comes to the union’s core mission.

Weingarten and her leadership team have faced persistent challenges from segments of the membership for being “too willing to partner with the corporate elite allied to the Obama administration’s attempt to ‘reform’ public education.”

She was criticized for cozying up to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – appearing with him on a June 2012 Clinton Global Initiative panel supporting privatization – at a time when the city’s teachers were preparing to strike.

The strike by the AFT-affiliated Chicago Teachers Union the following September was seen as a model and inspiration for educators across the US facing neoliberal “reform” and privatization agendas.

Chicago has long been ground zero for the assault on public education, especially stealth privatization through the creation of charter schools. In 2013, Emanuel announced the closure of dozens of schools, overwhelmingly in long-neglected African American neighborhoods.

Karen Lewis, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union, was tipped as a possible challenger to Emanuel for mayor, but declined to run for health reasons.

Still, for many, her grassroots leadership offers a marked contrast to Weingarten’s approach.

While Chicago teachers fought for and won major concessions on the picket lines, Weingarten was there with them.

But she has been accused of being late to come to their side and then downplaying their victory. Her members may ask why she has so much time to promote Israel through hasbara tours and so little time for teachers on the frontlines.

Amnesty: Gaza Firing of Indiscriminate Rockets is War Crime

March 27th, 2015 by Robert Barsocchini

Amnesty notes in a new report that attacks by Gazans resisting Israeli occupation, invasion, and terrorist attacks amount to war crimes, due to the uncontrollable nature of the rudimentary projectiles Gazans are forced to use because of the Israeli occupation and siege keeping Gaza isolated from the rest of the world.

“According to UN data, more than 4,800 rockets and 1,700 mortars were fired from Gaza towards Israel during the conflict.”

By contrast, Israel, both the occupier and aggressor, fired more than 7,000 high explosives into just one neighborhood of Gaza in a 24 hour period during its massive assault on the whole of Gaza.  The assault on the residential neighborhood of Shujaiya included Israel firing 4,800 high explosives in just one seven hour period, prompting a senior US military officer to remark

“The only possible reason for doing that is to kill a lot of people in as short a period of time as possible … It’s not mowing the lawn [the term, implying an indiscriminate and genocidal mindset, that Israelis often use for their assaults on the trapped Gazans]. It’s removing the topsoil.”

The Western response to Amnesty’s report is typical.  Whereas Western media is relatively silent over US collaborators in Kiev’s forces using indiscriminate rockets to kill more people than Israelis killed by rockets from Gaza (7, plus 13 or more Palestinians, due to the low quality of the Gazan projectiles), the report on Gaza is all over the corporate news outlets.

(Human Rights Watch reported of Kiev: “Unguided Grad rockets launched apparently by Ukrainian government forces and pro-government militias have killed at least 16 civilians and wounded many more… [this] may amount to war crimes.” Note that while occupied Gaza’s firing of similar weapons “amounts to war crimes”, a US collaborator’s firing of also-unguided weapons only “may amount to war crimes”.)

While Amnesty, in its new report, does give the death toll from Israel’s massacre against the trapped refugees of Gaza – “At least 1,585 Palestinian civilians, including more than 530 children, were killed in Gaza, and at least 16,245 homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by Israeli attacks” while 67 Israelis, almost all soldiers and including less than ten civilians and one child, were killed – the New York Times, in its story on Amnesty’s new report, does not give the death tolls, as, obviously, it is damning to be on the side, as the US is, of an illegal colonial-settler occupier that commits massacres against the occupied, refugee population, slaughtering children at a rate of nearly 600 to 1.

Western reports also contain an implicit genocidal mentality: they make no suggestions for how Gazans should fight back (against illegal Israeli occupation and terrorism), the legal right of people struggling for self determination. Gazans, they thus suggest, should simply lie still and do nothing.

A proposal that instantly comes to mind for an alternative to unguided projectiles might be for Israel to trade Gaza its unguided projectiles for some guided ones, so that Gaza could have a deterrent that is legal to use (as unguided weapons are not).  It would still be a completely unfair fight, which Israel and the West want.  However, Gazans would then be able to train those weapons directly at Israeli government and military installations, which are woven throughout the cities of Israel, and Israeli officials would much rather have the projectiles whizzing off in random directions, hitting civilian and open areas or, rarely, being intercepted by the Iron Dome system, than increase the chance that they themselves face consequences for their aggression.

Another proposal would be for an Iron Dome system (ineffective as they are, stopping ~10% of projectiles) to be installed in Palestine.

But Israel’s ideal situation, of course, is for Gazans to simply lie still and die, to go away or disappear, allowing their land to be absorbed and annexed by Israel.

Here are is a comparison between the damage done by projectiles fired from Gaza and the ones fired by Israel:

Damage caused in Israel by Gaza projectiles:

Damage caused in Gaza by Israeli projectiles:

The head of the Red Cross recently commented that he had never seen such destruction, and Oxfam noted that, with Israel’s siege against Gaza in place, it will take 100 years to repair the destruction Israel inflicted.

Amnesty reported that Israel “deliberately flattened entire homes full of civilians”.

In a damning act of self-incrimination, Israel is now physically blocking human rights monitors from entering Gaza to report on what Israel did.

In Israel’s 2008,/2009 massacre against Gaza, in which Israel also committed aggression (being the occupier and breaking the ceasefire), the UN was able to enter, and reported that Israel’s operation was “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to … terrorize a civilian population” (UN fact-finding mission, pg. 408, par. 1).

Israel remains the largest recipient of US funding and backing.

More background and details on the situation here and here.

Also note that Israel has recently re-confirmed its position against the two-state solution required by international law and supported virtually uniformly by the international community for ~40 years.  The solution affirms the right of Israel to exist – within its legal borders – to have as many arms as it wants, and even to build a wall, but only on its legal border.  Israel currently uses the building of the wall to steal land and resources reserved for the Palestinians by the United Nations.

The charter of Israel’s ruling party, Likud, promises that it will never allow a Palestinian state to exist.  See prof. Juan Cole’s “The Hateful Likud Charter Calls for the Destruction of Any Palestinian State“.

Robert Barsocchini, Author and UK-based colleague on Twitter.

Once it became clear that Andreas Lubitz, 28, deliberately crashed Germanwings Flight 9525, a reporter immediately asked “what was his religion?” (Parent company Lufthansa said they didn’t know). Authorities said there was no evidence it was “terrorism.”

Lubitz is from Rhineland-Palatinate, known for its wine-growing and pharmaceuticals. It is roughly 2/5s Roman Catholic and a third Lutheran. A fourth of its people don’t really care about religion one way or another.

Why in the world would his religion be relevant? If he did crash the plane on purpose then presumably he was depressed and wanted not only to commit suicide but also to be a mass murderer. You could understand how a depressed person with low self-esteem might think it ego-boosting to determine the fate of so many others.

It isn’t political terrorism, likely, but certainly it was a terroristic act of killing.

But we know why they asked. It was out of bigotry against Muslims, probing whether another one had gone postal. The subtext is that white Christians don’t go off the deep end, even though obviously they do, in large numbers. It isn’t a logical question about Andreas Lubitz from Rhineland-Palatinate. Zeynep Tufekci tweeted,

Maybe I need to add some more principles to my Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others, like “terrorism is only ruled out when the whiteness of the perp can be firmly established.”

NSA and Facebook Work Together

March 27th, 2015 by Kurt Nimmo

Earlier this week the European Commission’s attorney Bernhard Schima told the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) the US-EU Safe Harbor framework does not work.

The framework process supposedly protects personal data. In 2013, however, it was discovered the NSA and its British counterpart — the GCHQ, short for Government Communications Headquarters — had siphoned off data transfers by tapping directly into under sea cable networks.

In fact, according to a lawyer representing the Austrian government before the CJEU, Safe Harbor is better suited for pirates than the protection of data of EU citizens. In other words, the system was designed to be hijacked by the NSA and GCHQ.

“You might consider closing your Facebook account if you have one,” Schima told attorney-general Yves Bot at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Edward Snowden had earlier revealed that the NSA’s notorious PRISM program had provided access to a number of US tech companies and social media services, including Facebook.

Facebook, Apple and Google have argued they had no idea the NSA was illegally vacuuming up customer data. Last year, however, Rajesh De, the NSA’s general counsel, said the companies knew about the practice.

In 2009, Mark Zuckerberg told the world Facebook is in essence a platform for harvesting data and conducting surveillance.

“People have really gotten comfortable sharing more information and different kinds,” he told an audience at the 2009 Crunchies Awards ceremonies in San Francisco. Zuckerberg said “sharing” data — that is, surrendering private data to the government and corporations — has become the “social norm.”

In 2007, Matt Greenop documented Facebook’s indirect connection to the CIA and the military industrial and now surveillance complex:

Facebook’s first round of venture capital funding ($500,000) came from former Paypal CEO Peter Thiel. Author of anti-multicultural tome ‘The Diversity Myth’, he is also on the board of radical conservative group VanguardPAC.

The second round of funding into Facebook ($US12.7 million) came from venture capital firm Accel Partners. Its manager James Breyer was formerly chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, and served on the board with Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm established by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1999. One of the company’s key areas of expertise are in “data mining technologies”.

Breyer also served on the board of R&D firm BBN Technologies, which was one of those companies responsible for the rise of the internet.

Dr Anita Jones joined the firm, which included Gilman Louie. She had also served on the In-Q-Tel’s board, and had been director of Defense Research and Engineering for the US Department of Defense.

“Facebook may as well be called Stasibook,” I noted in 2012 when the corporation rolled out its IPO. “It is the most effective surveillance tool the world has ever known. Nearly a billion people love to be not so secretly data-mined, every chat and friend connection tucked into super-computer data reservoirs at the NSA.”

“The scientific dictatorship has done a ‘good’ job in brainwashing and manipulating the masses,” writesSandeep Parwaga. “Don’t be fooled by the deceit. The mainstream media has been very reluctant to cover the disturbing Google/Facebook ties as it would expose important assets for the Big Brother machine and its secret use to destabilize.”

In a revealing 6 minute 47 second video below, you can observe a brief synopsis of just how toxic GMO chemicals are. But the best part of this post, contributed by The Corbett Report, is the footage of Dr. Patrick Moore, a known GMO supporting lobbyist when asked to drink a glass full of glyphosate. Check it out below.

Patrick Moore owns a company that tells numerous corporations how to “green” their products and is known for promoting the greatness of glyphosate. He has even said, “you can drink a whole quart of it and it won’t hurt you.”

A French film-maker just released a clip of Moore on camera and what he says about the chemical is more than shocking. You simply have to check it out for yourself. You can skip to about 5 minutes into the video.

 “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” — Elie Wiesel

What do you say, we all send Moore numerous quarts of glyphosate to drink? Cheers to the biotech industry.

Follow us: @naturalsociety on Twitter | NaturalSociety on Facebook

Recently, scientists took a huge leap forward in developing a radically new form of immunization. Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute reported in February that they had successfully used a new form of gene therapy to induce monkeys to produce an antibody that deactivates HIV.

This new therapy is fundamentally different from vaccination, which consists of introducing small amounts of infectious material into the body to induce it to produce its own antibodies. In immunoprophylaxis by gene transfer (IGT), scientists instead hope to modify the DNA of patients to enable them to produce entirely new antibodies.

“The reality is we are touching third rails, and so it’s going to take some explanation,” said David Baltimore of the California Institute of Technology, a Nobel Prize recipient, virologist and IGT researcher.

Bypassing the immune system

In IGT, scientists first identify the genes (in humans or other animals) that produce powerful antibodies against hard-to-treat diseases. They then create artificial versions of these genes and insert them into viruses. These viruses are then injected into patient (usually into muscle tissue), where they transfer the genetically engineered DNA to the muscle cells. Although muscle cells normally do not produce antibodies, the viral DNA changes their genetic programming, and the muscles start producing the antibodies.

The first major breakthrough in IGT came in 2009, when Philip R. Johnson of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues announced that they had successfully used the technique to cause monkeys’ muscles to produce antibodies that protected the animals from SIV, a version of HIV that affects nonhuman primates. In 2011, Baltimore and colleagues successfully used IGT to protect mice against injected HIV. In 2014, they were able to use the technique to protect female mice against HIV introduced vaginally.

“We’re going around the immune system, rather than trying to stimulate the immune system,” Baltimore said. “So what we’re doing is pretty fundamentally different from vaccination, although the end result is pretty similar.”

Scientists are also researching the possibility of using IGT to confer resistance to many other diseases that have resisted vaccination, including malaria, respiratory diseases (such as cystic fibrosis, influenza or SARS) and even Ebola.

Many technical hurdles remain before IGT therapies could be widely adopted, however. Michael Farzan, lead author of the recent Scripps study, notes that scientists still need to figure out how to regulate the body’s production of the new antibodies, or shut it off.

“If we really want to see this blossom, we need regulatory ‘off’ switches,” he said.

Designer immune systems on the horizon?

Although scientists and bioethicists claim that IGT is no different than existing gene therapies and is therefore not ethically problematic, they admit that the public may see things differently. The prospect of having one’s DNA modified to fight a disease may not be easily accepted.

As with all gene therapies, IGT also raises concerns about the ethical implications of gene therapies designed to “improve” or “enhance” human beings rather than simply treat medical conditions. Conferring disease immunity arguably straddles the line between these approaches. Injecting viruses that are designed to modify the human genome also carries the risk of potentially severe side effects.

Thus far, gene therapy researchers have mostly limited themselves to what is known as somatic gene therapy, rather than germ line gene therapy. In the former, only non-reproductive DNA is modified, meaning that the modified traits cannot be passed on to future generations. It is widely accepted that germ line gene therapy poses an even more perilous ethical landscape than the gene therapies already under development.

Finally, the prospect of modifying the human genome raises the question, as always, of who would control such technology, and who would get to decide when it would be used.

(Natural News Science)

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com

http://www.gfmer.ch

http://truthwiki.org/Vaccine_Fanaticism

http://truthwiki.org/Medical_Fascism

http://truthwiki.org/Genetically_modified_cr…

http://truthwiki.org/GMO_Dangers,_opinion

John Bolton’s Call for War on Iran

March 27th, 2015 by Bill Van Auken

The New York Times Thursday published a prominent opinion piece entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”

The author was John R. Bolton, a former State Department official and, for a brief period, US ambassador to the United Nations, under the administration of George W. Bush. He became an influential figure in the administration after serving as a lawyer in the Bush campaign’s successful operation to steal the 2000 election by stopping the vote count in Florida.

Bolton, it must be said, has been calling for an immediate military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities—by either Israel or the US, or both—for at least the last seven years. On each occasion, he has warned darkly that unless his prescription for intensive bombing followed by “regime change” was adopted within days, the world would face the threat of an Iranian nuclear attack.

Thursday’s column was no different. “President Obama’s approach on Iran has brought a bad situation to the brink of catastrophe,” Bolton writes. He is referring to the attempt by Washington, together with the other member nations of the UN Security Council plus Germany, to negotiate restrictions on a nuclear program that Iran insists is strictly for civilian purposes in return for easing punishing economic sanctions.

“Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident,” according to Bolton. Despite the lack of “palpable proof,” Bolton insists that Iran’s unwillingness to “negotiate away its nuclear program” and the inability of sanctions to “block its building of a broad and deep weapons infrastructure” constitute an “inescapable conclusion.”

He continues:

“The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”

Bolton, who has made an entire career of suppressing “inconvenient truths,” allows that he would prefer an all-out US bombing campaign, but would accept a US-backed attack by Israel.

“The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary,” he writes. He adds that this military onslaught must be combined with US efforts “aimed at regime change in Tehran.”

What is involved here is an open appeal for the launching of a war of criminal aggression and incitement of mass murder. The unbridled militarism expressed in Bolton’s column would not be out of place in the writings of Hitler’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, the first to hang at Nuremberg after his conviction on charges of crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in organizing the Nazi regime’s wars of aggression.

The question arises, why has he been given a forum in the editorial pages of the New York Times, the supposed newspaper of record and erstwhile voice of American liberalism?

The obvious answer is that any differences the Times editorial board—or for that matter the Obama administration—have with Bolton over Iran are of an entirely tactical character. All of them stand by the principle that US imperialism has the unique right to carry out unprovoked “preemptive” war anywhere on the planet where it perceives a potential challenge to its interests.

Not so long ago, Bolton, who personifies this arrogant and criminal policy, and the Times were on the same page politically and on essentially the very same lines he presents in his latest column on Iran.

In 2002, Bolton was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and a point man in the Bush administration’s campaign to prepare a war of aggression against Iraq based upon the lies that Saddam Hussein was developing “weapons of mass destruction” and preparing to hand them over to Al Qaeda.

Bolton, described by one of his former colleagues at the State Department as “the quintessential kiss up, kick down kind of guy,” had been an advocate of aggression against Iraq at least since 1998, when he joined other right-wingers in signing an “Open letter to the president” demanding such a war.

In the run-up to war, he played a central role in manufacturing phony evidence of the existence of Iraqi WMD. This included the promotion of the crude forgeries indicating that Iraq was seeking to procure yellowcake (concentrated uranium) from Niger.

During this same period, the Times provided invaluable assistance to this propaganda campaign. Its senior correspondent Judith Miller was working in alliance with administration officials and right-wing think tanks to confirm and embellish upon the lies about WMD. Thomas Friedman, the paper’s chief foreign affairs columnist, was churning out column after column justifying what he readily acknowledged was a “war of choice” against Iraq, justifying it in the name of democracy, human rights and oil.

As the reputed newspaper “of record,” the Times set the tone for the rest of the corporate media, which together worked to overcome popular opposition to a war in the Middle East.

The results are well known. The war claimed the lives of over a million Iraqis, devastated an entire society and threw the whole region into chaos. In the process, some 4,500 US troops lost their lives, tens of thousands more were maimed and wounded and some $2 trillion was expended. A dozen years later, the Obama administration has launched a new war in Iraq, supposedly to halt the advance of ISIS, a force that it effectively backed in the war for regime change in Syria.

No one has ever been held accountable for these war crimes; not Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton and others who conspired to drag the American people into a war of aggression based upon lies. And not the editors of the Times who produced the propaganda that facilitated their conspiracy.

On the other hand, those who oppose war—from Private Chelsea Manning, who exposed war crimes in Iraq, to Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was sickened by the atrocities carried out against the people of Afghanistan—are submitted to a media lynching and then given the full measure of “military justice.”

In publishing Bolton’s column, the Times is making sure that it burns no bridges to the most right-wing and sociopathic layers of the American ruling establishment. While it may differ with them now over an imminent bombing of Iran, future US wars—including against Russia or China, where the propaganda mills of the Times are grinding once again—will undoubtedly bring them back into sync.

In a 392-37 vote, the US House on Thursday approved a bill that makes sweeping changes to the Medicare program that provides health insurance to more than 54 million seniors and the disabled. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act must be approved by the US Senate and signed into law by President Obama, who indicated his support for the measure earlier this week.

The bipartisan bill, drafted by Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, ties future payments to doctors for Medicare services to “quality of care,” shifting away from traditional fee-for-service payments. And for the first time, the universal Medicare program will institute means testing for higher-income seniors, requiring higher premiums for these individuals to access benefits.

The bill constitutes a historic attack on the Medicare program. Boehner called it the “first real entitlement reform in nearly two decades”—a reference to the assault on welfare launched under the Clinton administration in 1996. “Today is about a problem much bigger than any doc-fix or deadline. It’s about solving our spending problem,” he said.

Pelosi echoed Boehner’s comments, declaring that it had been a “privilege” to work with the House leader, and that she hoped the agreement “will be a model of things to come.”

The coming together of the Republican and Democratic Party leadership behind the overhaul exposes the unanimity within the ruling class on the need for sharp cuts in “entitlement” programs—Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

It provides a permanent “fix” to a 1997 law that tied doctors’ Medicare fees to overall economic growth. As overall health care costs have risen sharply, that formula threatened deep reimbursement cuts to doctors, cuts that Congress has blocked with patchwork measures 17 times since 2002.

The House bill will do away with the scheduled payment cut, set to kick in April 1, and replace it with a 0.5 percent yearly raise in payments through 2019. After this, a new payment system based on “quality of care” will be implemented.

Such language has been adopted by Medicare in other frameworks, and is generally measured by readmission rates and similar statistics. In other words, doctors who see more of their patients readmitted will receive cuts in reimbursement. However, readmission is closely correlated with poverty and other social factors, thus cutting spending on health care in lower-income and working class areas.

By disconnecting reimbursements from services provided, doctors will also be incentivized to ration care and cut back on testing—the overarching aim of all the health care “reform” proposals backed by both Democrats and Republicans. The change will result in reduced services for Medicare patients overall and deep spending cuts by the government.

This shift has long been promoted in the private insurance sector. It is also a key goal of the Obama administration, which earlier this year set a goal to tie the vast majority of Medicare payments to programs promoting cost-cutting.

The second main feature of the bill would institute means testing for Medicare recipients, requiring higher-income seniors to pay more toward Medicare premiums for insurance and prescription drug coverage. Initial estimates are that this change would result in Medicare savings of around $30 billion over the next decade.

Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike are well aware that this fundamental change opens the floodgates for transforming a program that for the last half-century has provided health care insurance to those over the age of 65, regardless of income, into a poverty program available to only those poorest segments of society. This is seen as a first step in it being starved of funds and ultimately dismantled.

Boehner, salivating at these prospects, commented, “We know we’ve got more serious entitlement reform that’s needed. It shouldn’t take another two decades to do it.” He indicated that the Republicans would continue to push for funding cuts to other federal benefit programs.

Some Congressional Republicans balked at the overall cost of the measure, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates at $214 billion over the next decade. This would be paid for through $141 billion in new spending, with the balance divided between higher monthly premiums for higher-income Medicare recipients and payments by nursing homes and other health care providers.

Boehner and the Republicans see the implementation of means testing—and the subsequent savings for government—as a starting point for future overhauls to Medicare and other federal programs. This particularly applies to Social Security, the universal retirement program enacted in 1935 in the wake of the Great Depression.

Both Medicare and Social Security are not “gifts” by the government, but benefits based on the funds workers pay into these programs for their entire working lives through deductions from their paychecks.

As window dressing, the bill also provides two more years of funding to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which serves 8 million low-income children, as well as to the nation’s 1,200 community health centers. While Pelosi and the White House had pushed for four-year extensions for both of these programs, the majority of Congressional Democrats willingly compromised on this issue in order to push through the changes to Medicare.

The bill also includes abortion funding restrictions at community health centers, incorporating components of the so-called Hyde Amendment, which forbids federal funding of abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, or the endangered life of the mother.

Leaders of the House “pro-choice” caucus assured skeptical Senate Democrats that the bill’s language provides no additional abortion restrictions beyond those that already apply. In fact, the Obama administration acceded to these reactionary and unconstitutional restrictions in language in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Speaking Wednesday on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of his signing into law of what is popularly known as Obamacare, the president indicated his support for the new bipartisan Medicare bill. “I’ve got my pen ready to sign a good bipartisan bill,” he said.

The coinciding of the ACA’s anniversary and the current bipartisan bill is noteworthy. From the start, Obama’s health care overhaul has been aimed at a fundamental restructuring of the health care system, aimed at lowering costs for the government and corporations while slashing health care services for the vast majority of Americans.

Taking its cue from Obamacare, the change in Medicare represented by Pelosi and Boehner’s bill will set an example that can rapidly be extended throughout the health care system. Despite many Congressional Republicans’ vocal opposition to the ACA and vows to see it repealed, they are in agreement with its aim of rationing care and funneling more money to the health care industry.

Although the bill faces some opposition in the Senate, it is expected to pass, either before Congress leaves for spring recess today or on its return in two weeks. If it does not pass before the recess, Congress will likely pass a temporary fix to the Medicare payments to doctors.

British writer Harold Pinter declared in his 2005 Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

“We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it ‘bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East’. How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice” [22].

1990-2011 Iraqi deaths from US Alliance violence (1.7 million) or violently-imposed deprivation (2.9 million) total 4.6 million and one can in 2015 paraphrase this great humanitarian: “How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? 4.6 million? More than enough, I would have thought.”

Unfortunately the International Criminal Court (ICC) as currently operating is a politically complicit entity  that strictly confines its war crimes attention to war criminals that the US Alliance doesn’t like.  (for discussion see “The Politics of Genocide” by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson [23, 24]).

The ICC has repeatedly ignored complaints over the Iraqi Genocide (e.g. [25, 26] and that means the world must accept recourse to eminent international people’s tribunals to assess the war crimes of the US Alliance in Iraq and elsewhere.

US state terrorism, UK state terrorism, French state terrorism, Apartheid Israeli state terrorism among others have variously combined over the last 25 years to destroy Iraq as a united, sovereign, modern state.

In the face of endless war against Iraq and an ongoing Iraqi Holocaust and Iraqi Genocide, what can decent people do?

Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. Decent people must

(a) circumvent the lying and ignoring by the Neocon American and Zionist Imperialist (NAZI)-subverted Mainstream media [27] by resolutely attempting to inform everyone they can about the Iraqi Genocide, and

(b) urge and apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) – of the kind successfully applied against Apartheid South Africa and currently being applied against Israel. This would apply to all people, politicians, parties, companies, corporations and countries involved in the Iraqi Genocide and the Zionist-promoted Muslim Holocaust and Genocide of which it is a part [28]. History ignored yields history repeated. We cannot walk by on the other side

Those with consciences recently marked the 12th anniversary on 19 March 2015 of the illegal and war criminal US, UK and Australian invasion of Iraq in 2003 that was based on false assertions of Iraqi possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction, was conducted in the absence of UN sanction or Iraqi threat to the invading nations, and led to 2.7 million Iraqi deaths from violence (1.5 million) or from violently-imposed deprivation (1.2 million).

The West has now commenced its Seventh Iraq War since 1914 in over a century of Western violence in which Iraqi deaths from violence or violently-imposed deprivation have totalled 9 million. However Western Mainstream media have resolutely ignored the carnage, this tragically illustrating the adage “History ignored yields history repeated” [1].

Western Mainstream media utterly ignore expert assessments of how many people the US Alliance has killed in Iraq and resolutely ignore the crucial epidemiological concept of non-violent avoidable deaths (excess deaths, avoidable mortality, excess mortality, deaths that should not have happened) associated with war-imposed deprivation (for detailed analysis see [2]).

Thus, by way of example, on the occasion of US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 the Australian ABC (Australia’s equivalent of the UK BBC) reported that

“The withdrawal ends a war that left tens of thousands of Iraqis and nearly 4,500 American soldiers dead” [3].

In contrast, the US Just Foreign Policy organization estimates, based on the data of expert UK analysts and top US medical epidemiologists, 1.5 million violent deaths in the Iraq War (2003-2011) [4-7] and UN data indicate a further 0.8 million Iraq avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation in this period [2]. Violent deaths and avoidable deaths from violently -imposed deprivation in the Gulf War (1990-1991) and Sanctions period (1990-2003) total 0.2 million and 1.2 million, respectively [1].

Accordingly, Iraqi deaths from violence (1.7 million) or war-imposed deprivation (2.9 million) since 1990 total 4.6 million [1].

However Western violation of Iraq commenced with the British invasion in 1914. Assuming excess mortality of Iraqis under British rule or hegemony (1914- 1948) was the same as for Indians under the British (interpolation from available data indicate Indian avoidable death rates in “deaths per 1,000 of population per year” of 37 (1757-1920), 35 (1920-1930), 30 (1930-1940) and 24 (1940-1950) [8]), one can estimate from Iraqi population data [9] that Iraqi avoidable deaths from deprivation under British occupation and hegemony from 1914-1950 totalled about 4 million. Thus ignoring Iraqi deaths associated with the US-backed Iraq-Iran War, one can estimate that about 9 million Iraqi deaths from UK or US violence or imposed deprivation in the century after the 1914 invasion of Iraq by Britain, this constituting an Iraqi Holocaust and an Iraqi Genocide as discussed below.

Holocaust is the destruction of a large number of people and 9 million Iraqi deaths from Anglo-American violence or violently-imposed deprivation certainly constitutes an Iraqi Holocaust. The term “holocaust” was first applied to a WW2 atrocity by Jog in 1944 [11] in relation to the “forgotten” man-made Bengal Famine (Bengali Holocaust) in which 6-7 million Indians (many of them Muslims, and hence the term WW2 Muslim Holocaust) were deliberately starved to death by the British in 1942-1945 (Australia was complicit in this atrocity by withholding grain from its huge wartime wheat stores from starving India) [11-14]. The term “holocaust” was subsequently applied to the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million killed, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation according to the recently deceased, pro-Iraq War, and Iraqi Genocide-ignoring British Zionist historian Professor Sir Martin Gilbert [15]), noting that the WW2 Jewish Holocaust was part of a vastly greater WW2 European Holocaust in which 30 million Slavs, Jews and Gypsies were killed [2].

Genocide is very precisely defined in International Law as “ acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”, as set out by Article 2 of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention:

“In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” [16].

Any argument that the British and Americans did not “intend” to kill 9 million Iraqis is belied by the remorseless slaughter over 101 years interrupted only by the period between the overthrow of the British-installed monarchy in 1958 and the commencement of Sanctions in 1990.

The Anglo-American Iraqi Genocide since 1990 has been associated with 2 million under-5 year old infant deaths comprising 1.2 million (1990-2003) and 0.8 million (2003-2011), 90% avoidable and due to gross violation of Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War which demand that an Occupier must supply their conquered Subjects with food and medical requisites to “the fullest extent of the means available to it” [17]. The Iraqi Holocaust and Iraqi Genocide was also war criminal mass infanticide and mass paedocide.

The appalling legacy of a quarter of a century of Western violence against Iraq (1990-2015) – for oil, US hegemony and Apartheid Israeli hegemony – is summarized below, with much of the data being found in “Iraqi Holocaust Iraqi Genocide” [1], “Genocide in Iraq” volumes I and II by Iraqi scholars Dr Abdul-Haq Al-Ani & Tariq Al-Ani and reviews of these works [18-21] and noting that about half of the Iraqi population of 30 million are children :

(1). 1.7 million Iraqi violent deaths.

(2). 2.9 million Iraqi avoidable deaths from violently -imposed deprivation.

(3). 2 million under-5 year old Iraqi infant deaths, 90% avoidable and due to gross violation of the Geneva Convention by the US Alliance.

(4). 7,700,000 Iraqi refugees.

(5). 5,000,000 Iraqi orphans.

(6). 3,000,000 Iraqi widows.

(7). 1,000,0000 Iraqis missing.

(8). 4,000 Iraqi women (20% under 18) missing and presumed “trafficked”.

(9). 3.5 million Iraqi children living in dire poverty.

(10). 1.5 million Iraqi children are undernourished.

(11). Iraqi cancer cases in cases per 100,000 people were 40 (1990), 800 (1995) and 1,600 (2005).

(12). 40% of Iraqi professionals have left since 2003.

(13). 34,000 doctors (1990) declined to 16,000 doctors (2008).

(14). More than 2,200 doctors and nurses killed.

(15). The Iraqi health budget dropped from $450 million pa (1980-1991) to $22 million (2002),

(16). Most of Iraqi children are traumatized by war.

(17). From high literacy pre-1990 to 74% illiteracy in 2011.

Iraq has been substantially destroyed as a modern state by US state terrorism, with the participation of its allies including Britain, France, Israel among others. The same state terrorists have been variously involved in the similar destruction of Libya and Syria.  These are unforgivable crimes and the US Alliance war criminals must be brought to account by the world through international law and through application of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the war criminal Western states responsible for the Iraqi Holocaust and Iraqi Genocide.

Dr Gideon Polya has been teaching science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds” (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). 

Notes:

[1]. “Iraqi Holocaust Iraqi Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/ .

[2]. Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, that includes an avoidable mortality-related history of every country from Neolithic times and is now available for free perusal on the web : http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com.au/ .

[3]. “US military marks end of its Iraq war”, ABC News, 16 December 2011: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-12-15/us-military-marks-end-of-its-war-in-iraq/3733982 .

[4]. “Just Foreign Policy”: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq .

[5]. ORB (Opinion Research Business), “January 2008 – Update on Iraqi Casualty Data”, January 2008: http://www.opinion.co.uk/Newsroom_details.aspx?NewsId=88 .

[6]. Les Roberts, “Les Roberts: Iraq’s death toll far worse than our leaders admit”, Uruqnet: 14 February 2007: http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=30670&s2=16 .

[7]. G. Burnham, R. Lafta, S. Doocy and L. Roberts, “Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey”, The Lancet 2006 Oct 21;368(9545):1421-8: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17055943 .

[8]. Gideon Polya, “Economist Mahima Khanna wins Cambridge Prize”, MWC News, 20 November 2011: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/14978-economist-mahima-khanna.html .

[10]. “Iraq Population”: http://www.populstat.info/Asia/iraqc.htm .

[11]. Jog, N.G. (1944), “Churchill’s Blind-Spot: India”, New Book Company, Bombay.

[12]. Gideon Polya, “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History. Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability”, G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 1998, 2008, now available for free perusal on the web: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/2008/09/jane-austen-and-black-hole-of-british.html .

[13]. Gideon Polya, “Australia And Britain Killed 6-7 Million Indians In WW2 Bengal Famine”, Countercurrents, 29 September, 2011: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya290911.htm .

[14]. Madhusree Muckerjee, “Churchill’s Secret War. The British Empire and the ravaging of India during World War II” (Basic Books, New York, 2010).

[15]. Gideon Polya , “UK Zionist Historian Sir Martin Gilbert (1936-2015) Variously Ignored Or Minimized WW2 Bengali Holocaust”, Countercurrents, 19 February, 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya190215.htm .

[16]. UN Genocide Convention: http://www.edwebproject.org/sideshow/genocide/convention.html .

[17]. Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War: https://www.icrc.org/ihl/INTRO/380 .

[18]. “Genocide in Iraq Volume I . The case against the UN Security Council and member states” by Dr Abdul-Haq Al-Ani and Tarik Al-Ani (foreword by Professor Joshua Castellino; Clarity Press, Atlanta).

[19]. Gideon Polya ““Genocide in Iraq, The Case Against UN Security Council And Member States”. Book review”, Countercurrents, 8 February, 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya080213.htm .

[20]. Abdul-Haq Al-Ani and Tariq Al-Ani, “Genocide in Iraq Volume II. The Obliteration of a Modern State” (Clarity Press, 2015).

[21]. Gideon Polya, “Review: “Genocide in Iraq Volume II. The obliteration of a modern state” By Abdul-Haq Al-Ani & Tariq Al-Ani”, Countercurrents, 15 March 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya150315.htm .

[22]. Harold Pinter, “Art, Truth and politics”, Countercurrents, 8 December, 2005: http://www.countercurrents.org/arts-pinter081205.htm .

[23]. Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “The Politics of Genocide”.

[24]. Gideon Polya, “Book Review: “The Politics Of Genocide” By Edward Herman And David Peterson”, Countercurrents, 05 December, 2011: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya051211.htm .

[25]. SEARCH Foundation, “ Australia’s former Prime Minister Howard accused of war crimes before the International Criminal Court in The Hague”, Countercurrents, 7 June 2014: http://www.countercurrents.org/searchnew2.pdf .

[26]. “9 January 2010 Formal Complaint by Dr Gideon Polya to the International Criminal Court (ICC) re US Alliance Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan, Muslim, Aboriginal, Biofuel and Climate Genocides”: https://sites.google.com/site/iraqiholocaustiraqigenocide/9-january-2010 .

[27]. “Mainstream media lying”: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammedialying/ .

[28]. “Muslim Holocaust Muslim Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/muslimholocaustmuslimgenocide/ .

Mainstream Media Islamophobia and Women’s Rights in Muslim Countries

March 27th, 2015 by Prof. Henry Francis B. Espiritu

Some years ago, I had an engaging discussion with one of my very insightful students of Philosophy in my university.  She asked me whether Islam has provisions for women’s rights and gender equity and if it has, why is it that Muslim countries are apparently anti-women in their cultural expressions as proven in the way mainstream mass media portray the customs and traditions of these Muslim countries. This perceptive question of my student deserved a candid and thorough response.

The question is actually two pronged; first, it asked whether Islam has anything to offer for gender fairness specifically to the womenry. My categorical answer to this query is a resounding “Yes!”  In this article, I will extensively demonstrate why I responded affirmatively to the first part of the query by quoting pertinent provisions provided by the Qur-an for the emancipation of women.  Likewise, I will endeavor to effectively respond to the second part of my student’s question: assuming that there are Islamic provisions for women’s rights, why are Islamic countries apparently perceived by Western mainstream media and by non-Muslims as anti-women?

Western Mainstream Media Must Not Equate the Cultural Patterns Prevalent in So-Called Muslim Countries as Necessarily Islamic

Firstly, it should be made clear to us that the so-called “Islamic culture” prevalent in many “Islamic countries” may not be truly and authentically Islamic. This may sound ironic, but this assertion is assuredly true!  Upon their conversion to Islam, these countries may still have carried with them unnecessary baggage of pre-Islamic customs and traditions that are not only un-Islamic but may even be outright anti-Islamic. Hermeneutically speaking, these pre-Islamic cultural expressions and idiosyncrasies persisting in so-called Islamic countries may even inform or misinform, dictate and influence the aforesaid societies’ understanding of Islam. For instance, although the Maranaws of southern Philippines are nominally referred to as Muslims, it does not follow that their customary laws on revenge-killing (i.e., rido) are Islamic; and although the Bangladeshi population is predominantly Muslim, it does not mean that their traditions or customs regarding dowry is Islamic.  My point is this: there must be clear delineation in identifying what is a culture-bound custom and what is truly an Islamic provision as found in the Qur-an. This is the crux of the problem of the Western media’s bias against Islam; when it judges Islam, it tends to haphazardly label the cultural patterns of Muslim countries as Islamic cultural patterns without investigating whether or not these patterns have any warrant in the Qur-anic revelation.

At this stage of my discussion, let me say that the canons of the Qur-an are the normative and regulative authority by which one should base one’s judgment on whether a particular custom is Islamic since the Qur-an is the pristine source of the Muslim Shariah (Divine Law) from which a given conduct is determined as either “Islamic” or “un-Islamic”.  It is imperative that we stop judging Islam as “anti-women” by simply basing this judgment on our observations of the cultures of these so-called Muslim countries.  Only by going back to the authoritative standard of Islam, which is the Qur-an, can we see that far from being anti-women, genuine Islam contains sufficient provisions for gender fairness and equity.

Western Mainstream Media’s Portrayal of Islam May Not Necessarily Be the Accurate Picture of Reality and May Unduly Condition Our Prejudices Against Islam

Some people may say; “But pictures do not lie!  Muslim women crouching behind thick veils are powerless to assert their rights in an Islamic country.” Let me say that pictures seemingly cannot lie but they can be outright selective and partial in their portrayal of things and events because they are shot at angles based on slanted or sometimes twisted frames of focus chosen by the person taking the pictures; for whatever purpose the pictures may serve him or her. Likewise, news reports can be selective, slanted, twisted, skewed and downright unfair.

How can one judge Islam and the Muslim World when one has only a limited angle or a twisted spectacle from which one bases one’s judgment? Islam is both a universal and cosmopolitan way of life since Islam embraces plurality and diversity of cultures. The geographical, cultural and racial terrains of Islam’s domains are very diverse indeed! Islam’s realm stretches from the archipelagic Southeast Asia to the Indian Subcontinent; from the Afghanistan highlands to the Iranian steppes; from the well-watered lands of Tigris and Euphrates to the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula; from the heart of the Nile to the wastelands of African Sahara and from thence to Turkey, Albania, Bosnia in Eastern Europe and up to the various Central Asian Turkic republics.

Presently, Islam is the fastest growing religion in Great Britain, Continental Europe and the United States.  It is indeed stupefying to take into account all these cultural diversities found in the world of Islam; for instance, an Indian Muslim is culturally different from a Bulgarian Muslim as a Malaysian Muslim is culturally different from an Algerian adherent of Islam.

I am not minimizing the fact that there are so-called Muslim countries that discriminate and oppress women. I think we should denounce these countries which in their patriarchalism, oppress and marginalize women. However, what is important is take into account the cosmopolitan, pluralistic and diverse world of Islam when making generalized adverse judgments on Islam as a Weltanschauung (worldview).

By showing this great diversity, I venture to say that it is indeed unfair for the Western media to hastily judge Islam without taking into consideration this overall picture of Islam’s cosmopolitan pluralism. It is the media’s solemn duty in the name of fairness to exhaust all angles of representation in as far as Islamic diversity is concerned before the media ventures to ascribe undesirable judgments on Islam and Muslims.

Western Mainstream Media must be Aware that Present Interpretations of Islamic Precepts or Principles Implemented in “Islamic Countries” May Be Misinterpretations or Misunderstanding of the Original Qur-anic Intents and Purposes

The third point that I would like to raise in response to the first part of my student’s query is this: there are interpretations of Islamic principles that are accepted as normative in a particular “Islamic” country that may well be a misinterpretation of the Qur-anic intents and purposes as envisioned by the Prophet of Islam.  What I mean by this is that there are Qur-anic verses that are interpreted in terms of rigid anti-women cultural patterns prevalent among Islamic countries which upon closer scrutiny are in fact misrepresentations of the egalitarian intents of the Prophet Muhammad.  Let us take the issue of hijab as an example. Hijab/hijb is an Arabic word which means to cover, to conceal, to put things in privacy. When used in relation to Islamic adab (ethics), hijab means modesty, propriety and prudence in one’s dealings with the opposite sex (Cf. Al-Qamus al Arabiyyah al Misriyyah [Cairo Concise Arab Dictionary]. Cairo: al Maktabah Dar’ul Ilmiyyah, in the entry, Hijab.). Presently, in Islamic countries, hijab is unanimously taken to mean the literal veiling of women as in actual veiling from head to foot. However, in the original contextuality of the Qur-anic pronouncement, hijab essentially refers to the virtue of modesty in ones’ dealings with the opposite sex; a command which according to Maulana Muhammad Ali, an eminent Qur-anic exegete and translator, is not only limited to women but to men as well. (Maulana Muhammad Ali, Commentary on the Holy Qur’an., pp. 132-133.).

Maulana Muhammad Ali points out that the mandate for hijab does not primarily refer to the rigidified custom of veiling or seclusion (purdah) nor is its implementation limited to female believers only; hijab is a moral call to sexual modesty, prudence, and moderation aimed at all Muslims, men and women alike. The egalitarian basis of hijab, a gender-neutral mandate is found in the Qur-an; however, it is the interpretation or implementation of the “hijab principle” among Muslim countries that is misleading faulty and anti-women.

Now, let us look at the Qur-anic text exhorting for hijab and let us pay attention to the intent and purpose of this specific Qur-anic text:

Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them. Allah is aware of what they do. Say to the believing women that they cast down their looks, and guard their private parts and not display their ornaments as what appears thereof; and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms (Surah Nur:30, 31).

Notice that in these verses, the command for hijab is given to both Muslim men and women.  The verses exhort “believing men” as well as “believing women” the virtues of modesty and sexual propriety in their dealings with each other. In the course of time however, the exhortation to modesty mutates itself into a set of rigid commandments pertaining to inflexible dress codes governing women alone, i.e., wearing of thick chador (veil) that covers a woman’s face down to her ankles. What is very disturbing in this interpretation is that the dress-code implementation is not applied to nor enforced on the “believing men” who are likewise required to observe hijab as stated in the above-mentioned verse. In so-called Islamic societies, the interpretation of the Qur-anic verse is skewedly and arbitrarily implemented with extreme rigidity solely on the “believing women.” This situation is a sorry example of misinterpreting the spirit and the egalitarian intention of the Qur-an and of the Prophet of Islam.

It is in the spirit of Islamic modesty for women to dress modestly and to wear a simple head-veil that adequately covers her body, in the same way that males are to wear prudent clothing for modesty’s sake. Both are required by the Qur-an to manifest reserve and modesty in their conduct with each other. But to discomfort women by unnecessarily insisting that they cover their whole faces, thereby impeding their movements, is altogether a strange matter which is against the very purpose of the egalitarian exhortation of the Qur-an for hijab. A simple veil on the head for the woman and a simple fez for the man, together with modest clothing for both, adequately fulfill the Qur-anic exhortation for hijab; but to go beyond this simplified and uncomplicated exhortation is already an excessive and unwarranted burden which the Prophet did not impose upon Muslim women!

Maulana Muhammad Ali strongly emphasized that the ethical imperative for hijab does not in any way mean hampering the movement nor does it mean inconveniencing the life of the womenry. To forcefully bring home this historical fact, a direct quote from Maulana Muhammad Ali is appropriate. The Maulana says:

As regards the seclusion of women, the Qur-an never prohibited women from going out of their houses for their needs. In the time of the Prophet, women went regularly to mosques, and said their prayers along with men, standing on separate row. They also joined their husbands in the labour of the field; they even went with the army to the field of battle, and looked after the wounded, removing them from the field if necessary, and helped fighting-men in many other ways. They could even fight the enemy in an emergency. No occupation was prohibited to them, and they could do any work they chose. (Maulana Muhammad Ali, Introduction to the Study of the Holy Qur-an, op.cit., p. 132.).

Therefore the directive for hijab does not mean seclusion of women from public affairs (purdah) as practiced in some so-called Muslim countries. Women during the time when the Prophet of Islam was still alive and even during the periods of the Rightly Guided Caliphs of Sunni Islam were very active in the public life of the Muslim Ummah (faith-community).

A concrete example to prove this point is the fact that the wife of the Prophet, Hazrat Aishah Siddiqah was a teacher of Islamic sciences to both male and female Companions. Hazrat Aishah Siddiqah was considered to be the very first mufti (legal luminary) of Islam from whose legal, ethical and spiritual directives the Holy Companions derive rulings for the Ummah after the Holy Prophet’s demise. Fatima Mernissi, The Forgotten Queens of Islam, Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1993; pp. 66-69.). It must be plainly pointed-out that the Holy Companions, in consulting a women jurisprudent par excellence, namely Hazrat Aishah, concerning legal rulings and theological opinions in the affairs of the Islamic community simply followed the Prophet’s command found in the hadith sharif (Prophetic tradition):

“Learn your religion from Aishah, my Humeyra (the fair-one). Listen to her words like a bee attending to his beehive.” (See: Abdelhalim Abu Shaka, The Emancipation of Woman at the Time of the Prophet, Los Angeles: Muslim Women’s League, 1990; pp. 150-152; quoting from thehadith sharif, Fazail-e-Sayyidatina Aishah Siddiqah [Exemplary Virtues of our Lady Aishah Siddiqah].).

Understanding Islam According to the Qur-an and the Intention of the Prophet:  the Basis for Genuine Gender Equity and the Remedy against the Islamophobia of Western Mainstream Media

As of this juncture, let it be said that the essential ethical intention of the Holy Qur-an is to provide social equity and equal rights for both men and women. The Qur’an clearly showed the Prophet Muhammad’s unmistakable intention of treating women as equal with men by mentioning both men and women in many verses in the Qur-an. For instance, the Qur-an says:

And the believers, men and women are friends of one another. They enjoin good and forbid evil and keep up prayer and pay the poor rate, and obey Allah and His Messenger. As for these, Allah will have mercy on them. Surely Allah is Mighty, Wise (Surah Bara’at:19).

The abovementioned verse clearly articulates equity between the male and female gender in that the Qur’an considers women and men as protectors (waliy-yun) to each other; both men and women are required to do pious acts as proofs of their essential equity and their intrinsic value as human persons.

Another proof of the intrinsic equity between male and female gender is the fact that men and women have their innate autonomy as persons of free volition to follow or not to follow divine commands. In the discourse of the Qur-an, both males and females are tasked with ethical and spiritual responsibilities and in the Hereafter, both will be given just requital of their deeds without taking into consideration their gender differences. The Qur-an explicitly declares the following verses:

Whoever does evil, he is requited only with the like of it; and whoever does good, whether male or female, and he is a believer, these shall enter the Garden, to be given therein sustenance without measure (Surah Mu’min: 40).

Whoever does good, whether male or female, and he is a believer, We will certainly make him live a happy life, and We will certainly give them their reward for the best of what they did (Surah Nahl:97).

Men shall have the benefit of what they earn and women shall have the benefit of what they earn (Surah Nisa:32).

The eminent commentator of the Holy Qur-an, Maulana Muhammad Ali, noted that the Qur-anpractically manifests ontological equity between males and females in its pages. The Holy Qur-an declares that there is no difference between men and women and both can reach the highest divine station if they practice righteous deeds. (See the Maulana’s commentary of Ahl Imran:195, Nisa:124, Nahl:97).

A Call for Societal Advocacy and Engendered Activism: Towards a Genuine Islamic Understanding of Gender Equity according to the Gender Egalitarian Intention of the Prophet Muhammad

Given the unequivocal commitment of the Holy Qur-an for the intrinsic equity between men and women, why is the Islamic Ummah (faith-community) lagging behind in acknowledging gender equity? Why is it that all we see around are the pitiful conditions of the womenry happening in so-called Muslim countries? Let me begin answering this question by quoting a prophetic saying or hadith sharif of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Holy Prophet was reported to have said that;

 …the guilt of the oppressor is not lesser than the guilt of the oppressed.  The oppressor is certain to be punished severely due to his injustice and cruelties committed towards the oppressed (sic). But the oppressed is likewise accountable for not exerting his utmost to fight against oppression… Similarly, ignorance is a great sin and an appeal to be excused from the law on account of ignorance is unacceptable (sic). (Amjad Soharwardi, Hazrat Baba Jilani our Master: A Humble Servant of the Blessed Prophet. Chittagong, Bangladesh: Panja Pir Pustak, n.d., p. 78.).

Based on the abovementioned Prophetic Tradition (hadith sharif), ignorance can be a cause of oppression. Ignorance of the real teachings of Islam, specifically ignorance of the Qur-an in its textual and historical contexts can lead to oppression and those who are ignorant of their rights as given in the Qur-an are the ones likely to be oppressed. This important point strongly calls for Muslims to know intimately their religion and likewise exhorts non-Muslims to sympathetically understand and seriously research the historical contextualities of Islamic practices as found in the Qur-an.

It is outright unfair for Western mainstream media to blame Islam for the misconduct of its adherents in the same manner that it is wrong to blame the whole of Christianity for the cruelty and bloody excesses of medieval papism or for the barbarism of the Catholic Counter-Reformation that produced the blood-thirsty Spanish Inquisition. On the other hand, while it is justified to claim that Western media, cultural patterns among Muslim countries, and faulty interpretations of the Qur-an wrongly shape our views on Islam and women, this claim should not be used as a flimsy excuse for both Muslims and non-Muslims to absolve themselves from their responsibilities and culpabilities. It is indeed high-time now for all of us to break these chains of ignorance and oppression by empowering ourselves to seriously study, research and ascertain what the pristine normative source of Islam, i.e., the Qur-an itself has to say about women. We, likewise, have a duty to inform others who are ignorant of these liberative provisions on the equal rights of women as found in the Qur-an.

Furthermore, Muslims in particular need to zealously endeavor to implement the egalitarian teachings of the Prophet, right were they are, i.e., in their own immediate cultural milieu. They need to be reminded that the social teachings of Islam are clear on this matter: viz, oppression and ignorance go hand in hand, hence in order to fight oppression, it is incumbent to first empower oneself with knowledge. Therefore, our advocacy for women’s emancipation and gender equity should be global, all-inclusive and educative, since it is not Muslim women alone but women in general who are enslaved by sexist prejudices, patriarchal oppressions, and chauvinist discriminations.

It is already a cliché to say that knowledge is power, but I feel that we need to be reminded of this fact, time and again.

We also need to be reminded that evading our responsibility to correct erroneous notions made by Western mainstream media about Islam and women is a manifestation of weakness and cowardice. My student’s perceptive query that prompted me to write this article was indeed a preliminary but vital step in the right direction—religious dialogue towards gender sensitivity. Yes, Muslims and Christians, or any persons of goodwill for that matter, can respect, cherish and celebrate their creedal differences while cooperating in the lofty goal to free women from the bondage of chauvinism, sexism, machismo and gender inequity.

The issue of gender fairness can indeed be a cooperative venture towards human understanding, international amity and global solidarity among peoples of the world whatever their religions and beliefs may be. Let us cooperate with each other to make this advocacy for women’s empowerment a living reality in our midst.

Professor Henry Francis B. Espiritu is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Asian Studies at the University of the Philippines (UP), Cebu City. His research interests include Islamic Studies particularly Sunni (Hanafi) jurisprudence, Islamic feminist discourses, the writings of Imam Al-Ghazali and Turkish Sufism. You may freely contact him at his email address: [email protected].

Do Away With Elections? The Rituals of “Democracy”

March 26th, 2015 by Arthur D. Robbins

Do away with elections? To even think such a thought is treasonous. An election, or should I say a presidential election, is one of the few occasions, or should I say the only occasion, on which we take a genuine interest in government.  We are spectators at a sporting event, a mix of a bullfight, prizefight and a barroom brawl. We get into heated arguments about which team is “better” about who deserves to win, about which gladiator will be the best for the country. There is an uppercut, a right cross, a roundhouse and he or she (not too often) is down for the count. No, he is not out. He is on his knees, struggling to his feet.  The crowd roars.

Or maybe we should think of it like Super Bowl Sunday. The entire nation is brought together around one event. There is salsa and chips. The beer flows. There are roars of approval as ones team scores, long faces and silence when the other team scores. And for a week or two after the game there are long and intricate discussions of why the victor won and the loser obviously should have lost.

Benjamin Barber — Strong Democracy — has a different take. He contrasts the conversational, communitarian, celebratory elements of the democratic process with the act of voting, which he compares to using a public toilet. “We wait in line with a crowd in order to close ourselves up in a compartment where we can relieve ourselves in solitude and privacy of our burden, pull a lever, and then, yielding to the next in line, go silently home.” Russell Brand — Revolution — is more succinct. Voting is referred to as “the infertile dry hump of gestural democracy.”

And yet the right to vote — to stand out in the cold and rain in the dark of night for hours and then learn that the machine isn’t working — is considered a sacred right. It is enshrined in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).  “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections.” It is a right that was hard won.

A Right That Was Hard Won

In the United States, women were denied the #righttovote until 1920 when the 19th amendment to the Constitution was passed. Women began agitating for equal rights in the 1840s. The right to vote took on a life of its own. Its supporters were actively involved in the anti-slavery movement. In 1872, Susan B. Anthony was arrested for #voting and, after a much publicized trial, was found guilty. In 1917 over 200 supporters of the National Woman’s Party were arrested while picketing the White House. Some went on a hunger strike while in prison and were force-fed.

In Britain the struggle was even fiercer. Under the leadership of the Women’s Social and Political Union women went on hunger strikes, chained themselves to railings to provoke an arrest, poured chemicals into mailboxes, broke windows in prominent buildings and set fire to unoccupied buildings and occasionally detonated bombs. Like their sisters in the United States they were imprisoned under harsh conditions and force-fed while on hunger strikes. In 1928 the Conservative government passed the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act giving the vote to all women over the age of 21.

The 15th amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1870, prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Yet most black voters in the South were effectively disenfranchised. There were new state laws requiring poll taxes. There were discriminatory literacy tests, from which white voters were exempt. A system of whites-only primaries and violent intimidation by white groups also suppressed black participation.

A voters’ registration campaign was launched in Selma, Alabama. Faced with stiff opposition the local blacks called in SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee). Next to arrive was Dr. Martin Luther King and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Protests ensued. By the end of February 1965, 3,000 had been arrested. Deacon and activist Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot and killed by a state trooper, spurring further outrage.

There were three marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama (the state’s capital), a distance of about fifty miles. The first march of 600 people was nicknamed “Bloody Sunday” after marchers were beaten with billy clubs and tear-gassed by state troopers and a local posse. One woman was beaten unconscious. The second march resulted in a stand off between troopers and marchers. King returned to the church. He was going to seek federal protection for the marchers. That evening a white group beat and murdered civil rights activist James Reeb. The third march proceeded under the protection of 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army and 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under federal command.

On March 25, 25,000 people entered the capital city in support of voting rights for blacks. On August 6, The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed. It provided for federal oversight of elections in discriminatory jurisdictions, banned literacy tests and similar discriminatory devices, and created legal remedies for people affected by voting discrimination.

Voting in the East

Voting took on special importance in the East, as well. India, a country with an area of well over one millions square miles, peppered with hundreds of thousands of small villages, hidden in jungles, mountains and countryside, held its first general election in 1952 (See Guha, chapter 7). Starting from scratch it had to register 176 million Indians aged twenty-one or more, of whom about 85% could not read or write.

Some 224,000 polling booths were constructed and equipped with 2 million steel ballot boxes, using 8,200 tons of steel. 16,500 clerks were employed to type and collate electorate rolls, requiring about 380,000 reams of paper. One booth in the jungle reported more than 70% voting. A 110-year old man in Madurai propped up on either side by a great-grandson came to vote, as did a ninety-five-year-old woman, hunchbacked and deaf. In remote tribal areas people walked for days through wild jungles to reach their voting booth.

Faced with such spirit and courage and persistence how can one possibly bring into question the role of voting in our societies? Without question the struggle for voting rights was a noble struggle and its achievements go beyond simply casting a ballot. Organizing themselves and vigorously fighting for a political goal gave women and blacks a social and political presence that had been denied them for centuries. In India it was the proudest moment of citizenship for a people in shackles for centuries.

The struggle waged to win the vote set examples for those who wish to engage in political struggle, regardless of the cause. But the vote itself, what it literally meant, what it produced, who it benefited, what its value was to society in political and social terms was not submitted to careful study. And so it is conceivable that many of those who risked their lives to gain the right might now question the wisdom of relying upon such a system for selecting those who govern. Says Russell Brand of suffragette Emily Davison, she “would not be urging the disempowered people of today to vote; she’d be urging them to riot.”

To argue against elections is to examine critically the electoral process itself and to consider in broad terms the kind of world our elected representatives have bequeathed to us. For I believe that much that is troubling about the world we live in can be traced directly to those who govern in our name. And it is the electoral process that has given them the right to do so.
Malfeasance and the Betrayal of Public Trust

OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES HAVE VIOLATED THE CONSTITUTION THEY HAVE SWORN TO DEFEND

Without reading the bill, our elected representatives enacted the “Patriot Act of 2001,” thus laying the foundation for a fascist state. Only one senator, Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), voted against it. The bill —342 pages long — was introduced on October 23 and voted on the following day. By a vote of 357-66 it passed the House of Representatives.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The “Patriot Act” undoes that constitutional protection.

On December 31, President Barak Obama signed the “The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)” for fiscal year 2012. Subsections 1021–1022 of Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism” authorize the indefinite military detention of persons the President suspects of involvement in terrorism, including U.S. citizens arrested on American soil. Each year congress re-authorizes the NDAA with the “Counter-Terrorism” provision left intact.

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution contain a due process clause. Due process clause acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government outside the sanction of law. The NDAA does away with that constitutional protection.
 
OUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES IGNORE THE COMMON GOOD IN FAVOR OF CORPORATE INTERESTS THAT THREATEN OUR ECOSYSTEM, OUR PERSONAL HEALTH AND THE VERY SURVIVAL OF THE SPECIES

Section 735 of the HR 933 continuing resolution, passed in March, 2013, and signed by President Barack Obama, stripped federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and propagation of genetically modified seeds and crops even if safety tests reveal concerns about their harmful effects.

In 2009, $250 billion was spent on drugs in the United States. Over the 10 years ending in 2012, the 11 largest drug companies took $711.4 billion in profits, $85 billion in 2012, alone.

Medicare is the largest purchaser in the world’s largest drug market. Thanks to “The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (also called the Medicare Modernization Act or MMA)”, enacted in 2003, by our elected representatives, Medicare was prohibited by law from seeking better prices for the drugs its subscribers needed to stay healthy and alive. Hence, drug dealers charged Americans — elderly Americans — vastly more for the same drug than they charged in other counties. Why? Because our elected representatives said they could.

Our Planet is in ecological free fall. Where will it stop? When will it stop? Is it too late? There is not an issue that is more critical to our survival. We count on our elected representatives to do everything they can to reverse some very dangerous trends. And what do they do? They undo what little safeguards we have and support policies that are designed to make matters many times worse.

The House of Representatives averaged more than one anti-environmental vote for every day the House was in session in 2011.  More than one in five of the legislative roll call votes taken in 2011 – 22% – were votes to undermine environmental protections.

The anti-environment votes cut across a broad array of issues and included 27 votes to block action to address climate change, 77 votes to undermine “Clean Air Act” protections, 28 votes to undermine “Clean Water Act” protections, and 47 votes to weaken protection of public land and coastal waters.

Here is just a small sample of bills passed by the House of Representatives in 2011:

  • House Continuing Resolution 34: Drastically cuts funding for environmental protection programs at EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), DOE (Department of Energy), DOI (Department of Interior), and other agencies and eliminates incentives for renewable energy.
  • House Resolution 1, Full Year 2011:Blocks agency actions under the “Clean Air Act,” the “Clean Water Act,” and other laws and cuts funding for dozens of environmental protection programs at EPA, DOE, DOI, and other agencies.
  • House Resolution 1, Full Year 2011:  Blocks EPA greenhouse gas regulations for major emitters.
  • House Resolution. 1, Full Year 2011: Blocks the Klamath Dam Removal and Sedimentation Study necessary to protect endangered species
  • House Resolution 1, Full Year 2011: Blocks new EPA water quality standards for Florida waterways
  • House Resolution 1, Full Year 2011:Prevents NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) from establishing a Climate Service.
  • House Resolution 1, Full Year 2011:Blocks the United States from contributing funds to the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”
  • House Resolution 1, Full Year 2011: Blocks EPA from revoking “Clean Water Act” permits based on adverse effects on water, fish,and wildlife

 
IF THIS IS WHAT ELECTIONS ARE GETTING US WE NEED TO DO AWAY WITH ELECTIONS, AND SOON. AS EMMA GOLDMAN POINTED OUT, “IF VOTING CHANGED ANYTHING, THEY’D MAKE IT ILLEGAL.”

Bailouts and sellouts

Certainly one of the most egregious acts of malfeasance by this or any government was what has been euphemistically called the bailout of banks too big to fail. Trillions of dollars were and continue to be transferred to banks to replenish funds that were lost to bad bets.  The “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008” is a law enacted in response to the subprime mortgage crisis. It authorizes the United States Secretary of the Treasury to spend up to $700 billion to purchase distressed assets, especially mortgage-backed securities, and supply cash directly to banks. The real costs could be in the trillions, that is trillions of dollars of taxpayer money handed over to banks by our elected representatives. While banks were knee deep in dollars, residents of California who defaulted on their mortgages were reduced to sleeping in tents.

The scam continues. Now it is called “Quantitative Easing” (read: handout). To carry out QE central banks create money by buying securities, such as government bonds, from banks, with electronic cash that did not exist before. The new money swells the size of bank reserves in the economy by the quantity of assets purchased—hence “quantitative” easing — currently at the rate of $75 billion a quarter.

Taxpayers could be doing plenty of more productive things with their money. The billions could be used to stop layoffs of teachers and firefighters, train laid-off workers for new jobs, or hire people to fix our ailing infrastructure. But taxpayers don’t get to make these decisions. They also don’t get bailed out when the value of their home suddenly plummets, or when they lose their job or retirement funds in an economic maelstrom they did not cause.

The buying and selling of stock by corporate insiders who have access to non-public information that could affect the stock price can be a criminal offense, just ask hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam who recently got 11 years in prison for doing it. But, congressional lawmakers who write the laws the rest of us have to live with, scaled the code to give themselves a pass on insider trading. Unsurprisingly, our elected representatives enjoy a substantially higher return on their stock investments than we do.

Such blatant self-serving exceptionalism could easily induce nausea if not outrage among a citizenry who have to follow the rules as they struggle to make a living. These are our elected representatives, the ones we put in place every time we vote, men and women without a shred of integrity.

This very brief summary of disrespect for the electorate and its vital necessities is but the summit of a mighty mountain of malfeasance and betrayal, most of which is hidden from the public eye. I almost forgot to mention the wars, covert wars around the world, overt wars like the wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, wars that never happen, that are never declared, that never end, wars that divert vital resources from our society, wars that kill millions, displace millions, obliterate infrastructure, decimate economies and cultures, wars that the vast majority of us oppose, wars that are bankrolled by our elected representatives to the tune of trillions of dollars a year.

Have we had enough, yet?

Faulty Electoral System:

Vote Fraud and the Two Party System.

Assuming that there are those stubborn few who want to vote despite all of the above, it is certainly reasonable for voters to believe that when they vote the electoral system itself is reasonably reliable and honest, that there is no tilt, that the system isn’t rigged. This belief is a critical factor in establishing the legitimacy of our government and in gaining our allegiance.

In his book, The Ruling Class (1939), Gaetano Mosca, an Italian political scientist, offers some critical insights into the electoral process, insights that are as relevant today as they were when penned some seventy-five years ago.

The fact that a people participates in electoral assemblies does not mean that it directs the government or that the class that is governed chooses its  governors. It means merely that when the electoral function operates under favorable social conditions it is a tool by which certain political forces are enabled to control and limit the activity of other political forces.

In other words, it seems as if we choose and control, but we don’t. As Mosca points out, the deck is always stacked. “When we say that the voters ‘choose’ their representative, we are using a language that is very inexact. The truth is that the representative has himself elected by the voters … that his friends have him elected” (italics in the original). We end up voting for those who are preselected by virtue of their “moral, intellectual and material means to force their will upon others, take the lead over the others and command them.”

Thus, in practice, in popular elections, freedom of choice, “though complete theoretically, necessarily becomes null, not to say ludicrous.” The voter, for his vote to have meaning, ends up having to choose from among a very small number of contenders, the two or three who have a chance of succeeding, “and the only ones who have any chance of succeeding are those whose candidacies are championed by groups, by committees, by organized minorities”(italics in the original).

The relative handful who are selected to speak for the citizenry are rarely, if ever, a random selection. They are rarely, if ever, demographically representative of the population at large. And they are rarely, if ever, open to the wishes of their constituency. Instead, those selected to speak for the citizenry speak not for their constituency but for the organized minorities who put them in power, minorities with certain values in common, “based on considerations of property and taxation, on common material interests, on ties of family, class, religion, sect or political party.”

Thus, the preselected minority speaks for an even narrower minority who sponsored their candidacy based on a specific set of goals at odds with the needs and wishes of the vast majority. Mosca was writing in the 1930s. What would he say if he knew that it now takes millions of dollars to get elected to the House of Representatives, tens of millions to be elected senator or governor, and close to a billion to be elected president and that the much revered and martyred JFK sent bags full of money to capture the West Virginia primary in 1963 (See Anthony Summers below)? He would probably say, “I told you so.”

And if you are bold enough and fool hardy enough to try and run for higher office on an independent ticket you will be confronted with endless legal hurdles placed there by the two major parties that control the electoral process. You will be denied access to televised debates. You will be sidelined in every way conceivable, as was the case with Ralph Nader, or the powers that be will threaten to kill your children if you don’t drop out, as was the case with Ross Perrot.

It was Joseph Stalin who said that it is not who votes that counts but who counts the votes. “Well,” you say, “that was the Soviet Union. This is the United States of America.” True, but the difference isn’t as great as you think. Recall the 2000 presidential election, where there was obvious vote fraud in the state of Florida and a Supreme Court judge denied the citizens of Florida the right to a recount.

And yet we still believe in elections. Says David Van Reybrouck, in Against Elections, “It seems like we have all become electoral fundamentalists. We look down on those who have been elected, but worship elections themselves.” We are disappointed again and again and yet keep coming back for more. We have equated elections with #democracy. Yet when the many select the few at election time, the outcome is #oligarchy by definition.

Elections are out of date, passé, outmoded like the stagecoach and the spinning wheel. They need to be consigned to the dustbin of history. As Reybrouck observes, “The citizen is neither a customer nor a child….The relationship between the government and its constituency is no longer that between a parent and its children, but of adults working together.” If that is the case then we need to institute a form of government where we are “adults working together.” We adults can certainly do a better job than those who are currently in charge. And not only are elections an obstacle to social justice, they are fraudulent to boot.

Votescam and the Little Black Box

In a little known book entitled, Votescam (1996), two brothers, James and Kenneth Collier, undertake to investigate the voting system at an elemental level. Who manufactures the computers and develops the software that collect and transmit the voting data and how are these technical people connected to the politicians running for office? Where there are physical ballots to be counted, who actually does the counting and what is the oversight process? The story begins with the 1988 Republican Primary in New Hampshire and ends in Florida where the brothers run into a stonewall of denial and indifference by government officials and the media as they uncover evidence of vote fraud on a grand scale.

As the Collier brothers tell it, shortly after the JFK assassination the CIA approached the major news agencies — at that time, AP, UPI, CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN — with a deal. You keep your nose out of the assassination and we will give you control over Election Day results.

In other words, the Election Day results were placed in the hands of the major networks, private enterprises, whose primary purpose is entertainment and misinformation. The final election results as reported to the public are not filtered through some government agency, certified as final and valid, and then passed onto the networks. It is the networks themselves that are doing their own certifying. At the timeVotescam was written, they operated under the aegis “News Election Service (NES)”. They had actual physical control of the counting and dissemination of the vote and refused to let the public in on how it all worked.

The ballots themselves are counted, manually or mechanically. Then the totals are recorded on canvas sheets and signed by precinct workers. These raw data are fed into a computer that stores the information and is the source for the tallies that are passed along to us, via the media. Suppose someone wanted to fix the results, what might that look like?

Pollsters go around knocking on doors asking people how they expect to vote. On Election Day they query voters after they have voted and use that as a basis for predicting outcomes. Gallup and Harris are two of the better-known agencies in the United States. They are respected for their integrity and accuracy. Although polls might serve to discourage voters from voting, they have a positive function to play. They are a check against the results that the media feeds us.

For example, in the 1988 Republican primary for President, George H.W. Bush was pitted again Bob Dole. Going into the balloting, polls had Bush losing by eight points. Instead he won by nine. How could the polls be off by a seventeen-point spread?

Bush had promised his campaign manager, John Sununu, Governor of New Hampshire, a computer genius, that if he could “deliver,” he, Sununu, would become White House Chief Staff. Apparently he delivered. Bush won the primary, became President and Sununu got the reward he had been promised.

The Collier brothers decided to turn their investigation of electoral flaws and fixes into a book and were determined to follow a lead wherever it took them. They decided that brother Ken would enter the fray by running for Congress in Miami-Dade County. They were determined to do a low budget, activist, grass roots campaign, with the primary purpose of getting an inside look at how the system worked.

They were bold, took chances, and came up with some interesting facts. On Election Day they watched the results come in over television. They noticed that the computer went down and that when it came back on their tally came back lower than it had been. They discovered that there was a pattern around the country of computers “going down” and coming back up with different results.

They learned that at 7AM a precinct captain opens the back of the voting machine to determine that all counters are set to zero. At the end of the day when the voting is over, the back of the machine is opened again to read the tallies for each candidate. Representatives from each party call out the numbers to precinct workers who then enter them on canvas sheets and affix their signature. The Collier brothers tracked down the canvas sheets for the election they were in and discovered that there were two, not one set of sheets, and that the second set had 4,000 signatures that were forged.

Predicting the vote

Apparently Channel 7 was able to accurately predict forty races with 250 candidates by examining the results from just one voting machine. And they did it in just twenty-four minutes. Channel 4 achieved the same result in just four minutes. How is that possible?

The Collier brothers decided to study other subsequent elections results in Dade county. In the 1970 race for Governor 141,000 votes were cast. If we are to believe the numbers, the exact same number of votes were cast a month later in a runoff. But, that is not likely, since when the losing candidates drop out the vote count drops as well.

For the 1970 race for the House of Representatives, it was projected that there would be a total of 96,499 votes. And, in fact, the actual total was 96,499. The computer appears to have achieved a perfect result. This level of accuracy was replicated in five different races, one for governor, one for senator, three for the House of Representatives.  Does that ever happen? What are the odds?

The Collier brothers tracked down a warehouse in Opa Locka, Florida, a rural backwater municipality where Dade county’s 1,648 voting machines were stored when not in use. They came with a court order to examine the machines. The fellow in charge was friendly and talkative. How can you rig these machines? “Well,” said Frank, “you can place a decal over the counter that reads ‘000,’ when behind those zeroes is the real number 090. Or you can take a razor blade and shave one of these plastic wheels, which then slips ahead by 100 or 200 votes.” Now the brothers had further evidence that the elections were open to tampering.

The “League of Women Voters” is known as a non-partisan civic organization. It was founded in 1920, shortly after women had won the right to vote. Its mission is to aid in voter registration, and educate citizens as to their voting rights. At the time, the League sponsored Presidential debates. It no longer does.

According to Ken and Jim Collier, the League also engages in vote fraud. An informant told the brothers that members of the League were “using little black pencils issued by the election division to punch out new holes in the vote cards” thus creating a new vote or invalidating an existing vote. The League workers were being paid $15 per hour for their services. Yet state and federal law explicitly prohibit any “handling or piercing of the public’s ballots by anyone except the voter.”

The brothers arrived with their video camera and taped the League in action. Indeed the workers were pushing pencils through ballot cards. The floor was covered with chads. They got it on tape. It turns out that the League of Women Voters is at the center of Election Day counting and reporting. Not only do they handle the ballots, in violation of state and federal election law, they actually do the vote reporting. It is the League that supplies the numbers that are then supplied to the public by TV networks.

The Colliers also taped the automatic card counters — ballot multiplexers — in action. Workers would take cards that had already been scanned and scan them again. One vote was thus counted twice. Ballots arrive at the counting center in metal security boxes with intact red security seals. Except some of the seals were broken. One of the workers had a bag filled with new seals. In other words, the box had been tampered with. Yet it would end up with an intact seal at the end of its travels.

According to Jim and Ken Collier, the Miami election supervisor gave the ballots to precinct captains to take home as much as a week in advance of any election. Apparently a good time was had by all punching out a slate of candidates.

Conspiracy of silence

As the Colliers delved deeper into vote tampering and tried to get the news media to report what they had discovered they were repeatedly turned away. There was a conspiracy of silence. As Tim O’Brien of ABC news said to Ken and Jim, “When you’re dealing with the networks, you’re dealing with a shadow government.”

Various conspiracies seem to feed off of each other. Katherine Graham was owner of the Washington Post, one of the nation’s most prominent newspapers at the time Richard Nixon was President.  She also owned a television station in Miami. Nixon had proof that Graham’s TV station was involved in election rigging. Graham learned that Nixon was on her trail and decided that she would undo him before he got to her, hence, according to the Colliers, the Watergate bugging, a federal offense. The FBI and the telephone company had each done three sweeps and discovered that there were no bugs in the DNC headquarters in the Watergate. The Washington Post, Graham’s paper, printed the story anyway, resulting in Nixon’s impeachment, all of which was ignited by Graham’s election shenanigans in her Miami TV station.

In 1964, Louis Harris developed a method for conducting exit polls that would permit pollsters to predict election results before the vote was counted. The networks — ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN — got together and formed another consortium, this time to conduct their own exit polls. At the time of the 1992 primaries, the Colliers once again did their homework and calculated that it would be impossible for the pollsters to achieve the results they claimed they had and for the networks to be offering numbers that were legitimate.

“Since VRS [Voter Research and Surveys] claims that thousands of people were polled in seven states, our math indicates that it was impossible to garner and call that much information back to Chilton Operators [Chilton Research of Radnor PA] and have the results on air at 7:01PM.” (italics in original)

Elections are open to fraud at every step in the process from the counters in the back of the machines that can be covered with decals, the wheel that can be shaved, the canvas tally sheets that can arrive with forged signatures, the League workers who punch holes in ballots and call in the vote, the computer software whose source code is known only to the private company that owns it, the polls producing a level of speed and accuracy that is not humanly possible, that read out sheets handed to TV announcers. All of this is in private hands, subject to the whim of he or she who has the power necessary to dictate the outcome. We, the voters, naively return to the polls again and again participating in a process that has nothing to do with the will of the people whom it is allegedly designed to serve.

On some level we have known for some time that we were being scammed but had no proof and more importantly felt there was nothing we could do to bring about change. And so we participate in a meaningless ritual whose outcome is predetermined, thus validating a system whose sole purpose is to lull us into acquiescence so we will endure the hardships and harshness of the “American Dream.” We are not happy but pretend to be and get angry if anyone suggests that something about our government is foul and needs to be changed.

Quality of Life: Social Decay

We live with the illusion that what our government does in our name is something separate and apart, does not enter into our private lives, penetrate our very souls. And yet it does. In his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness, written at the end of the eighteenth century, English political philosopher William Godwin argues that we need to consider that “politics and modes of government will educate and infect us all.”

According to Godwin, government conduct has intellectual, moral, psychological, and emotional consequences for its citizens—that it, in effect, shapes us and “perhaps it insinuates itself into our personal dispositions, and insensibly communicates its own spirit to our private transactions.” What we consider to be our political education is, in effect, “the modification our ideas received from the form of government under which we live.”

Corrupt governors lead to corruption of the governed. There is a trickle down effect.  As de Tocqueville observes, “they [the governors] in some measure lend the author­ity of the government to the base practices of which they are accused.”

For example, here in New York, we lost St. Vincent’s hospital — one of our finest — to venality and corruption. Ten executives were paid $10 million per year in wages, enjoyed a $278,000 golf outing. In the two years before closing, the hospital paid $17 million for “management consultants,” $3.8 million on “professional fund-raising” and $104 million on unspecified costs. The hospital slid into bankruptcy with an accumulated debt of $1billion, apparently after taking on debt from other hospitals as well. Is this any different from our elected representatives raiding the social security fund and passing along to Lockheed Martin $400 billion for the F 35, a fighter jet that can’t fly? And by the way, like St. Vincent’s hospital, the United States of America is bankrupt. It can’t liquidate its debt.

The story repeats itself. Those in control of some of New York’s most prized cultural institutions, The Art Students League, The Cooper Union, the New York Public Library, corrupted by the lure of millions betray their public trust in the service of real estate interests that threaten to cannibalize our cultural heritage.

One can look to cities around the country and see similar outcomes. Detroit, once the economic center of our country, has been abandoned and sold off. What is left is rubble and a people desperate to have a water supply, health services and food. Had the city been bombed the outcome wouldn’t have been much different. Our elected representatives look the other way. Of what use are they?

Nothing is sacred, absolutely nothing. The philistines are in charge. Our elected representatives who oversee a government where one swindle after another is considered good government. We have created a culture where anything goes and nothing is preserved in the name of the common good.

Morality, such an old fashioned term.

One blushes to introduce the word morality into polite conversation. It is such an old fashioned term, associated, perhaps, with civilizations bygone. How can we possibly be concerned with such niceties when we are under constant threat of terrorism? And shouldn’t we be availing ourselves of torture where necessary to make ourselves safe, and wouldn’t it be irresponsible to act otherwise? Across from Stuyvesant Square, in Manhattan, there is a Friends Meeting House. Over the entrance there is a banner that reads, “Torture Is A Moral Issue.” Apparently Americans need to be reminded.

A generation of Americans marginalized and overpowered by a government that it doesn’t understand and can’t change turns to violence as a source of empowerment. “American Sniper” is a recently released movie that broke all box office records. It is the story of an American solider whose calling in life is killing “towel heads” in Iraq, 160 of them, making him the deadliest sniper in American history.

Chris Kyle, seems to have embraced his career as a serial killer and takes pride in what he is doing for his country. No where in this movie are we made to question that there is anything untoward about killing in general or killing people in their homeland, or that we are an invading army, not a troop of boy scouts removing trash from the side of a highway.

Our elected representatives have created a culture of killing that has been embraced by a large segment of our society, with the President of the United States as one of its principle cheerleaders. He has a kill list that is drawn on by drone operators to cut down victims in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Sometimes there is “collateral damage.” A wedding party, children, the elderly, a pregnant woman are cut down in the name of democracy.

Killing is what it is all about, killing without regret, killing with pride, killing without consequences. The ICC (International Criminal Court) is a court system that began functioning in 2002. Its purpose is to prosecute those who violate international law by committing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes. 123 countries signed on. The court sits in the Hague, in the Netherlands.  Our elected representatives chose not to join, thus giving a clear signal that they planned to act outside the law.

And further, in 2002, our elected representatives passed the “American Service Members Protection Act,” nicknamed “The Hague Invasion Act.” This piece of legislation authorizes the use of military force to liberate any American or citizen of a U.S.-allied country being held by the court. Of course, “service members” is a euphemism for figures like George Bush and Dick Cheney who might well be tried and convicted for their violations of international law.

“American Service Members Protection Act” is a confession of guilt. It wouldn’t have been passed if there weren’t real fears of legal consequence for unjustifiable acts of war. But what it reveals more than anything is the thugism of our elected representatives, the shameless devotion to violence, the shameless disavowal of any moral code, the complete lack of honor. “We can kill anyone, anywhere. And if you get in our way, we will kill you.” This is the United States of America in the 21st century.

Chickens come home to roost

It should come as no surprise that local police forces are now military outposts. The Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security have already shunted $5.1 billion worth of military equipment to local police departments around the country. This equipment includes armored personnel carriers, assault rifles, land-mine detectors, grenade launchers, and 94,000 machine guns.

SWAT teams, in full military regalia, are raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night, often just to search for drugs. People have died. Pets have been shot. Homes have been ravaged. All in the name of keeping us safe. One family in Atlanta was awakened in the middle of the night when officers burst into their home and threw a flashbang grenade into the playpen where a toddler was sleeping. Civilians, — especially black ones — have become target practice.

This is trickle down fascism. What happens at the top happens at the bottom. The top gets to be the top every time we vote in elections and install our elected representatives, the ones who underwrite the fascist state we are living in.

Our electoral system — with a few exceptions — attracts the lowest element in society, raises them to the position of ultimate power, which they then use to enrich themselves and their corporate sweethearts, while simultaneously fleecing us and undermining the very basis for social existence. If national and international law were enforced many of our elected representatives would be led off in handcuffs to spend the last of their days in prison.

Our elected representatives are drawn from amongst those who have no trouble lying and selling out to the highest bidder. Their conduct sets the moral tone for the rest of society. The most degraded use of power is pushed to the front. There is a mass culture that dips ever deeper into a pool of tawdry self-abasement. We owe all of this to the form of government we live under and to its capacity to select the most slavish of men and women to rule over us.

Quiet Despair

What does it mean to live in such a society for those millions of us who care about human life and the fate of the planet? What does it mean to us when we see our neighbors struggling to pay their rent, having lost their pension and their savings to the Wall Street banksters thanks to legislation that our elected representatives put in place? What does it mean to be betrayed again and again by those we put in power, to be lied to again and again? What happens to our identity and self-respect when we know we are allowing the swindle and rapine to continue by acquiescing to the cosa nostra euphemistically referred to as “American Democracy.”

We are made to feel small and powerless. We lack a solid grounding in reality. Reality is something we don’t want to know. It is too frightening, so we kid ourselves into believing that everything is okay. We dare not look into the future. We dread what it might hold. We are cut off from each other. Our fear and insecurity create barriers. Our conversations are trivial and manic. Honest, in depth conversations would take us where we don’t want to go.

We are being crushed by an oppressive government, presided over by the elected representatives we install every time we vote. It would never occur to us that the depression we experience is a consequence of the quiet despair that ensues from a sense of impending disaster and the feeling of powerlessness that accompanies it.

What is it like for our young people starting out in life? How can they have an honest vision of the future that carries some hope with it? They are saddled with student debt from which there is no escape. They are lucky if the degree they worked so hard for will get them a low paying job. What does the future hold for them? Not much, so they drown themselves in a sea of extreme drinking and random sex.

Says, Russell Brand,

“We are living in a zoo, … our collective consciousness, our individual consciousness, has been hijacked by a power structure that needs us to remain atomized and disconnected. We want union, we want connection, we need it the way we need other forms of nutrition, and denied it we delve into the lower impulses for sanctuary.”

The “me” generation is self-centered and blinded to the reality that surrounds them, a reality that is in a state of terminal decay. “Me” is all that is left to hold onto. Here is Russell at his lyrical best.

Is there an emptiness in you as you walk your land, uneasy feet on uneasy streets, uneasy in the bedroom, uneasy even in the mirror, an uneasy creep to uneasy sleep, pulling the bed sheets up close; checking your phone, checking your phone, checking you’re not here all alone to die alone?

These are dark times. We get on with our lives, put on a good face, have a few beers, a few laughs, enjoy some theatre, a good meal, a movie, some music. We do our best to keep ourselves energized, spirited and hopeful about life. But, we spend our days waiting, waiting for a magical savior, waiting for the worst.

By this time I hope you are wondering, “Well, is there no way out? Is there no alternative to the form of government we are enslaved to?”

To which I reply, “Indeed there is. And it is called sortition.”

Sortition

Sortition is another word for lottery, allotment, lot. Drop some names into a hat. Pull one out — without peeking — and that person wins the prize. The appeal of sortition is that it is fair. It establishes a level playing field. Everyone has the same equal opportunity.

In ancient Athens, sortition was used for selecting magistrates — about 1,100 of them — and the Council of 500 or boule, which was responsible for setting the agenda for the Assembly. Magistrates were executive administrators. In Athens they oversaw the grain supply, building projects, trade. The equivalent today might be Parks Commissioner, School Chancellor.

Any Athenian who met citizenship and age requirements could put forward his name a year in advance. If his name was drawn he would serve for one year. Before entering service the candidate was interviewed, just to make sure that there were no glaring deficiencies that might disqualify him from office.

One could argue that those who offered themselves for service might know little or nothing about their particular responsibility. That contingency was addressed by having a committee of several citizens oversee each function, with the assumption that what one person didn’t know another would make up for. Tenure was limited to one year. There were frequent reviews of a magistrate’s performance. If a majority of the review jury felt his performance was inadequate the magistrate was replaced.

The Athenians believed in amateurism. They believed that the average citizen was wise enough and intelligent enough to acquit himself of his duties adequately. Their bigger concern was concentration of power, abuse of power and corruption, which was why they used sortition for selecting magistrates. Only generals and persons responsible for large sums of money were voted into office.

Today, our jury system is based on sortition. It is assumed that a random sampling of the citizenry will result in a jury that will act wisely in forming its judgment. When there are limited places for a certain benefit, for example in a college program, or to run a marathon, names are submitted for sortition. Those whose number is drawn win the prize.

Sortition around the world

Currently there is renewed interest in using sortition, as opposed to elections, as a means of selecting people for government service. There are various proposals afloat. Books and articles are being written. There are movements in several countries to actually put sortition into practice. “Equality by lot” is a blog devoted exclusively to a discussion of sortition, attended mainly by academics. It is a useful resource if one wants to keep up to date about what is happening in the world of sortition.

Recently, in London, a new campaign (see occupydemocracy.net) was launched to demand government by sortition in England. In Mexico, the “National Regeneration Movement (Morena)” will select its candidates for congressional seats by sortition. Louis Laurent, a Belgian MP, is calling for a citizen parliament selected by sortition. Recently there was an article in a Chilean publication advocating sortition. Sortition has been promoted by the Newid Party in Wales (see ordinarypeople.org.uk). David Van Reybrouck, a Belgian historian, has written a book (in Dutch) entitled, Against Elections (see policy-network.net for an excerpt in English) in which he advocates a bi-representative government, half elected, half selected by sortition.

In Australia, the New Democracy Foundation (newdemocracy.com.au) is experimenting with “demarchy,” a form of government based in a network of numerous decision-making groups. Each group deals with a specific function, i.e. transport, land use, parks. Membership of each group is chosen randomly (i.e. by sortition) each year from all those interested in a specific topic.

In Iceland the citizenry, not their representatives, were called upon to write a new constitution. The parliament appointed a constitutional committee of seven to work together with a national assembly comprised of 950 citizens, drawn randomly (sortition) from the national registry, and a constituent assembly where 25 individuals were elected out of a roster of 522 candidates of all backgrounds and political affiliations. Over the course of four months, the committee consulted various experts and ordinary citizens to inform the bill, bringing it to a national referendum in late-2012. Sixty-seven per cent of the electorate voted in favor of the constitutional bill. Yet the political establishment succeeded in defeating its adoption.

What about here in the U. S. of A., the alleged home to democracy, free thought and good government, what can we add to the stew?  Well, just suppose that instead of choosing our candidates for national office by means of primaries and party caucuses we use sortition. What would that be like?

The first thing to understand is that elections in the United States— national as well as local — are under the purview of state governments. Thus there are fifty different election laws with endless variations in definitions and details, the kinds of voting machines, security measures, controls over party organization, financial matters, etc.

The New York State Election Law makes provision for elections in the smallest of localities. In also provides for the election of national office holders.

ARTICLE 12—PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS AND FEDERAL ELECTED OFFICERS

Title Section

I. Presidential and Vice Presidential Electors 12–100
II. United States Senators 12–200
III. Representatives in Congress 12–300

The federal government has almost no say, though every so often the national government takes a principled stance that is supposed to be applied nation wide to all fifty states. For example, the “Voting Rights Act of 1965” prohibits racial discrimination in voting. But such critical issues as the procedures for designating and nominating individuals for elected office are completely in the hands of each state government.

For example in Iowa, “The term “political party” shall mean a party which, at the last preceding general election, cast for its candidate for president of the United States or for governor, as the case may be, at least two percent of the total vote cast for all candidates for that office at that election.” In New York, “The term ‘‘party’’ means any political organization which at the last preceding election for governor polled at least fifty thousand votes for its candidate for governor.” The Texas Election Law makes repeated reference to “party” but offers no definition.

Smoke and mirrors

If it is our goal to reform our government, i.e. modify the structures that determine the power dynamics, then we must get our fingers into the dough. The place to start is Election Law, state by state.

Article I, Section 1:

No member of this state shall be disfranchised, or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land, or the judgment of his or her peers, except that the legislature may provide that there shall be no primary electionheld to nominate candidates for public office or to elect persons to party positions for any political party or parties in any unit of representation of the state from which such candidates or persons are nominated or elected whenever there is no contest or contests for such nominations or election as may be prescribed by general law.

What the Lord giveth, he taketh back. No one “shall be disfranchised” … except if the “law of the land” says he says he is, or his peers decide so. What meaning can such a “right” possibly have? That the election law prescribes that there shall be no primary elections when offices are not contested gives testimony to the corruption of the system. Uncontested elections are the rule. Why? What is wrong with the system that the same person gets returned to office, again and again?

Article I, Section 8:

All laws creating, regulating or affecting boards or officers charged with the duty of qualifying voters, or of distributing ballots to voters, or of  receiving, recording or counting votes at elections, shall secure equal representation of the two political parties which, at the general election next preceding that for which such boards or officers are to serve, cast the highest and the next highest number of votes. All such boards and officers shall be appointed or elected in such manner, and upon the nomination of such representatives of said parties respectively, as the legislature may direct.

Again, that mind-numbing legalese! Nowhere is there any mention of the fact that our system of elections is under the control of two political parties that are run in secrecy by some of the most venal, power hungry and morally bankrupt men in the country and that these two parties have this country and therefore the world in a death grip that is legitimized by the very election law that fails to even mention their existence.  The words “Democrats” or “Republicans” are never once mentioned.

Article 6 is entitled, “Designation and Nomination of candidates.” Section 6-102 declares, “Party nominations of candidates for the office of elector of president and vice president of the United States, one for each congressional district and two at large, shall be made by the state committee.“ This is simple prose that conceals more than it reveals. For herein is contained the key to our whole system of government, i.e. who gets to be in power and by what means. “Shall be made,” passive construction. Who is/are the agent/s? If we go back to the beginning here is what we learn.

In a nutshell

Article I, Section 104 is called, “Definitions.“ Here we get to the crux of the matter, sort of.

I, 1. “The term ‘political unit’ means the state or any political subdivision thereof or therein.” Clear enough.

I, 2. “The term ‘unit of representation’ means any political unit from which members of any committee or delegates to a party convention shall be elected as provided in this chapter.” Not so clear. You have to go to four years of law school to learn how to write this way. When language is obscure, it is because there is something to hide.

So it appears that a “unit of representation” is a committee, a committee at the county level would mean, I assume, voters who reside in a particular county and have organized themselves for purposes of “representation.” They “represent” their county, but in what context and for what purpose? Or else “unit of representation” can mean “delegates to a party convention.” Party convention is nowhere defined or given an official presence. And further “delegates” is in the plural. In what way does it constitute a “unit” of representation?

I, 3. “The term ‘party’ means any political organization which at the last preceding election for governor polled at least fifty thousand votes for its candidate for governor.” So “party” is a “political organization.” How constituted and under whose aegis, by what authority and for what purpose? No answer to these critical questions.

“Party” is defined by the fact that a certain “political organization” got a certain number of votes in a prior election. A more meaningful definition might read, “A political party is an organization formed for the purpose of gaining power for its members as a means to self-enrichment, and winning a position of influence in government as a means of realizing its particular political ideology.” Obviously this is not the kind of straight shooting one can expect to find in a system whose primary goal is to obscure its true purpose.

I, 6. “The term ‘committee’ means any committee chosen, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, to represent the members of a party in any political unit.” It would appear that a “committee” is a group of party members representing their party, represent for what purpose?

The whole megillah

I, 7. “The term ‘designation’ means any method in accordance with the provisions of this chapter by which candidates for party nomination for public office or for election to party position may be named for the purpose of any primary election.” Now this is it friends, the whole megillah, the whole nine yards, keg of beer or whatever you choose. The earth turns on its axis or fails to based on how we determine the “designation” of candidates.

Note the critical difference between “designation” and “nomination.” We, the sheeple of New York State, nominate the candidates by voting in primary elections. We determine who will hold office, don’t we? Not! We vote for candidates that are “designated,” i.e. chosen, by others, party bosses, operating in secrecy, using “any method” they choose. The key phrase is “may be named.” Named by whom, under what circumstances?

Thus it is that power brokers with no accountability to any public constituency have the real power, the only power that matters and they are bought and sold by the corporate interests who are hell bent on destroying our habitat for private gain. This is what we want to change.

Those who designate have the real power. All the rest is poppycock, balderdash, falderal. All those specifications, rules and regulations etc. are what is known as smoke and mirrors. The only thing that matters is how candidates are designated, by whom and under what circumstances and for what purpose.

I, 9. “The terms ‘primary’ or ‘primary election’ mean only the mandated election at which enrolled members of a party may vote for the purpose of nominating party candidates and electing party officers.” That is straight forward enough. It is straight forward because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t hide anything. The hiding has already taken place.

I, 24. “The term ‘major political parties’ means the two parties which polled for their respective candidates for the office of governor the highest and next highest number of votes at the last preceding election for such office.” Another critical definition. Under what circumstance and by whom was it decided that this country should be run by “two” “major political parties?” Why not three, or six?

I, 28. “The term ‘caucus’ shall mean an open meeting held in a political subdivision to nominate the candidates of a political party for public office to be elected in such subdivision at which all the enrolled voters of such party residing in such subdivision are eligible to vote.” Now here I am a bit confused. I thought the primary was the opportunity to nominate candidates. The “caucus” sounds like a means of “designating” rather than “nominating.” Perhaps the key phrase is “political subdivision,” meaning selecting candidates for local office, rather than statewide or national office. I am ready to be corrected.

Article 2 of the New York State Election Law is entitled, “Party Organization.” What is interesting about all of this is that no where in the Election Law that I can find is it ever declared: “State and national government shall be under the control of the two dominant political parties.” It is just assumed. The Election Law describes how the party shall function on the state and local level. It does not allow for the party’s existence, nor does it specifically empower the party to run the country, which it does. All of this is accomplished by slight of hand.

We learn how party committees are to be created, how party positions are to be filled, that parties are to set up rules of governance and procedures for removing a committee member. Section 124 of

Article 2 sets the rules for party names and emblems. We learn that

The name of a party shall be in the English language and shall not include the words ‘‘American’’, ‘‘United States’’, ‘‘National’’, ‘‘New York State’’, ‘‘Empire State’’, or any abbreviation thereof, nor the name or part of the name, or an abbreviation of the name, of an existing party. The emblem chosen may be a star, an animal, an anchor, or any other proper symbol, but may not be the same as or similar to any emblem, insignia, symbol or flag used by any political or governmental body, agency or entity nor any religious emblem, insignia, symbol or flag, nor the portrait of any person, nor the representation of a coin or of the currency of the United States. The name and emblem chosen shall not be similar to or likely to create confusion with the name or emblem of any other existing party or independent body.

Well, there you have it. If you are thinking of setting up a “major political party,” you should be aware that donkey and elephant are already taken and therefor off limits. What about dinosaur, or a viper of some kind?

Change

Change is scary. Not changing is terrifying. The United States, the World, cannot continue on their current trajectory if survival is the goal. Our only hope is government transformation. And it is quite possible. Those who scream the loudest about change being impossible are usually those who have something to lose when change takes place. Change is constant. It is inevitable. The only questions are what change will take place and who will direct it. Russell Brand’s inimitable reply to those who say, “the system is not perfect, but it is the best we can do:” ”It’s fucked,” he says, “and it’s fucking us, and it’s obsolete.”

Politics is about power. Government is people in power. Change who gets into power and how they get there and you have changed government. “The change you speak of is not possible. They are in our way.” It is not they who are in our way. It is we who are in our way. “We are like a swarm of battered spouses,” says Brand, “unable to believe that a better world is out there, because we’re cowering and flinching and reaching out for stinking trinkets.” Once we understand that we are the problem, we are more than half way towards our goal. “Quickly you realize that your job is to negotiate with your own ego.”

As Brand points out, the power elite have complete control.

They own both the teams that are competing, the stadium they play, the grass they play on, and we’re the ball they’re kicking around. They have removed all possibility for reform or redirection within the system; the change must come from us. Our only hope of survival is to overthrow their structures and take our power back.

The good news is that we have found our Archimedean lever that will change who owns what, the lever that will move the earth, and moving the earth is rather easy once you have your lever. Our lever is sortition. Instead of party bosses horse trading away our future, we use sortition. Candidates are designated to run for higher office — President, Vice President, Senate and the House of Representatives — based on random selection, that is to say a system based in political equality, a system free from bullying and corruption. Here is how it would work.

Phase I: Our first intervention will be at the state level. There will be an amendment to the Election Law substituting sortition for party caucus. It can read as follows:

Citizens will be designated to run for higher office — Representative, Senator, Vice President, and President — by means of sortition, overseen by a randomly selected jury of five hundred. Candidates interested in running for these offices will submit their names a year in advance. Juries and submissions will be statewide for Senator and President. Juries and submissions for the House of Representatives will be drawn from their respective, local election districts.

The jury of five hundred will create a standardized application form and vet the submitted applications. Six names will be randomly drawn from the pool of accepted applicants for each office. These selected candidates will be vetted and interviewed by the jury of five hundred. If a majority of the jury deems a candidate unacceptable, his/her name will be withdrawn and there will be a new sortition to determine a replacement. The final six names will constitute the ballot entries for the national election. This sortition process will be repeated at the end of each completed term in office and will be overseen by a new, randomly selected jury.

Well, how does it sound, scary, interesting, challenging, reckless? Randomness might seem a risky way to choose our national leaders. But remember that there will be a jury of five hundred overseeing the process and weeding out those who might be inappropriate. You might argue that this is rank amateurism, which it is. Amateurs, that is to say real people, grounded in social reality, who understand what it means to hold the public trust and honor it, will be a welcome relief from the crooked politicians who have had control over our destiny for the past century or two.

And once the candidates have been designated by sortition, there will be an election. The voters will have a voice. There will be six candidates to choose from. There will be a wider range of choice than our current system provides. Debates and discussions will be more intelligent and substantive. Most of the candidates will be unknown. They will make themselves known by saying something that is of value to the electorate.

Benefits of sortition

There are certain very significant advantages to this way of selecting our candidates. There are no backroom deals, favoring those with allegiance to power and big money. The citizenry at large, in all its diversity, is drawn on as a resource. There would be a dramatic reduction in corruption and corporate influence. Some people would be bought up, most not.

And further, there will be rotation in office. No longer will there be no contest “elections” where the same politicians hold office for decades, build a power base from which to enrich themselves and their buddies at the expense of the common good. There will be a continual turnover of office holders, giving citizens with new ideas and world outlooks a voice in government. Such a selection of representatives will be a lot more likely to take peace and ecology as serious issues in need of rational responses.

Candidates can choose to affiliate themselves with one of the major parties, or they can choose to remain independent. But either way, party influence will be dramatically reduced. And that is a good thing. Political parties as currently constituted are not much different from gangs. And elections are not much difference from gang warfare in suit and tie. There is no tactic that is too low or ruthless. Human life and social welfare are not on the agenda. It is all about power and ascendancy.

Power to the idiots

So why not do away with gang warfare and use sortition to select our candidates for higher office? “Power to the idiots!,” you say. “A capitol full of clowns and cretins,” you say. “We need experts in charge. People who know what they are doing.” “A capitol full of clowns and cretins” is what we now have. The clowns and cretins are leading us into the abyss, destroying resources natural and human, decimating our ecology, killing innocents around the world and are now turning our cities into military playgrounds.

Experts at what? Secrecy, lying, manipulation, self-enrichment, war mongering? Much of the time our elected representatives don’t even read the bills they sign. They have staffers who do that for them. They are expert at getting elected and siphoning public monies to private purpose, not much else.

The primary issue is one of values, not expertise. We need people with values that favor social justice, community living and a vibrant eco-system. We need experts who are experts at being human in the highest sense of that word, who prefer peace to war, who prefer an apple orchard in blossom to a blackened battlefield strewn with corpses. We need people who have nothing to hide, people who speak the truth.

And that is right dear reader, you, I or your next door neighbor might some day become President of the United States. And that is the way it should be. Real people, with real stakes in the game should be in charge, not corporate sponsored celebrity superstars with billion dollar campaign chests. I will not stoop to mention the many embarrassments who have become President. Anyone of us could obviously do better.

We use sortition to run our court system. Jurors are called upon to review complicated matters where life and liberty are on the line. We entrust this important responsibility to a random selection of twelve of our citizenry. Why can’t we use a random selection of 500 of our citizenry to oversee who runs our government? Aristotle believed that each citizen was endowed with civic virtue, the ability to distinguish right from wrong and administer justice. For him the issue was not knowledge, as it was with Socrates, but rather character and judgment.

But our sortition does not change us from an oligarchy into a democracy. Any time we have a few hundred representatives speaking for hundreds of millions, we have oligarchy by definition. However, our new oligarchy will be vastly superior to the one we have. It will be an oligarchy that has a human face to it, an oligarchy that is responsive to its constituency and the common good.
State governments will be willing to come along because the change we speak of is being applied to national elections only, not state and local elections. Sortition will result in a redistribution of power. Power at the center will be weakened, resulting in an increase of power at the local level.

Phase II

After we have become accustomed to selecting our candidates for higher office by sortition, after we have witnessed the benefits of opening the doors to new talent and ideas, after we have witnessed the reduction in corruption and ruthless disregard for the common weal, we might well be in the mood to do away with elections all together. They are a charade, and even under the best of circumstances entail manipulation and deception. Gaining office becomes a goal in itself and one does what one has to get there. Candidates are set up to make promises they can’t keep and voters are set up to believe candidates whom they know are lying.

If we decide to eliminate elections altogether at the national level and rely exclusively on sortition to select our national leaders then we will have to amend the constitution. An amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. Once we have a new set of office holders in the capital, where there is a constant rotation in office, and no vested interest in holding onto power, Congress might be amenable to eliminating elections and using sortition for selecting office holders. In the event that there is resistance, there is always the state route to pursue.

This change to our system of governance will not be achieved by badgering some passersby with petitions or by a blitz of TV ads. It will be achieved by a multitude of face to face small group gatherings where people become engaged in an exchange of ideas, have the opportunity to think out loud on critical matters and become involved in the struggle for political justice. People who truly understand what is wrong with the current system and become aware of what can be done to fix it will take action.

In Chapter 11 of Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained: The True Meaning of Democracy I discuss the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776. The people of Pennsylvania were unhappy with the way their leaders were responding to political crisis. They gathered by the thousands in the State House courtyard and set up a shadow government that eventually replaced the existing government, thus instituting the most democratic government this country has ever known.

The early phase of the French Revolution offers a similar example. On May 5, 1789, king Louis XVI called a meeting of the Estates-General. Traditionally, the three estates — the clergy, the nobility, and the commons — had met separately. This time the commons insisted that all three meet together and invited the clergy and the nobility to join them. The nobility and the clergy declined, and so the commons (the 99%) met on their own and debated.

The commons continued to meet on their own and by June 17 had given themselves the title “National Assembly” and had begun to draft a constitution. Shut out of their regular meeting place by the king, they met at a new location and took an oath not to adjourn until they had completed their constitution. The king ordered them to abandon the project. With relatively few histrionics, they persisted. Soon they were joined by the clergy, then the nobility. On June 27, Louis himself wrote formally requesting the two upper houses to merge with the lower to form a National Assembly.

After July 9, 1789, the Assembly became known as the National Constituent Assembly and continued in its deliberations despite opposition from the king. As of July 14, 1789, it became the effective government of France. On September 3, 1791, after two years of deliberation, the Assembly adopted France’s first written constitution.

There is no reason why we can’t emulate these important examples from history. It will take a lot of us. If three thousand people think sortition is an interesting idea and let it drop, then obviously nothing new happens. If each of the same three thousand passes it on to five people and those five pass it on to another five, the outcome, according to my online permutation calculator is 242,190,944,550,072,000. I think this number reads 242 quadrillion, 190 trillion, 944 billion, 550 million, 72 thousand. That ought to do it.

P.S. With our new government in place there will be an American Renaissance. We will once again be proud to be American and once again we will be an inspiration to countries around the world hungry for new ideas.

Arthur D. Robbins is the author of, ”PARADISE LOST, PARADISE REGAINED: THE TRUE MEANING OF DEMOCRACY” referred to by Ralph Nader as, “An eye- opening, earth-shaking book . . . a fresh, torrential shower of revealing insights and vibrant lessons . . .” and the e-book based on Part II of ”PARADISE LOST” entitled, ”DEMOCRACY DENIED: THE UNTOLD STORY.” To learn more visit acropolis-newyork.com

Sources

Benjamin Barber, Strong Democracy
Russell Brand, Revolution
James and Kenneth Collier, Votescam
Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, vol. 1
William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness
Ramachandra Guha, India After Gandhi
Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class
David Van Reybrouck, Against Elections